Saturday, March 25, 2017

Upper Hand UPA

Upper Hand Upper Peninsula Ale. 5.5% ABV.
Upper Hand Brewing, Escanaba, Michigan.

Clear-ish, amber-hued, big ivory head, leaving lace, looking good.

In the nose: fairly quiet, some hop notes, light caramel malt.

In the mouth: Earthy hops up on the front, bitter, but balanced. Caramel malt tones greet the palate next. A little fruity, little floral, nice and even. And a little complexity, too, lot of different flavors at play. This is alright, good upper peninsula ale, and you can drink it.

Also, there ain't nothing wrong with it.

From the label: "Brewed and bottled where it's meant to be enjoyed." If that's the case, why do they ship it out of Michigan. What is this bottle even doing in my hands?

From the website: Upper Peninsula Ale is an American Pale Ale, brewed just for the north. The use of toasted malt gives it a nice, deep golden color, and the Mosaic hops impart citrus, floral, and berry aromas, and give UPA® a crisp, moderately bitter finish.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oliphant Tittleman's Crest Tequila-barrel aged black ale

Oliphant Brewing Tittleman's Crest.  Black Ale aged in tequila barrels. 8% ABV.

Solid blackness (though still a liquid), with a thin, brown head.

In the nose: Barrel rich. Deep and oaky. Portentous malt content, with barrel character creeping out. Chocolate and booze. Dark and massive, is what I want to say. Tequila notes haven't emerged yet, they've blended with the beer fairly well.

Now, to drink: Thick, lush, dark and delicious. Flat out delicious. Some of the tequila notes are popping up, but they're fairly covered, even smothered, by the richness of the malt. Medium-bodied, long, malty finish. Richness upon richness.

I'm skeptical of tequila barrel-aging. Not a big tequila fan. But, it worked this time. One of the tastiest beers I've had in a while.

I had to figure out where the name comes from, and it seems to be a throwaway reference to some cosmological phenomenon from a "Tim & Eric" sketch. One of many references from that show over the years.

Surly SeVIIN--3.5 years later

Way back in July of 2013, I sat down at the bar at the Blue Nile with a glass of Surly SeVIIn Ale from a freshly tapped keg and wrote up my notes for this blog. At the end of that review I wondered how the beer would improve with age. I've had a few bottles in the intervening years, but never thought to take notes and record what might have happened. Now that it's 3 1/2 years down the road, going on four, it's time.

And, you know what? I really ought to reduce the ol' cellar in preparation for my move next month. So, last night I peeled off the wax, poured it into a glass, and wrote this:

Surly Seviin. Trappist yeast, 3 malts, rye, wheat (first time at surly), and oats. 12.5 % ABV. Topped off with brettanomyces.

Burgundy coloring, rich creamy foam atop, lasting long, leaving lace, looking lovely.

Aroma: sweet, creamy, fruity, marshmallowy, orange, tangerine, bubblegum, ...all kinds or craziness.

Taste: mmm, sweet. Raisins. Caramel. Cream. Plums. Yum. Yu-um. Sweetness, and deliciousness, and very cool and mellow.

Have three years worked some magic here? Maybe, I think.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Surly Barrel-aged Pentagram

Surly Barrel-aged Pentagram. Malt Beverage aged in wine barrels, additionally aged in rye whiskey barrels. Unleash Pentagram. You have been warned!

Here's one of those beers where you had to chase some trucks to get your proper allotment. If you're one of those guys. I was able to get my hands on a bottle by putting my name on a list at a little liquor store the day before it was delivered. I've never seen any other bottles anywhere else. But, I don't do much bottle shopping, either. I held onto it for a few months, and finally cracked one open recently.

Deep mahogany hue, slim but staying whitish head. Looks good.

Aroma: sweet, plump, tannin-y. Aged in rye whiskey barrels, but the red wine affectations are still there. Cherry & vanilla pop out. Plenty happening here. Ripe and fruity.

In the mouth: starts out sharp and tart, not necessarily sour. Fruity, malty, delicious. Flat-out yum. (My newest catch phrase, I think.) Not getting much from the rye, though. Getting lots of Pentagram, but not much BA. Perhaps it's just playing it subtler than I suspected. As it is, though, dee-lish. Beautifully, tartly, fruitily fantastic.

Looking back, I do wish I'd saved it longer, and would love to get another bottle to see what will happen with some years on it.

Pryes Miraculum IPA (?)

Maybe you read the title of this post, and you're wondering why the question mark. It seems I got a visit from the Sample Man last week while I was not at work. Sometimes when this happens the Sample Man tells my co-worker that they leave the bottle or with (I will use gender neutral terms, for sometimes the Sample Man is indeed female.) the name of the beer, or will leave a note revealing it's identity.

This SM provided a blank bottle with his (for we know that it is a he) card affixed with tape. We shall assume that it is Miraculum IPA, for that is the only beer released thus far by Jeremy Pryes, in keg form, brewed at the Lucid/North Loop facility in Minnetonka, and I haven't heard that his new brewery in North Minneapolis is up and running and producing new varieties.

So, here we go, opening a mystery bottle and taking notes....if this is indeed Miraculum, it is 75 IBUs and 6.4% ABV.

Slightly hazed, bronze/copper color, prodigious head of creamy, milky-white foam, leaving lace.

In the nose: earthy, herbal, caramel notes, low hop bitterness. Some citrus pops up. A bit of butter. Diacetyl? Not sure. In time, the citrus-y hop tones outshine those earlier impressions.

