Monday, September 23, 2019

Exile Ruthie

Exile Ruthie. Pale Lager.  5.2 % ABV. 18 IBU.
Exile Brewing Company, Des Moines, IA.

Last month, Jason and I took a trip to Des Moines to check out their beer scene. The full report is coming soon, I promise, once more. On the second day, we spent some time at the Iowa State Fair, sampling at the craft beer pavilion. In several spots, there were signs declaring that Exile's Ruthie is the official beer of the fair, though I was never clear on what that meant. Jason had a better peek at the logo of the beer, and wondered out loud, "is that woman pouring beer on her chest?" Having not seen the image yet, a different concept entered my mind. Upon closer examination, I was glad that the image in my imagination did not play out in the illustration.

We remained curious about the meaning of this image, and inquired of the bartender when we visited the brewery later that night. Ruthie is the mother of one of the owners, and this technique of pouring beer onto glasses balanced on here bosom was her trademark. Well, there's no way you can call it sexist, if that was her thing. I also learned that this is their bestseller and is one of the most popular craft beers in Iowa, so I was certain to pick up a bottle on the way out of town.

The research I've done into this also cleared up some questions I had about Exile Brewing. It is a brewpub that ventured into bottling and distribution, rather than the taproom/restaurant of a production brewery. Because you can do that in Iowa. And we have so many stupid, useless laws in Minnesota. So very many.

Anyway, on to the beer:

Clear, bright golden color, slim white ring of foam.

In the nose: cereal, grains, minor hops. Slight sweetness.

In the mouth: Subtle and smooth. Quite balanced. Just malty enough, just hoppy enough. Crisp and clean. Expertly drinkable. Good lager and you can certainly toss it back with aplomb. I thought it was a golden ale going in and was surprised to see that it's actually a lager. I would drink this again.

The world’s best balanced beer is brewed with Munich and Pilsner malt and complimented with German Perle hops. A tribute to a real Des Moines original and the finest woman to ever serve beer in our capital city!

Photo of the real Ruthie I yanked off the internet.

Barrel Theory Shooter McGavin Double IPA with Citra hops

Barrel Theory Shooter McGavin Double IPA with Citra hops.
8.2 % ABV.
Barrel Theory Brewing, St. Paul, MN.

Looking at Untappd, I've checked into this beer once before, on August 27 of 2017. If memory serves correctly, that was my first visit to Barrel Theory. Dave and I arrived just before they were closing on a Sunday afternoon. They were operating with shorter hours back then, in order to keep supplied with beer. That's how it goes when you start out popular and the buzz always builds. We were able to talk the staff into serving us a quick one. I went with the Double IPA because that's what I do, but there were no growlers or crowlers available at the time, and now, two years later, I finally have one to try out for the Nib. Let's get into it:

Ever-so hazy, 'cause that's how it has to be from now on until...? Will this craze ever end? Murky gold/orange....slim white head.

In the nose: Leafy green hop notes, citrus aplenty, yeast all over the place. No NE it's cray-cray. All kinds of Lupulin powder going wild. Nice.

In the mouth: Boom! Big fat citrus hop flavor bursts on the palate, and a trickle of bitterness. Sweetness swims in. Medium body, moderate malt, nothing but smooth. Bitter, sweet, bitter, sweet, back and forth tango, ending decidedly dry. And actually lip-smackingly delicious. I can't help but enjoy this.

I like all the parts of this that are like a double IPA, and I can't stand the parts that are like an NE IPA. Damn, why can't the breweries I like just make a regular damned DIPA, without the haze...bros?

Also, I'm liking this more as we get in....getting stronger, more bitter, and that's the way I like it.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Oliphant The Little Razgul Raspberry Wheat Ale

Oliphant The Little Razgul Raspberry Wheat Ale. 6% ABV.
Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, WI.

Here's how they think in Oliphant land: Hmmm. Raspberry. Razz. Rhymes with Nazz. No, not Todd Rundgren's old band, but the Nazgul, aka the Ringwraiths, the dark servants of Lord Sauron, etc. So, yeah, imagine them as little folk, little red evil creatures. Little red raspberry dudes. Or something like that...That's how it goes.

Clouded, berry red, slim white head.

In the nose: nice and fruity, little bit o' sweet, touch of tart.

In the mouth: More fruity, more tart (but not too much more), super smooth. Good wheat malt texture. Easy going, highly drinkable. Tasty stuff. I'm enjoying it.

Raspberry wheats...they're good, if simple, lacking complexity, la, la, la, whatever. They're just good. Go right ahead and drink them.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Madhouse Satori Saison

Madhouse Satori Saison.
Wild Yeast. Barrel Aged.
6.2 % ABV.
Madhouse Brewing, Des Moines, Iowa.

