May 31st, 2009 beckel
Beer and Taxes has been a hot topic as of late and over all I think the responses from the (craft) brewing industry have been appropriate so I have largely left the topic alone on this blog. But I would like to take this opportunity to commend the work of the many that strive to keep Craft Brewing a successful industry in our country and provide you with a few solid examples of our wonderful community at work. First Mark Stutrud from our local Summit Brewing sent out a nice email (which Stu so kindly posted) detailing how increased excise tax would hamper his companies ability to grow as well as illustrating how heavily beer is already taxes and what these increases really mean once your beer gets to the liquor store. Some of the best writing on the topic I have read has been by Jay Brooks of The Brookston Beer bulletin. First he points out that three of the thirteen people called on to testify about how to raise money for Obama’s health care plan suggested raising taxes on alcohol and proceeds to debunk their logic in addition to posting this action alert. Later he touches on the proposition to level taxes among alcoholic beverages which will greatly increase the tax on beer and wine while leaving spirits pretty much the same. Luckily the Brewers Association has taken a forward approach on this situation and recently introduced two pieces of legislation H.R. 836 and S. 1058 cited as Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act of 2009 which are intended to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the tax on beer to its pre-1991 level which is half of the current rate of taxation. Thanks to Charlie Papazian for the heads up and most recently this posting (pdf) which further details the efforts of the Brewers Association. So for now I will continue to be optimistic as it seems the community is trying their best to inform the masses that raising beer taxes is simply unnecessary as history has shown us it is not particularly effective and I see no reason to burden a single industry so heavily for such little (or no) gain. Realistically some taxes will have to be raised as we are living in a massive deficit but I hope our government can be realistic and rational when they make these decisions and really think how they will impact our country and its people as a whole.
On to some more humorous observations we have a post from Bill of It’s Pub Night that simply made me laugh out loud. The Beer Review Generator, fill out a few radio buttons and there you have a review for whatever you happen to be consuming. Some people might find the concept a bit offensive, but frankly if you do, I couldn’t care less. Beer may be a wonderfully complex and delicious beverage that is deserving of serious analysis but we should also be able to laugh at ourselves. If you can’t do that you definitely need another beer and should buy me one while your at it.
I found this gem over at The Beer Runner’s website where Tim Cigelske writes for Draft Magazine. All the more reason to get a cargo bike, if only he had them chilled it would be prefect.
On the topic of bikes, this year I am riding the Tour de Cure to benefit the American Diabetes Association and the Larkin Hoffman MS150 to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society. The Tour de Cure is a 45 mile ride on June 6th from Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis through Downtown Minneapolis over to Downtown St. Paul up and down the Mississippi River in both cities and back to Lake Calhoun. The MS150 is a two day 150 mile ride on June 13-14 from Proctor Minnesota (near Duluth) to Nowthen (about 40 miles from Minneapolis). Both rides should be a lot of fun and I am happy to have the opportunity to support some good organizations. I know the economy is tough for most of us but if you are able to donate to a good cause it would be much appreciated. Thanks for your support.
Lastly some more interesting thoughts from Jay on the concept of addiction being a disease. Glad to hear someone is finally challenging the theory as I am one who believes behaviors can be changed with the use of willpower. Even sheep are relatively easily trained 😉
May 22nd, 2009 beckel
On Tuesday I made it over to Acadia Cafe located on Cedar & Riverside in good ole Minneapolis for their 6 Shooters event. For the low price of $10 patrons were presented with six 5 ounce pours of some very delicious India Pale Ales. Though I didn’t really consume these beers in the “proper” order I started with the beer I was most excited to have the opportunity to sample, Victory Wild Devil which weighs in at 6.7% ABV. This beer pours an interesting redish orange hue and unsurprisingly smells almost identical to the Hop Devil who’s wort this beer was fermented from, quite hoppy with a bit of sweet malt that is further balanced by a subtle tart hint from the Brettanomyces used in this special brew. Flavor is again the same as the Hop Devil with just a bit of tartness that adds a nice extra layer to contrast the intense hop profile of this beer. I expected this beer to taste a bit stranger and more sour but the tartness is all around mellow making for a very nicely balanced beer. I hope to find a bottle of this brew sometime in the future to give it a more in depth review than 5 ounces could provide.
