Monday, October 5, 2015

Dogfish Head Grateful Dead American Beauty Imperial Pale Ale

Dogfish Head Grateful Dead American Beauty Imperial Pale Ale. An Imperial Pale Ale brewed with almond honey granola & all-American hops. 9% Alc. by Vol.

Clear, beautiful amber coloring, slim head.

 Earthy hop-forward nose, with pine and citrus coming in behind. Lively and likable.

In the mouth, hops are fully in charge of the frontal attack. Big fruit, big hops, with a massive malt character holding it down. If I were a different person, I’d call it “hot”, but that is not my way. Good and malty, nice and grainy, a great blend.

The nuts and granola are adding some grainy goodness and malty delights. Not that you can really pick them out. Not that it matters. An effort was made, granola for the hippies, sure, why not? It’s the hops in command, here, and it’s bitter and tasty. A little boozy, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
If there’s a flaw that I find, it’s that it’s tastes like so many other imperial pale ales I’ve had before.

I had to hold my nose and not think about my dislike of the Grateful Dead while having this one. They’re not so bad, it’s just their popularity and their fans that I can’t stand. Oh, and also their music. Otherwise, they’re probably good people.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Perennial Regalia Belgian-style Ale with brettanomyces

Perennial Regalia, Belgian-style Ale fermented with brettanomyces. 8.5% ABV. Brewed and bottled by Perennial Artisan Ales, St. Louis, MO.

Clear, bright golden coloring, slim white head.

Wildness starts off the nose, some tartness, some sharpness, a hint of spice and funk. A little lemony, and a whole lot of weird.

Taste: ah! Bracing, sour, sweet, spicy, and smooth. All that and more. Moderate mouthfeel, lean body, Crisp, funky, and refreshing. Ah, delicious. Ah….mmmm. Yeah. Just delightful. Spicy, spritzy, zesty, hoppy, fresh, and yum.

“Inspired by the rustic farmhouse style ales of Southern Belgium, Regalia is brewed with barley, wheat and spelt and fermented with Brettanomyces. A sturdy malt character supports the complex array of flavors that the yeast provides, and will continue to develop over time. Bottled 3/2015.”

Friday, October 2, 2015

Tallgrass Bourbon Barrel Buffalo Sweat

Tall grass Bourbon Barrel Buffalo Sweat. Explorer Series Bourbon Barrel-aged Oatmeal Milk Stout. Brewed and canned by Tallgrass Brwery, Manhattan, Kansas.

Nearly solid blackness, with slivers of crimson highlights peeking through. Smallish, then gone head.

Vanilla in the nose, followed by cocoa. Light roast. Big smooth. Velvety, chocolatey goodness.

In the mouth, it’s much more deliciousness. Here’s where the bourbon barrel delivers it’s goods. Whiskey does it’s stuff, with vanilla back on the scene, and a cream, oatmeal mouthfeel that can’t be beat. Full body, long, malty, bourbon-y finish.

This is a good one. Go drink it.

Sisyphus Porter

Sisyphus Porter.

Dark brown coloring, under a toasted tan, but short-lived head.

In the nose, some cocoa, espresso, nicely roasted and toasted tones. Deep, rich and promising.

In the mouth, a dark and creamy affair. Just a little rich, a slightly sweet, with just enough bitterness for balance. Medium body, easy drinking. Chocolate malts are leading the show here, though it finishes ultimately dry. Delicious. Nice porter, guys. Keep ‘em coming.

Millstream Great Pumpkin Imperial Stout

Great Pumpkin Imperial Stout, Brewed and bottled by Millstream Brewing, Amana, Iowa. 7.6% ABV.

Dark coloring, nearly, but not quite, black, with a slim, soon-gone head.

Sweet and spicy nose. Yeah, I’m picking up the pumpkin. Some spices? Some chocolate and molasses may or may not lurk below.

Taste: Sweet fruit of the gourd is here in the mouth right away, sweet and tasty. But there’s a battle going on, between the two parts. Where’s the stout? Where’s the pumpkin? Are they getting along? Did they make a connection? Well, do they?

They don’t, really.

It’s a full-ish body, but it’s no imperial stout, at least not a memorable one. Not as good as Southern Tier Warlock. Not really very good at all. Not terrible, mind you, but I’m expecting more.

(This one is listed as "retired" on BeerAdvocate. Must be a mistake, if I was just given a sample.)

Found this gobbledygook on the website: Our Pumpkin Imperial Stout is a traditional dark and rich stout infused with pumpkin flavoring. The pumpkin is subtle in this beer and the nose is marked by nutmeg, allspice pumpkin and strong roasted malt notes. There is a greatly appreciated balanced level of spice and maltiness. This is truly a beer that will complement the Autumn season.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Surly Nein, Ninth Anniversary Imperial Oak-Smoked Dunkel Weizen

Surly Nein. Ninth Anniversary Imperial Smoked Barrel-aged Dunkel Weissbeir. Ja.

