Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bell's Uranus The Magician

I haven't been on top of this Bell's Planets series as well as I wish I had been. But I don't haunt the stores with much frequency or regularity, either. If I don't need any beer, I don't go shopping. Which was how I fall out of the loop on stuff like this. I've had Mercury, Venus and Mars, but missed out on Saturn and  Jupiter, and now finally I am about to taste Uranus. And then Neptune. (What did you think there should have been a joke back there? I didn't.)

So, here we are, planet # 7. Big gas giant. Discovered in 1787 by William Herschel. Has five moons, Miranda, Puck, Oberon, Ariel, Titania. Coldest of all the planets. I'd like to visit, from a distance, but wouldn't want to live there.

And Bell's Uranus The Magician, for the sixth movement in Gustav Holst's Planets symphony, is a Black Double  India Pale Ale. 9.5% by Vol. Let's drink it.

Fully ebon, with a vast, long-lived tan head, looking proud and beautiful.

Aroma: malty, hoppy, sweet, smooth, complete and bold. This is so many things, blended marvelously into one. Mmm!

In the mouth: Chocolate meets grass, hoppy bite plus malty sweet and succulent. Big, rich, chewy. Bold, full, large in body and flavor, with a persistent hoppy bite. Never too bitter, though, Like the musical piece, it's bombastic, almost garish and a little bit loud, but never less than harmonizing and never far from melodic. Spills over in places, but mostly keeps it together and drives it's message home. Damnably delicious, and deceptively strong.

As you can probably tell, I've fixed the problem mentioned in the previous reviews from the Planets series, and I actually am listening to Holst as I drink the beer. This is the 1998 recording by the Atlanta Orchestra, conducted by Yoel Levy. Got it from my local library. Lord love the library.
(Or, you can click this link, and watch this gent explain it for you. If you wish to hear, without his help, I'm sure you'll find a way.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Great Lakes Ohio City Oatmeal Stout

Great Lakes Ohio City Oatmeal Stout. Great Lakes Brewing, Cleveland, Ohio. 5.4% ABV. 25 IBU.

Fully black, decent cocoa-tinged head atop, slims down certainly.

Beautiful roasted malt nose. Lots of coffee in there, some chocolate beneath, a little toast and a touch of sweetness.

In the mouth: Nice, smooth, full-bodied and flavor. A delightful drinker of a stout. Carries all the hallmarks of a good, ol' oater. Flavorful but silky and creamy and a damned fine session-er. I like this the more and the more that I drink it.

Nothing I love better than a good ol' oatmeal stout. And this is one of them. Go drink it.

Postal Script: This is clearly a winter themed beer, and we are now solidly in spring. They are a few more of these still in the fridge, that I have got to get to very soon, before it becomes completely embarrassing. No judgement, bitter ones.

Great Divide Barrel-aged Series Yeti Imperial Stout, aged in whiskey barrels

Great Divide Barrel-aged Series Yeti Imperial Stout, aged in whiskey barrels. Alec. 12.5% by Vol. Brewed and bottled by Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, Colorado.

Strictly stygian hue, deep blackness, full and thick deep brown head, crumples quickly.

Aroma: Powerful. Dense. Reeks of all the thickest and richest malt flavors, blended with the belly of the barrels. Chocolate, molasses, anise, all wrapped up in vanilla, black cherry, pepper, even. Intense. No kidding.

Now, to drink: Hugeness, once more. Vast, massive, dominant. Malt is rich, whiskey flavors are on top of it all. Utter decadence. Bigness, boldness, hugeness, and heaviness. This is no breeze, no will-o-the-wisp, no trip down the lane. Pow, pow, powerful. (Said that already.) Did I say big, big, big, though? I probably hinted at it. Boom, boom, boom. Damned delicious.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Tallgrass Big Ricc Russian Imperial Stout with Coffee + Chocolate

Tallgrass Explorer Series Big Ricc Russian Imperial Stout with Coffee + Chocolate. Tallgrass Brewing, Manhattan, Kansas. 10.5% ABV.

Solid blackness, brownish had that disappears quickly.

Aroma is rich dark malt, chocolate flavors, molasses, a little anise, some spice.

In the mouth: bigger, richer, thicker, fuller, tastier. An intensive expression of rich malt flavors. Big time chocolate, increasing coffee, big time bitterness, just counter-acts the sweet. Great balance in this one, without sacrificing the bigness. Big all over. Biggity big, big, big. And super rich. Big and Rich and Not a County Duo.
Richness and Bigness that borders on thickness. No, it's there, it's sloppy damned good, in a big, thick, rich way. I wonder how strong it is....10.5%. Okay. that's Big.

Yum. Now that's an Imperial Stout. Yum. Oh, I said that? Well, it deserves repeating: Yum.

