Saturday, October 29, 2011

Malheur 10 Belgian Blonde Ale

Malheur 10 Ale. Brouwerij de Lantsheer.

Clouded golden coloration, vast head of snowy-white foam, drifts down slowly, leaving lace. 

Sweet and spicy aromatics, met with the trademark Belgian funk. Citrus zest aplenty. 

Taste: Creamy, yeasty mouthfeel. Lots of fruit and spice at play on the palate. Swims happily in the mouth, then leaves easy as a breeze. Slightest bitterness at work, matches the touch of honey in the taste. Alcohol rises at the end. In other words, " a warm finish."

Nice mix of fruit, spice, and booze. Mmm, hmmm.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Odell Double Pilsner

Had this for the first time in August of last year. Pouring it on tap now. Let's look at those notes, shall we?

Lightly hazed, bright golden hue, short white head.

Aroma: ripe fruit meets grain alcohol. Clean and smooth like a classy malt liquor. Lovely floral hops complement the malt and booze.

Taste: Big sweetness, massive malt, for a pilsner. Drinks down deliciously. Perfectly integrated and balanced. I'm not a big fan of this style, and find them too sweet often, too boozy, too much like a "craft malt liquor", as evidenced by my comments above. But this is good! Sleek and supple. Alcohol's actually well hidden. Until...

I should know better than doubt Odell. The best version of this double/ imperial pilsner style I've ever had.

Lightly hazed, bright golden hue, short white head.

Aroma: ripe fruit meets grain alcohol. Clean and smooth like a classy malt liquor. Lovely floral hops complement the malt and booze.

Taste: Big sweetness, massive malt, for a pilsner. Drinks down deliciously. Perfectly integrated and balanced. I'm not a big fan of this style, and find them too sweet often, too boozy, too much like a "craft malt liquor", as evidenced by my comments above. But this is good! Sleek and supple. Alcohol's actually well hidden. Until...

I should know better than doubt Odell. The best version of this double/ imperial pilsner style I've ever had. 

Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA

Had a few kegs of this recently. Damn great double IPA. But, once again, I kept it quick and easy. Here are the notes:

Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA
Clear, amber-coloration, bright and beautiful. Slim head, no bigger.
Aromatics: citrus and pine, the usual suspects. Plenty of that in abundance. 

Taste: Mmm, bracingly bitter, fiercely fruity, lush and malty. Pine and citrus with a bitter kick. Lasts long and delivers.

Deschutes Inversion IPA

I first tried this one in July of last year. Check these notes out:

Deschutes Inversion IPA.
Let's see if this turns me on my head.

Lightly hazed, coppery color, beige head, a little thin, but staying.

Aroma, softly bitter, citric fruit, subtle caramel tones, too. 

Tasting it: bitter blast at first, zesty hit of hops, leading right into caramel malt, setting the stage and holding it down. Great balance. Lovely little two-tone shuffle, pleasingly palatable. 

Oddly enough, I'm appreciating the intensity of the hoppy attack on the palate more as the bottle empties, and the brew occupies my insides. Malt gets sweeter, hops bitterer. At glass half full, the two parts of this brew stand out more, pronounce themselves clearly, burning bright among my senses. That means I like it. 

Long lasting bitter finish, medium bodied, and for the hop-head, quite on the drinkable side. 

This new-to-me Deschutes I've had since they've entered this market, and am I glad it's here. This one may be a staple of my summer imbibement.

Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale

I had this one for the first time in March, 2004. I still dig it, man, drinking from bottles at home. Here are those 7 years old + notes:

Lovely, hazy golden hue, with a flush, full chalky-white head, thick, but slowly diminishing. Aroma: citrus and straw, a quintessential pale ale smell here, fre. sh, flowery, herbal, even , full of hoppiness, without being too-much-so, i.e., edging into IPA territory, sweet and sour (citric) at once.
Taste: Ah! Let's say it again, loud and proud, AHHH!!!! Bold fruitiness first embodies this palate, peach and apricot, nectarine, orange, with a great hoppiness, too, but so much here is ably matched by the malt, and the sweetness adequately captures any bitter, so that there is no clash, no struggle, no fight for superiority here, no sword-clash for dominance, just a perfectly balanced pale ale. Taste is full and fruity throughout, dominated by peach and apricot, but ever-so delicious and delectably downable all the way. 
Definitely a rival for Sierra Nevada PA, certainly a contender along the same style, but, did I ever enjoy this sample! Mmmmm, mmm,,nmnnn! 

