Sunday, January 21, 2018

Eastlake Double Dry-hopped Sun Dogs' IPA

Eastlake Craft Brewery Sun Dogs, a Juicy Citra IPA. Double Dry-hopped. 7%  ABV. 75 IBU. Eastlake Craft Brewery, MidTown Global Market, Minneapolis, MN.

Highly hazed, bright golden-toned, full. ivory-hued head, long-lasting. Looking good.

In the nose: Beautiful, sweetish, tropical notes hold it over on the citrus and pine. Pineapple and passion fruit make the scene more than orange or grapefruit.

In the mouth: Refreshing bitter attack blast the palate first, gets juicy, and ends on a dry note. Medium-bodied, long bitter finish. Juicy, and delicious. (Nearly yum-a-dum-dum, even.)

This juicy yellow IPA is so heavilydry-hopped with Citra that it appears roughly hazy as you'll be in a few minutes. Deliriously delicious and sinuously resinous, Sunny D is the good stuff kids go for, because it's always sunny on Lake Street. 

Inbound Wild Rice Porter

On one of my recent trips to Inbound Brewing Company, aka BrewCo, I purchased a bottle of Wild Rice Porter, and saved the notes I took on it to match it with the report that I wanted to write about the brewery in general. I've since changed my mind and decided that I had enough notes on other beer for that. I could post this review on it's own, and so I searched for the photos I must have taken of the bottle and the glass, and then do the curved corners thing, and then the fuzzy borders that is my trademark, my chili powder in the crystal a la Captain Cook. (Breaking Bad fans get it.)

And then I couldn't find them. Anywhere! Not in any of the folders I keep my various pics in, not in iPhoto. Where did they go? Did I delete them all? It was only a few months ago!

These things happen. No need to get all busted up about it. So, I look into my Untappd account and found a pic I took of the Wild Rice Porter from on tap about a year ago, January 15, 2017. It'll have to do for now until I find that pic of the bottle, if it ever happens.

And I realize that I could have skipped all of the above and not very many people would have cared. If you would have cared, let me know. Write a comment. I could add some voices to the voices already in my head.

(If you wouldn't have cared, feel free to not leave a comment. Some voices I don't need.)

Inbound Wild Rice Porter. Bottle # 112/750. Inbound BrewCo., Minneapolis, MN.

Solid blackness, Small brown head.

In the nose: Malty, slightly sweet. Earthy, little bit of roast.

In the mouth: Malt sweetness takes command from the start. Some roast, a touch of toast. And all is smooth. Tasty and highly consumable. Nicely balanced. Slightly nuanced. This is a good porter, and you know what? You can drink it.

I don't know if I'd pay $15 for a bomber again, though. Good as it is, not quite worth that.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Minneapolis Breweries Day by Day #12: Fulton

#12. It's Wednesday, January 10. Maybe you're wondering what happened to Monday or Tuesday, if you're paying attention to this thing. Simple. It became very clear that circumstances would not allow me to do a different brewery visit every single day. Circumstances such as time, money, and my health and well being. Monday mornings, for instance, I often get struck with insomnia and when my shift at work is done, I want to go home and nap. Boring, right, but I have to take care of myself. If I didn't, I'd be falling asleep in my beer at the bar, and no one wants that. And Tuesday? Hey, why can't I just take a break? I'll make up for it some other time.

And so it's Wednesday, and I have only time for a quick one, somewhere near the bus line, and today's choice is Fulton. Off the bus, on the train, off at Target Field, down to street level and a short skip over to 414 N. 6th Avenue and ....I was a little confused at first. There it is ...but where's the door. Ah, there it is, obscured by an outer entrance to keep the cold air out. There's got to be a name for the thing. And once the entrance is discovered, in I go, and up to the bar, read the chalkboard to find that for the first time in this project, there are no beers that are new to me. War and Peace, Patience barleywine, 300, Pils, MPLS Mild, Lonely Blonde, had 'em, had 'em, had 'em. Worthy Adversary, Standard lager, Sweet Child of Vine, Tanager brett IPA, HopStar, had 'em all, too. I've written them all up, too, if only sometimes in places like this, where I delivered notes on Tanager. And that's what I felt like having this time around.

It was just as good as I remembered it, tangy, tart, Brett-y, tasty, and every bit an IPA. I was glad to make it's acquaintance once more. Once is all I had time for, too, as it was time to get back on the train and head to work.

