Sunday, June 25, 2017

Oliphant 1000% Guapo

Oliphant 1000% Guapo Dessert Stout with Cinnamon and Lactose.  7.5% acl. by vol. Canned on
5/31/17. Purchased 6/11, consumed 6/23. Oliphant Brewery, Somerset, WI.

Guapo is Spanish for handsome. 1000% Guapo? Knowing Oliphant, there has to be more behind this....and a little Googling leads us to a wrestler named Jose Luis Jair Soria, aka Shocker, aka 1000% Guapo. Sure, that makes sense. Not sure what Jeremy's chalkboard art has to do with that, though. They need annotations for that thing, man, or it's just mind-bending. What is? Who? Why? Huh---???

Deepest blackness, fine ring of tan head atop, looking very nice.

In the nose: Sweet, but balanced: vanilla, cocoa, caramel. Little bit of roast. Small amount of bitterness. Slight cinnamon popping up.

Now, to drink! In the mouth: Sweetness is bigger on the tongue, lactose plays a big part. Creamy, milky, vanilla-y, chocolate-y, ...pretty much yum. Not getting much cinnamon on the palate, yet, but it's still early.

I've never heard of a beer called a "dessert stout" by the brewery as it's designated style. But, why the heck not? It's what it is. And it is nice. It's wonderfully warm and comforting. Should be a bigger hit in winter, especially around the holidays. It's at least 100% Guapo, but, hey, why not go all the way?

Ommegang Fruition

Ommegang Fruition, Dry-hopped Wit Bier brewed with Passion Fruit, Mango, and Kiwi. 5.3% Alc. by Vol. Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY.

Clouded, straw yellow/gold appearance, lush white head above, looking good.

In the nose: Deeply funky and tart, wildly fruity. Sweetness rises up, but funk is in command. Fresh and zesty.

In the mouth: Sweet, fresh, smooth. Delicious. Little bit of fruity funk is still there, but the witbier base is in command. Not quite a sour ale, but plenty of tart at play here. Can't really pick out the mango, the kiwi, the passion fruit, but it's a complex mix. The sweet fruity stuff pops in from time to time and mixes up the rest of it. Tart continues. Sour and satisfying.

Victory Summer Love Ale

Victory Summer Love Golden Ale . 5.2% ABV. Victory Brewing, Downington, PA.

Crystal clear, bright golden color, lovely ivory head above.

In the nose: slightly tart and citrus-y, interesting blend of fruit and funk and floral.

In the mouth: jumps on the palate sweet and succulent. Light, but definitely discernible bitterness. Nice fruity notes to match the bitter hops. Good texture. Playful mouthfeel. Light bodied, extra drinkable, certainly suitable for summer. Yeah, I could toss back a ton of these in the heat.

From the can label: "Earthy flavors of noble European hops, and fresh, clean German malts settle in a burst of lemony refreshment from fistfuls of American whole flower hops."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lupulin Hooey IPA

The first few tastes of Lupulin's beers I ever had were from growlers brought to gatherings of friends or family, and I liked what I drank. I didn't get a chance to visit their taproom and try more until last July, and I wrote about that here. Since then, bottles and cans have appeared in local stores, and I have had the privilege to host a showcase of six of their beers at Acadia, last Friday. It's just the beginning of a relationship that should go on and on. As long as they're brewing great beers, I'm with them.

When I was at the taproom in Big Lake, I gazed at the beautiful display of branded glasswares of all styles and had to tell myself no, no, I don't need more glasses. Throughout my year of visiting Minnesota's craft breweries and their taprooms, I did a commendable job of avoiding the allure of adding more glasses to my already unwieldy collection. I moved twice in the span of one year, and the mere process of packing them up, let alone finding space for them is exceedingly tiresome. (I did some moving by bicycle last year, and when arriving at the new home, found that some of the bumpiness had caused a few favorites to crack. "well," said my friend, "you said you had too many." Yeah, but Brother Thelonious! I need that one!)

And then they deliver a whole case of Revival style glasses to your bar before the event, and there's no way you can't bring one home and use it every chance you can get. I'm kind of in love with this glass. I'm throwing out all my shaker pints, and will only drink from tekus, pokals, revivals, and such forth from now on.  And so I used one to drink one of my new favorite beers, Hooey from Lupulin. Hazy IPA. 6.2% ABV. 60 IBU. Brewed by Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake, MN.

