Big Thanks To Insurance Companies

Crooked Stave Key Lime Tau

October 16th, 2015 beckel

I saw this on the shelves and couldn’t pass up this strange seeming concoction. While it may seem strange, this beer actually makes a lot of sense when you note that it is part of the UK Rainbow Project which is in it’s 3rd year now. The idea behind the project this year (brainchild of Siren Brewing) is to get US and UK breweries to collaborate on a beer that is influenced by one of 7 colors they are assigned. Some of you Minnesotans may have noticed that our own Surly Brewing also participated in this project this year. In this case Crooked Stave and Hawkshead Brewery were assigned Green. Crooked Stave from Denver, Colorado has been in our market for about a year and I’ve enjoyed the few funky beers from them I have had the chance to try over the years. I know even less about their collaborators Hawkshead Brewery out of Kendal, UK but from reading their website it sounds like they have their priorities straight and as a Minnesotan I have to respect their tagline of “Beer from the lakes”. This beer aged in oak with lactose, fresh lime and fresh lemongrass is sure to be unique. Bottled July 2015 in a 375ml bottle.

Pours a lovely bright, slightly brownish, orange hue with a solid two fingers of off white head. After fading a centimeter or so of lacing persists giving this beer a very nice appearance. Initial aroma is quite tart with significant lime. After a few moments the intensity subsides and the herbal aromas of lemongrass shine through, complimented by black pepper and mild plant matter. Taste is notably tart with lime character dominating the palate initially but being moderately smoothed out with the herbal lemongrass. The more I drink it the more the herbal character shines in the finish making this beer quite refreshing and surprisingly drinkable. Mouthfeel is a touch syrupy, but the body is rather light though not too thin. While not woody the oak aging of this beer produces a smoothing quality as expected, but also creates interesting flavors when contrasted with the lime that remind me of light pitted fruits, particularly apricot. In addition to the oak, the lactose does a very good job complimenting  and contrasting the intense lime character of this beer, particularly as it warms. At 7% ABV this beer is higher on the scale for the style, but isn’t going to hurt anyone, though I do wish it was served in a bigger bottle. I was initially a bit concerned I might not want to drink too much of such a lime forward beverage, but the more it warms and the contrasting characters of lime, oak, lactose and lemongrass shine the more I truly enjoy this beer.  Give it a shot and ride your bike.

crooked stave key lime tau

Russian River Supplication

November 8th, 2010 beckel

Today I have what is sure to be a fine brew from Russian River brewing out of Santa Rosa, CA. Russian River is widely recognized for their many sour beers as well as their hoppy beers, particularly the highly sought after Pliny the Elder. Supplication is brewed with a total of 6 yeast varietals. Initially fermented with an Abby Ale yeast. Conditioned with Rockpile wine yeast, Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces, Pediococcus & Lactobacillus. If that weren’t enough this Brown Ale is aged in Oak Pinot Noir barrels with cherries. I am always pleased to see breweries who properly label & date their brews and Russian River goes a step beyond with a rather well updated bottle log with detailed notes about date brewed, date bottled, yeasts used and even additional comments on process or flavor profiles. This bottle labeled 04×5 is part of the 4th batch brewed 12/23/2008, bottled 12/14/2009 and was the first batch to use their new smaller profile 375ml bottles. As you can see this bottle was barrel aged for almost one year and has been bottle conditioning for almost eleven months. I have been lucky enough to have a number of brews from this fine establishment but do not recall ever sampling this one, so let’s get to it.

Upon opening a lovely pop erupts and carbonate starts to build in the neck of the bottle. I quickly poured it into my glass and watched as a lovely bouquet of off white head was easily produced, spanning about two fingers. After fading serious lacing is still present and creates an attractive presentation contrasting with the modestly translucent deep ruby hue of the beer. Upon first whiff you are immediately presented with sour cherries, tart Brettanomyces esters and a nice blend of herbal and earthy esters of oak, Pinot Noir and more. Flavor is of rich cherries, both tart and semi-sweet. Wonderful acidity and sour yeast esters blend phenomenally with the malt base. Truly a fantastic beer with gentle malty sweetness playing alongside tangy, sour esters, caramel, cherries and soft bitterness. Mouthfeel is mildly puckering, rather dry and the body is medium. Coming in at a reasonable 7% ABV this is a beer I could drink all night long if only it were less expensive and distributed in Minnesota. If you enjoy sour beers you are likely to enjoy most of what Russian River has to offer and this one is no exception. A beautiful brew that shows how multidimensional beer can be. A wonderfully inspired mix between a Flemish Brown Ale and a Kriek. If you enjoy sour brown ales and cherries you will be in heaven with this beer. If you’re lucky enough to live where Russian River is distributed; give it a shot and ride your bike. Then send me some more. 🙂

