Big Thanks To Insurance Companies

Three Floyds Dreadnaught

September 7th, 2010 beckel

Here I have another fantastic brew from Three Floyds Brewing, Dreadnaught an Imperial IPA. As you may realize by now the brewers of Three Floyds love their hops; if you didn’t you will now. I first sampled Dreadnaught at their brewpub in Munster, Indiana during this years Dark Lord Day. Even with my severe palate fatigue from all of the other amazingly full flavored beers I had consumed that day Dreadnaught stood out as a fantastically hop forward example of the style.

Pours a modestly hazzy hue that is between orange and amber, closer to the prior. Two plus fingers of tight clean white bubbles are produced, most of which fade within a few minutes. Leaving a few millimeters of bubbles on the surface and a small amount of lacing. Aroma is simply brilliant. Massive orange, grapefruit & other citruses, peach, gentle pine, solid bitterness, and lovely malty sweetness all play in a lovely symphony of scents. Robust bitterness hits your tongue first, followed by grapefruit and orange hop esters that are further emphasized by smooth malt sweetness finishing with an even greater bitter bite and a variety of pine and earthy hop notes. As your palate gets accustomed to the serious bitterness present in this ale gentle flavors such as peach and mango become more apparent creating a wonderfully versatile beast. Similarly caramel notes in the malt are allowed to shine and initial bitterness is reduced as the beer warms and your palate realizes what it is in for. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is a bit syrupy but reasonably light as to not be cloying. The 9.5% ABV is well hidden by the bitterness but is definitely present particularly as it warms. I would encourage giving this one a little bit of time to warm up before serving but also note that the hop notes will become a bit more astringent (emphasizing the bitterness) and the alcohol more notable as it approaches room temperature. Over all any fan of the American style IPA’s will most likely have a field day with this brew. I really can not say enough about my love for this beer; if only they distributed to Minnesota. If you are lucky enough to get Three Floyds or live close enough to the border of a state that does like my self, give it a shot and ride your bike; and send me some while your at it.

Three Floyds Dreadnaugh Imperial IPA

Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow

August 25th, 2010 beckel

Today I have another ale from Three Floyds that is sure to be impressive. Both their IPA Alpha King and their Imperial IPA Dreadnaught are fantastic examples of the style and now we have Apocalypse Cow a Double IPA with lactose which is brilliantly atypical.

Pours a completely opaque bright orange hue producing about two fingers of off white head that fades within a few minutes leaving a small amount of lacing around the glass. Smells of rich orange marmalade, soft floral notes, moderate bitterness and a gentle lactose sweetness that complements the malt quite nicely. Tastes strongly of smooth oranges, fantastically sweet milk sugar (lactose) and a lovely bitter finish. The body of this beer is medium and the mouthfeel has a wonderful creamy component but is still amazingly smooth. Consisting of soft creamy notes initially and then a tongue tingling bitter finish. Modest alcohol is noticeable but you would be hard pressed to notice that it is a solid 11% ABV. Definitely an unique approach to a very popular style and an enjoyable brew. If you dig hops and particularly oranges you will be all over this brew. It almost reminds me of a dreamsicle though not atrociously sweet and fantastically more bitter and complex. With most beers I suggest consumption on the warm side, particularly unique brews but in this case I prefer Apocalypse Cow on the colder side of the equation as it seems to balance better when you get more assertive hop notes.  If you are lucky enough to be near somewhere Three Floyds distributes I would certainly suggest giving this one a run for your money. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow

Three Floyds Gumball Head

August 23rd, 2010 beckel

While in Wisconsin for The Great Taste of the Midwest I couldn’t help but bring back a variety of brews that are unavailable in my fine state of Minnesota. So I figure I’ll start out with something simple, but fantastic. I stumbled upon this ale while at Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, Indiana for Dark Lord Day earlier this year and was ever so glad to have made it my first beer of the afternoon. Gumball Head is a wonderfully hopped American Wheat Ale that is brewed with red wheat and Amarillo hops.

Pours a pale apricot hue with just over a finger of white head that fades with in a minute or two. Fantastic notes of grapefruit, bright lemon, and other citrus play with gentle earthiness and smooth bitterness in the aroma. Clean flavors of wheat are complimented by zesty orange, grapefruit, lemon and a nice soft bitterness creating one fantastic brew. If you enjoy the use of wheat and a nice dose of hops you are sure to enjoy this refreshing ale. While very different from classical European wheat beers and even quite different from most American Wheat beers this ale is a welcome change in my opinion and in fact exactly what I have been looking for for some time. Assertively hoppy enough to make a hop head smile, but balanced enough to make some not realize exactly what they are experiencing. Body is on the light side and the mouthfeel is quite smooth making this a perfect summer drinker. At 5.5% you can easily enjoy a 6-pack throughout the day with no regrets. Unquestionably the most brilliantly hopped wheat beer I have ever consumed. If you are lucky enough to have this beer in your local liquor store you really have no excuse not to consume it regularly, and ship me some while your at it. Give it a shot and ride you bike.

