Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bear Republic Grand Am American Pale Ale

Bear Republic Grand Am American Pale Ale. 6 % ABV, 50 IBU. Bear Republic Brewing Company, Healdsburg, CA.


Hazy, pale golden color, slim, but lasting white head.

In the nose: bright, fresh, and hoppy. Airy. A little herbal, a little floral, and altogether nice.

In the mouth: Fresh, zesty, hoppy, and all atingle. Lots of hop essence on the palate, plenty of citrus, much vibrancy. Medium bodied, extremely easy drinking. Delicious. Going down so easy. Nice little hoppy buzz going on, and utterly quenching. Good pale ale and you can drink it.

From the label: Inspired by our team's passion for racing, Grand Am is an American Pale Ale worthy of the "Racer" family. True to our roots, this sessionable yet assertive ale balances both classic and new American hop varieties with a distinct malt backbone. Start your engines...."

Fair State Giantsbane

Fair State Giantsbane Double Stout. 8.6% ABV, 50 IBU. Fair State Brewing Co-operative, Minneapolis, MN.

Darkest blackness, utterest richness, slim brown head.

In the nose: Big cocoa, sweet, lightly fruity, lovely. Espresso notes. Nice.

In the mouth: chocolate, deep malt flavors, lush, coffee-ish. Yum. Roast, very tasty, very deep, very rich. I'm satisfied, I don't know about you. Mmmm. Yeah, I said it before and I'll say it again. Sweet to an extent, then dry, and all the while delicious.

From the website: Giantsbane is a Double Stout brewed with dark and roasted malts. Black, roasty, and hefty, we kettle sour a portion of the wort prior to the boil to provide the classic stout "twang."

Fulton Culture Project One

Fulton Culture Project Series No. One. Red Ale Aged in Wine Barrels. Ale aged in Wine Barrels with Facto, Pedio and Brett.
ABV: 6.7%. IBU: 7. PH: 3.5. Packaged: December 2016. (when I bought it.) Malt: Pilsner, Munich, Spelt, Carared, Red Fife, Simpsons DRC. Hops: Amarillo. Fermentation: Primary fermentation in stainless steel with Saccaromyces. Continued fermentation in oak for 12 months with Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and Brettanomyces.

Clear, bright amber coloration, slim white head.

In the nose: aw, funky! Horse blanket, litterbox. Vinegar. Very ripe and pungent.

In the mouth: Major pucker. Good and tart, fresh, funky, fruity, then dry. Lean bodied, and utterly quenching. Tart and tasty. Big fruit, cherries and berries, pleasant tartness. Very easy, very mellow, very nice. Not too intense, and who really has to have all that, anyway? Just delicious. Yum, um, um.This is the start of what can only get better.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Boulder Pulp Fusion Blood Orange IPA


Boulder Pulp Fusion Blood Orange IPA. 6.5% ABV. 52 IBU. Boulder Brewing, Boulder, CO.

Clear, bright gold coloring, big ivory head, leaving lace.

In the nose: citrus-y hop attack, Lemon, lime, grapefruit. Centennial, Cascade and Glacier hops doing their thing.

In the mouth: Starts out fresh and juicy, with moderate bitterness. Ends dry on the palate. Dry and refreshing. Medium bodied. Smooth and tasty, this one, and an easy drinker. Orange flavor continues to build it's presence on the tongue. The blood orange flavor, for me, though, doesn't go far enough. It's quite consumable, however, and it does taste quite good. Just wish it was a little more little more. As it is, it's but a whisper.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Upper Hand UPA

Upper Hand Upper Peninsula Ale. 5.5% ABV.
Upper Hand Brewing, Escanaba, Michigan.

Clear-ish, amber-hued, big ivory head, leaving lace, looking good.

In the nose: fairly quiet, some hop notes, light caramel malt.

In the mouth: Earthy hops up on the front, bitter, but balanced. Caramel malt tones greet the palate next. A little fruity, little floral, nice and even. And a little complexity, too, lot of different flavors at play. This is alright, good upper peninsula ale, and you can drink it.

Also, there ain't nothing wrong with it.

From the label: "Brewed and bottled where it's meant to be enjoyed." If that's the case, why do they ship it out of Michigan? What is this bottle even doing in my hands?

From the website: Upper Peninsula Ale is an American Pale Ale, brewed just for the north. The use of toasted malt gives it a nice, deep golden color, and the Mosaic hops impart citrus, floral, and berry aromas, and give UPA® a crisp, moderately bitter finish.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oliphant Tittleman's Crest Tequila-barrel aged black ale

Oliphant Brewing Tittleman's Crest.  Black Ale aged in tequila barrels. 8% ABV.

