Monday, February 27, 2012

Steel Toe Size 11 Double India Pale Ale

I no longer wear size 11 shoes, or even size 11 1/2. I moved up to size 12. Age 43, I am, and I'm still worried about shoe comfort. My life is a mess.
But you know what's not bad? When friends bring me beer. Steel Toe released this beer at the brewery on Friday, and I send word on facebook that I would like some. One friend responded, but another didn't even wait for my reply and showed up at the Nile with 2 bottles for me. I'll get those others later, and share with friends at some other occasion. The first bottle I consumed this afternoon, and here are the notes:

Steel Toe Brewing  Size 11 Double India Pale Ale, St. Louis Park, MN.

ABV 11 %, IBU 111, SRM 11, OG 1.094, F.G. 1.011…and a lot of other numbers, including several more 1's. Let's drink it.

Clear, crimson-coloring, small head, settles into a tight foam ring.

Nice hoppy buzz hits the nose first, accompanied by fruity esters, beautiful balance of bitter and sweet. Big time hoppitude. 

Let's drink it up, already. Mmmm. Massive bitter hop attack. Juicy malt backdrop. Bitter blast continues with each sip and swallow. Pricks the palate, prances, and plays upon the tastebuds. Boom, boom, boom, boom. Oh, yeah.

Pine meets citrus plus darker fruits, become deeper and more complex as the bottle drains. I'm thinking more of a barley-wine. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot dances in the forefront of my mind. All the biggest and best are queuing up, tl measure this one. Texture is getting richer, thicker, fuzzier, and everything is getting boozier. Hop flavor and character is all over the place. Unrelenting. Unabashed. Altogether excellent.

I'm getting that wonderful feeling, and I blame the 11%, as well as the fantastic flavor, and the unrepentant delivery of hops into this grateful realm of the senses. Love it, love it, love it. Magnificently put-together. And just down-right delightfully delicious. 

God damn, this is good. God damn, this is excellent.

This is only the second Steel Toe beer I've had in a full serving. First, a growler of Size 7. Now, a 750 ml bottle of Size 11. There are other Steel Toe beers out there I've got to go toe to toe with, and I'll just have to visit the brewery on my own at last, to get them. Stay tuned, kids. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gouden Carolus Tripel

Something about me. I don't have a cellar, and I don't have a collection. Sometimes I find that I don't have on hand what I'd like to drink.  Usually, I only have on hand what I can afford, and don't go out, and spend too much money, generating a back log of beers I'll get to later. Nope, I drink what I have. My cellar, as it, or my collection,  is very, very small. Often, the missing slots in my drinkable selection is even an IPA, or a stout. Just a porter, or something. What, all I have to drink is Forgotten Flem, Brooklyn Monster, and several beers I need to write about? I  can't just drink 'em, I have to write about 'em.
So, this afternoon, I stopped at Harriet for some growlers of "drinkin' beers" (that would be West Side, not necessarily Divine Oculust, althought I'll be "drinkin'" that.), and then on my break, went up to the wonderland of Zipp's for the first time in more than a month, specifically for some Belgian ales, some for writin' about and some for drinkin'. I grabbed a Gouden Carolus Cuvee' van de Kaiser Rood, which I've never had, and that would qualify it as a writin' about beer. I also snagged a GC Tripel, from that excellent Het Anker Brewery, which I first wrote about in April of 2004. Want to know what I thought of it? Well, here it comes...

Holy Guacamole! This corked little devil came out with NO effort--BOOM! 
And now my trousers are wet... 

Muddy golden hue...vast mass of fluffy foam, white as snow sits on top and elegantly collapses, leaving gentle lace...Aroma: yeast, citric, but light, airy, a little honeyish...Taste: mmm, just right! 

Elaborate? I shall. A garden of fruit is here, apricots, peaches, oranges, banana, mix it with cream, soften it with sugar, throw some honey in it, whipped cream on top now, gently sprinkle with spices...tastiness abounds! Lightly, judiciously hopped, ample malt, incessant flavor. 
Body is about medium, finish is nigh-unto-eternal, light, sugary, and just about damned delicious, balance is near perfect too, nothing is overly forward, everything meets just-so, and it's drinkability gets a boost from that. 

My first try with this one, and now it's a new favorite, that I'll return to again and again...deeelicious!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Minneapolis Town Hall Dubbel

Town Hall Dubbel. No further appellation, no fancy name, not for this one. I've had other dubbers from TH in the past, and they all had names. This is just "Town Hall Dubbel." And I had it earlier, just didn't think to write about it. Now, I will, and away we go..

Not too great in the looks department. Dark red, clear, no head at all. 

Sweet malty aromatics, with a hit of spice. There's Special B malt in here, but richer and sweeter, with no temperance, keeping it cool and dry. Despite that, I rather like it. 

Taste: big rich malty sweetness, with touches of molasses, dark rum, earth and spice. Dark fruit, figs, raisin, …getting slightly drier, even-tempered. Despite my wishy-washy captiluations, this is a classic dubbel, but not too rich, not too strong, not too anything. Not too sweet, not too dry. Plenty of flavor, lots of satisfaction, without going overboard in any direction. A Session dubbel, if we can make such a claim. 

