Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Laughing Dog Rocketdog Rye I.P.A.

Laughing Dog Brewing Company Rocketdog Rye I.P.A. Bottled 3/1/12. Ponderay, Idaho. 6.9% ABV. OG 1.062, IBUs 62, Simcoe, Columbus, and Cascade Hops, Pale, Rye and Munich Malt. "Rocketdog to save the day!" No further gobbledygook to be seen.

It bears repeating. Every beer looks better in a Duvel glass! And this is a bit of a surprise of a rye beer, here, for I've never seen one quite so golden. Very hazed, though bright and yellow, under a gigantic, flowering white head. Quite a sight.

Aroma: nice and citrusy at the start. Lemon and orange, plus a splash of prickly pine. Not too loud, juuuust right.

In the mouth, hoppy and spicy and ever-so tasty. Pale malts meet rye for smooth and spicy flavor. Lean body, edging on medium, flush with big, hoppy taste. Easy drinking, all the way.

This is very different from other rye pale ales or IPAs, which use more rye, and come out darker and a bit heavier. Subtle is the word, here, just enough to give it a little of that spicy character we expect, and not too much, either. Juuust right.

Mmmm, I like one. Thanks, Rocketdog!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dave's BrewFarm Trapplist

Dave's BrewFarm Trapplist. 8.5% ABV. Dave's BrewFarm, Wislon, Wisconsin.

Deep reddish hue, small creamy-hued head drifts down to nil in no time.

Aroma: Right from the start, a Belgian-style flavor comes through, via the yeast and malt, that unique fruity, funky fresh flavor. Caramel tones, too, and, yeah, the apple is coming through, too. Nice.

Taste: There it is again, a crisp, fruity malt character, covered over with Belgian yeast. Nothing from hops here, but the tasty malt flavor makes up for that, as well as the warming alcohol content. Mmm. Yeah. A little fire in this, enough to make this perfect for a late October night. Tastes like a trappist dubbel meets a quadruple (though not quite as strong), with this extra tasty apple layer on top.

Mmm. I said it before and I'll say it again. One of my favorite BrewFarm offerings.

Let's look at what Farmer Dave tells us about it: "Hey, --could you use some apple jelly that didn't set?" Pils, caramel 80, and Briess Special Roast malts, Brewer's Gold and Ahtanum hops. Late addition of Harrelson's apple jelly, fermented with a Trappist lineage yeast."

Super secret extra information: Farmer Dave says the name came first, and the occasion for brewing the beer later. It's an awesome name.

The Duck Rabbit Duck-Rabbator Doppelbock

The Duck Rabbit (The Dark Beer Specialist) Duck Rabbator Lager Doppelbock. 8.5 % Alcohol by Volume. Farmville,  North Carolina.

The duck-rabbit has grown goat horns on this one, and the -ator suffix is in play, as is traditional for a German-style doppelbock.

This one looks the part right away, a dark brown body, slimmed head, starts copious and drifts down.

Aroma: rich, sweet malty nose, toffee aplenty, caramel, molasses, nougat. Yeah, it's a liquid candy-bar, big, beefy, complex and full of character. That's just the nose, now, let's take it to the tasting.

Taste: Deep and rich, plump with dark, malty flavor. All that from the nose returns on the palate. It's a melted down tootsy roll rolling around in the mouth. Medium-bodied, with a long, sweet finish, inching towards dry. Fully-flavored, and rightfully delicious.

Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils

Mama's  Little Yella Pils, Oskar Blues Brewery, Lyons, Colorado. Pilsner. Alc 5.3% by vol.

It's yella, all right, lightly clouded, with a smallish white head.

Aroma: bright and balmy, crisp and clean, light, malty cereal tones. Little bit of hops.

Taste: In the mouth, crisper and cleaner, a bit of bright lemon flavor popping in. Light  body, soft finish. Just enough malt flavor to keep this fun and flavorful. Nothing like my evil nemesis, that is to say, watery, bland beer. Nothing like that here.

Top notch pilsner, right here in this can.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Big Boss Big Operator

Big Boss The Big Operator Ale with Raspberries and Cacao, Belgian Style Ale. Big Boss Brewing Company. Handle Your Business. (???) Brewed and bottled by Big Boss Brewing Company, Raleigh, North Carolina. 8 % Alc. by Vol.

"A Belgian-influenced Black Ale aged with locally roasted cacao from
elemental Chocolate Company of Raleigh and real raspberries shipped to us overnight from the Pacific Northwest. Big O is a deceptively delicious beer."

Deep brown, nearly black, under a beautiful roasty brown head of foam, long lasting, if thin.

Aroma: Rich, thick chocolate notes, with raspberries far behind. Wait a minute, wait a minute…there they are! Very nice.

Taste: Mmm. Nice, tingle of hops up front, then the thickness of the malt, mellowed a bit, assuredly washing down the throat. Scrumptious. Big, fat, and tasty, but more like a Russian Imperial Stout, than any Belgian anything I'd ever had. Doesn't taste even slightly like a Belgian, at least not yet.

The raspberries are still hiding behind the cocoa (or cacao), they're still sly and subtle. A touch toasty, big and roasty, sweetness emerging, but kept at bay by bitterness.

