Thursday, June 30, 2011

Service with a smirk

As not mentioned in the last post, today is my birthday. To kick things off, I hung out last night with Jeremy at the new location of Muddy Waters, formerly a coffee shop, now a bar & restaurant with 30 taps. Running the bar and the food is Paddy Whalen, formerly of Triple Rock Social Club and former driver for Surly Brewing Company, all around cool dude. They're doing gang buster, open less than two weeks now. It's no surprise that Paddy supports Surly to the hilt, with as many lines as can take, seven last night. I liked their beer list, with every single beer described, with a food pairing suggested. A familiar thrill occurred, as often happens, when he lifted the Surly descriptions from the can copy, so, in a sense, quoting me. But beneath that was a touch all his own.

Furious..."pairs with bar fights, burgers, and arm-wrestling."

Cynic..."pairs with pizza, pasta, pork and filthy jokes."

Schadenfreude..."pair with the suffering of others."

Among many others beers, I had a Hell and was going to snap a shot for here, and use my review from it's initial release two years ago. The lighting, however, was terrible, and I can't use that picture. I'll break down and buy a 4-pack, or have one in a brighter location.

Town Hall Crimson Oat

My stated goal with this blog o' mine was to have a post, that is to say a beer, a day for every day of the month. If I go over, I try to cap it at 40. (Man, look at January! 50 +!) At this rate, it'll be nearly 500 beers in the course of the year. Even if this continues, it'll take six years to get to the number of reviews I have on BeerAdvocate, but, then again, I'm not likely to revisit every beer I've ever reviewed. And this is also about what I'm drinking now, not what I had I had 5, 6, 7, 8 years ago. (Although, actually, it is, since I'm re-using my old reviews sometimes, rather than penning fresh and pertinent impressions.)

So, here we are posting beer #40 on the last day of the month. Crimson Oat from Town Hall. Finished a growler last night. Here come the notes.

Crimson Oat, Town Hall Brewery…guess what, it's red and there's oat in it. Let's look at it.

Dusky red look on it, nice cocoa head, slimmish.

Aroma: mild, hoppy, herbal, malty…yeah, that's a red ale, a bit hopper than you'd think, but mmm, mmm.

Taste: caramel malt, mild hops, some richness, some redness, definitive hoppitude.
Drink…CONSUMAble and delicious. mmmm. Smooth, oatmeal-enriched body, plenty of spark.

Not too much to tell, just another one of many excellent, and just a little experimental, ales pumped out of Town Hall and their talented brewers.

Grand Tetons Old Faithful Pale Golden

A Taste of the Tetons, Pale Golden, Old Faithful Ale, Yellowstone's Finest. Brewed and bottled by Grand Teton Brewing Co., 430 Old Jackson Hole Hwy, Victor, ID

Lightly clouded, golden appearance, slim and slender, beautiful ivory head.

Aromatics: grainy right off the bat, crisp maltiness is king. Fruity esters, apricot and orange, some sweetness. Mmm, mmm. If I stretched my nostrils further, I'd start talking about bubblegum and bananas, but I'm glad I stopped before that happened.

Taste: smooth, clean, lightly malty, just a little sweet, and, yeah, a bit strong. Malt sweetness grows and grows, and could be a little light, I'm just saying.

Bright. Fruity. Malty. Tasty. A tiny bit lesser-bodied than I'd like. Could use some more…some more something. Just a bit more complexity and flavor. That's be nice.

I didn't know this was an "American Blonde" when I had it, fooled myself into thinking it was a Belgian golden ale, without the alcoholic punch. Probably a good reason why I found it so uninspired. Didn't match it up with what I imagined it was supposed to be…if that makes sense...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bell's Pale Ale

Here's another example of how "off" I am, apparently. This one gets a B-/Worthy on BA, with The Bros giving it a C+ or something. I gave it an A+/4.78, a full 27% above the mean. Well, damnit, I like it and it's good. One of the best examples of rating for style, I think.
Drinking it now on cask, perhaps for the first time (?), at Acadia Cafe, and it's damned drinkable and delicious.

So, whatever, here's what I gushed back in January, 2003, from a bottle:

The color's that of ripe apricot, the head a solid, stocky white. Aromas are explosive, spinning off citrus, primarily grapefruit, orange, lemon, and a whiff of spice. A downright friendly finish, that meets you, and greets you and treats you right. Awash in bitter, but fruity flavor, with a sensational, and long lasting drizzle of hops. Fresh, sea-foamy nose. Light body, excellent texture and mouthfeel, full of that unexplainable effervescence that permeats all of Bell's ales. It's got to be that yummy, yummy yeast. One hell of a great pale ale!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Abita Purple Haze

Notes from eight years ago, June, 2003. I probably went the whole of that time span without having another of these. Notes follow:

Quite a fun name, nice little gimmick, but, hey, how's the beer?

Appearance: a hazy pale orange color, with an initially fluffy white head, that's quick to crumble away.

Aroma: sweet and fruity, definitely berryish, the pure stamp of raspberries, comingled with the wheaty, yeast, citric nature of a hefe weizen. But, as a hefe weizen, it falls severely short. As an American HW, flavored with fruit, not terrible.

Decent texture, light body, extraordinarily drinkable, tasty, smooth, but all in all uneventful.
That does the trick sometimes though, and I'm sure this would be quite a hit with the ladies at the beach.
I gave this a C/3.2 back then, and I'm still 1% above the mean. Beer geeks are tough cookies.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lift Bridge Hop Prop IPA

I first had this one on cask at Firkin Fest, and then again at Groveland Tap in St. Paul, (the same night as the Epic tasting at Ale Jail, in May) where I told the Lift Bridge team how much I liked it and how I would look forward to tapping a keg or two of it. Since last year, they've been calling me for orders, even after I picked up some Minnesota Tan. Week after week, someone would call, and I'd sometimes take it, sometimes not, and when I did, had to let them down gently, with the assurance that when the time, and the beer, was right, I'd be happy to put something new on. (There was a pause when I finally called back with the Hop Prop order, a bit of a shock for them, I'm sure.)I love to support local breweries, but only when in doing so I'm standing behind a quality beer that I can wholeheartedly recommend. That's the case with Hop PropIPA.
This was part of last month's Hop Heads Only Volume Three, and we're still getting through the left-over kegs! We're in the middle of keg two of this guy. Just took notes on it, now. There's some link between the description on their site, linked to above, and my words. I have to take some issue with their notes. Not much caramel malt detected. It DOES linger. Gosh, what else...not too much. I sure am smiling.

Cloudy amber/ crimson coloration, great, big sturdy head, creamy-toned, lace-leaving and lovely. Really nice looking glass of beer.

