Sunday, December 31, 2017

Minneapolis Breweries Day by Day #3 & Wild Mind Artisan Ale Tangy Hugs

Day #3, Thursday, December 28. I bumped Wild Mind Artisan Ales up the list for several reasons. One, the two months since I've been there has been far too long. I've been meaning to get out there every week, but something stops me. No more! Also, my brother Kevin and his wife Laurie were in town and I wanted to show them a few of my favorite breweries that I thought they would enjoy. (Laurie is CFO of Destihl, and has a penchant for the Belgian styles and the sours.) And finally, WMAA is located at 6031 Pillsbury Avenue, a few blocks off of Nicollet Avenue, not very far from the new home of Comic Book College, 4732 Nicollet Avenue, and I just had to get my hands on that Marvel Two-In-One, featuring the Thing!

Lazy Hayz with all that haze.
I took a 21a east toward Nicollet Avenue, then hopped on an 18 to my destination full of four-color fare. Found that book, as well as Mister Miracle, Silver Surfer, Kamandi Challenge, and Bug: The Adventuers of Forager. The astute among you will see clearly that I only buy mainstream comics if they continue the stories of characters created or co-created by Jack Kirby. I almost bought that one issue of Squirrel Girl Vs. Galactus, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Having bought my books and bundled up my coat, hat, & gloves, I got on another 18 heading southward, took it to 61st & Pillsbury and found my way to the brewery.

I had a beer and a half in me by the time K. & L. arrived. First one was Lazy Hayz NE IPA, so-called because, you know, leaving a beer unfiltered is lazy, don't you know? I did not take notes on it, but I did take notes on their notes. Here they are: This haze bomb was brewed with milk sugar and Rakau and Citra hops to create a tropical, smooth IPA with notes of pineapple, citrus, and a hint of bitterness. Milk sugar, huh? Another one of those milk-
Death to paper lists!
shake IPAs. Haze bomb, eh? Well, you know me, I like IPAs, but I'm not on board with all these new-fangled variations. This one went down pretty well, had more than just a hint of bitterness, but not enough for me. I liked it, I drank it, and I went running in the opposite direction.

The next one I went with was Lost Shoreline, an American Porter. As before, I didn't take notes, but I'll share theirs: Wild Mind Artisan Ales specializes in wild, sour, farmhouse, and rustic ales that are created using barrel aging, blending, and our own wild Minnesota yeast. The Lost Shoreline is a robust, complex porter brewed with dry, unsweetened coconut flakes. A heavy malt add rich chocolate flavors to the sweetness of the coconut to provide the delicious, tropical escape you've been looking for — without even leaving Minnesota.

I'm not huge on coconut porters, but this one was nice. Right on the money, there. A good ol' drinking porter, just the way I like them, roasty, robust, without too much of that additional flavors to wreck it up. Along came K. & L.  and I helped them understand the scene there, who they are,
Lost Shoreline.
what they're doing, why I dig them. That that "NE" in the NE-style IPA does not stand for Nebraska. And the aspects of the local taproom structure that may not be apparent to all. No one will wait on you. Yes, you have to get in a line if you're not sitting at the bar. Water is over there, and that doesn't mean they don't like you.

Brother Kevin and sister-in-law Laurie
enjoying their beverages.
I decided to go with a wild, fruity, funky one for my third, the Mirabell Blackberry. Gin barrel-aged wild ale with blackberries. I will bring this home in bottle or crowler eventually, just you wait and see. This brings me to yet another reason I was anxious to revisit WMAA, the new Barrel Take-out Room, as they call. A cooler a full of bottles and crowlers, instead of only being available in limited quantities on special occasions, as well as shelves of merch. Something like Mirabelle would be in a $18 bottle, rather than a $9 crowler. Those are the prices we pay, though, to bring home the glory. I'll be back again for more, once I get another paycheck.

Three beers down and a growler and two crowlers to go. The time started ticking. Brother and sister-in-law also mentioned one of my other favorite places, Sisyphus, and sister Lynn and brother-in-law Pete were brought into the activities for the Thursday Open Mic Comedy, starting at 8pm. I was glad that the beers at Wild Mind found favor with these two. They can be kind of particular.

And after a free-wheeling night of amateur stand-up and more beers at Sisyphus, a good night all-in-all. The next day, I opened up the growler of Tangy Hugs (where do they get these names?) and here are the notes:

Wild Mind Tangy Hugs. 6.8% ABV. Filled December 28, 2017.

Thick haze. No head, Big orange. Tropicana brewing company.

In the nose: Tropical. Citric. Fruity. Boom, boom, boom, boom. Low bitterness, high hops, high fruit. Yeah, they're doing it.

In the mouth: Fresh and fruity. Bright and delightful. Tasty, delicious. Big time citrus, big time yum. yum, again. And with that generous haze comes the orange juicination of the IPA. I mean, come on! If this is what you want, they made it. If it's not....hmmm. Sweet, fruity, ....mmmm.