My first from this brewery. I'm ready for more.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Bruery Autumn Maple

The Bruery Autumn Maple, Belgian-style Brown Ale Brewed With Yams, Molasses, Maple Syrup and Spices. Alc. 10% by Vol. "We don't need pumpkins in our beer! Big, bold, spicy, and oh, so yammy, our delicious brown ale is perfect for those cold autumn nights."

Appearance: dark ruby red, nearing on brown, with a large, lovely, bilious head of lacy foam.

Aroma: Deep and malty, with a particularly Belgian brown ale kick. Reminded of some of my favorite Belgian strong darks, like Nostradamus or St. Bernardus. Not picking up any particular fruit, vegetable or spice, though.

Taste: Mmmm. Maybe there's yams in here, somewhere, but they don't comes out in the first taste. Molasses, that I can get, brown sugar, maybe. and maple, too, yeah. Building in sweetness as we go, as well as alcohol. Mild hops, abated sweetness. Full-blown body and flavor.

And, yeah, I spoke too soon, now, just now, not before, not then, but now, I'm tasting the vegetation. Deep and malty and sweet. Unmistakably Belgian. Definitely delicious. Love it. Warming, and wonderful and yum.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lift Bridge Schlagen Fest Oktoberfest

Lift Bridge Schlagen Fest (Oktoberfest )

Slagen is German for "Strike", as in the German game of "Hammerschlagen", striking with a hammer. Why this was called that, I'm not entirely sure. Poured from a growler, courtesy of Lift Bridge Brewing, fresh from the taproom.

Clear, dark amber, copper coloring, short, but lasting off-white head.

Aroma: slightly sweet earthy/herbal notes, lush malt, toasty and warm.

Taste: Malt is the champion here and rises up, dominates the palate. Medium body, nice and smooth, not too wide on any side. Warm, toasty caramel tones, rich and delicious. Judicious notes of sweet malt drop pleasure through every sip and swallow. Slides down easy, cool and classy. And it goes, it grows meatier and heartier.

Foothills Oktoberfest

Foothills Oktoberfest Lager, Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 6.3% ABV., 29 IBU. SRM 13.3

Deep amber/copper color, nice, creamy head, long lasting.

 Earthy/ herbal aromatics, good and malty. Good balance, low hops, not too sweet. Now, lets' put it to the lips…

Taste: more of that, on the palate. The earth, the herb, tasty malt, rich and warming. Stays long on the tongue, hangs hard in the back. Rolls out smooth and easy. Little bit of fruit peeks out in the flavor, a touch of ripe berries. 

Mmm. I like this one. Good stuff. 

Here's what they say on the label: "A German-style amber lager. Dark amber to light brown in color. Sweet caramel and toffee sweetness up front with notes of toasted bread and hints of roasted cashews and almonds."

Cashews? That's a new one for me. But I didn't feel the toffee, either.

Boulevard 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Ale

This one is in the small bag as the last, a sample pack from that same salesrep, a beer I probably wouldn't seek out on it's own. But, like it, I did, and here come the notes to prove it:

Boulevard 80 Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer, Kansas City, Missouri.

Hazy, pale yellow, leaning on white, under lacy white, soon gone head.

Aromatics: citrus zest and spice, with a distinctive hoppy sheen. Tropical fruit pops up, some pineapple meets the lemon. Very nice. Wish I knew what hops, but I'd guess Amarillo or Centennial.

Taste: Smooth wheaten texture. Medium bodied. Nice, juicy mouthfeel. Mmm, easy, easy drinking, vibrant hoppy flavor.

I'm probably not going to go out of my way for more of this, especially in this season, but next summer, I'd grab some again.

Cerveza Bohemia

A free sample from a distributor salesrep. Pretty sure I wouldn't pick this up on my own, and no one's asked for it on the Latin Nights. Notes, ahoy!

Bohemia Cerveza, Hecho en Mexico, brewed and bottled by Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma, …and more stuff in Spanish.

Clear, pale yellow coloring, large, lasting white head.

Aroma: faint aromatics, cereal grains, small hops, lean malt. Inoffensive, but not particularly pleasant.

Taste: A little buzz of hops jumps on the palate for a second, then departs. A sliver of malt flavor visits the tongue, then fades. Not a bad flavor, but mostly missing. Small touch of sweetness initially, rides off, then disappears with everything else.

