Monday, December 28, 2015

Destihl St. Dekkera Excommunie Quatre

Destihl St. Dekkera Reserve Sour Ale Excommunie Quatre, sour quadrupel ale aged in oak barrels. Brewed and bottled by Destihl Brewery, Bloomington, IL. Alc. 11.5% by vol.  Batch/year: 2013.

Clear and rosy hued. Slim, tight ring of head.

In the nose, sweetness first, then sour. Cherries and funk. Sourness increased, oak-iness continues. Very complex and intriguing aromatics. Beautiful, really.

In the mouth, it's as deep, dark, and delicious as you can get. Fruitiness, tannins, bitterness, souring, oak edges....all of this happening at once. Lays long on the palate. Sour mixes with malt sweetness, no hop bitterness. Refreshing, while strong and boozy. Tartness continues and hangs heavy, delivering deliciousness.

I'm just gonna come right out and say it: this is good. Richness, fruit, sour, dark, delicious malt. This has it going on. Pretty amazing. Worth the $19 I paid for it? Yeah.

Anchor Double Liberty IPA

Anchor Double Liberty. A double IPA from Anchor? Whaa-a--a--at? Alright, I'm in. Let's do it. Anchor Brewing, San Francisco, California, 8.2% Alc. by Vol.

Clear, bright golden coloring, vast ivory head. leaving lace.

Bitter, fruity aromatics. Starts with the sweet and the tropical, and then comes the rich and ridiculous. Candied fruit, dipped in brandy. Boozy and truculent. Dried apricots, mixed with liquor.

In the mouth: Big, big, big. Sweet, then bitter. Then bigger, then bigger. Rich, and overly everything. This is not a kindler, gentler double IPA, nor a smooth one. This had got the booze and the hops, but isn't altogether...together. Doesn't quite hang. If you want to be pummeled by hops and booze, go for it. Booze is riding higher and higher now, boom, boom, boom, boom. Tasty, then too much.

Eh, I'm going to say that I didn't love it. There's better double IPAs out there. Go drink them. Anchor, try again.

there's a lot of gobbledygook on the label, in such a small type that I can't read it. Surely it's on the web somewhere? Well, sure there is. 

Fulton Barrel-aged Expat Rye Saison

Fulton Barrel-aged Expat Rye Saison, bottle #2346 of 3000. Mols, Minn. Aged in Red Wine Barrels.

Hazy, dull amber, slim whitish head.

Belgian yeast hits the nose first, followed by spicy rye malt notes. Slight sweetness, wheat malt notes (?). I like it.

In the mouth: Here's where the barrel-aging starts to show. Spicy and sweet up front with a flash of bitterness, and a brief bit of sour. Tannins take over. Grapes and raisins pop up on the palate. Medium bodied, or less. Tasty, smooth and satisfying. Just shy of delicious.

Bent Brewstillery Brother Vesper Strong Dark Belgian Stout Aged on Toasted White Ash

Bent Brewstillery Brother Vesper strong dark belgian stout aged on toasted white ash. So says the label. Alec. 9 % by vol. IBU 20.

Fully opaque, definitely dark coloration, with a slim and soon-gone head.

Aroma spills out some sweetness, some cocoa, maybe, a little ...hmmm, not much else. Earthy, malty tones. Some grit, some spice.

Now, to drink: In the mouth, sweetness and bitterness, lots of malt, and....medium body....slight fruitiness. Good balance. A little bit of raisin in there, a little bit of coffee, but ...not much more. I'm not entirely impressed. I want to be. But it's just not working. There's nothing special, there's no joy.

I love beers like this, or like this is supposed to be, and I really want this to be one that I like. It isn't. Eh. Life goes on....

from the label: "Brother Vesper sips his daily ration. Flavors and aromas of plum, brandy, jammy wine and cordial cherries, wood, spice, plus a gentle alcohol tug. Strong? Dark? Stout? Quadruple? Ant? Can I get a beer-blessed hell yes!"

not from me, sorry.

New Glarus Milk Stout

Dark brown coloring, with ruby highlights at the edges, under a tan head that holds it's own.

Nose is cocoa and toast, light roast and cocoa, plus a lot of lactose. Very nice.

In the mouth: Creamy, from the start. Rich and smooth. Dark chocolatey delights reveal themselves, some caramel and toffee, and a hint of coffee here and there. Medium bodied. Smooth upon smooth. Drinkable as heck. Lactose is bringing the sweet and the creamy, hops keep it just in check.

All in all, a very satisfying milk stout. This style should have plenty of adherents, and this beer will find favor with them. And I wouldn't kick it out of bed for eating crackers.

There's tiny, tiny type on the side of the label that I can't read. Luckily, there is this.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout

I'm late on this one, too. It's been available in the Minnesota market for years, and I've never picked up a bottle and actually brought it up to the checkout counter. And I like to try all the Imperial Stouts. Why did it take me so long? There is no reason. Let's drink the thing.

Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout. Stout with cocoa nibs and coffee added and aged in whiskey barrels. 11.9 % Alc./Vol.
Epic Brewing, Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado.

Utter blackness, with a tight, cocoa-tinged ring around it.

In the nose: bitter, sweet, revealing chocolate, espresso, more. Earthy, lush, and deep.

In the mouth: Big sweetness, followed by some bitter. Increasing heat, then some mellow malt. Vanilla beans bump up in the flavor, then oak. Rich and irresistible. Dark, mysterious, and full of deep pleasures.
does this say release #55 or #65? I can't read it!

That was the end of my notes, before the Sandman called me to sleep. I didn't finish the contents of the bottle, but I think I got it. That's what it was, that's what it is, good beer, go drink it.