Solid blackness (though still a liquid), with a thin, brown head.

In the nose: Barrel rich. Deep and oaky. Portentous malt content, with barrel character creeping out. Chocolate and booze. Dark and massive, is what I want to say. Tequila notes haven't emerged yet, they've blended with the beer fairly well.

Now, to drink: Thick, lush, dark and delicious. Flat out delicious. Some of the tequila notes are popping up, but they're fairly covered, even smothered, by the richness of the malt. Medium-bodied, long, malty finish. Richness upon richness.

I'm skeptical of tequila barrel-aging. Not a big tequila fan. But, it worked this time. One of the tastiest beers I've had in a while.

I had to figure out where the name comes from, and it seems to be a throwaway reference to some cosmological phenomenon from a "Tim & Eric" sketch. One of many references from that show over the years.

Surly SeVIIN--3.5 years later

Way back in July of 2013, I sat down at the bar at the Blue Nile with a glass of Surly SeVIIn Ale from a freshly tapped keg and wrote up my notes for this blog. At the end of that review I wondered how the beer would improve with age. I've had a few bottles in the intervening years, but never thought to take notes and record what might have happened. Now that it's 3 1/2 years down the road, going on four, it's time.

And, you know what? I really ought to reduce the ol' cellar in preparation for my move next month. So, last night I peeled off the wax, poured it into a glass, and wrote this:

Surly Seviin. Trappist yeast, 3 malts, rye, wheat (first time at surly), and oats. 12.5 % ABV. Topped off with brettanomyces.

Burgundy coloring, rich creamy foam atop, lasting long, leaving lace, looking lovely.

Aroma: sweet, creamy, fruity, marshmallowy, orange, tangerine, bubblegum, ...all kinds or craziness.

Taste: mmm, sweet. Raisins. Caramel. Cream. Plums. Yum. Yu-um. Sweetness, and deliciousness, and very cool and mellow.

Have three years worked some magic here? Maybe, I think.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Surly Barrel-aged Pentagram

Surly Barrel-aged Pentagram. Malt Beverage aged in wine barrels, additionally aged in rye whiskey barrels. Unleash Pentagram. You have been warned!

Here's one of those beers where you had to chase some trucks to get your proper allotment. If you're one of those guys. I was able to get my hands on a bottle by putting my name on a list at a little liquor store the day before it was delivered. I've never seen any other bottles anywhere else. But, I don't do much bottle shopping, either. I held onto it for a few months, and finally cracked one open recently.

Deep mahogany hue, slim but staying whitish head. Looks good.

Aroma: sweet, plump, tannin-y. Aged in rye whiskey barrels, but the red wine affectations are still there. Cherry & vanilla pop out. Plenty happening here. Ripe and fruity.

In the mouth: starts out sharp and tart, not necessarily sour. Fruity, malty, delicious. Flat-out yum. (My newest catch phrase, I think.) Not getting much from the rye, though. Getting lots of Pentagram, but not much BA. Perhaps it's just playing it subtler than I suspected. As it is, though, dee-lish. Beautifully, tartly, fruitily fantastic.

Looking back, I do wish I'd saved it longer, and would love to get another bottle to see what will happen with some years on it.

Pryes Miraculum IPA (?)

Maybe you read the title of this post, and you're wondering why the question mark. It seems I got a visit from the Sample Man last week while I was not at work. Sometimes when this happens the Sample Man tells my co-worker that they leave the bottle or with (I will use gender neutral terms, for sometimes the Sample Man is indeed female.) the name of the beer, or will leave a note revealing it's identity.

This SM provided a blank bottle with his (for we know that it is a he) card affixed with tape. We shall assume that it is Miraculum IPA, for that is the only beer released thus far by Jeremy Pryes, in keg form, brewed at the Lucid/North Loop facility in Minnetonka, and I haven't heard that his new brewery in North Minneapolis is up and running and producing new varieties.

So, here we go, opening a mystery bottle and taking notes....if this is indeed Miraculum, it is 75 IBUs and 6.4% ABV.

Slightly hazed, bronze/copper color, prodigious head of creamy, milky-white foam, leaving lace.

In the nose: earthy, herbal, caramel notes, low hop bitterness. Some citrus pops up. A bit of butter. Diacetyl? Not sure. In time, the citrus-y hop tones outshine those earlier impressions.