Crazy, Juicy, Hazy, Hooey! (From the can label.)

Hazy, cloudy, amber/golden hued, with a long-lasting lather of snowy white foam atop.

In the nose: aw, yeah, it's going on here, all the goods are in plentiful supply. Piney, citrusy, pineapple, vibrant, fresh and beautiful. Everything a hophead wants in the aroma is all present and accounted for.

In the mouth: Hops aplenty on the palate, but not a trace of harsh or bitter. Smooth as can be. Juicy malts. Easy-drinker, and ever-delightful. Just flat out scrumptious. Hooray for Hooey. I can drink this one, and then again drink again.

Is this supposed to be in the New England-style IPA, with all it's juicy and hazy and not so bitter? I think maybe, and I think it succeeds very well.

More from the can: "This IPA is hopped with a ridiculous amount of the juiciest hops available. In order to bring you the most hop flavor possible, we intentionally leave yeast and hop oils in the beer by not filtering them out. Some say that's a lot of hooey! What the hell do they know, anyway..."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dave's BrewFarm XJA/436 Single Hop Lager

Dave's BrewFarm XJA/436 Single Hop Lager, 6.4% ABV. Dave's BrewFarm, Wilson, Wisconsin.

Clear, bright golden color, lush white head atop, looking good.

In the nose: fresh, citrus-y, lively, maltiness in the aroma. Very clean and lean. Nicely hopped. Classic  pilsner-y nose.

In the mouth: Nothing but clean, and lean, and tasty. Nice, hoppy lager here. Good drinking, nice tasting, deeply satisfying. It's time to just drink a beer, and this does the trick. Lightly spicy hop profile, very dry, yet smooth, etcetera. Nice meets nice plus nice. Nothing but smooth. Light caramel malt taste, beautiful balance, wonderful blend, it just hangs together really well.

It was BrewFarm menu #200 when I went out to Wilson
and picked up this growler. Historic. 
This beer reminds me of a friend who invited to come along with me to visit the BrewFarm, and responded: "don't they do lots of saisons and lagers? I don't like those styles." Yeah, but he does them so well, and so differently, that you're missing out if you count them out because of your style prejudices. I don't drink a lot of lagers, either, but this is so much better than your average lager.

Here's the description from Farmer Dave: "Pils, Cara Red, and Caramel 20 malts, and hopped with three additions of experimental XJA/436 hops. Fermented with a lager yeast."

Damn, it's so good. I want this to be the lager I point out to lager haters and lovers alike.

These growlers are meant "to share", of course, but I can't take these notes in company, so drink by myself, and this is so good, I'm finishing it all in one setting. So good.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Steel Toe Almost Special Bitter

Dusting off some old notes. These were taken on May 29. Why did I hold on to them for weeks? Well, there's a story there, but it's boring, so I'll keep it to myself. So, here's a bit of an English bitter from Steel Toe Brewing of St. Louis Park, enjoyed from a growler in my home in Minneapolis, after having a pint at the taproom. 5% ABV, 24 IBU, more info after my notes.

Steel Toe ASB. Almost Special Bitter.

Clear, dark amber, nearly brown color, slim whitish head.

In the nose: malty, earthy, a little bit nutty. Slight sweetness, nicely balanced.

In the mouth: there it is, again. More malt, earth, nuts, just a touch of bitter, ending with the dry. A very cool, tasty, and specially drinkable British style ale.

This one is part of something I hadn't been aware of, the Brewer's Evolution Series, and here's what they say on the website:
Inspired by the seasonal shift; Fat Tuesday, Fasching, Spring, Solstice, whatever…it’s the time of year when we start to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel of winter. The sun is higher in the sky, its coming warmth apparent, even on cold days. This is that transitional beer; malty, slight nutty character balanced with a spicy bright English hop aroma and defined earthy bitterness. This beer occupies the space where malt and hops collide. It’s not an English Pale Ale, it’s not an E.S.B…but it’s almost there! Enjoy!

I did, don't you know. And I will be back more often, Steel Toe, now that I'm a 12 minute bike ride away.

Sisyphus Semi-Imperial Peanut Butter Stout

There's a bit of a peanut butter war going on with Minnesota brewers and their fans. There are many who claim fealty to the one, true peanut butter porter and defend it's virtues against all comers, and the brave ones who dare contend that another porter or stout with peanut butter is worthy. More and more contenders come up and vie for the title. Dangerous Man, Waconia, F-Town, and don't forget Junkyard, out there in Moorhead. Who did I leave out? Oh, yeah, Sisyphus, whose "Safe Lady" I wrote about here.

