Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Toppling Goliath Lightspeed Pale Ale


Toppling Goliath Lightspeed Pale Ale, Made With Millennium and Falconer's Flight Hops. Millennium? Falcon? Lightspeed? I get it! Brewed and bottled by: Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., Decorah, IA. Live beer, please refrigerate. I bought this dry on the floor of Casanova's in Hudson, WI about 9 hours ago, took it home 2 hours ago, and set it in the DBF (Dedicated Beer Fridge) immediately after. It's cold enough, now it's time to drink.

Appearance: light golden coloring, slightly hazed, slim white head atop.

Aroma: Fresh and vibrant tropical fruit notes hit the nose first. Stone fruit, too. Peach, apricot, pineapple, passion. A squirt of grapefruit and a slice of orange. Growing wider and more bitter with each passing second. Citric cornucopia.

Taste: Moderate bitterness graces the palate first, though it promises to grow and turn from a spark to a blaze. Hop flavors zoom along the tongue, leaving blistering flavors in it's wake. Wow. This one's got it. Body is light-ish, medium-y, full of significant maltiness. Little bit of dry cracker & biscuit in the malt, which the hops blast over. Hops have a spicy kick that dominates over all and delivers the flavor across the galaxy.

The force is strong in this one. It's damned delicious.

Hey, there's a "screen crawl" on the side of the label, what's it say? "This seasonal pale ale was crafted with a perfect mixture of Millennium hops and Falconers Flight blend inviting orange aroma and hints of lemon flavor int this medium-bodied beauty will make you want to drink yours at light speed!"

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

Another BrewFarm visit meant another stop at Casanova's in Hudson, WI, and a chance to fill in some of the gaps. I was amazed to discover that, although I had recently covered DFH's 61 minute, 75 minute, and 90 minute IPAs, I hadn't covered the original, the 60 Minute IPA. Took care of that right away, bringing home a 6-pack. I first reviewed it on June 25, 2003, and looking back at those nearly 12 year old notes, they seem suitable still. So, here they are:




Appearance: sets the stage uneventfully with the color, a typical bright orange for an IPA, then springs on us a huge, cloud-like head, milky-white, soft and lacy.

Aroma: a veritable pine forest that the nose is walking through, needle, sap and all.  There's other kinds of sensation, some fruity, citric character, but that sharp piney, grassiness dominates. Big, stinging, and arousing.

Taste is most unusual: biscuity, bready, yeasty, a substantial mouthful, slightly sour, still resonating with hops, and delivering an unspecific fruitiness, that mingles and blends with this breadish tone. Excellent texture, slightly chewy. Hoppiness rides above and shines throughout, but underneath is that other thick and yeasty quality.
Hops don't quit, either, they take up permanent residence in the mouth and continues to conquer throughout the tasty, long finish.
I kept smackin' my lips throughout the contents of this bottle. Great drinking for any hophead, like me, and deserves points for sheer uniqueness alone.

Fulton The Ringer American Pale Ale


Fulton The Ringer American Pale Ale. Brewed and packaged by Fulton Brewery, Minneapolis, MN.

Shameful admission: I wasn't aware that beer was in bottles. It was draft only for a few years, at least. Now, at last, I will formulate my thoughts on the pale ale, the second Fulton beer whose name is a reference to "The Big Lebowski." (After The Worthy Adversary, of course.)

Appearance: Hazy, bright orange, slim white head.

Aroma: Classic American pale ale aroma, probably Cascade hops, or one of the usual suspects. high alpha acid, piercing pine, sharp citrus. Pretty near perfect.

Taste: Ah! Yes! Citrus zest is first and foremost in this one, bright, bold and refreshing hop character. A burst of potent orange, lemon and grapefruit. beautifully spicy, delightfully drinkable. Medium-bodied, smooth and satisfying.

Alc. 5% by Volume. 35 IBU. "Bright hops, light body, and a clean finish: a classic American pale ale."

This one may be the Fulton beer that I hits me in all the right spots, and all the right times. Good one, guys. It's doing the trick.

Odell Loose Leaf American Session Ale


Odell Loose Leaf American Session Ale, Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado. Alc./Vol 4.5%.

Appearance: clear, pale golden color, bright chalk-white head above.

Aroma: Lively and likable hop character, spicy, citrus fruit, ultimately dry. Floral notes and light grapefruit peel.

Taste: More of the above bounces on the tongue. Juicy and bright, light bodied, ending on a spicy, dry turn. Lean finish. Good drinking ale, tasty, deftly hopped. It's a good beer, and you surely can drink a significant amount of them before your sobriety is threatened, or you waistline, but it doesn't offer much more than low alcohol and light body.

