February 16th, 2009 beckel
Holy crap am I excited. Here before me I have a glass of Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone Brewing Company out of Escondido, California. Stone is not available in my state of Minnesota and though I have had the opportunity to sample their India Pale Ale this most coveted ale has avoided my grasp. Luckily for me I was inÂ the land of Wisconsin this weekend where they do distribute Stone, for an awesome bike race on an ice covered lake. Though I’ve never walked and fallen so much in a bike race in my life it was a jolly time complete with a bonfire on the lake afterwords and much beer was brought home. This ale pours a very dark ruby hue that almost looks black if you don’t put it near light. When put to a light some gets through but very little. Head is as massive as this brew is arrogant, producing a solid three fingers plus of nice slightly tan off white head that remains for many minutes. Aroma is marvelous, simply bursting with different scents that make me want to sip this ale all the quicker. Strong floral hop tones complimented by wonderful sweet but heavy and robust malts and some nice bitterness. There is a tiny bit of alcohol on the nose but it mostly smells like a complex well crafted amber ale that is heavy on both hop and malt. Boy am I hungry for this beer. Flavor is no real surprise, more malt heavy than the aroma but it’s all there. Deep hoppy bitterness that is well balanced though not hidden by strong malt flavors ending with a bit of sweetness to cleanse the palate but then bitter again in the after taste. People always comment upon the intensity of this ale and surely they are correct but I almost expected it to be more unruley. This ale does a marvelous job of showcasing what one can really do with a bunch of quality hop and malt if you are not afraid to experiment. There are so many flavors in this ale I won’t even try to list the notes I detect. Unquestionably one of the best beers I have ever had the opportunity to enjoy even with its simple 7.2% ABV. If you are a fan of big adventurous beers, particularly hoppy ones (not to diminish the massive malt profile of this brew) you have no excuse not to try this beer. If you do not like seriously flavorful ales then please, as the label suggests (less politely) stay away. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
February 16th, 2009 beckel
Though I was forgetful and spaced the release on Wednesday a few friends and myself stopped by the Blue Nile on Thursday to enjoy some Surly Three, this years annual brew from our beloved Surly Brewing Company straight from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Three is brewed with 50% German Dark Munich malt, 50% honey, fermented with a Belgian yeast, aged on toasted white ash and is being called a Black Braggot by Surly which is somewhat like a mix of mead and beer, being made with both malt and honey, so it was sure to be an interesting experience. Poured for me in a lovely Darkness glass this beer is incredibly dark black but is uniquely hazy with a purplish red shine when held at an angle, completely opaque. There was no head but that isn’t uncommon in bars so it is hard to pass judgment, though I doubt this is a highly carbonated beverage based on its style and mouthfeel. Aroma is slightly of plum and sweet but very flat at the same time. It was very hard for me to get much aroma out of the glass, that is until I drank more than half of it and was able to get my nose well down into the glass. At that point many more aromas came to my nose, largely wine like aromas and a bit of watered down brandy. Flavor is very ineresting. Sweet with dominate fermented fruit flavors largely plum and grape with a tootsie roll like chocolate hint here and there. Very sweet and fruity. One of my friends first impressions was that it “Tastes like flat grape soda left in the car on a hot day but it’s cold”. Though this was just a first impression and perhaps a bit critical it is relatively on point, and doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy the brew. There is lots of malt in this brew but there is so much sweetness and fermented fruit flavors it is hard to pick up much else. Mouthfeel is uncarbonated and a bit sticky but not too much considering it is made from plenty of honey. Body is medium but oddly light at the same time being quite drinkable though very full flavored. Not exactly what I was expecting, but I also didn’t really know what to expect with this release and it definitely keeps to surly’s tradition of making sweet big brews. Beer Advocate suggests this ale is 10% though Surly has not posted any official numbers and if this is true they did a wonderful job masking the content. Not really a beer I could get into regularly though I wouldn’t be opposed to having another glass sometime. Somewhat reminds me of a barleywine but less complex. If you are into sweet malty beers that have some pitted fruit flavors you may very well enjoy this brew.Â This is a limited release brew on tap only so get it while it lasts. Give it a shot and ride your bike.