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Founders Nemesis 2009

March 8th, 2010 beckel

Today I have a very exciting ale from the fine folk of Founders Brewing Company. Nemesis is their newest small batch series which aims to craft beers that are “diabolically brewed to decimate ordinary average run of the mill tasting beer” and release a unique product once a year. Out of sheer coincidence I was lucky enough to spot the last four pack on the shelves of The Four Firkins almost a month ago and there is no doubt it will be difficult to find, but surely worth your time and money even at about $5 a 12oz bottle. This years Nemesis is a Wheat Wine that was aged in the same bourbon barrels often used for their barrel aged Breakfast Stout [review] but with the addition of maple syrup and a very serious 12% ABV as well as 70 IBU. Nemesis pours a modestly dark hue that is a mix of red and an apricot hue that is very opaque but when brought to light becomes very bright and slightly translucent. Head is white and but a single finger of tight bubbles that last for a few minutes. Aroma is full of strong alcohol esters, a good dose of bourbon as well as sweet maple, toffee and caramel notes. A complex melody of flavors are present including bourbon, maple syrup, intense alcohol, sweet wheat esters and a variety of modest herbal and earthy notes. A few sips even reminded me of s’mores, minus the chocolate with creme esters being the primary attribute. This is one complex and highly alcoholic ale but I find the play between the maple and wheat to create very enjoyable flavor profile that helps balance and contrast the serious alcohol and bourbon esters nicely. Definitely not an ale for those unaccustomed to strong ales but a delicious brew that is certainly worthy if you stumble upon it. An intriguing contrast of stiff alcohol and bourbon with maple and sweet grains. As many of you know flavors are most detectable at around room temperature and this ale is a prime example of something to consume at proper serving temperature as the alcohol esters are much more assertive (and offensive to the palate) when served cold, yet delightfully complimented when served at near room temperature. Unquestionably a daring ale that I have sincerely enjoyed and would recommend to others, at least in small doses. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Founders Nemesis 2009

Two Brothers Bare Tree 2008

June 8th, 2009 beckel

Though I am not one that is easily swayed by appearance I must start by saying everything about the presentation of this beer from bottling to pouring is lovely. I found a bottle of Two Brothers 2008 Bare Tree Barleywine Style Weiss Beer at The Four Firkins and couldn’t resist grabbing one of the beautifully decorated 12.7 oz bottles. The labeling is quite different than Two Brothers traditional labels but was designed marvelously even if it is a petite and somewhat spendy bottle. Apparently the Bare Tree was the first beer they brewed under their Artisan line of beers and as it is still being produced is likely to be tasty so lets get onto that part. The pour of this beer is truly marvelous with crisp white head forming on top of an attractive bright orange brew cascading delicately down the center as you pour and watch the head steadily swell from a few millimeters up to three fingers and dissipate slowly leaving but a thin ring around the glass. Color isn’t particularly hazy but it is very difficult to see through. Aroma has a nice wheat base as well as a bit of orange, herbal notes and yeast character similar to many Belgian brews. Flavors of slightly tart orange citrus, sweet malted wheat and some light fermented fruits such as apricot as well as many herbal notes that add some spice throughout and create a hint of bitterness in the finish. For anything like a Barleywine the body of this brew is very light and has a very smooth and clean mouthfeel. Though I feel it a bit I wouldn’t have guessed this to be a 11.5% ABV brew from its taste. Nicely done. If you are a fan of Belgian Style Ales of the high gravity variety and aren’t opposed to wheat this would be a dandy choice. Not your standard American Wheat Beer in any way but if you are a fan of those and looking for something more funky and adventurous this would be a worthy decision. This brew probably won’t be around for long so grab a bottle while you can. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Two Brothers Bare Tree 2008

New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole

April 24th, 2009 beckel

This is the first review aside from reviews off the tap that I have written after drinking a beer instead of during. The reason for this is it was ridiculously nice in Minnesota yesterday so I had to enjoy my brew from the comfort of a lawn chair with pen and paper in hand. I know, hard life I live. It’s not quite as nice today but its over 70 so I’ve haven’t a thing to complain about maybe more backyard reviews are in the future. The beer on hand was New Holland Brewing’s Pilgrim’s Dole an interestingly styled Wheat Wine which was produced with 50%  malted wheat. I bought this beer many weeks ago at The Four Firkins and the weather seemed perfect for a wheat beer but as usual I wanted one that packed a punch and at 10% ABV this was a solid choice. I am a big fan of Barleywines and was very excited to try my first Wheatwine. The beer pours a lovely rich red color that is very translucent and almost certainly filtered. Head was about two fingers and light creme in color. The aroma of this beer was intensely sweet with a strong creamy brown sugar base complimented by a little bit of roasted grains as well as a hint of bitterness and alcohol. The flavor of this beer is incredibly sweet with some strong sherry notes. Wheat flavors are detectable and there is no question that plenty was used in this brew, but it doesn’t produce the same flavors one would typically associate with most Weizens. Though the sweetness is almost too much, this beer has many of the same sweet characteristics I notice in our very own Surly Brewing’s Darkness. Additionally the mouthfeel is similarly smooth and creamy though a bit less thick as the body is more medium. Even with a 10% ABV this beer manages to mask the alcohol pretty well with the sweetness, though the hints of sherry will likely remind you that your drinking alcohol.  This was one interesting brew that I think would have been better with some more contrasting flavors. It would also be interesting to see how the flavors evolve after cellaring for a few years. Not a beer I would buy again, though I did enjoy trying it. If you are really into sweet malts and red wine or sherry flavors this might just be the beer for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
New Holland Pilgrim's Dole