Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale (with a whiff of the auto-bio thrown in)

So, it's time to reveal the great public at large where one could find me if one tried. After retiring from the bar I ran for 15 1/2 years, spending time as a glorified crossing guard at a neighborhood brewpub, then serving up pints at two different brewery taprooms, once again I am tending bar on the West Bank of south Minneapolis, for my old friends at Acadia Cafe. Once more, live music, making cocktails, but at least my dream of never opening another Heineken continues. And there is some room for advancement, just a little. We'll see.

There are 28 taps at Acadia, and they boast that there are none of them that one could call "crap." There is one devoted to a root beer, and usually one for cider. Within those other 26, they keep consistent with that promise. The chances are good that I'll have some influence in what might go on those taps while I'm there. They certainly respect my opinion and taste in that regard.

And here's a thing: there's usually something I haven't had yet on tap, and I've trying to take notes when I can on those. Not always easy to find the time. They've always had beers on tap here that I haven't reviewed yet, but we've been over this before. Don't like taking notes while at a bar. Not so much.

But, we've got Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale, and I've already taken notes on that one, way back in ....wait, only August of 2010? Well, it was before I started this blog, but...something tells me I should have sampled it earlier than that...nonetheless, here are those nearly half-decade old notes...

Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale.

"Back then the beer tasted like broccoli and kersene and the carbonation ate right through and drained your gut..." ...and so on, and so forth. Really? Good thing that's over!

Very clear, very golden. Lovely to look at, delightful to know. Slim head.

Aroma: Beautiful, floral, lightly citric, ...a touch of honey. Just right.

Taste: Nice, elegant bristling buzzing blast of hops right off the top, keeps zooming along the palate.
Full bodied, continual hop attack, easy drinking hoppy pale ale. Slightly sweet malt base, keeps up with the bitter hop profile that never quite quits. Bready malt meets apple and citrus fruit in the hops, excellent mix, classic pale ale style.

It's a good beer and you can drink it.

Lagunitas Maximus IPA

Lagunitas Maximus IPA. OG 1.080. Alc. 8.2% by Vol. IBU 72.41

So, the other day I'm staring at the store shelves trying to come up with something I haven't had before, or at least, a beer that hasn't appeared here yet. And I chose this one. I knew for certain I'd reviewed it once before, at least, and guess what? I had. January of 2003. And this is what I wrote:

Big white head, dark orange color. Aroma: fresh, floral, fruity, hoppy. This is self-hyped as highly hopped, hence the boastful name, but on first sip, I'm not overwhelmed. First impression: a more alcoholic extra pale ale, but not the hoppiest of IPAs by a long shot. Smooth palate, medium body, easy-drinking.But overall, a disappointment.

A disappointment, really? Well, yeah, when compared to how they hype it. It's high alcohol, but that 74 IBU isn't all that impressive. It's hoppy, yeah, but they've gotten hoppier, as has everyone, through the years. Here's what I copied off of the bottle. or, rather, the 6-pack carrier, or, more accurately, a combination of the two:

Lagunitas Maximus. IPA. "Some is good. More is better. X-treme everything. Instant gratification is not fast enough.! {sic} We only got an inch of topsoil left. The end is near, don't sip. 42 IBU? Why not more? ….Imelda's Shoes. One war? Why not two! Tats, Nipple Piercing, Cutters, Burning, T1-lines, and Hummers. In our Sensate World…MAXIMUS just makes perfect sense."

What a strange assemblage of words. "Imelda's Shoes"? Talk about a dated reference! Maximus feels like a hold-over from a previous era. Things have gotten much more extreme in the past decade plus, and this beer ought to be retired, or at least renamed.

Dave's BrewFarm Wheatless Wonder

Dave's BrewFarm Wheatless Wonder. Here's one that appears quite a bit at the LaBrewatory, but I'd never taken a growler home. Why the heck not? Always something seemingly more special around, I guess. I finally resolved that particular problem and made it a priority to make Wheatless Wonder a notch on the old BrewFarm belt. Away we go…

Appearance: clear, bright golden coloration, slim white head.

Aroma: Banana-y! This nose is flush with fruit. Small spice, traces of citrus. Mild hops.

Taste: Small hop presence, then the lush malt takes over, but it's all barley. The Bavarian hefe weizen yeast is at work, but not against wheat malt. That's what makes it the wheatless wonder.

Smooth, fruity, creamy and quenching. Slightly sweet stuff, and well-balanced. Ah! Re-freshing. Mmm, mm.

"We started with a classic German weizen yeast and brewed it without the wheat. This recipe has 100% malted barley. Pallisade and sterling hops."6.9% ABV.

