Friday, February 28, 2014

Grand Tetons Coming Home Barleywine 2012

Grand Teton Coming Home 2012 Barley-wine. Or Holiday Ale, whatever you want to call it. Check the attached jpegs of the card that rests around the neck of the bottle. All kinds of info there. I read it, and you can, too. It talks of hops and growing and traditions and bottle-conditioning and blah, blah, blah. ABV: 10%. IBU: 75.

Deep burgundy coloring, slim white head. Looks the part, inviting.

Aroma: Caramel and toffee, under smoke and tobacco. Burnished brandy and leather notes, It's what I want in a barley-wine, a little fine and mellow with appropriate aging. Very cool.

Taste: Forward fruit, massive malt, giant hop presence. Everything's here in abundance, and it's all getting along just fine. A bombastic brew, kept in good balance. This is one that should be shared with friends and family. Me, I drink it by myself so that I can write about it and tell you.

I like the work of the bottle-conditioning and the age on it. All barley-wines really ought to have a good year on them. I appreciate them young, but they're much nicer when they're calm and mellow like this.

More chocolate coming through, more caramel and toffee, plus a ton of American hops, bringing us the bitter with the sweet. Hugely hoppy, a massacre of malt. Boom, boom, this is the goods.

Surly/Three Floyds/Real Ale Blakkr Imperial Black IPA

Surly Blakkr Imperial Black Ale. IBU 85. ABV 9.99% (Why can't they say 10? Because that wouldn't be 666 upside down.)

So, I'm going to scan the sheet from the tap release at Grumpy's Monday night night and post it here, to give you some further information and a flavor for the approach of this thing. I didn't get any kegs this week (next week, I hope), so I wanted to make sure I got some and went out and paid $17.99 for a 4-pack. I've been trying to keep a budget, but some things take priority.

I will break the news that this concept was conceived when three brewers met and discovered their mutual love of the music called metal, and embarked on this project to make "the most metal beer ever." And here's where I know that I will fail to truly appreciate this beer before I even try: I don't have any heavy metal music to listen to while drinking it. No soft metal, either. No metal of any kind. Maybe Hendrix? The Bad Plus' cover of "Iron Man"? Forgive me, one and all, but I just don't care for metal. I had to say it, and I'm not sorry, so, can you let me pass on this? I dig what I dig, man.

So, I'm laying down some late period Coltrane ("Om", maybe,) for volume, chaos, and kinetic energy, although it seems slightly sacrilegious, for Trane wasn't speaking to Satan when he blew his horn. How about the Stones' "Sympathy For the Devil"? Again, I'm clutching, so I'll forget the metal-ness of the mise-en-scene, and start pouring.

On the label, designed and drawn by Michael J. Berglund, a 3-headed demon arises from flames, with numerous symbols float around them and about the top of the can, and sorrowful souls writhing in agony around them. (I assume. Maybe they're bowing in prayer, or calling out for an encore?)

Perfect blackness, with slight traces of red creeping out at the sides and foot. Roasted tan head stays large on top, until retreating, while leaving lace. Ominous.

Aroma: Hops hit first, pungent and powerful, piney and citric, even while being enveloped by the darkness below. Malt keeps pace and threatens to swallow all else. Hop aromas are screaming out of this nose, hoping to escape the dread darkness.

Taste: Once in the mouth, things get more intense. Hops hold their own and then some, becoming stronger on the palate that you'd suspect, and the flavor of the malt strives to catch up. Dark chocolate flavors, aniseed, char, smoke, tobacco…deep, dense, rich stuff. But the hop bitterness is never quite conquered and the two parts reign supreme in the flavors, hand in hand.

Not quite balanced, but not quite not. The alcohol is felt fairly early on, and brings on a mood of doom. (Not really, I'm just exaggerating for effect. I thought you'd figured that out by now?) Not one for the mild or fearful. Don't have more than one if you've got anything else to do later in the night. (Says the guy who's going to close the evening with a 10% barley-wine bomber.)

So, now we read the label" "This double black as night IPA is too massive for just one brewery's efforts. BLAKKR took the trinity of REal Ale Brewing Co., Surly Brewing Co., & Three Floyds Brewing Co. to actualize this crushing ale. Cheers."

This is another mighty, massive Surly (co-)creation. I would smash the can on my forehead as a sort of salute, but, you know, I'm just not that metal.

Sierra Nevada Blindfold Black IPA

Sierra Nevada Blindfold Black IPA. Alc 6.8% by Vol.

Dark brown, nearly black, shining crimson highlights at the edges, large, lightly tanned head, slowly slipping.

Aroma: Caramel and cocoa tones start it off, with citric hop notes bursting through. A deft blend of malt and hops.

Taste: Starts off, again, creamy, malty and chocolatey, then a sharp turn on the palate into hop country. The two sides keep up with each other, a tasty tango in the mouth. Hop bitterness hangs on just a bit in the finish, and it's stay is a happy one. Medium bodied, and moderate in every way. Here's one of the "black IPAs" (is safe to not call them Cascadian Darks, right? No Portlandites around me?) that I don't mind, and in fact, can enjoy. The clash between the two elements is not as large and loud as in the others that turned me off, and possibly away from the style entirely.