I don't know who this Big Ricc guy is, though, but his Russian Imperial Stout with Coffee + Chocolate is pretty damned tasty. (Wait. I get it now. Russian Imperial Coffee Chocolate= RICC. I am so slow sometimes.)

Bent Paddle Hop Forest Double India Pale Ale

Bent Paddle Brewing Company Hop Forest Double India Pale Ale, Bent Paddle Brewing Company, Duluth, MN. 12 ounce can. 8.9% ABV.

Appearance: lightly hazed, golden/amber coloring, with a vast head of cloud white head, leaving lace.

Aroma is a bittersweet beauty. Fruity, low bitterness, just plenty of hoppy delights in this nose. Gorgeous bouquet.

In the mouth: big, bracing bitterness up front, nicely abrasive meeting the palate. If you crave the bitterness of a double IPA, and I do, this one does it for you. (And me.) Medium/light body, minimal malt, delicious citric/ piney hop flavor never, ever flagging.

Pretty damned tasty double IPA here, a dream to drink down for a hop-head like me. nice. This is my last can from the 4-pack, but I have a keg of it to tap at Acadia, and I'm looking forward to having a glass every day after closing the bar. A rich, hoppy reward.

Some gobbledygook for you: Standing in a hop field brings forth a sense of solitude and wonder one can find in a forest. Hop Forest Double IPA provides full hop coverate with a tremendous load of citrus and piney hop aromatics. Malt sweetness intertwines with the American hop varieties to create a balanced shade of flavor that invites one to sit down and enjoy the view.

Postal Script: I've recently received some criticism from some who said I need to proofread. Well, I proofread constantly, and feel deep remorse when I notice that something slipped past, and grieve for the sensibilities I've offended in interim. Well, everybody needs to proofread, including websites. "Coverate"? Come now, Bent Paddle's website....come now.

Third Street Brewhouse Hop Lift IPA India Pale Ale

Third Street Brewhouse Hop Lift IPA, Brewed and Canned by Third Street Brewhouse, Cold Spring, MN. 6.2% ABV.

Clear, bright golden coloring, large, if short-lived, ivory head, leaving some lacing.

Aroma: Bold and piney, full of citrus notes, with a whiff of tropical. Nice.

In the mouth: Big bitter bite up front, with citrus-y notes bouncing off the palate. Lemon and grapefruit, prickly, spicy, delicious. A lean, light-bodied ale, this. A bit too thin, that would be the main flaw. But there's a lot of hop punch in this one, plenty of what satisfies a hop-head like me. Yeah, it's a good IPA and you can drink it.

I haven't had a Third Street beer in a while. The last review I did was almost 2 years ago, a pint from on tap at Northbound, back when I worked there. So that one was free. Before that, sample bottles from a generous Sample Man who crept bringing me beers that I didn't order. I remained on the unimpressed side of the fence for a considerable amount of time. Gave a bomber of "Cool Beans" a hard look the other day, but couldn't pull the trigger with the $12 price tag.

This beer? It ain't bad. I'd drink another. In fact, this is my fourth, of the 4-pack. You won't see me turn another down, though. Give me a good IPA, and I'll drink the heck out of it. Give me a bad one, and I'll be sure to tell you. (Well, okay, I'll tell you, dear reader. Don't call me a hypocrite and cite the Kinney Creek review.)

Here's the gobbledygook from the label: You love big, bold hoppy IPA’s. We get it. We love them, too. That’s why we put 600 pounds of hops in every tank of our Hop Lift IPA. Getting that many hops 40 feet up in the air and into our fermenter is no easy task. But we’re up for it. And when you taste this bold, dry-hopped brew bursting with citrus and passion fruit notes, you’ll be glad we did. How we do it, we’ll never tell. Do you need a hop lift today?

Sisyphus Argyle Penguin Amber Ale

Sisyphus Argyle Penguin Amber Ale, based on a recipe Sam used back in the home-brew days. 6.2% ABV.

Clear, dark amber color, slim, white head.

Soft, sweet and malty aromatics. Little bit of fruity esters, some caramel notes.

In the mouth: Malt sweetness hits first, with moderate hops just coming in to keep it balanced. Caramel notes appear on the palate, sweetness spreads, spicy/citric hop presence is felt a little better, keeping it all together. Bitterness rises just a bit in the mouth, almost taking over malt, but not quite.

You want an amber ale? Here's a good 'un. Go drink it.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Oliphant Sensual Harassment Malt Liquor

There are very few malt liquors here in the Bitter Nib. In fact, there are none. I've reviewed them before, and you can find these on The only way they will appear here is if I re-try things like Colt 45 or Olde English 800. The only reason I reviewed them in the first place was that friends bought me bottles, or bombers, or 40's, or whatever, because they wanted to see what I would write. And in order to post those old reviews here on the Nib, I'd have to go out and buy a bottle, and put myself through that ordeal all over again. Not going to happen....probably not... who knows.