In the mouth: Big blast of hops up front, bright and bitter. Plenty potent on the palate. Long lasting bitterness in the finish. Medium body, easy drinker for the hophead. I like this more and more as I drink it, and it does taste like the pints I've had on tap over the years.

Despite what may or may not be a flaw detected early on, good IPA and you can drink it. I look forward to drinking more of them, in their taproom looking out on the Mississippi river, soon, very soon.

Ballast Point Bonito Blonde Ale

Ballast Point Bonito Blonde Ale. Clear, pale gold color, slim white head.

4.5% ABV. 25 IBUs.

In the nose: soft, slight aromatics, a little bit floral, herbal, but fairly quiet and pleasant.

In the mouth: Crisp and refreshing. Light bodied. Minor hops, low bitterness. Easy-drinker. Pitch perfect American blonde ale.

I don't drink very many blonde ales, it's not what I reach for. But if you dig 'em, by all means give this one a try.

Sweetland Orchard Northern Spy Cider

Sweetland Orchard Northern Spy, A crisp dry hard cider. 7% alc. by vol.

The cider adventures continue, this time more from Webster, MN's own Sweetland Orchard. This is the 3rd cider of theirs that I've sampled, out of 5, and the first 750 ml. On the label it says: "A complex hard cider, perfect for sharing with friends over good food...", but I'm drinking it solo because that's what I do when I write about beers and ciders. And I'm going to drink it while I cook, maybe even include it in the cooking, and probably have some with the meal. And the label continues, of course, but we'll leave that for later.

Clear and yellow. Cider-y.

Nose: apples aplenty. Good ol' cider smells.

Mouth: Crisp. Dry. Very dry. And all kinds of apples. Extraordinarily dry, as well as refreshing. We're in Cider-town, fellas. (Although it's not tangy and brown. Ned Flanders doesn't know everything.)

Let's go back to that label...."made exclusively from Northern Spy apples, it is deliciously dry with a long finish. Sweetland Orchard is family owned and operated. We're proud of our Northern Spy and hope you enjoy drinking it as much as we enjoy making it. We're growing, pressing, and fermenting Minnesota's original farmhouse cider. Sweetlandorchard.com." "Drink cider, eat apples."

I like this. It's good. Really good. I'm not a cider drinker, but if you are, go drink it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stillwater On Fleek Imperial Stout

Stillwater Artisan Ales On Fleek (FTW) Imperial Stout. 13% ABV. Collaboration with Casita Cerveceria.

I'm not going to mention what a stupid name this is, or how I despise the design of this label. Bright day-glo colors do not belong on an Imperial Stout label. Forget all that. Let's focus on the beer.

Dark, blackish, deep coloring, rich and toasted tan head, looks about perfect.

In the nose: toasted coconut, marshmallow, vanilla, caramel, toffee, toast, roast, cocoa, cream. Mmmm. Char. Molasses. Mmm, mmm.

In the taste: mmm turns to ahhh.  Thick, rich, full bodied, massive malt, deep chocolate, some anise, molasses and more. Boom! It's everything I want in an imperial stout. Big, beefy, plump, large, immense, etcetera. Delicious. Drinks down as well as any good RIS would. Mmmm, so rich, so chocolatey, so, so, so. So very so.

If you know me at all, you know I love an Imperial Stout. Love them when they're done well. And this one is, it really is.

Here's all the information the website gives: Big, overhyped imperial stouts, amirite? This one on fleek tho. The most amazing collaboration ever with Casita Cerveceria.

Indeed Lucy Session Sour

Something over a year ago, I tried a new kettle sour pale ale from Indeed called Lucy. Not long after that, I tapped a keg for Acadia, and it was well appreciated by our patrons. Now, Lucy comes in a can. And at last we can see that it is not only named for Josh Bischoff's daughter of the same name, but also the one in the sky with the diamonds. I asked if it was the same beer, and was told there were a few tweaks in the recipe, and so it calls for new notes, doesn't it?

Lucy Session Sour Ale Brewed with natural flavors. 4.2% ABV, 12 ounce can, 27 IBU. Brewed and canned by Indeed Brewing Company, Minneapolis, MN.

Very hazed, pale golden coloring, slim white head.

In the nose: tart, fruity, funky.

In the mouth: Sour hits the palate with a punch. Very funky.  Wild, crazy, and eminently drinkable.  A lot of citrus smacks the lips and tongue in this. Changes from the original, I was told, include lemongrass and passionfruit, Much sour abounds. Many fruits. Just delicious.