Sixpoint Resin

Sixpoint Resin Double IPA. 9.1 % ABV. 103 IBU.

Clear, bright golden coloring, big ivory head that settles down quickly.

Aroma is all kinds of citrus, big hop bitterness, all the things that the hophead yearns for, really. Lemon and lime and orange rind. Pine needles and flower pedals. Kinda nice.

In the mouth, a burst of hoppy goodness. All the citrus, all the pine, and all the sticky resin-y hop flavor you're looking for.  Lean-ish body. Light malt character. This is where the hops shine, and shine they do. Big, bright, and busting out. Lasts long in the finish.

This one is right on the money. Can't find a flaw at all. Go out and drink it.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Toppling Goliath Pompeii India Pale Ale

Pompeii India Pale Ale, brewed and bottled by Toppling Goliath Brewing Company, Deborah, Iowa.

Hazy, cloudy, yet bright golden in color, pure ivory head, creamy and lush, leaving lace, looking great.

Aroma is burst with citrus, pine and tropical fruit notes. Big, bright, and booming. Spreading zesty sunshine up into the nasal cavities and beyone. I dig it.

In the mouth: More brightness, more beauty, more yum. Clean, smooth, and full of tasty hoppiness, without a lot of bitterness. Sunshine-y and ever-so tasty. Mmm, mmm, mmm. Easy-going and utterly delightful. Ah, my goodness. Medium-bodied, light bitterness, beautiful fruit factor.

I won't read the label to you. I tire of typing. It's an over-ripe and over-wrought scenario involving the  volcanic eruption at Pompeii and the mosaics that existed there. Because, I presume, Mosaic is the hops here, and it is delicious as ever in this. Here's what they say on the website. 

Good IPA, go drink it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Odell Friek

Odell Friek, ale with cherries and raspberries, aged in oak barrels. Alc. by Vol. 6.9% ABV. Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado.

This is one I'm really late on, I admit it. But the plain and simple reason is that when I see the $17 price tag, no matter how appealing it sounds or how much I love the brewery, I back away. With very few exceptions. Well, I finally decided to take the plunge. What's the worst that could happen? Let's jump on in and drink this one.

Bright ruby red coloring, slim, soon-gone head.

Aroma: fruity and funk. Raspberries are first in the nose, sweet cherries come up from behind. Hints of oak barrel coming through.

Tasting it: Boom! Wildness starts it off, barrel aging adds the oak. Tastes exactly like it is: a blend of framboise and kriek lambics, or if not "lambics", the closest we can get without being in Belgium. It's bright, fresh, ending on a dry note, and exceptionally refreshing.

Great stuff, done well, just as I knew Odell would do. At that price, I wouldn't return to it too often, but if you can spend the cash, do.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sixpoint Global Warmer

Six point Global Warmer. 7.0% alc. by vol. 70 IBU. Six point Cycliquids. (Not sure what that means. Okay, I get it now: "seasonals.") Formulated by the mad scientists, Sixpoint Brewery, Brooklyn, New York.

Clear, bright amber/bronze coloring, prodigious level of foam, slow to drift down, leaving some lace.

Aroma is potent, pithy, and powerful. Some would say, but not I, "dank." Rich, fruity esters, major bitterness.

In the mouth: very smooth, loads of malt in this, Bitterness is easily matched by sweet, lush malt. Plenty of fruit, a little spicy, lots of warmth, a little toasty.  Beautiful. A gorgeous blend. Pressed to name a style, I'd call it a winter IPA. A hoppy winter ale. Something. Whatever it is, it drinks down a dream, and, yeah, it's good.

Wild Ginger Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer

Sometimes the Sample Man has a question for me. "What would you like?" he asks. I answer: "All of them. Bring me all of the beers, for I will drink them. Bring me the beers I might not like, bring me the beers I may not order from you. If you can bring them, please do."

So he brought me this, and so I must drink it. 12 fl. oz. 4% Alc. by Vol. Brewed and bottled (though I have a can) Wild Ginger Brewing Company, La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Clear, dark amber coloring, no head at all.

Hot and spicy aromatics, lively, very ginger-y. Nothing but ginger-y.

Taste: sweet, almost sickeningly so, with ginger flavor smothering over all. Hot stuff. Too much of the ginger, nothing else in it to bring about any kind of joy. But that's if you're looking for something beer-like. This is a boozed-up version of the soft drink known as ginger beer. And just as I didn't care for the idea of an alcoholic root beer, this one brings me no pleasure, either. It's isn't exactly horrible, but I just wonder why it exists.  Does anyone really want this?

He'Brew St. Lenny's The Immaculate Collaboration Belgian-style Double Rye IPA

The regular Bittersweet Lenny's is a double Rye IPA, this one is Belgian-style. Right up my alley. A collaboration beer that mark the inauguration of Schmaltz's first real, true, genuine brewery.

Clear, bright burgundy red coloring, big creamy head that drifts down eventually, leaving lace. Looking good.

Spicy aromatics, rich and fruity, bold and in the Belgian mold. Sweet, fruity, funky. Just a little bitter. I like it.

In the mouth: all that and more. Slightly sour, fruity, funky, and still rich, spicy and hoppy. Big, big, big. Damn, it tastes like a quad, plus an IPA, a little bit of triple, and a whole lot of yum. Bitterness is just below the fruit, which floats just above the spice and the Belgian funk.

Damn, this is good. I'm just gonna enjoy this.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Oliphant Junebacca Maibock (Helles Bock)

Here's another Oliphant. beer that's kinda/sorta named for a Star Wars character. There's a reason why it's "June"-bacca, but I don't get it...wait. Now I do. Duh. Mai bock. June-bacca. Got it. Okay, let's drink it....

