Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Left Hand Milk Stout

While I'll plunk down good money for good beer, and always take gambles with my cash on beers unknown, I'm also looking out for deals. Why have been doing Brooklyn and Left Hand beers lately? Because that's what's on sale at Zipp's for $7 a 6-pack! (It's hard to justify another $18-20 for my 5th ...or 6th, or 7th...bottle of Surly Five when that would get so much more beer.)
So, let's look at the Left Hand Milk Stout, which I first wrote about back in April, 2005:
Dark brown, shining red 'round the edges,highly carbonated, prodigious cocoa head, which slims down right-quick.
Bittersweet in the nose, but minor, mostly smooth, sweetness and cream.
Taste: Smoothness reigns here, very slick, easy-going, but just enough taste to redeem it. but there's a definite lack of character, though. That could be what they're going for, a readily palatable stout that would please the masses. That's good for something, but not really for me.
Yeah, I really don't feel like knocking it, but true stout aficianados won't miss anything if they pass this by.
Why was I so harsh on it? Such a hard-to-please beer geek I was, then, wasn't I? Drinking now, it's exactly what it's supposed to be, a palatable, drinkable stout, nothing meant to challenge or contend with, nothing to drain you or constrain you, nothing to blame you or defame you...wait, where am I going with this? I'm off the rails, here!

Once again, I think either the beer got better, or I was being a real dick back then. Go drink Milk Stout, you won't be sorry.

Porticus, Leipziger Doppel-Porter

Porticus, Leipziger Doppel-Porter, Bayrischer Bahnhof Leipzig, Germany, Special Edition of Historic Styles. 7% abv, 11.2 oz.

I know very little of this beer, and will now forget what I did know.

Dark brown color, cocoa-tinted head, nearly pink, actually, rocky and lacy. Starts huge, drifts down.

Aroma: sweet and sour, wild and funky. Some sherry, some cherry, a lambic-like kiss of raspberry. Interesting stuff, indeed. Getting very little from what I'd expect out of either a "doppel" or a "porter." But, I'll keep sniffing: Nope, not there, all but smothered by this fruity funkitude.

Taste: Damned interesting, once again. Bitter, dark malts, chocolate, espresso, dark fruit, anise, then the lambic-like funky fruit steps in, but without ever losing time with the dark malt flavors. This certainly tastes more Belgian than German, and I'd be utterly flummoxed if presented with it not knowing it's origin. Fullish body, longish finish, great complexity, lots to like.
Yum, I'm liking this more and more. Bitter and gritty, sweet malt, hops and …where does the sour come from? What is the yeast? Great questions...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summit Extra Pale Ale

Speaking of pale ales, as we were, let's look at Summit EPA, the ale that started it all for then, 25 years ago. I only got around to trying it, say, 19 years ago. Don't think it make much of any impression in the suburbs by that time, and, I was anti-beer until I found the one I liked. That turned out to be British, so I had no idea there were any American, let alone Minnesota beers worth my drinking, until a new friend invited me to hang out at the C.C. Club with her and her friends, who all drank Summit EPA by the pitcher, back in '92. This had what attracted me to beer, after hating it for so long: hops. Bitterness. Flavor. Now, I had a new favorite beer and a new favorite brewery. For a time, anyway.

So, let's look back on what I wrote back in January, 2003, when I first wrote an ode, of sorts, to Summit Extra Pale Ale.
A dark amber/ copper color, and thin , disappearing head.
Sharp, vibrant hops abound here...citrus fruits and more, grapefruit, apricot, cinnamon, sharp cheese?
Long, exciting finish, the hops mingle among the taste buds, the lips, and gums.
Great bitterness on top, medium body, warm and tingly.
Thoroughly satisfying, but not particularly remarkable.
A reliable tasty treat.
Hmmm, looking back, I'd chose different words today, but I agree with the tenor of the piece, for sure. I can still drink EPA, but it's never anything to get excited about.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ommegang Hennepin Saison

Hennepin , true Belgian-style saison. Alc./Vol. 7.7%, Cooperstown, New York.

Father Hennepin was the Belgian missionary who discovered Niagara Falls. Our Hennepin is a rare Saison Farmhouse Ale--pale, crisp, hoppy, and rustic--and like, Tintin, Magritte, and Audrey Hepburn, Hennepin is famous, but not for being Belgian!…And remember: The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."--Proust.

Hennepin was also a discover of St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, the only waterfall on the Mississippi river. His name graces our county, our major Avenue, and so much more.

Back in December, 2002, I wrote an incredibly succinct review of the brew named after Father Louis. Check it out:

"Pale yellowish color.
Fresh, floral,citrusy nose, quite like a witbier.Very beautiful, very inviting, who could refuse a sip of a brew so friendly?
Taste is extremely satisfying, if lacking depth, but then, like many pretty things, it's not meant to be deep, just delicious, d'lightful, d'lovely!"

That's good enough, I think. I was still getting to understand saisons, back then.

Tallgrass Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat

hal·cy·on   [hal-see-uhn] Show IPA
adjective Also, hal·cy·o·ni·an  [hal-see-oh-nee-uhn] Show IPA, hal·cy·on·ic  [hal-see-on-ik] Show IPA.
calm; peaceful; tranquil: halcyon weather.
rich; wealthy; prosperous: halcyon times of peace.
happy; joyful; carefree: halcyon days of youth.
of or pertaining to the halcyon or kingfisher.
a mythical bird, usually identified with the kingfisher, said to breed about the time of the winter solstice in a nest floating on the sea, and to have the power of charming winds and waves into calmness.
any of various kingfishers, especially of the genus Halcyon.

And this beer, a summer-y wheat by Tallgrass Brewing, of Manhattan, Kansas. My first time tapping them, after Rob has giving samples for so long. About time I got around to it. Here are my thoughts on the beer of wind and wave (and kingfishers).

Clouded, pale apricot/orange color, good white head, long-lasting, sturdy and staying. Appealing and inviting.

Aroma: Bright citrus, yeast, wheat-y, orange and lemon, light, yet fresh and zesty. Sweet and slightly sour, at once.

Taste: Sweetness again, lush in the mouth, smooth and delicious. Tasty stuff, definitely downable, uncommonly refreshing. Wheat texture comes right out, sweetness matches a small amount of sour, and the combination is an utter delight. And now, bitterness rises up, hops come screaming out.

