Monday, May 29, 2017

Stone Tangerine Express IPA

Stone Tangerine Express IPA, an India Pale Ale packed with whole tangerine and pineapple. 6.7% ABV. 75 IBU. Stone Brewing, CA.

Lightly hazed, amber/crimson appearance, lush, white, lace-leaving head. Looking good.

In the nose:  a lively mix of bitter and sweet, tons of tropical tones.

In the mouth: Spanks the tongue with the bitter slap, then the sweet fruit rolls in. You want tangerine (and pineapple) in your IPA, you’ve got it. Floods the mouth with flavor. Bitter hop flavors hang in there for the long haul. Lean malt component, just as we like it. Delicious.

I dig this, like I dig every IPA Stone ever releases. It’s a foregone conclusion. They make an IPA, I’m gonna like it.

Click on that link above to learn more about it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

NorthGate Canoe Country Cream Ale

NorthGate Canoe Country Cream Ale in Collaboration with Save the Boundary Waters. This ale was brewed and packaged in Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, amber-hued, nice inch high head of ivory foam.

In the nose: soft, slightly hoppy, citrus-y just a touch, mild and mellow.

In the mouth: Clean, slight hop bitterness, cool and balanced. Malt does it’s thing, crisp, lean, and biscuity.

Good cream ale, and you can most assuredly drink it.
Oliphant Brewing and The Brewing Projekt present…

Hero Squad Collaboration Team Up. A Bright Red Belgian-style Ale with Currants and Mosaic Hops. 6% ABV.
In brewing, it’s called a collaboration. In comics, it’s a team-up. Here he have them both. The Brewing Projekt, established in 2015, is a concern I've never heard of until now, located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. These cans are not available in Minnesota, unlike the crowlers from Oliphant themselves, but my friends over there slipped some cans across the border for me, those sweethearts.

Solid redness, very hazy, slim white head.

In the nose: lightly fruity and floral. Some citrus notes. Sweet and lovely. Very nice.

In the mouth: Plump and bulbous. A sweet thing in the mouth, but balanced and ending on a dry note. Medium bitterness, lush malt, very clean and a pleasure to drink. Sweet malt kept in check and provides delights.

Good beer and you can sure as heck drink it.

On the label: “The acid storm was fierce….Unrelentless. Mr. Glass was transported through the rain portal. Gem boy meditates. In his quartzite heart drums the book’s rhythms. The book of forgotten power….the book of fire. Together they are quasi-dimensional time heroes. Together they are….”

It’s strange for me to say such a thing, but maybe they’ve read one too many comic books over there at Oliphant. I’m kidding, of course. I want to see them go even further with the weird stuff.

Bald Man Brewing Killer Queen Imperial IPA

Bald Man Killer Queen Imperial IPA. 750 ml bottle. (Paid $10.49) ABV 9.5%. Bald Man Brewing, Eagan, MN.

I’ve had Bald Man beers before. I visited them in late November, and they are #105 on the list of breweries, with the report yet to be written. I liked what I had there, but this is the first bottled offering I've yet to sample. And here we go...

Deep crimson coloring, opaque, lasting ivory head.

In the nose: rich, sweet malt meets pungent, powerful hop presence. A cornucopia of fruit notes at play in the aroma.

In the mouth: Big, bold, flooded with flavors. Coats the palate. Malt-driven, with an abundance of hops, bitterness kept in check by aforementioned massive malt. Plenty sweet, plenty bitter. It’s got it all.

I have to admit that this is not my favorite iteration of double IPA. I like them best when they’re brighter, lighter, citrus-y-er.

I’m also admittedly not much into Classic Rock, and though I’ve heard the song often enough, I didn’t know right away that the name of the beer comes from a Queen song, and the description on the back label is dotted with phrases lifted from the lyrics: “Beneath her crown lies a killer blend of American hops and English malt, sure to please the most insatiable of appetites. Bow before the queen, for if you don’t, she will show no mercy! Wanna try?”

Well, I did try, but I don’t think I’ll be back for more. Nice try, though.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fair State Vienna Lager

Fair State Vienna Lager. 5.3% ABV.  25 IBU.

Clear, amber-colored, slim white head.

In the nose: toasted malts, light, snappy, herbal hop presence. Clean and classic.

In the mouth: Lively hop attack at the top, then along comes the lush malt. Toffee/caramel tones dominate the palate, but it’s no battlefield. All is smooth and full of flavor. Bitter and sweet in a continual tango, comfortably co-mingling. Medium bodied with a long, malty finish.

I’ve had this before, but never reviewed it. Lagers are just going to be one of the last categories I chose from when I take something home from the taproom or liquor store. Getting a big 750 crowler from the Sample Man gives me an extra reason to take notes.

If you are the kind who is inclined to enjoy a Vienna lager from time to time, by all means make it one of these.

Here's their words about it: Our interpretation of the classic Vienna lager - pale amber in color, medium bodied, ever so slightly toasty from Munich and Vienna malts, complimented by a grassy noble hop nose.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Prairie Pe-Kan

Prairie Artisan Pe-Kan. 11.5% ABV. Imperial Stout brewed with copious amounts of vanilla & pecans.

Solid blackness, thin, tight brown ring of foam above.

In the nose: Cream, cocoa, nuts. Chocolate ice cream, with pecans on top.

In the mouth: Arrives on the palate clean and luscious, sweet, but balanced. A decadent treat. Floods the mouth with flavor. Bombs the palate with malty delights. Alcohol heat slowly but surely creeps in, but doesn’t intrude too harshly.

I was surprised that the pecans are so muted and mellow. Do I expect big things from this brewery?  Big, loud things? Perhaps. I also expect highly quality, sound construction, expert execution, and no shortage of taste. This one’s got it all and then some.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lake Monster Buddy Check Session IPA

Lake Monster Buddy Check Session IPA. Lake Monster Brewing, St. Paul, MN.

