Monday, November 24, 2014

Piraat Triple Hop


Piraat Triple Hop Dry-hopped Ale, alc. 10.5% by Vol. Product of Belgium. Brewed & Bottled: Br. Van Steenberge. Ertvelde, Belgium.

I've been a fan of Piraat for quite some time and now, at last, there's a triple hop, dry-hopped version? Sign me up!

Appearance: lightly hazed, bright golden amber hue, snow-white, lacy head. Beautiful.

Aroma: dry, spicy, floral, bristling with noble hops. Gorgeous.

Taste: Bone-dry. Ultra-hoppy. Or, uber-, that works. Citrus notes abound, little traces of pine, all types of spicy delights. Pear, apple, pepper. Mmm. Long, spicy, hoppy finish. Lean-bodied, light malt character. Goddamn it, this is good.

Any gobbledy-gook on the label? Nary a whiff of it. It is what it is, and it is wonderful. More, please!

Goose Island India Pale Ale


Goose Island India Pale Ale, Alc./Vol. 5.9%. 55 IBU rating. Serve in a thistle. Contains: Wheat (Is that a new thing? Have they always used wheat in this?)Brewed and bottled by Goose Island Brewing Company in Baldwinsville, NY and Fort Collins, CO. (Not Chicago, IL? Ah, that's why they sold out to Budweiser, eh?)

Every now and then, I re-visit a beer that I'd first taken notes on many years ago, back in the infancy of my beer reviewing life. I just bought a 6-pack of Goose Island's India Pale Ale, a brew I've always enjoyed, and looked back on the old notes. Know what? They hold up. So, here they are verbatim, from January of 2003:

"Pours a pure amber color, topped with a plump, lacey milk-white head.

Vibrantl aromatics, displaying a bold, bracing bouquet of hops. I'm no walking encyclopedia of beer ingredients, but I'd guess at Cascade as the chief hop in use. Evocative of some fruits, peach, pineapple,citrus, notes of herb and pine. The hop sensation buzzes and bristles, a sensation close to stuffing your face in a big bag of hops, and inhaling deep!

Sharp bitterness on the palate at first, ultimately, but not immediately, mellowing out. Excellent texture for the hopheads, as each individual sip requires one to stop, savor, swallow. The hop attack is huge, and clearly, not for everyone. I enjoyed the hell out of this tasty IPA. Puts others to shame."

This was almost 12 years ago, and I would no longer say that this one puts others to shame. It's still a terrific IPA, but the game has changed so much in the past decade plus, and much more has been accomplished in the field of IPAs.

Why did Anheuser-Busch purchase Goose Island? They've got plenty of money as it is, they hardly need more. Now that they own the GI brand, the beers are being brewed at A-B facilities nation-wide and reaching markets that GI never could before. But it's not really Goose Island anymore, is it? Is it still craft beer if it's owned and brewed by big bad Budweiser?

There are so many questions to face when you're trying to be a politically correct beer drinker. What it comes down to is, yeah, I do feel guilty that the $7.99 I paid for this 6-pack didn't go to a craft brewery that get where it is on it's own terms, without a leg-up from the Evil Empire.

You will still see GI beers here from time to time, but not much and not often. Other breweries will take priority, it's just the natural way I roll.

Hey, what's the label say? "English style IPA. Our IPA opens with a fruity aroma set off by a malty middle and long hop finish." Sure, why not?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bauhaus Brewlabs Jingle Fever Baltic Porter


It's that time of year, when store shelves are stocking to brimming with beer labels adorned with  all manner of holiday references. And we're doing it locally, too, evidenced by the latest release from Bauhaus, their first bottling.

Bauhaus Brewlabs Jingle Fever. 8% Alcohol by Volume. 35 IBU. 22 fluid ounces. Baltic Porter. Limited Release. Bomber for $7.50 at Lake Wine & Spirits. So glad to find a bomber for under $10.

