Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wild Mind No Expectations Pale Ale

Wild Mind No Expectations Pale Ale. 5.7% ABV, 30 IBU. Wild Mind Artisan Ales, Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, bright golden, full, lace-leaving, long-lasting ivory head.

In the nose: Hoppy, spicy, fruity. Intriguing. Of it's own. Warm, bread-y, and beautiful.

In the mouth: Mild and mellow. Moderate hoppiness gently blazes the palate. An array of citrus-y sensations drops on the tongue. Your usual orange, lemon/ lime, grapefruit, with a pinch of pineapple/papaya. Starts fruity/bitter, ending on a dry note.

Good beer, and I can dig it. You can, too.

Our first beer brewed with a Norwegian farmhouse yeast (Kveik), this hoppy pale ale was fermented at high temperatures to produce a wide range of citrus and tropical notes, which we complemented with a heavy dose of Cascade, Centennial, and Simcoe hops in the whirlpool and dry-hopping stages. Dry yet crushable, No Expectations has notes of ruby red grapefruit juice, tangerines, and orange zest.

Forager Saint Francis Witbier with dandelions

Forager Saint Francis Witbier with dandelions. 5.8% ABV, 13 IBU. Forager Brewing, Rochester, MN.

Hazy, golden-toned, slim white head.

In the nose: big citrus, Belgian yeast, some spice. Quite delightful.

In the mouth: Juicy stuff. Plump and flavor citrus flavor, orange zest, with a side of coriander. (But what's this about a "secret spice blend"?) Smooth and highly drinkable. And then there's dandelions, which are not prominent in the flavor, if they appear at all. But, they add to the mystery.
Beautiful interpretation of a wit. Divine.

When held to the light this ale shimmers whitish gold. Aromas of orange zest and coriander pop out of the Belgian ale. Gentle spices dance on a mild wheat based malt body. Our secret spice blend makes this classic Belgian white ale smooth and refreshing.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Pipeworks Glaucus Belgian-style India Pale Ale

Pipeworks Glaucus Belgian-style India Pale Ale. Hopped with Mandarina. 6.2% ABV. Pipeworks Brewing Co., Chicago, IL.

Highly hazed, bright golden hue, large and lacey ivory head.

In the nose: Belgian funk kicks it off, all bubblegum and this side of the barnyard. Hop-forward fruitiness lurks below. I can dig it.

In the mouth: Funky fresh. Bright and citrusy. Nicely hopped. Medium bodied, thirst quenching and utterly drinkable. Slightly spicy, and beautifully hoppy. Not my favorite of the style, but still a good Belgian IPA and you can drink it.

Glaucus is the mythological existence of a being, both man and fish, a deity amongst mere mortals. The only beer fitting of such a name marries bold and spicy Belgian yeasy with bright citric American hops in a way even the gods would adore. Savor this golden beverage that can calm even the harshest seas.

Sisyphus This Beer's For Jay IPA

Sisyphus This Beer's For Jay IPA. 7% ABV, 64 IBU. Sisyphus Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, bright golden hued, lace-leaving ivory foam above.

In the nose: citrus and pine, pineapple and lime, with a little bit of tropical fruit on the side.

In the mouth: blast of bitterness starts it off, riding waves of fruit. Medium-bodied, clean, easy drinking. Traces of melon mixes with the citrus. Tasty little IPA. And you can drink it. Hats off to Jay.

If you are drinking at the Sisyphus bar, chances are you may have met our bar dad - Jay. Lover of IPA's, sarcasm, and peace & quiet, this Beer is for you, Jay. Cheers!

Rush River Double Bubble Imperial India Pale Ale

Rush River Double Bubble Imperial IPA. 9% ABV, 100 IBU. Rush River Brewing, River Falls, Wisconsin.

So, I'm at the store, looking for some drinking beers. All I have at home are reviewing beers, about 26 of them, in crowler, growler, can and bottle. I need something just to drink while I read or watch TV or movies. And I see this old favorite, only $10.50 a 6-pack.

