Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lakefront Fixed Gear American Red Ale

These are notes from a bomber, taken in summer of 2010:

Lakefront Fixed Gear, American Red Ale, 22 oz. bomber

Hazed crimson coloration, bountiful beige head, a good inch, lasting and lace leaving.

Malty, fruity nose, nothing too distinct, soft, pleasant.

Taste: light hops up front, then malt, and sweetness, various fruits, apple, cherry, ...bright, plump malt. Really has the character of an Irish Red, but with American hops involved. Not too many, mind you, scarcely any bitterness, no, malt and sweetness dominate.

Big flavor, immense drinkability, ...very likable. Wish this were in a 6-pack of 12-ouncers, rather than an a bomber. But this is a bolder beer than Lakefront normally brews. So, cheers to that!

Lakefront Fuel Cafe Coffee Stout

Another new look at old notes. These are from April, 2003, and regard the coffee stout from Lakefront Brewery of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Color: a dark black, head: thick, brown and frothy.

Aroma, however, starts a downward trend: surprisingly clean, at first, later revealing nuts, some chocolate, slight coffee, and roastiness unfolds with time. Does this one need to "breathe"?
No,..that didn't work, either.

Very smooth on the palate, with nice little appearances from hops. Good texture, nice play on the tongue, big, fat malt.

A decent stout, that I'll give you, but where's the coffee already?

After trying it again, I have to say: decent coffee, but where's the stout, already?

Lakefront Kilsch Pilsner

So. Here I am, buying sampler packs again. What does that mean? That I'm not taking home free growlers every day? Maybe....I won't get into it, just yet. But, yeah. And why not revisit Lakefront Brewery of Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Here are notes from August of 2004:

Clear golden hued, transparent at bottom, vague haze at top, covered by a slim, white head, which doffs it's cap and bids adieu in a trice.

Nose is spare, floral, lightly lemony and herbal, subtly hoppy, feels just right for the style.

Mild entrance on the palate, good malty feel...doesn't impress at first, but I warm up to it more as I drink...gets tastier, nice, bright flavor, decent texture.

good "lawnmower" beer, "hedgetrimmer" pils, "weedpuller" lager, whatever you want to call it. Citric feel follows through in the finish, feels quite nice in the mouth.

Not a favorite style of mine, so I probably won't revisit this, but do recommend it to those so inclined.

(It's still good. If that's your thing.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sierra Nevada / Bell's Maillard's Odyssey Imperial Black Ale (Beer Camp #12)

Sierra Nevada/Bell's Maillard's Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale. Alc. By Volume 8.5%, 40 IBU. Beer Camp Across America #12.

Utter blackness, toasted tan head, lace leaving, if on the slim side.

Aroma: rich and roasty nose, slight notes of coffee and cocoa, low hop bitterness.
Creamy and just a little chocolatey.

Taste: Hey, here we go. Imperial Dark Ale. What's that mean? That it's strong and it's dark, but we're not in stout category. Is it one of those "black ales", aka "black IPA"? Not hoppy enough. Just a bit of hop bitterness, then the tasty toasty malt rushes in, with all manner of dark malt flavors. Some molasses, a touch of anise. This is becoming increasingly complex and doubly delicious. Once more I'm finding myself wishing it was more than 12 ounces at my disposal, at least a bomber or a six-pack to myself.

Okay, now I'm trying to read the label. Colored letters on a burgundy background. Great, nice and readable. " This robust dark ale is layered with complex malt flavors of coffee, caramel, toffee, chocolate, and dark fruit." Sure, I'll buy that. More? Yes! "Rich, dark, and roasty. That was our shared vision, and Maillard's Odyssey is exactly that, taking it's name in part from the famed Maillard reaction--the browning of sugars and amino acids--that creates the wonderful caramelized toffee-like and roasted flavors so abundant in this beer."

One distinction between their description and mine, clearly, is the missing caramel and toffee flavors that they report and that I failed to recognize. It's far too dry in the finish, and there's not really much caramel flavor to speak of, though rich and delicious it is.

Another contender for top beer of the Beer Camp pack? Maybe, just maybe….

