Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Brau Brothers ALTernative Imperial Alt

You know what? It's time to drink some Brau Brothers beer. They no longer list their home as Lucan, MN, for they have a new facility in the nearby town of Marshall, MN. This bottle came to me in a sampler pack that held 3 beers I haven't covered for this blog, plus Moo Joos, which I always enjoy. So, let's go ahead and crack open this ALTernative Imperial Alt.

It's a muddy bronze, with ruby edges, and a slim beige head. Looking the part.

Aroma: rich malt hits first, with fruity associations, and a good amount of sweetness. Mild, floral hops. Detectable alcohol presence lurking behind, as well. It's big and complex and it's leading me to drink.

Taste: Imperial Alt is right. Big and beefy, mostly sweetly. Moderate hops, mostly malt, bulging over, mores than the average alt. Lingering sweetness in the finish. It's a meaty one, and I'm digging it.

Here's what they say: "authentic German malt & hops build this ale fermented very cold and allowed to cellar." Alc 8.5% by Vol. 23 IBU.
"Brewed in the Parti-Gyle Tradition." I don't know what that means. But I'm liking the beer.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Brasserie Dupont Monk's Stout

Monk's Stout Dupont. I saw this at Elevated the other day and thought to myself, damn, why haven't I tried this beer? I've had almost everything from this brewery, I like to sample every Belgian beer that exists…why? Why not now? So, I bought it, then I brought it home and I chilled it. Now, I'm going to drink it.

Brasserie Dupont, Tourpes, Belgium. Some stuff in French that I don't understand. 5.25% alc. by vol. time to release the cage and the cork and let the dark stuff flow out of the green bottle.

Appearance: dark brown, very nearly black, in color, with a majestic head of soft, lithe brown/tan foam, leaving lace, staying strong. Beautiful.

Aroma: Cola. Cocoa. Coffee.Raisins and plums. Spice. Sweetness. So, unique and ingenious. Every note delivers the essence of the Belgian stout.

Taste: Jumps on the palate with spice and dark malt, plus the terrific treats that Belgian yeast brings on. Spice leads to minor heat. Body is medium at best, malts are nice and roastyl. Not as full bodied as the English or American stouts, but tasty as heck. Pepper and chocolate, and coffee, with an echo of the barnyard funk. Sweetness turns to dry off the palate.

Gonna read the label. "From the recipe archives of Brasserie Bupont comes this remarkably refreshing, bracingly dry Belgian stout. Originally brewed in the late 1950's by Sylvia Rosier, today's Monk's Stout captures the intense Dupont style in a dark beer--deep aromas of black coffee, roasted bitterness and sharp, clean finish."

Sierra Nevada Vienna Lager

Sierra Nevada Vienna Vienna-style Lager, SNBC, Chico, CA. Alc. 5.2% by Vol. Final beer from the fall seasonal sampler pack. I kind of wish, though, they hadn't included SNPA, and tossed in something else, like their Stout. Hasn't everyone had SNPA by now?

clear, bright amber coloring, fierce carbonation, brief white head.

aroma: sweet, grainy malts, mild hop bitterness. slight fruitiness.

taste: crisp, clean, lean and sweet. Just like you'd expect from any Vienna. Noble hops appear on the palate to contribute to balance and do a little waltz on the tongue. Nice and crisp tingle keeps the sweetness to a manageable minimum. Lean-bodied and extra-drinkable. No doubt about, it's another classic rendition.

Let's gander at that label copy: "This amber lager is one of the world's most balanced beer styles. Nuanced flavors drift from semi-sweet,  bready malt notes to a floral and spicy kick from whole cone European hops." And more: "Vienna style lairs were on the brink of extinction until American craft brewers helped revive the style. It's a good thing they did. These delicate beers lean on light and bready malt flavors. =, but walk a fine, balanced line with whole-cone European hops contributing a dry finish."

Nebraska Cardinal Pale Ale

Nebraska Cardinal Pale Ale, Nebraska Brewing Company, La Vista, NE. 6% ABV, 48 IBU.

Here's my first entry from this brewery. I've seen their bottles on sale in Wisconsin liquor stores, but the prices that exceed the 25 dollar mark have scared me away. At last, they're here, and they're in cans. And I owe this one to my neighbors at the Beer Dabbler St. Paul event at Midway Stadium, a few weeks ago. I was representing Harriet with Joe and Jody, and at closing time for the festival, some of the other breweries didn't feel like bringing home their leftover wares. Lucky for us, they were giving them away. I never say no to free beer. Especially when cash is short and thirst is long.

Appearance: Clear, bright golden coloring, slim white head.

