Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sisyphus Kiwi Kulture Club

Sisyphus Kiwi Kulture Club, The first "kettle sour" from Sisyphus!

Clear, bright yellow, high carbonation, pure white head, leaving some lace.

Nose: funky, wild, tart, twisted. Barnyard, white wine, litter box.

In the mouth: Sour from the start. Fiercely funky & sour, bracingly puckering, ending dry. Light bodied, long bitterness, sourness, dryness. Grips the tongue and never gives.

You know what? I like this. I like it just fine.

Abita Big Easy IPA

Abita Big Easy IPA. "Big flavor, easy drinking". All brewed with lemon peels, 4.5% ABV.

Clear, lightly cloudy, golden-hued, ivory head.

Aromatics: lemony, you bet! Big citrus, lightly bitter. Citrus is tops.

In the mouth: mild bitterness, big citrus, easy drinking. yeah..."big flavor"? Not so much. It ain't bad, not at all, but I can't see reaching for it. Is it for this over any, and I mean any, other IPA. Certainly not meant for me. Go for it, people, go right ahead and drink it, but don't say that I told you to.

Modist Brewing Company Toats

When Modist first opened and unveiled their beers, I was a little disappointed in the names. "pHresh", is kind of clever, with the pH referring to acidity, but it also alludes, perhaps inadvertently, to "phat". Kind of tiresome. And called their 60% oat ale "toats" of course refers to the current colloquialism "totes" which is an abbreviation for "totally." Also annoying. The plain truth of the matter is that what youth culture finds hip and fresh I find tiresome and annoying. That's what happens when you get older.


But, you know what? I got over it.

Now, let's drink some beer.

Modist Toats. 4.8% ABV. 38 IBU.

Hazy, deep reddish brown, slim, off-white head, leaving lace.

Bold, bright and spicy aromatics. Mostly malty with citric hop essence popping through. Grassy & grapefruit-y.

In the mouth: Grassy, citrus-y, bittersweet hop flavor takes hold first, dominating the palate. Smooth & malty, with a never ending hoppy kick. Delicious.
Damn good beer, and you can drink it. I'd suggest that you do.




More yelling from their website:
THIS BEER IS MADE FROM AN UNHEARD OF 60% OATS. THE OATS CREATE A SLIGHTLY HAZY BEER WITH A BIG MOUTHFEEL, AND IT'S BACKED BY A CITRUSY HOP PROFILE THAT GIVE THE BEER A JUICY TANGERINE MARMALADE FLAVOR.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Destihl Privet Russian-style Imperial Stout

Destihl Privyet Russian-Style Imperial Stout. Destihl Brewing, Bloomington, IL.

Utter darkness, thick, full and rich creamy brown head atop, looking great.

Aroma: a little sweet, cocoa and espresso, hints of cherry, a little vanilla. Beautifully bitter edge. Very nice.

In the mouth: bone dry. Chocolate-smacked. Bittersweet, rich and full. Deep and dense. Espresso-tinged. Roast-y/toast-y. More little bits of cherry and vanilla. I am enjoying this one. Quite nice.

(What's "Russian-style", though? Russian Imperial Stouts aren't Russian, and didn't originate there. They were born in England, and took the name when the Russian Empire took a liking to them. "Russian-style"? I don't think they even make them there. Kind of a strange appellation, there.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Prairie Standard

Prairie Artisan Ales Standar, A Hoppy Farmhouse Ale. Brewed and bottled by Krebs Brewing, Oklahoma. "Made by People That Truly Care, From Oklahoma, with Love" 5.6% ABV.

Complete with comic strip on the label demonstrating "How To Noodle". Not sure I get it.

Lightly hazed, bright golden hue, stable slab of white foam on top.

Lemon and spices spark things off in the nose. Rustic touches, ripe citrus.

In the mouth: bright, crisp, lively. More lemon, more spice. Lean bodied, refreshing and delicious. Yeah, it's a hoppy one, too. Beautiful flavors, and easy drinking' as pie. Gives all the Belgian yeast and spice notes you'd want from anything calling itself "farmhouse ale."

Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb!

Prairie Bomb!
Imperial Stout aged on coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla bean & chili peppers. (I'm guessing this is a Coffee/Chili/Vanilla/Cacao "bomb"?)

Utter blackness, rich cocoa/tan head, a good 1/2" sitting pretty on top.

In the nose: chili pops out first, coffee next, then cocoa fills in next....sweet, hot, rich, immense.

In the mouth: sweetness first, coffee follows, then comes the heat. Nicely integrated hugeness--a calamity of flavors that somehow comes together. More sweet, more chocolate, more coffee, more huge. The chili becomes a little more subdued as the other flavors commingle.