This Northeast IPA was brewed with a blend of UK Golding, Citra, and Simcoe hops, as well as our wild house yeast blend and milk sugar, to create a complex hazy IPA packed with citrus flavor.

It is all those things, and yet, yet...I could do without the haze, and would like to skip the milk sugar. there's plenty of hop flavor, but it doesn't have to look like a glass or orange juice. Who wants that? Oh, yeah? Everyone, these days. Well, okay....just can't win.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Dogfish Head Oak Aged Siracusa Nera

Dogfish Head Oak-aged Siracusa Nera. 10% ABV. 60 IBU. Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, Delaware.

Solid Blackness, rich brown head, gets slimmer as we go.

In the nose: char, bourbon barrels, anise, molasses, deep dark chocolate.

In the mouth: Big sweetness, well tempered. So smooth, yet robust, big-boned, boisterous and bodacious. What's in this? "A Russian Imperial Stout with Syrah grape must added and aged in oak."
Well, there you go. Some vanilla, toast, coconut, and then the wine comes through. Mmmm, yes.
Full bodied, full flavored. I like it. It is good.

Combining a roasty Imperial Stout with a jammy Syrah wine, this beer is bold and complex. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate and anise from a blend of roasted malts meld with flavors of plums, cherries and stewed fruits from Syrah grape must in this jet black stout. Aged on American oak to add some light toasty vanilla to the mix.

Minneapolis Breweries Day by Day #2: Lakes and Legends & White Earth IPA

Lakes & Legends Brewing in Loring Park appeared here for the first time in April of 2016, their entry in Minnesota Breweries One by One, based on a visit in late March. I'd been there twice before that I can confirm, but hadn't written about their beers yet. I'd put them in the "eh, they're alright" pile, although other reviewers had less kind remarks to make. When sample bottles came my way (I never bought any that I saw in the store, sorry to say.), I was less impressed. My sales rep informed me that they'd gotten better, and based on the newer samples, he was right. Time to revisit the taproom.

It looks as if I haven't been back since April '16, at least not by the evidence of any public records. Or private, for that matter. (I went once at the end of April when they were showing "Purple Rain" in the taproom on the Monday after Prince died, with Nate Beck selling his Natedogs inside. That's probably when I got my second growler fill from them.)Why not? Well, the reasons listed above, and the fact that if I'm in this neighborhood, I'm usually going to Sisyphus. Sorry, I do have favorites. But it's near the top of the list for this project, and it's on the way to work. I don't have to start until 6 today, plenty of time. Also, it's a block away from a gaming and comic book store I wanted to check out. I was told that it was either awesome or the bomb, can't remember which. I jumped off the bus at at Lyndale and Oak Grove, walked through Loring Park and stepped into Mead Hall on Lasalle Avenue.

I didn't spend much time at that store because they didn't have that first issue of Marvel Two-in-One (Volume Two) that came out last week. In fact, the clerk hadn't heard of it. "Maybe it's in the back issues already, could be sorted with the Fantastic Fours?" Well, at least he knew what team Benjamin J. Grimm used to belong to, but when I asked if they had the latest Silver Surfer? Blank stare. What? You don't know who the Silver Surfer is?!? Go back to your 15-sided dice, nerd! I'm going to get a beer. (I know that some might think that a comic book nerd is no different from an RPG nerd, but I beg to differ.)

Year Two


So, down the block I go to 1368 LaSalle, and it's time to step into Lakes & Legends on a Wednesday afternoon, it's abuzz with activity, and still bedecked in holiday style. Took a seat at the far end of the bar, and perused the chalkboard, which is much more professionally lettered and illustrated than before. My eye caught the Year Two, Old Forester bourbon barrel-aged Winter Warmer, aged for one year. 11.9% ABV. Can't pass this one up. And it didn't disappoint: rich, full, roasty, chocolate and vanilla, cherries and molasses and everything nice. Maybe I'll go back and get a bottle, but I didn't feel like spending the money just then. I sipped this one slowly.

Barrel-aged saison.
I looked back at the chalkboard. The top tier held only two beers new to me, the Winter Warmer, and the White Earth IPA. In the Farm Series, I hadn't had the Sweet Corn Summer Ale (in Winter?), but it didn't appeal to me. And at the bottom, those other two in the barrel aged series, why not try one of those? I picked the Red Wine Barrel-aged Harmony Farm Saison. And I wished it had more red wine barrel parts in it. There was some, but not enough to make a difference. I had no problem drinking it, but wouldn't have another, nor would recommend it, really. Not bad, just...eh. Here's what they say: Our classic saison flavored with mild tannic notes pulled from California red wine barrels.
I feel it would benefit with more, and less mild. Just me.

I took in the surroundings, enjoyed what they've done with the place since the past year and eight months since I've been in. It looks great. Feels great. And the beers are alright. Not perfect, not amazing, but alright. I wish them well, and will continue to  try them out from time to time.

And, hey guess what, I brought my growler with me and got it filled with this:

White Earth IPA. 6% ABV.

Lightly hazy, bright golden color, slim white head.