Three Floyds Gumball Head

Dark Lord Day: A Journey

May 7th, 2010 beckel

What a weekend. Such a weekend it’s taken me more than a week to write about it, so lets just start from the beginning. Early Friday morning my friends Mike and Shawn of The Beer Genome Project gathered with another friend Jason and myself to start our adventure to the land of Chicago. On our way through Wisconsin en route to New Glarus we realized we were very close to The Grumpy Troll Brewpub and decided to stop by for a bite to eat and a few libations. Over all the food was decent, my beer cheese soup hit the spot but was nothing particularly special, though my corn muffin was awesome and Shawn seemed to particularly enjoy his black bean burger which looked very natural and hearty. I went with a pint of their Imperial IPA called Maggie which was dandy but of all the beers we sampled their two porters really stood out, I particularly enjoyed the Amnesia Baltic Porter which Jason ended up bringing a growler of home. Another unique brew that was highly enjoyed was Slow Eddie, a jalapeno session beer with some serious jalapeno flavor but not overly intense heat.

Grumpy Troll Brewpub
Grumpy Troll Sign

Old New Glarus Brewery
Old New Glarus Brewery

After driving through many winding, hilly roads we eventually made it to New Glarus and quickly checked out the exterior of their old brewery and made our way another mile down the street to their fantastic new brewery. The exterior of their new brewery is fantastic with cascading rocks and water running down the front of the building which is divided into three major sections: The brewery, the gift shop/tap room and their storefront. Not only is the exterior attractive but the massive brewery is absolutely fantastic. Not only is it the largest brewery I’ve ever seen state side but you are also allowed to view almost the whole place at your will free of charge. First of course we had to grab ourselves a beer. You can either get a pint for $6 and keep the glass (a $5 value) or you can get 3 pours in a sample glass which you also get to keep (1$.50 value) for $4.50. I started with their Stone Soup their Abby, which is not overly complex but sold enough. I also ended up trying a bit of their Moon Man Pale Ale a gently hopped ale that was very mellow in the finish with hops only being present in the beginning of the sip. The favorites of the day were their classic Wisconsin Belgian Red [review] which was fantastic off tap & their new Golden Ale a delicious very purely Brett flavored ale that I will write about in more detail when I open my bottle. As you walk into the towards the brewery you see their lab and quality assurance with people hard at work ensuring you get the best beer possible. Upon entering their brewery proper the wonderful smell of Spotted Cow being brewed was overwhelming and fantastically bready. The whole brewery was fantastic but the things that stood out the most for me were their insanely large fermenters and their massive magnetic bottling line. I was ecstatic to find some of their fantastic Cran-Bic at their bottle shop and grabbed two four packs but I ended up trading one back to a very happy brewery employee. A few other treasures included the aforementioned Golden Ale and another R&D beer called Two Women. Right before leaving we ran into a combination of local friends and not so local new acquaintances that had also traveled down from Minnesota together, Stu from Friday Night Beer, Aaron from The Captains Chair, another Aaron from The Vice Blog and Dave from The Drunken Polack. After some greetings and friendly harassment it was time to get a move on.