I'm going to pause now, and quote the brewery...We start with raw Kansas white wheat in the mix to give it a nice edge, but what really makes it shine is the hops. We use “hop-bursting” late in the brewing process and this gives Halcyon its palate of tropical fruit flavors & aromas with a bright and refreshing taste like the best days of summer.

This is really yummy. That's all I've got to say. Been turning the heads of some "I don't like wheat beer" types around here. A bit bolder, hoppier, brighter, and more complex than Oberon. Sweet, bitter, a touch sour, and crazily thirst quenching. Like this one lots. Good work, Tallgrass, I remain a fan of your work!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Left Hand Stranger Pale Ale

Once upon a time, I was trying out some new beers from a new brewery. This was about six years ago, and if you're lucky you've never heard of them, if you're luckier, you never tried them. I was not as lucky. A salesman came to me, and brought me bottles, filled from a pitcher from the tap, with a single letter Sharpie-d on the cap. B for Brown, A for Amber, and P for Pale Ale. All German styles, he told me, that's what they do, and they're the only ones in the region who do it. No, no, and no. The start-up brewery in Wisconsin, named for a nickname for the state only Minnesotans use, owned by a Minnesotan, they are hardly the only German style brewery anywhere around. (August Schell? Sprecher? Capital?) And those are not German styles. And the salesman was ignorant, and the beers were bad. Seriously bad. Infected. A friend (we now know him as FarmerDave) had it straight from the fermenter and called it infected. I told the distributor, and he lamented this, said he'd try to get better samples out to me.
A new salesman arrived, apologized for the bad samples of the old, now fired salesman, blamed the infection on him, somehow. He brought me more bottles like the others, and I asked if they were also filled from a pitcher. Of course, that's the only way they could do it. (No....) He took a phone call, and I opened the one labeled P. I winced. I shuddered. Bad. Awful. Infected.
See, it's just like the others, it's not good, it's not what a pale ale should be, I told him. His response to this is for the ages. "See, that's just the thing, we're not doing it like everyone else, we're doing our own thing." He then took a sip for himself, and winced. "It just takes some getting used to."
To the novice craft beer drinker, hoppy beer drinker, to the one weaned on a lack of flavor, yes, maybe, then it takes getting used to. But the pale ale style, American or English, is the gateway to other styles. Once you make it in, and can get over that threshold of hops, and start to crave it every time you drink, then you are in, you're done, you've made the scene and you're not going back.
The problem with this salesman was that he didn't know how awful the beer was, and that horrible taste was not something you're supposed to get used to. The pale ale style isn't a trial, it's supposed to be sessionable and easy-drinking, smooth, flavorful, hoppy, but not a chore to choke down. You're not supposed to struggle in the least with this one. You're supposed to pull on it, drain it and grab another, eventually, while doing what you're doing.

But, it's never intended to be a stranger. It's supposed to be a friend.

Left Hand used to have a beer called Jackman's Pale Ale. I didn't think much of it, when I first reviewed it back in 2003...
Color is pale gold to copper, nice sudsy head. Aroma full of citrus, with a touch of honey. Very smooth on the palate, with just a drizzle of hops playing lightly on the tongue. Practically no bitterness, though, and a hearty malt presence. This one seems to match this mild style called American pale ale, which is an easy try for a milder beer drinker. Doesn't appeal to me much, though. Kind of blase.
I gave it a C+. Not too thrilled by it.
Now, they have a new APA called Stranger. The artwork on the packaging featured a silhouette of a stranger person entering a bar full of revelling friends, or so it seems. Probably based on photos of Left Hand fans. And here's the copy on the label/carrier: "Friend or foe? Sane or senseless? Harmless or harmful? Sometimes it takes awhile to get to know a stranger. Initial impressions are not always reality , so you must delve deeper. Beyond the initial floral hop aromas, malt sweetness is revealed, yet with a spicy undertone that exposes a very rye sense of humor. Take you time to get to know the stranger. It's strangely satisfying. Sometimes you're not in the mood for what everyone else is having."

Here's what odd about that: The stranger IS the pale ale? It IS the odd thing you need to get to know? It's what no one else is having? If the stranger is that silhouette, walking into that bar...those people are already drinking him! That crowd knows a pale ale, there are no hidden secrets in Cascade hops that a craft beer crowd has yet to discover! The American pale ale is not something foreign and weird that we have got to "get used to." ...unless that copy is meant for macro drinkers, who are poised to take that step into the not-so-wild, pale yonder. Maybe for them, it is a stranger. Or, a friend you haven't met.

Enough of that, here's what I had to say about it:

"Lightly cloudy, pale orange.apricot appearance. Beautiful snowy white head holds it's growing.

Lightly hoppy nose, some fruity esters, delicate dance between bitter and sweet.

Taste: hoppy bitter punch starts it off, then sweetness glides in, integrates, and it all becomes mellow. Glides down the gullet with no effort at all. Pale ales are supposed to be easy drinkers, and this one qualifies handily. Hop bitterness continues to play along the palate, then bids adieu without a trace. Flavors of citrus and stone fruit keep it happy in the mouth, the finish is medium and sweet, the body is lean and likable.

Not terribly interesting, but, damn, if you can't push it past your lips with the greatest of ease. And that's exactly what you want in a pale ale, isn't it?"

So, there you have it. Oddly, I didn't detect the rye malt hinted at in the copy, which should set it apart from typical APAs.

I'm making too big of a deal out of this copy, and illustration, which is certainly not meant for a craft beer crowd. "Strangely satisfying.?" What's strange about a refreshing, hoppy pale ale? Oh, well, maybe if you have to "get used to it."

That brewery, by the way? I told the salesman about the professional brewer who detected signs of infection, and his response was, "we're selling it, no one else complains, why should we change it when it's working?"

They were gone in a matter of months.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Westmalle Dubbel

First got a hold of a bottle of this in January, 2004. Here's what I said then:

An eagerly anticipated sampling, a bottle set aside for many months to mark a special occasion...

Appearance: huge froth, to start, foamed everywhere, even over the keyboard, and 'scuse me while I mop up for a sec, will you, please?