What do they tell us on the bottleneck label? "Blinfold blankets us in darkness yet maintains a surprisingly light body, and bold, hoppy character. This black IPA emerged from our Beer Camp program and builds on Sierra Nevada's legendary love of hops with roasted malt for depth and complexity, Like it's namesake, Blindfold is a bit disorienting--the color of a stout and the intense, hop-forward flavors of a classic American IPA."

Anchor Porter

Another oldie and goldy. I don't pick this one up much, always in pursuit of the new, but do choose it on draft when I see it. Once more, notes from March, 2003, for Anchor Porter, from a pint poured on tap when I had it among the selections at the Blue Nile, 11 years ago:

Jet-black color, with a tight cocoa/creamy tan head.

Aroma is a roasty delight: coffee, chocolate, nuts. Deep, rich, satisfying.

Terrific initial grit on the palate, a torrent of beautiful bitterness braces the tongue, but it's smooth sailing all the way down. Full body, rewarding flavor, fat malt, and just sweet enough.
Texture smooths out and the large portion of this drink is an easy-going, fully flavored ride.

 While I love bolder and brasher stuff, Anchor Porter just about acheives perfection, and the happiness that ensues when it's flavors flood my mouth and spread my smile out wide confirm that thought.

Here's some ripe gobbledygook from the label: "San Francisco's famous Anchor Porter brand is made in one of the smallest and most traditional breweries in the world by the brewers of Anchor Steam beer. Our old-fashioned porter is virtually handmade, with an exceptional respect for the ancient art of brewing. We use 100% malted barley, generous amounts of fresh, whole hops, entirely natural carbonation, and a simple, natural brewing process that is like no other in the world. The deep black color, the thick, creamy head and the intensely rich flavor of Anchor Porter , made in San Francisco since 1972, have earned this delicious and unique brew a worldwide reputation for outstanding quality. It is aesthetically pleasing and wholly superior in every respect."

I'd call that overblown if it wasn't true.

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout

As I continue to re-visit old favorite beers, and look back at old reviews, I keep finding that I said what needed to be said, in many cases. Here are notes from nearly11 years ago, March, 2003, for the Imperial Stout by Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Tadcaster.

Color is black as black can be, and the head is proud, large and a creamy tan color.

Aroma is warm and wonderfully delicious, soft, creamy, notes of chocolate, slightly roasty, and edging into darker flavors, but not quite there.

Palate is deliriously sweet and inviting. Mouthfeel: sursprisingly smooth and untroubled, gentle, harmonious, thick with malt, mellow with hops.

Very smooth drinking for an Imperial. I haven't had one of these in a long time, and have spoiled myself with the bolder, brasher, and far more adventurously flavored (roasted, malted, hopped, everywhichway) American versions, the Old Rasputins, Stormkings, Expeditions, Rogues, and Stones...
But, I can't help liking it. Great stout, delicicious,delightful, but a bit weak, at a "mere" 7%, compared to similar brews from "the colonies". Quite tasty, but I'd love it if they'd ever stretch out some.
No, they never did, and why would they? Wouldn't be very traditional, would it?
Here's stuff from the label:

Brewed at Samuel Smith's small, traditional British brewery with well water (the original well wink in 1758 is still in use), best barley malt, roasted barley, yeast and hops to create a rich flavorful ale; deep chocolate in colour with a roasted barley nose and flavour that is a complexity of malt, hops and yeast. Fermented in stone Yorkshire squares, this distinctive type of ale was originally shipped to Imperial Russia; it was a favorite of Russian nobility.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fuller's Vintage Ale 2009

Fuller's 2009 Bottle Conditioned Vintage Ale Limited Edition No. 105160. 1 pint, 0.9 fl. oz. "Best before end 2012." Whoops, really? Then why did I pay $7.99 for it, rather than get it on the cheap? How does a "Vintage Ale" only age for 3 years?
Alc. 8.5% Vol.
There's a lot of gobbledygook on the back, and I may need my glasses for the fancy script label copy.

Very hazed, deep mahogany, dark amber hue. Slim white head.

Aroma: Pungent malty/fruity aromatics. Plums and raisins. Port-like. Terrifically complex and arousing. Very vinous. Slightly sour. Barley-wine country, English-style. Low on hops, big with malt. I'm still only sniffing.

Time to drink: More of the same. Very mellow, cool, even-tempered. A still malty affair, loads of yeast character, very tasty. …I'm going to take a break and try to read the label:
 "I have crafted this very special ale from the finest Goldings hops, Tipple malted barley, and of course our own unique yeast to create  a truly extraordinary limited edition brew. Individually packed and numbered, this bottle of one of only one hundred and sixty thousand produced. Although we are obliged to produced a Best By Date of 2012, like a fine wine or whiskey, this mellow golden ale will improve with age for many more years. {well, that explains that, except…why are they obliged to date it 2012?} Being bottle conditioned, this beer will form a natural sediment, so pour carefully, sit back and enjoy this, the very finest of Fuller's ales."

Golden ale? Huh. Doesn't taste like one? Was it barrel-aged, or just bottle conditioned to age for 5 years or more? Nonetheless, it fits the profile of a classic English barley-wine, and definitely shows it's 4+ years. Probably doesn't have more left in it, or, as we say, it's reaching it's peak. Pretty nice peak.Makes a wonderful nightcap, this fine, frozen February night.