In the nose: not a typical IPA aromatic profile in this one, some Belgian funk, some fruit, just a little bit of hop flavors. Not sure what I'm getting. I'm looking for more info, and finding nothing, not on Untappd, and their website seems very out of date. Okay, I finally found this: A clean, juicy, and citrusy IPA made with mosaic hops.

In the mouth: Here comes a nice, little spank of hop bitterness that plays on the palate then becomes nothing but smooth. Bright juicy tropical, citric hop flavors are bouncing out. Lemon-y, berry-isa. Orange and pineapple. Lean bodied, light and easy-enough drinking.

An acceptable IPA, but not an especially compelling version. From the start, this brewery wanted to dig their heels deep in the Belgian-style approach, but relented in the face of this particular community's desire for nothing but a good ol' IPA. Hey, I love 'em, but some people won't give a brewery the time of day if they don't have an IPA. Or something like it. Maybe this beer makes them happy. It's not going to win a prize from me, but there's plenty of other things I can drink.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Minneapolis Breweries Day by Day #1: The Herkimer & West Alice Belgian Imperial IPA

{Editor's note: I began writing this on 12/26/17 and finished it on 12/29. Keep this in mind if you feel you've caught some sort of temporal anomaly in the text.}
I forgot to take a good pic of the place, and shot this
from the bus. Until I get a better pic, enjoy this shot
of the Herkimer and a blue truck!

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you may remember that in 2014 I attempted to see all of the breweries in Minneapolis on one day before such a feat would become impossible. I made it to 11 of the thirteen, not bad at all. (I skipped Rock Bottom and 612, because, well, because if I had to skip two, those would be them.)

In 2016, I made it my aim to see all of the breweries in the state of Minnesota as I could (with much help from Jason at the steering wheel) and write about them here, as well. At this point, almost a year after accomplishing half of that goal, I still have a stack of reports to write, and still intend to write them, even if it's a year or more afterward. And while all that work awaits me, I am embarking on a new project and will insist that I keep up the reports as the visits happen. I'm going to try to see every Minneapolis brewery (we just had the 32nd open ten days ago) again by the end of January next. That gives me 37 days to do it, and I'll do it in a certain order, seeing the ones that I've neglected the longest, first. I'll skip this format if something comes along, like a special event, that moves another brewery forward up the list. Or if none of those is open on that particular day at a convenient enough time, then I shall choose another. Take for example next Monday, New Year's Day. There will be few taprooms open, so my choices will be limited. Let's say, it's Surly's in turn, in that case.

By the way, we're calling this Minneapolis Breweries Day by Day, or MBDD, or Em B'Dad. Say it a couple times, you'll get it, Em B'Dad. Em B'Dad. Em B'Dad.

For the first day of this project, it's a Tuesday and I have to be at work at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Three of the top 5 on the list are in far-flung NE Minneapolis, and one of them was closed and the others opened at 4, giving me little room to get there, have a pint and make it to work. The other two, however, were on the way and would be easy to stop in before jumping on a bus. I chose the closest to me, The Herkimer, only seven blocks away from where I live. Read what I've written about The Herkimer here.  I don't intend to repeat myself, so I'll just say that The Herk has survived these past 17 years or so by virtue of being there and making competent beer. And that's being generous.

So, what about on December 26. I told the friendly barman that I was looking for something on the dark end of the spectrum. He told me they had a good red ale, and a brown and that I should have been there last week when they had a killer stout on nitro, then handed me samples. They were not what I wanted and then I glanced upon a beer in the listing called West Alice, an Imperial Belgian IPA, at 8.6% ABV & 90 IBUs. Hey, that's right up my alley! I know what I'm drinking.

I inform the barman of my order, who then tells me that it does not technically receive the same Happy Hour treatment (Happy Hour 2 for ones run from 3-6 daily and it is currently 3:30.) because it is a bigger beer. The second one will be $2 off. Fine, I'll take that offer, though I rarely have two 8%+ beers before work.

The beer looks fine for the part, though the glass could've been cleaner. (I'm not one to talk, for dishwashing is a struggle at work, and I've got many pictures on this blog I'm not proud of. I'm getting better, and trying harder, though.) Bright red, with a fine, frothy head.

I take a whiff, and I get the funk and the hops. Nice and weird, the way I like it. Good and hoppy, barnyard funky. And then the not so good: a bit of plastic, definitely off flavors, something from the yeast or part of the fermenting process. Is this a problem arising from using unfamiliar ingredients? Can't say for sure.

This flaw did not persist throughout the length of
the drink. Yes, I finished it. And I finished the second one, too. Didn't get as much of the off-flavors in glass two. Medium bodied, fairly easy drinking, despite the strength. Doesn't rank among my favorite Belgian Imperial IPAs (and how many are there, and what are they? I simply must find out.), not by a long shot. Would I order one again? Not with the memory of that flawed flavor still lurking in my brain.

Does the Sake Grade rice have anything to do with it? The Herkimer is owned by the proprietor  of the Sake brewery/Japanese restaurant Moto-i located just down the street. Do they share ingredients often, I wonder?

