Monday, September 25, 2017

Summit Belgian-style Pale Ale

Summit Belgian-style Pale Ale. Summit Brewing, St. Paul, Minnesota. 5.5% ABV.

To the eye: Clear, amber-hued, solid cap of ivory froth that settles down assuredly.

In the nose: mild and malty, light fruit and a hint of spice. Belgian yeast at work. Peppers, cloves, and bubblegum.

In the mouth: There it is on the tongue. Malt, spice, fruit, yeast. Little hops. Medium bodied, easy drinker, nice and warm. I like Belgian pale ales, but they're not often my first choice. Good beers, when done well, but don't always do it for me. This one leans too hard on the spice, I think, when it could use more malty sweetness.

The Belgian Pale is an elegant, complex ale with spicy and floral aromas, as well as mild notes of orange zest and graham cracker. With a full mouth- feel and thirst-quenching bitterness, European hops and a Belgian yeast strain are layered over German, British and Belgian malts. Refreshing enough for a warm September day, hearty enough for a cool October evening.

COLOR: Sunset Orange (14 L)
HOPS: Saaz, Styrian Goldings
MALTS: Belgian Pils, UK Pale, German CaraMunich

YEAST: Belgian Ale Yeast

Oliphant Lieutenant Daddy Double IPA

Oliphant Lieutenant Daddy Double IPA, with Zythos, Mosaic, Wakatu and Galaxy hops. Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, Wisconsin. 9.5% ABV.

There's a story about Lieutenant Daddy, who he is, how he came to be, why he has a beer named after him, and etcetera, and that story was told to me, but Hell if I remembered it. You'll just have to go to the taproom and have them tell it to you.
Now let's drink a beer:

Hazy, as is our current fad, dull amber hue, slimmish, off-whitish head.

In the nose: sharp and citric, lightly floral, lemon and orange and fresh forest floor.

In the mouth: Super-smooth, followed by bitter blast. Slick and sweet, swallowed up by the big-ass bitterness. Loads of lush texture. Delightfully bitter, gritty, fruity, complex and pretty damn yum.

Interesting. Delicious. Delightful. Again, yum. Wow. All that hoppin' is makin' me itch!

Bad Weather Sun Pillar Belgian Blonde

Bad Weather Sun Pillar Belgian Blonde. Bad Weather Brewing, St. Paul, MN. 5.1 % Alc. 17 IBU.
Pairs well with sunny spring days, hot mid-summer afternoons, crisp fall evenings, mild winter nights.

To the eye: Lightly hazy, bright golden hue, slim white head.

In the nose: Mild aromatics, with an undercurrent of bubblegum, light fruit, Belgian yeast, malt.

In the mouth: Moderate/light bitterness, sweet malt, and that unmistakable Belgian funk inside. Light bodied, smooth, easy drinker. More bubblegum/fruit from yeast, lightly spicy. Delicious. I like a Belgian blonde from time to time, and this is a nice one.

Subtle spicy yeast notes are accompanied by the sweetness of Belgian Pilsen malt and candi sugar. Bubble gum and clove permeate the soft aroma coming off a silky white tuft of foam.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Indeed Oktoberfest

Indeed Oktoberfest. 6.4% ABV. 20 IBU. Wait. hold on.

I received this growler from the brewery with no information on it. I looked up Derailed No.10 on Untappd and copied that information and entered it above. They've been brewing it since 2014, when I had it at the taproom. But there was another listing, with 46 people, at this hour of writing,  posting about their various pints at local restaurant and bars in recent days and weeks. And this one is listed as being 5.7% and 123 IBUs. Hmmm. I don't think so. Maybe 23?

In any case, they appear to be slightly different beers. So, here's this new version of Oktoberfest:

Clear, bright amber color, slim ivory head, gone quick.

In the nose: clean and classic. Good and malty. Cereal grains and slight sweetness.

In the mouth: More clean and more classy. Vibrant malt body, light hops, nice balance, good drinking.

A straight, by-the-books, no fuss, no muss Oktoberfest lager. Not especially spectacular, and there ain't nothing wrong with that.

This Oktoberfest is traditional with a new wave twist: a traditional German malt bill topped with new German hop varieties Polaris and Mandarina Bavaria.

