Friday, November 30, 2012

Cucapa Green Gard Barley-wine


Cerveza Cucapa Green Card Barley-wine. "The Best Rated Mexican Craft Beer." Product of Mexico. Brewed and bottled by Cerverceria de Baja California. 10% alcohol by volume.

Dark garnet hue, slim but staying cap of white foam.

Aroma: deep malt, rich, dark fruit.

Taste: plump with fruit and very tasty. Medium-bodied, short finish. Just enough hops in here to make an impression. But not enough of everything else to be a memorable brew. I keep up high hopes, try to be objective, …and it fell short. Had promise from the start, but it falls flat, and fails to deliver.

Let's take a moment and read the label. You can read it however you like, but I will read it like a loud, boisterous, resonating Mexican radio announcer, a booming voice that is personified by a manly Mexican moustache: "Many people fight over prized possessions. The green card has for many years been what many people aspire to get. This is why we thought it would be appropriate to re-name our most prized beer. Brewed to a heavy 10% ABV, a viscous malty character and a hint of hops this beer is complex and life changing."

Viscous? Not really. Life changing? A stretch. Long stretch. Maybe it'll improve with time? As it is, not a bad beer,very nice in fact, but not a very good barley-wine. Still, probably the best Mexican beer I've had in a long time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Surly Brettliquor I.P.A.

Here's a new one from Surly, draft only, recently released at Darkness Day, with extra kegs finding their way to bars. Like the one I run. So, I'm sitting down with this enticing brew, takin' notes. First off, the real quick skinny on "Brettliquor". "Belgian style Imperial IPA fermented with Brettanomyces and dry-hopped with Styrian Goldings. 8.3% ABV." That's how they put it, that's how it is.

Let's leap in and look at it. Clear, golden, apricottish appearance, large, looming, well-kept head, whitecaps sit prettily atop for quite some time, leaving abundant attractive lacing.

Aroma: sour, funk, and fruit. I recall that in a sales sheet, Surly calls this a "fruit bomb." I hate that term, any which way it's applied, but it's all up in the nose, that's for sure. Brimming with wild Belgian character, a little sweet, a little bitter, and a whole lot funked up. Love it. So unique, so unusual, so inviting.

Taste: Citrus and tropical fruits up front, followed by hop bitterness, ending dryly. Second sip in, it's very clear we've got a highly hopped-up Imperial IPA of some sort, but the Belgian quality never leaves your mind or your senses. It's a brilliant combination, with a flavor unheard of, reminding me at times of other Belgian IPAs, particularly American-brewed versions, like Flying Dog Raging Bitch or Harriet's West Side. But there's something quite extra at play here, and it's utterly delicious. Fruit continues in the taste, always matched with bitterness, and accompanied by that funkification.

Here's more information from Surly:

Style: Belgian Imperial Brett IPA. (You know, one of those!)
Malt: 2 Row, Aromatic, Crystal
Hops: Styrian Goldings, Chinook, Simcoe
Yeast: Brettanomyces
OG: 17.2% Plato
ABV: 8.3%
Color: 11 SRM.
IBU: 70

This has incredible balance, among such disparate components, and is ridiculously consumable, despite the high alcohol content. Taste-wise, it's genius, and it's definitely one of my favorite Surly beers ever, if not one of the best beers I've ever had. Really. When you get right down to it.

I remember liking this at Darkness Day, in a plastic cup, outside, among a noisy crowd on a cold day.

Right now, I'm practically in love with it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lucid Foto I.P.A.


Lucid Foto IPA, Lucid Brewing Company, Minnetonka, MN, U.S.A. 6.5% ALC by Vol.

Transparent amber appearance. Slim white head.

Pleasantly bitter nose, grapefruit and pine needle, spritz of lemon, peel of orange. A nicely hoppy aroma.

Taste: Massive attack on initial entry. Great big bitter load deployed on the palate, matched with earthy malt flavors. The aroma brought the promise of a possible West Coast -style IPA, and the taste is giving us more of an English-style. No problem there, just a bit of a shake-up. Most West Coast IPAs may look and smell like this, but they don't taste like this. Again, I don't find a fault, but the more English-style malt profile may throw others off expecting something "cleaner" or with more tropical fruit hop notes.

