October 29th, 2009 beckel
It’s been many weeks since I purchased this bottle from The Four Firkins but it has patiently waited in my fridge for this day of consumption. I haven’t been able to post lately as my Hard Drive decided to stop receiving power leaving me shit out of luck. Of course my < 1 year old drive was easily under it’s manufactures warranty so I was able to RMA it and finally the other day it arrived.Â All I have to say is back up your data boys and girls. But lets move on to something positive. A number of exciting events occurred this month including Surly Brewing hosting an American Homebrewers Association Rally and providing around 500 homebrewers 5 Gallons of delicious sweet brown wort as well as the ever popular Darkness Day. I’ll post more about that later, let’s talk about Sofie. Sofie is one of many brews in Goose Island’s Belgian Style Series and is said to be brewed in the style of a Farmhouse Ale, also known as Saison. The ale is fermented with wild yeasts and 20% is aged in wine barrels with orange peel which is blended back with unaged ale and is sure to be an interesting Belgian inspired brew. The 2009 bottles consist of a clean white label with classy green & gold print allowing for a very elegant presentation. Bottle dated July 17,Â 2009.Â The beer pours an incredibly pale yellow hue that is very cloudy, so much so I can’t see my fingers on the other side of the glass. Head is crisp and white initially creating about three fingers of tight bubbles that quickly expand and dissipate leaving only a slim white ring around the surface of the brew within a minute or two. Smells strongly of yeasty notes that are expected of the style, slightly tart, very dry, gently fruity and spicy. Flavor is equally delicious and dry, consisting of gently tart citrus as well as softer orange, banana and even peach like notes, soft bready notes from the wheat and a decent amount of sweetness. A slight vanilla character is present creating a very smooth finish. The malt profile of the ale is clean and simple allowing the yeast strains to shine through with a very gentle Amarillo hop character contributing to the citrus and very little bitterness. Mouthfeel is very carbonated but not overly sharp, body is very light. Though this ale is full flavored it is quite easy to drink and at 6.5% ABV it won’t be a problem. Unquestionably one delicious and quality craft brewed Belgian inspired Saison. If you enjoy the style or even golden Belgian ales in general I would highly recommend this ale, particularly as it is selling for quite a bit less than most of Goose Island’s specialty ales. Though I can’t say I notice any drastic flavors from the wild yeasts used in this ale aside from those you typically expect from the style, I would be curious to see how it may change over time. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
October 8th, 2009 beckel
Here I have the second edition of He’Brew’s Rejewvenator which celebrates the year of the date. The folks at He’Brew seem to enjoy experimenting with fruit and beer and I for one always enjoy experimentation, particularly when it works out well as it seems to for Shmaltz. As if over 400 gallons of date juice wasn’t enough to impress this ale is also brewed with three yeast varieties, Lager, Trappist and Abby as well as Warrior, US Goldings, Cascade, Amarillo and Mt. Hood Hops, 2-Row specialty malt, Munich, 2 varieties of dark crystal, and CaraVienna Malt. So if that wasn’t confusing enough they also refer to this ale as half Doppelbock and half Belgian Style Dubbel, sounds complicated. Lets see how it tastes. Color is quite dark appearing almost black from a distance though when brought to light you can clearly see that the color is just a very dark date like hue. Creamy head is off white and about two fingers which remain for many minutes leaving a clean ring around the surface of the of the liquid almost indefinitely. Smells strongly of the Abby and Trappist Yeasts used in this brew and just a touch of the Lager Yeast. Dark pitted fruits come out nicely but are not over whelming, obviously date is quite identifiable. Some nice malt sweetness is present and nicely contrasts the moderate alcohol present in the nose. Flavor is quite interesting and believe it or not makes their style statement completely make sense. Solid malty sweetness, caramel notes and some additional grain flavors remind me of a quality Dopplebock while dark pitted fruits and gently spicy, herbal and earthy notes from the yeast strains remind me of a solid dark Belgian Style Ale. Date notes are relatively sweet and play well with the