But I did buy a crowler of a craft brewed malt liquor from a favorite Wisconsin brewery, and took these notes late last night:

Oliphant Sensual Harassment. 11.2% ABV. Malt Liquor.

Clear-ish, golden-y coloring, small and short-lived white head.

Aroma is sweetly and malt-ish.  Grain-like, fruit-esque.

In the mouth: more of that. Sweet-like. Malt, yes, ....Grain-ish. Tasty? Kind of.....Big-type. Fullish. Thick-esque.  A classic craft beer malt liquor. I'm not really enjoying this. and I'm not glad they brewed it. There's better things to do with your time, and better beers to brew. Richness, thickness, slickness........

I left the notes there. Didn't entirely finish the crowler, 3/4 of the glass left unfinished on the night stand. Woke up feeling not-so fresh, kind of regretting the experience. It was my first time drinking it, I'd always passed on it when it was on tap at the brewery.

There was some controversy about the name, and how it might suggest sexual assault, which is not a cool thing to joke about. I think the name is fitting, as my senses were harassed a bit by this one. There's a lot of alcohol in it, and few rewarding flavors. One of the few OlipHant beers where I'd recommend you skip it, and find another tasty one to toss back.

Summit 30th Anniversary Double IPA

Summit 30th anniversary Double IPA.Alc. 8.5% ABV. Summit Brewing Company, St. Paul, MN.

Here's a beer I tapped a keg of at Acadia a while back, but I much prefer to take notes at home, if I can, than at the bar. So, I picked up a 4-pack today, and let's get cracking'....

Beautiful, bright golden coloring, lightly hazy, slim white head hold forth above.

Aroma comes tearing out of the glass. It's a tropical note nose, with citrus tones, too, and that's what I'm picking up without raising the glass to the nose. Piney, lemony, pineapple-y....lovely stuff. More fruity than bitter.

In the mouth: hop attack starts swift and sure, unleashing bitterness and fruity notes in unequal amounts. There's the prickly pine, the bitter fruit, and then it's altogether tasty. Body is lean and light, like a good DIPA ought to be, leaving the hops to shine, without a lot of malt muddying things up. I like this one quite a lot.

Here are the "flavor notes", if you didn't feel like clicking on the link. (Damn, I always get the wrong fruits! "mango, papaya..." Of course!) "Bursting with tangerine, papaya and mango hop aroma. Pronounced yet smooth bitterness with malt background of toast, slight caramel and bready notes."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #22: F-Town Brewing, Faribault

It's another Sunday and another trip to breweries out there in Greater Minnesota, this time focusing on communities to the south of the Twin Cities. We first found ourselves in Rice County and it's seat, Faribault, a town of 23, 000-some individuals, only about 82% of them white folks, about 50 miles south of the place I call home. It's a historic town, full of old buildings and small town charm, and is named after a far trader named Alexander Faribault, who set up shop in 1826. It is also a city with a bit of an identity crisis, as several businesses throughout the town used the spelling "Faribo" (phooey on the French!), and it's brewery, open since last July,  is calling itself F-Town, for better or for worse.

F-Town Brewing has appeared here twice, thanks to their canned products being distributed to my local stores. I've had the IPA, called IPAlicious, and the Nutso Brown Ale. Now, when questions about them are made online, and comments are posted, many have spoken ill, in particular, of the IPA. I could only add that I found the canned version to be fine. Well, we won't know till we try, will we? And try we must. Because that's what we're doing.
Jason, Rod, and Dave consider their options. 

It was absolutely necessary that F-Town be our first stop of the day because, for reasons complete beyond my understanding, they closed at 3pm. After opening at noon. Whey on earth would you bother even opening, if you're only open for three hours? Our second stop of the day was to close at 4, and our third, much smarter folks, indeed, locked their doors at 8 pm.

We found F-Town at 22 4th St. NE in downtown Faribault, and filed into the fairly small, nondescript taproom. It was a much larger contingent than normal this time. Rod had joined Jason and I for the full length of the journey, and Sharon and Dave drove down with us, with Ryan and Val meeting us at the taproom. Some had been here before, but we were there for the first time.

American Red Ale. 
Downstairs from the taproom, a brewhouse.
It's a tight room, with basic benches and no stools or chairs at the bar. Artistic photos on display, and the de rigeur growler collection, with several TVs drawing the eyes of sports fans. A chalkboard details the 6 beers available. Oddly, none of them were called IPAlicious or Nutso. There was India Pale Ale, Faribo Lager, American Brown Ale, American Red Ale, and two nitro beers, Black Stout and India Pale Ale. Some in our group went with flights, and I decided to take on a pint of the Red Ale.

