Thursday, June 27, 2013

Three Floyds Evil Power Imperial Pilsner

One thing we all know too well is that all beers are not alike, and another thing is that even a favorite brewery is capable of disappointing. I've never had a Three Floyds beer I  didn't like before last night. And also, I'm rarely thrilled with "double pilsners" or "imperial pilsners." Perhaps these two facts will conspire to either prove one right or the other wrong? Let's look at yesterday's notes of Three Floyds' "Evil Power", to find out.
Chicago Beer #8.

Three Floyds Evil Power Imperial Pilsner. What's going on with this label art? Sme kind of post-apocalyptic, meta-human, super-God-like creature pantheon of madness or something? Okay, okay, I'm scared, already! (Took awhile for me to identify the minotaur, actually.)

Hazed, golden hue, slim head…whatchagonna do? But, not bad for an I.P.

Aroma: clean, crisp, grainy, …perfect pilsner nose. Small hop presence, just right malt notes. Time to drink it…

Taste: Here we go, there it is, now it's happening. Crisp, clean, clear, all those words come roaring back, basic cereal grain from the malt, …light bodied, lean mouthfeel, good drinkability. But, hey, where's the Imperial? Boom, boom, boom, boom….

Wonder what the label will tell us? "A fortified European style pilsner lagered to perfection, brewed with heavy metal warriors Lair of the Minotaur. in commemoration of their 4th full-length release "Evil Power." Available now @ …blah, blah, blah/...skol prost cheers."

Hey, Three Floyds, do something shocking, change the game, turn some heads…make a collaborative beer with a smooth jazz flute ensemble to commemorate their latest tribute to Herbie Mann. Or something. This whole sturm und drang is just kind of…I don't know, your thing, I guess, so who am I to complain. It's just a touch tiresome. Someone has to lay off of the dungeons and dragons and Conan the Barbarian comic books. Looking straight at you guys.

So, back to the beer. It is what it is. Basic pilsner bulked up to …I don't know, once again I find a bomber with government warnings on the label, but not a note about the ABV. (7.2 %, says BeerAdvocate.)Well, it's Imperial and it's starting to bang on my brain, but it's pretty simple as a pilsner. I knew that going in, so there's really no room for complaint. I'm just an idiot ticker, when it's all said and done. I do like every Three Floyds  beer I try, and this beer is what it is, it just doesn't have any extra delights. A heavy metal band wants to make a strong lager, big surprise there.

I have four more Three Floyds bombers brought back from the Chicago trip that are up my alley. Can't wait to get to those.

Flat Earth Ovni Ale (Biere de Garde)

Ovni apparently is French for "UFO." Biere de Garde is a French style of beer. And former Flat Earth owner/brewer/beer namer had a thing for science fiction. There was some gobbledygook on the label about a UFO that hit the Eiffel Tower, and so on, and so forth, and blah, blah, blah...

Here are notes from when I tapped it in August of 2008:

Clear, garnet-hued, smallish head, dunnish, plenty carbonated...

Malt dominates the nose, flushes out rosy, fresh, fruity associations, some cherry, berry, grape...with grain below. Lovely stuff.

Fills the mouth happily and spreads deliciousness. Well-rounded, malt infused, little hops, and just plain juicy. Tons of fruity flavor, not from hops, but malt and yeast.
Most wine-like. Medium-bodied, with a terse grainy texture, leading into the finish, with remains malty, and ultimately dry. Urges further drinking.
Very tasty ale. So similar, but superior to amber/red ales. Just the right indgedients went at work here. This is delicious. Loving it.

Revolution Double Fist Double Pale Ale

Chicago Beer #7: Revolution Brewing Double Fist Double Pale Ale. Revolution Brewing, Chicago, IL. Alc. 8% by Vol. Zero gobbledygook. So, let's drink 'er. After we look 'er, and smell 'er.

Clear, bright orange/amber, smallish head, turns to  tight ring.

Aroma: bright and burning malt, big and fat, out loud and proud. Big and bold, massive hops, huge malt. Straddling the line between a barleywine aroma and a double IPA.

Taste: gigantic. explosive. immense. brobdignagian. and so on and so forth. Big fruity flavors, full and flush blasts of berries and cherries, a bit of brandy, Reminds me of another "double pale ale", the one made by Flying Dog. That one is more brutal, about 11 % or so. This is more manageable, but had many of the same flavors.

Big time bitterness, well matched with full-on malt. Two times the Iron Fist. Very nice.

New Holland Michigan Hatter IPA

Michigan Hatter Ale , Michigan I.P.A., New Holland Brewing company, Holland, Michigan.  Just picked this up at Chicago Lake Liquors, pulled it from the cooler, and once home, I'm drinking it up. Maybe it was the cute hatted redhead on the label that prompted my purchase?

Very hazy amber hue, big white head slims down soon.