Next I sampled our very own Summit IPA that was cask conditioned and dry hopped with Amarillo. As the least heavy beer of the night with a 6.4% ABV it probably should have been my starting point but I doubt any beer could have masked the intense Amarillo notes of this brew. Appearance was an interesting reddish amber that was somewhat hazy. Head was pure white and surprisingly retained for quite some time as this picture was taken a good 15+ minutes after pouring as well as leaving a good amount of lacing. Smells strongly of oranges and something like passion fruit or similar sweet citrus or melon. The same melon like sweet citrus is very present in the flavor and frankly completely dominates the flavor. It was a clean easy to drink brew but I felt the massive flavor from the Amarillo was a bit over the top and one dimensional.
Then came the most balanced but least hoppy brew of the evening, Sprecher IPA. Like Summit Sprecher brews in the English tradition and this brew is a beautiful example of the great beers that it can produce. Color is a reddish amber that is very translucent. Aroma is largely of caramely malt and subtle orange citrus notes with just a hint of alcohol though it rocks a solid 7.5% ABV. Flavor is relatively sweet and of caramelized malt with a wee bit of citrus hops. The more I drank this brew the more the hops became apparent and I started to notice a nice bitterness in the finish. Not nearly as hoppy as I am normally looking for in an IPA but very traditional, well balanced and tasty.
Then from d’Achouffe Brewery out of Belgium we have their very interesting straw colored Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen Belgian IPA Tripel. Aroma is largely of Belgian Yeast and some light malty sweetness. Taste is very similar to other malty Blonde Tripels with the yeast playing a major role in creating herbal notes and malty sweetness as well as candi sugar sweetness that is often associated with the style but with the addition of some nice bitterness and floral hints in the finish. A tasty and unique brew with a whole lot going on and a solid 9% ABV.
Then it was time to enjoy some 16 Grit [review] from our local Surly Brewing and Iniquity IBA [review] from Southern Tier out of New York. You can see my full reviews of these delicious beers by following the above links. Cheers to Acadia for putting on this event and including delicious beers at a reasonable price. Keep up the good work. Now go have a beer ride your bike, safely please.
May 21st, 2009 beckel
Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending the Yeasty Beers meetup presented by Michael Agnew of A Perfect Pint and graciously hosted by Cory. Michael had constructed a series of tastings around the core ingredients of beer; hops, malt and most importantly yeast. I was not lucky enough to make it to the prior meetups but I was pleased to be able to attend what was probably the most interesting of the series as yeast is one amazing creature that we must sincerely thank for the beer that we allow it produce. Upon entering Cory’s home I was greeted with a glass of brown ale that Michael had home brewed and even though it did not end up being the style he intended (dopplebock I believe) it was really quite tasty and enjoyable. Once everyone arrived we started with Huvila ESB which hails from Finland and was simply delightful. I didn’t write any tasting notes for the evening but I was incredibly pleased with its well balanced flavors and not really being a Bitter guy it really made me appreciate what the style can be. I would have happily drank this beer all night long and will unquestionably be properly reviewing it the next time I can find it on the shelf. This ESB was paired with some delicious mac & cheese expertly prepared by our host Cory, very tasty. (You can see the almost empty casserole pan in the picture two down)
Next came Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier a very traditional German Hefeweizen that is quite light and allows its yeast to shine through wonderfully.
Next we enjoyed a Saison from Boulevard Brewing’s Smoke Stack Series and I must say I was humbly impressed. I have had a few beers from this series and they are absolutely more complex and flavorful than Boulevards traditional offerings but their Saison delivered far above what I have experienced in the past from them and encourages me to sample more of their offerings. The beer very nicely complimented the aged Gouda and awesome home baked bread we were offered. Definitely worth trying if you enjoy a quality Saison.