There's some grainy tones and some sweet ones coming from the malt, and just a bit of butter. A hint of diacetyl (maybe?), quickly smothered by hop bitterness. Hops add spice to this, and a good deal of coverage.

Not a bad beer, but not about to become a favorite. I'd drink it again, though, in the right place and time.

On the right side of the label, a strange character holds a weird camera, and we read this: "Picture supreme happiness and have a snapshot of this West Coast IPA. Post a picture of you tipping this FOTO on our Facebook and it might make you hotter looking than you already are."

Lagunitas Day Time I.P.A.


Lagunitas Day Time. A Fractional IPA. O.G. of 1.042, 54.2 IBU, and just 4.65% Alcohol by Volume, A Top-Fermented Ale. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, California.

Clear, golden hue. Small, lasting white head.

Aromatics, lovely clean, piney, pineappley, resiny, bitter hop goodness. Floral, then bitter, and let's not forget the feline urinary business. That's lurking in there, too, though I don't often like to mention it.

Taste: Hops charge in and spill the goodness all over. Citrus and tropical fruit notes aplenty. Incessant hoppitude. Low alcohol plus light body equals excellent sessioning. (Which autocorrect doesn't recognize as a word. That almost said 'seasoning' back there.)

Is the Session I.P.A. a new trend? I hope so.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Steel Toe Wee Heavy


Steel Toe Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Dark burgundy brew, deep brown, small, soon-gone head.

Aroma: sweetness first, molasses and brown sugar, caramel and toffee, very nice.

Taste: Rich, dark malt flavor. All that sweetness from the nose comes rolling all over the tongue. And then the booze comes in and kicks it up another notch or three. Mmmm, solid. Just delicious. A hair shy of full-bodied. But next to yummy. A treat in every way.

Just enough hops in this thing, to keep from being a "malt bomb." Great balance, though, as is right for the style, and malt is truly king here. MMM, yum. All that sweetness, plus the balance, and a whole lot of big. Another success from Steel Toe.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Summit Unchained Batch 11: Old 152

Summit Unchained No. 11: Old 152

In order to do this review with a fresh perspective, I've forgotten everything I've ever known about this beer. Except that it has something to do with a pre-prohibition recipe and a sour mash technique. There's nothing else about the beer on the label except for the brewer's name, and his signature. Perhaps there's more on the six-pack holder…I'm going to look for it now…all of the technical information is there but no background stories…5.6% ABV, 55 IBUs…hops: Cluster, Northern Brewer…malt/grain: Victory/Crystal Medium, pale malt, rye malt, disteller's malt (ooo!), maize (that's corn to you and I), white wheat.

I'll skip the rest and open 'er up:

Lovely chestnut brown, full blooming off-white head, leaving loads of lace.

Complex grain bill evident in aromatics. Have to say it: I am getting some whiskey-ish notes, for certain. A little sweet, a bit sour and musty, but very likable. Intriguing to say the least.

Taste: Hop bitterness starts us off on the palate. Tasty stuff. Spicy rye malt hits next. Twice as nice. Plenty of character in this one. Continues long through the drink, with a lush, malty finish. Alcohol and hops are mellow enough to ease the drinking, leaving this a vastly pleasurable brew that tastes better with each new swallow.

Ladies and gentlemen, I might be turning into one of those fussy fuddy-duddies decrying the way things are today, and those kids, blah, blah, blah…But, really, does everything have to be 10% alcohol? There are a lot of beers out there that I could enjoy more often if there were just 8% instead of 10%, or 6 % instead of 8.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

New Belgium Peach Porch Lounger


New Belgium Lips of Faith Peach Porch Lounger, Ale Brewed with Molasses and Lemon Peel, with Peach Juice Added. 9.4% ABV.

Bright, clear, peachy appearance, slim and soon gone head.

