Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Badger Hill Hexit

Here's the last beer Todd Haug brewed before taking off from Minnesota to settle in Chicago and work with his buds at Three Floyds. There is some reason that he chose to go to Shakopee and make this with Badger Hill, and I think it mainly has to do with bees. This beer is all about the bees. It's also about music, since the head of the Apriary that provided the honey has been a fan of Todd's metal career since childhood. Read the story from The Growler right here. 

Badger Hill Hexit. Brewed and bottled by Badger Hill Brewing, Shakopee, MN. 6.8% ABV, 60 IBU.
I was unable to get a photo that captures the awesomeness
of Brandon Holt's label design. Up close, gold tint and all,
it's an amazing drawing.

Thoroughly clouded, amber colored, thick lasting ivory head, leaving lace.

In the nose: Bright, beautiful hops popping out, bold and citrus-y, with malt and honey coming in from behind. Lovely hop flavors, with low bitterness, and sweetness following suit.

In the mouth: Here's where the bitterness comes in, right out of the gate, coating the palate, but kept in check. Delicious, this, and refreshing, too. Nice and yeasty. Lot of great flavors going on in here. Great beer, and you can drink it, that's for sure. Surely satisfying, and uniquely tasty.

Here's the words from Todd on the label: "Haug + Exit= Hexit. Join Linda and I in a hearty skal as we exit MN for greener pastures in the greater Chicago area. HEXIT has loads of oats and honey flavor with dry hop aroma of mic drop proportions. This of it as a Breakfast IPA.
Thank you Badger Hill Brewing for the opportunity to bring some attention to the potentially catastrophic demise of bees in MN. Thank you to the Rufer family for providing Sweet Bee Honey and advocating for the bees. All profits from HEXIT will go directly to the Minnesota Honey Producers Association and the University of Minnesota Bee Lab.

Linda and Todd Haug

Help the bees:

Monday, January 30, 2017

Oliphant Party On Wayne (and more reflections on my obsession)

Oliphant Brewing Party On Wayne Blonde Ale. 7.4% alc./vol. 32 fluid ounces crowler. Somerset, Wisconsin.

If you'd care to take a glimpse into my mind, I don't mind peeling a bit back to show you behind the scenes. Here's the admission that I think you've already figured out: I have a bit of a mania, that I keep fairly in check. It is that collector's ambition to be a completist, and to have made claim to having had them all, whatever they may be. It's been a part of me ever since I starting collecting comic books in my youth, and continues as I collect beers, and beer experiences.

All the beers, and the beautiful chalk-work of Jeremy Hughes.
Part of the struggle inherent with this obsession is acknowledging it's futility. Take, for example, Surly Brewing Company. I was able to sample and document all of their beers at the beginning, but as they grew, and especially after the Destination Brewery opened and more taproom-only beers were produced, it become difficult, if not impossible to try them all. I would have to be single-minded in my devotion to visit them and taste every new ale they execute. But being so focused and determined in that one pursuit keeps me away from tasting the wares of others. And so it goes, and I can only try what I can try, and tamp down that sadness that comes from not conquering that unconquerable goal.
Cheers, Matt!

Here's the difference between collecting comic books and collecting beers and beer experiences. The comics are physical objects that exist in a form that one can find. I can get that missing issue of Marvel Two-in-One, it's out there somewhere. They are not of such limited quantity that it is impossible to locate one, for the most part. It's a matter of money, sometimes, or perseverance. The beers on tap at a taproom can be another pickle. They may appear but once for a brief time, and then never again. If you're not there at the right time, you'll never unlock that achievement. Oh,
well, so sad, life goes on. There are some breweries for
whom the desire to "try them all" is more powerful,
and all-consuming, like the hunger of mighty Galactus.

Some time in 2015
I've been enjoying the beers of Oliphant Brewing for over two years now, starting just months after they opened, and I only get out there once every couple of months. How I wish I could see them every week, but, see above. (And of course, they are 40-some miles away, not 4. You'll see many more reviews of beers in the 4-mile radius from my domicile.) (Actually, I have to stretch that domain out some. Four miles only covers three local breweries. Town Hall is 4.8 miles away from where I currently reside, and Sisyphus 5.1.)

I just got back from a visit, my first in a couple of months, and I looked back on their presence here. Reviewed 25 of their beers on the Nib, and according to one source, Untappd, they've brewed 143 beers. (And I've checked in 73 times, it tells me.) And I suddenly feel like an abject failure. I look back at the pictures of the chalkboard and my check-ins and I think to myself: Why didn't I bring back 3 growlers instead of one? Why did I only pick up one crowler that time? Why in the name of Xuul didn't I get this beer, that beer, the other one? What Was I Thinking?

So, with a renewed sense of purpose, I brought home 3 crowlers today, and immediately thought to myself: Why not 4? And one of those is one that I have never reviewed (and I always try to bring back ones I've never reviewed, of course) that I've seen many times before on the chalkboard, but passed over. Why? Because, blonde ale? Just not my style. Same reason I always pass up C.H.U.D.weiser. But the collector/completist urge rages within me, and that Beast must feast...and so, Party on, Wayne.

Clear, pale golden color, thin white head atop.

In the nose: soft, semi-floral, lightly hoppy, mostly malty, cereal grains and such.

In the mouth: This is tasty. Light bodied, crisp, clean, super smooth. More of a malt flavor, somewhat grainy, coming through, and very little from hops. This is exactly what a blonde ale should be like. It's what you want to put in the hands of the "just a beer" crowd. "What's your lightest?" There's one every time.

And it's a good blonde ale, and you can drink it. It doesn't thrill me because it doesn't go where I want to go, but it's there for the people who can dig it.

And that is in the essence why I've passed this one over again and again, because I know it's not going to give me what I want, like a Gobias or a Gaer Bear or an Ancient Bone Saber of Whosawhatzis. And now it's time for a bourbon barrel imperial stout. And my next Oliphant beer will be much more interesting.