Reddish coloring, beige head, caramel malt nose, sweetish and malty, long malty finish. Not bad. Not bad at all. Veers a little too close to the sweet side, but passable.

Jason offered up some samples from his flight, and I started at the light end, with the lager, with was fine, but unimpressive, having no flaws, but being far from perfect. I moved on the his IPA and there the problems began. It was horrid, and I winced at first sip, my mouth pulled tight into a hardened grimace. It was shockingly bad and possibly infected. I later took a sip of the nitro version, and it had exactly the same problem.
They got through their samples, with a couple
of exceptions.

Our bartender on this visit did not seem to have
much use for coasters. 
So the tough talk on the internets was true, they truly had a problematic IPA on their hands, and seemed utterly oblivious to it. But why was the canned IPAlicious not as troubled? And, more importantly, why can't they tell how undrinkable it is? The beer on the chalkboard wasn't called "IPAlicious", is there a reason for that? Is it a different recipe? Is the "good IPA" IPAlicious, and this is their terrible version they foist on taproom schmucks? I don't know, I just don't know.

I moved on to the Nitro Black Stout. It was roast, dry, malty, smooth, like any stout should be. Nothing wrong with it. Drinkable. But unexceptional.

I took a sample of nearly every beer available, and was not impressed, nor especially pleased with any of them. There's really nothing here to recommend. I hate to say that, but if it's true, it's true. If you're in Faribo/ault, and you've got nothing better to do, be my guest, I guess. Just stay away from that IPA.

And away we went, off to another town, another brewery.

Dave's BrewFarm Choco Kaffe

This is one of those beers that Dave's been brewing for years, but I've never taken a growler home. Was I always just too late, and they were sold out? Or was it one of those things were I supposed I'd already written about it, passed, only to find out no, no, I hadn't.

Enough palaver, Onward with Choco Kaffee, 7.7% ABV, another not-to-style brew, with more details to be revealed later.

Dark brown coloring, short-lived cocoa/tan head.

Sweet chocolate notes hit the nose first ...a little bit of molasses, toffee, caramel in there, too...a restrained sweetness. Brown sugar. Decadence.

In the mouth: Brown sugar greets the palate first, with chocolate rolling in, followed by hints of coffee. Hops come on board next, spicy and slightly citrus-y, but it bubbling up from below the dark malts. Full-ish bodied, increasing richness, non-stop delight. Bitter hops keep a lid on the sweet.
Exceptionally smooth and delicious. Beautiful roast, excellent balance, all the right flavors...just a good ol' beer. Such a well-designed treat!

What's Farmer Dave have to say? "Pils, Caramel 120, and Kilned Coffee malts, hopped with Columbus, Brewer's Gold and Brambling Cross hops, dark brown sugar and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. Smooth, roast and chocolaty!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #21: Big Wood Brewery, White Bear Lake

One of the unfortunate traps of this project that we've embarked upon is that we end up passing by our favorites, the breweries and the beers we know we can count on and love to give our support to. We could be comfortable and satisfied, instead of forcing down bizarre experiments by clueless brewers. Well, it's an adventure, and adventures are risky. We know what we're in for, but there is always that twinge of regret. I could have been drinking a Masala Mama IPA instead of sucking back a band-aid soup!

So, we were missing Dave's BrewFarm, as well as Oliphant, and Jason wanted to go this past Sunday.  (Last Sunday, actually, 3/13.)It had been almost a month to the day. But, how could we squeeze a Minnesota brewery visit into the day's journey and keep up the pace? That's why we ended up pulling into White Bear Lake and popping into Big Wood Brewery.

White Bear Lake, population 23,769, is a North-Eastern suburb of the Twin Cities which is named for the lake that's also named for an Indian legend of a Sioux in love with a Chippewa and the ivory ursine that tore them asunder. (I think that's how it goes, apparently Mark Twain told the tale differently in Life on the Mississippi.) It's also 90% full of white people. It's been home to Big Wood Brewery since around 2011/12-ish. I know they won an award at the Autumn Brew Review in 2011 for their coffee stout, Morning Wood, but weren't producing anything on a commercial level for some time. I have four reviews of their canned beers here in the Nib, and they're all from 2013, 2 of them unlabeled samples from the distributor. The next two years found me unmotivated to go out of my way to try any of their other beers. And now, two years after they opened their taproom, we're going just a little out of our way to 2222 4th St., downtown White Bear Lake.

This place is all about the wood, and we must always strive to admire the material and not to lay down in the mire with the inevitable innuendo. It's hard not to, since their first big hit was Morning Wood, which is a big, ol' dick joke. Do all of their beer names need to be suggestive? Does there have to be a "bro" mentality? Really? It's important to set that stuff aside, but it's fairly inescapable. If you look at the review of Morning Wood, you will see that I presented an image from the packaging of a crowing rooster. You could see it simply as indicative of mornings, or as, to put it bluntly, a cock.