I finished as much as I could of glass #2, left the chips and dip behind and ran to catch my bus across the street. Will I return to The Herkimer any time soon? Well, not so much when Muddy Waters is across the street with a wide range of beers on tap and LynLake is two doors down with a higher success rate in my opinion. There are even more options at that corner I'm not as familiar with, but will probably yield a much higher result of fine ales offered. At the Herk, you're best off ordering a Handy's Lager of something less exotic than this. Their clientele is not looking for beers of this kind and it'll take much longer to go through them.

In fact, the Herk has been off the beer geek radar for so long, I think that if they made the best beer in town, somehow, no one would know about it, and if you told them, they wouldn't believe it.

To restate the purpose of this project, I'm going to revisit each brewery in Minneapolis and review a beer or two by January 31, 2018. But the next time I find myself wondering which breweries I haven't seen in a while, I'll stick to the ones I actually like.

Meanwhile, the people of Uptown/LynLake will keep coming here for the booze and the food and shuffleboard and the beer that's just good enough, but not quite.

Venn Brewing Citra Mosaic IPA / MN Breweries One by One # 125

The breweries keep on coming.

A few Saturdays past (December 16), Venn Brewing at 3550 E. 46th Street, Suite 140 in  Minneapolis opened it's doors. The chatter I'd picked up on indicated big crowds and long lines, so I decided to wait until a nice quiet Sunday afternoon, the next day, in fact,  to check them out. Got on a bus to the light rail station and merely had to endure a train chock full of Vikings fans, then jumped of at the 46th Street Station, and there it is, on the first floor of a retail & apartment complex. I'd heard good things and sidled up to the bar to check out the beers.

The convenience of the location is just one thing this brewery has going for it. Let's add the great thirst of the neighborhood. Everyone wants a neighborhood brewery, and south Minneapolis is lacking. Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub is a mile and a half away (side note: I saw three of their employees here during this visit), also easily found via the light rail system, but beyond that? Wild Mind is 7 miles to the west, or LynLake 5 miles in that same direction. The people of South Minneapolis want to get some good beer without having to travel to Uptown or Downtown or Nordeast, or, hell, anywhere, really. They want it right in their backyard. And they'll be happy.

There are numbers associated with the beers and style, but no names. Twelve beers on tap, though the numbers went to Thirteen. Number Eleven wasn't ready. That they had 12 good beers ready to go is impressive. And I started with a 5 ounce sample of what should be my favorite, if done well, the Citra Mosaic IPA. I'll tell you about it at the bottom, for I liked it well enough to take a growler home.

Happy with that one, I pressed on and went all out with another one that I wanted to be perfect, the 6.2% Porter, in a pint. Rich malt, robust, chocolatey, smooth and highly drinkable. Stands up, satisfies. I could find no flaw, wanted nothing more than what was in the glass. My notes actually read: "almost perfect."

My original plan was to try a couple beers and move on, maybe take a growler home and then check out another brewery that I needed to visit. But I was having a nice time, the servers were all terrific, several friends were in attendance that I chatted with , there was the old man next to me who didn't really know anything about craft brewery taprooms and just wanted something domestic. We had an interesting conversation. One of the bartenders was more than helpful in getting him to open up his mindset, an interesting exercise. Owner & co-head brewer Kyle Sisco was helping out with glass washing and occasional pouring, and I had a chance to speak with him a little bit. At this point, I decided to go with a flight.

It a build your own flight, allowing you to pick whatever you want, up to 8 beers. with the price per 5 ounce pour based on the price per full serving, either $2 or $3. Works for me. I went with Golden Ale, Black Lager, Petite Saison, Pale Ale, Blood Orange Wit, Winter Ale, Pilsner and Raspberry Sour. And I did not take notes on them. Why not? I had the feeling that I would be back and would bring home growlers to take further notes on in the time ahead. I was happy with what I tried, some not quite as flawless as the porter or the IPA, but nothing bad, either. Everything I sampled was good to excellent.

Once I was done with the flight I'd been on, I looked at the time and realized that I'd been passing the afternoon so well that I had little time left to accomplish my goals for the rest of the afternoon. I adjusted my plans accordingly. In addition to picking up a growler of the Citra Mosaic IPA, I used the other growler I'd brought along to use at that other brewery I wanted to see and had them fill it up with the Session IPA, which you may have read about here. My final beer at this inaugural visit to Venn (no diagrams, only friends and foxes) was the Rye Pale, again in a pint. I liked it, didn't love it. Prefer my rye ales to be heavier on the rye, but there wasn't anything wrong with it. Good beer, and you can drink it. But I don't know about "squishy"...

As for the space itself, it's fairly typical, the usual sea of tables, and well-appointed restrooms at the right, just past the board games. Always with the board games. Nicely designed, an excellent staff. Food truck out in the parking lot. I can see many good things coming out of this brewery.

Let's talk about that beer, though:

Venn Citra Mosaic IPA. 7.5% ABV.