Okay, the beer's calmed down a bit, and now we can judge it more suitably, perhaps...gorgeous garnet hue, nearly violet, deep ruby may be more like it, with a generous layer of foam atop, thick, plentiful, creamy, soupy, a dream to watch dwindle down...

Aroma: like sticking one's face deep down in a nest of ripe late-harvest fruits, and a bit from the vegetable side, too...a cornucopia in the nose, rich in cherries, and berries, grapes, and dates, and more that merely waits in the wings behind these major players...a deep, heady aroma, uplifting, otherwordly, luxurious! Damn, but it's well past time to drink, isn't it?

Taste: smooth, mellow, but oh, so much flavor, too, too much going on, too, too delicious, and I don't know where to start, actually, ...a rush of warmth, earthy fruitiness, plump and ripe and ever at home in the mouth. Mouthfeel? To capacity! Spices swim in, too, and envelope the senses, and dart about and add to the general sense of well-being felt everywhere that this brew touches. Another good gulp and I feel it again, this warm, spicy, earthy, deep, magical, tasty, fruity, magnificent....oh-my-goodness, sort of feeling...the malt is a wonderful buttress, and flavor-leader, too, but the hops, are a major contributor,as well, leading me to say, "screw it all, this is a perfectly integrated blend of all that's great in beer-land, isn't it?"

I have more to drink from this bottle, too, and could more, possibly, be gleaned from the last remaining drops that may color my perceptions before this sampling is done? Did I leave out minor notes of nuts and cocoa and coffee, just a stitch? But the point's made already, that this is among a rare subset of sublimity, and is so gorgeous that one is better off encountering it on rare occasions to make the meeting more special every time, I says.

Cheers to monks at Westmalle for creating this masterpiece!

It's been a local option for many years now, and I always have bottles at the Nile. One of my all-time favorites.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Full Sail Hop Pursuit

Full Sail Hop Pursuit, 22 Fluid Ounces of Extra Pale Ale, Brewmaster Reserve 2011. "A crisp blonde ale with a medium malt body. The malts are chased by a ton of hop flavor and a zing of bitterness. IBU 55." 1 pint, 6 fluid ounces, 6% by Vol. Alc.

Clear, coppery appearance, huge, puffy, cloudy-white head. Looks lovely.

Aroma: Grassy hops, citrusy below. Apples and oranges, at play. I'm getting a mix of American and English-style ingredients. Grassy, floral, fruity. Nice, nice.

Taste: it's an EPA, grassy, earthy hops, adequate malt, supreme consumability. Hop bitterness starts strong, fades quick, drinking is easy. Malt, hops, balance, tasty, mmm. That's all there is to say.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

From the bottleneck label: Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, East india Pale Ale is our version of the sturdy ale made by the British brewer George Hodgson in the 1820's to survive the voyage rom London around the Cape of Good Hope to Calcutta. East India Pale Ale is brewed from English malt and hops and will taste best before the freshness date indicated, …blah, blah, blah….

I wrote the following in November, 2003:

Appearance: pale orange in color, highly carbonated, blessed with a huge, though swiftly settling, white head.
Aroma: fresh and fruity (peach, apricot, orange)
Taste: treacly sweet, and overly citric at first, and then, just too sweet, and bland. Rather thin-bodied, surprisingly so, with a lackluster finish, Hell, a lackluster everything. For an IPA, this possessed no POP, no POW, no ZING!, no nothing, it just sat and swam in the mouth, not offering further enticements from flavor, just more of the same bloated sugary droppings. A remarkably meager IPA, this shouldn't even be granted that name, it's a weak, pale, not-even-nearly hoppy offering. Hops have nothing to do here, and the flavor gets sickeningly sweet later on... I keep thinking "I'm getting the pale in this ale, but where's the India??" Eh, f'geddaboudit!!
My least favorite Brooklyn beer to date, and I'm saddened, for I was sure that they could do an IPA right. Oh, well...
I couldn't disagree with my 8-years-younger self more. Just had a bottle, and whatever failings I found then are not in this one. Fresh, vibrant, zesty, hoppy, and excellent consumability.
I think it's time for a re-review. For the time being, here's what I thought, ...perhaps it was tweaked a bit, or did I get an old bottle, back then?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA

Freshly tapped, enjoying this hoppy goodness, enduring it's 13.6% alcohol by volume, looking back on the notes I wrote in June or 2009:

Clouded amber coloring, healthy serving of creamy white froth atop.

Pithy citrus (lemon, lime, tangerine) and pine greets the nose, ripe and raw...

Over the lips and onto the tongue, sublime deliciousness...coats the tongue with powerful hop potency and lush malt flavor. Caramel character keep time with bitter and fruit. Slightly brusque in it's approach, a blast on the palate that begins to fade, but roars back with each subsequent sip.

Fairly full-bodied, beefed up with hops, but not skinny in the malt department, either. Long, lush, lovely finish. Plump, and yum.

Gets a little burnished and brandy-like, showing the full force of the ...13.6%?!?!?!?
but yum!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Zywiec Porter

I recently added this one to the bottled list at the Nile. Looked at my published review on BA, and it seems I first took notes back in October, 2003, almost eight years ago. I seems like I liked it, and I still do, dang it. An overlooked gem from Poland, a Baltic Porter in the true tradition, at a massive 9.5% ABV.

Dark as possible, ith a huge head, rich, cocoa-hued and creamy.

Aroma: intense, amazing, dark, twisted, dripping with espresso tinges, thick and redolent with flavors of molasses, dark rum, and hints of anise. This declares itself immediately, and as a dedicated fan of Baltic porter, I'm ready for some fun, here! I had to sit with this smell some, and put off the tasting while I revelled in it!

Taste, deep, heavy, dark, but still creamy and fully palatable. Fierce flavor, rich and cavernous, with a long, lasting finish. A bit soft in places, but never does it falter. Alcohol is felt prdigiously, too, at hefty 9.1% (that's what the label of this one says), and is enjoyed! Dark and bitter, nearly motor-oily in viscosity, with lush malt, toasty, roasty, and ever-so-good.
On my first sampling, this automatically goes to the top, to the utmost peak of the Porter Hall of Fame.