Appearance: dark brown, with bright shining crimson highlights peeking through, slim brown head.

Aroma: Earthy, malty, lightly spicy.

Taste: Got to tell ya, parts one and two didn't thrill me. Part three, once it's in the mouth, it's a wonderful thing. Delicious. Sweet, sweet dark malt. Caramel and toffee. Gingerbread. Toasty and tasty. Medium-bodied, long, sweetish finish. Low bitterness, just enough for balance.

I wonder what the label can tell us? Got to get the glasses out…"Smooth & silky." "A toast to all that's good in life!" "Gemutlichkeit!" "When the fluffy white stuff starts falling, this Baltic Porter is all you need to get into the holiday spirit. Jingle Fever has a rich, complex blend of malt flavors expressing caramel and dried fruit with an oh-so-smooth roasty finish. One sip will have you coming back for more."

Great to see another Baltic Porter being locally brewed. I hate to disappoint them, but this brew won't achieve it's goal of giving me "jingle fever." That's never been my style. It is a hearty remedy for wintry maladies, though.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stone Coffee Milk Stout


Stone Coffee Milk Stout, Ale Brewed With Roasted Coffee Beans. ENJOY FRESH. 2014 release. 4.2% Alc./Vol. B & B b. SBC, E, SDC, C.

Solid blackness, rich tan head atop.

Low espresso notes in the aroma, cocoa, deep dark malts.

Taste: Smooth and creamy. We're getting some hop bitterness, just enough to tamp down the sweetness. Lush malt, great balance. Solid stuff.

I like coffee stouts. Not so hot on milk stouts. Nothing wrong with them, just don't thrill me, that's all. Put them together, and …I'm still not thrilled. It's fine enough stout, but I probably won't pay $11 for a 6-pack again.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Surly Eight (Rye Barrel-aged Oat-Wine)


Surly Eight. The eighth Surly of them all. Oat Wine style ale aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels. I'm going to let you in on a little secret. (Or is it a secret? Maybe not.)Why was both the anniversary beer and Darkness bourbon barrel-aged this year? So they could get the beer out of the fermentation tanks and into those barrels that they store in a warehouse in St. Paul, and use those tanks to brew more Furious.
Soon, soon, there will be more tanks at the new facility. Soon, and getting sooner!

So, this is the first time that I haven't poured the Surly anniversary beer for the thirsty beer nerds of Minneapolis. I've accepted the fate that I've foisted on myself, but there's still that wistful twinge. Ah…yeah… I remember One, in 2007, and from 2008 through 2010, I was proud to host the release of Two (which will always have special personal importance, you know, because of this, Three, and Four at the Blue Nile. Those were exciting days, weren't they, friends? And, they usually happened in late January or early February, because that was when the anniversary occurred. I know for a fact that the first kegs of Surly Furious and Bender rolled out on the last week of Jan./first week of Feb. in 2006. For Surly Five, in 2011, it took a few months more, and then they started the mantra: "when it's ready." That was at Republic Seven Corners, and Six (or, Syx) was also released in the summertime at Aster Cafe along the river. For Seven, I'm sorry, SeViin, they rented out the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown and that was in late Autumn. Eight is the latest of them all. This was released at the Dakota Jazz Club a few weeks back, cool, I wish I'd been there. I really do! The only one I've missed! (There was no release party for One. They didn't do that then.)

I was at the Nomad last Wednesday  for their MidWeek Beer Geek release of Eight, and Michael Berglund, master of Surly imaging and branding,  mentioned that I hadn't written about it yet. Well, now, this was my first full serving of it, and bottles just went out to stores earlier that week, and I didn't go chasing the trucks for it. If you're not aware, here's a little lesson about the hardcore beer geek crowd. They follow brewery/distributor delivery trucks to chase the release of the new, hard to get beers. Yeah, they do. And I don't.