Mostly clear, with chill haze, bright golden hue, beautiful, long-lasting white head.

In the nose: hop bitterness bursts from the nose, big citrus, grapefruit and pine, lots of lemon and tangerine. Just right.

In the mouth: Bitter hop attack continues once the ale boards the palate. Light-ish body, malt holds it down, but lays low. An impressive melange of hop flavors abound. Hop bitterness stays long on the tongue, and I like it that way. This is sure to please any card-carrying Hop-Head, like myself. Damned delicious. This one will quickly rise to the ranks of my favorite locals IPAs.

BEER STYLES
We want our beers to be as welcoming as the beertender pouring them. So it’s no wonder we have a wide array of beers, inspired by recipes from around the globe, to quench your curiosity. 

Unlike larger production breweries, we won’t have the same core beers on all the time. Instead, you can expect to find each offering labeled by batch number –  Each batch will be available until it’s gone.

Batch #6 CITRA MOSAIC IPA (7.5%)
Tropical fruit, resinous, bitter. West-Coast style IPA: dryness and bitterness are key notes in this hop-dominant style.
Malts: Maris Otter. Hops: Citra and Mosaic (United States). Yeast: American Ale.

Odell Sunny Rain Golden Tart

Yeah, I'm going to drink this now when it's snowy and less than 10 degrees out.  Well, I didn't drink it in the summer, but I'm drinking it now. Clearing out the fridge to start fresh in 2018.

Odell Sunny Rain Golden Tart. 6% ABV. 35 IBU. Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, CO.

Lightly hazy, bright golden appearance, slim white head.

In the nose: funky, fruity, tart. A little bit wild.

In the mouth: tart. Lip-Smacking', almost puckering. Light bodied, easy drinker, solid sour finish. Session sour, for sure. It's wild and funky and terrifically simple, almost blasé. If you just need the funk and none of the complexity, here you go.

Although I'm sure it's out of season.

New Year's Resolution: in 2018, I'll drink my beers faster.

Common to the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains, Sunny Rain is the unexpected shower from a cloudless sky. In that juxtaposition, we found inspiration. For this limited release, we introduced bright hop aroma to balance a tart citrus-like character. It’s as unlikely as rain on a clear summer day and it makes for a surprising, yet very drinkable beer.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Sponsel's Minnesota Harvest Happily Apple Cider

Sponsor's Minnesota Harvest Happily Apple. 6.5% ABV. Outside Jordan, MN.

Clear, pale yellow appearance, no type of froth atop, but with plenty of active carbonation.

In the nose: apples. So very apples. nice and dry.

In the mouth: Big, brisk carbonation, all kinds of apple, and, again, ending dryly. Nice upon nice.

I'm going to read the label: "Contains sulfites. Bottled by Sponsel's Minnesota Harvest Orchard, Jordan, MN. You will find us on the high ground--overlooking the Minnesota River Valley. In 1971 Doc Sponsel scouted out this bluffing rallied the whole family to plant the first 25,000 apple trees. Millions of apples (and half a century) later we launched our new ciders.  We actually grow, pick, pack, and press the very apples that we use in processing our sparkly hard cider. This semisweet "happily apple" drink is light and refreshing, with a Minnesota crisp finish. A most pleasing beverage. You must try it. SERVE CHILLED."

So, yeah. Sparkly. Light. Refreshing. Good cider and you can drink it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Sociable Ciderwerks Rusty Chain Cranberry Apple Cider / MN Breweries One by One #90

I'm not a cider drinker. Just don't get what I like from beer in ciders. Sorry. Not sorry. But I keep getting ciders because people want to sell me ciders. What people? The people who make and sell cider, of course. In an effort to clear out my fridge by year's end, I'm going to focus on the ciders for a bit.

We'll start with Rusty Chain, the first appearance of Sociable Ciderwerks here in the Nib. (No, not really.)And you know, while we're at it, I'll conclude this post by writing about my visit to Sociable last year, as the 90th brewery (/cidery) that I visited in 2016.

First, Rusty Chain, the only sample of Sociable that I've ever been able to take home. I had samples at work before, but the salesman insisted on drinking them then and there. When I see the cans in stores, I don't spend my money on them, because, well, I'm not a cider drinker. Thanks to the Sample Man for these, and for letting me take it home.

Rusty Chain Cranberry Apple Cider. Enjoy Every Freshly Pressed Batch. Crafted and canned by Sociable Cider Werks, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. 6.6% ABV. Ingredients: fresh pressed apples, cranberries, sorghum, hops, yeast. Naturally gluten free.

Clear, bright cranberry red, slim pinkish head.

In the nose: tart, fruity, dry. There's the cran, there's the apple. Nice.

In the mouth: Very dry. Clean, crisp, easy drinking. Plenty of fruit, more cranberry than apple. Good cider and you can drink it.

Rusty Chain links together a blend the Midwest’s finest freshly pressed apples with ripe cranberries. The result is a bright rose color, light body and brilliant berry flavor that balances tart acidity with gentle residual sweetness.