And then something occurs to me. Wait, has this beer appeared in the Nib before? It has to have, right? So, I look and I look, and, no. Is it possible that I haven't had it in the last 7 1/2 years since I started this blog? I went to Untappd to see if there are in clues in my check-ins. I've checked in to Double Bubble four times since 2011, two bottles from spring of that year, possibly from a 6-pack, definitely enjoyed at home, and then August of '15, most assuredly from a sample dropped off for me at Acadia, consumed at home, and finally from a special cask poured at New Year's Eve of that year, at Acadia. Each of those times I neglected to use the opportunity to create a new post for the Nib. Asleep on the job, once more.

So, okay. I'm drinking some Double Bubble. And when did I first review it? Almost nine years ago, June 18, 2009, on BeerAdvocate. Here are those notes:

Mostly transparent, golden hue, big bone-white head.

Sweet meets bitter, in the nose...apricot, tangerine, pineapple, prickly pine.

On the tongue and in the mouth, it's a spank of hops, sliver of malt, and then the sweet honey trickles down and cuts the bitterness. Justa bit of linger bittersweet hops and honey riding the tongue, coating the throat, spreading tastiness.

Medium bodied, longish finish, not too daunting, no bruiser or tongue-ripper, definitely drinkable, but at 8.5%, not what you'd want for a few in a row.

Nicely done, guys.

And all those years later, have my thoughts changed much? Nope. Except...well, I'm on my third of the evening, so forget that noise.

(I also realized that I haven't done a post about Bubble Jack IPA, either. Slacker, slacker, slacker.)

P.S.  A little closer inspection shows that I did do a post here about Double Bubble in April of 2011. How'd I miss it? Anyway, I'll delete it and keep this one. The pic is better, anyway.

Originally our summer seasonal, demand has forced us to offer the Double Bubble all year long, and we don’t mind one bit. This hop-whopper is the bigger brother to our very popular Bubblejack India Pale Ale. Light in color, the hops do the talking in this full-bodied ale. For this version, we’ve doubled the hops, and added three pounds of local honey per keg. Extremely smooth and slightly sweeter than the original, a little bit goes a long way.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fair State BFDP

Fair State BFDP. Barrel Fermented Du Pounde. 5.2% ABV, 25 IBU. Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Minneapolis (& St. Paul), MN. SOUR SAISON. TART, FUNKY, AND OAKY.

From the 4-pack (2 cans of this, 2 of the Lactobac):

Clear, pale golden color, slim white head.

In the nose: strong sour at the start. Beautifully funked up.

In the mouth: even more. Pow! Intense puckeration. Light-bodied, smooth-isa, a tart treat. Ah! Refreshingly sour and lovely. I like this one.

The mixed culture version of our flagship Saison. Brewed with malted wheat and barley and lightly hopped, this version is tart, funky, and oaky. BFD# is a blend of our favorite barrels from the cellar.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Inbound Hallucidation

Inbound Hallucidation. Ale brewed with grape juice. 14% ABV. 20 IBU. Inbound BrewCo (formerly Lucid, sometimes NorthLoop BrewCo), Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, bright golden, slightly apricot-ish color, slim, soon down to nil head.

In the nose: Fruit. Grapes. Lightly sweet. Lovely stuff.

In the mouth: More of the fruit climbs on board and in comes a ton of alcohol. Brandy-like on the tongue. Long lasting feel on the palate. Strength doesn't lessen, or weaken. Only emboldens. Boom, boom, boom. Buzz, buzz, buzz. This is all right.

It's also the first Hallucidation bottle I've ever purchased and consumed. I'd always been scared off by the price. Keep seeing it on shelves and thinking that I want to try it, but eighteen bucks is a bit high for me. Cool label art, though. I'd almost say it's worth it for that, but, nah.

