Monday, June 26, 2017

Golden Road Wolf Pup Session IPA

Golden Road Wolf Pup Session IPA. Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles, CA. 4.5% ABV. 50 IBU.

"Refreshingly Hoppy with a wildly aromatic citric character." they said. And the name, I get it. The hop plant is known as "the wolf among the weeds," and here's a junior version.

Lightly hazed, bright golden he, slim-ish white head.

In the nose: Big, bold citrus, lemon, grapefruit, pithy peels, just shy of astringent.

In the mouth: Brash hoppiness meets the palate first, but pleasantly. Very nice bitter buzz. More lemon and grapefruit, persistent bitter buzz. Light bodied, minimal malt, easy drinker. Very nice session IPA, West Coast-style. Go ahead and drink it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Oliphant 1000% Guapo

Oliphant 1000% Guapo Dessert Stout with Cinnamon and Lactose.  7.5% acl. by vol. Canned on
5/31/17. Purchased 6/11, consumed 6/23. Oliphant Brewery, Somerset, WI.

Guapo is Spanish for handsome. 1000% Guapo? Knowing Oliphant, there has to be more behind this....and a little Googling leads us to a wrestler named Jose Luis Jair Soria, aka Shocker, aka 1000% Guapo. Sure, that makes sense. Not sure what Jeremy's chalkboard art has to do with that, though. They need annotations for that thing, man, or it's just mind-bending. What is? Who? Why? Huh---??? (I now recognize it as a scene from Tim & Eric Awesome Show Good Job, and Tim Heidecker's Spaghetti character.)

Deepest blackness, fine ring of tan head atop, looking very nice.

In the nose: Sweet, but balanced: vanilla, cocoa, caramel. Little bit of roast. Small amount of bitterness. Slight cinnamon popping up.

Now, to drink! In the mouth: Sweetness is bigger on the tongue, lactose plays a big part. Creamy, milky, vanilla-y, chocolate-y, ...pretty much yum. Not getting much cinnamon on the palate, yet, but it's still early.

I've never heard of a beer called a "dessert stout" by the brewery as it's designated style. But, why the heck not? It's what it is. And it is nice. It's wonderfully warm and comforting. Should be a bigger hit in winter, especially around the holidays. It's at least 100% Guapo, but, hey, why not go all the way?

Ommegang Fruition

Ommegang Fruition, Dry-hopped Wit Bier brewed with Passion Fruit, Mango, and Kiwi. 5.3% Alc. by Vol. Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY.

Clouded, straw yellow/gold appearance, lush white head above, looking good.

In the nose: Deeply funky and tart, wildly fruity. Sweetness rises up, but funk is in command. Fresh and zesty.

In the mouth: Sweet, fresh, smooth. Delicious. Little bit of fruity funk is still there, but the witbier base is in command. Not quite a sour ale, but plenty of tart at play here. Can't really pick out the mango, the kiwi, the passion fruit, but it's a complex mix. The sweet fruity stuff pops in from time to time and mixes up the rest of it. Tart continues. Sour and satisfying.

Victory Summer Love Ale

Victory Summer Love Golden Ale . 5.2% ABV. Victory Brewing, Downington, PA.

Crystal clear, bright golden color, lovely ivory head above.

In the nose: slightly tart and citrus-y, interesting blend of fruit and funk and floral.

In the mouth: jumps on the palate sweet and succulent. Light, but definitely discernible bitterness. Nice fruity notes to match the bitter hops. Good texture. Playful mouthfeel. Light bodied, extra drinkable, certainly suitable for summer. Yeah, I could toss back a ton of these in the heat.

From the can label: "Earthy flavors of noble European hops, and fresh, clean German malts settle in a burst of lemony refreshment from fistfuls of American whole flower hops."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lupulin Hooey IPA

The first few tastes of Lupulin's beers I ever had were from growlers brought to gatherings of friends or family, and I liked what I drank. I didn't get a chance to visit their taproom and try more until last July, and I wrote about that here. Since then, bottles and cans have appeared in local stores, and I have had the privilege to host a showcase of six of their beers at Acadia, last Friday. It's just the beginning of a relationship that should go on and on. As long as they're brewing great beers, I'm with them.

