Saturday, October 31, 2015

Alpine Duet

Alpine Duet India Pale Ale. 7% ABV.

This is my first time with this beer, but not my first Alpine. Records claim that I had Pure Hoppiness back in 2004. This is my first locally purchased Alpine, so we've got that going for us.

Beautiful. Gorgeous. Clear, bright golden, lovely chalk white head.

Perfect. Lemon, lime, grapefruit, ...pine and citrus aplenty. Yeah, man.

Taste: yum. All kinds of hop delights. All the best. Mmmm. Lush, luscious, full-on fruity and fantastic. Loads of citrus and touches of tropical. It's so good. It's's wonderful. It's exactly right. Everything is right right now. It's all good.

They know what they're going out in Alpine, California.

Damn it, this is a good beer and I can drink it. You should, too.

Hey, there's some stuff on the label. Let's read it: "A West Coast IPA that features Amarillo and Simcoe hops "in harmony," giving a bright, floral aroma. Duet is nicely bitter with the perfect amount of malt concealed behind the hoppy goodness. Immensely drinkable, amazingly nimble on it's feet."

Oh, there's more: "Drink Alpine Ale of GO TO  BED!"Pat Mc M----, I can't read the small type.

Castle Danger Mosaic Fresh Hop IPA

Castle Danger Brewery, Two Harbors, MN. 6.5% ABV.

Lightly hazed, bright golden coloring, impressive ivory head, looking good, leaving lace.

Gorgeous aromatics. Fruity, creamy, tropical notes with a citric twist. Pineapple, mango, grapefruit, lemon. Lovely.

In the mouth, it's nothing but yum. Smooth. Lightly bitter. Lean and clean. Long, hoppy finish. Just plain delicious. Bright, fresh and just about perfect. You can't go wrong with a Mosaic fresh hop ale. Indeed's was a knockout this year. Basically, Mosaic and Citra are the winning hops now. This is where the tongues are going.

Here's some words about it from their website:

Mosaic Fresh Hop IPA is brewed with fresh Mosaic hops, picked fresh off the vine and immediately shipped to the brewery and put into the beer. Hops grow in a way to protect the Lupulin glands, which produce the hop flavors we love. Hops are traditionally pelletized which lock in the majority of oils for long term storage but removes some of the delicate flavors they can offer. Fresh hopped beers are a way for brewers to use hops in their purest form. Enjoy this farm fresh beer in fall just weeks after the hop harvest.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Surly Mole Smoke

Surly Mole Smoke, Smoke Lager (Baltic Porter) aged on cocoa nibs and puya chili peppers.

This is one that usually appears only at festivals, special events, or the taproom. When I saw there were kegs available, I jumped at the chance to tap it at Acadia Cafe, and am writing notes now before it's gone.

Utter blackness, with a slim, tight tan ring.

Pepper heat hits the nose first, with cocoa right after it, with smoke swiftly smothering them both.

In the mouth, pepper hits hard again, coating the cavern, setting fire to the senses. Chocolate sits right behind it, but always plays second to the pepper's flame. Hangs long and hard on the palate. Heat returns hard and blazes the back of the throat with each new sip.

The base beer is strong enough to keep the blaze in check. What would be an inferno in other beers is a fiery tickle here, with the smoke and the cocoa and the rich dark malts adding to the richness and complexity. As has been seen before, pepper beers and I don't always mix. This, though, is one I've been going back to again and again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Summit Unchained Batch No. 20: Sticke Alt

Summit Unchained Series Batch No. 20: Sticke Alt, Dusseldorf Style Ale. 55 IBU, 6.3% ABV. “Best served in an alt tumbler of stange beer glass.” (I don’t think I have either of those in my collection, so the shaker pint will have to do.) Brewer: Mike Lundell.

I remember the last time Summit made an altbier, their fall seasonal before Oktoberfest. I tried to explain it it to people by translating it, telling them it means "old beer." Some customers told me flatly "I don't want any 'old' beer!" Now, I can tell them it's a 'secret' old beer.

Dark copper-y coloring, with ruby tinges, under a creamy, dull tan head.

Mostly malty aromatics, caramel-y, clean, staying just shy of sweet.

In the mouth, more of the same. Caramel, a little cocoa, and perhaps a touch of toffee coming from the malt, hops keeping the balance, but not adding much more. Wait…I take that back, here they come, they’re peeking out, popping up from the malt.

They aren’t that many examples of the altbiers of Dusseldorf  available stateside for me to compare this to any more authentic versions. In the 15 years since Summit last brewed their version, I haven’t had that many. From what I remember, though, this is right on the money.

Correction: Looking back, this blog shows five alts, all of American beers. From BeerAdvocate, there are 24 more altbiers I've had, including a mere three from Germany. Two of these, the Uerige beers are ones that I definitely need to revisit

Ommegang Grains of Truth

Ommegang Grains of Truth. Harvest Ale. 5.8% ABV. There’s a lot of tiny type on the label, and I can’t find my glasses.

It’s a bright, golden hue, lightly hazy, with a short, but lasting head, a little off-whitish in color.

Aroma: Belgian yeast and spice. Pepper and clove and funk. Very nice.

In the mouth: the spice keeps coming. In a good way. Is it “hot”? Nearly. Light bodied, easy drinking. Not in the sense of alcohol, anyway, but the spice factor is high. Well-balanced, though, and tasty. Malt is coming through, rich and rewarding. Herbal and earthy. I’m liking this more and more.Digging it.