Clear, and bright golden, with a sizable ivory head that drifts down quickly.

Clean, grainy-malty nose, some hops, slightly floral.

Drink up: crisp and clean, lightly hoppy and zippy, deliciously malty. Light bodied, but fully-flavored and rewarding. This is a right on maibock, guys. Good work. Tasty as heck. Yum, I tell ya, yum.

I almost didn't get this crowler, and was going to choose a pale ale or IPA or such. I'm glad I switched it up. More evidence out there that these guys really know what they're doing.
I asked Jeremy why he used a picture of Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a werewolf to illustrate Junebacca. He said he did no such thing. 

21st Amendment Toaster Pastry India Style Red Ale

21st Amendment Toaster Pastry India Style Red Ale. 7.6% Alc./Vol., 74 IBUs.

An odd name, but I'm sure there's a reason for it. Sixteen ounce can poured into a Spiegelau glass, clear, with bright crimson coloring, a huge head, slow to draft and leaving lace.

Aroma is burst with fruity esters and bitter notes. All the citric and tropical flavors, with juicy malt in the mix, too. Nicely balanced blend.

In the mouth: Big bitterness on the tongue, matched swiftly by the rising mass of juicy malt. Fine acrobatics here. Long bitterness in the finish, never quite quitting the palate. Tasty and refreshing. Yeah, I'd have another. Well done.

What's the label have to tell us? Read it here.
That's much easier than me trying to read the damned thing, then re-type it here. Anyway, lovely stuff, go drink it.

Surly SeVIIn Ale

Note for the contemporary reader. I recently edited this two year old post. when I was done it looked like I posted it now. Not sure how that happened. This is from July of 2013, not December of 2015.

I wrote these notes late Monday./early Tuesday, while drinking a glass of this on tap. I didn't post it for two reasons: the internet was down, and I wasn't sure if I got it right. Maybe I wanted to do one of those high-flown, poetic, lofty pieces that would make everyone and my mother proud. But it just wasn't hitting me then. So, I returned to my place of work on one of my weekdays off to have another, before it runs out, but couldn't think of anything much more significant to say. I had one more glass Thursday night (it ran out after the first pour Friday), and again, no new revelations. So, I guess the initial scribbling will have to do...until I open a bottle, perhaps. I've purchased four, so far.

Here we go, notes on the 12.5% ABV Belgian-style from Surly, a brew I really enjoyed.

Surly Seviin. Trappist yeast, 3 malts, rye, wheat (first time at surly), and oats. 12.5 % ABV. Topped off with brettanomyces. I'd been looking forward to this one. Had a few (too many) at the release party last night, didn't go hunting for bottles today, but got a keg of it, which I just now tapped. Now, to drink. But first, to look, and then to smell.

Gorgeous, bright shining crimson hue, under a lush, creamy head. Fantastic looking beer in this glass (an old Darkness snifter from 2007, with the logo still hanging on there).

Aroma: deep fruit and wild funk hit first. Lovely stuff, herbal, floral, fruity, very rich and complex. Tart cherries, mangoes, and far below, some banana. Amazingly intriguing. Mystery upon mystery.

Taste: big and bold fruit flavors match with the vast malt complexity. Spicy rye meets smooth wheat, while cherries and raisins abound in the flavor. Very bright and bountiful. Low bitterness, high maltiness, caramel tones, sweetness is kept in check, with a tart twist rising up and blazing the palate.

Medium-bodied, long finish, bit of fruit and funk. High alcohol shows itself, bites a bit.

Rich rye malt spice, …maelstrom of malt…spice meets sweet…big booze, …if anything it reminds me of a Scaldis, mixed with a trappist quadruple.

very bright, brash and loud while young…have to wonder what it will be like in a year or two.

Take 16 Stormy Jack Irish-style Stout

Take 16 Brewing Company, Luverne, Minnesota. I've never been to Luverne. Most people have never heard of it, until they started watching season two of "Fargo." But, my younger brother Wayne went to visit his in-laws in Luverne and visited their new-ish brewery called Take 16 (named after an old road that one would take) and brought back a growler for me. This was a few weeks ago. It's way past time to drink it up, and here we go!

4.8% ABV. 36 IBU. Irish-style dry stout.

Full-on ebon coloring, slim brownish head.

Aroma: soft and chocolatey, semi-sweet, scant bitterness, a little caramel and toffee.

In the mouth: smooth and creamy, deep and rich, easy-drinking. Definitely a sessionable stout. Swift finish, flavor leaves the mouth Small amounts of bitterness, rich maltiness, tasty, It returns with each new sip and swallow, but doesn't linger on.

I like this. It's good. It does what it has to do. Good beer, you can drink it. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sixpoint Bengali IPA

Sixpoint Bengali, 6.5% ABV. 69 IBU. Formulated by the Mad Scientists. Sixpoint Brewery, Brooklyn, New York.

Clear, bright amber coloring. Large, looming, off-white head.

Aromatics are as perfect as perfect gets: tropical, flowery, citric, fruity, wild....grapefruit meets mango and melon and pineapple. Just about right on the money. Ah.... I love it.

In the mouth: more fruit, more spice, more pith. Big bitterness, lush malt, clean and tasty. Bright and beautiful. Long bitter finish. Rich delicious malt. So good.

I can't help but like this. It's almost perfect. And I'm not kidding. Nor have I been paid. Yet. Well, in beer, so far. Nothing in cash.

Hey, if it sucked, I'd tell you. And one thing Bengali does not do is suck.

