Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Indeed Wooden Soul #2

I went to Indeed last week and got my first ever growler. I mean, growlette. Down with the growlers, up with the growlettes. I just never saw anything I needed/wanted on previous visits. And I don't go there enough to be there when those beers are on. You know how it is. Or maybe you do go there often, in which case you don't know how it is.

Anyway, here are the notes:

Indeed Brewing Company Wooden Soul #2. Second in Indeed's sour beer program. I don't have a lot of information about it at my disposal, currently, but I have this 750 ml growler, and I'm about to open it. I seem to be collecting them, these days. Bought this one on Wednesday of last week, June 24, opening it today, Sunday, June 28, 2015.

Appearance: clear and golden, slim head.

Aroma: tart. vinegar. vegetal. woody. Bit of Brett? Arresting and arousing.

Taste: bright, brash, bold. Flush with …wine barrel-aging. Souring yeast. Lean-bodied, long, sour finish. If you want sour, this is your key. Bracingly sour, blisteringly delicious. Intensely juicy. Low hops. Adequate malt. Perfect souring. Yum. I said it, and I'll say it again, yum, A third time, yum a dum dum.

Here's what they say: Wooden Soul #2 is a Sour Blonde Ale aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels, sourced from Northern California wine country. This complex beer is a blend, fermented with four strains of Brettanomyces yeast and two strains of Lactic Acid Bacteria.

Brewer Adam Theis walks us through the selection and blending process, explaining, “We went through 32 barrels total, and for each of them we said either, ‘That’s good, that’s ready,’ or, ‘Let’s leave that one another six months and see what happens to it.’ We ended up with 16 barrels that we thought were at their best right now.”

Hazy and straw-colored, this beer has complex aromas of bright citrus, melon rind, and barn yard funk. Refreshingly tart, Wooden Soul #2 is light and effervescent, with notes of sparkling lemonade, granny smith apples, and dry white wine.

Wooden Soul #2 will be available for a limited time in the taproom! Come in soon for a taste of this second release from our barrel-aging program.

More about Wooden Soul

Sour. Funky. Wild. Barrel-aged. Wooden Soul encompasses a stunning array of unique styles of beer, produced by the dynamic relationships between natural microorganisms when left to their own devices. Wooden Soul beers are developed using various strains of Brettanomyces, bacteria, or both, and almost all of the beers will spend some time aging in wood. There will be a spectrum of flavor and aroma produced from our wild yeast and bacteria. Some may be incredibly sour, while others may be more funky, fruity, or earthy. There is a certain degree of wonder and mysticism in our barrel room. The whole world could be explained scientifically, but sometimes it’s more enjoyable just to marvel at the unknown.

Founders Black Rye

You know what? I'd forgotten that this beer existed. I hadn't seen it anywhere, and I didn't remember ever drinking one. Then, a friend gave me a bottle, and I looked it up. Turns out that I'd written about a bottle back in January of 2005. Whoa, taking us way back. Here are those notes:

Deep black color, full cocoa/tan head..nice lookin'...I like it okay...

Aroma: rich and creamy, big, grainy, feeling, almost loud... very dark.

Taste: rich and full, very dark and tasty, posssessing exceptional grit, very full texture, hearty mouthfeel.

Medium bodied, so-so finish...kind of curious about the need for a beer of this kind, it doesn't satisfy like a porter or a stout. A nice drink, though not much to really remember.
Hurrah, Black Rye, ...

I'd file those notes under "unimpressed", to say the least. As for the bottle I had, still enjoyable, but nothing to get excited about.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Lynlake Hop X Double IPA

One of the problems with trying to keep up with all new breweries in town is that, well, you can't. I stopped into LynLake Brewing today in order to, once more, buy a growler on a Sunday. And I saw several new beers since the last time I visited them, three months ago. Three months? They are so close, it's ridiculous how I can forget about them, while I worry about checking out all the others.

So, now, let's open a growlette, growlino, no, these guys call them "roadies" (don't ask me why) …of a "double IPA" called Hop X.

Appearance: clear, bright reddish hue, solid, lingering head.

Aroma: ah! Just right. Citrus-y, floral. Bright, beautiful, lovely. Exactly what I want up my nose.

Taste: scrumptious. Juicy and fruity, hoppy as it gets. Bittersweet, where the sweet overcomes the bitter. Bitter hop attack still stays on top, but never quits. Long, fruity, bittersweet finish. Medium body. Strong hop flavor. Lush malt. Delicious.

Here's what the menu says: a not quite double IPA using a wide array of hops that provide strong resinous character. Pilsner and deep caramel  malt balance out that intense hop flavor with a roasty backbone. The use of Belgian candy sugar gives an extra kick of alcohol warmth while lightening the body. It's some of that real sticky icky. SRM 10, IBU 100, 8% ABV.

Is it some of that real sticky icky? Is it? Not quite. Could be sticky, ickier. Really could be. But, as is, it's pretty damned tasty, so cheers to that.

Ommegang Fleur de Houblon

Ommegang Fleur de Houblon Summer Ale. 6.8% ABV.

Appearance: clear-ish, light golden coloring, slim, but lasting ivory head.

Aroma: hoppy, fruity, floral, lively and uplifting. Little bit of spice, lots of bright and beautiful flavors.

Taste: Hmmm. Mmmm. this is nice upon nice. It's citrus, flowers, and parts of pine, kicked off with Belgian yeast, slices of lemon and lime, orange peel, grapefruit pith. Medium-bodied, light and easy-drinking. Slim-toned and gorgeous. Fierce carbonation. Hops-aplenty.

Here's what the Brewery Ommegang says about it: Nothing is more evocative of summer than the beautiful aroma of flowers, and the favored flowers of brewers are hops. Our brand new summer ale, Fleur de Houblon (Hop Flowers), is brewed to bring the many elements of summer into a refreshing and easy-to-drink Belgian-style ale.

Fleur de Houblon is a rich gold color with distinct floral hops in the aroma that follow through in the taste. Whole-cone Bravo hops are used to impart their earthy, fruity, and floral aromas and flavors. The body and flavor are clean and dry, with pleasing complexity and spicy notes from both primary and secondary fermentation with our unique Ommegang house yeast.