Aroma: floral, citrus-y hops and nothing but. touch of pine, too. Grapefruit and forest floor, my, oh, my.

Taste: Brisk hop attack up front, with slightly sweet malt flavor just below. Clean, smooth, and delicious. Tasty, tasty hop-kissed goodness, and supreme ease of drinking. Right on the money pale ale, right here. Clean finish. Good beer.

Hey, what's the gobbledygook? Around the neck of the can, the slogan: "World class in every glass." More: "Our pale ale is deep golden in color and characterized by a huge citrus-like aroma, with medium maltiness, and elevated bitterness. Cardinal Pale Ale, the heart of Nebraska Brewing Company, is where it all began so many years ago."

Friday, September 19, 2014

Summit Unchained #16: Herkulean Woods

Summit Unchained #16: Herkulean Woods. Lager brewed with Maple Syrup and Spruce Tips. Proudly brewed in St. Paul, Minnesota. Christian Dixon, Brewer. 8.2% Alc./Vol. 77 IBU.

Clear and copper-colored, with slim, off-white head, leaving lace, looking nice.

Aroma: hops make a bright, bittersweet appearance, but are swiftly subsumed by the maple syrup and the caramel malt. Spruce tips are hinted at, just behind. A delightful blend in the nose.

Taste: In the mouth and on the tongue, it's a tempting treat that starts highly hoppy and find itself a mixed bag of malt and woodsy trimmings. Higher than normal alcohol content starts to make it's presence known, but is kept at bay by the delicious blend of malts and hops. I'm going to take a short break to read about the recipe…."Profile: Malty, caramel backbone with a pine, resin, and citrus hop flavor and aroma….malts: Harrington, Lacey, Caramel….hops: Herkules (hence the Herkulean, then woods for the maple syrup and spruce), Northern Brewer, Experimental 05256" Anything else? "Inspired by the natural beauty and ingredients of the upper Midwest" You don't say. Well, that's different. Don'tcha know.

This is a terrific brew for the kind of season we're stumbling into, and a great choice for those who are tired of pumpkin as the compulsory choice of fall flavors. Nice dessert beer, good for 'round the fire. It's also a great representative of what makes for a good entry in the Unchained Series and why this program continues to be successful. Keep making the offbeat beers, Summit, keep stretching and inventing, and you'll always a place in my beer-y heart.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blacklist Or de Belgique

Blacklist Brewing Or de Belgique. Brewed and bottled by Dubrue Brewing, LLC, Duluth, MN for Blacklist Brewing, Duluth, MN. 9.5% alc./vol.

Based on the name, I think we have a Belgian Golden Strong on our hands. Looking at it, smelling it, we may have a bit of a funky, rustic version to contend with. But, let's go in for a closer look…

Very clouded, bright golden appearance, slim white head on top.

Aroma: Belgian yeast is all over this one, with other elements of spices, citrus fruit, and a whiff of the ol' horse blanket. Intriguing.

Taste: Once more, the Belgian yeast is foremost on the palate, with the spark of the Belgian golden ale swift on it's heels. More citrus zest and peppery spice spank the tongue. Just enough sweet to match the spice. Crisp, lush maltiness. Medium bodied, fully flavored. This is an unfiltered ale, perhaps bottle conditioned. I'm enjoying it, that's for sure.

Now's the time I want to read the label and find out more. The type is so tiny, and I'm only getting older, but I'm giving it a go. "Honoring traditional Belgian processes, Or de Belgique is the "Gold of Belgium" made here in Minnesota. Bursting with tropical fruit flavors and rich aromas, this sophisticated and balanced beer is the perfect beverage to accompany a special night out. Lending a touch of sweetness to acidic or bitter dishes and cleansing the palate between bites of rich meats and desserts, Or de Belgique sparkles with food."

The spice and acidity is growing and growing as the alcohol rise, too, as it grows larger and larger in the mouth. It's ending dry on the palate, but this rich blend of flavors continues to delight.

This is my second Blacklist beer, and if they're all this good, I'm just going to keep on drinking them. You should, too.

We're bursting with breweries around here, and I've got no problems with a few more of them devoting themselves to Belgian styles. We've got Olvalde Farms, Borealis Fermentery, Boom Island, Harriet, and now Blacklist. Keep 'em coming, guys, and I'll keep drinking 'em.

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, CA.

Chestnut brown coloring, with ruby edges, under a slim, white head.

Aroma: soft, slightly sweet, malty and nutty. Bit o' cocoa, too.