I can see having many dates with this Lucy, and strongly recommend listening to this (at right) while you imbibe:










From the website: Lively, spirited, and complex, Lucy Session Sour Ale is the latest labor of love from our Head Brewer Josh Bischoff. A tribute to his daughter of the same name, Lucy was a stubborn beer to make — sour, sassy, and unpredictable — but then again, nothing worth doing comes easy. Light in body with lush tropical fruit notes and a tart, citrusy finish, our Session Sour is brewed with lemongrass, orange peel and passion fruit. Sip after sip, let Lucy win you over.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Town Hall Blonde Crush

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Blonde Crush. Belgian strong golden ale. 9.1% ABV.

Clear, copper/amber color, slim white head.

In the nose: sweet, fruity, bubble-gummy, a sweet treat.

In the mouth: Malt bombs the palate, then leaves it clean. Medium bodied. Sweet, sharp, strong. Goes down nice and easy and deliciously. A blonde ale with the big bones of a triple.

Had this growler one day past the "best-by" date. I think it held up.

Town Hall Foolish Red

Ladies and Gentlemen, I've said it before, but I have to repeat it. This writer has always been a terrible procrastinator, all his life. The weight of what I want to do and need to do hangs heavy and hard in my mind, stalling me from the accomplishments I dearly want to achieve. "Get up and get going" I shout to my myself in my mind. But, there are only so many hours available every day, and other matters occupy my attention.

The other night I finally opened up a growler I bought almost a month ago, and took notes and as I prepared them for publication, I thought: a month ago? Town Hall Brewery's Barrel Aged Week was a month ago? Ay-yi, yi, how time does keep on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future, as Steve Miller wisely sang. (It's been a hell of a month.)

I wrote about last year's Barrel Aged Week here, as Town Hall's entry in Minnesota Breweries One by One (speaking of procrastination!). In that post, I wrote about Foolish Angel, the Belgian-style Quadrupel aged in two different bourbon barrels. Other barrel-aged Town Hall beers I've reviewed here include Cuvee of Consequence, Le Baltique, Manhattan Reserve, Buffalo Bock, Twisted Trace, and Czar Jack. It seems like a meagre lot, compared to how many different barrel-aged versions they release each time. Twelve was this year's count, with four of them new.
Foolish Single Reserve in it's natural habitat.

Every year, I try to add to that collection by picking up growlers, whatever's left and whatever I can afford. Sales of tickets for the barrel-aged growlers began at 10 am on Sunday the 19th of February, and once again I continued my neglect of this beer geek tradition as I do not recognize Sunday mornings, but from the other direction, due my barman's schedule. I often don't get to sleep until 4 am, and there is no way I'm getting up in time to join the geek parade. As it was, only one of the growlers sold out by the time I got there around 3 pm, the most limited of the new BA beers, Single Barrel Reserve Foolish Angel. I got to try that one the next day when the week began in earnest. Didn't take notes on it, though. I tend to avoid that practice at the bar, or even at a table, unless I'm visiting a place for the first, perhaps only time. It was wonderful, I'll tell you that much.

I didn't do a flight that night, choosing to skip a sample of the beer I'd be bringing home a growler of, opting to do full pours of Foolish Single Reserve, Cuvee of Consequence, which wasn't part of the week's releases, but was on tap nonetheless, and Foolish Angel, and my head was a little fuzzy come Tuesday morn. Such deliciousness. Looking back at the beers put out that week, I see so many that haven't appeared here, yet, but purchasing a growler of each would have obliterated my bank book. Another time, another time.

So here, they are, notes away!

Town Hall Foolish Red. Foolish, the Belgian-style quadruple ale,  aged in red wine barrels. 10% ABV.

Dusky crimson coloration, slim head atop.

In the nose: tart, sour, plump and fruity. Aburst with the barrel, cherries, berries, grapes aplenty abounding in this aroma. Ripe and deep.

In the mouth: Richness, fruit, and deeper complexities. Leather, wood, earth. Great depth playing on the palate. The red wine barrel effects have swallowed up the quadruple and made something bigger and better. Foolish Angel is already a tasty treat, but this one....this one. Man, oh, man. Slightly sharp,  tinged with tannins, smooth and well-rounded, and utterly lovely. I want to take my damned time with this one. Lush and luxurious.

Sweetland Orchards Scrumpy Cherry Rhubarb

Sweetland Orchard Scrumpy Cherry Rhubarb. Hard Cider with natural cherry and rhubarb flavor. 6.35% alcohol by volume.