This was not the first beer of my evening, but it was the last! I shuffled off to Slumberland, and left some beer in the glass. Next morning, that aroma was still there, and I couldn't bear to pour the remnants out, even felt tempted to toss it in my coffee!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

Why not take this time to check out the non-barrel-aged Gonzo? Great idea! Here's what I thought of it back in July, 2005:

Gonzo sits in the glass a solid black, a rueful raiment, pitch perfect for a porter, with a thick cake of cocoa-toned froth floating atop.

Bittersweet and meaty in the nose, chocolate and coffee, blended with cinnamon and cumin, gentle, though, more suggestive than forthright, pleasant, if not profound.

Slides gamely onto the palate, fully in force, playing all the parts of a porter. Full-bodied, darkly flavorful, silky and even sophisticated. A sleek alcoholic edge oozes through in the middle, feels more like a dark, syrupy liqeuer now.
And I like it!

A slow drinker brew, best kept for cold nights, or nightcaps...get cozy with this brew in a snifter, and pull out the good doctor's works and say good night to that batshit bastard genius, one of the last American rebels, through and through.

*this bottle was reviewed very warm, a bottle at room temperature drunk just after returning from the store, where it was stacked on the floor....on a hot, hot, hot July day...I'll try it again in different conditions, colder, perhaps...

Flying Dog Wild Dog Barrel-aged Gonzo Imperial Porter

A funny thing keeps happening. When I first ordered a keg of Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter for the Nile, I didn't notice a couple letters written in marker on the paper label around the center of the keg. "BA", it read. For...barrel-aged? I tapped to be sure, and wouldn't you know, that was whiskey in there! All of the kegs at the distributor were the same, although we paid a fairly small amount for what was supposed to be regular Gonzo Imperial Porter. Next thing you know, they're selling them at about $40 more a keg.
And last week, I ordered more Gonzo bottles. Did you want the Barrel-aged, or regular, I was asked. Regular. The case arrives, we're invoiced for regular, and the bottles are all Wild Dog 12 ounces, which I didn't even know existed. Okay, I'll take it. And enjoy it.
And so, here's my initial review, from a big ol' bomber, back in November, 2007:

Wild Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

Hmmm...this is a trip.

Solid black, with a cherry-tan head...yeah, it's light brown, but only as it's a subdued red...most unusual, and most attractive. Beautiful.

Poured into a snifter glass, a deep aroma wafts out, rich, lovely rustic whiskey notes...vast and gorgeous. There's the oak and the cavernous malt, ruby tinges, cherry notes, cabernet, and more...I'm loving this.

Taste: mmmm, ....ahhh...whoooaaa...words, though, words I what we need, so...
damn! This slays me. Genius. Thick, solid porter absolutely awash in ...this upliftingly wonderfulness...the label says it was aged in oak whiskey barrels, but I swear it tastes like it was blended with wine.

One drawback is that it seems to lose some of the porter-y character, and the oak flavors mask all that...but, I sure do like it.
Let's just say I'm tickled...yummy. Doesn't feel like 9.5%...really...not much...

you know, what? I like it, I don't care what you think...this is damned good. Wicked good. Gonzo good. Yup.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The last of the beer journal cover collages

When you move for the first time in eleven years, you unearth many lost things. Finally, the last of the beer notebooks have revealed themselves. These were never filled out, as I'd given up the pen and paper approach halfway in. The bottom two were not done by me, actually, but by nephew Trevor, who, if I remember correctly, gave me a ride to the airport for a beer vacation to Southern California, back in 2004. I gave him the label, the glue, and the notebook, and told him to go to town, while I finished packing. Perhaps it demonstrates why he's a professional graphic designer, and I'm not.
The other one contains one of the most bizarro labels I've ever seen, the one for Northampton Pale Ale. Look at that one. Some sort of bandito or another with a beer mug finds a sheep among, or perhaps masquerading as, the foam. What the hell? If anyone can find greater meaning, or any kind, for that matter, in this image, please let me know in the comments!

Boulder Mojo IPA

Here's a classic IPA from Colorado that I first sampled from a bottle back in February of 2004. Here are those notes:
Cool, somewhat hazy golden color, with a bone-white head, attractive, big at first, though ultimately short-lived.

Aroma: oh, that's the stuff, like a deep breath in the heart of a primal forest, a crazy mess of spikey, sprucey, herbal hoppitude. Feels like it's dry-hopped. Piney, citrusy.

Continues on the tastebuds, bitter, yet sweetish and slightly fruity.

A bit light in body, a tad lacking in the malt department...it's all over, under and thoroughly about the hops (wish I could which ones). Taste never flags or sags, though that's for sure, if you want hops playing everwhere on your palate, though every inch your mouth, and ushering forth a case of the hop burps, Mojo is here for you.
Feels thicker on the mouth further in, sweeter, candyish.

Quite an interesting approach, bitter, yeah, but not too much, and still drinkable. Nice change of pace, though I think I like Hazed and Infused better.
That comment remains odd, since I rarely purchase any Hazed and Infused, anymore. But it's not 2004 anymore, is it? There's a whole lot of other beers out there. I did this one on tap for a while some time after this review, and it was very popular. I took it off because sales of Bell's Two Hearted Ale were taking a nose-dive in comparison. Back when I could only get so many people to try the hoppy stuff. Ah, those bygone days of yesteryear...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summit 25th Anniversary Ale

Silver Anniversary Ale, 25 years of excellence. "Another Summit beer worth celebrating, Cheers to 25 years!"

Clear, and amber-toned, slim whitish head. bubbles rise briskly to the top.

Fruity, bitter hops climb up into the nose, lemon, orange peel, mango, grapefruit. Very nice.

Taste: juicy and bitter all at once, happily at play in the mouth. Lively, tingly hop action all over the palate. Those notes from aroma recur on the tongue. Drinks down deliciously, sleek and quaffable, with hops to spare. An American Pale Ale to beat them all, if you're not into thinking it an IPA.

A hopped-up version of the Extra Pale Ale, I'm guessing they stuck to the basic recipe, and substituted some of the hops and malt. You certainly get more of an American pale ale feel in this, and none of the English character in the traditional EPA.

(Extra Pale Ale, hops: Horizon, Fuggle, Cascade. Silver: Citra, Centennial, Cascade, dry-hopped with all three. A-ha! There is a difference! EPA, malt: 2-row Pale, Caramel, Silver: 2-row Harrington, Crystal 60, 45 IBU, EPA, 80 IBU, Silver. ABV, EPA: 4.2%, Silver, 6.5%...there really are few similarities.