Plenty of carbonation, just a touch of bitterness, and much even-tempered sweetness. got to love that. Mmm. Nice, and …mmmm. Ah. Fit for a monk.

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Motoeka Double Lager

Town Hall … M.D.L. M-something …Double Lager, they call it. And that other thing, why do they call it that? It's certainly a word I've never heard, and can't for the life of me remember. Slight pause, while I search the intrawebs for some info. What's the story, morning glory? Got to be a meaning somewhere.  (Motoeka. All I know. And it's 8.5% ABV.)

I got this one to have something new to sip on during a day off, knowing full well that lagers aren't my thing, and doubling them doesn't help matters. In any case, we're drinking it. 

Clear, clean and golden, frothy white head starts out big, slips down assuredly, leaves a little lacing.

Aromatics: wide open and empty. Not much beyond a faint cereal sweetness. Malty, and…eh. Not much else. Little hops. 

Drinking it: A little heat up front, from the high alcohol, a bit of a burn, then it's all malt. Clean, and…not smooth, not with this much booze, but it is downable, consumable, for sure, if not for the premonition of a headache. I feel this is not too far away from a malt liquor. Very little actual flavor, beyond the small malt character, and the alcohol, which is becoming more and more prominent. 
Boom, boom, it's getting bigger, it's rounding out the brain cavity, searching for swinging room, and getting impatient. Boom, boom. Thud, thud. Pow. 
And while this banging happens around the brain cave, there's little extra pleasure to be had, unlike in a double pils, where you get some richer hop presence, no, this is strictly a lean, light lager, but high on the alcohol. (And I still don't know how high as I type this. Forgot to check. Or ask. They were busy, and I chose on a whim.)

It's getting a little sweeter in the malt flavor, and I'm trying to get down with that, use that as my pathway to pleasure. And ignore the pounding presence of the booze. 

New Belgium Lips of Faith Biere De Mars

New Belgium Biere de Mar Ale Brewed with Spices, Lips of Faith series, …pretty sure I've had something of this name before, many years ago, in a bumpy 12 ounce bottle, without Lips of Faith anywhere on it. I am not looking at that old one, instead going for a fresh taste.

Hazy and orange, slim, lace-leaving head. Purty.

Aroma: spice aplenty. coriander, pepper, perhaps, …other than that, I'm not sure. Plus a side of citrus-y hops.

Taste: Smooth stuff, full of fruity/bready malt, spritzes of spice. Bright flashes of orange and lemon round the edges, with incessant barrages of spice and Belgian yeast. Yum. Ends easy, yet flavorful.

Lovely biere de mars, this. Did I need to wait a few weeks until it's really "mars" to truly appreciate it? It's tasty enough right now.

(Guess what? I did have it before, almost 9 years ago, and here are those notes from May 2003: Hazy, bright orange color, as in a ripe apricot. Head is initially thick, fluffy, pure white. Aroma is fresh and fruity, citrus large and in charge. Soon, a supreme hoppiness sets in and makes itself quite welcome in the nose and on the palate. 
Thrilling and tasty bitterness on the mouth, with a deliciously citric (orange, mostly) finish. Very yeasty, and quite well-balanced. Body is medium, hops are out front, but the brew is altoghether a rounded one. This is a very special ale, and when all the parts come together, I'm left I drinking some kind of liquefied orange bread? 
Quite a nice accomplishment from a brewery of well-deserved fame. Both jeffboo and marc77 provided me with samples, and I thank them in stereo!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Brau Brothers Cherry Bean Coffee Stout

Brau Brothers Cherry Bean Coffee Stout, ale brewed with cherry bean coffee. Brau Brothers Brewing Company, Lucan, Minnesota, Population 220.
No gobbledygook, only logos, government warnings, one of those obliquitous whatchamajiggers, and the phrase, "Keep this Beer Cold!" 

Solid black, fizzy tan head, trims down to a tight ring.

Aroma: rich, expressive, bitter and sweet. First comes the coffee, with cherry showing up second. Very vibrant coffee nose, in this.

Taste: fruit comes first, matched perfectly with the coffee buzz. Stout lurks below. Medium bodied, long fruity finish. Cherry stands on top throughout, coffee sits second. Bittersweet remains the foremost characteristic. 

Only flaw for me is, it could be fuller bodied. A bit more thickness would go a long way. Ain't nothing wrong with it, it just has a little bit to go. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Alaskan Smoked Porter

Here's one I've had the chance to drink since it arrived for the first time in our market, late last year, but chose not to use that occasion to post about it. After all, I had a keg in the cooler at work, and today was the day it finally went on tap, the celebrated Smoked Porter of Alaskan Brewing. When they first made this, it was one of a kind, and rare. I had my first bottle in November, 2003, bought through a mail-order service, which I only used once (shipping is prohibitive, I learned), and took these notes, though tonight, I'm drinking it on tap:

I can smell the smoke before popping the cap, somehow...and it pours black as the wintry night sky, with a thick, toasted tan head atop. 