When I was at the taproom in Big Lake, I gazed at the beautiful display of branded glasswares of all styles and had to tell myself no, no, I don't need more glasses. Throughout my year of visiting Minnesota's craft breweries and their taprooms, I did a commendable job of avoiding the allure of adding more glasses to my already unwieldy collection. I moved twice in the span of one year, and the mere process of packing them up, let alone finding space for them is exceedingly tiresome. (I did some moving by bicycle last year, and when arriving at the new home, found that some of the bumpiness had caused a few favorites to crack. "well," said my friend, "you said you had too many." Yeah, but Brother Thelonious! I need that one!)

And then they deliver a whole case of Revival style glasses to your bar before the event, and there's no way you can't bring one home and use it every chance you can get. I'm kind of in love with this glass. I'm throwing out all my shaker pints, and will only drink from tekus, pokals, revivals, and such forth from now on.  And so I used one to drink one of my new favorite beers, Hooey from Lupulin. Hazy IPA. 6.2% ABV. 60 IBU. Brewed by Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake, MN.

Crazy, Juicy, Hazy, Hooey! (From the can label.)

Hazy, cloudy, amber/golden hued, with a long-lasting lather of snowy white foam atop.

In the nose: aw, yeah, it's going on here, all the goods are in plentiful supply. Piney, citrusy, pineapple, vibrant, fresh and beautiful. Everything a hophead wants in the aroma is all present and accounted for.

In the mouth: Hops aplenty on the palate, but not a trace of harsh or bitter. Smooth as can be. Juicy malts. Easy-drinker, and ever-delightful. Just flat out scrumptious. Hooray for Hooey. I can drink this one, and then again drink again.

Is this supposed to be in the New England-style IPA, with all it's juicy and hazy and not so bitter? I think maybe, and I think it succeeds very well.

More from the can: "This IPA is hopped with a ridiculous amount of the juiciest hops available. In order to bring you the most hop flavor possible, we intentionally leave yeast and hop oils in the beer by not filtering them out. Some say that's a lot of hooey! What the hell do they know, anyway..."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dave's BrewFarm XJA/436 Single Hop Lager

Dave's BrewFarm XJA/436 Single Hop Lager, 6.4% ABV. Dave's BrewFarm, Wilson, Wisconsin.

Clear, bright golden color, lush white head atop, looking good.

In the nose: fresh, citrus-y, lively, maltiness in the aroma. Very clean and lean. Nicely hopped. Classic  pilsner-y nose.

In the mouth: Nothing but clean, and lean, and tasty. Nice, hoppy lager here. Good drinking, nice tasting, deeply satisfying. It's time to just drink a beer, and this does the trick. Lightly spicy hop profile, very dry, yet smooth, etcetera. Nice meets nice plus nice. Nothing but smooth. Light caramel malt taste, beautiful balance, wonderful blend, it just hangs together really well.

It was BrewFarm menu #200 when I went out to Wilson
and picked up this growler. Historic. 
This beer reminds me of a friend who invited to come along with me to visit the BrewFarm, and responded: "don't they do lots of saisons and lagers? I don't like those styles." Yeah, but he does them so well, and so differently, that you're missing out if you count them out because of your style prejudices. I don't drink a lot of lagers, either, but this is so much better than your average lager.

Here's the description from Farmer Dave: "Pils, Cara Red, and Caramel 20 malts, and hopped with three additions of experimental XJA/436 hops. Fermented with a lager yeast."

Damn, it's so good. I want this to be the lager I point out to lager haters and lovers alike.