Northgate Russian Imperial Stout

Northgate Russian Imperial Stout, NorthGate Brewing, Minneapolis, Minnestota. 2015 Limited Release. 7.2% ABV, 60 IBU.

Appearance: deep blackness, utter darkness, large, lush creamy tanned head. Leaves lace, looks lovely.

Aroma: Major fruit. Big bitter. Massive malt. Dates and raisins and prunes. Oh, my.

Taste: This is not an American-style, big bruiser of an RIS. It isn't sludge and coffee grounds, it's not chore to trudge through, it isn't an assault on the senses. It is what it is, and it's terrifically tasty. Coffee beans and berries, big, but mild and mellow, too. No ogre nor beast, not a bludgeoning behemoth. It's a cool one. Full-bodied, but never thick. Smooth, man, smooth and satisfying.

Again, this is not one to challenge Darkness, or Expedtition, or Founders or Old Rasputin, or Narwhal, or any of the big, bold, thick, rich RIS's that define the American style of Imperial Stout.

But, it's still damned good.

Minneapolis Town Hall PDX Double IPA

Town Hall PDX Double IPA. 8.8% ABV.

Appearance: Lightly hazed, bright golden/amber, slim white head.

Aroma: bright and beautiful tropical fruit aromatics: pineapple, mango, guava, etc. Along comes citrus, here comes lime and orange. Ah! I kind of like it.

Taste: Vibrant, intense hop bitterness loads the palate. Very dry. Medium-bodied, long, bitter finish. Bitter, dry, and fruity.

Guess what? I still kind of like it.

Once again, though, there's nothing on their website about it. Wish I knew a little more. Come on, guys, you can do this.

Brooklyn Black Ops

Brooklyn Black Ops, Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels, 100% Bottle Re-fermented, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, New York. 11.6% Alc. by Vol

Appearance: Utter blackness, solid stygian, with a slim ring of brown head resting above.

Aroma: bourbon barrel essence fairly screams out of the glass. Charcoal, black teasel molasses, vanilla, …now comes chocolate, caramel, …ridiculously rich. So much going on. I'm loving it.

Taste: all that and more climbs on board the palate. Deep and rich, dark and full. Here comes coffee, in walks cocoa. Big and smokey. Dark fruit rolls out, plums, raisins, etc. A lot of fire in this, a good deal of spark and simmer.

Compared to all of the beloved Imperial Stouts, this doesn't climb to the top rung. As it is, it's a-okay. Nothing wrong with it. Good beer, and you can drink it.

What's it need? Needs more more. I am a bit disappointed that I spent over $20 on a single bottle, due to the rarity and all, but was left wanting. It didn't dethrone Darkness, or knock down Expedition.

Time to read the label: nope, too long. I'll getcha a link.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bull Falls Hop Worthy IPA

Here's one of those breweries I'd never heard of until I saw it on tap at Acadia Cafe. "Hop Worthy" is an odd name, and it doesn't feel like a pun. What could it mean? I have no way of knowing. Anyway, they're over in Wausau, Wisconsin, and we had it on tap at Acadia. (And, apparently others, based on the empty kegs in the basement.) I took these notes before the keg emptied.

Bull Falls Hop Worthy India Pale Ale.

Clear, amber colored, smallish, whitish head.

Earthy spicy nose, low bitterness, low fruitiness.

Tastes: starts off piney, then turns slightly sweet, and ending bitter. Medium-bodied. Malt sweetness is much higher than normal, bitterness rises up to match it. Not bad, but nothing to squawk about.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA

Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA, brewed with farm distilled hop oil, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, CA & Mills River, NC. 6.2% alc. by vol. 60 IBU.

Appearance: clear and bright golden, vibrant ivory head, leaving delicate lacing. Lovely stuff, looking great.

Aroma: hop oil-a-rific, flowery, citrusy, piney galore. Lemon and orange and lime. It's gorgeous. Love. It.

Taste: On the palate, a blast of bitterness. blam! Bright, lively, bursting with hops. Light bodied, long, lingering bittersweet hop finish. Ends decidedly dry. Hop bitterness never quite quits, lays long on the palate.

Another wonderful IPA from Sierra Nevada. Wonder what the label says…" Steam distilled hop oil, gathered right in the hop fields, gives a mighty boost to the floral and citrus notes of traditional whole cone hops  for intense, unmatched hop aromatics." There's more on the back, but it's basically the same information, stated slightly differently, with more words.

Morland's Old Speckled Hen (Nitro v. Bottle)

In November of 2003, I had a bottle of Old Speckled Hen presented to me as a sample. I wrote these notes on that clear glass bottling:

Bronze color, nice white head.
Aroma: not to my liking, puts me off, cloyingly sweet, tinny, flinty, just not right...
Taste: small hops, mellow mouthfeel, light body, some slight maltiness, drinkable, downable, but altogether unexciting.
Not my cup of tea at all. I can get why it's so popular (been showing up on numerous taplines these past few years), for those who enjoy the untroubled and the uninteresting, but I can't forgive that awful smell, and will pass on this one from here on out.

So, now let's try on on nitro-tap, lo, some 11 1/2 years later...

Clear and copper-colored, creamy head, looking great.

soft aromatics, herbal and slightly floral, hints of what I called "flinty" in the bottle. Is there diacetyl lurking below? Just a little bit of buttery.

Taste: A little buzz of hops. A brief bit of malt. Sweetness, bitterness, moisture. It's wet and you can drink it. Hints of fruit, grass, flowers....glimpses of caramel malt. Body is medium, finish is brief, forgettable.

Reading the old review, I remember my disappointment in that bottle. On tap. I get what it's supposed to be, but it's just not my cup of tea. (wait, I already said that). A very mild version of an English pale ale that I can't get excited about. Somebody likes it, though, or it wouldn't be here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Northgate Brewing Here's Your Fraking IPA

Northgate Brewing Here's Your Fraking IPA.

"session beers for the long haul." "seeking adventure in Minneapolis, MN." Northgate fills the local niche for British-style beers. I logged some of their bottled beers here before. A bottle of an Imperial Stout waits it's turn in my DBF (Dedicated Beer Fridge). We'll open that one up soon enough. And on Sunday evening I made my second visit to their taproom, intent on taking back a growler. Should it be the brown ale, the sweet stout, the Irish Red Ale? No, of course not, the IPA, silly.