Aroma hits it's mark immediately: SMOKE! Surprise, huh? With underlying...nah, I can't pick it up...I arch the old olfactory glands wider to perceive greater and clean the usual porteristic characterics and they're very well hidden underneath that smokeyness. Some of them are down there, somewhere, but they're totally dominated. 

Taste: ...yup, it's all in the flavor, too! Very smooth and mellow, malt is full and damnit, wouldn't you know, that smoke effect is actually pretty tasty! And, mmmm, I'm tasting the cocoa and the coffee, too, just underneath. 

Quite an interesting and enoyable beer, one that I'll make an effort to return to again and again, to see if I can pull out more from it. As for this big, beautiful bottling, I had quite a time.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brau Brothers Forgotten Flem Farmhouse Ale

Brau Brothers Forgotten Flem. Such an odd name. Despite the spelling, it makes you think of bodily fluids. Once you taste it, though, you know what they mean. It's also called a Farmhouse Ale on the label, and no farmhouse ale that I know of tastes like this. 

Other than restating the population of Lucan, MN, there is no other information on this label, it is 100% gobbledygook-free. I can always search online, or even call up the Brau Bros myself, but until that happens, these notes, will, as always, take shape as I sip and slurp.

Before I do that, though, I will return my Brau Brothers pint glass to the cabinet, and pull out an appropriate Belgian-style glass, the least I can do. And does it ever look nice, now that I have!

Clear, and apricot toned, until prodigious head, leaving delicate lace, lasting long.

Aroma: sour, funky, fruity and weird, right from the get-go. Definitely some wild Belgian yeast strains at work. Particularly pickled and pungent. Sour cherries plus vinegar meets Jolly Ranchers candy. And then jumps in a box of old unwashed gym socks. (I only half mean that. Casting a wide net in order to nail down this peculiar permutation.)

I may have forgotten to mention that I like it, and that it does, eventually, veer closer to a true Flemish Red aroma.

Taste: Oooo! Ow! Yeow! Huh! Jump back! Make it funky now! Popcorn! Hah! The big pay-back! Maceo! Maceoooo!

(Sorry, sometimes my guttural exhortations transform me briefly into the ghost of James Brown.)

Where was I? Oh, man, this is sour stuff to start off with! What did they do, what yeast, what barrels, how aged, etcetera? All will be know eventually, I can only speculate and sip. So, again…odd, funky, wild, then sweet, then sour again. Definitely Belgian yeast action. Then malt and fruit shine brightest. (There is no expression of hops felt here.) Body gets lean and mellow, starts feeling smooth and lovely, and acts utterly consumable. Let's try it again, shall we?

Fresh and zesty, despite it's age. (This is not a new product, and I feel fortunate to still find it at Chicago Lake liquors, not a store known as a secret haven for the connoisseur.) The spark and the spank on the palate continues, although it definitely cools from the initial slap. Lays rather light, inevitably, on the palate, though all the flavors remain in place.
What we have, it seems, is a south western Minnesota version of a saison, hit with funky Belgian yeast. Tasty, refreshing stuff. Slight bitterness emerges, unfelt earlier. I'm liking this more and more, and feel like I'll end up liberating the remaining 6-ers from that shop. 

I keep finding new ways to like Brau Brothers. Whatever bumps they've had in the past may just be that, the past. Onward and upward, boys!

Brooklyn Monster Ale

Yesterday, I did my first local purchase of this beer, and sat down to glass of it. Today, I look back on my first taste of it, from eight years ago, October, 2003, where I blathered on and on. Observe:

I loves me a nice barleywine, and Brooklyn calls theirs a "monster", do they? Well, let's have at it, already! 

Appearance: coppery color, with a short-lived far, "eh"... 

Aroma: now, we're cookin'! Sweetness incarnate, redolent of a full orchard of fruits, burnished and converted to a proper cognac-y character. Alcohol is huge here, with cherries, brandy, leather, fire, tobacco, smoke, all pitching suggestions into this bonfire...this is the type of beer that makes me pity wine there an aroma as rich and full and fine as this to be found in a bottle of vino? A very bewitching aroma! 

Thick texture, syrupy mouthfeel, lip-smackin', delicious, and packin' heat! Lush, full malt, low hops, but thoroughly intoxicating...screw your Manhattans, your Hennessys, your Flavor-of-the-Month-Martinis, put your lips to a barleywine such as this for a full, boozy sensation! 

A benign Monster, this, powerful, but not vicious, stinging, but without malice, prodigious, but never punishing, with a long, near-lethal finsh.... 
A damned fine barleywine. 

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA

Ruthless Rye, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. 2012. Not sure why they are dating it by year. Perhaps they expect us to cellar it? Just a habit they've gotten into?

A cloaked, hooded woman holds a scythe in the middle of some farm land. Seems like odd garb for threshing. Or, are they just establishing a new, hotter version of Death. Newer and hotter than Neil Gaiman's, of course.

Anyway, on to the beer: Clear, dark crimson coloring, off-white foam above.

Aroma is soft, sweetish, and brimming with rye malt character. Pass the pumpernickel!