Aroma: soft, fruity, floral, subtle insinuations of citrus and pine. Beautiful, but not bombastic.

Taste: A flood of hops bitterness, reaches every corner of the senses, and calmly, politely fades back. Linger on the palate just enough to urge another sip and gulp. Very clean, while being unrepentantly flavorful. Plenty of hops to keep me happy. Big time hop flavor never quits in this one.

Medium bodied, long bitter hoppy finish. Plays with and stays with the tongue.
This is a damned respectable IPA that Lift Bridge can be quite proud of, and is easily their best beer, in my opinion. It can go head to head with the best IPAs in Minnesota, Masala Mama, Furious, Flat Earth NW Passage, ...who am I forgetting, write in to tell me, won't you?
Time to bottle this one, it's a winner. I'd suggest a name change, unless they've gotten tired of that game.

Mmmm, mmm, I can highly recommend this one to all hopheads, up, down, in and out.

Abita Abbey Ale (Dubbel)

Another sample from a sales rep, when he came visiting with an Abita associate. This is one I bought up when I first saw it, and looking back on the opinions of others, it appears I was blessed with a better bottle than most, or perhaps I am more forgiving. I gave it an A-/4.2, about 14% above the mean. Had this bottle last night, and damned if I didn't enjoy the heck out of it. And dubbels are my favorite style (if you don't count double IPA, imperial stout, quadrupel, baltic porter, etc. etc...).
Here are those notes from June, 2010:

Abita Abbey Ale , 22 oz. bomber

Clear, dusky auburn appearance, solid, 1/2 " cocoa & cream head.

Aroma: sweet and spicy, brown sugar & molasses, caramel malt, a little nutty.

Taste: sweetness and richness aplenty. dark fruit, spicy malt. I keep looking for serious flaws, but I honestly can't find any. Smooth, alcohol stays cloistered, figs and cloves, delicious and a delight to drink.

Medium bodied, long finish, wonderful dubbel from Louisiana, who would have thunk it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Odell Myrcenary Double IPA

Odell The Myrcenary

"Named for Myrcene, a component of the essential oils in the hop flower, Myrcenary Double IPA is our tribute to those who revere the illustrious hop, and their unyielding exploit to craft hop forward beers. Brewed with a blend of hops containing the highest levels of Myrcene, this double IPA prevails with a tropical fruit-like flavor, a pungent floral aroma, and a clean getaway."

Clear, golden-hued, under a beautiful, cloudish cap of snowy white foam, lace-leaving and long-lasting.An excellent appearance for a double IPA.

Aroma: prickly pine, citrus and tropical fruit, slightly honeyish. Pungent and floral, indeed. Excellent aromatics.

Tasting it: Easy entry on the palate, with hops bitterness quickly catching up and taking over the tongue. Tickles and prickles, sends tendrils of sensations up, down, and out of the mouth. Tiniest spark of sweetness, barely perceptible, flanked at all sides by tasty, tasty blasts of hoppitude.

Oily is right, this one has all the essentials, in good supply. Medium bodied, long, bitter finish, and utterly delightful for a hophead like me. Yeah, these guys know how to do it, and they do it, how they do it. Mmm, mmm, mmm.
Just perfect.

Abita Turbodog Brown Ale

Thoroughly brown body, with crimson side, slim tannish head.

Sweet, caramel malty nose, nuts aplenty.

Toasty malt, dry, muted sweetness in the taste, very clean, supple, easy to drink. More nutty and mineral-y than caramel sweet. Light cocoa traces.

Remarkably simple. Nothing wrong with that.

Medium body, highly carbonated, very even-handed, just a straight-forward session-er. I like a richer taste and mouthfeel in a brown ale, personally, but I can see how this would please less demanding palates.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lucky Bucket Certified Evil

Certified Evil is an undomesticated beast, a dark, ominous and oak aged creation. It's aggressive hops battle it's massive malt profile, Flavor assaulting all those who bear witness." Do I want to get assaulted with flavor? Hmmm, maybe, maybe…
"Malt beverage brewed with brown sugar, raisin juice, molasses, cardamom and orange peel and aged in wine casks." It's called an Imperial Porter, rings in at 9.6%, and has been aged in Cabernet barrels. Let's get cracking' at it…

Solid blackness, dark as sin, with a thin, brown ring for a head.

Deep and rich aromatics, dark fruit foremost, with molasses, chocolate, espresso, and more making up the mix. Raisins, figs, brown sugar…cocoa powder. Well balanced, nothing is dominant, nothing too loud or too callous. Even tempered all the way, aromatically.

Now, let's taste…in the mouth, it's a thick morass of flavors, sweet malty flavors kept in check, well maintained, tremendously balanced. Some berries in here, too, all that dark fruit, the raisin, the brown sugar, the molasses, the deep, dark richness all comes out on the palate, the cocoa and coffee. And before you know it, you start to pick up on the wine barrel aging, too.

Some tannins pop on the palate, we're getting some of the grit and the grab of the wine flavoring for sure. It wraps around the other flavors lovingly, coats them, covers them and makes them all get along. A little pithy twinge of sweetness rings it out. Sip again, the complex mix comes together on the palate, they all show themselves and make themselves known among this behemoth blend, stick their necks out and take a little bow. Then the wine barrel bit sweeps them up again, and we're picking out favorite cameos from that previous performance. "Ah, wasn't the coffee delightful? Did n't the cocoa shine? Remember the raisin, and wasn't molasses in top form?"

And now, at the end of the glass, the bottle drained, the alcohol comes booming in, …glad this is the last beer of the night. I'm off to bed, and dream of happy things, hopefully, with no evil creeping into my slumber.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mango Mama

Speaking of Mama, here's her sister, the Mango Mama. First infused back in 2007. Only on tap, once in a while, you're lucky to find it. Rarely growlered, but Mike did the Stone Growler Club a favor back then, and that's how I reviewed it in September, 2007. Here's how I wrote about it on BeerAdvocate on that initial tasting:
I'm sure this is just an oversight, but I can't find the "stone growler" option here...I'm sure they'll put one in soon.

Much thanks to Mike Hoops for this fine gift to the members of the Stone Growler community. I missed this one when it was briefly on tap, and now here it is, free of charge in my own very expensive ceramic vessel.

Hazed, deep amber hue, good, lasting white head, if small.

Aroma is ripe and green, bristly, piney, and sweet. Grapefruit meets papaya bristly and burry, but smooth. Remarkably complex and delightful,,,hops aplenty meets juicy sweet fruity.

Taste: WOW! The mango has taken over and holds court in all areas of the palate, with that pleasing Mama hop profile lying just below. Bright, green, then slightly bitter...a bitter hop/sweet fruit tango.