"You know those epic days that start with an idea, turn into a dare, and end with a great story to tell? This is the beer for those days. Crisp and refreshing like any respectable session, but a bit more hop-forward and flavorful than some. Perfect for going with the flow."

Maybe that's it, that I don't like "going with the flow." Though it boast more flavor and hops than some, it's not quite enough for me. Still, another well-made Odell beer.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Olvalde Farms From Field and Fen Mint Stout Ale


Olvalde Farms From Field and Fen Mint Stout Ale, Ale Brewed with Mint and natural flavors, lightly hopped, unfiltered, refermented in the bottle. Brewed and bottled by Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company, Rollingstone, Minnesota. No ABV given.

I do the mint stout, in theory and in practice, as proven when I finally tried out the one from Mankato brewing. Will I like this one as much or more…or? less?  Is this too much mint stout in one big bottle? Let's find out.

Appearance: Deepness and darkness, utter blackness, under a slim, cocoa-tinged head, lasting long.

Aroma: Creamy, minty, chocolate-y. Mint sweetness starts minor and grows in pitch. Tremendously pleasant.

Taste: More mint, when liquid first meets lips. Brightest, bolder, mintier. Mintier, and mintier, and mintier. With rich, dark malt holding court below. The mint never dims in the flavor, and the chocolate malt keeps adequate time. Full-body, long, malty finish. Sweet and minty continues. Minor hop bitterness, major mint sweetness. But never too much. Fine balance. And toward the end, it turns a little tart. Nothing wrong with that.

I like this. It's worth the drinking.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fulton Insurrection Imperial IPA


Fulton Insurrection Imperial India Pale Ale. The official India Pale Ale of the Insurrection Empire. Brewed and packed by Fulton Brewery, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Alc. 9.0% by Vol. 12 oz. REAL BEER.

My first time with this beer. I'd actually never heard of it
before the bottles were released. Where've I been?

Appearance: clear, bright amber hue, under a large, lasting snow-white head. Looking good.

Aroma: Pine and citrus and tropical fruit notes, but without bitterness. Creamy, even. Powerful and pungent, though, oily and resiny. Nice.

Taste: Mmm. hmmm. Yeah. Big hop flavor, sans harsh bitterness. Orange and pineapple and pine needles. Clean, while flavorful, with a long, creamy, fruity finish. Medium bodied. Alcohol well hidden. I like this one. I'm not sure if it would top my list of favorite double IPAs, but I'm digging it. The more I drink it down, the more I like it. Mmmmm. Yeah.

What's the label tell us? "Insurrection is an Imperial IPA charged with 3 lbs per barrel of Nelson Sauvin and Mosaic hops. Bolstered by a 9% aBV malt brigade and finished with an over-the-top explosion of citrus, tropical fruit, and sauvignon blank, this 95 IBU uprising leaves you no choice but to surrender to the hop rebellion."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

August Schell Noble Star Series #4: Black Forest Cherry

Man, oh, man, am I ever behind. I just posted the 2014 Town Hall Festivus here in week three of 2015. And now that Noble Star #5 is out, I'm just getting around to #4. Notes away!


August Schell Noble Star Collection Black Forest Cherry Berlin Style Wheat Beer Aged On Cherries, August Schell Brewing, New Ulm, MN. Bottled July 2014.

Appearance: clear, cherry-red coloration, much carbonation, but no head, utter stillness.

Aroma: there's the funk, there's the wild, and there is the sour. Followed by a big, bad batch of cherry. Urging me to taste…

And so I do: Brisk and tart, a fierce flash of sour, washed up with cherries and wood. Terrifically refreshing and definitely downable. Dry, complex, and richly rewarding. Effervescent, sparkling, lively, arresting. It's practically delicious. Ah, I'm smacking my lips with every sip, and each drink I take, I'm digging this more and more.


Black Forest Cherry comes with a tag around the bottle. here's what it says: "Black Forest Cherry, the fourth handcrafted edition in the Noble Star Collection, is brewed from German heritage, American innovation, and 5,000 pounds of tart red cherries. An experimental version of a malty Berliner Weisse aged on cherries, this vibrant beer pays tribute to the timeless European custom of adding a little something sweet to the classic Weisse. Fermented a la cerise for more than a year in our distinguished 1936 Cypress Wood layering tank, Black Forest Cherry is dry, complex, and delightfully tart. Our noble Star beers are unfiltered, hand-filled and bottle-conditioned to allow the flavors to continue to develop and evolve in the bottle. Enjoy this unique interpretation of a cherry Berliner Weisse chilled, in a pokal glass."