Taste: Hops hit first, bitter, yet sweet, then the spicy rye malt character floods the mouth. Starts mellow, gets intense. Rises and rises and overtakes the senses. Without going too far, of course. These guys are all about balance. You don't become this popular and this big without making palatable brews. 

Let's look at the label crap: Ruthless Rye IPA is brewed with this rustic grain for refined flavors--combining the peppery spice of rye and the bright citrusy flavors of whole cone hops to create a complex ale for the tumultuous transition to spring."

It hasn't been exactly a tumult this year. We've had several early starts to spring, in the dead of winter. But this is nice and well appreciated. I was almost ready to say that the rye malt overtakes the citrusy hop presence, but they re-emerged before I could type a word. It's a tasty, tidy tango, here's some peppery bready malt, here's your hops, cha, cha, cha…

Odell Saboteur Brett Barrel Brown Ale

Odell Saboteur. Brett Barrel Brown Ale. Alc. by Vol. 10%. Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO. Let's skip the gobbledygook, and open 'er up. 

Beautiful brown coloration, with crimson highlights, peeking at the bottom. Lush head of tan foam, lacy and lasting. Looks great.

Smellin' it: warm, funky, …and oddly bourbon-y. Does "brett barrel" mean a particular kind of barrel? It's very whiskey-ish. Let's peek at the geek speak. "American oak barrels." Could mean bourbon, doesn't explicitly state it. Has the vanilla and oak, some cherry. And alcohol.That covers it.

Tastin' it: Sour cherry and oak take the palate first. Starts strong, and mellows down. Begins sharp and strong, whiskey feeling still hangs in there, driving the character of the ale more than the brett affects it. Sour factor is light and unobtrusive, just enough a kick in there to keep it interesting. Alcohol kick continues, as well, but doesn't grow too noisy. Halfway into this bottle, I'm not too afraid of what'll happen to me when it's empty. Close, but not quite. 

One thing's for certain, and that's that this is a long, luxuriant sipper of an ale. Mmmm, mellow, yet powerful. Sumptuous. Satisfying. (Though I'm sure many of sour head has complained about the "lack" of Brett.)

"Our brewers created an unpretentious, yet sophisticated brown ale. Then they plotted and dosed this full-bodied ale with brettanomyces, the ultimate adversary of wineries.  Embracing this vintner's nemesis resulted in a complex and wonderfully drinkable beer. Intense earthy notes of vanilla and pineapple come together with a sour silhouette. Aged in American oak barrels, and then bottle conditioned, Saboteur offers a luxurious texture and depth of flavor to discerning palates."

wait a minute…Pineapple???

21st Amendment Allies Win The War (Collab. with Ninkasi)

21st. Amendment Allies Win the War. Ale Brewed with Dates.

Dusky, burgundy hue. soft brownish head, starts strong and drifts to a tight ring. Leaves lace. 

Big, fruity/malty nose. Lively, exotic stuff. A little sweet, a little sour, a bit of funk.
Lot happening in this aroma, and I love it.

Taste: Bam! Luscious, rich and malty with an intriguing blend of hops playing on the palate. Starts smooth, then gets wicked, and complex. Mmm, datey…

What's the brewery say about this? "An ale brewed with California dates, an aggressive arsenal of all-Northwest hops and an unmistakable aroma of victory." How does that sentence work? That it's brewed with the aroma of victory? Do you brew with aromas? Unmistakably? 
52 IBUs, 8.5% ABV.
It is original, that's for sure. And it's tasty. Doesn't fit any style I can think of, not that any of that matters. Hoppy/fruity/malty strong ale, how about that?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Harriet Elevator Doppelbock

Harriet's Elevator Doppelbock. I'm surprised no-one else has taken this name. How can it be that there are still some legitimate -ators out there. (Just so you know, the tradition of ending a doppelbock with "ator" started with Paulaner's Salvator, which means "savior." These malty lagers were brewed by German monks for consumption during Lenten fasts, liquid bread to sustain them.)

(Hey, do you remember an episode of the Simpsons, where the B-story was Lisa's addiction to a "Cory hotline", back when Corys were all rage for the little ones?  I forgot what the A story was, probably something to do with Bart and Homer. Anyway, one of the messages was Corey reading "some words that rhyme with Corey. Allegory...Montessori"...etcetera. So, read this in that voice: Celebrator...Curator...Consecrator...Liberator...Optimator...Detonator...Instigator...Illuminator...Navigator...Animator...Captivator...Procrastinator...
Wait! Stop the presses! There is an Elevator doppelbock, and it's by the Elevator brewery in Columbus, Ohio, but their doppelbock is the Procrastinator.

This one is a lovely reddish brown, shimmering crimson highlights at the edges. With a creamy tan head, beginning full and creamy, turning slight, but long-lasting.

Aroma: grassy/herbal/bitter hops up front, then cocoa takes center stage. Sweetness, however, does not dominate at all, and a dry toastiness rounds out the caramel and banana tones.