Delicious stuff, this. Easy-drinking, and bursting with flavor. Medium bodied, lightly bitter finish. No wonder this blew out of the pub in a day or so (it was just one keg, I heard, though).

The fruit infusion madness at Town Hall continues apace, but this isn't crazy, it's all out genius. As if my favorite beer couldn't get any better, here it is!

Four years later, they're still doing it, and it's still amazing!

Town Hall Masala Mama IPA

I'm still scratching my head over what took me so long to visit the Town Hall Brewery. It had been in business five full years before I walked in the door, and most of those years I worked nearby and passed it often. Did I just not trust brewpubs back then? Couldn't imagine the beer could be any good? Afraid of what lurked inside? Who knows, who knows, but once I did, and ordered up a Masala Mama IPA, I swiftly determined to make up for lost time. I was soon a Masala Mama addict, a subset of the local beer community that is loyal, large, and strong. I know many at the pub who drink nothing but Mama, and may occasionally try a new brew, but quickly go right back to the hoppy nectar.
So, on January 1 of 2003, I returned from a visit to the brewpub my senses swimming with the memory of Mama, and entered the very first review of it on I didn't enter the brew, though, it was already listed. Here's how it went:
Beautiful bronze color, firm white head.

Aroma is a bubbling, bristling bouquet of intensely fruity hops, just what I love in an IPA!

Great citrus, grapefruit, peach notes, on the palate a huge bite of hops, but mellow thereafter. Tingly and tasty, this should please any hophead.

If I was a teaching assistant at the nearby U of M and I just got away from the maddening throng, this would be my solace. If I was an actor at any of the nearby theaters and I got off the boards before bar close, I'd rush here for my relief. Heck, I'm going to make it my business to have more business in this neighborhood, just to enjoy this beer more often.

Did I mention that I liked it?
and then something interesting happened. We had the first ever local meeting of BA users at Town Hall that March, and shortly after this event, many of those in attendance wrote their reviews of Mama. Before too long, others added theirs, and around the time it had 7 reviews, someone from somewhere noticed that it was top of the American IPA list on that site. (There was no minimum reviews required, so a small number of enthusiastic ratings could make a brew with no distribution "better" than any other India Pale Ale in the world. A forum thread went up, umbrage was taken, outrage expressed. How is it possible that an IPA they had never heard of, from Minnesota of all places, could be "number one" over all others? Was it better than X, Y, or Z, or all the other IPAs those in Easterly or Westerly locations had championed?
Interest grew of course, but there was no way for these doubters to know for themselves without taking a trip to Minneapolis and visit the pub. Until that fall when the state of Minnesota passed a law allowing the existence of growlers. Not only was I drinking it at home on a regular basis, but my friends and I had a way to trade with others in other states. We started with nearby ones, as we figured out how to do this, and started spreading our network as interest grew. I can't tell you how many growlers I shipped in 2003-oh, I don't know, 2006 or 07 or so. I've stopped the trading, pretty much, due to the expense and my contentment with the beers I can get here, but I'm no longer needed as the traders pool has grown so much over the years that there is certainly no lack of traders to help out anyway desperate to taste Mama.

It didn't take long after this growler shipping for Mama to make it into the BeerAdvocate Top 100. This made it the first Minnesota beer on the list, as well as the only one available only on tap. Plenty of naysayers then, as before, but eight years after that initial outcry, Mama is currently at 614 reviews, an A/Outstanding rating, and resting at around #35 on the Top 100 (it bounced around the top 20 for the first few years.)

Although I did my small part to help spread the love for this great hometown IPA, all praise goes to Mike Hoops for keeping this hophead's solace going strong, a beer we can find comfort in, and count on, day in, day out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lucky Bucket IPA

Lucky Bucket, Est. 2008, Craft Brewery, Full Hop Flavor IPA, Original American India Pale Ale, 6.3% ALC by Vol.
"It's no secret that IPA is all about the hops. American Craft Brewers have been especially adept in the ways the humulus lupus can be used to make a spectacular beer for hop heads to enjoy. Our Original American IPA celebrates this interesting diversity in hop flavor. The final result is big, bold, and, shall we say, in your face….as it should be."

Blah, blah, blah…let's open and see.

Clouded, apricot to amber-ish appearance, nice, large, strong, lasting pillow of snow-white head. Looks good, no question.

Aromatics: Lovely delivery of essential oils and flavors of that aforementioned wolf weed. Piney, prickly, bitter, and only slightly sweet, citrus and tropical fruit associations. Quite a potent thrill in the nose, without going overboard.

Taste: Bam! Hops deployed, bitterness boards the tongue, a trickle and a tickle on the palate, then all is mellow once more. Up with the brew to the lips we go again…and it hits the same. Generous blast of hop, terrific drinka---CONSUMability. Down it goes, happy all the way. Orange and lemon, peach and pomegranate. Grapefruit and mango. Little bitter, little sweet, hoppy all the way up and down.
Medium body, medium finish. A bit creamy in the end, making for a perfectly sessionable IPA. I'd be a happy Nebraskan with this.
One more Lucky Bucket brew to go. Can't wait.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I open bottles of Beck's pretty regularly at work. It's the 2nd top beer I carry from a particular distributor, the very one who gifted me with many samples, via my sales rep. Why was this in the mix? Well, another chance to suffer through one.
Here are my verbatim notes from the last time I deliberately sat down to drink one of these, October of 2007:

How did I get to review #2393 without getting around to Beck's? Another mystery of the world...

Clear pale yellow, slim white head...

Lemony smell, some hops, some pee...sorry, can't help it, the nose smells what the nose this why folks drink it out the bottle, to avoid the aroma...I can't find anything to like about it. ...but it's not too far from the par for this style, actually.

Big carbonation, sparkling, but sour, lemony flavor, and thinly bodied.

Nothing I can say will stop anyone from buying it...thin, watery, blah...yeesh.
The #1 German beer in America...actual Germans know better.

