July 14th, 2010 beckel
Boy has it been far too long. June was a very busy month for me with charity bike rides the second and third weekend and the National Homebrewers Conference the last weekend of the month. All of these events were wonderful and made the month pass by amazingly quickly, so quickly in fact I didn’t even get around to writing about the 2nd anniversary of this website. Though the fact that I was in the middle of a 150 mile bike ride at the time didn’t exactly help. But all of that isÂ irrelevant, this is about beer.
With all the cycling i did last month what better beer to return with than one called Fixed Gear. When I read about this beer a few months ago I couldn’t help but laugh. As an avid cyclist and proponent of fixed gear and single speed bicycles the title of this ale certainly hit home. While part of me can’t help but think of this ale as aÂ gimmickÂ my respect for the quality ales that Lakefront Brewery produces entices me. It also doesn’t hurt that it is touted to be a hopped up Red Ale, a style I am all for. After hearing good things about this brew from Alvey of The Four Firkins I am even more excited to sample it. Pours a deep red hue that is very opaque and similar to the color of dates when away from light. Quite carbonated with about three fingers of off white head being produced and a good deal of small bubbles swirling through the glass for some time. After settling there is a small amount of lacing and a ring of about twoÂ millimetersÂ around the surface of the beer. Smells ofÂ resinousÂ bitter hops, a variety of citrus esters; particularly grapefruit, Â moderate alcohol, and gentle fruit notes including passion fruit. Flavor is very hop forward with fruity, floral and bitter hop notes immediately hitting your palate and never fading. A solid malt backbone is present and adds Â a nice sweetness mid palate that contrasts the bitterness well enough as to not overwhelm, yet little enough to allow the hops to shine through the whole sip. Overall this ale is quite bitter, with lovely grapefruit esters and related citrus notes, full flavored and almost tart fruit esters as well as modestly sweet malt that rounds off the ale nicely. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is very smooth and relatively clean.Â At 6.5% ABV this is one easy drinker that can be consumed by the 22oz bottle with no problem, provided you don’t mind bitterness. While not overly complex I really enjoyed this hoppy Amber Ale and would happily drink it regularly, particularly as it is reasonably priced for being packaged in 22oz bottles. If you enjoy bitter, hoppy ales that this brew should be right up your alley. If you prefer less bitterness I would suggest enjoying this ale more on the room temperature side as the sweetness comes out a lot more and helps distract from some of the serious bitterness present. If your not a fan of bitterness I would obviously stay away. Year round cyclist, seasonal cyclist, recreational riders and even those who don’t own a bike…you should all give it a shot, make up your own mind, and ride a damn bike.
January 2nd, 2010 beckel
It has been a lazy past month and for those who pay attention I give you my condolences. However I believe I can make it up with what is sure to be another tasty ale from the fine West Coast folk of Mad River Brewing. While I didn’t get around to writing about their Barleywine earlier this month I assure you it is more than worth consuming and will be described in all of it’s glory as soon as I grab another 4-pack. Today I finally made the brutal trek over to St. Louis Park in the approximately -5 Â°F Minnesota weather to stop by The Four Firkins to pick up a few gems including this Jamaica Brand Red Ale that I have been meaning to sample for some time. While only the 2nd ale from Mad River I have had the opportunity to try the aroma alone already has me confident I will be satisfied. So lets get to the fun part. This ale pours a rather dark burgundy hue that brightens a bit when brought to light but is still incredibly opaque with small sprinkles of sediment settling to the bottom of the glass. A tight three finger off white head is easily produced when poured straight down the glass leaving a moderate amount of lacing around the glass and on the surface of the ale. Aroma is of modest hop bitterness and very light citrus esters as well as a decent amount of malty sweetness that is contrasted by a sharp alcohol note. Flavor is malt forward with sweet amber notes complimented by very gentle roasted esters and a nice gentle citrus hop character finishing with mild hop bitterness. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is very clean and smooth. While I was a bit surprised by how forward the 6.5% ABV of this brew was in aroma it is in no way over powering in flavor making this one smooth and drinkable ale. A well balanced red ale with enough malty sweetness to compliment the delicate hops and make one solid ale that most people should be able to enjoy. While not quite as hoppy as I expected based on its name this is one tasty brew that I will happily continue to drink. If you enjoy red ales in general and don’t mind some moderate hop notes you will be happy you tried this brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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 homebrewÂ 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.