Harriet RauchFest

Here's one I've been sitting on for a month, because I didn't know what to do about the last sentence. Could I fix it, improve it, come up with a better way to put it?
It's an Oktoberfest, mixed with a rauch(smoked) beer.
This was a brewery-only release, no kegs going out to bars. I wrote this from a growler pour, shortly after the RauchFest event in late September:

Harriet Rauchfest 2011. Growler.
Clear, bronze/copper-hued, slim-to-none head.

Aroma: smoked malt, German malt, bacon, yup. Slightly sweet. But, oh, so smokey.

Taste: more of the same. Rich, meaty maltiness, coats the palate, spreads semi-sweetness, matched by smoke. This delivers the sweet, malty flavors of a marzen wrapped up in the smokiness of a rauchbier. There's not a single damned thing wrong with this, and several things right. 
Not too much to say about it. 

Looking back, there's nothing to apologize for; simple is not bad, Oktoberfests are hardly complex, smoked beers, well, they're smokey.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Urthel Saisonniere

Urthel Saisonniere. Blond Special Ale. Brewed and bottled in the Netherlands under the direction of Hildegard von Ostaden. 
Towering, tremendous snowy white cap leads it off, with cloudy, pale blonde brew below. Lace aplenty, as the head drifts down. 

Aroma: spice and citrus zest (mellow lemon and orange peel) first, followed quickly by yeasty esters. Lovely stuff. 

Taste: Smooth, juicy malt hits the lips first, followed by flavors of lemon and light pepper, and a little bit of honey, with just the barest bitterness in the back. Drinks clean and easy, with a brief finish, ending on a dry note. 

It's an Urthel-y saison, and it doesn't hold it's tow to any stylistic requirements. What it is is refreshing and tasty. Take that, and enjoy it.

Much thanks to Lanny Hoff for procuring this bottle, unavailable in my, and his, home market. 

New Belgium Kick

New Belgium Kick, from the Lips of Faith series.

"New Belgium and Elysian are together again with Kick, a rich and tart pumpkin cranberry ale blended with wood-aged beer for a uniquely complex harvest season sour. The russet and orange of autumn shimmer through a slight haze like sunlight through the smoke from burning leaves. The taste and texture of pumpkin give way to the refreshing tang of cranberries and critters, satisfying and exciting with each swallow, finishing with an urge for more.

Kim brought sour from New Belgium; Dick brought pumpkin from Elysian. You’ll get a Kick out of their collaboration."

One problem with this description (taken from the website, not the bottle. Drinking this on tap, but I may go get a bottle or two soon, for saving.) Maybe two, actually. First, "the taste and texture of pumpkin" do not really "give way", since they are barely present. Which makes the prominence of the Jack -O-Lantern's so misleading, on the label art. They look cool, though. Second, the phrase "cranberries and critters", while cute, clever, and alliterative, is kind of, shall we say, yucky. I know they mean wild yeast and bacteria, but does the average beer drinker really want to imagine "critters" in their drink?

Anyway, here's what I wrote when I sat down with some last night:

Bright golden appearance, midway between pumpkin and peach, slim but staying layer of chalk white head.

aroma: wild, tart and fruity. I get the cranberry, but it's mild, not especially pronounced, and melds well with the sourness. Pumpkin flavor is in the background, if at all discernible. Nicely hopped.

Taste: A little bitter up front, fiercely hoppy, then met and matched with tannin-y, wild yeastiness, and the distinct, sharp and sour cranberry flavor. Pumpkin is in the background, holding down the malty fort. The intensity of the initial flavor eventually falls back, rolls out tidily, and finishesneat and clean. This sends the palate screaming for more. "that was great, where did it go, get more in me," is how the conversation goes.