Appearance: lightly hazed, bright golden, billowy white head.

Aroma: lively and loaded with citrus and pine-y notes. Grapefruit, orange, and lemon aplenty. Slightly bittersweet, just about right on the money.

Taste: High hops bounce on the palate, slightly astringent, largely bittersweet. Plump with citrus fruit notes, lean-bodied, long, hoppy finish. Tasty, tasty stuff. Delicious. Alcohol is creeping up on me, just a little. Just enough.

Hey, let's read from the back of the growler: "This beer was proudly brewed in industrial Northeast Minneapolis. We focus on producing fresh British and AMerican-style beers that are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family. Our ales are crafted true to the original styles, with quality ingredients from the finest sources worldwide."

I like this brewery. And I really like this beer.

This is all the website will tell me: "Passive-aggressively hopped with Citra, Chinook, Summit, and Simcoe. A tongue burner of a Double IPA." Further research puts it at 8% ABV.

Belhaven Scottish Ale

As stated before, I'm working behind the bar currently at one of my old favorite haunts, Acadia Cafe at Cedar and Riverside in the West Bank neighborhood here in Minneapolis. As of this moment, there are a mere eight beers on tap that haven't appeared here. (there are 28 lines, with one devoted to a root beer, Lift Bridge currently, one a cider (Four Daughters' Loon Juice) and also a mead (B.Nektar))
I haven't been especially diligent, and some have escaped me since starting. Take for instance Unibroue Noir de Chambly. It was on tap when on my first day, and only ran out last week. I first took notes on a bottle back in 2006. I could have easily had one after a shift one day, snapped a photo and posted those old notes, as I've done again and again. Same thing with Lagunitas Pils, that one slipped past me. There are a few others, also, including a few that I'd need to take new notes for. Well, no more! I'm catching up, starting with Belhaven, which seems to be a constant on the nitro line.

Back in July, 2005, I wrote these notes on the nitro can version of Belhaven Scottish Ale, then commented on my previous feelings on a bottle. Today, I'm having it off a nitro-tap, sharing those 10 year old notes with you:

Some people just adore the cascading effect of the rolling foam in a nitro "draught" pour, tap or can. Doesn't do much for me...I just want to see the damn beer, and get to drinkin' it...buuurp...

this one, when the flashy effect dissolves, is a crimson/amber hue, capped with a thick, creamy head that lasts quite a while...very nice, indeed.

Aroma: coppery, metallic, odd..some hops, a bit of fruity sweetness, malty, but not much too it, beyond the initial impression.

Taste: kind of limp...tastes like fish, no kidding...was is smoked? Very unusual, and not too kind, nothing I enjoy. Smooth on the tongue, but this smoked fish feel never leaves! Weird!
Easy drinking, but to a fault, very minimal character, insipid mouthfeel, lean body...I'm gonna have to keep passing this one by (though I couldn't resist one last chance...)

Halfway, through (it's a 15 ounce can we got here) it's almost passable, but still disappointing.
crazy how much I liked the bottle, when I reviewed it over 2 1/2 years ago, but was far from taken by this version!

Nowadays, I realize that, essentially, it is beer, and you can drink it. Nothing wrong with that. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Insight Yuzu Pale Ale

The other day I made my second visit to Insight Brewing Company, at 29th and Hennepin in NorthEast Minneapolis. The first was their opening night, back in November of last year. It's the second-northern-most brewery in the city, and I've put off the return trip by bike for so long perhaps because I wasn't in the mood to travel that far. Wasn't that bad. Google Maps put it at an hour, but it only took about 40 minutes. It was an attempt, successful, to log another chapter of Biking to Beer, soon to be published. And it was a Sunday, and I was in the mood for growler-buying. There were six beers on tap; I had the Saison Le Blanc, the Lamb and Flag English Pale Ale, and the session IPA called Piccolo IPA. For taking home, I chose Yuzu Pale Ale. Let's open it up and try it out.

What do we have here? Slight hazy, coppery-colored ale, under a slim, but staying head of creamy-toned foam.

Aroma: soft and smooth, low hop bitterness, a whiff of fruit. Mild, but pleasant.

Taste: Lands on the tongue comfortably, easily, gently, dropping little fruit bombs, with minor hop bitterness. Some grapefruit, some orange. Lean and clean malt, just enough sweetness, just enough ballast. And now the fruit comes through.

I'll admit this much, that I don't know a lot about yuzu, other than the New Belgium Lips of Faith beer made with it. Never picked one up and ate one. Couldn't tell you what they taste like, or how the flavor affects this beer. But it's a tasty one.

It's a good beer, and you can drink it.

Here's how the website puts it: The Yuzu is a Japanese fruit with characteristics of both robust grapefruit citrus and mandarin oranges. Paired with a delicately hopped pale ale, this makes for an incredibly unique and drinkable beer. Pairs well with seafood, light chicken dishes, or burger and fries.

ABV: 5.5%

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Odell Trellis Garden Ale

Odell Trellis Garden Ale.

Thoroughly hazed, amber/crimson hue, long-lasting, cream-toned head.

Aroma: pithy, pungent hop aromatics scream out of the glass. Citrus is subsumed by unusual suspects…cherry…strawberry…melon…a fruity cornucopia in the nose.

Taste: further happiness. A burst of fruity hop bitterness on the palate, then all is clear and smooth, lush and malty. More of that same melange dances upon the tongue again, with hop bitterness riding just one level above the fruit. Mmm. So good. It's 8.7% ABV, and it starts to show after we get into the glass.

Here's the official gobbledygook from the website: Brewed with locally grown herbs and spices from The Gardens on Spring Creek, Trellis Garden Ale is a stroll through the garden in a glass – a sip of summer and a harvest of flavor. Coriander, cilantro, pineapple mint, lavender and rose petal bloom in this bright pale ale.  Hoppy hints of citrus and fresh cut grass balance the malty sweetness and enhance the subtle floral spice for a refreshing finish. $1 from each bottle of Trellis Garden Ale sold will go to The Gardens on Spring Creek.

I haven't seen any bottles of Trellis on sale yet, but I don't need to go searching for it, since it's on tap at Acadia Cafe. The expense has kept it on longer than it should be. I'm finally taking notes on it, before it finally disappears.