Aroma: A garden of hoppy delights…grapefruit, lime, orange, tangerine…plus prickly pine. Great balance of bitter and sweet in this nose.

Taste: Fresh hop flavor up front, some small amount of caramel malt behind it. Bitterness is moderate, alcohol, too, I assume. Consumability is up there, also, and it's a pure pleasure to drink.

I'll take a break to read the label: "Michigan Hatter celebrates our local agriculture with it's Michigan-grown Cascade hops from the Leelanau Peninsula. Bright and aromatic, with delicious malt notes underneath a citrus-y showcase of hops. Pairings: sharp cheddars, herb-roasted poultry and curry."

I'm drinking this in the company of chicken pad thai. It works there, too.

Oddly, I don't see the ABV listed on the paper label, at all. They have a whatchmajiggly code, the squiggly-wiggly thing to take you to their website, but they can't print it on the label.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dave's BrewFarm Granade Blanche

Dave's BrewFarm Grenade Blanche. 6.7% ABV. Pils malt fermented with a wit yeast and a late addition of pomegranate juice. Yum, yum, let's have some.

Brilliant golden hue, booming white head, slims down slowly, looking good.

Aroma: The hallmarks of a witbier are here, slightly sweet, airy, wheat, with a twist of tart. Little touch of funk and fruit.

Taste: Light-bodied, lean, smooth and with just the slightest bit of fruit. Little tart, little sweet. It's another odd amalgam in this one, the yeast from one style of ale, and the malt from another. "How about if we make a witbier without wheat", wonders Farmer Dave, "and what if we used pilsner malt with ale yeast?" What if, he wonders. You get a very clean malt base, with a touch of the wit flavors and a flash of the fruit. Small splash of spice, as well.

It's another nice experiment, but there is a bit of a clash. I won't call it a failed experiment, but it didn't quite hang together the way I'd like it to.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Indeed LSD Honey Ale

Nearly five years after this was first posted,
here is LSD, now called Lavender, Sunflower
Honey and Dates (thanks, Federal Government!)
in it's current form. It's still just as good. 
Here's one that we tapped a few days ago, and I'm just getting to a pint of it today. I bought a bottle some time ago, but am holding on to it. And I've had this beer in a previous version, when Josh created it for Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery. MTHB owner Pete Rifakes was kind enough to allow Josh to brew it at Indeed, and keep the name and recipe. The L stands for Lavender, the S for Sunflower honey, and the D for dates. LSD from Indeed. It's very innocent, nothing any stoner would be interested in. We swear.

Time to get into this pint....

Gorgeous amber coloring, nearing on orange, reaching towards crimson, with a lasting, creamy, off-white head. Looks great.

Aroma is heavenly, honestly. Absurdly floral and perfumey. Ridiculously lovely. Some of the other ingredients, the dates and honey,  lurk below. Devastatingly pretty nose.

Taste: Spices hang hardest over a medium bodied ale. There's sweetness aplenty, and not much in the way of bitter. Hops have a small role to play here, and malts stand their ground, and keep it all solid. The extra ingredients take care of the flavor, and it's a taste that nearly can't be described. Dark fruits, honey, and beautiful botanicals make something terrifically tasty, utterly unheard of, has to be tasted to be believed. Not too strong, either, just the slightest buzz going on.

Now, we will go back in time, and look at what I first wrote when I took a growler of this home from Town Hall, back in October of 2009. Spoiler alert: you may find some thoughts and phrases repeated, although I did not read the old review before writing the new one. Also it should be noted that this brew won a silver  medal for Town Hall at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, in the herbal ale category.

Here goes: "LSD

Hazy copper hue, standard beige head o' foam.

Aroma is absolutely unheard of...floral, herbal, sweet, and singing. The loveliness of lavender and honey (sunflower honey, no less) kept in check with the depth of dates. That's got to be it. It's gorgeous. Sublime.

Now, to drink,...soft and supple. Lean-bodied, but with a strong flavor and a lasting finish. Lean texture, too, but the combinant flavors are so well integrated and make such a beautiful blend, it's a darned near perfect mix.

While this is sweet, delicious, super-tasty, yum, yum...I'm missing my hops."

I am missing my hops. But I'm very happy with the beer, and highly recommend it's loveliness to all.

Half Acre Ginger Twins India-style Red Ale

Half Acre Ginger Twin India-style Red Ale. This makes Chicago Beer #6. One of my small regrets about the trip was not taking home more Half Acre beers. I wrongly assumed I'd see them in stores we would visit on the way out, and was disappointed that only the cans were found at Binny's, some of which weren't of interest to me. This is the one bomber I bought at the store adjacent to the taproom. Only bought one, because I could only fit so many bottles in my bag as we bounced from bar to bar.

Enough of that, let's get to the beer. What else can we learn before opening? 6.5 % ALC. by Vol. There's the name, the address, the website, the legal obligations, and no gobbledygook whatsoever. Let's crack it!

