April 12th, 2011 beckel
Today I have what is sure to be a fun brew from the always creative Mikkeller and BrewDog. Once again working together to craft beer in BrewDog’s Scotland brewery. This time around things are a bit different, as this is no regular collaborative brew. I Hardcore You is a blend of Mikkellers I Beat yoU, a highly hopped Imperial IPA, and BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA another nicely hopped Imperial IPA. But that wasn’t enough, after blending this brew it was further dry hopped another two times. Making the aroma I got when pouring this brew no surprise.
Pours an opaque maroon hue with about two fingers of off white head and modest lacing. Smells of fruity, earthy and spicy hops that meld nicely with sweet malt and smooth but discernible alcohol. Robust citrus hits my tongue first, ladling on orange, apricot & peach followed by rich toffee malt esters, plenty of bitterness and a wide array of hop esters, from gentle herbal and spice notes to more intense floral and fruity flavors. A truly beautiful play between sweet malt characters and massive hop additions. Though you will quickly notice the alcohol in this 9.5% ABV brew the intense hop flavors and bright malty sweetness do a very good job of making you forget. So much so that I have finished more than half of this 11.2oz bottle in the past 10 minutes or so. Body is very light for the style and the mouthfeel is right in line, coming off very clean and surprisingly delicate. If you enjoy hops, lots and lots of hops, this brew will certainly take you for an enjoyable ride. Yet it is not over the top bitter, creating a very pleasant experience as far as I’m concerned. Over all an incredibly hoppy beer with a lot of light pitted fruit esters and some intriguing herbal and earthy esters. Those looking for serious hops and plenty of sweet malt and alcohol to back it up, look no further. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
March 22nd, 2011 beckel
Today I have another brew that was brought to me from Australia. Fat Yak Pale Ale is brewed by the folks of Matilda Bay Brewing in what they like to call their “Garage Brewery”. Founded in 1984 Matilda Bay’s brewers seem to have a passion for the art of beer and enjoy experimentation including the production of the first Australian beer to use wine grapes in addition to barley. Though this bottle is labeled 19Aug11 I fear it will have lost a good deal of the hop aroma that this 345ml bottle boasts about as I know it has sit in my fridge for at least two months and likely further on shelves prior. Regardless lets see how it is.
Pours a completely translucent copper hue that starts with about two fingers of bright white head which quickly fades leaving about a millimeter of residual head providing for a very nice appearance. Soft citrus and floral characters are evident on the nose and likely more robust when fresher. Accompanied by enjoyable malt esters and modest sweetness. Tastes of malted barley, apricot, melon and notable upfront bitterness that finishes smoothly. The base flavors of this brew are all rather nice, but I do fear I got to this beer at least a few months too late. I would love to see how much brighter the hop character of this brew is when very fresh as I feel it would have more character. Body is light and the mouthfeel is heavily carbonated and relatively crisp. At 4.7% ABV this easy drinking brew is very sessionable. If you live in Australia or anywhere else this brew might be available let me know how much I’m missing out. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
January 26th, 2011 beckel
Today I have a beer that was brought back from Australia for me by a friend. I have been excited to try the brews of Little Creatures since I first hear of them about a year ago while talking beer with the significant other of a family friend that was in town from Australia. I don’t know a ton about the brewery, but they are one of the few breweries out of Australia producing progressive craft beer and I can’t wait to get a taste.
