May 22nd, 2009 beckel
On Tuesday I made it over to Acadia Cafe located on Cedar & Riverside in good ole Minneapolis for their 6 Shooters event. For the low price of $10 patrons were presented with six 5 ounce pours of some very delicious India Pale Ales. Though I didn’t really consume these beers in the “proper” order I started with the beer I was most excited to have the opportunity to sample, Victory Wild Devil which weighs in at 6.7% ABV. This beer pours an interesting redish orange hue and unsurprisingly smells almost identical to the Hop Devil who’s wort this beer was fermented from, quite hoppy with a bit of sweet malt that is further balanced by a subtle tart hint from the Brettanomyces used in this special brew. Flavor is again the same as the Hop Devil with just a bit of tartness that adds a nice extra layer to contrast the intense hop profile of this beer. I expected this beer to taste a bit stranger and more sour but the tartness is all around mellow making for a very nicely balanced beer. I hope to find a bottle of this brew sometime in the future to give it a more in depth review than 5 ounces could provide.
Next I sampled our very own Summit IPA that was cask conditioned and dry hopped with Amarillo. As the least heavy beer of the night with a 6.4% ABV it probably should have been my starting point but I doubt any beer could have masked the intense Amarillo notes of this brew. Appearance was an interesting reddish amber that was somewhat hazy. Head was pure white and surprisingly retained for quite some time as this picture was taken a good 15+ minutes after pouring as well as leaving a good amount of lacing. Smells strongly of oranges and something like passion fruit or similar sweet citrus or melon. The same melon like sweet citrus is very present in the flavor and frankly completely dominates the flavor. It was a clean easy to drink brew but I felt the massive flavor from the Amarillo was a bit over the top and one dimensional.
Then came the most balanced but least hoppy brew of the evening, Sprecher IPA. Like Summit Sprecher brews in the English tradition and this brew is a beautiful example of the great beers that it can produce. Color is a reddish amber that is very translucent. Aroma is largely of caramely malt and subtle orange citrus notes with just a hint of alcohol though it rocks a solid 7.5% ABV. Flavor is relatively sweet and of caramelized malt with a wee bit of citrus hops. The more I drank this brew the more the hops became apparent and I started to notice a nice bitterness in the finish. Not nearly as hoppy as I am normally looking for in an IPA but very traditional, well balanced and tasty.
Then from d’Achouffe Brewery out of Belgium we have their very interesting straw colored Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen Belgian IPA Tripel. Aroma is largely of Belgian Yeast and some light malty sweetness. Taste is very similar to other malty Blonde Tripels with the yeast playing a major role in creating herbal notes and malty sweetness as well as candi sugar sweetness that is often associated with the style but with the addition of some nice bitterness and floral hints in the finish. A tasty and unique brew with a whole lot going on and a solid 9% ABV.
Then it was time to enjoy some 16 Grit [review] from our local Surly Brewing and Iniquity IBA [review] from Southern Tier out of New York. You can see my full reviews of these delicious beers by following the above links. Cheers to Acadia for putting on this event and including delicious beers at a reasonable price. Keep up the good work. Now go have a beer ride your bike, safely please.