I did pick one up last week, but didn't open it right away. I wanted to make sure I could have another to sit on before I cracked open the first. And I bought that other one today. Maybe, someday soon, I'll be able to afford a few more, and I'll visit those liquor stores that the beer geeks pass by, and I'll find some more for my cellar.

Right now, I'm in between jobs. I don't have the cash to buy a bunch, and I wasn't haunting the store aisles when it was first released, but more significantly, I'm not managing a bar that gets a keg, and can't hook one up just to pour some out for sampling. (Ah, those were the days. Well, you made your bed, now, lie in it!)
No, I've got to pay $20 a pop like every other schmuck.

Enough of that jibber-jabber, now it's time to lock in and sit down a big ol' bomber of Eight. Sorry, it's late, everyone, but here we go…

Appearance: utter opacity, dark, rugged, rustic burgundy coloring, under a lush, off-white, creamy-toned head.

Aroma: comes screaming out of the glass…. whiskey all over the place. Vanilla, coconut, oak, …huge, vast, immense, …all the adjectives. The richness wraps over all other flavors, but that's alright, I don't mind.

Taste: yeah, let's…mmm, bright, bold, vibrant, and incredibly complex. Whiskey tones (more vanilla, more sweetness, still some coconut) are king of this jungle, standing tall above all, …and making me wish I could get a taste of the original, pre-High West barrel-aging to compare them. An oat barley-wine, rich, fruity, delicious, and strong. But, not too strong. Some have been reporting this as "hot", but having tasted it, I am here to declare them to be positively pussies. "Waah, wah, it's 'hot'!" Get over it, it's a barley-wine, it's supposed to be strong, be a man, and drink a beer! (Or be a woman, too, either way. How about this one: "person up!" Okay, I'll keep searching for the politically correct term.)

I'm barely halfway into this and it's tasting better and better, and feeling stronger and stronger. Pro-tip: share this one. Not wise to drink it alone. But, that's what I'm here for, taking it for the team.

An oat wine. How many of those are there? The wheat wine is a thing, sure, but Todd has always been pro-oat, and mostly anti-wheat. Smooth and supple and utterly delicious. Once the whiskey barrel-aging effects wear away, the brew below shows it's stuff, and it's goddamn gorgeous.

We're getting towards the end, and I'm close to surrender. This is the best way to enjoy this beer (screw sharing!)…late at night…got nothing to do tomorrow…let the time pass away, and accept every beautiful moment.

Here's where I read the label to you: First off, Omar: "When it's done is a phrase we've used to describe release dates for our beers for many years. When you're putting the beer first, it just makes sense. Our anniversary is technically in February, but this unique Oat Wine style ale needed to age in High West Distillery Rye Whiskey barrels until well…until it's done. Here's to eight great years, and we'll all be celebrating soon in our all-new Destination Brewery. …The idea behind our anniversary line-up of beers was to give Todd, Surly's Head Brewer, fee rein to use whatever ingredients and methods he wanted to brew the beer. This year's bottle artwork is a one-of-a-kind illustration collaboration between Todd and local artist Josh "Jawsh" Lemke." …and then, Todd: "This beer was designed for barrel-aging, so it's been a great opportunity to work with our friends at High West Distillery, in Park City, Utah. Brewed with Golden Promise and Aromatic malt, and milk sugar fermented in stainless steel, then aged in high West Distillery rye whiskey barrels, this golden-hued Oat-Wine style ale summons notes of spicy vanilla marshmallow and aromas of honey and whiskey."

Wait, there's information missing…why can't I find the ABV? Odd…well, I heard that it's 10.7% ABV. It's got to be on there somewhere….nope, nowhere…oh, well, worse things have happened.

Okay. This is incredible now. And it could be different later. I say get as much as you like, but drink it fresh, then stash some away and break it out on special occasions, but don't freak out about aging it. Probably the best advice anyone can ever give you about beer: don't freak out about it.