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sierra Nevada / Ninkasi Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout (Beer Camp #11)

Sierra Nevada/ Ninkasi Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout Ale With Coffee And Lactose Added. Alc. by vol. 7.5%, 60 IBU. And it's #11 from the Beer Camp box.

Solid blackness, rich toasted tan head, small, but lasting.

Aroma: ah! Cocoa first, followed by coffee, and along comes the cream. Beautiful blend. Lush and malty loveliness. This is one of those times that I push off the drinking just to enjoy the aromatics all the more.

Now, drink it up! Silky smooth and easy-going. Coffee and cocoa flavors aren't quite as prominent on the tongue at first, as in the nose. The milk is taking over. Rich, smooth, and just a little on the strong side.

Yummy. Ends on a dryish note. Delivers deliciousness right up until the end. Man, this is all right.

What do they say? "Beer Camp Across America Double Latte. This cold press milk stout features roasted grain, artisan coffee and a dose of lactose for a robust body, and sweet coffee-chocolate-like flavor." Also, "Inspired by the perennial cafe favorite, Double Latte combines two great things: coffee and beer. Oregon's Ninkasi Brewing knows their way around a good cup of joe. Featuring cold-press coffee from legendary Stumptown Coffee Roasters and a dose of milk sugar, this coffee milk stout is a rich and roasty treat."

Maybe it's another contender for best of the box?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA

Dogfish 75 Minute IPA. Can this be my first time with this beer? It boggles the mind. And it's about time.

About this label. They make a version of this beer, or some sort of IPA, called Johnny Cask, using an image of JC pounding a spile into a firkin with a bunghammer. And this image has groucho glasses and stache. I don't know what that means. And I'm going to do what I usually do and drink it blind, without reading the label until I've had enough and tried and tried to figure it out. Here we go…

Clear, bright amber coloring, beautiful bone white head, lasting long, looking lovely.

Aroma: Ah! Citrus and pine aplenty. Gorgeous. A little tropical fruit, melon and pineapple in this nose. Orange and lime, too. Ah, I say again.

Taste: Boom! Just what we want from an IPA, but creamy and smooth and just delightful. Bittersweet notes blast the palate, followed by malty sweetness. None too caustic, this IPA, it's smooth and palatable as can be.

I peeked at the label. Maple syrup? Not getting that yet. Huh.

Hop bitterness is restrained, but enjoyable. Delicious. Tasty. I'm loving it. I'm liking this so much, it's time to find out more about it. Okay, so…."A bottle conditioned India Pale Ale with maple syrup." 7.5% ABV. There are some situations when 90 is too much. There are other situations when 60 is too little. There are many situations when 75 is just right. Bottle-conditioned with pure maple syrup for complexity and dry-hopped out the bejeezum boards."
Did the estate of the Man in Black require Dogfish Head to alter the image above to the label below?
Add caption

Ale Asylum Tripel Nova

Ale Asylum Tripel Nova. No ABV given. They never do. But, i had one at the brewery a few weeks ago, pretty sure it was from 8.5%-10. Sounds about right.

Slightly hazy, bright golden hue, below a snow white cap of foam, slim but staying.

Aroma: Spice and sweetness first, with mild fruit notes below. Beautiful nose, note perfect for a triple.

Taste: Bittersweet hop attack hits first, then is overcome by spice and Belgian yeast character. Sweet, fruity notes dominate the palate, mingle with spice and never quite split the scene. Alcohol creeps up a bit, as with any good triple. Just enough spice and fruit. Just enough of everything. Not bad, not bad at all.

What's the gobbledygook? "Golden in color, with a bouquet of fruit and spice, this Belgian-style tripel has a touch of summer sweetness and a euphoric finish. Tripel  Nova is brewed with passion and is best enjoyed that way."

Evil Twin Ashtray Heart Smoked Porter (Stout?)

Evil Twin Ashtray Heart Smoked Porter. 8.9% ABV. Brewed by Evil Twin Brewing, Statford, CT.

I haven't had much Evil Twin. This is the first one to enter this blog. They're popping up all over, faster than I can keep up with them. But, hey, you've got to start somewhere, and here's as good a beer as any.

Ultra dark. Black as soot, with a toasted brown head, starting proud and slimming down.

Aroma: Char. Cocoa. Toffee. Smoke. Nice. Deep and complex.