Saison Dupont Cuvee Dry-hopped 2013

Vieille Provision Saison Dupont Belgian Farmhouse Ale Cuvee Dry Hopping 2013. Brewed by Brasserie Dupont, Tourpes, Belgium. 6.5% ABV.

Beautiful beer, poured into a Moinette chalice. Hazed, golden appearance, lush, booming bone white head, slowly drifting down.

Aroma: Ah! Mmm. Spicy yeast, lively hops, with a side does of funk. Just a drop of sour to match a dry, citric nose.

Taste: Clean and lean and especially zesty. Very vibrant, and highly hoppy. (Enough with the alliteration, already!) I'm loving the dry-hop effect. Who could guess that the great Saison Dupont could get even better?

Hey, there's a story on the label! "Every year Dupont's Master Brewer, Olivier Dedeycker, makes a special dry-hopped versions of the brewery's world famous S.D. This enables him to take advantage of the new hop varieties appearing each season. This year's dry hop is TRISKEL, from Alsace, bred from the French Strisselspalt and English Yeoman hops. Olivier describes it as "combining the aromatic notes, mainly floral, of Strisselspalt, with the fruity character of Yeoman. Quite unusual and interesting." Also unusual is the name TRiskel, apparently inspired by triskelion, the symbol of the Gauls, and representing the three elements, Earth, Air, and Water."

It's as smooth and easy-drinking as the regular S.D., with the complex and delicious yeast character, and the dry-hopping only makes for total satisfaction.

Excelsior Oar Lock Oat Stout

Excelsior Oarlock Oat Stout. 6% alc. by Vol. Brewed and bottled in Excelsior, Minnesota, by Excelsior Brewing Company.

Solid blackness, rich , creamy brown head, looking good.

Aroma: sweet malt, ending dry. flaked oats. lightly bitter.

Taste: Smooth and creamy, mostly malty. Low bitterness on the palate. A little chocolatey, hints of espresso. Easy-drinking. Just misses the mark, though. Not quite oat-y enough. I keep thinking of the best oatmeal stouts I've ever had, stuff like Samuel Smith's …well, they can't all be that good. This one gets about half-way there. Perhaps they don't intend to go "there", and if so, it's fine as it is.

What does the label say? "A full-flavored, full-bodied oat stout sure to float your boat. Brewed with two "row" barley and a "boatload" of oats which make for a creamy wake, one pull after another. Oar Lock will steer you straight with balance on both sides of your craft. Enjoy!"

They love the boat puns, don't they?

Sierra Nevada Snow Wit White IPA

Sierra Nevada Snow Wit Winter White. A pun on "snow white?" Say, what do Californians know about snow or winter, anyway? Me, I'm sick of it, and I could do without a reminder. What can we do, it's everywhere we turn. Don't look out the window, don't leave the house, let's have a summer beer, and pretend.

Hazed, golden appearance, surprisingly slim head. (Maybe my pour was off? Did I wash the glass wrong?)

Aroma: Witbier spices are here, some citrus, and coriander. A little hoppier than normal, but not by much. Lovely, though.

Taste: Bold, bright and fruit-forward. Now, finally, in the flavor, I'm getting the sense of an IPA. Lots of citrus zest taste, just gets brighter and brighter, wheat feel comes forward, too. Tropical fruits too, pineapple, banana. I'm liking this more and more. Medium-bodied, supremely drinkable. It's good beer, and you can drink it. Yum. Tast-y!

Hey, what's the official word: "Snow Wit is brewed with seven varieties of experimental dwarf hops. (Okay, bringing the Snow White reference full circle.), giving it a complex, grapefruit and herbal hop character accentuated by spicy notes of an authentic Belgian yeast."

Sierra Nevada Nooner IPA

As I continue to investigate the sampler pack offerings at my local liquor dealer, I strive to find the options that best fit two needs of mine: value, and yield. Value, of course, refers to how much money would I save, how cheap are they, what kind of a deal am I getting. For yield, I'm considering how many new beers I get out of the package, how much farther am I along in my goal of trying all the new beers I can.

I went into the store thinking I was going to pick up a 12-pack that held only two beers I'd never had, and two that I like, one more than the other. It was priced at $15.99. Not a bad value, considering the quality, but could there be better value, higher yield?

And then my eyes beheld something I'd not yet encountered, the Sierra Nevada 4-IPA Variety Pack, featuring 3 IPAs from SN that I hadn't even heard of, and probably would not reach for immediately if I were forced to get it in a 6-pack. And the value? $11.99. Well, the deal is sealed, isn't it?

The Torpedo Extra IPA is in this one, which I may have entered here already, and the others include a Black IPA, a White IPA, and a session IPA, all the IPAs of the rainbow! So, let's get started with the first one, Nooner IPA, brewed and bottled by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, CA & Mills River, NC. Packaged on 1/22/14. Alc. 4.8% by Vol.

Clear and golden-hued, active carbonation, large and sturdy inch-high head, bright and white, taking it's sweet time drifting down, leaving lace.

Aroma: spills out of the glass, vibrant tropical fruit and citrus, piney notes just below.  Lovely stuff.