Has alcohol arrived yet? Oh, it's only 13%, is it? It's slowly, inevitably becoming apparent.

Boom, boom, boom...it's a BOMB!

Oh, this is tasty. The chili heat takes a back seat at first, letting the other flavors shine.

Tremendous beer, simply amazing. Astonishingly good.

Lupulin Simcoe Imperial Stout

Lupulin Simcoe Imperial Stout, American Imperial Stout dry-hopped with Simcoe hops. Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake, MN. 75 IBU, 9% ABV.

Full ebony coloration (or lack thereof), reflecting zero light, with a lustrous helping of cocoa-tinged head atop, leaving lacey traces.

Aroma: Roasty, creamy, grassy. Chocolate-y pine cones, with a hint of espresso. Very nice.

In the mouth:  Nicely hopped up front, then the malt takes over. In comes the richness, velvety smooth, getting bigger on the palate, alcohol on board. Everything's getting bigger, but it all stays smooth and palatable, with hop bitterness staying right on top. Big malt flavor never stays on the sweet side, it dries and keeps to that path.

This is pretty damned nice.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Stone Citrusy Wit

Once again, excuse the presence of Sonny Boy
the Cat in the back.
Stone Citrusy Wit. 
5.3% ABV. Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, CA.

Our cleverly twisted witbier with tangerine and kaffir lime leaf.

Clear, bright golden hue, full and fluffy white white head, looking great, leaving lace.

Aroma: there's that lime leaf, ever-so-leafy....bright and fruity, lightly bitter, a little bit floral, with citrus aplenty. Is it a tangerine "Bomb"? No, of course not, don't be silly.

In the mouth: light and lovely, fresh, zesty and zippy. (Yes, I said "zippy"...you pinhead.) Damnably drinkable. "Crushable" as the kids say these days, though neither glass nor bottle will collapse beneath my grasp today. This has all the lively and lovely elements of a wit, with that big splash of tangerine. Light, tasty, yu.

Yeah, it's a good beer, and of course, you can drink it. Another Stone success.  5.3%

New Belgium / Indeed Come Together Honey Wheat Wine & Strawberry Fields Kettle Sour

A few months ago, the folks at Indeed and the crew at New Belgium got together and ....ah, man, I gave it away already. Well, anyway, they meet in Fort Collins, Colorado and cooked up this number. It came as no surprise that it would be a honey beer, since Josh Bischoff uses three different kinds of honey in three of Indeed's seasonal brews (Shenanigans, Mexican Honey Lager, and Old Friend). Also not a surprise is that they chose a phrase well known as a Beatles song title to commemorate their collaboration, following after Day Tripper Pale Ale (and with their next collaboration, done in Minneapolis, using yet another title).

Well, I never saw a bottle, but I got my hands on a keg, and took some notes before it ran out.

Come Together Honey Wheat-wine. 9% ABV. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO. in collaboration with Indeed Brewing.

Clouded, pale golden hue, lacey ivory head.

Sweetness jumps out of the nose, honey & wheat, with a little floral & spice notes.

In the mouth: bright, sweet, strong. Low to no hops. Nothin' but honey & wheat. Smooth, but big. A tasty treat, but really a one-and-done-er. A bit too big and too sweet to be more than that. What I wish is that I could keep a bottle for the winter, but I don't think they did bottle this. (A search on BeerAdvocate shows one rating. What? And one on rate beer.com, too. Whoa, how rare was this? And 171 check-ins on Untappd.)

Hey, guess what? I was going to add the Minneapolis-brewed New Belgium/ Indeed collaboration as a separate entry, but I can't find the notes anywhere. I know I wrote them, but I also know they were very brief. The beer was on tap for a very short time, and the keg was easier to get than Come Together. For Strawberry Fields, I asked Indeed for one and they said, sure, of course, you bet. To get a 1/6 barrel of Come Together from the distributor, I also had to buy a keg of New Belgium Citradelic.

Strawberry Fields was a 5.4 % ABV kettle sour / tart ale, using strawberry puree, honey, and brettanomyces. It tasted just like you'd want it to: a little sweet, a little tart, plenty of fruit and flat-out delicious. Plump, jammy, and refreshing. Pity it went away so quickly, but that it is the nature of the limited release brew.

Town Hall Blood Orange Lager

Town Hall Blood Orange Lager. 6% ABV. Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN.

Hazy, pinkish hue (pale orange?), slim whitish head.

Aroma is entirely orange, nothing but crimson citrus in this nose.

In the mouth: brisk, crisp, lightly hopped, and big, fat orange. Bursting with blood orange. After that, clean and easy-going. Great summertime treat.

Short and sweet notes, I know, but it is what it is.

