March 30th, 2009 beckel
Today I have a beer I am incredibly excited about so I will keep this part brief. The good people of Southern Tier have recently created an Imperial Black AleÂ sometimes referred to as an India Brown Ale. The only similar beer I have had of this rare style is Dogfish Head’s India Brown Ale which was delightful and you will eventually see reviewed here as I still have two bottles in the fridge. I have been anticipating this beer as much as their Gemini [review] so lets see how she tastes. As the label states this beer pours a pitch black color with some red hues barely seeping through the top of the glass when brought to light. Head is off white and a bit over two fingers that quickly becomes loose large bubbles fading within a few minutes. As with most of their beers the aroma came to my nose as soon as I opened the bottle, though it is a bit less pungent than their Creme Brulee and Choklat for example. The aroma is full of dark malts and has hints of something like anise as well as some hop bitterness and a bit of alcohol. Wow this is an interesting tasting brew. Dark malts create a myriad of flavors from bitter coffee hints to sweet chocolate in the middle, finishing with a distinctive hoppy bitterness. The roasted flavors of this beer attempt to balance its 9% ABV though you still get a moderate amount of alcohol on the tounge, but what do you expect? Frankly this beer has more dark malt flavors than I typically prefer but it’s certainly not a bad beer. As I continue to let this beer warm and start to get accustomed to the flavors floral hops come through much more strongly. Overall this is a pretty darn tasty brew that like most Southern Tier brews really pushes the boundary of what you can do with the simple ingredients that are beer. There were plenty of bottles on the shelves of The Four Firkins when I picked up this brew last weekend but unique beers like this tend to go fast! So get it while you can, particularly if you are a fan of dark malts. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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March 15th, 2009 beckel
Today I have an ale from Full Sail Brewing that is part of their 2009 Brewmaster Reserve which are apparently switched up about every 10 weeks for our consuming pleasure. As an Imperial IPA, Slipknot is right down my alley and an ale I felt obligated to write about. I first came upon this beer at The Four Firkins and passed it up a few times until one day as the stock was dwindling and I figured I should give it an opportunity not to mention Alvey informing me that he enjoyed the brew certainly didn’t hurt it’s odds. One day two weeks ago I had the delema of wanting a hoppy ale to enjoy and only single bottle brews that I had never tried before that fit that description in my fridge (I know, hard life I live). I thought about it for a while and my bottle of Slipknot became the victim. I was pretty confident that if I deemed it neccisary I would be able to find another bottle to properly review, so here we are. This ale pours an interesting translucent amber color that is a bit of a dull orange. After cascading marvelously itÂ produces a solid three fingers of off white head that lingers for many minutes leaving quite a bit of lacing around the glass. Aroma is full of bitter hops that are very distinct as well as a little bit of orange like citrusÂ tough there is an underlying malt sweetness that makes the aroma less intimidating. The flavor of this ale is very unique and it tastes almost the same as the aroma except the malt sweetness is less noticeable. Many nice bitter hop tones blend with some orange and grapefruit citrus and a slightly floral note, all of which are balanced nicely with a slightly sweet pale malt flavor near the end though the ale finishes with some further bitter and almost sour notes. Their website states that this brew used 80 IBU but I would be curious to know what they actually used as some of the hop flavors present aren’t the most common. The body is very light for an Imperial IPA and the mouthfeel is pretty smooth. If you can handle plenty of hops this will be a quite drinkable ale, though you may not want to take it to fast as it is 7.8% ABV. This probably isn’t an every day beer for most people, but if you are into hops you will probably be glad you tried it. I’m not sure how much of this ale is still around but last I heard The Four Firkins still had a few and I just bought this bottle at Zipps Liquor so get it while you can. The perfect beer for a spicy meal, hopefully my Thai chicken pizza will get here soon. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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March 12th, 2009 beckel