August 4th, 2009 beckel
I purchased a four pack of this brew over a month ago at The Four Firkins and am finally getting around to consume my last bottle of this tasty brew. I have enjoyed many brews from Two Brothers who brew out of Warrenville, Illinois and this nicely hopped red rye ale is no exception. This beer pours a deep mahogany reddish hue that is completely translucent when brought to light. When poured straight down the glass three fingers of off white head is easily produced leaving some nice lacing around the glass after a few minutes. Aroma is full of malty sweetness with some gentle dark pitted fruit notes and some clean fruity hop notes with just a dash of rye. Rye is quite forward in the flavor as well as a touch of alcohol. A good does of malty sweetness is present to help balance the rye as well as the tasty bitter finishing notes. Unquestionably a tasty and well balanced brew. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is very clean and smooth. The 7% ABV is noticeable but not overwhelming due to the malty sweetness present. If you aren’t opposed to rye are into brews with creative malt profiles yet enough hops to balance and add a nice punch you will enjoy this brew. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
February 10th, 2009 beckel
About a mile from work on my ride home today my bicycle decided the logical thing to do was to break its chain. Lovely. Luckily as I approached the four way stop there wasn’t a ton of traffic and I was able to Fred Flinstone to a stop with little fear.Â I had just stopped at the liquor store and a bus had recently overtaken me prior to breaking my chain so I was very tempted to crack open a brew and wait for the next bus, unfortunately Minnesota laws don’t cater to that. Oh well at least we have a new amendment to a bill in the house HF546,Â to allow for off-sale licensing of brewers between 3,500 and 7,000 BBL, give it your support! Fortunately my story continues positively, after fiddling with my bike for a while and waiting for the bus a friendly gentleman approached me and asked if I needed help. I told him the situation and he offered to give me a ride. After some nice conversation and a short drive to The Alt all was well thanks to some help and a shiny new chain that didn’t deserve the abuse of going on my dirty ass drivetrain. So time for some beer. Today I am enjoying a bottle of Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale from the lovely Rogue brewers who hail from the land of Oregon. I first sampled this ale at the Rogue tasting hosted by The Four Firkins last month and was wonderfully satisfied so it only seemed logical to consume some more and give it a proper review.Â This brew pours a hazy brown with red hints that is completely opaque brightening slightly when brought to light. This pour created over three fingers of frothy off white head that lingers for a number of minutes. I would suggest pouring this ale a bit carefully, this particular bottle foamed up as soon as I popped the cap (though previously none of the other bottles did). Aroma is sweet and malty but intensely hoppy with robust citrus and bitter notes. Flavor is very nice, obviously a seriously dry hopped ale. First comes the malt, largely sweet but hearty and nicely balanced by the bitter hopsÂ that round off this brew. There are a number of citrus and floral hintsÂ as wellÂ but it is a bit hard to pick out individual flavors as this is such a full flavored ale, guess I need to drink more. The body is light for such a hoppy beer and the moutfeel is reasonably smooth. With a humble 5.1% ABV this is a wonderful choice when you want something immensely flavorful but not so strong it will knock you on your ass after a few. Though this is a rather hoppy ale and isn’t the best beer for those who do not enjoy bitter flavors the malt characters make this one delicious and nicely balanced Amber Ale. Anyone who enjoys a nicely hopped ale and doesn’t mind a decent amount of malt to compliment should absolutely try this beer. A perfect compliment to any spicy meal. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 22nd, 2008 beckel
Couldn’t wait to try the other Peak Organic beer in my fridge, so without further ado. This beer pours a grand slightly dark but transparent cherry red color. Head is much less plentiful than the pale ale but seems a bit more solid. Smell is similar to that of the pale ale but smoother and deeper roasted malt scents and a hint of something else almost fruit like. Flavor is predominately roasted malts, but still sweet with a nice balance of bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is relatively light and quite drinkable at 4.8% ABV. These beers have both been good, and I definitely prefer the amber to the pale ale, but something about these beers throws me off, I think it is their strange malt profile, quite different than most, almost reminds me of an English brown ale. This is a beautiful and tasty beer, if you would like to try an amber that is a bit different this is a great choice. Give it a shot and ride your bike.