Taste: Fresh, fierce and powerful on the palate. This IPA loads the mouth with a pleasantly bitter, pungently citric hop attack, and the malt body is light and crisp, the alcohol level low for easy drinking. I could put back a half dozen in a night, if I had to. Persistently pleasing flavor, makes a session IPA done right.

What's the official word: "Nooner IPA is light in body but big in hop flavor. This session IPA delivers a huge dose of citrusy and grapefruit hop character from the use of whole-cone American hops." that's from the box. From the label: "There's no better way to start a lazy afternoon than with a group of friends and a few beers. Nooner IPA is a session beer that's light in body yet big in hop flavor…blah, blah, blah…same stuff…"

Monday, February 24, 2014

Weihenstephaner Korbinian Doppelbock

What? I haven't gotten around to anything from Weihenstephaner, the world's oldest brewery? What the--??? Come on! Let's take care of that right away. But, first...

My computer problems only got worse. Instead of random errors, I was unable to turn on the damned  computer. I bought some beers Friday, and when I brought them home I chose to drink the one that I'd already written about, long ago. Took the photo, then turned on my 10-year old eMac that I keep around just because. I plug in my iPod, which it doesn't recognize, though it does acknowledge it's camera, and proceeds to download all the photos, getting around the the Korbinian about 800 pics and an hour later. I tried to import it to a flash drive, and that device went unrecognized, too. But not an external hard-drive. So is this what my beer reviewing will be until I get the Mac Book Pro fixed, writing and importing photos on the 2004 dinosaur, putting them into the hard-drive, then transporting it elsewhere? Some one else's computer? The library? Well, if I have to, I guess...

A quick trip to the Apple Store, problem found, part replaced, everything's fixed and I'm only $18 poorer. Good to know that I've got a back-up plan, though, eh?

So, on to notes on Korbinian Doppelbock from July, 2003: (with exclamation marks edited out)

7.4% ABV.

Clear, dark brown color, and a big, bursting pinkish brown head.

Nose is a complete and utter gas. Far-flung aromatics: spices and fruit, sour cherries, grapes, sweet, rich,and invigorating.

Lush mouthfeel, luxuriating, the cares of the world drift away, or they'd better, for there's nothing that should interfere with the enjoyment of this phenomenol brew..hangs heavily in the mouth, and you want to extend any invitation and elongate it's stay, so welcome is this delicious presence in the mouth...hedonistic, even...

Medium body, delicate and delicious finish, stong malt presence. Drinks down a bit rummy, a trifle winish. Very complex and extraordinarily tasty. This one washes over you and makes it all better, like a hot bath.
One of the best doppelbocks on Earth, hands down.

Almost 11 years on, was I warranted to spew such exaggerated praise. I think so.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Brooklyn Brown Ale

It seems like a left out one of the factors interfering with the progress of this blog. In addition to lack of time, and money, and access to the product on a Sunday shopping spree, there's also technological breakdowns. I've been experiencing some blips and gaffes on the MacBook Pro I use, and after writing a review, it kept telling me that the file couldn't be saved. Looks like a trip to the genius bar is in order. I thought I'd have to re-construct the notes from memory (not an impossible task, but a chore), because that bottle I had last night was the second of the two in the sampler pack...until I checked and lo, and behold, it appears that I reviewed this one for the first time 10 years ago, back in November of 2003, from a trade from a guy named 36LBLoveChild. Here are those notes:

Appearance: deep, rosy-reddish coppery hue, with a slim tannish layer of film atop.

Aroma: brown sugary sweet, notes of toffee and caramel, light, malty & pleasant.

Taste: hmmm....first of all, the neck label asserts that this asserts a higher hoppiness in contrast to the malt, but, oddly, that's not how I found this brew. Quite the opposite. To continue, tasty mouthfeel, richly rounding the palate and coating it good, brief, but tasty hops, lush, chocolatey malt. Medium body, feeling thinner as we drain the bottle, with a simple, but assured finish.

Definiely tastier than the milder versions out there, (I'm talking about you, Newcastle) but not by too much.

Looking back, this is definitely not word for word what I wrote last night, but it resembles the spirit, as well as the content. Using my super-memory, the one I received after being rocketed to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton and being granted miraculous powers by it's yellow sun, I seem to find everything in that decade-old review that I put to pixel yesterday evening.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Brooklyn Pilsner

Brooklyn Pilsner. 5.1% ABV. "In Texas, malt liquor." (Good to know.)

As with the New Belgium Shift entry the other day, I got this in a sampler 12-pack, where the breakdown this time was 2 beers that have already made their mark here (Brooklyn Lager & East India Pale Ale) and three that I haven't yet had the opportunity to review (this, Pennant Ale, & Brown Ale). I'd be less likely to encounter a beer like this, for I just don't reach for pilsners much. And because of that, I was disappointed the apportionment in this 5-beer sampler pack. Two each of four, and 4 of one, that being the Brooklyn Lager. So, I get 6 lagers vs. 6 ales, but the bright side, it's all quality goods. They won't go to waste.

Clear, bright golden hued, big white head that drifts swiftly to nil, leaving some lace.

Aroma: light hop bitterness, small sweetness, turning dry, floral, rather delicate and delightful.