Taste: richness, smoothness, balance. Everything all in place. Delicious. All those same flavors in aroma return on the palate, except for hops, that's not an important factor in the flavor. Full bodied, earthy, chocolatey, good texture, good heft, good play on the palate. All around tasty. Some dark fruit flavors as well, a bit of raisin and fig. Black berry, maybe. Just a bit, though.

Overall, a very likable, quite substantial, really spot-on interpretation of the doppelbock.  Full flavored, good and malty, without any overt sweetness, nice and dry, with just enough hops.
Good job, I say, to the German-trained brewer and the German lager-loving owner. Nice work.

A maibock comes up next, you say? Mmmm, can't wait. I guess once this keg kicks, I'll enjoy the espresso infusion until that one comes along.

By the way, here are some details. 20 IBU, give or take 8 % ABV, and the description: "traditionally brewed using the decoction method and lagered for two and malt driven, with characteristics of dark fruit, and caramel supported by a light toastiness and just enough bitterness from the hops to keep it balanced. ...hearty, yet clean and complex. It's tempting to make this a daily ration of liquid know, to honor the monks."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Leffe Brune

Leffe Brune/Brown, Anno 1240, Puissante et savoureuse/Powerful and full of taste.

Opaque caramel brown coloring, light and clear at the bottom, with a cream-toned head, starts big and billowy, drifts down in time. Looks lovely.

Aroma: soft, slightly sweet, caramel and nuts, dark fruits, raisins, dates, subtle spice notes, clove, etc. Very nice. 

Taste: small bitterness hits the palate first, then replaced with sweet malt. Lush, tasty, with excellent balance. Never too anything, and just enough of what you need. Rich and full in the mouth. Bitter and sweet keep perfect pace. Little this, little that. Bitter now, sweet next, and just plain delicious. 

This is one of my favorite styles of Belgian beers, and Leffe or whoever's in charge of this, has finally decided to let this version into the U.S. At last. And it is good. Great to know. I look forward to tapping it at a Belgian-leaning bar near me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rush River Winter Warmer Ale

Rounding out the sampler pack, here's the bottled version of Rush River's Winter Warmer ale. I must have been eager to capture my impressions for this on, as the notes are dated November, 2004, from the bar at the Bulldog. Lyndale, that is. The other two didn't exist yet. I know I tapped it eventually, myself, and enjoyed it, and gol-durn it, still do. Notes, ahoy!

Appearance: dusky, tawny body, with a good spot of light caramel tones at the bottom, under a slim, but stalwart slab of pleasantly pudding-y cocoa-tan head. 

Aroma: nice, light and creamy, slightly nutty, overall sweet. 

Warm entry on the tongue, light hops, but big, malty sweetness, getting fuller and richer with more time in the mouth.

 Possesses a distinct, supple mouthfeel, giving off rich, toffee-ish flavors, thoroughly tasty. 

The alcohol peeks in just a bid, just enough to warm the blood, and though the body thins a touch towards the end, the flavor never flags. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rush River The Unforgiven Amber Ale

So, I've figured it out, looking back on my notes. I wrote about the porter after tapping it at the Nile, and did notes on the Unforgiven Amber, after having a pint at the Bulldog. Not too hard to figure out, it's spelled out in my original notes, from July, 2004, which start now.

My third sample of this very new brew from a very new brewery. First was a thimble-ful at the Bulldog in Uptown, Minneapolis, next a sample bottle provided by the brewers, and this review is based on a pint had with lunch today, again, at the Bulldog. 

Pours out a murky, rustic, deep amber hue, that somehow unclouds over time, to be more traditionally amber in appearance. Nose is mild, with a discreet whiff of hops, pleasant enough. 

Smoothness reigns on the palate, nothing troubles one, nothing leaps out and grabs, and that is fully the intent of the brew, and help this enterprise to be successful. They told me personally that they weren't out to do anything too agressive right away, and that is an imprtant niche to be filled. 

Light to medium-bodied, (I almost thought "thin", but I don't choose ambers that often, and that's pretty much what you want for the style), with a soft, lingering finish. A nice malty tang rides through the flavor. This was dry-hopped, but ever-so delicately. 

As I don't often follow one beer with the same, (just one of those quirks), I decided to have a pint of Bell's Amber Ale, which I enjoy, to compare. Big difference is, of course, Bell's unique yeast, but also their citric hoppiness, which may put some off...definitely stood out in comparison to The Unforgiven. But they set out to create a smooth, easily accepted amber, and they did it. A beer I'd return to again, if I wasn't feeling the need to feed a hop fix! 

Rush River The Lost Arrow Porter

Every now and then, I try to play catch up and fill in some of the holes on this blog of beers I've reviewed, but haven't appeared here yet. Bought a Winter sample case from Rush River the other day, getting me 4 each of what were actually the first three offerings from this Wisconsin brewery. So, going way back in time again.
I first heard about them in the summer of 2004, when a big banner was outside the Bulldog on Lyndale, announcing this new brewery from Maiden Rock, WI. It was a different world then than it is now. We were desperate for anything new at all, eagerly awaited any new beer from Summit, and expected regular innovations from Town Hall, or Barley John's. A new brewery from Wisconsin? Available here? Better than what's happening in Minnesota!
It didn't take for me to find out who was distributing, and an uncommonly short while later, the brewers/owners paid me a visit. Not long after, the beers appeared on tap at the Blue Nile. Probably the porter first, because that's where my preference lies.