Taste: Sweet at first, then come the maple, the licorice, molasses and more. Full-bodied. Rich and filling. Long-lasting flavors. Vast, malty finish. I can't really find a fault with it, yet…I can't fall in love with it. It's not exactly rough around the edges, but it lacks a certain charm. Eh.

hey, there's words on the label! "Amazingly rich, seductively dark and smoking good. Yes a real heartbreaker. We recommend only the truly skillful, heavyweight beer champions to battle this awfully irresistible smoked stout."

Wait, which is it, smoked porter or smoked stout? It's called two things on the label. Make up your minds!

This falls in the domain of "okay", but don't go out of the way for it.

Sierra Nevada / Russian River Yvan the Great Belgian-style Blonde Ale (Beer Camp #10)

SN/Russian River Yvan the Great Belgian-style Blonde. 6.3% ABV. 50 IBU. #10 for me in the sample pack.

Hazy, bright golden appearance, chalk white head, slim and soon gone.

Beautiful citrus and floral aromatics. Lightly spicy. Very likable.

Taste: Snappy delivery on the palate, brisk hoppiness and tangible spice and citrus notes. Belgian yeast is at work in the flavor, too. Medium-bodied, spicy finish. Tastes every bit like a Belgian blonde should and then some. Wish I had more than 12 ounces of this one.

Time to read the label: "This hoppy Blonde Ale blends the dry, complex yeast character of Belgian farmhouse ales with the bright citrus-like profile of American hops." And, as usual, there's more on the back: "As longtime friends, Russian River brewmaster Vinne Cilurzo and our own Brian Grossman are no strangers to brewing experiments. For this collaboration, they honored their friend and renowned Belgian brewer Yvan De Baets. This Belgian-American mash-up harmoniously blends Yvan's penchant for yeast with Vinnie and Brian's affinity for hops."

Might be my favorite so far….haven't ranked them yet. We'll see. Two to go!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Unibroue Don de Dieu

Another one from the Sommelier collection, one each of 6 12-ounce bottles from Unibroue. About $2 a piece, not a bad deal at all. With this one I'm again reaching back to notes from December of 2003, a beer that today I'd categorize as an Imperial Wit...maybe. Or, something. But not quite...well, it is what it is. Enjoy these notes....

Unibroue Don de Dieu (gift of god), wheat beer with spices and yeast, 9% ABV.

Murky orange in color, with an impressive, big, thick, chunky whitecap of a head.

 Notes of orange, other citrus, spices...that's all, but in this case, it's just right.

Taste is light, sweet, smooth, and luscious. Spicy, but uncomplicated. Well-carbonated, well-balanced, very light in body, soul, spirit. Full and substantial, with rich, yeasty flavor.

 Perfect with food,either a banquet or a picnic. A lot like a witbier, but with more body, flavor, and punch.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17 Bottle Fermented Ale Aged With French Oak. 10% alc./vol. 750 ml. Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec, Canada. Bottled in 2012.

There's a 4-page tiny pamphlet around the neck, held by gold rubber bands. It only tells us of awards it's won. In the past. No real reason for it, seems rather pointless. I don't feel bad saying this, since I generally heap tremendous praise upon everything they do. Really, though, how could a beer bottled in 2012 have won awards in 2009, 2010, 2011…etc? Must be a reason.
 Oh, well…

Let's drink it….off goes the cage, out goes the cork…

Appearance: Impenetrably dark , utterly opaque burgundy hue, small, negligible head.

Aroma: sweet, deep and dark. vast fruit, mingled with oak. Raisins, dates and prunes, mixed with spice. Ah…

Taste: Sweetness and darkness together. Sweet malt and yeast tempered by oak-aging. Tremendously complex and delicious. All those dark fruit flavors return on the tongue and it's nothing but yum from here on out. Alcohol isn't a threat, yet, but it's early, still.

"Dark Ale on Lees (yeast), Ale brewed with soirees, aged with French oak, and with natural flavors added."

Well, oops, I'm wrong. how did I know that the 17th Anniversary beer from 2007 has been re-brewed for so many years? Why not give it an new name? They did, the Grande Reserve, so there. And you know what? It really is quite amazing. Mmm.
It's up there. Way up there.