It's a rich, deep red with a lush, creamy head, looking great, simply lovely.

Aroma: Ah, beautiful hops! High hop bitterness, piney touches amid grapefruity breezes. What are they? Simcoe, Amarillo, Centennial? Cascade?
How'd I do? Probably wrong, I know…It's a righteous mix, whatever it is.

Taste: there we go, there it is, very expressive hop blend bursting on the palate, then softly fading into the malt. Great balance, everything evenly matched. Could it be maltier? Maybe, but no, that'd be too much. Could it be hopper? Yes, but then it might end up being Surly Furious.

Terrifically drinkable, and totally tasty. Mmmm, this rolls around the palate, and gets down, stays comfortable

This is great stuff. I could drink it all day long. Now I'm regretting not getting more of their other beers, but not getting more of this.

Revolution Rosa Hibiscus Ale

Am I still keeping track of which beers are Chicago beers? The Gumball Head
was bought on the trip, so it's #3, and the Brewery Vivant, though from Michican, was bought in suburban Chicago, so that's #4. Which makes Rosa from Revolution Chicago beer #5. And here we go…

Revolution Rosa Hibiscus Ale. Ale Brewed with Spices. 5.8% ABV. Revolution Beer LLC, Chicago, IL.

Here's one I know I tasted in Chicago last week, didn't have a full glass, but took a sip out of someone else's. They didn't like theirs. I thought it wouldn't hurt to get a can, and try it out for myself.

Hard to describe this color. Rosy, sure. Not quite pink, and not quite red. a lush crimson, quite beautiful. Small, pink head.

Aroma: slightly sweet and floral, but mostly blase' and banal.

Taste: okay, what have we here? Is it a wheat brew? It's light bodied, fairly innocuous, and not without some charm, but not with much. Pleasant, fruity, but missing anything to keep my interest. Clearly, this beer was not meant for me, but it's got to be making someone happy, if they're still brewing it.

Here's how they describe it on the Revolution brewpub menu: "Tart summer ale infused with 20 lbs of Hibiscus flowers and touch of orange pee. Elegantly refreshing and defiantly delicious."

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Bruery Sour in the Rye

The Bruery Sour in the Rye. Been sitting in the Dedicated Beer Fridge for months. tonight's the night. Gonna be all right. Ain't no body gonna stop me now.

Sour rye ale aged in oak barrels. Deliciously sour, bursting with spicy rye notes and hints of oak from the barrels it was aged within.

Clear, copper/amber coloring, slim to no head, small ring of white foam.

Aroma: Ah! Belgian wild, Belgian funk, Belgian sour, all up in here. A little bit of fruit, but so much of the above. Whoa! Ahhh. It's everything you wanted, and more.

Taste: hot bite of sour up front, nothing but the tart, crazy tart, funky tart, wild tart. Lean body, clean flavor, continual bite after bite, with a slightly spicy malt kick. Cherry and berry, a little apple, with a vinegar twist. Big and bountiful, lean and funky, all that in one. Deeee-licious.

Bright, flush, fervent flavor. Resounding sourness. Belongs up there with the best of them. Wow. This is a wicked, wonderful mess. Love it.

Lawson's Finest Liquids Toast Black IPA

I can't remember what Vermont beers were famous prior to the past couple years. Were there any? Magic Hat, maybe, but they were not necessarily respected. Now we have three breweries that are making a claim for that small state to be a major brewing center. A recent thread on asked what the IPA capitol of the world was and so many were calling for Vermont to be the winner, based on the single output of The Alchemist (Heady Topper), and the many IPAs from two breweries, Hill Farmstead and Lawson's Finest Liquids. The average, day-to-day beer consumer would have no knowledge of these breweries, without paying close attention to the lists of the highest ranking beers on the beer geek websites.
In that previously mentioned thread about this IPA capitol, one BA member admitted that he had not had any IPA from Hill Farmstead, but nominated it's city as the Capital of IPAs based on other BAs reviews.  Because of one brewery, which has incredibly limited distribution? And only gets around from trader to trader?

And now I hold in my hand a bottle from Lawson's of Warren, Vermont. I got this when I offered up a rare Surly Darkness glass to a BA member, in exchange for some bottle of goodness. He went back to his car, and brought the bottle, asking me, "Do you like Lawson's?" Well, honestly, I don't know, I've never tried one, and I would never had, if I weren't a trader…which I currently am not. I am so out of touch with the beer world. So shameful. Why am I not tracking down every over-hyped IPA that all the hypers are hyping about? All those old IPAs that the old breweries released so long ago are just old, old, old...

Nonetheless…let us open it up and see what we can see…

Blackest blackness…voluminous head, large and lacy, sending tannish tendrils hither and yon…lovely looking beer.