By the way, I asked why "the lost arrow", and the answer is, they like archery.

Anyway, here are my first notes, from July, 2004:

First pour from a freshly-tapped keg. 

Beautiful brown in color, murky, and with a bit of rolling, cascading action, though this is no nitr-tap. Head is a tight tan ring. 

Aroma is very nice, great gobs of cocoa filling the nose, just a dab of bittersweet espresso, warm and inviting. 

Aromatic experiences are revisited in the taste. Chocolate sensations flood the mouth, rich and well-rounded. Full-bodied,with a nice, softly lingering finish. No bitterness, although I like that in my porters sometimes, this is smoothness itself. 

Very easy-drinking and approachable, but not shy on taste, either. 

Good job, here, I think I'll be getting very well-acquainted with this one.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lucky Bucket Snowsuit

Lucky Bucket Snowsuit. Tapped last  Thursday afternoon, finally getting around to sitting down and examining it. Called a Belgian single, or pale ale. Additionally, spiced with cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg. 5.5 % ABV.

Clear, reddish-brown, negligible head. Starts as something, gets to nowhere quickly.

Aroma: sweetness and spice. Like a pumpkin pie. Nutmeg dominates and drowns out anything else.

Taste: sweetness and spice again, and, well, almost too much. Body is lean, malt holds no particular presence, suggests no true character, nothing comes through from hops, and yeast is not present either. Thin, and watery, with the spice standing over everything.

Here's the thing. I took a chance, decided it had every possibility of being good. Tapped without ever drinking it (doesn't happen that often), sampled it, and thought, "hmmm, maybe I made a mistake." Later, had a full glass and changed my mind. "No, no, this is good, people will like it." No one who had it seriously complained.

Right now, I'm wondering what was in my glass four days ago. This is so much thinner in body than I remember, there's nothing to suggest it should be classified Belgian anything, no character at all. The only stand-out flavor is the spices, and they can cover up any flaw you choose to mention, if you pile them up hight enough.

I bought another LB beer untasted/untested (my way of saying "sight unseen"), and that's their barleywine. Maybe I should hook that up before I start promoting it as anything it isn't.

Hopefully, this keg will be gone without much delay, and we can forget about it.

But, to frame it succinctly, there's nothing horribly wrong with this, except that there's nothing really good about it, either.  Taste starts turning sour further into the glass. Does that count for Belgian character?

Two Brothers Bare Tree Weiss

I haven't had this one in a while. The wheat wine from Two Brothers that rings in at high alcohol volumes. Used to be in big bombers, but this year I noticed in 12 ouncers for the first time. And there it sat in the beer fridge, when I had no "drinking beers" left, and I was spent on reviewing. Doing five in one day will do that, sometimes.
But, wait, didn't I write about this one earlier? So, here you go, notes from a bottle, way back in 2001!
And then, a later assessment, from 2004:

2001...been saving this for 3 months, hope it's worth it... 

Hazy, orange color, slight white head. 

Fresh nose, citric, orangey, but a bit flat and metallic. Doesn't jump up much. 

Mmmm, tangy, slightly tart taste, very fruit-forward, orange all over, with a banana touch coming through, a bit of pepper, a whisper of apricot, and, yes, a hush of vanilla, too. An interesting approach, but I still am unconvinced of how they can call this a barleywine..there seems to be nothing in common with any bw I've ever had before. Maybe because none of them were wheat beers? 
Wonderful texture, though, practically floods the palate, with the bright, full fruit, thick, and tasty texture. Yum, and yum, and yum. Good, goody, McGumdrops! 
I'm going to enjoy this big ol' bottle all the way to the end! 

2002 "vintage", enjoyed 10-31-04....golden hued, huge bollowy head, a lovely thing, sublime aroma, atmospherically uplifting, magnificent taste, utterly gorgeous, ...I do believe I shall edit my assessment of the previous year's effort, ...doing a bare-bones review, though, and am not attempting on this tasting to dissect every aspect of the brew, but just let it slide down, and it's good for, I likety-like it.

De Struise / Stillwater Outblack

Outblack. 10% ALC./VOL. 11.2 FL. OZ., Belgian ale brewed with water, barley , oats, wheat, rye, hops, sugar & yeast. Brewed and bottled by De Struise Brouwers & Stillwater Artisanal Ales at SA Deca NV Woesten Vleteren, Belgium. 

And little else. At least it's not gobbldeygook.

Dark as the darkest darkness, fully black, with a rich tanned head atop, small, but long lasting. Very promising appearance. 

Aroma: chocolate and bubblegum. Taffy and toffee and banana. Cream and cocoa and bottlecaps. Not the caps on bottles, but the old candy. you don't remember bottlecaps, the candy? Ah, you're too young. Ah, well, maybe not, anyway, I was just on a roll, and, heck, maybe I was reaching a bit…anyway, forget that, but let's stick with the other stuff.

