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Short’s Key Lime Pie

January 6th, 2011 beckel

No, this is not a food review. Though I could go for a slice right about now. Short’s brewing produces a large variety of year round and seasonal brews out of their Elk Rapids, MI pub including this unique brew made with marshmallow, lactose, lime & graham crackers. Some may call this a crazy concept, I even find it impressively nuts, but it garnered a gold medal at this years GABF in the experimental category so it can’t be too bad. Founded in 2004 and struggling to stay afloat in 2005, shorts has done magnificently in the following years growing 200% in the year 2009 and projecting 33% growth for 2010. Currently Shorts only distributes in their state of Michigan, so if your in the area send me some more of their brews.

Pours an interesting red hue with hints of brown. Barely half a finger of white head is produced and almost completely fades with in two minutes leaving just a hint of residual head. Aroma has lime esters that are somewhat vegetal and not particularly bright, notes of graham cracker contrast with modestly sweet malt and earthy bitterness. Flavors roll around your palate in a very unique way with lime lingering throughout and graham crackers hitting you mid palate and flowing throughout the finish. Marshmallow and lactose esters work with the lime creating a truly bizarre flavor profile. As you continue to drink lime esters play a central role in this brew creating a variety of citrus esters as you sip. Some flat and others more bright, finishing with a nice sweetness and a somewhat strange earthiness that is a bit rind like. While I don’t taste much alcohol in this 5.75% brew the level of acid almost seems a bit alcoholic. Some malt esters are present, but it is very difficult to isolate them from the graham crackers and other intense flavors. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is surprisingly clean. Overall this lime filled, marshmallow influenced brew is unlike any beer you have ever tasted. Frankly not a beer I would bother buying often, but intriguing none the less and a complex bouquet for your palate to play with. If you have the opportunity to sample it I would go for it as it is not a bad beer and is definitely fun but not something you will drink many of. I really enjoy the contrast of limes and graham crackers, but feel like this brew might be less muddled with out the use of marshmallows and lactose, though I understand the intent to emulate a key lime pie, even though it is not quite accomplished. If you dig limes this might just be the brew for you. As usual I enjoy the experimental ambitions of Shorts and would love to try some of their year round offerings as well as their other experimental brews such as Strawberry Short’s Cake & Turtle Stout. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Short's Key Lime Pie.jpg

Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus

August 10th, 2010 beckel

Today  I have a very exciting beer from the historic Belgian brewer of Lambic Ales Cantillon. When I saw the post from The Four Firkins that they had gotten in some special Cantillon brews I rode over there as fast as I could, particularly because it was two days after the information was posted. Upon arriving I was pleased to see that they still had both of the brews I was looking for; Iris and Rosé de Gambrinus. The Rosé that I have before me was bottled on 13/?/20??, as the label is a bit worn off I will try and determine it’s exact bottling date in the future. Brewed with a boat load of raspberries this traditional sour Lambic is sure to be an exciting experience.

Pours a fantastic bright deep red hue reminiscent of the raspberries fermented with this ale. Head is about 3 fingers and a very clean light pink color. Smells of intensely of semi-sweet raspberries, wonderfully sour earthy esters and dry red wine characteristics. Taste is somewhat overwhelmingly sour at first. With notes of sweet and sour raspberries, cherries, soft vinegar, a variety of earthy esters as well as many citrus & acidic esters all at play. Some might relate the flavors of this ale to bacteria or bile, but as you continue to consume it the flavors are really quite nice and complimentary. Mouthfeel is very dry and puckering and the body relatively light. While clocking in at an average 5% ABV this ale is anything but, with the intense sour esters waking you up and warming almost more than high alcohols would. By no means do I have a vocabulary vast enough to do the variety of flavors present in this Lambic justice, but put simply it is quite amazing. If you are not accustomed to sour beers this will not be an easy introduction. It is so sour I can feel it’s acidic heat in the top of my throat and the bottom of my stomach. The mix of sour esters from the lovely wild yeast and the contrasting raspberries makes for a delightful beverage. While very scarce and expensive coming in at about $20 a bottle this brew is definitely worth sampling for those interested in proper Lambic Ales. As should be obvious by its notoriety and rarity. If you are lucky enough to find a bottle of anything from Cantillon you should do yourself a favor and bring it home to share with as many people as you can. Give it a shot and ride you bike.

Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus

Dogfish Head Fort

May 13th, 2010 beckel

Today I have what is sure to be a remarkable beer from Dogfish Head and another fantastic Score from Dark Lord Day. Luckily this bottle is a 2008 vintage because I am certainly not patient enough to give this brew anymore time to age, though I’m sure it would treat it marvelously. A Belgian inspired base beer was blended with over a ton of pureed raspberries to create this intense 18% ABV brew which claims the title of worlds strongest fruit beer. Pours an interesting hue somewhere between a tangerine and a raspberry. Two fingers of off white head form and settle within a few seconds. Aroma consists of a good deal of alcohol, similar to brandy, hints of raspberry, gentle tartness and a hint of sweetness. Flavor is full of strong alcohol esters that largely dominate the beer followed by enjoyable sweet and tart contrasting notes of raspberry and modest bitterness. Aside from being incredibly boozy the flavor profile of this brew is really quite enjoyable. As you get your palate accustomed to the massive alcohol you can start to enjoy the whiskey like esters and the way they play with the varying fruit esters including raspberry, cranberry and a variety of citrus’. While I can’t really pick out the Warrior hops used in this beer a solid IBU of 45 is noticed in the finish creating an enjoyably bitterness. Mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth for such as strong ale and the body is equally light for the style though near the medium side. Overall an enjoyable brew provided you can handle the alcohol and be patient. Those who enjoy very strong ales and fruit will find their dreams met here. If you want to keep your throat warm and enjoy complex fruit esters this is probably the beer for you. I would love to see what this beer has to offer after a decade of aging. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Dogfish Head Fort

St Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale

August 13th, 2009 beckel

Prior to purchasing this brew I knew nothing of the makers of St Ambroise, McAuslan Brewery other than the fact that they are from Montreal, Canada which is stated on the bottle. After some quick reading it appears they started brewing in 1989 and have had continued success branching out to their current nine varieties of bottled beer. I decided to pick up a four pack of this intriguing beverage at the recommendation of Alvey of The Four Firkins and after a quick taste it was an easy sell. This interestingly styled Apricot Wheat Ale pours a completely translucent light apricot hue and produces a solid two plus fingers of white head that last for a few minutes. Aroma is of gentle alcohol and rich sweet apricots with just a hint of wheat. Apricot flavors are forward but balanced by plenty of wheat and other grains that add a dash of sweetness but is still grainy enough to provide a somewhat hearty mouthfeel and avoid turning this brew into a sweet mess. Body is relatively light and with a 5% ABV it is certainly an easy to drink beer. Though I detect almost no hops the grains present in this brew seem to add a gentle bitter note to wrap up the flavor of this beer. Not a style of beer I would typically drink a ton of but a good example of how to make a tasty fruit beer that is very palatable. A dandy stepping stone for someone who really likes apricots but may be a bit weary of beer, or better yet the perfect beer for someone who enjoys fruits and beer but doesn’t want to be subjected to a syrupy mess. I am pleased with the way the brewer has managed to accentuate an enjoyable wheat base with some serious fruitiness yet balance it well enough that I would happily drink many of their brews, particularly on a nice warm day such as today. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

St Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale

New Glarus Raspberry Tart

April 5th, 2009 beckel

With so many beers in my fridge to choose from I figured it was about time I consumed my bottle of Raspberry Tart from the humble folk of New Glarus Brewing. This bottle was picked up when I was in WI for a lovely bike race and I’m sure the memories of that icy lake will make the brew even more enjoyable, particularly as our lakes are currently working on melting. This beer pours a very dark color that almost appears black until you bring it to light where you can tell it really is a barely translucent dark raspberry color creating just over a finger of bright pink head that lasts for a few minutes. Aroma is full of raspberry, so much you may be inclined to think they use a syrup though their bottle assures us otherwise a bit of grain can be detected in the nose but it is overpowered by the fruit. The flavors of this beer are very similar to many other Framboise and largely just tastes of raspberry though It seems quite a bit less sweet than some which I appreciate. In addition to some nice tart raspberry flavors the medium body of this brew creates a really smooth and refreshing mouthfeel.  With a 4% ABV this should be an approachable brew for anyone. Though I probably couldn’t drink a ton of this beer the sweet and sour contrasts keep my tastebuds currious and enjoying the brew. A good desert beer or for those of you into fruit beers. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
New Glarus Raspberry Tart