Here's some gobbledygook from the website:
Grains of Truth is Ommegang’s ale honoring the harvest season. Using barley, oats, wheat, and rye, we’ve brought the mood of fall to life with vibrant and flavorful passion.

Farming is about precision, timing and care. At Ommegang we place the same emphasis a farmer has for his crops into the creation of our beers. Grains of Truth is a testament to the craft and care of farming, from which our farmstead-brewed beers benefit greatly.

Brewed with balance in mind, Grains of Truth reveals a smooth and creamy mouthfeel with light toastiness and gentle sweetness. Bright amber in color from the mixed malts, the beer is balanced with delicate hopping to counter rather than overpower the malt profile.

Available for a limited time in 1/6 BBLs 1/2 BBLs and 12oz bottles every fall.

Boom Island Saison

If you read my most recent Destihl review (the Lynbrook), or yesterday's about the Evil Twin Molotov Lite, I have to warn you that I'm going to repeat myself. You may want to skip the next paragraph. This is another beer that I'm getting around to posting a review of far too late in the game. And yet I'm doing it, instead of scrapping it and waiting until next summer. Because I don't want to.

I'll make it quick and painless. Earlier this summer, I went to the Boom Room (Boom Island's taproom) tried the saison and liked it. Later, I found bottles, brought home a 4-pack, had two without any contemplations, and when I sat down to write notes on bottle #3, they got lost. This was in July, when my computer went down, and I was trying to find a way to keep this going until I got a new machine. Then, I bought a keg of it for Acadia, and went through the whole thing without taking notes, all the while bottle 4 sat in the fridge. And I kept putting it off. Well, no more!

This laborious explanation is to answer those who might wonder why I am reviewing an summer seasonal in late October. I don't know, that's why but I promise to not do it again. Or at least, I'll try.

Here we go....

Lightly hazed, bright golden coloring, slim white head.

Banana-like esters set off the scene, light citrus and spice, overall creamy and smooth

In the mouth, more spice, more citrus zest, flavors that stay in the mouth and delight the senses, but glide off of the palate assuredly. This is everything you want in a saison. It's light, crisp, smooth and full of authentic Belgian flavor. There are ho-hum farmhouse ales being produced in the US, and I 'm glad to say that this is not one of them. One of my favorite Boom Island beers so far.

This bottle went down ridiculously quick, just like the 3 before it, or every pint that's ever crossed my lips. I'll definitely return to this next summer.

A little from their website: "Our Belgian-style farmhouse ale is brewed with a hint of orange peel to deliver the kind of strategic refreshment you need after a long hot day laboring on a Belgian farm. Or a sultry afternoon by your favorite Minnesota lake. ABV 6%, IBU 30."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Evil Twin Molotov Lite

We have here a beer that was quite the talk of the town when it hit the shelves. It was on tap at Acadia when I started working at that bar, earlier this summer. Never took notes, but I bought a 4-pack recently. Why not sit down with this final can and see what I have to say about it. Because I'm all about...timeliness...yeah....anyway...

Evil Twin Brewing Molotov Lite Imperial India Pale Ale. 8.5% ABV.

Lightly hazed, bright golden hue, large white, long-lasting head.

Boom! That's the stuff. In the nose, an explosion of pine, citrus, lemon, grapefruit, and a hint of the tropical here and there. Slightly sweet, while incredibly bitter. Love it.

In the mouth, pithy, pungent, powerful. Intense. Big, fat blast of happiness. Bristling bolts of bitterness. Citrus-y sensations. Long astringency, lengthy finish. It's every thing you want. Damn. You can't not love it. Just flat out delicious.

I will drink this again and again.

They've got some great gobbledygook, let's look at it: "Back in the days, only uncomplicated and tasteless beers existed and people started feeling bored before happy hour was up. Molotov Lite is an understated tour de force in rebellious happens, it's a subtle spark for action and yet by far one of the most anti-authoritative beers ever made."

Anti-authoritative? Did they mean to write that? What could that possibly mean. Does it espouse willful ignorance, or...ah, I'll let it go.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Citra Mania

Happy 18th Anniversary, Town Hall! You can vote now! Buy a lottery ticket, consume adult-oriented materials, get a tattoo, buy a house, or get a hotel room, then do things in that hotel room that only adults can do...join the army! All those things and more...pawn something! Be on a jury! Get a loan! Be a bartender! Be a stripper! You can do these things, now, Town Hall! The world is your oyster! Follow your dreams!

Or, keep making great beer. I know you can do that.

I will celebrate your 18th with this mini-growleretterino of Citra Mania, which wasn't necessarily one of their special releases for the anniversary, but it was there on the first day of their anniversary celebrations, and doggone it, I'm a-gonna drink it.

Clear, bright golden, nice white head on top.

Beautifully bitter nose, jubilant bouquet of citrus notes and doses of tropical flavors, as well. Grapefruit and pineapple. Pine cones and orange peels. Ah. Love it. Grapefruit comes out on top.

In the mouth, it's a gorgeous blast of bitterness. Lean bodied. Fresh and fruity. Light maltiness. This is all about the mania for the Citra hop, so it seems. I take a moment to read the official description. Yes, of course. All Citra, all the time, a recipe for success in this hop hungry market.

It's a damned hoppy beer, and you can really drink it. Just about perfect. I gulped this mini-growleretterino down in no time.