I've heard a lot of praise for this one, heard it called their best beer ever, they should make this year round, it should replace the EPA entirely, it should replace the IPA, etc., etc., etc. All great ideas, though I doubt they'll happen.

In my humble opinion, it is one of many signs, with the unchained series, that Summit is finally catching up with the more progressive factions of the craft beer world. One more bottle left in my 6-pack, and I'm going to take it out now, after this glass is done. I know for a fact that I'll be back.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

De Ranke XX Bitter

I bought a bottle of this recently, thinking, "man, it's been a while!" Took notes on it, thinking I ought to, and lo, and behold, it seems I did so 2 1/2 years ago. I'm going to combine them, just for fun, here goes....

Why has it taken me so long to get to this one?

11.2 oz bottle. Into a Maredsous tulip glass. (St. Bernardus goblet.)

de Ranke XX Bitter, Belgian Golden Ale, "The Hoppiest Beer of Belgium"
Product of Brewery De Ranke, Wevelgem, Belgium.

This one is a gusher, it spilled all over the counter, and I'm sure I handled it well.

Appearance: Gargantuan froth, pillowy and lacy, lovely ivory rivulets. Clouded pale amber below.
Cloudy, pale amber color, huge head, bone white and pillowy, lace leaving.

Gorgeous aroma, smacking of spice and citrus, some clove and cardamom, white pepper...bright, bitter lemon and orange. Floral and fruity, and lovely. Distinctive Belgian funky sweet and sour yeast flavor is on top, with some peppery spice in there. Thoroughly authentic Belgian flavor. Plenty of crazy extras in the foam, utterly harmless, of course.

Zest continues once it jumps on the tongue. Big spice and citric twang on board the palate, a pleasantly bitter smack to the senses. Fades slowly, gently, goes to the back, while lingering long.
Flavor is sublime. Marvelous. Magnificent. Earthy, rustic, ragged, and everything good. Citric flavors, spicy goodness, bready, yeasty,

Medium body, long finish, plump with character.The hops and the zestiness never really quit. Hangs on all over the mouth. Really rewarding, and quite refreshing. yes, it's "the hoppiest Belgian"…then, but it brings the bitter in the best of all possible ways. This is not the American palate-killer, this is just a delight. It's, in a word, yummy.

Nothing quite like this one. Except for all the others that have come along since.
But this here's the original.

Mmm, mmmm…

Brooklyn Summer Ale

Brooklyn Summer Ale, "a summer refresher with difference. The difference comes from the malt, 100% two-row barley, prized for superior taste. Our summer ale is gold in color, with a soft, bready flavor, snappy clean bitterness and bright hop aroma. ….and will taste best before freshness date indicated. Please write or visit the brewery, …" blah, blah, blah. Is it just me, or does this sound like it was written by a Eastern European who maybe learned English in Taiwan?

On to the beer…

Clear, if cloudy, golden appearance, slim, soon gone, nondescript head.

Aroma: a little grain, a bit more fruit…plenty from both malt and hops going on here, but I'm still perplexed as to what style it's supposed to be. Maybe none?
A bit of a wheat and spice feel here…is it a witbier? (No, not at all.) Very pretty. Very floral.

Taste: hops bite at first, a pleasant nip, then fruit floods in, some spice. Snappy clean bitterness, yeah, they called that one. Very smooth, very mellow. Lean malt, yep, "bready", and cleanly hoppy, all those things promised, as well as high censurability. Drinking-down-ability is highly ranked, as well.

Sharp, slightly sweet, lightly bitter, …fairly easy-going, downable, sessional. …and, for me, ultimately forgettable. But, it's a beer, and you can drink it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summit Unchained No. 7: Honeymoon Saison

Summit Honeymoon Saison, Unchained No. 7

Lightly clouded, golden colored, slim, soon gone head.

Mild aromatics, clean, sweet, malty…not much else to report.

Taste: enters the palate politely, cleanly, with a malty edge, honey sweetness slowly, but surely entering in. Grainy mouthfeel, not as much from citrus and spice.

I'm going to do something unkind. I've just poured a Saison Dupont, and will compare the two. …hmmm, …mmmm,….ha. huh. oh.

Fuller malty mouthfeel than we require...

This Unchained offering simply lacks crispness and character. There's nothing terribly wrong with it, except for everything.
What can I say, it drinks down easily, it's inoffensive, it has taste and flavor, but does not in any way deliver what a saison should, honey or no honey, beyond those already declared attributes.
It's "a beer", but any similarities to a true saison are faded in the distance. Needs to be both lighter and brighter, basically. The only thing I can really say about this is, "it's beer and you can drink it."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey IPA

These notes were taken in July, 2009, on tap at the Blue Nile. Recently enjoying in bottled form at home.

Semi-clear, amber-y/coppery color, nearing crimson...nice, lush, creamy off-whitish head.

Soft aromatics, light citrus esters, lemon/lime/orange...not too bitter, not too sweet.

Drinking it: a bigger flash of fruit boards the palate, a small flash of bitterness, but overall refreshing and juicy...very tasty.
Zap! The bitter hops bite for a second, then fall back, but hop flavor really hangs in for the long haul. Bitterness doesn't last, flavor does. Delicious, really. Very bright, and beautiful. An IPA I can heartily recommend to people who aren't into punishment.

Mouthfeel is good, for a regular, not Imperial/Double IPA...maybe even great, compared to an average IPA.

