Friday, May 26, 2017

NorthGate Canoe Country Cream Ale

NorthGate Canoe Country Cream Ale in Collaboration with Save the Boundary Waters. This ale was brewed and packaged in Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, amber-hued, nice inch high head of ivory foam.

In the nose: soft, slightly hoppy, citrus-y just a touch, mild and mellow.

In the mouth: Clean, slight hop bitterness, cool and balanced. Malt does it’s thing, crisp, lean, and biscuity.

Good cream ale, and you can most assuredly drink it.
Oliphant Brewing and The Brewing Projekt present…

Hero Squad Collaboration Team Up. A Bright Red Belgian-style Ale with Currants and Mosaic Hops. 6% ABV.
In brewing, it’s called a collaboration. In comics, it’s a team-up. Here he have them both. The Brewing Projekt, established in 2015, is a concern I've never heard of until now, located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. These cans are not available in Minnesota, unlike the crowlers from Oliphant themselves, but my friends over there slipped some cans across the border for me, those sweethearts.

Solid redness, very hazy, slim white head.

In the nose: lightly fruity and floral. Some citrus notes. Sweet and lovely. Very nice.

In the mouth: Plump and bulbous. A sweet thing in the mouth, but balanced and ending on a dry note. Medium bitterness, lush malt, very clean and a pleasure to drink. Sweet malt kept in check and provides delights.

Good beer and you can sure as heck drink it.

On the label: “The acid storm was fierce….Unrelentless. Mr. Glass was transported through the rain portal. Gem boy meditates. In his quartzite heart drums the book’s rhythms. The book of forgotten power….the book of fire. Together they are quasi-dimensional time heroes. Together they are….”

It’s strange for me to say such a thing, but maybe they’ve read one too many comic books over there at Oliphant. I’m kidding, of course. I want to see them go even further with the weird stuff.

Bald Man Brewing Killer Queen Imperial IPA

Bald Man Killer Queen Imperial IPA. 750 ml bottle. (Paid $10.49) ABV 9.5%. Bald Man Brewing, Eagan, MN.

I’ve had Bald Man beers before. I visited them in late November, and they are #105 on the list of breweries, with the report yet to be written. I liked what I had there, but this is the first bottled offering I've yet to sample. And here we go...

Deep crimson coloring, opaque, lasting ivory head.

In the nose: rich, sweet malt meets pungent, powerful hop presence. A cornucopia of fruit notes at play in the aroma.

In the mouth: Big, bold, flooded with flavors. Coats the palate. Malt-driven, with an abundance of hops, bitterness kept in check by aforementioned massive malt. Plenty sweet, plenty bitter. It’s got it all.

I have to admit that this is not my favorite iteration of double IPA. I like them best when they’re brighter, lighter, citrus-y-er.

I’m also admittedly not much into Classic Rock, and though I’ve heard the song often enough, I didn’t know right away that the name of the beer comes from a Queen song, and the description on the back label is dotted with phrases lifted from the lyrics: “Beneath her crown lies a killer blend of American hops and English malt, sure to please the most insatiable of appetites. Bow before the queen, for if you don’t, she will show no mercy! Wanna try?”

Well, I did try, but I don’t think I’ll be back for more. Nice try, though.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fair State Vienna Lager

Fair State Vienna Lager. 5.3% ABV.  25 IBU.

Clear, amber-colored, slim white head.

In the nose: toasted malts, light, snappy, herbal hop presence. Clean and classic.

In the mouth: Lively hop attack at the top, then along comes the lush malt. Toffee/caramel tones dominate the palate, but it’s no battlefield. All is smooth and full of flavor. Bitter and sweet in a continual tango, comfortably co-mingling. Medium bodied with a long, malty finish.

I’ve had this before, but never reviewed it. Lagers are just going to be one of the last categories I chose from when I take something home from the taproom or liquor store. Getting a big 750 crowler from the Sample Man gives me an extra reason to take notes.

If you are the kind who is inclined to enjoy a Vienna lager from time to time, by all means make it one of these.

Here's their words about it: Our interpretation of the classic Vienna lager - pale amber in color, medium bodied, ever so slightly toasty from Munich and Vienna malts, complimented by a grassy noble hop nose.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Prairie Pe-Kan

Prairie Artisan Pe-Kan. 11.5% ABV. Imperial Stout brewed with copious amounts of vanilla & pecans.

Solid blackness, thin, tight brown ring of foam above.

In the nose: Cream, cocoa, nuts. Chocolate ice cream, with pecans on top.

In the mouth: Arrives on the palate clean and luscious, sweet, but balanced. A decadent treat. Floods the mouth with flavor. Bombs the palate with malty delights. Alcohol heat slowly but surely creeps in, but doesn’t intrude too harshly.

I was surprised that the pecans are so muted and mellow. Do I expect big things from this brewery?  Big, loud things? Perhaps. I also expect highly quality, sound construction, expert execution, and no shortage of taste. This one’s got it all and then some.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lake Monster Buddy Check Session IPA

Lake Monster Buddy Check Session IPA. Lake Monster Brewing, St. Paul, MN.

Clear, crimson-colored, lush, creamy, off-white head, leaving lace.

In the nose: sweet and fruity at first, then bitterness butts in and stays for the ride. Whiff of tangerine, lime, grapefruit.

