Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca witbier

Drinking this on tap currently, using notes from my first bottle back in July, 2005. You'll see more JP reviews coming soon, as I pick up what I can before they disappear. This brewery was part of the Shelton Brothers portfolio, and they recently decided not to distribute in Minnesota for the time being. This may or may not have anything to do with the local distributor being bought out by a much larger company. So, while we're at it, look for me to showcase more of Shelton Brothers beers before they are gone from local shelves. What will I be missing the most? Blaugies, Castelain, Cantillon (as if I could ever find that on shelves anyway), Achel, St. Somewhere, St. Sylvestre, Salopian, Ridgeway, Olfabrikken, Nogne-0, Mikkeller, Bryghus, Mahr's, Kerkom, Haandbrygerriet, Geants, Fantome (same as Cantillon, never got enough to sit on the shelves long enough for me to find it!), de Struise, dieu du Ciel, drei Fonteinen, de Ranke, de Proefe, de la Senne, ...as well as others I haven't gotten to know yet. So sad, so very sad.

But, hey, cheer up, we're here to share notes on a witbier from a Belgian-style brewery in Dexter, Michigan, here we go, Calabaza Blanca:


Pale yellow hue, edging that near-white that epitomizes the style, with an able, attractive cap of creamy foam.


Zesty nose, alive with spice, yeast, and citric fruit, lemon and orange.Very lively and likeable, and again, fully in the witbier paradigm.

Tenderly trips on the palate, sleek and slippery, awash with coriander, ginger, and fruit. So light, it dances along the tastebuds, but keeps them happy with delicately delicious flavors.


Fulton War & Peace Coffee Imperial Stout


Fulton War & Peace Imperial Coffee Stout. Alc. 9.5% by Vol. 750 ml Real Beer. Fulton Brewing Company, Minneapolis, MN.

This one was once upon a time only available in cask form, at special events. And here I am, the lucky recipient of a short-fill bottle. It hasn't been shipped to stores, yet, so far as I know. Yay, for me, and thanks to Fulton and Hohensteins for the gift. Let's open and drink!

Black as night, deep as the darkest depths, with a solid head of toasted brown foam resting atop.

Aroma: Coffee first, vast, rich espresso tones…full, forward, immense, and dominant. It's all about the coffee.

Taste: Boom, ba doom! Bitter espresso notes hit first, followed by cocoa, raspberry, raisins, rum…fat with flavor, full to bursting. Plump. Nearly juicy. Roasty and bitter, rewarding and triumphant.

I know I've enjoyed this in the past, but this is more, I lurve this one, I luff it with a capital F.

Each new sip brings more: more incredible bitterness, more anise, more coffee, more slightly sweet fruit. Just plain ol' nice.

Let's read the copy on the back label, under the Fulton & Peace Coffee logos and under the "Garage Series" banner: "War & Peace is a Russian Imperial Stout aged with Peace Coffee's Guatemalan Organic Dark Roast. We measure out a pound of whole beans per barrel of beer and add it directly to our tanks, then allow it to infuse for nearly a week. It's a combination so natural, you may forget that stout and coffee once existed without each other."

Nice. But no Lebowski references? Okay, but I do like the clever Russian reference to the classic Tolstoy novel.

Plainly put, this is one of my favorite beers of recent release, and possible the best imperial stout or coffee stout, maybe even best imperial coffee stout, that I've had in such a long time. Mmm, mmm, good. Great balance, great flavor, just about perfect.

Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Brown Ale



Lazy Magnolia, Mississippi's Brewery. Southern Pecan, the original pecan nut brown ale. Smooth and sweet, English-style brown ale. brewed and bottled by Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, LLC., in Kiln, MS.

Clear, bright ruby red appearance, slim, soon-gone whitish head.

Aroma, …I'm sorry, I'm not finding anything, nothing's here. I want to talk about malts and nuts, and such forth, but this is almost criminally absent. Nada, zilch, nyet.

