April 28th, 2010 beckel
I stopped by The Four Firkins last night for a lovely Breckenridge tasting and was ecstatic to hear that they had gotten in a brew that I have been waiting to show up in our market for close to a year. I have always loved the adventurous spirit of Mikkel BjergsÃ¸, Mikkeller’s brewer and 1000 IBU is a prefect example of it. While some will be quick to argue that 1000 IBU is simply a theoretical measurement and nothing but a marketing gimmick, I say enough with the fretting. You can also read Mikkel’s response if you’re interested.Â It is true that most humans have a hard time detecting bitterness over 100 IBU and various research suggests that the maximum theoretical IBU is far below 200 simply due to solubility issues. Regardless I think one of the best things about brewing is experimentation and having fun with it so the more the merrier, it is after all just a name. As you may know Mikkeller does not have their own brewery (Mikkel calls himself a gypsy-brewer) and this treat was brewed at the De Proef Brewery in Belgium. I believe that this batch is about two months old and it is definitely the kind of beer you want to drink as soon as possible to ensure as little deterioration of hops as possible. This bottle cost about $15 and consists of a 12.7 oz bottle wrapped withÂ labeled paper that when opened reveals a green corked bottle with the same label affixed which depicts a burglar with a bag of hops. Pours a dark hazy almost muddy medium brown hue, containing a small amount of sediment that floats to the bottom of the glass. Upon pouring down the middle of my glass I was immediately greeted by over 5 fingers of tight off white bubbles that slowly open up eventually dissipating but leaving a good deal of lacing and about 2 millimeters of bubbles around the glass and a little island of carbonation on the surface of the beer. I believe this Imperial IPA was bottled one to two months ago and I can’t wait to experience it’s hop aroma. Smells strongly of a myriad of hoppy esters; blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, orange, mango and other citrus esters, massive earthy notes and a bit of pine. Serious bitterness in the nose and a solid dose of alcohol. In addition to hops there is also a very notable malt base to this brew with a number of bready esters and just a hint of caramel. This beer tastes of every thing it smells like and is far more like eating actual hops than any brew I have ever consumed before. A nice, mildly sweet bready malt base that contains a gentle creaminess helps contrast the absurd hop content as to not simply kill you with bitterness. Earthy hop esters are very strong with pine, orange and even pineapple like notes playing a central role. This beer is very bitter but not as overwhelming as I had expected making it surprisingly drinkable.Â Alcohol is noticeable but not overly offensive considering its 9.6% ABV. Body is medium and mothfeel is quite carbonated but still smooth due to a gentle malty creaminess present. While I am very curious how much exactly of what varieties of hops were used in this brew I still find it very impressive how much hop flavor is present in this brew without making it simply consist of pure bitterness. One solid massively hoppy brew that is no joke and probably the most insanely hoppy of the style so far. Not a beer to drink every day (even if you could find that much of it) but certainly worth trying if you enjoy insanely hoppy Imperial IPAs. I’m uncertain if anyone in the city still has this brew in stock but I would certainly recommend calling around if this sounds like something you would enjoy. If you don’t like hops obviously you shouldn’t bother with this beer. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
April 27th, 2010 beckel
Here I have one of the many delicious brews I took home from my trip to Dark Lord Day which I will elaborate on in the near future. Piece Brewery & Pizzeria is a lovely brewpub in downtown Chicago that serves a variety of tasty brews (many of which have won awards) and some pizza that smelt fantastic (thought I never managed to make it there with an empty stomach). After enjoying a number of pints of Dysfunctionale which they call an American-Style Strong Pale Ale on their web site (though I swore their chalk board said IPA) both nights we were in Chicago I couldn’t help but bring a growler home to share with my friends and write about. While there I also tasted some of a smoked Stout, a Strong Ale and bought a pint of their Marketing Ploy a hilariously named IPA collaboration with 3 Floyds; all of which were very nice. Pours a bright apricot hue that is very opaque but not overly hazy. Two fingers of bright white head are easily formed even with the growler being filled from the tap two days ago and the cap simply taped sealed. Smells strongly of fruity and floral hops, I’m betting Cascade and Centennial and perhaps some others, as well nice earthy tones. I find the aroma absolutely fantastic with orange esters playing with grapefruit and other citrus and a decent but subtle dose of bitterness in the nose. Flavor is smooth and malty upfront which is a wonderful base to balance the serious dose of citrus hops which largely contribute grapefruit and orange for me with some clean earthy notes that give additional character. Decent sweetness from the malt contrasts the solid bitterness very well giving this ale wonderfully clean bitter hop esters. Body is medium and the mothfeel is very smooth and clean. A few sources on the web suggest this brew is 6.5% ABV and that seems about right. I would confidently say any fan of hoppy Pale Ales or IPAs will enjoy this brew. If your in or near Chicago I highly suggest you check it out, and bring your bike; so long as your not scared of the crazy traffic.