Here's what I wrote about Unibroue 17 when I first tried it in July, 2008: Unibroue 17

Into a Duvel glass, dark brown, enormous head, huge, pillowy, drifting down soon.

Dark fruit, cola, pepper, cinnamon, clove...

Taste: black pepper and spice above all else, lush malt, some whiskey tones, too. A big, delicious mess. A malty, boozy, complicated bruiser. Raisins and other dark fruit come through, too. Turns mellow, creamy, chocolatey after a time, but still with an alcohol sting lying below. 

I liked this, but didn't love it. Another nice one-off to celebrate another year of great beer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Toppling Goliath Rover Truck Oatmeal Stout

Toppling Goliath Rover Truck Oatmeal Stout. 6.6% ABV. 72 IBU. Yet another TG brew I enjoy from a growler purchased in Hudson, Wisconsin, from the taps at The Nova. One of these days, I'll make it out there, one of them…

Solid blackness, with a thick slice of roasted tan head.

Aroma: nicely roasted and toasty, silky smooth and lightly chocolatey.

Taste: This has got it going on. A stygian pool of rich, malty goodness. Little bit of sweetness, just enough bitterness. Cocoa and coffee, and other dark delights. Goes down ever so nice, just like it should. Medium-bodied, light oat malt finish. Super slick and delicious.

Schell's Goosetown Gose-style Ale

Schell's Goosetown, Ale Brewed with Coriander and Salt. August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm, MN.

I am not the world's authority on the gose style of ale. Here's an easy tutelage upon it. (I know, you could have done this yourself. Okay, I found a better one, check this out. ) I won't correct you if you say it wrong. I probably say it wrong all the time. The name suggests that we should be calling it "goose"…one would think.

Well, let's open up a can and find out what it's all about.

Clear, golden coloring, small, soon-gone head. Despite no foam on top, lots of bubblation coming up from below.

Aroma: a little citric, a little sour, lightly spicy, a bit of hops. Hmmm.

Taste: wet. clean. Light-ish in the body. Definitely refreshing and downable. A judicious amount of spice, and maybe I can taste the salt? Sure, I can.

Before I go further, I want to read the gobbledygook on the can. Time to get out the reading glasses: Schell's Goosetown- a loud and lively gose-style ale with a citrus bite. So, that's on top. What's on the bottom? "In the late 1800's, hearty German immigrants settled in a neighborhood near the Minnesota river in New Ulm, affectionately known as Goosetown, where they raised gaggles of rowdy geese who wandered around wherever their webbed feet pleased." Okay, that's telling me a lot. now I at least know where the name comes from…

So, about the beer. I still don't have a handle on the gose. Tried one from another brewery that tasted more like a geueze. I've tried real German ones, and they're probably closer to this. It doesn't quite give me what I am looking for, but this is a brewery that's always going to try to find a German slant on things, and why not? For a refreshing light ale, there's nothing wrong with it. It's quite tasty, if not too complex, but who cares? It does the trick. Probably won't return to this too often, but it did the trick.

Sierra Nevada / New Glarus There And Back English-style Bitter (Beer Camp #9)

Beer Camp #9: Sierra Nevada/ New Glarus There and Back English-style Bitter. Alc. by Vol. 5.5%. 40 IBU.

Lightly hazed, bronze colored, slim white head.

Aroma: Malt notes hit the nose first, caramel and toffee and such. Low hops, sweet and pleasant.

Taste: In the mouth and on the palate: sweetness all the more. It's a malt-driven brew, no doubt about that. Some fruity notes appear, some nuttiness, gliding just under the hops. Very keenly balanced bitter. It's a sessioner for sure, and here's where I wish I knew more about Tolkien to make appropriate puns (for, I assume, that's where they got the name). It's a bit more malty/sweet than I think an ESB ought to be, but that's okay, they're doing their own thing.

Now, what does the label teach us? "This easy-drinking English-style bitter features nutty, toasted English malts balanced by a solid dose of zesty hops and a fruity, dry finish." I guess it is rather dry, after all. But ever-so sweet before. Wait, there's more!
"For beer folks, Chicio, CA and New Glarus, WI are bucket-list pins on the U.S. brewing map, but it's no simple feat seeing both. There and Back is named for the planes, trains, and zeal that connect them. This classic English-style bitter is a complex mix of toasty malt and fruity, herbal hops."