Taste: Light, crisp, with a strong hop presence. Sweet, luscious malt holds firm, while tangy hops do their dance. Excellent balance in this pilsner and exquisite drinkability. Hop bitterness lasts long on the palate, hangs hard in the back of the mouth. Me, I'm digging it. Every once in a while, I have to push aside my preference for ales, and say, "Yeah, I can drink one of these, you bet."

What's the gobbledygook on the label say? "Brooklyn Pilsner is a pale refreshing lager, brewed in the style favored by Pre-Prohibition German-American brewers. Brooklyn Pilsner tastes best before the freshness date indicated. Please visit the brewery, blah, blah…" What's the f.d? May 2014. Okay, we're good. Fresh it is, fresh it tastes, mmm, mmm, good.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Belgium Shift Pale Lager

New Belgium Shift Pale Lager, brewed and canned by New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado. ALC 5% by VOL.

This New Belgium brew has been around for awhile, but it's taken me a bit to get to it, since pale lagers aren't my favorite style. Or second favorite, or fifth, or fifteenth, or fiftieth…

Clear, bright golden hued, under a lush, creamy white head.

Aroma: herbal and airy. Floral, delicately hoppy. Perfectly pleasant.

Taste: Lands on the palate with the greatest of ease, Softly, expertly, spreading small seeds of hoppiness on the tastebuds. Light bodied, and especially smooth. Good beer, and you can drink it. Quality lager, all the way. Good for an after-bike run respite, or to chug-a-lug along the way.

here's how the good folks at NBB describe it.

Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55

Brooklyn  Pennant Ale '55. 5% alc by vol. Brewed and bottled by The Brooklyn Brewery, Utica, NY.

Clear, amber-hued, slim white head.

Aroma: clean, lightly fruity, lightly hoppy.

On the tongue, a tidy blast of hops, a spritz of citrus zest, and just enough bitterness to keep the hop-addict happy. I'm not 100% sure of the style they're going for here, but I'd guess English pale ale, perhaps. Seems to be some American hops in the mix, too.

Medium/light bodied, easy-drinking, certainly swallowable. ain't nothing wrong with it.

Here's some stuff they say on the website about this one.

Northbound The Imposter Brown Ale

Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub The Imposter Brown Ale.

Here's a case of you can't always get what you want. And also the lesson of act now, or you'll be sorry.

Yesterday was my first visit to Northbound in nearly two months, for no good reason at all. Weather, lack of funds, other places to go, things to do, etcetera. But it was nagging away at me that I hadn't been there in so long, and have only entered a few of their beers on this blog. They may actually be the closest brewpub to me, about 20 city blocks away, merely a mile or so, easy to get to via bus or lightrail and walkable in the right weather. (Which is what I had to do on the way back last night, after missing the last lightrail for another 40 minutes. Happily, we seem to be sliding out of the sub-zero temperature days.)

I got a sense of urgency when reading about their doppelbock on their Facebook feed, and hearing about an eisbock from a friend. I kept trying to arrange a trip out there all week, but could never find the time. Finally did it last night, only to learn the eisbock was gone (very small batch), and the doppelbock (very tasty) was on, but no growlers. They fill them at the beginning of the beer's run, but stop filling when they run low. Rats! So, I could have gotten one if I'd only come in earlier. Also, Snownami, the delicious raspberry imperial stout was available, but, too, no growlers. As I've stated, I tend to not want to take notes on a beer when drinking it on-site, especially since I spent most of my stay talking to brewer and co-owner Jamie Robinson. Short, terse notes, maybe? A photo? It slipped my mind, totally. I'll try to do that in the future, but at the time, it was far more important to have a conversation.

I was told they had the regular four, plus this new brown ale, available in growlers. I'm sure I've covered the standard house flavors, so here we are with The Imposter. (I completely forgot to quiz Jamie about the meaning of the name. Let's let it linger as a mystery.)

A solid brown hue, with bright, shining crimson highlights, with a lush brown head that drifts down to a tight ring.

Aroma: malty, slightly sweet, fairly even-tempered and mild-mannered.

Taste: A smooth, malty affair, through and through. Medium-bodied. Some cocoa notes here, slightly nutty, lightly chocolatey, lingering sweetness meets just enough hop bitterness to keep balance. Easy-drinking, and favorably flavored. A fine sessioner, for sure.

(I'd love to share the official description, but it's missing from the website.)

Ain't nothing wrong with it. It's beer, and I can drink it.

New Belgium Snapshot Wheat

New Belgium Snapshot Wheat Beer. Alc 5% by Vol. Brewed and canned by New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO, U.S.A. Wheat beer brewed with spices

highly hazed, pale yellow hue, large white head, drifts down and leaves lace.

Aroma: Big spice right off, coriander, orange peel. Are they going for a witbier style? Definitely more in line with that than a heft wizen, and certainly more spiced, and less hopped than an "American wheat ale."

Tasting it: Mild, smooth, and slightly spicy. Fruit plays the main role in the flavor, with spice in a cameo. Wheat carries it though. Especially quaffable, and delightfully drinkable. Lean bodied, crisp and quenching.

I purchased this in a 12 pack "folly" sampler box of cans, which is a habit I'm starting to form. There are 6 beers in it that I've had before, 3 Ranger and 3 Fat Tire, and I like one, and don't despise the other, completely. The ones I hadn't had were this and Shift, the lager. So, 2 more notches in the review belt, plus some regular drinking beers for when it's time for that.