These growlers are meant "to share", of course, but I can't take these notes in company, so drink by myself, and this is so good, I'm finishing it all in one setting. So good.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Steel Toe Almost Special Bitter

Dusting off some old notes. These were taken on May 29. Why did I hold on to them for weeks? Well, there's a story there, but it's boring, so I'll keep it to myself. So, here's a bit of an English bitter from Steel Toe Brewing of St. Louis Park, enjoyed from a growler in my home in Minneapolis, after having a pint at the taproom. 5% ABV, 24 IBU, more info after my notes.

Steel Toe ASB. Almost Special Bitter.

Clear, dark amber, nearly brown color, slim whitish head.

In the nose: malty, earthy, a little bit nutty. Slight sweetness, nicely balanced.

In the mouth: there it is, again. More malt, earth, nuts, just a touch of bitter, ending with the dry. A very cool, tasty, and specially drinkable British style ale.

This one is part of something I hadn't been aware of, the Brewer's Evolution Series, and here's what they say on the website:
Inspired by the seasonal shift; Fat Tuesday, Fasching, Spring, Solstice, whatever…it’s the time of year when we start to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel of winter. The sun is higher in the sky, its coming warmth apparent, even on cold days. This is that transitional beer; malty, slight nutty character balanced with a spicy bright English hop aroma and defined earthy bitterness. This beer occupies the space where malt and hops collide. It’s not an English Pale Ale, it’s not an E.S.B…but it’s almost there! Enjoy!

I did, don't you know. And I will be back more often, Steel Toe, now that I'm a 12 minute bike ride away.

Sisyphus Semi-Imperial Peanut Butter Stout

There's a bit of a peanut butter war going on with Minnesota brewers and their fans. There are many who claim fealty to the one, true peanut butter porter and defend it's virtues against all comers, and the brave ones who dare contend that another porter or stout with peanut butter is worthy. More and more contenders come up and vie for the title. Dangerous Man, Waconia, F-Town, and don't forget Junkyard, out there in Moorhead. Who did I leave out? Oh, yeah, Sisyphus, whose "Safe Lady" I wrote about here.

And then along comes another from Sisyphus, this one a little different.

Sisyphus Peanut Butter Semi-Imperial Stout. 9% ABV. 44 IBU.

Deep and dark, utterly opaque, under a long-lasting, lace-leaving layer of cocoa/tan head. Looking good.

In the nose: sweetness and nuts, with a healthy helping of cocoa. Pleasant peanut butter-y aromatics.

In the mouth: Peanut butter flavor is at the front when the liquid hits the lips, but not as forceful as some may prefer. How do I prefer? Well....The peanut part is playing it mild. It's there, but not very full, and it obscures the other flavors I like to taste in an Imperial Stout, even a Semi-.

However, if you go in without the demand that this be the most peanut-butter-y beer, or the boldest imperial stout, you have a fine, tasty beer. Sometimes, that's good enough. Good peanut butter semi-imperial stout, and guess what you can do? Drink it up.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

NorthGate Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine

NorthGate Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley-wine. ABV 12.4%. NorthGate Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Clear, burgundy color, slim, tight ring of beige/tan head atop.

In the nose: Rich. Deep. Caramel. Toffee. Vanilla. Molasses. Anise. Spice. Dark fruit.

In the mouth: Delicious. Big and beautiful. All malty goodness, with growing alcoholic strength. Those flavors from the nose --the vanilla, raisin, caramel, and ever-lasting rich malt tastes--have boarded the palate and brought along traces of tobacco, leather, smoke. Full-bodied, full-flavored, never-ending finish.

An impressive beer, indeed. Sublime.

I bought this months ago, and saved it until today. This would be better in colder times, not in the middle of summer, but I couldn't wait any longer. I tell you this much: If I see another on any store shelves, it's coming home with me.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Unibroue Ephemere Elderberry

Unibroue Ephemere Elderberry. Or, as they say in French, "sureau", Belgian style fruit flavored wheat ale. Ale brewed with elderberry juice and flowers, spices and with natural flavors added. Chambly, Quebec, Canada.

