Purchased at Curtis Park Market in Sacramento ($6.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.
This Double IPA from Turlock-based Dust Bowl Brewing pours an orange marmalade color with a substantial white head. The nose is not particularly pungent for the style, and appears to indicate a sweet beer, offering aromas of candied citrus, bread, and honey. Instead, Son of Wrath is more dry and cracker-like on the first swallow, with hints of rye and citrus zest on the periphery, as well as a woody overtone that is more branch than pine needle. There is also a decent amount of counteracting sweetness in this very drinkable big beer, and while it never gets too bitter or boozy, it still manages to deliver a boatload of hop flavor. Son of Wrath is the sort of DIPA that would pair just as well with dessert as it would with dinner.
An aggressively hopped English-style porter from San Francisco-based Speakeasy, Payback pours a pure, shiny black with a graham cracker-colored head that pours thick but recedes swiftly. The nose is a rich and glorious swirl of milk chocolate syrup, coffee candy, roasted nuts, and milk thistle. Fortunately, the first swallow follows through on those aromas, but the amplified hop profile gives the beer a pine bitterness to offset the coffee bitterness, and the entire beer is harmonized by the rich chocolate malt. Despite its higher-than-average alcohol content, Payback has a light mouthfeel, and offers flavors that are both accessible and complex, with a pleasantly lingering bitterness on the palette. This a best-of-both-worlds beer, satisfying for both hopheads as well as aficionados of dark and velvety flavors, and the overall effect is similar to a more dessert-like Black IPA.
Daniel Barnes and Darcey Self-Barnes have been blogging about craft beer at His & Hers Beer Notes since January 2012. Darcey is a freelance designer and illustrator, and Daniel is a film critic for the Sacramento News and Review and a member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.