Aroma: A little sour, a little funky, with apparent fruit. Sweetness is here, but balance, too. A bit mellow and quiet.

Taste: Sweet peach, cut with lemon. Molasses isn't tasted, perhaps it's was added for the fermentable sugars. Definitely a Belgian yeast at work, maybe even Brett? Has the feel of a lambic, with a complex array of fruit, sweet and sour.

Nice stuff. A bit too strong for me, though. I'd like it a bit better if it wasn't attacking my system quite so hard and so soon. Maybe 7% would be more palatable. More mellow. Not so hot, as they say.

Hey, let's see what kind of garbledy-gook is on the label: "An afternoon on the stoop, Foot stomps a loop, Southern style poured in two glasses, Time becomes molasses, Harmony with hominy grits, Peel the peaches and throw out the pits, get some action in the bottle with brettanomyces, G Love in a Brew, Peach Porch Lounger sings just for you."

Okay, first of all that is terrible, and has inconsistent cadence. Two, they total bailed on rhyming "brettanomyces" with anything, that shows lack of ambition. There's no talent without ambition. And thirdly, "G Love in a Brew"…what? That's just abominable. "G Love"….god.

Lastly, I'm not listening to any "porch lounger" who wears his baseball cap backwards. I've got my pride.

Trappist Achel Bruin

Here's a trappist dubbel I haven't had in far too long. I'm posting notes from February, 2004


Light, reddish brown color, firm, proud, thick off-whitish head, lace-leaving.

Aroma: nutty, slightly sweet, minor caramel notes, small hints of spice, cocoa.

Taste: big, hoppy blast, quickly replaced by a full-ness of dark, rich malty flavors that totally dominates the palate. Rich, chewy, yeasty, sweet, just a trifle complex, even. A delicious melange of dark flavors, a well-matched blend of hops and malt. Very tasty. Medium to full in body, chocolatey finish, though brief, and overall enjoyable.
Not a bad dubbel, but not spectacular.
And tremendously overpriced in this instance, a whopping $5.69 for the bottle. Glad I tied it, but I won't be going back, when I can find dubbels just as good or better for a better price.

Make no mistake, though, a really tasty beer here!

------------

My current bottle cost about $6.50. I recant my previous caveat. There's aren't many better dubbels that are less expensive. Not if we're really honest with ourselves.

New Glarus Serendipity Accidental Fruit Ale


Serendipity Accidental Fruit Ale, New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, WI.

Clear, dark ruby red coloring, no head to speak of.

Aroma: sharp, tart, and fruity. Cherries and cranberries, with apple way behind, if perceptible at all.

Taste: Bracing, puckering tartness slaps the palate, with juicy fruit behind. Sour, lactic acid returns with each new sip. Body is medium/light. Maybe an itty-bit lighter than I like, but not moreso than the best Belgian lambics out there. Sour fruit flavor is eternal.

Nice one, this. Let's take a moment to read the label description: "Sever Drought, we shared the farmer's horror as Wisconsin's cherry crop failed! Dan bought what cherries he could. The apple crop fared  better. Then joy! A grand Wisconsin cranberry harvest. What will Dan brew with Apples, Cranberries, and Cherries? Oh, My! You hold the happy accident of Wisconsin' favorite fruit aged in oak with an almost magical wild fermentation. Serendipity is a wondrous celebration that sparkles your senses and dances across your palate. A kaleidoscope of flavor discovered by accident in a sour ale!"

Oh, yeah, sparkles and dances, that's what I meant to say…Yeah, lots of sparkling and dancing. I don't go in for the poetry when it comes to New Glarus brews, because I know they've probably already beat me to it.

Apples are coming through in the flavor, but are still smothered by the louder, and sourer berries inside. Deliciousness, indeed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Schell's Chimney Sweep



Schell's Chimney Sweep. August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm, MN. 12 fluid ounces.

I thought at first glance that this new brew was labeled without any information on it whatsoever, aside from the legalese that every label must carry. At first glance, we see no clue to the contents and can only surmise from what the name suggests. Until we look  closer and find a few lines that will guide us to further understanding. I'll look at them later, and drink it now.