Edit: Okay, you guys. Ignore the final paragraph. Alas. When Jason and I went to Des Moines last month, we stopped at one brewery, mentioned this one to the bartender, and were told: "they're done" without further elaboration. The next day we paid Madhouse a visit, and saw no signs of their closing or being closed. Anywhere. At all. I picked up bottles on the way out of town, and did not open any until tonight. In looking up information on this beer, I Googled them only to find a news article stating that they are closing their doors today, September 20. Whoa.  Damn. Too damn bad. So sorry to hear it.

Anyway, about that beer...that I'll never get to try again. (and I do have a few more to review after this...)

Clear, bright golden, large ivory head.

In the nose: Deep funk. Barnyard. Fresh and tart. Citrus notes, straw and hay with a twist of lemon.

In the mouth: Tart from the start. Funk pounds the palate. Big time puckeration. Juicy malt. Dripping deliciousness. Yum-a-dum-dum. Ends on a decidedly dry note, urging us on to further tasting and greater puckeration. I'm digging on this.

When in Des Moines, Madhouse is a must-stop. Watch for future posts. Oh, yeah, I've got a few more of them.

Satori Saison- Tart and funky saison, 6.2% ABV.

Oak-Barrel Wild-Yeast Fermentation.

Complex aromas of lemon and spice.

Dry and crisp.

Hazy straw color.

Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn

Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn.
Festbier. 6 % ABV. Paulaner Brauerei, Munich, Germany.

I was a little confused when I first heard of this beer. They made a wheat version of an Oktoberfest? Really? No, not "weisen", but "wiesn", which refers to the lighter "festbier" Oktoberfest style, as opposed to the richer, maltier "marzen"-style. So, let's drink it.

Clear, bright golden tone, slim white head.

In the nose: lightly hopped, grainy, somewhat sweet.

In the mouth: minor hops hit the palate first, then the sweet malty flavor takes over. Light bodied, short finish, easily pushed past the lips. Tasty enough. I guess this is the Oktoberfest for people who don't really like Oktoberfests?

Tasty brew, but not one I would turn to often. Good lager and you can drink it, nonetheless.

Brewed once a year, and only available while supplies last, Oktoberfest Wiesn is the pinnacle of German brewing: deep golden color, full-bodied and wonderfully mellow, with a balanced harmonious taste and the pleasant fragrance of hops. At 6% ABV, it is stronger and bolder that the usual lager.

Malts: Munich and Pilsner.

Hops: Herkules, Taurus and Hallertauer Tradition.

Minnesota Breweries One by One #76: Castle Danger, Two Harbors with Danger Ale

Folks, I've just discovered something a little embarrassing. There's an unpublished draft of an article I was writing two years ago about my visits to the Castle Danger brewery & taproom three years ago. I never finished writing it, and had clearly meant to include more photos of the inside of the tap room to illustrate it. They disappeared some time ago, and so did, perhaps, my intent on publishing it. Well, I'm going to post it anyway, because I did actually get a lot of it finished. Here we go....

Let's go back in time, back, back in time. Actually, we're going to go back to two times, the two times  last year that I visited  Castle Danger in Two Harbors, MN. And that first time was Thursday, September 1, 2016, when they became brewery #76.

I'd been to the previous location before, four years earlier. This was my first time at the new one, though. The previous day Dave A. and I had made it all the way up to Ely for The Boathouse and Grand Marais for Voyageur and Gun Flint Tavern, staying overnight in GM. We had breakfast in GM, did some typical sight-seeing (I can't remember the last time I was in the city, if ever.), and headed down along the North shore of Lake Superior. 83 miles, an hour and 25 minutes. We were planning to get there in time for their opening at noon, although we would probably arrive earlier. My friend Melissa Rainville informed me on FaceBook that she'd be working the taproom, and would let us in early if need be, but there was so much to explore along the shore, why bother her? Old railroads, docks, much stuff.

Actually, I was curious why a professional brewer such a Melissa was doing working behind the bar. Was she biding her time until another brewing position opened in the area. Pretty much, she told me. She'd left her job at Fitger's Brewhouse recently after Dave Hoops stepped down and new owners came in. Did she know then, and just wouldn't tell, what we all learned months later, that her next move would be the head brewer at Mr.Hoops new operation opening this spring, Hoops Brewing in the Canal Park neighborhood of Duluth? Maybe, just maybe.

So, Dave and I sat at the bar and got our samples. Castle Danger has been in the Nib six times before now, from the growler of George Hunter Stout I brought back in July of 2012, to the cans that made their way to the Cities starting in 2015. My notes show that I had a flight consisting of Castle Cream Ale, Danger Ale, Summer Crush and George Hunter Stout. I actually just got a can of Castle today and will do a full review of that later. I took home a growler of Danger on my second visit 7 weeks later, and those notes are below. I've already written up George Hunter years ago. So, I'll share the notes on Summer Crush, which has gone out of season long ago. 4.7% ABV. I found it "bright and lemony, light bodied, quenching and 'crushable', easy as pie, nothing wrong with that." We need the crushable ones in the summertime, early autumn.