Okay, so no admitted connection to "The Hobbit"'s subtitle, "There And Back Again", but that doesn't mean it isn't hidden there somewhere.

Sierra Nevada / Firestone Walker Torpedo Pilsner Hoppy Pilsner (Beer Camp #8)

Beer Camp Across America #8: Sierra Nevada/Firestone Walker Torpedo Pilsner Hoppy Pilsner. Alc. by Vol. 5.2%. 45 IBU.

Hey, remember all my hand-wringing and tooth-gnashing over being unable to find a Sierra Nevada snifter? Well, look what I found. I'll spare you the story of wasting precious moments wailing over the loss of a Unibroue tulip. Because, if you looked at the past few entries, it was all for naught. Now, to stop myself for whining about glasses I don't have and never had...

Lightly hazed, bright golden hue, under milky white head.

Aroma: Beautiful floral notes, nice hoppiness. Ah…

Taste: Big hop attack right off the bat, pierces the palate pleasingly. Clean, lean-bodied. Bittersweet bite fades off after a while, but never quite quits. Fruitiness grows and grows, starting citric, turning tropical.
Hopheads, here's a lager to love.

What do they say on the label? This: "This hoppy lager features intense fruity and floral notes from fresh New Zealand hops balanced against a crisp and clean malt body." Also, this: "Torpedo Pilsner is a hop-forward take on the crisp, classic lager. We and the folks at Firestone Walker share a passion for New Zealand varietals, so we loaded our legendary Hop Torpedo with the southern hemisphere's finest hops or a fruity, floral twist on the pilsner style."

So, there you go.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly

Now we have the witbier of the Unibroue stable, Blanche de Chambly, the white of Chambly. 5% ABV on this spiced Belgian-style wheat ale. Looking back on notes from December, 2003:

Appearance: cloudy, light yellowish color, adorned with a large, thick, pillowy white head.

Aroma: ahhh!, soft, sweet, slightly spicy, citric-fruity, sublimity and sophistication.

Taste: Delightful tingle on the tongue starts it off, a blizzard of citric hop flavor, delivered a tart bite, that is kept in check with ample, smooth maltiness.
Light to medium body, excellent texture, with a warm, happy, flavorful finish.
A richly rewarding witbier, this should please anyone and could suit any occasion or meal.

Great tasting, vast drinkability, exquisite.

Unibroue Ephemere Apple

Hey, what do you know, there's a Unibroue sampler box, "the Sommelier Collection" (didn't they get the word that we say "cicerone" now?), featuring 1 each of 6 of their beers, 3 that I've already covered here, 3 that I haven't. Here's come the notes....

Looking back at some old Unibroue notes, this one the Ephemere, ale brewed with apple juice, 5.5% ABV, first jotted down on November 20, 2003:

Pungent green apple aroma wafts out from the instant the cork is released...

Color is clear, pale golden, and is topped with a lush, creamy white head.
Aroma has settled some from that initial sharp sensation, is slightly sweet, and distinctly apple-ish.

Taste: big, brisk hoppiness, then all is mellow. Very light in body, with a crisp, dry finish. Apple flavor is never too strong, just subtle enough, and that's just fine with me.

For some reason, I imagined something bigger out of these guys, but all things considered, this is just right for what they're trying to do here. A nice, mild, bright, fruity ale, perfect for desserts, picnics, parties...but nothing I'd likely turn to often.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tallgrass Area 51 Russian Imperial Stout

Note to all: after writing the notes below, I found something fitting it's exact descriptions on Untappd going by the name given above. So that's what I'll call it, I guess. Here, come, the notes....

Tallgrass Russian Imperial Stout (sample can)

Hear, hear for friends in beer! If you read my report back in June about my visit to 11 of Minneapolis' breweries by bike in the course of a day, you may recall that I met Tallgrass rep Tim Olson on one of those stops. He was with another Tallgrass salesman, and talked up this new beer that I am about to try. I was not at the time a beer buyer, like I was at the Blue Nile, and even if I were doing such at the job I then held (I'm almost letting the cat out of the bag…just as well), I wouldn't have been buying any kegs or cans from Kansas.