The tart stays on, an echo enough to keep it lingering, and keep it exciting. Pumpkin is back in the patch, cranberries are splashing up front, lactic sour keeps it kicking. Great creation. Hope they make this again, or something else like it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Darkness Madness Part Four

Here's the cover of this year's program. I wish I'd saved them all from year's past, but if you know me at all, you know I have a problem with stuff. Some would call me a packrat, others a hoarder. So, it's a small victory if I don't hang on to a scrap of paper for years. Each year they get more advanced in design and concept, this year they followed the label art and went with the zombie attack idea. However, Surly fans being likened to zombies isn't a tactic I'm espcially keen on, though I know it's all in good fun. Similar, and worse, things have been said about our rabid nature.

We're inside the event, the parking lot turned into  a party grounds. Looking back at the brewery gates, flung wide open. Tents out on the street sell merchandise, and food trucks vend mini donuts and all manner of meals. I do regret not shooting pics of the beer tents, and my volunteer friends handing me cups of deliciousness.

This one needs explanation, and I have none for you. Perhaps I should have asked the ladies why they were decked out as pirates. But, you know me, Mr. Shy Guy. I recall one previous year when Darkness Day happened the same weekend as a Big Lebowski convention, and attendees included Walters and Dudes.

Another one that cries out for an answer. Is this volunteer posing for me with this gesture, or am I just randomly catching him doing that while looking straight at me? Or is that his job, to do the Ronnie James Dio devil symbol in the middle of the event? Someone has to, after all. 

Now here's Cory, either biting his nails, or talking on his cell phone. Behind him, the line going into the brewery to buy bottles.

The last photo before I stopped taking picture is of Surly employee #3 Sarah,  here back to the music stage, not paying any attention to the rock, which seems so unlike her. Her band, God Came From Space, played first, and actually they were at the first Darkness Day. And this marks when it became amusing again to take pictures of people taking pictures.
And so ends another Darkness Day. Eight bottles of Russian Imperial Stout wait me at home, some for trading, some for saving. Though I do plan to open a bottle, along with the previous 4 next Sunday, with 6 lucky friends. This is something I've been waiting to do for some time. Stay tuned for a full report.

Darkness Madness Part Three

As fervent followers of this web-log know, the Bitter Nib is the place you can go for what I call the 3-Selfs: Self-reflection, self-doubt, and self-recrimination. Immediately after perusing and assessing these images, I think on how I did it wrong, all the pictures I didn't take, all the things missing that would make it a proper photo essay. Pictures of the brewery (and the incredible new rooftop mural), the lines, the signs, the free kegs of Moe's and Coffee Bender Omar traditionally rolls out (how did I miss out on them entirely? Too far back in line, maybe?)
It only took logging on facebook later Saturday night to see the kinds of photos my friends took, that I didn't. Photos of the triumpant smiles and the recently attached wristbands. Proud photos of the bottles purchased. Photos of myself with Omar or any of the rest of the Ansari clan. (Pictures with Naseem are just as sought-after  as those with his son.) Largely missing are any photos of myself at all, and perhaps that's for the best. And then, the friends I never snapped a shot of, because I just stopped remembering to do so, or, maybe my phone was running out of charge. A simple visit to their facebook pages shows a wealth of memorable images, such as the brewery crew being transformed into zombies, or the mayor of Minneapolis playing Hammerschlagen.
So without further doubt or recrimination, here's part three of four of the Darkness Day experience in pictures, as taken by me.
Angie is inscrutable. But, Lord, can she scrut when she wants to!

Dave is probably telling me about some incredible beer he just had (I have to thank him for saving a bottle of Foothills  Sexual Chocolate to open when I finally showed up at his table), while a grill roars on behind him.

Nate is espcially preparing for this long night's journey into Darkness morning, coffee cup in hand, pretzels around his neck.

Eric and his Wisconsin pal (damn me for a fool, but I'm horrible with names, especially when it comes to people I only see once a year or so), are trucking down the avenue, ready to enter the brewery gates.

