Saturday, July 27, 2013

Trader Joe's Providential Belgian-Style Golden Ale

This is a 7.5% ABV bottle-conditioned ale brewed with spices for Trader Joe's by Unibroue of Chambly, Quebec, Canada. The bottle indicates it has ginger and citrus peel. The beer pours a dark yellow golden in color. It is lightly hazed. There is a tall, fizzy, white head that disappears quickly. The aroma is yeasty, with some tart notes and lots of banana esters, lightly sweet in a pastry dough way, with a touch of ginger. The taste follows the aromas quite directly. This drinks like a liquid semi-sweet pastry that has banana along with light ginger and orange and lemon peel. The finish is quite dry with a floral bitterness. It is unbelievable the price Trader Joe's is able to put on these well-crafted beers by Unibroue.

Lucid Akilter Red Ale

Lucid Brewing is from Minnetonka, Minnesota. Their motto is "Clarity in Thinking, Excellence in Drinking." This red ale is a limited release that was the winning recipe of Ted Weidman from the 2012 Minnesota Top Brewer contest.

The beer pours a dark chestnut brown with a red tinge. There is a tall, thick foamy head that is off-white to very light brown in color. The aroma is malty, caramel, toasted, and roasted, with some dark fruits and a fruity, yeasty tang. The taste follows the aromas quite directly. The finish is dry and moderately bitter. There is a nice nutty aftertaste. This is a good red ale, congrats Ted!

Worthington's Red Shield

This is a 4.2% ABV blond ale from Burton-Upon-Trent in the United Kingdom. Originating in 1744, Worthington's is now owned and brewed by Molson Coors. This is considered a real ale by CAMRA, and it is bottle conditioned.

The beer pours honey golden, with a touch of orange and a touch of haze. There is a tall, fizzy, white head of foam that dissipates fairly quickly. The aroma is malted grain, lightly toasted, touch of minerals, and a touch of fruit tartness. The taste is lightly sweet toasted malt, light bit of jammy fruit, bit of grass and mineral. The finish is lightly bitter. It is medium bodied, and moderately, but refreshingly carbonated. There are better British ales, but this is a solid and satisfying light ale.

Prairie Standard

This is a hoppy farmhouse ale from Prairie Artisan Ales. It is 5.2% ABV. The bottle shows a cartoon drawing on "How to Noodle" which is catching catfish by hand. It is my understanding that Prairie are tenant or gypsy brewers based out of Oklahoma. They do not have their own brewery, but go and brew themselves at other breweries. This bottle was brewed and bottled at Krebs Brewing Company in Krebs, Oklahoma.

The beer pours a crystal clear golden orange in color. There is a tall, fizzy, foamy white head. The aroma is very floral, herbal and yeasty with a slightly sweet underpinning. The taste is floral, lots of marigold and geranium, setting on a base of unobtrusive toasted malt, with tones of lime and tonic. The finish is dry and it has a tingly carbonation. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and limey. This is very refreshing and a nice take on the farmhouse style.

Bell's Oarsman Ale

This is a 4.0% ABV Berliner weiss style beer from the Bell's Brewery of Comstock, Michigan. The beer pours a pure golden yellow, with just the lightest touch of haze. There is a very short lived white head. The aroma is tartly sour over toasted wheat. The taste follows the aromas directly. This is near vinegar tartness over toasted wheat with a sudden and dry finish. It does drink refreshing. My understanding is that they add fruit syrups to this style in Germany, that would make an interesting summer drink.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA

This 6.0% ABV India Pale Ale is from the Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon. It is made with Citra and Mosaic hops. 

The beer pours a reflectively clear copper and orange in color. There is an inch of thick and foamy off-white head. The aroma is hop forward, loads of citrus, tropical fruits and passion fruit, with just enough malt to hold it all up. The taste follows the aromas directly, lots of lovely tropical fruits on a bed of caramel malt, followed by grapefruit bitterness. There is a touch of sweetness that is then knocked down by the tang and bitterness. The finish is only moderately bitter, with the tang of passion fruit skin. This is a straight ahead and straight forward hop heads dream. If you love citrus, tropical and passion fruit hop bombs of IPA's that are well-crafted and delicious, well then, what are you waiting for?

2017 bottles:

Three Floyds Robert The Bruce

The Three Floyds Brewing Company is in Munster, Indiana. Many of their beers are highly coveted by beer enthusiasts. The motto on their bottle? "It's Not Normal." This is a 7.0% Scottish style ale.