Smuttynose Imperial Stout

Last Sunday's visit to Wisconsin brought us once more to Casanova's in Hudson, where I concentrate on beers you can't get here. I felt fairly certain that Smuttynose Imperial Stout belonged here, and took back a bottle. Lo and behold, I had had it before, 11 years ago, and here are notes from July 2004:

Deep dark color, full-on blackness, good, toasty tan froth atop.

Aroma is wickedly twisted, rich and darkly delicious, full of anise, espresso, and more, roasty and redolent with all things dark and deadly.

Taste repeats all these things and more, thick and roasty, huge and at-large in the mouth.
A nearly perfect by-the-numbers Imperial Stout, and the numbers are spot-on, though, make no mistake! Yum, I'm saying, as the booze swills around me..yum, I says, and it's a delightful feeling, indeed. A top-notch example of the IS style...can't see a thing wrong with it. Smuttynose did it right, like they always do.

from the label: "Big, black and dominated by rich notes of coffee and chocolate. Drink it fresh for the hops or cellar it for a refined malty experience.

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery India Brown Ale

Well, who would have thought it, but on last Saturday's visit to the brewpub, there were two beers that I had for the first time long ago, but not in the last 5 years. I just told you about Heather Ale. Now here's India Brown Ale, 7.3% ABV. Notes from May, 2006:

Ruddy brown the color, cream-toned the foam, of stable size, if thin, and adorned with copious bubbles.

Miild, sweet cocoa in the aroma, little bit of nuts. And then the hops come shining through. Pleasant enough.

Bright, bold, and delicious once in the mouth. Clean, smooth and indubitably drinkable. Chocolate tones remain in the flavor, hops persist on the tongue. A twist of citrus, lacing the chocolate. Zesty, medium bodied, long, hoppy finish.

A tasty, tasty ale you drink all the live-long day and not likely tire of. Does some playful tricks on the tongue, and rewards the imbiber. I like that. Must stop in for more before it goes away. That's how they get ya, man!

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Heather Ale

Brought home this growler last night. Turns out that I first reviewed in back in November of 2004. Hence, notes from thence commence:

After 2 pints enjoyed with meal of sauteed vegetables, mashed potatoes and elk, I now review this tasty ale via growler...

Clear and crimson in color, with thin white foam, slipping soon away.

Aroma is sweetness itself, floral and fruity, herbal, bright and happy.

Smooth entry on the palate, then the taste is laregly herbal, mineral, vegetal, with a rosy, bright dark fruit character. Body is on the light side, though the flavor resounds, and the finish is too swift.
I had to contrast this with memories of the last time I tried Fraoch Heather Ale, and it lacks a certain depth and complexity, but they share in common that they are both sweet and beautiful brews. Malty, and tasty, with an astounding ease of drinkability, and I sure appreciate the historic brews and this pub's efforts to re-create them, but, you know it...I'm missing the hops!

Didn't catch the abv, but it feels small.
(4.9% ABV, I've learned.)

Cheers to Mr. Hoops for trying out this unique style.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Barley John's Brewing Company Boggan Brew Winter Ale

I bought a growler of this at the brewery a week ago, and can't find information about it anywhere. Not on their website, not on, not on, not on untapped....oh, wait, there it is! Way to go, untapped! So, now I know that it's 8.5% ABV and 50 IBUs. I ordered it after a few pints at the bar, with Joe and Liz, and told the bartender to let John know I said Hi, and he said, tell him yourself, he's in the brewery. Nice visit, though we didn't get a tour. They were busy, though.

So, this is my first Barley John's Brewing beer brewed for the New Richmond, Wisconsin Brewing Company first, not originated in New Brighton, MN.

Dark burgundy coloring, slim head, settling into a tight ring.

Aroma: there's the wintry spices. Nutmeg, clove. Ginger. Deep maltiness, sweetness cut by just enough hop bitterness.

In the mouth: Spices grab hold first and foremost. Hop bitterness catches up quickly. Juicy malt holds down the fort. Spices getting sweet, and just a touch hot. Ginger comes through over all, and I'm liking it. Steer clear if you're not into it.

Rich and malty, warming, toffee-sweet, but strong on the spice. That doesn't bother me, so I'm into this one.

Here's how John describes it: My hearty winter ale has warm malt flavors and a spicy hop finish. It's the perfect robust brew to take the chill out of winter. Here we gnome a-wassailing! Enjoy! - Barley John

Monday, December 14, 2015

Toppling Goliath X-Hops Gamma

Toppling Goliath Xhops Gamma. A label utterly devoid of information, with illustration that seems to depict the effects of gamma radiation on ...something? Another SCI-FI/super-hero vibe going on. Brewed and bottled by Toppling Goliath Brewery, Deborah, Iowa. There's gobbledygook on the label, but we'll get to that later.

Lightly hazed, and cast in a bright golden hue, with a prodigious slab of snowy white head, looking fantastic.

Nicely citric and spicy aromatics, mellow and lovely.

In the mouth: sweet and juicy malts meet the palate first, with clean and peaceable hops gliding in next. Whatever this is, it's not a bitter attack on the tongue, it's all groovy and smooth. Delicious. Easy-drinking. Nice.

This is when I feel like reading the label copy, i.e. gobbledygook: "Deep in the labs at TB, through the vaulted door, down the steps and past the room labeled "Beware the Leopard" lies an experiment forgotten. For over a year, it remained dormant, calculating the precise moment of return to unleash the ultimate blend of hops. Finally, escape! This unbridled force descends upon the unsuspecting masses. Can you handle it?"

