Big Thanks To Insurance Companies

Stone IPA

October 21st, 2008 beckel

Stone Brewing LogoStone Brewing from Escondido, California has a very good reputation that precedes it for making flavorful beers that have nothing to hide, and with such a bad ass logo they couldn’t hide if they wanted to. As one of the breweries I was hoping to find in Wisconsin I was glad to be able to purchase their India Pale Ale even though it was the only beer of theirs available at the store, I always appreciate a good IPA. This beer pours a rather transparent copper orange color with some sediment present. Produces about an inch and a half of frothy white head that lasts for a few minutes. Wonderful sweet floral hop aroma hits the nose, followed by sweet orange scents and finally a tad of bitterness and alcohol. Flavor however starts off with some nice hop bitterness that transitions into a sweet floral flavor, leaving your mouth with a smooth sweet balance of floral hops, sweet malt and some hop bitterness. With a 6.9% ABV this brew does a wonderful job covering its alcohol content with a mix of floral and bitter flavors, with malt playing a rather neutral role simply sweetening the beer a bit and adding to its marvelous balance. Now I’m jealous and want to travel to a state where I can get more Stone! This is one damn good beer, a bit on the floral side but full of hoppy goodness none the less, good thing I got a six-pack. Mouthfeel is medium and the body is a light medium. If you are used to flavorful beers you will likely find this beer quite drinkable. This beer is undoubtedly brewed for those who love hops and will certainly be enjoyed by anyone who prefers a quality IPA. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Stone IPA

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

October 20th, 2008 beckel

Today I get to write about a brewery that I have wanted to pursue since I first read about them over a year ago, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery from Milton, Delaware. From their year round brews such as their 60 Minute IPA that we have today, to some of their more elusive “Occasional Rarities” I have read and heard nothing but praise for Dogfish Head and the love, passion, and creativity they put into all of their beer. Though while in Wisconsin I was only able to find 2 varieties of their beer I was still very content and can’t wait to crack into my first bottle. Thanks to our absurd alcohol distribution system and the numerous difficulties for smaller craft breweries when it comes to getting their beers around the country, Dogfish Head is not available in our fine state of Minnesota. Maybe someday but until then I will have to manage to be content. Pours an incredibly transparent slightly reddish copper color with about a half an inch of white head that lasts for a few minutes. Aroma is robust and hoppy, I detect light almost brandy like aromas that mix in ever so nicely. If I could only describe the satisfied smile on my face after taking a few sips of this beer. The hop profile of this beer is immense, it is no doubt that hops are added regularly during the 60 minute boil of this beers wort. What is so wonderful about this beer is how smooth and balanced it is while still being almost only hoppy. Nice bitterness comes first I am thinking I am noticing some of the Warrior hops, but then comes a gentler citrus like hop flavor that still includes a wonderful bitter hint. Mouthfeel is medium but body is light making this beer very drinkable if you are used to a hoppy beer. With a 6% ABV I could see myself easily drinking far too many of these and not noticing, though I would almost expect it to be a stronger beer with its wonderfully complex hop flavors. Drinking this beer makes me more and more excited at the opportunity to someday drink their 90 and 120 Minute versions because I am sure they will be able to balance their respective contents marvelously if the 60 Minute is any example. Though this beer is unquestionably designed for hop fans and will almost certainly quench the thirst of any beer geek, I think someone who isn’t accustomed to so much hop flavor my also be able to appreciate this brew if they were to give it a chance because of its interesting balance. Not exactly for the wary but if you like a good artisan beer this is a wonderful choice and like any IPA  would go marvelously with a nice spicy dish. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