Someone always stares at me in these pictures. Hey, guy,
or gal, it ain't about you! Get over yourself!
And as I realize that I'm publishing this ten days late, it's time to retract the parameters of the project. Most of the remaining breweries are farther away from where I live, over that river in far-flung NorthEast Minneapolis, and take more time to get to. It's harder to make that voyage, have time to drink the beers, take the notes, and negotiate the way back on the days that I work. So, I'm going to relieve the pressure that I've put on my self, and not insist that this is done by January 31. I'll try, but I may not make it. But, I'll have tried, and that's still pretty good. At least, at the end, whether accomplished at January's end, or the middle of February, I will be able to say that I have written about all of Minneapolis' breweries to date, and that there are no longer any that I haven't seen in over a year.

Then, to take care of St. Paul! Then, to close the gap on Minnesota. Just watch me.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Oliphant Little Dipster

Oliphant Little Dipster. Rum barrel-aged Vienna-style lager. 5.5% ABV. Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, WI.

Clear, bronze/amber color, slim white head. Looking nice.

In the nose: My god, what a mix. Bigness, sweetness, mmmmm, nice and malty. Rum barrel effects stand over anything else, and I like it.

In the mouth:  Tasty. Tas-tee. Strong, sweet, smooth, rich and malty. Thin-bodied, but flush with flavor. Yeah, there's a Vienna lager underneath this, but the rum barrel consumes it. And I don't mind. Oh, so, tasty.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Bent Brewstillery Uber Lupin Schwarz India Pale Ale

Bent Brewstillery Uber Lupin Schwarz India Pale Ale. 8.3%ABV. 83 IBU. Brewed and packaged by Bent Brewstillery, Roseville, MN.

Very dark, just about black, creamy, brown head above. Looking very nice.

In the nose: roasty/toasty, lightly hoppy. Pleasant-ish.

In the mouth: Big hops right out of the gate, big bitterness, pine and citrus, bumped up against the caramel and chocolate malt. I don't know if they work together in this case. Dark fruit meets dank hops. Chocolate caramel pine cones. Mmmm. Huh. Yeah, not sure about this one.

They say: American ingenuity. German excellence. The unification of new world beer style with old world ingredients. Rich cocoa and toasted bread crumbs. Pungent spicy, piney and floral hops. Smells so good you’ll want to drink it through your nose…however we do not recommend it.

Clown Shoes The Exorcist Dry Hopped Stout

Clown Shoes The Exorcist Dry Hopped Stout. 8% Alc./Vol. Brewed and canned by Clown Shoes Beer, Boston, MA.

Utter blackness, deep and dark, huge head, vast and cocoa-toned, leaving lace, looking nice.

In the nose: dark tones bump up against high hoppiness. Do we say dry hopped stout instead of Black IPA now? It's interesting, I'll say that.

In the mouth: Big, vibrant, bitter hop notes butt up against chocolate malt and the rich toffee/caramel notes. They don't go together well. Some one put pine cones in my chocolate....and it doesn't really do anything for me. Huh. It's not bad, but I don't like it, and I won't return to it. Maybe the stouts shouldn't be dry-hopped? Perhaps that's not the best thing to do. Just throwing that out there.

I love hoppy beers, and I love stouts, but I don't think the two need to be so entwined.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sierra Nevada Hop Bullet Double IPA

Sierra Nevada Hop Bullet Double IPA. Spring Seasonal. (We're not out of winter yet, over here, sorry, not by a long shot. But we can dream....) 8% ABV. 50 IBU.

Clear, bright golden color, beautiful ivory head, leaving a little lace.

In the nose: Floral, light fruit, softly spreading citrus.

In the mouth: All the hoppy goodness slides on to the palate with grace and style. Pow! It's here. It's a little juicy, it's a lot dry, and it's happening now. Dry, dusty, delicious. I am digging this one. Light bodied, lean malt, nothing but hops. Bring 'em on! Give 'em to me! Hit me up!

Here's one I'll go back to again and again.

Here's some of what they say about this: Hops are the name of the game with a Double IPA, but we knew we had to take it one step further. With Hop Bullet, we’re using a new technique, hitting the beer with a double-barreled blast of Magnum hops and lupulin dust—pure, concentrated hop flavor—directly into the tank to emphasize the intense pine and citrus flavors of classic West Coast hops.

Minneapolis Breweries Day by Day #11: Venn Brewing and Batch #16 Double IPA

Minneapolis Breweries Day by Day #11: Venn Brewing, with Batch #16 Double IPA.