New Galrus Brewing
New Glarus Brewing

New Glarus Brewing
Even More of New Glarus Brewing

Awesome Sign at New Glarus
Awesome Sign at Brewery Entrance

New Glarus Bottling Line
Part of New Glarus’ Fantastic Bottling Line

Brewing Kettles at New Glarus
Gorgeous New Glarus Brewing Kettles

After painstakingly making our way through Chicago traffic and dropping off our gear at my cousins house it was time do do some real drinking and check out what the Chicago beer scene has to offer. Some local friends of Mike & Shawn wanted to meet at the well reviewed Revolution Brewing a new brewpub near Logan Square so we hopped on a bus and ventured forth. Upon entering I immediately knew it would be a task to find the people we were looking for as the place was packed as can be. Luckily we found them near the end of the bar and managed to snag a small area near some registers, regularly moving out of the way of bussers and servers. Regardless good conversation was had and it was nice meeting some fellow beer geeks including Ken & Brad of Hop Cast, Stephen of Fresh Brew Log as well as a very nice and equally geeky gal named Sarah. On tap was a large selection of their brews and a fantastic selection of guest beers. Being a brewpub and all I had to start with something home crafted so I opted for their Iron Fist Pale Ale which was quite tasty. After that I had to sample the two beers they had on tap that were made for the Craft Brewers Conference that had been held earlier that month: Lagunitas Chicago Fusion Ale & a hoppy Two Brothers brew I can’t recall the name of, both of which were solid but nothing mind blowing. Another ale from Two Brothers that was very nice was their new Resistance IPA which is fermented in their new foudre’s (large oak barrels) and is wonderfully balanced and smooth on the palate. At the end of the night I ended up sampling some of Revolution’s Samadhi Double IPA and had to get a glass for myself as it was absolutely fantastic. If we hadn’t been on our way to another bar I could have drunken it all night. Not only does Revolution Brewing have solid beers but their food was delicious as well. After about an hour wait for a table we started off with a few baskets of bacon popcorn, yes you read that right. Delicious popcorn smothered in bacon fat with crisp bits of bacon scattered and the most delicious and delicately fried sage I have ever consumed. Equally fantastic was the Working Man Burger I got complete with aged cheddar, beer battered onions, bacon and one of the most amazing and massive locally made burger buns I have ever consumed. If all that wasn’t enough one of our new friends knew the assistant brewer Matty who was courteous enough to give us a personal tour throughout their awesome brewing & cellaring area as well as their yet to be finished 2nd floor which will eventually host a 2nd small kitchen, stage and additional dining. Many thanks mate.

As if we hadn’t imbibed enough we decided the only appropriate thing to do was check out Piece Brewery & Pizzeria. A nice space with much more elbow room and a wonderful aroma of pizza floating through the room. There we ran into a few more local friends Dean & Rita and enjoyed some solid brews. I started with a pint of  Dysfunctionale a wonderfully hoppy Pale Ale and couldn’t help but continue coming back to it and it’s fresh resiny citrus characters. I also sampled a bit of a Strong Ale, a Smoked Stout and pint of their IPA collaboration with 3 Floyds hilariously titled Marketing Ploy, all of which were rather tasty. You can read my review of Dysfunctionale here. Unfortunately the two times we made it there we didn’t have appetites because their pizza smelt fantastic, definitely a to-do next time I’m in town. After bar close, a cab ride home and a New Glarus Cran-Bic night cap it was time to hit the hay for the big day ahead.

As the big day came upon us we awoke a bit later than originally planned but I was grateful for the extra rest after a big night of drinking till 2am or so. After gathering our bearings we headed off to Stephen’s place to snag a few “golden tickets” as he was unable to make the event and were kindly greeted with some homebrew as well. Which will be enjoyed and written about some time in the future in conjunction with The Beer Genome Project. A short drive across the border and we were in Munster, Indiana. After grabbing some grub and some technical difficulties the adventure to find parking started. After driving through many parking lots and every street around we finally found a parking spot on the grass and unloaded our brews. After walking a few blocks and my arms nearly falling off from the amount of beer being carried we observed the madness that is Dark Lord Day. The easiest analogy I can make is to imagine three blocks of tail gating but with good beer. Tents, grills and people as far as the eyes can see and 10 times as much beer. After finding my friends and dropping off my beer for safe guarding I made my way to the 3 Floyds tap tent and settled on a glass of Gumball Head a fantastically hoppy but very drinkable American Wheat Ale that was simply wonderful. After briefly checking out their large brewery and searching for my friend Stu I returned to our spot and sampled a few delicious brews including a side by side tasting of Dark Lord ’09 and ’10 as well as some Surly Darkness’ 09. The ’09 Dark Lord had mellowed wonderfully and had gone from an almost offensively strong motor oil of a beer to a beer that fit the style perfectly and showed off the variety of flavors present marvelously. The ’10 on the other hand showed great diversity in flavors even with its young age and was much more drinkable and smooth than the ’09 had been when it was young. I will do a proper review sometime in the future. Shortly there after Stu showed up with a bunch of glasses of  Vanilla Dark Lord which was very tasty and to me really brought out the chocolate characters of the beer which I found very enjoyable. We then ventured to the brewpub to acquire some Barrel Aged Dark Lord which was also quite tasty with gentle oak characters creating some nice mellowing esters. I then had to sample a half pint of their Dreadnaught a fantastic Imperial IPA and finished off with a glass of Barrel Aged Popskull a 10% Brown Ale collaboration they did last year with Dogfish Head and a simply phenomenal brew. If only I could have taken some home. A few trades and many samples later I found Shawn & Mike who were about to cart our allotted Dark Lord to the car and noticed it was almost 5pm so I hopped in line with my friend Jason to get some extra bottles of Dark Lord when the free for all happened. I was impressed with how well the 3 Floyds staff managed the hoards of people and managed to make the final sales run very efficiently. After a bringing our extra 3 bottles a piece back to our friends spot and some more consumption the weather gods finally decided to tear up on us. Finishing off the wonderful event in what became the trips constant fashion.