Today I get to enjoy a beer that has been tempting me from my fridge for far too long. I was first alerted of what is sure to be a wonderful beer by my buddie Dirtyspeed from Friday Night Beer a few weeks ago and was happy to see it on the shelves of The Four Firkins while picking up my Tres and other goodies. Lagunitas makes some delicious ales and I can’t wait to see what they produce when they take 102 IBUs and craft an Imperial IPA. The limited post on Lagunitas Brewing’s web page currently states “So Hoppy that it threatens to remove the enamel from one’s teeth.” so I figure the only sane thing to do is dig right in! This ale pours a rather light completely translucent copper color that would make me assume less of this ale if it weren’t for the massive hop aroma I encountered as soon as I opened the bottle. Pure white head was a solid three plus fingers that remained for a good ten minutes with a very thin layer persisting indefinitely and a good deal of lacing remaining all around the glass. Aroma is wonderfully hoppy, grapefruit and other tart citruses as well as a hint of pine and a tad of bitterness that is easily masked by a sweet orange citrus and a little bit of malty sweetness. Flavor is quite nice if your a fan of hops. I get largely orange citrus that is much less sweet than in the aroma and a very hoppy and bitter finish with some nice pine and grapefruit hints. A sweet malt flavor is present as well but is easily distracted from by the massive hop profile of this beer.Â For a brew with so much hops the body is light and the mouthfeel in only a little sticky. With a 7.7% ABV this ale is rather conservative for an Imperial brew but I think the sheer amount of hops used makes up for it. Not quite as easy to drink as their Maximus IPA [review] but a perfect beer for hop heads and one I would happily consume any day. Though this ale is not for those weary of hops the sweet malt hint in this brew does a fine job balancing out the bitterness and making it not too over powering for those who may be afraid of an incredibly bitter brew and as usual the more you allow it to warm up the more noticeable the sweetness. Would be a solid beer for any spicy meal, yet it does not murder the palate with bitterness. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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February 22nd, 2009 beckel
Another treat I was able to pick up in Wisconsin was Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute Imperial IPA. I was very pleased to see this on the shelves and was even more delighted to see a sign telling me to ask about the 120 Minute. Sadly upon asking the gentleman at the counter I was told that they had been cleared out of the 120 Minute a few days earlier. Oh well, next time. I was pleased with their 60 Minute but wanted a bit more and I’m happy to say they did a pretty damn good job delivering. Pours a very nice amber color that is relatively translucent but quite deep in color with a few fingers of frothy white head. Aroma is wonderful, incredibly hoppy with intense orange and floral notes complimentedÂ by robust bitterness and some slightly caramelized malty sweetness. This is a very full flavored ale. Malty sweetness is noticed immediately on the tongue with many floral flavors accompanying it followed by some solid bitterness finishing rather cleanly with some caramelized malt and floral flavors. It is no doubt this ale is truly brewed for an hour and a halfÂ with plenty of hops. Mouthfeel is smooth and the body isn’t particularly heavy. Definitely a solid sipping ale with a 9% ABV and a brew that any fan of hops will most likely enjoy. Though not a beer for those who don’t like hops this beers malt profile also has a lot to offer and reminds me of many of the traits I appreciate in a Barleywine. Would compliment a spicy Asian dish wonderfully. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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January 26th, 2009 beckel
The legal system may be full of fail but at least I have good beer. Today we have a very well reputed ale from Moylan’s Brewery hailing proudly from Novato, California. I was a bit concerned I had missed my opportunity to sample this ale when I walked into The Four Firkins and saw none in the fridge but Alvey was wise to limit the purchases to one per person so he had been storing the bottles in the back and I was lucky enough to get his very last one. The bottle says this ale is a tribute to hops worthy of a king, and from the aroma I get just from opening this bottle leads me to believe they’re telling the truth. As a winner of many awards in the past few years and recommendations from others I am sure this will be a delightful treat and a wonderful way to make a bummer day more festive and enjoyable. Aside from their California pride the bottle also encourages us to recycle and drink safely,Â probably a good warning for a bottle that also states it is triple hoppy and 9.2% ABV. This ale pours a vibrant