Now on to Sociable in general. They opened up at 1500 Filmore St. NE in 2013 with a mix of ciders and beers. I popped in once that year with Dave A., tried some of the beers, didn't go for the ciders, a pattern I kept up with just about every time in the place. Did I ever takes notes or bring back growlers of these beers? Not once. Nothing against them, just wasn't what I was going to do.

My next visit was in 2014, as one of the last stops on my attempt to bike to each Minneapolis brewery on one day. (Link provided above.) If memory serves, I made it there again later that year for the second annual NE Brewer's Block Party. Is that right? Did they do the first one their first year in business? Or did I go in 2015? Damn this memory! Untappd is no help. My first check-in is for Crystal Hop in 2014, then the two in '16 at the fest, one at a party at Dave's, and then a Rusty Chain at Acadia, when I finally decided to bring them on tap. Only 5 times in 3 1/2 years. Because other places are breweries, and here the focus is cider. And I needn't keep repeating about me and cider.

I biked up to NorthEast Minneapolis that Sunday to take part in this festival in which Sociable hosted just about all of the breweries and distilleries of NE in a big old party in their parking lot. Bands were playing, games were about, tons of food trucks, a jolly good time. I recommend you check it out next time they do this. I had an Indeed, a Dangerous Man, and from the bar inside, a few of
Sociable's beers, and not a single cider. Their ciders are quite good and they really know what they're doing, but I never want to reach for one. I'll try to get my hands on some more cans and review them here in the future.

I didn't stay very long at the festival, had a few beers, took some pics, hung out with friends, and it's in the books, brewery #90. Time to move on, for I was bound to bust into #'s 91, 92, & 93 still that night. And I did too: 612Brew, Clockwerks, & Inbound. I'll get around to them, just as I finally finished this.

Something else: I've never taken notes on the beers, or the ciders, at Sociable because I've always been there in social situations (imagine that), hanging out with friends or relatives. I never pull out the notebook then, at least very rarely. I'll do that soon, as I give them a visit in my new project of revisiting all the local breweries. I'll tell you about that soon. Just what I needed, a new reason to spend money, hang out in breweries, drink beers (and ciders!), and tell you about it.
I don't remember the name of this band. Skipper &
the Little Buddies? 
Seems like I'm always bumping into these guys!
They called this one Peachy Kolsch. It was.
This one they named Hoppy Beer. It was that, too.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Lynlake The Bachelor Barley-wine

Lynlake The Bachelor Barley-wine-style Ale. 8.6% ABV. 100 IBU. LynLake Brewery, Minneapolis, MN.

I've been sitting on this bottle for a couple of months, I think. Feels like as good enough of a night as any to crack it open and enjoy.

Clear, bright crimson color, solid, off-whitish head. Looks nice.

In the nose: rich and malty. Big hop flavors start the assault, Big fruit. Big everything. Plump and heavy. Powerfully complex. Some sweetness, much ripe fruitiness. Mmmm, lot of caramel malt flavors, a touch of toffee, altogether goodness.


In the mouth: Yum. It's got the barley-wine flavors right from the start, plump, richly malty, powerfully fruity, bitterness ably matched by malt, with alcohol revving up and ready to go. Tastes just like a barley-wine should and doesn't hold back. Mmmm, this hits it right where I want it to hit.

Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero

Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero. Mexican style chocolate stout. Ale brewed with natural flavors and natural flavors added. 9% ABV, 6 IBU. American Double/Imperial Stout. Ipswich, MA.

Solid blackness, deep and impenetrable, cocoa-tinged head up on top. Looking great.

In the nose: Vanilla, cream, peppers, chocolate. A little cinnamon. Very nice.

In the mouth: Big roasted malt flavors up front, with some hop bitterness, but very little. And the rest come roaring in: the peppers, the cinnamon, all kept in check with vanilla and whatever's bringing that cream. Big, malty, rich. Full-bodied, full flavored, hot and heavy.

I've had this before, when I chose a keg for Acadia. A sample came my way from the Sample Man, and I was astonished that I'd never had a bottle (or, it turns out, a can) that I reviewed here. The last time I had a Clown Shoes beer, I vowed to keep at their vast supply of beers, and I shan't shirk that duty. I do like this brewery quite a bit.

Question, though: Are these "Mexican-style chocolate stouts" really brewed in Mexico? Are they really a style that originated in Mexico? Or did some gringo think it up? Someone let me know if there's a Mexican brewery tossing vanilla, cinnamon and peppers in their chocolate imperial stout. Please. I have got to know.

Roasted dark malts plus extra chocolate malts plus ancho chile plus cinnamon plus vanilla extract plus a chocolate loving, beer drinking, Clown Shoes wearing, multi-limbed, gorgeous and glorious Mexican wrestler on the label. That’s the recipe for a Chocolate Sombrero!

Northbound Block Heater Barley-wine

Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub Block Heater Barley-wine. 11.1% ABV. 85 IBU. Minneapolis, MN.

Burgundy-hued, slim off-white head.