From the website: "7.2% ABV. A classic West Coast style IPA brewed exclusively with the Citra hop variety. Expect a strong aroma citrusy and dank or pungent hop aroma below and off-white head. An orange-yellow hue holds juicy hop flavors including apricot, peach, pine, even melon, and tropical fruits like pineapple, mango or papaya. A simple pale ale grain bill with a splash of honey malt provides the foundation for these intense hop flavors."

Destihl Wild Sour Series Lynnbrook Raspberry Berliner-Weisse

Okay, gang, I have to admit a problem that I have. I have a problem admitting that I have problems. But when I do, it's great to clear the air and move forward, making progress, we hope. And though I already admitting to this problem earlier, I'm still working on it, so bear with me. I've been procrastinating on my beer reviewing.

Take this beer for example. The can sat in my DBF (dedicated beer fridge) with it's twin, the Counter Clockweisse, for over 2 months, while I passed it over for other beers, saving it for the right night and the proper frame of mind for reviewing. Not that I didn't want to drink it, I just had to be in the correct mood and ready to sit down and give it a good going-over.

Since I received the Wild Sour cans, I tapped and poured a 1/2 barrel keg of Destihl's Amra Mango IPA at Acadia (but never took notes on it), visited the brewpub in Normal, IL and bought 2 growlers (reviewed), 4 bombers (not yet), not to mention the wedding beer, took in a tour at the Bloomington, IL brewery conducted by the owner/brewmaster, sampled more there, including other cans in the Wild Sour series and special samplings from barrels....and all the while this can sat in the DBF, wondering why, oh, why did I forsake it? (You knew that cans of beer have thoughts and feelings, didn't you?)

Forgive me, I am a beer procrastinator. At least I've admitted it, and now the healing can begin.

So, here we go, notes from last night, on the raspberry Berliner Weisse from Destihl:

Destihl Brewery Wild Sour Series Lynbrook Raspberry Sour Beer.

Clear, pale crimson coloring, the very tint of a raspberry, with slim, then no head.

Tartness and fruit in the nose, keeping sweetness at bay. Nice.

Starts off sour in the mouth, then comes refreshing wheat notes and fruit. Candyish sour notes continue to begin fresh and zesty on the palate, then calm, cool and mellow. Medium/light bodied, long, tart/fruity finish.

Classic Berliner Weisse flavors, refreshingly sour and fruity…well done, Destihl.

Here's the official word from the brewery (sometimes called "gobbledygook" on this blog): Lynnbrook Raspberry Sour Ale

ABV: 3.0%   IBU: 04   Color SRM: Hue of Raspberries  
First Brewed: 05-01-14

Lynnbrook, named after our founder's family farm, is a wild Berliner-Style Weisse with raspberries added, resulting in a very refreshing beer presenting with fuchsia color and an aroma reminiscent of picking tart red raspberries growing next to an old, abandoned barn, with the raspberry-lemony aroma giving way to hints of brie and barnyard funkiness. The flavor is absent of any hops or bitterness and instead has initial impressions of subtle lemon and yogurt supported by tart, fresh raspberries and underlying lactic sourness. The beer's dry finish helps cut through some sweetness from the fruit.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ballast Point Longfin Lager

Ballast Point Longfin Lager. Handcrafted and canned in San Diego, California.

Mostly clear, and brightly golden, slim white head above.

Slightly sweet aromatics, floral, honey-ish, a little bit hoppy. Nice.

Easy entry into the mouth, smooth going on the palate. Light bodied, clean and just a little crisp. Nice little bit of hoppiness, delicate malt. Hey. It ain't bad. (In fact, it's a good beer, that you can also drink.)

Central Waters Brewhouse Coffee Stout

Central Waters Brewhouse Coffee Stout.

Dark color, nearly black, with ruby highlights peeking through at the edges, and a lush, looming toasty tanned head.

Intense coffee aromatics. Roasted espresso beans aplenty. Dive in deeper and chocolate reveals itself. Rich, dark and decadent.

In the mouth, coffee comes first, meshed with lush dark malts. Smooth and tasty. Not as full-bodied as I like my coffee stouts. I need them really thick and substantial. There's nothing wrong with this approach, though, and plenty of other people seem to prefer it. I'm used to being in the minority.

As is, this delivers the coffee for sure, if it's not as full-bodied as I like. You can't win them all. Unless you can, in which case good for you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Lyn Lake TwoFold Double IPA

LynLake Brewery TwoFold Double IPA.

Clear, reddish amber color, vast, creamy, long-lasting head, looking good. Leaving lace.

Beautiful aromatics, pithy and potent. Tropical fruits with a dose of citric. Twist of lime meets grapefruit and mango. A little spicy, a little piney.

In the mouth, more of that deliciousness. Big time hop bitterness, with sweet malt swiftly behind. Fierce hop attacks spreads through the palate, leaving deliciousness in it's wake. Strong flavors, strong alcohol content, that goes just a bit beyond. I like this kind of DIPA. Isn't the smoothest, may not be the bitterest, but damn, is it interesting. And so tasty.

I like this one. Once again, I'm reminded to remember to visit these guys a little more often.

Destihl Samhain Pumpkin Porter

Here's the second growler from the Normal, IL Destihl (damn, autocorrect doesn't not want me to spell that "correctly"!) Brewpub that I picked up while traveling there for my brother's wedding. Samhain Pumpkin Porter. Let's crack the cap and drink it up.

