July 30th, 2009 beckel
Somehow this is the first review of a Founders brew I have gotten around to writing about but rest assured it will be a worthy post. Founders who brews out of Grand Rapids, Michigan started distributing to our fine state of Minnesota a number of months back and since then I have sincerely enjoyed a good number of their brews particularly their Centennial IPA and Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale. Recently bottles of their Devil Dancer which they are calling a Triple IPA showed up on the shelves and upon glancing at it I immediately had sticker shock as it runs close to $20 for a four pack of this industrious brew. After reading the bottle I was almost intrigued enough to purchase some but after being graciously offered a sample at The Four Firkins I had no choice but to acquire some of this delightful ale. Brewed with 10 varieties of hops creating 112 IBU and coming in at 12% ABV this is one serious Imperial IPA.Â This beer pours an attractive deep red hue that brightens when brought to light but is not translucent at all. Head is a clean white color with just under a finger being produced when lightly poured down the center of my glass. Though there isn’t a ton of carbonation the head retention was very nice leaving me with a small ring around the surface of the brew after many minutes. I find the aroma of this brew marvelous, so much that I had a hard time drinking the sample I was offered because I didn’t want the aroma to go away. The aroma is so full of hops it is difficult to isolate them but I notice grapefruit and passion fruit aromas most strongly as well as some pitted fruit notes and a bit of malty sweetness on top of a subtle pine note and very little alcohol considering its 12% ABV. This is one complexly delicious ale. The wonderfully robust malt profile provides dark pitted fruit flavors such as date to contrast with with the serious hoppyness of this brew. Again in the flavor grapefruit and passion fruit notes are most noticeable to me but are interestingly dulled by the massive malt profile though are by no means discrete. On the other hand the way the malt profile contrasts with the bitter notes of the hops is quite marvelous as the dark fruit flavors in the malt contrast wonderfully with the bitter hoppy tones. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is quite clean for this strong of a brew. To simplify a brew that is anything but; this is one intensely flavored hoppy strong ale with a wonderful malt base to support it’s massive hop profile. One thing that I have noticed from enjoying this bottle and my previous sample is that this beer (like many) is very subject to temperature. When I initially tried this brew straight from a fridge I didn’t notice the strong pitted fruit notes nearly as much but it was the first thing I noticed when consuming this bottle that I left sitting out for about 20 minutes. Further when colder it seemed the hops were more noticeable but I think that is largely because the malty flavors are more noticeable then when warmer. To confuse things further as I allowed this brew to warm even further in my glass during this review the hops slowly became more and more prevalent. This probably doesn’t help any of you but I found it interesting and will have to do some experimentation with the three bottles I have remaining to further my conclusion. Regardless of what temperature you serve this beer at it is unquestionably an awesome beer to share with any of your hop head friends and though it is unfortunate that commodities are continually increasing in price this is certainly a delicious brew that I doubt you will be disappointed in. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
Update: After consuming another bottle of this brew straight out of the fridge later in the evening I have yet to decide which I prefer as they both offer unique and delicious flavors. Although I will say when served colder the malty flavors present are much sweeter and do not forwardly present the dark pitted fruit flavors I noticed before until warming for about 10 minutes and even then they are much less dominate. Additionally the hop notes seem to be a bit more forward though equally complex during that time. Cheers!
