December 31st, 2014 beckel
Straight from Minneapolis’ newest Brewery; East Lake Brewing. Devil’s Kettle; a Belgian IPA. Poured from a bad ass stainless steel growler, a solid finger of bright white tight bubbles are produced. Color is a very bright orange brown. The nose is lovely with bright citrus from both the hops and Belgian yeast, leaving the nose with a clean refreshing yeast character. Tastes of orange, peach and apricots. Malt character is robust enough to stand on its own, yet plays well with the hops. Stopping the beer from being overly bitter. Belgian yeast persists in the flavor and is very complimentary. Mouthfeel is clean and the beer appears well attenuated. Body is medium. I’ve had the 6 beers currently available from East Lake at their taproom and this one is definitely the stand out so far. Reminiscent of Harriet’s West Side IPA in the very early days when it was more alcoholic and bright. At 92 IBU, this is a well rounded fruity Belgian IPA that I could drink all day (and sort of did yesterday). ABV is pretty standard at 7% and well hidden. I’m excited to see what this small brewery keeps putting out and will definitely be back. They are currently filling growlers if you bring one in, and are also selling bombers of a few beers for your off premise needs. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 13th, 2009 beckel
A few weeks ago I enjoyed some 1800 English India Pale Ale from our fine local brewpub Town Hall. This beer is only brewed once a year and is always a big hit so I knew I had to get my hands on some. Color is light amber and appears quite translucent. Was served with an appropriate finger of white head. Aroma is nicely hoppy with a good deal of orange and other citrus with just a bit of bitterness. Flavor is full of floral and citrus hops that contrast nicely with the somewhat sweet malt base. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is quite clean. Tough not a hop bomb in any way this is a nicely hopped yet well balanced IPA brewed with respect to English style. Most fans of India Pale Ales will enjoy this beer though you’ll want to count how many you have as it’s 8.2% ABV is very well hidden. Apparently it is even better on cask so hopefully I will be able to find some of that soon. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 13th, 2009 beckel
So if it’s not obvious yet I kind of suck at blogging about things after the fact which is part of the reason I write about brews as I consume them when possible; though I further find it a good way to immerse readers in the tasting experience as it happens. So as I look here at my tasting notes from Town Hall’s Simcoe Double India Brown Ale which was released today I realized the previous two brews I have consumed and jotted notes down about I didn’t get around to posting about, guess I have some work to do. But on to the present topic. Town Hall has brewed a similar beer for many years but this is the first year they have used a single hop in the brew, a solid up and coming hop at that; Simcoe. This beer was served to me with an appropriate finger and change of white head. Color is relatively dark brown and quite attractive and somewhat opaque when brought to light. Aroma is quite amazing. Full of fruity Simcoe hops which usually reminds me of passion fruit though in the aroma of this brew it reminds me strangely of strawberry yogurt as well as some additional malty sweetness. Flavor is unique, sweet and malty with strong passion fruit notes from the Simcoe which is nicely contrasted by some caramely malt sweetness and some gentle bitterness that intensifies appropriately in the finish giving this beer a well rounded flavor. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is almost creamy though I think it’s mostly the flavor tricking me. Though this beer is on the sweeter side the caramel malt notes in combination with the serious addition of Simcoe is really quite drinkable and enjoyable. If you enjoy uniquely hoppy brown ales that pack a punch this will be right up your alley as it is 7.8% ABV. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
March 9th, 2009 beckel
So I’ve been far too busy recently, but what are you going to do, tiz the way of life sometimes. Last Tuesday I had a very enjoyable ride over to our local Brewpub, Town Hall for their Lion Brewing & Moylan’s Brewing tapping. Though I am a fan of the flavorful simplicity offered by Lions Imperial Stout and curious what they have to offer in their Imperial Lager I didn’t end up consuming either as I was distracted with the Barleywine wisely named Twisted Reality from Town Hall that had just been tapped on Monday. The ale pours a nice date like color with some nice red hues and is incredibly opaque allowing almost no light through. Aroma had a decent amount of citrus initially but it was immediately nullified by the caramely sweet malt characteristics and a solid dose of bitterness. Flavor is of delicious pitted fruits that are complimented with rich smooth malts and a good dose of bittering hops