In the eye: hazy, bright crimson/berry-ish coloring, lush pink head.

In the nose: Tart and sweet and very berry. Belgian funk lurks around every corner, as well as requisite witbier notes of wheat and spice.

In the mouth: Sweet, fruity, refreshing. Light and breezy, fresh and zesty. Tart takes turns with sweet, and it's a delight. Tasty. If you need to feed your elderberry jones, look no further. Good elderberry wheat beer, and you can surely drink it.

Oliphant Ayguantu! ESB with Apricot

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity once more, after an absence of a few months, to do that one-two trip of Oliphant Brewing in Somerset, then off to Dave's BrewFarm in Wilson, Wisconsin, thanks to my buds Jason and Angie.
Whenever this happens, I try to take full advantage and bring home as many new-to-me beers as I can to review for this here blog-y thing.
At Oliphant, there were five beers that haven't had a post devoted to them at the Nib, and I brought home four of them in growlers and crowlers. Why not five? Well, I watched as Jason and Angie enjoyed their Hobotown Gose and sampled a little, but when I went up to the bar to get my own, it was all gone, dag-nabbit, and there were no pre-filled crowlers. The hot weather of the weekend demanded a salty sour wheat ale, and this gose comprised 70% of their sales, they said.

Oh, for sad, I guess I'll soldier on, with these notes on an apricot ESB:

Oliphant Ayguantu! ESB brewed with apricot. 5.4% all. by vol. canned 6/7/17. Purchased 6/11, consumed 6/18. Oliphant Brewing, Somerset, WI.

In the eye: Heavily hazed, dark amber, chestnut coloring, large, lace-leaving whitish head.

In the nose: fruit, malt, hops. Sweet, but balanced. The beer stands above the fruit, mingles with it, doesn't let it take center stage. Plenty of earthy malt notes to match the fruit.

In the mouth: hops are more prominent on the palate than hinted at in the nose. Juicy malt, tasty fruit, clean hops, medium bodied, and quite a drinkable treat. I will enjoy this entire crowler.

What is Ayguantu? A meme? A youtube video? Something from Dragon Ball z, or Tim & Eric? And why is Goofy, or some version of him, involved in the chalkboard illustration? I forgot to ask, and shall relish the mystery for the moment.

Sweetland Orchards Perennial Cider

Sweetland Perennial.

Clear, yellowish, no head. Cider.

In the nose: Sweet. Apples. Then, dry. Clean. mmm.

In the mouth: All that and more. Dry, crisp, apples. Nice, and then some. “A fine hard cider made from heirloom apple varieties,” says the label. Clean, crisp, apples. Thin body (aren’t they all?)

What else is there to say? Refreshing. Drinkable. Dry, apples. Yup.
Quite a nice cider, even if I haven't the cider-specific vocabulary to
say any more about it. Does anyone have any cider schools they recommend, or cider night classes?

Ska Modus Mandarina India Pale Ale

Another Ska can from the Sample Man, and this one I haven't had before. Let's check it out!

Ska Brewing Modus Mandarina. 6.8% alc. by vol. Ska Brewing, Durango, CO.

"India Pale Ale dry hopped with Mandarina Bavaria hops and brewed with orange peels."

There are a bunch of words ringing around the top of the can: "Crush - Recycle - Reticulate - Smarten - HalfTime - Recycle - Bevy - Forest - Zest - Kyle - Recycle." Not all of these make a lot of sense, guys. I'm looking at you...Kyle.

Clear, bright orange coloring, nice, cream-toned head.

In the nose: vibrant mandarin orange aroma smack the nose up first, following by more bitterness, more citrus, a good dose of pine.

In the mouth: Once more, fiercely bitter up front, with citrus notes coating the palate, hanging in for the long haul. Medium bodied, light malt, nothing but hoppiness. Turn straight around if that's not your thing. It is, as has been routinely established, my thing, indeed.

Hopheads, go get this one. Totes legit, as the kids are sayin.'