Well, since you ask, yes, I can. It's no "ultimate blend", and it's not an "unbridled force." It's someone getting a little too creative in their writing, resulting in overblown copy for what's really just a very nice pale ale. Good beer. You can drink it. Probably a lot of it. I'd put it at less than 6% ABV, probably 40 IBUs. Maybe. I can't find the information anywhere.  But. Find it, drink it, enjoy it.

Ale Asylum Velveteen Habit IPA

Ale Asylum Velveteen Habit. India Pale Ale. Unfiltered and All Natural. Alc. 7.5% by Vol.

Lightly hazed, bright golden coloring, with an impressive ivory head, standing tall, leaving lace, looking great.

Beautiful aromatics, floral, bitter, and lively. So far, so good.

In the mouth: Bracingly bitter, intense hop attack on the palate, then all is refreshment. Medium-to light bodied. Ends light and dry. Nice fruity flavors treat the tongue through the drink, hoppiness continues it's journey of delight.

Enjoyable India Pale Ale. More from the label? Sure! "Bursting with Citra and Cascade hops, this IPA has a juicy hop presence, with a rich malt spine. Heavy-handed dry-hopping lends a rapturous floral aroma that will linger on your palate as well as your mind. Velveteen Habit is brewed with passion and is best enjoyed that way."

It's a good one, go drink it.

Olvalde Farm Rollingstoner, Ale from Rollingstone, Minnesota

Rollingstoner, Ale breed with elder flowers, Unfiltered, lightly hopped & refermented in the bottle. Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company, Rollingstone, Minnesota. Belgian pale ale, 5% aBV.

Clear, bright golden, slim, soon-settled white head.

Wild, weird and funky aromatics. Lightly sour, and likable. Ah...

In the mouth: smoothness, lightness, and tastiness. Mmm. Light body, some spices, stone fruit. A touch of tropical. Good dose of yeast, as well. Altogether deliciousness.

Yet another fine one from Olvalde Farms. Keep them coming, Joe!

Here's something from their website about this one: Rollingstoner is a golden-colored ale brewed with water, barely malt, corn, elder flowers, hops, and yeast.

If you've ever driven down Highway 61 in the summer, you'll recognize my inspiration for the beer: lowlands filled with corn fields and lined with white-flowered elderberry bushes.

Like all Olvalde ales, Rollingstoner is an unfiltered real ale - fermented in the package - brewed without the use of processing aids.

Tasting Notes:

Light yet complex with fruit, floral, spice, and white pepper notes.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve cold or at cellar temperatures.

Pour with or without the lees; a good way to distribute the lees is by pouring the first half of the bottle, gently swirling the bottle, and then finishing the pour.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sixpoint Sweet Action

The sample man came around again, and this time he brought my first cans of Sixpoint, from Brooklyn, NY. Let's start with some Sweet Action. 12 fl. oz. 5.2 % ABV. 34 IBU. Some gobbledygook on the back that I'll read later.

Clear, bright amber coloring, huge, vast ivory head, leaving considerable lace, looking gorgeous.

Beautiful aromatics, soft, sensuous, floral. Just lovely.

In the mouth: clean and lean, soft and satisfying. Light bodied. Delicious. Session ale? You bet. Unfortunately, I lack anything else to say about it. Good beer, you can drink it, blah, blah, blah. What's that gobbledygook say? Not much, actually. I don't feel like typing it, so I'll try to find a link. It is plenty tasty, though. Compelled to peg it, I'd say American pale ale, but it is rather hard to pigeonhole. Everything about this beer feels a little out of the ordinary, and yet it is exactly right. Yum.

I kind of wish I had another.

My inability to categorize, by the way, is not some failing of mine, as evidenced here on the Sixpoint website. It's a great relief.

And before we go, mad props, big ups, and thank you very much to the Sample Man. I will enjoy the next two Sixpoint beers he gave me, and then I'll probably go out and search for the others he didn't and buy them with my own money.

New Belgium + Ben & Jerry's Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale

You know what? I like to try just about every beer New Belgium puts out. With the exception of the ones that seem a little predictable, like the current White IPA. I'll get to Accumulation soon, but it just doesn't grab me. The Lips of Faith Series, or the Hop Kitchens, or this one, that's another story. So, let's dig in to the beer collaboration with an ice cream maker, because, you know, why not?

New Belgium/Ben & Jerry's Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale. 6.25% ABV.

Brown, with reddish highlights, and a thin head, melted down to a thin ring, creamy brown in color.

Aroma: chocolate, caramel and fudge. Sweet. Creamy. Nice.

Taste: The salted part is showing. The chocolate bits are all over it. Medium-bodied. Light hops, malt-forward. Tasty stuff. Gimmick or not, it's good beer and you can drink it.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Summit Union Series No. 5: Old Blaggard. Barley-wine

Summit Union Series No. 5:  Old blaggard English-style Barleywine. Odyssey pale malt from the United Kingdom. Endeavor hops from the United Kingdom. 10.1% ABV, 50 IBU.

I've been waiting for a beer like this from Summit for so long. Let's get on into it.

Clear, bright crimson coloring, quarter-inch off-white head, leaving little rings around the glass.

Rich malty nose. Wine-like, fruity, berries and cherries, with alcohol not hidden, and becoming an integral part of the flavors. Bold and brilliant, urging me to taste....

In the mouth: full, rich and deeply satisfying, long and luxurious stay on the palate. Highly hopped, but also beautifully balanced, while brash and brilliant. So tasty, so delicious, and still mellow, and relaxing. Yeah, like a good barley-wine should be. Let yourself go, submit, allow it all to wrap around you and give in. Take off your socks and lose your keys: if you're at home, you're not going out. If you're out, get a cab on it's way, or Uber, or whatever you do these days. Succumb.