Eastlake Kirby Pucker 14 : Sour Black IPA

So, I jumped off a number 5 bus on Chicago Avenue to order some Chinese to take home, and how, how, how do I kill my time before it's done? Well, there's that Midtown Global Market over there, and that brewery inside, that Eastlake place. And while I whiled away some minutes, waiting on my Hunan chicken, I had a pint and bought a bottle. Pulled it out of the fridge the other night, and drank it down. Here's where I share my notes:

Kirby Pucker Sour Series 14: Sour Black IPA. Eastlake Craft Brewery, Mpls, Minn.

Fully dark in color, huge head, cocoa-toned, looking nice.

In the nose: soft, creamy, slight souring so far. Fruity....-ish? Not too much happening here.

In the mouth: Sour comes on board with assurance. Where was it in the aroma? Just climbs onto the palate and holds tight. Dark fruits are here in the flavor, various berries bounce around, and rich dark malt stakes it's claim. Sourness pervades, fruit takes hold. Deliciousness reigns. Plump and juicy.

Not bad. Not bad at all. Have to admit it. Pretty nice.

Gobbledygook from the label? Sure: "Stepping up to the plate is Kirby Pucker, our rotating series of brews that undergo a secondary fermentation with lactobacillus. Every iteration in the series is a unique Eastlake take on post-modern American sour beer. Pucker up! After all, Lake Street is for Lovers! For notes on each in the series, visit Eastlake.MGM.com/kirbypucker." And on the neck: "Brewed with El Dorado, Simcoe and Mosaic hops. 7.8% ABV. 11/16/16. Batch 177. Oak-aged."

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Day Block 3rd Anniversary Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

As I've stated previously, my current ambition is to make the rounds and re-visit local breweries, all while trying to catch up with writing the reports on the 113 Minnesota breweries I visited last year. 53 to go on the one side. And one the other, well, in the 28 days of January, so far, I've been to NorthBound,  Fair State, Town Hall, Inbound, Modist, Wild Mind, Day Block, and Surly. Not bad, actually, but I won't rest until I've hit them all again (and by all I mean the Minneapolis-St. Paul). And actually, not all, just the ones I like. And, I do rest from time to time. The growlers pile up, and you have to take time off and drink them. Of those eight breweries listed above, I took home growlers, crowlers or bottles from six of them.

The latest packaged product I took home was Monday night, the start of the 3rd Anniversary celebration for Day Block. Let the notes commence:

Day Block Brewing Company 3rd Anniversary Release Barrel-aged Imperial Stout. 10.4% ABV. 63 IBU. Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Solid blackness, slim, tight brown head.

In the nose: cocoa, tar, molasses, coffee, espresso, rich chocolate. Thick, rich, indulgent chocolate. And some whiskey, some vanilla, a touch here and there.

In the mouth: big, rich, full, thick, all that and more. Oaky, vanilla-y, and big, with booming alcohol. Still, surprisingly smooth and ridiculously drinkable. Tasty, dark, and delicious. Not too heavy, not too over-bearing. Big and delicious. Deep and decadent. Smoke and charcoal, massive malt, rich and chocolatey. Mmmm. ..

Notes trail off there, but they did the job. I finished the bottle and had to get to sleep in order to wake up in time to be ready for another bottle release today in Shakopee, Hexit from Badger Hill. Just one of many bottle releases today. Impossible to make it to them all. Good times for brewing in Minnesota. Very good times, indeed.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Alesmith Nut Brown

Alesmith Nut Brown English-style Ale. Alc. 5.0% by vol. AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, CA.

Solid brownness, slim off-white head.

Nose pops off with cocoa notes, big, fat malt. Sweet, but balanced.

In the mouth: bitterness starts it off, quickly caught up by malts. Well-structured beer, here, giving us what we want, just enough, not too little, not too much. Rich, tasty, and drinkable. Hoppiness always keeps time with malt in this.

Want a good brown ale? Go ahead and drink this.

Modist Deviation 03

Modist Deviation 003. 5.6% ABV. 25 IBU.
Hoppy oatmeal stout.

Deep black, slim brown head.

In the nose: grassy hops. mostly malt.

In the mouth: more hops on the tongue. Medium bodied, thinnish mouthfeel (for a stout). Getting juicier, pinier, citrus-ier, all the while the black stuff keep the balance. An interesting hybrid, like everything they put out.

It's a good beer, but I don't think it's there yet. More tweaks, more deviations.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Enki Creamery Reserve Cranberry Cacao Porter

Enki Brewing Creamery Reserve Cranberry Cacao Porter. Brewed and bottled by Enki Brewing, Victoria, MN.

Bottle one of two purchased at the brewery in November, with every intention to share at holiday gatherings, but just forgot. Ah, well. I'll drink this now by my lonesome, and save the other for a bottle sharing party. Let's jump right into it, now.

Thoroughly dark with a full, rich cocoa-tinted head. Looking fine.

In the nose: Fruit pops out first, we're getting that hint of cranberry, though it's hidden by the rich malts, the cocoa tones, and the light coffee flavors.

In the mouth: It's bigger on the palate, great big cranberry flavors nestled into a solid cocoa porter. Rich malt, with flashes of fruit in every sip. Sweetness and tartness together. Tasty stuff. Medium mouthfeel.  Long, fruity/malty finish. Fine cranberry cacao porter, this. If you see it, go drink it.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Modist Lord Humungus

Modist Lord Humungus. 10.5% ABV. 76 IBU. Beef-ed up version of Wasteland.

Here's a bottle that was released in late October, and celebrated with a post-apocalyptic party. It was just before the election, and it seemed so amusing then. Such a cute, quaint notion we had. Well, we're not living in the wastelands just yet, but everything we once knew seems to be falling apart.