Clear, crimson-colored, lush, creamy, off-white head, leaving lace.

In the nose: sweet and fruity at first, then bitterness butts in and stays for the ride. Whiff of tangerine, lime, grapefruit.

In the mouth: Bitterness is bigger on the palate. Slightly astringent, much malt, big fruit, ripe and tasty. This is quite a different take on the “session IPA”, tasting like a good ol’ regular IPA. What’s the ABV? Can’t find it anywhere. (I found 4.5% and 45 IBU on Untappd. The same on BA and rate beer. Nothing on their website, though. Weird.)

Let’s read this label: “Our highly hopped American IPA is brewed for robust flavor and aroma in an easy drinking package—perfect for a session with your buddy.”

Here’s why it’s surprising as a “session IPA”. They’re not normally “robust”, don’t often have the strong malt content of this one, and is far more flavor than the average session IPA, whatever the hell that is. Go out and drink this one. Good beer and you can do that.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Central Waters Brewers Reserve Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout

Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout.

Full-on black, slim brownish ring of foam.

In the nose: roasted malt meets sweet fruit, with a touch of tart.

In the mouth: More of that. Some cocoa/chocolate, roasted malt gets smothered by the cherry, which is then covered up by the barrel. Bourbon takes command. Cherry and a touch of vanilla coming through. Nicely textured, a bit of tannins on the palate. Some tart, some sweet, and a lot of complexity happening. I like this one, I do, indeed.

From the website: We throw 75 pounds of tart Door County cherries into each oak barrel with a rich imperial stout then age it for 6 months. Cheers!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Prairie Artisan Ales Paradise

Prairie Paradise. Prairie Artisan Ales, Oklahoma.

Imperial Stout brewed with coconut & vanilla. 13% Alc. by Vol.

Utter blackness, under a beautiful, smooth, clean tanned head.

In the nose: starts quietly at first, but the flavors are slowly unfolding. Dark chocolate, sweet coconut, and a side order of vanilla. Enticing. Lovely.

In the mouth: Whoa. Flavors hit forceful and fierce, right from the start. A tasty combination, pleases the palate before the heat turns on. With each new sip, the deliciousness is chased by the alcohol burn. Pretty nice nightcap. Expensive (7.49’s what I paid), and plenty boozy. Have this as a once in while treat before you turn out the lights.

Here's a little inside info: It’s about to get really hot outside. How about a cold glass of refreshing Imperial Stout. Yep, you heard that right. Brand new to our line up is Prairie Paradise. We took a stout, gave it a hint of vanilla and a good deal of toasted coconut and created one season defying, genre bending brew. Imperial stouts are usually thought of as a cold weather beer, but here the coconut and vanilla blend push the image of the stout into a year round, all season style.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Insight Crazy Aunt Gin & Tonic-Style Ale

Insight A visit to my Crazy Aunt Gin & Tonic Style Ale. Insight Brewing, Minneapolis, MN. “We craft legends.”

"Gin & tonic style ale”? What the heck could that be? There’s got to be some explanation somewhere, but I’m going to check that out later. For now, I’m going in blind.

Hazy, golden-hued, slim white head.

In the nose: interesting, can’t quite pin this one. Lightly hoppy, slightly sour, some fruity/tropical tones, too, Not like anything I’ve held to my nose before.

Time to taste: Grapefruit. Very dry. Refreshing and light. It resembles a g. & t., yeah, I get that, but how? And why?

(So, I looked at the website, and lo, and behold, found this:


Crazy Aunt is an ale brewed with juniper, coriander, lime juice, and tonic water. We’ve pushed the limits with this beer and brewed it to taste just like a gin & tonic, and we’re introducing it as the perfect seasonal to quench your thirst on a warm Minnesota summer day. RECIPE IDEAS HERE!

availability: SUMMER
abc: 6.0%
ibu: N/A

I think this is a fun experiment, and it accomplishes what it sets out to, but “gin and tonic-style” is not what I look for in an ale. It’ll probably be a big hit with others, though.

Wait, there's more. Of course, there's more.

"...a distant relative, but not untouched by that strain of 'eccentricity' which affects us all, Grizelda Brewmaster had summoned me to the misty shores of Albion. She claimed to have invented a brew that mimicked the gin & tonic precisely. Juniper, spruce, quinine, all jostling about in bubbly bliss. On my way up to there precarious cottage, I mused on the warnings of the villagers below. 'Yowza, you're going to the witch's house?!' I was. Seldom does one get to choose their family, and neither did I..."

You know, the Monkees had a song called "Aunty Grizelda." Just thought I'd share that.

Lupulin Polarnattens Paradis Winter Stout with Paradise Coffee and Star Anise

Lupulin Polarnattens Paradis. The Polar night's Paradis. 7.8% ABV. 50 IBU. Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake, MN.

Solid blackness, rich brown head above.

In the nose: intense cocoa and coffee, rich malt. Beautiful. Warm and flavorful.

In the mouth: the anise hits first on the palate, with malt rushing in, and cocoa and coffee joining the fray. Anise remains on top of it, and I've got no problem with that. Spicy rye malt holds it down. Full body, full flavor, richly rewarding.

I liked this one quite a bit, although I did drink it just a little out of season.

From the label: "Around these parts, mid- to late-December is the darkest time of the year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty to be found in nature. The polar night is the time during winter, near the north (and south) pole, when the sun never rises above the horizon. Polarnattens paradis is a dark winter ale inspired by the starkly beautiful winter of the polar regions of northern Scandinavia. The beer is 7.8% ABV, densely dark and incorporates several flavors associated with winter in the far north of Sweden, such as light smokiness, subtle rye spiciness, black licorice, and, of course, coffee."

UFO White Ale

UFO White Ale. Wheat beer with orange peel and coriander. Mass Bay Brewing Company, Boston, MA & Windsor, VT.  (And here, I thought it was Harpoon? Isn't it? ) 4.8% ABV.