I'm susceptible to anything hoppy, you know, but when it comes together as beautifully as this, I'm in all the way. It's flat out delicious.

Friday, June 19, 2015

August Schell Noble Star Series #6: Cypress Blanc

August Schell Brewing Company Noble Star Collection Cypress Blanc, Dry Hopped Berlin Style American Lager. 7.4% ABV.

Appearance: hazed, pale gold, slim head, soon gone.

Aroma: slightly sweet, slightly sour, pears, muscat grapes, green apples. Moderate carbonation, low hop bitterness, medium malt. Good balance of sour and sweet.

Taste: In the mouth, the sour comes through. With each and every sip, the tart keeps coming. Light-bodied, with a long, sour finish. Dry. Beautiful. Elegant. Sparkling. More apples, grapes, pear. Delicious.

Here's the quick scoop on it: Brettanyomyces yeast aged in their old cypress tanks, brewed "in the style" of the Berliner Weisse, but also an American lager. Dang if it doesn't come across as one. American lager, I mean. There's a whole lot going on with this one.

Here it is, word for word, from their website: BEER STYLE: Berliner Weisse
CHARACTERISTICS: Through the long, slow, secondary fermentation process, the authentic Brettanomyces yeast in Cypress Blanc completely fermented the residual sugars remaining in the beer, transforming it into a very dry, tart and complex flavor profile wholly unique and dramatically different from any American lager previous aged in our cypress tanks.

It's every penny. I paid around $16, and it is remarkable.

Day Block Batch 94 IPA

Day Block Batch 94 IPA. "This crowler contains 750 ml of hand-crafted, Minneapolis-brewed beer. Please enjoy the crowler out of it." 7.1% ABV. 101 IBU. (I think that's what it says. Kind of hard to read. Okay, 101, sounds good, if it seems high.)

Appearance: clear, bright amber/crimson hue, slim, lacy, ivory head.

Aroma: Brimming with fruit. Stone and citrus. Slightly, just slightly buttery. Bittersweet and creamy. Growing with intensity.

Taste: Hits the palate running, blazing trails of bitterness. Again, growing with intensity. Medium-bodied. Apricot, tangerine, peach, grapefruit. Again, stone fruit and pungent citrus at play in the mouth. Long-lasting bitter finish.

Non-stop bitterness and smooth malty flavor makes this one satisfying IPA. This crowler's going down.

And while I drink it, let's read the copy on the can label, before it melts or something. "West Coast IPA. brewed with Old World Pilsner base malt, and hopped aggressively with Columbus, Chinook, Centennial and Crystal hops, Then dry-hopped with a further 10 pounds of hops! This IPA is dry,  bitter, and bright orange."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sunday Growler (and crowler) sales? What?!? NO! Can Minnesota survive?

We got a bone at least, and the legislature allowed Minnesota brewery taprooms and brewpubs to sell their products to go on that dangerous day, when before it was forbidden. Because, you know, God and stuff. Minneapolis finally signed off on it (yes, instead of a blanket repeal, they opted to let municipalities ratify it one by one. Progress.), and Sunday growler sales were at last legal on Sunday, June 14. I had to get out and celebrate, but where to go first?
at right: the Berliner Weisse at Day Block, which I enjoyed "raw" at first, and then with rhubarb syrup added.
A sign on Washington Avenue urging travelers to stop for a growler....on a Sunday? What--?

I chose Day Block Brewing, due their sale, with $10 growler fills on that first day. But something happened that changed my plans a bit. I sat down next to my friend Tim, pulled out my empty growler, ready to contemplate my choice, when along came my old pal, Mike, who I long ago hired as a bar-back at the Nile, and trained as a bartender, and is now bar manager at Day Block. Wouldn't I rather want a crowler on this day? Not only were they beginning growler sales, but also the canned 750 mls, the first local brewpub to do so. I'd get my deposit back on the growler, and in the end only cost $3. ($8 for the crowler minus $5). I chose a Batch 95 IPA, which I'll get to in a review very soon.
At this early point on this momentous day, the Lord Almighty had not yet stricken us down.

I paid for my purchase and checked the ceiling. No structural damage yet. The sky hadn't started to fall.

Off next to Town Hall, just up the road on Washington Avenue, and they were celebrating by having Marmelade Sky Pale Ale, usually only on tap at The Tap, one of their two other locations, available in growlers. I brought in a 750 ml size, but it was only in 64 ouncers. So, I've gone from 5 64-oz Town Hall growlers a few months ago to 2 750mls, now to 1 of each. It's fine, though, we can continue to trade up or down, with the deposit rate remaining the same.

a growler, about to be purchased, on a Sunday! A Sunday!

I peered up at the pressed tin ceiling and chandeliers above the Town Hall bar. Still holding up. No apocalypse yet. The firmament yet held. No cracks in the sky, no thunder from heaven, no hordes of demons, no plague of frogs.

Proof, there it is. Still no thunder from above.

A growler and a crowler were in my pack, and I jumped back on my bike toward Harriet. If I'd been there earlier I'd have seen my old friend and colleague Peter, who know works at Harriet, being interviewed by the Minneapolis Star & Tribune about the exciting change. But, Jason Sowards, owner and brewmaster, was there to fill up my West Side IPA. I didn't need that much beer at once, but I just wanted to go out and ring in this new era.
Jason doesn't seem very concerned about divine retribution. I worry about that.

And I looked out into the night sky, the clouds turning darker, and I wondered...was this the start of our doom? Was it the beginning of our dire punishment from our angry Lord for crossing him, for spiting his will? Will there soon be lakes of fire and terrible retribution? Will the vengeful God soon smite us all?
Still no angels coming down from heaven to render unto us an apocalypse  of righteous fury to avenge our horrible sins, of buying beer on Sunday. Maybe they're late, and we'll get it next week? Oh, what have we wrought???

No, it was the day ending, as it always does. Everything was normal. We're not going to die. Dogs will not lie down with cats. Maybe we'll get through this?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sisyphus Belgian Blonde Ale

Sisyphus Belgian Blonde Ale.

Appearance: clear, bright golden coloring, very slim, very soon-gone head.

Aroma:  sweetness and Belgian yeasty funk. Candi sugar. Fruit. Nice balance. Low hops. Medium malt.