The fine folks at Left Hand made the mistake of giving this very nice IPA a name that suggests a bigger beer than this is.... it conjures up images of something big, and delivers instead something good and tasty.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale

Looking back to October of 2004, for the first time I wrote about this one. Here's how it went down:

Dark crimson coloration, thick'n'rich'n'cloudy, under a perfunctory whitish head.
Aroma: a big hit of juicy fruit, deep, dark ones, grapes and berries and cherries and more, a rich elixir..definitely got the barleywine thing going on, zesty, spicy, loaded with flavor...'bout time I taste, eh?
Big, chewy, grabbiness on the palate, full and thick, powerful, and omnipresent, digs in and in, climbs and clambers about the senses, not trying to dominate, but doing it anyway, through virtue of the fullness of flavor...zing, zing, zing, again, I sing, this is deliciousness pressed into service and doing double-time, brothers,...Lordy, it's loveliness, indeed, thick and full on the palate, wow, rich and tasty, sets the senses a'spin, leaves the soul reeling...mine is, I luxuriate in the pleasures of this brew, and they are aplenty!
I'm drooling of the day I can visit San Diego and try it fresh on-tap, maybe other versions, the Oak-Aged, as well?
As it is, this is a supreme brew, a just king, who wisely judges the imbibers from his throne...if thou art not worthy, tarry not 'round these vessels, seek a softer, sadder brew for you..let only those who can claim worthiness hoist a chalice of this finest ale!
Got to be one of America's best barleywines, bar none!!!
I could rant on some more, for the bottle is not yet finished, but let it be known, that this ale has powers over me, bewitches and bewilders, and all in the best sense, for I leave the normal earthly realm to visit sublimer planes, all courtesy of this bottle!
Good Lordy-Lou!
I am sent, in the most sensational way, lifted, aloft, delivered, dropped beyond the heavens into a metaphysical stratosphere beyond human reckoning...
Yes, I proclaim it "good"....and will merely melt and luxuriate at the rest of the consumption of this rare delicacy...I envy you Cali types who can snort this back with the ease of an ordinary day....
again...guess I liked it, huh? Still do, of course, now that I can "snort it back with ease"...

Samichlaus Helles

My first review in the new apartment, though I'm still not 100% moved in. Lacking furniture of any kind, these notes were typed into the ol' MacBook Pro resting on my lap, while I sat on a box of books, glass of beer sitting solidly on the floor.

Samischlaus helles. Malt liquor, 11.2 fl. oz., 14 % fl. oz., "the world's most extraordinary beverage." We can't say "beer" anymore apparently. Castle Brewery Eggenberg. Product of Austria, bottled in 2010.

Clear and amber in color. Head begins, but quits quickly.

Aroma: rich malt, and booze in that order. Sweet, sweet, with toffee, caramel, vanilla, rum, beautiful and powerful.

Taste: Samischlaus Helles misses the dark complexities of Samischlaus proper, but it's really not lacking in flavor whatsoever. Sweet malty flavor is king. All those tastes in the nose, especially caramel and vanilla rise up to the top and tickle the tastebuds. Damnably delightful. Makes me reach for more, again, and again. But the expense, and the big booze factor makes seasoning a no-no.

A lovely drink, though, this, and a great candidate for aging, toasting, celebrating, makes whoop-de-doo, whatever you feel like, as long as the intention is honorable.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam

Jolly Pumpkin Artisanal Ale Weizen Bam, Farmhouse Wheat Beer, Bottle Conditioned Ale Aged in Oak Barrels.
"The fourth in our Bam Farmhouse series, and perhaps our most adventurous; a traditional farmhouse style heft weizen.
Weizen Bam seamlessly blends traditional German style heft wizen yeast with our local wild and sour cultures, for a menage of the most flavorful sort.
Ruddy golden, with yeast driven ester of banana, spicy clove, and nutmeg all wrapped up with a generous dose of good-natured rapscallion delight. Cheers and mahalo plenty!"
Batch 817, bottled 6-16-2011

My favorite kind of delight is rapscallion, what a coincidence!

Completely cloud, golden liquid, smallish head, stays as a tight ivory ring, before utterly departing.

Aroma: lemon and straw, orange and light spices, sharp and citric, before banana comes in at last. Very lightly, as well as with the promised clove.

Taste: sour, sharp, and citric, plenty of bite in this first sip. Second sip, more fierce tartness, slowly mellowing. Sour never stops, and it never really resembles a German wizen, no matter what. No, I get it now, this is not supposed to be a hefe weizen, but more of a Berliner weiss. The funky wild yeast strains they employ definitely take it in a different way. The sourness never quits in this, which is definitely different from a traditional hefe weizen.

Medium body, long, sour and spicy finish, and very full in flavor. Dangitty tangitty, it's tasty as can be. That's my new catchphrase, use it while it's fresh.

Van Honsebrouck Bacchus Flanders Red

Van honsebrouck Bacchus, Castle Brewery, no info whatsoever beyond, "Belgian ale".
Bottled on: 090414. What, is this a time traveling bottle of beer?

Cloudy and brownish red. Half inch of soft brown foam above.

Aroma: sour cherries off the bat, a little twist of tart, matched with sweet malt. Nice, soft sourness. Lovely stuff.

Taste: bracingly sour and puckering at first, sweet and sour cherries, lush and luscious. Rather mild, while still sophisticated. Sweetness rises, and is matched by the minor sour notes.

This one won't win accolades from the soreheads among the beer geek crowd, but it'll hit a sweet note with a wider public.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Delirium Tremens

Delirium Tremens. Best Beer in the World? Or, most overhyped, over-rated, over-marketed beer in the world? And, can it all be due to one person, who hasn't written a word about beer since the volume that Brouwerij Huyghe took their accolades from? Great questions, let's try to answer them.

I was very impressionable when I was new to beer, that much I can admit to. Can't tell you exactly what the first Belgian beer I ever had was, it might have been Duvel, maybe something from Sterkens, like St. Sebastiaan, which was easy to find around here. Had some lambics. Don't remember at all how I found out about them, or why I tried them out, but I'm sure I had some Belgians before I ever had a D.T. Now, the question is this: did I have one before reading Stuart A. Kallen's book, or after? My memory seems to tell me that it was introduced to the local market sometime after his book appeared in my hands. Did his choice of D.T. as #1 beer in the world influence my feelings early on?

Let's take a minute to go back and look at his book. In 1997, "The 50 Greatest Beers in the World, An expert's ranking of the Best", by Stuart A. Kallen, author of "Beer Here" appeared at the bookstore I worked at, Shinder's, downtown, published by Citadel Press. Who is this expert, besides the author of "Beer Here"? The back cover tells us this: "When (SAK) is not brewing or drinking beer, or reading or writing about it, he is either writing books for children (he has written more than seventy) or planning to open his own microbrewery. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota."