And that's where I'll leave it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pauwel Kwak Belgian Amber Ale

Here's Belg-a-Rama 7 Beer #6, Pauwel Kwak from Brouwerij Bosteels. Another one that I could swear I've had in bottles many years ago, but only reviewed for the first time when I tapped it first at the Nile, November of 2005.
(Wrong! I wrote this from a bottle in January 2003: "Hazy light brown in color, smallish creamy tan head. Soft, spicy nose, sweet with notes of caramel, toffee, chocolate. Utterly delicious, there's no other way to describe it. Nice texture, slightly chewy, full of sweet malt, tingly hops. Really hides the 8% well, I didn't feel the alcohol at all. Soft, sensual, sublime.")
Memory fails when I try to determine whether this was new in kegs at the time, locally. I think it was. Also unusual is this mysterious smoke flavor that came through in this one. We went through 3 30 Liter kegs the first time, and they all had this atypical quality. Read it and you'll get more information on this. One thing stands out, is the lack of discussion of caramel malt, when I wrote these notes. That's the biggest thing I get these days, nice undercurrent of bitterness, great balance of sweet malt, spice, and bitter.
The smoke thing really resonates lately, as it's one of my pet peeves, lately, hearing "smokey" as a descriptor for beers that aren't. I think these people have heard "Smokey" being used, don't know what it really should be, and throw it out when they might mean "roasty" or "chewy" "deep" or "viscous."It's over-used and inappropriately used. In this case, I used it right, and Lanny identified it as well.
Sitting down to write about this one fresh, I'd have something different to say, of course, and, yet, here I am sharing that 5 1/2 years old review with you, for old times sake, what the heck. Here it is:
In the beaker glass, and the stirrup holder, expertly poured by that consummate professional feloniousmonk at the Blue Nile. Thanks, Al! Cheerio, muchacho!

Appearance: a hazed amber hue, under a milky layer of foam, rather slight, but sure, and leaving a lasting ring.

Aroma: Sweetness, fruit (apples, melons, cherry), malt, hop....a rosy nose, with a slice of spice. Glimmer of smokey character as well. (Note: when this keg was first tapped, my first impression was smoked peppers, and the smoke comment came from others as well. Odd, in that I never got a hint of it in a bottle, but here it was, very evident from the tap. Toward the end of the keg, it's smaller, but still there.)

(Additional note: the importer of Kwak told me this may be a result of the brewery's new equipment, and our kegs were from the first batch brewed in it. He also sampled some himself and remarked on the smokey flavor, something he'd never tasted before. So, Smokey Kwak, only at the Blue Nile while supplies last!)

Taste: smoked peppers, smoked anything comes largest, and after that, a unique mix of fruit and spice, more from malt than from hops. This never wavers throughout the tasting.

Medium bodied, supple mouthfeel, unremitting tastiness, quenching, and utterly drinkable, at the very least. A bit more grain becomes clearer toward the end, herbal, but never coming close to the dominance of the fruit, the malt, and the smokey spice.

"Unique" is a word that just keeps coming up when it comes to this one. Not just from me, but from all over, and, you know, I like that.

Here's to Pauwel, his kooky beer, and his wacky glass. Towards the end I have to chug-a-lug a bit more to get it out from the bottom of the bulb. Gurgle, gurgle, goes the smokey sweet beer.
Ain't life grand?

Lagunitas Undercover Investigaton Shut-down Ale

American Strong Ale, BA calls it. 9.7 % "mild" ale. Yeah.
Here's what I wrote in March 2009:

Clear, bronze appearance, slim whitehead.

Mild fruit in aroma ,apple mostly, a little spicy, minor bitterness. Nice and malty. A little sour.

Tasting, it really feels like a good dark English malty mild ale, but one with a beast in it's belly. You can feel the fire coming up. Really gentle, mellow...and then a nip,a bite...a 9% mild? Here we go...

Very nice, well done, but don't think I could have more than one. Are mild supposed to be 9%?Not sure...not...sure...

Lucky Bucket Lager

Lucky Bucket Brewing Company Craft Brewery Lager, Est. 2006, Original taste, Pre-prohibition style., Brewed and bottled by Lucky Bucket Brewing Company, La Vista, Nebraska. 4.5% ABV.
"A lot of things go into making a great beer, This pre-prohibition style lager, for example, communes 100% malted barley with just the right amount of hops, making it smoother and more flavorful than today's typical lagers. But the most important ingredient isn't on the label. It's our passion for quality that goes into every Lucky Bucket brew. So take another drink and savor what real beer is all about."

Let's do it.
Clear and yellow look, slim whitish head. Not much else.

Aroma: cereal grain, typical lager-y smell, very malty, pleasant and all that.

Taste: a little sweet, a trifle corny, but not bad. Just enough sweetness, but not enough hops. A tasty lager, though, and very consumable. A little dry, then a touch sweet, …a kiss of the hops, a tiny touch of bitter. Not even tiny, but plenty more than you'd get from a non-craft lager.

Great balance, excellent pad de deau between the factors. Ultimately satisfactory. I can drink this, that's for sure. As a non-lager-lover, I'm not ultimately going to turn to this often, but it's fine for what it is.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Stillwater Existent

.existent. Stillwater Artisanal (yes, I was fooled into thinking this was some under-the-radar, Stillwater, MN brewery) American Farmhouse Ale, 1 Pt 9.4 fl. oz. (750 ml)
Alc. 7.4 % by Vol.
"Existent represents the philosophy behind Stillwater Artisanal. We strive to define ourselves through our passion and sincerity while accepting that not all aspects of life are readily explainable. To manifest this ideology we present an ale of intrigue. Deep & dark though deceptively dry, braced by a firm yet smooth bitterness and accented with an earthy hop and mild roast aroma. This is an ale for you to define…"and if you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."---Nietzsche.

And look, there's Freddy right there on the label. Never thought I'd see the day, Nietzsche on a beer label. Let's open it up and drink it down.

Dark brown, lush, creamy tan head, pock-marked and rocky. A sight to see.

Aroma, soft and spicy, yeasty and lovely. Cocoa and cream, mmm, mmm, mmm.

Taste: chocolate malt, and mild fruit control the flavor. Never sweet, though, a round and dry ale. A beautiful flavor emerges on the palate, delights the senses, and lingers a bit. Even-handed, sufficiently dry, with further flavors lurking below the original blast, slowly emerging. Some dark fruit crawls up, raisin and plum. Despite it, dry and spicy. Dark caramel malt, chocolate malt, fruity esters…drinkable and dry.

The dark saison is a new category. I may have only had one other commercially produced version (see De Ranke Noir de Dottingies), and had never fathomed the style until I tried a friend's homebrew version. I like it. So fascinatingly flavored. So complex and delicious.

Bottle's end: still scrumptious. Mmm, these guys are good.

Oud Beersel Framboise (raspberry lambic)

Oud Beersel Framboise, another one that I know I'd had before I started reviewing (there's a label on one of my notebook collages, I'm sure of it), but never got around to reviewing until I tapped it last fall. (Unless it's one of those that fell off the truck over at BeerAdvocate.) Oud Beersel Framboise was part of Belg-a-Rama #1, back in November, before I started doing this. Got another keg for that Belg-a-Rama 6 1/2 event for Craft Beer Week. Now, it's back on tap, replacing the Timmermans Framboise. I was very glad that they were both briefly on tap together (late Tuesday, early Wednesday) so that I could compare for myself. Yeah, as raspberry lambics go, it's pretty damned great. Here's what I wrote back in November.