Aroma: we have some grassy hops here, lively and citrus-y, with dark, black malts below. Just so sweet, and a smattering of bitter. well done. Very nice. Good and hoppy.

Taste: Here we have it, again. All that bright, forward, grassy hop character, just hanging above. It's a drinker, not too strong (5.9% ABV), plenty drinkable. Some roast, some toast, but hoppy bitterness more than that, rising far above the black malts. No real cocoa or caramel, just your basic dark malts. (I'm saying this without knowing what the ingredients are, just guessing.)

Tasty stuff, good integration, excellent balance. This is the "Black IPA"/ "Cascadian Dark"/ Black Ale done right. It's all good in the neighborhood.

Here are some words from the label" "With this beer, I raise a toast to an original brewing pioneer, Greg Noonan. Brewed with the finest pale malt, toasted barley, toasted rye, de-bittered black & where malts, along with layers of dank earthy hops. I hope you enjoy this dark hoppy delight.--Sean. 5.9% alc/vol." Straight from the Green Mountains to your head."

Every bit as good as all the best Black IPAs out there. As this is the First Lawson's brew I've had, I still haven't the slightest clue whether their output is worth all the hype. Hey, if you could trade Dave's BrewFarm beers as easily, maybe folks would say the same about them.

Actually, the better question would be If They Brewed IPAs, would the beer geeks beat the untrodden, snowy path to their backwoods door? What if Lawson's, or Hill Farmstead, or The Alchemist, never brewed an IPA? Would we have heard of any of them? If they only made Belgian Styles, or English styles, and didn't traffic in hops? Would they have made any impact with their kolsches, and amber ales, and bocks?

I wonder….

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tommyknocker Butt Head Doppelbock

Here's a quandary. I received some samples recently, including this one, and it raised some questions. Why does this bottle merely call it a "bock lager" and not a doppelbock? Looking on their listing on BeerAdvocate, there is no change. And the alcohol is still 8.2 % by volume. Did some prevailing wisdom decide it is best not to call it a doppelbock, for some reason or another?

Never mind. I had this 22 ounce bottle, and I'm looking back at my notes from a 12 ounce bottle back in November, 2003. Here we go...

Appearance: deep, dark brown color, hinting on violet, almost prunish, even, with a short, quick head.

Aroma: vibrant and fruity (grapes, raisins, dates), very nice.

Taste: big mouthfeel, warm, generous texture, and overloaded with malt. Very little hops that I can taste. Syrupy sweet at times, thickly coated, almost medicinal. Halfway in, that large presence on the palate seriously thins out, still substantial, but losing some ground.

 Overall, though, the bright, fruity flavor, with the ample alcoholic content, provides sufficient punch and rings in on every subsequent swallow, making this a very satisfactory, memorable doppelbock.

Three Floyds Gumball Head Wheat Ale

A bit about GumballHead: An American Wheat Ale, Gumballhead is named in honor of the underground comic book cat created by Rob Syers. Initially a seasonal summer beer, now brewed year round due to demand. This beer helped redefine American Wheat Beers. Brewed with Amarillo Hops and a generous portion of American red wheat, Gumballhead has a complex hop aroma with notes of grapefruit, lemon zest, marmalade and peach. These flavors combined with low bitterness make Gumballhead a refreshing American Wheat Beer that doesn’t suck.

I actually knew of GumballHead the Cat before I knew of Three Floyds, having ordered some Skin Graft Comix in my job as comics buyer at Shinder's Readmore Bookstore, in the '90's. He's one badass kitty cat. And here are my words on the first tasting of this one, when it was only available in bombers, and I had to trade for it, way back, nine years ago, June of 2004:

Poured into a tall weizen-style Oberon glass, with great anticipation.
Color's a hazy, ripe peach, head is thick, creamy cushion of meringue.
Aroma, plainly put, gorgeous! Sweet and lovely hoppiness, tingling and enticing the nose and welcoming the tongue to embrace...beautiful! I got my beak awfully wet drinking it in, and didn't want the sniffing to stop! Amarillos, they say, eh? Love my Amarillos!
Lush wheat texture greet the lips and washes over the palate, comforting and terrifically tasty. Hops continue to dance on the palate, and fruity flavors dominate. Taste gets a touch sticky and very palpable in the mouth, bringing an end to my questions about the curious appelation, sweet and gummy indeed!
(Still wonder about the crude cartoon of the smoking cat on the label, but it's never normal at the House of Floyds, is it?)
Medium bodied, persistent citric finish, inestimable drinkability...hook me up to a keg and let's see, eh?
Great beer here, but then, I've never been disappointed by the Floyds boys.

it's just as wonderful, all these years later.

Brewery Vivant Triomphe Belgian IPA

Brewery vivant Triomphe Belgian Style India Pale Ale, 6.5% ABV, One Pint. Brewed and canned by Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Appearance: bright sunset orange coloring, gigantic, beautiful white head, leaving lace, softly shifting down. Lookin' good.