Then came the always delicious Westmalle Dubbel. This creamy looking dark brown colored ale tastes strongly of dark pitted fruits and nice herbal notes as well as showcasing its wonderful Belgian yeast strain. This was paired with beef tongue and heart which were both incredibly tasty. I particularly enjoyed the intense meaty (and somewhat gamey) flavor of the boiled heart. Westmalle is unquestionably a classic Belgian brewer and is part of the renowned Trappist organization and certainly worth your time to enjoy.
Next came Rodenbach also from Belgium. I had never sampled this beer before and apparently it is no longer distributed in the country so it will probably be difficult to get your hands on it. This is certainly a tart ale but it was far less sour than I expected though I suppose I shouldn’t have expected too much tartness as it is a Flanders Red Ale which is on the low end of sour beers. An interesting and well balanced brew, I would curious to sample their Grand Cru which is presumably even more smooth. This we paired with pickled herring.
Then we moved onto Jolly Pumpkin’s Oro de Calabaza which is a delicious Belgian Strong Golden Ale that like all of Jolly Pumpkin’s brews does a wonderful job showcasing its yeast. Drinking this brew reminded me how much I enjoy the incredibly creative and largely sour beers that they produce out of Michigan.
As we enjoyed the above beer Cory was hard at work steaming mussels in 3 Fonteinen’s Oud Gueuze which smelled simply marvelous and you can see pictured below. After the mussels were finished and presented to us we got to sampling the Oud Gueuze which was quite interesting tasting and rather funky but enjoyable particularly with the delicious food to compliment.
Lastly we had a Kriek from Oud Beersel again from Belgium. This was a sweet cherry beer that had some nice tartness to balance and complimented the cheesecake we enjoyed perfectly. If you enjoy lambics and want something that is more interesting than your standard Lindemans this would be a good choice as it has many more dimensions and is particularly for desert as we did.
After the official event was over we proceeded to opened a number of bottles and enjoyed further good conversation. Many thanks to Michael for organizing this and Cory for sharing his space and tasty food. Hopefully I see you fine folk again next month and perhaps some new faces. Cheers to a grand evening!
You can check out Michael’s write up of the event here.
May 14th, 2009 beckel
I was going to continue my streak of Tommyknocker reviews but upon glancing over at New Glarus’ Organic Revolution sitting in my fridge and remembering a comment I had read earlier that day on The Captain’s Chair post about Hop Hearty IPA I decided it was time to see what a organic beer from New Glarus would be like. As I’m sure many of you know New Glarus is a regional brewery that only distributes within its own state of Wisconsin and pays a lot of tribute to things local and sustainable and apparently wanted to give the “purity” of organic a shot. This beer is bottle fermented and naturally carbonated…and carbonated it is, I had to stop during the pour as to not overfill my pint glass. Leaving me with a solid three fingers of pure white head that lasted for a few minutes atop this hazy, though translucent yellowish orange brew. Aroma is quite nice with slightly sweet pale malt and some moderatelyÂ pungent bittering hops here and there to give this beer a well rounded smell. The flavor is really quite interesting, you will have to try it yourself to really understand. The malt has a clean but somewhat flat flavor that I have noticed in all of the organic beers that I have tried and have a hard time putting proper words to, it is not a bad thing, simply different. In addition to somewhat sweet malt flavors you get some solid bitterness from the hops as well as a very nice gentle grapefruit citrus flavor that works to balance the malt used in this beer. This is a flavorful Pale Ale that sticks to New Glarus’ tradition of making tasty easy to drink beers. This beer should be approachable for pretty much anyone though I find it to be one of their more intricate flavored brews. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
May 11th, 2009 beckel