New Glarus Fat Squirrel

October 19th, 2008 beckel

Wisconsin Beer RunToday we ventured to the land of Wisconsin because it is Sunday and our state has made the conclusion that is better to not accept out tax money on this beautiful fall day. Though there is little room in my fridge for this beer I will surely be writing about a number of beers you can not get in my fine state of Minnesota in the near future. I am ever so excited to get to the Dogfish Head and Stone but we will start with a brewery that I have enjoyed and been wanting to expand my knowledge of, New Glarus. Here we have Fat Squirrel a Nut Brown Ale that was inspired by all of the fat squirrels that the brewmaster Dan Carey saw on a walk home from the brewery one “springlike” winter day. Brewed with six different varieties of Wisconsin grown malt and hops from Slovenia, Bavaria and the Pacific Northwest this beers flavor profile should be unique. This beer pours a nice unfiltered roasted brownish red color. Producing about an inch of just off white head that settles quickly. Aroma is of toasted malts and a bit of hazelnut that transitions to a slight alcohol scent. This is surely a brown ale, the flavor is overwhelmed by lightly toasted malted barley of a number of varieties that creates a slight hazelnut hint to this very well balanced and flavorful beer. In addition to the roasted flavors a nice slight bitterness smooths out the taste of this beer in the finish. Like Spotted Cow this beer is very tasty and has a number of nice flavors but is also immensely drinkable having a light body and mouthfeel. Coming in at 5.8% ABV it has been easy to drink a number of these on this nice fall night. If you like a well balanced brown ale that has a robust toasted malt profile but is well balanced and easy to drink you will certainly appreciate this beer. Would likely be accompany a nice beef stew wonderfully. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

New Glarus Fat Squirrel

Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale

October 13th, 2008 beckel

Today we have another ale from Rogue Brewing out of Newport, Oregon that is sure to be a delight. Dead guy ale, a Maibock is one of Rogue’s staple beers and has won to date 25 awards. So when I saw the double version I couldn’t resist picking it up particularly as my roommate who lived in Oregon for a number of years would be sure to want to try it as he first introduced me to Dead Guy Ale. I have a lot of faith in the brewers over at Rogue and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed not to mention the fact that this year Double Dead Guy Ale got silver in the World Beer Championships. Nicely packaged in a bright red 750ml bottle this beer is sure to attract some attention. This doppelbock cascades quite marvelously as you pour producing about 2 inches of very tight off white head that persists for a few minutes and leaves a bit of lacing on the glass. The color is a marvelous deep but bright red that is rather transparent. Sweet roasted malt aromas hit the nose just right hiding the slightly alcoholic hint, very nice.  Wow from the initial sip of this beer it almost seems like there are remaining sugars that could be fermented further though that is obviously not necessary with its 9% ABV. Flavor is sweet but well rounded off with nice roasted malt flavors. As you continue to drink this beer you can pick up some of the bitterness that hits your palate towards the back of the mouth with this beers 72 IBU. Mouthfeel is light as is the body of this beer making it very drinkable. Rogue recommends pairing this beer with pork which sounds delightful to me but I think this wonderful ale would go well with pretty much anything particularly light meat. If you like roasted but sweet malty beers and don’t mind a touch of balancing bitterness and alcohol content you are sure to enjoy this beer. I would highly recommend this beer to any craft beer fan. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale

De Regenboog ‘t Smisje Plus Imperial IPA

October 12th, 2008 beckel

This lovely little bottle was found while browsing the shelves of The Four Firkins. Brewed by Brewery De Regenboog (Rainbow in Dutch) in Assebroek-Brugge, Beligum. From the very small amount of information I can find about this brewery it appears it was started in 1995 by Johan Brandt who had a great passion for brewing and started making beer once a week with a capacity on only one barrel. As of 1999 he was brewing twice a week producing 1.5 barrels, as of 2006 according to B. United International Inc. (De Regenboog’s importer) he was trying to find an upgraded facility where he could produce 6 barrels at a time. It wouldn’t surprise me if he has had success as beer advocate/rate beer have many beers attributed to De Regenboog and I was able to get this all the way over in Minnesota. ‘t Smisje Plus is their Imperial IPA and I am excited to try this small batch brew, on to the fun part. Holy carbonation, upon opening this beer and watching the first drops hit the side of the glass, this beer creates a massively carbonated head the beginning of which fades very rapidly the rest settling more slowly, forcing me to pause many times during my pour to not over flow my glass with white foam. As the head settles you can see the delicious hazy orange color of this beer completely opaque and unfiltered, almost looking a bit like peach or apricot juice. This brew has a very nice aroma, smelling a bit more sweet than I expected with very nice malt aromas and some apricot like fruity aromas you may be used to detecting in Belgian Ales. Some alcohol is present in the nose but very little bitterness. Wow, this beer has flavor. Here are the bitter hop flavors I was looking for, rather intense initially but as you let this beer flow onto your palate your taste buds will do a 180 over to sweet smooth slightly floral almost fruit like flavors. Bitter flavors definitely linger in the after taste but even though this beer is 10% ABV the complex balance of this beer makes it rather unnoticeable to me. This beer makes me think about how much I appreciate the differences between beers made in varying parts of the world. The Belgian yeast and malts create a wonderful contrast between the bitter hop flavors in this beer producing a lovely drinking experience. The mouthfeel of this beer is meduim, with out a particularly heavy body making this a drinkable but intense ale. This is very obviously a Belgian influenced Imperial IPA so if you enjoy a good Belgian Ale and don’t mind a few bitter flavors you will likely dig this beer. Not the perfect beer for a hop head but still a worth beer for any lover of artisan beer, you will certainly enjoy its unique attempt at the style particularly if you are used to the American counterparts. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
't Smisje Plus Pndia Pale Ale

Surly Surlyfest

October 8th, 2008 beckel

So the day has come for me to explain to you the wonder that is Surly Brewing’s take on an Oktoberfest beer straight from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Surlyfest is dry hopped with Summit hops and brewed with German malts and Crystal Rye and then aged 11 weeks. To get the bias out this is my favorite Oktoberfest and is delightfully unique so lets get to the beer. This 16oz can pours a beautiful dark amber color that should inspire anyone to want to drink it. Head tends to be a few inches and cascades gently creating firm white head that dissipates after a few minutes. Aroma is marvelous, heavy on sweet malt aromas but countered by a nice bitter hop scent. In the first taste of this beer you will notice the rye and nice bitter hoppyness that is then countered by a sweet malt flavor that you may have been expecting initially. There is really nothing traditional about Surlyfest aside from the fact it uses some German malt. As you continue to drink this beer you will notice how marvelously balanced it is, some sweet, some bitter and over all simply something amazing. This is certainly beer. Though malt produces the primary flavor in this beer the dry hopping of this beer gives it a unique twist you will not see in any traditional Oktoberfest not to mention the nice rye flavor. The mouthfeel of this beer is medium but it does not have a heavy body. With aproximately 6.3% ABV this is a solid brew but you will likely not notice the alcohol. If you are looking for a sweet light Oktoberfest this isn’t for you. However if you are looking for a unique American interpretation of an Oktoberfest that has amazing hop flavor and malt to balance you should absolutely drink think beer. Bare in mind this is a seasonal beer and will only be around for as long as Surly can keep it stocked so go out and enjoy some, just get some for me too. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Surly Surlyfest