Solidness darkness, deep brown, with the slightest crimson highlights trying to peek through, with a slim, whitish head.

Spice comes first in the nose, allspice, cinnamon, clove, the usual suspects, with a hint of the gourd behind it. A little bit of malt sweetness comes in after the spice.

Taste: We're getting some roast malt character coming through, moderate bitterness, hints of semi-sweet cocoa, but moreover the pumpkin spices. There's a twinge of sour that is probably due a clash between the pumpkins and the spices. Personally, I think it works.

Here's more info from the website: robust porter with pumpkins added

ABV: 5.8%    IBU: 36    Color SRM: 34    First Brewed: 09-03-08

Our seasonal Pumpkin Porter is made by using several pounds of central Illinois pumpkins.  The beer is black in color with a slight dark-reddish tint.  Cinnamon, coriander, allspice, ginger root and nutmeg combine for a beer you only wish your grandma could make.

World Beer Championships Award: Gold Medal 2011 and 'Best of 2011' in 'All About Beer' magazine.

Ballast Point Indra Kunindra India-style Export Stout

Ballast Point Indra Kunindra limited release India-style Export Stout. Stout with Madras curry, Cumin, Cayenne, Coconut & Kaffir Lime.

Utter blackness, rich, large roasted tan head, leaving lace. Looking great.

Aroma: sweet and lovely. beautiful. hard to describe. honestly. unheard of. A little caramel, some toffee, but never too sweet, always balanced, always matched with plenty of hops.

Now to drink: There it is, again, the undescribable! It comes off as a sweetness, but never sweet. Candyish, but never candy-like. There’s coconut in this, and vanilla, and caramel, too. It’s not what I’d expect from an export stout, but it’s damned delicious. Toasted cocoanut…vanilla…wait, I said that… what else? Caramel…oh, I said that, too….Big time cocoanut in this big, big stout. And I love it.
It’s getting a little hot, though…peppers?

If anything proves that I don't read about these beers before I drink them, that above paragraph does. I reached for the bottle after reading that and sighed to myself. Aha, an Indian-style of Export Stout. Now, I get it.

Delicious, and wholly unique. Go get this. Worth every penny.

Let’s read some gobbledygook: “Indra Kunindra is a burst of Madras Curry, Cumin, Cayenne, Coconut, and Kaffir Lime, Enjoy! Our India-style Export Stout is a unique collaboration with award-winning home brewer Alex Tweet. Released in limited quantities, this explosion of South Asian flavors is reason enough to kneel down and thank the heavens. And further proof of San Diego’s status as a brewer’s playground and a beer lover’s utopia.”

Went a little overboard at the end there.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fair State FestBier

Fair State Co-op Fester. 5.2% ABV. 20 IBU. NE Pride. Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke.

Clear, bright golden coloring, a bit lighter than I’d expect, nice white head.

Noble hop aromatics, crisp and clean, malty, herbal, earthy. Classic marzen nose.

Taste:  Sweet malts and classic noble hops. Bitterness keeps butter at bay. But, it’s a bit happier and not as rich and malty as I’d expect. Nothing wrong with interpretation, though. It’s damned tasty, and pretty easy to drink.

There’s a little bit of gobbledygook on the label: “A traditional German-style marine lager  brewed to celebrate the harvest season. Rich, malty, and toasty.”

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Delirium Argentum

So, the classic Belgian golden ale known as Delirium Tremens turned 25 last year, and the brewery decided to celebrate with, naturally, a Belgian IPA. Why not? We had a keg at Acadia, and I took some notes:

Clear, deep crimson, puffy head, slow to settle, lace-leaving.

Hoppy aromatics, lightly bitter and fruity, cherries, berries and citrus-types. Apple peel and melon rind. A little herbal, floral, as well.

In the mouth, a mellow fruit explosion. Hops are shining, but malt is doing it's stuff, too. Light, delicate, and luscious. Terrific balance.

This is an interesting brew. They're calling it an India Pale Ale, but no Belgian IPA is going to taste like you think. And this doesn't taste like that, nor does it taste like you'd expect from a 25th Anniversary celebration of Delirium Tremens.

It's damned tasty, though. And really, uniquely Belgian. I'm liking it.

Here's how the Brewery Huyghe website describes it: Colour and appearance: red amber, very dense fine white head.
Fragrance: spicy, citrus, grapefruit, a hint of caramel in the nose.
Flavour: full-bodied, intense and a touch of caramel. Together with the spicy, citrus-like bitterness, they give this beer a complex and very pleasant fresh, full and bitter aftertaste.
History: specialty beer created to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Delirium Tremens.

Borealis Fermentery Sonne Berliner Weisse

I've declared a moritoriam on new beer purchases. Staring now. Unless they're drinking beers, not reviewin' beers. I have two many of those in the fridge, and some have been waiting too long. Like this one. What's kept me from opening it? Time, circumstance, mood. Well, the time is right, and so is the mood, and the circumstance is the right one. I'm taking down a bomber of a North Shore Berliner Weisse, starting right now.

Hazy, bright golden appearance, some head that settles down to nil in no time.

Sour and citrusy aromatics. A little funky, a little wild.

On the tongue and in the mouth, it's a fresh and zesty, tart and wheat-y affair. Crisp and refreshing. Medium bodied. Lactic sourness is the biggest presence on the palate. Tasty stuff.

If you're craving something sour and funky from the far-flung woods, there's no finer choice.