Postal Script: You many have noticed that I provided links to the blog posts about 5 of the previous anniversary beers from Surly. One and Three were reviewed before I began using this blog as the space for my beer reviews, and I'm not likely to come across them again. By the rules of this blog, they shouldn't appear here, but I'm going to break that rule this time. Here's what I wrote about One, a 9% ABV dark lager that we decided to call a doppelbock, on January 10, 2007:
""One", an anniversary lager. ("But don't call it a doppelbock.")
Brewed July 2006, with a blend of 7 different malts and candi sugar. 9% abv, 28 IBU.

(this was hard to categorize, as it's not a double pilsner, not a malt liquor,...I thought I'd err on the safe side and just enter it as an all-malt lager.)

Sample bottle poured into a wide-mouth Belgian chalice.

Deep mahogany hue. ("Tawny brown", says the brewer, but we're both right.) SLIM whitish head.

Aroma: nice and malty, lightly spicy, with prominent notes of raisin and PLUM. Molasses isn't far off, either. Delicate sweetness.
And, though I tried not to copy the brewer's notes, yes, there's vanillla and licorice in there, too, can't deny it.)

Taste away: Mmmmm. That's all I'll say: Mmmm

...

...

...okay, seriously, this is quite a slick, delicious treat, and they're right it's not a doppelbock, it's unlike anything I can think of at the moment, and I think it's brilliant.
Those dark fruit flavors ride on top, coated with a candyish sheen and it's jostles the realm of the syrupy, but not quite. It grabs hold of the palate with each new sip, drips this sweet concoction all over the tongue and it splashes the roof of the mouth, coats the senses, then softly fades back, though the beautiful flavor never quite quits.

Alcohol is not as forward as you'd think, going into a 9% lager, but I still would advise against tippling too many!
Finish is long, body is medium to full, and the taste is well-tempered, very sweet, but not too much so, at least not to me. Those who can't stand a touch of sweetness may not like it. Their loss.

Happy 1st Anniversary Surly!
Here's to many more!"

I wrote this about Bourbon Barrel-aged One on July 13, 2009:
"Surly Bourbon One

First had this at the Surly Beer Dinner at Cafe' 28 in early 2008. For my 40th birthday in June, 08, got a bottle from Todd, lucky me. SAved it 10 months, broke it open for sampling with friends, here are my notes:


Dusky brown, SLIM head...

rustic nose...fat malt mixed with whiskey...leather licks, bourbon takes command of flavor in this...holds down over the huge malt. One by itself was super-malty and sweet, this, ...this...is perfection...

Taste: sweet and scrumptious, PLUM, dates, raisins, carob and nuts...sweet googly moogly...huge, expansive flavor...spreads out and envelops the senses...

Good Lord...

holy fuck.."

I wrote this about Cranberry One in April of 2007:
"On tap at the Blue Nile.

Thoroughly darkened appearance, a solid brown, with a sturdy, if SLIM head of cocoa-tinged foam riding on top.

Tart fruit starts the nose, then molasses, sweet caramel malt...the cranberries merge well the other great flavors found in One, and hold ground above. But there is no single dominant factor, instead, a brilliant blending.

Taste: Yum. Just yum. Dark, sweet, and lightly tart, the better parts of a rich malty lager given an extra fruity zing. Or zang. Or zabbityzazz. Take your pick.
Sip again, and it's scrumptious once more. Full bodied in the mouth, long, sweet, fruity finish.
Terribly smooth, no rough spots here at all. Tastiness all around.
an excellent dessert beer, or an exquisite closer on a night's imbibing.
Any way you try it, please do. Another winner from Surly."

And on February 24, 2009, I wrote this about the braggot (half cider/half dark lager) they called Three:
""Black Braggot" they're calling it, and it's pretty damned black, under a creamy tanned head, about a 1/4 inch, long lasting in my Darkness goblet.

Sweetness hits the nose, you get the honey tone, then it opens up for vanilla, cream, cloves, and more delicate spices. Very pleasant.