Cloudy, pale yellow, slim white head.

In the nose: big orange peel, with a healthy helping of coriander. classic witbier aroma.

In the mouth: Sweet, wheat-y and smooth. Fills the bill perfectly for a Belgian white. Supremely drinkable, with just enough flavor to keep the tastebuds happy. A simple, uncomplicated beverage that, well, is a good beer and you can drink it.

UFO Huckleberry

Not too longer ago, the Harpoon Brewing Company of Massachusetts entered our Minnesota market, and with it, their UFO (Un-filtered Offering) line of wheat beers. Oddly, much of the marketing completely omits any association with Harpoon, as if UFO was it's own entity.

The Sample Man was kind enough to provide me a couple, and here's one, UFO Huckleberry. 4.8% ABV.

"Delightfully juicy hefeweizen with a refreshing berry finish." "The right hint of fresh huckleberry."

Highly hazed, pale yellow, slim white head.

In the nose: tart and berries. Slightly sweet. Nice.

In the mouth: Lightly tart, sweet, smooth. Super drinkable, nice and fruity. About all you need to say about it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dogfish Head Saison du Buff

At long last, after an absence of so many years, Dogfish Head brewery is back in Minnesota! And here we have the second new-to-me beer I've tried since the return. I've tapped four of their beers at Acadia, but three have them (Midas Touch, 60 Minute IPA, and 90 Minute IPA, have appeared here already). SeaQuench remains for me to review from the tap, and this bottle was dropped off by a kindly Sample Man. Away we go, with Saison du Buff. ( I still haven't picked up any others at the store, but I'll be correcting that error very soon.)

Dogfish Head Saison du Buff. Brewed in collaboration with Stone and Victory. 6.8 % ABV, 40 IBU.

Crystal clear, pale golden color, lush ivory head, leaving lace.

In the nose: some citrus notes, and plenty of delicate spice. Parsley, sage, rosemary, & thyme. Remember me to one who lived there, she once was a true love of mine.

In the mouth: Soft, spicy, funky, fresh. Light-bodied, long, herbal/spicy finish. Good-drinking, and tasty. Refreshing and delightful. Right on the money for the style, perfectly satisfying.

Good one, Dogfish Head and Stone and Victory. Very nice.

Why is called "Saison du Buff", I wondered? The answer is here:
This beer is collaboration between Dogfish Head, Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA) and Victory Brewing Company (Downingtown, PA).

The idea for this beer germinated way back in 2003 when the three guys (Sam from Dogfish, Greg from Stone and Bill from Victory) formed the BUFF alliance (Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor) - a noble endeavor with the goal to highlight the passion and camaraderie of the American craft brew movement.

So, BUFF didn't really do anything (beyond talk a lot of talk) until 2010 when the three brewers finally got together to jointly brew at beer at the Stone Brewery. Saison du BUFF was first brewed at Stone and then replicated at each of the other two breweries - same recipe, same ingredients, three different breweries throughout 2010. The brewers have a repeat performance planned for 2012!

Saison du BUFF is a 6.8% ABV Saison brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The beer is brewed three times, once at each brewery using the same recipe. The expected release dates for each brew are as follows:

Dogfish Head - 2014, 2017 release

Victory Brewing - 2015 release

Stone Brewing Co.- 2016 release

Friday, May 5, 2017

Blacklist Dark Belgian-style Imperial Stout

Blacklist Dark Belgian-style Imperial Stout. 8% ABV. Blacklist Brewing, Duluth, MN

Utterly blackness. Cocoa-tinged, tanned head. Looking nice.

In the nose: mellow and malty, sweetish and lovely. Vanilla and cocoa. Very nice.

In the mouth: Full-bodied. Rich and malty. Nicely balanced, not too sweet, with low bitterness. Tasty, tasty stuff, and showing just a little bit of alcohol strength...just yet. It's growing, though, and getting bigger and richer as it takes over the palate and the senses.

"Don’t be afraid of the Dark. Unlike some of its bigger brethren, Dark is not to going to scare you off by being too big or too sweet. Pleasant fruitiness swim in sync with roasted malts & dry cocoa; balanced and flavorful, each sip will draw you to its murky depths, but you probably won’t mind."

Bank Hop Lab

Bank Hop Lab Dy Hopped India Pale Ale, Discovery Series. 88IBUs, 7.2% ABV.
"Earthy, tropical, refreshing." Bank Brewing, Hendricks, MN.

Clear, dull tangerine color, slim white, lace-leaving head.

In the nose: big tropical fruit essence: guava, mango, pineapple. Lightly bitter. Beautiful.

In the mouth: splash of juicy, tropical hops dances on the palate. Medium body, long, fruity finish. Ends just a little dry, while the fruity flavor never quits. Tasty. Actually, yum. This I can dig. Go get it.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Cigar City Cubano-style Espresso Brown Ale

Cigar City Brewing Cubano-style Espresso Brown Ale with Vanilla, Cacao & Coffee Beans Added. 5.5% ABV. 25 IBU. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, Florida.

Rich, dark, deep brown, with a lush, brown head, leaving lace. Looking good.

In the nose: Ah! Yes! Cream, cocoa, vanilla, chocolate, coffee....all the good stuff. So lovely.

In the mouth: Full body, rich texture, big mouthfeel. Massive maltiness, minimum hops. Rich and redolent with the earthy, the chocolatey, the espresso-y. All the yummy. Just ever-so delightful. The vanilla, the coffee, and all the yum.

"This brown ale is brewed with a heaping amount of Cubano-style espresso beans,vanilla and cacao nibs. Rich coffee notes dominate this beer, while still being balanced by a smooth malty backbone. Pairs well with arroz con leche and, of course, a delicate shot of Cubano espresso.