Taste: Beer. Malt. Mmm. Taste. But, not tasty. Eh. Ah…Gee…whiz.

Okay, dum, de dum…have I had this before? Something tells me I should have, and I forgot to check. It certainly never made enough of an impression on me that I remembered.

{Guess what, I have had it, 4+ years ago, in October of 2008. Here are those notes:

Reddish brown body, creamy, cocoa-tinted head. Lovely stuff.

Sweet malt greets the nose right off, fat and fruity and with plenty of bright, rounded nuttiness.

Hitting the tongue, an even, balanced affair, malt in center stage, minor hops, but never too much of the sweetness. Very tasty stuff, actually, meaty and full. I'm no pecan expert, but I like what's getting on my tastebuds. Smooth, warm, and deep. Scrumptious, too.

Full-bodied, long, sweet, but tempered finish. This is one I could turn to a couple of times, at least.}

I will continue with the new notes:



And now I would like to take time out to read the label…
"Southern Pecan, the original pecan nut brown ale, is the first beer in the world made with whole, roasted pecans. Using a careful balance of the finest malts, aromatic hops and roasted pecans, Southern Pecan is delightfully smooth and has a nutty sweetness that …(sorry, this part has been worn away from the paper label)…a delightful….(sorry, again!)…

…I will take a break from that break again, and try to drink it once more.

The taste is not making a mark on me. I'm not getting any sweetness or anything from these pecans ..or anything. It all melts into a wash of nothing but nothing. I am sorry, I am trying.

Here's more: "Here along the banks of the Jourdain River, in a region long known for having the best water for bootleg whiskey, we found that water also provides a perfect balance of softness and alkalinity to bring out the rich flavor and smoothness of dark malts."

Southern Pecan was a Bronze Award winner in the Specialty Beer Category of the 2006 World Beer cup, but we do not brew our beers for awards, we brew our beers for you."

Thanks, but…"pass." Nothing's happening here. Well, "some" "thing", maybe, but …not enough to talk about. Sigh...

Hmmm, what happened? Maybe the newest one is an old bottle? That's all I can think. I liked it years ago, and yet today it did nothing for me. Freshness, people! Let that be our watchword!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fish Tale Wild Salmon Organic Pale Ale

Years and years ago, I did a ton of trading with beer people around the country to try brews not available here. This was when the local pickin's were very slim, both in locally brewed beers, and was was distributed to us. Nowadays, many of those are available to us easily, although the beer scene has changed so much that there continue to be so many more breweries that have opened, and so large a pool to draw from, we can never get to them all, can we?
So, here I am, drinking a fresh sample of a Washington brewery that is freshly available again, and looking back at my first review from a trade bottle received and reviewed back in July, 2003:


My experience with another Fish Tale Organic was rather pleasant, and I had high hopes for this one as well....
American Pale Ale, 5.5% ABV,

Clear, light amber hue, with a an ample, white head, that drifts swiftly down to size.
Aroma is on the quiet side, to be polite. Alert, awake, fresh, even zesty, but possessing no particular flavorful sensations, nothing I like to detect in an ale, no matter how pale. As time goes on, the nose grows particularly more bitter, and there's an increasing fruitiness flowering, but only a bit.

Once over the lips and on the tongue, disappointment prevails. Very simple, with a some hop presence, but remarkably mild at that, and very scant malt, if any. That hoppiness rides meekly through the finish and it's appreciated well enough, but it's a far cry from what I want.
Light body, slight texture, feeling more like a faint, inoffensive ESB than a fruity, hoppy pale ale. I'm not going to quibble over stylistic designations any longer, just end on the note that it moved me not.






Brau Brothers Ivan the Great Russian Imperial Stout


Brau Brothers Ivan the Great Russian Imperial Stout. What? An Imperial Stout from Lucan, MN? About freaking' time, huh? Label says: IBU: 90, SRM: 52, Alc: 9.5% by Vol. No further gobbledygook, thank goodness. Let's open it up.