I’m going to skip my usual method and read Omar’s part of the label first, before opening the bottle. “Who would have thought, when we sold our first keg in 2006, that we would raise our 9th Anniversary glasses in a new brewery, restaurant and beer hall? So much has changed in such a short time, both at Surly and across Minnesota. The state’s beer scene is exploding and we are proud to have been part of the boom. Two, things, however, haven’t changed a bit—Todd’s distinctive take on beer styles and our local artists’ amazing talent. Erica Williams’ meticulous design for Nein is the perfect match for Todd’s approach to his craft. Cheers to nine years!—Omar Ansari”

He’s right, the label art is amazing, better than what she did for the SurlyFest art last year and the 2014 Darkness bottle, and I loved those, as well. The 3 3-eyed lions represent nine years. What the other symbols mean, I am not sure. I’ll be certain to pick up some merch soon, t-shirts, poster, etc, but 9th Anniversary glassware? That’s a first. I could have gotten one cheap at the release party Monday if I’d only arrived a little earlier. But, cool as it may look, and be, do I really need more glasses, I ask myself? And yet, I keep collecting. Broke my Surly spiegelau glass recently, so I went back and bought one with the Todd the Axe-Man artwork. Because. Apparently, I have to.

So, I bought this bottle earlier tonight, about six hours ago, and now it’s time to drink it.

Dark and caramel colored, shining crimson highlights at corners and edges. Beautiful brown head that crumbles quickly.

Aroma spills out bananas and smoke, together. Wheat-y wafts and creamy tones. Caramel and toffee tickle the nose, while alcohol looms in the distance. Dizzyingly complex.

More complexity invades the senses once Nein boards the palate. This one ain’t fooling around. Whiskey barrel-aging, smoked malts, hefe weizen yeast, ringing in at about 10% ABV. Boom, boom, boom, boom. All the while, myriad flavors travel the tongue and delight the senses, as long as the senses are still around.

Okay, I love dunkelweizens, adore barrel-aged beers, delight in the smoked stuff, and cheer on the big and ballsy brews. This much you may have gathered if you have read this section of the internet I call home with any regularity. Here in Nein they come together as never before.

I had this for the first time at the Black Forest restaurant in a glass mug, and then in a plastic cup, with the noise of a crowd and an accordionist distracting my brain. With my choice of glassware and personal pick of music or not, I can relax in contemplation of the many brilliant aspects of this brew. How to unpack and parse them, though, how to pick apart and lay bare? Chocolate slips in for a bit, oak and vanilla knock on the door, whiskey speaks it’s peace, and that undercurrent of banana tones keeps whispering in the background. Meanwhile, the brute from this bottle bellows and calls out not to forgets that we’re in double digits, in terms of alcohol percentage.

Talk about this beer has been that it’s the best anniversary beer since Five, a return to greatness, I guess. I did like Syx, Seviin, and Eight, but they were a bit out there. Not for everyone. Neither is this, though. Look, if you can’t hang, scram, we ain’t got no room for no squares, man.

Time to read what Todd wrote on the label: “Inspired by a recent trip to Bamberg, Germany, Nein is brewed with oak-smoked wheat malt, fermented with German hefeweizen yeast and aged on charred oak. It is a huge, dark, complex beer, delivering the intense flavors of smoked banana, vanilla, and clove.”--Todd Haug.

Smoked banana? Mmm, hmmm, we drink that every day.

This is great stuff. I was glad to see it priced at $13.99. Not cheap, but cheaper than twenty bucks. So, I’ll be picking up more to keep and enjoy on those days when I’ll salute 10, 11, 12 years of Surly beers, and then some.

If you've got time to waste, read about Surly Eight here, (where I also listed my reviews of other anniversary beers and their variants not found on this blog), Surly Seviin here, Surly Syx here, Surly Five here, and Surly Four here. And let us not forget the two-pronged attack of Surly Two, the beer..... and please, won't you consider taking a peek at Part Two, Surly Two, the Art. It would mean so much to me.

Burning Brothers Pyro American Pale Ale

Burning Brothers Pyro American Pale Ale, Naturally Gluten Free. Brewed and canned by Burning Brothers Brewing, St. Paul, MN. “Don’t Fear the Beer!” the can tells us.

Clear and golden-hued, with a short-lived white head.

Lightly hoppy nose, small citrus. Little lemon.

In the mouth, it’s got a bite. Sharp and crisp at the fore, clean and lean-bodied. Drinkable, but not especially pleasant. I must admit that I’m not well-versed in gluten-free beers, and I can’t tell how much beer-y flavors I should expect out of it, or how far this veers from how good a gf beer can be. I also have to admit that I heard bad things about it initially, and good things recently, but those were from he who gave me this sample.