This is a great example of a big, uninhibited barley-wine that might do well with some age on it. I still have 4 bottles and may go out for more, setting some aside for years to come. you should, too.

Bauhaus Tallander Scottish Style Dark Ale

The sample man came, hooray, hooray! Hooray for the sample man, and the beer he brought, this time a Bauhaus beer that hasn't been released yet. (Maybe it helped that I complained that I didn't get a free sample of the last release, although I did find a bottle at a local shop. But, who wants to buy stuff? )

Once released from the can, it casts a reddish brown tint, with a slim, lacey beige head.

Malt-forward, earthy aromatics. Mild espresso and anise notes, more along the lines of toffee and such. Nice.

In the mouth: very filling and malt-driven. Rich and just slightly sweet. Caramel and toffee coats the palate, with hints of chocolate, bitter and sweet coming in afterward. Long, malty finish. Delicious. Man, I can drink this one, all 16 ounces. I'll surely be drinking more through the winter.

Hey, what's the gobbledygook? "Stronger than Scottish export ale but not quite a Wee Heavy, Tallander stands alone amidst an age-old battle between immortals. With a deliciously rich maltiness, and just enough hops to provide the perfect balance, you might think we've brewed a kind of magic. That's okay with us--just don't lose your head about it." I'm missing something there, but I've never seen "Highlander."

6.0% ABV. 25 IBU.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fargo Brewing Roustabout Stout

Fargo Brewing Roustabout Stout. Brewed in Fargo, ND. Craft Beer from the Heartland. Seasonal Release. 6.3% alf./vol. 22 IBU. Roustabout Oatmeal Milk Stout. 12 fl. oz.

Dark brown coloring, slim beige head, soon gone. Looks alright.

Aroma: roasted malt notes. chocolate tones. A little espresso, too. Nice.

Taste: Big malt flavor, with great balance. A little sweetness, nice lactose flavor, smooth oatmeal grooviness. Just a bit of bitterness, with a medium to full body, and a sweet and creamy flavor. Really nice. Some dark fruit pops in, some further chocolate and coffee, nice mix of the sweet and the bitter, and oh, so finely drinkable.

Good stout, go ahead and drink it.

Oliphant Swamp Thang Smoked Scottish Ale

The Swamp Thing was a "muck monster" character published by DC comics, first in the magazine House of Secrets in 1971, written by Len Wein and drawn by Bernie Wrightson, later in his own series where he interacted with other DC Universe characters, like The Batman.   He was a human scientist turned into a plant monster in a Louisiana swamp by chemistry and violence, later revealed to be some sort of cosmic elemental when re-imagined by British writer Alan Moore in the mid-80's. That's when I encountered the character, as Moore took American horror / supernatural comics into literary realms they'd never been before. The Alan Moore Swamp Thing run was an incredibly odd and beautiful thing, startling in it's originality, shocking in what it introduced to mainstream comics. It began a trend of sorts, that eventually became an imprint inside DC Comics called Vertigo, home to Sandman, Preacher, and other long-running imaginative titles.

And now, it's even inspired a beer from Oliphant. Only natural to name a beer based on the styles from the land of peat and bogs after the bog monster himself. A smoked Scottish Ale at 8% ABV. This is different from their beer Swamp Thing, which is not smoked, merely Scottish.
Let's open a growler and drink 'er up.

It's clear, reddish-brown, with a nice, light tan-brown head, leaving lace, drifting down, looking good.

Aroma: sweet and peaty, musty, and increasingly smoky. We're down in the depths now, we're keeping in the loam. Nice.

In the mouth, it's a bit more mysterious. And delicious. Smoky, rich, malty, delicious. Small bitterness, good balance, increasingly dry. It's pretty much incredible. Malty sweetness jumps back up once in a while, with some toffee-ish goodness, some caramel, rising up above the smoke, until the smoke takes control again. Alcohol doesn't take control right away, but eventually it makes itself well-known. Me, I'm loving it. It's flat-out delicious. Oh. Em Gee.

On this visit, there were so many interesting ales available that Swamp Thang was not the oddest or most unusual option. It was incredibly hard to choose what to take home, so I picked three, the most growlers or crowlers I've returned with so far. After those three, there were still five more beers I won't get to cover here. I only get out there once a month or so, but I want that to change. It's rough when I'm not in charge of transportation.

It's just one more in a long line of incredible beers from Oliphant. It's a trend that I don't see stopping. Fine by me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Lucid Ora Smoked Amber Ale

Lucid Ora smoked amber ale. Brewed and bottled by Lucid Brewing, Minnetonka, MN. 6.5% ABV.

Clear, crimson coloring, slim, off-white head.

In the nose: malt first, then comes the smoke. Lightly sweet, increasingly smoke. Some fruit notes.

In the mouth: smooth stuff, easy-going, with light fruity notes, rich maltiness, and the subtle smoke factor rising up. Not too hoppy, not too malty, just right, and not too smoky, either. This one works, if you want something different.

This is my first bottle. Don't know what took me so long. It's good beer, and you can drink it.

Insight Troll Way IPA

Insight Troll Way IPA. Insight Brewing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 7% ABV.

I can't remember what this beer was originally called. Or is it new? There was a Piccolo IPA before. A little research will dig that up, but for the minute that remains a mystery. Now, after the re-branding of this past summer, the new names and new legends, new logo and newly minted legends, it's called Troll Way, or, more specifically, "An obstruction on the Troll Way Citrus IPA, drafted by Insight Brewing." Is my eyesight failing me further, not "crafted" but "drafted"? Is that because their new balloon logo needs a draft to keep aloft? So many questions....let's just drink a beer....