Brewed with a proprietary blend of coffee beans produced in tandem with Buddy Brew Coffee in Tampa, Florida."

Carton Boat Session Ale

Carton Brewing Boat Session Ale. 4.2% ABV. 35 IBU. Proudly brewed and canned by us, in our town, Carton Brewing Company, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.

Highly hazed, utterly clouded, pale orange, with a powerful ivory head, leaving lace.

In the nose: bright, warm, citrusy, beautiful. Lemon, orange, passionfruit, grapefruit, mango & more. Low bitterness, high hops.

In the mouth: More bright, more beauty, and plenty of bitter. Big citrus. Smooth and easy drinking. Medium mouthfeel, lightish bodied. Mmm, yum.

From the website (and the label): "Boat Beer is designed to be complex enough to merit drinking a few without being crippled by alcohol. Kolsch yeast and German malts are combined to be crisp and refreshing, while a generous amount of American hops have been added to keep it remarkable. Expect it to dance out of the glass with a whack of grapefruit and open into a crisp, stony tangle of white and yellow fruit with pine and moss notes. An IPA for everyday drinking, drink boat beer when you are thirsty from softball, fishing, or explaining why your team is best."

"pine and moss notes"? Moss? That's a first for me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Summit Unchained No. 24: Spring Saison

Summit Unchained No. 24: Spring Saison. 4.7% ABV. 30 IBU.

Hazed, pale yellow/orange hue, slim white head.

In the nose: there's the sweetness, the Belgian yeast, the fruit, and the bubblegum, all in one. Stone fruit and slightly tropical. Little side of spice.

In the mouth: All of the above, popping on the palate. Nice wheat-y texture. Spicy hops (Saaz, Cascade), spicy yeast, malt (rye, wheat, etc), and yet exceedingly smooth and expertly drinkable. Medium bodied, long finish, fits the style exactly. Tasty one, for sure, and certainly sessionable.

From the website: Unchained 24: Spring Saison represents the transition from winter to spring. Let the beer's tart, refreshing profile draw you outside and help you usher in the new season!

Not sure where they get the "tart" part. It's a bit of a stretch. It is refreshing, authentic, and a very nice  saison. Good work, Summit!

Summit Hefe Weizen

Here's an old favorite, if this is the same as the original, and why wouldn't it be? Summit's Hefe Weizen was surely the first of the style that I ever tried back in the 90's. And then, they stopped making it, some time around 2009 or so. Or, wait, no, they still brewed it, but only for Chicago. What? That's crazy. Was it really that poor of a seller? How could a classic hefe weizen not be hit here at home? Well, I certainly put back my share, when I wasn't in the mood for an IPA, or a porter, or a pale ale, or a saison, or a stout...or a barley-wine or a tripel, or bourbon barrel aged imperial whatsiwhovitz.

And now here it is in the Boundary Waters collection. Or, on tap, wherever. And I'm going to drink this can, poured into a glass.

Highly clouded, pale orange color, slim white, lace-leaving head.

In the nose: Classic Bavarian hefe weizen yeast character dominates the aromatics. There's the banana and a little bit of clove, with plenty of citrus hanging around. Nice.

In the mouth: Soft, clean, smooth. Delightfully drinkable. Medium/light bodied, expertly drinkable. Did I say smooth? Super-smooth. Just enough flavor to keep the mouth happy. Make more, Summit, make enough to last all summer long!

Just for kicks, here's a Beer review I did back in May of 2003:

Cloudy golden color, hazier up at the top, with an impressive head, 2" thick, white as a cloud and fluffy as one, too, with a slow, lacey crumble. (Perhaps the Aventinus glass I poured it into aided in this.)
Aroma is overall soft and subdued, but full of weizen character, spikey with citrus, spicy, but mellow and dry.
Rich, tangy, grainy, mouthfeel at first, with a tasty, rewarding finish. Body is light/medium, and smooth. Lacking complexity, but high on the drinkability, with just enough flavor.
A brew I return to every summer, over and over.

Schell's Maifest German-style Maibock

I can't keep up with all the new beers, though I try and try. But I do feel that I have to check off the old beers, of course. Have I not had Schell's Maifest once in the past six or so years? Sadly true. So, I'm drinking this one, and looking back on notes from 2004. April 21 to be exact:

School's Maifest, German-style blonde bock. August Schell Brewing, New Ulm, MN. 6.2 % ABV.

Clear, faded crimson color, adequate, spotted beige head.

Aroma is clean and malty, rosy sweet, subdued.

Taste: smooth, very light, unobstrusive entry on the palate and definitely classifiable as tasty, rich, buttery, bright, with toffee-ish malty tones.Good mouthfeel, hangs fully and solidly on the tongue, a very tangible maibock, bright coppery, I like the way this lays in the mouth.

Good drinkability, too, but I like bolder, more substantive maibocks better, so, as much as I appreciated this bottle, Schell's has to get in line behind some superior offerings.
Good, though, I'd never say no to one!

Looking back on my thoughts of 13 years ago, what was I thinking? How does higher alcohol mean "superior"? Simply untrue. Ain't nothing wrong with a maibock under 8% ABV. In fact, it's pretty normal. This one is damned delicious, without the buzz of high alcohol.

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Ale

Here's a beer I had to check and make sure I haven't reviewed already, it's been around for so long. I've certainly tried it many times, but have never had a can of my very own to sit down and sample. Thanks, Mr. Sample Man, for helping make this happen, at long last.

I'm looking at the can and I wonder: How did the Statue of Liberty get to San Francisco, and why is she hanging out on top of the Golden Gate bridge? Did she swim? No, that's impossible. Did she walk? How did she avoid causing massive death and destruction, crushing buildings, people, plants and livestock under her the enormous weight of her gargantuan feet? Did she fly? Can she fly? How does the bridge withstand her incredible weight? Where did those gigantic watermelons come from? What other amazing properties and talents does this amazing living statue possess? And here I thought it just stood in New York harbor, all lifeless -like. So many questions.