One eagerly anticipated Darkness Day event is the running of the Haugs, as Todd (seen here on his fat-tired Pugglsey, by the other Surly) and Linda roar in on bicycle.

"Get out of my face, Al" Todd seems to be saying. No, he probably really is saying it.

Here, John poses in front of a wall of Surly cans, Furious and Bitter Brewer, just as Omar did on the cover of a recent BeerAdvocate magazine. We are in the brewery and in the long, long line for our bottles. Shelly brought my three to me, but I had nowhere to put them. Holding them all proved difficult, and one fell from my hands. Just another dead soldier in a powder blue night, to quote Tom Waits. With 2 bottles in hand, and a mess I left behind, the Brooklyn Center municipal liquor store clerk selling me my bottles was confused. "You already have two, though." "Yes, and now I want my six, please." Was it too hard to understand, or was I making it difficult for her?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Darkness Madness Part Two

Workers at a neighboring business were so amused by the goings on, they went to the rooftop to photograph the scene. This was just the first instance where I took a picture of someone taking a picture. Is that not hilarious?

Mike is a jovial fellow, brew in hand. He's sporting a Steel Toe cap, in addition to his Surly gear, always leading the charge in support of local brewing, with his wife Kari. Around this time, I opened a couple of bottles I brought along and shared them with friends, like Mike, who were nearby in line. Perhaps the Surly Smoke in his glass, last bottle of the 2009 vintage, is making him smile?

Jesse is plainly a happy camper, though we didn't camp. Our plan was to be there earlier, by 5 am, but there were complications. Chief among them, that Jesse went to Stub and Herb's Darkness Eve event, enjoyed far too many imperial stouts, and had to be awakened by my 4:55 am phone call. I, on the other hand, never went to sleep. Friday night's post about PBR was the last thing I did before locking up, and going straight home, to wait for his call.

Here's Reggie (whose name I hope I've spelled right), who may have some of my Surly Four in her Coffee Bender cup, and whose apprehensive gaze is perhaps due to the young lady coming in our direction, who also had an animal hat on her head. The other woolen critter was a badger, natural enemy to the seal on Reggie's head. Behind her, ...wait, is that guy peeing? Aw, come on! Don't do that! (I was actually encouraged to do that, but instead ran for the port-a-johns far away, and missed out on the wristbands. When I got back, my friends had theirs, and I jumped ahead to catch the volunteers doling them out, assuring everyone that, dude, I was back there, but I just had to go to the john, believe me!)

At this point, with our wristbands on, and our bottles assured, (after all the worry and fret, we were about 50 people away from the cutoff) I wandered up to the front and got a glimpse of what was going on at the tasting tables. On this one we have growlers, bottles, Sexual Chocolate, Canadian Breakfast Stout, New Glarus, Russian River,  Boulevard, water bottles, a program, cups, some Tyranena, Three Floyds, and who knows what else. I do. There's my glass in the corner, and that's Dave Anderson's behind it. So much great beer being shared!

Here's Andy, who does a great deal of work with Harriet Brewing, sometimes delivering kegs to me when I desperately need them. All around him, observe the tents, the campers and the folding chairs. Flannel and stocking caps abound, but, again, it was also 60 and sunny. It's autumn in Minnesota.

Meaghan gives a thumbs up, knowing bottles of Darkness 2011 are in her future.

And Margarita is beaming in comfort, keeping warm with wool and flannel, the sun's glare sufficiently thwarted, and surrounded by plenty of snacks and beverages. In the background, well, I never did figure out what that Beer Geeks truck was all about. Anyone know?

And here we have Daniel, posing next to a lineup of all the beers consumed by his crew.  There was an unopened Surly Five in the mix, and I was shocked by it's inclusion, as if an unopened bottle should stand with the dead I opened it. Mmm, Surly Five. There were many more lined up to capture these images, souveniers of their sumptous beer-y feast, and I began a series of photos of people taking photos, which apparently I still found amusing. I no longer do, so these pictures will not be shared here. Coming soon: part three!