April 26th, 2009 beckel
I will start by stating this is the 3rd bottle of this beer I have purchased and consumed since I first saw it on the shelves a few months ago so you can be safely assured it is quite tasty, as Southern Tier’s brews tend to be. This brew speaks to the tradition of big English ales and the hearty labor required as well as indirectly referring to Small Beers made from further runnings of the mash. I wonder if they’ve ever considered crafting one with this brew’s leftovers or perhaps more so, sharing it. This beer pours a very dark mahogany color that is very translucent though it is a bit hard to tell because of its dark shade. Creme head was over two fingers and lasted for many minutes leaving a modest amount of lacing around the glass. Aroma is quite delicious. Sweet dark malts are complimented by subtle plum and other dark pitted fruit aromas and a refreshing hint of alcohol and carbonation. Flavor is a lovely balance of sweet and bitter. Smooth caramely sweetness from the light and dark caramel malts is contrasted with some bitter flavors of the dark caramel malt while at the same time citrus is contrasted with bitterness from the variety of hops used in this brew. Though sweeter malt flavors are at the center of this beer the brewers were not afraid to add plenty of hops and it is very apparent in the many wonderful citrus and bitter flavors throughout. The body of this beer is medium and the mouthfeel is a bit creamy but not too thick. With a 10% ABV there is no question you will notice some alcohol in this beer. Perhaps it could turn some off initially but this beer does not try to hide the fact it is quite alcoholic and instead compliments it wonderfully with its solid malt and hop profiles. Not the beer for those afraid of bitterness, but if you generally like Barleywines you will probably be glad to have tried this beer as it is an interesting American tribute to English Barleywines that are traditionally more malty yet is still sure to show you in their own American way that hops have their place as well. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
April 10th, 2009 beckel
Though I have consumed a number of pints of this beer I am only now getting to my very own bottle of Southern Tier’s ever so delicious Oak Aging experiment with Unearthly. This beer pours a very attractive orangish amber hue that is quite translucent producing just over two fingers of pure white head that lasts for a few minutes leaving a good amount of lacing. Aroma is deliciously full of hops, strong smells of apricot, grapefruit and orange as well as some nice bitterness that is slightly subdued by the scent of oak and the other citrus and floral flavors. Along with the hops there is some serious malty sweetness but it is easy to forget about that with all of the other aromas. Flavor is quite intense as you can expect if you have ever sampled their regular Unearthly [review]. As soon as you sip this beer you can tell that the oak aging had a very large influence on this brew as oak is the first flavor I get. Followed by some serious citrus and herbal hop flavors and a bit of bitterness. It then transitions into sweet maltiness wrapping up with a further dose of bitterness. Some of the flavors in this beer are almost bread like though not in the traditional yeasty way and a bit more sweet like a pound cake. Two things strike me about this beer, first that Chinook is one interesting hop variety that creates almost smokey flavors in this brew and further and perhaps more importantly this beer does a wonderful job showing what barrel aging can do to a beer. The somewhat overly alcoholic notes that I noticed when originally drinking Unearthly are completely subdued in this brew though it still rocks the same hardcore 11% ABV additionally some of the intense bitterness is toned down. Mouthfeel is smooth and the body is reasonably light for the style. This tasty brew encompasses myriad of hop flavors and probably isn’t for those who aren’t fond of those flavors but will unquestionably be appreciated by people who enjoy serious hops and unique beers. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
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.
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.
December 16th, 2008 beckel
When I looked out side earlier today to see snow flowing through the air I knew my commute home this evening was going to be a blast. Five and a half hours later it was of course still snowing, so I grabbed my bike from the rack and went off into the wintry wonderland that is Minnesota. After a fun commute trying not to slip under cars and keeping my eyes clear of snow once home the only thing to do was grab a beer. Though my fridge is packed with beer I need to review the two degree temperature outside made the choice of a nice Southern Tier Imperial Stout that I have never sampled a shoo-in. The writing onÂ this bottle credits the Mayans and their respect for cocoa as an inspiration for what is sure to be another wonderful beer from a marvelous brewery. On to the chocolaty goodness. This ale pours a dark mat black color that is completely opaque, producing a number of inches of rich brown head that is quite frothy and lingers for some time. Like other beers from their Blackwater series this brew has an impressive nose. As soon as you get close to the cup you will want to eat a chocolate cake as creamy cocoa scents are intense and dominate. If you try to ignore the chocolate aromas you get a little bit of malt and some alcohol as well. The flavor is quite nice, heavily roasted malt is dominate reminding you that even if you are drinking a chocolate beer it is still a stout. Chocolate notes compliment the malt very well and I notice a cherry like flavor as well right behind though I think it is largely from some sweetness in the malt. The roasted flavors are a bit bitter but the smoothness of this ale almost overpowers it. Once again Southern Tier has managed to make an impressively alcoholic 11% ABV brew incredibly drinkable with almost no ethanol taste. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is quite creamy and smooth. Though this beer has some sweet components fans of big strong stouts will still appreciate this brew as its flavor is largely of roasted dark malts. A very good choice on a cold day such as today or for anyone who doesn’t oppose dark malts and would like to try something unique and chocolaty. Another wonderful display of the talent at Southern Tier and something I would drink regularly if only it were more available and a bit less expensive. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