I next had an Ode IPA, which has also been reviewed here before. I did not take notes on exactly what beers were available, but I believe I'd had everything before. Looking at Untappd shows that I'd also gotten in another beer, this one the 17-7 Pale Ale. We had plenty of time to spend, after all, since our next stop, Bent Paddle in Duluth, did not open until 3 pm, and was only a half hour away.

When we first entered, we were the only ones in and took our time soaking in the place, while Melissa served up some chips and salsa. As time went on, more and more folks came in, the lunch rush came and went, and we whiled away an hour or two. As taprooms go, it's fairly perfunctory. Here's the merch, there's the games. Nice northern feel, all wood, cool patio, decorated with beer signs and a vast collection of growlers from elsewhere. Great range of products, well made.

I made it to Duluth a second time, some weeks later, October 20, to be exact. It was the second of three brewery visits, after a breakfast at Fitger's, Jason and I pulled into Two Harbors to check out CD just because. I took no notes on this visit, although I did try a new beer, Azacca-to-me, a nice and hoppy pale ale. I followed that with a Fresh Hop Mosaic Ale, which has turned into quite a sensation for them.

....and there's where it ended, and here's where I was going to attach a review I did of a growler I took home...

Castle Danger Danger Ale. Dangerously Good Ales. Two Harbors, MN.

Slightly clear, deeply crimson hue, huge creamy white head. Looking great.

Aroma: ah.. citrus-y hop notes, bright and fruity and a little tropical. Nice.

In the mouth: big hoppiness, matched well with bold malt backdrop. Fruity up front, low bitterness, with juicy malt holding it up fro below. Yum. Malty, delicious. . Really, truly delicious.

Confluence Ash Tree ESB

Confluence Ash Tree ESB.
6.3 % ABV. 40 IBU.
Confluence Brewing, Des Moines, Iowa. "Where good things come together."

Clear, copper-toned, slim beige-ish head.

In the nose: herbal, earthy, slightly fruity, just a brief whiff of hops. Mostly malty.

In the mouth: A brief blast of bitter, then along comes the malt and the smooth. Sweetness takes over the palate, and bitter comes swinging back, for a brief cameo. A citrus twist resides among the bready/biscuity malt baseline. Medium bodied, and easy drinking.

This is a tasty little treat. There oughta be more beers like this.

The ash tree has long been a staple of the Iowa and England landscape. In fact, the tree’s common name comes from Old English aesc. Today Iowa loves its ash trees so much it’s waging war on the emerald ash bore, a beetle which has decimating ash populations elsewhere.

Don’t be misled by “bitter” in the name. Extra Special Bitters are not really all that bitter, but a good balance of hop and malt. The interplay between the crystal malts and the noble English hops delivers a sweet, yet slightly bitter tingly taste sensation. We used traditional base malts from Great Britain (Maris Otter and Golden Promise). The English yeast imparts a slight mineral character and some fruity notes, giving an overall flavor that reminds some of biscuits and marmalade.

Stacked Deck One Eyed Jack IPA

Stacked Deck One Eyed Jack IPA.
5.7 % ABV. 70 IBU.
Stacked Deck Brewing, St. Paul, MN.

Clear, amber color, slim white head.

In the nose: Citrus notes and caramel malt tones. Slight sweetness.

In the mouth: Big bitterness from the get-go. Juicy malt just below. Fierce citrus and pine. Almost obnoxiously bitter. Maybe a bit unbalanced. I'm a big proponent of bringing back the bitter, but this may be a step too far.

I'm going to shut up and drink the rest and see what happens.

Well, getting further into the contents of the crowler, onto pint #2, and it's more mellow, for sure. The classic 'C' hops are at work here, giving us the old school IPA we've all loved in the past. The harshness felt at first cools down, or maybe it's the palate becoming acclimated. In any case, I'm clearly digging it now.

This is a throwback to IPAs of yesterday, the beers that got all of us into craft beer to begin with. This beer is full of Cascade, Simcoe, Centennial hops to turn this brew into one bitter boy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbocker Lager

Question for myself: why don't I have a decent doppelbock-specific glass? And further, why don't I have an Ayinger Celebrator glass? And more importantly and deeply, why hasn't Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock, or anything from the Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG, Brauweri Aying ever appeared here since I started this?

There's a reason why I had to check on this recently, and I'll get to that later, but I was ultimately disappointed to learn that in the nearly 9 years of this blog I haven't posted about any of their beers. BeerAdvocate says that I've reviewed six of their beers on that site, so I was diligent in the past, but haven't followed through here on the blog. Part of that is my fault, for not picking them up at the store or being aware that I should do so, and part is due to the distributor not giving me samples. I actually had this beer on tap at Acadia 3 1/2 years ago, but did not take the opportunity to snap a shot and use it to post my old review, which I sometimes do. And due to those reasons I hinted at above, I called on the Sample Man, ( a lady, in this case) to help me out.

