Big Thanks To Insurance Companies

Avery duganA IPA

November 29th, 2009 beckel

Today I have an ale that I finally got around to picking up from The Four Firkins the other day and was very pleased to see they still had plenty in stock. When I first read that Avery Brewing was producing a new Imperial India Pale Ale I was simply ecstatic. I forget where I first read about it but they suggested that the hop loving brewers over at Avery intended to create another seriously hoppy IPA for their lineup that fell somewhere between their year round IPA and their massive 10.24% Maharaja Imperial IPA to allow ones hop thirst to be quenched without passing out. According to Avery their mantra for this ale became “Unity of bitterness, hop flavor and aroma” which sounds lovely to me. So I was every so pleased to see Alvey’s email a few weeks ago that it had come into our state and was available for our drinking pleasure. This ale pours an moderately light orange red hue that is very translucent. Three fingers of tight off white bubbles were easily produced but the majority of the head dissipates within a few minutes leaving only a small amount of lacing around the glass. Aroma is delightfully hoppy with resinous pine, sweet floral notes, a melody of gentle citrus and beautifully mellow bitterness and a good dose of malty sweetness to back it up. A small amount of alcohol is noticed on the nose but it is not offensive or surprising considering it’s ABV of 8.5%, reminding me of a gentler Maharaja. Flavor is quite nice. A good dose of sweetness is present as to not immediately bombard you with a boatload of hops, regardless you will quickly be rushed with a variety of citrus notes from orange to grapefruit, more gentle pine notes, and a solid hop bitterness, finishing with some added caramel sweetness as to not make you want to scratch your tongue too much afterward. While the 93 IBU of Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Chinook are more than obvious and plentiful for lovers of hops such as myself this Imperial IPA was brewed with not only respect to hops but also to allowing said hops to contrast and compliment the two-row, caramel 120L, victory malts used in this ale. Mouthfeel is rather clean and the body is medium. Over all I would say that Avery meet their mantra in making a delightfully hoppy ale that all Lupulin fans will be able to appreciate plentifully. If your not into hops I suppose you shouldn’t bother with this ale, but it’s still darn tasty.  Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Avery Dugana IPA

Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse

November 24th, 2009 beckel

Today I have a beer I should have enjoyed some time ago but never got around to purchasing, until last month or so when I noticed there was still one bottle left on the shelves of The Four Firkins. It is the Schneider brewed version of a set of collaborative ales by Hans-Peter Drexler of the fore mentioned Schneider Weisse (or G. Schneider & Sohn as they call their brewery) and Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewingg. Apparently Hans was a big fan of Brooklyn’s hoppy East India Pale Ale and Garret admired the delicate balance of flavors in Schneider Weisse so they decided to have some fun and brew two very similar hoppy Weizenbocks with different varieties of local hops and release each through their distribution networks. I have not had the opportunity to sample the Brooklyn version  but I am quite excited to try this version which was brewed with an equal amount of Pale Wheat Malt and Pale Two-row Barley malt, hopped with Hallertauer Saphir for aroma and Hallertauer Tradition for bitterness then further dry hopped with3 more pounds Hallertauer Saphir per barrel for a week. Thirsty yet? I know I am. This ale pours a lovely hazy apricot hue and is only slightly translucent. Head was smaller than I expected of a wheat beer creating under two fingers of tight white head, though I didn’t pour particularly vigorously. On the other hand the head retention is superb leaving me with about a millimeter of tight bubbles for more then the last 15 minutes. Aroma is quite delicious, full of gentle banana, clove, and other herbal aromas I expect from the style as well as a very refreshing citrus and floral note from the Hallertauer hops in addition to a small amount of alcohol. Hop flavors come through delightfully contrasting balancing wonderfully with the wheat in the ale creating many citrus like flavors ranging from grapefruit to apricot and perhaps other light pitted fruits. The delicious and delicate wheat flavors we expect from a brew like Schneider Weisse are showcased wonderfully even with the assertive hopping allowing delicious gentle bread notes to flourish and grow. A variety of spices are present and play a nice balancing role to the solid hop profile. When I first read that this ale was only 40 IBU I was a bit surprised, but after sampling it is very apparent that though this is a wonderfully hopped ale with delicious citrus and floral notes, it is only gently bitter. I find the mouthfeel of this ale to be a bit more on the syrupy or sweet side but i think it is largely to do with the fact that this big beer has such a light body. Even at 8.2% ABV this is one drinkable ale, but be careful as the alcohol is only modestly notable. Definitely a solid ale that I will happily drink more of if I can find it. A wonderful example of what can happen when people work together; the solid complexities of a brewery that has been making traditional German beers for over a century and the wonderful hop assertiveness of many progressive American breweries. If you dig wheat beers and don’t mind some quality hoppy presence or even better yet if your scared of wheat beers and want to try something you won’t regret this is the beer for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse

Hoppy Brewing Stony Face Red Ale

November 13th, 2009 beckel

I had seen press releases for Hoppy Brewing Company out of Sacramento, CA before but never really knew a thing about them until recently when they started distributing to my local market in Minnesota. Hoppy Brewing was founded by a gentleman named Troy who previously worked with satellites and software development industry and after learning to homebrew  in 1991 decided it would be more logical to enter the growing Craft Brewing industry. So with the help of many others Hoppy Brewing released their flagship product Hoppy Face Amber Ale in 1994 by utilizing some excess capacity of another brewery. Now they have their own brewery as well as a brewpub and a variety of bottled brews. While I intended to sample their flagship product first it appears it has been flying off the shelves of The Four Firkins quite quickly and there was none on the shelves at the moment so I opted for their more malt forward Stony Face Red Ale while I was there last week for the New Belgium tasting (mmm….La Folie). When poured this ale appears quite dark brown, but as you expose it to light reddish mahogany hues come forth. Head was a simple finger and change, quite creamy and off white. Upon my first sniff I noticed quite a bit of ethanol but after typing up the previous paragraph I don’t notice it intensely at all, perhaps it was a trick of the mind. Aromas are of semi sweet rich malts, toffee, gentle citrus and floral notes from the Cascade and soft herbal notes from Nugget hops. Flavor is solid. Malt profile is an interesting mix of sweeter malts that one might see in an Amber Ale such as Dark Caramel malt (if you ignore the dark part) and heavier, more bitter, perhaps even roasted malts that one might expect in a darker ale such as a Stout which according to their website is Chocolate Malt. Creating a very interesting and unique flavor profile. Incredibly gentle roasted notes similar to coffee and toffee sweetness are contrasted with an assertive does of Cascades grapefruit like citrus and decent hoppy bitterness. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is slightly silky but not overly creamy. With a 5.6% ABV this is an easy drinker with some seriously unique flavor contrast. Not overly sweet, not overly dark, not overly hoppy but all three working happily, or hoppily together. If you enjoy Amber Ales with a solid hop presence but don’t want to sacrifice any malt richness this ale is probably for you. Now I definitely need to try their flagship ale. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Hoppy Brewing Stony Face Red Ale

Beer Here Dark Hops

November 1st, 2009 beckel

I found this bottle of Dark Hops from the brewers of Beer Here who hail from Norway a month or so ago on the shelves of The Four Firkins. I also picked up a bottle of their Pumpernickel Porter but that will be for another day. I know very little of the Beer Here Brewery but if you can read Norwegian perhaps you can learn a bit more about them at their web page above. The Dark Hops bottle states that it is a hoppy black ale and lists it’s ingredients simply as “water, barley, rye, sugar, hops and yeast”. While also noting that “hops were harmed in the making of this beer”, which I can dig, so long as they were treated in the most humane way possible. This ale pours an incredibly dark black color that is completely impenetrable by light, producing a massive tight creamy dark brown head that is over four fingers and fades quite slowly, leaving only a small amount of lacing around the glass. Aroma is incredibly rich, smelling of dark roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, toffee and a solid dose of alcohol. A strong does of hoppy citrus & floral notes prevail in the aroma  but still takes a back seat to the massive dark roasted notes. Dark roasted malt and burnt coffee flavors are noticed first followed by plenty of alcohol and finishing with some serious floral and citrus notes from the Zeus and Saaz Hops used in this brew. An additional sharpness is added by the use of rye in the grain bill and compliments the hops quite nicely. A decent amount of sweetness is present but I still find myself overwhelmed with dark roasted coffee notes even though there are plenty of other flavors present. The combination of roasted and citrus notes occasionally creates a somewhat tart flavor that is really quite unique and enjoyable. The 8.5% ABV of this beer is partially masked by the melody of flavors present but is a bit overpowering even for my tastes, though it does smooth out a bit as I progress though the bottle. Body is somewhat heavy but less viscous than most ales that are this dark. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Simply this is one interesting ale. At first I found the contrasting flavors to simply be too much, particularly in the roasted malt and alcohol categories. After drinking most of the bottle I must say I find some of the flavor profiles present very intriguing and unique, but could perhaps use a bit of fine tuning. If you love coffee and dark roasted malts as well as India Pale Ales this might just be the perfect beer for you. Unquestionably the most coffee like and hoppiest IBA (India Brown/Black Ale) I have ever had the opportunity to consume. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
Beer Here Dark Hops