Clear, dark burgundy color, with a roasted brown head on top, starts big and slims down slowly, leaving some lace.

Aroma: soft and pleasant, nice malty touches, caramel and toffee meets light roast coffee.

Taste: Lands tenderly, but assuredly on the palate, residing mellow in the mouth. Flavor finds itself just inside of richness. Medium body, just enough heft in the mouthfeel and texture to keep it interesting. Smooth, malty, and just a little bit sweet. Minor bitterness…rising deliciousness…I'm getting fonder and fonder of this one, and I'm going out on a limb to guess it's a schwarzbier, one of my favorite of the lager styles.

So, let's look at that side bar from the label: "Schell's Chimney Sweep is inspired by the rich, dark lagers of Upper Franconia. Black in color with a rich roast maltiness, firm hop bitterness, and a subtle underlying smokiness."

Hmmm. That smokiness is subtle, and underlying, but, yeah, that's there. And I wouldn't call the hop bitterness "firm", but it's holding it's ground, though it's not sticking out or showing off.

Tasty stuff, too. I could drink this, and then drink another. Good job, Jace Marti, and, please, keep them coming!

O'so Hop Whoopin' I.P.A.


O'so Hop Whoopin' IPA. Once again, the label is a string of of words and phrases which may, or may not, have something to do with the beer inside. This string of seeming non-sequitors could render my notes obsolete. So, I will dispense with them until I've done my thing. And, away…

Clear. Bright. Yellow. Small head.

Piney. Sticky. Lemon, orange, pithy, resinous.

Bracing, puckering, bitter/sour intensity. Citric assault. Oncoming alcohol assault.

And yet…and yet…ah, it tries, but misses the mark. Seems to be a something I often find in the O'so beers. They come close, but don't quite hit it. Sometimes, though, close is good enough.

Let's list those words now: "S.M.A.S.H. {???} . 95 IBU. Intense. Freakish. Obnoxious. Excessive.Deranged."

What?

Mother Earth Dark Cloud Dunkel Lager


Mother Earth Dark Cloud Munich-style Dunkel Lager, Handcrafted in Eastern, N.C.

Cloudy, reddish brown/burgundy hue, smallish dark head.

Aroma: sweet malty notes, touch of fruit. Earthy, herbal, intriguing.

Taste: Lean-bodied, malty, flavors dark and grainy. Mild bitterness. Easy-drinking, good balance. A little bit roast on the malt, increasingly tasty. Not bad, not bad at all…..

Harriet's Wachen Bock


Harriet Wachen Bock. Traditional German-style bock bier. 6.9% ABV.

Took me about a minute to figure out the name for this one. I won't spoil it for you, you go figure it out on your own.

Clear, dark brown color, small head.

Caramel malt nose, sweet, but balanced.

Taste: More of the same in the mouth. Dark malt flavors, caramel and a touch of cocoa, a little nutty, with just the requisite amount of hops to hold it all in check. Medium bodied, nice roasty flavor coming through, long, tasty malt finish. Great drinking, despite nearly 7% ABV.

This brew is an anomaly in the local craft brewing scene. I can't think of anyone doing a regular bock. It's doppelbock, maibock, and nothing else. We're way too hop-obsessed, and a bit too trend-happy, in some cases, to entertain a brew like this. We'll, good for Harriet in bucking that terrible trend.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Minneapolis Town Hall 15th Anniversary I.P.A.


Fifteen years of Town Hall. Wow. That means 10 years of me patronizing them. (I still don't know what kept me from stopping in from 1997-2002. I think I just wasn't into brewpubs yet. Didn't trust them.)

So, here's the anniversary IPA made specially for this occasion. I scribbled these notes on it's ingredients: 15 year IPA…american double ipa, 9.4%, Centennial, Simcoe, Experimental  342, Nlson, columbus, with  mn basswood honey

Now, let's check this out…

Beautiful amber coloring, darker, close to crimson, with a smallish head.

