Monday, July 28, 2014

Badger Hill White IPA

Badger Hill White IPA. It's an IPA and it's white. Or …oh, we've gone over this ground before, and here's yet another.

Throughly clouded, pale yellow coloring, vast, creamy white head, large and lasting.

Aroma: soft, light and spicy. Floral hop notes on top, slightly citric behind. Delightful.

Taste: Slides effortlessly down the throat. Glides over the palate with ease. Extraordinarily light bodied and gentle all the way down. Just a smidgen of hop presence, plenty of wheat, citrus and spice. I'm getting the coriander, and the orange…not so much the hops that you'd expect from an IPA. Which it isn't, it's a witbier with slightly more hops in it. That doesn't make it an IPA, white, red, pink or purple.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Beer Camp Sierra Nevada Collaboration with Cigar City: Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock

Beer Camp #3: Sierra Nevada/Cigar City Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock. 7.7% ABV, 45 IBU.

Appearance: highly hazed, deep amber, lush, creamy white head. Looking great.

Aroma: Coconut and pineapple. Bananas? Sweet malt. Low hops.

Taste: Here's a little bit of hops, and a lot of lush, tasty pale malt. Medium bodied, long, lingering sweet finish. Just delicious. Absolutely yum. Remarkable.

This is one of two canned beers in the sampler pack, the one being a collaboration with Oskar Blues, both of these canning breweries. I'm dying to read the label on the can and find out more….of course, there's nothing on the bottleneck, and there's no neck on the can, so it had better all be on the back of the can….here we go…"Brewed in collaboration with Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, FL., Yonder Bock is a Latin-inspired twist on a traditional Maibock. Cigar City finds inspiration in the Cuban roots of their hometown, which is a long way from our home base in Chico, but our friends down yonder in Florida can sure brew a great beer. Yonder Bock blends a silky malt body with bright fruity hop aromas of guava, mango and passion fruit from the use of Calypso, Azacca and experimental 366 hops as a nod to Cigar City's tropical locale."

Well, dang it. I just don't have the nose for guava, I guess.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Collaboration with Ballast Point: Electric Ray India Pale Lager

Number 2 from the Beer Camp Box. Sierra Nevada/Ballast Point Electric Ray India Pale Lager. 8.5% ABV. Shouldn't it be Imperial India Pale Lager? IIPL? And it's either 10 or 70 IBUs. I honestly can't tell if it's a 1 or a 7, but it can't "India" if it's merely 10 IBU.

Slightly hazy, dark golden/amber coloring, under a slim white head.

Aroma: delicately hoppy, pineapple and pine, a little bit of lemon. Nice stuff.

Taste: Mmm. Hops up front, a flash of bright, beaming hoppitude. Lean-bodied. Finishes fruity and bittersweet, ending on a dry note. Crisp, clean, with long-lasting, lingering bitterness on the palate. Okay, I can drink this.

Don't know if I'll ever really be won over to the side of the "IPL", so called. But there's nothing wrong with them. Do they "fix" what I don't like about pale lagers, i.e. the thin body and the low hops. Maybe it's not just hops that I like about ales, it's everything else as well?

Let's read the label, alright? "This nautically named India Pale Lager combines intense citrusy, floral American hops with the clean, classic malt body of a blonde lager." Also, this: "As ever, San Diego's Ballast Point looked to the sea for inspiration. A play on the fish's scientific name--Torpedo californica--Electric Ray pays homage to our Hop Torpedo, the source of much of this beer's big flavor. It's massive grapefruit and floral notes deliver a high-voltage hit of hop flavor."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beer Camp: Sierra Nevada/Allagash Myron's Walk Belgian-style Blonde Ale with Coriander

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America. 12 bottles, 12 beers, 12 different styles by 12 different brewers from across America collaborating with the brewers at both the original Chico brewery, and the new North Carolina outpost. Runs for about $24, $2 a pop, but not a bad deal when you consider what you're getting. These will never be made again, and will only appear here. Get it while you can, beer geeks!

Well, I am lucky enough to live near a beer store that tries and tries, but doesn't get quite as much beer geek traffic as the those fancier stores. Much as I love those la-de-da merchants, I'm not going to make it there in time to grab that rare stuff before the other beer weirdos snatch them up. It's the Modelo cans and the Courvoisier that keep this store in business. I can't get everything I want there, but there's something, anyway. And long after all the well-known shops that cater to the beer elite have run out of Beer Camp cases, there's still a few left for me at Chicago-Lake liquors, bless their hearts.

So. We're going to open the first one. And it's a collaboration with Allagash, the Maine brewery focused on Belgian styles that hasn't been distributed in Minnesota in over 12 years. (If memory serves.) It's called Myron's Walk, and they say it's a Belgian-style pale ale brewed with Coriander. Enough blah, blah, blah, let's drink it up!