Here we have a Mexican lager that doesn't exactly suck. For what that's worth.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Indeed Sweet Yamma Jamma sweet potato ale

Sweet Yamma Jamma, Indeed Brewing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"We chefed up something special for fall with Sweet Yamma Jamma, a spiced sweet potato ale. Brewed with pulverized sweet potatoes, candied yams, and a special blend of spices, Yamma Jamma is full of flavors and aroma that pair well with fall colors and crisp nights. 5% ABV, 10 IBU, Style: Sweet Potato Ale.
Lightly hazed, copper-y, amber coloring, under a full, flush, stable head of off-white head.
Aroma: sweet and vegetal, little hops, much malt. Some spices, but which exactly, I'm not sure. Maybe cinnamon, allspice, a touch of clove? The fruit is biggest, though.
Taste: Mmmm, yeah. If I didn't know what this was, I'd guess it was a pumpkin ale, because the flavors are so similar. Large, plump, lush flavor of the gourd, whether yam or what have you, it's big and in it deep. 
I know what people may be thinking: Oh, my God, a Sweet Potato Ale, that's got to be weird, right? I've never heard of that, it's unfamiliar, I'm scared, oooo….Ooooo!
Yeah, that's how they talk, that's how they are…
But, this…this is nice. Here's a way to celebrate the season without being a conformist. I like that. I was skeptical, as well, about a sweet potato ale, but the drinking quits all doubts. Yum. Sweet, but not too much, good balance (I think this will be a common thread with Indeed…with some exceptions…), and utter deliciousness. Mmmm, tasty. I could drink it and drink it. 
But, not 9% alcohol, that may be where they went wrong, he asks, facetiously.

Hoppin' Frog Mean Manalishi Double IPA

A bottle purchased in Wisconsin recently, with notes from December, 2009:

Very hazey, deep sunsetted orange coloration., slim negligible head.

Aroma: spice and fruit aplenty. A mess of citric and tropical fruit, with a blas tof pithy spice.

Taste: Toasty caramel malt holds down the fort, with bitter hops blazing above. A murky soup of intense hoppy flavors. Bright, bitter, bold, rich, .... a great melange of spicy, aggressive flavors. Thick mouthfeel ,long, hoppy finish.

Big and thick.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hoppin' Frog Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale

Hoppin' Frog Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale, ale brewed with pumpkin and spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and clove). 8.4% Alc./vol. 76 OG (18.4 P) 7.3 IBU.

Nice orange/amber coloring, thinnish, though staying, white ahead.

Potent aromatics pour out of the glass. Warm blend of spices, mixed with the real fruit of the pumpkin. Sweetness and spice and everything nice.

Taste: Mmm! Full flavor, full body, a big bombardment of pumpkin-ness, with a blast of spice on the side. Minor hops, major malt. Very mellow, and very delicious. Just enough of everything. MMm, pumpkin pie!

I loathe sorry-ass pumpkin beers that just toss in the spice, and leave out the gourd.  I try to steer far clear of those duds. This is one of the good ones. Mmm, as I said, mmm.

Here's what they say on the label:
"Frog's Hollow Pumpkin Ale: There's a place jus south they call Frog's Hollow, with cauldron's afire in Fall, and they only speak in whispers of the name. There's a brewery they say who has the secret of spices picked just right. With a crying shout, they'll knock it out, and hand you this Frog's delight."

A bit too flowery for my taste, a touch too precious, a tiny too poetic. Well, so what. The beer's good enough to warrant it.

(I've since discovered that I actually had, and reviewed, this beer some six years ago. the notes were fairly similar. )

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oskar Blues Old Chub Scotch Ale

Looking back to notes from May, 2006 for this can recently purchased in Wisconsin, Old Chub Scotch Ale from Oskar Blues of Lyons, Colorado:

Dark brown body, with ruby highlights, transparent near the edge, under a slim cocoa ring of foam.

Earthy aroma, mostly malty, chocolate on top, with a mineral-y edge to it...espresso tinges...very gritty. Murky morass, showing minimal hops. Quite stout-like, actually. I rather like it.

Taste: big and all over the place. Rich and earthy, fat malt, deep and dark. Caramel and toffee. Sweetness is here, but not too overt. Rounded out by earthy, dry malt. Nice balance. Great girth, matched by excellent drinkaility. High abv isn't noticed at first.

Danged tasty, this. I could see this being a staple, in constant rotation in my fridge, were it actually available here. A great-tasting solid, full-bodied Scotch ale in a can. Got to love that!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Terrapin Wake 'n' Bake Oatmeal Imperial Coffee Stout

As I mentioned earlier, I'm doing more trading to get brews from further away, so that this blog is not completely dominated by beers I can buy here in Minnesota or pick up in neighboring Wisconsin. A look at my stats revealed that, by number of reviews, the top states in the union represented at the Bitter Nib are #5), Michigan, #4, Colorado, #3, California, #2, Wisconisn, and #1, no big surprise, Minnnesota, with over 130 beers represented from my home state. (This is from number of tags, there's still the matter of whether those tags are accurate, or if they all represent a beer. But let's not worry about that. Though, by nature of having mentioned it, you know that I have already.)

(And I know that statistics are only entertaining to fellow nerds, but I can't help myself. Don't worry, it'll be over soon.)

There are a total of 33 states included in the Nib, and 17 missing at this point (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming). Wait, scratch that, for my most recent trade for North Carolina beers was with a gentleman from Georgia, who included two of his locals, one of which I'd had before. This was from a trade six years ago, and I noted that the original name of the beer was missing from the label. This time, it reappears as an abbreviation, "W'n'B". I'm not sure who's objecting, but do they think the "bake" means more than cookies? Not sure about that.

Anyway, off we go with notes from May, 2006:

Impenetrable brown hue, here, with toasted cocoa foam above, though it slips away too quickly.

