Friday, April 28, 2017

Cigar City Cubano-style Espresso Brown Ale

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carton Boat Session Ale

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Summit Unchained No. 24: Spring Saison

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summit Hefe Weizen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schell's Maifest German-style Maibock

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

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

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

Aroma is clean and malty, rosy sweet, subdued.

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

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

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

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Ale

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

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

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

Hazy, pale yellow, slim, milky white head.

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

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

Harpoon Fresh Tracks Spring Pale Ale

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

Clear, pale yellow color, slim white head.

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

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

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

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

Bear Republic Pace Car Racer Pale Ale

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

Hazy, deep yellow, slim, lasting ivory head.

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

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

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Deschutes Swivelhead Red India Style Red Ale

Deschutes Swivelhead Red. 70 IBU. 6.5% ABV.

Clear, crimson coloring, slim off-white head.

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

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

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

Summit Wit Bier

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

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

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

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

Good wit and you can drink it.

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

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

Lupulin Blissful Ignorance Double IPA

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lupulin Resin Rapture Imperial Red IPA

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

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

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

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

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

If you want one good and sticky, go here.

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

Lagunitas 12th of Never Ale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Town Hall North Is Ryesing

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wild Mind Sol

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

Clear, bright golden hue, slim white head.

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

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

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

Fuller's London Porter

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

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

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

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

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

Still is. 

Pipeworks Lizard King

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

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

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

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

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

21st Amendment Brew Free or Die Blood Orange IPA

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Town Hall SalmiVaara IIPA

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

Hazy, amber, huge chalk white froth on top.

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

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

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Alpine Windows Up IPA

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

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

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

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

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

New Belgium Juicy Watermelon Ale

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

Crystal clear, pale amber color, slim white head.

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

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

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

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

Or don't.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Oliphant Somos Extremos Coffee Golden Ale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Weather Hopcromancer IPA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rekorderlig Premium Wild Berries Hard Cider

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Barrel Joe India Pale Ale

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

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

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

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

Bad Weather Barrel-aged Cauld Weather Wee Heavy

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

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

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

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

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

Green Flash GFB Blonde Ale

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

Clear, pale golden color, slim white head.

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

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

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

Oliphant Hans MacGruber

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

Oliphant Hans MacGruber Smoked Vienna Lager. 5.4% ABV.

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

In the nose, smoky notes meet sweet malt.

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

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

Inbound Strong Black Ale

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

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

Thoroughly black, lush, large cocoa-tinged head.

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Barley John's Brewing Company Fruhling Starkbier Maibock

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

Clear, golden/amber appearance, lush ivory head.

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

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

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

Lakewood Hop Trapp Belgian-style IPA

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

Clear, crimson-colored, ivory head atop.

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

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

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fair State Stupid Sexy Flanders!

Fair State Stupid Sexy Flanders! 5.9% ABV. 8 IBU. Fair State Brewing Co-operative, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Fully opaque, richly burgundy colored, slim off-white head.

In the nose: ah, the funk and the fruit! Big sour, intense, and rich with cherries and berries. I detect a hell of a lot of oak, too. (Dang it, have to stop cussing so much.)

In the mouth: Immediate interaction of sweet and tart. It's as if Nelson Muntz joined the Flanderses flock. Haw, haw-diddly! Super pucker! Whoa. Jammy fruit, lush and lovely. Full body, lush malt, ultra-yum. Mmmm, delicious, and so terrifically complex. Tons of fun. Very oak-illy d'oh-killy. Almost makes me want to call Ann Landers a boring old biddy. Raspberry, blackberry, all the berries. Including my first, and last, blackberry schnapps. I was more animal than man!

Whoa. This is easily one of the best Fair State beers, yet, and there have been a lot of them.

Hey, there's some stuff on the label, what's it say? "Hi-dilly-ho, beer drinkereenos! This isn't the Widow-maker or the Spinebuster, it's a mixed culture "Flanders style" sour red fermented with our house Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces. Toasty dark malts, funk, acidity, and an annoyingly positive disposition."

You know if all beers were like Stupid Sexy Flanders, there'd be no need for Heaven. We'd already be there.

Town Hall Eye Wine Red

This year, for Town Hall's Barrel Aged Week, I took 2 growlers home. This first one was written up here, and the second was acquired on the Thursday of that week. Alas, I was only able to enjoy 2 days of BA Week, due to closing the bar I work at 4 of those nights. I considered getting there before my shift began on Saturday, but I wisely chose not to. Tuesday night brought us Manhattan Reserve, and with Wednesday came Twisted Trace and E.T. Wee (Wee Heavy in Elmer T. Lee barrels), all beers they've released before (though I'm still in need of a growler of the latter).

Thursday was the Eye Wine Series night with two new ones, Eye Wine Red and Eye Wine White, as well as the previously released Le Baltique Baltic Porter aged in red wine barrels. Here' what the menu had to say: "These beers being with out GABF award-winning Eye of the Storm Honey Ale inspired by mead makers. Eye of the Storm incorporates copious amounts of honey, personally selected by our Brewmaster at a small Minnesota apiary. We aged this beer in both red and white wine barrels, requiring a very different maturation schedule than our whiskey barrel-aged beers. The distinct characteristics of the two resulting beers illustrate the importance of the barrel as an ingredient in all of our barrel-aged releases."