In the mouth: Bitterness is bigger on the palate. Slightly astringent, much malt, big fruit, ripe and tasty. This is quite a different take on the “session IPA”, tasting like a good ol’ regular IPA. What’s the ABV? Can’t find it anywhere. (I found 4.5% and 45 IBU on Untappd. The same on BA and rate beer. Nothing on their website, though. Weird.)

Let’s read this label: “Our highly hopped American IPA is brewed for robust flavor and aroma in an easy drinking package—perfect for a session with your buddy.”

Here’s why it’s surprising as a “session IPA”. They’re not normally “robust”, don’t often have the strong malt content of this one, and is far more flavor than the average session IPA, whatever the hell that is. Go out and drink this one. Good beer and you can do that.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Central Waters Brewers Reserve Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout

Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout.

Full-on black, slim brownish ring of foam.

In the nose: roasted malt meets sweet fruit, with a touch of tart.

In the mouth: More of that. Some cocoa/chocolate, roasted malt gets smothered by the cherry, which is then covered up by the barrel. Bourbon takes command. Cherry and a touch of vanilla coming through. Nicely textured, a bit of tannins on the palate. Some tart, some sweet, and a lot of complexity happening. I like this one, I do, indeed.

From the website: We throw 75 pounds of tart Door County cherries into each oak barrel with a rich imperial stout then age it for 6 months. Cheers!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Prairie Artisan Ales Paradise

Prairie Paradise. Prairie Artisan Ales, Oklahoma.

Imperial Stout brewed with coconut & vanilla. 13% Alc. by Vol.

Utter blackness, under a beautiful, smooth, clean tanned head.

In the nose: starts quietly at first, but the flavors are slowly unfolding. Dark chocolate, sweet coconut, and a side order of vanilla. Enticing. Lovely.

In the mouth: Whoa. Flavors hit forceful and fierce, right from the start. A tasty combination, pleases the palate before the heat turns on. With each new sip, the deliciousness is chased by the alcohol burn. Pretty nice nightcap. Expensive (7.49’s what I paid), and plenty boozy. Have this as a once in while treat before you turn out the lights.

Here's a little inside info: It’s about to get really hot outside. How about a cold glass of refreshing Imperial Stout. Yep, you heard that right. Brand new to our line up is Prairie Paradise. We took a stout, gave it a hint of vanilla and a good deal of toasted coconut and created one season defying, genre bending brew. Imperial stouts are usually thought of as a cold weather beer, but here the coconut and vanilla blend push the image of the stout into a year round, all season style.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Insight Crazy Aunt Gin & Tonic-Style Ale

Insight A visit to my Crazy Aunt Gin & Tonic Style Ale. Insight Brewing, Minneapolis, MN. “We craft legends.”

"Gin & tonic style ale”? What the heck could that be? There’s got to be some explanation somewhere, but I’m going to check that out later. For now, I’m going in blind.

Hazy, golden-hued, slim white head.

In the nose: interesting, can’t quite pin this one. Lightly hoppy, slightly sour, some fruity/tropical tones, too, Not like anything I’ve held to my nose before.

Time to taste: Grapefruit. Very dry. Refreshing and light. It resembles a g. & t., yeah, I get that, but how? And why?

(So, I looked at the website, and lo, and behold, found this:


Crazy Aunt is an ale brewed with juniper, coriander, lime juice, and tonic water. We’ve pushed the limits with this beer and brewed it to taste just like a gin & tonic, and we’re introducing it as the perfect seasonal to quench your thirst on a warm Minnesota summer day. RECIPE IDEAS HERE!

availability: SUMMER
abc: 6.0%
ibu: N/A

I think this is a fun experiment, and it accomplishes what it sets out to, but “gin and tonic-style” is not what I look for in an ale. It’ll probably be a big hit with others, though.

Wait, there's more. Of course, there's more.

"...a distant relative, but not untouched by that strain of 'eccentricity' which affects us all, Grizelda Brewmaster had summoned me to the misty shores of Albion. She claimed to have invented a brew that mimicked the gin & tonic precisely. Juniper, spruce, quinine, all jostling about in bubbly bliss. On my way up to there precarious cottage, I mused on the warnings of the villagers below. 'Yowza, you're going to the witch's house?!' I was. Seldom does one get to choose their family, and neither did I..."

You know, the Monkees had a song called "Aunty Grizelda." Just thought I'd share that.

Lupulin Polarnattens Paradis Winter Stout with Paradise Coffee and Star Anise

Lupulin Polarnattens Paradis. The Polar night's Paradis. 7.8% ABV. 50 IBU. Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake, MN.

Solid blackness, rich brown head above.

In the nose: intense cocoa and coffee, rich malt. Beautiful. Warm and flavorful.

In the mouth: the anise hits first on the palate, with malt rushing in, and cocoa and coffee joining the fray. Anise remains on top of it, and I've got no problem with that. Spicy rye malt holds it down. Full body, full flavor, richly rewarding.

I liked this one quite a bit, although I did drink it just a little out of season.

From the label: "Around these parts, mid- to late-December is the darkest time of the year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty to be found in nature. The polar night is the time during winter, near the north (and south) pole, when the sun never rises above the horizon. Polarnattens paradis is a dark winter ale inspired by the starkly beautiful winter of the polar regions of northern Scandinavia. The beer is 7.8% ABV, densely dark and incorporates several flavors associated with winter in the far north of Sweden, such as light smokiness, subtle rye spiciness, black licorice, and, of course, coffee."