Light, pale crimson coloring, slim to none head on it.

In the nose: Tart. I get it. Big, tart cherries, with rhubarb undertones. Nice, fruity, funky.

In the mouth: Wow. Big pucker here. Juicy, fruity, tart. Nice. Tasty, tasty. Refreshing and third-quenching. Cherry and rhubarb flavors occasionally displaced by apple. Delicious combination.

I still don't know if I know how to write about cider. But this one, it's a good cider and you can drink it.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale

Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale. An Irish Style Ale. Brewed and bottled by Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, Ohio. 6.5% ABV, 25 IBU.

Clear, amber/copper color, slim white head.

In the nose: malt-forward, earthy, floral hops, low-bitterness. Well-balanced, but leaning toward the sweet side.

In the mouth: Flat out tasty. Again, terrific balancing act, malty sweet with just enough hop bitterness. Kissed by caramel. Medium body, malty finish, drinkable as all heck. Well done.

"A pint for Pa Conway! Our co-founder's grandfather and policeman who'd likely uphold that an Irish Ale with full-bodied caramel malt flavors is just the ticket."

Ha. Ticket. Police. Irish. I get it.

Oliphant Amphibious Rodent

Oliphant Amphibious Rodent, black ale brewed with cacao nibs. 8% all./vol. Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, WI.

Dark brown color, full tan head, looking great.

In the nose: cocoa right off the bat, smooth, rich, sweet and very lovely.

In the mouth: big malt, rich, dark, delicious. great texture, mucho cocoa. Sweet and luscious. Excellent dessert beer. Little bitterness. Big cocoa, some espresso. Full bodied, long sweet, malty finish. Absolutely wonderful.

I don't know why it has the name it has, but it's a damned good beer.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Insight Defending the West IPA

Insight Defending the West IPA. Alc 7.6 by vol. Insight Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Utterly opaque, thoroughly crimson coloring, Slim, but lasting, creamy white head.

In the nose: pithy pine, citrus, grapefruit, orange. Bam!

In the mouth: Boom! Fruity, creamy, citrus-y, bitter, but mostly fruity. Medium bodied, long, bitter finish. Damned delicious. Bam, bam, bam, juicy, fruity, bitter, tasty. I love it.

I'll admit it, not the best notes I've ever composed while having a beer. Slightly better than merely saying "it's a good West Coast IPA and you can drink it." This was after a few, and the last beer of the night/morning. It's true, I sometimes wake up, look at my notes to see "what did I write last night?" And since this is the last can of the 4-pack, I'm stuck with it.

So, who won? They're both good IPAs, but I think East might have the edge here.

Upper Hand Yooper Ale

Here's another one from Larry Bell's second brewery located in Michigan's upper peninsula, for which he's long professed a love. I remember your Facebook posts, Larry.

Upper Hand Yooper Ale. Brewed and bottled by Upper Hand Brewing, Escanaba, MI.

Light hazed pale golden appearance, slim white head holds it down.

In the nose: big citrus, nice hop bitterness, grapefruit and lime.

In the mouth: Bright, hoppy, dry. Lean, light-bodied, highly drinkable pale ale. Unfussy, uncomplicated, and refreshing. Ain't nothing wrong with it. Good beer and guess what you can do with it?

I'm going to read the back of the label to you: "Yooper Ale is a nod to what makes us yoopers. Just like life in the U.P. it is simple, yet beautiful. Offering a smooth mouthfeel from U.P. grown oats, this sessionable pale ale is rounded out with bright citrus aromas. So grab some neighbors and celebrate what makes life north of the bridge so special. "

Sisyphus Safeword: Cacao

I don't watch a lot of TV, but when I do it's usually sketch comedy shows like "Portlandia", which Fred Armisen says was actually based on Minneapolis. I like "Portlandia" a lot, but I feel like these days we suffer through some indulgences on the behalf of Brownstein and Armisen to get to the good stuff. Some of their characters have worn a hole in the welcome matt. I could have been done without more of Lance and Nina, the couple portrayed by Carrie and Fred in switched gender roles. Fred as Nina? Not very fun. Annoying, actually. And I'd rather not see Carrie as a dude, though as this dude, she is very funny. I like her character more than his, and it did get us the sketch that this beer is named for, when a safe word is named cacao. "Cacao! Cacao!"

Sisyphus Safeword: Cacao. 9.1% ABV. Canned 3/2. (I've been sitting on this two weeks? What?)