So, I now have a bottle of the classic German doppelbock, with the little goat around the bottleneck, and I will use a Belgian abbey dubbel glass, because that's the closest thing I have to the shape of the doppelbock glass.

Here are my notes from February, 2003:
Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock lager, 6.7 % ABV, Aying, Germany.

A color as black as night, and a toasty tan head.

Strong and seductive aromatics: sweet and candyish, with notes of toffee, anise, and cocoa, and a slightly burnt character that perhaps derives from the higher alcohol.

Taste is huge with malt, highly warming (note the ABV), full, rich, and delicious. A perfect aperitif beer. Three things ring above all else: malt, coffee, and caramel.
 Solid, bold, and loaded with coffeeish flavor. One of the world's greatest brews.

My 16 and 1/2 year old notes? Do they stand up? Yep, I called it. Nothing more to add. We could go on, wax rhapsodic, perhaps, but sometimes brief and to the point is more than good enough. It is actually perfectly delicious, complex, and beautiful.

And the reason I was thinking about them is Richard. I'm going to go back to a Facebook post from a week or so ago, and give tribute to one of my favorite long-time customers and his departed wife.

This is Richard. (I haven't seen him post anything online in a while, and he always pays in cash, so I've forgotten his last name.)
But Richard is among my favorite customers of all time. I've felt for years that I would be at my happiest if I were to come to work, walk up to the bar and see a room full of Richards. And I don't mean only white, male, retired dentists, no, of course not. I mean anyone who only wants the best beer available, and doesn't care about anything else.
Richard used to come to the Blue Nile and only order our best, every time. I once asked him why he didn't want the free pints that came to him when he ordered an expensive Belgian beer during happy hour, and I will never forget his answer. "If I wanted a discount, I'd go to the gas station and buy a case of PBR."
Which I am sure he never did.
After I left the Blue Nile and went to Acadia, Richard followed and I always was delighted to see him and serve him. Today, I came in and he'd been there for a bit, drinking some Hammerheart Flaming Longship, and told me he had a story to tell me. The gravity of his tone suggested something, and my instincts were true. Richard's story was that of his wife Jean, of nearly 45 years of marriage, and her untimely, accidental death, only a few weeks ago.
I'd met Jean several times and she was nothing but sunshine and light, happiness and smiles. It was heartbreaking to hear of her passing.
I listened to Richard tell the story of their life together, their tales, their travels, the family they raised, and he told the story of getting into craft beer, locally, at Johnny's Bar in St. Paul on University Avenue, where they were the only place to have Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock on tap. Throughout his story, he kept going back to how no one else ever had it on tap, only a few places, maybe one place in D.C., etc.
And I thought to myself, I know someone who had it on a few years back....maybe he missed it... maybe not...but...
So, I went downstairs and checked the tap handle box of the distributor who never asks for them back, and there it was, a handle that did not include the name of the beer, so I had to write it myself in Sharpie. Celebrator Doppelbock, which was also Jean's favorite.
And I gave it to him, and he refused, so I insisted, and he accepted. And he said it would make a nice complement to the beer glasses I'd given him over the years, and I said I hoped it would keep memories of Jean alive.
So, Cheers to Jean and Richard, everyone, and all the beers we cheer together to keep us happy and alive!

And here's to celebrating life, love, and friends!

Dark, malty and rich. Ayinger, at the foot of the Bavarian alps, is one of the world's most respected breweries, family owned and operated since 1878. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Wild Mind Warm Wishes

Wild Mind Warm Wishes. Spiced Imperial Saison.
7.9% ABV. 40 IBU.
Wild Mind Artisan Ales, Minnespolis, MN.

Lightly hazed. Bright golden color. Large and lovely white head.

In the nose: Big spice from the start. Clove, coriander, ginger. Nicely spiced. Lovely. Louder than the rest of it's parts, though.

In the mouth: Spice is up on top, and underneath citrus, Belgian yeast, slight funk, and smooth malt flavors. Stone fruit to match the citrus. Ginger hangs over all. Light bodied and easy-going. Almost flat-out delicious. But, nonetheless, good beer and you can drink it. Just enough spice, and plenty of saison.

Is it Imperial, at nearly 8%, though? Maybe. A regular saison is usually about 6 %, so it's not that much larger.

All in all, I'm digging it. The bomber went down in no time.

Spiced with cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger, this Imperial saison has a range of spicy notes to elicit the spirit of the holidays. A light body and slightly spicy hop character round out a dry overall mouthfeel that finishes with the tingle and bite of a ginger snap. 