orangish red color that is largely transparent and produces about three fingers of fluffy white head that remains for many minutes. Aroma is lovely, the hops produce an immense array of fruity and floral scents, from strawberry to melon to orange with only a little bit of bitterness coming through. Wowza. I am rarely surprised by the multitude of hop flavors in an ale and I am happy to say this ale has surprised me pleasantly. This is one heck of a hoppy ale and does it’s name proper, if one were to freeze this ale on a stick I’m not sure how many licks most people could get through. Initially I get many different hoppy bitter flavors, as those calm down you start to notice the citrus and floral flavors reminding me largely of orange and apricot as well as a bit of malty sweetness. The flavor is then wrapped up with some more bitter hop flavors just in case you forgot you were drinking a hop bomb.Â The body of this beer isÂ medium and the mouthfeel is quite smooth. The 9.2% ABV of this beer is well hidden behind the multitude of hop layers though a bit more noticeable as this ale warms. If you are a fan of serious hops it would be in your best interest to at least sample this beer if you have the opportunity. Certainly not for the faint of heart nor for those who do not enjoy bitter flavors. This ale is probably best in moderation but would be wonderful with a nice spicy Asian dish or something similar as it complimented the slightly spicy andouille sausage I got from Kramarczuk’s very nicely. The more you drink this ale and allow it to warm up the more the sweeter fruity and floral flavors stick out it is certainly an intriguing ale that I plan to drink more of when the opportunity arises. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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January 23rd, 2009 beckel
There may not be justice in this world, but at least there is beer. Today I have decided it would be appropriate to tap into my fifth and last growler of Surly’s commemorative 16Grit and share my thoughts with you. Surly brewed this beer to commemorate its dedicated fans’ last opportunity to purchase growlers from their brewery in 2008 because our wonderful state of Minnesota has some silly liquor laws. One being an arbitrary limit of less than 3500 barrels of production to be allowed a permit to off-sell growlers and alcoholic products in other forms. Cheers to Surly for supporting their fans and coming up with something creative to share with them in a troubling time. Hopefully we can work on getting the laws changed before we miss out on too many Surlyfests and Darkness Days. This ale pours a lovely bright reddish amber color that is completely transparent [Edit: though the last glass out of the growler had lots of sediment and was completely opaque and more muddy in color. I didn’t think to give the growler a gentle mixing though I should have. Regardless after helping my friend finish his last growler of 16Grit off last night I can say the color is traditionally darker and more opaque, but the flavors are pretty much the same, just a bit more on the bitter characters I remember from my earlier samplings] Head was about two fingers and cream in color dissipating after about five minutes. Aroma is marvelous and noticeable as soon as you pop the cap. The intense hops produce an array of scents from sweet cherry to wonderfully floral bitterness, alcohol isn’t completely hidden but is not overpowering. Caramel sweetness from the malt is also noticed in the nose, very nicely balanced. I simply want to eat it up. Perhaps its because this brew has been in my fridge for almost a month but the floral and fruity notes seem to be a bit more pungent in this growler. Flavor is intense but well balanced. Citrus and floral hops are noticed first with some grapefruit flavors similar to Surly Furious presumably from Cascade hops. Then sweeps in the bitter wave across your palate which is quite dominate but none the less subdued reasonably by the sweet malt flavors that finish this ale. The body is medium and the mouthfeel is a bit on the sticky side with someÂ bitter residue but still very drinkable and reasonably smooth. Previous times sampling this ale I feel like the bitter characters were more intense and the malt less sugary but this time around it really reminds me of candy, very hoppy flavorful candy. Though this ale rocks in at 9% ABV the combination of hop bitterness, malty sugars and even the floral hints completely hide this. This is certainly one heck of a Imperial India Pale Ale and not for the faint of heart, though I must add my mother enjoyed it. You will not be able to acquire any of this ale currently but I hope Surly decides to brew itÂ again or at least continue to experiment with Imperial Ales and share them with me. If you have the opportunity, give it a shot and ride your bike.