July 25th, 2009 beckel
Today I have the last brew in Mikkeller’s Single Hop IPA series and I am quite curious to sample it. Like the Cascade this brew was quite carbonated sneaking up the neck a bit after opening but not overflowing. Once poured four fingers of loose pure white head are easily produced slowly fading within a few minutes leaving a very small amount of lacing around the glass and on the surface of the beer. Color is a very attractive bright but hazy orange hue that is completely opaque.Aroma is quite a bit gentler than the others of the series. Some orange citrus and grapefruit and a somewhat flat malt tone. Flavor is interesting but a bit strange. Initially I get orange citrus and some other fruity hop notes which is followed up by an odd flat almost musky and slightly tart flavor that is hard to isolate because it is followed by a good deal of hop bitterness. There are definitely some nice flavors present in this brew but the off flavor present mid palate does make this one of the less awesome brews of the series. Like the rest this brew comes in at an appropriate 6.9% ABV. The body is medium and the mouthfeel is pretty smooth. This bottle was dated 09/04/11 and perhaps other batches of it will taste different. If you feel inspired to try something a little funky this might be the beer for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 23rd, 2009 beckel
Today I have in front of me the creative Mikkeller’s third venture in his single hop series of IPAs. As it is brewed with only Cascade hops it is sure to be a bit more palatable than the previous beers in the series, Simcoe [review] and Warrior [review] as well as the later Nelson Sauvin [review] and Nugget which currently sits in my fridge waiting to be consumed. I find that by the time Mikkeller’s products get to our stores the date on top of the cap tends to have rubbed off at least partially but this bottle is still relatively clearly dated 08/01/11. First off this is one carbonated bottle, upon opening it carbonation immediately shot up the neck of the 11.2 oz bottle and overflowed onto my table. After cleaning up and pouring the bottle there was still plenty carbonation easily creating an entire hand of fluffy white head that dissipated relatively slowly still leaving a large amount of foam on the surface of the beer and a good deal lacing around the glass. Color is an attractive hazy bright reddish hue that is very opaque. I find the aroma quite nice, full of citruses such as orange and largely grapefruit some clean floral notes and a good does of gentle bitterness. Flavor is pretty much what I expected from a Cascade version after consuming Mikkeller’s previous Single Hop IPAs, full of citrus particularly orange and grapefruit enough sweet malt flavors to compliment and emphasize the hops and a solid dose of delicious hoppy bitterness which nicely distracts from the 6.9% ABV. Mouthfeel is smooth and the body is average for the style. Though Cascade is a hop that the American palate is more accustomed to it doesn’t make this any less of a hardcore hop lovers IPA. If you have enjoyed previous beers in this series but are looking for something that contains more clean citrus notes yet is still plenty bitter this is the brew for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 21st, 2009 beckel
Today I have a brew that I was very excited to get my hands on. A joint effort by Mikkeller ofÂ Denmark and De Struise Brouwers aka The SturdyÂ Brewers ofÂ De Panne, Belgium. I stopped by The Four Firkins yesterday and was very pleased they still had a bottle available for me as well as a couple of Mikkeller Single Hop brews that I have yet to try including their Cascade which is sure to be the more traditional of the two to our American palates as well as Nugget which I’ve heard some mixed reviews of and am curious to experience for myself. But that is for another day. Even when poured gently this brew creates a massive thick off white colored head that will easily grow as large as you let it and remain for many minutes there after, leaving a good deal of creamy lacing around your glass. Color is a relatively dark date like reddish brown hue that is incredibly opaque allowing almost no light trough. Aroma is full of rich malty notes including a good deal of dark pitted fruits that are very deep and complex yet smooth and sweet. A small amount of alcohol is noticeable in the nose and balanced with a gentle dose of bitterness and some light citrus that is largely hidden by the pitted fruit notes. Wow, this is one complexly flavored ale and with 130 IBUs I suppose that should be expected. Strong pitted fruits such as date seem to be at the front of this beer followed by a melody ofÂ nicely contrasting spices, citrus notes particularly grapefruit and a good deal of bitterness that almost completely distracts me from the hefty 9% ABV of this brew. Considering the complexity of this beer it is amazingly smooth and well balanced with a serious Belgian inspired malt bill and candi sugars that provides enough fruity sweetness to contrast the seriously bitter hop profile. The mouthfeel of this brew is very clean and the body is a bit heavy but not so much that