Imperial Saison aged with grape must from Parley Lake Winery.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Flying Dog Alpha Initiative #02 Pilot IPA Series India Pale Ale

Flying Dog Alpha Initiative #02 Pilot IPA Series India Pale Ale. 7.4% ABV. 40 IBU. Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, Maryland.

Clear, bright golden color, slim white head.

In the nose: pine and citrus, playing it low and cool.

In the mouth: Lean-bodied, creamy malt, nearly sweet. Hop flavors and bitterness don't have much of an impact. There's a modicum of hoppiness that hangs around the palate, slightly interacting with the tastebuds, but it's all a very mild affair. Citrus and pine are here, but I don't know about ...."This beer is just bursting with the grapefruit, pine and resin aromas and flavors of Citra and Simcoe hops."

Nothing wrong, nothing bad. But. You know what, it's probably exactly what they set out to make. Just not interesting or special. Ah, well. Average beer and you can drink it.

The Alpha Initiative is a playground for our brewers to explore, create and analyze all things IPA. For Pilot #02, our brewers worked with a hop supplier on ultra-concentrated hop pellets. Only the lupulin gland of the hop is pelletized, resulting in the most concentrated hop pellet available right now.


HOPS:Citra, Simcoe

YEAST:American Ale

Monday, July 9, 2018

Surly Mosaic Kettle Sour

Surly Mosaic Kettle Sour. 5.5% Alc. by Vol. Brewed and canned by Surly Brewing Company, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, The Original Brewery, where it all started.

Hazy, bright golden toned, slim white head.

In the nose: oh, it's got the fruit. All that Mosaic hop goodness, the mango, guava, passionfruit. But never too sweet, and not too bitter, there's still the tart and the dry to end it out.

In the mouth: Now, here comes the sour. Fresh fruit, then puckering sour, ending clean, dry, tasty. Light bodied, refreshing. Nice little dance between sour and fruit and the funk. Hey, guess what, I like it.

Summer is ideal for a fruit-forward beer. Mosaic Kettle Sour fits the profile perfectly. Only there’s no fruit.

Our brewers have been trialing kettle sours for a while, hoping to combine the flavor of a dry-hopped IPA with the fruit and funk of a traditional sour. The Mosaic hop, with its citrusy fruit profile, proved to be an ideal complement for the style. It also produced the next beer in our BC Small Batch Series.

“Mosaic Kettle Sour has these mango and pineapple-y aromatics, it tastes tart and fruity, and there is zero fruit in it,” says Head Brewer Ben Smith. “The Mosaic dry-hopping, combined with Saccharomyces Trois fermentation, produces a funky, tart beer.”

(Beer nerd aside: Saccharomyces Trois is a popular yeast strain in NE IPAs.)

The end result is a beer that is perfect for a hot summer day. The long-range forecast says you’ll have a chance to see for yourself.


Dry, refreshing, and tart with a hint of bitterness for a clean finish.
5.5% ABV.
The Mosaic adds citrus along with an earthy, grassy characteristic.
Hints of lemon, lime, and mango.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Firestone Nitro Merlin Milk Stout

Firestone Nitro Merlin Milk Stout. 5.5% ABV, 27 IBU. Firestone Walker Brewery, Paso Robles, CA.

Full-on ebony, distinctly dark, with a rich brown ring of foam above.

In the nose: Roast and toast, smooth and silky. Moderate bitterness, mostly malty. Vanilla beans, nuts and cream.

In the mouth: Semi-sweet, roasty, beautifully blended. Chocolate and espresso. Medium bodied, long lasting malty finish. Creamy, smooth, and ever-so drinkable. Pretty nice, this one. Pretty, pretty nice.

Shoot! I didn't read the label of the can before consuming. I was supposed to "Hard Pour" and admire the cascade. Also, invert the can 3 times, for some reason. Damn! Oh, time.