Sisyphus Painkiller IPA

Sisyphus Painkiller IPA.
6.7 % ABV. 40 IBU.
Sisyphus Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

This is listed as a "milkshake IPA" on Untappd, though the description does not denote the usage of the requisite lactose or vanilla. Maybe that's why I like it when I had it at the taproom last week? I try to avoid the milkshakes if I can, but keep trying them anyway, again and again.

In truth, Sisyphus doesn't call it a "milkshake" at all, it seems someone else gave it that appellation. What we have is a fruited NE IPA. Also, not my jam, as the kids say these days.

It's hazy, of course, golden tinted, small white head on top.

In the nose: Bountiful fruit sweet tropical notes, big pineapple, orange,  and mango, with underlying hop flavors. Coconut pops out. Sweetness abounds.

In the mouth: Coconut pops even harder on the palate. More sweet, more fruit, with absolutely no hop bitterness of any kind. Once again I scream into the void: stop calling them IPAs! Call them something else!

Smooth, clean malt, crisp and refreshing, light bodied. Easy drinking. Little bit of bitterness at the back, but overwhelmingly sweet and pleasant.

But not an IPA.

I'll keep giving my two cents, until they add up to a quarter. And I won't stop then, either.

A twist on the drink that's a twist on the Pina Colada. This beer features a mix of pineapple, orange juice, and coconut in a New England IPA. Numb the pain of the approaching winter with a last taste of tropical summer.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Deschutes Only Slightly Exaggerated IPA

Deschutes Only Slightly Exaggerated India Pale Ale. In Collaboration with Travel Oregon.
Packaged on 8/12/19. 50 IBU. 6 % ABV.
Deschutes Brewing, Bend, OR.

Crystal clear, bright golden tones, slim white head.

In the nose: Big citrus twist, intense lemon and lime, slightly tart.

In the mouth: Bold and bright citrus hop flavors burst onto the palate. Juicy malt. Brisk bitterness. Lemon and lime aplenty. Zesty and fresh. Light in body and expertly quaffable. Good beer and you can drink it.

Wild skies. Whimsical waters. Paradise found. Impossibly aromatic with a slightly exaggerated tropical hop profile, this enchanting IPA is, like Oregon itself, truly extraordinary.

Malt 2 Row, Wheat, Munich, CaraHell

Hops Sabro, Amarillo, Triskel, 431

A collaboration with Travel Oregon that captures the magic of Oregon like a whimsical fairy tale in a bottle. Explore a realm of unreal splendor, where tropical hops bloom amidst evergreen rainforests and light flavors of coconut come tumbling down clear alpine streams, descending into the dreamy depths of citrus zest.

I can't believe people get paid to write shit like that. Maybe that was the part that "Travel Oregon" collaborated on.

Town Hall Tangerine Reflection Pale Ale

Town Hall Tangerine Reflection Pale Ale. 5.5 % ABV.
Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, bright golden/amber color, slim white head.

In the nose: Big citrus, bold hops, slight sweetness.

In the mouth: Hops are brash, bitterness floods the palate. Fierce citrus and touches of pine, big grapefruit, tangerine, orange, lemon. It's got all the hoppiness I'm looking for.
Medium bodied, easy drinker.
Delightful pale ale. Yum a dum dum.

If I don't watch out, I'll finish this growler in one sitting.

American Pale Ale with tangerine and citrus hop flavors

Kalona Coffee with Kierkegaard Coffee Cream Ale

Kalona Coffee with Kierkegaard Coffee Cream Ale.
Philosopher Series. "Heavenly beers brewed by mere mortals."
4.8 % ABV. Kalona Brewing, Kalona, Iowa.

Picked this one up in Des Moines a few weeks back. Haven't had anything else from this brewery, or have even heard of them before, but I couldn't resist a name like this.

Clear, bright golden color, slim white head.

In the nose: Here comes the coffee. All earthy, nutty, herbal. Espresso with hints of cocoa. Warm and roasty. Not much beneath.

In the mouth: Slight bitterness starts it off. Coffee flavors blasts the palate, then it's all smooth. Coffee flavor never quits, with chocolate taking a guest spot. Medium/light bodied. Substantially drinkability, with plenty of flavor. I was skeptical at first, but I'm firmly a fan of the coffee golden ale category. And here's one done right.

Art + Science + Spirit = KBC Philosophy
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55) proposed that meaning comes from living authentically and passionately. A toast, with this smooth-drinking cream ale, to good talks and a life well-lived.

I'd love to try more of their beers. Time for another road trip to Iowa.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Big Grove Brewery Easy Eddy Fresh & Juicy Hazy IPA

Big Grove Brewery Easy Eddy Fresh & Juicy Hazy IPA.
Big Grove Brewery, Iowa City, Iowa.

Another one bought on the way out of Des Moines town. This was also my first beer at the Iowa State Fair a few weeks back. I don't take notes at state fairs. So, now we try it from the can, and let the notes commence...

Bright yellow, but all hazed and clouded up, with a clean, crisp ivory head, leaving lace.