Aroma: ah! Gorgeous. Just what I've been waiting for in a Belgian IPA, the exact amount of Belgian yeast aromatics, with just enough hop character. Slightly sour, funky, & wild, with plentiful doses of citrus and pine. A wonderful marriage, bringing to mind many of my favorite hoppy Belgian ales. Juuust right.

Taste: Here it comes again. Refreshing hop bite, followed by easy drinkability. Burst of grapefruit and tangerine, with just a slight amount of bitterness, awash in wild Belgian yeast flavor. Mmmm, this is reminding me of something I can't quite …well, yes I can…but I don't want to put my finger on it, really.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed this quite a bit. My first from Brewery Vivant, hope to try some more out.

Hey let's read the can: "Triomphe i made with a classic Belgian style yeast strain that gives the complexity and slight sweetness you may expect from a Belgian style ale. The beer then reaches deeper providing a smack-down of American grown hops to turn the style on it's head. It has a light caramel color, is strongly bitter, with a fruity citrus aroma."

I wouldn't agree with all of those words. Good thing I brought my own.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Badger Hill MSB Minnesota Special Bitter

Badger Hill Brewing Company MSB Minnesota Special Bitter, A Well Balanced Ale. Alc 5.7% by Volume.

Best served in a Becher glass. Ooops. I forgot to read that before I cracked open a bottle and poured into a pint glass. Next time, next time.

Ruddy red appearance, tight, off-white head.

Aroma: light sweetness, full-on maltiness, fruity esters, cherry and berry, moderate bitterness. Pleasant complexity in this nose.

Taste: Loads in to the mouth lively full of flavor. Bitter hop presence kept constantly in check with English malts. Stops short of cloying, keeps delivering taste time after time. Continual check and balance between the hops and malt, the bitter and sweet, and it ends up tasty all the way.

Medium body, long, lush finish. Classic brew. Hey, what's in it?
"Combination of Maris Otter, 2 row, Crystal malts, 4 English and American hops. Plato 13.5, IBU: 47."

Another nice one from Badger Hill, keep 'em coming.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Revolution Anti-Hero IPA

Chicago Beer Review #2:

Revolution Anti-Hero IPA. Keep cold. Fresh beer. Brewed in Chicago.
Had this yesterday at Revolution in Chicago, loved my pint, brought a 6-pack of cans home, drinking one now.

Hazed orange/amber appearance, short head stays long, floats lace, looking good.

Aroma: Ahhh! Beautiful! Tangerine, grapefruit, pine, a spritz of lemon. A trickle of pine. A little floral. Right on the money. With a touch of honey. Gorgeous.

Taste: MMMM! More on the money. Smooth entry on the palate. In the mouth, it's a medium bitterness, with just enough malt to bring on the sweetness and keep this what I call yummy. It's a good drinker, not too full, not too strong, not too anything. Except for all the ways that it's exceptionally everything. A big jolt of bitter, a gentle flash of fruit, and plenty of malt to keep it tasty. This I like. I've got a few more cans that will be taken down with the greatest of ease.

Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale

Every now and then, I look at what states have I had beers from (as represented on this blog), how many beers, how many breweries. Etcetera. My home state is tops, of course, and the other top spots are occupied by the usual suspects, the top brewing states, your Californias, Colorados, Wisconsinses. And when I look at Illinois, I'm embarrassed to see a mere eight, 3 from Goose Island, 3 from Two Brothers, and 2 from Wild Onion.
The first two breweries are, I am fairly certain, the only two Illinois breweries distributed in Minnesota, but those are still low numbers, especially for the first one. Wild Onion cans were purchased in Wisconsin. But as anyone who pays attention to the beer scene knows, Chicago is not slacking with new beers and breweries. Two ways to remedy this egregious oversight: trade or travel. I've cut back on trading, lately, and was itching to visit, especially since I haven't been to Chicago in 20 years, and that visit, well, the less said, the best. And, it pre-dated my passion for beer. Also, my usual updates with the ongoing world of beer makes it painfully clear that I have to check it out in person.
So, one day, months ago,  Cal and I decided that a summertime, weekday beer vacation to Chicago is definitely in order. Full details of the trip are coming soon. For now, I present my first review from the beers I brought back, and this is one I've had before, in the months before I turned this blog into my one-stop shop for reviews. That made it easy to sit back last night after work, open the can, pour it into my newly purchased SquidOwl Half Acre Willi Becher glass, and enjoy. Here come notes from October, 2010. A can sent to me by ...I wish I could remember who, sorry.

Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, Half Acre, Chicago, IL. 6.5% ABV.

Wonderful haze in the glass, shot out of the can, lovely golden coloration, bountiful head on it, big, rocky, marshmallowy, lace-leaving snowy white cloud of delightfulness.