You know…I don't know if I have a …yes, I do have a "pokal", but I went with a Schell's branded pint, instead. Would that have made a difference? Maybe, not sure…but I did enjoy the hell out it. And, once again, the Noble Star collection proves that Schell's is invested in innovation while hewing to their specific Germanic tradition, largely due to the efforts of Jace Marti,

I'm actually behind a bit, as #5 in the series has been released and is receiving raves. I hadn't gotten around to it yet (the price tag does spook me some), but I wanted to tackle it before I took down a bottle of Dawn of the Aurora. So, now I'm on the hunt for that one. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Town Hall Festivus 2014


Town Hall Festivus 2014. Town Hall makes 3 seasonal brews every holiday season, some change and some don't. Grinches Grog is always some kind of a pale ale, Elves' Elixir seems to always be a Baltic Porter, and Festivus, for the rest of us, is the one that is drastically different every single year. This time it's a barrel-aged red ale with spruce tips. Something like that. I had it on tap some time after release at the pub, enjoyed a glass, and picked up a growler weeks later, last Wednesday. Thinking back, remember what I tasted before, I think back to what I wrote a few days ago in praise of the mini-growler, and wonder if this one would also be a good candidate for the smaller vessel. We can only find out for sure once I crack open this 64-ouncer.

Appearance: Clear, bright crimson coloring, slim, soon gone head.

Aroma: Lightly spicy, fruity, floral, a little sweet and mostly malty.

Taste: A big bolt of sweet at first, That spruce shines through it all. Wood-aging at work, too. Big spruceness meets a flash of sweet. Rosy, fruity and sweet. 'm almost ready to go ahead and call it a spruce bomb. Just because. The spruce is matching the malt, and threatening to stay on top.

In the end, I have to think: a noble experiment, but not what I want. Based on that, I do wish I had chosen a mini-growler for this one. four pints is a bit more than I feel like getting into. But, I made this bed, and I will lie in it.

Don't get me wrong, this is right on for a fun holiday ale, but only if you're having a few, and that's it. (Amend that to "only if I'M having a few"...to each their own, of course."

Dogfish Head Beer Thousand


So there I was scanning the shelves at Casnova's in Hudson, not quite sure what I "needed" from Dogfish Head (turns out, now that I've checked, that I "need" 60 Minute IPA. though I had thought for sure that I'd added that here. Next time…), and I grabbed a 4-pack of this thing called "Beer Thousand." I don't often go for double/imperial pilasters, but I always feel like giving DFH brews a shot. Also, I don't know much about Guided by Voices. Just that they're a band, and probably not an instrumental one, I'm guessing. Getting beyond that, it's time to crack it open and drink it down.

"A right-lyrical lager brewed with ten varieties of grains and ten varieties of hops." 10% ABV.

Appearance: clear, bright golden hue, beautiful white head.

Aroma: sweetness, grains, honey. and along comes alcohol.

Taste: Repeat the above, then add a touch of harsh bitterness, a whiff of astringency and the looming onset of alcohol, but faster. I avoid double pilsners more often because they remind me most of all of slightly refined malt liquors. Not really delivering more than the booze, and significantly lacking in flavor. I don't hate this. It is, after all, beer, and you can, more or less, drink it. But I'll be glad when it's done and won't buy another.

Hey, there's gobbledygook on the side: "Complex and rugged, 20 years in the making, and much like Guided By Voices' Bee Thousand, better than ever. 10 grains X 10 hops X 10%= Beer Thousand."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Harriet's Grande Zombi Belgian-style Stout


Harriet's Grand Zombi Belgian-style Stout. 10% ABV. Why Grand Zombi, I asked? Because that's what Jason wanted, I was told. Must be a real reason, I'll get to the bottom of it. Soon.

Appearance: solid blackness, rich, roasty tan head, looking perfect for any kind of stout.

Aroma: bittersweet at first, lightly chocolatey, dark fruits, molasses, charcoal, roast and toast, a little anise.

Taste: more bittersweet, expert balance, full body, richness and roastiness, but not too much of anything. Booze rises up with quickness and knocks on the brainpan's front door. It's a mix, to be sure, of rough and rich, of bitter and sweet, of fruit and funk, with a grit and determination all it's own. I could never call it smooth, for it has a gritty texture that rides over any calm. Altogether, though, it's a beautiful wreck, and a true treat to drink down, over and over. All those flavors noted in the nose come pouring back into the taste, and envelope the senses.

Mmm, I like this. A new favorite from Harriet.