In the nose: Plump with citrus and tropical fruit notes, vibrant hoppiness, very inviting.

In the mouth: Nice splash of bitterness up front, then cool and smooth. Fresh and fruity flavors follow from the aromatics. Tropical tones dominate. Hops are keeping the palate happy. Goes down nice and easy. Quite tasty stuff. A genuine hit of a hazy. This would be in regular rotation were I an Iowan.

Once again, I'm kicking myself for not bringing back more. What was stopping me, there was room in the car. Rent wasn't due yet. One more six pack wouldn't hurt.

Brewed with multiple additions of Simcoe and Mosaic, Easy Eddy’s juicy tropical flavors of pineapple and mango are complemented by a round body and soft bitterness. Infinitely drinkable and relentlessly flavorful. FOR CAN ONLY: Keep cold and drink fresh; this beer will never be better than it was yesterday.

AVAILABILITY:Year-round, occasional
ABV:6.0 %
DRY HOPS:Simcoe, Mosaic
MALT:2 Row, unmalted wheat, flaked oats, flaked wheat, dextrose

Eastlake Kirby Pucker #23: Mescalita Sour Gose

Eastlake Kirby Pucker #23: Mescalita Sour Gose. With Agave, mezcal, & lime.
6 % ABV. Eastlake Craft Brewery, Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, light golden coloring, slim white head.

In the nose: Funky, fruity, citric, salty. Did you want a sour ale margarita blend? That might be what we're in for here, minus the triple sec.

In the mouth: Spark of sour hits the palate at first, fresh and lively. Then, comes the pucker, salt and lime comes in line, and it all makes sense. Sharp, citrusy, fresh and refreshing. Hey, I like this one!

Sour Ale - lime, agave, sea salt and mezcal

Monday, September 9, 2019

Unmapped Schnitzendunkel

Unmapped  Schnitzendunkel.  Dunkel lager.
4.6 % ABV. 23 IBU. Unmapped Brewing, Minnetonka, MN.

Dark brown, very opaque, slim white head.

In the nose: Sweet malt, caramel and toffee. Brown sugar. Delightful.

In the mouth: More delicious malt, more caramel and toffee. Medium bodied, long lasting flavors. Moderate bitterness. Excellent balance. Tasty stuff.

This went down exceptionally easy.

Introducing our first collaboration with our very good friends at Lupulin Brewing (Big Lake, MN): Schnitzendunkel! This classic dark lager is deliciously malty with some hints of chocolate too. If you're looking for a dark beer that is also a summertime easy-drinker, you've found it! Prost!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Steel Toe Beltline Brown Ale

Steel Toe Beltline Brown Ale. 6.5 % ABV.
Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, MN.

Dark brown color, thoroughly opaque, slim beige head on top.

In the nose: Malty, nutty. Minor notes of coffee & cocoa. Slight bitterness.

In the mouth: Smooth, cool, dry. Medium bodied, and ever-so tasty. Touch of the sweet balance by bitter. Flat out delicious.

An American Brown Ale built to be balanced; with aromas of toasted nuts and malty caramel are countered by a subtle yet present floral hop aroma and present, yet refined bitterness. Comforting and familiar at its best, perfect for those cool fall days.  Fall Seasonal.

Color: Brown
Alcohol content by volume: 5.6%
International Bitterness Units: 30

Friday, September 6, 2019

Barrel Theory Dorothy Mantooth IPA

Barrel Theory Dorothy Mantooth IPA. IPA W/ Mosaic Hops. (New England -style, of course)
7.2 % ABV.  Barrel Theory Brewing, St. Paul, MN. Packaged 8/27/19. Purchased 9/1.

This beer has been around almost two years, since just after the brewery opened, and I'm finally getting some. Of course, I don't get there very often to pick up crowlers, but that's ...well, actually it is for a lack of trying. But it's not for a lack of thinking about trying. Where does thinking about trying get us, though? Nowhere, naturally. But I did something, I went there, and I got this, and now I will drink it!

Thoroughly hazed, pale golden color, thick and lustrous ivory head, holding infinite court above.

In the nose: All the hoppy delights are here. Citrus aplenty, with bits of berries and stone fruit, as well.

In the mouth: Citrus splash at the start. Big rush of bitterness, then calm and cool. Yeast at play. Medium bodied, fresh and refreshing. Long lasting hop delivery on the palate, keeping a strong residency through the finish. Flavors never quit. Just delicious. Nothing but. Crisp, clean, ending on a dry note. Just about right.

If you follow my writing here, you may have noted a lack of enthusiasm for the ubiquitous New England IPA style. But when it's done this well and this deliciously....what can I do but offer up high praise.

This all-Mosaic IPA is a saint.

Firetrucker Uptown IPA

Firetrucker Uptown IPA. Brewed and canned at Firetrucker Brewery in Ankeny, Iowa.
5.8 % ABV, 67 IBU.

