February 5th, 2009 beckel
Here we have an ale that I have been slacking on reviewing for far too long, bottle 32 of 580. From our very own Flat Earth Brewing out of St. Paul, Minnesota. Black Helicopter Coffee Stout is brewed with “the finest roasted coffee on the planet” which just happens to come from a local Minneapolis Dunn Brothers. My first exposure to Flat Earth was at their first tasting event at The Four Firkins where they were serving a keg (or was it a firkin) of their new Element 115 Lager. Hearing the title I expected myself to be disappointed as I don’t really care for light beers but I couldn’t pass up a local guy, not to mention free beer so I gave it a shot. As soon as I saw the ale poured I became more pleased, the lovely amber color was not expected at all, and then the taste, absolutely wonderful, from what I remember a bit hoppy with some nice malty sweetness reminding me more of a good amber ale than a lager. Simply put it was a great first impression, but onto the beer at hand. I couldn’t help but to pour this brew into my Surly coffee mug and even in a small glass this wonderfully dark black ale produces a solid three fingers of chocolate brown frothy head that dissipates after a few minutes. Aroma is of rich dark malts and then the coffee takes over, completely. I really can’t smell anything except fermented coffee and the taste confirms it too, this is a coffee beer. Holy shit. There are definitely some decent malt flavors present in this ale but they are quite hard to identify because of the intense roasted coffee flavor present. Body is medium and I feel the mouthfeel is a bit thick, though I largely think that is because I don’t drink coffee. With a 5.2% ABV this would be a perfect beer to wake up with and not get too ahead of yourself. Personally the coffee is too much for me, but if you like a stout that tastes like coffee, this is the perfect beer for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
January 30th, 2009 beckel
Wednesday was Stub & Herb’s monthly tasting extravaganza and more exciting than most because it was a chance for them to showcase ales from not only one, but two Minnesota breweries. Both Flat Earth and Lift Bridge had some solid offers with their Rode Haring, Black Helicopter, Winter Warlock (bottle), Cygnus X-1 Porter; and Farm Girl Saison, Pale Ale, Biscotti, Double Hopped Pale Ale on draft respectively. The turn out was wonderful, I didn’t make it until a bit after 8 but found Sterbs to be full of us beer geeks bringing out our support of the local guys. Good times, lovely beer and wonderful conversation. With so many options I didn’t kn ow what to start with but the cask of Double Hopped Pale Ale from Lift Bridge seemed to be the most logical decision. Color is very amber and relatively opaque. For such a hopped up ale the aroma was very dull, or I am more congested that I realize because all I get off this ale is a slight hop & malt aroma none of which are strong. I will also note the ale came to me with more or less no head so that probably didn’t help the aroma come out. Luckily the taste was quite different, wonderfully hoppy. Tastes like a forest, quite piney and just a bit sour, really showing off its Cannabaceae family traits with an array of hop flavors you don’t often experience. Due to all of the wonderful hops present this ale has a bit of a sticky mouthfeel that may make you want to pucker your tongue. Mouthfeel is medium, definitely a unique brew. Then I went for some Flat Earth Winter Warlock as I have been wanting to sample this very different, golden Barleywine. Color is a nice light copper with some light amber hues and relatively opaque. Aroma has some nice hops but is also sweet and malty as any good Barleywine should be. Flavor is very interesting, particularly for the style. Sweet and malty with hints of citrus from the hops and a relatively smooth mouthfeel. Body was medium. Solid stuff will need to get my hands on more. Next came time for some Flat Earth Cygnus-X Porter. Color is very dark black. Aroma is very malty, largely of rich coffee. Tastes of coffee with some sweeter malts to tone it down a bit. Body is light for a Porter and the mouthfeel is quite smooth. Not bad but more coffee than I personally need. Afterward I couldn’t help but sample some Southern Tier Choklat that was on tap. Such a wonderful creamy sweet chocolate flavored ale. Though I did not grab a pint of it, Michael from A Perfect Pint shared a sip of his Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison and boy is that stuff good, no wonder it helped them grow as a brewery. Wonderfully flavorful, definitely in need of a proper review sometime when my palate hasn’t already been dominated by heavy ales. The ride there was a bit chilly but the hopslam in my belly did me well and the commute home was dandily drunk thanks to some tasty Southern Tier Choklate. Support local and get your stupor on!
Lift Bridge Double Hopped Pale Ale
Flat Earth Winter Warlock Barleywine
Flat Earth Cygnus-X Porter