Saturday, August 29, 2015

56 Dark Territory Sweet Stout

Another visit from the sample man! And this time, he came from NorthEast Minneapolis' 56 Brewing. I still don't know why they're called 56. But, here's their Dark Territory Stout, with additions of coconut and cocoa nibs. We had it on nitro at Acadia, but I never took notes. And now I have a mini-growler all to myself, thanks to the sample man!

Notes from August 23, at 4:23 A.M.

It's dark, alright, very nearly black, with a slim, roasted tan head on top.

Sweetness in the nose right away, with low bitterness, and low roast. Coconut? Yeah, I'm getting it. Cocoa? Not yet.

Let's drink it: Um. Uh. Okay. Well. Let's drink it again. Dark malt, a little toasty, some of that coconut sweetness is coming through, is beer, and you can drink it, paraphrase whoever (was it Dorothy Parker or Tallulah Bankhead?) there's no there there. It does nothing for me. The thrill isn't just gone, it was never here.

I'm going to take a break and read the back of the growler. First off, the phrase "garden to growler." It's never explained. What garden? Where? How? Why? When? And then: "Do you love this beer because it is great? Or is this beer great because you love it? We love craft beer. But our beer wouldn't be here without your love for it. So with every one of these growlers that gets filled, rinsed, and returned we thank you. You love great beer and you make our beer great!"

Can a love not make something great? Can a thing that is not great remain not great despite some misguided love for it?

There's nothing "great" about this beer, no matter how much someone may love it.

It's fullish bodied, smooth and easy-drinking, but the promised flavors never show, and the ones that remain do not entertain. There is so much that one expects and enjoys in a stout that never shows up here. Well, there's something, but ... occasional coconut ain't gonna cut it.

That's all I want to say. There's no need to rake them over the coals further.

The brewery has this to say about the beer: Dark territory is a term used in the North American
railroad industry to describe a section of running
track not controlled by signals or traffic control.
Train movements in dark territory were previously
handled by timetable and train order operation but
now replaced with train dispatchers managing train
movements directly.

The brew house is adjacent to BNSF & CP train and
railroads that run throughout Minneapolis, hence
the appropriateness of this craft beer brewed in our

A rich and complex stout composed of smooth,
sweet and dark tones without being overpowering.
It has forefront aromas of chocolate, roasted dark
malts. A slight scent of hop bitterness and coconut
with resounding velvet, smooth and roasted flavor
gives this an opulent finish on the palate.
It is brewed with a blend of 6 different malts,
flaked oats, milk SUGAR, toasted raw unsweetened
coconut and cocoa nibs. The fermenter is loaded
with additional coconut to balance the flavor profile.
Drink this with lower carbonation to enjoy the full
bodied flavor.

Pairs well with: Roasted Beef, Blue Cheese

ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 31
SRM: 37

Friday, August 28, 2015

Indeed Berryswell

Notes from Saturday, August 22, 4:55 A.M. (Yes, this is how late I stay up writing these notes, just for you.)

The sample man came! The sample man came! Hey, everybody, the sample man came!

It's been sixteen months since the last time I bought beers for a bar, but I'm back at it, and the samples are coming thick and fast. Hooray! Samples, samples, rah, rah, rah! Even samples I might have bought myself, beers I may have chosen without even trying it out first. And so we have a mini-growler with no identification, but I've been assured that it's Indeed's newest beer, BerrySwell, a Mosaic hop pale ale with pureed blueberries. There's more information about it, but that's all I remember now. I'll get to the rest later.

5% aBV. 20 IBU.

Clouded, pale reddish coloration, going towards orange, more closer to apricot. Slim, staying whitish head.

Sweet, fruity nose. Moderate alpha acid bitterness rises up. It's a beautiful melange: maramalade, grapefruit, and, yeah, blueberries. Nice.

Fruit is strong in the taste at first, with hop bitterness quickly catching up. Medium-bodied, with a long, bitter finish. Fruitiness continues in the flavor, keeping perfect time with bitterness. Together, it approaches a candy-ish sweetness, with slight appearances by sour.

This is a very likable beer. And I am one who likes it.

The brewery says this: Style: Blueberry Mosaic Pale Ale
Description: Here to help you soak in the dog days of summer, it’s Berryswell Blueberry Mosaic Pale Ale, a sessionable, single-hopped offering with a light crisp malt bill, blueberry puree, and the fruity, tropical, and piney aromas and flavors of Mosaic hops.

And there's more to learn here.

Sisyphus Cake Beer

Notes from July 25, 2:42 A.M.