Thank heavens, then, that these insinuations don't occur with every beer name, or anywhere else in the place. And a pleasant place it is. A well-wooded room, clean and comfortable, with the unique decorative touch of the bar lights covered by growlers from other breweries. There's a small stage for DJs or musical performance or trivia masters, whatever they've got going on. I'm sure there could be quite a raucous scene here in the heart of White Bear Lake, but we're in early on a Sunday, and it's quiet as can be.

We were able to cover the gamut of offerings at the brewery this time, with Jason taking one flight and I another. I picked flight #2, which featured the least number of beers I tried before: Amigo
Grande Mexican Lager (had it on tap at Acadia last summer), Thrice Shy Belgian Strong Golden Ale,  Black Anvil Imperial Stout, Bad Axe Imperial IPA (reviewed here), and Nitro Udder Stout. I had a range of opinions here. Amigo Grande is decent, but not for me. Thrice Shy was smooth, sweet, and strong, like you'd expect from the style, but with a bit too much bubblegum, in my humble opinion. Black Anvil was rich and malty, with flavors of anise and molasses, but too thin for an Imperial Stout. Bad Axe I like, it really delivered. My notes from the can of years back show me liking it, while getting turned off by marketing and packaging. Devoid of that, with just a beer in front of me, I enjoyed it tremendously. Nitro Udder was perfectly fine, though I hate the name to pieces.

Flight #1, the one Jason ordered, starts off with three that have been in this blog before, Jackpine Savage Pale Ale, Bark Bite IPA, and Morning Wood Coffee Stout, then finishes with two new to me, Li'l Red Riding Wood Amber / Red Ale and Fine! IPA. Li'l Red was a sweet, malty thing, perfectly acceptable, and Fine! was a nice surprise. Nice and crisp, delightfully bitter nose, and highly drinkable. We both preferred it to the Bark Bite.

In fact, that would have been the one I would have taken home in a growler, if I'd thought to bring one with me. Also, I knew I'd be buying more at Oliphant and Dave's, and sure enough, that was nine days ago, and I still have 2 of those yet to consume. I found some consolation in learning that this IPA will be released in bottles soon, and eventually kegs to the market, as part of a Taproom Series.

We were content with the output at Big Wood, in all. There is nothing seriously wrong with any of them, though some may not be up to the demands of our critical palates. (He says facetiously.) Straight-forward interpretations of well-known styles, well-done. Can't argue with that. (Though we wish we weren't always reminded of erections, of course.)

This was one of the visits where we stuck to fights and didn't order a single full pint, though I considered it. The only reason I did not choose to spend more time with a pint of ale in my hands was that the road beckoned us, and there were more new beers awaiting us further on down the line.

Oliphant Gobias Coffee Black Ale

Here's a growler from my last visit to Oliphant back in December. I've been sitting on it, and that occasion has passed, and it's time to drink it up, the coffee black ale named for the conjoining of David Cross and Will Arnett. Let's open it up and drink it!

gobias. black ale brewed with coffee, 8.5% alc./vol.

Dark brown coloring, some reddish tints showing through the edges, with a creamy tan head up on top, lasting and leaving lace.

Aroma: creamy and malty, cocoa-y, soft and toffee-y....And then comes the coffee, nice and rich and roast and spicy and lovely....I love it.

Time to drink it: Coffee kicks it off right away, dripping with it, thick and sticky with the coffee and dark malts. Full-bodied. Satisfying. All the right parts are at play in this, just enough of everything. Just enough hops, tons of malt, plenty of coffee. I'm getting it all here, and I love it. I'll be back for more, definitely. They'll certainly make more, as they've told me it's one of their most popular beers.

Oliphant Ancient Bone Saber of Zumakalis Foreign Export Stout

Oliphant Brewing Ancient Bone Saber of Zumakalis. Has something to do with some video game or comic book or anime, or something. I forgot. Foreign Export Stout. I love an
FES. 8.5% ABV.

Fully dark brown, nearly black coloring, some crimson highlights at the edges, under a rich, but short lived cocoa-tinted head.

Aroma is redolent of dark fruits, raisins and figs, plus coffee, cocoa, some molasses, a little spice.

In the mouth: smoothness, full-bodied, altogether malt-tastic. Perfect balance. Moderate hopping keeps time with the sweet malt. Succulent. Low carbonation, but that's what I'm liking about it. Tasty. The remains of this crowler went down nice and smooth, I'll tell you that much. A big beer that goes down easy.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

F-Town Nutso Nut Brown Ale

F-Town Nuts Nut Brown Ale, 4. 7% ABV. Below the can image it reads: "hints of roasted nut & toffee with a creamy oatmeal finish."