But, the beer: Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Ale, 4.9% Alc./Vol. Wheat beer brewed with watermelon. Brewed and canned by 21st Amendment Brewery, San Leandro, California.

Hazy, pale yellow, slim, milky white head.

In the nose: soft, wheat-y, increasingly fruity.

In the mouth: Sweet, fruity, nice wheat-y texture. Light bodied, easy drinking. Yup, it's a beer and it's got watermelon in it, and you can drink it. I can't think of anything else to say about it. Not bad, not great, just about good enough. I'm not big of a fan of watermelon flavor to actually go so far as to choose to drink it again. I'll ear watermelon if it's there in front of me, but I just don't care about having it in a beer. And we're going to have to leave it there, ladies and gentlemen, and off to the next one.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Harpoon Fresh Tracks Spring Pale Ale

Harpoon Fresh Tracks Bright Floral Hoppy Spring Pale Ale. 6.2% ABV. 38 IBU. Product of USA. India Pale Ale. Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA & Windsor, VT.

Clear, pale yellow color, slim white head.

In the nose: bright, citrusy hops, and that's about it.

In the mouth: Citrus bomb, as the kids say these days. Light bodied. Low bitterness. Hoppy. Clean, crisp malt. Not too much to talk about. Let's read the label for a bit: "bright golden with citrus and pine notes, light and ready-for-spring ale. Hibernation be damned. Get outside and make some fresh tracks--hooray for spring!"

Wait, there's more: "Our brewery parking lot can be a pretty good indicator of the season. Some cars have ski racks. Others are decked with bike racks. Some even have both. Spring here keeps us on our toes. So we're always ready for anything."

Well, it's a good spring IPA and you can drink it. And there ain't nothing' wrong with it.

Bear Republic Pace Car Racer Pale Ale

Bear Republic Pace Car Racer. 4% Alc. byVol. Brewed and bottled by Bear Republic Brewing Co., Cloverdale, CA.

Hazy, deep yellow, slim, lasting ivory head.

In the nose: big, bright, bold citrus. Lemon and orange and grapefruit aplenty, with a splash of pine.

In the mouth: more and of that and then some. Big bitterness. And more bright, more bold. Light bodied, easily consumable. Very clean, very crisp, and so much citrus. Good drinking pale ale.

From the label: "Hoppy aromas of pine and citrus, with a smooth malt flavor that empties your glass at a speedy pace. This Session India Pale Ale is the newest addition to the Racer family."

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Deschutes Swivelhead Red India Style Red Ale

Deschutes Swivelhead Red. 70 IBU. 6.5% ABV.

Clear, crimson coloring, slim off-white head.

In the nose: lively, grassy hop notes. Piney, then malty.

In the mouth: Sweet malt starts it off, quickly met with hops. Low bitterness, high flavor. Grassy, herbal hop notes lay long on the palate. Caramel/toffee malt flavors dominate. This is interesting. And  tasty. Good IRA and you can drink it.

From the label: "Profile: A head turning IRA with herbal hop aroma and smooth caramel maltiness."

Summit Wit Bier

Summit Wit Bier. 4.8% ABV. 15 IBU. Available only on draft and in the Boundary Waters sampler pack.

Heavily clouded, pale yellow, large and lasting ivory cap on top, leaving lace.

In the nose: soft and sweet, coriander pops out. Flood of citrus. Right on for style.

In the mouth: Sweet and fruity starts it off. All is soft and smooth. Medium bodied, light and quite consumable. Minor hop bitterness. Just enough spice. this will be really good in the summertime. Hope it lasts that long.

Good wit and you can drink it.

"A traditional Belgian white beer with aromas of spice, citrus and flowers, this summertime thirst-quencher puts the "rad" in "traditional." Kettle additions of orange peel, grains of paradise and fresh-ground coriander give this refreshing, citrusy and herbal ale a light body and slightly tart, dry finish. Find Summit Wit Bier on draft and in 12-oz. cans, exclusively inside the Boundary Waters Box."

This is not their first wit, over at Summit. I recall many years ago, eleven to be exact, that they released a version of a wit called Scandia, for some reason. It was made unique with the addition of cardamom, added to the coriander and orange peel of a traditional wit. It didn't really work. They continued to make it until 2009, when it was discontinued. I never understood, either, the emphasis on Norwegian roots when making their first Belgian-style beer. This one I can dig, for real. Though I don't know why there's a cow on the can.

Lupulin Blissful Ignorance Double IPA

Lupulin Blissful Ignorance, Unapologetically Hazy, Blissfully Ignorant. 9% ABV. 70 IBU. Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake, MN.

Hazed and clouded, pale amber/golden hued, big, beautiful white head atop.

In the nose: ah! Wow! Pungent and powerful, popping with tropical and citrus fruit notes, flooded with pineapple, lemon, grapefruit, mango.

In the mouth: Pow! Pow! Powerfully bitter and juicy, bouncing about the palate. Bitterness blazes a trail all over the tongue and spills about the back. Lush and lovely, for this double IPA-lover. Dee-lightful. Man, this is good. I could drink a few more of these. New favorite? Just about maybe.

This Double IPA is loaded with waves of some of the juiciest hops available. Citra, Mosaic, Columbus blend together to make this hop juice. Intentionally left hazy to create a soft mouthfeel and enhance the flavor of this wonderfully hoppy beer."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lupulin Resin Rapture Imperial Red IPA

At last, Lupulin bottles and cans are leaving the brewery and the Big Lake area and finding their way into Twin Cities stores, if only a select few. I'm going to do my best to keep on top of them, and here's the first one I took notes on from a can, though I did try it before.  (Actually, I tried Jason's.)

Lupulin Resin Rapture. 100 IBU. 8.0% ABV. "Get caught up in the rapture!" Brewed by Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake, MN.