Impenetrable blackness, ring of cocoa-toned foam.

In the nose: spicy rye malt hits first. Big malt aromatics, with a side of hops.

In the mouth: Big rye malt. I mean, big. Zesty hop blast. Great balance in this big, big beer. Thick mouthfeel, huge. Yuuuuge.

Part of the inspiration for the ramble
at right was this poster, whose
political components were extricated
when the label was designed.
Man, I feel sick for saying that as a joke. Forgive me. I feel a little depressed even making light of the fact that the insecure orange billionaire is currently in control of our destinies. But, that's not what you came here for, is it. Maybe you actually came here because this blog somehow survived the apocalypse, the remnants of the deforestation of the internet  and you are researching the society that came before you? You are reading this to see what America was like before the fall? Well, I'm just talking about beer, something that gave us joy in those troubled times, a transformative elixir that keep our spirits up before the days of the culling, and camps, and the rehabilitation chambers. Before those of us who tried to resist the schemes of the tiny handed one were captured and corralled, some killed and some merely humiliated, but all of us sent to the underground chambers, the slave colonies, the hive headquarters. We were cut-off from our freedoms, separated from our special places of happiness, kept from the wonderment of everyday luxuries. Now, we're mining more diamonds for Melania, and keeping the Donald in healthy hair replacements.

No, I'm just talking about a bold, expressive and flavorful beer that pushes the boundaries ever-so much without going too far. It's a big one, and if we keeping pushing, maybe we'll break down that damned wall, my friends. Keep pushing.

From the label: "Lord Humungous. 10.5% ABV., 76 IBU. Borne of the blood, fire and gasoline of the Wasteland, this beer is an imperial stout mangled with a barley-wine forged from an imperial red. A potent rye ale with notes of spicy sweet toffee, dark chocolate, burnt sugar, a body of black tar, and a smoldering finish."

Wild Mind Race Dog Wild Oat Pale Ale

Did I need to buy one of these new Wild Mind growlers and add to my vast collection? No. But I wanted it. Ten bucks? When I could have kept bringing in other growlers and getting them filled, if I remembered to bring a cap along? Someone else's growler that fits into my growler carrier and isn't such an awkward, inconvenient shape? Yeah, but I wanted it. So, I've got it. So. Anyway...here's a beer I brought home Thursday night and took notes on this morning (my schedule, you know. I'd be lying if I said "last night".)

Wild Mind Race Dog. Wild Oat Pale Ale. 6% ABV.

Crystal clear, bright golden coloring, big white head. Looking good.

In the nose: soft, sumptuous, brimming with tropical fruit flavors. Sweet, fruity, nice. Just delightful.

In the mouth: yum! Delicious. Sweet, pineapple and guava. Bitterness is sufficient, but never too high. Super smooth mouthfeel. All those flavors from the nose are popping back on the palate. Beautifully hoppy. Exquisitely executed.
I can finish this one up in no time.

From the website: Race Dog  | Wild Oat Pale Ale,  6.0%ABV, 50IBUs

A pale ale brewed with our native wild yeast, oats, and hopped heavily with mosaic hops. Notes of peach, pineapple, citrus, and blueberry.

Town Hall HMS Pilsner

If you've read this blog with any regularity, you'll know that I'm primarily an ale man, and not really a lager lover. When I choose beers, I tend to overlook lagers, and pilsners, and I try to correct that every now and then. And so, at last, HMS Pilsner, German-style pilsner, 5% ABV. Hallertau, Mittelfruh and Saaz. (Not Her Majesty's Service, I guess.) That's all the website says. Is there more? I'll look later, for now I'll drink it.

Clear, bright golden coloring, slim ivory head.

In the nose: Sweet, cereal, malty. Not getting the hoppiness just yet. It's minor, so far.

In the mouth: Lands nice and clean on the palate, hops pop up, sweet turns to dry. A little bit of fruit meets hop bitterness in the mouth. Crisp as they get, clean, like I said, and effortlessly drinkable. Hops feel bigger in the flavor profile as we continue on.

I will finish this mini-growler in no time, and will move on to something more my style. But if you love German pilsners, you can't go wrong with this one.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Insight Phantom Taxi

Insight Phantom Taxi Double IPA. 9% ABV. 84 IBU. Insight Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Lightly clouded, bright golden coloring, lush white head above. Looking good.

In the nose: big ol' pine and citrus, lemon and grapefruit and pineapple, oh, my. Lots of beautiful, bitter notes, right on target.

In the mouth: more bracingly bitter attacks on the palate, flush with citrus fruit and more. Big flavors, big alcohol, big bitterness. I can dig it. Not a bad DIPA, not bad at all.

Some gobbledygook from the website: This Double IPA is bursting at the seams with flavor! We didn't hold back on the hops with this one, so be prepared for full-on citrus and mango aromas finishing with a ton of grapefruit and tropical fruit in the flavor. With a light and balanced malt body, the hops shine through creating a bold, hoppy brew.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Tin Whiskers Lecky Scottish

Tin Whiskers Brewing Company Lecky Scottish Ale. Brewed and packaged by Tin Whiskers Brewing Company, St. Paul, MN. 5.5% ALC./VOL.

Dark brown color, ruby highlights, slim darkish head.

In the nose: sweet and malty and slightly smoky. Maybe more than slightly. Peaty.

In the mouth: malt-forward, hop absent, smooth and utterly drinkable. The smoky aspect lays on lightly. Tasty. Bit of a swift finish, though, gone before you know it. But that's fine for the style. Good beer, you can drink it.

What's the label want to tell us? "A dry, peated Scottish ale with a well-balanced peated smoke character to appeal to smoked ale and scotch lovers alike."