Here's the gobbledygook: "Here in the Northland, we look forward to the summer sun with great amounts of anticipation. For the summer, we give you Sonne, a tart, light and refreshing Berliner Weisse style wheat beer brewed in the sour mash tradition, The perfect way to bring in summer. Here comes the Sonne."

I knew I waited too long with this one!

Dark Horse Special Reserve Black Ale

For this one, we go back to notes from September, 2004:

Oooo! The smell wafts out, right from the second the crown is uncapped and it smells good.Time for a closer inspection...

Utter blackness in appearance, with a lush brown, creamy, cocoa-y Freddie Prinz would say, "Looo-keeen gooood!" (Oh, I date myself...that's FP, Sr., of course...)

Smell it...ooooh, again! Rich and roasty, fine and toasty, nearly burnt, aburst with dark flavors, anise and maple and more...I can see the confusion expressed elsewhere, i.e. "schwarzbier or stout"? Let's drink and see...

Huge mouthfeel, full bodied all the way, bittersweet, and terrifically complex. Little bit fruity, but very dry, this is rich, rewarding, very, very tasty.

Dark Horse Raspberry Ale

I wrote these notes in December of 2007:

Hazed amber hue. Solid crown of white foam above.

Nose is a sweet, yeasty blend of raspberry, wheat, and some sour notes. Nice.

Tart, then sweet, full of fruit, yeast, wheat...raspberry flavor lays rather low. Just enough.

Not much more to say about this one. Refreshing. Quaffable.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Surly / Lervig 1349 Black Ale

Deep and dark, entirely black, with a rich, roasted tan head, lush and creamy, lace-leaving.

Beautiful malty aroma, a little bit of hop bitterness offsetting a lovely dose of rich, sweet maltiness, with chocolate and coffee coming forward. More coffee, more coffee, growing bigger, stronger, richer...

In the mouth: Boom! Bigness, richness, darkness (not that one)....full body, full mouthfeel. There's a heat here, a spicy note, but not enough to drown out the delicious malty flavor. That spicy note is not revealed, but I think there are peppers here, and the label gobbledygook speaks of "a distinguishable note of apocalyptic delicacy." Okay, whatever. It's the worst crap I've read in a long time, so I'm going to skip it. The less said about that mess, the better.

As far as the contents of this over-priced bottle goes, it's a peppery, chocolatey, coffee-y load of deliciousness that I happen to enjoy. With or without the "massive cauldron of chaos." Sheesh.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sisyphus Mosaic Saison

Sisyphus Mosaic Saison.

Mosaic. The hot hop. It’s not Hull Melon, or Nelson Sauvin, and it's certainly not Citra, but it’s up there, and it’s everywhere. And it’s just what we want.

7% ABV, 61 IBU.

Lightly hazy, bright golden coloring, slim white head.

Aroma is all citrus, spice, cat pee, and white wine. In varying degrees. Light hops. And lovely.

Taste: light bodied, nicely spice, citrus-y. A little lemon, a little sauvignon blanc. A little you know what. Some pineapple. A little deliciousness, too.

I have to admit, it’s not amazing, but it’s good beer, and you can drink it.

Destihl Wild Sour Series Counter Clockweisse

Destihl Brewery Wild Sour Series Counter Clockweisse. Berliner -style Weisse Bier. Brewed and Canned by Destihl Brewery, Bloomington, IL, USA.

Hazy, straw yellow, slim, white head.

Tart nose to start it off, some funk and some fruit, and we got the wheat in there, too. Intriguing, to say the least. Inviting, as well, leading me drink.

Intense tartness once on the palate. Massive attack of the sour. Smallest bit of bitterness, and not a drop of sweet. You've got to be in for this one, not for the faint of tongue. Sour candy flavor is the biggest impression. One of the boldest Berliner Weisses I've had in a long time.

What's the gobbledygook? "This "reverse engineered" Berliner-style Weisse Bier is our interpretation of a sour German-style wheat ale that is very pale, light-bodied, low hopped, highly attenuated and pleasantly acidic and lemony tart from our unique spontaneous wild yeast and lactic fermentation. Cheers. Alec. 3% by Volume. IBU: 4."

Wish I knew why they say it's "reverse engineered." Maybe someone will tell me.

Capital Oktoberfest

Capital Oktoberfest Marzen Style Lager. Capital Brewery, Middleton, Wisconsin. 5.5% aBV.

I first took notes on this one back in December of 2002, nearly 13 years ago. Did my old notes tell the tale? Let's look back and see.

Off-white head, gone quickly. Amber/caramel color.

Aroma: vegetal, herbal, spicy, earthy, pumpkins.

Rich maltiness, nice sweet overtones, some tingly hops. A satisfactory Oktoberfest, very smooth and easy-drinking.

I did them short, sweet and to the point back then. Pumpkins, though? What was I thinking? Let's open a bottle and revisit it.

Hmm. Yeah, wouldn't change a word. Maybe throw in a few others. And I could see where I got the pumpkin from, but I wouldn't say it again.

Capital Supper Club

This weekend, along with my sister, her boyfriend, and my nephew, I crossed through the state of Wisconsin, America's dairy heartland, twice. Cheese, Packers fans and beer. What else do you need? (Consider this a rhetorical question.)