Appearance: Clear, bright golden-colored, under a lush, chalk-white of foam, leaving lace. Nice.

Aroma: Beautiful, lively spice notes hit the nose first. Slightly sweet, and fruity, ending dry.

Taste: Spice, Belgian yeast character, fruit all hit at once. It's a tropical fruit character with some citrus tones, as well. At one minute, we're led towards the feeling of a witbier, with the coriander and yeast, but without the wheat, and then the spirit of the Belgian blonde comes forward. Tasty, tasty stuff, hoppy, fruity and ending ultimately dry. Mmm. This is nice.

What does the label tell us? For one thing, it's 6.3% ABV, and 38 IBU. Also, "This Belgian-style pale ale combines the best of our two breweries. Intense, piney-citrus hop notes counterpoint the complex fruity spice of Allagash's Belgian yeast."

Hey., there's more! "This collaboration honors Myron Avery, a founder of the Appalachian Trail which spans our North Carolina brewery and Allagash's home in Maine. We share a great love of the outdoors, and Avery and the AT are great reminders of the wild spirit of exploration that connects us both."

Man, I like this. If they are all this good, I'm going to enjoy exploring this pack!

August Schell Weizenbock

August Schell Weizenbock. #4 in the 30th Anniversary Hefe Weizen Series.

Bright golden and clouded, below a thick, snowy white head. Looking good.

Aroma: slightly sharp, citric and spicy, this has got the wizen yeast thing going on full steam ahead. Orange and lemon galore. Lovely stuff.

Taste: Once on the palate, it's heft wizen all over the place, Lays long in the mouth and stays a spell. Soft, slightly sweet, creamy and delicious. You can taste some fusels, it's got to be a bit higher on the alcohol level, though I'll have to hunt some to find the number, as Schell's doesn't advertise that fact on the label.

One thing that surprises me is the color. Bocks are normally darker, stronger lagers. Hefe Weizens are top-fermenting ales, and the wheaten bocks, or doppelbocks, I've had before are typically darker in color. Then, there's the ….(fill in later) (btw, if you can read this, pretend you didn't. shhh….)

Well, never mind about all that. It's flat out delicious, and my favorite of the four wheat beers in the 30th Anniversary sampler pack.

Hey, I forgot to check out…what does the label tell us? "Schell's Weizenbock is an experimental Weiss Beer made for this series. It's stronger and aggressively hopped with Triskel hops. It's a uniquely fruity, hoppy wheat beer experience."

That it is.

New Belgium/Three Floyds Lips of Faith Gratzer

New Belgium and 3 Floyds Lips of Faith Series Gratzer Ale (Huh?), Alc. 4.5% by Vol. What is this gratzer thing? And what does it have to do with zombies on bikes?

It's a dark one, almost black…wait, who am I kidding, totally black, with a creamy tan, long-lasting head. Beautiful. Inviting.

Aroma: soft and creamy, nutty nose. Hints of cocoa and coffee, too. Ever-so slightly sweet. Love it.

Taste: Climbs on board the palate clean and dry, with a swift finish. Medium-bodied. Lacking the flavors teased at in the aroma. Drinks down easily, but lacks essential delights. I'm left searching for flavors and coming up empty. Nothing is left on the palate to enjoy.

Okay, let's read the side of the bottle for some clues to what I may have missed. "It's not dead, but gratzer is a long-buried style from Poland. Together with Three Floyds we have unearthed it's robust smokiness with oak smoked wheat and midnight wheat, Polish lupulin hops for a bitter bite and lacto for a slightly sour finish, this pours out a billowing foamy mouth worth indulging."

What? We call the head a "mouth" now? Whoever's writing this stuff for New Belgium, man, you and me, we got problems, bubo. Those are terrible sentences!

But, am I wrong? Smoky? Barely. Robust? Hardly. The sour is slight, though, I'll give them that, but the bitterness does not bite. Sometimes poetics, when used gratuitously, betray the brew.

Fulton The Expat Rye Saison

You know what's funny? I'm going to tell you. The last Fulton beer I published notes on, the Imperial Farmhouse Ale? That post got more page views than anyone other recently, like four times the normal amount, more than the first part of my tale of traveling to all the breweries in town by bike. I guess there's an interest hearing about my opinions that go against the grain. I meant no ill will, just had to tell the truth...about my opinion. This one? Well, you'll see...

Fulton The Expat Rye Saison.

Slightly clouded, dark amber coloring, with a sizable, snowy head, long lasting.

Aroma: Sweet and spicy rye malt hits the nose first, Pumpernickle-y.

Taste: A blast of Belgian yeast character and rye malt in the mouth. Citrus-y, spicy, tingly and tasty. Fresh and zesty. A lot of lemon in this one, and quite a lot of spice. Might be too much for some, but I don't mind it. On the other hand, I'm not exactly thrilled. For this trio of Fulton's saison I've reviewed recently, this one is firmly in second place, behind the Randonneur, the only one that doesn't veer too far away from the traditional aspects of the style.