The last part has always been curious. If he lives in my hometown, why have I never seen him, met him, or heard of him locally? That mystery is dispelled by a recent google search, the first hit of which went to Scholastic.com, which tells us, "Kallen is the author of more than 150 nonfiction books for children and young adults. He has written extensively about Native Americans and American history. In addition, he has written award-winning children's videos and television scripts. In his spare time, Kallen is a singer/songwriter/guitarist." Also it informs us that his home now is San Diego, California.
So, the beer expert fled Minnesota for one of the major beer havens in America, San Diego, but has abandoned his microbrewery plans in favor of music, at least before the people who would investigate him at Scholastic.com. The first page at Amazon.com relating to his oeuvre lists books for young readers on animals, crop circles, pyramids, Renaissance art, American history, as well as "the Complete Idiot's Guide to Beer." If you continue looking through his catalog, you'll see he has written on almost every topic for young readers and the only works he's written for adults has been about beer, though nothing on this topic in 14 years. His name has never come up in all my reading of books and magazines and websites through all that time, and yet this one choice made in this one book has led this one beer to market itself as "Best Beer in the World" ever since.

One thing stands out about this, and that is that Kallen did in that book something no other writer or editor has ever done. Noone has ever declared "the best" and done a numerical ranking of the world's classics. Michael Jackson had his "Great Beer Guide", which lists 500 great beers, but they are not ranked in order of best, listed alphabetically instead, and there is no notion that these are the "greatest." Instead it's "hey, here's 500 great ones, check them out, they're good." Another volume in my beer collection is "1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die", which came out early last year. There's obvious choices, and surprising, obscure ones, but nowhere do they say "this is the best, this is third best, this is number 13," etcetera. In fact they include Budweiser, making clear that it's not "the best" or even among the 1001 possible best beers, but claiming that if you pretend to know beer, it's clear you need to know Budweiser, at least to taste it.

So, Kallen's book did something noone's done before, or since, and for good reason. The answer to "what's the best beer in the world?" is inherently subjective. It's opinion based on taste. Some only like light beers, some only rank dark, rich ones highest, some prefer high alcohol brews, some only feel hoppy ales are worthy of their consideration. Personally, I try not to answer the question, because my favorite changes so often, and my personal feelings from one minute to the next may mean nothing to the one asking me. Sour beers are great, as are hoppy ones, but there's also deep, mystical Belgian trappist lovelies, and rich, cavernous imperial stouts. Whenever I give an answer to the question, I'm just throwing darts, in order to end the inquiry. Three years ago, Star Tribune writer Tom Horgen asked for my 5 favorites, among the beers I serve at the Nile. He put me on the spot, but I threw them out quickly, and he put them in print. They were: Bell's Expedition, Surly Furious, St. Bernardus Abbot 12, Lion Stout, and Westmalle Dubbel. And then he asked me to describe them. I did my best. This led to people coming in after the article appeared asking for my favorite, or "that $7 beer I like" (???).

So Mr. Kallen makes up his mind and throws his personal dart at Deliirum, stating, in the first line: "I could have made my life easier. I didn't have to name Delirium Tremens as my number one favorite beer. If I simply mentioned a beer everyone has heard of, without the name of a drinker's disease, I would get more peace. But that's not what this is all about."

I'm not sure what little peace Kallen got, if they were any controversy at all after his book rolled off the presses, but there has certainly been argument. The title of the book leaves off the important phrase, "In My Opinion". Well, it's an expert's ranking, right. But, what makes him an expert? He's read, he's drunk, he's written. So have I , but I've never called myself an expert. I have a feeling the editors chose those phrases. You can't sell a book like this without claiming the author is an expert, otherwise who's going to care?

It is an entertaining, and informative book. Kallen knows how to make funny, the words flow, the pages turn. It's full of history, technical information, real brewing know-how. You can't read this book, without being more interested in the subject, and more informed about it. And, despite the rankings, you can't quarrel about the beers included, ...unless you forget it was written in 1997. There are many beers in these 50 that either don't exist anymore, or have been eclipsed by better ones that have come along. Here's the top ten: Murphy's Irish Stout, Lindeman's Kriek, Schneider Aventinus, Samuel Smith Old Taddy Porter, Chapeau Gueze, Caledonian Organic Pale Ale, Duvel, Rogue Shakespeare Stout, Kulmbacher Reichelbrau Eisbock, and finally Delirium Tremens. Do I agree with this list? Of course not, it's only one "expert's list", from 14 years ago, it's not definitive, it's not binding. There are beers I like on that list, but not sure if they'd be one my list, today. Which is why I dodge the question as much as I can.

But Kallen didn't, and Brouwerij Huyghe went with it. The coasters, and the cases both are adorned with his description of the brew. All of the signage that promotes the beer have the phrase "Elected as Best Beer in the World" The Belgians don't understand the nuances of the English language, perhaps, and don't understand that "elected" and "selected" are not the same. One man's opinion is not an election. One person voting does not make you the world's greatest. And yet, who can blame them for promoting themselves after such an honor. I visited a Rogue Alehouse in Portland, Oregon, in 2002, and saw a poster proclaimed that Shakespeare Stout was considered "#1 Stout in the World", due to it's ranking in Kallen's book. They didn't win a juried competition, it was just one guy, who dabbled in beer over a decade ago, and appears to have given it up. (Sorry, but Mr. Kallen's name does not come up anywhere else regarding beer, after those volumes were published.)

I had the beer sometime after reading his opinion, and was swayed. I had bottle after bottle, and when time came for me to pick my first beer list, I chose D.T., as well as Duvel and De Troch banana lambic (give me a break, it's an African restaurant, here) among the first Belgian beers I stocked. Once I knew kegs were available, D.T., along with Maredsous, was one of the first Belgians I ever put on tap. In January, 2003, I posted the following review on BeerAdvocate.com:

I've written about this from a bottle and now I've had the privilige to enjoy this beautiful brew on draft. Let me say that the sensation only multiplies!

Color is pure spun gold, head is huge, full, blooming and white.

An utterly unearthly aroma greets you, fresh, sea-foamy, citrus, spice, straw, sugar, a mellifluous melange of fruit and spice!

The true thrill is in the taste, that spark on the tongue! Alcohol comes in soon, warming you up for the next sensation, a hurricane of fruitiness: peaches, apricots, pears, melon, and more. The most apt summation I've ever conceived for this fine brew is "a pale ale crossed with champagne." To test that theory, I blended draft DT with champagne on New Year's Eve, and let me tell you I'm still coming down off that high!