Taste:  smooth and malty stuff, fresh and zesty. Fine rendition of the style. Easy-drinking. Good one going down. Clean and lean.  That mix of fruit, spice, and just south of tartness that only comes from the Belgian styles. Just enough bitterness, just enough sweet.

I like this. It's not what I'd want to drink most of the time, personally, but it's good beer. And you can drink it.

56 Brewing Lake Sandy Rye Lager

The newest brewery in Minneapolis, 56 Brewing, taking over the space and equipment formerly used by Northgate. Their Lake Sandy Rye Lager is on tap at Acadia Cafe. I took some notes.

Appearance: clearish, with some chill haze, bright golden coloration, slim white head.

Aroma: cereal grain, all your typical lager-y smells, not much from rye or from malt. Bland, inoffensive.

Taste: It's wet, and it's smooth, light bodied and easy-drinking. Not at all what I'd expect from a rye malt lager. I anticipated a little more color, and a lot more flavor. Okay, wait, here comes some spicy rye flavors, ...but just a touch, a tinge. Hardly enough to give it it's name.

Here's what the website has to say:
A clean, crisp lager with a yellow hue. This beer is
lightly hopped to bring out the pilsner and rye malts.
It is refreshing enough for a hot summer day, yet bold
enough to be enjoyed year round.

It is brewed with 3 different malts and a single variety
of hops.

Pairs well with: Bratwurst, Gruyere

ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 19
SRM: 5

I skipped the first part, a paragraph about the historical importance of Lake Sandy. What was interesting about this description is that a week ago, it said it had a "reddish hue", leaving me to think we had the wrong beer. They told us that no, it was correct, that the website description was wrong, and it looks like they went and fixed that, since I pointed it out to them.

So, how is it? It is crisp, it is refreshing, but it lacks a lot for me. There's just not enough here. I'll hold out on judging, maybe their others are better.

After these notes, I opened up a growler of NE Nectar, a honey kolsch, and shared it with staff. Thought about a review. Thought better of it. Unpleasant.Two more beers of their out there that just may be decent. Odds aren't good, though. Sorry.

Town Hall Marmelade Sky Pale Ale

Sometimes I bring a growler home with me from a brewpub or taproom to write about a beer for the first time. This is not one of those times. I have had this beer before, five years ago, but before the blog began. I could easily have taken a photo of the beer I had at the pub, as I've done before, but, no, I had to buy a growler, although I did not need one, and in fact, I was going to be buying more growlers that day, at other places.

Why? Because it was Sunday, and I could. At last, Mother Minnesota government has released us just a bit from it's apron strings, and allowed we the citizens to purchase beer from a taproom or brewpub, at last, on a Sunday. We're all grown up now. Still can't visit a liquor store, yet. So, if you don't live near a brewpub or taproom, or if your city or township hasn't ratified the repeal, or you want something other than beer from a brewpub or taproom, well, you're out of luck. We're not that grown up yet, I guess.

Here are notes from June, 2010 on Marmedale Sky American Pale Ale (4.9% ABV.):

"Marmalade"...not, "Marmelade"...no wonder I couldn't find this listing...well, here's what I thought...

from Wikipedia: "Not to be confused with Marmelade, a town in Haiti."

I'm picturing myself on a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and...

Lightly clouded, apricot/tangerine appearance, nice, strong & sturdy off=white head...ain't nothing' wrong with it.

Aroma: Estery, dark fruit, grape, cherry, and orange, ripe and lively, yet soft and lovely...nice. Beautiful.

Taste: Mmmmm. Full-bodied, great feel on the palate, nice heft in the mouth, Vibrant hop presence, full malt feel. Orange flavor jumps in and out, and bumps around, says Hi and submerges. Yum, I say. And, mmmm, mmm. Wonderful bitterness.

Well-made ale, this. I can drink it, and be happy, and drink some more. Best shared with a girl with kaleidoscope eyes....

Monday, June 15, 2015

Alesmith Olde Ale

Alesmith Olde Ale British-style Ale MMXIV, Brewed and bottled by Alesmith Brewing Company, San Diego, CA. Alc. 11% by Volume.

Appearance: darkly cast, deep burgundy, cream-toned head, slimmed, but lasting, and beautiful.

Aroma: spills out of the glass, with a prototypical old ale nose, plums, dates, grapes, brandy, leather, wine. Some pepper to match the fruit. All those delights and more in plentitude. Mmmm. Yeah.

Taste: mouth-filling. Senses-engaging. Palate-thrilling. Dazzles the tongue and mouth with full-on fruit and spice, rich and delicious. Malt forward for sure, a little bitter, and a little sweet. Big, though, big is the main word here. Another little-big word I cant lose hold of is yum. Just yummy. And just a little burnt. But beautiful. Dark, deep, delicious, and beautiful.

Lagunitas Scarce City #4: Imperial Wheat Wine

Lagunitas Scarce City #4: Imperial Wheat Wine. 9.7% ABV. On tap at Acadia Cafe.

Appearance: hazed, golden hued, slim white head.

Aroma: grapefruit, tangerine, and more. Fruitier than I expected. Pithy citric aromatics. Loving it.

Taste: That big citrus returns in the mouth. Smooth, wheaty body meets big, fat alcohol. I love wheat-wines. And this one is delicious. Hangs heavy in the mouth, but you have to know that going in. Not for the faint of heart, but easier-going than a regular barley-wine. big, boozy, grapefruity wheat-wine. I'm digging it.

Perhaps not the optimum brew for this hot summer day, but there's not turning back now.

One question: do you have to call it "Imperial" when the style is already big and strong?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Capital Wisconsin Amber Lager

On tap currently at Acadia Cafe, looking back at notes from a bottle, October, 2004:

Transparent bronze appearance, short-lived, slim off-white head.

Nose is a bouquet of caramel malt sweetness, with herbal, grassy notes, as well...rich and arousing.

Caramel and toffee tones return on the palate, big and brash in taste, sticks long in the senses, before slipping away. Medium-bodied, long, slick finish. Full-forward sweetness, a constant pleasure and easy as pie to travel down the throat.

Unbeatable, as far as Vienna lagers go.
I'd take one any time.