There's nothing really wrong with this one, it's a nice beer, but it only makes me wish I had a true saison in my hands. It's a fine drink, my friends, but it doesn't really improve upon the style. I feel like rye malt just shouldn't be included in a saison.

Now, you can feel free to produce evidence of a rye saison that I did like, and I'll have to eat my words.

whoops, you're too late, I found one.
And another. And another??

Monday, July 21, 2014

Day Block Belgian Pale Ale

Day Block Belgian Pale Ale.

Clear, bright amber colored appearance, slim, lace-leaving, white head.

Aroma: fruity esters, apricot and peach, slight spice, a whiff of trademark Belgian funk.

Taste: Crisp and lightly hoppy. Well, "light" for this confirmed hop-head. Others might find it "aggressive."But, it's not. It's an appreciable bittersweet hop presence, quickly backed up with sweet, graham-cracker-y malt. Marmalade on an English muffin. Medium/light-bodied. Especially easy-drinking, with the persistent playful presence of the odd and wonderful Belgian yeast. and that candy-ish fruity and sweet malt character.

I read the ingredients after drinking the beer. Never would have thought that they'd used Cascade hops in this one, but, thinking back, of course they were.

All in all, a delicious one, that I hope they return to again and again.

Here's the official info from the website:
Our Belgian Pale Ale is a vibrant golden beer, brewed with the last of our locally grown whole cone Cascade hops. Grown just 34 miles from the brewery in Forest Lake. The citrusy hop nose blends with the fruitiness of the Belgian yeast to offer a unique yet satisfying flavor.

5.2% ABV, 48 IBUs, Batch 027, INGREDIENTS:
malts: Rahr Pale Ale, Briess Caramel 40, Briess Gold Pils, Cascade Hops, Belgian Ale yeast.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Northgate Parapet ESB

Northgate Parapet ESB, Extra Special Bitter, ABV 5.6%, 47 IBU, SRM 12, 22 oz. The ale was brewed and packed {not packaged, or bottled?} in Minneapolis, MN. Maris Otter Pale Ale malt, English Pale Crystal Malt, English Dark Crystal Malt, English Flaked Barley, UK Target, UK East Kent Golding Hops, English Yeast.

Well, welcome one and all, to my first review of a Northgate beer. Long overdue. Their brewery is open for growler sales, but they have no taproom yet. Their beers are at local bars, but not the ones I visit, apparently. At last, I have a bottle in my possession, prepared to pour it and enjoy…

Clear, amber-hued, under a slim white ring of foam.

Aroma: sweet malty notes first, caramel tones, with lightly floral, spicy hop notes. Right in line for a British ale.

Taste: hops are hitting first, with a citric splash. Toasty, biscuity malts roll in next. Hop bitterness stay on top. Body is light to medium, with a long finish. Bright and delicious. I'm not normally into the ESB style, but this is one that makes the grade.
Thirsty for an ESB? Can't go wrong here.

"Pairs well with pork, chicken, or oatmeal raisin cookies." Lots of information on here, and not a single word of gobbledygook. I like to see that.

Northbound Sandbar Saison

Northbound Sandbar Saison. 5.6% ABV. 20 IBU. Is this the first Belgian-style beer brewed here? It might be. (A quick glance at BeerAdvocate says that last year's anniversary ale was a Belgian strong dark.)

Appearance: straw yellow color, slim white head.  A little clouded.

Aroma: Saison yeast funk greets the nose immediately. Little bit tart, little sweet, little spicy.

Taste: Light/medium bodied. Citrus and spice flavors. Belgian yeast flavors grace the whole affair, and it exits the palate with a dryness. Clean and crisp and refreshing. All the hallmarks of a true saison are here. I like it a lot. It's good saison and you can drink it.

Here's what the brewer says: Sandbar Saison
5.6% ABV. 20 IBU.
"We're getting to the point where we need to bring in different yeast varieties to brew more varieties of beer. I brought in a Belgian Ale/Saison blend so we could brew a couple of Belgian style beers, a saison for July and a Belgian Dark Strong for August.
This yeast is very versatile. It's the same yeast we use for the Anniversary Ale. Fermenting at higher temperatures this yeast produces fruity and spicy esters characteristic of a traditional Farmhouse ale/saison. Fermenting at a lower temperature produces a cleaner yeast profile. This beer was fermented in the middle range.
There is some wheat in the recipe to complement the fruit and spice notes of the yeast and a little bit of biscuit malt to round out the malt, and a little bit of Belgian Candi sugar for a crisp dryness. It starts with a crisp fruitiness and finishes with a dry spiciness."