Taste: an intriguing mix, once again, just as in the nose. Sweetness, some funk, dark malt, hops, a ton of stuff going on. Unusual is a word I want to use. Bright and citrusy at first, fruity, grassy, hoppy, vibrant, then quickly smothered by dark malts and chocolate flavors. 

I am fairly certain I am picking out the rye malt flavors, oh, most definitely, they are sticking out like a spicy sore thumb. Hops are adding an extra kick, with the toffee and caramel and the cocoa of the malt lurking just below.

I like this. It is tasty. And so incredibly unique. Don't ask me to categorize it or pin it down, for that would be fruitless and silly. 

Wait, I've got it. It's a Belgian Black IPA. Oh, I'm sorry, Cascadian Dark Belgian Ale.
Or, something. 

But, I still like it. It's got the goods.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bud Light Platinum

Bud Light Platinum. Wow. Platinum. 6% ABV. Triple Fermented, I hear. Anheuser Busch, St. Louis, MO. Lager 12 fl. oz. Born on date: 12007vx78. whatever that means.

"Platinum (11px-Loudspeaker.svg.png /ˈplætɨnəm/ or /ˈplætənəm/) is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78."

Yellow, no head. Active carbonation. Not appealing to look at. Could have just the same being peering at my toilet bowl. But no one is really looking at this, it's being chugged from a bottle.

Even though it has six naturally occurring isotopes, platinum is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust and has an average abundance of approximately 5 μg/kg. It is the least reactive metal. It occurs in some nickel and copper ores along with some native deposits, mostly in South Africa, which accounts for 80% of the world production.

Aroma: cereal grains. Probably a lot of rice. Nothing else. Wet water and weak everything else. Moist air. 

As a member of the platinum group of elements, as well as of the group 10 of the periodic table of elements, platinum is generally non-reactive. It exhibits a remarkable resistance to corrosion, even at high temperatures, and as such is considered a noble metal. As a result, platinum is often found chemically uncombined as native platinum. Because it occurs naturally in the alluvial sands of various rivers, it was first used by pre-Columbian South American natives to produce artifacts. It was referenced in European writings as early as 16th century, but it was not until Antonio de Ulloa published a report on a new metal of Colombian origin in 1748 that it became investigated by scientists.

Taste: must I? I must. Tons of carbonation. Bristling bubblation on the palate, then gone, then nothing. Nothing from nothing means nothing. Gotta have something. And we got nothing. The tongue sticks in the liquid and pulls out…nothing. The mind races for something and comes back with nothing. Is it a beer? Is it a plane? It's …nothing. It's watered down alcopops. It's a bottle of Smirnoff Ice added to a gallon of ice water. 

Platinum is used in catalytic converters, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts and electrodesplatinum resistance thermometersdentistry equipment, and jewelry. Because only a few hundred tonnes are produced annually, it is a scarce material, and is highly valuable and is a major precious metal commodity. Being a heavy metal, it leads to health issues upon exposure to its salts, but due to its corrosion resistance, it is not as toxic as some metals. Its compounds, most notablycisplatin, are applied in chemotherapy against certain types of cancer.[2]

Enough carbonation to make you think you're drinking beer. But, that would be a lie and that would be wrong. What could I say to sell this more than "less watery than water"? "Less pungent than pee?"

As a pure metal, platinum is silvery-white, lustrous, ductile, and malleable.[3] Platinum is more ductile than gold, silver and copper, thus being the most ductile of pure metals, but gold is still more malleable than platinum [4][5] It does not oxidize at any temperature, although it is corroded by halogenscyanidessulfur, and caustic alkalis. Platinum is insoluble inhydrochloric and nitric acid, but dissolves in hot aqua regia to form chloroplatinic acid, H2PtCl6.[6]

Blah, blah, blah. Wait, I meant, "fullest expression yet known of Bud Light. Bud Light to the Nth Degree. Ne Plus ultra Bud Light. Etcetera."
Higher alcohol, no extra flavor or body, Bud Light Blah. I don't know how else to explain it.

Platinum is an extremely rare metal,[11] occurring at a concentration of only 0.005ppm in the Earth's crust.[12][13] It is sometimes mistaken for silver (Ag). Platinum is often found chemically uncombined as native platinum and alloyed with iridium as platiniridium. Most often the native platinum is found in secondary deposits; platinum is combined with the other platinum group metals in alluvial deposits. The alluvial deposits used by pre-Columbian people in the Chocó DepartmentColombiaare still a source for platinum group metals. Another large alluvial deposit is in the Ural Mountains, Russia, and it is still mined.[6]

Who is this meant for, I wonder? Bud Light drinkers who want to step up, but not all the way to Budweiser, or Select, or what-have-you? Drinkers who want watery, but not that watery?

