January 6th, 2010 beckel
Here I hold one of the most intriguing and illusive collaboration ales of 2009 with a mere 20 cases making their way to my state of Minnesota. This bottle was brewed and bottled in Norway at the inventive brewery of NÃ¸gne Ã˜ with the help of the wild brewers of Jolly Pumpkin and always intense Stone Brewing Company. While I was unable to sample this ale last year when the first batch was brewed at Stone I am very pleased to have the opportunity to sample this the 2nd time around. Most of the unique ingredients used in this brew are local to the regions of the three breweries including Michigan chestnuts, white sage from Southern California, and Norwegian juniper berries. Both Stone and Jolly Pumpkin also brewed this ale on their setups this year but I do not believe either will make it into my local market unfortunately. However if you live near California or Michigan you might be lucky enough to find some. On to the good part. This ale pours a very opaque dark brown hue that appears black until you bring it to light. A relatively tight light brown 3 finger head is slowly created but quickly opens up and fades with in about 3 minutes leaving only a small ring of carbonation around the surface of the ale. Aroma is quite interesting with a herbal spirit like quality that i believe is coming from the juniper berries and somewhat reminds me of a gin but with different esters. A modest amount of alcohol is noticeable as well as gentle roasted notes. Flavor is very unique with strong herbal notes of sage, caraway and juniper easily showing their way through the solid malt profile of this ale. Finishing with a delicate nuttiness and a bit of alcohol. The combination of malted barley, rye and oats delivers a wonderfully clean and smooth mouthfeel but frankly I wish I could taste them a bit more over all of the herbal notes present in this ale. Clocking in at 8.5% ABV this is certainly a winter warmer and an easy one to drink at that with a relatively light body for the style. Over all this is a rather sweet herbal ale with very little bitterness present but enough roasted esters to give it a bit of contrasting flavor. An interesting and creative ale with a multitude of ingredients that certainly shows the skill and creativity of the brewers. If I manage to stumble upon a bottle brewed by Jolly Pumpkin I would be very curious to see what some aging in their lovely funky oak barrels might do to this recipe. While I am still in search of a Holiday Ale I particularly love I will give this ale plenty of credit for potential. If you are a fan of herbal holiday ales and dig juniper berries this might just be the ale for you, if you can find it. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
October 5th, 2009 beckel
So September was a long month with few posts. Full of wonderful beer events such as ABR, Where the Wild Beers Are and the always enjoyable Surlyfest. This year the day of Surlyfest was wonderfully warm, hot even. With enough sun to make even the most cynical Minnesotan forget that winter is approaching. No rain was present which was a lovely change from last years event. This year everyone received five drink tokens to get their massive .5L + steins full of delicious Surly offerings including Furious, Bender, Cynic Ale, Coffee Bender, Hell, and of course Surlyfest. A good show indeed, can’t wait for Darkness Day. Where the Wild Beers Are was an experiment in sour yeast digestion. Though I have them written down I have no where near the patience to transcribe all of the wonderful beers I consumed that evening. All I can say is as if a keg of Cantillon Iris wasn’t enough the forty or more other sour beers available certainly were. Cheers to Jeff and Tim for organizing this again, I can’t wait for next year. ABR consisted of all kinds of wonderful brew as usual including some impressive offerings from many of our local brewers. But by now you’ve read everyone else’s ABR post so lets get to the beer at hand.
A Small Portion of the SurlyFest Crowd
Omar Cycling the Evening Away
Lining Up For Beer at Where The Wild Beers Are
De Proef Flemish Primitive Flight
A Small Sampling of the Wonderful Brews Consumed
Coors Light Can at ABR
Tyttebaer which translates to lingonberry (sometimes referred to as Scandinavian Cranberries) is a collaborative brew between Nogne O and Mikkeller both wonderful brewers of Scandinavian origin. When I first heard about this collaboration I was incredibly excited by the concept of a Wild Ale brewed with an interesting fruit such as lingonberries particularly as they are a fruit very commonly used in the regional cuisine of the brewers. Upon finding this beer at The Four Firkins Sean had nothing but good things to say making it even easier for me to shell out the hefty $15 dollars or so for this lovely green labeled .5L bottle. Pours a beautiful red hue that is similar to the color of a cranberry and very opaque. A solid four fingers of off white head with a slight pint tint is produced, consisting of large bubbles that dissipate quickly. Aroma is full of incredibly pungent fruit aroma of lingonberries that consists of both sweet and sour notes. Grains are difficult to detect but a bit of wheat smoothness is notable. Tastes largely of lingonberries with a deliciously mild tart note produced by a combination of the fruit itself in addition to Brettanomyces Yeast and Lactobacillus. A small amount of sweetness is present and the wheat dominate grain bill really allows the flavors to shine. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is rather dry which is quite nice. With a solid 8% ABV and delicious cranberry like flavor this ale is sure to satisfy even with its price tag and very limited availability. Probably not the beer for those who detest fruits being used in brews but a wonderful introduction into quality Lambic or Sour Ales that won’t burn your tounge off with over the top sweet or sour notes. Unquestionably a delicious beer that shows the skills of these wonderful brewers. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
June 19th, 2009 beckel
Today before me I have what is sure to be a tasty brew from the folks of Nogne O from Norway. Two avid home brewers . For their 100th batch they decided to brew a Barleywine style ale and due to popular demand decided to make it commercially available. Pours a dark hue that appears black but turns into a reddish date hue when brought to light though it is incredibly opaque. This is one carbonated beer, upon opening it it was evident that this beer would need to be poured carefully. Even when poured at an angle this beer will easily create as much head as you allow it and some of the creamy light toffee colored head will last until you finish consuming the brew. Aroma is rather alcoholic though that is no surprise as it weighs in at 10% ABV. Further I notice dark pitted fruits but not much else due to the strong alcoholic presence. Flavor is very nice, full of dark fruits such as date and even something like grape and cherry as well as a nice creamy malty sweetness throughout and just a hint of bitterness in the finish. Alcohol is obvious but not overpowering like it is in the aroma. Mouthfeel is a quite creamy and enjoyable though the body is light for a Barleywine. The balance between dark pitted fruits and a distinct malty creaminess is very well done and provides for one delicious Barleywine. If you enjoy Barleywines at all I would highly recommend trying this brew if you can find it. Give it a shot and ride your bike.