Fresh off the tap!

Rosy red, clear, bright, with an amazingly pink head, puffy, pillowy, large, lace-leaving, slow to crumble.

Bold aromatics, sends the sweet/tart raspberry-ness far and wide. This is the nose that hits the guy on the other end of the bar, whether he wants it or not. I'm going to pull it up to my nose...
There we go, real raspberries, tart and sweet, weird, fresh, and funky. Love it.

Taste: soft, then zesty, then sour, next flush with fruit. Mmmm, pucker, then the sweet, then the sour, then the zippy refreshment, and the smiles. Funky, funky lambic time! Mmm, delicious. This is the right stuff, never too sweet, the right mix of fruit and funk!

Tassss-teeee!!! Way to go, Oud Beersel, this is the stuff! Good as they get!


Yet another in the sample pack, going back to June, 2003 notes for this one, another European lager in a green bottle.
Appearance: clear, pale golden color, firm and fluffy, pure white head.

Aroma: dry, and a bit corny, and a certain funky staleness that was quite off-putting and unlikeable.

Taste is bittersweet. This beer contains some hops, and some malt, too, but neither are employed very well, or do anything to impart flavor, character, or any quality that would urge one to drink and enjoy.
No, it was a chore to plow thorugh this brew. Very weak, flat, flavorless, boring as they come. A sourness emerges towards the end, and only furthered my expanding repulsion towards this bad example of a lager.
Are there corn or other adjuncts at use, I wonder, for it certainly tasted that way.
I picked this up to appease a friend from Denmark who urged me to try the beers of her homeland. I'm pretty sure she's unaware of how bad this is, and I'd like to think there's still a good Danish beer out there for me, somewhere!

Sure, I've since found good Danish beers since then, and you know what, last night's bottle was not as bad as the one eight years ago...or perhaps I was pickier back then. Bases on that recent Grolsch review, I'd say not. Maybe I just got a non-skunked bottle for once?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hop-Ruiter Golden Ale

Here's the 5th Belg-a-Rama 7 beer I've listed so far, here. Leaves only one. I've done this one just in time, as the keg feels ready to kick. Timmermans and Moinette Brune are both done. Got it just in time, luckily, as I've never had it, and would rather not have it run out before I write my notes and have to buy a bottle. (Oh, yes, this has happened.)

So, here are my recently written notes (minutes ago!):

Hop-Ruiter. I'm not sure what that means. I've tried to find out, but failed. It has something to do with hops, but nothing to do with Reuters News Services. What's a ruiter? There are horses on the logo, maybe it means "rider"? A rider of hops, mmmm? {I've since been informed by one of the owners of Vanberg & Dewulf that my guess is correct. Hooray, me!}
And how do you say it? Again, I don't know, no one will tell me, I can't figure it out. "rooter"? Royter? Reeter? I'm saying "router", and I'll keep on it until someone corrects me.

So here we have a brewery I've never heard of, collaborating with an American importer to create a hoppier-than -normal golden ale. And now it's on tap (a week ago, and I had to hurry and review because it's nearly gone!) and in my glass.

It looks beautiful, Clear, golden, shiny, lovely…gorgeous white head, lace-leaving, delicate and pretty, very inviting.

Let's smell it, already…pepper and straw, lemon and lime, coriander? Cumin? I'm at a loss when it comes to spices, sometimes, but that's the main thing, spice, then citrus, plenty of hoppy associations. Wonderful.

Now, to taste it…smooth and creamy, slides effortlessly down the throat. Then the hops, the spice, the citric twang climb back up and stake their claim. Another drink and it remains, the small sweetness, the big bitterness, the fruit and the spice. Yum, this is sweetly drink…I mean, consumable, with just enough bitter, just enough fruit to keep a great balance of those opposites. Such magnificent balance. Never too much here or there, this or that, it all matches and meets. A Duvel meets a czech pilsner, impersonating a La Chouffe Houblon, perhaps.

Light bodied, long, hoppy finish, lingers long on the palate…keeps remindin
Whatever it is, it is every degree of yummy. That is to say, satisfactory, or, in other words, tasty!!
Mmm, mmm, yeah. There's a few good syllables.

Unibroue Ephemere Cassis

This one's another sample from a different sale-rep. Comes in handy, because I don't really reach for the fruit beers that often, especially if I've already had them. First tried this one in May of 2005, here are those notes:

Beautiful pale peach color, massive head, thick and fluffy, slow to diminish...very likeable.

Enticing aromatics! It's a subtle mix of currant, a whiff of peach and apricot, all abetted by wheaty characteristics. A delicate fruit blend, and delicious.

Taste: a brisk bite at the front, tart for a touch, a blast of cool berry and grape, then all is mellow...very light currant flavor, more dainty than I expected...
...thought I had a wallop coming my way, but it's a dainty little dance on the tongue. Medium to light in body, tasty, tangy mouthfeel, softly evaporating finish...very nice. a sophisticated sipper, a sublime substitute for dessert when chocolates and such are not appropriate.
Chill and share with the significant other for a romantic evening...

I really, for some reason, expected a humdinger in this bottle, a slap-yo'mama kind of "Belgian beer"...not what they present, and who gives a darn, it's gorgeous just the way it is...sumptuous, serene...divine.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fuller's ESB

Yet another from the sampler pack.
English Ales get a hard knock these days from the beer geek world. Classic producers have gotten completely overshadowed by all the activity and innovation in the American craft beer world. Brands and styles that have stood the test of time seem passe' in light of the shiny new bottles of each new extreme edition and every transformation. It's a pity, but there's not much that English brewers are doing to catch the impressionable beer geek's attention, if they care to at all. Much of the best stuff from small, innovative brewers is almost prohibitively expensive, as well.

In February, 2003, I was going full steam ahead in the beer review game, chugging away, checking everything off the shelves.
Now, I cut my teeth on English and Irish beers, used to be a genuine Anglophile in the beer arena, before I found an American craft beer I liked (or knew they existed). (It was Summit EPA, by the way, and it was 1992.) Bass Ale was the first beer I ever actually liked, but I would choose it over only the very worst, these days. So, ten or 11 years after I cast off what I considered boring English ales and explored the variety and depth of more exciting and hoppy American ales, I took down bottle of Fuller's ESB, and wrote the following:
Perfectly amber color, under a big, bubbling, bone-white head. An indistinct aroma, that cast off hints of flowers and honey, but also strains of coppery flintiness. A sly hop attack occurs on the tongue, which fades back fast. Light body, faint texture. Nice, but unmemorable finish. A very un-bitter "bitter", a textbook session ale. A good fruitiness comes out the middle, and the flavor overall is pleasant, but it's largely forgettable for my taste.