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January 22nd, 2009 beckel
Today I hope to enlighten you to what is sure to be a wonderful experience. This Tuesday I did my obligatory duty and headed over to The Four Firkins with a good friend of mine to get our allotments of Bells Hopslam [review] and Surly Coffee Bender. While there I of course found a pile of other beer I had to get my hands on, but that’s for another post. What is important today is the first thing I set my eyes on in the IPA section, Southern Tier Gemini. Now I will start with the disclaimer that I am one of these said crazy Gemini, but regardless I have been anticipating this ale since the day they first posted it on their web page and can not explain with words my excitement in finding it on the shelves. This beer I have been hoping would make it our way is a combination of 50% unfiltered Hoppe their Imperial Pale Ale and 50% unfiltered Unearthly their Imperial India Pale Ale [review]. Both wonderful ales that are worth your time and money and I am terribly excited to see how the mix fares. This ale pours a rather light golden hue that is quite appealing though transparent having no noticeable sediment. In my slightly heavy pour I easily produced over three fingers of a very crisp white colored head that settled after a couple minutes leaving a good amount of lacing all around the glass. The aroma is great, it smells just like these two ales together should. Many different layers of hop, some nice bitterness rounded off by some paler malts and then complimented with some citrus and other floral aromas. A bit paler that expected and definately some alcohol in the nose, but I’m sure as always Southern Tier will work that out when it gets to the flavor. Wow, this is an interesting beer that is perfectly named because it absolutely seems to have a split personality when it comes to flavor. Flavor is mostly on the paler side with nice sweet malt undertones. Then come in the hoppy flavors, kicking you some bitterness and almost tangy citrus as well as some fresh wood flavors. I almost want to say this ale has a personality disorder as the balance is not typical but particularly when served at a proper temperature it is really quite tasty and balanced int its own unique way. The body is medium but quite light for an imperial ale and the mouthfeel is a tiny bit caramely but not too sticky. The 10.5% AVB of this beer is noticeable because some of the paler flavors just cant quite cover it, but not dominate at all or excessive because the bitter hop presence does a very good job of distracting your taste buds. Though this ale isn’t exactly what I expected, my expectations were never very solidified. It is less hoppy then I was expecting but that is simply because of how intense in the hop department Unearthly is but understandable considering Hoppe isn’t so much, though very good. This creative concoction is probably most appropriate for people who enjoy diversely flavored ales and will enjoy the many contrasts present but could definitely appeal to a broader audience complimenting a good hearty meal. Always happy to see breweries trying new things. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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December 12th, 2008 beckel
Yesterday I found myself compelled to visit the Edina liquor store across from Southdale on my way home from work and I was pleased to find a number of brews I wanted to try, including this bottle of Hop Juice I have here in front of me. Recently I have had the opportunity to try a number of brews from Two Brothers and have yet to be disappointed so I am very excited to try this Double India Pale Ale part of their Artisan series of ales, as it is designed for hopheads such as myself packing a wonderful 100.1 IBUs produced from a pound of fresh northwest hops per barrel. This beer pours a vibrant bright red color that is completely translucent producing about a half inch of creme colored head that mostly settles in a few minutes leaving a ring around the liquid level as well as lacing around the glass. Aroma is impressive, nice and hoppy, slightly floral but still smooth and almost sweet with almost no alcohol detected. Hop Juice is the perfect name for this beer, I think I feel what the brewers were thinking when they came up with it. The mouthfeel of this beer makes me feel like I’m drinking grape juice though it is less syrupy and hop flavored instead. The flavor of this beer is very hoppy but not overwhelmingly bitter. Citrus flavors compliment nicely and floral flavors are present but not particularly heavy. Smooth caramelized malt flavors are wonderfully integrated into this beer giving this hoppy ale a nice balance but managing to take nothing away from the hops. Though this brew clocks in at a solid 9.9% ABV you won’t notice until you’ve had a glass. Not exactly what I was expecting when I purchased this bottle but exactly what Two Brothers describes on their website and an impressive twist on the style. This is probably the most drinkable Imperial IPA I have ever had the opportunity to try, very good. The only thing I can complain about is that I don’t have another bottle in the fridge. A bit on the pricey side but more than worth it. If you are a fan of strong IPA’s you will undoubtedly enjoy this interesting slightly sweeter take on the style, and if your not into hops, well you won’t; but maybe you will learn that you don’t mind hops because of the remarkable variety of flavors a hoppy ale can create. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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November 11th, 2008 beckel