He’Brew Genesis 10:10

March 20th, 2009 beckel

Another busy week and hopefully another delightful beer from the fine people of Shmaltz Brewing Company. This beer was brewed for their 10th anniversary and as it is over two years old now I must say it is a miracle I found a bottle at Zipps Liquor.  Though not quite as insane of an ingredient list as Jewbelation 12 [review] Genesis 10:10 was brewed with 2-row, Caramel 40, Munich, Black Malt, Wheat, and Dark Crystal 80 Malts as well as Warrior, Centennial, Cascade, Willamette, Simcoe, Crystal and Mt. Hood hops oh and did I mention, 10,000 pomegranates. According to Jewish tradition pomegranates symbolize righteousness so lets get into this righteous ale! Pours an attractive dark apricot color that is a bit hazy and not penetrated by light. Two finger head is off white and leaves a good amount of lacing around the glass, though most of the bubbles dissipate with in a few minutes. The aroma of this beer makes me hungry, but I think that is because I haven’t eaten a proper meal all day. Smelling strongly of fruit juices, slightly fermented pomegranates are easy to identify and are accompanied by some other orange like citrus and an unexpected ginger like spice scent on top of a nice malt base. Very interesting, I really wish I had sampled this beer when it came out so I could compare how the flavors have changed but I have no real excuse to complain. The flavors I get from this beer initially are a variety of sweet malts with an interesting bitter hop taste hidden towards the middle of the flavor which is quickly subdued by the tart pomegranate finish. The many sweet malts in this beer are balanced quite well by the sour pomegranate present giving it a surprisingly smooth mouthfeel. The body is medium and this is certainly a drinkable  ale even at a hefty 10% ABV you won’t notice too much alcohol.  The malts in this beer have certainly matured over their 2+ years and the addition of fruit certainly creates some interesting extra flavors that are hard to single out. As it warms the pomegranate flavors start to take on more characteristics of dark pitted fruits such as dates which adds a very nice balancing component. Overall this is a tasty brew that further encourages me to try their Origin Pomegranate Ale which is brewed year round beer and an offspring of Genesis 10:10. Not that you can find it anymore but people who enjoy a malty beer and fermented fruit flavors as well will most likely enjoy this beer. In unrelated news I finally purchased a new camera after using an almost decade old digital camera it will be a nice change to be able to take a picture and not wait close to 30 seconds before I can take another one, not to mention the increase in mega pixels by over 12x, hopefully my beer pictures look better now. So go ride your bike, even if it’s raining out and a titty bit nippley.

He'Brew Genisis 10:10

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

February 18th, 2009 beckel

I spent  this weekend in small town Wisconsin with some friends to attend the best ever Valentines Day bicycle race. The race took place on the well frozen and slippery Lake Menomonie and required us to make it to 8 stops around the lake, how we chose to get there was up to us but I can assure you almost everyone fell at least; a lot. The warm temps (40 degrees) that we were blessed with the few days before the weekend were of no help as the rain that ensued melted the nice layer of snow covering the lake and exposed us to nothing but slick ice. People with wide tires and studs were in decent shape, however the bike I was riding lacked studs on the back tire and it was almost impossible to get traction. Though I had a grand time I’ve never walked my bicycle so much in a bike race nor fallen so many times. Sadly the worst time I fell I was just walking the bike and I wasn’t even drunk, maybe it just wanted to cuddle. Oh well, no visible bruises or blood so I think it went well. Many thanks to the organizers and for the hospitality  and great community we were welcomed into.  Though it was strange for me to ride in a city that has more or less a one street business district it was wonderfully refreshing to enjoy the freedom small towns offer. Though reminiscing is dandy this blog is about beer so I will cut to the chase. Today I will be enjoying another of the many brews I brought back from my trip and this time it is truly a Wisconsin beer. From the humble folk of New Glarus Brewing I have a somewhat less humble wax sealed 750ml bottle of their Wisconsin Belgian Red. Apparently each bottle of this ale contains an entire pound of local Door County cherries. Pretty impressive, guess I know what this beer is going to taste like. They seem to be very proud of this ale and I hope to be as well. Pours a very deep cherry color that is very bright when brought to light and only semi translucent but much darker when not in direct light. I managed to produce almost three fingers of playful light pink head with a slightly heavy pour that lasts for a few minutes. Smells largely of cherries, so much so it almost seems artificial but I have more faith in New Glarus than that. Aroma is rather wine like, slightly tart and carbonated,  with a barely alcoholic sweet cherry wrapping up the smell. Reminds me a bit of a Italian soda. Holy fucking cherry! Upon my first sip you could convince me I am drinking pure cherry juice. Body is rather light though I feel a bit like im drinking carbonated yogurt, the mouthfeel just isn’t that thick or creamy. This beer tastes of almost nothing other than carbonated cherry, some sweet, some sour giving it a nice balance. You get a nice maltiness in the mouthfeel but you can’t really taste it, or at least not separate it from the massive cherry profile. This is certainly a fruity beer in the Lambic style but with a less heavy more Americanized body and mouthfeel. Not quite my style but I am enjoying sipping on it as I type this. With a 5.1% ABV and almost no alcoholic taste this should be  a very approachable ale for those not used to beer. If you are a fan of Lambics, fruit ales or even just cherries in general you should enjoy this flavorful brew. Would be a great accompaniment for desert, particularly one with vanilla ice cream. New Glarus float anyone? Give it a shot and ride your bike.