Prairie Artisan Ales Funky Gold Mosaic

Prairie Artisan Ales Funky Gold Mosaic, a dry-hopped sour ale. 6.5% alc. by vol. Brewed and bottled by Krebs Brewing Company, Krebs, Oklahoma. Made by people who truly care from Oklahoma with love.

Hazy, bright golden hue, slim, lasting white head. Looking good.

In the nose: sharp, sweet, then wild and funky. Cat pee, vinegar, pineapple, white wine.

In the mouth: intense puckeration at the start, big sour, big funk. Bright tropical fruit notes, with never-ending sour notes throughout. Acidic, bright, bitter, and beautiful. Delicious. Wonderful flavors here, very refreshing, very tasty. Go out and get some.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fair State DuPounde Saison

Making the rounds again, as promised. My Fair State growler hadn't been filled since my visit of January 28 of last year. Long over-due visit, last Tuesday. Had one that was new to me, Smorgasbord, a delicious blend of various sour ales, had one I'd reviewed before when I had a keg of it on tap at Acadia, that one being Tuque, the spiced rye saison, and also had some FSB, which I had on tap at Acadia, but did not write a review on. I must search out a bottle somewhere, for I've missed my chance to get a keg of the latest edition.

And I filled my growler with Du Pounde, which came out last summer, and is also available in cans. And I promise that I will not wait another year before I get this growler filled again.

DuPounde Saison, 5.5% ABV. 25 IBU.

Lightly hazy, golden hued, slim white head.

Belgian yeast bounces against the nose first, followed by straw, sweetness, spice, and bubblegum. A little bit sour/funky/tart. A whole lot of interesting.

In the mouth: Puckering. Sour. Smooth. Wheat-y. Moderate bitterness. Medium body. Ever-so easy drinking. Citrus hop presence. Turning out and ending out dry on the palate. Refreshing. Delicious.
Has to rank among the best locally-brewed saisons. Quite nice, this one. I can drink it and drink it.

Here's the info I grabbed off of the Fair State website: 5.3% ABV | 25 IBU | 11.3 GRAVITY
A dry, rustic, hop-forward farmhouse ale brewed with a high percentage of malted wheat, Centennial hops, and French Saison yeast.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Able Big Blk Wlf Imperial Stout

Able Seedhouse & Brewery Big Blk Wlk Stout. 9.8% ABV. 52 IBU. Sample bottle, given as a gift from Able. Pretty sure I can't buy a keg or a bottle for the bar, so it was a very nice gesture, and I can't wait to crack it open and drink.

Dark black coloring, roasted tan head, a bit slim, but lasting. Looking' fine.

In the nose: Ah! Espresso first, then cocoa rolls on up. Maple, molasses, ...pepper? If you look hard enough...

In the mouth: Cool and clean entry on the palate. Much malt, naturally, rich dark flavors. More coffee, more cocoa, and all those other touches we talked about earlier appear in minor roles. It's a big one, but I feel it could have a heftier mouthfeel, more viscosity, things like that, things that make imperial stouts the monsters they often are. This ain't bad, but it could be much better.

As it is, though, I'll take it, and thanks to Nate for the gift.

Northbound Snowpocalypse

So, you know. I reached my goal. I saw all of the breweries in Minnesota that I could. And everyone asks me, what's next? What do you do in 2017? The answer is that I continue to check out the new ones, try to revisit the best of the out-state and suburban breweries, whenever I can, and keep making the rounds of the locals.

Immediately after accomplishing that goal, Jason and I stopped in at Sisyphus and I took home their latest, Silky Choice Stout, since reviewed here. My next night off was New Year's Eve, and I took home 2 growlers from Town Hall, both since reviewed here. The next day, New Year's Day, a Sunday...I went nowhere and did nothing. That's what you're supposed to do. And it's cold out there. So very cold. It's been destroying a lot of my plans lately. Once we're out of the teens and in the twenties and thirties, I'll spend my free time outside, I promise. Lately, we've been below zero, or slightly above. Ugh.

The following Tuesday night (Monday was grocery shopping day), I made my way to Northbound with the intent to take home a growler, something I haven't done since I did my Minnesota Breweries One by One entry back in February. The beer review for that post was "Snownami" one of the three winter ales in the Snow Series. And so I entered the Brewhouse with my mini-growler, "Nami" written in marker on the growler cap, and found a seat at the bar. My old friends Krissy and Tim were still working the bar, and most of the servers were still familiar to me from when I worked there, 2 1/2 years ago, and then some. Plenty of good things on tap: the double IPA Jimbo, the doppelbock, and 2 of the Snow Series, Snownami, and Snowpocalypse. I just have to get back when they release Snowmageddon to round out the series.

Alright, let's crack open that mini-growleretterino and have some dry-hopped Scotch Ale. 8.8%. Snowpocalypse, here we go.

Dark brown coloring, fully opaque, toasted brown foam above.

In the nose: Sweet notes first, toffee, caramel, lightly toasty/roasty, slight hop presence, but mostly the malt keeps going on this one.

In the mouth: Mmmm. Yes. Just a little smokey in the flavor with this one, more than anything a malt monster. More toffee and caramel, creamy and delicious. Just delicious. Alcohol creeps up just a bit, but it's not bad. It's warming and it's working. (3 degrees below zero right now. It's so fun to be in Minnesota in January.)

So tasty, so rich, and so tasty. A nearly 9% Scotch ale that delivers all the malty goodness. Yeah, I'm liking this.

Here's some gobbledygook from the website: Each winter we release our Snow Series. The first is our Snowpocalypse, a dry hopped Scotch Ale. Normally, Scotch Ales aren’t dry hopped but here at Northbound we REALLY like our hops. So we ignored the style guides and brewed what we wanted. The earthiness of the East Kent Goldings hops compliments the rich caramel profile in a Scotch Ale. At 8.8% ABV, this beer will warm away the cold winter’s chill.