April 20th, 2010 beckel
While I haven’t gotten around to writing about all of them, my experiences with Mad River Brewing from Blue Lake, CA have all been quite pleasant and some down right wonderful. So when I ventured over to The Four Firkins yesterday and learned they were out of Eric’s Ale at the moment I was very pleased to see some Double Dread sitting on the counter. Clocking in at 8.6% ABV this is should be one hearty Imperial Red Ale. Pours an incredibly dark ruby red hue that appears almost black when away from light. A solid three plus fingers of creamy off white bubbles are produced that quickly open up but slowly fade.Â Eventually leaving a few millimeters of tight bubbles around the surface of the brew and a good deal of lacing. Smells of clean grains, caramel/crystal malt in particular, as well as some lightly toasted malt, gentle toffee, and a variety of gentle hoppy citrus esters. Tastes of gently roasted malts, clean crystal malt richness, modest malty sweetness, a variety of citrus notes from peach and pear to grapefruit and lime and even some pine as well as a good deal of hop bitterness. Very gentle coffee and almost burnt esters are nicely contrasted with the serious bitterness present in this brew. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is very smooth. A nice balance of grain sweetness and serious bitterness to compliment the unquestionable alcohol content of this brew. If you enjoy hoppy bitterness, strong ales and some nice contrasting flavors you will have no problem with this beer. I will certainly have no problem finishing my four-pack though I should probably eat first. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
April 12th, 2010 beckel
Here I have a beer that I am very excited about. Mikkeller’s newest, baddest and biggest Barleywine yet: Big Worst. After reading about its release I thought it sounded insane coming in at very serious 17.6% ABV. So when I saw it on the shelves of The Four Firkins I had to take a bottle home. Mikkeller’s beers tend to be expensive, like all small batch imported brews but I’m happy to say every one I have consumed has been more than worth it. I hope this one is no exception running just over $10 for a 12.7 oz bottle. Lets find out. Pours a deep red hue that is moderately translucent. Just over two fingers of tight off white head is formed and lasts for a few minutes leaving a small amount of lacing and about a millimeter of tight bubbles around the surface of the beer. Nose is rather hot with alcohol, but that is to be expected with such an ABV. Notes of a variety of fruits, cherry in particular come through but have a hard time competing with the alcohol. Flavor is very unique. Sweet molasses and cherry esters are contrasted by seriously strong alcohol. After a few sip the you start getting used to the intense alcohol making it a bit easier to detect the variety of sweet esters present. I particularly notice honey, pear, apricot and plum. Body is very light for a Barleywine and the mouthfeel is very smooth. Bitterness is almost nonexistent making this one sweet brew. Definitely tasty, but certainly not my favorite Mikkeller yet. One of the most unique Barleywines I have consumed, consisting of many flavors not typically found in the style. It is never easy to balance flavor with massive alcohol content but I would say Mikkeller has done something quite interesting. If you are a fan of sweet ales, fruit esters and highly alcoholic brews this just might be the brew for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
April 9th, 2010 beckel
Damn sinuses. Discouraging me from opening the myriad of delicious brews building up in my fridge. Hard life. I know; but I figured it’s damn time to finally open something new. While finally getting around to picking up my bottle of Fritz and Ken from The Four Firkins and some other delicious brews Alvey so kindly gave me a bottle of this brew to give to my girlfriend of the same namesake. So of course I had to try some too. Moylan’s newest release is brewed in an attempt to revitalize and honor the classic “Dublin Style” Porter and inspired by their founders daughter. Pours a very dark brown hue that appears almost black and creates just over two fingers of loose light chocolate brown head that largely fades after a few minutes leaving some gentle lacing and about a millimeter of tight bubbles behind. Aroma is full of wonderfully rich dark malts, robust semi sweet chocolate esters and clean coffee notes. A variety of dark malt esters are present in the flavor and very similar to the aroma with coffee and clean lightly roasted malts playing a focal role and chocolate notes backing them up creating a very nice flavor profile. Very gentle malty bitterness and very little sweetness. Over all one nice flavorful but easy drinking porter and at 5.0% ABV a very sessionable one. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is clean but a tad bit thin. Making this ale even more drinkable which Chelsea particularly enjoyed. If you enjoy dark beers with clean coffee and chocolate notes that will not overpower the grain bill this is one you can drink all day, or at least a few 22’s. Give it a shot and ride your bike.