Deep aromatics, rich and roasty, unfathomable, lightly bittersweet, yielding some oatmeal tones, but not much from coffee. Likable, though.

Taste: everything you'd want from a stout. Creamy, sumptuous, slick, thick, abounding with chocolate and coffee flavors, wrapped up in malty delciousness. And just when I think it's mainly cocoa, the coffee tips in for a bit. Like a two-step, these flavors jump in and out, showing themselves in succession.

Rich and luxuriant, this Wake and Bake (Oddly, these words are missing from the label...wonder why?). I like it. Very tasty, and a dream to drink.

Yum, yum...way to go, Terrapin, you kooky turtles!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Glarus Fat Squirrel brown ale

Another New Glarus brew that I first had nine years ago, looking at those long-ago notes...

Fat Squirrel, their brown ale:

Appearance: clear, caramelly-brown color, with a nice, off-whitish head.

Aroma: nice, soft, creamy, a little sweet, but speaks of little else.

No, I speak too time, more flavor develops in this nose, give it time and the tell-tale nut appears, the aroma fleshes out, yeah, now, it's diggety...

Good hops right up front, and big, chocolatey malt immediately thereafter...good, substantial mouthfeel, this felt very nice on the palate, great prescence, very nice.

So many browns are meek and mild in flavor and body, so few display much in the way of taste and body, and the Fat Squirrel is a step in a better direction. I could drink a few of these, I could...

New Glarus Spotted Cow cream ale

This one was picked up as a single during my last Wisconsin visit (a trip to Dave's BrewFarm, where there were no new-to-me growlers to bring home.) I didn't want to get a 6-pack, because I know it's not a favorite of mine, though it is for many, many others. Here are notes from October, 2003, for New Glarus' cream ale, Spotted Cow:

Someone once urged me to try one, and declared it "the best". So now I have, but that claim speaks more about them then it does about this.

Appearance: a clear pale yella hue, with a slight, soon vanishing white head.

Nose is mee, softly citric, a tiny bit sour.

Smooth on the palate, though not entirely without flavor. Practically no hops no speak of, just adequate enough malt, vestigal fruit notes whisper briefly.

Finish is brief, non-descript. Body is light to the point of invisibility. A very fragile, meek little beer.
Would be a decent choice for a "lawnmower" brew, maybe, when complexity and challenge are not in the order.
Not a bad beer, but not much, either.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Baltic Porter

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Baltic Porter, Leinenkugel's Brewing Company, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. 8.5% ABV.

Dark brown coloring, with plenty of ruby highlights shining in through the edges and bottom, smallish dark head on it.

Aroma: Molasses, anise, port wine…a blend of dark fruit and spices. Rich and dark malty porter, with notes of cocoa and caramel.

Taste: Floods the mouth with an array of flavors, Washes over the shores of the palate with a blend of dark fruit, rum, cocoa and cola. Medium bodied, not quite big enough to be full. Mid-way through, though, a fresh flush of flavor rises up, a bit more of that anise pulls up on the palate, a blitz of spice on top of dark, delicious malt.

Let's see what they wrote on the label. "A rich, malty brew with toffee, port and chocolate notes and a dark fruit finish." Short, succinct, truthful. I like wording like that.

Very good for a Baltic Porter. Not up there with the best, but not a bad attempt, either.

Olde Hickory Oktoberfest Lager

Olde Hickory Oktoberfest Lager. Brewed and bottled by Olde Hickory Brewery, Hickory, North Carolina.

Clear, copper/amber coloring, small white head.

Deep, warm, herbal aromatics. Much malt in the nose, just enough sweetness, ending dryly. Nice.

Taste: A rich, malty affair in this bottle. A little bit of hop bitterness counteracts the big malt flavor and ensuing sweetness. Great balance in this one. Unknown alcohol, but it feels moderate. Clean, beautiful flavor, tasty little tango between bitter and sweet. MMM, yummy. I'm going to enjoy this all the way down the bottle.

What do they say about their beer? "This is a traditional German-style Marzen. A rich malty lager beer delicately balanced and brewed with imported noble hops. Crafted for enjoyment during the fall season! Cheers!"

Cheers back at you, OH!

Praga Czech Pils

Praga Premium Pils, Authentic Czech, 1784, Brewed by natural process using the best all natural ingredients. Brewed and bottled by Pivovar Samson, Czech Republic. 4.7% ABV.

The look: clear and golden, stable white head holds tight on top.

The aroma: light, floral hops, cereal grains, and a considerable amount of some skunk funk. (To quote the Brecker Brothers.) It's a green bottle. This happens.

The taste of it: clean, crisp, with a minimal spark of hops, and a lot of cereal malt flavor. Skunky aroma doesn't cross over into the taste, with something's holding this back from being purely pleasurable. It's light and easily drinkable, that's for sure. Ends on the dry side.
And as we get further in, it's mild and mellow and not hard to take. That's not glowing praise, I know, but I wasn't going there anyway.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lift Bridge Commander Barleywine, bourbon barrel-aged

Lift Bridge Brewing Company Commander Bona Fide Barley Wine Ale. 2011 bottle, #3014. Ale brewed with cardamom and aged in bourbon barrels. Alc. 12.5%. Goblet worthy. Brewed & bottled by Lift Bridge Brewing company, Stillwater, Minn.