Sisyphus Cake Beer, Imperial Stout brewed with 24 Wuollet Bakery birthday cakes, ancho chilies, cinnamon and vanilla. 10% ABV. 51 IBU. Brewed to commemorative the first anniversary of the brewery and taproom.

I must be a lucky fellow. They say there were only 5 of these crowlered. (Because that's a word now, the verb "to crowler.")

Solid blackness, with a rich, creamy tan head atop, long-lasting and looking good.

Aroma: More richness, more depth, more malt. Sweetness is stronger than roast here. Vanilla and cinnamon are picked up easily, and then, yes, it does come across cakey!

Taste: Once on the tongue, it gets even cakier. How can you really quantify and describe that experience? You just feel it, the cakes comes into your senses, and spreads the birthday cheer. Bitterness is kept at bay by sweet malt, and vice versa. Some of the elements we look for in an imperial stout are somewhat muted and masked by the massive load of cakiness. Not quite as much of bittersweet roasty notes, of coffee, but cocoa, sure. And the peppers and spice jump back in place from time to time, just when you forgot they were there.

Full-bodied, fully-flavored, a glorious celebration stout. A gimmick beer? Yeah, but a tasty one, and that's all that matters. The cakitudalescence reigns over all, and it's good. Cheers to more years!

Sisyphus Kentucky Common

I'd never heard of a "kentucky common" until Summit made one a few years ago. I'm sure that they're popping up all over the place, as trends trend to circulate around the country, and old styles get revived. Urban Growler in St. Paul has one that we tapped at Acadia (never took notes) and what do you know, Sisyphus did one, and I took notes on it. From Wednesday, August 5, at 1:40 A.M:

Sisyphus Kentucky Common. What's a Kentucky Common? Is it really from Kentucky, and is it all that common? Enquiring minds want to know. 5% ABV. 38 IBU.

Appearance: clear, reddish-brown, slim head.

Aroma: malty sweet, caramel and toffee. vanilla. light fruity esters.

Taste: Malt is on top here, too. Sweetness kept just at bay with all the right hops. A little herbal malt, more of the caramel. Dark fruits...

so what the heck is a "kentucky common"? It's kind of like a cream ale, and kind of like a steam beer, and what the hell, just check out wikipedia, they know everything....

Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner

Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner. Another one from the SN summer sampler box. 5.2% ABV.

Appearance: clear, golden. Slim, soon-done head.

Aroma: sweet, malty, cereal grain nose. Light hops, fairly floral.

Taste: In the mouth, it's sweet, again, it's smooth, ever-so slightly bitter, and incredibly drinkable. Just enough flavor to keep my engaged, but not enough to make it interesting. Little trickles of fruit, flowers, and honey, smacks of cereal, ending ultimately on a dry note.

I don't mind this at all, but you won't see me toting home a case of it. I recommend it to your friends and fathers-in-laws, of course.

Hey, what's that on the bottle neck say? "German style pilsners are the original session beers. Nooner is our version of this classic style, loaded with floral and spicy hop flavor and balanced by a crisp and dry finish."

Sierra Nevada Kolsch

Notes from July 20, 2015.

Sierra Nevada Kolsch, German-style Ale. Last from the summer box. Alc. 5.0% by vol.

Appearance: It's clear, bright golden, with a sufficient white head on top.

Aroma: Lightly hoppy, with notes of apple and pear. Enticing.

Taste: Little buzz of hops hits the palate first, ending nicely dry. Lean body, excellent consumability. Light fruitiness persists in the flavor, too, and again, it tastes of green apples and pears. Just right. So light, so delicate, so beautifully quenching, dry, and delicious. Hops hang around, leaving just traces of bitterness.
I like this.

One thing I really hate is bad kolsches. Sad, sorry versions that don't come close to the real thing. I feel like they're hoodwinking the public and are profiting from a lack of knowledge of what kolsches should actually taste like. No surprise, Sierra Nevada gets it.

What's that bottle neck label say? "Our left coast take on a crisp, classic German-style ale is hopped up with zesty American and European hops for a twist on a traditional light-bodied beer."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fair State LactoBac 6 Lichtenhainer

I used to write these notes "live" typing as I'm drinking, then posting immediately after on the internets super-highway world wide web.coms. Then, I decided to alter the time stamp (I think it's somewhere in West Africa), so you, the reader wouldn't actually know at what inhuman hour I'm actually doing this drinking.

Why, then, I wonder, when I look at these notes I wrote weeks ago, and see the real-time stamp, do I feel the need to tell you that these notes on Fair State LactoBac #6 were written on Thursday, July 30 at 3:46 A.M? Maybe I should keep that information to myself?