The beer pours dark brown and ruby in color. There is a short head of somewhat creamy head that is very light brown. The aroma is malty, semi-sweet, very nutty, a touch of Frangelico. The taste includes all of the aromas, lots of well roasted malt, very nutty, a touch of sweet, figs and tobacco. Then enough hops slam in to quickly veer it towards dry and a light bitterness, that also has an oaky woodiness to it. This beer is so good, words fail to do it justice, just find it and try it.

Kona Wailua Wheat Ale

This wheat ale brewed with passion fruit is from the Kona Brewing Company of Kona, Hawaii. This 5.4% ABV beer uses Millenium hops and is a seasonal release. The name is a Hawaiian word for the mingling of two fresh water streams.

The beer pours a yellow, golden sun. There is a short and thin white head. The aroma is toasted wheat that serves as a platform for a wave redolent of passion fruit, citrusy, tangy and tropical. The taste follows the aromas directly. While the aroma is predominantly passion fruit, the taste is a surprsingly well balanced meld of toasted wheat and passion fruit; it is wheat toast with passion fruit jam. It is light bodied and easy drinking. This makes a great summer beer.

Two Brothers Dog Days Lager

The Two Brothers Brewing Company is in Warrenville, Illinois. This 5.1% ABV lager is a German style Dortmunder lager. The beer pours a pure yellow golden in color. It has a tall white head, partially thick, partially fizzy. The aroma is golden grain, slightly sweet, grassy. The taste follows the aromas, adding a bit of straw and flowers. The end is moderately bitter. The taste here is great, the mouthfeel has a round, watery softness that is odd for the style; could be a bit crisper. 

Atwater's Lager

This canned lager is from the Atwater Brewery of Detroit, Michigan (although the can says Latrobe, Pennsylvania, indicating a contract brew by City Brewing). The can states the obvious, "Beer is Good," and the amusing, "We drink all we can and then sell the rest." I really like the retro simplicity of the beer label design.

The beer pours honey golden with a touch of haze. There is a tall white head that disappears fairly quickly. It is highly carbonated. The aroma is slightly sweet, light grain and a touch of fruit. The taste is light malted grain, touch of honey sweetness, with a lightly bitter, grassy finish. It is well and refreshingly carbonated. Not the greatest lager, but I would take it over Bud, Miller or Coors any day.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Surly Bitter Brewer

The Surly Brewing Company is in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and is currently only available in the greater Twin Cities area.  It is fair to say that Surly is one of the most talked about and coveted brewers at the current time.  Their beers are consistently delicious and flavorful. They are building a new destination brewery in Minneapolis.

This 4.0% ABV beer pours a dark shiny copper to amber in color with a foamy head that is off-white in color and leaves light to medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is hoppy, very fruity and citrusy over a slightly sweet malt base throwing off notes of caramel.  The taste is both sweet and tart, a lot of plum like fruit, a bit of pine, a strong taste of tea with lemon and moderately bitter on the finish.  It is medium bodied, both smooth and nicely carbonated.This combines well the taste of a really good English ale and a very nice and hoppy American pale ale.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Founders KBS

This stout is brewed with chocolate and coffee and then aged in oak Kentucky bourbon barrels. It is from the Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It clocks in at 11.2% ABV and 70 IBU's. This is one of the more highly coveted beers, thanks to Zach for hooking me up!

The beer pours as black as deep outer space. There is a very short and thin head of dark brown foam. The aroma is a nice meld of very dark roasted malt, dark cocoa, coffee, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mocha and bourbon, with a light woodiness. The taste follows the aromas directly, hitting all of the notes. The finish has bitterness, but not as much as the 70 IBU's would indicate, probably because there is so much sweetness that is butting up against it. The beer drinks full bodied, but not heavy. For all the flavors and high alcohol it drinks amazingly easy, probably because it is so absolutely delicious. 

Look, there are plenty of stouts that add chocolate, or coffee, or age in bourbon barrels, and a good amount that also do all of the above. But the exact blend and melding here is absolute perfection, all the right notes are hit to create a deliciously harmonious whole. This one, my friends, is worth the hype!

That was the 2013, now for the 2016:

The beer pours black in color. There is a half-inch of thick, creamy dark khaki head. The aroma is coffee, char, chocolate, sweetness, dark roasted malt, and light boozy bourbon. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all of the same notes, coffee, chocolate, char, adding in hazelnut, sweet, yet dark roasted, with the sweet, warm, whiskey, vanilla notes of bourbon. The beer drinks smooth, soft, and round. The finish has a moderate dark roasted and coffee bitterness. This is a gem.