I have to say that I agree with the me of 8 years ago, but would have to add an asterisk, that this is an excellent example of an ESB, a style that never really thrills me. Nor should it. Just a good ol' drinkin' beer. All these years later, my tongue has settled down, where I can really appreciate those subtler styles. Back then, I gave it a "B/ 3.6", where the average on BeerAdvocate is A-, making my ranking 13% below the mean. If I were to re-do it, I'd maybe bump it up. No, definitely. I certainly judged it for my taste, not for the style. For the style, it's a world class champ.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Erdinger Hefe Weizen

Another from the sampler pack. First enjoyed in July, 2003, here are those notes:

Appearance in this weizen fits the bill to a T, with a hazy, pale, straw-yellow color, and a thick, fluffy, cloud-like head of foam.

Aroma is likewise on the mark for a typical hefe, lemony and sweet, but with a little bit of citric sour, as well.

On meeting the lips, this beer is remarkably smooth, with a nice texture, and a light body.
Extraordinarily drinkable, but utterly lacking in any complexity or nuance.
A simple, pleasing, nice little ale, with continual contributions of flavor
. Not bad at all, by no means, but lacking anything in it to rise above the ordinary.
As hefe weizens go, it's an adequate sample, and goes down nice, and refreshing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Timmermans Framboise raspberry lambic

Beer #4 of the Belg-a-Rama #7 beers. A raspberry lambic from Timmermans, a brewery I know very little about. But, hey, we have to try them, right?

Fresh on tap, one of the most expensive kegs I've ever heard tell of...the bottles are pricey, too. Is it worth it?

Pink, pudding-ish head, rosy, raspberry-y appearance, clear at the bottom, darker near the top.

Aroma: sweet, ever-so-slightly tart. Very raspberry, only slightly cloying, not quite in Kool-aid land, but dangerously close.

Taste: Intense flavors on first sip, very puckering, but the tart mellows out with a quickness. Raspberry flavor is fast and furious, then smooths out and leaves the palate quietly. Raise the glass again, down it goes: rapsberry, tart, but, as it says on their website, ""faithfully reflects the colour and flavour of ripe raspberries with no trace of the acidity of lambic."
See, that acidity is something I could actually go for, especially in a fruit lambic. What's left is certainly flavorful and consumable, but rather uninspired.
Fairly flat and one-dimensional, but I hear that's what sells these days.
If you're looking for a more authentic version, look for Oud Beersel, Cantillon, Drei Fonteneine, Boon, or elsewhere.

Grolsch Premium Lager

Number three in the sampler pack.

Swing-top bottle Grolsch! Man, it's been a while.

On cracking the crock, out comes the skunk. Whoo-eey!

Wow. So, it's now poured and now it's clear, and pale yellow, with a soon-gone slim head. That's peeking at it from six inches away. Now, it's time to pull it close and get a further whiff. Here we go…

Ow! Clear-green-bottle-itis in effect, y'all! Whoa!!!
Spoiled cabbage, bad fruit, mold, …ugh.
"Since 1615, Artistry and Craftsmanship." Maybe that's when it started, when did it stop?
"Royal Grolsch Holland Premium Lager, The Original Swingtop"…"Best before Aug 11/11"
15.2 Fl Oz….I have to suffer through this much? Yikes., 5 % alc/vol.

Time to drink up.
Wet. Carbonated. Harsh. Bitter. Not pleasing at all. I'd drink this if offered to avoid being impolite, and I'd offer no comment if none was required. Then I'd turn and spit it out. Yet, here I am drinking of my own free will, and attempting to finish it.

Water, and cereal. Someone melted my bran flakes.

Each time I raise it up and set it down my windpipe, the same awful aromatics come back. Spoiled, stale, skunked. Green bottles. When will they ever learn?

When will I learn? Putrid and awful. Merest hint of a body, lightness creeps above.
And what counts for flavor is nothing but bad. Soiled cardboard. Rancid lemons. Ugh.
Why do I punish myself like this?
this is exactly what gives beer a bad name.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anchor Liberty Ale

Another from that mixed sampler dropped off by my sales rep. An old favorite that remains strong, but has gotten lost in the shuffle amidst all the new breweries that have eclipsed their offerings over the years. I'm baffled why the distributer doesn't carry kegs of this (only Steam, Porter, and seasonals). If I'm not mistaken, Liberty was the first American-brewed IPA of the modern era, and the first to focus on Cascade hops.

These notes were written way, December of 2002, and here we have another gusher. I gave it a 4.9/5 on BA, a big 18% above the mean. I still like it, but again, too much gushing, I'd need to temper this enthusiasm, if I were writing anew. Man, they should pay me for this one. Here it is, 8 1/2 years later. Where's my check?


I'd seriously underestimated this beer in the past, for my enthusiasm was markedly greater when I sat down to study it, smell it, and appreciate it's complexities. I'll bet I was drinking it out of a bottle in a noisy, smoky bar.
Thick white head, settles soon. Pale orange color. Fresh aroma, incredible fruit! Peaches, apricots, citrus, with perfect integration--nothing stands over or above anything else. Quite mellow and smooth, this is an ideal session beer, not too powerful in hops or alcohol, but one that rewards the attentive. Fritz Maytag and the boys at Anchor are the ultimate craftsmen and this is a perfect product. Everything is so well-formed and pure, it's amazing. Great balance, flavor, everything!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

North Coast Acme California IPA

Back in May, I mentioned Minnesota Craft Beer Week and some of the events we created for those ten days of fun. I mentioned only two of them, actually, the Moe's Bender and Batch 10, 000 tappings. Left out, the most successful of them all, the Harriet Brewing Day, where we tapped all five beers to date from our new favorite local brewery. (Or is that favorite new local brewery?)
The following Wednesday was Belg-a-Rama 6.5, featuring some beers we'd already included in a B-a-R (Rodenbach, Jacobins, Bellegems, Oud Beersel Framboise) and a few we'd use in the current version (Timmermans Framboise, Echte Kriek). Finally, the third annual installment of Hop Heads Only rounded it out. Eighteen different IPAs and double IPAs on tap, plus a cask of Surly Furious. Not as well attended as I would have liked, maybe due to the rain, maybe competition from other events. But a good time was had by many, and many was the keg left behind. Some have come and gone, and you've seen them here (Maharaja, Moylander, etcetera), others will yet have their time to shine.