Tasting it, and the honey hits again. It leaps up and slides all over the palate, coating the tongue, and dripping delight all over the mouth. I like honey, and I like honey beers. The taste starts off with loads of honey, then leans back, as caramel and cocoa malt flavors fill in and temper the sweet stuff some. Still sweet, but far from treacly. Very mellow.

Full bodied, to say the least, finish is solid, sweet and mellow, not too short, not too long...doesn't overstay it's welcome. I find this one irresistible, but it be wisest to control consumption and keep this as a lovely nightcap.

Cheers to Todd and Omar for another remarkable, utterly unique brew, and to three great years of Surly beers!"



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dave's BrewFarm Gravity Sux Lager


There are all kinds who visit Dave's BrewFarm, plenty of interesting characters, including some who love to sky-dive. On many occasions, they've chosen the BrewFarm as their landing site, and I've been there once for the drop. Imagine that, someone falls out of the sky and comes up to the bar for a beer.

Well, they talked Farmer Dave into taking the plunge with them, a surreal experience, he called it, and he brewed this beer in their honor.  Gravity Sux, it's called, and it's 6.9% ABV. I've seen it called an "American Pale Lager" on Untappd, and having had it at the BrewFarm last Saturday, I wouldn't agree, but like I said about the last one, you gotta stick it somewhere (for those websites, anyway). This one, too, I'd call an amber lager.

Appearance: crystal clear, bright golden/amber hue, slim white head.

Aroma: mild, fruity hops, light spice, then malt.

Taste: Sweet malt and minor hops greet the tongue at first, sweet biscuity, bready malt reveals itself behind that. Medium-bodied, light finish. Little bit of peppery spice in the flavor, little bit of stone fruit, apricot,  peach, a touch of citrus. Smooth stuff. And tasty as they get. Here's where I stop with my lager-bashing and just enjoy.

Here's what Farmer Dave has to say: "Gravity Sux: Brewed for our favorite group of jumpers who like to "drop in" for a beer at the BrewFarm! Smooth and easy drinking--Pils and Caramel malts, Cluster and PErle hops, and fermented with a lager yeast. For those who like to jump out of perfectly good airplanes!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sierra Nevada Coffee Stout


Sierra Nevada Coffee Stout. B & B b. SNBC, C, CA. (You know what that means.)

It's still what you could call the middle of November and it is god-damned freezing out there. I am in deep need of something hearty, rich and warming. Well, at 6.2 % ABV, it's not that warming, but it is the first two, so here comes Sierra Nevada Coffee Stout.

I let this one warm up to almost room temperature.

Solid blackness, with ruby-tinged edges, A rich tanned head stands guard on top.

Aroma: Espresso and cocoa and nothing but, deep and dark and wonderful.

Taste: Pretty much everything you want in a coffee stout. Full-bodied, full coffee flavor, long, rich malty finish, while still fantastically drinkable. Mild carbonation, low hops, strong coffee…beautifully balanced.

Deee-licious. It's is very hard to find a Sierra Nevada beer that doesn't deliver. That's all I'm saying.

Hey, what are they saying, I wonder? "A cup of joe and a bold beer can thwart the winter cold, so we blended them for the ultimate warmer. Our Coffee Stout is a fusion of dark roasted malts and rich, cold-brewed coffee for layers of bittersweet, fruity, dark chocolate and caramel-like flavors."

I've got to tell you, though: I'm not getting the dark fruit or the caramel-like…wait, okay, now I get it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bent Brewstillery Rose Gose


Bent Brewstillery Fall 2014 Rose Gose, Where The Wild Beers Are, Leipziger Gose with Jamaican sorrel, allspice, and roses. Alc. 4.6% by Vol. This bomber set me back about $9 at Elevated.

What's a Leipziger Gose, you ask? Read about it here.
Appearance: lightly hazed, amber/golden hue, slim, soon-gone head.

Aroma: crazy sourness at first, a little funk, then band-aid. Intentional? Can't be sure with these guys. A little bit of fruit, some malt sweetness, but most of all band-aid.