Some Bikes at DLD 2010
Some Bikes at Dark Lord Day

Crowd at DLD 2010
Some of the Crowd at Dark Lord Day

Russian Imperial Stouts
Vertical Tasting of Dark Lord ’09 , ’10 & Darkness ’10

3 Floyds Brewpub & Stu
More Crowds in Front of the Brewpub and Stu

Word had it that some of our friends were heading to the nearby Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery so we figured it would be logical to to grab some food there as well. We ended up splitting a massive sampler of close to twenty brews and grabbed some grub. I enjoyed my cheese steak, though frankly I would have enjoyed most food at that point. Aside from the massive number of taps available in our sampler it wasn’t really that impressive. I remember enjoying  a lager of some variety but my lack of taking notes isn’t helping here.

After enjoying the sobering effects of some food we made our way back to Chicago and decided to check out the Small Bar Fullerton location which happened to be just down the street from where we were staying. Though our stay was short the bar was very nice and their tap selection was even more fantastic. We all ended up with glasses of The Lost Abbey’s 10 Commandments and were ever so pleased. Not only was it fantastic to be able to get such a beer on tap, it was also reasonably priced and wonderfully delicious.

To wrap up our evening we meandered back to Piece Brewery and  had the opportunity to meet and chat with Tommy Werner and some other friends. As well as being entertained by karaoke and more delicious Dysfunctionale, which I couldn’t help but grab a growler of. After another long night it was time to pass out before the journey home.

Aside from some crappy traffic in Wisconsin the trip home was pretty uneventful, but it was nice to be heading home. Overall Dark Lord Day was a fantastic event. If you are into craft beer and enjoy sharing it with others you will have a blast. Never have I seen such vast and awesome display of beer lovers doing what beer lovers love to do: drink, share & chat. Not to mention all of the other great places one can stop en route to Indiana. Probably one of the best opportunities to sample and share beers you never thought you would be able to get your hands on. If you have the means and the time to ever participate in this event I highly encourage it. Golden tickets or not.

New Glarus Goodies
New Glarus Loot

Other Goodies
Other Loot

Three Floyds Dark Lord

May 8th, 2009 beckel

Yesterday my buddie Stu of Friday Night Beer was so kind as to share a bottle of Three Floyds’ elusive Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout with me as well as a bottle of Minneasota’s very own Bearded Brewer’s El Muerto Ale which was very tasty and unique with malt, hop, fruit and herbal flavors creating a delicious balance that I have never quite experienced before. Though I only had about 6 ounces to work with it was truly a beautiful beer appearance wise, well carbonated, very drinkable and was enjoyed thoroughly, I will have to get in contact with the man himself to see about properly reviewing some more of his brews. After sharing a bottle of He’Brew’s Genesi 10:10 [review] (I was lucky enough to find some more at Zipps Liquors and grabbed all 8 bottles on the shelf so we can see how it continues to age) we went for the Dark Lord and boy is it one interesting beer. We consumed this beer at room temperature and as one should expect it pours completely pitch black, looking just like motor oil, though a bit less thick. When brought to direct light you can see the tiniest amount of an amber or brown hue at the very surface of the beer but it is very difficult to notice. Head was a an attractive brown shade but was only visible for a very short period of time as it dissipated almost immediately leaving the surface area almost completely clean. Aroma is surprisingly mellow but is of dark roasted malts, a bit of malty bitterness contrasted and balanced by malty sweetness with alcohol wafting in and out. With a 13% ABV there is no question that alcohol is noticeable in the flavor but remarkably balanced by the immense number of flavors in this brew. The body is on the heavy side but the mouthfeel is incredibly smooth making this a reasonably easy beer to drink considering what you are consuming. As we drank the beer me and Stu chatted about the vast flavor profile of this beer and even as I jotted down random flavor notes I still simply don’t know quite what to say about this beer other than it tastes like Dark Lord. So many flavors are represented Santa’s list couldn’t do this beer justice. From dark roasted malt to coffee and chocolate notes, creamy sweetness and a strange almost tangy mouthfeel created somewhere between the malt and alcohol near the end of the palate as well as many more I can’t quite place my finger on. This beer may be dark, dark and then darker but its flavors are nothing but diverse. Though there are a ton of favors in this beer it is reasonably mellow on some of the roasted flavors which I think allows the many other flavors to expose themselves further. I would be curious to see the differences in flavor if this beer was consumed cold, though I am very glad we drank it warm as I feel I was able to get a glimpse of the vast variety of flavors present in this brew. This beer will be enjoyed by fans of diverse and dark beer alike and I will definitely be making the trek to Indiana next year if I have the means as it sounds like a wonderful community gathering (read Stu’s account here). Thanks again for sharing Stu. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout

Bearded Brewing El Muerto Ale