malt sweetness present making the solid 7.8% ABV of this brew barely noticeable. A small amount of bitterness is present giving this brew a nice finish but not over powering at all. Body is medium, not particularly heavy for the style. Mouthfeel is clean smooth and caramely. Over all this ale tastes largely of sweet dates, caramel and a delicious malt base with a notable Belgian Yeast influence. A quite nice and very smooth ale. If you enjoy Belgian ales with dominate dark pitted fruit notes and wonderfully malty Dopplebocks you will probably be all over this ale. One thing I would sincerely suggest though is to serve this ale closer to room temperature as the caramel notes are not nearly as noticeable when cold and add a wonderful character to this ale when present. Another fine offering from the fine people of Shmatlz and He’Brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
October 7th, 2009 beckel
Here I have a very interesting brew from the fine folk of Furthermore Brewing from my neighboring state of Wisconsin, making this almost a local brew. I am not the biggest cider drinker but I definitely enjoy it and am obviously always curious to try new things, so when I saw Alvey of The Four Firkins post that they had this odd concoction in stock I couldn’t help but pick it up. According to the brewers Fallen Apple is “Brewed with our favorite season in mind, this blended delicacy is a celebration of falling leaves and falling in love” or style wise a Cream Ale brewed with apple juice, conveniently from a local orchard. Cream Ale + apple juice? That’s a first for me, but intriguing none the less. I consumed a bottle of it last night and though it wasn’t really what I was expecting it was quite nice. Lets see how it goes this time. This ale pours light golden cider hue and produces under a finger of pure white head that only lasts for a minute or two but leaves a nice ring around the surface of the brew almost indefinitely. Aroma is slightly tart and full of light grains, I’m not sure if it is actually in there but I also detect Pilsner Malt though I kind of think it is just a similar scent created by the fermented apple juice. The flavor is where it gets really interesting. Light grains are quite prevalent in flavor as in the aroma but gentle tart apple notes easily shine through the grain bill and provide some enjoyable flavors that compliment the malts used quite well. The flavors of this brew are quite crisp and clean though the mouthfeel is nicely carbonated and rather dry like a champagne (though obviously not as carbonated as champagne). Body is fuller than I would expect but still rather light. With a 6.2% ABV this an easy brew to have quite a few of while still strong enough to give you a nice buzz. Though the apple does not come through in the way I expected it to the dry tartness it provides is really quite nice and makes this a solid seasonal brew that is perfect to consume while raking the leaves or adventuring in the woods. Though the grains in this brew are lighter than I traditionally go for the intriguing apple characteristics are enough to give this brew a reasonable rating in by book. If you enjoy fermented apples and the soft tartness they create you will be all over this beer or if you just want a nice easy to drink seasonal brew that is a bit out of the ordinary you have it right here. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
October 5th, 2009 beckel
My fridge is awfully full (hard life I know) so I figured it’s about time I start playing some catch up. I found this beauty on the shelves of The Four Firkins earlier today and couldn’t help but pick it up. Left Hand is a delightful brewer out of Longmont, Colorado that makes some delicious brews, I particularly enjoy their Milk Stout and Jackman’s Pale Ale. Many breweries have been experimenting with Warrior Hops as of late but this years brew is a bit extra special. I quite enjoyed Left Hand’s 2008 version of their Warrior IPA and I’m sure this year will be no different because aside from a nice new label they have also brewed this batch with 100% fresh hops from local farms in Colorado. This ale pours a very translucent light red hue and produces about three fingers of tight off white head that lasts for many minutes, slowly dissipating and leaving a good deal of lacing around the glass. The aroma of this brew is absolutely marvelous. Smells of sweet citrus, floral and fruity hop notes that are incredibly robust, lots of passion fruit. Moderate bitterness is present but quite minimal for something brewed largely with Warrior Hops. Flavor is even more robust and complex than the aroma. Full of passion fruit flavors as well as other citrus and fruit hop notes. Malt imparts some additional sweetness but allows the fresh hop flavors to shine. Warrior, Cascade and Goldings appear to be the major hop varieties used in this brew and boy can you tell. A nice gentle bitterness is present mid sip and grows stronger as you finish adding a nice character to the flavor of this brew and showing you what Warrior Hops are all about. Though this is one hoppy brew it is more floral and fruity than bitter, which somewhat surprises me, but is wonderful and makes this 6.6% ABV beer approachable for even those who aren’t accustomed to serious IPAs. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is quite crisp. Frankly I expected this beer to be more bitter and less approachable but who cares about expectations. This is one tasty brew that has unquestionably been kicked up a notch by the use of fresh hops and will be a refreshing delight to all of us hop heads out there particular those who are getting a bit tired of being slapped in the face with brutal bitter hoppyness, not that I would ever complain. Definitely one of the most wonderfully balanced brews I have consumed with Warrior Hops playing a major role. Hop head or not. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
October 5th, 2009 beckel
So September was a long month with few posts. Full of wonderful beer events such as ABR, Where the Wild Beers Are and the always enjoyable Surlyfest. This year the day of Surlyfest was wonderfully warm, hot even. With enough sun to make even the most cynical Minnesotan forget that winter is approaching. No rain was present which was a lovely change from last years event. This year everyone received five drink tokens to get their massive .5L + steins full of delicious Surly offerings including Furious, Bender, Cynic Ale, Coffee Bender, Hell, and of course Surlyfest. A good show indeed, can’t wait for Darkness Day. Where the Wild Beers Are was an experiment in sour yeast digestion. Though I have them written down I have no where near the patience to transcribe all of the wonderful beers I consumed that evening. All I can say is as if a keg of Cantillon Iris wasn’t enough the forty or more other sour beers available certainly were. Cheers to Jeff and Tim for organizing this again, I can’t wait for next year. ABR consisted of all kinds of wonderful brew as usual including some impressive offerings from many of our local brewers. But by now you’ve read everyone else’s ABR post so lets get to the beer at hand.
A Small Portion of the SurlyFest Crowd
Omar Cycling the Evening Away
Lining Up For Beer at Where The Wild Beers Are
De Proef Flemish Primitive Flight
A Small Sampling of the Wonderful Brews Consumed
Coors Light Can at ABR
Tyttebaer which translates to lingonberry (sometimes referred to as Scandinavian Cranberries) is a collaborative brew between Nogne O and Mikkeller both wonderful brewers of Scandinavian origin. When I first heard about this collaboration I was incredibly excited by the concept of a Wild Ale brewed with an interesting fruit such as lingonberries particularly as they are a fruit very commonly used in the regional cuisine of the brewers. Upon finding this beer at The Four Firkins Sean had nothing but good things to say making it even easier for me to shell out the hefty $15 dollars or so for this lovely green labeled .5L bottle. Pours a beautiful red hue that is similar to the color of a cranberry and very opaque. A solid four fingers of off white head with a slight pint tint is produced, consisting of large bubbles that dissipate quickly. Aroma is full of incredibly pungent fruit aroma of lingonberries that consists of both sweet and sour notes. Grains are difficult to detect but a bit of wheat smoothness is notable. Tastes largely of lingonberries with a deliciously mild tart note produced by a combination of the fruit itself in addition to Brettanomyces Yeast and Lactobacillus. A small amount of sweetness is present and the wheat dominate grain bill really allows the flavors to shine. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is rather dry which is quite nice. With a solid 8% ABV and delicious cranberry like flavor this ale is sure to satisfy even with its price tag and very limited availability. Probably not the beer for those who detest fruits being used in brews but a wonderful introduction into quality Lambic or Sour Ales that won’t burn your tounge off with over the top sweet or sour notes. Unquestionably a delicious beer that shows the skills of these wonderful brewers. Give it a shot and ride your bike.