And then along comes another from Sisyphus, this one a little different.

Sisyphus Peanut Butter Semi-Imperial Stout. 9% ABV. 44 IBU.

Deep and dark, utterly opaque, under a long-lasting, lace-leaving layer of cocoa/tan head. Looking good.

In the nose: sweetness and nuts, with a healthy helping of cocoa. Pleasant peanut butter-y aromatics.

In the mouth: Peanut butter flavor is at the front when the liquid hits the lips, but not as forceful as some may prefer. How do I prefer? Well....The peanut part is playing it mild. It's there, but not very full, and it obscures the other flavors I like to taste in an Imperial Stout, even a Semi-.

However, if you go in without the demand that this be the most peanut-butter-y beer, or the boldest imperial stout, you have a fine, tasty beer. Sometimes, that's good enough. Good peanut butter semi-imperial stout, and guess what you can do? Drink it up.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

NorthGate Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine

NorthGate Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley-wine. ABV 12.4%. NorthGate Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, burgundy color, slim, tight ring of beige/tan head atop.

In the nose: Rich. Deep. Caramel. Toffee. Vanilla. Molasses. Anise. Spice. Dark fruit.

In the mouth: Delicious. Big and beautiful. All malty goodness, with growing alcoholic strength. Those flavors from the nose --the vanilla, raisin, caramel, and ever-lasting rich malt tastes--have boarded the palate and brought along traces of tobacco, leather, smoke. Full-bodied, full-flavored, never-ending finish.

An impressive beer, indeed. Sublime.

I bought this months ago, and saved it until today. This would be better in colder times, not in the middle of summer, but I couldn't wait any longer. I tell you this much: If I see another on any store shelves, it's coming home with me.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Unibroue Ephemere Elderberry

Unibroue Ephemere Elderberry. Or, as they say in French, "sureau", Belgian style fruit flavored wheat ale. Ale brewed with elderberry juice and flowers, spices and with natural flavors added. Chambly, Quebec, Canada.

In the eye: hazy, bright crimson/berry-ish coloring, lush pink head.

In the nose: Tart and sweet and very berry. Belgian funk lurks around every corner, as well as requisite witbier notes of wheat and spice.

In the mouth: Sweet, fruity, refreshing. Light and breezy, fresh and zesty. Tart takes turns with sweet, and it's a delight. Tasty. If you need to feed your elderberry jones, look no further. Good elderberry wheat beer, and you can surely drink it.

Oliphant Ayguantu! ESB with Apricot

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity once more, after an absence of a few months, to do that one-two trip of Oliphant Brewing in Somerset, then off to Dave's BrewFarm in Wilson, Wisconsin, thanks to my buds Jason and Angie.
Whenever this happens, I try to take full advantage and bring home as many new-to-me beers as I can to review for this here blog-y thing.
At Oliphant, there were five beers that haven't had a post devoted to them at the Nib, and I brought home four of them in growlers and crowlers. Why not five? Well, I watched as Jason and Angie enjoyed their Hobotown Gose and sampled a little, but when I went up to the bar to get my own, it was all gone, dag-nabbit, and there were no pre-filled crowlers. The hot weather of the weekend demanded a salty sour wheat ale, and this gose comprised 70% of their sales, they said.

Oh, for sad, I guess I'll soldier on, with these notes on an apricot ESB:

Oliphant Ayguantu! ESB brewed with apricot. 5.4% all. by vol. canned 6/7/17. Purchased 6/11, consumed 6/18. Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, WI.

In the eye: Heavily hazed, dark amber, chestnut coloring, large, lace-leaving whitish head.

In the nose: fruit, malt, hops. Sweet, but balanced. The beer stands above the fruit, mingles with it, doesn't let it take center stage. Plenty of earthy malt notes to match the fruit.

In the mouth: hops are more prominent on the palate than hinted at in the nose. Juicy malt, tasty fruit, clean hops, medium bodied, and quite a drinkable treat. I will enjoy this entire crowler.

What is Ayguantu? A meme? A youtube video? Something from Dragon Ball z, or Tim & Eric? And why is Goofy, or some version of him, involved in the chalkboard illustration? I forgot to ask, and shall relish the mystery for the moment.