At last, three weeks after my Des Moines trip, I'm dipping into the beers I brought back from Iowa.
What took me so long? Had to take care of the beers I'd been sitting on from before that, first.
And drink the first five of the six -packs, the first three of the 4-packs, etc.
 It's time, at last. Time to drink Iowa, and tell you about it. (and I'm still working on the posts about the trip, it's coming, soon.)

Certified hazy, utterly opaque, deep orange color, lush ivory head atop.

In the nose: citrus and pine, apple and stone...a lovely cornucopia. Nice and malty, too, touch of caramel. Grapefruit, orange, lemon and mango dominate. Lovely stuff.

In the mouth: Juicy, hoppy, delicious. Just enough malt. Medium bodied. Good blast of bitterness up front that takes it cool on the way out. This is a tasty one, indeed. That's why I brought it home. I knew I liked it, and I wanted to tell you, dear reader, about it. Next time you're in Iowa, and you want a good ol' IPA, don't hesitate.

This IPA has all the flavor and smooth drinkability you seek. While hoppy enough for any IPA connoisseur, our version is more citrusy than bitter. Mandarin orange flavors stand out and grapefruit lingers on the finish. Find a shady spot and enjoy! 

And from the can: "Citra based IPA with laid back bitterness."

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Venn Brewing Northodox Citra-Forward NE IPA

Venn Brewing Northodox Citra-Forward NE IPA.
6.5 % ABV. Venn Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

I first had this beer a little over two months ago, the first pint for my birthday, as I biked from brewery to brewery. I wanted to bring some home, but leaving a crowler in my bike basket as I pedaled across the city wasn't the wisest idea. Too much bouncing around back there. On the next visit to the brewery, the beer was still on, but the crowlers were gone. Luckily, I found one at one of the handful of local liquor stores that carry these cans.

I've been sitting on it way too long, it's time to drink. As it says on the can: "Best in your mouth. Not in your cellar. Drink it while it's fresh, okay?" Filled on: "6/27." Hey, that's not that fresh. More reason to drink it now. And try not to beat myself up for sitting on it for nearly a month. It's not exactly cellaring. Just not acting fast enough.

Perhaps that's one reason that this is the first crowler of theirs that I've bought at a store. I know it's only going to be fresher at the source. Let's open it...

Damned cloudy, this. Dull orange. Lush ivory head, leaving lace. Looking good.

In the nose: Bright and lively hop aromatics. Pulsing with citrus and tropical tones.

In the mouth: Starts off sweet and fruity on the palate. Moderate to minor bitterness. Fairly smooth. Lots of citrusy flavors, without going overboard. Soft, even edging into "pillowy." (Who drinks pillows, though?) Lightish bodied, easily drunk. Hoppiness delivers, leaving bitterness behind. I wish it'd been invited, but I've made that opinion known, time after time. This is quite a nice interpretation of this style I'm not so keen on.

"Invented Out East. Brewed for the North. Our hazy IPA is teeming with Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic hops which, in the presence of restrained bitterness, lend lush flavors of fresh-squeezed citrus juice and marmalade." 

Wild Mind Forbidden Amrood

Wild Mind Forbidden Amrood. American Wild Ale conditioned on guava, grapefruit, and mint.
 750 ml bottle. 5.2% ABV. 5 IBU.
Wild Mind Artisan Ales, Minneapolis, MN.

Well, this is a first. I uncap the bottle of Wild Mind Artisanal Ale, and there's a cork inside. Classy, but wholly unnecessary and pointless.

Clear, bright golden hue, slim, soon-gone head.

In the nose: funky, fruity, sour. Nicely balanced, though sour completely covers any sweetness.

In the mouth: Whoa, huge tartness on the tongue. Powerful pucker. huge fruit, but well-tempered, never sweet, finishing dry. Light bodied, easy-drinking for the sour-heads out there. Guava and grapefruit give the tropical/citrus twang, with mint floating just below. Sweetness occasionally gets ahead of the sour for a bit, but never for long.
 Juicy fruit, mint and sour always doing a dance on the palate.

Another of the good old good ones from Wild Mind. Delicious.

Blend of foeder and barrel aged golden sour that underwent secondary fermentation with guava and grapefruit before being conditioned on mint leaves just before packaging. Forbidden Amrood has a nose of guava and soft mint with a strong grapefruit and tart citrus finish to blend to meld the melange of tropical flavors.

10 Barrel Brewing Company Crush Cucumber Sour

10 Barrel Brewing Company Crush Cucumber Sour. Berliner Weisse.
5 % ABV. 4 IBU.
10 Barrel Brewing, Bend, OR. (subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch)

I mentioned this beer before, without naming it. I wasn't ready to retire for the evening, but I wanted another beer, yet there was nothing in the fridge that I had had before. If I haven't had a beer before, I need to write about it, here. So, I broke my vow in favor of my thirst. And then I got another sample, so I have to write about the cucumber sour. And I will, too.

