Friday, December 9, 2016

Summit 30th Anniversary English-style Barley-wine Ale

Summit 30th Anniversary Barley-wine. Summit Brewing Company, St.Paul, MN.11.5% ABV.

Clear, bright amber, slim white head.

In the nose: big everything. Huge malt, massive hops. Big fruit, big hops, spicy and citrus-y, teeming with the pungency of the over-done everything. And I love it.

In the mouth: hot. Fierce. Rich and indulgent. Does this need more time? It could use it, that's for sure. For now, it's on fire and it's running on all cylinders. Huge, malty/hoppy, beautiful. All the fullest expression of malt and hops. Extra Pale Ale turned up to eleven.

All in all, it's a tasty, big-boned beverage, but I don't think it fills the bill as a barley-wine, certainly not as much as the Union Series barley-wine of last year. It's a doubled-up EPA, but that doesn't make it a classic English Barley-wine. Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable beer, and I'll certainly dig it.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Allagash Evora

Recently, I received a surprise visit from some folks from Maine that I'd I'd never met, but known for over a decade. Stan, aka, "purplehops" on BeerAdvocate was one of the first people I'd ever traded beer with way back in the early 2000's. He'd held onto all of his contact information over the years, and he and his wife Heidi popped into Acadia to pay me a visit while in town. Incredible. And gave me this amazing Maine beer. What a wonderful beer world that we live in. Thanks to Stan and Heidi  I'm going to have some Allagash for the first time in years. Evora, ale aged in brandy barrels, Allagash Brewing, Portland, Maine. 8.5% ABV.

Hazy, bright golden hued, large, lasting ivory head.

Funk comes first in the nose. Nice and sour. I don't know what kind of bugs or barrels (beyond the brandy, I guess) are at work, but it's nice. Is it a Belgian style at the base? Saison, blonde? I'm ever so curious.

In the mouth: Soft, warm, wonderful, Just enough funk for the tongue to handle, nice and smooth and delicious. Can't say the brandy barrel aspect sticks out too much,  but whether it's pronounced or not, it works. Nicely soured, funky, fresh, and tasty.

From the label: "Evora is a golden hued ale with aromas of tropical fruit, honey, and spice. Citrus, oak, and earthiness dominate the flavor and give way to hints of bread crust. Malty and robust, this medium bodied beer finishes fruity, dry, and slightly tart.
We brew this beer with Maris Otter Malt and flaked oats, and hop with Sorachi Ace, Hallertau and Northern Brewer. Evora begins fermenting on stainless steel with a classic Belgian yeast strain, then moves over to Portuguese Brandy Barrels, where it ages with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis for over a year."

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

It's December 1, everyone, and you know what that means! We're half-way through our annual celebration of our Lord and Savior Jesus H. Christ. (What does the H. stand for? Does anyone know? Has anyone seen the birth certificate?)

So, let's drink a Christmas Ale, and let's let it be from Great Lakes Brewing of Cleveland, Ohio.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale, An Ale with Spices and Honey.

Clear, amber-hued, short-lived off-white head.

Aroma: little bit fruity (cherry-apple), little bit spicy, little bit tart. Big ginger. Interesting. Bread-y malt flavors come through, too.

In the mouth: Here we go: ginger-y, fruit-y, and honey-sweet. Nicely spice. Medium bodied. Not hard to drink at all. In fact, it is a good beer, and you can drink it. Feels a little warm and slightly boozy, but not by much. I'm going to finish this bottle easily, and I wouldn't not reject (though I do not have) another.

Destihl Wild Sour Series Synchopathic

Here's a Destihl beer I've been sitting on for far too long, and I've cracked the can without knowing what it really is. Gonna go in blind, as I often do.

Destihl Wild Sour Synchopathic. All. 6.0% by Vol. IBU: 8. Unfiltered wild indigenous kettle sour ale.

Clear, bright golden hue, slim white head.

In the nose: funky from the start, sour for sure, dry and wine-like. Pungent and vinegar-y.

In the mouth: Big time pucker! Huge souring, turning the mouth all upside-down and round-and-round. Oooh! Wee! Lean malt, minor hops, all about the sour. If that's what you crave, this one delivers.

I'm very curious about this one and shall now consult the can. "Synchopathic is the cool harmonization of a refreshingly tart and acidic sour ale with citrusy floral and fruity dry-hops normally in concert with pale ales, with totally rad aromas and flavors reminiscent of tangerine, grapefruit, orange, lemon, pineapple, and hints of pine, giving way to a biscuity-cracker-y malt backbeat, low bitterness and a dry finish to bring everything in synch. Cheers!"

Wow! One hell of a run-on sentence! Cheers, indeed, to that!

Personally, I didn't get all those citrus-y hop character notes at all, but I get it if someone found them somewhere. The sour takes it all over in this one. Intense sour, with some of that other stuff, but it's often forgotten under the fury of the sour.