Darkness Madness: A Photo Essay of Darkness Day: Part One of Four

Today was the 5th annual Darkness Day, when thirsty Surly fans convene on the brewery to procure bombers of the dark, dense, delicious elixir. Every years gets crazier and crazier. Year one, 2007, I was one of the first dozen souls in line on a cold December morning, having arrived with Ben around 6 am. There were 480 bottles for sale to 240 people. Wristbands which guaranteed your purchase rights, were available up until around 11:30 am. Evidence of this can be found on youtube. I make a cameo on one such video, making a terrible joke about the group nearly resorting to cannibalism, waiting so long in the cold. Nobody got the joke. We brought plenty of food, after all, and once Omar and the crew let us indoors, there were donuts and coffee. (And beer. I would be criminally remiss to forget to mention that each wristband had 3 detachable tabs, each good for a free beer, poured by Surly staff, family, and friends. Free. That needs to be emphasized again, to curtail the cries of the naysayers.)
Each year, no matter who I travelled with, we arrived around 6:30 am, and each year we were safely in line to get our bottles. And each year, it gets crazier. Now the trend of camping out in tents and trailers has grown exponentially. The first lunatics arrived around 1 pm the previous day. When Jesse, Billy and I arrived at 6:30 we couldn't believe how long the line went. It was unprecedented and amazing. This many were this early? Would we even be among the 1200 guaranteed to get 6 bottles?
I'll tell the story with the photos I took.
Check out Parts, 2, 3, &4, as well.

Jason is happy, even though it's still dark out. He and his sister Angie both agreed that their decision to stay overnight in line, starting at 9 pm, the previous evening was indeed a wise one, ensuring their claim on Darkness. In the background, the bridge that spans the highway, leading to the corporate headquarters of Caribou Coffee. Several people made the trek across on a coffee run. 
Joe looks happy, too, perhaps because the sun is finally out, perhaps because there is beer in his cup. It was  indeed a gorgeous, bright, sunny day, lovely weather for standing in line for hours, waiting to buy some Imperial Stout. Behind him, the industrial boulevard in Brooklyn Center known as Ducharme, that leads to the Surly brewery.

Jon seems happy, as well. Sunshine on his hat make him happy. Sunshine in his eyes might actually make him cry.  We could assume that sunshine on the water looks so lovely. But, assuredly, sunshine almost always gets him high.

Ben assumes a pensive pose. Who can know what goes on in his mind? Behind him, the line stretches  on.  These may have been the unlucky ones who did not receive wristbands. 

Eric seems glum. He was farther down in line than I, and was despondent regarding the possibilities of not getting any Darkness. Those of us who have been coming out here since the beginning did not like to contemplate swallowing a pill so bitter.

Shelly seemed like a potential savior. She only wanted and only brought enough cash for three bottles. If I couldn't get a wristband, here was my hope. She's bundled up tight, but I didn't feel the chill.

Another who felt the chill I didn't was Jeff, who shivered, even under so many layers. I've known Jeff for eight years, buds in the wonderful world of craft beer. Collecting them, seeking them out, writing about the experience on the palate, celebrating them. An aikido master and nature photographer, he's also been with Surly since the beginning, but I don't remember seeing him at a previous Darkness Day. Glad I did today.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Where did this come from? Well, let me tell you about that. I've resisted the PBR tallboy thing out of hidebound integrity and stubborn orneriness. If I was more of a businessman and less of quixotic champion of more forward thinking in beer choices, I'd have been on that bandwagon long ago. We do Hamm's cans at the Nile for people who want a cheap can and just don't give a darn. I did PBR on tap, years ago, when I kicked off Miller and Budweiser, but have since switched to Grain Belt Premium for the cheap tap, because at least I'm supporting a Minnesota brewery, and a family-owned one, at that.

So, a Hip Hop group doing a show here wanted to have some PBR promotion, but both the band and the local PBR rep (who I've known for years, in various contexts) assumed we were already selling PBR tallboys. Long story short: now we've got PBR tallboys! The show wasn't quite as successful as I'd imagined, but they're happy, we're happy, no one got hurt. And there's plenty of PBR tallboys! Come on in, hipsters, it's safe for you, PBR tallboys for all, huzzah!