Platinum's rarity as a metal has caused advertisers to associate it with exclusivity and wealth. "Platinum" debit cards have greater privileges than do "gold" ones.[52] "Platinum awards" are the second highest possible, ranking above "gold", "silver" and "bronze", but below diamond. For example, in the United States, a musical album that has sold more than 1 million copies, will be credited as "platinum", whereas an album that sold more than 10 million copies will be certified as "diamond".[53] Some products, such as blenders and vehicles, with a silvery-white color are identified as "platinum". Platinum is considered a precious metal, although its use is not as common as the use of gold or silver. The frame of the Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, manufactured for her coronation as Consort of King George VI, is made of platinum. It was the first British crown to be made of this particular metal.

Ah, ha! I knew there had to be a reason this is called "Platinum." I knew it wasn't found in alluvial deposits, and it's most certain to oxidize in certain temperatures. How precious and rare is this beer? That is yet to be seen. I haven't found anything in it to convince me it will last.

But, I hope you enjoyed learning about Platinum! Thanks, Wikipedia!


Kentucky Ale

Kentucky Ale. A marriage of traditional English Pale Ale and Irish Red Ale styles. Brewed and bottled by Alltech's Lexington Brewing Company, Lexington, KY, ALC/VoVOL 5.34%. "Visit for the story behind our microbrewery."

Clear, light amber coloring, slim whitish head.

Aroma: sweet malt. Very wort-y, if I may coin such a term. Like I'm in the middle of a brew session. Big malt, minor hops. Pleasant enough, though. 

Taste: hmm. More of the same. Sweet malt, only slightly tempered by hops. Warm, malty, and uniquely refreshing. I don't think I'd imagine a cross between English pale ale and Irish red as being exactly like this, but perhaps that indemnifies my own imagination. Or is testament to a unique creation by this brewery?

Mild in flavor, easy-drinking, malty as all-get out, low-ish alcohol-wise. But not consisting of flavors that grab me, please me, squeeze me, etcetera. This may be good for some, and I hope they're happy with it, but, yeah, this don't do it for me. 
Actually, it's losing what little appeal it ever had. I'm getting close to calling "yuk" on this one. I know what I like, and I know what's good, and this ain't good, buddy.

P.S. I just discovered that I'd already reviewed this, six years ago, and completely forgotten about it. My notes were essentially the same sentiment, but worded differently, of course. 

Capital Manoomator Wild Rice Doppelbock

Here's a brand new one from Middleburg, Wisconin's Capital Brewery, a German lager centered concern that's keen on doppelbocks. The only other beer of theirs I've covered here was their Eisphyre. And here we have a wild rice doppelbock, bottle provided as a sample from my helpful and handy rep, Brandon. Notes, do your stuff!

Manoomator, Capital Square Series. "In Ojibwe, wild rice is known as Manoomin. In Bavaria, Doppelbock names end in -ator. Manoomator is a bilingualized term describing a Doppelbock with wild rice included in the grist. The result…" …whoa, nope, not this time. Later, maybe.

Clear and coppery-colored. No head at all. Despite that, bubble continue to rise to the surface. 

Rich, sweet, malty aromatics, with apparent alcohol notes. Grain/cereal notes, mineral. 

Taste: hits the mouth with richness and sweetness at the start, bold, flavorful, tasty. One problem I have is that while I like eating wild rice, I very rarely like drinking it.
In fact, I don't really think it helps a lot in the malt bill of a beer. Doesn't add any flavors that I can detect. 
Brisk carbonation blasts the palate. Bright. Full and fierce. Almost stinging. Body isn't as full and flush as I'd like, though. Maybe it's the rice not talking.

Calms down a bit after a while. But I'm not getting more flavor here. 
Wild rice doppelbock. Not a fan.

O'So Hopdinger Double IPA

O'so Hopdinger, O'So Brewing Company, Plover, WI. 
"Pungent. Hoppy. Crisp. Floral. Bitter. Piney. Resinous. Engaging."

Well, great, now I don't need to write anything, do I?

I will, anyway. 

Murky, dank deep amber hue, considerable carbonation and head. Billowing and lacy. Gigantic. Impressive….whoa, if I don't watch out, they'll have me expressing myself in one word statements.

Aroma: Yup, bitter, floral, piney, resinous, citric, pungent, hoppy, ….let's not repeat ourselves. It hits the notes you want in a double IPA. A little hint of honey in there, too, unless I'm imagining it. And I'm not.

Taste: bitter and pungent, and all that all over again. Malt flavor keep up with the huge hops, and there's an astringency added in that I can't help feeling was unintended. Don't think I tasted this when I bought it back in November. Yeah, why did this sit in the fridge for 3 months? And is the brew older than that, actually? No bottled on date, no way to know. 

This bottle is definitely funkier than when it was (I think) fresh. A little sour happening here. Lesson learned. Drink those hoppy beers up, don't sit on them, like the Pliny the Elder label implores us. We're not hens, and they're not eggs.
It does not mean, in any way shape or form, that a week or two or three will make them undrinkable, but …hey, maybe I'm wrong. 

I do like this like this. It has a Belgian quality that I find utterly diggable. Not crisply clean like a HopSlam or any kind of palate buster like a Maharaja and nowhere as smooth as an Abrasive Ale. But, quite flavorful, and unique. Lively carbonation, non-stop hops. I do like it.

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...