March 19th, 2009 beckel
So Tuesday was amateur night, or sorry St. Patrick’s Day but more importantly it was an evening of free beer at The Four Firkins. Twas a wonderfully warm day in the mid 60’s and my t-shirt clad bike ride over to St. Louis Park couldn’t have been more lovely, I even ran into a few friendly hooligans on the Greenway who decided to join me on my quest for free beer. The good folks of Tyranena Brewing made their way from Lake Mills, Wisconsin to share some of their beer with us thirsty Minnesotans. The nice gal they sent over had a few interesting treats for us to try including their Scotch Ale which has yet to be bottled though it sounds like it may very well happen in the future, it was quite tasty, sweet and malty and not overly complex. Next I sampled the other growler they had which was apparently brewed by one of their assistant brewers who was moving over to another brewery and wanted to brew a beer before leaving, and a unique beer did he brew. Imperial Chipotle Porter is was called and it was pretty damn good. The pepper was noticeable but not intense at all, unlike Rogues Chipotle Ale and it featured some nice rich maltyness that made it a very enjoyable beer to drink. Next it was time to try the only other beer there I hadn’t sampled before their newest release from the Brewers Gone Wild Series, Paradise by the Dashboard Lights and Imperial Cherry Porter. The cherry flavor was very nice and subtle and the malts in this brew do a good job creating some enjoyable flavors though I initially found myself wanting a little something more. Throughout the evening I tryed many samples of the Paradise and I must say it continued to grow on me tempting me to buy some of it before it runs out. In addition to the specialties they also had all of their year round beers available to sample I particularly enjoyed the rich maltyness of Rocky’s Revenge and the simple crisp flavors of the Stone Tepee Pale Ale. You can see all of my Tyranena reviews here. After 8 Alvey decided to share some brews, opening up a bottle of Southern Tier’s Back Burner Barleywine.Â A very tasty brew that I will get around to writing about one of these days. Thus far I’ve ended up buying three bottles because I keep drinking it when I don’t have time to write a review, though a bottle currently resides in my fridge for this very purpose. Next I was very pleased to see him popping open a bottle of Deus a Brut from Belgium that I had never had the opportunity to try.Â Obviously it is a rather carbonated beer somewhat reminiscent of Champagne and is quite light in color. The flavor was quite nice and I was thankful to have the opportunity to try such a fine brew and only further encouraged me to buy a bottle of Malheur Dark Brut which you should see a review of sometime in the near future. Lastly but definitely not least a bottle of Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale a hypocritical “Imperial Mild” was opened. This is one beer that I knew I wouldn’t be leaving without and I was happy to see that it comes in 6-packs. It’s certainly one unique tasty brew that I can’t wait to properly review. Overall it was a great way to start out an evening of drinking, big thanks to Tyranena and The Four Firkins for hosting.
January 6th, 2009 beckel
So yesterday was another lovely tasting event at The Four Firkins with a nice gentleman named Tom from Tri-County Beverage & Supply pouring samples of 8 different Rogue Ales. Though I’ve been less mobile with all the snow on the ground and lazy about making the usually very enjoyable ride down the Greenway to The Four Firkins, I could not resist comming down when I heard they were doing a Rogue tasting. I have been a fan of Rogue for a number of years, ever since my roommate who lived in Portland, Oregon for a number of years shared some Dead Guy Ale with me, but have not had the opportunity to sample many of their ale’s as they tend to be a bit on the pricy side because 22oz bottles are what is most available in Minnesota. After a nice ride and a short treck through the snow due to an unplowed Greenway exit, I entered the rather crowded shop and proceded to the samples. Layed out infront of me were 7 220z bottles and one 750ml ceramic bottle from their XS Series all lined up in order from lightest to darkest to encourage proper sampling. Very pleased to see 6 ales I had never tried I jumped right into a sample of their Juniper Pale Ale. Tasty stuff, pale but with some nice flavors and a bit of hop bitterness rounded off with a unique kick from the juniper and perhaps the yeast strains. Though I went out of order and didn’t sample it until the end the Dead Guy Ale was tasty as always; simple, flavorful and incredibly drinkable. A wonderful ale for any nice spring day. Next in line was the Smoke Ale which was decent and certainly a very smoky ale in both aroma and flavor. One parton refered to it as tasting like smoked sausage and I have to say I agree, it would go lovely with a nice hearty breakfast of hickory smoked baccon, eggs and hashbrowns. Not as dark and heavy in body as Surly’s smoke but certainly more intense of a smoke flavor. Then came the Dry Hopped Saint Rogue Red Ale, Yummy. This was a delicious and wonderfully dry hopped red ale, reminding me more of an IPA. Hops cover this ale’s aroma and flavor wonderfully but is not overly bitter, provided you are used to hops, it is a wonderful example of what dry hopping can do to an ale and would be in my fridge right now if my bag weren’t already too full of ale and will undoubtably be properly reviewed sometime soon. Then comes the ale of the season; Santa’s Private Reserve which I expected to be a Stout but it actually a Red Ale. A good ale with some very nice smooth well rounded hop flavors, but a bit on the sweet side. Now we have the ale I was most currious about, Rogue’s Chipotle Ale. Peppers are noticable in the aroma but not overbearing. The flavor is incredibly unique, it tastes of peppers but is not particularly spicy, that is until the finish where you will get a nice spicy flavor in your throat and the back of the mouth, probably good for my sinuses. Not a beer I could drink too much of but certainly a courageous experiment and a small glass would likely compliment a less spicy meal nicely. Then came the beautiful ceramic 750ml bottle of Rogue’s Imperial India Pale Ale,though I have sampled this ale before and you can read my review here I couldn’t help but partake in some more and it was certainly enjoyed. Then comes the dark stuff in the form of Shakespeare Stout a wonderfully black and relatively rich brew. A relatively simple but creamy and nice stout that I wouldn’t mind trying more of in the future. Over all it was a very fun time as it is always satisfying to browse the beautiful wooden shelves full of marvelous brew and chat with other beer lovers that show up to sample the wares. Cheers to Alvey and Tom for hosting and hopefully I’ll see you there next time.
June 16th, 2008 beckel
On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of The Four Firkins in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The Four Firkins is the 1st specialty beer store in Minnesota and basically the best birthday gift I could ask for. They stock domestic craft beer as well as many imported craft beers, they do not sell liquor or crappy beer (read: miller, A-B, Coors). I am told they stock some root beer and NA beer, though I didn’t notice any as the store was quite crowded at the time, and in the future they may sell wine. The grand opening was fantastic, I didn’t come in time for the Brau Brothers samples but at 6PM Flat Earth was there with their Element 115 Lager a delicious hoppy lager I hadn’t tried before, certainly worth a shot. Summit had a keg of cask aged IPA, it was unfiltered as to allow for a secondary fermentation in the cask and provided a good deal of extra flavor that is not present in their regularly bottled IPA. I would like to see Summit continue to try creative things like this as I am not traditionally partial to summits IPA, but the cask aging made it a very worthy beer. Surly was there with their bitter brewer and Schells had many of their bottled beers available to taste, the hefeweizen was pretty decent. Aside from free beer always being grand this store is truly awesome the shelves are lined with good beers from all over, bottles big and small. I feel like a kid in a grown up candy store. They even have a decent sized cooler with some cold beer including plenty of Surly. The prices are reasonable and in the brief conversation I had with Alvery (the owner) he seemed like a nice guy, go on over and give him your support. He even has a bike rack up front. Support craft beer lovers!