Aroma: Ah! Gorgeous. Every kind of citric fruit is dropped into this, there's pineapple and mango and tangerine and orange. Bright and sunny, ebullient, even. Stunning.

Taste: Yow! That is some zippy, zesty stuff right there. A thorough blast of citrus fruit, pine, and more, an incredible blast of everything available from the hops at hand. Everything from the nose returns on the tongue. Multitudes of fruit, citric and tropical, bitter blasts of pine, and exceptional doses of sweetness. The honey, possible added for fermentable sugars and raising the alcohol really shines through. This was utterly delicious, and was one of the most enjoyable beers I've had in quite some time.

I enjoyed this one over the course of two nights. (If I'd downed it in one night, I'd be useless the next day.) Went back for more the next Tuesday, and, sadly, growlers were gone, but I got to enjoy more on tap. Here's to 15 more!

Liefmans Cuvee' Brut


Liefmans Cuvee Brut.

Called a "kriek", but not a lambic. Cherries are macerated with an aged Belgian brown ale, aged for a year, then blended with Oud Bruin and Goudenband for different ages. 6% ABV.

Dark, cloudy, reddish-brown coloring, small, pinkish head.

Aroma: sour cherries with a judicious jolt of sweet. Dark malt lies below. Little bits of chocolate. Lovely stuff.

Taste: silky smooth, with a brace of bitterness, followed by a storm of sour. Fruit flavor mixed with oakiness, swimming over a brown ale base. Great texture on top, nice tannin-like play on the palate. Tasty, tasty stuff. Sourness is mellow, not a puckering pounce, but a gentle message. Mmm. Velvety, luxurious, plain ol' delightful. So lovely and delicious, I've coined a new phrase: "Lover-licious."

Hm. I'm going to wait on that one. Don't quote me yet.

Great beer, though. Get one for Thanksgiving. Seriously.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mission Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout


Mission Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout, 9.8% ABV., …I'll skip the verbiage until later, just a glance and I can tell I won't like it. So, let's get to the beer…

Dark as the deepest sin, ringed with a roasty tan color, staying slim, but lingering long.

Aroma: Mmm. Yes. Chocolate, coffee, rich molasses and dark rum. A whiff of char and ash, but overall sweet and lush.

Taste: Yeah. Richness galore. More cocoa, more espresso, mucho anise, lots of spice, pepper aplenty. Yum. Thick, but not overly so. Tasty, for the dark malt lover in you. Oh, so, lovely RIS.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Olde Hickory Imperial Stout


Olde Hickory Imperial Stout, Ale Brewed With Honey. Brewed and Bottled by Olde Hickory Brewery, Hickory, North Carolina. 10.6% ABV.

Black as night, this one, with a richly roasted, deep, dark tan head, settles into a slim ring. Looks incredible.

Aromatics: all the usual suspects are in attendance. Rich cocoa, espresso, some maple. Lightly hoppy. Rich, roasty malt is king.

Taste: Hops are bigger, brighter, brasher, bolder on first sip, nice little fandango on the palate, good and tasty. Full-bodied, but far from thick, not quite viscous. Just enough sweetness, just enough bitter, loads of roasty-toasty dark malt.

Now to quote the label copy and hope I didn't unwittingly repeat anything they wrote: "Blacker than night, stouter than stout is our Imperial Stout! Brewed with a lot of malt and a touch of local honey, Imperial Stout is rich and robust with deep, deep notes of dark chocolate & espresso. A few sips and you will think you are the Czar of all Russia!"

Well, call me Nicholas! And if I get any further into this bottle by my lonesome, I'm gonna feel like Vladimir Putin.

Mission Shipwrecked Double IPA


Mission Shipwreck Double IPA, Brewed and bottled by Mission Brewery, San Diego, CA.  9.25% ABV.

"Double India Pale Ale, A style of beer curiously born on the foggy shores of Father Junipero Serra's first founding mission. Our own vigorous entry is one rebellious IPA, quick on the trigger, and brimming with a bounty of hop ingenuity. This is a big, bold, brazen beer, a restless vision of a new America."