Breckenridge Agave Wheat

Breckenridge Agave Wheat. Unfiltered Wheat Ale brewed with Agave Nectar, Breckenridge, Colorado. 4.2% ABV.


Lightly hazed, pale golden hue, sizable, lasting head on it.

Soft and sweet wheat-y aromatics. Am I getting the agave? Not sure.

In the mouth: sweet, then dry, then really dry. Lightly puckering, splash of sharp fruitiness. Refreshing, quenching. delivering satisfaction. I don't know why it took me so long to try this one out, but it turns out that I like it. Good beer, you can drink it, interesting twist on what can often be a boring style.

Finnegan's Hoppy Shepherd

Finnegan's Hoppy Shepherd Session Ale. 4.6% ABV. 50 IBU.

Clear, bright golden hue, lush ivory head, lasting long.

Aroma: big, hoppy citric nose, traces of tropical, more lemon and orange, though. Nice.

In the mouth: vibrant hop attack leads it off, then it fades to soft and malty. Clean, slightly fruity, well-balanced. Easy-drinker for sure. Light/medium body. Tasty enough for the hop head, and certainly sessionable.

Good beer. You can drink it.

Here's what the website says (AKA gobbledygook): To honor of the stoic and solitary men who provide Ireland with its much-needed wooly warmth, we proudly brew Hoppy Shepherd. It’s a lively session ale made from Admiral, Centennial, Citra and Jester hops with aromas of apricot, grapefruit and tangerine. We find it perfect for stirring conversation from even the most sheepish shepherd.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Omnipollo Aniara Pale Ale

Omnipollo Aniara. Pale ale brewed with lemon juice. Brewed at Crazy Mountain in Colorado.
There may be more information here, but I can't read the label very well. Green on blue doesn't pop out at you.

Bright, beautiful straw gold coloring, lightly hazed, with a generous helping of milky froth atop.

Aroma: Major citrus zest meets minor cat pee. Low hop bitterness. Lovely stuff.

In the mouth: The lemon leaps out and wrestles with the tongue, palate is pummeled by citrus twists. Spanks the tongue with each new sip. Yee-ow. After the initial assault, it mellows in time. Lip-licinkgly delicious. Medium-bodied, and easy-drinking. Nice one.

Shall I call this a "lemon bomb"? No, because I detest that phrase. But it's long on the lemon, and definitely a treat.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #51: Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake


It's July 3, and time for the second stop of the day, going from St. Cloud down twenty-seven miles southeast  to Big Lake (pop. 10, 000, a staggering 97.6% of them caucasians), andI Lupulin Brewing, at 570 Humboldt Drive, another brewery anchoring a mall. They had been open since April 2015, and I'd been anxious to try them, hearing nothing but good things from absolutely everyone. Tasted some growlers at gatherings, too, but it was high time to take a stool at the bar.


Apricot Blonde, Spudfest
We looked over the menu, and I decided to do a flight of the first six listed. First one, Spudfest, I didn't care for, but it was not meant for me. It's listed as a farmhouse/cream ale, a hybrid I've never heard of, and it must use potatoes or it's name is a strange non-sequitur. Next was a little better, the sweet and fruity Apricot Blonde, but it was perhaps too sweet and fruity for me. Drinkable enough, though. Number three was Belgian Blonde, 6.5%, 25 IBU, and my notes merely read: "right on", meaning that it delivered everything I'd want or expect from such a beer.  Now we're cooking. Over the lame stuff, on to the good, heading into the really good.
Ciara Red, Tripel

Anonymous Lupulin bartender pouring Lupulin beers.
At this point, though, my note-taking really ceased. I was more interested in taking in the place, getting a feel for the room. Looking through my photos, there were quite a few of a person who I perceived to be a manager looking straight at me from the background, while I'm trying to snap shots of the scene. Those aren't the best pictorial impressions. Perhaps I should have introduced myself, but for two reasons: I like to remain incognito, and not tell the staff that I'm going to blog about them, even if it's a place that I like, and also, he seemed kind of busy.


There are some rules that I follow through this project, and some portions of my journeys are decided upon a whim. Like the taking of notes. I had decided to take some beers home with me, so there would be notes on some beers, just not every one. There are times when I just feel like leaning back and enjoying.

Lupulin Nitro Chocolate Stout
Rounding out the flight was the amber, the triple and Citra Red. I was pleased with all of these and decided that I would add glass to my overwhelming collection of things. Glass in the form of a growler of beer (which I still have too many of), not in the form of any of their beautiful styles of glassware. I still have far too many of them, and when is the next time I'll bring beer back from Big Lake to pour into it?