And, yet…one day, I went to work at Northbound and there in the cooler was this can, labeled for me. Thanks, Tim! I can't tell you how much I appreciate it! I hope that someday soon I will return to the business of giving you some business. Someday, soon…

Let's drink it, already…

On the makeshift label it reads: "Tallgrass Big RICC"…no clue what that means. Russian Imperial Chocolate Coffee? 10.5% ABV. 60 IBU.

Solid blackness, with a slim, soon-gone dark brown head.

Aroma: deep, rich and chocolatey. Dense as fudge. Espresso notes right behind. Vast in flavor and expression.

Taste: bittersweet notes hit first, the coffee next, and then the cocoa. Full-bodied, starting fierce and cooling down. Big and bountiful, not thick and sludgy as some. Just a little bit hot and spicy, flavors of dark rum and molasses coming through.
I like this. It hits the spot.

Sierra Nevada/Oskar Blues CANfusion Rye Bock (Beer Camp #7)

Sierra Nevada/ Oskar Blue CANfusion Rye Bock, Beer Camp #7. 7.25 ABV. 45 IBU.

Can #2 from the Beer Camp box.

Appearance: clear, caramel/tan coloration, slim, white head.

Aroma: soft, lightly spicy, bread-y, malt-driven, and just on the sweet side.

Taste: all that from the nose is right here on the tongue. All that spicy rye malt character in a bock bier. Light-medium bodied, nice and clean. Sweetness prevails. Just enough, not too much…or is it? If I can tolerate it, it's probably too sweet for most other people.

CANfusion. It's in a can and it's a fusion. Of….? Rye and bock? SN and OB? Or is it CONfusing? No, it's not that…but, it's clearly not a CANtender for top entrant in the Best of Beer Camp.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sierra Nevada / Asheville Brewers Collective Tater Ridge Scottish Ale with Sweet Potatoes (Beer Camp #6)

Beer Camp #6: Tater Ridge. Scottish Ale brewed with Sweet Potatoes, Brewed in Collaboration with Asheville Brewers Alliance. Alc. by Volume 7%. 35 IBU.

Apperarance: Caramel Brown coloration, slim tanned head, leaving some lace. Ruby edges, looking fine.

Aroma: soft, slightly sweet and vegetal, but mostly missing. Not getting much yet. Yeah, nothing. That's what potatoes bring to beer. Nada.

Taste: caramel and toffee malt first, sweet like any Scotch ale should be (this is much dark than a "scottish ale"… they really mean Scotch?). Really tasty. full of malty flavors, moderate hopping, delicious. Can't say what the taters bring to the table, though. Nonetheless, it's a satisfying drink, and I'm I'm finding myself enjoying it.

What's the label say: "This rich and malty Scottish ale gets a kick from sweet potatoes, a North Carolina staple." Back label: "We're fortunate to call the passionate and talented folks in the Asheville Brewers Alliance our North Carolina neighbors. Tater Ridge is our nod to the area's Scottish Highland history, and we hope this ale accented by sweet potatoes will be the first of many collaborations to come."

I don't know why I don't get the sweet potatoes. Well, you don't get the taste of them, but they're adding something to the malt sweetness….wait, wait, there it is…just barely. Okay, I can dig it.

Indeed Mexican Honey Imperial Lager

Indeed Mexican Honey Imperial Lager. Imperial Lager brewed with Mexican Orange blossom honey.

Lightly hazed, bright golden hued, with a long-lasting and lace-leaving white cap of foam.

Aroma: cereal grains, mightily multiply, sweetness and some spice. Something's happening here.

Taste: Hmmmm. Yeah. Lager. Strong. Honey. Sure. Mexican? Yeah….it's sweet. It's strong. Not too this, not too that, not hoppy, not especially malty. Pretty tasty…but,….missing certain complexities I enjoy observing. I guess I'm trying to say that it's wonderful for what it is, …if you like that sort of thing. It's not what thrills me. I need more of more, not less and then some.

This is one of those beers that I am trying because I like the brewery, and I find that I enjoy everything they do. Except, really, this one. Nothing wrong with it. It's fine that it exists. But, I would never choose to drink it again.
C'est la vie.