There's still someone there writing copy that I just can't stand. This appears on the packaging: "Folly is brewing the beer we love. Folly Pack is bring 4 of those beers together for you to love. This tasty arrangement gives us the opportunity to introduce new beers--like our new wheat beer, Snapshot--and revive old favs. {"favs"? Not "faves"? And whenever I write "favs", the auto-correct wants to turn it into "fags."} And, it gives you the opportunity to sample our different beers with your peers and hide the ones you hold dear."

Agh!! Too much terrible rhyming! I know I shouldn't cast stones, because I'm guilty of putting the phrase "For those who favor flavor" on Surly cans, but that's too much!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Summit Frostline Rye Ale (with a little ramble about Sunday sales tossed in)

Last month, I declared that I would strive to add a greater focus toward local beers in this blog, as well as continuing to reach the goal of a new beer entered for as many days as there are in the month. (Without giving myself a hard time if I miss that goal.) So, how's that working out so far, now that we're halfway into February? I'm trying on that first one, to the best of my abilities. And for two, much the same, although I'm coming up short. Only 24 in January, 7 short. And this post will be 7 for 17, not that great. And what's stopping me? Time, money, and illness.

The last one is minor. I came down sick Friday night, missed work Saturday, stayed in bed all day. Felt better the next day, and could have written some reviews if I'd had the beers on hand, but I didn't. Because when I had the time, I didn't have the money, and when I had the money, I didn't have the time, either to shop for beers or to write about them. But, wait, you may be asking, didn't you say you had Sunday off? If you had the money, didn't you have the time? No, silly, this is Minnesota, we don't get to purchase beer to take home on Sunday, for absolutely no good reason at all!

"Just plan ahead", say the ones who like this idiotic law, and I say "why should I have to?" I don't have a lot of time Friday and Saturday afternoons before work, and can't often run to the store on my break. Sunday is the perfect time for me, one of my few days off. But, the liquor stores and their lobbyists just don't wanna do it. "Just drive to Wisconsin!" they say, and I wonder, don't they want businesses here to succeed? I don't own or drive a car, I just want to walk a few blocks away and support my local business. I want to take my bike or the bus to the brewpubs and take home a growler.

Also, they will say, "why do you need another day to get drunk?" And I say that I have no intention of doing so, but I want to enjoy life to the fullest, and that includes having any beer I want, when I want, and the Lord shouldn't mind at all.

Last year, Andrew Schmitt of MN Beer Activists asked me to write a letter supporting Sunday sales for his website. I hoped it would help, but the legislature didn't pass then, with too many narrow minds listening to too many closed ones. You can find that letter here. It's one of the top hits, I noticed, when I Googled myself. (Don't give me that look, you do it, too!)

Speaking of time and money, I wrote the following notes Thursday night/Friday morning, but haven't posted it yet due to a lack of time. And I purchased a 12-pack of this new one from Summit because it was only $11, what a steal. I'm keeping a closer eye on expenditures, these days, to make up for times when a turned a blind eye to cost, and am now paying for it. So, hey, who's got free samples for me?

Anyway, on to the notes for the newest Summit offering:

Summit Frost Line Rye. "Break winter's grip with a robust, spicy ale." Sounds good. Ingredients: Water, Barley malt, rye malt, yeast, hops. Brewed and bottled by Summit Brewing Company, St. Paul, MN, 12 fl. oz. ale. No ABV given. I'm going to guess it's between 5 and 6.

Clear, auburn-hued, with a solid, creamy white head.

Aroma: lightly hoppy, malt-forward, rye spicy. Bread-y malt and floral hops co-mingle.

Taste: Rye malt takes center stage now. Spicy, bread-y flavor cover over all else. Tingles the tongue, delights the palate. Stays long in the mouth, begs for another sip and gulp. Just enough of a warmer, without being too deep or dark.

We're still in the thick of it, and it's still the kind of winter that demands dense, mightily malty ale or stout. But, maybe we're out of the woods. Maybe we're getting into double digits soon? Then, a lack of a thick, chocolatey, toffee-ish ale won't be such a glaring omission, and a slightly substantial "in-between-seasonal" ale like this will fill the bill.

Hey, how about some gobbledygook from the 12-pack packaging? "Hidden in the cold ground in the dark of winter lie little seeds of hope. So, to help hasten the spring thaw, we give you an ale bursting with the spicy goodness of malted rye and floral, citrusy hops. An in-between-season seasonal, if you will. Enjoy!"

I do enjoy. It's a good beer, and I can drink it. Very session-able, very warm, peppery, and tasty. Indeed, it's a fine in-between-er. Not quite this, more than that. It also dances around style designations in an admirable way. I like it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weyerbacher Double Simcoe Double IPA

Weyerbacher Double Simcoe is one of those dank, pithy double IPAs that oozes resiny hop goodness. I just tapped a keg of it, probably the second time I've done so, but first since leaving notes on this blog. And I'm looking back at notes from the first time I had a bottle, received in trade, way back in July of 2006:

Appearance, a clear, blushing apricot color, under a blessedly big head, creamy colored, lots of lace.