Smelling it: Dang! hops explosion! Rip roaring full-on fresh, perfumey, citrus-y, a little pine, little honey, soft, but powerful.

Tasting it: fresh and zesty, pleasingly bitter, lean bodied, nice, bready malt. Excellent balance, great match of ingredients, utterly refreshing. Long, satisfying finish. Very similar to Two Hearted, from Bell's, in hop character and flavor.

Hop lovers dream in this can. The hop-head's lawnmower beer, truly, a great sessioner. It's a mark of American innovation, I think, that a beer so hop forward, so beautifully bitter can be seen as a session ale. In the craft beer revolution, we won't accept mediocrity in the session ale. here's to daisy cutting!

Note: The can was part of a 4-pack bought at Binny's in Schaumberg, Illinois. This will be one of only two Half Acre beers to show up from this trip. The other was purchased at the taproom. Other beers available at Binny's, however, were not in my favorite styles, so they got a lower priority over other beers that I was staring at in amazement.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Aces

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Aces …pale ale? "copper ale"? Some kind of ale. 5.8% ABV.

Clear, crimson/bronze colored, slim off-white head. Lookin' good.

Aroma: low in bitterness, high in fruity esters. A blend of berry and citrus fruit, a true melange in the nose. Sweet malt notes whisper from behind. Pleasing, enticing, urging me to drink.

Taste: Flash of bitterness on the tongue, soon overtaken by malty flavors, caramel notes leading the charge. Bright, brash flavors wash over the palate at first, sweet malt ends it out. Terrific balance. Good drinkin'. An easy going ale, and tasty, too.

Simcoe, Eldorado, Amarillo, and Citra hops in 5 additions. Many different malts. I'll put up a link to a full description from their website, right about here. ...nope, can't do that, it's no longer on the website, which means it's no longer on tap...luckily, I copied it first! Here 'tis:
"We wanted to put some extra color into this hoppy copper ale collaboratively designed by Mike and Joel. Dosed with 5 additions of some of our favorite varieties, Amarillo, Citra, Eldorado and Simcoe hops gives it's name. A Pils malt back shone is augmented by a solid caramel structure from two English crystal malts. A splash of de-bittered German roasted malt deepens the copper finish to the beer, Dextrin malt adds a fullness of body and along with the caramel helps to balance the bitterness. 5.8% aBV. "

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Southern Tier Back Burner Barley-wine Ale

Looking at notes from a bottle in July, 2008, but drinking right now on tap. It's Back Burner, the barley-wine from Southern Tier, and do I like it. Here's what I wrote then:

Clear, crimson hued, slim, creamy head.

Aroma: rich, pungent, dark fruit meets brandy...cherry notes, sweet, but not too syrupy, rounds out dryly in the end.

Drinkin'...plump on the palate, and right quick, alcohol comes burning in, blazes the back of the mouth. Profusely malty, gathering sweetness, growing texture, bitter hops scouring the tongue.

Flavor lasts long in the mouth. Persistent finish. Big, hot, wet and juicy. Mmmm-mmm.

Summit Meridian Ale

More of that good ol' introspection before the notes. This one had problems. The first bottle out of the six pack, I hated! Just was not good at all. Struggled through it, wondered how it even got brewed, etc, etc, but wait, this is not how things go in Summit land. They just don't make bad beers. Oh, you can not like one all you want, but it's not going to be bad. Somehow, I got a bad bottle from the first one I pulled from the six pack. Or something. I had a few more that were fine, and sat down to write this:

Summit Union Series Meridian Session Ale, Meridian Hops grown in the USA, Concerto Pale malt grown in the United Kingdom…Belgian-style Session Ale. Limited Edition Craft Brew. 4.5 % Alc by Vol.  32 IBU. Enjoy by 9/28/13.

This is a new one for me. Summit broke from their shell of the same ol' tried and true with the Unchained Series, and now this new Union Series that I don't fully understand. Not sure what the aim is with this. No matter, I'll just step right into it an see what the beer is all about…

Lightly hazed, golden yellow appearance, nice snowy white head, leaving lace.

Aroma: fresh and lively, lightly spicy, slightly fruity, giving the general sense of a wittier. Gorgeous, actually. Mm.

Taste: Hmmm. Pale malt, some wheat? ( not sure…), we've got the fruit and the spice and a little bit of hops. Nice stuff. It's a drinker, plenty of special Belgian-style flavorings. Nicely consumable. Plenty of flavor, plenty of pleasure.

Thanks, Summit, I'll have another.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Stone Espresso Imperial Russian Stout

Stone Espresso Imperial Russian Stout, Ale Brewed with Espresso, 2013 "Odd Year" Release. Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, California.

Darkest black appearance, roasted tan head, starts large and tones down quickly. Looks great.