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

Rogue Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale

August 12th, 2008 beckel

I had seen this beer taunting me from the shelf wondering what the hell it was a number of times, so I finally decided to pick one up and read the bottle only to discover it is made by the wonderful Rogue Brewery out of Newport, Oregon. The Morimoto Black Obi Soba is one of three beers launched as a collaboration with Masaharu Morimoto an award winning chef who you may know from the show Iron Chef. These beers are made with Soba, also known as buckwheat which is actually not a wheat but part of the rhubarb family and a staple in Japanese cuisine because of its impressive nutritional properties. This particular beer is dedicated to Rogues Japanese distributor Phred Kaufmann and apparently is a remake of their original Phred’s Black Soba Ale. Now onto the good part. This beer pours with close to an inch of marvelously brown tinted head that is quite frothy and stays for quite a while. Color is black with deep red colors sneaking in while in the light. Aroma is interesting and hard to place, I mostly get malty sweetness, almost fruity like cherry. The flavor of this beer even more interesting, a dull fruit flavor hits the palate first that reminds me of cherry but is nowhere near as sweet which is finished by a malt like flavor that makes this beer very smooth, presumably from the soba. Overall this beer is somewhat flat in most of its flavors, though this is not that uncommon in a porter this is a different one, obviously the grains used in this beer contribute a lot. Not a bad beer, a bit sour in the initial flavor but a relatively smooth dark ale in the finish. RateBeer refers to this beer as a fruit ale, and Beeradvocate as a porter and I must say I agree with both. If you like a dark, not particularly malty beer with some sour but not artificial fruit flavor this will do you right. The ABV of this beer is not listed but the original Phred’s Black Soba Ale is rated at 5% and I would be inclined to believe this one is about the same. Anyone who is curious about how irregular ingredients effect a beer will likely appreciate this one. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Rogue Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale

Surly Tasting at Mackenzie

July 17th, 2008 beckel

Surly Two MackenzieLast night was the Surly event at Mackenzie commemorating their new Surly Brewing neon sign. On tap was some rare Surly Two, Coffee Bender and a firkin of cask aged CynicAle. I was very excited to try the Two and was certainly not disappointed. Aroma is of dark malts and a tad sweet. Tastes of sweet cranberries initially but after taste is of mildly dark malt. Deep dark color, quite black. Medium mouthfeel. I was a bit hesitant to buy this beer when they were selling the 750’s because I expected it to be overpowering on the cranberry note but I was pleasantly surprised by its subtle sweetness and grand balance. I am not particularly a fan of coffee but I believe any Surly beer deserves to be tried. When I got this beer I immediately noticed how strong the aroma was of coffee. Color is very dark and mouthfeel is meduim but surprisingly light. The flavor of this beer is that of an Bender infused with espresso, slightly malty. Quite good, but too heavy on the coffee flavor for my tastes. It was my buddies birthday so we only had about a half hour and I was only able to get a sip of the cask aged CynicAle before we left to Ichiban (mmm sake) but it was quite good. The color was a bit deeper and more orange than usual and the fermented fruit flavors were a good deal more notable. Good stuff, wish I could have had more. Get surly, drink Surly and ride your bike.

Surly Coffee Bender Mackenzie

Wild Blue Blueberry Lager

July 16th, 2008 beckel

As I took this beer out of the fridge I noted how little mention of its brewery is present and that I knew nothing about it. If you look at the very bottom in small print it states: Blue Dawg Brewing, Baldwinsville, NY. With a little bit of research I learned this is actually a brew marketed as a craft beer by Anheuser-Busch (I should almost say InBev I suppose.) No wonder the shopkeep said this was a popular beer. Oh well, it looks like an interesting one so lets see how it goes. This beer produces a vast amount of pink head. Color is a deep magnificent raspberry. Aroma is of intense blueberry, somewhat artificial seeming but pungent of berries in general. Mouthfeel is very light. Flavor is strange, definately of blueberry but also a difficult to describe perhaps malty carbonated flavor that has a slight hint of alcohol. Considering that this beer is 8% ABV, part of the reason I was initially attracted to it, it is not heavily alcohol flavored. This beer is a rather simple lager, and definitely a blueberry beer but it is surprisingly satisfying. I can’t say I would regularly pickup this beer, because it’s just not what I’m looking for, but I would gladly drink many of these had I not bought just one in a mixed six pack. Though I don’t give a flying fuck about A-B and am only concerned about the InBev takeover because I feel our country is selling out all of its industry, I actually have to give A-B some credit on this one. Good investment. If you like fruity beer, particularly simple lagers, you will most likely love this beer. Otherwise if you just want a strong easy to drink and surprisingly good tasting fruit beer this is a very good choice. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Wild Blue Blueberry Lager