Milwaukee Brewing Louie's Resurrection Bourbon Barrel Aged Amber Ale

Milwaukee Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Amber, Louie's Resurrection, ale aged in bourbon barrels. 10.2% ABV. Brewed and bottled by Milwaukee Brewing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Appearance: mostly clear, crimson/amber hue, slim, soon-gone white head.

Aroma: cherry, vanilla, oak, there's whiskey here, there's echoes and whispers of bourbon. Sweet, liquor-y, malty, but not much else.

Taste: Bourbon-y sweetness starts it off, slick and delicious. The whiskey is all, though, there's nothing beneath it. The amber ale that lurks below is completely subsumed by the action of the barrels. There's no interplay at all, no enhancement.
If you want to taste the bourbon, that's happening. Do want complexity, depth? Not going on.

Medium-bodied, long, slick, bourbon-y finish. Again, if all you want is bourbon flavor, maybe you'll like this.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Town Hall Midnight Breakfast Porter

Town Hall Midnight Breakfast. What's in this beer? Not sure. Guess I have to open it up and find out.

Appearance: dark brown coloration, creamy-toned tanned head atop, looking great.

Aroma: ah! that's the stuff. creamy-smooth oat malt, low hops, sweet but balanced. Just right.

Taste:   On the palate, more of the same. Low bitterness, smooth and creamy oat malt flavors, with some light chocolate and a touch of toffee. Velvety smooth.

Terrific porter, but I can tell you much more about it. There's never a full description on the menu, and there's nothing on the website. BeerAdvocate has only two ratings, and only one with words, and he tells us "I like breakfast stout better." Well, whoop dee do. That's not what this is. He also informs us that it's 5.6% ABV. And calls it an "American porter."

Ratebeer has more reviewers with more words, words like "decent", "oily", "mustiness", and "ash."

Years ago, I used to save the brewer's description slip that I'd find at the bar when a new beer was tapped, and incorporate that information into my reviews. I don't see them anymore. I'd like to know a little something about what I'm drinking.

Lagunitas Equinox Oat Pale Ale

Lagunitas Equinox. A Pale Oat Ale. "first brewed in 1995….Brewed Today In a Time of Change." What's that mean? It's no more bewildering than anything else on a Lagunitas bottle. Alc. 8% by Vol. 50 IBU. OG 1.078.

Appearance: clear, bright amber coloring, lush white head. Looking good.

Aroma: lively citric hop notes. flowery ones, too. Pleasant stuff.

Taste: A little hop bitterness starts it off, then it's nothing but smooth. That's it in a nutshell, little bit o' hops, then smooth, oat malt goodness. High alcohol isn't detected…yet. Medium-bodied. Nice, hoppy finish. I guess I like it. good beer, and yo can drink it.

Here's what I originally wrote about it in January of 2003: "Big, fluffy white head, solid amber color. Aroma is fresh, floral, fruity, notes of peach, mango, tangerine. Smooth, easy-drinking, rather light in body. An "oat ale", huh? Maybe they contribute to the lightness in texture. A decent "extra pale ale", but not outstanding. And this oat business still has me stumped."

And here's the weird words around the side of the label: Qan you imagine a world without Beer? Everything ewe gnoe would be different. Phish might phly, daugs might uze power touls. Pfriedae nights mite be spent building treez out of the day after tomorrow's pstale sour qreem and cheaze leavings. And then their'd bea the speling iszuues. Thingss wood bee just plane wierd, eye meene weird. Come two thinq of itt, Eye think aya cood stand beain a liddl bit hapier write gnau... (glug, glug, glug... gulp.) Mmm, aah! Once again all is right with the world, the fish are in their ocean, the dog will not maim me, I'll have a date for Friday night, and I know for sure that in fact God loves me. Beer. You only borrow it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Steel Toe Collision Course Double India Pale Ale

At last! At last, at last I found a bottle of this double IPA from Steel Toe! Collision Course, they call it, and there's not a ton of information on it, other than it was bottled on April 27th of this year. Let's drink it.

Appearance: clouded, golden-hued, strong ivory-toned head of foam atop.

Aroma: ah! that's the stuff! at first hit to the nose, it gives up the goods! A blast of fresh citrus and an explosion of pine. Lemon, orange, and tangerine, plus the scrapings of the forest floor. It's right on, brother.

Taste: Bitterness blasts the palate, scours the mouth, spreads bracing, arresting deliciousness. Each new sip brings a fresh deliverance of citrusy hop beauty. So good. So, so good. This is a beer that does not fit it's name. There's no collision here, no clash, no terrible contrast. It's big, it's bold, but it's far from bad. In fact, it's damned near perfect.

Each new entrance into my mouth, this ale brings delight and deliciousness. Nothing but happy. This should go in the top of any list of favorite double IPAs I should care to create.

The great sadness, though, is that I couldn't get more than this one bottle. I put off visiting the brewery, and when I finally made it in, there was one left. And I got it, buddy, I got it. So glad that I got it.

And I'm drinking it by myself, so I can tell you all about it, but how I wish I could have more to share with others.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Blacklist Cran

Blacklist Cran, Maidens D'Or Series, Belgian-style ale brewed with cranberries. Alc. 10% by volume. Brewed and bottled by Blacklist Beer, LLC, Duluth, MN.

Appearance: clear, bright pinkish hue, slim white head.

Aroma: tart and fruity. Dry 'n' funky. I want to say it's "cran-tastic", but I'm going to wait until I'm sure.

Taste: Did I say tart, dry, and fruity? I did. Did I almost say "cran-tastic"? Also true. Light bodied, refreshing, alcohol is so-far well-hidden. Famous last words, I know.

I like this just fine, but it isn't terrifically complex. I'd like a little more more, please. Just a schooch more character and I'd be happier.

You know what? I forgot to read you the gobbledygook. Come back later, and I'll find it and do just that. It's the least I could do for you.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Biking to Beer, Four: Over the River

Well, friends, I've already admitted to being a procrastinator, there's no using pretending or denying. Part Four of Biking to Beer as been waiting to be finished for far too long. It's two months old now! Can't put it off any longer, and once this is posted, it's time to rise Part 5 from it's slumber and get to work on Part Six. Without more fuss, here we go:

It's Sunday, March 29. Again, I plot my course while online at the East Lake library, and set off for my first destination, sometime after 5 pm. It's a Sunday in early spring, so the options for taprooms to visit aren't wide. Before last summer it wasn't even allowed. "Okay, you can have your taprooms, but not on Sunday! Not yet!" What is with this state? Why does that even matter? Who does it hurt to have a taproom open on a Sunday, for the love of Benji? It took us two years to get that law changed. Now, at last, we'll be able to sell growlers at taprooms and brewpubs on Sundays, but liquor stores still won't be able to open. Because that would make sense and we can't have that.