One of these is a beer I'm enjoying now on tap, and which I first tried in a bottle back in November, 2003. I gave it a better shake in my review than most, but I'm forgiving and tend to appreciate a good IPA that's just a ...well, read for yourself...

Appearance: clear, deep orange hue, with a full, frothy white head.
Aroma: big hops, grapefruit, pineapple, orange, large fruit in the nose, very enticing and inviting.
On the palate, smooth, and very mellow, without too much tumult on the tongue. Solid body, excellent balance, and possessing a very nice flavor which lasts and lasts, persisting on the palate. Yum, yum.
I was hoping for a hoppier bite, and had to realize that a good IPA doesn't have to be a Ruination or Dreadnaught. Sometimes, they can "just" be smooth and delcious, like this one.

short and sweet, and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man's clothes. Wait, I didn't just quote Billy Joel lyrics randomly, did I? Okay, maybe it's time to call it a night...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout

It's time to interject among the Belgian brews some odd offerings from a semi-sweet sample pack from a distributor sales rep. Why semi?...Because it's... not that rad. Or awesome. There was only one beer I'd never had, (although it's very unique.)
However, she meant well, and she's pretty, so how can I pick on her? Can I get mad that the samples included two beers I already order from her company? Not really, since it's all free. She wrote me a note, "tell me what you think of these"...of Carlsberg, Grolsch, Beck's? Again, she meant well. And she's pretty. (And a lot better than her predecessor, who sent me new beers whether I asked for them or not, and charged us for them. Not cool.)

So, for the first one we turn to a beer she didn't know we carried. One being told this, her reply was, "well, good, you can drink it." or something like that. It's a beer that was one of the first in my initial "dream beer list" way back 10 or 11 years ago. And one that firmly belongs in the category of "gushers" when it comes to my early reviews. Had the bottle and home last night, and here I share with you the 5-star review I posted on BeerAdvocate back in January 2003. Samuel Smith's the old taddy tadcaster Oatmeal Stout:

"Big, booming tan head, and a color as black as the darkest night. Aroma is all things good: fresh, nutty, dry, coffee, espresso, the very essence of roastiness. Texture is smooth, with late bitterness coming through on the palate, very chewy and substantial. Comes on sweet, warm, and wonderful, a comforting stout.
Honestly, how do they do it? There are many who attempt this style, but no one comes close to Samuel Smith's when it comes to flavor, to taste, to utter perfection. Nothing less than happiness can result from drinking this fine brew. Always to find a spot among my Top Five. Absolutely perfect!"

If I were to write this one anew, I'd temper the enthusiasm just a little bit. It was one of my early favorites, and I still find great joy in it's delights. I think I need to go pick up more Samuel Smith's beers, to revisit some old friends.

Verhaeghe Echte Kriekenbier

September 2005 was the first time I cracked open a bottle with pen held to paper nearby. Drinking it now on tap, Belg-a-Rama #7 beer #3. Here are those notes:

Seein' it: Rosy red is the color, mainly clear, with a proud, fizzy, pinkish head that collapses assuredly, but slowly...

Smellin' it: big time cherry, massive sour notes, very vibrant and arousing.

Tastin' it: Oooo, wince, pucker, grimace, shudder, ...ahhhh!!!
Very tasty, when you enjoy that sensation. Lip smackin', with a recurring fruity flavor. Brilliantly bitter. Medium bodied, long, fruity, sour finish. Thoroughly spanks the palate, slapping cherry-whips on the tongue.

Just delicious.

Town Hall Pale Weiss

Pale Weiss, aka Wheat Pale Ale, a blend of Kristall Weiss, filtered hefe weizen, and American pale ale.

Clear, amber coloring, beautiful, snowy white head, puffed up and proud, lace-leaving, lovely.

Aroma: Mmm, there's banana and orange in there, a little bit of spice. Hit of clove. Some lemon. Sweet, spicy, and ever-so nicey

Tastin' it: Mmmm, smooth. Light-bodied, easy-drinking. A hoppy number, more-so than your typical weisen, but it doesn't really help this yeast-less version. I could use the yeast here.
It's a Reese's peanut butter cup situation. Someone put wheat in my pale ale! Or, did they put hops in my hefe weizen?
Little sweetness, met with the spicy tang of hops. Nice fruitiness, but very atypical. Grapes and melons, even.

Excellent beer, but not to my taste. I typically need more hefe with my weizen, and feel the flavors that result in this combination and not for me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Moinette Brune, Brasserie Dupont

Belg-a-Rama Beer #2. I first wrote about a bottle back in August, 2006. Drinking now, freshly tapped.

Cloudy, pale brown appearance, under an ample helping of creamy tan froth. Just right.

Aroma is sweet and yeasty, big spice, hops, pepper, cocoa, dark fruit...a beautiful blend. Light caramel malt, berries and grapes, whisper of chocolate...nice.

Taste: all that and more, again and then some. Smooth on the tongue, easy in the mouth, with a light, chocolatey finish. Mellow, but not without a particularly Belgian spark. The yeast really comes through, and the malt shines in eventually, really providing quite a component to the flavor. Yum. Yum, yummy yum...

Great play on the palate, the texture never quite gives, just keeps going and going...full bodied, but not thick or heavy or cloying...this is special, I like it.

This is a great one to pop out at parties or when your wine-loving friends are over..."ah, ha! Try this!" much flavor, so much complexity, yet not overwhelming, not too massive, and so easy to drink down. A brown ale that's light years away from a Newcastle...this is thing to plunk down to non-believers and say, "here's a great Belgian beer that won't scare you away"...and without the bitter tannins of a red wine, too...ah, I love beer, and when it's as good as this, I love it more!

Glazen Toren Saison d'Erpe Mere

Here's another one I'm trying for the first time after putting it on tap. A 30 liter keg, and on the expensive side. We're doing 10 oz pours, in order to use the glassware. I hope it catches on.

Beautiful saison. Bright golden, highly hazed, slim ivory head.

Aromatics, light lemon and orange, delicate spice. Lovely. Particularly peppery, fragrantly fruity.

Taste: Mmmm, Meaty mouthfeel, while being watery enough for the style. Luscious citrus fruit dominates, with spice kicking in behind. Starts easy, gets more complex sitting in the mouth. Slight bitterness. Growing spice. Then turning just a little sweet.

Very interesting beer, this. Incredibly complex and refreshing, all at once.

Keeping it short and simple, all I need to say is: it's good, drink it.

Dave's BrewFarm Sinistra

Dave's BrewFarm Sinistra. * (not to be confused with Green Lantern villain Sinestro) Sinister is Latin for left. Dave's explanation is that this one was made with left-over ingredients. I don't have specifics on hand, I can only recall that is supposed to be hoppy and Belgian-y. Just going to open it up and find out what it's all about.