Aroma: Yeah, coffee is king in this one, and anise is here, too. Followed closely by cocoa. Very nice, not too outsized, just right.

Taste: Starts hoppy and bitter, then along comes the coffee flavor, met quickly with cocoa. Full-bodied, rich, Deep, rich, vast, and full of all the good things imperial stouts ought to have. A real mouthful. Yet, surprisingly smooth and supple.

Boom Island LoMoMoPalooza

Boom Island LomomoPalooza, Small Batch Special Release ALE No. 2, Boom Island Brewing Company, Minneapolis, MN. 6% ABV.

Clear crimson coloration, thinnish off-white/amber head. Lookin' nice.

Aroma: Deep malts, dark fruits, bubblegum and banana below. cherries on top. Very pleasant.

Taste: Hops hit first, for a bit, then overtaken by chocolate, rolling on the tongue. Sweet fruity associations pop in, with sour flashes emerging. I like this. A unique creation that doesn't fit any particular style, but resembles a dubbel in ways, a strong dark in other, more like a pale ale in others, but it's Belgian all the way. Love the tart finish.

Hey, I feel like reading their label:
"Open your senses to the symphony of flavors in this unique ale, as refreshing layers of Belgian-style toasted malt harmonize with arpeggios of Cascade hops. Created in support of the Locked Out Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra (LoMoMO). A percentage of the profits from each beer sold will help fund music outreach programs until the musicians jobs are reinstated."

I want to read "Kevin's notes" on the back of the label, but the type is too small. Maybe I do need glasses. No, I have 20/20 vision. It is too small. But, I'll try …"Light hop bitterness, Belgian roasted Special B malt…" No, I can't do it, and it doesn't help that it's orange ink on a black background.

In the end, nice beer and you can drink it.

Carnegie Porter 5.5 (Sweden)

Bought a bottle the other day of a beer I haven't seen in years. One of my old favorites, the Carnegie Porter from Sweden. Here are the notes from last night:

D. Carnegie & Co. Porter, Argang 2010, Klass III…a lot of Swedish words.

Dark, plummy brown body, roasty tan head, slims down to size, leaving a little lace.

Aroma: Beautiful. Dark fruits, raisins, dates, plum, with a wine-like edge…dark rum, cognac, leather. Very brandy-ish. Much more happening than I expected. Hadn't had this one in so long, I'd forgotten.

Taste: There's that dark fruit in the flavor, resting on top of roasty malts. Medium-bodied, long, slightly sweet finish. Low bitterness, rich malt. Very tasty.

Glad to see Carnegie Porter back, although the bottle finished far too quickly. I guess that's my fault, though, eh?

And now, here they are,
Notes from December, 2002:
A definitive ebony hue. Good, crackling tan head. As Fred Eckhart recommends, put this one to your ear and listen! Aroma is a blast of espresso, cocoa, anise and molasses. Rich and roasted, with loads of bitterness on the palate and a tenacious finish. Complex, if a bit gritty. Not a brew for novices or girly-men, this is stiff and substantial stuff. Label says best before August 2O1O, but who could wait that long? Unfortunately, the brewery has become bereft of their senses and is discontinuing this classic, so grab one if you can.

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Holland Black Tulip Trippel (sic)

New Holland Brewing is in Holland, Michigan. They make a wide array of beers, but something keeps drawing them back towards the Nethlandish inspiration, utilization a rare flower of the region with a beer style with the opposing color. I wouldn't naturally associate "black" with a tripel. Is there a golden tulip? Would that name mean as much as the current one? So many questions.

But now to the here and now, I am drinking a Black Tulip (9% ABV)on tap at the Blue Nile for the first time ever, and looking back on my first notes on it ever, from September of 2004, a good eight and 1/2 years ago, from a bottle. Here's what I said then:

Golden/orange hued, general haze, with a capable cap of foam holding down the fort.

Aroma is a muted blast of sweet and sour, citrus, and sugar, yeast aplenty, more fruits speaking their peace, from pineapple to banana...interesting...

Taste: big mouthfeel at the fore, quickly spreads all along the palate, but feels ultimately mild. Full-on fruity, with tantalizing spice, as well. Me, I'm liking it.
Could be bigger, could be better, but I'm content with it. Still searching for that "tulip-dusting" taste in this, though.
Looking back, I still like it, and I don't know why I thought it should be bigger of better, I find it's just about right on the money. Maybe that was then/this is now. Could it have gotten better over the years? (Looking at other reviews, a friend posted a scathing attack on it around the same time as my initial review, giving it a withering 2.5/5, urging no one to ever try the brew. It's certainly much better now.)
Am I judging a freshly tapped keg versus a bottle shipped to me from I -don't-remember-where back when the brewery wasn't available here? I think I am. And, also, I don't know what the "tulip-dusting taste" remark refers to, perhaps it was on the neck label of the bottle?