Lupulin Barrel-aged West Coast Stout
After the flight is done, time to check on some of those beers not available in sample form. I went with a Chocolate Stout on nitro, Jason chose Resin Rapture, an Imperial Red IPA at 8% ABV. They were both right on the money. Just as smooth, roast-y and creamy, just as bold and hoppy as you want.

I decided to skip the Simcoe Imperial Stout because 750 ml bottles were available (had one at home already, took no notes, saving the second for later), and chose the Barrel-aged West Coast Stout (7.5% ABV, 75 IBU) as my final beer at Lupulin. Was that ever a nice one! Hit all the right notes, brought the barrel aged action, deep and rich and
hoppy. Loved every drop of it.
Jason with his growler, my hand with my stout.

That was a nice one to end on, as we had to hit up another brewery, and there was time to travel, and time to spend there before they closed. This is the one we missed before when they closed earlier than advertised. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, that's a story for Breweries One by One #52: 10 K Brewing, Anoka.

I enjoyed my stay at Lupulin, loved the wood all over, the good design of the taproom and the overall professional appearance of the place. I would enjoy visiting again and again, when the opportunity arises. This is a place that knows what it's doing and is on track to succeed. I can see them expanding and distributing outside their area before too long. I look forward to seeing their logo in more and more places.

growler of triple.
As mentioned earlier, I took home some bottles, and a growler of the Tripel, and here are the notes I took on it a few days later:

Lupulin Belgian Tripel, 9.5% ABV, 30 IBU.
Slightly clouded, golden/amber coloring, short-lived smallish white head.

Lovely aromatics, fruit 'n' spice and everything nice. Belgian yeast brings bubblegum hints, definite Belgian tripel flavor. Plenty fruity: apricot, peach, orange, lemon.

Taste: it's all happening in the mouth. Big, bright, and beautiful, full of everything I want in a triple,
and not skimping on the booze, too. A touch maltier, and fuller bodied than many, and I like that.

Tallgrass Half Pipe Tart Pale Ale

Tallgrass Half Pipe Tart Pale Ale. Brewed and canned by Tallgrass Brewing, Manhattan, Kansas. All. 5% by vol.  I'm going to assume this is a kettle sour. Let's open it up and taste.

Appearance: hazy, golden hue, slim white head.

Aroma: Tart and fruity at the start, whiffs of stone fruit and tropical, dominated by citric. Lemon and grapefruit galore.

Taste: greets the palate with sweet, then tart, and altogether fruity and refreshing. Light-bodied, with lingering tart finish. Easy drinker, good summer sour.

Hey, there's gobbledygook on the can! "Our first sour beer is inspired by the rad individuals who get air and grind--on rails and curbs--in alleys and 'burbs. The world is your playground." Okay, cool, tells me very little about the beer, but whatevs, dudes.  (You can click the link above for a little more info.)

Modist Wasteland

Modist Wasteland. 7.5% ABV, Modist Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Dark brown coloring, full, rich off-tan head, lasting long, staying strong.

Aroma: sweet, malty, nutty, fruity....arrestingly complex. What's in here? What's going on? Moderate hopping. Interesting, intriguing. Compelling.

In the mouth: deep malt, rich and spicy, soft and warm, and delightful. Exquisitely likable. Medium-bodied, long finish, malt forward, nicely hoppy,  and ....there's nothing more to say, I keep coming up with the same words! But what's the problem when those are the right words? None, except when people think you're some ninny who can't string out inscrutable sentences saying the same thing, only more long winded and maybe a whiff more pithier. Who's doing that? I hope no one. So, what am I worried about? Probably nothing.

There's a whole lot more of this beer to drink, long after I spent the words on it, and it's still damnably delicious. (Oh. I didn't use those, right?)

I will now look at the gobbledygook, cobbled from the website: BREWED WITH 60+ % RYE, THIS BEER REALLY PUTS YOUR TASTEBUDS TO WORK. A BIG, JUICY MOUTHFEEL THAT STARTS SPICY AND FINISHES WITH A CITRUS BITE. JAM PACKED WITH APOLLO, CASCADE, AND COLUMBUS HOPS, THIS DANKALICIOUS BREW WILL LEAVE YOU HOP HEADS WANTING MORE.

Okay, okay, just stop yelling at me! First off, I hate the phrase "dankalicious", but acknowledge that I cannot kill it by myself. Won't you help me and vow to never use it yourself, and always hurl a brick at anyone who does?