The Session #20 Duvel

October 3rd, 2008 beckel

The SessionThis month The Session is being hosted by Bathtub Brewery and Melissa and Ray have come up with a rather interesting topic: Beers and Memories. I knew a day would come when I felt it was the perfect opportunity to talk about a beer that I admire dearly yet have avoided blogging about. Duvel is a Belgian Strong Ale and is likely the staple for this style. Brewed by Duvel Moortgot in Puurs, Belgium since over a century ago this beer has far too much history to summarize. I chose this beer for The Session this month because though I’ve never been to Belgium (unfortunately) this beer always reminds me of my second trip to Europe. Though perhaps it would seem more appropriate to make this post about Heineken or any number of other mass produced and popular beers of Europe it is not so. While riding trains from The Netherlands to France and particularly the Chunnel from France to the United Kingdom I experienced the convenience of having alcoholic beverages available on a long trip. Though the food was decent the beer was spectacular. When riding through the Chunnel there are a number of hours where you can’t even look out the windows because all you see is the black of the tunnel walls, not to mention the fact that you are under water. This didn’t particularly frighten me, but it was very strange so I decided the most logical thing to do was to have a few beers and have a rest. Reconizing the name and bottle from the very few occasions I had tried it prior Duvel seemed like the logical choice for a drink, the 8.5% ABV also helped me make up my mind as it was only a Dollar or I suppose more accurately a Euro and change more expensive than a boring and light Heineken. Not only was it lovely to have a deliciously flavorful Belgian Ale to enjoy during the ride but after two beers it made it very easy to rest my eyes. Ever since that day I have become a sucker for Duvel and for a long while drank it quite regularly. Sadly it has been quite some time since I have purchased this ale, so tonight will be well deserved particularly as the price of this beer seems to continue to rise, oh well it will always be worth it to me. Though Surly Furious was the beer that got me into American Ales my second trip to Europe and Duvel were what got me to really appreciate beer and its flavors, particularly Belgians so it will always have a special place in my heart.

This wonderful beer pours a nice golden color that doesn’t have any sediment but seems slightly hazy depending on the light. Head is pure white and will overwhelm you if you do not pour carefully. Head is tight, thick and sticky and will not dissipate quickly likely leaving residue on the side of your glass that will eventually harden quite intensely. This beer simply smells like what I think of when I hear the term Belgian Golden Ale, sweet, malty and alcoholic with hints of nice spices rounding it off wonderfully. People claim to find many flavors in this beer, and I don’t doubt them. Though I mostly notice smooth caramelized malt sweetness, hints of bananna and other spices come out regularly. Though this beer is smooth there is no doubt you will notice it’s slightly bitter alcohol content, but at 8.5% ABV what do you expect. With a medium body and surprisingly light mouthfeel I find this beer very drinkable even though it is carbonated a bit heavily. If you like Belgian Ales particularly blondes but don’t mind the increased alcohol content you will certainly enjoy this beer. Perfect with fish or chicken this beer will compliment a meal very nicely, not to meantion help balance the alcohol out. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Duvel

Great Divide Hibernation Ale

October 1st, 2008 beckel

While at the store the other day I was torn between which Great Divide Ale I wanted to purchase. After much contemplation I determined I should pick up the one I hadn’t tried before, Hibernation Ale an English Style Old Ale. This lovely beer is touted as their winter beer and appears to have been a success since 1995. This dry hopped ale is brewed in July and cellared until late October to allow it to properly mature and ferment, with that said I am assuming I have a batch from last year and plan to cellar as much as I can manage to not drink to see how delightfully it matures further. Winning multiple awards from 1997 to 2007 and likely beyond I’m sure this brew will prove to  be a delight. Pours with a few inches of light tan head that evaporates quite slowly. Appearance is a dark red that looks a bit like a ruby under light but is still only partially transparent. Wonderful malt aromas hit the nose immediately, nicely roasted and not overly sweet, slight alcohol is present but over all a very smooth scent. This is definitely a Winter Ale, roasted malts hit the tongue first followed by a hop like bitterness that is underwhelming but very nicely complimentary. The mouthfeel of this beer is medium but aside from its slight thickness it is quite drinkable if you don’t mind strong beers. With a 8.1% ABV this Ale will keep you warm but does not taste particularly alcoholic because of the wonderful roasted malt and hop balance. As you continue to drink you will notice the sweet malt flavors that accompany this beer making it a wonderful choice for any cold night, in my opinion a good beer for any night. I am very pleased to have been able to enjoy another lovely Great Divide brew, anyone who likes gently roasted malts and flavorful nicely balanced beers will likely appreciate this one. Otherwise anyone who doesn’t mind good ale and wants to keep warm will also be satisfied. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Great divide Hibernation Ale