to round it off. Enjoyable floral and citrus notes are present but very subtle due to the massive bittering, I detect mostly orange. Head is a creamy tan color but not much was present as it was a bar pour into a modest sized sniffer. Body is quite light for a Barleywine and the mouthfeel is smooth making this solid 9.9% ABV brew very drinkable. I was quite pleased with the brew and would encourage anyone else who likes big beers to try it. The balance of flavors was done very well and I am a big fan of the wonderful hoppy bitterness present. After my first Barleywine I couldn’t help but try some Moylan’s Double Kilt Lifter as I have never had the opportunity to try the double strength stuff and thought the original Kilt Lifter was decent. The aroma was quite sweet with some malt coming through but largely sugar and a cherry like scent as well as other pitted fruits and a hint of sherry. Color is very deep but bright red and slightly translucent. Flavor is sweet and relatively fruity, almost a bit tart. Body is amazingly light and this brew goes down pretty smoothly. Alcohol is a bit more noticeable than some ale’s because of the sweetness but not particularly intense considering its 11% ABV. I did not realize this until now but apparently it was a special for their 1000th batch brewed. Similar to what Town Hall just did with their Imperial IPA, though unfortunately I missed that. The Double Kilt Lifter was a bit too much on the sweet side for me, but you have to get those sugars to ferment from somewhere. Not a bad beer I could just do with a bit more bittering to balance. I ended up finishing the evening with a few more Barleywines and another, this time full pint size glass of Moylan’s Double Kilt lifter when the distributor arrived with a few of their brewery glasses for us to take home. I also ended up with a good amount of Lion Brewing schwag including a small or medium womens shirt….so if anyone has a gal that likes Lion Brewing let me know, though I’m tempted to wear it just for good measure. Hooray for good beer, good conversations, and a safe ride home. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
Town Hall Twisted Reality Barleywine
Moylan’s Double Kilt Lifter & Sweet Potato Fries
February 16th, 2009 beckel
Though I was forgetful and spaced the release on Wednesday a few friends and myself stopped by the Blue Nile on Thursday to enjoy some Surly Three, this years annual brew from our beloved Surly Brewing Company straight from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Three is brewed with 50% German Dark Munich malt, 50% honey, fermented with a Belgian yeast, aged on toasted white ash and is being called a Black Braggot by Surly which is somewhat like a mix of mead and beer, being made with both malt and honey, so it was sure to be an interesting experience. Poured for me in a lovely Darkness glass this beer is incredibly dark black but is uniquely hazy with a purplish red shine when held at an angle, completely opaque. There was no head but that isn’t uncommon in bars so it is hard to pass judgment, though I doubt this is a highly carbonated beverage based on its style and mouthfeel. Aroma is slightly of plum and sweet but very flat at the same time. It was very hard for me to get much aroma out of the glass, that is until I drank more than half of it and was able to get my nose well down into the glass. At that point many more aromas came to my nose, largely wine like aromas and a bit of watered down brandy. Flavor is very ineresting. Sweet with dominate fermented fruit flavors largely plum and grape with a tootsie roll like chocolate hint here and there. Very sweet and fruity. One of my friends first impressions was that it “Tastes like flat grape soda left in the car on a hot day but it’s cold”. Though this was just a first impression and perhaps a bit critical it is relatively on point, and doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy the brew. There is lots of malt in this brew but there is so much sweetness and fermented fruit flavors it is hard to pick up much else. Mouthfeel is uncarbonated and a bit sticky but not too much considering it is made from plenty of honey. Body is medium but oddly light at the same time being quite drinkable though very full flavored. Not exactly what I was expecting, but I also didn’t really know what to expect with this release and it definitely keeps to surly’s tradition of making sweet big brews. Beer Advocate suggests this ale is 10% though Surly has not posted any official numbers and if this is true they did a wonderful job masking the content. Not really a beer I could get into regularly though I wouldn’t be opposed to having another glass sometime. Somewhat reminds me of a barleywine but less complex. If you are into sweet malty beers that have some pitted fruit flavors you may very well enjoy this brew.Â This is a limited release brew on tap only so get it while it lasts. 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
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.