Secondly, ...nothing. That says it. The most ambitious Modist beer yet, soon to be eclipsed by others, I'm sure. As for me, I enjoy the heck out of it's very existence. Weird, wonderful and utterly uncategorizable beers like this make me glad for the future of craft beer, here and everywhere.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Boom Island Oude Funk

Boom Island Oude Funk, The Spontaneous Series, 2015. "Brewed with aged hops and is a blend of 1 year , 2 year, and 2 year old vintages, and fermented in oak wine barrels. 4.8% ABV. Best before 2025."
Well, I couldn't wait that long. Five months was all I could do. (Note: I bought the bottle in December, finally opened it in early June, publishing those notes now.)

Still white head, bright golden straw color, high carbonation.

Screaming wild & funky & sour right from the start. Very gueuze-like. All the horses' blankets and everything under and around them.

In the mouth: Funky-see, funky-do. The oak comes through the wine character evident. Fresh sour splash with each new sip. Light-bodied, extra-consumable. Smooth, refreshing, funky, wild and delicious.

A great achievement from Boom Island. Quite a piece of work. These guys are on the right track.

Town Hall Big Citrus

Minneapolis Town Hall Big Citrus IPA.  5.6% ABV.

Clear, hazy apricot appearance, slim white head.

Aroma teems of grapefruit. Big Citrus isn't just a name, it's what it is, through and through. Nice hop bitterness that screams of citric fruit essence.

In the mouth: More, more and more of the same. I can't believe this isn't brewed with grapefruit juice. Fresh, zesty, medium-bodied, and damned delicious. Easy-drinking. And yum. Which was implied by delicious. But I like yum better.

Omnipollo Fatamorgana Imperial IPA

Omnipollo, Omnipollo, Omnipollo!!! What is this thing called Omnipollo? Why are people talking about? What is it, and who cares?

That was me, ignorant and bewildered. I asked some Swedes that I met recently who the best Swedish brewer was, and they answered: Omnipollo. Well, I'd better check this stuff out, right? So, here's my first bottle of Omnipollo, and I'm going to do something unusual for me and read the gobbledygook first:

"Drawing inspiration from the fidelity of a saison — rustic, alluringly cloudy and crisp — this imperial IPA was brewed using oats and wheat. Dry-hopped twice and completely untouched post fermentation to preserve aroma and flavor.
Henok

Imperial IPA, 8 % by vol.
Brewed at Pub Dog Brewing in the USA.
Artwork by Karl Grandin."

Onipollo is a "gypsy brewer", using brewing facilities around the world, rather than being a "brick and mortar" brewery, based in Stockholm, Sweden. And now I will drink their beer.

Hazy, bright golden coloring, vast, puffy white head, leaving lace and looking beautiful. 

Aroma: bitter, sweet, and dry all at once. Gorgeous. Citrus and tropical fruits aplenty, all ending on a bittersweet, yet dry note. Mmmm-hmmm. Ahh...

In the mouth: Hmmm, there it is again. Starts bitter, piney, then tropical and sweet, then dry, rounding it out. Floods the mouth with deliciousness, then jumps right out. Next sip: there it is again, with more citrus, some lemon and lime and a touch of grapefruit, some bitter, then dry. Nice. Little bit of "cat pee" happening too, but it's a wonderful thing in this beer. Mmmm, mmm. 

Mmmm, good stuff. 



Monday, July 18, 2016

Borealis Fermentery Rood Tart Red Ale

Borealis Fermentery Rood, tart red ale. Knife River, MN.


Clouded, dark amber. near-crimson closing, slim, soon-gone off-whitish head.

Aroma: some funky stuff, some wildness and weirdness, and a touch of something unpleasant. There's just a trace of plastic/band-aid that's killing the vibe, here.

In the mouth: Pow! There's the tart, the sour, the fruit. Oak barrels, wild yeast, wine touches and flourishes, but that odd undercurrent from the nose appears on the palate, too. Refreshing. Tasty. Malty. Bracingly tart and delicious. Except for that thing.....yeah, it's still there, lurking below, tainting everything else.

Too bad. It seems like an infection in this batch, or this bottle. Not sure why or how, but the overall effect of what this beer is trying to be is marred by this defect. As I drink further...it's still there.

Damn! I love these guys, and what they're trying to do, but sending out bad bottles makes it harder to love them more, man! It's not the first bad Borealis bottle that I've tried, either. Just sad to have an infected bottle from a brewery that I champion.

I want this to be so good, and it could be, too, but alas, something's gone wrong. Try to fix it, guys,  I'm rooting for you!

Reading the label: "For the winter season, we bring you the second in our tart series. Introducing Rood...." Wait, stop. Was it infected, or just old? No, the band-aid taste is not the product of age, but infection. I do wonder if I should stop shopping at that store, or do I need to shop there more?

August Schell Noble Star Collection Apricot Vista

August Schell Noble Star Collection Apricot  Vista, Berlin Style Wheat Ale aged on apricots. Bottled 1/16.