Let's look back on my first review of PBR, from a bottle, back in November, 2003, almost eight years ago.

I had been reading with interest the many newspaper and magazine articles relating the chic-ness that this lager enjoys within the cool and cultured set, and sought out to try one of these myself and find out if I can hang with the hipsters and quaff their brew. So I elbow-jabbed that mumbling, shaggy Bohemian-type, made off with his cold tall one, and absconded to a faraway booth in this desolate rock club, pen light in hand, to shine on my notebook as I search to divine the secrets of this mystical, magical beer.

Okay, I'm lying.
In truth, you see, I'm a fraud. This is my beer. If I ever praised a beer before for it's flavor, taste, or character, well, that was bull. I don't think they should have anything to do with any beverage, especially beer. Yeah, if you ever catch me without a whole case of PBR in the fridge, I must be having a bad day.

I lie again. I sample this in the spirit of honoring that adage of not knocking it if you ain't tried it. Actually, I must have tried it at some point, but how could I remember? So, here we go...
Appearance: sickly pale yellow color, very clear, just the way beer is supposed to be, dammit! Head is bone-white, fluffy, and quite prodigious, slowly, softly setling.
Aroma: very spare, bone-dry, but not terrible. Typical plain lager-y smell, without skunk or trace of adjuncts. A bit of sweetness, too, just a bit.
Taste: wetness. Nothing. The nadir, nada. Zilch. If it exists at all, it comes and goes without saying hello. Actually, again, not BAD, per se, but not really anything, either.
Body, light as can be, texture, none, finish? F'geddaboudit!
Really, there's nothing to recommend and no pleasure to be found, if you a seeker of taste in any form.
I'll quote beer scribe Stephen Beaumont's #1 reason to drink PBR, from his webite:
"You just don't care anymore."
Time spent with this beer is time wasted indeed.
This does the opposite of what a beer should do, in that it makes me more thirsty! For a real beer!

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild

Drinking a bottle now, looking back at last November's notes. (Thanks to Sean McHugh for the bottle.)

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild, Petaluma, California...let's have some POF!

Appearance: clear, amber coloration, big, pillowy white head.

Beautiful aromatics, wild and funky, some fruit and spice around, but the mainly other parts of the farm at work in this nose. 

Taste: smoo-ooth, with plenty of character. Strong spices, black pepper, soft citrus, a bed of tasty pale malt. Delicious. Westmalle yeast strain bringing the goods, speeding utter tastiness all over the overwhelmingly pleasing and super-duper happiness bringing kind of ale.

Heat comes up and spikes the palate as we get further in...plenty of spice, matched with the mellow fruit factor. Tasty, tasty, tasty, yum, yum, yum.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Odell St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale

Looking at notes from July of last year, drinking it now on tap.

Odell St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale

Lightly hazed, golden color, 1/2" snowy white head.

Soft aromatics, pleasant floral and citric fruit feel, leading into a higher hopped experience. Just a pinch of pepper. 

Taste: soft mouthfeel, brisk hoppy play on the palate, remains mellow throughout. Minor finish, but the memory lingers on, the herbal, bitter dance on the tongue.
A little honey-sweetness, and some caramel toffee feel from the malt.

Extra-drinkable, this hop-forward EPA. I might choose this over a Summit EPA, but wouldn't pick one over an IPA. 
That's me, though. Very nice EPA, suitable for many occasions.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Deschutes Obsidian Stout

Deschutes Obsidian Stout. Enjoying a 6-pack now, looking back on notes from July, 2003:

Perfectly pitch black color, and an impressive, towering, flowering cocoa-tan head that maintains it's majesty for some time before tumbling down. 

Aroma: deep, rich, roasty, bitter, and invigorating. 

Taste: remarkably flavorful, mouth-filling, and complex. Warm, tingling, tantalizing. This one feels good in the mouth, and slips down remarkably easy. Puts me in mind of an oatmeal stout, but I'm not sure it is one.Long, lovely, lively finish. 