I chose to take home the red wine version  in a growler because they are $18 apiece and I just didn't have the scratch on hand to buy everything I wanted. Isn't that just how it goes?

Eye of the Storm, eh? Sounds familiar. I'm looking it up on BeerAdvocate. Added to their database by me on 10-30-2007, nearly 10 years ago. What do you think of that?
10.5% ABV. Just for kicks, I'm going to share those notes on the base beer from then: Eye of the Storm, 10th Anniversary Beer, 2007

10% alcohol, 10 varieties of honey.

Slightly hazed orange coloring, slimmed white head.

Aroma is sweetness and citrus, honey and orange...which blossoms were harvested here? 10 of them, we know, but what kinds are a mystery. Flowery, almost, but not quite perfumey...with a solid malt base behind. Quite intriquing and utterly unique.

Taste: slick, and sweet, with a bold, big flavor. One of the fullest bodied of any honey ales I've ever had. There's a tidy hop buzz going on on top, and just the right malt ballast below, but this tasty honey base makes this ever-so delicious.
Supposedly 10% alcohol, for the 10 years of Town Hall, but I'm not feelin','s starting to blaze!

Is it an ale? Or a mead? Or a honeywine? Or...???
Not that I care, it's just super-delicious in my book. Any time a brewer takes chances and comes up with some incredible new wrinkle in the folds of the beer style catalog, I'm on the cheering squad...but, only if it tastes as good as this!

Big carbonation in the mouthfeel with this one, bristling along the tongue, who knows what hops are at use, but the honey is larger in the profile of this guy. Full-bodied, with a big, thick, nearly viscous mouthfeel.

Dang, it's good! Wish their bottling lines were ready in time for this one, it's one to keep, and share, and have around for the good times and celebrations!

Damn! Wow! Cool! Other! One! Word! Exhortations!

So, clearly I was a fan of the original incarnation of this ale before the barrel effects took over. How's it once plunged into the red wine staves?

Town Hall Eye Wine Red. 10.4% ABV. American Strong Honey Ale aged in oak red wine barrels.

Clear, amber-hued, negligible head.

In the nose: Boom, boom, boom. Man, I'm not trying to cop John Lee Hooker, but whenever I catch whiff a powerful aroma, it just hits me like: boom, boom, boom, boom. Red wine meets honey in a fresh and fierce combination. Bold and expressive.

In the mouth: Sharp, sweet, boozy. Slick, sleek, tasty. Medium, light-ish bodied, long, sweet finish. Honey and grapes make a terrific tandem. Decadent. Indulgent. Yum, is another word I use. Luxurious. Did I say that one? It's almost as good as whiskey.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Steel Toe Brewing Barrel-aged Wee Heavy

It's May 1, 2016. Jason and I went to 3 breweries that Sunday by bike. Heading from my place in Powderhorn Park to Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park, then to LTD in Hopkins, and finally back to Minneapolis for my second visit to Modist Brewing. There were bottles of this beer at Steel Toe, and opened one shortly after, took notes and saved them here on this blog, waiting until I would use them at the end of Steel Toe's Minnesota Breweries One by One entry (they are #36).

But that entry was never written, because the photos accompanying them were lost. I saved to an iPod Classic of all thing, my computer went down, and I cannot figure out how to get those pics transferred elsewhere, or if it is even possible. I have to have the pics. Pics or it didn't happen, right? This effectively stalled entires #31-42. It even has the geniuses at the Apple Store baffled. If I had the power to time travel, first I'd go back and kill Hitler, then I'd stop John Lennon's assassination, and after that I'd prevent the foolhardy choice to encapsulate those important pics in an old iPod. Sheesh.

So, anyway. I finally opened up bottle #2, as part of a big ol' tasting party with some friends last night, and here are the notes:

Barrel-aged Wee Heavy, Scotch Ale aged in Whiskey Barrels. Brewed and bottled by Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, MN. 11% ABV,
24 IBU.

Dark brown coloration, short-lived, slim brown head.

Deep, oaky aromatics, dripped in whiskey, vanilla and caramel abound. Charcoal, smoke and molasses. Complexity aplenty.

In the mouth: richness, sweetness, bomb-diggity-dangness. This is barrel-aging at his best, perfect combination, with the base beer and the barrel. Deliciousness for the win. So much delicious, with a little bit of alcoholic burn in the back. Beautiful night cap. Sublime fashion to end the day. Ah, yes.....

Those were the 2016 notes. I did not take notes last night, for I was in the company of friends, but 11 months later, it's even more satisfying.

Minnesota Breweries One by One #16: Forager Brewery, Rochester

For the second stop in Rochester we chose Forager Brewery , as our collective stomachs were rumbling, and this one is a brewpub with food ...