Sunday, July 24, 2016

Stone Citrusy Wit

Once again, excuse the presence of Sonny Boy
the Cat in the back.
Stone Citrusy Wit. 
5.3% ABV. Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, CA.

Our cleverly twisted witbier with tangerine and kaffir lime leaf.

Clear, bright golden hue, full and fluffy white white head, looking great, leaving lace.

Aroma: there's that lime leaf, ever-so-leafy....bright and fruity, lightly bitter, a little bit floral, with citrus aplenty. Is it a tangerine "Bomb"? No, of course not, don't be silly.

In the mouth: light and lovely, fresh, zesty and zippy. (Yes, I said "zippy" pinhead.) Damnably drinkable. "Crushable" as the kids say these days, though neither glass nor bottle will collapse beneath my grasp today. This has all the lively and lovely elements of a wit, with that big splash of tangerine. Light, tasty, yu.

Yeah, it's a good beer, and of course, you can drink it. Another Stone success.  5.3%

New Belgium / Indeed Come Together Honey Wheat Wine & Strawberry Fields Kettle Sour

A few months ago, the folks at Indeed and the crew at New Belgium got together and ....ah, man, I gave it away already. Well, anyway, they meet in Fort Collins, Colorado and cooked up this number. It came as no surprise that it would be a honey beer, since Josh Bischoff uses three different kinds of honey in three of Indeed's seasonal brews (Shenanigans, Mexican Honey Lager, and Old Friend). Also not a surprise is that they chose a phrase well known as a Beatles song title to commemorate their collaboration, following after Day Tripper Pale Ale (and with their next collaboration, done in Minneapolis, using yet another title).

Well, I never saw a bottle, but I got my hands on a keg, and took some notes before it ran out.

Come Together Honey Wheat-wine. 9% ABV. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO. in collaboration with Indeed Brewing.

Clouded, pale golden hue, lacey ivory head.

Sweetness jumps out of the nose, honey & wheat, with a little floral & spice notes.

In the mouth: bright, sweet, strong. Low to no hops. Nothin' but honey & wheat. Smooth, but big. A tasty treat, but really a one-and-done-er. A bit too big and too sweet to be more than that. What I wish is that I could keep a bottle for the winter, but I don't think they did bottle this. (A search on BeerAdvocate shows one rating. What? And one on rate, too. Whoa, how rare was this? And 171 check-ins on Untappd.)

Hey, guess what? I was going to add the Minneapolis-brewed New Belgium/ Indeed collaboration as a separate entry, but I can't find the notes anywhere. I know I wrote them, but I also know they were very brief. The beer was on tap for a very short time, and the keg was easier to get than Come Together. For Strawberry Fields, I asked Indeed for one and they said, sure, of course, you bet. To get a 1/6 barrel of Come Together from the distributor, I also had to buy a keg of New Belgium Citradelic.

Strawberry Fields was a 5.4 % ABV kettle sour / tart ale, using strawberry puree, honey, and brettanomyces. It tasted just like you'd want it to: a little sweet, a little tart, plenty of fruit and flat-out delicious. Plump, jammy, and refreshing. Pity it went away so quickly, but that it is the nature of the limited release brew.

Town Hall Blood Orange Lager

Town Hall Blood Orange Lager. 6% ABV. Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN.

Hazy, pinkish hue (pale orange?), slim whitish head.

Aroma is entirely orange, nothing but crimson citrus in this nose.

In the mouth: brisk, crisp, lightly hopped, and big, fat orange. Bursting with blood orange. After that, clean and easy-going. Great summertime treat.

Short and sweet notes, I know, but it is what it is.

Breckenridge Agave Wheat

Breckenridge Agave Wheat. Unfiltered Wheat Ale brewed with Agave Nectar, Breckenridge, Colorado. 4.2% ABV.

Lightly hazed, pale golden hue, sizable, lasting head on it.

Soft and sweet wheat-y aromatics. Am I getting the agave? Not sure.

In the mouth: sweet, then dry, then really dry. Lightly puckering, splash of sharp fruitiness. Refreshing, quenching. delivering satisfaction. I don't know why it took me so long to try this one out, but it turns out that I like it. Good beer, you can drink it, interesting twist on what can often be a boring style.

Finnegan's Hoppy Shepherd

Finnegan's Hoppy Shepherd Session Ale. 4.6% ABV. 50 IBU.

Clear, bright golden hue, lush ivory head, lasting long.