What if I used that weizen yeast, but left out the wheat? Such a quintessential Farmer Dave thing to do. Like whatever cosmic force you care to name thinking to itself that sticking a duck bill on an egg-laying mammal might be a fun joke to play on the universe. Not that I'm calling FD a God or anything like that. Heaven forbid.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dave's BrewFarm Jarrylo Single Hop Lager

Dave's Brewfarm Jarrylo Single Hop Lager, Dave's BrewFarm, Wilson, WI. 6.4% ABV. It's a single hop lager with that new hot hop Jarrylo. I don't know if it's hot or not, actually, I just heard of it for the first time today, twice. It's new, it must be hot.

Appearance: clearish, bright amber/golden coloring, slimmish white head, lace-leaving. I like it.

Aroma: Soft. Sweet. Citrus-y. Lemon and orange, little bit of lime.

Taste: Ah! Whoa, what was that? Ah! Nothing but ah. Perfect blast of citrus and bittersweet Malt is lean and clean here, the hops are shining, like they do. Hop presence is huge, bitterness is big, and citrus is chiefest among the flavors.

It's big and bitter, but not overly so, and ending dry. Very satisfying, and again, not the sort of thing you'd think of when you think of a lager.

What Farmer Dave want to tell us about it? "Pils, Cara Red, and Caramel 20 malts, and hopped with three additions of Jarrylo hops. Fermented with lager yeast."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Leipziger Gose

You may have noticed that the Gose style has been discovered by the American craft beer world, especially interpretations that make the most of the inherent
sour character. Before today, there were three examples here in
Nib, all of them American-made, two of those local.

At last, I grabbed on to a bottle of the original, and found
my old notes from way back in December of 2003:

My first "gose" ever...didn't even know what one was until I bought this bottle.
Okay, so "gose" it is!
Appearance: cloudy pale orange color, with a thick, creamy white head. Nice, attractive.

Aroma: spicy, yet soft, with whiffs of fresh sea-foam like I'm detected in weizens, big with spice, and citrus, and so far I'm geared up for something like a hefe or a wit.

Taste: unusual! Dry, and mellow, with an initial sourness. Not at all like I was expecting after that nose, way too flat on the palate. Rather light-bodied, cool and mild, with a very soft finish. I think I can actually taste the salt, too, I get the merest taste of salt, without it being too salty.
Very drinkable, this, very, very, although I liked it, but it couldn't love it. I needed more of a kick in the flavor for that.
An intriguing style, rarely encountered, and quite easy to appreciate. If I'm ever in the mood for a mellow, dry brew that won't go and blow my mind, gose it is!

Castle Danger Double Crossing IPA

Castle Danger Double Crossing Double India Pale Ale. Castle Danger Brewery, Two Harbors, MN. 9.1% ABV.

Appearance: clear, bright golden/amber coloring, large and long-lasting creamy white head, leaving lace.

Aroma: Bountiful tropical fruit bouquet, beautiful hop bitterness. Apricot, tangerine, pineapple, with a little bit of lemon. I like it.

Taste: Tasty hop attack from the forefront, gliding hop bitterness over the palate. Big and fruity, and increasingly strong. Juicy, big and fruity, with alcohol strength growing. Full-bodied, long, bittersweet finish, and increasingly enjoyable. Yum. Hoppy as heck, with enough of a jolt to lift it out of the ordinary. And tasty.

You know what? This is exactly how I like my double IPAs.

What's the gobbledygook on this? "Double Crossing IPA was originally brewed as our Second Anniversary beer in 2013. It was so good, we keep it coming back each spring. We put an amazing amount of hops into this beer, over 4 lbs per barrel! These hops add flavors & aromas of tropical fruit, citrus & apricot. Despite the crazy amount of hops, it is a very well balanced double India pale ale."

It is, actually. I quite like it, and found that it was $8.99 well spent.


They seem to be using the same artist as on the cans, though the damage is not as deep, since this design is based on inanimate objects. I was in possession of a couple cans of the stout, which I actually reviewed from a growler several years ago, and I disposed of them, once empty, as quickly as I could. Not a graceful depiction of a human being on that George Hunter Stout label. I'll end on a more gentle note and suggest they employ someone who can interpret human features in a more aesthetically pleasing manner.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Boom Island Tequila Barrel Gravity No. 9 Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Well, here's an interesting little beer. Boom Island Gravity No. 9 Belgian Strong Dark Ale, aged in tequila barrels with plums. This special version of Gravity No.9 was released as a benefit for The Hero Initiative, a charity to help comic book artists who have fallen on hard times. Bill Willingham, of the Vertigo series "Fables" and back in the 80's "The Elementals" and more, produced the label art, and good ol' Dave Anderson got one for me autographed by the artist. Only 300 bottled, and according to Dave, only about 10 autographed, I presume, because most in attendance brought their comic books to be signed.

Enough jibba-jabba, let's drink it already….

Appearance: dark brown, with ruby highlights. semi-clear, slim, creamy head.

Aroma: Right away: the plums. A little tart, a little sweet, plenty fruity. The tequila notes seem to be peeking through.