Beautiful clear, garnet hue, off-white head slims down with a quickness.

Aroma: cherry, vanilla, brown sugar, alcohol…and bourbon. Gorgeous.

Taste: Mmmm, boom! Big malt flavor right off the bat, huge taste, enormous. Maple is here, treacle, rich, warm and delicious. Incredible. Vanilla, sugar, big booze, Amazingly complex, rich, and rewarding. Some chocolate roars in, cocoa, caramel, toffee.
So much.
Maybe a little too much,?
but, no, not really…
 not quite...

Mikkeller Ultramate 1000 Pale Ale

Mikkeller Ultramate1000, Live Life to the Ultra, 4.9% Alc./Vol. American Style Pale Ale. Brewed and bottled by Mikkeller at De Proef Brouwerij, Lochristi-Hufte, Belgium.

Hazed, opaque, dark amber hue, snow-white head, lasting and lace-leaving.

Aroma: Super-dank and piney! Loads of grapefruit and lemon! Extra, no, ultra-hoppy all the way.

Taste: There it is, on the palate. Thick and sticky, intensely bitter. Excrutiatingly bitter. Big malt holding this up, too, with a massive mouthfeel. Plenty of citric fruit flavor, and did we mention bitterness?

This is a bit of a mess, all over the place, way bigger than an "American Pale Ale" ought to be. Nonetheless, I like it. Can't love it, though

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Brau Brothers Barrel Aged Belgian Style Quad Ale

Brau Brothers Barrel Aged Belgian Style Quad Ale. Ale Aged in Used Whisky Barrels. Alc. 11.5% by Vol. Brau Brothers Brewing, Lucan, MN.

Deep violet coloring, opaque, with a dusky cream-toned head, somewhat slim, but staying.

Aroma: Whiskey comes screaming out of this one. It dominates the olfactory profile till nothing else can be discerned. Sweet, rich malt, but whiskey's all over it.

Taste it: More sweet, more malt, and some telltale Belgian yeast flavor, with that unnameable, untouchable, indefinable something. Whisky slips in underneath. Vanilla notes, caramel, some cherry and other dark fruit. Delicious malt flavor, small hop profile, if any, and all wrapped up in the kiss of the barrel.

A beautiful effect on the soul, with this brew, a mellow mollification. This is one for the long haul, to stretch out the night, to soothe the weary patches, to calm the restless bosom. Mmm. I'm tackling this solo, but it's a great nightcapper for a gathering of friends. I'm going back for more of this, to hold onto for just such an occasion.

This one is a terrifically complex and wonderful ale, deep, resonant, and full of many flavors, with the barrel's effect only part of it (if it did dominate the aroma). The single best beer out of Lucan, MN yet, but then I find myself saying that with every new release, don't I? Well done, Brau Brothers, well done.  Really good. Really, really good. Close to amazing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Glarus Enigma

Drinking a new bottle from a fresh batch now, looking at notes from 5 years ago, February, 2007:

Reddish brown coloration, fine, fizzy froth above, soon dissapating.

Nose is sour cherries, fruity fink, twisted cognacy feel melded with caramel malt and wicked Belgian yeast. Sour grapes mix with licorice and leather. Interesting.

In the mouth and on the tongue, there is is, the Flemish Red style with a touch of the lambic. Fruity, sour, complex and invigorating. Well-balanced, not too forward, good integration, and terminally tasty. Warm brown ale meets sour fruit. A twisted elixir.

Soft, tart fruit finish. Medium body. Not off-putting in the least, and easily down able, but a treat to relax and luxuriate with.

Grimbergen Dubbel

As some astute readers have ascertained, I have a fondness for the Belgian abbey dubbel style. This one, from the Brewery Alken-Maies,  is not among my favorites. A bottle fell into my possession, thanks to a distributor sales rep, but my opinion is the same as in February, 2005, when I wrote these notes:

Deep plummy brown color, with bright crimson highlights streaming through...nice, though brief and slight, layer of fizz floating above.

Aroma: plum, raisin, date, maple syrup, dark fruits, deep cherries, grapes, ...intriquing, but not exceptional....

Taste: More of those same flavors from the nose here in the flavor, dark fruits aplenty, deep and plentiful, this is a nice double, but not in the realm of the transcendent. Nutty, fruity, dark, and just a little yummy.

Full-bodied, with a long, fruity finish. A nice drinker, easy going, I'd recommend it, but not over any other dubbel...plenty of other tasty beers out there. I'd urge you to acquaint you with them, and not to worry about this one. I've tried it, time to move on to the next....

Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA

Drinking now, with notes from July, 2004, shortly after it's initial release:

Hazy golden, near-unto-peachy hue in appearance, with an impressive showing of white foam in the head.

Aroma, fresh, piney, citric, pineapple, very nice...just right, hops are abundant, but rather mellow, actually, not too razzle dazzle, soft , yet sure. After more sniffs, I admire the nearly nakedness of the hops, the pure oiliness...very beautiful, indeed! Mmmmm!