So, my first beer on returning home is a lager from Capital Brewing that I've never tried, a gift from the sample man. (You may have gathered that the sample man is not an individual, but a spirit, an essence, the collective soul of beer salesmen.) This sample man has a lot of interesting brands, but he brought me on that day two Capital beers, one I've had before, and this one, the Supper Club lager. Because Wisconsin has what they call "supper clubs." It's a Wisconsin thing. I don't even pretend to understand.

Capital Supper Club. "A Wisconsin State of Mind." "Not bad. That's the end of the gobbledygook. 5% ABV.

Clear, bright golden coloring, soon-gone ivory head.

Soft, light aromatics. Not a lot here.

In the mouth, and on the tongue, it's light, it's clean, slightly grainy, delicate malt. Light body. Perfectly consumable. Good balance, steers just short of sweet.

The lager sets out to do something and does it right. Classic American pale lager. I would drink it again if I had to, but thank goodness I don't have to.

Fair State Lactobac Two

Fair State Lactobac Two.

This is one that I did not actually order for the Acadia Cafe, but I would have. I'm enjoying one last glass before it's too late, and it's gone. Who knows if we'll ever see it again? One never knows, does one?

Clear, bright crimson coloring, with pinkish tint reflected in the foam, which sits as a tight ring and leaves a little lace.

Aroma is rosy, sweet, fruity, utterly lovely.

In the mouth, a different story unfolds. Tartness takes command, fruit fast behind. Wildness and funkitude is in full command. Medium/lightish body. Hibiscus flavoring rises up and overcomes. Very flowery. Tart and sour flavors rush in again and try their best to dominate the overall tone. A little bitter from time to time, but sour and sweet are the main competitors, battling it out, with sour gaining the lead.

In the end, this is a nice little dance between bitter, sour and sweet, with the ultimate winner being the palate of the drinker. Damned tasty stuff. Best of all worlds, frankly.

Here's how the brewery describes it on their website: 5.7% ABV, 18 IBU, 12 GRAVITY
The second in our LÄCTOBÄC series of lactobacillus-soured beers, TWO is infused with hibiscus flowers at flame-out, lending the beer a sharper tartness, floral and citrus aromas/flavors, and a red hue.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Destihl Saison de Ruisseau

I have had 5 Destihl beers on this blog, though I've tasted many more, and all of them are due to the generosity of my brother Kevin, and the love of his life, Laurie, CFO of the Desthil Brewery, who will be my sister-in-law tomorrow. They've been kind enough to sprinkle me with samples, so much that there wasn't a great need to buy others that are available in our local market. There's a few I haven't gotten to yet, and that's not out of their lack of generosity, but my laziness. I returned the favor by ordering up a keg of their mango IPA for the Acadia Cafe, but never took notes on it. Just had a few over the week or so it was on, and happily served some pints.

So, here I am in a hotel room in Bloomington, IL, with their wedding tomorrow. I made my first visit to their original "gastrobrewpub" in Normal, IL earlier tonight and was well satiated by a dish of Wiessenheimer Chicken, pairing it with this beer I am about to write on, as well as a glass of their tripel. My sister Patti has the Weisenheimer hefe weizen to go with a different delicious chicken dish, and her main squeeze Tom had a burger and fries to go with "the closest thing to a Michelob Golden Draft", which was the Normal Blonde Ale. He saw our meals, though, and wished he's taken a chance on something more like it.

I have a growler here in the hotel room, ready to crack open, because I do not review beers had in the company of others, in a busy brewpub restaurant, only when I have time to really reflect and consider the brew in solitude. We've gone over this. Why did I choose this one? Because I liked it enough to want to drink at least half of it alone in my hotel room, and because it wasn't $48 like some of the other promising offerings available. Perhaps I'll return and procure those in bottled form, before I leave the Normal/Bloomington area. Slightly less at about $18 for a 375 ml (as we discovered in an earlier post).

Okay, enough, let's open a growler and drink it up. But first: I snagged this off of BeerAdvocate: "We curse daily at this beer because it takes so long to ferment, but it's worth the wait, despite our emotional scarring. This Belgian-style Saison has golden/light copper color, light body, medium hop bitterness, flavor & aroma, medium-low malt flavor & aroma and spiciness from added coriander. Fruity esters dominate the aroma while complex alcohols, acidity, low Brettanomyces character and clove and smoke-like phenolics from Saison yeast. 26 IBU. 6% ABV."

Closer inspection reveals that this beer has been on BA since 2008 and there are only 3 reviews. Either it comes along rarely, or the Bloomington-Normal BA contingent is inactive, to say the least. I peeked on the Destihl website for more information, only to find that it's where BA stole the info from.

Wasn't I going to drink it? Oh, yeah....

Hazy, dark amber appearance, slim white head.

Malty aromatics, rustic, slightly sweet and fruity, with brett looming over the whole affair. Wild and funky.

Tartness controls the flavor from first sip, brett is in full control. Nicely spicy, too. Abundant fruit and malt at play, but the sour is in command. And, me, I'm loving it. Yum, digging the brett, the fruit, then funk, the malt, all of it working. Low bitterness, medium body, definitely down able. Tops in my book.

Destihl does the Belgian styles and sourness well. This is one of their best that I've tried. And I intend to keep trying.

Bauhaus Schwandtoberfest

Bauhaus Schwandtoberfest. A Bavarian fest-style lager with a name I'd rather they reconsider. No offense to the Schwandts, it just doesn't roll off the tongue.