Surly Misanthrope

Surly Misanthrope.

Hazy, pale golden hued, slimmest white head.

In the nose: big-time funkification. Wild and sour, barnyard, citrus notes, sauvignon blanc. Very nice.

In the mouth: Bright and fruity, with a heavy dose of oak climbing on the palate. Sweet, then sour, then dry. Cleans the mouth, scrubs it out, gets it nice and dry for the next sip and swallow. Flavor is nice and juicy, a little bubble-gummy...what have we got here? Stone fruits, apricots, peach, wrapped up in brett and oak.

So, what's the story of this? Cynic gets soured, then barrel-aged? I'm going to go check the website. "Misanthrope is a Belgian-style Saison, aged with Brett in used white wine barrels.
Pilsner, Aromatic, Oats
Columbus, Slovenian Styrian Goldings
Belgian Ale finished on Brettanomyces Claussenii
14º Plato
9.6 ºSRM"

Okay, guess I had that right. I first had this over three years ago at the original brewery taproom. So glad the bottles have finally come out, but I'm not sure if I need to get more too many more. At $24 apiece, it's just a little outside my budget. The only problem with that plan, is that it's too, too delicious.

Is there more gobbledygook, maybe from the back of the bottle? Why, yes, a quote from Moliere's The Misanthrope: "Betrayed and wronged in everything, I'll flee this bitter world where vice is king, and seek some spot unpeopled and apart, where I'll be free to have an honest heart."

Three cheers for Surly, for giving us poetry with our beer!

And more, of course. I feel obligated to repeat the rest of the label: "This Belgian-style Saison ale is aged in oak barrels with Brettanomyces. Golden in color, it has notes of tropical fruit wrapped in an oaky horse blanket, and you know, other stuff that continue to produce a blah, blah, blah to create blah, and etc. It is best served cool and enjoyed alone or with a tolerated companion."

Okay, that's maybe a little bit clever, but I hope no one got paid to write that. Come on!

Minnesota Breweries One by One #39: Dangerous Man Brewing, Minneapolis, with House IPA

Let's go back in time, shall we? Let's forget that it's only 3 degrees above zero and totally dark outside, and remember last spring. On the 4th of May in 2016, I made my first visit of the year to Dangerous Man Brewing Company in NorthEast Minneapolis, by bicycle. My friend Ashley was tending the bar, and I took notes and pics in anticipation of writing the report. Before I could do that, though, the pics got lost, and the notes, too. But not the notes on the House IPA, they rested in a "draft" state here on this blog's dashboard. And I visited the brewery twice since then, the latest a few days ago, this past Wednesday (note: this part was written several weeks ago). I brought home 2 crowlers, and one was, again, the house IPA. As well as a sour strawberry ale, but that will be a different post, here on the Nib.

(Editor's note: some of those pics from 5/4 have been found on Untappd. Wait, no, only one. The peanut butter porter, which I'd already reviewed. I did not check in to the CentenniAle golden rye ale or the kolsch, so those pics remain missing. And I found the notes, but without the pics, eh, let's move on. For what's worth, I enjoyed them both very much, especially the kolsch.)
They make a peanut butter porter here. You might have
heard of it. It seems to be quite popular.

So, what's the deal with Dangerous Man Brewing Company, known hereafter as DMBC? They opened up at 1300 2nd St. NE in Minneapolis in early 2013, owned by the husband and wife team of Rob Miller and Sarah Bonvallet. I had been aware of their progress through my regular customer Jeremiah Shapiro, who was an investor, and would give me insight when he'd stop at the Blue Nile. Their intention from the start was to brew only enough to serve on premise, not have a kitchen, not distribute their wares. Nearly four years later, they've kept to that, with only a few kegs making it out of their doors.

I dug up this old pic of Cal and me planning
our Chicago trip in May of 2013 at DMBC.
I made it out to DMBC on opening night, January 25, 2013. There was a line outside to get in, but the man in charge of said line was former Harriet Brewing volunteer Ramsey Louder, now a brewer at DMBC, and he let me and Harriet Brewing owner Jason Sowards in without making us freeze in line. The place was packed and it would always be a busy spot from there on out. And their beers received great acclaim throughout the land. But, if they're so dad-blamed awesome, why have they only appeared here in the Bitter Nib a mere eight times so far, in three years (going on four)? Well, first you may all remember that you can only get the beer there, not in cans or bottles elsewhere. That first night, I took home 2 64 ounce growlers, of the IPA and the Chocolate Milk Stout, which became a huge hit for them. A few months later, I stopped in without the empties in hand, and brought home the Belgian Strong Golden Ale. That make for 3 empties. So, the next time I went there I wanted to bring those back, and get more, right? When I returned again, I found that a new policy was in place, allowed only 20 growlers to be sold per day. So, I needed to make arrangements to get there in those first few hours of operations before those 20 were gone, or my efforts to bring those growlers across the river would be entirely in vain. I wouldn't have minded if those 20 were the only 20 they had on hand, and were filled each day, but I'm standing there on Wednesday and looking at the coolers filled with growlers marked Thursday, Friday, Saturday....and I was perplexed. Why can't I buy one of those? Because they're for tomorrow. So, I can't get one when I'm customer #21 at say, 7pm, because you need to save one for hypothetical 20 people tomorrow?
Here's Mr. Jackson Greer serving me up a
Red X Ale in October of last year. 

You know what? Forget it. It's not worth the bother, And I did forget it. I skipped them for the next year or so, while their popularity never waned and the legend ever grew. I did visit them from time to time, but never brought their beer home to review here.
Eventually, DMBC expanded into the next building, upping capacity and added a separate retail store to handle growler/crowler sales when it got too busy in the taproom. (I can say from experience how frustrating it is to fill growlers when you have a line of people who want their pints filled, and pronto.) And that policy went away. And they started doing crowlers, so I turned in my 3 64 ouncers and now I enjoy popping in when I can, getting what's there. taking home the crowler, recycling it, taking my notes and enjoying the wonderful DMBC beers.
Warning: This place hires Canadians. Watch
out! Just kidding, of course, Rick is more than
happy to serve you, when he's not making
maple syrup and apologizing for everything.