Friday, December 2, 2016

NorthGate Stronghold Robust Porter

At last, in a can! I've had this beer before, from a firkin at Acadia, but now I can finally give it the full examination in the privacy of my own home. Enough, let's get to it.

NorthGate Stronghold Robust Porter. "This ale was brewed and packaged in Minneapolis, MN." 6.0% ABV. 25 IBU.

Deep black coloring, slimmed brown ring of foam riding on top.

In the nose: roasty-toasty meets sweet and creamy, with appropriate doses of bitter. Perfectly pleasant and right on for a robust porter.

In the mouth: creamy smooth, bittersweet and malty. Medium body, definitely drinkable, ending refreshingly sweet, then dry. Nice, nice, and then more nice. This is my kind of porter. Bring it on, and then bring it on again.

From the can: "Bold, complex roast character built with traditional ingredients, while a substantial robust body holds down the fort."

Minnesota Breweries One by One #33: Waconia Brewing, Laconia, with Mo' Winter Milk Stout

This one, my friends, is a do-over. My first visit to Waconia Brewing was on April 21, which should be known to all Minnesotans as The Day Prince Died. I saw it on the news online before Jason came to pick me up for our 3 brewery tour of that day, a Wednesday, and I quickly re-fitted my iPod to load up as many Prince songs as I could, and our trip a little bit funkier.
When we passed by Paisley Park in Chanhassen, there was already a gathering and the traffic was slowed down. Waconia was the first place we stopped, and the only visit of the day not to play any Prince music. They went with reggae. Okay. Fine. The rest of us are remembering a great artist who didn't deal well with pain relievers.

So, on this quiet Wednesday afternoon, we had some flights and I took some pics and I really enjoyed the beers and the place, and out of nowhere someone offered us some samples of their soon-to-be-released Imperial Stout. We must have stuck out from the locals, especially when I have my notebook out. I love it when that happens. I believe it was actually the Gin-Barrel  Aged Driftwood Imperial Stout that shortly thereafter was released in bottles. (Anybody have any of those bottles for trade? Sure would like to get my hands on one.)

The report on brewery # 33 was stalled because the photos are lost in limbo, and now the notes are missing, too. Shall my opinions of Waconia Brewing be forever lost? No, because on the 20th of November, we were again in those environs, and Jason suggested that Waconia was between two of our set goals. Could we stop in for one, or two? Sure. So, it's a do-over.

One change, though. That Wednesday was fairly slow, and this Sunday was just a popping' beehive of activity. People playing board games, card games, watching the big ol' football games. (Which was a major distraction for our bartender, not that his service suffered any for it.)

Waconia Brewing (now to be called WBC, because autocorrect wants to go to Laconia, for some reason), is at the corner of a little strip mall area at 255 Main Street in Waconia, Minnesota, population 11, 480, only 95.7% of them white folks. Situated on lovely Lake Waconia, Carver County. Did you know that The Replacements' Bob Stinson was born in Waconia? That's what Wikipedia tells me. Doesn't say where Tommy was born, though.

The family-owned brewery opened in 2014, with the motto "Approachable Beers from Approachable People." Many of the standard line-up have names that associate them with the place. Wac-Town
Wheat. Carver County Kolsch. 255 Amber. (90K IPA, I think, is named after the length of lakeshore mileage. Maybe? I'll look into it.) Those four are also canned, and there's an ever-shifting array of seasonals and specialties.

My first choice was the Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, naturally, why would I pass that one up?
















And it lived up to the hype. (There has been hypes, not as much as Dangerous Man's PBP, but some.) Full of everything promised, rich, peanut-butter-y, chocolate-y, malty
deliciousness. I was loving it. Pity I missed out on bottles, or growlers. They had very little left on tap, so I'm glad that I got a chance to check it out.

Jason, meanwhile, had chosen one of the 2nd
Anniversary beers, the Raspberry Tart, and I took a taste of that one. Mighty nice. Refreshing, tart, tasty. Good stuff. Another one I wish I could have taken home with me. I made two choices for that, the 2nd Anniversary Double IPA, reviewed earlier, and the Mo' Winter Milk Stout,
reviewed below. But before we took off for our third stop of the day, I got one more pint in, the


90K IPA  (7% ABV, 75 IBU). Notes read: nice
and bitter, slightly sweet, certainly citrus-y, with a long, bitter finish, medium-bodied, refreshing and ending on a dry note. This is firmly within my style of IPA, and I would definitely find it a favorite were I a Laconian. Heck, if it were within reach on an average day, I would make it my daily IPA. Barring that, cheers, Waconia, you've got some good beers here!

All around, this is a brewery that knows what it's doing and is doing it well. I look forward to trying their beers over and over again.




Mo'Winter Milk Stout. 5.8% ABV. 21 IBU.