(The above is from the Derailed listing. Information about the new version may be different. I'd love to pull information off of their website, but it doesn't seem to be there.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pulpit Rock To Hop and To Hold Double IPA

A few weeks back, Jason and I made it down to Decorah, Iowas and my first visit to the Pulpit Rock brewpub. I got the opportunity to sample all of their excellent ales during our stay, and took three of them home with me to take larger notes. And here's one that came in the handy crowler format. It's proof that there are still hop-related puns out there for those who look hard enough.

To Hop and To Hold. 7.8% ABV. 60 IBU.

To the eye: there's that haze that's all the rage, a bold orange hue, and an absolutely gorgeous pure white head, leaving lacing. Lovely.

In the nose: Grapefruit, orange, pineapple, plus. Big citrus/tropical aromatics, more fruity than bitter. And I can dig it. More of the lovely.

In the mouth: Smooth, creamy, fruity, delicious. Moderate bitterness, medium body, plentiful body and yeast at play on the palate. Juicy, bitter, ending dry. Bitterness grows and grows on the palate, and I'm enjoying it more and more.

Hazy IPA meets double IPA, and it's altogether tasty.

A deliciously progressive marital bliss between Simcoe, Mosaic & Summit hops.

Alesmith /Pizza Port Logical Choice 3X India Pale Ale

Alesmith/Pizza Port Logical Choice 3X India Pale Ale, brewed and canned by Alesmith Brewing, San Diego, CA. 12 fl. oz. 10% Alc. by Vol. "An epic crew makes an epic brew."

There's a whole lot of copy on the back of the can. Let's try to read it: ...uh, no, it's gobbledygook. We'll stick to what I had to say.

Clear, bright golden, lush white head, looking utterly beautiful.

In the nose: Fresh tropical fruit notes start it off, pineapple, guava, mango.  Lemon, grapefruit, and pine climb on afterward. Sweet and lovely, with just enough bitter.

In the mouth: Big, bold hoppiness here. Brassy, ballsy, and a treat to drink down. Gritty, complex, yet sweet, tasty, and a lot of bitter. Needless to say, I like it.

Ommegang Pale Sour Ale

Ommegang Pale Sour Ale, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY. 6.9% ABV. Product of Belgium. (If that's confusing, it is instructive to remember that Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York is a wholly owned subsidiary of Duvel-Moortgat, and some of their branded beers are actually brewed in Belgium for sale in the U.S.) This one, actually, was brewed in collaboration with Liefmans.

Lightly hazed, pale golden coloring, slim white head.

In the nose: Big funk, big sour. Slightly vinegar-y. Wine-like, fruity, nice.

In the mouth: Sharp, tart, sweet, funky. Medium/ light bodied. Perfectly easy drinking, refreshing, and delightful. Just enough sour, just enough malt, great balance, go drink it.

I was going to copy off the words on the label, as I often do, but they used pretty much the same verbiage that I just did, and that would be embarrassing. Note that I did not read it first, however. Mere coincidence.

Here's more from them: Pale Sour is an elegant, drinkable sour beer, unique in that it’s not wood-aged. It has a well-balanced blend of sweet and sour. Liefmans is such a historic, iconic brewery and having the opportunity to work with them has been an honor and very enjoyable. 

Pale Sour begins with a mixed culture fermentation in open copper vats. Aged over several months in stainless tanks, master blenders blend new batches with older ones until the optimal balance of flavors is reached.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Insight Splendid Moose Northeast Style Pale Ale

Haze, haze, haze, haze is the craze, haze for days, the kids these days they all crave the haze, it's all the rage. Sigh.

So, this has been going on for a bit now, and I was tired of it long ago, but as the hype cranks up, I turn into even more of the Grumpy Old Man. Dangerous Man made them, Modist, Fulton, Lupulin, Disgruntled, Forager, I forget them all. I'm sure someone will pipe up and correct me. You'd think there'd be a database, with a list of all the local "NE-style" beers, sometimes referring to New England, sometimes "the Northeast", and sometimes playing with "Nordeast, Minneapolis." (This refers to the style's origins, which can be traced back to The Alchemist in Vermont and their Heady Topper Double IPA, reviewed here. Read more about the style here, if you like.) Barrel Theory is running with their versions, Blackstack and Headflyer have admirable additions to the ranks, and a couple of new ones have popped up that are making the local beer geeks forget about Dreamyard and HopStar. They are over. Over, I say! Now, it's the new one from Fair State (Spirit Foul, which I've yet to try...I haven't gone searching for a can, because when you have 2 -3 dozen cans, bottles, growlers and crawlers awaiting review, you have to stop going out and buying more beer) and this one from Insight that they're flipping out over. Brewers are feeling the pressure to put out their own to join in on the fervor. And I still don't get it.