Aroma: big, hoppy citric nose, traces of tropical, more lemon and orange, though. Nice.

In the mouth: vibrant hop attack leads it off, then it fades to soft and malty. Clean, slightly fruity, well-balanced. Easy-drinker for sure. Light/medium body. Tasty enough for the hop head, and certainly sessionable.

Good beer. You can drink it.

Here's what the website says (AKA gobbledygook): To honor of the stoic and solitary men who provide Ireland with its much-needed wooly warmth, we proudly brew Hoppy Shepherd. It’s a lively session ale made from Admiral, Centennial, Citra and Jester hops with aromas of apricot, grapefruit and tangerine. We find it perfect for stirring conversation from even the most sheepish shepherd.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Omnipollo Aniara Pale Ale

Omnipollo Aniara. Pale ale brewed with lemon juice. Brewed at Crazy Mountain in Colorado.
There may be more information here, but I can't read the label very well. Green on blue doesn't pop out at you.

Bright, beautiful straw gold coloring, lightly hazed, with a generous helping of milky froth atop.

Aroma: Major citrus zest meets minor cat pee. Low hop bitterness. Lovely stuff.

In the mouth: The lemon leaps out and wrestles with the tongue, palate is pummeled by citrus twists. Spanks the tongue with each new sip. Yee-ow. After the initial assault, it mellows in time. Lip-licinkgly delicious. Medium-bodied, and easy-drinking. Nice one.

Shall I call this a "lemon bomb"? No, because I detest that phrase. But it's long on the lemon, and definitely a treat.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #51: Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake

It's July 3, and time for the second stop of the day, going from St. Cloud down twenty-seven miles southeast  to Big Lake (pop. 10, 000, a staggering 97.6% of them caucasians), andI Lupulin Brewing, at 570 Humboldt Drive, another brewery anchoring a mall. They had been open since April 2015, and I'd been anxious to try them, hearing nothing but good things from absolutely everyone. Tasted some growlers at gatherings, too, but it was high time to take a stool at the bar.

Apricot Blonde, Spudfest
We looked over the menu, and I decided to do a flight of the first six listed. First one, Spudfest, I didn't care for, but it was not meant for me. It's listed as a farmhouse/cream ale, a hybrid I've never heard of, and it must use potatoes or it's name is a strange non-sequitur. Next was a little better, the sweet and fruity Apricot Blonde, but it was perhaps too sweet and fruity for me. Drinkable enough, though. Number three was Belgian Blonde, 6.5%, 25 IBU, and my notes merely read: "right on", meaning that it delivered everything I'd want or expect from such a beer.  Now we're cooking. Over the lame stuff, on to the good, heading into the really good.
Ciara Red, Tripel

Anonymous Lupulin bartender pouring Lupulin beers.
At this point, though, my note-taking really ceased. I was more interested in taking in the place, getting a feel for the room. Looking through my photos, there were quite a few of a person who I perceived to be a manager looking straight at me from the background, while I'm trying to snap shots of the scene. Those aren't the best pictorial impressions. Perhaps I should have introduced myself, but for two reasons: I like to remain incognito, and not tell the staff that I'm going to blog about them, even if it's a place that I like, and also, he seemed kind of busy.

There are some rules that I follow through this project, and some portions of my journeys are decided upon a whim. Like the taking of notes. I had decided to take some beers home with me, so there would be notes on some beers, just not every one. There are times when I just feel like leaning back and enjoying.

Lupulin Nitro Chocolate Stout
Rounding out the flight was the amber, the triple and Citra Red. I was pleased with all of these and decided that I would add glass to my overwhelming collection of things. Glass in the form of a growler of beer (which I still have too many of), not in the form of any of their beautiful styles of glassware. I still have far too many of them, and when is the next time I'll bring beer back from Big Lake to pour into it?

Lupulin Barrel-aged West Coast Stout
After the flight is done, time to check on some of those beers not available in sample form. I went with a Chocolate Stout on nitro, Jason chose Resin Rapture, an Imperial Red IPA at 8% ABV. They were both right on the money. Just as smooth, roast-y and creamy, just as bold and hoppy as you want.

I decided to skip the Simcoe Imperial Stout because 750 ml bottles were available (had one at home already, took no notes, saving the second for later), and chose the Barrel-aged West Coast Stout (7.5% ABV, 75 IBU) as my final beer at Lupulin. Was that ever a nice one! Hit all the right notes, brought the barrel aged action, deep and rich and
hoppy. Loved every drop of it.
Jason with his growler, my hand with my stout.