Complete and thoroughly, utterly solid and flawless black. Rich, cocoa-tinged brown head. Looking good.

Aroma: black cherries, rum, and raisins hit first, but let's not forget plum, currants, and then comes black pepper. Molasses, anise, and last, but not least, alcohol.

Taste: Cocoa and espresso flavors from dark malts rush the palate at first sip, coating the sense. Stays long and hard in the mouth, but maintains a medium mouthfeel. Not as rich and full as as some big, bountiful RIS's, but not too far a cry away, either.

A good stab at an Imperial Stout. Not rising to the top of the ranks just yet, but a fairly good stand, nonetheless.

Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout


Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout. Malt Beverage with natural flavors added. Samuel Smith's Brewery (Tadcaster), North Yorkshire, England. 550 ml. Product of England. 5% Alc. by Vol.

Samuel Smith's and I go way back. Before I was into American craft beer, before I knew there was such a thing, my first  beer love was English. It didn't take long for me to try their products once I knew of them, and they remain among my favorites, although I rarely drink them any more. Part of that is due to the obsession with trying everything under the sun I've never had before. Another reason is that they haven't released a new product in a while. Yorkshire Stingo was perhaps the last new one I tired, but it was before I started adding reviews to this blog. Note to self: look for Stingo. In fact, stock up on all the SS products, why don't I.

Aroma: I'm mentioning this first, but it fills the air, as soon as the bottle is opened and floods the sense. Full and beautiful. More of a baker's cocoa than anything else. Still haven't lifted the glass to the nose, so here it goes. Deep, rich, milky, creamy, semi-sweet, and not a little bit bitter. Everything you want from chocolate, here in this stout.

Appearance: solid black with ruby-brown highlights at foot and side. Creamy brown head on top.

Taste: Bam! Chocolate milk, sweet, rich, indulgent. Small bitterness, lush malt, cocoa flavor swims through the mouth, creamy and delightful. You can't help but throw it back and want some more. Medium mouthfeel, moderate bitterness, full flavor, incessant cocoa taste.

The organic label, this time, does not yield a disappointing product, as is so often sadly the case. This beer is 100% yum. Who cares how organic it is, it's nothing but delicious. Highly recommended.

Bell's Smitten Golden Rye Ale


Bell's Smitten Golden Rye Ale. Hey, at last a new Bell's seasonal offering that I can actually find on the shelves and won't cost me $16 for a six-pack. I had a pint of this on tap at a bar a few weeks ago, and like it, then. Looking forward to sitting down and tackling it in the quitted of home, with a mind undistracted.

First off, what about the name? Cute, dear, darling. The dandelion with the petals pulled? Are they shooting for a female market? Perhaps the colors, images and name are looking for ladies who want to be pulled towards something approachable, but substantial, not the same old honey wheats and wits they're used to being marketed to? Just some thoughts. Now let's get to the beer…

Highly hazed, with plenty of particles, but a beautiful golden color despite that, under a slim, sure white dotted head, leaving a little film behind.

Aroma: Bright, fresh hops lead the way, citrus-y, spicy, but not too bitter. Floral hops meets spicy, bread-y rye malt. A nice combination.

Taste: That one-two combo jumps right on to the palate, when the liquid lands on the tongue and floods the mouth. A very vivacious flavor in the mouth, a fantastic combination of slightly bitter hop profile and sweet and spicy malt mouthfeel. Light to medium body, smooth to somewhat tickle texture.

 I'm really getting it now. I'm suspicions about the name, branding and imaging are proven true. The flavor is a step up from Oberon, for the craft beer fan needing a little something more, …not so much from hops, but enough. Not too much from malt, but the right amount to keep things tasty, light and easy to drink.

I like this. Might not choose it myself too often. But I recommend it. Refreshing and delightful. Maybe I'm smitten?