Actually, one further note first. Looking on BeerAdvocate, the name is actually longer. It's "Chapter XXIV", apparently. They all have chapter numbers, it seems.

So, let's open it up and drink...

Clear, bright amber coloring, slim, soon-gone head.

Big and bold citrus-y aromatics. Full-on grapefruit, with just a twist of lemon.

In the mouth, even mores. More big, more bold, more citrus, even more grapefruit. Lean body, slick and supple, just enough bitterness. Just enough deliciousness. I like this. It does the trick. Ain't nothing wrong with it. Good beer and you can drink it. (Okay, be honest: Am I over-using the catchphrases? They just work sometimes, that's all.)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sisyphus Commie Calvin Imperial Red Ale

Named for the taproom's socialist bartender, the irascible Calvin. Just kidding. He's all mutter. I've never got into politics with him. I leave that out of respectable tavern talk.

7.3% ABV. 43 IBU.

Clear, bright crimson coloring, lush, off-white head. Looking good.

Aroma: fruity, earthy, rustic. Malty. And highly hoppy. Grassy. Ah...

In the mouth: fierce bitterness, sweet malt. Crazy tasty. Medium bodied, with intense flavors.  Pretty smooth, actually. Yum. I like it.

Maybe one of my favorites from Sisyphus. No, definitely. And I like this trend of naming the beers, especially moving away from the joke names.

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Wakatu Pale Ale

Town Hall Wakatu Pale Ale, featuring the New Zealand hop Wakatu, 5.1% ABV.

Clear, bright amber coloring, slim white head.

Citrus explosion in the nose, big with the lemon and orange and a twist of grapefruit. Pineapple and lime, too. Big time fresh fruit. Love it.

In the mouth: more, more, more. Lean-bodied, refreshing bitterness, lots of hops, with a modicum of malt. Just delightful.Another delicious Town Hall pale ale, one that leaves me saying (and I'm not ashamed to tell it) "Wakatu me."

Friday, December 4, 2015

Boulevard Pop-Up Session I.P.A.

Boulevard Pop-Up Session IPA India Pale Ale.

Lightly haze, bright golden coloring, white head dwindles down assuredly.

Citrus notes lead off the aroma in this one, vibrant, floral, and refreshing. Lemon and grapefruit.

In the mouth: Bright and spicy, loads of citrus hops. Light-bodied. Easy-drinking. Unfortunately, like a lot of IPAs in this style, it's a little one-dimensional and unfortunately unremarkable. It does what it's supposed to, though. It drinks down easy, while dropping the hops. That's fine.

I'm starting to wonder where this session IPA thing is headed, though, and when folks will understand what a pale ale is.

Evil Twin Aun Mas A Jesus

I don't usually spend $10 for a 12 ounce bottle, but I've been behind on this "Jesus" series from Evil Twin, and it's time to get on board. 12 % Alc./Vol. This one is brewed in Spain.

"On a pilgrimage for immortal craft beer we tripped on these heavenly drops of amazingly overwhelming aromas, a thick fudge-like body, pitch black color, and obviously only made in limited amounts. Produced and bottled by Evil Twin Brewing and Cervesa del Montseny, Sant Miguel de Balenya, Barcelona, Spain.

Dense blackness, rich brown head, lasting long, looking good.

Aroma: rich chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, anise...all that deep, dark, delicious stuff.

Taste: Hey. There's the stuff. Full-bodied, full-flavored, intense and satisfying. Deep and dark malt flavors, just enough of the hops, and the threat of alcohol coming on strong. It's bright and tasty stuff, for sure.

What it isn't, though, is worth $10 for a 12 ounce bottle. I pay that for a 4-pack, but it's not really that much better than other Imperial Stouts. Live and learn.

Lift Bridge Warden Milk Stout

Lift Bridge Warden Milk Stout. Brewed and bottled by Lift Bridge Brewery, Stillwater, MN. 5.75% ABV, 23 IBU.

Dark coloring, just about black, roasted tan head.

Aroma: rich and malty, dry, yet creamy. Lightly hoppy. Cocoa and some coffee.

Taste: smooth and supple. Medium bodied. Light chocolate malt mixed with milky goodness. Good drinking, easy going. Just right. I am kind of liking this. Good ol' session stout. Go get one.

There's no gobbledygook on the label, and I can't find anything on their website about it. Doesn't matter. Good stuff, go drink it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Goose Island Winter Ale

Goose Island Winter Ale. Formerly known as Hexnut Brown Ale, one of their staple ales in years gone by.

Clear, dark chestnut brown coloring, sizable head that slims down.

Rich, malty, semi-sweet, nuts and toffee. Nice.

In the mouth, ...mmmm. Yeah. It just what it is. A little roasted malt, just short of dry, a beautiful balance. Some caramel, some chocolate, a little nutty, staying shy of sweet.

What do they say about it? Layered with rich, nutty chocolate notes and malty, roasted caramel flavors, our brown ale gives you plenty to contemplate on long winter nights.
Style: Winter Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 5.3%
International Bitterness Units: 25 IBU
Color: Umber
Hops: Fuggle
Malts: 2-Row, Caramel-60, Wheat, Dark Chocolate, Victory

This doesn't seem like what I remember the Hexnut Brown to be, but that was a long time ago. As for this Winter Ale, I like it. I could drink it. It's good beer. And there ain't nothing wrong with it.

Barley John's Old No. 8 Porter

Another Barley's John's Brewery Company can, another call back to a Barley John's Brewpub review from a growler. This dates from March of 2004. The website describes it thusly:

Copious amounts of Chocolate and Roasted Barley form a complex Porter with classic chocolate and smoky undertones balanced with a huge malt backbone. 8.0% ABV | 60 IBU’s. Malts Used: 2-Row, Black Malt, Roasted Barley, Chocolate, Dark Crystal | Hops Used: Warrior, Fuggle | Yeast: House Strain.