Taste:nice texture, roundly rings the mouth, but, alas, doesn't maintain it's ground too well, I'm afraid.
Let's give another try...delicious, I've gotta say, freshly fruity, with a hoppy quality that sweetly swims in the mouth, but unfortunately, doesn't stay too long at play on the palate. I'll try it again...yum, bright, sweet, hoppy, tasty, then all fades and is nearly forgotten.

 Hops and sweet fruit remain high, but the balance is very delicate.
I like it, though, I'd drink it by the bucket-ful. Very tasty, though it lacks in any kind of hoppy sting, as well as malty blanket that I feel are necessary for a top-rank guy's opinion!

Tyranena Hop Whore Imperial IPA

Tyranena's Hop Whore Imperial IPA, from the Brewers Gone Wild Series, drinking now, looking at notes from October, 2006, when it was first released:

Glowing orange coloration, quite opaque, smallish creamy white head.

Aroma screams of hops, pungent pine, deep dark fruit, tropical fruit, pineapple, mango, banana, grapefruit, Delectable. Major malt is felt, as well, and it puts me in mind of a barleywine. Major alcohol smell.

Incredibly intense impression in the mouth. Huge hop blast, brilliant bitterness riding the tongue. Ripe fruit burst everywhere along the palate. Just delicious. And, although insanely bitter and hoptastic, it's remarkably easy to drink. Or maybe I'm just inured to the hops. That's probably it.

Full bodied, eternal finish. Bitterness persists and rings fresh with every swallow.

Really tasty. My kind of Double IPA. Yum, yum.

Tommyknocker Saison

Tommy knocker  Brewery Nice Saison Seasonal Ale, Colorado, 5.5% ABV/ IBU 15. Tommyknocker Brewery & Pub, Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Clouded golden hued, slim white head.

Aroma: some funk & some sour, citrus and spice, everything nice. Plenty of Belgian yeast in this thing, tantalizing the senses.

Taste: Big pucker up front, huge tartness and a double hit of citric sour and sweetness. Minor hops, mellow malt, it's the yeast giving it the far-out funky Belgian kick. Leans back a little, then roars back with each new sip and gulp.

One flaw: a bit too much of that flashy sour, funky flavor, a bit more than required and desired in a saison. Can you believe I'm saying this? Well, we have to draw the line somewhere.

Here's what they write on the label: "A bright golden effervescent brew that is slightly tart with a spicy aroma." Okay, sounds good, but it undersells it just a tad.
There's more on the label about the mischievous elves who give the beer it's name, but let's leave that for now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Indeed Fresh Hop Ale

Indeed's Fresh Hop Ale, fourth release from our newest Minneapolis brewery, their second seasonal. Brewed the same way as Town Hall's Fresh Hop and Surly's Wet, tons of hops, just picked, flown straightaway and dumped into the kettles. In fact, I think this one was brewed the very same day as Surly Wet, if we can go by Facebook posts and such.

It's a clear, golden hue, under a gorgeous, crystal white head, lace-leaving, looking lovely.

Aroma: Ah! Fantastic! Hints of tropical fruits, citrus, pine, and something …well, just beautiful. I'm a devoted hophead, and this is my crank, right here. Ah, glorious humulus lupulus!

Taste: Mmm! Yu-um! There's a special malt, only one, at work here, and it's identified as an Irish Stout malt. Why is the beer so pale and clear, then. There's things I don't fully understand. Someone will inevitably school me, or I'll figure it out, nonetheless. In any case, this Irish malt with the Centennial hops really brings forth nothing less than deliciousness. And at 5% ABV, there's nothing stopping the quaffing. Except the cost. Shipping out tremendous amounts of hops isn't cheap. Nothing good ever is.

It drinks wonderfully, it's lean bodied, full of zest and verve, and spills out nothing but happiness. Nicely bitter, but without any punishment. Damned delicious. Mmmm, I'm in hop-head heaven.

Here's what the brewery says about it: "Our first annual Fresh Hop offering is a sessionable single-malt pale ale brewed with Irish Stout Malt and wet Centennial hops harvested in the Yakima Valley less-than 24-hours before being added to this brew. Join us in celebrating the hop harvest and the beginning of fall." 5% ABV.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Great River Roller Dam Red Ale

Great River Roller Dam Red Ale, Great River Brewery, Quad Cities, USA (Davenport, Iowa). 5.4% ABV, 30 IBU.

Appearance: clear, deep reddish hue, speckled, spotted off-white head, leaving lace.

Aroma: sweet and malty, bready, when a slightly sour twist.

Taste:   bright, shiny malt, just a bit of hops, good balance. Not too malty, medium bodied, good and earthy feel and texture. Stays just short of sweet, has a good edge on it. Just a little bitter, just a touch of sweet and malty.

I respect this one, but it's really not what I go for. Is tasty and drinkable, though. I'd take one any day, but wouldn't go out of my way for one.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Foothills Torch Pilsner

Foothills Torch Pilsner, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Clouded, golden-hued, slim white head.