Clear, light brown color, large, lasting off-whitish head.

Aroma is all nut, all sweet and toffee, caramel, low hops....hits what it's going after, that's for sure.

Taste: Well, there we have it. Malty for sure, a little nutty, caramel and toffee, but none too sweet. Very full in the mouth, very long in the finish, much malt, much taste, much yum. Rich, malty, tasty, smooth.
Ain't nothing wrong with it. Except....nut browns? People are still doing that? Okay......

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dave's BrewFarm Fennel No. 5

Dave's BrewFarm Fennel No. 5. Not the fifth Fennel, but a reference to the famous fragrance.
Wilson, Wisconsin. 5.9% ABV.

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

Aniseed in the nose. Sweet and spicy, malt rich. The seed subsists.

In the mouth, the anise is not nearly as prevalent. Definitely an herbaceous flavor over any other. Smooth, easy-drinking, lean body, light malt flavors. Sweetness, ending dry.
Practically no hop presence. Caraway? Flax? Trying to pick what else I may tasting....Coriander? A touch minty, maybe?

I like this. It's a fun experiment, as are a lot of things from The LaBrewaTory. But, I couldn't see myself returning to it often.

Here's the official word from Farmer Dave: "Ever brewed with fennel?" Many new beers start with this question. We have Pils and Extra Special Malts, Aurora and select hops and a late addition of toasted fennel. Fermented with a lager yeast."

Finnegan's Dead Irish Poet

Finnegan's Dead Irish Poet. Extra Stout. Product of the USA. Limited Release. 7% ABV. 100% of profits go to feeding the hungry. Contract brewed and bottled by Summit Brewing, St. Paul, MN.

I had a keg of this last fall/winter on tap at Acadia, but never took notes, so I bought a single bottle for this purpose. Sat on it for a bit, but this is the kind of beer that is meant for holding on to.

Full-on body, rich, cocoa-tan head, slims down in time.

Dry, malty nose, slightly grainy & roast-y. Slight cocoa and espresso in aromatics, getting stronger in time.

In the mouth: Mmmm. Cocoa is stronger, malt is rich and sweet. Smooth and easy-drinking, but substantial flavor. In a nutshell, this one is richness plus sweetness, added to smoothness. But, I said that already....what else to say? Little bits of dark fruit, raisin, plum. Delicious. Beautiful balance. Lovely. Tasty.....Mmmm.

Excelsior Spresso Milk Stout

Excelsior Spresso Milk Stout. Excelsior Brewing Company, Excelsior, MN. 4.6% ABV.

Fully black, rich cocoa head that dissipates in a moment.

Roasted coffee bean nose, then comes silky smooth malt notes, a bit of cream. Espresso notes dominate.

In the mouth: sweet and smooth, with just enough roasted malt. Subtle stout flavors subsumed by coffee. Medium bodied, easy-drinking stout.  Definitely down-able. A sessionable coffee stout, to be sure.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #20: Indeed Brewing, Minneapolis, with Wooden Soul #6

It was a dark and soon to be stormy late afternoon....
It's another Wednesday (March 9) , another day off, and I wonder which brewery will I visit? I decided on Indeed for two reasons: Patrick Mulcahy had been asking me when I'd be stopping in to make Indeed an official stop in this project, and it just dawned on me that I had not walked in the doors since last September, and that had to be fixed. Also, Wednesdays are the days that Indeed gives the net profits of the taproom sales to charities chosen by the
Cheers, Tom!
employees, and this week the recipient was a no-kill cat shelter. And I love the kitty cats.

It was also the first day of biking for this project. I finally got the air pumped up in my tires on Monday (though Sunday was really the day to enjoy the weather), and was eager to get on the bike and get my legs moving. It wasn't as fantastic as the past few days, not temps in the 70's or 60's. 50's and 40's, unfortunately. But the snow and ice is gone, and I was ready to bike through downtown
Minneapolis, cross the Mississippi and and find my way to 711 NE 15th St., and the Indeed Brewing Company.

Indeed has appeared in this blog 26 times before, since they opened up 2012. When I was managing the bar at the Blue Nile, they were one of three preferred local breweries for me, and that was not just because I liked their beer so much, but also that I was treated to their beers before they started selling, and being allowed in early meant a lot to me. (The other two were Surly and Harriet.) Co-owner Tom Whisenand paid me a visit with samples early on, and I was eager to get on board. We weren't the first to tap them, nor did we sell the most, but I always found room on the tap tower for every beer they put out, and I continue that today at Acadia. It's no secret that they're one of my favorites, and this post will be one of those where I write about this particular visit, reminisce about my history with them, and cap it off with a review of one of their beers. I'm not covering any new ground here in particular, not scratching off
I don't remember what beer this was.
some fresh surface. I like Indeed, and don't see that stopping any time soon.
Rum King Imperial Stout, aging away.