Taste: Ooooh! Ow! Okay, first of all: sour, then comes the salt. Wincing, grimacing, head-shaking, squinting, teeth-gritting, lip pursing, all part of the pleasure that comes with the pain. I think. And more band-aid. I'm frowning in disgust more than anything else through this experience. But like a good soldier, I forge on.

Light bodied, lean and drinkable…-ish, but for that horrible taste. Sigh…Just not into this at all.

I'm going to take a break and read the label for a spell: "Notice: traditional high carbonation, chill well….A spice bazaar, a gentle sea breeze, intoxicating musky Rose fields, MOUTH PUCKERING SOUR! That's right baby, a smackdown for your senses! Spicy, flowery, musky, sour, salty, inviting and sensual, charming and dashing, bottled class. For all you discerning Mensches. Unpasteurized. Bottle conditioned. Decant when serving."

Part of me is saying "pour it down the drain" (what some would refer to as a "drain pour"), but I'm going to see if I can make it through this 750 ml bottle. And after a bit, the bandaid is less discernible, but it is there, it hasn't gone away. And with each new meeting of glass and lip, it's there again. With the salt and the sour, you know it's intended as a Leipziger gose, the rose aspect definitely shows itself, and I'm not sure about the Jamaican sorrel. There's definitely the sourness there, as well, and the bandaid is getting dimmer as we go along, but it's never forgotten.

I'm not adverse to sour ales by any means, and I enjoy most of this, but that band-aid infection still sticks the the palate and is inextricably married to the memory.

This one is going in the minus column. And so far, the BB brews are not working out for me. I might have to hold out for a free one before I try another.
Postal Script: I did not actually finish the remains of the glass, and the final few ounces did find their way into the kitchen sink. I tried, Lord, how I did try.

Stone Go To IPA


Stone Go To IPA, a Vibrant, Hop-bursted Session IPA. Ale-Brewed and Bottled by Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, San Diego County, CA. 4.5% Alc./Vol. Enjoy Fresh.

Appearance: Lightly hazy, bright golden hue, slim white head.

Aroma: As advertised, very vibrant and utterly bursting with hops. Bold and bright citrus and pine. Ah, so nice.

Taste: More of that big, fierce and shining hop flavor, with just enough juicy malt below. Lean bodied, with a dominant buzz of hop bitterness. Drinkable, yes, also refreshing and tasty, too. It's good beer, and I can drink it, but…just doesn't thrill me. I really don't desire the session IPA. I like the regular ones just fine, thank you very much. Faced with the choice of this or a regular Stone IPA, I know where I'm going.

This one is merely "okay", and that's not what I expect out of Stone. Low on my priorities.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dave's BrewFarm: Reflections, Past, Present, & Future (with notes on Azacca Single Hop Lager)


The dream is done, long live the dreamer.

Cal snapped this shot of Farmer Dave and I at the first taproom weekend, five years ago, December, 2009.


If you look to the right side of this beer blog, there is an alphabetical listing of tags, or labels, and each is followed by a number. A quick glance through them will show that among the breweries most celebrated here, Dave's BrewFarm ranks up at the top. When I publish this, it will be tag #51. (Only one other brewery beats that number, Town Hall, at 58, which is only about 4 miles away from me, rather than the 60 miles to the BrewFarm) and I've been writing about their beers for over 12 years).With this one, I'm not just writing about one of the latest beers from the BrewFarm that I'm trying out, I'm also giving a brief, personal history, as I mourn it's eventual passing.

Ever the individualist, always contrarian, Farmer Dave's version of a harvest beer is called Carrot Fest. This was taken last October; the beer was on tap again this weekend.