So, it was time to make my first visit to Urban Growler in St. Paul, which requires continuing on Lake Street all the way to the Mississippi river, over the bridge to St. Paul, where the street changes name and becomes "Marshall Avenue." Minneapolis is the City of Lakes. Minnesota is the Land of 10, 000 Lakes. Does St. Paul, our capital city,  have some kind of "lake envy" that forces them the change the name of Lake Street once it enters their city limits? What's the problem?

View of the entrance to Urban Growler, with the Bang Brewing silo behind.
A chalkboard in the entrance alerts you to the ales inside.
That aside, it was fairly easy to find Urban Growler, using  the directions provided by Google maps. Over the river and a left to find Pelham Boulevard, soon to Raymond, and a neighborhood I was somewhat familiar with, which actually means that I remember getting lost there once, and finding my way, eventually. Before long, a long industrial boulevard is seen, and there it is, 2325 Endicott Street, home of Urban Growler brewing, with it's neighbor, Bang Brewing, next door. They are not open on Sundays, however.

It's a friendly space, with food crafted on site. I had a turkey sandwich, I think, and perused the beer menu, while classic rock filled the air. (something I can do without, frankly). I did something that's not the best way to judge a brewery's abilities, when scanning their repertoire, by picking the three IPAs they had on tap. Well, that's what I felt like drinking. Maybe a "flight" would have been right, to check the quality of the Amber Ale, the apple ale, the Cowbell cream, the oatmeal stout, or the porter. I don't do a lot of flights, preferring to enjoy, or not, a full pint, for good or ill.
I took down the rye IPA, the Midwest IPA, and Endicott, their double IPA, and was satisfied. Not bowled over, but happy. Whiled away a couple of hours while eating, drinking, reading. Maybe I'll pick up a growler next time I pay them a visit, on a Sunday, perhaps? Soon? Just maybe...
Endicott double IPA.
MidWest IPA.
Big Boot Rye IPA.

I bid farewell to Urban Growler (though I still don't quite get the name), and set off back to Minneapolis for my next destination, Fair State Brewing, at Central and Lowry in NorthEast. But, there was a hitch. I'd lost the directions that I'd scrawled down, and didn't have internet access on the ol' bicycle. Could I remember how to get there? Oh, well, I'd wing it, stick with what I knew, and just stab my way there. I'd been there before, I knew where it was, if not the fastest, easier way to arrive. So, I stuck to University Avenue, taking that to Broadway in NE.

Next thing I know, it's getting dark, and chilly. Right about the time I was near the intersections of Broadway and Central, thought of how many more block to Central and Lowry, and felt a tug from my bladder. Even though I'd already "gone" at U.G., it was time to go again. And I was right by 612 Brew. So, the heck with it, today's the day we do 612, and pulled into the place, locked the bike, and settled at a bar stool.

A view from the bar at 612, with DWitt prints on the walls, and a large growler collection framing the back bar.

What to say about 612? You know how there are people who believe that if you can't say something nice, you shouldn't say anything at all? Well, I'm going to say more than that, but I'll start with a description of my visit that Sunday night. I asked the bartender what I should have, as I often do, and he told me that many people seem to enjoy the Unrated. Yes, they do, and I'd already had one from a can not too long before. He told me that he's not the type who enjoys a hoppy ale and was sad that they'd just that day run out of their porter, his favorite of their beers so far. I was disappointed, too, as I'd love to see what they'd do with that style. I chose, of the four beers available, the Bitter Cold IPA, which I just didn't get. That mean that I was fundamentally at a loss about the meaning of it's existence. What is a "winter IPA"? Why?  Not bad, just not special.  (Actually, I was recently reminded of a cask-infusion that they did with Skittles candies. The brewers' response to this subject was something along the line of: "Why not? We don't care!" I kind of like the brewers who say that they care. Just me, I guess.)

The Bitter Cold IPA, at 612 Brew.

There was some activity going on at the time, a painting and drinking event, and there was a good stream of folks coming through for a Sunday night, to the consternation of the lonely bartender, waiting for a chance to get started on the close-down. It doesn't matter if I'm not impressed by their beers, or that I keep waiting to taste something special, somebody out there likes them. They're on the radar, and the beers aren't bad, I just wish I knew what little fuss there is, is all about. If I'm not wrong, I had a fairly inoffensive, but utterly lackluster pale ale called Six, and finished with an incredibly adequate Unrated, then hopped back on the bike in the darkness, to cross the river once more into downtown Minneapolis.

Talented and in-demand local artist Adam Turman loves bikes, babes, and beers, and he will not let you forget it.

Once on the road, I contemplated if a third destination was possible to enter into this project and wondered about visiting another brewery that might still be open that late on a Sunday night, that hadn't been entered it this yet. Thought about it for a bit, and then changed my mind and turned in the direction of Town Hall, where maybe not everyone knew my name, but at least some of them did. And I had a Czar Jack. And all was well.

Bauhaus Wonderstuff Pilsner

At last, we have come to the last of Bauhaus' "flagship" cans, and it's no surprise that it's their pilsner. I'm not a lager lover, I've said it before and I'll say it again, but I can come to like some of them. I can't pretend otherwise, I will always go towards ales and darker beers first. So, here 'tis, my notes on Wonderstuff, of which I purchased  an entire 6-pack:

Bauhaus BrewLabs Wonderstuff Neo Bohemian Pilsner. 5.4 % ABV. 48 IBU.

Appearance: clear, pale golden coloring, adequate ivory foam formation.

Aroma: florals and honey, soft and delicate, and utterly likable. Nice noble hop character. Citrus-y echoes lurk below.

Taste: Particularly pleasing, with a pronounced hoppiness. Clean, light-bodied, easy-drinking as pie. Or, easy-as-pie drinkin'. Whatever works. Simple, classic, well-done.