Thoroughly dark with a rich, creamy head, leaving lace, looking great.

In the nose: Creamy, malty, sweet, cocoa and vanilla.

In the mouth: Nice and even bitterness matches the depth of the malt. Full body, with excellent ease of consumption. Richness and deliciousness combined. Never too anything here, not too sweet, not too rich, not too strong, though strong. No need for safe words.

Mmmm, chocolate. Mmmm, cocoa, mmmm, espresso. Yum. Cacao.


Oliphant Semigorgon Weizenbock

Oliphant Semigorgon Weizenbock Ale, 8.5% ABV. Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, WI.

Dark brown coloring, slim cocoa-tinged head, leaving lace.

In the nose: Cocoa and cream. Sweet and lovely. A gorgeous thing. Earthy, malty, a touch of heat.

In the mouth: There we have it. That magical mix of the wheat and the doppelbock, richly textured with that whisper of the banana and clove, carried forth with a mass of  malt. Some spice, some smoke. Some pepper-y heat, from the intensely growing alcohol. Touch of sweet, but finishing malt, balanced and dry. Boom, boom, boom comes the booze.

Another wonderful one from Oliphant. Uniquely delicious.

Insight East IPA

Insight Surging From the East New England Style India Pale Ale. Alcohol 6.4% by Vol.

This one came in a four pack, 2 cans of East, 2 cans of West. Kind of a fun idea, brew a West Coast IPA and one of these newfangled East Coast-style IPAs, set 'em off against each other. I don't care who wins, I like both styles.

Hazy, orange-y, slim white head on top.

In the nose: Big bitterness, huge citrus. Grapefruit bomb, as the kids say these days. Rather intense and highly enjoyable.

In the mouth: Boom, there it is. Fierce, fresh and in my face. All the pithy goodness is apparent. Very citrus-y. Medium-bodied, easily drinkable. Long, bitter, citrus-y finish.

Okay, I liked it. Now to find out about this thing they're calling West. Up next.

There's a lot of stuff on the back of the can, as usual. I can't read it. And I can't find it online. I'm sure it's clever, but I can't find my glasses.

Lake Monster Last Fathom Dark Lager

Lake Monster Last Fathom Dark Lager. Lake Monster Brewing, St. Paul, MN. 5.5% ABV.

Solid brown coloring, slim tan head.

In the nose: roasty malt, light hop bitterness, notes of cocoa, vanilla, cream.

In the mouth: Smooth, malty, with flavors of caramel and cocoa abounding. Light bodied and exceptionally consumable. Very minimal hop bitterness, nothing but dark, tasty and easy-drinking. I love a good Munich Dunkel and this is one of them.

Gobbledygook from the label: "What will the last fathom reveal? Sip our Munich-tyle Dunkel and discover a full-bodied, malty, smooth lager with nutty and earthy notes from Minnesota wild rice. The Last Fathom proves to be dark, mysterious and delightful. You may never turn back."

Good dunkel, go drink one.

NorthGate Red-Headed Piper Irish Red Ale

So, it's St. Patrick's Day. And a guy with a name like mine is supposed to care about such things, but I'm not one to give a twirl over it. Not a lack of love for my 25% Irish heritage, just not a fan of the holiday. Nonetheless, I should drink something Irish, shouldn't I?

NorthGate Red-Headed Piper Irish Red Ale. 4.5% ABV.

Here's one I've had in firkin form at Acadia, and a couple of samples in cans. Yes, one can was the one I took these notes on, some time ago, and never got around to publishing because the sample can was blank and the pictures were terrible. Meanwhile, I was given another sample can, and this one has the logo on it somewhere, so that's something. So, notes away!

Dark crimson coloring, slim off-white head.

In the nose: Starts out sweet, malty, caramel-y. Hardly a hair of hops. Clean and even.

In the mouth: Bright and hoppy at first, with lush, sweet malt coming in behind. Caramel and toffee notes aplenty. Nicely balanced. Bitterness comes back up and keeps time with the malt. Medium bodied, excellent consumability. Flat out tasty, this one.

I looked it up on their website and found only this:   Rich in color while light in body, with roasted barley and toffee notes.  Exclusive to Merlin’s Rest and The Pub.

Must be old information on there. If it's exclusive to Merlin's Rest, why do I keep getting samples?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ballast Point Nitro Red Velvet

Ballast Point Nitro Red Velvet, golden oatmeal stout with beets, chocolate and natural flavors added. 5.5% ABV. Ballast Point Brewing, San Diego, CA.Bright crimson coloring, with a slim, pink head. Definitely an individual look here.