Here's the typically terse but clever label verbiage from the bottle: "With wonderfully bitter citus notes, resinous hop flavors and earthy overtones, this interesting take on the American Pale Ale doesn't leave a lot of room to wonder if you'll love it." Well done, but I'd skip the superlatives. "wonderful" and "interesting" should be left to the consumer to decide. True enough, it's a very likable brew.

Minneapolis Town Hall Red Sterling Lager


Town Hall Red Sterling Lager. Don't have a lot of information on hand about it. Let me look around a bit...Amber/Red Lager. 6.6% ABV. What hops, what malts? Not sure...

Clear, amber-y auburn appearance, small, but stable creamy-toned head. Nice, and inviting.

Aroma: Crisp and malty, sightly sweet, a little bit fruity, a little bit nutty, and a whole lot of likability.

Taste: Jumps into the mouth boldly, a tasty, malty, well-rounded flavor. A bigger, richer malt flavor than you're likely to find in any other amber lager. Hops are here, but low-lying, as they ought to be.
Tasty, tasty stuff.

This is the sort of quality brew that typifies the excellent output of Town Hall. Unfortunately, it's likely to be bypassed by the beer geeks due to the lack of popularity of lagers, the low hop quotient, the fact that it's not a bourbon-barrel imperial stout, etcetera, etcetera.

But it's damn good, without a doubt. Rich malty flavors rise up in the palate and roll around, leaving a long, warm finish. Plain ol' terrific.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

21st Amendment Sneak Attack Saison


21st Amendment Sneak Attack Saison. Farmhouse Ale brewed with cardamom. 6.2% aBV, 38 IBUs.

Clear, golden-hued, long-lasting, white, lacy head.

Aroma: It's a Coriander Bomb! No, really, it is, at least 3 people died. It's a mess of charred bodies and celery. Strong and vibrant spice character. Some citrus.

Taste: Hop bitterness up front, followed by coriander, ending smooth and dry. Easy-drinking, fruit and spice continue throughout. Light bodied.

Not bad. Not great, but not bad. Funny label, without a silly story to explain it all.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Brau Brothers Rye Wyne Ale



Brau Brothers 2011 Rye Wyne Ale. Ale Aged in Used Rye Whiskey Barrels. Brau Brothers Brewing Company, Lucan, Minnesota. ABV:???

Dark crimson coloring, a rich ruby, with a narrow layer of foam.

Aroma: Wine hits first. (I know this is not wine-barrel-aged, but that's what I'm getting.) A touch of sour, a twist of tannins, deep and fruity. Then the bourbon slips out from under the covers. Raisins coming through, now, and other dark fruits. Incredible. Gorgeous.

Taste: In the mouth, it's both mighty and mellow. A beautiful blend of barley-wine and bourbon. Some cocoa, plenty of dark fruit, lots of luscious malt.

I'm going to stop thinking about my drinking and read this label. "One of the few small grains still grown in southwestern Minnesota, malted rye is the base for this one of a kind ale brewed and aged in tinny Lucan, Minnesota. Following a long, slow fermentation, the beer is stored away in used rye whiskey barrels brought north from our friends at Templeton, located in the equally tiny town of Templeton, Iowa."

Love it. Boast-less and gobbledygook free. This is utterly fantastic,ale, so flavorful, so rich and robust,  clearly the finest beer to come out of Lucan, Minnesota, and I hope I don't stop saying that. Brau Brothers keeps getting better and better and doing more and more. Mmmm. Just plain ol' mmm, mmm, and yum.

Fearless Scottish Ale


Fearless Scottish Ale, Brewed from the Magical waters of the Oregon Rivers. Brewed just for you by Ken Johnson, Grand, high Exalted Mystical Brewer and Owner of Fearless Brewing Company, Estacada, Oregon, Center of the Brewing Uinverse. Skoal!

I'm going to call that a joke. And wonder how you really spell "skol". Is that the chewing tobacco?

Anyway, about the beer?