As I have a six-pack of their beer to go through so I thought I should try their most popular over the bar brew next. So here we are with Tommyknocker’s Pick Axe Pale Ale, lets see how it goes (bottled March 17, 2009). The beer pours a very attractive bright hazy orange color that is moderately translucent and appears a darker red (almost burgundy) when away from light. Head is white and about two and a half fingers that last for a few minutes leaving a nice light lacing around the glass. Aroma is full of sweet citrus that is somewhat fruity like candied orange, cherry, apple and even melon as well as some slightly bitter pine like hops and just a whiff of alcohol. If it weren’t for the bitter finish from the first sip I would be inclined to suggest that this beer tastes a bit like candy. Initial flavor is largely of citrus hops, particularly orange with a bit of sweet maltiness presumably from pale malt and a nicely bitter hop finish to balance the flavors. I appreciate how this Pale Ale seems to incorporate more hops than many do but frankly the citrus is a little more dominate than I would prefer and though I enjoy how the malt is used to balance the flavors present as opposed to the star of the show it sometimes it seems a bit flat. The body is this beer is light and the mouthfeel is very clean making this an unquestionably drinkable beer. With a 6.2 % ABV this beer isn’t going to hurt anyone and would be a great stepping stone into hoppier and more flavorful beers than your average Pale Ale. If you enjoy citrus hop flavors and are looking for a Pale Ale that has something a little different to offer this is really a quite good choice. With its drinkablilty it really is no surprise it is a local favorite. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
May 10th, 2009 beckel
The folks over at Tommyknocker Brewery from Idaho Springs, Colorado just recently started distributing to my state of Minnesota. So upon receiving an email yesterday from Alvey of The Four Firkins that they had their beers stocked for our drinking pleasure I figured I had no excuse not to give them a shot. I purchased a mixed six-pack and decided to start with their best selling bottled beer Maple Nut Brown Ale. This brew happens to have been bottled March 13 09, I always appreciate it when brewers date their bottles. This beer pours a nice dark brown color that is moderately translucent when brought to light. Creamy off white head is a solid two fingers and lasts for a few minutes leaving a bit of lacing around the glass creating a very nice presentation. Aroma has a very nice malt base with nuttiness and chocolate coming through quite strongly as well as some additional sweetness. Wow this is one interesting Nut Brown Ale. Smooth sweet chocolate flavors from the Chocolate Malts used in this brew are in the forefront of the flavor as is a very nicely distinguished nutty flavor as well as some very nice caramel flavors, likely a from a combination of roasted malt and the pure maple syrup used in brewing. I really enjoy the distinct nutty flavor present as i have yet to sample many Nut Brown Ales that I really think are suiting of the name. Further though this beer is a bit on the sweet side it is not overwhelming in any way at all and the Chocolate Malt is a delicious contrast. The mouthfeel of this beer is incredibly smooth and the body is rather light, with a 4.5% ABV this beer is incredibly sessionable. Originally I planned on buying a six pack of this beer but figured I would take the opportunity to try more of their beers with their sampler pack, now that I have consumed this beer, perhaps faster than any other I have yet to review I am a bit disappointed I don’t have any more in the fridge as I could continue drinking this beer all night. Guess I have another excuse to get some more in the future. I first heard about this beer when the guys over at BeerTapTV reviewed it and apparently got a bad bottle. They of course revisited the beer and had a much more pleasant experience here. Though this beer is quite sweet and not the kind of brew I would traditionally give strong praises it is unquestionably tasty, easy to drink and enjoyable to consume. I could see myself easily drinking far too many of these brews on a day out in the mines. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
May 8th, 2009 beckel
Here I have what is sure to be an interesting Barleywine from the brewery Dieu Du Ciel fromÂ St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada. I saw this beer on the shelves of The Four Firkins when I was there for the beers you can’t get here tasting and though it was rather pricey for a single 11.5 oz bottle the foreign Barleywine called to me, perhaps it had something to do with the barren tree on the label or the person curdling inside the tree like a womb (and being pleased our surroundings finally don’t look like that). From the description it appears that this beer is only brewed once a year and then aged for 4 to 5 months before distribution. This beer pours a very dark reddish brown that looks almost black until you bring it to light and is