Clouded, full-on orange/apricot appearance, slim, soon-gone head.

Nose: Tart from the start, fresh and lively, funky, wild and weird.

In the mouth: more sour, more tart, more brash & bold. Each new sip brings on the tartness, the pucker, and plenty of fruit. Just damned deliciously sour. Vast complexity and richness. Good fruit/yeast character.

I call it good.

Editor's note: This one sold out quickly, and I wasn't at any store to pick one up during that brief window when it sat on store shelves. Until many months later when I found one in Wisconsin. Then, I go and take notes on it, and that's the best I can do? Well, no self-flagellation, I told the tale. It's sour and fruity and good. If you ever see it, grab it, it's good.

August Schell Noble Star Collection Apparent Horizon Rye Berlin Style Wheat Ale

August Schell Noble Star Collection Apparent Horizon Rye Berlin Style Wheat Ale. Bottled August 2015. Ale aged in wood. August Schell Brewing Co., New Ulm, MN.

Hazy, peach-y toned coloring, slimmish white head.

Aroma: fiercely funky, wild and weird. Tart, sour 'n' spicy wheat tones abound.

In the mouth: Sourness starts it off, then the smooth, wheat malt texture becomes apparent, and the rye adds some complexity to the proceedings. Citric flavors dominate. Refreshment incarnate. Tartness never quite fades, and the richness doesn't die off, either. So tasty. Another stellar entry in the Noble Star series.


Here's a brief, paraphrased synopsis of the description from the tag around the bottle:
Brewed as a full strength version of a Berliner Weisse (which are normally 4% ABV and below), with 30% of the malt bill coming from rye. After a mixed fermentation, including lactobacillus, then transferred to the cypress lagering tanks. Brettanomyces is added and it is aged for nine months. Unfiltered, bottle-conditioned.

I've been sitting on this bottle for several months, until I couldn't take any more. Coincidentally, I visited the brewery today and bought a Noble Star goblet. I detested drinking my other Noble Star bottles from improper glassware, and I wanted desperately to have something appropriate with the Schell's logo on it. Worth the $12, despite that I keep swearing off the constant growth of my beer glass collection.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bank Hop Lab

I couldn't get a good picture of the beer without Sonny Boy
the Cat in it, so enjoy him in al his glory. 
Bank Brewing Discovery Series Hop Lab. 88 IBUs, 7.2% ABV. Earthy, Tropical, Refreshing. Dry-hopped India Pale Ale. DRINK NOW: bottled on 4/16.

Hazy, clouded, murky, off-amber coloring. long-lasting, lace-leaving ivory head. Looks a little off, but not bad.

Aromatics: oily, piney (a little), tropical fruit, malty notes. A bit weird. Huh.

In the mouth: More of the same from the nose on the tongue, now, and it's a weird mix. Hoppy, slightly sour, malty, and just a little, I'll say it again, weird. This one features Citra exclusively, but either the dry-hopping or the malts used, or I don't know what else, are not making this what it ought to be.

It has it's moments, but overall, it's kind of a mess. I can drink it, and maybe you can, too, but there's little joy in the drinking. Just doesn't deliver what I want from an IPA, let alone an all-Citra hop IPA. Doing an all-Citra IPA requires complementary malts. I don't think that happened here.

I've enjoyed other beers from this brewery (watch out for Minnesota Breweries One by One # 48, when I get around to it), ...this one is not a success.

Minnesota Breweries One by One #53: Wicked Wort Brewing, Robbinsdale

What's that? #53? First 1-30, then 50, now 53? Yup. I want to get the last one wrapped up right away then go back. These time jumps will happen now and then, so I beg your indulgence for the turbulence.
I forgot to take a shot of the building on our way in, so thirsty
was I after our ride, so this is the view after we dined at
Pig Ate My Pizza across the street.

It's a Wednesday, my day off, and we decided, Jason and I, that this would be the day to bike to the Minneapolis suburb of Robbinsdale to visit Wicked Wort Brewing for the first time. Brewery #53.
It was a nice day, though the wind might cause trouble, and I was up for the nine mile ride. Two miles from my home to Sisyphus, where we would meet and help kick off their week of 2nd Anniversary celebrations, then seven miles along the various trails that Jason knew so well, and one he didn't know existed, to our destination in downtown "Bird Town."

It was an uphill climb most of the way, passing by various lakes and shaded lanes, making sure to include a glimpse at the upcoming Utepils Brewery along Glenwood Avenue, and eventually we made our way to 4165 W. Broadway Ave.