Belgian-style Tripel
#11. I keep going back on the bit about seeing the breweries first that I haven't been to in the longest. For some of them, it's for good reason. The attraction just isn't there. You go where you're pulled to, an I really want to check out Venn again. It's been three weeks since my first stop, and I heard they had new stuff. Also, this is the first time the temperature has been in the twenties in weeks, it seems. We can let go of the ear-muffs, strip to two two layers in stead of 4 or 5, and occasionally take our toques off.

It's Sunday, January 7. I got on a #23 taking me through South Minneapolis via 38th St. most of the way, off at the light rail station, hop on until the next stop at 46th St. and there it is. I found a spot at the bar and the taproom manager Hilary greeted me, informed me of the new beers that had come on since my last visit, and even remembered my name, having met me once. I like that a lot.

Once again, I had friends in the place. Erin, Brian and Jonathan were at a table not far away, and the Sisyphus crew were doing a post-Holiday get-together. I did a lot of visiting, had a lot of visitors. And got my fill of good beer.

Batch 19, Scottish Export
First up, the Batch #11 Belgian Tripel. "Spicy, fruity, strong" went the description. They go with the three word thing here, like so many others. 9% ABV. Peppery, nearly hot. Smooth-Ish. That's what I wrote. And I liked it, it delivered the goods. Doesn't belong next to Tripel Karmeliet,or other exemplars from Belgium,  but not a bad stab at the style.

For beer #2, I chose batch #16, and it was one of the reasons I chose to visit the place this day, The double IPA, and I took it home in a growler. So, I'll skip the bar stool report and give you the notes from the growler below.

#3 was the Batch #19, Scottish Export: toasty/roasty-y, malty, dry
and delicious. Just where you want it. A good ol' drinking' beer. 4.5%. Here you go, everybody, come on in.

English Pale Ale. 
Did I have a fourth? I did. Batch 14, British Pale Ale. Sweet 'n' malty slightly hoppy. Smooth 'n' tasty, not bad in the least.

"Floral, toffee, toasty" is their official triumvirate. (Tribunal? trifecta? tripod?) See above. 4% ABV.

Four beers (not all pints) was enough, a nice little session. Back to the light rail, a quick bourbon at Northbound while I wait for the next bus, then home. And a few days later, I opened this one:

Batch #16: Double IPA. 9.6% ABV.

To the eye: clear, citrus-tinged, golden-ish, tangerine-y, with a lush, full, creamy-toned head. Looking great.

In the nose: Ah! So nice. Utterly lovely. Soft tropical fruit notes, certainly citrus tones, and just the whiff of pine, as well. And so, so nice.

In the mouth: Bam! Bam, sham-a-lam! Big, sharp, beautiful citrus hop attack at the front, staying strong and bitter, full and fierce and flush with flavor. Piney, pithy, pungent. Full-in bitterness, ripe and juicy, fresh and delicious. Goddamnit, this is right on the money. Just about perfect. Man, oh, man. Mmm, mmm, mmm. It's everything. One of my favorite Double IPAs of recent memories.

On researching their website for publication of this report, I noticed more beers available since that last visit. Breakfast Stout and Modern Sahti are new to the menu. They're just gonna keep pulling me back these guys. Just don't go fall into the whole haze/milkshake trend, or....I don't know....just don't. Please. And I'll be back, again and again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Milk & Honey Heirloom Cider 2015 Harvest

Milk & Honey Heirloom Cider Harvest 2015.
6.9% Alc./Vol. Ingredients: apples, yeast, sugar.
Don't shame me! This is not a dirty glass, but floating
particulates. Not sure why. 

Clear, pale golden, crapload of floats....did I wait too long on this? I only got this sample a few months ago. Surely it should hold up that long. I received two bottles, had the first fairly soon after receiving it, don't recall this amount of particulate. No head, because, cider.

In the nose: apples. Very apple-y. Granny Smith? No, Golden Delicious. I don't know. Actually, certainly not, as the label tells us. 10 different varieties. Sharp, acidic, nice.

(Reading the website later, I see that we are encouraged to use a bulbed glass for greater aromatics, and I went with a silly ol' Willi Becher. And pulled out a fancy one for a local kettle sour afterward. Shame on me.)

In the mouth: Sharp, twangy, even tangy, tart, crisp, and yeah, delicious. That's some nice cider, there. If I were drinking some cider, I'd like it to be this. Ends on a dry note, while remaining fruity and tasty. Good ol' cider.