In the nose: Interesting. Sweet, vegetal, fruity. Is it the beets? I'm getting a resemblance of cherry-like cake frosting in this, which must surely be their intention.

In the mouth: Huh. If they meant to make a beer that's like red velvet cake, though I'm not an expert on the stuff, I'd say they came pretty damned close. (I don't eat a lot of cake, sorry Marie Antoinette.) Smooth, light bodied, silky and sweet. Tasty stuff, for sure. But strange. Golden oatmeal stout, they say? Never heard of such a thing. What the heck is it? It doesn't taste much like an oatmeal stout. The beets were added for color, I've been told, not for flavor.

This is an interesting beer, but I'm not sure what to think of it. It's been getting raves, but I don't see it as more than a gimmick. An interesting one, a fun one, but not much more than that.

I feel like an old, buddy-duddy by not getting whipped up into a frenzy about this one. I want my beers to taste like beers, not cake. Ugh.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Indeed Cherry Dust

Indeed Cherry Dust, Cherry Wood-aged Red Ale. Bottled by Indeed Brewing, Minneapolis, MN. 5.4% all./vol.

Deep, opaque, cherry-ish coloration, solid pinkish head. Very inviting.

In the nose: nice and tart. Cherry coming through in a big way. Nice and fruity.

In the mouth: Quite tart. Big puckering. Dry at the back. Consistent fruit. A fruity sour for all the sour-heads. Yum. Just, yeah, delicious. Light-ish body, long, sour finish. Fruit is in full command of the flavor. This is just about perfection. As it is, it's deeply delicious. Quite possibly the best beer Indeed has ever made.

From the label: "Wooden barrels, Living Beer. Wooden Soul. This Beer Is Alive! Tart cherries mingle with wild yeasts and bacteria present in our wood-aged red ale. As they age together, all the little bits that once made up a cherry take on a new life, becoming a central part of our brew. Is it transfiguration? Reincarnation? On this side of the bottle, we just call it cherry dust."


Surly Unbridled

Surly Unbridled. 100% Brettanomyces Fermented India Pale Ale. Brewed and bottled by Surly Brewing Company, Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Incredible artwork from Michael Berglund on this one.

From the label: "Wild Yeast. Exotic hop notes. Run wild. Run free. Be on fire. Buck convention." Okay but I'm gonna stay not on fire. Cool?

No ABV listed, but I think it's in the 6 + % range.

Clear, golden/amber coloring, large, flowering white head.

In the nose: F-U-N-K. Massive horse blanket. Citrus, litterbox, sharp, strange and wonderful. Love it.

In the mouth: Big fruit, big funk, rich and delicious. Easy-drinking, and refreshing. Solid malt base on this one, with excellent balance. Much more malty than other Brett IPAs from Surly. Shines bright citrus, flashes funk, offers clear refreshment. I love a beer like this, and I would drink one again and again. How would I compare it to such previous beers like Brett Mikkel? It's it's own thing.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Excelsior Shattered Solstice Ale

Okay, this bottle has been sitting around far too long. We're well past the solstice. But, it's a beer, and we're going to drink it. And away we go.

Excelsior Shattered Solstice Ale. 6.9% ABV. Some gobbledygook on the side that I can't read. Okay, I'll try: "A worldly inspired, locally desired Amber Ale to celebrate the return of longer days. Ginger (India), Oranges (Spain), Coriander (Turkey), Egyptian Chamomile flower and Belgian candi sugar create a robust spiced ale that will warm you up. "Shatter" your expectations."

Hazy, clouded, amber hued, with a slim, off-white head.

Aroma: Spice.Ginger. Apple? Huh. Nice, but, huh..

In the mouth: Spice, Warmth, sweetness, malt, yum. Interesting stuff, here. Spicy, malty. Good beer, and I'm drinking it.

Leinenkugel's Bavarian Dunkel

Again, the looming reflection of my Galactus, Devourer
of Worlds, bottle opener. I swear it won't happen again.
Leinenkugel's Bavarian Dunkel Bavarian Style Dark Lager. Dunkel Beer brewed with natural ingredients. Carefully brewed by the Leienkugel family for six generations. The pride of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin since 1867. 5.5% Alc by vol.

There are beers I review here that I went out and bought myself because I wanted to try them, and there are some that given to me as samples by brewery or distributor reps. Sometimes I tell you which category a beer belongs to, and there are times when you can probably figure that out for yourself. You wouldn't be wrong in assuming that I don't pick up Leinenkugel's beers very often. This one doesn't have Berry or Weiss anywhere in the name, so I think it might be better than most of their offerings. Let's pop it open and find out.