Oh, it is, is it? We'll see about that!

Bright golden/ amber, clear, with a creamy-toned, half-inch head, nicely dotted.

Aroma, pleasantly bitter and hoppy, orange peel, tangerine, and flowers.

Taste: Mmm. Great big, bitter bite up front, fierce puckering grab at the palate, then, slowly, mellowing out just a touch. Juicy, fruity, buoyant, and boozy. Hophead's joy. Nice stuff.

French Broad Anvil Porter


French Broad Anvil Porter, Ashville, North Carolina.

"French Broad"? Still not sure what kind of a name that is for a brewery. Trying to figure that one out.

Thoroughly black appearance, slim tan head.

Aroma: roasty, a little toasty, nicely hoppy. Some cocoa, some nuts. Classic American porter nose.

Now let's taste 'er, already…it lands on the palate evenly balanced, very medium, very right there in the middle. Not too sweet, not too dry, not too …anything, really. Doesn't really stand out too much. Nice, rich malty character, a trifle hoppy, a bit dry in the end. Hoppy, malty, clean, that's the order of business.

It's a bit metallic in the end, …flinty… touch funky, and a whisper sour, ….and it doesn't quite satisfy. Needs a little something more in the flavor department. Hmmm. I can drink it, but I wouldn't return to it. Alas.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mother Earth Sisters of the Moon I.P.A.


Mother Earth Sisters of the Moon India Pale Ale, Mother Earth Brewing, Kingston, NC, "Handcrafted in Eastern N.C."

Highly hazed, but bright yellow appearance, slim white head, leaves a little lace.

Aroma: Mostly muted, but some citric fruit hop character peeks through.

Taste: Smooth and almost creamy, with a persistent hop snap. Not an attack, nor even a bit, just a snap, a nip, a nibble. It grows and grows, though, the bright hoppy flavor shines mores and beams throughout the palate. Orange, tangerine, lemon, maybe some pineapple.

This feels unfiltered, I can definitely taste the yeast in here. That's bringing it home and making the case. The bitterness finds a home in the back of the tongue and camps out a while. I'm liking this more and more.

What do they say about it? "Made with hops grown in the good ol' U.S.A. …you'll proudly support American farmers when you drink this beer! Light copper in color, it has an intense hop aroma and strong hop bitterness. Our hopsack process uses fresh hop cones to take this IPA to unexpected places. Prepare for a mouthful of flavor."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Grand Cru


I've been neglecting the Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery again, much to my shame. Missed out on the Fresh Hop Ale again, this year. Didn't stop in at all during Anniversary week. But I brought some empty growlers down the other day, and was glad to get one of the 15th Anniversary IPA, which we'll get to soon. The other growler was the Belgian-style Grand Cru, which goes down far too easily. Here are notes from February, 2004, right around when it was first released:

I first sampled this several weeks ago at the Winterfest in St. Paul and found it to be the hit of the evening. Now it's on tap at the pub, finally, and I can check it's progress from a fresh growler, and so I shall...

Appearance: solid orange color, with a lively, fresh, bubbling froth above, very attractive.

Aroma: Wow! This is the stuff! Fruity, alcoholic, with an utterly ethereal quality I associate with the likes of Abbaye des Rocs or Delirium Noel. Spicy, yes, and loaded with dark fruits, grapes, cherries,.plums, elevated by a sublime, otherworldy somethin' else! Yeast is predominant and contributes to this atmospheric effect.

So, taste already! Don't mind if I do...Mmmm! Flavor rides high in this one, spicy, solid, sure, becoming a magical blend of malt, fruitiness, spice, hops, and all things nice and good. Alcoholic content lends a certain whisky-ish tone to the taste. All in all, deli
cious.
This is a marvelous nightcap, an excellent guard against this ridiculous February chill, just the thing to wrap around me before I surrender to slumber.