Huge, wide open aroma, blasts out fresh grapefruit, lime, mango, with a slice of pineapple on top. Beautiful stuff! Gorgeous. A treat to breathe into the nose.

Taste: why not? ...mmmm, yes! Forceful entrance on the palate, vast flavor, dripping with oily hop flavor, fantastically tasty fruit character, and persistent feel on the tongue. Long lasting hoppy finish, big in the body. Caramel malt rises up in prominence and the sweet, bready taste is a keen companion to the hugeness of the hops.

This is almost perfect, I nearly think. The 9% is hardly noticed. Wait, ...there it is, okay...

Great texture, great flavor, vibrant and memorable.

Eight years later, guess what, I still like it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Founders Rubaeus Raspberry Ale

Founders Rubaeus Raspberry Ale. A summer seasonal, and a keg I didn't get until late August. Because of various events and certain other urgencies, I didn't tap this until December. When I wrote the menu description, I was careful to edit out any references to summer. Shortly before the keg ran dry, I penned these notes, thinking I'd rework them into something readable later:

Founders Rubaeus Raspberry Ale.

deep purple, lush pink head, lace leaving.

sweetness in the nose, fruity aromatics, slightly tart, but every bit raspberry-licious.

Taste: Sweet, refreshing, just the smallest bit tannic, and full of fruit flavor. Medium bodied, moderate to low hopping, solid malt body. Solid beer. Little bit of lactic sourness laying on the palate. Delicious. It never stops being a beer, maybe too fruity for some. Definitely not a lambic. (This comes up a lot with customers. "Raspberry, eh? Does that mean it's a lambic?" "No...")

Can't see having more than a couple in a sitting, that's for sure.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Harriet Divine Resolution Spiced Belgian-strong Golden Ale

Harriet Divine Resolution. This is one we had on tap for the 1st Anniversary 2 years ago (I'm pretty sure), which means that it was gone while I was working and I never got to do a proper tasting. It's never been released in growler form while I was aware, which is why it hasn't appeared here yet. So, imagine my surprise when I called in an order to the new distributor of Harriet's beers, and they said, "hey, we've got some Divine Resolution if you want some." Yes, please, and here we are, and I'm going to have some and talk to you about it.

What is this Divine Resolution? It's Divine Oculust, the Belgian-style Strong Golden Ale, brewed with orange peel and coriander. These are the traditional spicings for a witbier, now applied to a golden. Fine with me. What either of the names mean is another question, which I cannot answer.

Clear, bright golden coloring, lush, voluptuous, snowy white head. Looks gorgeous and inviting.

Aroma: exactly as expected, delivering the light, but attractive floral/vegetal spice character one gets in a witbier, now delivered in a heartier brew. Citrus notes abound, as well. Wonderfully pleasant.

Taste: Lightness, smoothness, and deceptively strong. This is a common phrase when describing a Belgian golden or a triple, and I've encountered it pouring this for newcomers. Yes, it feels light, but don't call it flavorless, and just you wait, it'll knock you on your tuckuss. The spice continues on the palate, as well as the fruit, and the alcohol burn. There's a special, light loveliness involved that treats the tastebuds and delights the drinker. mmm, mmm. Particularly pleasing. Plenty of action on the palate, lots of tantalizing texture, just enough hops, keeping it good and tasty.

How does it differ from D.O. proper? Without a bottle, growler, or glass at my easy disposal, it's hard to reckon, but I'd say that this is just a little bit more of something already pretty awesome.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Harriet Juhla Bru Sahti

So, Harriet turns 3 years old, as the Cedar Cultural Center celebrates 25 years, they got together and threw a party for themselves. Why not brew a special beer for the occasion, and shouldn't it be a rarely seen, hardly-ever heard of Finnish-style, with Red Cedar twigs, tips and juniper? No reason why not. I'm fairly sure I've never had a sahti before. (Not true, I've had two, one from Dogfish Head, and one from a Finnish brewery.)

Cloudy, bright golden hue, minimal head.

Sweet, herbal nose. Lightly spicy and intriguing.

In the mouth, it's quite an interesting thing. A blast of sweetness soon turns to prickly spice before burning out bone dry. Light bodied. Crisp,  dry, and rather effortless at a mere 6% ABV. What does this remind me of? A hefe weizen without the wheat? A pilsner without the hops?

The spicy, earthy character keeps it interesting, and the clean, light body keeps me drinking. Malty is complex and compelling. And those twigs and tips …do they remind me that I wish they were hops? No, I'm cool with that.

Nice sahti.

Here's the gobbleydygook from the website: JUHLA BRÜ
Finnish–Style Sahti, brewed with Red Cedar twigs, tips, and juniper.

In honor of The Cedar’s 25th Anniversary we are releasing, Juhla Brü a Finnish-Style Sahti brewed with Red Cedar twigs, tips and juniper. We brewed this ale as traditionally as possible. 50 pounds of fruiting red cedar branches were added to the mash. Rye malt lends a crisp and spicy character that is enhanced and softened by multi-step and single – decoction mash. No hops are added, and the wort is fermented with Red Star fresh baking yeast, which allows a subtle tartness to take form. The result is a complex, malty, soft-spicy, earthy, and refreshing brew meant for celebration.

Limited Release – On tap at The Cedar & Winterfest on 1/31 and Harriet’s Taproom 2/1 – Only available at these locations till its gone!