Dark brown color, slim off-white head.

In the nose: sweet malt, cocoa tinges, nice.

In the mouth: good and balanced. Lightly sweet, full malt flavors, cool and calm. Light to Medium bodied, with an utmost ease of drinking. Chocolate notes persist through the taste.

I've got to admit it: I love a good ol' Bavarian Dunkel, and this is one of them.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Upper Hand Lager

Upper Hand Lager. American Lager. 12 fluid ounces. Brewed and bottled by Upper Hand Brewing, Escanaba, Michigan.

Clear, golden hued, slim white head.

In the nose: Clean, easy, cereal grain. Sweet, but balanced.

In the mouth: Sweetness starts it off. Malty. Bright. Tasty. Could use a little more balance in the taste department. Definitely full in the flavor. Medium bodied. Definitely drinkable. I do like this. It is tasty. And, like all good beers, I can drink it.

mmm, mmm. Lager.

Oliphant ?Cuando Es El Cinco de Hans Moleman?

 Oliphant ?Cuando es el cinco de Hans Moleman? (For the life of me, I don't know how to do accents on this keyboard. There's supposed to be one over the e in Moleman, and the first question mark needs to be upside-down, something else I can't do.) 8.3% ABV.  Stout with chipotle, chocolate and spices. somerset, wi.

Solid blackness. Rich tanned, cocoa colored head.

Aroma screams out of the glass. Chocolate and peppers. Beautiful cocoa notes abound.

In the mouth: if you like heat, it's here for you. But gently. Pepper heat lays it on, but lightly and politely. Medium bodied. Easy-drinking, despite the hig ABV. Everything is well balanced here, nothing sticks out too much, and the flavor of both the chili peppers and the cocoa linger long.
An illustration for this one is in the top left, as seen at the
2nd anniversary celebration last August. (the one from my
last visit when I got the crowler did not feature our favorite
Moleman, Hans.) Normally, I do a close-up on the chalk
drawings, but since this one was taken from so far away,
it wouldn't look good if I closed in. And since Jeremy is
in the pic, why not keep him in?

It took me way too long to realize why this one references the hapless Hans Moleman from TV's The Simpsons. The rest of it is a funny in-joke that I've totally forgotten. Next time you're at the taproom, you should ask them. And then tell it back to me.

Actually, I just remembered it. It involves a Spanish-speaking intern wondering aloud in Spanish the date on which falls Cinco de Mayo. And that absurdity needed to be immortalized in a beer name. But, you should still have them tell it, they're better at it.

And, in case you didn't pick it up, damned good beer.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Town Hall Minneapple Smoking' Rauchbier

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery Minneapple Smokin'. German Rauchbier. Brewed with applewood smoked malt. 6.8% ABV.

Clear, bright cherry red coloring, slim white head, swiftly evaporates.

Nose is all smoke, charred wood, fruit, malt. Delightful.

Intense smoke on the palate. Slightly sharp, rich malt favors. Surprisingly light bodied for such robustly flavorful beer. Excellent consumability. I'll polish off this mini growler in no time.

And you know what? I did. Sorry the picture's so lousy, though. Happens sometimes.


Bemidji Brewing Winter Warmer Double Porter

Here we have a bottle I bought at Bemidji Brewing on the day of it's release back in late December. Liked it so much on tap at the brewery that I brought home three. I've shared one already, have another to share in the future, and at last opened a bottle for myself. It's about time, as we're slowly but surely leaving winter behind. Maybe. We hope. Possibly.

If you see a strange shape hovering over Minnesota on the
glass, it's only the reflection of my Galactus bottle
opener. I'll strive to remove it in the future. 
Bemidji Brewing Winter Warmer Double Porter. Brewed and bottle by Bemidji Brewing, Bemidji, MN. Enjoy now or Cellar at 50 degrees. 8% ABV. 750 ml.

Solid blackness. Large, lace-leaving, light tan head. Looking good.

I the nose: soft, slightly sweet, majorly malty. Cocoa, dark fruit, mildly bitter.

In the mouth: sweet malt hits first, rich and full bodied. Just where we want our porters. And doubly so our doubled ones. Dark fruit flavor jump into the mix. A little sweetness, little bit bitter and a touch, just a touch, of sour...this is delicious. Really, really tasty.

Also: Yum.