Partially cloudy/hazy, pale golden color, large, lace-leaving ivory head.

In the nose: Well, there's the cucumber. And here comes the sour. That's it, in the nutshell.

In the mouth: Crisp, tart, refreshing. Fruity, too, if you can say that about a cucumber. Cool, of course, as a. Juicy, if you can say that about a cuke. Fresh and easy-drinking. Not bad.

"Drink beer outside." it says on the label. Sorry, it's raining tonight, I'm staying in.

Once again 10 Barrel gets fresh! Tonya took her award winning Berliner Weisse and added loads of cucumber flavor. The aroma is undeniably cucumber. The flavor is like biting into a crisp baby cucumber fresh from the garden. Just when you have had enough the tartness acts as a pallet cleanser leaving you ready for the next sip. Eat Beer! 

21st Amendment Sparkale Sparkling Rose' Ale

21st Amendment Sparkale Sparkling Rose' Ale. Ale with apple, cranberry, peach, & cherry.
21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco/San Leandro, CA.

It continues. While the crowlers bought in St. Paul yesterday and the bottles and cans from my Iowa trip of two weeks ago wait their turn, I'm going through the beers that were in that fridge first, emptying that space of sample cans of styles I'm not crazy about. As stated in my previous post, because I have to, and that's all there is to it.

This one was sampled out to me quite some time ago, and the kegs were pitched to me week after week, even while they were put on sale, as summer wanes away. All the while, I never opened it up, No, no, no, I told them while the sample went upsampled. Was I wrong? Let's find out...

Clear, rose-y coloration, no head.

In the nose: Fruity, sweet. Yep, cherries and peaches and all the rest are here, fairly mild, though.

In the mouth: There's some spark, brisk carbonation, and there's a lot of sweet. Cornucopia of fruits in attendance, dropping juicy delights on the palate. Mild mouthfeel. Tart, light and refreshing. Ending dry. And utterly unfulfilling, for me. I'm sure plenty of people like it, but....

I don't buy beers just for me when I buy for a Acadia, my day job. (Night job, mostly.) I have to have something on tap for the people who don't want anything "too hoppy" or strong or malty, or barrel-aged or Belgian. And I make sure to have a few of those, because we want to keep them happy, too. But not this, brother, not this.

This overly sweet abomination makes me feel worse the more I drink.

Want to read some marketing bullcrap? Here you go: Like a sparkler crackling against the sky at dusk, our sparkling rosé ale is a refreshing pop of fruit and fizz with tart flavors and a crisp finish. Crafted with apple, cranberry, peach and cherries, this ale is a reminder of life’s simple pleasures. Open a can and enjoy. This is your moment to shine.

UFO Big Squeeze

UFO Big Squeeze. Beer. Grapefruit Juice. Shandy.
Harpoon Brewery, Massachusetts. 4.5 % ABV. 11 IBU.

Hey, guys, guess what? I'm still dedicated to reviewing every beer I come across. Even samples that I get that aren't really my thing. Still gonna review and post. Can't stop me. Even though I've got plenty of better beers calling my name, I've got to give some time to the grapefruit/ hefe weizen shandy. And away we go....

Cloudy, hazy, orange, slim head.

In the nose: Big grapefruit. Big soda. Not much beer.

In the mouth: Citrus bite up front, followed by a flood of grapefruit. All is light and smooth thereafter.  Refreshing and utterly insubstantial. Much more juice than beer, here. Not my cup of tea. Or glass of grapefruit juice mixed with beer and soda. And you know what I think about those.

It’s back! In 2014, we released our first UFO summer seasonal. In 2016, we retired it. And the people spoke. Loudly. And started a Facebook campaign to bring it back. Well, we are. But this time, it’s full time.

Steel Toe Doppelbock

Steel Toe Doppelbock.
8.3 % ABV. 35 IBU.
Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, MN.

Clear, rich amber/copper coloring, slim whitish head.

In the nose: Rich and (liquid-) bread-y. Sweet, and a bit boozy.

In the mouth: Caramel malt, a touch of toast. Campfire in a glass. Rich malt, exquisitely balanced. Little hops, just enough to do the trick.This one is not as dark, rich and full-bodied as I prefer a doppelbock to be, but, hey, I don't mind, it's a different take, and it is tasty.
And boozy.
And there ain't nothing wrong with that.

Doppelbock Lager

Color: Pale Gold
Alcohol content by volume: 8.3%
International Bitterness Units: 35
Bready rich malt backbone, caramel, toast.

Venn Brewing Citra Mosaic IPA / MN Breweries One by One # 125

The breweries keep on coming. A few Saturdays past (December 16), Venn Brewing at 3550 E. 46th Street, Suite 140 in  Minneapolis opene...