I tried this a year ago on a visit to the taproom, and like it. A sample can was delivered to Acadia, but I never got to drink it. So, it was on faith and memory of 12 months prior that I ordered up a keg for the taps at Acadia. It sold very well, and I took notes on a pint, before it disappeared

Clear, copper-colored, thinnish, milky white, lace-leaving head.

Grassy, hoppy nose stands on top, just over the herbal malt character, just a little sweet.

In the mouth, sweet malt reigns, with hops keeping taps on it all. Slightly higher hop presence makes the difference with this one. Definitely not a traditional style marzen bier, but not too far away from it, either. Crystal malts in this one? I can't pick them out, but it's an interesting mix.

It has two things going for it: It's a good beer, and you can drink it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Dogfish Head Grateful Dead American Beauty Imperial Pale Ale

Dogfish Head Grateful Dead American Beauty Imperial Pale Ale. An Imperial Pale Ale brewed with almond honey granola & all-American hops. 9% Alc. by Vol.

Clear, beautiful amber coloring, slim head.

 Earthy hop-forward nose, with pine and citrus coming in behind. Lively and likable.

In the mouth, hops are fully in charge of the frontal attack. Big fruit, big hops, with a massive malt character holding it down. If I were a different person, I’d call it “hot”, but that is not my way. Good and malty, nice and grainy, a great blend.

The nuts and granola are adding some grainy goodness and malty delights. Not that you can really pick them out. Not that it matters. An effort was made, granola for the hippies, sure, why not? It’s the hops in command, here, and it’s bitter and tasty. A little boozy, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
If there’s a flaw that I find, it’s that it’s tastes like so many other imperial pale ales I’ve had before.

I had to hold my nose and not think about my dislike of the Grateful Dead while having this one. They’re not so bad, it’s just their popularity and their fans that I can’t stand. Oh, and also their music. Otherwise, they’re probably good people.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Perennial Regalia Belgian-style Ale with brettanomyces

Perennial Regalia, Belgian-style Ale fermented with brettanomyces. 8.5% ABV. Brewed and bottled by Perennial Artisan Ales, St. Louis, MO.

Clear, bright golden coloring, slim white head.

Wildness starts off the nose, some tartness, some sharpness, a hint of spice and funk. A little lemony, and a whole lot of weird.

Taste: ah! Bracing, sour, sweet, spicy, and smooth. All that and more. Moderate mouthfeel, lean body, Crisp, funky, and refreshing. Ah, delicious. Ah….mmmm. Yeah. Just delightful. Spicy, spritzy, zesty, hoppy, fresh, and yum.

“Inspired by the rustic farmhouse style ales of Southern Belgium, Regalia is brewed with barley, wheat and spelt and fermented with Brettanomyces. A sturdy malt character supports the complex array of flavors that the yeast provides, and will continue to develop over time. Bottled 3/2015.”

Friday, October 2, 2015

Tallgrass Bourbon Barrel Buffalo Sweat

Tall grass Bourbon Barrel Buffalo Sweat. Explorer Series Bourbon Barrel-aged Oatmeal Milk Stout. Brewed and canned by Tallgrass Brwery, Manhattan, Kansas.

Nearly solid blackness, with slivers of crimson highlights peeking through. Smallish, then gone head.

Vanilla in the nose, followed by cocoa. Light roast. Big smooth. Velvety, chocolatey goodness.

In the mouth, it’s much more deliciousness. Here’s where the bourbon barrel delivers it’s goods. Whiskey does it’s stuff, with vanilla back on the scene, and a cream, oatmeal mouthfeel that can’t be beat. Full body, long, malty, bourbon-y finish.

This is a good one. Go drink it.

Sisyphus Porter

Sisyphus Porter.

Dark brown coloring, under a toasted tan, but short-lived head.

In the nose, some cocoa, espresso, nicely roasted and toasted tones. Deep, rich and promising.

In the mouth, a dark and creamy affair. Just a little rich, a slightly sweet, with just enough bitterness for balance. Medium body, easy drinking. Chocolate malts are leading the show here, though it finishes ultimately dry. Delicious. Nice porter, guys. Keep ‘em coming.

Millstream Great Pumpkin Imperial Stout

Great Pumpkin Imperial Stout, Brewed and bottled by Millstream Brewing, Amana, Iowa. 7.6% ABV.

Dark coloring, nearly, but not quite, black, with a slim, soon-gone head.

Sweet and spicy nose. Yeah, I’m picking up the pumpkin. Some spices? Some chocolate and molasses may or may not lurk below.

Taste: Sweet fruit of the gourd is here in the mouth right away, sweet and tasty. But there’s a battle going on, between the two parts. Where’s the stout? Where’s the pumpkin? Are they getting along? Did they make a connection? Well, do they?

They don’t, really.

It’s a full-ish body, but it’s no imperial stout, at least not a memorable one. Not as good as Southern Tier Warlock. Not really very good at all. Not terrible, mind you, but I’m expecting more.

(This one is listed as "retired" on BeerAdvocate. Must be a mistake, if I was just given a sample.)

Found this gobbledygook on the website: Our Pumpkin Imperial Stout is a traditional dark and rich stout infused with pumpkin flavoring. The pumpkin is subtle in this beer and the nose is marked by nutmeg, allspice pumpkin and strong roasted malt notes. There is a greatly appreciated balanced level of spice and maltiness. This is truly a beer that will complement the Autumn season.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Surly Nein, Ninth Anniversary Imperial Oak-Smoked Dunkel Weizen

Surly Nein. Ninth Anniversary Imperial Smoked Barrel-aged Dunkel Weissbeir. Ja.