Lupulin Apricot Blonde

Lupulin Apricot Blonde, Blonde Ale with Fruit. Lupulin Brewing, Big Lake, MN. "Summer in a Can." 5.5% ABV. 14 IBU. 16 fl. oz.

Here's one I tried when I visited the taproom last year and liked. Mr. Sample Man brought me some cans, and I took notes on one. Here they go....

In the eye: hazy, apricottish coloring, slim white head, looking very nice.

In the nose: Sweetness and fruit, minimal bitterness, quite pleasant.

In the mouth: Apricot sweetness blesses the palate first, and glides all over the tongue. Light bodied. Easy-drinking. Slight bitterness pops up a little bit. Nice carbonation. Sweet, fresh fruit is all over this. When the can is empty, you can crush it. As for the beer, it's good and you can drink it. It's quite delicious.

From the label: "When winter finally loses it's grip on Minnesota, it's time to head outside and enjoy the warm weather. To mark the occasion, we brew this fun and refreshing beer made with real apricots. Perfect for enjoying on a sunny day on the lake!"

F-Town Moon Boots Peanut Butter Porter

F-Town Moon Boots Peanut Butter Porter. A peanut butter cup for your glass. 24 IBU, 5.1% ABV. 1 pint can. F-Town Brewing, Faribault, MN.

Dark brown color, slim tan head.

In the nose: peanut butter aplenty, with a side of cocoa. Sweet, nutty, delightful.

In the mouth: Rich, full body. Loads of peanut butter-y/chocolatey sweetness. No hop presence, massive malt, fairly smooth and tasty.

In the ongoing peanut butter porter / stout wars that have been plaguing our beer scene of late, this one has every right to be a contender.

“Unwrap the delicious aromas of your favorite peanut butter candy bar! Moon Boots is a treat to the senses with rich notes of peanut butter and hints of chocolate.”

Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi IPA

Ska Modus Hoperandi India Pale Ale. Ska Brewing, Durango, Colorado. 6.8% ABV.

Once again, another great out-of-state brewery has entered our market. That wonderful Sample Man brought me some cans, including one that I first reviewed many years ago. So, here are notes on Ska's Modus Hoperandi IPA from August, 2009.

Hazy, deep orange, nearly crimson, smallish white head.

Grapefruit, pine, and citrus pith in the nose, not too loud, but perky and delightful.

Taste: citrus zest blasts the palate, mixed well with caramel malt, sweetness up against bitter. Delicious. Mildish mouthfeel, cool and even, but with never-ending bitterness hanging in there, riding right along. Bright fruit, orange, lemon, grapefruit, bumps up against tasty malt.
Great balance. Nice.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Elysian The Immortal IPA

Elysian The Immortal IPA. Elysian Brewing, Seattle, WA.  6.3% ABV, 62 IBU.

Clear, bright golden hue, vast ivory head, looking lovely.

In the nose: pine and citrus central. Big orange, lemon, grapefruit, pithy, pungent, beautiful bitter. Gorgeous.

In the mouth: Plentiful hop flavors dazzle the palate. All the bright, shiny citrus hop tastes, with a good dose of bitterness. Nice and malty, easy-drinking, refreshing. Flat out delicious. Tidy finish. Bitterness plays out. Nothing but good.

I paid $11.49 for this 6-pack, a bit dear for my usual budget, but I wanted to try it, so I paid the price. I enjoyed every bottle, but at that price tag, I may not return so soon.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sisyphus Elvis Wants A Coco Hefe

Sisyphus Elvis Wants a Coco Hefe. 4.8% ABV. 11 IBU. Canned. Sisyphus Brewing, Minneapolis, MN.

Dark brown coloring, solid beige head.

In the nose: Ah, nice. Cocoa, cream, vanilla, banana. Delightful.

In the mouth: Smooth, slightly sweet, and mostly malty. Little hops. Chocolate taste reigns supreme. Medium body, good drinking. Nice rendition of a dunkel weizen, I'd say.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum 2017 Triple IPA

Sierra Nevada 2017 Hoptimum Triple IPA. Distinguished, Yet Devilishly Hoppy. 9.6% by Vol.