Taste: There it is, all those sweetish and warm malty flavors have come together on the tongue. Medium bodied, low bitterness, semi-sweet finish. A tasty brown ale that hits all the right notes, and delivers everything it ought to.

I don't reach for a brown ale often, but I don't mind reaching for this one.

hey, is there gobbledygook on the label? Something to tell me why it's called "Tumbler", of all things? "Tumbler features freshly roasted malt straight from the kiln to give it a gracefully smooth malt character perfect for an autumn afternoon." What about the back of the label? "Tumbler is our take on the classic brown ale--full of roasted malt flavor but delicate on the palate and perfect for crisp fall days. Layered with notes of chocolate and toasted bread and a hint of smoke. Tumbler is the ultimate autumn brew."

Ah! I get it! Tumble=fall=autumn! Ha, good one. Kinda.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Town Hall Alpha Nimbus White IPA

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Alpha Nimbus White IPA.

Lightly hazy, bright golden coloring, big white head, leaving lace.

Aroma: Beautiful hoppiness, distinctly citrus, floral, and piney. Lovely stuff.

Taste: Bold and dazzling hop attack hits first. Lean bodied, light and smooth. I assume there's some wheat in here, but it's not terribly prominent. If this is a White IPA, it's not like others I've tried. Lighter on the wheat, or the wit, lacking the spice and orange found in a wittier, more hoppy than anything else. Not as hazy, hardly white.

Okay, I'm feeling it now. It's nothing but supple, it's everything smooth. All about the hops, and then some. Love this one. Good drinker, and while it's nothing like various beers that have called themselves "white IPA" whatever the hell that is, it's terrific.

how do they describe it on the website? "Melding of a Belgian White Ale and American IPA for your drinking pleasure." 6.8% ABV. Sure, that helps…not much.

Delirium Red

Delirium Red. Deliirum RED? Whoa, that's new, I've never heard of this, and there it is, on the shelf. There hasn't been a new Delirium beer in many a year, so let's try this one out, shall we?

First, let's see what the label tells us. Okay, the elephant has red earrings. Do they signify an ingredient, cherries, perhaps? Am I in for a fruit beer, maybe?
 "Family Brewery, Huyghe, Since 1654. Belgian Ale, 1 pint, 9.4 fluid ounces." 8% Alc./Vol. 750 ml. No further gobbledygook. I'm on my own.

Dark ruby coloring, pretty pink head, full and lacy.

Aroma: oh, yeah, cherries. Sweet and tart at once. Not too much of either, though, fairly well balanced. Can't really pick anything out beyond the fruit, though.

Taste: Flush with fruit, well-tempered sweetness, with a does of sour on the side. Feels like a brown ale, or some kind of dark ale beneath it. Full-biodied, long, fruity finish. Malt is solid, hops are minimal, but the fruit is the thing, to be sure. Is it a lambic, a kriek? No. Is it a Flanders Red? Not at all. More like a Belgian fruit ale in the line of Kasteel Rouge, where fruit is added to a Belgian ale, but it isn't soured, aged or inoculated by wild, funky yeast.

Is it good? Yeah, it is. Just tart enough, just sweet enough, great balance. Tasty. I would recommend it for fruit beer lovers. Great for dessert, perfect for a gathering, right on the money for a holiday treat. Get one for Thanksgiving, for Halloween, Columbus Day, for Back-to-school, whenever.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Destihl Abbey's Single Abbey Single Pale Ale

Destihl Brewery Abbey's Single Ale, Belgian-style abbey single ale. "Support Flavor, Boycott Bland." Brewed and canned by Destihl Brewery, Bloomington, IL. Alc 4.9%. IBU:22.

Clouded, bright yellow appearance, slim, fizzy, soon-gone head.

Aroma: slightly sour and citric, a little floral. Lemony.

Taste: Malty flavor fills the mouth, with a slight hoppy buzz accompanying, and an unique Belgian yeast character for added effect. Citrus and spice play on the palate, but the flavor overall lays low. Tangy stuff, light and refreshing.

I had this on tap months ago, and wasn't impressed. From this can, I like it a little more, but only a little. Maybe it's too light bodied for me? Perhaps it needs more of more, or something?

I'm going to read the can label for more information…"A Belgian-style abbey single ale crafted like those that Trappist  monks brew for their own session beer. It's light bodied, light in color with spicy phenolics and complex fruity esters of cherries, nectarines, peaches and bubblegum with a characteristic slightly tart and dry finish from the Belgian yeast. Cheers."

Well, I couldn't find all those fruit flavors, and the bubblegum, one of the most overused flavor descriptors I can think of, is a stretch. I don't have enough time to keep searching until I find them.