I've known David Anderson for about ten years now, and I've known of his history in brewing, and of his ambitions of starting up his own brewery. For so long, in what we'll call the mid-oughts, whenever I saw Dave, I pelted him with more questions about how his dream was coming along, when would it happen, where, what beers, when, when, at last, when? (Keep in mind that this is long before the current bold burgeoning of breweries, where it seems like they're opening locally once a week.) This was casual encounters, bumping into him here and there, and in official capacities while he was briefly my salesrep for a distributor. Eventually he met and married Pam Dixon, and they devised the current incarnation of the BrewFarm (which was originally conceived almost 20 years ago as a brewpub in a northern suburb), and in late 2009, it finally opened to the public. I was excited to be there for the open house, and eagerly anticipated the bottled version of Matacabras and the canned lager, BrewFarm Select. (Early on, he had t-shirts and such with the original BrewFarm logo, as well as a beer designed for it, Cow Pie Stout, which hasn't returned as often as the other BrewFarm favorites.)

Here was the home to Dave's masterful brews, in a brewery taproom that occupies the building which also houses their living quarters (clearly separated), in rural Wisconsin, nestled near the tiniest town (Wilson, Wisconsin, population: 180.), with nothing else around it. A proud windmill flies heartily in the breeze, but there are no other landmarks nearby to pronounce it's presence. You really have to be looking for it, searching it out. And it was built by them from the ground up.

Here's Pam happily pouring while the folk band Holy Sheboygan, (from Somerset, though) plays away.


The year 2010 found me enjoying those contract-brewed bottles and cans, and serving them at the Blue Nile, but not visiting the LaBrewTory, and instead jealously viewing evidence of my friends' visits via the modern-day wonder of FaceBook. It drove me nuts that Dave was continuing to create these beers you could only have on premise, and i wasn't there. I finally decided to make the time, and reached out to the right friends, and started taking that trip, usually on Sundays (the taproom has been open mostly on a bi-weekly basis, for four hours at a time, Saturdays and Sundays.)

Now, here's what's magical and untouchable about Dave's BrewFarm: it's Dave's plaything where he makes and serves his beers, his way, when and how he wants it. Should he be open every single week, seven days…or maybe more than weekends? No, he doesn't want to. But what if, why doesn't he, shouldn't he…? No, he doesn't want to.  Isn't that what all of us should strive for, to create what we want, and live how we wish? It's a quixotic dream, and it's rich and beyond admirable. It's exactly what we all wish we could be.

Through a glass, wistfully.


One of my first blog posts in early 2011 about the BrewFarm was when he first started selling growlers-to-go (and no, even though it was Wisconsin, you couldn't just bring in any growler, and he wouldn't fill it off of what was on tap, it was what he wanted to growler, and how much he wanted to growler, and in his chosen vessel, because that was the way he wanted to do it.) That was for the Rye Knot saison, which was on tap for today's visit. I did another post, declaring Matacabras to be my favorite beer of 2010, (an award I did not go on to grant on an annual basis)….
And over the next four years, I would try as many of his beers on tap at those visits, usually driven by good pal Jason B., and write about the ones I could take home in growlers. Sure, this is beer #51 on this blog, but how many more did I never get the chance to chronicle? Plenty, that's how many.

Looking at Dean through Big Red-colored glasses.


I could say it again, though I've said it before: The BrewFarm is a very special place, it's never just about the beer, and it's not entirely about the people, but it's all that and so much more. The fact that you're there to enjoy the creations of this very singular mind is just one important portion of the BrewFarm experience, and the company you share is another large component, but I can't fill in all the others for you. That's something you have to do for yourself. I apologize if you feel that this is overblown hyperbole, but you don't know for real until you're there.

At what other brewery will you meet cute little ducky wuckies? 


Evidence of this is that in 2013, when good ol' Jason wasn't going on a BrewFarm weekend, I found other friends to take me out to the BrewFarm, and they took friends, too, and everyone had the same feeling. And they came back, with more friends, and they wanted to keep coming back. And they would say that I took them there, even though it wasn't my car, and I didn't do the driving.