Clear, bright amber/near crimson, slim white head.

In the nose: dank. juicy. sweet. fruity. sticky-icky. yeah, that seems to be the hallmark of a “triple IPA.” Pithy, piney, plenty of citrus and tropical hop action.

In the mouth: Big, bold, and hot. Bold and burly. Slick, and thick, and delicious. But, not for the faint of heart, so to speak. Rich malts to match the huge hops.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Barley John's Brewpub Citra Wheat IPA

Barley John’s Citra Wheat IPA. Growler from the brewpub. Barley John's Brewpub, New Brighton, MN. 6.2% ABV.

In the eye: Clear, light amber color, slim white head atop.

In the nose: lively citrus zest aromatics, lemon and orange galore.

In the mouth: Lush malt, nicely hopped. A delicious dose of Citra hops pounce upon the palate. Medium bodied. Positively refreshing, with a potent blast of hops to keep it interesting.

Very nice. I put this growler away in one sitting.

Fulton Pils

Fulton Pils Continental Pilsner. ALC. 5.3% by Vol. 30 IBU. Fulton Brewery, MPLS, MN.

Clear, bright golden, beautiful ivory head atop, leaving lace, highly carbonated.

In the nose: nicely hopped, floral and spice notes,  classic pilsner aroma.

In the mouth: Enters softly, sweetly, then nicely hoppy and dry. Clean, lean, exquisitely down able. Mmmm, hey, this is nice.

I’ll skip the part of the post where I remind the reader that I don’t normally opt for lagers or pilsners. That issue is off the table when the beer is as tasty as this one.

Inspired by the pale lagers of Central Europe, Fulton Pils, is craft from Pilsner malt, noble hops, and Pilsner yeast. Elegant and refreshing, classic yet transcendent, Pils leaves your senses wanting for nothing, —except another.”

Wild Mind Vivid Sol Wild IPA

Wild Mind Vivid Sol. Wild IPA. 8% ABV. 65 IBU. Craft beer made in Minneapolis.

Hazy, pale golden appearance, slim white head.

In the nose: citrus and tropical fruit notes, with mild bitterness. Slightly on the sweet side. Very nice.

In the mouth: Bitterness greets the palate first, traces of sweet, finishing dry. Ah, nice and cool. Tropical/citrus flavors dance on the palate, nice and bitter. The wild yeast lends a little bit of intrigue, but not a tremendous amount.

Here’s what they tell us” “An IPA brewed with our native wild yeast and microbes with 5 lbs of hops per barrel. Notes of pineapple, mango citrus and lemongrass.”

Fair State Roselle

Fair State Roselle. Hibiscus Sour. All: 5.7%. IBU: 19. Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I’ve reviewed this before when it was Lactobac Two, but haven’t had it since it’s been repackaged, renamed, and canned. Why not give it another whirl? Thanks, Sample Man!

Clear, bright crimson coloring, pinkish head, which stays until it splits.

In the nose: fruit, flowers, and funk. The strangeness quickly outstrips the other parts, and it remains intriguing and arousing.

In the mouth: here’s where the pucker begins. Intense, refreshing and satisfying. Man, that hibiscus! Lighted bodied, no real hop presence, lean malt background. Solid sour ale, tart and tasty. Quite delightful.

From the can: “Sour beer brewed with hibiscus. Tart and floral.”

Fulton HopStar Session IPA

Fulton HopStar Session India Pale Ale. All. 4.9% by Vol. 37 IBU. One pint. Fulton, MPLS, MN.

Appearance: Thoroughly hazed, orange juicy, small white head.

In the nose: Intense, bright, citric, tropical. Pineapple, orange, and lemon. Grapefruit, and sunshine. Another Citra/Mosaic combo?