Clouded, dense, crimson coloring, slim head.

Aroma: sweet and malty, copper-toned, with a touch of fruit. And just a little funky. And a bit weird. A bit metallic, and flinty.

Taste: Clean and malty. Brisk hops. Lasting bitterness. Feels a bit higher than we should expect from a Scottish, just a little.

It's a nice one. It's a good beer, and you can drink it. Well-balanced, tasty…solid.
Just not my style. I can drink it, but I can't get crazy about it.

21st Amendment Marooned on Hog Island Oyster Stout


Hog 21st Amendment Marooned on, Stout brewed with Hog Island Sweetwater Oyster Shells. 7.9% Alc./Vol.

Solid blackness, no light escaping, slim cocoa tinged head.

Aroma: slightly bittersweet cocoa tones hit the nose first, a little bit of roasty-toastiness. Very satisfying aromatics.

Taste: a little chocolate, a little bit of coffee enters the palate, dark malt and just a bit of bitter hoppiness dominates. Smooth and easy, with just a small amount of grit in the texture. Medium mouthfeel, not quite full-bodied. Sessionable, but not spectacular.

I'm going to take a moment to decipher the story on the can copy: "Exhausted by the tedious work and rancid beer, deck swabs O'Sullivan and Fraccia abandoned Sir Francis Drake's galleon. Days later, they washed up on a tiny island on Tomales Bay, where they encountered local oyster farmers John and Terry. Soon, these beer mutineers and oyster mercenaries were feasting on roast pig, fresh oysters and goblets of the Captain's finest ales. They could think of worse fates than being …Marooned on Hog Island."

Another silly, stupid story. And I still not know what makes an oyster stout an oyster stout, or why they say it's brewed with oyster shells, rather than the whole thing, meat and all. What would shells bring to the brewing?  Unfortunately, all that fiction tells me nothing.

What can I say? Good…nothing great.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Capital Eternal Flame ...bock? doppelbock? barrel-aged?


Capital Eternal Flame. Capital Brewery Company, Middleton, WI.

Clear, crimson coloring, very small head.

Aroma: sweet and malty, a little woody, some oak? Very mellow and balanced, while still sweet, just a little fruity.

Taste: Plump and juicy malt flavor. Sweet and succulent. Raisins and figs and apple. Just plain ol' yummy-yum. Good balance, but leaning heavy on the sweet malty side. And the booze comes rolling in. 9% won't stay quiet.

Let's take a break and read the label, shall we?
"Capital Square Series. Welcome to generation two of the evolving flame concept. In addition to Autumnal/Imperial Fire blend, we've added a BIG, smoldering delight, christened Jacked Maibock. Join us for a walk on the intensely malty side."

I like the name, I love the art on the bottle. That's a crazy looking bird! And the beer is quite nice, as well. Big, fat and malty, sweet and full, molasses and raisins, dark rum, and other delights. Tasty stuff. A lovely nightcap.

Tilquin Oude Gueuze

Much thanks to Dave A. for finding this bottle for me.


Oude Gueuze Tilquin A l'ancienne. Traditional Belgian Lambic Ale, 12.7 fl. oz.

Beer of spontaneous fermentation, the Old Gueuze Tilquin is made from the blending of 1, 2, and 3 years old lambics. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, tis beer is refermented in the bottle. Ingredients: water, malt, yeast, hops.
Produced and bottled by Gueuzerie Tilquin, Rebecq, Belgium. 6% Alc by Vol.

So, let's try it out, already.

Clear, bright golden hued, practically no head, plenty of carbonation, busy bubbles.

Aroma: where horse meets blanket. Funkification personified, live and in the flesh. The very stinky flesh. Unwashed socks soaked in lemon juice. Wild. Crazy. Sour.