September 9th, 2008 beckel
What better way to release a grand beer than a festival by our very own Surly Brewing from Brooklyn Center Minnesota. I will do a proper review of Surly’s great take on an Octoberfest lager when I have a can of Surlyfest in hand but let me say now this is one grand flavorful and drinkable beer. We arrived to the event a good 20 minutes early after a lovely bike ride from Minneapolis along the Midtown Greenway over to the Kenilworth trail around Cedar lake and over to North France Avenue finally ending up at the wonderful Surly Brewing Company. There was only a small line when we got there which was nice, but bike locking options were limited, luckily there were many fences lining the perimeter that made due. After a number of minutes of salivating for some Surly and enjoying a bit of water (yea I actually remembered my water bottle thank you very much) a SurlyFest staffer with her awesome green volunteer t-shirt came to the head of the line and ushered the herd of Surly lovers in. We exchanged our kick ass tickets (surly can tops with a little sticker) for a bright green bracelet with 4 tabs and what I was most excited to see (aside from the beer) our SurlyFest German made .5 liter steins. After getting in we of course made a b-line straight to the beer truck where they were serving everything wonderful that is Surly. The standard affair of Furrious, CynicAle and Bender were available as of course was SurlyFest, additionally they were offering to fill your glass with Hell which was nice to have the option but as I had already tried it I declined to do. So after filling my glass with the wonder that is SurlyFest we proceeded to a table to enjoy our brews. As we waited for the music to start we observed our food choices, Chicago dogs and brats to the right and falafels and gyros to the left. Simple but solid and reasonably priced. The brewery was open so we stopped inside to grab some swag and take a quick look around. As this was my first opportunity to look around it was quite fun, particularly to see the stacks of thousands of unfilled cans ready to be filled with beer for you and me including many lovely blue and white ones, not to meantion Surlys new tanks to keep us properly supplied. The weather was rather nice but just under 2 hours after ariving I snapped shots of the sky that shows heavy dark clouds to the northwest but a bright clear sky to the southeast. After it started raining most people retreated to the tent they had setup or went inside short of I believe 4 people who sat under their makeshift umbrellas and the wonderful SurlyFest staff that was pouring beers for the brave who would leave the tent for a few minutes to get more beer. After sitting under the tent for a few minutes my friend informed me he had purchased a Surly disc golf driver. Like the crazy idiots we are we ran into the rain and played catch. The disc didn’t throw the best but it was still a blast. I shouted at people encouraging them to join us, but I guess that just adds the the crazy factor, so I suppose I’m not surprised no one took me up on the offer. As we played we got a few people passing by to throw the frizbee but that was about it. After retreating to the tent for a minute someone offered to let us use their normal frizbee, Surly branded again that was much easier to throw and catch. After our fun in the rain we decided it was time for more beer and as Omar had already informed us the next band would be playing inside we decided that was the place to be. The music was entertaining and I had some good conversations and meet some friendly people, overall a really great time. Time wore on and as it was time to go and my 4 liters of Surly were settling in my belly I grabbed my bike to headed home. I’m not sure exactly how but I managed to loose track of my group and decided to just bike home alone (not the best decision but I guess I forgot about the fact I have a phone, oh well), a couple of falls later I am still rather sore and scraped up all over but I made it home so it’s all good. A grand day with a sore ending and no regrets. I can’t wait to get my hands on pack of SurlyFest but it should be in stores soon. Hopfully you can enjoy some and don’t fall off your bike like me.