This doesn’t taste like a true APA should, certainly not a good one. For a brew that by it’s very nature must miss the things I like most in a beer, it doesn’t taste terrible. If I became gluten-intolerant, I could tolerate it.

Time to share the gobbledygook: “Pyro Pale Ale centers on drinkability though a balanced American hop profile. Combined with gluten-free grains and yeast, this beer is an American revolution in brewing. No gluten in means no gluten out. There is no reason to “Fear this beer.”

I may have to try a few other GF beers to compare it against, but all in all, not bad.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wasatch Black O'Lantern Pumpkin Stout

Wasatch Black O'Lantern Pumpkin Stout Brewed with Pumpkin and Spices. 6.5% Alcohol by volume. "Proudly brewed in Utah."

Full-on blackness, toasted tan head on top.

A little roasty in the nose, then some vegetal whiffs....not picking up much from spices just yet. Not getting much of anything, really.

In the mouth, there's some espresso and cocoa, I guess some pumpkin, ...maybe...possibly spices? Clove? Pepper? Pumpkin? Huh. Hmmm.

I'm going to skip ahead and read the label: "Alone in his laboratory one stormy night, a madman crossed an imperial stout with pumpkin to create this frankenbrew. How good is it? Well, scary good. Food pairings: Eye of newt. Devils' Food cake."

The thing is, though, it's not. Maybe some eye of newt would help it, who knows. Promised flavors did nothing, and the ones that were there were off, off, off. I'd steer clear of this if I were you.

Root Sellers Row Hard Root Beer

Root Sellers Formidable Fermentaries Row Hard Root Beer. 6.7% Alcohol by Volume.

So, these days, the thing is hard root beer. Not Your Fathers. Or Your Grandfathers. And here's another one. It was "gifted" to me by a Sample Man. I don't even know who, it just showed up. I suppose if I love it and need to sell it, I'll find out. That's the question, though. Will I love it? Will it be wonderful? Let's find out...

Dark brown coloring, no head, dull brown highlights...

Root beer aromatics. What are those exactly? How often do we think of the flavors of a root beers? We just drink it, we don't dissect it. What, then, are these? Cola, clove, ...tree bark? Gosh, I'm stumped. What do we talk about when we talk about root beer? I'm rooting around the forest and digging up the dirt. What is it?

Taste: In the mouth, yeah, it tastes like root beer. Bubbly, fresh, zingy, spicy, ...but not resembling beer, at all. Missing the malt, and hops are absent. Sweet, spicy, rustic...but not beery.
Is this thing supposed to be a beer that tastes like a root beer, as Not Your Father's claims? Let's read the label.......Government warnings...nutrition facts...ah, ingredients: "water, sugar, molasses, natural flavors, sodium bicarbonate, Gum Arabic, and spices."

So, it's not a beer that tastes like a root beer, it's a root beer, with booze, somehow. And I'm getting it, that pleasant feeling in my brain is coming along nicely.

Wait, there's more! "Root Beer is a quintessentially American beverage first brewed by colonist using domestic roots, herbs and spices. These historic small beers did not contain much alcohol. Root Sellers has created a BIG root beer with an alcoholic content that pays homage to it's roots...and, yes, it's great with ice cream. No wheat, no barley, no gluten...You're Welcome." Root Sellers, Memphis, Tenn. "It's a Jolly Good Day for a Boat Flight!"

I don't care for this. It remains beyond my understanding why anyone would want to get high off of a soft drink. Adult drinks have adult flavors. Come on, it's just silly. I'll drink root beer when I'm not trying to get lifted. Plain and simple. The notion of getting drunk off of a root beer....actually, I did a comic strip about it when I was eight years old. I was a freaking visionary. Wish I'd kept the collected comic works of the young Al. Signs of things to come....

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Oliphant Eleventacles Wee Heavy Scotch Ale

Oliphant Eleventacle Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, 8% ABV, somerset, WI.

I had been in the habit of snapping photos of Oliphant's chalkboard on my visits and sharing the illustrations here. But the last time, when I got this crowler, we didn't have a seat at the bar, and I didn't feel like being that geek who gets in people's way to take a picture. Just trust me that there were tentacles involved. Or, more accurately, eleventacles.

Dark brown appearance, with ruby-ish highlights, under a thin, soon-gone, brownish head.

Deep, malty nose, chocolate notes, caramel and toffee, too. Just enough sweetness. And not too much.

In the mouth. it's full, rich and impressive. Dark and delicious. Nearly thick. Moderate bitterness keeps up with the sweet. Perfect balance here. Pretty near excellent, if not exactly that.

Yum. this one hits the mark. Although, my favorite Oliphant beer remains Gaer Bear Baltic Porter, which I oddly haven't returned home with to review. They did have the barrel-aged anniversary version on that last visit, and that's the growler we'll visit next.