Our Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout has been transformed into a mindblowing mouthful known as Nitro Merlin Milk Stout. The new ingredient is lactose, a.k.a. milk sugar. When Velvet Merlin is brewed with milk sugar to create Nitro Merlin Milk Stout, the effect is similar to adding cream to your dark roasted coffee. The result is a stout that is still dark and roasty, but now with a mellow sweetness and added roundness of body.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Venn Batch #47 Imperial Hibiscus Saison

Venn Batch #47 Imperial Hibiscus Saison. 12% ABV. 30 IBU. Venn Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Here's a crowler I bought a month ago, reviewed a few days ago, and was still on tap a week ago, amazingly. I can imagine plenty of people shirk away when they see "12%". Their loss.

Clear, bright crimson color, slim white head.

In the nose: sweet, floral, fruity. Low bitterness. Lovely stuff.

In the mouth: Full bodied, smooth and fruity. Nice bitterness, malty mouthfeel, fully fruity and flowery. So tasty and clean that the 12% slips right past me. Completely effortless. Quite delicious, this. I may have to go back for more, if it's still around.

Floral, tart, super dry.
An epic, bone-dry saison aged on hibiscus flowers.

Malts: Pilsner.
Hops: Warrior, Cascade, Centennial.
Yeast: Belgian Ale.
Other: Clear Candi Syrup, Hibiscus Flowers.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Surly BC Small Batch Rose' Lager

I suppose the true intention of this inflatable object
is to place the can inside
the flamingo, or pour it into a plastic cup,
maybe, but I
could not resist. 
Surly BC Small Batch Rose' Lager. 5.2% ABV. Lager brewed with black currant and strawberries.

Clear and pink, slim white ring on top.

In the nose: sweet and fruity, but balanced. Berries and grapes, restrained. Mild bitterness, quite carbonated.

In the mouth: Brisk, bright, clean, and spritz-y. Fruit flavors feel authentic and burst rather boisterously upon the palate. Just slightly tart, from the fruit. Ends decidedly dry-ly. What might threaten to be "too sweet" or blasé' is actually not. Crisp and refreshing.

I'll drink a rose' only if there's absolutely no other choice. And I'll always choose beer over wine, of any kind, unless, like I said, I'm in a situation where it's my only option. In that sense, I am quite unlike Surly brewer Ben Smith, whose obsession with rose' lead him to create this beer. When I first heard of it, I was skeptical, and skipped it, at the Beer Hall. (Checking in on Untappd, it looks like I did try it, from a sample, or someone's else's serving.) Definitely not for me. According to the press release, though, it "quickly replaced the requests for hazy IPAs and staple styles like Furious and Axe Man" at the Surly Beer Hall.

Well, that surprised me, a little. Is the beer crowd forever chasing trends, while I'm the grumpy old man, leering over the fence, grumbling at those whipper-snappers? Were they only ordering Todd or other IPAs because they didn't know that the joys of a rose' lager were now a reality?

I'll quote a little more from the press release, from Ben directly: "It's fermented on lager yeast, then finished with champagne yeast to dry it out even further. If you're familiar with the brut IPA trend, we've used a 'brut' process on a number of beers in the Beer Hall like Frisson or DAF. Enzymes break down the carbs, allow sugars to ferment, and completely dry it out for a crisp, clean finish."

I think he achieved exactly what he sought to accomplish. And some people should enjoy the heck out of it. And they should sell those pink flamingo inflatables at the gift shop, so every like-minded "rose lager" drinker can drink it in the pool this summer.

As for me, it's still "IPA, all. day."

From the can: "Surly Rose' is crisp, easy-drinking and pink as Hell. Brewed with a hint of currant and strawberry, Surly Rose' pairs subtle, fruit-forward aromatics with a dry, refreshing finish. Ditch the bottle and pick up a can instead."

Digression: when people give up metaphors and similes and fall back on the lazy "as hell", or more increasingly, "as fuck", they may seem to be making a bold statement, but instead are standing knee-deep in a morass of absurdity. This particular instance makes one wonder: "Hell is Pink?"