In the nose: rich and malty, sweet and slightly fruity, dark ones, stone ones, fig and raisin and ripe grapes and berries. Nice.

In the mouth: Tasty, tasty, tasty. Some bitterness boards the palate, then hangs out in the back while malt, fruit, and rich caramel tones take over. A very approachable barleywine. Clean, while rich and deeply rewarding. Good for a cold night like this one.

To make a good Barley Wine, you need to keep that malt sweetness with flavors of light coffee, citrus and pine. This full bodied beer drinks much easier than the 11.1% would lead you to believe. So is you need something to keep you warm this Minnesota winter, grab a Block Heater to take off that winter’s chill.

Disgruntled Punch Drunk Gose

When you go to the Disgruntled Brewing website, the first words that pop on your computer screen are these: "the more disgruntled the brewer, the better the beer." What does that mean now? How disgruntled can your brewer be, and still brew? The disgruntled Disgruntled brewer, Brett Doebbelling, has left the brewery that he was part owner of, saying that he was "squeezed out" by his partners, and has stepped down. His talent, though, was what brought them acclaim and made them successful. Where do they do from here? More importantly, where does he go? We're waiting to see. Meanwhile, I'll keep reviewing the crowlers when I see them.

Disgruntled Punch Drunk. Fruited sour gose. 5% ABV. Disgruntled Brewing Co., Perham, MN.

Clear, bright and rosy coloration, with a pinkish head that starts big and slips down quickly.

In the nose: Very berry, with the accompanying tell-tale signs of a proper Gose, the sour, the wheat, the salt. It's all there. Nice.

In the mouth: Tart! Then fruity, and quickly comes the wheat, and the salt, and more tart. Light bodied, very drinkable, quite refreshing. I like it. Sour never quits, berry flavor is a delight. Tastes right, drink right...right on!

A Gose made with magical anti-aging aronia berries. Very refreshing!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Lupine Rout Brown Ale

Lupine Rout Brown Ale. 5.8% ABV. Lupine Brewing, Delano, MN.

Dark brown color, a slim, lightly tanned head on top.

In the nose: soft and malty, caramel and toffee tones hit the senses. Pleasantly semi-sweet.

In the mouth: Light hop blitz hits us first, then comes the malt sweetness and the caramel notes, and it all winds up wonderfully. Medium bodied, easy drinking, good and tasty. Just about rich and entirely satisfying.

If you're looking for a good brown ale, this one can't be beat. Go drink it.

This brown is our response to requests for a full-bodied beer that is still easy drinking from start to finish. It is rich in flavor and not too sweet. Every sip holds a clean, refreshing conclusion.  The toasted caramel malts gives this beer its rich color, flavors, and old world ale feel.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Modist Ritual Night Mexican Dark Chocolate Stout

Modist Ritual Night Mexican Dark Chocolate Stout, 6.3% all./vol. Modist Brewing, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Dark darkness, utter richness, under a thick and lasting cocoa-tinged head. Looking terrific. Just right on. 

In the nose: Cinnamon first, and spice, with peppers climbing on board. Thick, dense malt, deep and rich. A lot of liveliness swirling in this stout. 

In the mouth: More of that and then some. Cinnamon and spice dominate over the massive malt. A lot of peppery heat in this one, but not too much. I can handle it. Some chocolate, some coffee, but the peppers reign supreme. It's a good beer, but I won't go back to it too often because, eh, that's not my thing. I'm glad they made this, I'm glad I tried it, but, eh....not for me. 

Mexican Dark Chocolate stout brewed with velvety smooth dark chocolate and vanilla bean with a cinnamon and red chili smolder. 

Oliphant Zozo Gun India Pale Ale

Now here's a beer that I originally had back in 2015, December 27 to be exact, according to Untappd. But there must have been more pressing beers to take home from the brewery that day, because I certainly did not do a review of it. An Oliphant IPA and I didn't bring back a crowler or growler? (I look through what I did review post 12/27/2015, and well, we make choices.)

Or maybe I just hadn't gotten into the habit yet of taking home as many beers as I could? Nonetheless, it was eventually made available in kegs and I hosted one at Acadia a month or so back, but I didn't take notes from on tap, because I knew they had released cans, but guess what? I couldn't find any! Except, I just did.

So, finally, some Zozo Gun! What is Zozo Gun? An India Pale Ale with Zythos and Cascade hops, naturally. But what does the name mean? It's from a Grant Morrison comic book, like the answers to so many other Oliphant questions. (Invisibles, I think. It's a poltergeist gun. Every home should have one.) And what does Jeremy Hughes' amazing label art have to do with it? Nothing. (I don't think.) Let's drink the beer.

Clear, bright amber/golden color, big ol' white head of foam, looking perfect for an IPA.

In the nose: Ah, yes! Grassy, grapefruit, citrus and pine, all those things you get from Cascade and Zythos? I'm not the expert on Zythos. Whatever it does. But it's delightful and sure to please any hop fan.