What does the label tell us? Something in Spanish, probably, and possibly condescending …"Hola, mi amigo! Just off the tracks in the little village of Northeast Minneapolis lies Cerveceria Indeed, a brewery with an adventurous spirit. MEXICAN HONEY {it's spelled out in bold with a different color} is an Imperial Lager brewed with Mexican Orange Blossom honey and Amarillo hops, offering a citrus and floral fiesta for your palate. Refreshing and dangerously smooth, expect notes of orange nectar, graham cracker, biscuits, and honeycomb. Viva las honey bees!" Alc. 7.2 % by Vol, 17 IBU.

I don't know what to tell you, man. Didn't do it for me. Someone once told me this was their favorite beer of all time. Looking back, it occurs to me that they had terrible taste in beer.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hammerheart Flanery Brew Smoked Oatmeal Stout

hammerheart flanary's brew mildly smoked oatmeal stout.

Deep, dark blackness, lush tan head, leaving some film behind.

Aroma: cocoa and coffee, creamy, sweet, malty and delicious.

Taste: here comes the smoke, but it's just a hit, nothing major, a little trickle on the palate that rests awhile and lightly lingers. Rich, malty, full-bodied, and exceptionally smooth. There's a flash of bitterness, swiftly smothered by toasty/roasty malt. Liking it lots.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sierra Nevada / Three Floyds Chico King Pale Ale (Beer Camp Across America #5) (plus, a continuation of the previous ramble)

Beer Camp Across America Beer #5: Chico King, collaboration with Three Floyds.

Before opening this one, I've got a little more rambling to do about my glassware fanaticism. Why? Because I'm a fanatic, that's why. So, one thing I wish I had was a cool Three Floyds tulip. I've seen photos of them, but never in real life. Didn't see any for sale when I was there last year. Not even any logo pint glasses. Or maybe they did have them, but I was being reasonable, and said no to my maniacal desires. No, that can't be, for I did buy a Half Acre glass, and took a Hop Leaf sample glass with me (asked for it, of course).

So, I have no 3F glassware, and I have one SN pint glass. Why don't I have a SN snifter, for use with Bigfoot, Narwhal, Hoptimum, etc? I had them at the Blue Nile, thanks to the distributor and my sales rep, but forgot to bring one home for the collection. They must still have some, in the secret places where I stored them. Should I return and ask for one? Isn't that crazy, though? I don't go back because the little changes they've made inevitably drive me bonkers for no known reason.
 I recently broke an Urthel tulip glass while washing dishes, and I know there are plenty more in the basement of my former employer. Again, as I asked last time, do I really need it? How often do I drink their beers? But, don't I want to have one available for when it does happen? After all, they're so cool! There were the 2 different ones…the shorter, and the taller, and those hops, and the gnomes….ooo, it's insanity, I tells you. I've got plenty of Belgian-style tulips, missing one doesn't matter. Who cares if I don't have a Sierra Nevada
snifter…but, I "should" have one, shouldn't I? I mean, why shouldn't I? I should, right? I have to!

Stop it, voices in my head! Stop! STOP!!!

(There's one glass that I've been very protective of, and that's a 15-year old La Trappe small tulip, which was given to me by Lanny Hoff after I broke one in my last move. I can't let this one go.)

Okay, enough of that, here it is, the Chico King Pale Ale. Alc. by Vol. 6.5%, 45 IBU.

Clear, bright amber coloring, lush, creamy head, leaving lace, looking lovely.

Aroma: spills out of the glass. Floral, spicy, citric. Delicate and glorious.

Taste: Mmm, bitter. Mmm, fruity. Not too much this, not too much that, in every way a triumphantly hopped pale ale, not an overdone IPA. Lush, plump sweet malt keeps it all together. Balance is key here. This is no monster, no imperial anything. It's just a big bunch of yum, is what it is.

I want to know more, so I'm peeking at the label: "This pale ale packs plenty of bright, fruit-forward resinous hop varietals above a robust malt body." That's the bottleneck. Now, the back: "3 Floyds has a reputation as the Midwestern kings of alpha (hops), and it seems our flagship beer helped lure them down the lupulin-paved path. Chico King is a mash-up of our mutual passion for hoppy pale ales and we suspect you'll find it fit for royalty."