The first of these I enjoyed from a mini-growler was their latest huge hit, the Peanut Butter Porter, which has become overwhelming popular, and threatens to eliminate our local supply of Skippy for some time to come. There seems to be another full year until my next review, which was after that May visit, where I took the notes and lost the pics. Visit #2 in October saw Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Coconut Milk Stout, because Chocolate Milk Stout wasn't good enough anymore. (How many more waves of gimmick beer trends must we endure? ) Visit #3 of 2016 was Wednesday, December 16, and I decided that I would take notes, and everything, until I saw my friend Sam, and when she came over to hang out with me, wouldn't you know it, there was Rick S. and Grondin. And my pal Rick D. was working behind the bar. You know what I love about Dangerous Man Brewing being so popular? It's not the crowds, no sire.  It's that I can usually see some of my friends there.

I can almost always meet up with friends at DMBC.
All smiles now, Brian, Rick and Sam!
Sam has a peanut butter porter, and
I have a chocolate milk stout. What if
we combined them? What?
Dangerous Man Pale Ale. 
What I don't like about them being so popular? It makes them very over-rated. They simply aren't that much better than everyone else, no matter how many people say so. And while I stayed away (though I'm trying to keep on coming), I continue to have friends who work there, and many more who remain dogged, devoted fans. That's fine, that's cool, everyone's got their faves. I have mine. But, you know what? These days everyone is over-rated. Check out any ol' brewery and their taproom on Untappd or Yelp or Facebook, and see the reviews, and see how everyone loves everybody and everything they do. All beers are amazing now. Every brewery is incredible, and everything they make is awesome.

(I do find that this is one of those breweries that simply must be praised to the skies, or it's fans will plot to silence you, somehow. At least, that's how they behave on the internets.)

Simply not true, of course. But DMBC is brewing good beers, that's a fact. They've made a lot of great beers in nearly four years. I enjoy myself whenever I go, but I'm not usually there on a Friday or Saturday night, when things get a little crazy, and you can't find an inch of free space to move around in. I have been a few times, though, and I've seen it, and it's something. I'm glad for their success, and I'll keep coming back to try more and more of their beers. I've probably had my fill of Peanut Butter Porter, though.

We're all drinking sour strawberry beers.
(Actually, if I can offer some advice to them, I'd say drop that one, so it's not a tail wagging a dog, if you know what I mean. Tell people it was too expensive, not worth the effort, or whatever you want, and don't let the gimmick beer drive your identity. My two cents, take or leave.)
A Scottish Ale I enjoyed in 2014.

The notes are from May, the pic is from December. I found
that the words from spring matched the liquid of winter.
Notes from a crowler of ....Dangerous Man House IPA. 7.3% ABV.  Canned on 4/26.

Clear, bright golden coloring, large, lush snow-white head. Leaving lace, looking good.

Fresh, fruity, floral aromatics. Spicy and citric notes abound. Tropical, touch, if just a touch.
Pineapple and grapefruit. Gorgeous.

Let's drink it, already: big, brash hop attack leads first on the palate. Juicy, citrus notes float on the tongue. Medium-bodied, long bitter finish. Lively, and delicious. My kind of IPA. I can just drink it and drink it. And doggone it, so can you.

(One mystery I never solved: Is the House IPA
the same beer as the IPA they debuted in 2013?
Does that mean I reviewed a beer twice again?
Oh, no. I'm sure it all works out in the end.)

Summit Double IPA

Summit Double IPA, Proudly Brewed in St. Paul, Minnesota. 1 pint ale, all. 8.5% by vol.

Lightly hazed, bright golden color, slim ivory head at the top. Looking right for the part.

In the nose: Juicy tropical fruit notes, powerful pine, pungent citrus, grapefruit meets mango at the corner of tangerine and pine forest floor. Just the stuff.

In the mouth: Brash hop bitterness jumps on the palate first, then plays it cool. Bitterness stays on the forefront, though, and remains a powerful presence. Malt is clean and lean, light bodied, with a long bitter finish. Great balance here, for a DIPA. The juicy fruit flavors from both malt and hops play well with the bitterness that keeps in command. Those flavors found in the aroma are again in abundance here, the pithy citric orange and grapefruit, the lightly tropical tones of pineapple and mango, and a little bit of the pine needle, too. This is nice. I like it.

More info? The label reads: "Citrus and tropical fruit notes with toasted malt background." Okay, I'm gonna climb on board the website and look for more. Here's something:  Summit Double IPA.
Highly aromatic hop varieties from New Zealand blend with experimental U.S. hops to provide the bulk of hop aroma and flavor, creating a fresh, citrus hop bitterness. Malt character from a heritage barley variety offers slightly toasted support in the background. Available for a limited time in 4-packs of 16oz cans and on draught.

I'll say it again, I like it. Now, they just need a new name. Something a little more creative than "Double IPA."

Also, many will wonder if this is the same as the 30th anniversary double IPA, or is it different. The answer: yes, a little. Same basic recipe, but a couple variations with the hops.

Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange Pale Ale. 5.3% ABV. 35 IBU.

Clear, bright orange coloring, lush ivory head atop.

In the nose: Big citrus out of the gate. Citrus hop notes complement the orange peel.

In the mouth: Bright, bold, lively. Citrus flavors dominate. Crisp, fresh and refreshing. Medium bodied, lightish malt, Plenty of orange flavor coming through, without being over-bearing, cloyingly sweet or otherwise unbearable.