incredibly opaque. Head is creme in color but only a couple millimeters fading within a minute or less. Aroma contains quite a bit of alcohol as well as dark pitted fruits and a bit of malt sweetness, though it is less obvious because of the intense alcohol aroma present. Presently this beer is just a bit below room temperature as it has been sitting out for over an hour. Taste isn’t as alcoholic as the aroma though it is still a bit more apparent than I would prefer. Further you can detect dates, plums, cherry and a good deal of malty sweetness though still not nearly enough to hide the alcohol. After three or four sips my palate is starting to get used to the alcohol and the nice balance between gentle pitted fruits and sweet caramely malted barley is becoming more and more apparent.Â This really is one tasty brew I just wish the alcohol wasn’t so intense initially even at 9.8% ABV. Some vanilla and sweet cream flavors are present in this beer as well but are much more subtle. Mouthfeel is very smooth and the body is medium for the style. Over all this really is a very tasty brew I just wish the alcohol was a little less apparent, additionally I wonder how it would present itself when poured colder though I’m not sure it would necessarily be “better”. If you are into Barleywines that are obviously brewed with quality ingredients and a good intention you will likely appreciate trying this beer though don’t bother if you can’t get beyond some serious alcohol initially. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
May 8th, 2009 beckel
Yesterday my buddie Stu of Friday Night Beer was so kind as to share a bottle of Three Floyds’ elusive Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout with me as well as a bottle of Minneasota’s very own Bearded Brewer’s El Muerto Ale which was very tasty and unique with malt, hop, fruit and herbal flavors creating a delicious balance that I have never quite experienced before. Though I only had about 6 ounces to work with it was truly a beautiful beer appearance wise, well carbonated, very drinkable and was enjoyed thoroughly, I will have to get in contact with the man himself to see about properly reviewing some more of his brews. After sharing a bottle of He’Brew’s Genesi 10:10 [review] (I was lucky enough to find some more at Zipps Liquors and grabbed all 8 bottles on the shelf so we can see how it continues to age) we went for the Dark Lord and boy is it one interesting beer. We consumed this beer at room temperature and as one should expect it pours completely pitch black, looking just like motor oil, though a bit less thick. When brought to direct light you can see the tiniest amount of an amber or brown hue at the very surface of the beer but it is very difficult to notice. Head was a an attractive brown shade but was only visible for a very short period of time as it dissipated almost immediately leaving the surface area almost completely clean. Aroma is surprisingly mellow but is of dark roasted malts, a bit of malty bitterness contrasted and balanced by malty sweetness with alcohol wafting in and out. With a 13% ABV there is no question that alcohol is noticeable in the flavor but remarkably balanced by the immense number of flavors in this brew. The body is on the heavy side but the mouthfeel is incredibly smooth making this a reasonably easy beer to drink considering what you are consuming. As we drank the beer me and Stu chatted about the vast flavor profile of this beer and even as I jotted down random flavor notes I still simply don’t know quite what to say about this beer other than it tastes like Dark Lord. So many flavors are represented Santa’s list couldn’t do this beer justice. From dark roasted malt to coffee and chocolate notes, creamy sweetness and a strange almost tangy mouthfeel created somewhere between the malt and alcohol near the end of the palate as well as many more I can’t quite place my finger on. This beer may be dark, dark and then darker but its flavors are nothing but diverse. Though there are a ton of favors in this beer it is reasonably mellow on some of the roasted flavors which I think allows the many other flavors to expose themselves further. I would be curious to see the differences in flavor if this beer was consumed cold, though I am very glad we drank it warm as I feel I was able to get a glimpse of the vast variety of flavors present in this brew. This beer will be enjoyed by fans of diverse and dark beer alike and I will definitely be making the trek to Indiana next year if I have the means as it sounds like a wonderful community gathering (read Stu’s account here). Thanks again for sharing Stu. Give it a shot and ride your bike.