it makes it difficult to down though it is certainly a slow sipping beer. If you are into Belgian inspired brews and seriously hoppy IPAs this beer will bring you straight to heaven. One complex ale that is not for the faint of heart but would make for some marvelous food pairings either with something nice and spicy or something with delicate flavors that contrast nicely with pitted fruits. Unlike many of Mikkellers Single Hop brews that I have sampled I couldn’t drink this beer every day, well not too many of them at least….but I would gladly enjoy it any day if it were available. Though they call this an Imperial IPA I almost think about it as an incredibly hoppy Belgian Strong Ale flavor wise. Regardless if you enjoy bittering hops and pitted fruits bike as fast as you can and find a bottle of this brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
My Fridge On A Good Day
July 15th, 2009 beckel
Here I have another single hop brew from the creative Mikkeller Brewing. This time the hops come from a New Zeland developer called HortResearch and are said to smell of gooseberries. I found this particular bottle at Zipps and was very pleased by their selection of Mikkeller, too bad limited brewing and distribution doesn’t come cheap because they make great beers. This particular brew pours with a massive light off white head that easily surpassed four fingers and remained for a number of minutes untill fading into a little puddle of bubbles on the surface and a small amount of lacing around the glass. Color is an interesting obviously unfiltered hazy dark apricot hue that is completely opaque. Aroma is full of hop and really quite interesting. Robustly fruity yet bitter some gentle grapefruit tones as well as some herbal notes, reminds me a lot of the aroma of the Simcoe Single Hop IPA [review] brewed earlier. Flavor however is quite different. A fruit note similar to the aroma is present and moderately sweet but is quickly contrasted by a good deal of hop bitterness and a carbonated mouthfeel with enough of a malt profile to ensure you don’t feel like your just eating hops off the vine. Nelson Sauvin is certainly one interesting hop that creates some delicious flavors, I would be happy to see this hop used more regularly. The body of this beer is reasonably light making this a beer I would happily drink every day enjoying the sun in my back yard if only it were more available and inexpensive (yea I know I said the same thing about the Simcoe IPA but it’s the truth) and with a 6.9% ABV it has a perfect content for continual sipping in my opinion. This IPA is by no means for those who are weary of hops but with that said I really dig it. If you enjoy flavorful hops and aren’t afraid of bitterness you should certainly try this brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 14th, 2009 beckel
Victory Brewing out of Downingtown, PA make a myriad of delicious brews and have apparently created a number of “Vintage-dated” brews over the years that have been released to limited markets. Today I have the opportunity to sample their V-Twelve a Belgian Style Ale which I found at The Four Firkins last month. With a 12% ABV this is sure to be a serious beer, let’s see how it goes. As soon as I popped this 750ml open deliciously sweet fruity aromas came to me. Pouring straight down the glass yielded a modest two fingers of loose off white head that faded with in two minutes or less leaving some small bubbles around the surface of the beer. Color is an attractive cherry red that is relatively opaque, only becoming somewhat translucent when brought to direct light. Aroma contains a good deal of dark pitted fruit, plum and cherry strike me most. In addition to a bit of carbonation, malty sweetness and some alcohol though less than I expected with its ABV. Flavor is quite interesting pitted fruit notes particularly date, plum and cherry come across first and are accompanied by a nice level of malty sweetness followed by an almost smokey characteristic all of which cover the alcohol content marvelously. Body is medium or more but the clean mouthfeel makes this brew feel quite light. As this brew warms the fruit notes become ever more and more dominate and sweet emphasizing the cherry flavors with a gentle alcoholic note in the end that further enunciates the soft bitter notes creating an enjoyable finish. They suggest consuming this beer at around 45 degrees Ferinheight, of course in the proper open tulip like glass. I traditionally consume most of my beer around this temperature, leaving a bottle out for 20-30 minutes before consuming it but with the temperature as warm as it is in yes, Minnesota this time of year I have been much more lenient as of late simply because of how quickly the brew tends to warm up in my glass. With that said I would highly suggest consuming this beer at its proper temperature as the flavors become so much more clean and noticeable, though of course that includes the alcohol notes. Unquestionably a solid Belgian influenced amber brew that will be enjoyed by anyone who doesn’t oppose sweet malty pitted fruit notes and a good does of alcohol. If you can still find it, give it a shot and ride your bike.
