Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Elysian Dayglow IPA

Elysian Dayglow IPA. Brewed and bottled by Elysian Brewing, Seattle, WA. 7.4% ABV. Hey, it's my first beer from Elysian! Hooray!

Lightly hazed, golden/amber coloring, slim but lasting ivory head.

In the nose: Pungent and palpable right from the start, tropical notes matched with powerful pine. Citrus doesn’t shy away, either: pineapple, tangerine, lemon, papaya. Gorgeous.

In the mouth: Mmm, juicy. Sweet matched by a bounty of bitterness with the second sip and swallow. Lean body in this, with the hop bitterness taking center stage. Hop flavor never flags here, it’s a constant reward. Expertly drinking. An exceptional India Pale Ale.

What the word from the label? “Dayglow crashes the party with the bitter heat of hops—dripping with tropical, sunshiney Mosaic and sparkling with touches of El Dorado and Centennial. CONTAINS WHEAT.”

I love the laser-eyed tiger, too. Wonder if Andy Samberg and Bill Hader had any input into it?

Sisyphus Thar She Gose!

Sisyphus Thar She Gose! 4.3% ABV. 12 IBU.

Highly clouded, slim white head, utterly unique coloring somewhere between grapefruit and apricot.

In the nose: lightly sour, slightly fruity.

In the mouth: Hey, I’m digging this. Bitter at first, then tart throughout, and a little fruity. Fresh and refreshing. Unusually creamy and smooth. What is this?

"The first of our summer sour series, a pomegranate gose 50% wheat/50% pilsner malt, with the addition of salt and coriander. "

That's what it is. Guess what, I like it.

LynLake Sultry Maiden Gose

LynLake Brewery Sultry Maiden Gose. 4.5% ABV, 42 IBU.

Lightly hazed, nearly crimson in color, lush, off-white head. Looking good, but definitely different from other goses I’ve seen.

In the nose: fruity. funky. odd. floral. something’s been added to this? hibiscus? pomegranate? You never know, these days. (Maybe I'm imagining it?)

In the mouth: tart, then sweet. Fruity, yes, but not fruit-infused, I don’t think. Salty. Smooth. Refreshing. Tasty. Something akin to chocolate malt is coming through. Am I imagining this, amidst the coriander and sea salt?

Tartness returns again with each new sip, goes down easy. It’s not as intensely puckering as some may want, but it’s got the tart and it’s individual. Special. Approachable. And I can dig it. Nice try.

Unibroue Ephemere Bluet (Blueberry)

Unibroue Ephemere Blueberry. (Or, as the French say, Bluet.) Belgian style fruit flavored wheat ale. 5.5% all. by vol.

Pale crimson coloring, towering, crystalline head. Looking lovely.

In the nose: Sweet, fruity, blueberry-licious. Soft and wheat-y.

In the mouth: Light and breezy, still sweet and fruity, but with a side dose of tart. Easy-drinking, and flush with the blueberry. If a blueberry wheat is your thing, by all means, go for it. I won’t return to this one very often, though.

This one was debuted last year and I got a keg of it for Acadia. It lasted a weekend, where other Ephemere offering took much longer to leave our traplines. The crowds those nights were really into, coming back again and again for "the blueberry beer." I had too large of an inventory in the cooler to buy another one, and still wish I had.

Fair State Pils

Again, I thank the Sample Man for this one, for reasons given the last time I reviewed a lager. Here we go with notes on Fair State Pils:

Fair State Pils. 4.9% ABV. 40 IBU.

Clear, pale yellow, slim white head.

In the nose: clean, lightly malty, slightly hoppy. Pleasant stuff.

In the mouth: Goes down like a dream, easy-peasy. Smooth, light, refreshing. Were I a different man than I am, I might call it “crushable.” I won’t. Instead, I stand by what I said. Nicely hopped. Damned fine pilsner.

Tasty stuff. Go drink it up.

From the can: “A crisp, clean & hoppy German-style pilsner brewed with a single malt and a single hop.”

Lupulin Citridiculous

Lupulin Citridiculous. Double IPA. 7.75% ABV. 60 IBU. Thanks to the Sample Man for the growler.

Heavily clouded, amber/peach-toned appearance, slim white head. From the looks alone, are they going for a “NE IPA” with this one?

In the nose: bright, vibrant, and sunny. Plenty of citrus, with liberal does of the tropical. Pineapple smothers grapefruit. Lime matches mango.

In the mouth: more of the same. And plenty juicy, just like a NE IPA needs to be. Low bitterness. Tasty malts. Medium bodied, long hoppy finish. Good drinking. Tropical notes abound in the flavor. Citrus takes it over again and drops the orange, grapefruit, lemon. Delicious.

What they say: A ridiculous amount of Citra hops were added to this beer throughout every stage creating an explosion of citrus and tropical flavor in your glass.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dogfish Head Flesh & Blood IPA

Dogfish Head Flesh & Blood IPA. 7.5% ABV, 45 IBU. India Pale Ale brewed with lemon flesh and blood orange juice.

Lightly hazed, bright crimson coloring, prodigious, ivory head.

In the nose: Fruity, lightly hoppy, but slightly muted. Pleasant, if soft-spoken.

In the mouth: Boom! Here comes the bitterness, right with the fruit. Nice and tart. Getting the blood orange along with the bitter, and the refreshment is coming along nicely. Great balance of bitter and sweet. Very nice.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Stone Tangerine Express IPA

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

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

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

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

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

Click on that link above to learn more about it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

NorthGate Canoe Country Cream Ale

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

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

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

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

Good cream ale, and you can most assuredly drink it.

Oliphant / Brewing Projekt Hero Squad

Oliphant Brewing and The Brewing Projekt present…

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

Solid redness, very hazy, slim white head.

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

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

Good beer and you can sure as heck drink it.

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

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

Bald Man Brewing Killer Queen Imperial IPA

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

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

Deep crimson coloring, opaque, lasting ivory head.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fair State Vienna Lager

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

Clear, amber-colored, slim white head.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Prairie Pe-Kan

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lake Monster Buddy Check Session IPA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Central Waters Brewers Reserve Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout

Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout.

Full-on black, slim brownish ring of foam.

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

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

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Prairie Artisan Ales Paradise

Prairie Paradise. Prairie Artisan Ales, Oklahoma.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Insight Crazy Aunt Gin & Tonic-Style Ale

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

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

Hazy, golden-hued, slim white head.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Lupulin Polarnattens Paradis Winter Stout with Paradise Coffee and Star Anise

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

Solid blackness, rich brown head above.

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

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

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

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

UFO White Ale

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

Cloudy, pale yellow, slim white head.

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

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

UFO Huckleberry

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

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

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

Highly hazed, pale yellow, slim white head.

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

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dogfish Head Saison du Buff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dogfish Head - 2014, 2017 release

Victory Brewing - 2015 release

Stone Brewing Co.- 2016 release

Friday, May 5, 2017

Blacklist Dark Belgian-style Imperial Stout

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

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

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

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

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

Bank Hop Lab

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

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

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

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

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...