Hazed, reddish-brown coloring, vast, and lasting ivory head, leaving lace.

In the nose: Ah! Yes! Resinous is right. Sticky, hoppy, fruity, dank. (Though I despise the term, here it fits.) Very nice.

In the mouth: More of the same at play on the palate. Deep bitterness from hops, thick and rich and resinous, long on the tongue. Gooey. Caramel malt flavors lurk below. Big flavors in this, very tasty stuff. Bitter and sweet, back to back, toe to toe.

If you want one good and sticky, go here.

"Get caught up in the rapture as waves of malt and hops do battle across your tongue. Rich European malts balance out the 4 pounds of dank Pacific Northwest hops, carrying you away on waves of flavor with each sip."

Lagunitas 12th of Never Ale

Ale 12th of Never Lagunitas. (that's how it reads on the can!)
5.5% 45 IBU.

Clear, pale yellow, fluffy white head, lovely as a cloud.

In the nose: .......minor citric hop character. Rather quiet.

In the mouth: Lightly hoppy, citrusy. Light bodied, long-lasting bitterness on the palate. Nice and lemony, and, yep, papaya-y, bright and shiny. Lean bodied, expertly drinkable. Smooth and hoppy. Zesty and downable. Yeah, it's a good beer and you can drink it.

The label of this can is overflowing with gobbledygook that I can't read (much of it having to do with Lagunitas finally putting a beer in cans despite previous protestations to the contrary), as usual, but I pulled this off the internet:

"The magical, mystical 12th of Never is a blend of Old and New School hops that play bright citrus, rich coconut, and papaya-esque flavors, all on a solid stage of English puffed wheat. Tropically hoppy. Light, yet full-bodied. Bright and citrusy. The 12th of Never Ale is everything we’ve learned about making hop-forward beer expressed in a moderate voice. Pale, cold, slightly alcoholic and bitter. It’s all we know."

Sorry, I'm not getting the "rich coconut", though. I don't know what they're smoking.....

Town Hall North Is Ryesing

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery North Is Ryesing.  5.1% ABV, rye pale ale.

Clear, copper/amber-hue, slim, off-white head.

In the nose: soft aromatics, slightly sweet and malty, spicy rye malt character peeks out. Not much from hops here.

In the mouth: Here's where hops come in! Assertive and brash, bitterness blazes the palate. Rich spicy rye malt dominates the mouthfeel. Bitter and sweet do a tasty tango. Lightly chocolatey. Taste keeps on ticking. I like this one. I like it a lot. Medium bodied, long lasting flavor, richly rewarding. Delicious.

I'm not sure what the name means, but I'm going to guess that it has something to do with Town Hall's current passion for the local soccer team.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wild Mind Sol

Wild Mind Sol. Wild India Pale Ale. 8% ABV. 65 IBU.

Clear, bright golden hue, slim white head.

In the nose: nice hops, bold citrus, slightly floral, citrus.

In the mouth: A fruit and floral cornucopia. Lots of tropical, lots of citrus, so much bitter hop flavor bouncing off the palate. Ends dryly, with loads of bitter hop flavors. Thoroughly delicious. I am digging this one.

"An IPA brewed with our native wild yeast and microbes with 5lbs of hops per barrel. Notes of pineapple, mango, citrus, and lemon grass."

Fuller's London Porter

The sample man came around again. Sometimes, they like to remind us of things we've known of for so long, and perhaps tend to forget. This is a beer that I first reviewed on 14 years ago, on April 28, 2003. Clearly, I haven't had it in a while. Let's look at those old notes:

Fuller's London Porter, Rich, Dark and Complex. The World's Finest. 5.4% ABV. Brewed beside the Thames sine 1845. There's more on the back label, but the type is too tiny, and I can't read it. (This is written in 2017. I didn't have that complaint in 2003.)

Color: a somewhat clear russet brown, head: 1/2" of toasted tan. Nose is on the burnt side, very roasty and sharp, bitter, hot, with flavors of pepper and espresso.

Mouthfeel is warm, texture is smooth, hops are hard to notice. Malt stands up proudly, though, in all it's lushly roastedness.

This is quite a consumable porter, a very flavorful session ale, to say the least. Finish is sweet and nutty, and lasts just long enough.
A darn good porter.

Still is. 

Pipeworks Lizard King

You know, I've noticed that I've done a lot of IPAs lately. Sometimes it seems like that's all I drink. But it's not true, of course. Here we have a dry-hopped pale ale, and that's something quite different.

Pipeworks Brewing Company Lizard King Mosaic Hopped Pale Ale. Ale. 6.0% by Vol. Brewed in Chicago, IL.

Clear, very pale yellow color, vast ivory head, looking great.

In the nose: flowery and citrusy. Abundantly citrusy. Lemon and lime dominate, some orange lurks below. Big load of sunshine in this.

In the mouth: Big citrus, big bitter, and a mighty pucker, as well. Juicy, tangy, and oh, so tasty and refreshing. Ah! Pretty much nothing but Ah! Lean bodied, light malt, crisp and lively. A little juicy meets with the bitter. Nice stuff.

21st Amendment Brew Free or Die Blood Orange IPA

The Blood Orange IPA is all the rage these days, along with all the other rages. Let's check out this one from 21st Amendment Brewing, part of the Brew Free Or Die brand. Ale brewed with blood oranges. 7% ABV. 70 IBU. Centennial and Citra hops.
Brewed and canned by 21st Amendment Brewing, San Leandro, CA.

Clear, bright orange coloring, large and lasting, lace-leaving, pillowy white head. Looks great.

In the nose: Intense orange from the onset. Bold, brash, bursting with citrus. Beautifully bitter.

In the mouth: More of the same, and more, and more. Big bitterness coats the palate, and keeps it coming. Light body, all the better for the bitter. Blood orange flavor is all over it. Non-stop tasty. Good blood orange IPA and you can drink it.