Watch as I try to stockpile some growlers to last until spring...pity you can't cellar the stuff!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Belgium Trippel


The Belgian-style tripel from New Belgium. Notes from May of 2003:

If certain steps could be taken to improve my happiness, and that of doubtless others, I can assure you that one would be to get more of this fantastic brew around and about us, in unfailing supply.

Appearance: a slightly hazy, bright golden hue, and a large, luscious creamy white head, that remains for a spell, then dwindles.

Aroma: an explosion of fruit and spice, a gorgeous blend, a veritable fruit salad up in the nose.Tropical fruits, mango, banana, peach, apricot, citrus: yup, all that! A heavenly delight, swimming in sparkling sweetness.

On the tongue, a burst, no a blizzard of hoppiness, a dervish dance on the tongue, flooding the senses. Excellent, generous texture. Rich, sweet malt, though never to the point of cloying. Candied, honeyed sweetness and spice abounds in this happy ale, and the flavor lasts and lasts, every portion of the experience compounding it's overall effect.

One of my favorite American beers. Now why doesn't Trippel have the cult status of Fat Tire, that's the next topic for the Armchair Philosophers Club...


Sand Creek Wild Ride IPA


Wild Ride India Pale Ale, Sand Creek Brewing Company, Black River Falls, WI.

Aroma: Highly hazed, dark orange coloration, good half inch, nicely dotted white head.

Aroma: dank and pungent. Under a mask of murk, there's pine and citric fruit. Ripples of bitter hop oils attack the senses.

Taste: Bitter/sour attack on the palate at first sip. Not holding anything back here, while a maelstrom of flavors assaulting the senses. As a card-carrying, due-paying hop head, that's a good thing. Hangs hard in every corner of the mouth, laying in thick, and lasting long. It's an indelible punishment you need to go in wanting, not a delicate delivery of nice, tidy hoppiness, this is a brash affront. But, it's one that hop-loving masochists like me don't mind terrorizing the tongue.

This one is a blast, in more ways than one. I believe that I've made the case that this is one for everyone. Some might find flaws, or feel it's strong points are not to their favor. Okay for them, and fine for me.

Tyraneana Bitter Woman IPA


The IPA from Tyranena of Lake Mills, Wisconsin.
Notes from way back in November, 2003. Bit of a gusher, but I still like it. You will notice that there are far fewer exclamation points than the review you'll find on BeerAdvocate.com:

Appearance: clear, bright, perfectly orange color, with a fresh and frisky layer of bone-white foam.
Aroma: Ooooo! Bold, bright, sharp, spikey, piney, grapefruity, exploding with citric emanations of every kind (add lemon, peach, pineapple!), vibrant and vivacious. This is the true ticket for every true lover of humulus lupus.

My kind of hoppiness, bristling with fruit and pine-resin.
Taste: BAM! WOW! Mouth-filling, with a full, sticky, resilient texture, long, tasty finish, never, ever giving any intention of quitting the mouth!
Bitter, yes, but lip-smackingly delicious. Fresh flavor bursts forth and floods through every gulp and swallow. A brew that just won't slow down.

Holey schamoley, dammity, damn, damn! Wonderfully balance, too, the malt is adequate buttress, though the hops are running this show. You might put out your cup and beg for more malt, please, but you don't really want that, do you, because then this wouldn't be, you know, this ...this.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ommegang Rare Vos Amber Ale


So, here I am in November of 2012, tapping Ommegang Rare Vos at my bar for the first time, and I look back on my old notes to find only notes on some bottles that were Cave-aged available for view. This was way back in July, 2003, and I am going to share those notes with you now, but without any reference to the cave-aging, and what-have-you. I think it stands on it's own.
So, here's Rare Vos, the Belgian-style amber ale from Brewery Ommegang:

Pale orangeish color, good-sized creamy head..aroma is fresh, yeasty, fruity, uplifting, and more character shines through, more sweet, candyish, even...distinctly sugary, and the perfect profile for a Belgian-style ale bent on delivering deliciousness.