Satisfying beverage, excellently executed. What's the gobbledygook want to tell us? "Some ideas are simply ahead of their time. The stuff in this can, however, is right on schedule. We channelled a madman's spirit and wild ingenuity into this unique version of a classic. Wonderstuff delivers the clean, balanced flavors you'd expect from a Pilsner with a powerful, citric hop twist. Truly the stuff of wonder, this beer will change the way you think about lagers."

Once more, I find myself hating their gobbledygook. No matter, I'll ignore it and enjoy the remains of the glass, as well the other 5 cans in the fridge.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Tripel Vison

A few years ago, a question was posed on the boards of the Beer Advocate.com website that caught my attention. "How many beers from a single brewery have you had?" the user asked. Some answers came out, like so: "24 from Victory for me." "I've got 36 from Three Floyds." "I'd say about 40 from Dogfish Head." So, I did some adding, strictly going by the reviews that I'd posted on that site, and came up with my numbers. "205 from Town Hall for me." That's it, thread over.

That was a few years ago, so the number has to be, oh, 240 by now. I've been trying out the beers and writing about them for almost 13 years now. Sometimes an old one comes back, and none of the staff had ever heard about it. Like the Belgian-style tripel, Tripel Vision. I saw a beer with that name had been released and check out my reviews. Looks like I added it to the BA database back in September of 2004. Here are those notes from then: 7.6% ABV.

Wearing a coat of hazy, deep orange, proudly behatted by a fine layer of foam, Tripel Vision looks the part, and is off to a good start.

Aroma starts funky and tart, heavy citrus, thick orange and lemon, with cloves and coriander, and other spices entering the mix. Candy sugar peeps up a bit, giving this complex nose another twist, and further fruits add another voice, peach and apricot have their say. Very well-rounded, sweet, and satisfying.

To taste, though, that's the true reckoning...Full flavor, right from the start, fruit and sweetness show their colors, and flood the palate. Very delightful fandango on the tongue, with a good, full body, lush, tasty character. Weighs a bit on the palate, but that's a fine thing in a brew like this, it hangs down enough to force one into contemplation, and in this hurly-burly world, that's a damned necessity. The imbiber succombs to a situation of slow coinsideration and rumination. "What is this beer doing to me?" he asks. "Come to think of it, what is life doing to me? I'll take the beer, please, for life is good, when the beer is, too...enjoy these moments, they are far too rare."

Things like that...yeasty, strong, and sophisticated and subtle in it's sweetness, this is a unique stab at a tripel, different from many I've had, but superior to others, as well. Just a well-crafted ale, and I'm so glad I don't have to join a cloister to enjoy it. I like being alone with my thoughts, but not that alone!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Equinox IPA

Minneapolis Town Hall Equinox IPA. It's an IPA made with Equinox hops. That's not what you'd call a hot hop, it's been around too long for that. "Hot hops" have to be less than a year old, otherwise….not as hot.

6.8% ABV. Other information is currently unobtainable. Nothing on the website, all I found was gleaned off of BA and RB. And that's it.

Appearance: clearish, bright golden amber hue, slim white head.

Aroma: Essence of tropical and citrus fruits lead the way: pineapple, lemon, a bit of banana. More sweet than bitter. Orange and tangerine come creeping through. I'm loving it.

Taste: Bitterness starts it off, bouncing all over the palate. Then comes the sweet. Terrific balance. Malt is on the light side, crisp and delicate. Cracker-y. Hops are truly going to town on this one, lasting long throughout the drink. Loong lasting.

This is a tasty one. I got to tell you, as much as I love Masala Mama from Town Hal, I find myself gravitating to their other IPAs and APAs when the chance arrives. Variety being the spice of life and all.

Sisyphus Brett IPA

Sisyphus Brett IPA.

Looky here, another crowler! 6.3% aBV. 62 IBU.

Appearance: opaque, amber-hued, boasting al long-lasting, pure ivory head.

Aroma: smatterings of citrus and pine, with tropical notes, too, topped off with the heady whiff of Belgian yeast funk-ification. Tart, sour, and twisted. Vinegar and honey, with a healthy helping of fruit.

Taste: The funk comes first, followed quick by bitter hops. It's got the Belgian twist, mixed with the right amount of hoppitude. Medium-bodied, long bittersweet/fruity finish. Delicious.

I'll repeat: Deee-lish-us. This is right up my alley. Yup, take a turn onto good ol' Al's Alley, and you'll find this there. Go there and get you some. While it lasts.

Wait! Hold it! I gave you misleading directions. Go to Sisyphus and get some. That'd be easier to find that Al's Alley.

Oliphant EnnuiPA (with Waimea hops)

And now comes the dawn of the crowler. The canned growler. The pros: cheaper, easier, more disposable, etcetera. The cons: not sure. Oh, yeah, you can't reseal them. Better strap in for two pints at once.

Oliphant Brewing is now filling crowlers, and the glass growlers have fallen by the wayside. I brought in an old growler, but they wouldn't be filling any because they hadn't gotten around to cleaning any old ones to fill. Fine, I'll take a crowler, if you insist. They tossed in a token for a free pint, for bringing back the glass. Well, I'm getting ahead, aren't I?

This is not my first crowler. I had one earlier from Sisyphus, but didn't publish the notes. There are reasons for this, but I won't go into them now. Later…

Anyway, on to EnnuiPA. A single hop pale ale, whose single hop changes over time. What's so "ennui" about that?

Appearance: clear, bright golden coloring, vast white head, leaving lace. Looking good.

Aroma: beautifully fruity, apples, pears, and citrus, too. Lightly spicy. Very distinctive.

Taste: more freshness and more fruit. Zest aplenty, but not too much bitterness. Smooth and easy-drinking, with a clean, and delicious fruity flavoring. Some banana pops in, a little melon. Medium bodied, low bitterness, clean malt, easy finish.

A glimpse at the chalkboard at Oliphant. A new Simpsons mystery: who killed Carl?
This one was made with the new Waimea hop. Apparently, each iteration of this ale has a different hop. There was a version on nitro during this visit with, you guessed it, Jarrylo.
5/6 of a 6-beer flight, consumed at Oliphant last Sunday, 5/24.
More scenes from the chalkboard.

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...