A very impressive, solid, satisfying stout, this one. I find myself scratching at the roof of my brain trying to find new, further ways to describe it's excellence. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Deschutes Black Butte XXIII

Deschutes Black Butte XXIII, Porter brewed with cocoa nibs, orange and natural flavors added, with 25% aged in bourbon barrels.

Inescapably ebon, under a rich, coffee and cream head, slowly sifting. Nice. 

Rich chocolate notes in the nose first, along comes anise, then vanilla, oak and bourbon. Deeply complex malty aromatics.

In the mouth, it's all kinds of dark, malty complexity. Layers and layers of coffee, chocolate, licorice, and bourbon. Sweet vanilla and bourbon notes come into play next, they merge and melt in the mouth. Sensations rise, grow, develop, and keep on keeping on. 

I have to admit that the oranges and the chiles are not showing up on my palate. Or, I'm not picking them out. The dark flavors overwhelm anything else, especially the Seville oranges. I'm not sure why they tossed that in there, it doesn't have a chance. Chiles are minor, too. But these quibbles take nothing away from what's actually in here, that's for sure. 

Gets smoother and silkier as we go on, but the complexity never lessens. Beeyooteeful, mmm and mmm, and mmm. Happy 23, Deschutes.

Founders Harvest Ale

Tis the season. Not of Oktoberfests, and pumpkin brews, but fresh hop/wet hop ales. I missed out on one of my favorites, Fresh Hop from Town Hall, aside from a pint at the pub Saturday, and I've neither tapped nor tasted Surly Wet yet. But I am enjoying Founders Harvest Ale. It went on tap Thursday, sold well, and was yanked off Saturday for the Belgian event. Back on again last night. I had to get a glass tonight before it's gone, just to take this picture and make this entry. Went digging through the glassware reserves, only to discover how difficult it is to really make the writing on the glass show through. ah, well, you can figure it out. I didn't need to take notes, though, because it seems I'd first had it in a bottle, back in January, 2008 through a beer trade. (It's better on tap.) Here's what I said then:

Hazy and orange, sizeable off-white head.

Huge citrus=y aromatics, plenty of grapefruit in this...pure, unadorned, raw and up-in-your-face hops, hops, hops, hops...I like it!

Bigger blast on the tongue, fierce and fresh, juicy, and just bitter enough, but never quite too much. Hop flavor remains on the palate seemingly forever. I like that, too.

Crisp and refeshing, hop head-style. My kind of session beer, even at 7%. I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet.

Full body, full flavor, slightly out of balance, but that's what the style is, and that's what I desire.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Flat Earth Belgian Pale Ale

Another from this fest, that I've tapped off and on over the past 4 1/2 years. Here follow my notes from the first tapping, March, 2007:

Appearance: clear amber hue, edging on bronze, with a nice tapioca-ish head that looks good at first, but dies down quickly. 

Aroma: musty, yeasty, funky malt, little hops, lightly sweet, complex, and pleasing to the nose. 

Taste: clean, yet zesty, mostly malt and yeast, spicy. Lean-bodied, very refreshing, easy-drinking, dry, even finish. 

Quite an interesting brew this one, very mellow, smooth, but with a special Belgian kick in it. Low on the alcohol, and with hardly any hops, this is just any easy drinker all the way, with plenty of character. 
As for me, though, I could use more body, more malt, more yeast, looks and feels filtered, and I feel I'd enjoy it more if it weren't. 

Leffe Blonde

Here's another I had on tap this weekend, and for the first time, too. It'll be back when we do Belg-a-Rama #9. Leffe Blonde,  a very popular Belgian ale, and for good reason. Here are my first notes from way back in February, 2003.

Color: a clear gold. 
Head: a nice, fluffy white.
Aroma: sharp with spicy notes, sweet with citrus and fruit, peach, apricot. Palate is sweet and smooth, with full malt. Hops are playing it cool, but give a nice little tingle on the tongue. Light body, low carbonation, good texture.
Overall, uncomplicated, fine, if unremarkable.

Nothing really to add to that. It's easy to drink, goes down smooth, and offers some flavor. Accessible, some would say (even  myself). I call it a good ol' drinkin' beer. But I would only have if there were no better Belgians around.

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...