Dense, opaque, deep and beautiful. Slim cocoa-tinged head. Looking nice.

In the nose: Big roast, large malt, much chocolate. Hints of dark rum, anise, molasses.

In the mouth: Smooth, silky, malty, clean. Dark ale you can drink all night. Lightly sweet, slightly toasty, just about delicious. Good drinking. Creamy smooth, dark and down able. Nice.

Here's the official gobbledygook from the website: Mo’ Winta Milk Stout
Grain: American 2-Row, 2 varieties of Dark Crystal, Chocolate Malt, Roasted Barley, Oats and Lactose
Hops: Magnum & East Kent Golding
Yeast: London Ale Yeast
ABV: 5.8%
IBU: 21
Notes: Dark, delicious, and made for winter, this smooth and creamy stout goes down easy. With low bitterness and moderate carbonation, this is an approachable ale for all types of beer drinkers. The addition of milk sugar compliments the roastiness, adds body, and produces a pronounced sweetness. This well balanced traditional English sweet stout can be enjoyed on the coldest of Minnesota nights or taken home as an after dinner dessert beer. Prost! $5/pint

Hammerheart Gorm the Old

Hammerheart Gorm the Old. Growler I've been sitting on for a few weeks. Missing the description band, because Tanner put it on Jason's growler accidentally. It's okay, I forgive him. (Kidding. No, I don't.)

Mesquite smoked old ale, 7.4% ABV.


Dark brown color, slim cocoa-tinged head.

In the nose: malty goodness, chocolate traces that will grow in scope as the beer warms. This has not spent enough time out of the fridge. Getting bigger and wider, but that cold is in the way. Gonna wait a bit...put on a Louis Armstrong record. Bah, bo be, be bo bay, oh, mama....Oh, no, this is a Hammerheart beer, it's got to be metal! And....I'm not into metal. Okay, I'll pretend Pops is metal. Give a new meaning to "Darkness on the Delta."....

As the cold drips away, and the beer starts to warm up, more flavors emerge, more smoke appears, all kinds of associations pop out, anise, pepper, brown sugar. I'm sure I'm missing a couple.

In the mouth: Pow! Bam! A forceful entry on the palate, much malt, more flavors, more smoke and
spice. Smooth and sumptuous, yet riddled with complexities. Warmer still, it's better and better. Smoke is nice and subtle, not too hot, not too intense up-front. Just right. Rich mouthfeel, full on the palate and unfiltered.

Hail, Gorm, first recognized king of Denmark!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Good As Gold IPA

Had a pint of this at the pub last Wednesday, and liked it so much that I took a growler of it home, this time a 64 ounce. Time to get a little more familiar with Good As Gold IPA, 6.6% ABV.

Lightly hazed, bright golden coloring, nearing on amber, slimmish ivory head. Looking good.

In the nose: tangerines and grapefruit, lemon and orange. Bold citrus. Mild bitterness. Big fruit.

In the mouth: Juicy, fruity, crisp, refreshing. Delicious malt at the base, bright and beautiful hops at the top. Fresh, zesty, hitting all the right flavor notes. Traces of pine to match the cities, ending on a dry note. Not too bitter, but bursting with citrus hop notes. Definitely downable, decidedly delicious.

Here's a little descriptor I pulled from a 3rd party source (it's not even on the THB website yet): West Coast style IPA using Golden Promise as a base malt, plus a few others for added character. Hopped in the kettle and fermenter with Mosaic and El Dorado. Some honey in the kettle as well.

Yet another tasty one from Town Hall. These guys just do not fail.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Oliphant Rolo Tony Brown Town

Oliphant Brewing Rolo Tony Brown Town Brown Ale with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon. 8.1% ABV. Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, WI.

Dark brown, nearly black, slim cocoa/tan head.

In the nose: spice, cinnamon, brown sugar, rich and lush. Sweet, but never more so, and very well balanced.

In the mouth: Full body, full flavor, rich malt, and full-on spices.Medium bodied, long, malty finish, non-stop cinnamon and spice. Pretty danged tasty. Delicious.
Tony Danza keeps on Truckin'.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Minner Pale Ale

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Minner Pale Ale, 4.9% ABV. 
Clear-ish, bright golden hued, slim ivory head, looking the very part of a pale ale. 

In the nose: all the fresh citrus-y goodness you should expect from Cascade and Centennial hops. Lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Just gorgeous.

In the mouth: more of the same, fresh, vibrant, hoppy as all heck. Lean bodied, light astringency, clean malt flavors. The hops and the citrus notes are on top, as expected. Hop flavors lay long on the palate. Big hopping on this one, bold and flavorful. They added Amarillo to the dry hopping, as well as Cascade and Centennial. 

Good beer, and you can drink it. I mean that. Hoppy session pale ales / IPAs are my beat, man, that's where I live, and I'm loving it.