One reason why I haven't had more than 25 beers from Indeed is that I haven't picked up growlers from the taproom very often. Because they're so far away. Also, because at times they didn't have a wide variety of beers other than those that were canned and bottled or available in kegs. That changed, certainly. A third reason for visiting them on this day was that Wooden Soul #6 had been released, and I was anxious to try this Flanders-esque sour red ale. By staying away for six full months during fall and winter, I ended up missing Wooden Soul #s 4 & 5, and probably others. Shame, shame on me.

tall tanks.
tight tanks.
I got there around 6 pm, found a seat at the bar and got my hands on some Wooden Soul 6, which will be reviewed at the bottom of this post. Shortly thereafter, Patrick and his fellow sales associate Ryan Bandy
found me, and once I finished the WS 6, they got a pint of
Lucy for me (previously reviewed), and took me on a tour to see some aspects of the brewery along with some of the new spaces, that I hadn't seen before. I'd had tours over the years, but this one still had new things for me to see. The canning lines were busy, and brewers were hard at work. I got to see new tanks and silos, situated in areas of the building that hadn't been utilized before, and saw the many barrels aging Rum King and other goodies. This was not where all of the sour program is going on, that is in a separate facility off-site, in St. Paul. I've been promised a tour of that soon, too.

Patrick got me some Shenanigans straight
from the brite tank. I have no idea what
that device he's holding is. 
As I said, it's fun to find friends, and Jay and Julie are
friends indeed (no pun intended).
When we emerged from the brewery, the taproom was in full swing, with the auxiliary taproom full as well. Some of my friends were in attendance, too, which usually happens when I visit Indeed, whether I plan on it, or not. It's just a popular place to be and be seen being.

During this visit, I certainly had my share, but mainly stuck with the 3 Wooden Souls available (#1 & #2, previously reviewed here and also here, were also on tap), and I can't recall exactly what else I tried. There is photographic evidence (above) of some dark brew in a tulip, not the Teku glass meant for the Wooden Soul beers. Can't remember what it was. Things got fuzzy. As it got dark and it started to drizzle, friends Julie and Jay came to my rescue and helped save me from biking back home.

Indeed holds the distinction of being the first local brewery to open with a taproom, and it opened with a bang, helped by the beauty of the place. It's a great place to get a get a good beer, and if you're into the sours, there's no reason not to pay them a visit, now and then.

Speaking of.....

Wooden Soul #6. Mmm, mmm, good.
Indeed Wooden Soul #6. 5.4% ABV. Aged in Pinot Noir barrels. Several different types of wild yeast involved. (Sorry, they don't have anything posted online about it. I'll have to dig around for more info.)

Clear, rich burgundy coloring, flush creamy head that lasts and lasts.

Aroma comes screaming out of the glass and hovers over. The sour is here, the tart, the fruit and the fresh, refreshing, exhilarating. Sour, tart, weird, funky, fresh, fruity....pretty right on.

Taste: Mwha! Yeah, it's all on the palate, it's all in the mouth, it's a richness and an incredible mix of the funk and the fruit. Long lasting sour and fruit. Delicious. Funky. Fresh. Loads of tannins and oak, too. Plenty wooden soul in this. Lot of wine peeking through, too. Barrel's doing it all.

This could be better, but so could everything. It's damned good, and the best from their barrel aging program, which is only going to improve. If this is the first attempt at a Flanders Red-style beer, keep 'em coming, Indeed, keep 'em coming. Can't wait to see how much better this will be in a few years. They'll be bottling them soon, and then we can really find out.

Oliphant Mothra vs. Mothra Citra Lager

Oliphant Mothra vs. Mothra Lager with Citra hops, 4.8% ABV. Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, WI.

Clear, bright yellow, slim white head.

Aroma is bursting with lemon and pine, tangerine, grapefruit and lime. Big-time citrus nose. Beautiful.

In the mouth, it's every bit of bright, bold Citra refreshment that you want. Very lean, light body, just the minimum malt. A clean, smooth lager that seeks to showcase the Citra hop's sunshine-y flavor, and it does. Juicy mouthfeel, classic combination of hops and malt.

Delicious. You could crush a lot of these crowlers in the summertime, floating your boat down Apple River. Or any river you choose.

Bauahus Copperpop Lager

Bauhaus Copperpop Hoppy Red Lager. Minneapolis, Minnesota. 5.6% ABV. 60 IBU.

Clear, bright copper-y coloring, large off-white head, pours out big and last long, leaving lace.

Aroma: nice and hoppy, citrus and pine. Grapefruit and lime. Lovely.