Russian River Supplication

New Belgium Eric’s Ale

May 11th, 2010 beckel

Though this ale only showed up on our local shelves recently it was apparently the third release of New Belgium’s Lips Of Faith Series. This ale was the handy work of it’s namesake Eric Salazar who decided to play with their Belgian Style Blond Ale; aging it in Oak, adding peach juice & Brettanomyces yeast to create a unique sour ale. I was happy to find this bottle at The Four Firkins but it should be pretty widely available right now. Pours a completely translucent light copper hue that borders on peach with three fingers of clean white head that settles within less than a minute. Small bubbles continuously trickle from the bottom of the glass popping on the surface. Clean assertive tartness followed by gentle peach esters, very light malts and just a touch of alcohol. Smooth but potent sour esters remind me of cranberry & tangerine tannins and contrast with sweet peach, gentle malt esters, light bitterness and very subtle alcohol. Bright sour notes are very enjoyable and play very well with the sweet peach and smooth mouthfeel created by the oak aging. The 7% ABV of this beer is occasionally noticed but overall an after thought in this delicious brew. Body is on the light side of medium making this complex brew go down very easily. If you enjoy clean, full flavored sour ales this one is definitely worth your time. Additionally if you are new to the style this one isn’t a bad stepping stone as the fruit characteristics and oak aging make this ale very palatable for a tart brew. I would happily drink many more bottles of this brew, and might just have to. Give it  a shot and ride your bike.

New Belgium Eric's Ale

Nogne O Tyttebaer

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
A Small Portion of the SurlyFest Crowd

Omar Cycling the Evening Away
Omar Cycling the Evening Away

Lining Up For Beer at Where The Wild Beers Are
Lining Up For Beer at Where The Wild Beers Are

De Proef Flemish Primitive Flight
De Proef Flemish Primitive Flight

A Small Sampling of the Wonderful Brews Consumed
A Small Sampling of the Wonderful Brews Consumed

Coors Light Can at ABR
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.

Nogne O Tyttebaer

Avery Brabant

March 26th, 2009 beckel

I have here a very exciting brew that I found last weekend at The Four Firkins, beer number one in Avery’s new Barrel-Aged Series of experimental beers. Brabant is an dark unfiltered strong ale that was fermented with two strains of Brettanomyces yeast and aged in Zinfandel barrels for 8 months. This particular brew was bottled Feburary 10th 2009 and though the bottle isn’t numbered only 694 cases were produced so if this sounds like your kind of beer I would try to find some quickly. Pours pitch black with a slight red peaking out when brought to light though it is not translucent at all. Light brown head was about a finger and faded with in a couple of minutes. As soon as I opened this beer I noticed a somewhat sour fruit aroma and upon actually smelling this beer it is obvious that it was brewed with brettanomyces. The tart aromas are hard to get past but it is not as intense as many traditionally “sour beers”. Sweet malt and an almost smokey aroma are detectable beneath but hard to distinguish as is the small amount of alcohol present in the nose. This is an intensely flavored beer and probably not the best introduction into sour beers, but it is quite interesting. Initially I get tart flavors obviously imparted by the yeast but they are slowly mellowed by the large amount of sweet malted barley in this brew, imparting some cranberry hints as well as nice creamy flavors making the mouthfeel of this beer quite smooth and desirable. For a dark beer with a 8.65% ABVthe body is rather light. The tart flavors in this beer really make me feel like I’m drinking a berry infused beer but it simply isn’t that fruity. The solid malt profile of this beer was obviously up to the task of aging and has created some wonderful flavors while working with both the yeast and aging in zinfandel barrels. There are definitely some dark pitted fruit flavors present as well but they are easy to ignore due to the dominate sweet and sour contrast in this brew. This really is a good beer. Upon my first sip I was a bit startled and turned off in a way, but as soon as I swallowed I knew I needed to try more. A bit sharp initially but as soon as you take a few sips you will realize how amazingly well balanced this beer is particularly considering how nontraditional it is. Definitely not the beer for those afraid of adventurous and strange beers but a wonderful beer for someone who doesn’t mind some tart flavors and enjoys a malty well aged beer. I can only imagine what further aging might do to this tasty brew. I am sad I don’t have another bottle to enjoy, Avery definitely needs to keep on producing this beer and continue to experiment. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Avery Brabant