I like unfiltered ales, I always have. Give me that yeast, baby. But this new excitement over a lack of clarity and a resemblance to a glass of O.J. is baffling to me. I get that some prefer a lower bitterness, a higher juiciness, but the extent to which they flip over that look, which is sometimes unappealing, I just can't fathom it. It feels like a fad which will soon run it's course, and then they'll all soon marvel over the clarity of some new-spun take. "Whoa, this IPA you can totally see through! And it has no hops! And it lacks any flavor! Best IPA yet!" Just you wait and see.....

Insight Don't Feed the Splendid Moose Northeast Style Pale Ale. 6.5% ABV. 22 IBU.

To they eye: Need I say it? Hazy orange coloration, slim, but lasting layer of ivory froth atop.

In then nose: Perfectly pleasant, pungent and pretty. Cool, calm and collected, busting with tropical and citric fruit notes, but low on the bitter scale. All the beauty with none of the bold.

In the mouth: Bright, fresh, full citrus flavors load the palate. Tasty grapefruit and orange notes, with a dose of pineapple. Moderate bitterness, lightish/medium-y bodied, lingering bitter finish. A pleasant pale to while away the day. Good beer, you can drink it, haze, juice, etc.

This isn't labeled an "IPA" and it isn't. Low bitterness but all the haze that the kids crave.


Our Northeast Pale Ale is brewed with Pale and Pilsner malt, along with a copious amount of Citra hops that give a super hazy and juicy color to the beer. Bright oranges fall on the nose with a smooth, citrus flavor on the palate. If you close your eyes, you just might think this beer was juiced rather than brewed.


Oliphant Undiscovered Worlds

Oliphant Undiscovered Worlds Russian Imperial Stout. 9.5% ABV. Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, Wisconsin.

This is one purchased some months ago, and left in the fridge until now. Should I have saved it longer? Maybe next time, I just had to taste it. If I remember right, though, I did try it on tap on the day of purchase, and I recall enjoying my glass quite a bit. Now, to crack the mini-growler.

Dark as sin, roasted brown head above.

Spills out the darkest aromatics, teeming from the glass. On closer inspection, roast and toast, cocoa, coffee and cream, lush and delicious in the nose.

Now, to drink it up: Nicely even-ly balanced RIS. Not too overboard, fine and mellow. Full-bodied but not over-powering. Plenty of malt, but not too boozy. A mere 9.5%. A pushover. Some smoke and tobacco.

This one can be safely called a middle-of-the-road RIS. Not too big, not too little. Yeah, you could wish it to be bigger and ballsier, but it is what it is, and what it is is just fine. Although, yeah, I'm yearning for just a bit more, here and there. I picture this one as a preamble to something greater on the horizon.

Undiscovered Worlds as sampled at the taproom.
Like many of the beers at Oliphant, the name comes from a sketch out of the Wareheim and Heidecker ouvre, the same one as Tittleman's Crest and Graumann's Center. They're calling this the Universe Series.

Sisyphus Orange You Glad You Like Chocolate?

Sisyphus Orange You Glad You Like Chocolate? 5.2% ABV, 23 IBU. Canned 9/12. Consumed 9/13. Sisyphus Brewing, Minneapolis, MN. Stout w/Cocoa Nibs & Oranges

Dark brown, just about black, nice cocoa-tinged head atop.

In the nose: sweet, chocolate, hint of fruit, at first. Light hop bitterness, mostly malty sweet. Okay, I'm getting it, it's there, but in small doses.

In the mouth: Rich, lush, delicious. Full body, much malt. well-tempered. Sweetness hangs on, but bitter keeps it in check. The orange, however it entered this brew, is kept pretty subdued, but has a presence. Hop bitterness stays on top, keeping command of all the other elements.

Good beer, and guess what? I can drink it.

You know those chocolate oranges you used to get in your Christmas stocking that you'd let sit for months and then they'd be all hard and gross? This beer isn't really anything like that expect for the chocolate orange part. But probably try to drink it fresh rather than storing it behind your old Beanie Babies.

Flavors: Dark chocolate, orange zest, roasted coffee