Olvalde Farm Spiced Ode to a Russian Shipwright

Full Disclosure Department: Last night, I didn't get home from work until about 4 A.M. Just one of those nights. I normally don't start my drinking with a reviewing beer, so I have something I don't intend to take notes on as my first "get relaxing" brew that early in the A.M., when most people are asleep. Then, I started on my first reviewing beer, the Mikkeller Funky E, the last one I posted. After that I was ready to tackle a big bottle, so I went for the Olvalde Farms Spiced Ode, a spiced version of Ode to A Russian Shipwright. If things were right with the world, this brewery would get a whole lot more recognition and respect. Currently, the beer world is going ga-ga over a handful of tiny breweries in Vermont, of all places. And I'm sure to many Minnesota is one of those "of all places", but if ever a tiny one-man operation deserved wider recognition, I think it is Joe Pond and Olvalde Farms. They've only made three basic beers, with a few variations, but I feel that those are so excellent that they should receive much more fame than they do.

Anyway, I was deep into this bottle well after 5 A.M., and sometimes I just let it go. For me, profanity is something you hold onto when you need it most. I detest hearing it in everyday situations, casually dropped out as if it were nothing. But, you may notice, I still censored myself, a little. So, here are the early morning ramblings on the topic of Spiced Ode, from Olvalde Farms:

Spiced Ode. Olvalde Farms . Ale brewed with spruce tips with spices added, lightly hopped, unfiltered, refermented in the bottle. Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company, Rollingstone, Minnesota.

Dark brown body, intense carbonation, slimmed head, dark toned.

Aroma: spruce and pine hit first, followed by pine needle and lemon, …mmm, sprucey. Brisk carbonation. Sweetness turns to dry on the quick. Medium body, not to full, not too flush, just right, easy drinking, despite the ABV. Spicy stuff, herbal stuff, leafy, all that goodness. Doesn't contain enough deep, dark maltiness. The spruce is taking it all over.

I like this, though it's creeping into the territory of a bit too much. A unique creation. Delicious.

Mikkeller Funky E

Mikkeller Funky E, Belgian Wild Ale aged in Sauternes Wine Barrels. Brewed and bottled by Mikkeller, at DE Proef Brouwerij, Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium. 9.4 % Alc/Vol.

Highly hazed and carbonated, deep amber/nearly crimson coloring, slim head, lacy and lasting.

Aroma screams out of the glass, crawling up to the nose. Lactic sourness is dominant, raw and real, wine-like, fruity & tart. Nice. Niiiiii-ce.

Taste: Brisk, fresh, and crazy. Sour turns to dry, then fades a bit. Cherries and berries with a sour twist. Medium bodied. Vastly complex, wine character matches with the barrel's work and the funky-fresh wild yeast. Really tasty stuff, and I really like it. But something seems missing, and incomplete. What is it? I think It gets about halfway there, and doesn't quite go all the way, the way it should. Misses some depth. Good for what it is, but, oh, it should be bigger, deeper, longer,

Ain't nothing wrong with it, just not what it could be.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dave's BrewFarm Accidental Belgian

Dave's BrewFarm Accidental Belgian, 7.2% ABV.

Highly hazed, deep orange appearance, creamy white head.

Aroma: smooth, soft, and spicy. Feathery wheat, light fruit, minor hops and spice.

Taste: Big mouthful, generous texture, lots of play on the palate. Slightly higher alcohol for a brew this easy and downable. It's a witbier with a pale ale and it's wonderful. Big, spicy rye malt going on, full of flavor, loads of everything. Damnably  delicious. Massive goings on all up and down the tongue, and through the back of the throat, etcetera.

Here's the word from Farmer Dave: "What happens when your yeast supplier ships the wrong yeast to the wrong brewery? Yup, it's the Accidental Belgian! 2-Row, Caramel 20 and rye malts. Brewer's Gold and Heirloom hops and a dash of orange peel, fermented with the "accidental" Belgian wit yeast. A yummy oops!"

My favorite kind.

Dave's BrewFarm Mosaic Single hop lager

Dave's BrewFarm Mosaic Single Hop Lager, 6.4% ABV.

Hazy, amber/golden appearance; smallish, white, lace-leaving head of foam.

Aroma: complex and multi-faceted, can't quite put my finger on it. Fruity esters, mild bitterness, slight sweetness. Overall, it's not a hop I've "figured out" yet, but it's pleasing, to be sure.

Taste: Malt comes to the forefront in this one, caramel-y, copper-y, and tasty as heck. Mosaic hops stay off to the side, maintaining balance, keeping it nice and even, not stepping into the spotlight. Pressed into naming names, I'd call this an amber lager. It's smooth, and consumable, all the way. Drinks down easy-peasy.

What's the skinny? "Pils, Cara Red, and Caramel 20 malts, and hopped with three additions of Mosaic hops. Fermented with lager yeast."

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 ...