In the mouth: Ah! Again. Beautifully bitter. Lovely attack on the tongue and the palate. Ah, yes! Wonderfulness. Lean malt body, just enough. Great balance. Great flavors. Listen, if you like IPAs, don't miss out on any of Oliphant's. Hey, I try not to skip anything they do, but if your thing is IPA, and that's it, well, you do yourself a disservice if you're not doing their IPAs. Whatever they may be. Again, I don't know what Zythos is contributing, or if they just had a ton of extra Zythos because they were on sale or something, but the Cascade are doing their thing, for certain. IPA drinkers: drink Oliphant IPAs. Boom. Mic drop. Out.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Town Hall Rhenish Alt

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Rhenish Altbier. In the Rheinland style, not Dusseldorf, which I'd never heard of before. 5% ABV. Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, reddish brown coloring, slim white head.

In the nose: soft and malty, caramel tones, slightly sweet, if but a touch. Pleasant.

In the mouth: A blast of bitterness up front, tidy delivery of hops on the palate, then it's smooth and malty. A little bit sweeter than I expect from an alt, but there ain't nothing wrong with that. Exceptionally drinkable, a very pleasant malt beverage.

This Rhenish-style Alt is a little lighter in color, slightly more fruity, nutty, and sweeter than the Dusseldorf-style Altbiers.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Venn Brewing Session IPA

Venn Brewing Session IPA. Batch No. 8. 5% ABV. Venn Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Just a few days ago, the 32nt brewery in Minneapolis opened it's doors to the public. I heard how busy it was on opening day, and decided to wait until Sunday to pay them a visit. I brought two growlers home that night. When I open the second growler, I'll you a little more about them, based on that visit.

Clear-ish, lightly hazed, bright golden color, with a big, fresh lace-leaving lovely white head.

In the nose: beautiful, shiny citrus notes in the aromatics. Orange and lemon and tangerine. Very nice.

In the mouth: Very light in body, quite smooth on the palate. Just enough bitterness to keep it interesting for me, the right amount of hops. I feel that here we have a case of a pale ale being called a session IPA just to trap those folks who need to have something called "IPA". Nonetheless, it's tasty and utterly drinkable in all regards. Delicious. Good drinking IPA, and you can, well, you know.

Citrusy, soft, and balanced. Hopped like a standard IPA, but with less bitterness and lower ABV.
Malts: Pilsner. Hops: Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe (United States). Yeast: German Kolsch.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Prairie Artisan Ales Imaginary Friends India Pale Ale

Prairie Imaginary Friends. IPA. Artisan Ales. Oklahoma. 7% Alc./Vol.

 Dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic.

Lightly hazed, bright golden color, voluminous head above.

In the nose: mostly citrus, minor pine. Very mellow, low bitterness, highly appealing.

In the mouth: Cool bitter burst blazes the palate. Friendly fire blasts the lips. Light malt body. Lean, mean hop delivery machine. I can dig it.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Millstream Oktoberfest

Millstream Oktoberfest. German-style marzen. Millstream Brewing, Amana, Iowa. Est. 1985. Brewers of Award-winning beers. 5.7% ABV, 20 IBU.

I got this bottle back in September, I think. From a Sample Man, who told me it was the finest Oktoberfest in all the land, none finer. Did he just say that in order to sell it, or was it actually true? I vowed to find out, and yet I was not moved to open the bottle until the middle of December. Oh, I suck.

But, let's drink the beer, shall we?

Clear, amber-hued, slim white head.

In the nose: soft and cereal-y, slightly sweet and malty.

In the mouth: Well-balanced malty flavors on the palate, easy as we go. Flat out nice, neither too this nor that. Smooth stuff, a right-there-in-the-pocket oktoberfest, no fuss, no muss.

I honestly wish I could find something more to say about it, but it just is what it is. Good marzen, and you can drink it.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Indeed Danzig Dunkel

Indeed Danzig Dunkel. 4.6% ABV. 22 IBU. Indeed Brewing Company, Minneapolis, MN.

I'm trying to keep track of my reportage on the beers of Minneapolis. It's hard to do with 30 breweries in the city. Wait, no, 31, one just opened today. And when I prepared some data to see where I need to go, I was shocked to see that I haven't been to Indeed in over a year. I've checked in their beers 37 times on Untappd since then, and entered 6 blog posts about them here in the Nib. By that regard, this brewery has been a part of my Minneapolis writing, which more and more I want to make my focus here. So, thanks to the Sample Man, he knows who he is, for getting this to me, and I promise I will make it back to the taproom soon, this I swear.

Clear, caramel toned body, ruby tinges, ample head, light brownish coloring to it.

In the nose: light and malty, caramel notes, soft and nutty.

In the mouth: soft and creamy, light/medium bodied, quite tasty. Lightly lingering malt flavors. Touch of cocoa, bit of bread-y. Good ol' drinking beer. I like a good dunkel lager, and this is most certainly one.

Go drink it, if you see it.

Bitch of a Brew

New Year's Eve, for those of us in the industry, can be a bitch, man. Working on a holiday, fighting to stay sane in a sea of maddening...