In the mouth: Big blast of hops up front, bright and bitter. Plenty potent on the palate. Long lasting bitterness in the finish. Medium body, easy drinker for the hophead. I like this more and more as I drink it, and it does taste like the pints I've had on tap over the years.

Despite what may or may not be a flaw detected early on, good IPA and you can drink it. I look forward to drinking more of them, in their taproom looking out on the Mississippi river, soon, very soon.

Ballast Point Bonito Blonde Ale

Ballast Point Bonito Blonde Ale. Clear, pale gold color, slim white head.

4.5% ABV. 25 IBUs.

In the nose: soft, slight aromatics, a little bit floral, herbal, but fairly quiet and pleasant.

In the mouth: Crisp and refreshing. Light bodied. Minor hops, low bitterness. Easy-drinker. Pitch perfect American blonde ale.

I don't drink very many blonde ales, it's not what I reach for. But if you dig 'em, by all means give this one a try.

Sweetland Orchard Northern Spy Cider

Sweetland Orchard Northern Spy, A crisp dry hard cider. 7% alc. by vol.

The cider adventures continue, this time more from Webster, MN's own Sweetland Orchard. This is the 3rd cider of theirs that I've sampled, out of 5, and the first 750 ml. On the label it says: "A complex hard cider, perfect for sharing with friends over good food...", but I'm drinking it solo because that's what I do when I write about beers and ciders. And I'm going to drink it while I cook, maybe even include it in the cooking, and probably have some with the meal. And the label continues, of course, but we'll leave that for later.

Clear and yellow. Cider-y.

Nose: apples aplenty. Good ol' cider smells.

Mouth: Crisp. Dry. Very dry. And all kinds of apples. Extraordinarily dry, as well as refreshing. We're in Cider-town, fellas. (Although it's not tangy and brown. Ned Flanders doesn't know everything.)

Let's go back to that label...."made exclusively from Northern Spy apples, it is deliciously dry with a long finish. Sweetland Orchard is family owned and operated. We're proud of our Northern Spy and hope you enjoy drinking it as much as we enjoy making it. We're growing, pressing, and fermenting Minnesota's original farmhouse cider." "Drink cider, eat apples."

I like this. It's good. Really good. I'm not a cider drinker, but if you are, go drink it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stillwater On Fleek Imperial Stout

Stillwater Artisan Ales On Fleek (FTW) Imperial Stout. 13% ABV. Collaboration with Casita Cerveceria.

I'm not going to mention what a stupid name this is, or how I despise the design of this label. Bright day-glo colors do not belong on an Imperial Stout label. Forget all that. Let's focus on the beer.

Dark, blackish, deep coloring, rich and toasted tan head, looks about perfect.

In the nose: toasted coconut, marshmallow, vanilla, caramel, toffee, toast, roast, cocoa, cream. Mmmm. Char. Molasses. Mmm, mmm.

In the taste: mmm turns to ahhh.  Thick, rich, full bodied, massive malt, deep chocolate, some anise, molasses and more. Boom! It's everything I want in an imperial stout. Big, beefy, plump, large, immense, etcetera. Delicious. Drinks down as well as any good RIS would. Mmmm, so rich, so chocolatey, so, so, so. So very so.

If you know me at all, you know I love an Imperial Stout. Love them when they're done well. And this one is, it really is.

Here's all the information the website gives: Big, overhyped imperial stouts, amirite? This one on fleek tho. The most amazing collaboration ever with Casita Cerveceria.

Indeed Lucy Session Sour

Something over a year ago, I tried a new kettle sour pale ale from Indeed called Lucy. Not long after that, I tapped a keg for Acadia, and it was well appreciated by our patrons. Now, Lucy comes in a can. And at last we can see that it is not only named for Josh Bischoff's daughter of the same name, but also the one in the sky with the diamonds. I asked if it was the same beer, and was told there were a few tweaks in the recipe, and so it calls for new notes, doesn't it?

Lucy Session Sour Ale Brewed with natural flavors. 4.2% ABV, 12 ounce can, 27 IBU. Brewed and canned by Indeed Brewing Company, Minneapolis, MN.

Very hazed, pale golden coloring, slim white head.

In the nose: tart, fruity, funky.

In the mouth: Sour hits the palate with a punch. Very funky.  Wild, crazy, and eminently drinkable.  A lot of citrus smacks the lips and tongue in this. Changes from the original, I was told, include lemongrass and passionfruit, Much sour abounds. Many fruits. Just delicious.

I can see having many dates with this Lucy, and strongly recommend listening to this while you imbibe.

From the website: Lively, spirited, and complex, Lucy Session Sour Ale is the latest labor of love from our Head Brewer Josh Bischoff. A tribute to his daughter of the same name, Lucy was a stubborn beer to make — sour, sassy, and unpredictable — but then again, nothing worth doing comes easy. Light in body with lush tropical fruit notes and a tart, citrusy finish, our Session Sour is brewed with lemongrass, orange peel and passion fruit. Sip after sip, let Lucy win you over.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Town Hall Blonde Crush

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Blonde Crush. Belgian strong golden ale. 9.1% ABV.

Clear, copper/amber color, slim white head.

In the nose: sweet, fruity, bubble-gummy, a sweet treat.

In the mouth: Malt bombs the palate, then leaves it clean. Medium bodied. Sweet, sharp, strong. Goes down nice and easy and deliciously. A blonde ale with the big bones of a triple.

Had this growler one day past the "best-by" date. I think it held up.