Atwater Brewery Winterbock

I am getting to this a bit late, but this 7.5% ABV high gravity lager is from the Atwater Brewery of Detroit, Michigan. The beer pours a deep amber and copper, with a bit of chestnut brown. There is a short and thin head of off-white foam. The aroma is deeply malty, sweet, caramel, sweet potato, with a bit of date and light hint of moist tobacco. The taste follows the aromas directly, it is nicely sweet, balanced by enough hops to not become cloying, lightly bitter on the finish, along with the light sting of tobacco. It is medium bodied with good carbonation. This is a really good example of a strong bock.

Indeed Shenanigans Summer Ale

This 5.0% ABV summer ale is from the Indeed Brewing Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They, like several other new brewers, are located in Northeast Minneapolis. They are a member of 1% for the planet, a global alliance of businesses that donate one percent of their gross revenue to organizations that help preserve and restore the natural environment. This beer is brewed using Sorachi Ace hops, locally malted red wheat, and regionally produced honey.

The beer pours honey golden and orange in color, somewhat hazy. There is a short head of creamy off-white foam. The aroma is tangy, citrus, a bit of tropical fruit, mostly passion fruit, toasted wheat and a touch of honey. The taste is an interesting meld of tangy citrus, toasted wheat and honey. The interplay of the ingredients is really unique and tasty. It is medium bodied, and enough carbonation to be crisp without being too much.

Samuel Adams Longshot Beer Flower Wheat

Samuel Adams beers are by the Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts. This 5.8% ABV beer is part of Samuel Adams Longshot homebrew contest, where each year they choose several home brewer's recipes for their Longshot release. This is the recipe of James Schirmer, and it is a wheat ale brewed with hibiscus flowers.

The beer pours light copper, with an orange tint, perhaps a touch of haze. There is a tall, creamy, foamy head of eggshell white. The aroma is light toasted wheat with a hint of fruit, like strawberries. The taste is lightly toasted wheat, malty, creamy, with a strawberry like flavor on top. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. The bitterness in the aftertaste is incongruous to the flavors. Solid, yes, but overall mostly a shoulder shrugging "meh."

Samuel Adams Porch Rocker

This 4.5% ABV beer is a Radler or Shandy, a combination of beer and lemon juice. This style is increasingly popular among American brewers in the last couple of years. This one is from Samuel Adams, of the Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts.

The beer pours golden in color, with a touch of honey color. There is nearly an inch of pure white foamy head. The aroma is lemon juice and lemon zest on top of light toasted malt. There is a bit of bitterness on the finish and it is fairly dry. A good refresher, true to the style.

Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager

This 4.9% ABV beer is from the Sly Fox Brewing Company of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. This can comes in a version where the whole top of the can comes off and you can use the can as your drinking cup. However, mine is the regular style of pull tab top.

The beer pours a clear pale golden and yellow in color. There is a tall head of white foam, both thick, yet fizzy at the same time. The aroma is straw, grass, golden grain and lager funkiness. The taste follows the aromas directly. It finishes moderately to quite bitter, with a very bracing and grassy finish. It is both smooth and crisply carbonated at the same time. This is as German tasting of a lager as you will find made in America. It is made with imported German pils malt and Saaz and Hallertauer hops. It is quite delicious!

515 Brewing Company

The 515 Brewing Company is in Clive, Iowa (in the 515 area code). I was able to visit their large and bright (at least during daylight hours) taproom. They are located just off a bike and walking path. I had really liked what I had sampled at the 2013 Iowa Craft Brew Festival and wanted to try more. They had six of their own beers and one guest beer and one guest cider.  I tried a sampler of all the beers.

Lil' Tart - This is a 4.4% ABV Berliner weisse style beer. It is golden in color with a touch of haze. There is a pure white head. The aromas are strong toasted wheat and lemony tartness. The taste is a fencing match between the strong toasty and nutty wheat, and the lemony sour notes. It does feel a touch watery, but the sourness makes it hard to tell. This was very nice.

Mexican Spring - This 6.4% ABV beer is brewed with agave and lime. It is golden and orange in color. There is a white head that leaves lacing down the glass. The aroma is lime, light agave, a bit of wheat. The taste follows the aromas, with wheat hitting first, followed by the lime, then some light agave. It is smooth and light to medium bodied. This is a very refreshing beer.