And that's why I was shocked and saddened in early October, when I first heard that Dave and Pam wanted to sell it off and close this chapter of their lives. No, it can't be true! We love it, it can't die, it must remain forever! Shock, sadness, and, in time, resignation, acceptance, and understanding. It was their decision, for their reasons, and what was, will never be again. Someone will buy it, make their own decisions about the land and the equipment, and they'll create something new. That thing called Dave's BrewFarm will become a memory, and pass into legend, and we will not visit Wilson, Wisconsin like we once did. Dave and Pam will do other things than brew and pour us these beers, but they will remain our friends. Maybe we'll get a chance to drink new David Anderson beers, under a new name, somewhere, somewhen, but not in that room, under those lights, at those tables, with these friends.

Alas.

Another snapshot from that first snowy day that thirsty travelers entered the Labrewatory.


And so, I jump back just a minute. When I was at the Blue Nile, I worked most Saturdays, and tried to take Sundays off, and that's when I was at the BrewFarm the most. When I left, and was to start at Northbound, I went to the BrewFarm on the Sunday before my first day there. Once at NB, I was always scheduled Saturdays and Sundays. A month passed and I finally requested a Sunday off in early June, visiting the BrewFarm with my sister Lynn. I kept working that schedule until leaving that job, and once I started at Harriet, they had me there every Sunday, and some Saturdays…it just never worked out, and I hated it! It's been five months since my last visit!

Today was my first opportunity to visit the BrewFarm since the news got out about the beginning of the end, and a good portion of my friends made a special effort to get together, bring the potluck, play the games, and goof around with great beer, brewed by our friend and humble brewing genius.

I went with Joe and Liz, this time and we arrived about two hours after they opened, and there were already a few beers gone from the printed list. A quick glance showed that there were three beers of the eight that I'd never had, and I decided not to do the "flight", or even the "Al flight",(that's half the beers, but twice the liquid in the glass) but go with full pours for a select few. And when it came to take-home growlers, there were three I'd not written about here yet…until I asked what was available. Alas, BrewFarm Funk 3 was already sold out! So I got some BrewFarm Funk 1 & 2 to share with friends, and 2 other beers to share my impression with you, here, and I start with…

Enjoying an Azaaca from a growler at home.


Azacca Single Hop Lager. ABV 6.4% ABV.  With a description I won't get to until later…

Appearance: crystal-clear, nearly crimson in coloring, slimmish off-white head.

Aroma: soft, malty, fruity.

Taste: It's in the mouth, and it's a fruity thing, it's a malty thing, and it's sweet, but balanced and beautiful. Bold, brilliant citrus-y notes and flavors. Forced to pick a style, I'd have to say amber lager, vienna lager or such. Dave's always been anti-style, but you have to stick it in somewhere. Really delicious, and expertly drinkable. Medium-bodied, and tasty as hell. Did I say that already?

It steers just away from sweetness, and never delivers any untoward bitterness, and is an utter model of balance. Farmer Dave strikes again.

Post-Script #1: I have a friend that I've invited to visit the BrewFarm who told me: "Don't they mostly do saisons and lagers? I don't like them!" And he's more the poorer, because what Dave does debunks your personal myths about those styles, and he makes better, more interesting beers than you ever thought you'd drink. And he does more than that, too. (And if you know me, you know I'm not pro-lager.)

Post-script #2: I talked about D.A.'s rugged individualism, his talent, his innate curiosity, and indomitable integrity, but how I wish I could make him do what I want him to do! Please, Farmer Dave, I want you to create a metropolitan craft brewery taproom and take these new kids to school! No one is doing anything like you, FD, and they're getting away with mediocrity, sometimes. We need brilliance in the big city, it can't be all kept away from us, among the cows.

And finally, what did Farmer Dave say about Azacca Single Hop Lager? "Pils, Cara Red and Caramel 20 malts, and hopped with three additions of Azacca hops. Fermented with lager yeast."

Sigh, the dream continues…a genius of Dave's level, off the field and in the city. Some day.