Decided the desk needed a long over due cleaning
July 14th, 2009 beckel
I can’t believe I forgot to post about this one but I suppose with all of the tastings at The Four Firkins that week including the visit by La Trappe”s own Father Isaac and the subsequent visits to Grumpy’s NE later that evening and then The Muddy Pig on their 7th Anniversary the next day. For those that don’t know La Trappe is the monastery located in the Netherlands that produces the Koningshoeven line of Trappist beers, and the only brewery in the country to bare the Trappist name. Though I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sample and thoroughly enjoy a bit of Koningshoeven’s 125th Anniversary beer Isadâ€™or at The Firkins, named for their first brewer who though a monk avidly enjoyed technology and learning how to work anything he could find; their Witte was only to be available later that night at Grumpy’s NE. Unfortunately I arived to late to sample any at Grympy’s but was informed there would be another keg the next day at The Muddy Pig. Luckily The Muddy Pig had plenty when I arrived and as an added bonus everything was 1/2 off due to the celebration. The Witte pours a pale yellow hue that is very translucent. Head was about a finger and pure white from the tap, though I’m sure you will be get a lot more from the bottle when they come around next year. Aroma is full of wheat with light fruit and herbal notes coming from the yeast which I found quite appealing. Flavor is very nice. Notes of banana, clove and other herbal flavors are rounded off by a nice wheat grain sweetness. Though this is obviously a Witbier it isn’t overly grainy but instead very nicely balanced and clean. With a 5.5% ABV this is one Trappist brew you can enjoy all evening long. Body is quite light and the mouthfeel is a bit carbonated but not over the top. This is one very nice brew that exemplifies the quality of the brews made by Koningshoeven over the past 125 years. Unfortunately this beer and Isid’or won’t be available until next year but when they come around I would suggest them highly. Even if wheat beers aren’t quite your thing this one might make you open your mind. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 13th, 2009 beckel
A few weeks ago I enjoyed some 1800 English India Pale Ale from our fine local brewpub Town Hall. This beer is only brewed once a year and is always a big hit so I knew I had to get my hands on some. Color is light amber and appears quite translucent. Was served with an appropriate finger of white head. Aroma is nicely hoppy with a good deal of orange and other citrus with just a bit of bitterness. Flavor is full of floral and citrus hops that contrast nicely with the somewhat sweet malt base. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is quite clean. Tough not a hop bomb in any way this is a nicely hopped yet well balanced IPA brewed with respect to English style. Most fans of India Pale Ales will enjoy this beer though you’ll want to count how many you have as it’s 8.2% ABV is very well hidden. Apparently it is even better on cask so hopefully I will be able to find some of that soon. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 13th, 2009 beckel
So if it’s not obvious yet I kind of suck at blogging about things after the fact which is part of the reason I write about brews as I consume them when possible; though I further find it a good way to immerse readers in the tasting experience as it happens. So as I look here at my tasting notes from Town Hall’s Simcoe Double India Brown Ale which was released today I realized the previous two brews I have consumed and jotted notes down about I didn’t get around to posting about, guess I have some work to do. But on to the present topic. Town Hall has brewed a similar beer for many years but this is the first year they have used a single hop in the brew, a solid up and coming hop at that; Simcoe. This beer was served to me with an appropriate finger and change of white head. Color is relatively dark brown and quite attractive and somewhat opaque when brought to light. Aroma is quite amazing. Full of fruity Simcoe hops which usually reminds me of passion fruit though in the aroma of this brew it reminds me strangely of strawberry yogurt as well as some additional malty sweetness. Flavor is unique, sweet and malty with strong passion fruit notes from the Simcoe which is nicely contrasted by some caramely malt sweetness and some gentle bitterness that intensifies appropriately in the finish giving this beer a well rounded flavor. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is almost creamy though I think it’s mostly the flavor tricking me. Though this beer is on the sweeter side the caramel malt notes in combination with the serious addition of Simcoe is really quite drinkable and enjoyable. If you enjoy uniquely hoppy brown ales that pack a punch this will be right up your alley as it is 7.8% ABV. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 10th, 2009 beckel
Prior to typing this up I knew nothing of Grand Teton Brewing other than the fact that they were new to our market. After a bit of reading it appears that they were founded in the state of Wyoming in 1988 becoming its first modern micro brewery and ten years later moved to Victor, ID. They like many brewers have dealt with the out dated liquor distribution laws of the state they were founded in and like many worked hard to get things changed, opening Wyoming’s first Brewpub in 1992. When I went to The Four Firkins about a week ago Alvey was sampling their Au Natuirale Organic a Blonde Ale and their Sweetgrass IPA both of which were quite tasty so I decided to grab a 6-pack of the Sweetgrass which I particularly enjoyed and opted to give their more limited Lost Continent Double IPA a chance as well. This beer pours a lovely bright orangish hue that is very opaque, even when brought to light. It is easy to creat a three plus fingers of white head when pouring this brew and after a few minutes you will be left with a good deal of lacing around your glass. Aroma is nice and floral, with a number of fruity and citrus hop notes particularly orange with very little alcohol on the nose. Flavor has a niceÂ sweet malt backbone and a whole bunch of orangy citrus hop flavor including a hint of tartness which cuts into the 8% ABV very nicely. The body of this brew is medium and the mouthfeel is very clean making this a very drinkable ale. This is definitely a well balanced and smooth Imperial IPA though I was a bit disappointed it didn’t have the assertive hoppyness present in their Sweetgrass IPA which though I already drank all of I’m sure you’ll see a review of in the future. If you are a fan of well balanced Double IPAs and particularly if you enjoy hoppy orange notes you are sure to enjoy this brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.