"Four hop varieties and seven blood oranges ago, our founders brought forth in this brewery, a new beer, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that not all IPAs are created equal. Because sometimes, real fruit just makes things even more delicious.
Blood Orange Brew Free! is brewed like our original west coast style Brew Free! or Die IPA, but with an abundance of fresh blood orange puree and a twist of citrusy dry hops. Refreshingly different. As Abe would say, “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Town Hall SalmiVaara IIPA

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery SalmiVaari IIPA (Double / Imperial India Pale Ale). 10.3% ABV.

Hazy, amber, huge chalk white froth on top.

Beautiful cornucopia in the nose, a blend of citrus, tropical, and more. Pineapple, melon, blueberry.

In the mouth: Intense bitterness starts it off. Grabs the palate and won't let go. Straddles the sweet and bitter. Citra and Mosaic, the classic combination. All the pine, the citrus, the tropical tones, ripe and resiny. Great balance in a big beer. A treat from start to finish.

From the Facebook page: SalmiVaara IIPA is bursting with ripe fruit-like hop flavors! On draft and in 750mL growlers at the Brewery now!
This 10.3% abv Imperial IPA is assertively hopped with both Citra and Mosaic pellets and lupulin powder in the kettle, whirlpool, and fermenter. Heck yes!
Farewell Erik Salmi! We miss you already, buddy!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Alpine Windows Up IPA

Alpine Windows Up India Pale Ale. 7% ABV. 70 IBU.

Lightly hazed, bright golden color, lovely white head. Looking great.

In the nose: beautiful aromatics, pungent pine and citrus notes.

In the mouth: fresh and fruity. Citrus notes, orange and tangerine, at play on the palate. Nice and smooth. Low bitterness, lean bodied, easy drinker. Light and breezy, while intensely bitter. Just the way I like them.

"This IPA is extra dank and resinous. Enjoy it's piney aromas and tropical notes from a blend of Citra and Mosaic hops." There they are again, the dynamic duo. You can't miss with Citra and Mosaic.

New Belgium Juicy Watermelon Ale

New Belgium Juicy Watermelon Lime Ale. Brewed and bottled by New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO and Asheville, NC. 5% Alc. by Vol.

Crystal clear, pale amber color, slim white head.

Light fruit in the nose, slightly sweet, ...huh.

In the mouth: very watermelon-y, and there's the lime. Light bodied, drinkable, but...not really hitting the flavors notes we want. Seriously lacking deliciousness. What do we want in our watermelon ales? Do we want watermelon ales? I know watermelon wheat ales are popular, but beyond that? Non-wheat, with lime added, like this guy?

I know I don't. Gonna do something uncharacteristic and pour it down the drain. No fun in this one.

"Cool off with this refreshingly fruity summer beer brewed with watermelon and lime."

Or don't.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Oliphant Somos Extremos Coffee Golden Ale

And now we have the first Oliphant beer that I've tried for the first time from a crowler bought at a local liquor store. I've seen them in the coolers, but they were always beers I've already tried. I remember seeing this listed as an upcoming beer when last I visited the taproom. This won't stop me from visiting them in Somerset, of course.

Oliphant Somos Extremos (name taken from an episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" unless I'm wrong) Coffee Golden Ale. 6.5% ABV.

Clear, light amber color (not quite golden), with a big white head that trim down in a moment.

In the nose: Earthy coffee notes greet the nose right off the bat, with little else revealed behind it. Not that I'm complaining.

In the mouth: Great big coffee flavors jump on the palate and swim around on the tongue, splashing all around the mouth. Light bodied ale beneath, with little other flavors coming forward. Again, not a flaw for this imbiber. Medium-bodied, lush malt matches well with coffee infusion. Hops take a bow once in a while, but stay rather timid. Just fine by me.

I'm still not entirely sold on the golden coffee ale/lager. They can be good, even very good. But, do I like them better than the darker stuff? Maybe not, but there's nothing wrong with that. They can still be good and enjoyable, even if not as favored as the other kind. Not everything has to be a favorite.

In other words, it's a good coffee golden beer and you can drink it.

Bad Weather Hopcromancer IPA

Bad Weather Hopcromancer IPA. Bad Weather Brewing, St. Paul, MN.

"Beer for any season!" "Fresh beer, drink cold!"
"Pairs well with cool summer nights, warm late autumn days, winter BBQs, rainy spring mornings."
"Don't like the weather? CAN IT!"

7.0% ABV. 70 IBU. 12 fluid ounce can.

Hazed, crimson/amber coloration, beautiful ivory, lace-leaving head.

In the nose: fine and mellow, nicely hoppy. Floral and slightly citric. Starts out shy, but blossoms wth fruity associations. Gets plumper as we go. Tropical tones, too.

In the mouth: Mmm. Bright, zesty, fruit-laden, tangerine and melon, orange, lime, and pineapple. Blueberry? A touch. Much malt in this, just enough balance, just enough everything. A very tasty IPA. Hops bounce and trounce and step all over the palate. Just delightful.

From the label: "Biscuit like malt character with tons of juicy hops. Pineapple, citrus, melon and just a hint of pine envelope the aroma. Pours gold with a dense white foam."

Rekorderlig Premium Wild Berries Hard Cider

I'm thinking about changing the name of this blog. Mover over Bitter Nib, here comes The Bitter Core. They keep giving me cider, I keep posting notes on the blog. Now, here's one from Sweden. the Abro Bragger of Vimmerby to be exact.

Rekorderlig Premium Wild Berries Hard cider blended with wild berries made from pure Swedish spring water. Serve well chilled. 4.5% all./vol.

Clear, with a distinctive pinkish tint. (Should I not mention the head when writing about cider?)

In the nose: Sweet berries, with a touch of tart. Raspberry, for sure. Strawberry, definitely.