Taste: yow! Intense puckering, enormous sour hit, fierce citrus flavor. Body is light, malt is lean, hops are low, sour and bitterness are high, high, high. Yow. I said it before and I'll say it again: ooo, wee, sou-wer! Ooo, wee! Refreshing, unique, and delicious. Ends incredibly dry. Yeah, that's a gueuze. Mmmm. Oh, yeah.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rubicon I.P.A.


Rubicon IPA, brewed and bottled for Rubicon Brewing Company by Sudwerk Privatbrauwerei Hubsch, Davis, California. 22 oz. (1 pint, 6 fl. oz.), contains 6.5% Alcohol/Vol. Fresh water, the finest malted barley, selected hops & pure cultured brewers yeast. Rubicon Brewing Company, Sacramento, CA.

Very hazed, bright orange hue, small, slimmed white head.

Aroma: pithy, pungent, plump with citrus and pine. This one spews out aromatics, a vibrant nose full of everything hoppy. All the things we love in hops are in attendance, bitterness, with a splash of sweet.

Taste: Bam! There it is on the tongue and all over the palate. Grapefruit, lemon, lime, mango, bristling pine needles, on top of a mellow malt base. Prickly bitter hop character remains large and in charge. Abrasive at first, then cool and easy. Take another sip and it's back on the attack.

Not a bad IPA at all. Maybe even good. Yeah, I'd go there.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wasatch Ghostrider White I.P.A.


Wasatch Ghost Rider White I.P.A., 6% ABV, Wasatch Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Pours out a cloudy, light golden color, with a large, booming white head, leaving lace. Perfect picture of a witbier.

Aroma: Coriander and citrus, again, the very hallmark of a witbier nose. Lemon and orange, with a side of spice.

Taste: unfiltered, yet smooth, wheat-y witbier texture, then come the hops, just a bit of bitterness, then it grabs the palate. If you're expecting a water-y, meek, servile wit, it's not here. Hops are here to keep things groovy.

I'm still not completely keen on this style, I don't know if there's a definition for it yet. Is it an IPA with wheat, orange peel and spices? Is it a witbier with extra hops tossed in? This definitely feels like the latter to me, but what do they say?

"Legend has it the Ghostrider roams the high desert seeking revenge on those who stole his recipe for the perect IPA…we might be in trouble."

That tells me nothing!

Medium bodied, with plenty of soft, supple yeast character playing with the wheat. Hops don't feel quite so prominent after all. I'm especially baffled that they use the phrase "perfect IPA" recipe on the label, …is a perfect IPA a wit with extra hops added? Don't think so. It's a good beer, I can throw it back, and drink it down, but it's mislabeled and oddly categorized.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Milwaukee Brewing Hop Happy IPA


Milwaukee Brewing Hop Happy IPA, brewed and bottled by Milwaukee Brewing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Not a drop of gobbledygook anywhere on the paper label. No real information, either, other than the legal necessities. Maybe on the 6-pack holder? Nope, nothing but QR codes. A different kind of gobbledygook, an unreadable kind.

Murky amber hued appearance, slim white head.

Aroma: pithy and pungent, plump with pine and citrus, lemon and grapefruit galore. Not my favorite IPA aromatics, but not bad. We'll see.

Taste: Bright hop flavor greets the tongue immediately, backed up with sufficient malt. Bright, and juicy. Medium-bodied, lean and drinkable. Perfectly serviceable. Average and adequate. I can drink it and not feel a thing, nothing to think about, nothing to worry about.

It's okay. That's all. Sigh.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cascade Lakes 20" Brown Ale


Cascade Lakes Brewing Company 20" Brown Ale. Named for the trout on the label, I'm presuming. Redmond, Oregon.

Brown. No head. Clear at the sides.

Aroma: typical brown ale nose, malty, bits of brown sugar, nutty, cereal. Not much else.

Taste: Lean-bodied, malt-forward, and flavorful. Nice dark malt flavors, a little nutty edge, a touch of sweetness, kept in check with just enough bitterness (which is still very little). A good-drinker. One for the boat, or the dock, or maybe to feed the fish?