Painting and Full Label Design unveiled in The Cedar’s Lobby at 6pm on 1/31.

ABV 6% - IBU 0

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Summit Maibock (yes, in February)

Summit Maibock. German-style blonde bock lager. Formerly, long, long ago, known as Haimertingen Maibock, named for the German town that provided some of Summit's brewing equipment.

Last month, I revisited Summit's India Pale Ale, now re-branded as True Brit IPA, and made a vow to tighten my focus on the local scene, and make a greater effort to enter local beers that haven't made it on the blog yet. Two of Summit's offerings were missing, and one was taken care of last week, the Great Northern Porter. The other was Maibock, and I promised to pick one up when it's season arrived.

Recently, I spoke to a Summit employee about their new seasonal Frostline Rye, as I tried it for the first time. He remarked that it's place in their schedule meant that the maibock would now actually be released much closer to actual May.

So, today I entered my local packaged beer store with the express intention of taking home a six-pack of Frostline Rye for drinking, enjoying, and note-taking. Well, what do I see but the Spring Seasonal 12-pack, featuring 3 bottles each of EPA, IPA, Porter, and Maibock, all in the new, stylish "trade dress." (Which I've finally warmed up to…I've gotten over it's lack of black lines.) On the box, you will observe from the picture, the phrase "spring is in the air."

Not so, as we know. We're lucky to have temps in the double digits, some days. Looking out the window, we see nothing but snow banks, bare tree branches, and dark skies. Spring is a faraway dream, here in the frozen north. April would be a good time for this beer, months and months away. May is a fantasy that trips deliriously in my mind. This beer will be wonderful then. For now, it's a tease. And a treat. Here are some notes from ….way back in March of 2003.

In the history of my drinking life, I began as a beer-avoiding wine snob who somehow transformed into an English ale/ Irish stout snob. It was my introduction to the Summit Brewing company, our local standard, that brought that crumbling down, and I soon became aware of all that American brewers, as well as the rest of the world, had to offer. The Summit Maibock was my introduction to the style, and a certain sentimental attachment persists.

But, the beer! Color is a clear, pale caramel, and the smallish head is a perfect bone white.

Aroma is sweet at first, buttery, even honeyish, but crisp, clean, and still a little dry, with whiffs of straw.

On the palate, very mild, mellow and smooth. Hops are fairly minimal,and the firm malt has a delicous caramel character. Very easy to drink, light in body, but with enough flavor to make it fun. Sweetness starts to teeter into cloying, though. Hops reemerge throughout the finish to make things interesting.

All in all, a tasty, satisfying springtime tradition, although I, too, regret the change in name that came with these new labels.
I so enjoyed hearing people say "Haimertingen".

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lift Bridge Silhouette Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Lift Bridge Silhouette Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. 2014. Bottle Number 239. 750 ml. 1 Pint, 9.4 fluid ounces. Alc. 10% by Volume. Aged in bourbon barrels. Brewed and bottled by Lift Bridge Brewing Company in Stillwater, MN, USA. "The Cold War is over. Serve at 55-60. Degrees. (I still don't know the key for that one.) I will skip the the gobbledygook until later.

(Note: this is one of those very rare occasions when I don't have a photo of the beer I consumed to go along with the notes. I plugged in the iPod touch that use to take them and found nothing. How is this possible? It's part of my regular routine, I never forget to take the pictures. Could I have accidentally deleted them somehow? That's even less likely. Perhaps I was just so excited to drink the beer that I forgot to take that essential early step in my ritual. So, once I realized there were no photos, I fished the empty bottle out of the recycling, and posed it next to the as yet un-washed glass I drank it from. That's not even the true beer in there, I followed Silhouette with another bottle.

I bought this two weeks ago at the brewery. Wish I had another to save and age and savor in the future, but this is the one, and I'm drinking it now. (I'd actually never even heard of this beer, must have been sleeping or something when it was released last year.)

Solid blackness in this one (the darkest beer I've had from this brewery), with a rich, roast tan head that starts big, slims down and stays awhile.

Aroma leaps out and spills the bourbon all over the place. Additional notes of charcoal, molasses, caramel, toffee, dark fruit, …vanilla. Always vanilla. And I like it.

Taste: Ah, mmm, and yeah, huh. Deepness and richness in abundance. This has got everything it needs and it lasts and lasts. Immensely indulgent. Chocolate and espresso and everything dark and deep and delicious. MMM, I'll say it again. And what else? Licorice. We call it anise sometimes. And all those other things.

It's a thing of hugeness and a richness and wonderfully rewarding to the drinker. this is all relative. I am loving this and this is not a chore at all, it is a delight. If you want to read about a chore, check my review of Stone's Crime and Punishment. Yikes, talk about trial and error!

Hey, let's read the gobbledygook. "Silhouette is as deep and dark as the Northern woods. It's brewed in the style of an Imperial Stout. Aromas of coffee, chocolate, molasses and prune meld with a unique dark roasted character. . The beer is complex, rich and full bodied. It's wild spirit will warm the senses, illuminate the soul, and grow into a traditional favorite…no matter what season."

Town Hall Masala Mama IPA

I'm still scratching my head over what took me so long to visit the Town Hall Brewery. It had been in business five full years before I...