Good pale ale and you can drink it. Nice one, SNBC. I could drink a few of these.

Here's some gobbledygook from the source: We love hops with a bright, citrus-heavy character. We always wondered what it would be like to punch up the citrus while maintaining a crisp hop bite and balance. The result is this new take on the hoppy pale ale brewed with Cascade, Equinox, and Mandarina hops with a hint of orange peel from additions in both the brew kettle and the fermenter that tweak the classic hop profile and add a zesty pop of bright orange flavor.

Town Hall Lose Your Resolution

Town Hall Lose Your Resolution. Cherry Belgian Brown Ale. (Balaton Cherry & Belgian Chocolate) 5.4% ABV.

Clear, deep crimson coloring, rosy/pink head.

In the nose: Cherries abound in this nose, with earthy malt flavors right behind. Cherries meet chocolate. Very nice.

In the mouth: Sweetness first, juicy and fruity. Bright, sweet, lovely, dark and rich. Chocolate chimes in, and fills the palate with sweet and loveliness. Medium-bodied. Low bitterness. Mostly malty. Increasing tartness tries to catch up with the sweet.

This is a nice one, but it's not a session-er, nothing we'd have pint after pint of. It's a tasty treat for a special time, a nice little nightcap. Probably something we won't see until next holiday season.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Blackberry Farm Native Series Blackberry Rye Farmhouse Ale

Blackberry Farm Blackberry Rye Farmhouse Ale, brewed and bottled by Blackberry Farm Brewery, Walland, Tennessee. 6.3% ABV. 15 IBU.

Poured into a Saison d'Erpe-Mere glass. Just because. Why not?

Clear, light amber hue, lace-leaving ivory froth.

In the nose: Very berry. Fruity, yet dry. Bursting with Belgian yeast. Love it. Just beautiful.

In the mouth: a little bit of spicy rye malt, the sweet blueberry fruit, and the result is clean and dry. Smooth and delicious, likable, and drinkable. So tasty.

thanks, Stan and Heidi!

F-Town Imperial Maple Stout

F-Town Imperial Maple Stout. 10.2% ABV. 73 IBU.

Deep black, with a slim brown ring above.

In the nose: chocolate and caramel. Massive malt. Molasses. Maple starts to show. Moderate sweetness. Pretty nice.

In the mouth: the big, the deep, the rich and the malt. Huge and thick. Chocolate and molasses, but not getting much maple. Some roast, a little bit of bitterness. And increasing alcohol heat. Not that I mind it.

"The local sugar maple harvest is the star of this seasonal beer. Blended with notes of chocolate to create a smooth finish, this rich imperial stout takes the taste of maple beyond the harvest."

Blended with notes of chocolate? How do you "blend with notes of chocolate"? It doesn't really take the taste of maple anywhere....oh, wait, there it is, I caught it, but for a moment....okay, it's in there, somewhere. But lightly, delicately. Not a bad imperial stout, just not what was promised.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Fair State Dorado Gold

The last time I reviewed a Fair State beer from a bottle, I vowed to stop passing them by at the store due to the price. I shared that blog post on Twitter and got a like out of it from their Twitter account, with a message urging me to drink better, drink less. That will remain my mantra for 2017. And so I kept my word, and got a bottle of this one, although I must admit that I chose it because it was the least expensive FS bottle in the cooler (11.99).

Dorado Gold. Pale ale with Brett. 6.2% ABV. 38 IBU. Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Minneapolis, MN.

Hazy, golden hued, solid layer of ivory froth atop.

Barnyard funk spills out of the glass. Citrus-y notes mingle with eau de litter box. Prett-ay funk-ay.

In the mouth: Puckering at first, sharp and acidic. Big sour, and highly refreshing. Light-ish bodied, excellent consumability. Here's another example of Fair State showing that they're at the top of the sour game. I'm going to have no problem putting away this beautiful bomber.

Is there helpful gobbledygook on the label? Sure is! "Brewed exclusively with El Dorado hops, this dry-hopped pale ale was fermented with a combination of saison yeast and Brettanomyces. Fruity, funky, and hoppy. Keep cold, enjoy fresh. Bottled 03/2016."

I'm loving this one. Gonna keep that resolution and strive to stay on top of the great beers coming out of this brewery.

Minnesota Breweries One by One #47: Take 16, Luverne, with Kick the Bucket Double IPA

It's January, 2017, and I'm playing major catch-up with this project. Actually, I quite enjoy looking back on summer as it's cold outside, very, very cold and the skies are dark in the afternoon. Looking at those pictures, and remembering those days, it almost gives one hope.

Not the prettiest picture of downtown Luverne, but that sky.
In June, I spend most of the month working on a major move, and only spent one day seeking out new breweries, and the trip was one that Jason had planned months prior. Take 16 Brewing in Luverne does not yet have a taproom, but the city allows them a certain amount of days to hold a party in the parking lot, serving pints in plastic cups, on the condition that proper equipment for the removal of human waste matter is provided. They get some pizza from the nearby Pizza Ranch, a band rocks out, and everyone is groovy.

Normally, the brewery is only open for growler sales. Until they build that taproom with a functioning restroom, that's how it's going to be. Saturday, June 4 was one of those days, and I took the day off of work so we could make it there, looping in visits to Bank Brewing in Hendricks and Brau Brothers in Marshall. This would take care of the SouthWestern corner of the state.

And so we took off for our 3 hour and 20 minute trip, a good 203 miles to 509 E. Main Street in Luverne, Minnesota just to drink some beer. Just to say we did it. Passed by a lot of cornfields on the way to Luverne. Luverne, Luverne, Luverne. (Read that as if spoken by David L. Lander aka Squiggy. Or Michael McKean, aka Lenny. You pick.) Population 4, 745. Settled in 1868. (A lot of settling going on back then. Minneapolis came a year later.) A mere 96.3% of them white folks. Probably nice ones, too. Seems like a pretty swell small town, good for raising up some fine farm folk, I'd reckon. Can't tell you too much more about it. It's in Rock County, which, according to Wikipedia "holds the distinction of being one of four counties in the state of Minnesota without a natural lake." Wished they hadn't told me that. Now I hate the place.