The logo for Wicked Wort does not use "Robbinsdale" as it's location, but instead "Bird Town, MN". Sure, okay. It also says that it was established in 2014, although the facility was not open to the public until late January of 2016. Another example of when the founding of a business is marked by when the owners cooked up the plan. And oddly, it is also referred to on a banner at the bottom as a "Speakeasy", which makes one think that it would only admit patrons who knew the secret password, serve bathtub hootch, play wild jazz music, and exist in the 1920's. None of those things were going on. It seems as if the operators of this establishment have a different meaning in mind than I do.

From left: S.Hurts Pale, Upper Deck IPA, Birdtown
Blonde, Combat Wombat Munich Helles
After a random encounter at the bar with my friends Michael and Gera, we soon found our seats, perused the menu and each of us ordered flights. Twelve dollars for four. We each picked four, then chose the remaining two as full servings, rounding out their ten offerings. I began with Combat Wombat, a sweet, malty, clean and light Munich Helles (6.8%, 22 IBU) that went down nice and easy. Next, their flagship brew, Birdtown Blonde, a soft and creamy ale (5.6%, no IBU given) whose effortless drinkable must make it a local hit. Number three was Upper Deck IPA, a bright, tropical fruity, yet dry IPA that I would recommend to any hophead out there. Says the menu: "Hops, hops, and more hops. Citra and Mosaic unite in a tropical fruit explosion for your tastebuds." I'd agree. 6.7%, 66 IBU. Ciara and Mosaic, the classic do-no-wrong combination.

The beer I'd prefer not to name.
Finally in my flight was a beer I had to choose in order to talk about it's name. Now, you can call me a prude or whatever you like, but I just think that vulgarities and four-letter words ought to be kept out of beer names. You shouldn't force someone to say "shit" in order to ask for your beer. Personally, I like to say "shit" as little as possible, and when I do, I'm usually talking about actual, real fecal matter, or comparing something to same. Worse yet, I'm a bit of a literalist and when the word is used I all too often imagine the actual shit, conjure up the image of the waste product in my mind, and the foul aromatics soon unspool in my imagination. More problematic is that the word is entirely overused as a synonym for "things" of "stuff" by a large percentage of the population. "Go grab that shit over there." "Oh, you know, I did some shit." "That was some great shit." I've yet to turn the word into a desirable part of my vocabulary, and I don't see that changing any time soon. I honestly feel that the overuse of the word pollutes our culture and undermines any intelligent interaction. But, maybe that's just li'l ol' me.

So, they have a Pale Ale called "Shit Hurts."(5.3%, 43 IBU) I overheard a server pour one and say the name, while the brewer standing by said "it sure does." A customer calls out an order for a growler or two of Shit Hurts. La de da, whoop de do, ...but I stand by my words: the word "shit" should not appear on a beer menu for any reason. Bad taste, crass, vulgar, and makes you think of poo. And dumb, really dumb.

As for the beer? Buttery, low on hops, light bodied, and uninteresting. Not a fan, of the beer or it's shitty name.
Jason with his flight, hoisting the Pilsner. Sorry I cut out
your left eye, buddy. 

Jason's flight consisted of Affengeil Pille German Pilsner, Big Deal Kolsch, Who's Your Daddy Vienna Lager, and Grey Duck Mosaic IPA, and he found that the bookends were the champions of his selection. I agreed: the kolsch and vienna were just okay, the pils a bit more on the money, and the Grey Duck IPA was just about right. We differed on our rankings of the 2 IPAs, but that's fine, reasonable minds can disagree, as we all know.

Here's the booth with the weird poster that so confused
my sister. There must be some meaning here, but I
can't discern it. 
Wicked Wort had been on my mind a bit more than other suburban breweries due to reports from my sister Lynn, who has lived in Robbinsdale for 30 years, or so. She's been in several times, and didn't have much to say about the beer itself, mainly the ambience and the various questions it raised. A poster featuring a photograph of two bikers holding hands while standing at urinals puzzled her. Weird, was her main comment. Like vulgar words, pictures of toilets and urinals should stay out of sight. (Side note: my experience at F-Town in Faribault months ago was marred by their rest room being situated next to the benches in the taproom, and the many times people would leave the door wide open, forcing me to look at a toilet while I drank their beers. And forcing me to get up and close the door after those people.) (Other side note: Harriet Brewing has a poster of Frank Zappa sitting on the toilet. It's in the men's room.)

Chandeliers hang from the ceilings, with peeing bikers on the walls. "Weird."

Here's the bar near the stage, replete with Robbinsdalians.
Peeking down at the brewery. 
It's a large room,with a space in one corner for bands, and a second bar nearby, and a food area adjacent to that. 

Frozen pizza, various snacks, free popcorn, etc. The merch rack, the game shelf, all the usual taproom stuff. And in the middle, a hole in the floor to peek down and look at the brewery in the basement. This marks the first time that I've seen a brewery lurking below a taproom. Not that there's anything wrong with that. 