November 11th, 2008 beckel
Here should ideally be another wonderful beer from the brewery that I have come to respect so much, Southern Tier from Lakewood, New York. Part of their Black Water Series of imperial brews this bottle states it was brewed in Fall 2008. It will certainly be a treat. When pouring this beer it initially seemed completely flat creating no disturbance as I poured directly into the bottom of my tulip glass, until then end of my pour where the beer was allowed to settle momentarily before creating a half inch of nice dark chocolate brown head that lasted for just under two minutes. The color is pitch black leaving light no chance of passing through this beer. The aroma is nice, I notice hints of coffee first, then black licorice and some softer dark malts, some gently caramelized. The flavors in this beer are solid, initially I notice simple dark malt on the tongue which evolves into sweet mellow coffee and chocolate flavors with a slight bitterness wrapping up the taste. Though this beer is 11% ABV the multitude of flavors do a wonderful job hiding its content. Though I am sure the oats in this beer aid in its smooth flavor I only occasionally catch them standing out. The mouthfeel of this beer is very smooth and not particularly syrupy, though the body is a bit heavy. Though I’m not regularly a big fan of dark beers the roasted but sweet dark flavors in this beer are wonderful and gently balanced with a slight bitterness making this a very quality brew. This would make a grand evening sipper for anyone who enjoys a flavorful but simple dark beer and doesn’t mind a solid alcohol content and some sweetness to compliment. To another lovely Southern Tier brew, now I get to restock my fridge without feeling guilty. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
September 7th, 2008 beckel
I’ve been wanting to savor Pumking for sometime since I purchased it as I have yet to be let down by a Southern Tier Ale. I always question flavored ales but if their creme brulee is any example of what they can do to a beer I highly doubt I will not approve of the quality of this beer. Pours a nice roasted orange color that is transparent but deep. Head is a solid inch and 1/2 and cascades very nicely producing creme colored bubbles that are quite fluffy. Aroma is wonderful, sugar and spice hit the nose immediately and lead me to believe I am about to bite into a lovely fresh pumpkin pie. Though I am a bit sad I don’t have any actual pie to accompany this beer the flavor almost makes up for it. Sugary and Spicy flavors are immense and wonderfully compliment the great pumpkin flavor of this beer, a little bit of alcohol is noticeable but almost nothing considering its 9% ABV.Â Though full flavored this beer is very drinkable and has a rather light mouthfeel. This would be a great desert beer or a lovely beer to drink with a good hearty meal. It is a bit odd for me to think of enjoying a pumpkin pie flavored beer but this was a delightful experience. If you like a sweet somewhat creamy beer or happen to have a fondness to pumpkin pie this is absolutely worth consuming. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
August 21st, 2008 beckel
I simply couldn’t pass up this beer when I saw it on the shelf, so here’s to another lovely Southern Tier brew. Upon opening my bottle of their Imperial Creme Brulee Stout I can already smell its lovely aroma of vanilla beans that it is brewed with. After pouring this beer smells even better, creamy caramel and vanilla scents are overwhelming and can be smelt a foot away. Also detectable are some dark malt scents but the creme brulee scent makes the others hard to identify. The color of this beer is grand, deep dark black with lovely creamy brown head that seems tame at first but cascades marvelously and creates a few inches of tight bubbles that remain for some time. Wow, this is a very interesting beer with a suiting name. The flavor is sweet and creamy with a hint of a flatter flavor that is somewhat coffee like but not very bitter or strong due to all of the sweet creme brulee like flavors, kind of tastes like a sweet roasted toffee. The caramel flavors are very different that you would typically find in a beer, tasting more like roasted sugar than roasted malt. The 10% ABV of this beer is some what noticeable but not at all harsh because of all of the creamy sugary flavors. The mouthfeel is medium but it is still quite drinkable for a stout, not nearly as heavy as I expected. This is definitely a nice beer but a bit on the sweet side as one should expect from its name. If you like a sweet creamy stout this is a lovely choice. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 9th, 2008 beckel
I had the pleasure of attending the Southern Tier tasting at the Blue Nile last night and sampling a few of their beers, their coffee stout is delicious, I’d say even better than Summit’s Oatmeal Stout but thats not what this is about. So today I am drinking Southern Tier’s Big Red an Imperial red ale. As the name suggests this beer pours a lovely red color. Head is plentiful but not too massive and light white in color. Aroma is very nice, largely of sweet malt. Their website suggests pouring this beer in a sniffer to enjoy the scent, and I understand why. Flavor is good and amazingly unbitter for its 93 IBU. Hop flavor is definitely present, but the malt profile is so intense it can be hard to tell. With the sweet malt flavor of this beer few will guess its 9.5% ABV. Mouthfeel is medium and very smooth. Though I prefer a more hoppy beer this beer certainly gets my approval and I would definitely drink it again. Anyone who likes a strong amber or a malty imperial ale will really like this beer. Give it a shot and ride your bike.