8% ABV   |   60 IBUS

And here's what I said about it:

Appearance: fully black, near-opaque, with a short, yet substantial head above, toasty tan. Aroma: roasty, peppery, notes of anise, and bittersweet espresso, and chocolate.
Gritty, earthy taste, solid, rich character, loaded with
malt, just a whiff of hoppiness, full-bodied. Easily drinkable, despite the higher-than-normal ABV. A very pleasurable porter, indeed.

I was just getting used to this one, when along came the waitress, unbidden, with free samples of Alfred's Porter, their step above, weighing in at 14%!

I'll try a full sample of that, next time, if I can, but I'll look forward to this every visit.

And this new canned version is every bit as wonderful!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Barley John's Wild Brunette Wild Rice Brown Ale

There's a brewery that's been lacking representation in this little ol' blog of mine, and that will change with these cans from Wisconsin by the brewery born of a brewpub in Minnesota. What? Yeah, it's a story, all right. John Moore and his wife Laura started Barley John's Brewpub in the Minneapolis suburb of New Brighton back in 2000, a little 4 barrel system, a quaint and cozy restaurant with terrific pizza and a large inviting patio, and small 6-stool bar.  I didn't make it out there until 2004 when I heard about something called Rosie's Ale claiming to be the strongest beer on record (not exactly true, it turned out) and had to pay them a visit. Now, I don't travel to  the suburbs much and I don't drive, so I had to get a friend to take me. It's probably not unbikeable, though, but I've just never attempted it. A little farther north than I like to go, but that's no excuse.  Once the weather gets better, maybe.

So, once I discovered the place, I tried to pop by now and then, and took home growlers to take notes on. I stopped doing this, though, because of their higher than average price. I could understand why they might want to dissuade consumers from purchasing their small batch beers to take home, and encourage them to stay a while and eat and drink on site. I just didn't want to pay the extra price. No problem. I did do it a few times, though, and according to, I've reviewed 15 of their beers. On a few occasions, I managed to take notes based on the portions tasted at the brewpub, something I rarely do. But I'm drinking one of those same beers today from a can not brewed in that tiny space off of Old US Highway No. 8, but in New Richmond, Wisconsin.

Why is this? Moore did something unusual. In Minnesota, brewpubs are restricted in various ways that still make little sense. Progress happens, incrementally, of course, but strings are still frustratingly holding the brewers and owners back. A brewpub can sell growlers or bottles of their beer to consumers on site, but can't use any other packaging or sizes than what the law allows. 750 ml? yes. 16 ounce? No. They also cannot sell them to other retailers, can't distribute, and their kegs cannot change hands at all. Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery created a workaround by opening two new bars and restaurants in other neighborhoods, and sells those kegs to themself. What John Moore realized, while he dreamed of expanding, is that if he started a larger brewery in Minnesota, he would still be constrained by these restrictive laws, unless he closed the brewpub. So, he opened a brand new facility across the border, brewing and canning those same recipes, selling the cans and kegs to a Minnesota distributor, allowing his beers to finally find themselves on our local shelves. And yet, he still owns and operates the same, small brewpub in New Brighton. Not sure how he worked that out, but here we are.

So, at long last, here are my notes from a growler of Wild Brunette, from back in May of 2004, while I chug-a-lug a tallboy today....

A strong Belgian-style brown ale named for the brewer's wife. My first taste was a "snit" provided gratis by the waitress, who called it her favorite, and I sample now from a growler.

Appearance: dark mahagony, with reddish highlights around the edges, adorned with a lush creamy thick soft-tan head, slowly drifting down and leaving lace.

Aroma: an incredible marriage of flavors, nuts, yeast, bread, roasty-toasty, some dark fruit, perhaps, and, with time, a greater chocolatey quality comes forth, rich and perfectly melded, for no one attribute comes forward over others.

Taste: nice spritzy buzz of hops and carbonation meets the lips, and rides on into the palate, good mouthfeel, wonderful flavor, medium in body, with a solid, woody finish. Cocoa still resides in the flavor, little nuttiness, and a certain sprucey, piney feel as well, as if a particular hoppiness is joining the party. A very unique flavor, with dates and raisins also showing themselves a bit, seems like a lower ABV Kasteel, but possessing it's own individual personality.

One very fine creation, from an interesting little brewpub. This is the beer they use to re-ferment into Rosie's Ale, world's strongest beer.

From the website (of the brewpub): Our signature beer at Barley John’s. Our Brown Ale is brewed with Minnesota grown Wild Rice to provide a unique nuttiness along with vanilla overtones.

7.2% ABV | 50 IBU’s

Malts Used: 2-Row, Munich, Chocolate, Aromatic, Wild Rice | Hops Used: Warrior, Willamette | Yeast: House Strain

Available in: 8oz | 16oz | 64oz Pitcher | Growler.

And, from the can: "My signature brown ale is inspired by a special lady. It has rich toasted malt, hints of soft chocolate, and dark fruit, with subtle vanilla notes. It is complex and smooth, and just like that wild brunette, simply phenomenal. Enjoy!-Barley John. Barley John's is brewer owned and operated with roots in a Minnesota brewpub where demand outgrew capacity."

Drinking this one now, out of the can, and it tastes as great as when I wrote those notes 11 years ago. Maybe even better. I'm thrilled that this is available at last in this form. I'm goddamn excited actually. And you know what, the titular brown haired lady on the label does look like Laura. I don't know how accurate the gnome is, though.

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...