Getting back to the beer, I picked a pint ofNessie's Scottish Export (5.4% ABV, 17 IBU), which was an acceptable, if unremarkable rendition of the style, and Jason went with the remaining beer, Rostock Imperial Pilsner (8.7%, 58 IBU). We both liked that one, and I don't usually go for double/imperial pilsners. I usually pass on them, even if it comes from a brewery I can trust. They describe it as "the flavor and bite of a single pilsner, with but the inconspicuous alcohol of two." I'd say that's about right.

This was all we needed, though food had to be taken care of. We could have had pizza delivered to us from Pig Ate My Pizza, across the street, but felt like we'd spent spent enough time at Wicked Wort and wanted to experience PAMP for ourselves. If you see a man walking around the taproom with a plastic pig on his head, talk to him, and have him bring you their pizza while you drink WW's beers. You will not regret it.

So, Robbinsdale has it's own unpretentious hang-out that makes decent beers, though it comes off a little weird to some. Maybe to me. Go knock yourselves out, Robbinsdale. We've checked you off our list, and now another 51 or so to go. And counting!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Sisyphus That 70's Simcoe

That 70's Simcoe. 6.5% ABV. 65 IBU.

Clear, reddish hue, large off-white head, drifting down slowly.

Big ol' hoppy nose. Plenty of pine, and fruit, and all the good stuff. Ah, tropical notes, too, bright fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple. Low bitterness, high juicy fruit. How'd ya like a nice Hawaiian Punch?

In the mouth: Mmmm. Right on. Smooth and tasty. Sweet malt holds it down, bright shiny hops pop on top. Beautiful mix, all the fruit, all the bitter, all that joy. Stone fruits, pit fruits, grapefruits, and fruity grapes....all making it happen. Slight bitterness keeps it all going. Yu-u-um. And in other languages: delicious. This is the kind of beer I like to drink.

Keep 'em coming, Sam & crew. Happy Anniversary, and many more!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

OLIPHANT Steve Dirkul Dunkel Lager

OLIphant Steve Dirkul Dunkel Lager, 4.6% ABV.

Solid blackness, slim cocoa/tan head.

Soft, chocolate-y nose, mild bitterness, mayor sweet maltiness. Ends on a nice, dry, bittersweet note.

In the mouth: all of that and more. Medium bodied. More chocolate, staring sweet, ending dry and just a touch more bitter. Ah, delicious.

I like a good, smooth, easy-drinking dunkel lager. And this is one of them.

Fargo Brewing Wind Swept Belgian Style Witbier

Fargo Wind Swept Belgian Style Witbier, Fargo Brewing, Fargo, North Dakota. 5.2% ABV, 14 IBU. Mt. Hood hops, 2 Row Barley malt, Oats, White Wheat.

Clouded gold, large, puffy white head, leaving lace.

Spice and fruit aplenty in the aromatics. Light, airy, lovely. Coriander, pepper, orange, and lemon.

In the mouth: Lightly sweet, and and light in body. Just enough fruit, just enough spice on the tongue, and ever so easy drinking. There's a little bit of tartness in the flavor that makes this just that much "off", and I want to like it more, but that part is nagging at me.

This is can two of a 6-pack. I'll drink the other 4 without worrying about it too much, but I can't give this one high marks. It veers too far away from what I want in a wit, and it's ultimately a poor representation of one. Sorry, guys.

Sisyphus Anti-Social Apple Ale

Sisyphus Anti-Social Apple Ale.

Clear, pale straw golden color, no head at all.

Nose: all apple, sweet, lightly tart, dry...nice.

Taste: dry and clean...honey-crisp? Maybe. Wet. And Dry. Light-bodied, crisp, tasty.
That's all I got. As apple ales go, it's all right. I don't mind it. In fact, actually, I can dig it, just a little.

Good apple ale, and you can drink it.

(notes from May 30. But you can find it at the tap-room currently, so these notes aren't entirely invalid.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sisyphus The Feast of Littlefoot IV

Sisyphus The Land Before Time IV: The Feast of Littlefoot, 6.4% ABV.

Clear, bright amber color, pure white head, lasting long and leaving lace.

Beautifully aromatic, bold plenty of pity notes & tropical fruit touches. Little bit of citrus, too.

In the mouth: fresh and zesty, hoppy and delicious. A lightish bodied easy-drinker, a good ol' hoppy pale ale. Lightly hoppy finish. Little bitterness in this one at first, though it grows over time. Yum.
Gets sweeter and creamer , while the bitter increases. I like this one. Good beer, and you can drink it.