It's a good one, if maybe veering towards a touch too sweet. Drying some on the palate toward the end, just in time to get ready to pop another one.

Here's what they say: "Named for the enormous Brown Trout that inhabit NorthWest streams, this ale lives up to the legend. Using six varieties of Northwest grown malt, we've created a masterpiece of color, aroma, and flavor to create a medium-bodied, complex malty ale. Set the others free and sink your hook into this one."

Unfortunately, most of the above is mere hyperbole.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Bruery 5 Golden Rings


The Bruery 5 Golden Rings. "Belgian-style golden ale brewed with pineapple juice and spices. The fifth verse of our "Twelve beers of Christmas" saga incorporates sweet, cake- like spice into a rich and robust golden ale. Happy Holidays!"

Famille Rue, Unfiltered, bottle-conditioned.

Hazy, unfiltered orange appearance, long-lasting, lovely white head. An attractive little number.

Aroma: the airy eminence of the golden ale is here, with the sweet, lofty spice that comes with it, very much in the style of Duvel. Yeast at work in the nose, and not a little bit of fruit. Not too much, just enough, for some beautiful balance.

Taste: On the tongue, the pineapple comes raging through. Not the least bit subtle, either, it's fully in effect, large and in charge. Big hits of sweetness from the fruit. Bit too much for my taste, takes us far away from the golden ale promised in the nose.
Medium-bodied, long, fruity finish. An almost over-bearing sweetness that is mixed with hits of sour, as well. But the sweet fruit takes over.
The pineapple essence is far too strong for my taste, driving the drinkability factor down a peg or two.

I'm not getting the "cake-like spice", and the sweetness seems to come completely from the pineapple. Didn't notice the ABV, but it's starting to peek through.

11.5% ABV, it seems. Okay, that makes sense. Pretty big stuff.

I get it. 5 Golden Rings, like a golden ale, but, hey, what else is golden and comes in rings, sometimes? Pineapple, right? Doesn't mean it works, flavor-wise. Once the pineapple flavor washes down the throat, along comes the booze. Not an entirely perfect blend.

On the back label, we are told that it is suitable for aging for up to seven years, soon after the release of Twelve Drummers Drumming. So, sometime in 2019, it'll be good for a vertical. Perhaps. But, right now, I'm not thrilled with this. But, I will finish it.

(Editor's note: I didn't.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blue Pants Tuxedo Black IPA


Blue Pants Brewery Tuxedo Black India Pale Ale. Madison, Alabama. "Pairs well with a bow tie," they say. Their slogan: "unreasonably good beer." If it's a joke, I'm not sure I get it, but they're trying to be clever, so, points for that.

Let's open 'er up and try 'er out.

Whoa, incredible carbonation! I had to pour very slowly once it starts coming into the glass in full force. I have to wait for the immense volume of foam to die down in order to get some actual beer in the glass, for the purposes of the photograph.
Enormous full-flowering of cream-colored, lacy, prodigious foam. Dark brown, nearly black coloration.

Aroma: mild grassy hop aromatics float just above rich dark malt flavors. Mocha notes, rum, molasses, all kept in check with hops. Nice balance.

Taste: A return on the tongue of the flavors listed above. Tasty array of dark malts, some cocoa, matched with grassy, piney hop flavors coasting above. The carbonation, however is still not for me. Too much gushes out on each pour, before the liquid emerges, and there's a bit more rushing on the palate for my taste.
Aside from that, again, I have to acknowledge and compliment the fine balancing act, everything is well-integrated, nothing stands out too much.

On the other hand, nothing quite stands out enough to make it really excellent. It would be nice to see what else they can do, out there in Madison, AL.

What do they say on the label? "Tuxedo Black IPA is a celebration of the invention of the Cascadian Dark Ale style. It's got a smooth, mellow roastiness that pairs perfectly with all manner of Northwest American hops. Our Black is not over the top, but balanced, allowing those who go crazy for hops and those who just like a good dark beer alike to enjoy in an unreasonably good experience."