So, what is it? It's not SNPA, and it's not Alpha King, but it's somewhere in between. And to tell you the truth? I'd rather have the others. This mash-up doesn't make a better beer. It's good, don't get me wrong, it's just not better.

Rogue Farms 7 Hop IPA (Accompanied by Ruminations from a Hopeless Glassware Addict)

Rogue 7 Hop IPA. Preceded with an indulgent ramble.

It is a fact. I am obsessed with collecting beer glasses, in every shape, size and style. It's a mania I need to control, for it's impossible to satisfy these desires. Do I have space to save and store them all? No, sir. Do I need them all? Of course not. And yet, here I am about to a Rogue beer, and find that I don't have a Rogue glass to pour it into for the photograph, and that bothers me. Of course, I used to own one or two, but they break, it's inevitable. While washing the dishes, knocked over my clumsy self or one of my curious cats, a casualty of a move….it's just gonna happen.

I've got pint glasses in the collection for breweries I've never been to, and might never sample again, if I ever did. Do I need them? Probably not. There might be a culling coming up, an eBay sell-off, to tighten the old collection up and make it more manageable. And yet, I still have to steer myself away from the insanity of collecting. If I see a Roque glass for sale, will I buy it so I don't face this "problem" again, or will be reasonable and say, "No, after all, how often do I drink Rogue, anyway, and isn't this enough, at long last, isn't it enough???"

On to the beer:Rogue Farms. Grow the Revolution. 7 Hop IPA. India Pale Ale brewed with Seven Varieties of Rogue Farms Hops. 8.0% ABV. 90 IBU.

Lightly hazed, bright amber coloration, under a slim white head. Perfect look for an IPA, right on the money.

Aroma: Ah, that's it. Bright, bold, lively citrus-y hop presence. Piney. Beautifully bitter.

Taste: Bracingly bitter hop attack is the first pounce on the palate, lingerly long. Too much for some, I'd bet, but it's right up my alley. Or, "in my wheelhouse", as some say. I spend more time in alleys than in wheelhouses, so that's where I head.
Juicy, juicy stuff, an utter delight on the tongue.

Medium-bodied, happily hoppy, with a modicum of malt to keep it balanced. My kind of double IPA.

Hey, what's it say on the label? "Dedicated to Farmers and Fermenters. In a bold collaboration with Mother Nature, we grow 7 varieties of aroma hops at Rogue Farms in Independence, OR. We also string, stake, train, test, trim, separate, sort, kiln and cool them. Brewmaster John Maier had 7 varieties available, but rather than picking from among them, he chose to use all 7 to create a proprietary palate for 7 Hop IPA.

I can't remember how much I paid for this, but it couldn't have been too much (under $10?), because I usually pass on the high-end Rogue stuff. While this one is good, it isn't $20 good.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sierra Nevada/Victory Alt Route Alt Bier (Beer Camp Across America #4)

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America Alt Route Altbier, brewed in collaboration with Victory Brewing Company. 6.6% alc by vol. 50 IBU.

Dusky, dark, rich auburn-hued, under a lush, off-white head. Looking great.

Aroma: malt, grain, mineral, nut. Clean, keen and serene and classically alt. Mild hops.

Taste: malt is king at first, rich and chocolatey, nutty, totally tasty. Full-bodied, with a long finish. This has all the hallmarks of a classic alt. Mmm. Not too much else to say, it is exactly what it is. And it is good.

Let's read more: "This take on a German alter is anchored by a layered, slightly sweet malt body supported by citrusy hop flavor and aroma." Yeah, I didn't get any citrusy anything. Well, maybe some. Okay, yeah, I get it now.

Wait, there's more! "Brewers are notorious for refusing to take the easy path. Alt Route is a tribute to this stubborn spirit that drove us to dodge the status quo and build breweries of our own. Together we chased the siren song of beer with this revamped take on an antique beer style."

Okay, now I get the "revamped" aspect, it's the use of distinctly American hops instead of classically German ones. Not sure why I didn't get them at first gander. Can't win 'em all, I guess.

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 ...