Belgian Paradise - Brewed with coriander, ginger and grains of paradise, this beer is 6.8% ABV and uses an Abbey yeast. It pours amber and copper in color. The head is white to off-white. The aroma is of spices, nutty malt, and fruity tartness. The taste follows the aromas, it is highly spiced. The mix of coriander and ginger really pops. The Abbey yeast adds appropriate to the style fruity notes. This is medium bodied and has a nice meld of flavors.

Spicy Brit - This 5.2% ABV beer pours a dark copper and amber in color. It has an off-white to light brown head that leaves thick lacing on the glass. It has a very nutty malty aroma. The taste is malt forward with a dry, grassy and moderately bitter sting of hops on the finish to balance out. It is medium bodied.

Dubbel B - This 6.9% ABV beer pours pure copper in color with an off-white head. The aroma is sweet, dark fruits, malt, and tobacco. There is a lot of fruity yeast esters. The flavors follow the aromas. It is medium bodied and true to the style.

Numb Nut - This spiced brown ale is 5.7 ABV that uses cinnamon and allspice. It is a dark chestnut brown with an off-white head. The aroma is highly spiced. It smells like Christmas spices. The taste is also highly spiced, adding a hint of moist tobacco. It is moderately bitter and quite dry. There is some dark roasted malt in the aftertaste, but the aroma and taste are overwhelmed by the spice.  I found this unbalanced.

The guest beer was the Thomas Beck black IPA from Confluence Brewing of Des Moines, Iowa. This 6.8% beer pours dark brown to black in color with hints of garnet. It has a light brown head. The aroma is hop forward, fruity, citrus tang, lots of orange. The dark roasted malt notes are present, but below the hoppiness. The taste follows the aromas, with light coffee from the roasted malt. The hops turn grassy on the aftertaste, but with light bitterness. This is a really excellent hop forward black IPA.

I also stopped at the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in West Des Moines, Iowa. I know Rock Bottom gets some grief because they are a chain. However, each location gets to brew what they want outside of a small regular lineup. Eric Sorenson is the head brewer at the West Des Moines location and he always has a big lineup going with lots of tasty specials. My favorites on my visit were the O Stout O, a dry and flavorful stout; the Promised Pale, a very nice American pale ale; the Belgo IPA, a very good to style Belgian beer with an American twist; and the Thai Me Down Wheat, which made me wonder why more beers aren't brewed with lemongrass, it was refreshing and really worked.

Peace Tree Brewing Sidekick Kolsch

The Peace Tree Brewing Company is in Knoxville, Iowa. This is, as far as I know, their only canned offering, and this one is brewed and canned for them by Cold Spring in Cold Spring, Minnesota.

The beer pours yellow golden with a tinge of haze. There is a tall head of thick and ragged white foam that leaves some layers of equally ragged lacing down the glass. The aroma is grassy, straw, lightly sweet golden grain, with a bit of lager-ish funk. The taste follows the aromas directly; grassy, grainy and very enjoyable. It has a moderately bitter finish, a touch dry. It is smooth, with enough carbonation to add some crisp refreshment. Excellent.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Big Wood Bad Axe Imperial IPA

This 9.8% ABV Imperial India Pale Ale is from the Big Wood Brewery of White Bear Lake, Minnesota. It uses Columbus and Centennial hops. It seems to be a bit Paul Bunyan inspired.

The beer pours a deep orange and amber in color. There is a tall head of thick and creamy off-white foam. The aroma is dank and piney hops, with a good amount of orange thrown in. The taste is orange and pine over caramel malt. The finish is quite heavily bitter. It is medium bodied, and very smooth, with a soft to just bristling carbonation. There is a bit of spicy heat from hops and booze. This is solid all around.

Indeed Day Tripper Pale Ale

This pale ale from the Indeed Brewing Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota has 5.4% ABV and 45 IBU's. They, like several other new brewers, are located in Northeast Minneapolis. "Choose your own adventure" is the motto on their can. They are a member of 1% for the planet, a global alliance of businesses that donate one percent of their gross revenue to organizations that help preserve and restore the natural environment. This beer uses four pounds of hops per barrel.

The beer pours copper in color with a half inch of thick, foamy off-white head. The aroma is dank hops, floral and earthy, with some passion fruit. The taste follows the aroma, lots of dank nearing piney hops. There is some malt with notes of tea. The finish seems quite bitter, far more than the 45 IBU's listed. It drinks smooth with a soft carbonation. This is the most dank hopped pale ale I have ever had. If you like that, definitely seek this out.