I’m going to skip my usual method and read Omar’s part of the label first, before opening the bottle. “Who would have thought, when we sold our first keg in 2006, that we would raise our 9th Anniversary glasses in a new brewery, restaurant and beer hall? So much has changed in such a short time, both at Surly and across Minnesota. The state’s beer scene is exploding and we are proud to have been part of the boom. Two, things, however, haven’t changed a bit—Todd’s distinctive take on beer styles and our local artists’ amazing talent. Erica Williams’ meticulous design for Nein is the perfect match for Todd’s approach to his craft. Cheers to nine years!—Omar Ansari”

He’s right, the label art is amazing, better than what she did for the SurlyFest art last year and the 2014 Darkness bottle, and I loved those, as well. The 3 3-eyed lions represent nine years. What the other symbols mean, I am not sure. I’ll be certain to pick up some merch soon, t-shirts, poster, etc, but 9th Anniversary glassware? That’s a first. I could have gotten one cheap at the release party Monday if I’d only arrived a little earlier. But, cool as it may look, and be, do I really need more glasses, I ask myself? And yet, I keep collecting. Broke my Surly spiegelau glass recently, so I went back and bought one with the Todd the Axe-Man artwork. Because. Apparently, I have to.

So, I bought this bottle earlier tonight, about six hours ago, and now it’s time to drink it.

Dark and caramel colored, shining crimson highlights at corners and edges. Beautiful brown head that crumbles quickly.

Aroma spills out bananas and smoke, together. Wheat-y wafts and creamy tones. Caramel and toffee tickle the nose, while alcohol looms in the distance. Dizzyingly complex.

More complexity invades the senses once Nein boards the palate. This one ain’t fooling around. Whiskey barrel-aging, smoked malts, hefe weizen yeast, ringing in at about 10% ABV. Boom, boom, boom, boom. All the while, myriad flavors travel the tongue and delight the senses, as long as the senses are still around.

Okay, I love dunkelweizens, adore barrel-aged beers, delight in the smoked stuff, and cheer on the big and ballsy brews. This much you may have gathered if you have read this section of the internet I call home with any regularity. Here in Nein they come together as never before.

I had this for the first time at the Black Forest restaurant in a glass mug, and then in a plastic cup, with the noise of a crowd and an accordionist distracting my brain. With my choice of glassware and personal pick of music or not, I can relax in contemplation of the many brilliant aspects of this brew. How to unpack and parse them, though, how to pick apart and lay bare? Chocolate slips in for a bit, oak and vanilla knock on the door, whiskey speaks it’s peace, and that undercurrent of banana tones keeps whispering in the background. Meanwhile, the brute from this bottle bellows and calls out not to forgets that we’re in double digits, in terms of alcohol percentage.

Talk about this beer has been that it’s the best anniversary beer since Five, a return to greatness, I guess. I did like Syx, Seviin, and Eight, but they were a bit out there. Not for everyone. Neither is this, though. Look, if you can’t hang, scram, we ain’t got no room for no squares, man.

Time to read what Todd wrote on the label: “Inspired by a recent trip to Bamberg, Germany, Nein is brewed with oak-smoked wheat malt, fermented with German hefeweizen yeast and aged on charred oak. It is a huge, dark, complex beer, delivering the intense flavors of smoked banana, vanilla, and clove.”--Todd Haug.

Smoked banana? Mmm, hmmm, we drink that every day.

This is great stuff. I was glad to see it priced at $13.99. Not cheap, but cheaper than twenty bucks. So, I’ll be picking up more to keep and enjoy on those days when I’ll salute 10, 11, 12 years of Surly beers, and then some.

If you've got time to waste, read about Surly Eight here, (where I also listed my reviews of other anniversary beers and their variants not found on this blog), Surly Seviin here, Surly Syx here, Surly Five here, and Surly Four here. And let us not forget the two-pronged attack of Surly Two, the beer..... and please, won't you consider taking a peek at Part Two, Surly Two, the Art. It would mean so much to me.

Burning Brothers Pyro American Pale Ale

Burning Brothers Pyro American Pale Ale, Naturally Gluten Free. Brewed and canned by Burning Brothers Brewing, St. Paul, MN. “Don’t Fear the Beer!” the can tells us.

Clear and golden-hued, with a short-lived white head.

Lightly hoppy nose, small citrus. Little lemon.

In the mouth, it’s got a bite. Sharp and crisp at the fore, clean and lean-bodied. Drinkable, but not especially pleasant. I must admit that I’m not well-versed in gluten-free beers, and I can’t tell how much beer-y flavors I should expect out of it, or how far this veers from how good a gf beer can be. I also have to admit that I heard bad things about it initially, and good things recently, but those were from he who gave me this sample.

This doesn’t taste like a true APA should, certainly not a good one. For a brew that by it’s very nature must miss the things I like most in a beer, it doesn’t taste terrible. If I became gluten-intolerant, I could tolerate it.

Time to share the gobbledygook: “Pyro Pale Ale centers on drinkability though a balanced American hop profile. Combined with gluten-free grains and yeast, this beer is an American revolution in brewing. No gluten in means no gluten out. There is no reason to “Fear this beer.”

I may have to try a few other GF beers to compare it against, but all in all, not bad.

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...