Pours a bright golden hue that is completelyÂ translucent. Just over a finger of white head is produced and stays for a minute or so. Smells of pale malts, soft grain sweetness and light bitterness. Tastes of clean Pilsner malt, enjoyable grain sweetness, soft bitterness, mild lemon, grapefruit and other fruit esters. Overall this is a very drinkable, light ale that is incredibly tasty and brilliantlyÂ quaff able. If this were in my market I would drink it on the regular and at 4.5% ABV it would be no problem. Nice grain flavors and enough hops to make this beer far from bland. A perfect session beer. As I continue to drink Â gentle notes of caramel, soft herbal esters and a slightlyÂ creaminess is present giving this smooth beer plenty of character. Body is light and the mouthfeel is very clean. A truly delicious brew that I can’t say enough good things about. If only it weren’t so easy to drink I may have been able to savor it for longer. Perhaps one of these days I can brew such a delicious, moderate ABV brew. If you ever make it to an area where Little Creatures is available I would highlyÂ recommendedÂ this brew and ask that you ship me a few cases while you’re at it. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
November 24th, 2010 beckel
Today I have what is sure to be an intriguing beer, for better or worse. Bashah is a collaborative brew made by two fantastic breweries; Brewdog ofÂ Fraserburgh, Scotland & Stone ofÂ Escondido, CA. Both breweries are big fans ofÂ collaboration and have made at least a couple beers together. This time around Stone went to Scotland to manifest this intense Imperial Black IPA (or Cascadian Dark Ale). First brewed in early 2009 I was very happy to see this beer on the shelves of South Lyndale Liquors a few months ago and couldn’t help but pick it up. According to the bottle this is batch 378 and it was bottled on 25/11/10…unfortunately that doesn’t make any sense as that would mean it was bottled tomorrow. Regardless I always appreciate well labeled bottles, perhaps they intended to suggestÂ consumingÂ it before or after that date. When purchasing this brew a friend at the store noted that he had sampled Bashah cold and couldn’t stand it, but had allowed it to warm and found it very enjoyable. While IPAs are one of the few ales I suggest consuming colder this is a good example of how important it is to allow complex brews to warm before serving. I have let this beer sit out for about 15-20 min and I think that will be just about right for serving.
Upon pouring a pitch black hue spews from the bottle that is completely opaque and slowly creates a solid two fingers of tight, light brown bubbles. After settling for a few minutes very little lacing is left but a millimeter or two of residual bubbles persist creating a very nice presentation. Massive aromas of dark malt provide esters of coffee, tobacco and notable bitterness. Fruity hops are obvious but play a supporting role to the intense malt profile while adding some additional bitter esters. Esters of wood, tootsie rolls (minus the sweetness) & a slightly sour note on the nose areÂ reminiscentÂ of barrel aging, but this version of the ale is not (earlier this year two Reserve editions were released, each aged in different whiskey barrels with different fruits added). Dark malt flavors are so diverse it is hard to pin them all down. Intense coffee, roasted esters & fruity hops are most notable.Â The contrast between malt and hop bitterness isÂ trulyÂ lovely and surprisingly not overpowering. Body is medium, but surprisingly light as is characteristic of the base style.Â Mouthfeel is smooth, but has a slightly chalky dryness that lingers a bit. Though Bashah boasts a solid 8.6% ABV it is almost completely hidden by the intense malt profile and notable bitterness present in this ale. Gentle sweetness and soft chocolate esters add nice contrast to the strong roasted and bitter esters present creating a surprisingly well rounded ale. Unquestionably the most complex India Dark Ale I have ever sampled and one of the strongest brews of its style. Overall an impressive ale that while not hop forward, does an amazing job playing with dark malt and solid hop profiles. If you enjoy the new(ish) style of Cascadian Dark Ales and are looking for a delicious, complex example of the style this brew is definately worth picking up, even with its ~$10 price tag. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
October 25th, 2010 beckel
Today I have a Spanish beer thatÂ proudlyÂ states its origin of Barcelona and the year 1876 that I probably wouldn’t be reviewing if it hadn’t been given to me. Of the beers we were provided as part of Lake Wine & Spirits‘Â Citizen Six pack this was certainly the one I was the leastÂ optimisticÂ about. Though at the same time I am happy to have the opportunity to sample it as I have never had a beer from the brewery S.A. Damm and I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten around to purchasing this beer even though I see it on the shelves of plenty of retailers.
While poured into a tulip as I always prefer, I have poured this beer straight from my 37 degree fridge and will be consuming it much colder than I would other brews as is intended for the style. When poured down the center of the glass one finger of bright white head was produced and started fading rather quickly though left a somewhat surprising ring ofÂ residualÂ carbonation. Color is as pale as they come looking quite like sparkling cider. Carbonation slowly bubbles up to the surface at a constant rate creating a surprisingly attractive presentation. Aroma is of sweet light grains, honey, lemon and some sweet earthy yeast esters. Flavor is of alcohol, paleÂ cerealÂ grains, soft citrus and a modest caramel character. Body is light and mouthfeel is well carbonated though I also find it a bit sticky. Estrella Damm reminds me a lot of the many Light Lagers available throughoutÂ Europe that I sampled many years ago when I was firstÂ gainingÂ proper respect for beer. While not a beer I would seek out I do appreciate the variety of cereal grain esters present in Estrella Damm. I also particularly enjoy the niceÂ citrusÂ hop character that reminds me a bit of a quality Pilsner, though not quite as bright. At 5.2% ABV this brew is a bit stronger than most American examples of the style but it still very sessionable.Â DefinitelyÂ not a bad beer, and something that I would happily drink over mass produced American (and many European) Light Lagers. If you enjoy Light Lagers and are looking for something that resembles a classic European example this brew is something that you should enjoy.Â DefinitelyÂ a good beer for a hot day in the sun. Also something that you could easily serve most anywhere with out worry of offending peoplesÂ palate. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
August 10th, 2010 beckel
Today Â 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 RosÃ© de Gambrinus. The RosÃ© 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 excitingÂ experience.
