Saturday, February 27, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One, #14: Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Barrel-Aged Week, with Foolish Angel

A bit of background: I got the idea for this project when I noticed that the number of posts tagged under "Minnesota" had reached over 500. Not necessarily 500 distinct beers, but 500 times that Minnesota beers or breweries were tagged here in the Nib. I began to look at which I've been written about more often, and thought of which I haven't been to at all. Started examining the numbers, and looming over all was the number one most represented brewery in Minnesota here on TBN, Minneapolis Town Hall, with 88 as of this writing (not including this post).

Flight of samples, Trois Vie barleywine, Cuvee of
Consequence and E.T. Wee. 

Years ago, a user on posed the question "What brewery have you had the most beers from?" While others put up their impressive numbers, such as "24 from Stone", "33 from Dogfish Head", "52 from Sierra Nevada", I scanned my reviews from Town Hall and came back with: 232. That killed the thread. Damn, son, as they say. Mic drop and all that.

Looked at that, 88 in the five years of this blog is not as impressive. Those 232 over at BA represent the years 2003-2010, with some crossover. The plain fact is that for most of those years, Town Hall was the brewery in town, and they kept putting out a lot of new beers, sometimes a new one every week. And every week, I was there, filling a growler, taking it home, writing it up. You can guess already that I like this place, these beers, and the people who make and serve them.

Today, there are more breweries to visit here in Minneapolis, and more new beers to try, on my few nights off. I still go back and pick up growlers, of course, and that's why that 88 is not a static number. It'll keep on climbing. But I don't get every single
new beer they put out. I try, but it's darned hard.
How many barrel-aged beers did I have in
me before forcing Mike Hoops into a
self-portrait photograph with me?

It's worth noting the legacy of brewmaster Mike Hoops. If he laid down his mash paddle for the last time and retired right now, his 15 years or so there have had immense impact on the local beer scene, have informed us, shaped our tastes, trained our palates, and, of course, given us great beer to drink with good friends. And his disciples are many, as well. Several local breweries are helmed by his alumni, LynLake, Northbound and Indeed just a few of them. (I know I'm missing a few.)

All that to preface to wonderful-ness of the annual Barrel-aged Week event , which went on last Monday through Saturday. I spent my nights off there last week, then spent my Sunday off taking in four breweries in Rochester. So, I've got some catching up to do. Onward.

Cheers to Cal and Zach in our corner table, with
a Trois Vie Tripel. 
Monday was the release of four new beers, and early reports were pandemonium, elbow to elbow, bum to bum. These four new brews were the Trois Vie series, Four Barrels with three lives. First they housed California red wine, then bourbon, and finally Town Halls beers. I arrived some time after 7pm when it wasn't as raucous, but I couldn't find a seat to save my life. Luckily, I had some friends at a table with an empty chair. Flagged down a waitress and got a flight of three, tripel, quadruple, and imperial stout, opting to save the barley-wine for a later date. The effects of this multiple spirit possession was discernible, if delicate, and it definitely made for a unique
expression in the barrel-aging arts. I liked the tripel best, and found that it came through cleanest and clearest, with it's original character intact, tainted ever so nicely with the barrel effects.

My next visit was on Wednesday, the 17th, and had to not only catch up with the barley-wine I skipped on Monday, but the Cuvee of Consequence released on Tuesday (the other Tuesday release, Foolish Angel,  had been on tap many times before), and one of the new releases that day, E.T. Wee, a Scottish Wee Heavy aged in Elmer T. Lee barrels. Again, the second new release was one I'd had many times, Manhattan Reserve, and opted to skip it. It was a diverse flight, with different source barrels, different styles, a trip for the lips.

Always a pleasure to spend time at the bar
with friends here, and I was lucky to
have a seat by Tom and Jane.
This room and this event do not make for note-taking. Maybe if I possessed super-human
concentration, and an irrational desire to be anti-social. It's entirely impractical to keep out a notebook and pen and shut out to presence of friends, so I never attempt to do so.  I was able to get three growlers from the week, one that I already posted, one that I will drink soon, and one that appears at the end of this post. I am looking forward to that one up-coming, for I only got a taste of it last year, and really enjoyed the glass I had Thursday. That would be Project 3106, the strong Belgian grown ale aged with chocolate, kumquats, and bourbon barrels, which I look forward to opening and reviewing soon. Thursday was my final visit of the week, and I was unable to attend Friday or Saturday. Missed one of the beers from those days, but it'll be back I'm sure.

I think this was the Trois Vie Imperial Stout?
And this one? Not sure....Cuvee...tripel?
Another Barrel Aged Week come and gone. I tried to go back and see if there were left-overs Monday night, but they had closed for a staff party. There were no announcements to speak of, only a note asking a pardon for any inconvenience. I forgave them quickly, that was an intense work week, I'm sure. They need some rest and relaxation after seven days of one of the most incredible beer events around.

on to the growler review....

Foolish Angel.Belgian style Quadrupel aged in both Blanton’s and Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels. 10% ABV.

Foolish Angel, bourbon barrel-aged Belgian
quadrupel, enjoyed at home.
Deep crimson, rich burgundy, slim head, soon gone.

Aroma is all things, all the brandy, the rich dark fruit, the cognac and leather, but also the vanilla and cherry, and most of all, the bourbon. Vast, deep, and inviting.

Taste: Rich and delicious. Big-time everything. Huge in the fruit, full with the malt, wrapped up in bourbon and Belgian-style yum. Grows and grows and grows. Flavors widen, stretch, develop and cover the senses. The sense of the quad underneath is still perceptible, but the bourbon character wraps around it all. Strong, sharp,, I can't call it smooth. But it drinks down delightfully, if you can handle yourself. It's big, bold, brash and brilliant.And I'm digging on it.

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