In the mouth: starts off juicy and piney, lots of citrus-y hop flavors, swiftly followed by sweet and spicy malt. There's rye in this, right? I can't read the damned label, so off to the website we go....sure there is, read about it here.  A unique take on the red lagers of Ireland, they call it. I did not know that used so much rye malt or such intensely citrus American hops. I guess that would be the unique take part of it.

This is the kind of lager I like. Tasty, tasty. I can enjoy this one. Blend of rye malt and citrus-y hops continues through the finish and never quite quits.

Schell's One Five Five

Schell's One Five Five, American Amber / Red Lager. 5% ABV. August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm, MN.

Brewed for the 155th Anniversary, last year. And I'm just getting around to it now. There are a bunch of bottles I've been putting off. Consider this part of spring cleaning.

Clear, light crimson coloring, with a beige-ish head of good standing, leaving lace.

Sweet and malty nose, lightly fruity, clean. Notes of apple and cherry stand out.

In the mouth: bright malt provides and just enough hops for balance. Medium to light bodied, soft texture, enduring sweet malt flavor. Not too much for me, maybe too much for some who shun the sweet side. There's a little something funky, from the yeast, perhaps, though I'm not exactly sure where it comes from. Caramel malt, a little toffee, lingering malt flavor. Tasty stuff. Not bad at all.

Finnegan's Blonde Ale

Finnegan's Blonde Ale, contract brewed and bottled by Summit Brewing, St. Paul, MN. 4.6% ABV.

Lightly cloudy/hazy, pale golden coloring, slim white head, leaving lace.

Clean, malty nose. Slightly floral, hoppy.

In the mouth: Slides on in with remarkable ease, smooth and easy. Light malty body, light this, light that. Slight honey-ish flavor. Crisp and clean and....we covered smooth and easy, right?

Once again, I don't drink blonde ales, but for those who do, this is a good one. Go drink it.

Indeed Lucy Kettle Sour Pale Ale

Growler filled on 3-9-16, finally consuming it on 3-16.
Indeed Derailed Series, Lucy Kettle Sour Pale Ale, American Wild Ale, 4.2% ABV. 27 IBU. Belgian yeast and lemongrass.

Slightly hazy, bright yellow coloring, slimmish white head.

Aroma: soft, hoppy, sour, funky, fresh, ......mmmm, yeah. I like it.

In the mouth: Fresh, zesty, funky, sour. All of that, with a blast of hops, and that extra zing of the lemongrass (which I wouldn't have picked out if I didn't know about it). Belgian yeast adds the funky power pop to this, and the hops just keep it clicking. Bright, citrus-y, lemon-y flavors. Mmmm. I'm gonna finish this growler.

Are kettle sour pale ales the wave of the future? Maybe? Just maybe. Let's wait and see. And, while we wait, I shall enjoy this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sisyphus The Juice Is Loose

Sisyphus The Juice Is Loose Double IPA. 9.5% ABV.

Clear, bright orange coloring, creamy, puffy, long-lasting off-whitish head. Looking good.

Aroma is honey-isn and lightly fruity, tropical tones coming in strongest, with a light bitterness. Utterly pleasant.

Taste: smooth, bitter, and beautiful. Juicy, fruity. Bitter, dry. Dangerously delicious. The taste keeps coming in this one. Bitterness hangs long on the palate, dry and delightful. Yeah. I'm liking this a lot.
A cool, fruity, bitter double IPA that I can just lay back and enjoy. Orange, tangerine, grapefruit, all wrapped up in wonderfully bitter flavors. Mmmm. Ain't nothin' wrong with this.

Monday, March 14, 2016

New Belgium Citradelic

New Belgium Citradelic Tangerine IPA. 6.0% ABV.

Clear, bright orange/amber hue, tangerine-y, for sure. Slim white head.

Citrus-y hop notes bust out of the nose. Bright and fruity, nice and bitter.

In the mouth: dry, bitter, and juicy all in and / or around the same  time. Light bodied, easy going down, long-lasting bitterness. It's a good ol', no-fuss, good-drinkin' IPA. Good beer, you can drink it. That is all.

Lagunitas Aunt Sally

Lagunitas Aunt Sally, A Unique Dry-hopped Sweet Tart Sour Mash Ale. Alc. by Vol. 5.7% ABV. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, CA & Chicago, IL.

Clear & brilliantly golden, slim ivory head.

Clean aromatics, mild hop bitterness.

In the mouth: puckering at first, tart, fruity, then sweet. Tartness leaps up with each new sip, ends clean and just a little dry. Lean bodied. Rather straight-forward, little complexity. Easy-Drinking, quenchable. Toss-back-able. Sour keeps coming, but it's not too big, not too anything.

Prime contender for top "session sour." Is there such a thing? There is now.

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...