In the mouth: Bitterness pops up on the palate for a brief appearance, more bright, more citrus, more slightly sweet. Bitterness hangs a bit on the front of the tongue, heads to the back, and tips out. Lean body, lighter alcohol, more fruit juiciness, minor hop bitterness.

Another tilt at the NE IPA style? I think, maybe. Beyond that, it’s a good beer, and guess what? You can drink it.

“Twice dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic, & Amarillo, Hopstar shines bright hop rays through a nebulous body. It’s a session IPA, NE Minneapolis  style.”

Ah-ha, I see what they did there. Okay. Alright.

Indeed Peach Bum IPA

Indeed Peach Bum IPA. 6.2% ABV. 70 IBU. Peach Bum India Pale Ale brewed with natural flavors. Notes of: Peach. Tropical. Vivid. (Vivid is a note?)

Clear, peach-apricot coloring, ample, creamy head.

In the nose: Bitter hops swiftly swallowed by fuzzy fruit.

In the mouth: Bitterness first, big, chewy hoppitude, with the fruit clinging off to the side of the palate. There’s fruit in the flavor, but it’s never “too sweet”, as the saying goes. The IPA is fully in charge, and the balance is right on the money. Long, bitter/sweet finish. Nice stuff.

On the label: elephants surf on waves of fruit. I think.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Surly Eleven

Sorry, doubters, I got all that wax off with
a minimum of effort.
Surly Eleven.

On Thursday, May 18, I was part of the final volunteer crew to dip the wax on the bottles of the 11th Anniversary Surly beer that has been cleverly titled Surly Eleven. I did several jobs that day, including unboxing un-waxed bottles, waxing bottles, and boxing waxed bottles. My turn at waxing ended when I dripped a bit on my fingers. Still have a blister, though it no longer hurts. Next time: gloves. (Update: blister's healed. Thanks for asking.)

During the session, I told a friend that this was all my fault. The first anniversary beer ever bottled was Surly Two, the one I did the label art for, and that was also the second bottle from Surly, ever. Darkness 2007 had been wax-dipped. When Omar delivered a bottle to me with a naked cap, I asked, “What, no wax?” He returned to the brewery with the news that they had to be waxed, by my imperial fiat, or course, and the bottles were released with red wax atop. All the anniversary beers have been wax-dipped ever since. My friend said: “So, it’s your fault we get to hang out with friends, help out our favorite brewery, and get a bottle to take home? Boo hoo.”
Don't look for this bottle in stores, it was for
my personal amusement. 

We finished the last of eight palletes of bottles in 3 1/2 hours, and had the option of just taking a random bottle, or giving a special twist to one with our own hands. Well, you know what I did. Some doubted that this excess of wax would prove my un-doing and be impossible to open. Well, ha! I say to they, and I did get it off, with no further bandages to my fingers necessary. Took some effort, a few grunts, some finesse, but it was worth it.

And I waited these 3 days because a request was made from Surly that we not review the beer online until it was released for sale. I’m drinking this Sunday night, and will post it Monday morning, and you’ll get your chance to buy some soon thereafter. Spoiler alert: it’s good.

Edit: And guess what? " I wrote the above two weeks ago. I was under the impression it was being released the following Monday, and I was wrong. So, it was not an act of procrastination, the most inactive kind of act there is, that stopped me from sharing these notes, it was to comply with the wishes of the brewery. But I can wait no longer! It's being released tomorrow, Monday the 5th of June. Publishing this now will certain not keep anyone from going out and buying it tomorrow. Unless they hate good beer.

Thoroughly hazed, mahogany-hue, bright ruby red at the edges, with a generous creamy, lace-leaving head. Looking nice.

In the nose: Right away we now we’re dealing with a Belgian Quad, the special malt is there, that undoubtable yeast. Earthy, sweet, fruity, with a multitude of other associations coming into the fold. Citrus and spice, dark fruit, pepper, Raisins, cherries, cinnamon. Not saying they put those in there, of course, just that it’s coming out of the aroma. So inviting, so far….