That was a nice one to end on, as we had to hit up another brewery, and there was time to travel, and time to spend there before they closed. This is the one we missed before when they closed earlier than advertised. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, that's a story for Breweries One by One #52: 10 K Brewing, Anoka.

I enjoyed my stay at Lupulin, loved the wood all over, the good design of the taproom and the overall professional appearance of the place. I would enjoy visiting again and again, when the opportunity arises. This is a place that knows what it's doing and is on track to succeed. I can see them expanding and distributing outside their area before too long. I look forward to seeing their logo in more and more places.

growler of triple.
As mentioned earlier, I took home some bottles, and a growler of the Tripel, and here are the notes I took on it a few days later:

Lupulin Belgian Tripel, 9.5% ABV, 30 IBU.
Slightly clouded, golden/amber coloring, short-lived smallish white head.

Lovely aromatics, fruit 'n' spice and everything nice. Belgian yeast brings bubblegum hints, definite Belgian tripel flavor. Plenty fruity: apricot, peach, orange, lemon.

Taste: it's all happening in the mouth. Big, bright, and beautiful, full of everything I want in a triple,
and not skimping on the booze, too. A touch maltier, and fuller bodied than many, and I like that.

Tallgrass Half Pipe Tart Pale Ale

Tallgrass Half Pipe Tart Pale Ale. Brewed and canned by Tallgrass Brewing, Manhattan, Kansas. All. 5% by vol.  I'm going to assume this is a kettle sour. Let's open it up and taste.

Appearance: hazy, golden hue, slim white head.

Aroma: Tart and fruity at the start, whiffs of stone fruit and tropical, dominated by citric. Lemon and grapefruit galore.

Taste: greets the palate with sweet, then tart, and altogether fruity and refreshing. Light-bodied, with lingering tart finish. Easy drinker, good summer sour.

Hey, there's gobbledygook on the can! "Our first sour beer is inspired by the rad individuals who get air and grind--on rails and curbs--in alleys and 'burbs. The world is your playground." Okay, cool, tells me very little about the beer, but whatevs, dudes.  (You can click the link above for a little more info.)

Modist Wasteland

Modist Wasteland. 7.5% ABV, Modist Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Dark brown coloring, full, rich off-tan head, lasting long, staying strong.

Aroma: sweet, malty, nutty, fruity....arrestingly complex. What's in here? What's going on? Moderate hopping. Interesting, intriguing. Compelling.

In the mouth: deep malt, rich and spicy, soft and warm, and delightful. Exquisitely likable. Medium-bodied, long finish, malt forward, nicely hoppy,  and ....there's nothing more to say, I keep coming up with the same words! But what's the problem when those are the right words? None, except when people think you're some ninny who can't string out inscrutable sentences saying the same thing, only more long winded and maybe a whiff more pithier. Who's doing that? I hope no one. So, what am I worried about? Probably nothing.

There's a whole lot more of this beer to drink, long after I spent the words on it, and it's still damnably delicious. (Oh. I didn't use those, right?)


Okay, okay, just stop yelling at me! First off, I hate the phrase "dankalicious", but acknowledge that I cannot kill it by myself. Won't you help me and vow to never use it yourself, and always hurl a brick at anyone who does?

Secondly, ...nothing. That says it. The most ambitious Modist beer yet, soon to be eclipsed by others, I'm sure. As for me, I enjoy the heck out of it's very existence. Weird, wonderful and utterly uncategorizable beers like this make me glad for the future of craft beer, here and everywhere.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Boom Island Oude Funk

Boom Island Oude Funk, The Spontaneous Series, 2015. "Brewed with aged hops and is a blend of 1 year , 2 year, and 2 year old vintages, and fermented in oak wine barrels. 4.8% ABV. Best before 2025."
Well, I couldn't wait that long. Five months was all I could do. (Note: I bought the bottle in December, finally opened it in early June, publishing those notes now.)

Still white head, bright golden straw color, high carbonation.

Screaming wild & funky & sour right from the start. Very gueuze-like. All the horses' blankets and everything under and around them.

In the mouth: Funky-see, funky-do. The oak comes through the wine character evident. Fresh sour splash with each new sip. Light-bodied, extra-consumable. Smooth, refreshing, funky, wild and delicious.

A great achievement from Boom Island. Quite a piece of work. These guys are on the right track.