Veltins Pilsener

Veltins Pilsener. Product of Germany. Pilsener Beer. Seit 1824. 4.8% ABV. Brauerei C. & A. Veltins GmbH & Co., Meschede-Grevenstien, Germany.
This was a badly staged photo. You can't see the handle on
the clever plastic insta-stein that's gripping the can,
though you can see the lid. 

Clear, yellow, brief ivory head.

In the nose: light malt, grainy, slight hops.

In the mouth: Nice splash of hop bitterness, turning dry instantly. Brief hop attack on the palate, then all is smooth. Light bodied, refreshing, highly drinkable. Classic German-style pils, and there ain't nothing wrong with it.

Don't know what else to say. Except that I was sure that I'd had this before. So, I dug deep into the archives, and by that I mean that I checked it out on, and found this. From January 2003, and a sample bottle or can provided by the distributor at the time:

"Label proclaims this as a "German Pilsner Beer", but it's a pilsner like Miller Lite's a "true pilsner beer". Clear dull yellow color, moderate white head. Aroma: dry, vegetal, flat, hints of corn, flinty, and overall off-putting to this nose. Absolutely no body, texture, nil, nothing, nada. Not a single bit of taste to be accounted for. It passes through you, without a trace of it having been on your tongue at all."

Clearly, I no longer find those negative attributes in this one. It's seems that I went into it wanting to go after it. Either I got a bad or old or skunked sample, lo those years ago, or my appreciation for the style has changed. Maybe a bit of both. I think I just liked picking on lagers back then.

Type bottom fermented, Pilsener style
Colour bright shiny gold
Smell fresh hay and fresh herbs with citrous flavour and a nutty character
Taste slightly dry with a harmonic finish
Foam finely-pored and steady
Bitterness perfectly bodied
Original gravity 11°P
Alcohol content 4,8 vol. %
Calorific value
41 kcal/100 ml or 174 kj/100 ml

I love to share the verbiage from European breweries, because their word choices are just a little different from what we'd say on this side of the Atlantic. And I scratch my head at some of their descriptions. "Nutty character" in the nose, I mean, smell? No. How can bitterness be described as "perfectly bodied"? Huh. Oh, well.

It's a good German pils and you can drink it. Go right ahead.

Ballast Point Tart Peach Kolsch

Ballast Point Tart Peach Kolsch. German-style ale with natural flavors. All. 5.2% by Vol. Ballast Point Brewing, San Diego, CA.

Clear, peach-colored, slim head.

In the nose: it's peach-y! (And little else.)

In the mouth: Tart grips the palate at first sip, and then in rushes the sweet, peach flavors. Slightly bitter on the tongue, until sweet peach rushes in. It's a little tango between the tart and the fruit. With the smooth character of a kolsch below. Light-bodied, easy drinker.

However, this is just me, maybe. I don't want sour/tart and peach to go hand in hand. Maybe you do, though, and this may be the best beer you'll ever drink. For me, it's nice, thirst-quenching treat.

Our Tart Peach Kölsch is a fresh take on one of our very first beers. The juicy aroma and flavor of ripe peach complements the subtle fruitiness from the Kölsch yeast in this bright, refreshing ale. Add a tickle of tartness to round out the senses, and you get a new brew that’s interestingly delightful.

Sisyphus Et Tu Brut IPA

Sisyphus Brut IPA. 7.2% ABV.  65 IBU. Sisyphus Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Another new IPA style? Again? Already? What? Several local breweries have made their version, and this is Sisyphus'. I was confused after I brought it home, because I misread the label and though I had the Brett IPA. Opened it up, started drinking, and with half the crowler in the my glass realized that this tastes nothing like Brett IPA. There's enough left to do a review, so here we go:

Clouded, bright golden hue, sizable, stable head of ivory foam.

In the nose: Citrus and tropical tones. Muted, less emboldened. Mellow. Very cool.