Pours a fantastic bright deep red hueÂ reminiscentÂ of the raspberries fermented with this ale. Head is about 3 fingers and a very clean light pink color. Smells ofÂ intenselyÂ 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 andÂ 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 isÂ definitelyÂ worth sampling for those interested in proper Lambic Ales. As should be obvious by itsÂ 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.
June 7th, 2010 beckel
Mikkeller is one fine brewery from Denmark and their Single Hop Series is one of my favorite. So I was very pleased to find this brew on the shelves of South Lyndale Liquors a few weeks ago. East Kent Goldings are a classic English hop traditionally used in English Bitters and Pale Ales and I am excited to experience them in their pure glory with this IPA. This cleanly labled 11.2 oz bottle has 22/12/11 printed on its cap, which I assume is a best by date. When poured this carbonated ale quickly creates four plus fingers of bright white head that slowly opens up settling after a few minutes and leaving a good deal of lacing and about a half an inch of perpetual bubbles around the rim. Color is a modestly hazy apricot hue that is completely opaque. Smells as one would expect with a variety of herbal almost spicy esters and a earthy note that reminds me of orange rind. Tastes of hoppy herbs and spices and solid bitterness contrast with sweet malt esters creating one interesting brew. Again the herbal orange attribute comes through for me in the flavor quite notably. While this brew is obviously hop centric it is rather enjoyable if you are into herbal hops. With a 6.9% ABV it is plenty strong but not over the top for regular consumption. Body is medium and mouthfeel is quite carbonated but not overly sharp. Probably not a beer I would drink regularly because of its scarcity and serious herbal characters make it not as easy to consume by the 6-pack. Probably not the best hop to use on its lonesome but an enjoyable experiment. For those who enjoy variety, learning and sampling unique things this brew is absolutely worth your time. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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 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.
January 10th, 2010 beckel
Today I have what is sure to be an interesting Christmas inspired ale from the brewery Anker out of Mechelen, Belgium which crafts Gouden Carolus brand ales. I have enjoyed a number of their ales, particularly their Belgian IPA style Ale Hopsinjoor and can’t wait to see what this 10% holiday ale has in store for me. Coming highly recommended by Alvey of The Four Firkins I can’t wait to dive in, so lets get to the good part. This attractive holiday inspired 11.2 oz bottle is labeled L 0743 03/08/10. Pours with one finger of rather tight tan head that completely dissipates with in two or three minutes. Color is a dark brown hue that reminds me a bit of a slightly watered down dark coffee allowing no light to pass through. Strong aromas of alcohol, rich caramel and toffee are most notable with Belgian Candi sugar most assuredly used in this recipe. Gentle dark pitted fruit esters help round out the nose. Flavor is quite nice with the caramel and toffee sweetness expected from the aroma as well as a delicious gentle roasted malt character and decent dose of alcohol that nicely contrasts with the serious sweetness present in this ale. Gentle herbal esters and a variety of dark pitted fruit notes add additional character to this ale creating one tasty brew. Body is medium for a Belgian Strong Ale and mouthfeel is quite smooth and almost a bit creamy. While not an ale for those afraid of ABV clocking in at 10% I feel the somewhat strong alcohol esters add a wonderful component that helps make the lack of bitterness less relevant. Definitely not your typical holiday ale with more Beligian Yeast, dark pitted fruit and Candi Sugar notes than the typical herbal onslaught of many in the style. If you enjoy complex Belgian Ales with a myriad of toffee and caramel flavors than this is the holiday beer for you, or just a solid ale to drink anytime you want something hearty. Unquestionably one of the best holiday inspired ales I have had an opportunity to consume. Give it a shot and ride your bike.