Taste: Fruit hits you from the start, very wine-like, a touch of tannins. Fresh and berry-ish. I'm not really getting tequila out of any of this….but I wouldn't call that a problem. Nothing from hops here, nice and malty, ….perhaps the plums have overtaken the tequila?

Let's look at the notes on the bottle, shall we? "Our first collaboration with the HEro Initiative, Gravity No.9 begins with soft aromatics of vanilla and malt, which are followed by a full-bodied mouthfeel that rounds through dark fruit flavors and followed by a surprisingly dry finish."  9.2% alc. by vol.

I like this one. It doesn't have what I typically want in a Belgian Strong Dark, but it's tasty and fine. This could have gone wrong in so many ways, but it works. I feel that I need to visit the taproom and find out what it tastes like without plums and tequila.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tyranena Carnal Knowledge Double Oatmeal Stout (Brewers Gone Wild)

Tyranena Brewers Gone Wild Carnal Knowledge Double Oatmeal Stout. Tyranena Brewing Company, Lake Mills, WI.

Appearance: dark as soot, this one, with a thin toasted tan head, that slims down to nil in no time.

Aroma: dark malts, some chocolate, little hop bitterness, a hint of roast.

Taste: Now it's getting good. Malt feels richer, while retaining an utmost smoothness. Creamy, slightly sweet, and beyond being "big, bold, ballsy", it's rather easy on the palate. I have a feeling that it's got some strength, but, as ever, that information is left off the label.

Yeah, it's feeling strong, but it's ever-so satisfying. Hey, let's read the label, and see what it says: "darker than midnight on a moonless night, smooth and silky with plenty of lace. Full-bodied with the rich and lucious (sic) flavors from dark roasted malts like caramel, chocolate and coffee. A truly satisfying experience."

Dangerous Man Peanut Butter Porter

Dangerous Man Peanut Butter Porter.
This is one I've heard of for a while and was glad to find it on tap when I paid the taproom a visit last week. I'd been sitting on 3 64-ounce growlers that I hadn't used in two years. (there's a reason why I never went back to fill my growlers, but I won't go into it now.)I took two of them with me and turned them in for credit, $5 each, then purchased a 750 ml growler of the PB P. Next chance I get, I'll take the other 64  ounce and this one when it's empty, turn that into a 750 ml of another beer, then I'm down to eighteen! Only eighteen! That's almost a quarter of what I had a few months ago. Such marvelous progress. I can leave out my cupboards.

So, anyway. Once more, I'm opening this without any real knowledge of it. Real peanut butter? How much? How'd they get it in there? How'd they get it off the back of the spoon?  Creamy-style or chunky? So many questions. I'll look for answers in a bit. For now, let's crack it open and drink it up.

Appearance: deep black, under a rich, toasty brown head, looking good.

Aroma: sweetness and nuts starts it off. Earthy, and malty, and doggone it, peanut-buttery. Scarcely a note of hop bitterness to be found anywhere. Dark malts and peanut butter.

Taste: All of that and more, on the palate. Medium-bodied, with a semi-sweet finish. The full flowering of the peanut-buttery-ness seems to wane a bit after the start. Let's give it another chance,….well, it's sweet, nutty, pleasant, drinkable, and I don't think I would ever have two in a row. Or finish off a growler by myself again. It is what it is, and what it is, is okay. Beer, and I can drink it.

Oh, I can answer one question. Creamy-style. I haven't encountered any peanut chunks yet.

P.S. I've looked it up on their website. Here's all the information I can get out of them. IBUS
ABV (%)
Peanut butter, chocolate, hints of coffee and toast.
Desserts fo sho. Get creative with other peanut dishes. Pair with caramelized meats, curry dishes, and Thai food.

Friday, May 15, 2015

St. Feuillien Saison

I'm working away at filling those holes, and found a few missing from the brewery St. Feuillien. What, I haven't had a St. Feuillien Saison in all these years? Well, I had it for the first time when I tapped it back about six years ago at the Blue Nile. It was hard to find kegs after that, but look, lo, and behold, they've canned it! (A few years ago, actually. I guess the lo, and behold, is that I finally picked some up.)

So, without further ado, my notes from September, 2009, of the saison from Brasserie St. Feuillien of Le Roeulx, Belgium. Cheers, Slainte, Prost, and Pache!

Thoroughly hazed, amber-hued, light yellow at base of glass, with a large, proud, and creamy white head holding court on top.

Aromatics: a little sour, then a little sweet, some fruit, citrus, apricot, peach, then creamy and smooth. Again...beautiful fruit, mild, mellow, lovely.

Taste: zesty blast on the tongue, fresh flash of fruit, funk, and sour, ...then, again, all is well and cool. Juuust right. Firm, not meek or watery, and solid. Solid, spritz-y, some peppery spice, mixed always with citus-y feeling. Damn good, this is. You can drink it, and it rewards you for the effort. Pleases the tastebuds, as it trickles down the throat.
Nice stuff, if I can say it prosaically once more.