Classic lager aroma, cereal grains, straw, noble hops, very clean, lightly malty. Classic and clean are the watch words.

Tasting it: hops up top, starts bright, then fades back. Goes down smooth, clean, and guess what? Classic. Some fruit filters up, met with bitterness from Saaz hops and all else. Big top hop bitterness, lays long and large on the tongue. Clean, lean, light, a tiny touch fruity, and plenty hoppy. Extra consumable. Sleek and smooth and easy to down.

What does Mr. Label say: "A balanced beer made with Czech Saaz hops. Torch presents a well-structured, highly drinkable Pilsner experience." 5.5% ABV, 35 IBU.

That sounds about right. Though, I do wish there was more to tell the story. Why "Torch"? Why the Viking on the label? Why ask why? Just because. I have to know.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Continuing with thoughts on the St. Louis giant, the Belgian-owned Anheuser-Busch brewery, I notice how few of their beers I've had, how little of their number I've taken notes on. I blame all my sales reps from the Bud distributors for not bringing me samples of Bud Light Lime and Lime Chelada and American Ale and Select and Select 55 and Michelob Ultra Tuscan Orange Grapefruit and Shock Top, and know, what? Thank you, current and former Budweiser sales people for NOT bringing these beers to me. But, if they would have, you'd hear about it, that I guarantee you.

Here are notes from December, 2005, the day I decided to write about a bottle of Budweiser. You're welcome:

Born on October 19, 2005, Happy 2 month anniversary, bottle of Budweiser!

Paley-pale, palest of the pale yellow, and crystal clear, head starts thick, then slides down to a negligible ring, always bone white, until it's a shallow pool of bubbles.

Aroma: bright, sweet, then empty. Far-off echo of hops, but mostly vegetal, with a switch of straw. Corn and rice, you bet.

Taste: Wetness crowds the scene first in here, lots of water in this. Thin bodied, ...and I'm searching and scratching for any real kind of flavor. Water and corn, plus fizz...?

Harsh carbonation, very active on the palate, extraordinarily fizzy all over the tongue, and that's not a good thing. To me, anyway. I'm wincing as I drink, and I have witnessed plenty of people toss it back without trouble. Relax, relax...

Dull, dry finish. Nothing resonates in the memory, or the mind, but neither was anything supposed to...knock 'em back, set up all over again...why worry about taste?

There's nothing really wrong with The King of Beers, but neither is there anything good about it.

Crisp, yes. Refreshing...maybe. The carbonation bugs me too much, I'll take water instead. Smooth? Maybe, but at what cost? I could use a little flavor...hello, malt? Hops? Drinkability? Mmmm...not for this cat, I could drink it, but I'd be so bored, my soul would shudder and thoughts of self-ruination would rumble in my brain.

Good thing there are plenty of other choices.
But, if you dig it, hey, knock yourself out. Don't let me get in your way.

Bud Light

You know what's amazing? Looking at statistics, the king of page-views in the history of this blog is my review of Bud Light Platinum, which was nearing 500 "looks" since the last time I checked. (Who knows how many of them were "reads"?)Why did that many people read my review of that beer? Why don't half that many check out the reviews of beers I like, and highly recommend? And how did that many find it? I've checked and checked, and can't find a link, or anything. Well, word must go around.

So, to see if there's something out in the universe that leads internet perusers to glance at my words about Anheuser-Busch products, here is my review of Bud Light, from November of 2003. Here come the notes...

Bud Light, American Light Lager, 4.2% ABV, 27 IBU. Anheuser-Busch, a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, St. Louis, Missouri and countless other locations.

What I am about to do now is true anomaly in the realm of this beer. I am going to open it, and pour it...into a glass. Really, this must happen once every 10,000,000 times this beer is consumed.

Color is a nothingness that yearns to be a thin, wan yellow shade, but can't quite do it. Well, I can see my hand on the other side of the glass, so that means it's a "real beer", right?

Aroma: too nice a word to use. "Stink" delivers more meaning. Ricey and sweet and sickly and sad, sharp and unpleasant.
Good head, though.

Taste? Again, that's not what they have in mind when they brew this, but I'll see what I can find...I can only wince, with every sip, so maybe I shouldn't be sipping. How about if I gulp it down? Hey, that didn't hurt at all! It went all the way down my throat, and soon it'll leave the opposite way. Didn't leave a trace through it's travels.

If one samples this, and attempts to examine it, it's nothing but repulsive. Throw them back by the caseful, the way they want you to, and it's another utterly meaningless exercise in mass consumption.
Water tastes a Hell of a lot better, and is cheaper, too!

Clearly, not brewed with the likes of me in mind, but hey, if you enjoy draining bottles and cans of nothingness down your gullet, be my guest.

Nearly nine years ago, I thought this had a "good head". Not this time. And I rate it even lower now. It's not horribly tasting, it's just not...tasting.

Bud Light is brewed using a blend of premium aroma hop varieties, both American-grown and imported, and a combination of barley malts and rice. Its superior drinkability and refreshing flavor makes it the world’s favorite light beer.

Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp Belgian-style IPA

Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp Belgian-style IPA,

Appearance: amber color, nice white head, looks lovely, it does.