Fair State LactoBac 6. It's another sterling example of why I need to visit Fair State more often. I've had the other LactoBacs, (not all, though) at other stops at the taproom, and perhaps at other bars. This past Sunday was the first time I decided to take a growler home with me. On the other occasion, I think, I just wasn't equipped to carry one back with me on my bike. This time, though I was prepared, and so my 750 ml growler collection has grown by one, and I'm ready to dig into LactoBac 6, a beer about which I've forgotten everything.

Appearance: clear, bright golden-hued, slim white head.

Aroma: Musty, funky, and oddly fruity. Undercurrents of white wine and wild yeast.

Taste: Whoa! Wild and weird. Now, I remember. This one has a german name that I'll have to look up, and it's clear from the smoked malt character coming through on the palate that it's some cross between a Berliner Weisse and a rauchbier. Or is it?

This is crazy stuff. Can't say I've had a smoked sour before. Wine barrel character, smokiness, light fruit, full-on funk, ending dry. Sharp, sour, just enough bitterness, exceedingly tart and dry.

One of the strangest beers I've ever had. Somewhat refreshing and just a little shy of delicious. There may be some who would detest this brew. I shall not be one of them.

I don't know why, though. I've had strange beers that I've hated. But, then, they were far stranger than this. LactoBac #6 has got just enough goodness to keep the strange from being bad.

And here's what the brewery says: LÄCTOBÄC 6 is our interpretation of a Lichtenhainer, a mostly dead style of sour wheat beer from Central Europe. Brewed with Oak-smoked wheat malt and Beechwood-smoked barley malt, and soured by lactobacillus. pH 3.28. 4% ABV, 10 IBU.

Fair State Hefe Weizen

Fair State Hefe Weizen. This is one we had on tap some time ago, and I never took notes, but I bought a 4-pack of cans. The last one has been sitting in the fridge and giving me the evil eye every time I open the door. We're definitely moving out of the season, so let's take this one down before moving on to oktoberfests and pumpkin brews.

12 IBU. 5% ABV.

Hazy, pale yellow hue, large ivory head, that inevitably drifts down.

Classic Bavarian hefe weisse bier aromatics: big banana, lemon, and clove. Somewhat sweet, and slightly spicy.

On the palate, sweet and wheaty, perfect texture, nothing but smooth and refreshing. The requisite flavors are in good supply, the light clove spiciness, the citric snap, the hint of banana. Creamy and quenching. Light bodied, easy-drinking, just the thing for summertime.

the can copy is relatively free of gobbledygook. There's a brief description, and a manifesto of sorts regarding their "collective perspective." This canned Hefe Weizen fills the bill respectfully, accomplishes it's every mission. I have to keep coming back to these guys. They're worth watching out for.

Sisyphus Centennial Pale Ale

Sisyphus Centennial Pale Ale, according to what Sam wrote on the crowler's label. Also that it's 6.5% ABV, 56 IBUs and was filled 8/20, last Thursday.

Clear, bright amber, with a slim, lasting white head.

Classic Centennial hop nose, fresh citrus, lemon and lime, fresh and lively.

On the tongue and down the throat, it's more of the same, with a thrilling bitterness riding the palate. This is what I want in a single hop pale ale. Refreshing and drinkable, yes, but with the incessant sensation of Centennial hops. Delicious. In fact, yum. Indeed, even yummy.

So tasty, and so finely tuned toward the thirsty hophead. A well-made beer, and a fine addition to the Sisyphus roster.

Steel Toe Size 4 Session IPA/Pale Ale

Steel Toe Size Four.  Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Year two of this brew. I tried it for the first time last summer, and enjoyed it. But, whenever I visited the brewery for a growler, they were out. S.O.L. Until this week. It was no longer on tap, but only available in growler, so I could take some home. And just in time for me to order some for the Acadia bar. I'm pretty excited for that, let me tell you.

(I'd like to share more information from their website, but it's missing, oddly enough.)

Enough of that jibber jabber, let's drink some.

Clear, bright golden appearance, slim ivory head, high carbonation.

Gorgeous aromatics, and that ain't no lie. Pineapple's spilling out with orange, grapefruit's knocking boots with mango, and banana is getting down with lemon and lime. Beautiful. Perfect. Good lord, it's lovely.

On the tongue and back down the palate, it's a citric delight. Perfect flavor for any hop-head, bright citrus-y sensations are a treat to drink down. Those who know me can attest that I treat language delicately, but this, this is fucking delicious. It's all Mosaic hops, or so I heard, and it's absolutely perfect.

Light to medium body, long bitter finish, interminable citrus-y flavors. Grapefruit spritz, orange peel, lemon zest. Every hop-head worth his membership card needs to keep shoveling this down his gullet at every appropriate occasion