Head remains, as well as sweet, honeyish notes, and pure liquid sunshine, with the alcoholic strength finally giving a full kick at the end. Watch out with this lovely charmer, or you'll start to see those little pink elephants that dance around the bottles and glasses.

Remarkable, and utterly unique. Five stars I stand proudly behind!

So, for more than eight years, that 5-star review has stood, and I've let it stand as part of my warts and all policy, but I've changed my mind. If it's not really a perfect beer, just a very good one with persuasive marketing (people love that name, love the cute pink elephants, and really love to steal the glasses!). why should I be on record calling it "the best." The marketing leads people reading the signs to ask me over and over again, "is it really the best?" And the only answer to that "try it, what do you think?"
It's all opinion. It's all up to you.
And besides, I'm afraid, internet hype or no internet hype, I'm leaning on Westveletern 12 as best, But I don't think Mr. Kallen had one in 1997, and maybe his life would have been made harder by declaring as #1 a beer from a monastery that wants no publicity and will only sell to people who submit their license plate numbers in advance, before meeting an appointment at a drive-in window. (I have a bottle I've been hanging on to, so a Westveleteren entry is coming soon.)

So, 8 1/2 years after that gusher, here's my current tasting notes of Delirium Tremens, which I will post on BA, replacing the old one...probably bringing it down from all-5's:
Crystal-clear, golden-hued, majestic head, large, loud, and proud. Stunning.

Aroma: soft fruit, soft spices, light, airy, slightly sweet, and slightly dry, at once. Some orange, lemon, even pear, with a minor, spicy hop attack, but overall, all is mellow.

Now, to taste: Clean, soft, sumptuous, with bitter hops slowly sliding in, nice gritty texture on the palate. It's not altogether harmless and denuded. Not entirely. A tidy fruit blend, a neat blast of hops, with an exquisite pale malt base standing firmly underneath. Add to that a bouyous effervescence that thrills the palate. Tingly, tangly, tongue-ly, it's a terrific ride in the mouth, all before the alcohol becomes evident.

Despite the 9% ABV rushing to the fore, it's incredibly consumable, and urges another swallow, after the last. An ale, though very pilsner-like, but every bit Belgian, candy sugar is involved, and copious hops, and plenty of flavor.
It should be noted that the other Belgians in Kallen's volume are: Kwak (50), Witkap Pater Single (38) (have I had that?), Lindemans Gueze Cuvee Rene Lambic (36) Rodenbach (30), Liefmans Frambozenbier (22), Saison Dupont (18), Orval (16), Corsendonk Pale Ale (13), Chimay Cinq Cents (11), Lindemans Kriek (9), Chapeau Gueuze Lambic (6), Duvel (4) and D.T. (1).

The Belgian beer geek goes apoplectic from this list. What, no Fantome? No Cantilllon? No St. Bernardus, no Kasteel, no De Dolle, no De Proef., etc., etc. not to mention the many great brews that have come into prominence since then, but that's beside the point. There's not a single dubbel, tripel, or quad. He likes fruit lambics and sours, but come on, where's the range?
Anyway, it doesn't matter, it's all down to opinion, and why is one man's more important than anyone else's ?

Sunner Kolsch

Sunner Kolsch. Brewed according to the German Purity Law of 1516. "Brewed and bottled by Gebr. Sunner Gmbh & Co. KG, Cologne, Germany, Est. 1830."
Ale, i pint, 0.9 Fl Oz. Alc. 5.3% by Vol.
"Sunner is a kolsch style ale, which is unique to Koln, (Cologne) Germany. Like Champagne (Appellation Controllee) it is protected by law so that only ales brewed in that region can bear the name. It is an ale with a stylish character derived from extended layering. "…and, blah, blah, blah…let's open and drink up!

Wait, some of that blah, blah was important, It seems that Sunner is the oldest brewery in Koln, and has been family owned and operated for six generations. That's, like, serious stuff to know!

Okay, now, we drink up. In a Reissdorf Kolsch glass, because I have no Sunner kolsch glasses. Maybe some day…

Clear, light golden color, straw, under prodigious head, hearty, and lasting. Fierce carbonation.

Bit of a cereal note in the nose, more lager-y than ale-like. Not skunky, though I'm tempted to say that. But not what I'd expect from a top-notch kolsch. No, it's not giving it to me, sorry.

Taste: Light, clean, easy-going…I'm holding back on "crisp", because it's not, there's no hoppy snap, it's rather soft, and lacking any spark. Some fruit flavors slowly unfurl, some green apple, some pear, it's starting to taste a little more kolsch-like, from what I've known of other true German bottling.
Those, that I had years ago, that informed my understanding of the style, were delivered directly from Germany by a friend. Maybe some damage has been done here in the transport, all the way across the Atlantic.

There's some hoppy play on the palate, there's the delicate malt flavor, and, hey, yeah, I am liking this more. It's growing on me, getting to resemble more of what I wanted it to. Getting better and better, a little more hops, great texture, excellent consumability. Some of those delicate, lighter flavors are showing at last, though they were quiet in the nose. It all holds together quite well, plenty of flavor, though delicate, plenty of taste, plenty of drinking.

Tastes great, this one, and urges more consuming. Hail, hail, Sunner Kolsch. Not the greatest Kolsch, but one of the best.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Great Lakes Commodore Perry India Pale Ale

I took until just about a year ago, almost to the day, for me to try this one out. Drinking another six-pack now. Those notes follow:
Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

Mostly clear, copper-y, amber coloration, nice white head. Mmm, hmmm. Right on.

Aroma: soft, floral, lightly spicy, fruity. Gets bigger, more boisterous, bitterer as we go on. Really opens up, shows off the hops, very nice.

Taste: Fills the mouth with a barrage of bitterness. Very bright, oily, thick, and exuberant. Stands ground in the mouth, holds tight to the palate, hoppy flavor never quits. Some citric zest, grapefruit, etc. Pine needles aplenty. With a medium body, excellent tenacity of hoppy flavor, great malty balance below.

This is one of those IPAs under the radar, that should be mentioned whenever one speaks of great hoppy MidWestern IPAs. And I'm just trying it for the first time, myself. High sessionability, for those with high lupulin tolerance, we hopheads.

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...