Today I can drink this beer hoping Avery Brewing from Boulder, Colorado got what they were desiring when they brewed this beer and that our system will follow through with that which it needs to do. “We the Brewers of Avery Brewing Company, in order to form a more perfect ale, require new leadership that can liberate us from our quagmires in foreign lands; embrace environmentally sound energy alternatives to imported oil; heal our ailing health care system; free us from tyrannical debt and resurrect the collapsing dollar. We hereby pledge to provide him with an ample amount of our Presidential Pale Ale to support in the struggle for the aforementioned goals!” Now I suppose this ale would be more appropriate to drink on January 20th as this beer is intended to celebrate inauguration day but I am an impatient beer geek and this brew has sit in my fridge for far too long not to tempt me to try another lovely Avery ale. Pours a mighty rather transparent red hue, producing a couple inches of white head that remain for quite a few minutes eventually evaporating and leaving a light lacing around the glass. The aroma of this beer is marvelous, at first I detect sweet malt notes that are immediately followed up and largely over powered by a number of different bitter aromas with only a slight alcohol scent present. The flavor of this beer is not quite what I had anticipated. Dry and almost flat tasting with loads of bitterness. Based on it’s aroma I expected more of a malt balance to this brew, but malt hints are very light and almost unnoticeable. The bitterness in this beer does its job though almost completely covering the solid 8.75% aBV. Though the immense bitterness of this brew turned me off initially, as I continue to drink you can start to notice some of the nice subtler and lighter hop flavors that are present in this beer as well as the light sweetness that sneaks in towards the beginning of a sip. The mouthfeel of this beer isn’t particularly heavy but is rather dry. The body is rather light as well. Though I wouldn’t say this is a balanced beer it certainly isn’t bad. As with most ales as you let this brew warm up a bit more of the subtle flavors come out; so I would suggest setting it out for a bit before consumption. If you like bitter hop filled beers you will likely enjoy this brew. Let us hope this beer’s bitterness is just a reflection of the previous administration and not what is to come. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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November 8th, 2008 beckel
So today we have the lovely session topic sent in by Matt C. of A World of Brews: What is your favorite beer and why? When initially reading this topic I as I’m sure many others did simply said; Fuck. With all of the great beers out there in this world, I have to choose one that is my favorite? As I rattled through my favorite beers I also had the conundrum that I have wrote about many of my favorite beers already, what was I to talk about. Then it came to me. My favorite beer is a beer that I haven’t had yet. I enjoy nothing more than walking through a liquor store and finding a craft beer or even a brewery I have never had the opportunity to sample. Furthermore any day I can find a brew that was obviously brewed with heart and an adventurous spirit all the better. Isn’t this why we love good craft beer? Conveniently I have just the brew sitting in my fridge. Lagunitas is a brewery from Petaluma, California that has recently returned to distributing to Minnesota. I have read about this brewery a number of times and they seem to be fun spirited, creative and straight forward and I have been awaiting the day I would find some of their brew on the shelves. So when I saw a bottle of their IPA Maximus I knew the time had come as Imperial IPA’s tend to be my favorite style. As you pour this beer it appears hazy as the carbonation cascades but once it settles this beer ends up completely transparent and a reddish copper in color. Off white head is relatively minor producing just under an inch, with most of it settling rather quickly. The aroma of this beer is wonderful, hoppy goodness is all over this beer, robust and bitter but still smooth with a few sweet scents. I’m glad I chose to open this beer today, it is immensely flavorful. Bitter flavors hit the tongue first and fill the mouth with a well rounded hop taste but malt flavors slip in adding a nice sweet balance to this brew. This is a full flavored beer but its mouthfeel is reasonably light as is the body. With a 7.5% ABV a few of these would be a delight any time of the year if you enjoy a good hop filled Imperial IPA, I will certainly have to purchase a some more. Now if I really have to answer the question of my favorite beer I currently can’t help but say Surly Furious. Of course as a Minnesota brew I can’t help but have a bias for it but Surly Brewing is a wonderful company and their Furious needs no bias to be enjoyed. My review of this wonderful IPA can be found here. Any hop love who doesn’t mind some nice bitterness will enjoy both of these beers. Give them a shot and ride your bike.
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