Lightly hazed and highly carbonated, pale orange, fringing on crimson. Decent head of ivory bubblation, trims down to a slim ring in no time.

Aroma: that wonderful, fruity Belgian funk exudes from the glass immediately. Orange and clove and that inimitable, unnameable, ethereal something. Lemon and pepper and mystical musk. That sounds about right.

Taste: Remarkably smooth and easy on entering the palate. Belgian yeast is tasted, certainly, delicious malty flavor, and a tidy offering of hops. Mmmm, yes.
I'll repeat a few key words as consumption continues…tasty…delicious…defiantly downable. I hadn't mentioned that, it's true…but, it's true. Strikes an amazingly appropriate balance.

This might be some other brewery's exceptional pale ale, or Belgian IPA. At the BrewFarm, it's another example of everyday deliciousness.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Breckenridge 471 IPA

I first had this one in a bomber, March of 2006. Took these notes, which I share with you as I drink it on tap:

Clear appearance, cast in a honey-glazed amber-y hue, with prodigioius puffy, lacey foam above. Nice lookin'.

Aroma is soft, piney, citric, pleasant, but muted. Candyish tones overtake bitterness. Appealing.

Brisk blash of bitter on the palate, then caramel flavor rolls in, toffee, like a brief battle between hops and malt, this candyish sweetness muffling the bitterness. Interesting. Fruit bobs up again, but instantly enfolded by sweet caramel. An interesting combo, one I don't encounter in an IPA very often...but one that doesn't quite hold my in sway with it's charms for very long.

Full mouthfeel, lot going on in the texture, medium to full bodied, tasty, complex finish, hangs long on the palate...but, alas, the flavor doesn't quite cut it all the way, for me. Still good, just not what I look for in an IPA. An accomplished ale, nonetheless.

Summit Horizon Red Ale

First tried this one in April of 2009, 2 years ago, on tap. Must've been at Acadia or some other familiar haunt, for, if memory serves, I didn't tap it at the Nile until later that year. I have it on again, as part of an unadvertised, unpromoted, and utterly unco-ordinated effort to tap all of Summit's beers during their 25th Anniversary year. So far, I think I've done EPA, Winter Ale, and the latest Unchained Series. Here's what I thought of it, then, and I still feel the same.

Clear crimson/amber color... adequate froth atop, soon gone, though.

Fresh, grassy aroma, lightly fruity, not too tart, not too sweet...

Taste: big hops, lingering some, laying a bit on the palate, hanging in there,... and then, softly fading back.

Light caramel malt body... very drinkable, sessionable, a nice turnaround for those looking for something new from Summit.
While it ups the hops, it doesn't quite do enough for me...and lacks in the body.
This is being written on my second pint, though, and I'm liking it better than I did with the first.

I still feel it could, should be bigger in body, a little heavier would be nice. But, then, I have to keep remembering that I'm not their target audience, and how much my taste has evolved.
Beyond what Summit wants to make, apparently.

Again, a good drinking beer, nothing wrong with it at all, just falls a bit short from what I look for these days.
Today, as I said, those words hold true. I can drink it fine, but wouldn't pick it over a Furious.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Flying Dog Double Dog Double Pale Ale

First took notes on this one from a bottle in March, 2007. Last night was not the first time I tapped it, just the latest. Here we have the 11.5 % abv, Double Dog Double Pale Ale, from Flying Dog, formerly of Denver, CO, now residing in Maryland.
Those notes...
Bright crimson, well-cloaked, with a big, ebullient, staying head of creamy foam. Very nice.

Nose effuses booze and fruit. Barley-winish. grape and cherry burned into brandy.
Cognac with orange drippings. red wine with a slice of lemon.

Juicy on the tongue, a blast of flavor, forceful, but delicious.

Deep stuff, full bodied. Fat malt, and plenty of hops, rich and rewarding.

Doesn't taste like 10.5%, but we're not done yet. (BeerAdvocate now says 11.5%)

Bracing bitterness on the palate is just fine with this hophead, and mixes well with the pronounced malt bill. Nice balance for such a huge brew.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Anderson Valley Imperial IPA

Another in the same style as the last one, but one I liked quite a bit more. From a brewery that once distributed here, my first time having this, from a 4-pack picked up in Wisconsin.

Imperial IPA, India Pale Ale, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville, Mendocino County, California, …"This IPA was first created in honor of our second decade as a brewer and purveyor of the finest ales in the world. This limited release, over-the-top brew is loaded with excessive amounts of malts to balance 20 separate additions of the finest Pacific Northwest hops to create the kind of product that made California craft ale famous." 8.7 % alc/vol.
"brewed from only the finest hops, malted barley, yeast, and pristine Boonville mineral water."

Well, isn't that something. Let's drink the damned thing.

Appearance: clear, bright crimson, fine layer of white foam rests above.

Aroma: deep and dank, strong, pungent, and hopperific. Tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, and orange, with a herbaceous twist. Very lively. Mmm, liking.

Taste: Big hop bitterness on the palate, juicy malt, slight alcoholic sting, then some smoothness. Tasty, tasty smoothness. Velvety sleek till the bitter factor loads in, and deploys hop-tastic tasti-tude. Full flavoring, shining bright. Great, big bouncing bitterness, massive malt, not too hard to push past the palate.

Mmm-hmmm, I can dig on this. Floods the mouth with hoppy goodness. Yep, it works. Right on.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Upland Double Dragonfly Double IPA

Upland Brewing Company, Inc., Bloomington, IN, Double Dragonfly Imperial IPA, Alc. 9.1 % by Vol., 1 Pint, 6 fluid ounces.

What's going on in this picture? Seems a tad suggestive, but who am I to judge?

Highly hazed amber/orange appearance. Creamy, long lasting head atop.

Aroma: tropical fruit, prickly pine, some citrus. Reveals some alcohol.

Taste: bitter bomb from the start. Fierce, harsh, and powerful. Alcohol comes roaring through. Grapefruit and pineapple, covered in pine cones and dunked in vodka. With each new sip, it only gets moreso.

Bitterness is all over the palate, body is medium. And slowly, it's toning down. Getting a little easier to take. Less aggressive. And tastier, too. The palate isn't being stomped on, and torn up.

All in all, though, I can't say I've enjoyed this one very much. Especially with the mess at the bottom of the bottle. Not too pleasant. Yucky.

Town Hall Masala Mama IPA

I'm still scratching my head over what took me so long to visit the Town Hall Brewery. It had been in business five full years before I...