Oh, yum...oh, delicious...thick, fruity, ...heavenly, chock full o' sweetness...malt, hops in perfect alignment to produce a divinely candyish, magnificent dessert beer...or dinner beer...or Happy-to-Be-Alive-Beer (and who doesn't need a copious amount of these?)

Wonderful mouthfeel, dazzling hops...my appreciation continues to grow...bright fruit flavors continue, peach, apricot...
... a really nice beer...really, really nice...mmmmn, did I say nice? I meant niiiiiiice!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Bruery Oude Tart


The Bruery Oude Tart Flemish Style Red Ale Aged in Oak Barrels.

Deep burgundy hue, dark red, with a slim, soon-gone head.

Aroma speaks up form the first minute, spilling out sour fruit, matched with sweetness, a beautiful blend. Just a touch of vinegar, a magnificent marriage of sweet and sour.

Taste: Bam! boom! Mmmm. A great flash of sourness, an intense puckeration that outreaches many other sour red ales. And the vinegar rises up, as well. Big, fresh, intense, and amazing.

This one is just about a match for Rodenbach or any of the better Belgian Flemish reds. Not a damn thing wrong with it. In fact, I love it. Mmmm, mmm, good.

"Pleasantly sour with hints of leather, dark fruit, and toasty oak from extended aging in oak barrels."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Left Hand Smokejumper Smoked Imperial Porter


Left Hand Smokejumper, Smoked Imperial Porter, Left Hand Brewery, Longmont Colorado. 8.8 % ABV.

This beer has been out for so many years, why has it taken me so long to get to it? Why have I never tackled a bottle? Why wait until my first time tapping it? So many good questions, and no answers. Let's just drink it up, okay?

Look at it: Solid black, under a lovely brown, dotted head, last long, if thin. Good looking' beer.

Smellin' it: roast first, then toast, some cream, and along comes cocoa. Nice.

Tastin' it: Full-bodied, massive impact on the palate, jumps on board and lays it in thick. First comes roasted malt, then cocoa, then it's swept up with smoke. A little bit hoppy, then smooth, and nothing but lush malt and full-blown deliciousness. Smoke gains in prominence and surely takes over. There's still some molasses and trickles of anise, bits of cocoa. Yum. Yum-a-dum-dum. Trademark and copyright.


What was my problem, not trying this one out until now? I was slow on this one. Don't be like me, you. Or, be like me now, not like me then.

Red Brick Vanilla Gorilla


Red Brick --Brick Mason Series. Smoked Vanilla Gorilla, Ale aged in oak whiskey barrels with vanilla beans. Atlanta Brewing Company, Atlanta, GA.

No style given for this one, outside of "ale." I'm going to guess before I open it porter or stout.

Once open, it looks that way. Black as it gets, under slim, brown head.

Aroma: sweet vanilla notes hit right off, wrapped in bourbon, with whiffs of smoke, trails of toffee, and a dusting of charcoal.

Taste: Oooo! Sweet! The vanilla is big in this one, with less of the complexity from the oak barrels that we would like. There's not a lot of there there. Needs more depth. More weight. Much more. Faint finish. Too, too thin. Falling flat, leaving me listless.
Chocolate is here, and toffee, too, but not as big as they should be. Body should be fuller. Tastes good, somewhat…but this lack of heft leaves me unsatisfied.

Sorry, Gorilla, maybe next time?

Mission I.P.A.


Mission Brewery, San Diego, CA. IPA, 6.8% by Vol.

Here's a California brewery I've never heard of, purchased at my most recent Wisconsin trip. First of from Mission, their IPA.

Very hazy, dank and dusky golden/amber hue, under a white head that dies down quickly.

Aroma: pungent, piney, and resinous. A heady helping of hops. Plenty of citrus, grapefruit, lime and orange. Ah…every hophead's dream, here.

Taste: All that, back on the palate. Not as intense, though. big, still, but not overmuch.
And that's just how it should be. We don't have a double IPA in the bottle, after all.
Yum. Nice and easy-drinking, plenty of flavor, tons of yum.
 Laying the hops on heavy here, but not so much that it over-burdens so.