So beautiful.
Let’s drink! Mmmm. Wow. I can’t find the ABV anywhere on the bottle (10%, it turns out) , but it hits like a doozy right off the bat, though I can’t imagine anyone calling this “hot.” Well, some will, I’m sure. Alcohol strength is a big part that shows early on, but there is so much flavor here that slowly unfolds that this one has to be tried, at the very least. Smooth entry on the palate, with lush, rich malt flavors climbing on board right away. Slight, ever-so slight tart/funk character, a mass of dark fruit flavors, spices, etc, but never a chore to chase past the tongue and down the throat. Wow.

I mean it, Wow. A Belgian quadruple ale blended with a brett-fermented wheat ale. And it works. It works exactly as it should. It’s as if these brewers actually know what they’re doing. Imagine that.

I’m not surprised that artist Adam Martin chose the 2-faced Roman god Janus for his illustration, as this is the first anniversary beer by the two-headed head brewers Jarrod Johnson and Ben Smith, after the departure of original head brewer Todd Haug. And they are doing his legacy proud. So much flavor, but so well balanced and blended. It’s big, and you’re not guzzling pints, of course, but should be serving this at the end of an evening with a friend, or just enjoy one solo with enough time, like I am. And you should definitely sock a few away for later years, as I most certainly will.

Cheers to 11, Surly!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Bent Paddle Valve Jockey #2: Imperial Kvass

Bent Paddle Brewers Series Valve Jockey #2: Imperial Kvass: Rye Brown Ale with Raisin Lemon Peel & Spearmint.

I'm a little behind on this one. It came out 3 months ago, but I never got a keg for Acadia because we'd just done the release party for Valve Jockey #1 and there was plenty of BP beers around. Took me a bit to buy a bottle...then it waited in my DBF (dedicated beer fridge), then I took notes and they waited their turn. I've procrastinated getting internet at my new home, and these notes sat in the queue  as I procrastinated adding information about what the heck a "kvass" is, as other notes got published whenever I'd find myself where Wi-Fi, I'm a procrastinator, you knew this about me already, what are you complaining about?

What the heck  is a kvass? I’ll find out sooner or later. (Swiped this off of wikipedia: Kvass is a traditional Slavic and Baltic fermented beverage commonly made from rye bread, known in many Eastern European countries and especially in Russia as black bread. The colour of the bread used contributes to the colour of the resulting drink. It is classified as a non-alcoholic drink by Russian standards, as the alcohol content from fermentation is typically low (0.5–1.0%). It may be flavoured with fruits such as strawberries and raisins, or with herbs such as mint.

Lightly hazed, deep amber/ near crimson coloring, slim whitish head.

In the nose: Spicy Rye malt pops up first, and a little of the raisin, too. Interesting stuff, so far.

In the mouth: Spice gets bigger, and now that lemon peel is showing off it’s citrusiness. Smooth, malty, sweet. Little from hops here, but well-balanced. And damned tasty. Complex combination of flavors. They work. It’s doing it for me. Good kvass and you can drink it.

6.5% isn’t usually what we think of when it comes to “Imperial” beers, but compared to the 1% that’s typical of kvass, I guess that counts.

Here’s what the brewery says: The Imperial Kvass | ABV: 6.5% IBU: 10 is the second release in our 2017 Valve Jockey Series showcasing the taste and talents of our brewery team was created and brewed by brewer Bjorn Erickson. Kvass is a fermented beverage made in Slavic areas from rye bread and other sugars and spices. This ale is an interpretation of that format, designed to be a warming, hearty drink full of bright zest and bready malt flavor. Bjorn brewed this Imperial Kvass with raisin juice, lemon peel & spearmint. 5% of the proceeds for this beer will be donated to Bjorn's charitable pick of the Chester Bowl Improvement Club in Duluth, MN. ~Budmo

Who’s “Budmo”? Is that a name? I’ve got to meet this Budmo. Or, do I?

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