"Best served over ice" the label tells me, "for a crisp, cool and refreshing experience." I'm going to shelve that suggestion.

In the mouth: Fizz. High carbonation. Light body. (Of course, I have to remind myself, aren't all ciders?) Sparkling. Sweet, but not overly, with a slight touch of tart. Easy drinking. Personally, it's doing it for me. Perfectly passable, but not especially remarkable.

10 Barrel Joe India Pale Ale

10 Barrel Joe IPA. 6.9% Alc/Vol. 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Bend, Oregon.

Lightly hazed, bright golden color, lush, lace-leaving, huge ivory head. Looking great.

In the nose: beautifully bitter, flush with fruit. Big citrus, slight tropical. Very nice.

In the mouth: Great texture, big bitterness from the start. Sticks around for the finish. Medium-bodied, long-lasting flavor. Powerful bursts of orange and lime hop notes. Good drinking, great IPA. Go find it and drink it up.

Bad Weather Barrel-aged Cauld Weather Wee Heavy

Bad Weather Cauld Weather. Scottish Wee Heavy Aged in Whiskey and Port Barrels. 7.5% ABV.

Solid darkness in the glass, creamy tanned head. Looking great.

In the nose: Screams out whiskey. Rich. Sweet. Toffee, caramel. Molasses, vanilla. Rich and lovely.

In the mouth: Thick, rich, lush, sweet, beautiful. Toffee and caramel, The port barrel lurks below the whiskey, which is king here. So delicious. So, so tasty. Full-bodied, decadent, wonderful. I'm wishing I had a second bottle to save even longer. I'll look for one, and do that. I urge you to, too.

I'm still drinking and now the mingling. The port flavors are rising up and mixing with the whiskey. This is increasingly interesting, and I'm incredibly intrigued. Wow. Wee. And it's a drinker. Not too strong, not too rich, not too boozy and over-the-top. It's sumptuous, and mellow, and ...yeah. Do yourself a favor. Drink it now, or save a bottle and drink it later. But, either way, you'll be happy.

Green Flash GFB Blonde Ale

GFB. Green Flash Blonde Ale. San Diego, CA. ( and Virginia Beach, VA) 4.8% ABV.

Clear, pale golden color, slim white head.

In the nose: light. quiet. simple. subtle. inoffensive. mellow malt notes, mellower hops.

In the mouth: here the hops pop up, brisk and buoyant. Light bodied, easy drinking. Tidy hop presence, crisp malt. More mellow.

Every time I take it a blonde ale, I have to remind myself that I might not like them, but plenty of other people do. If you're one of them, go for it. It's nice, if boring. But that's what you're looking for, I guess.

Oliphant Hans MacGruber

Here's a beer from Oliphant that I had once at the taproom, last August, and then many times when we recently had a keg at Acadia. I took some notes before it finally kicked, not too long ago. Here they are:

Oliphant Hans MacGruber Smoked Vienna Lager. 5.4% ABV.

Clear, amber/copper, good sized off-white head, lace leaver.

In the nose, smoky notes meet sweet malt.

In the mouth: light, woody smoked flavor is dominant, but lightly played. Smooth, easy drinker. Good smoked vienna lager and you can drink it.

On the taproom chalkboard, Jeremy Hughes alternates between depictions of Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber) and Will Forte (MacGruber). When last I visited, he used an image from an appearance Forte made on an episode of "Tim & Eric", because, of course.

Inbound Strong Black Ale

Inbound BrewCo Strong American Black Ale. 8.5% ABV. Inbound BrewCo, Minneapolis, MN.

Another sample from the sample man. Gonna give it a review, despite the lack of labeling.

Thoroughly black, lush, large cocoa-tinged head.

In the nose: soft, creamy, sweet, and chocolatey. Lush malt, mmm.

In the mouth: Yes. Rich, sweet, cocoa-tinged, malt-driven. Delicious. Full body. Easy drinker. Yum. And the strength is beckoning. Very nice, very big, very tasty.

That means I like it. Good strong black ale, and
you can drink it.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Barley John's Brewing Company Fruhling Starkbier Maibock

Barley John's Fruhling Starkbier Maibock, brewed and canned by Barley John's Brewing Company, New Richmond, Wisconsin. All. 8.5% by Vol, 30 IBU.

Clear, golden/amber appearance, lush ivory head.

Aroma: soft, slightly sweet and grainy. Subtle malty notes.

In the mouth: Creamy, sweet, and balanced. Rich, smooth and clean, medium-bodied, with a long and lovely finish. I love a good maibock, and this is definitely one of them. Quite a tasty lager, indeed.

From the label: "My maibock is a rare double-decocted fully lagered 8.5% pale bock. Lip-smacking with caramel and toffee notes. Gnome me oh man! Enjoy!--Barley John."

Lakewood Hop Trapp Belgian-style IPA

Lakewood Hop Trapp Belgian-style IPA, Lakewood Brewing Company, Garland, Texas. (Thanks, Dan!) 6.4% ABV.

Clear, crimson-colored, ivory head atop.

In the nose: Belgian yeast funk hits first, fruity and slightly sour, with hops coming in from behind. Bright, fierce, fascinating.

In the mouth: Lightly bitter, with increasing hop presence. More fruit, more funk. Medium bodied. Fully flavored. Rich and delicious. Tasty, tasty stuff. Good Belgian IPA and you can drink it.

Gobbledygook: We're no monks, but our Belgian-style IPA gives a tip of the hat to our divine brethren. Brewed with rich malt, noble hops, Trappist yeast and a kick of coriander, this is one complex beer. Rather than make a beer that's more of a dare to drink than a pleasure, balance was the priority here. We wanted a beer for "hop heads" and novices alike. Hop Trapp pours with a refined bitter backbone, floral hoppy notes and a decidedly Belgian finish. This brew is worthy of some serious contemplation.