It was a good experience, but not unreasonably so. What's the connection between this concept and "blue pants"? Is there one? I have to know.

Dangerous Man Chocolate Milk Stout


Dangerous Man Chocolate Milk Stout.

Black as black, under a creamy, lacy tan head, looking beautiful  and inviting.

Aroma: cocoa and cream, smooth and subtle, sweet and lovely.

Taste: Here it comes, chocolate, the cream, the sweet, the smooth, the lush and the utterly delightful. Easy-drinking all the way, while full-bodied, a serious stout. The combination of the chocolate and the milk is so ingenious it makes you wonder why it isn't done more often. I can't say it hasn't before, but I've never heard of one. Chocolate stout? Yes. Milk Stout? Yes. Chocolate milk stout? Maybe not as much.

One thing this is for certain is, I believe I am using the correct term here…yum. Very yum. Deee-licious. Small bitterness, just enough. Good texture, good play on the palate, good goodness all around. Solid brew, and just tasty as heck, all around.

Hey, what do they say about this at Dangerous Man? "Chocolate Milk Stout, 6.3% ABV., 24 IBU. A smooth, medium-bodied stout with a strong chocolate flavor. The large lactose addition leaves this beer a tad sweet. If you like chocolate malts, this beer is for you. Take home a growler and try with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!"


Here's Jason Sowards, brewer and owner of Harriet Brewing, talking with Dangerous Man himself, Rob Miller, who's actually a pussycat.
You know what? I don't have any ice cream, but I'm going out to the grocery store tomorrow for some so that I can do that very thing….if I can stop myself from drinking the whole thing tonight.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Dangerous Man I.P.A.


Dangerous Man Brewing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota. House IPA. 7.9 % ABV, 68 IBU.

Growler purchased on the grand opening day, January 25, 2013. The label says "bottled on 1/26." Someone made a mistake. No biggie.

Dangerous Man had been open for 5 soft open nights the previous two weekends, and this was their grand debut. They remained Minneapolis' newest brewery for approximately three more days, when the products of Northgate Brewing came out. But enough of that, how's the beer?

Look: largely clear, lightly hazed amber/apricot appearance, slim white head.

Aroma: gorgeous hop bouquet leaps out into the nose. Low bitterness, but bright, fresh, buoyant hoppiness, with citrus and pineapple prominent. Orange and lemon, too. Very nice.

Taste: Sleek, supple, smooth, slick. Lean bodied, crisp, clean malt, but hops lead the way. Drinkable like it's nobody's bidness. Balance is key, and king, and it's a solid drinker, for sure. Fresh and vibrant, bursting with fruit flavor, bitterness kept cool, while in command.

We need more of these, the session IPAs. What, ho? An almost 8% ABV IPa, and you're calling it a session beer? I guess I am. Except I am starting to feel the alcohol, all of a sudden. If this was scaled back to 5%, we'd have a different story.

Delicious. Excellent work, Dangerous Man. I look forward to more of the same!


Alaskan Baltic Porter


Alaskan Baltic Porter, 9.8% ABV.

Solid blackness under a roasty tan head, starts solid, slims down.

Aroma: rich roasted dark barley malt is the dominant factor of course, with notes of smoke and char on top, with hint of cocoa and coffee below.

Taste: Big in the mouth, with sweet dark malt overtaking the senses. Molasses and brown sugar take charge now, with sweetness being fully in charge of the flavor. It ceases with the initial sip and swallow, and ends dry and cool. But not mellow. I almost wrote mellow. It's strength is very evident and threatens to become part of the flavor.


That said, halfway into the pint (I chose a pint strictly to photograph the branded glass, this is not a beer I would normally serve in a pint., it is starting to feel a bit more balanced, and easy on the tongue. Darnkess and deliciousness, all in one. Glad to have tried it.