In the mouth: Bold, fresh, fruity flavors, but subdued, not harsh or bold in the least. Some bitterness, but kept on a leash. Ending on a very dry, even brittle side of things. Balances between fruit sweetness and very dry finish. An interesting experiment. Not sure how much I care for it. Definitely better than the previous crop of IPA extensions (milkshake, NE-style, etc.).

I don't mind this. But, I still like more bitterness in my IPA. Because that's what they're for. But if you like an IPA that's more like champagne, be my guest.

Man. I have to digress a little more. I went Google-searching for more information on this new style, and saw these headlines: "the champagne-like beer hopheads can't get enough of..." "As soon as I drank one of these bone dry, pale, and super aromatic Brut IPAs I felt like it was something that could become big trend..." "Brut Bellini IPA from Dangerous Man Brewing: So far, this has been the year of the hazy, or New England, IPA, but I predict the tide is soon ..." " Bubbly, Bone-Dry Brut IPAs Are Suddenly All Anyone Can Talk About."

Really? We were just all about everything juicy, that's all anyone could talk about, and now we're swinging wide the other way? Trends. I hate 'em. I mean, I can talk about more than one thing, okay?

A new style coming from the West Coast. This IPA should appeal to your champagne tastes. Dryer and with more wine quality than a tradional IPA, hopped with Nelaon Sauvin hops.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

BlackStack Worst Behavior Double Dry Hopped Double IPA

BlackStack Worst Behavior Double Dry Hopped Double IPA. 8.5% ABV. BlackStack Brewing, St. Paul, MN.

Lightly hazy, bright golden-hued, stable, 1/2 " ivory head.

In the nose: tropical explosion, with a mild citrus twist. Moderate bitterness, medium malt. Ending on a dry note.

In the mouth: Sweetness starts it off, smooth, light bodied, delicate and delightful. The double dry hopping makes it double dry. Low bitterness on the palate. Exquisite drinkability. Mmm. Mighty delicious.

Coming back on our worst behavior. Citra and Nelson hops. Just say when. A beer for rough housing and running by the pool. An ale for acting extra and texting exes. Getting physical and failing physicals. We played by the rules on the last few drops, but, F*** it, hold my phone. When.

Okay. Sure.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Seattle Cider Co. Basil Mint Hard Cider

Seattle Cider Co. Basil Mint Hard Cider. Made with Washington Apples.  Alc. 6.9% Vol. Seattle Cider Company, Seattle, Washington.

Clear, yellow, with a short-lived head.

In the nose: spice, heat, and mint aplenty. Nice bit of leafy sweetness.

In the mouth: Mmm. Tangy. More minty, leafy, spicy head, more sweet. Not a lot else. Basil's coming in hot, here. Ends dry on the palate. Smooth and drinkable with a unique flavor. This is nice, but I can't imagine having more than one. Maybe someone who's more into the cider thing would be into it more than I, but I leave that to them.

Fermented with fresh basil and mint, this off-dry cider starts savory and floral, complemented perfectly by a tart, clean finish.

Sociable CiderWerks Road Rash Shandy Apple

Sociable CiderWerks Road Rash Shandy Apple. 6.6% ABV. Sociable CiderWerks, Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, bright yellow, no head.

In the nose: big apple, medium carbonation, what else? Shades of citrus.

In the mouth: Big lemon on the palate, big citrus and a ton of tart. Toss up between sweet apples and tart lemon. Lean bodied, refreshing, tasty. Ain't bad at all. I wouldn't turn to it more than once (I can only take so much lemon), but maybe you might. I won't stop you.

Road Rash scuffs up what you’d expect from shandy by blending the Midwest’s finest freshly pressed apples with zesty shredded lemons. The result is a light bodied citrus character that is tart, refreshing and never too sweet.

Minnesota Breweries One by One #16: Forager Brewery, Rochester

For the second stop in Rochester we chose Forager Brewery , as our collective stomachs were rumbling, and this one is a brewpub with food ...