2015 was a ‘garden year’ for our apple orchards. The 2015 Heirloom best exemplifies the growing season with tropical fruit aromas and a big mouthfeel. The usual Heirloom suspects, including Newtown Pippin, Winesap, and Chestnut, were blended with some new characters including Dabinett, Northern Spy and Wickson.

LynLake Brewery Disco Jenga! Golden Kettle Sour

LynLake Brewery Disco Jenga! 5.2% ABV, 10 IBU. LynLake Brewery, Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, pale golden color, hefty offering of ivory froth atop.

In the nose: soft, fruity, slightly sour. Slowly increasing in magnitude.

In the mouth: light sourness, more soft, light bodied, and very mild. Other than that, nothing wrong with it. Session sour for sure. Light lactic sour, slight vinegar, everything is very minor in this one.
But, refreshing and drinkable. Starter sour.

All in all, not a bad stab at a kettle sour. I can see better things coming from this.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Eastlake Tsathoggua Brandy Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout Three-in-One

Back in 2015, when  I worked at Eastlake Craft Brewery in the Midtown Global Market on Lake Street in South Minneapolis, owner/brewer Ryan Pitman promised a Russian Imperial Stout called Tsathoggua, named after some kind of Lovecraftean ancient evil. I missed it when it was first released. Now, at last, here are three reviews of three releases....

Ladies and Gentlemen, a Bitter Nib Three-in-One. It's like The Thing vs. Spider-Man plus,  I don't know, Man-Thing. Let us now partake of.....

Eastlake Tsathoggua 2017. 14 % ABV. Bottled December 2017. Let's not age it at all and drink it now. Because.

Legend has it this beer is named for a toad-like gargoyle. This Imperial stout is barrel aged in American Oak and Spanish Brandy Barrels. Flavor notes include coconut, orange marmalade and pineapple.

I copied and pasted that info without reading it, because that's how I do it. And now, I will drink it. Because, etcetera.

Deep, dark, rich, impenetrable, etcetera. Impressive. Rich, cocoa-tinged head. Mmmm.

In the nose: cocoa and fruit. Deep and impressive, plums and chocolate. Nice. Chocolate covered oranges.

In the mouth: Yeah, coconut, richness and saltines and everything nice. Thick, rich, chocolatey, altogether indulgence.

That sounds about right. Pretty much nice as heck.

How about this one: Eastlake Tsathoggua, 2016 Imperial Stout Aged on Brandy and Brett:

Dark as the darkest depths. dark brown, with a slim, dark head of foam.

In the nose: sugar and spice and everything nice. Oh, wait, also, everything evil. The ancient tentacles crawl up from the depths and attempt to intertwine with all that is good and holy. All that is divine will soon be swallowed up by the slithering evil that lurks beyond and is only waiting to be released into our world.

In the mouth: Sweetness, sugar, rum, tasty delights, some cocoa, a little coffee, and of course, the ichor of the damned, the succor of the hellish, and the opiate of the mindless, craven,crawling, horrors from beyond. The, um, ancient,  unknowing, horrible, antediluvian, screaming, shocking, mind-numbing, just wretched shambling, shooka-barooka, -ing....yeah, it's all there. It's huge and it's sweet and it's...slithering. Just slithering. You know...

I don't mind the crap out of this.

(I was feeling a little silly there....)

So, that, and then, this: Eastlake Craft Brewery Tsathoggua Imperial Stout Aged on White Oak and Spanish Brandy. These notes were written exactly one year ago. 1/15/17. I've been hanging onto them for a solid turning of the earth 'round the sun, not knowing what to do with them, and here they are:

Solid blackness. Rich brown foam floating above, looking beautiful. Very nice.

In the nose: Cocoa and dark fruits start it off. Some oak, some sweetness. Picking up the brandy now. Nice mix going on here, I can dig it.

In the mouth: starts out rich and sweet, chocolatey, molasses-y. Medium-bodied, not as thick as I'd like. Nicely balanced. Good and even, not too this, not too that, but that may be a problem. I'm expecting more from Spandish brandy barrel-aged, and it's just not coming through. Okay, I'm getting some, and it's covering up what I like from an imperial stout. What do I want from this, exactly? Do I want an imperial stout, or a brandy barrel-ified version? And what would that taste like? I feel like I'm not getting enough of either.

I wish this was deeper, richer, thicker, more complex and multi-dimensional. I'm not getting that. This is alright, but several notches below where it should be, to be truly impressive.

So, now the question is, did this one get better or did I learn to like it more?

Bitch of a Brew

New Year's Eve, for those of us in the industry, can be a bitch, man. Working on a holiday, fighting to stay sane in a sea of maddening...