So we get up to Take 16 Brewing, so called because there used to be a highway 16 that went by and people used to say "take 16." (It's not a riff on a Dave Brubeck tune, I found out to my dismay.) Get into the brewery, and get us some beers, and they had on tap Kick the Can IPA, Stormy Jack Stout, Sundown Nut Brown, Spin the Bottle Pale Ale, Country Mile Kolsch, Hayloft Hefe Weizen, and Kick the Bucket Double IPA. A full line-up. Untapped shows 8 beers for them, the only missing is called Luverne Lager. Many of these beers have been bottled, but they don't send them out to the Twin Cities just yet. (Oddly enough, they were also serving wine there. Did not know a brewery could do that.)
Cheers, Jason! Clinking our Solo cups.

And what did I drink? Here's where I have to tell you that I forgot...kind of. I didn't really feel like taking notes, for it's awkward to pull out the notebook and scribble at a picnic table in the parking lot in small town farmland, with a cover band rocking out and regular Luverne folk are just having a good time and aren't used to beer geek behavior. There's also something about plastic cups. Between Jason and I, we had the hefe weizen, IPA, stout, and pale ale, and we liked them just fine. They didn't really stand out, nor did they disappoint. There wasn't a thing wrong with them. All matched their appropriate styles. Good beers, and you could drink them, but I'd rather go back when I can have one from a proper pint glass.

I'd had the stout before, from a growler my brother Wayne picked up when visiting his in-laws in Luverne, back around Thanksgiving of 2015. (This year, he chided me for forgetting to bring back the empty for a refill.) Looking back on my Untappd check-in of Stormy Jack from Dec 17, 2015, they gave it a toast and made this comment: "Thanks for reviewing on your blog! come by and see us sometime." I said I'd try, and I did, but I didn't go out of my way to find the head brewer or any of the owners. Chatted with the men behind the bar for a bit, but they were young volunteers. Sometimes I play it cool and try to remain anonymous.

So, we had our beers at the brewery. We'd made it there, we'd been there, brewery number 47 in the books, but it was time to head off for number 48. And I took home a growler of Kick the Bucket, and here are the notes when I drank it shortly thereafter:

I apologize for the crappiness of this picture. I swear
that it will never happen again. 
Take 16 Kick the Bucket Double IPA. 9% ABV. 90 IBU.

Clear, bright amber color, slim white head.

Vibrant notes of pine and citrus, orange, grapefruit, tangerine, pungent & pithy.

In the mouth: sweet caramel malt flavors joust with the powerful pine & citrus hop attack. Big, brash, bold & highly hoppy. while still majorly malty. I'm diggin' it.

This is pretty good stuff: juicy, fruity, hoppy, yum.

Bank Brewing Hop Bandit Session IPA

Bank Hop Bandit. "Fresh. Dank. Session."

Bank Brewing Company. Dry Hopped Session Ale. Brewed and bottled by Bank Beer Company, Main Street Beer, LLC, Hendricks, MN. 4.4% Alc./Vol. 20 IBU.

Clear, bright golden coloring, slim, but staying, ivory head. Looking the part, looking nice.

In the nose: bold hop presence, brash lemon and lime, huge citric attack in the aroma.

In the mouth: Hops bounce in, play around some, quit it after they hit it. Light bodied. Easy going. "Dank"? Not totally, but hoppy, citrusy, yeah.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Surly Damien Child of Darkness Ale 2016

Can I review a beer twice? Sure, when the first time was when it was initially released, draft only, and this one is the first bottled edition, five years later. This beer has changed some since they first churned it out, so, yeah, I'm cool with that, if you are. Well, even if you're not. Because I'm the boss here, see!

Anyway, Damien, the Child of Darkness is a "small beer" done in parti-gyle style, with the leftover mash from Surly's mighty imperial stout re-used to brew a smaller beer. It's sometimes referred to as a "black ale" or "black IPA" because it doesn't use more malts to bring it back into the stout category, but does get some more hopping in there. It doesn't really fit any category, it just is what it is. And also, I can't believe they still use that image on the label. I thought it was an easy fix / stop-gap picture when they first started using it, but I guess they've gone all -n with creepy doll face. Whatever. I just going to crack it open and drink it.

Utter blackness, this, with creamy cocoa-tinged head atop, lasting long and leaving lace. Looking utterly lovely.

Time to go in for a sniff: Grassy hops kick it off, with a side order of citrus. Chocolate and caramel come in next, swirled up amid the hops. A beautiful mix. Hops remain on top.

Time to taste: Mild hop bitterness begins this adventure, the grassy, the fruity, ending it's stay on the palate with a dry note. Medium bodied, rich and malty, full roast-y and toasty tones. This should suit fans of stouts and IPAs alike, and people like me who like them both. Bitterness sticks it out, and keeps time with the malt.

You know what else is nice? The price. Only 6.99 for the bomber. It reminds me of that initial release, when a 1/2 barrel keg was offered for only $100,pretty cheap for a craft beer. I recall Omar saying something along the lines of: "How could I charge more? We didn't pay for it."

This is really nice, a good drinking hoppy dark brew that I could enjoy again and again. Flat out delicious. I can dig it over and over.

By the way, if you didn't click the link earlier and read the original review from 5 years ago, please do that. It's much better than this one. I'm always willing to concede when younger me is better than now me.

Town Hall Masala Mama IPA

I'm still scratching my head over what took me so long to visit the Town Hall Brewery. It had been in business five full years before I...