Aroma: Belgian yeast funk in effect, y'all, oh, yeah. And there's some American hops lurking below. Very flavorful, very wonderful.

Taste: More of that special flavorful funk, with the hops riding behind it. Plenty of fruit going on, apricot, peach, etcetera, some orange, some lemon. But mostly stone fruit varieties. And then comes the funk, and the malt, and the mmm, something' else.

Let's take a look at that bottle: "Like a stamp on a tramp, this brew is about not so sublet seduction. Soft but complex malt, Chambly yeast, Amarillo and Centennial hops have merged to create a bodacious Belgian-style IPA." 7% ABV. Ale brewed with natural flavor."

The short and the skinny for me: This fits the style, and it's irresistible. Delivers everything it should. We get the fruit, the funk,  a little bit of bitter, and a lot of yum. A nice mix of everything, but plenty of that special Belgian flavor. Mmm, mmm.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Harriet's Marzen German-style amber lager / Oktoberfest

Last year, around this time, Harriet Brewing Company debuted the RauchFest, a smoked version of a German Oktoberfest/marzen lager. This year, they also let out a small amount of it to on-premise accounts, and sold it at the taproom, as well as this last Saturday's RauchFest celebration. I'm taking notes at the tail-end of our one and only keg.

Harriet's Marzen/Oktoberfest.

Clear, crisp, autumnal amber appearance, slim, creamy white head.

Aroma: herbal, vegetal, malty, and just this side of sweet.

Taste: clean, smooth, malty, and delicious. Lots of rich amber lager flavor, very mellow, mild, and easy off the tongue. Medium bodied, exceptional consumability.
Drinks like a dream. No fuss, no muss. Is what it is. Sweet in the middle, dry in the end. Virtually no hops perceived, very minor bitterness, just enough to keep the sweetness at bay.

Classic marzen from Harriet. A pity they made so little. Next time, guys, next time go long and large with this one, long and large.

Steel Toe Dissent Dark Ale

Steel Toe Dissent Dark Ale, 7% ABV, Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Solid black color, short, cocoa-tinged head of foam.

Roasty-toasty aromatics, right from the start, nicely bittered. Bittersweet espresso, with hints of chocolate.

Taste: more of that roasted malt on the tongue, dark, rich, deep and tasty. Mmmm, all the pleasures of an oatmeal stout, all the smoothness and the depth, the richness and the satisfaction, all here. Full-bodied, long-lasting finish. Just right.

More can I say? It's nailed, like the others.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Palm Buster Blonde Ale

Palmbuster Blonde Ale, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"Palm buster"? What kind of name is that? Has something to do with the pakm sugar in the recipe, I'd guess. A lot of other Belgian-y ingredients, too. I forgot to take notes at the pub. Next time.

so, let's look at it. Clear, amber color, small head, gone quick.

Aroma: Sweetness at the start, not just from sugar, but Belgian yeast, as well. Some banana and bubblegum. Nice.

Taste: minor hops, creeping sweetness, crisp malt, lean body. Light, consumable, toasty malt character, with long lasting Belgian flavor. Hop bitterness rides on top, for an interesting interplay.

I liked this, it's an easy drinker, and has adequate flavor, but...adequate only goes so far. Bit lean to really go rah-rah over it. I'll finish my growler and move on.

Bell's Oarsman Ale

Bell's Oarsman Ale, Brewed and Bottled by Bell's Brewery, Comstock, MI. "Buoyant, tart and refreshing from using traditional sour mash methods. Great for you and your crew." 4.0% ABV.

What does this tell us? How it tastes, how it drinks, how they made it, and what activity it's use is best with. What if I'm not in a boat. And would I like it with a goat?

Clouded, golden, small head, lasts as a thin, white ring.

Aroma: light citrus, light hops, a touch of sourness, a smidgen of sweet. Bit of a funk effect, too. Pleasing enough.

Taste: Brisk, tart, and, yeah, refreshing. A little tingle on the palate, a bracing quick minute of sour, a squirt of citrus, the flash of wheat texture and mouthfeel, and nothing but smoothness and extra-easy drinking.

One thing very much missing in the information given to us by Bell's Brewery is the style of this brew, or even what general area it's shooting for. Not a hefe weizen, not quite a Berliner Weisse, either. Maybe a mix of the two?

I'm also puzzling over the meaning of the name. Why Oarsman? Is there a fondness for rowing at the brewery? Is it an alternative to a "lawnmower beer", a "rowing ale"? So many mysteries.

Another conundrum is how long it took me to take notes on this Bell's beer, having come out so many years ago. It was draft only for years, and I sampled it now and then, but it never quite grabbed me. It's a well-made beer, certainly quaffable, with enough of a tartness to keep it interesting. It's fun, and tasty, and the 6-pack will be done quickly enough. I probably won't return to it very often, though.

Although… although…I am liking it more, at the end of bottle #2. Maybe I'll be a rootin' tooting' booster before too long.

Minnesota Breweries One by One #16: Forager Brewery, Rochester

For the second stop in Rochester we chose Forager Brewery , as our collective stomachs were rumbling, and this one is a brewpub with food ...