Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout

The Bell's Brewery is in Comstock, Michigan, with its original location in Kalamazoo. This 6.0% ABV stout is brewed with brewer's licorice.  Anyone know how brewer's licorice is different from non-brewer's licorice?

The beer pours as black as the deepest ocean on a moonless night. There is an inch of thick, foamy head that is medium brown in color. The aroma is dark roasted malt, pleasant char, nearly smokey, coffee, with a bit of stout tang and just the tiniest hint of licorice/black anise flavor.  Any home brewer's out there?  Sounds like the licorice is mostly used to add more dark color. The beer finishes very dry, almost chalky, with a moderate to strong bitterness.  This is a nice stout.

Hey the bottle has changed, this was the bottle in 2010...

Bell's Third Coast Old Ale

This 10.9% ABV beer is from Bell's Brewery of Comstock, Michigan. The beer pours a dark brown with ruby tints. There is a tall head of thick and creamy foam that is light brown in color. It leaves dense lacing down the glass. The aroma is rich, dark malt, dark caramel, a touch of raisins, herbal and spicy. The taste is a miraculous and delicious meld of dark caramel, pomegranate, plums, cherry, wood, tobacco, with a spicy finish and a definite heat from the alcohol. The finish is quite bitter. The mouthfeel is thick without being syrupy. This is a nice, delicious sipper of a beer.

Shore Break IPA

This is a 6.7% ABV India pale ale from the Rhinelander Brewing Company of Monroe, Wisconsin (think Minhas). I picked this up at a Fresh n' Easy store in California. Not sure if it is a contract brewed store brand or not.

The beer pours copper in color. There is over an inch of thick and somewhat creamy off-white to very light brown head. The aroma is very light, just a bit of malt and grassy hops. The taste is caramel malt, tangy, heavy bitterness, with a strong metallic note. It is medium bodied and moderately carbonated. This is quite bad stuff.

Shore Break Pale Ale

This is a 5.9% ABV pale ale from the Rhinelander Brewing Company of Monroe, Wisconsin (think Minhas). I picked this up at a Fresh n' Easy store in California. Not sure if it is a contract brewed store brand or not.

The beer pours a light copper and amber in color, with, perhaps, a touch of haze, very light. There is over an inch of thick and somewhat creamy head that raggedly foams down. The aroma is light toasted malt and caramel, along with citrus, particularly grapefruit. The taste follows the aromas directly, sweet caramel malt met with citrusy hops. The bitterness is moderate, but there is a bit of a metallic note in the finish. It is fairly highly carbonated. Overall, meh.

Schell Shocked

The August Schell Brewing Company is in New Ulm, Minnesota and have been brewing since 1860. This beer is a radler, a German term for a pale lager mixed with lemon or grapefruit juice. In this case, it is grapefruit.  The can is like a World War 2 era airplane, and the hits to the plane are grapefruits.

The beer pours a pale yellow in color. There is a tall, thin and fizzy white head that disappears quickly. The aroma is toasted malt and grapefruit juice. The taste follows the aromas directly. There is a bit of grapefruit bitterness on the end. It drinks crisp and refreshing. This is what it says it is, straight ahead, grapefruit and lager, successfully done.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Stone Old Guardian

The Stone Brewing Company is in Escondido, San Diego County, California. This is a bottle of their 2013 release and this barley wine style ale clocks in at 11.6% ABV.

The beer pours a gleaming deep copper and orange amber in color when in the light. Next to the bottle, it looks almost as dark as the brown glass. There is an inch of very thick and creamy light tan head. The aroma is big, rich, fruity, malty, with tropical notes, melon notes, caramel notes, and sweet potato. The taste is like overripe tropical fruits, citrus, pine, oak, caramel, sweet potato, tea, and tobacco. It is sweet, spicy, bitter, dry. The bitterness starts moderate, but builds on the tongue. It has a full mouthfeel without being overly heavy. The carbonation is noticeable, but not overbearing and matches the style. It is not boozy, but does have a warming effect over time on the mouth and throat, all the way down to the stomach. This is a very good American barley wine.

Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock

This 8.0% ABV doppelbock is from Bell's Brewery in Comstock, Michigan. This beer uses an old world lager yeast. The beer pours a deep amber and burnt orange in color, turning nearly ruby when held to the light. There is a short and thin head that is off white to light brown. The aroma is sweet, tangy and roasted malt, caramel, sweet potato, plums. The taste follows the aromas directly with a sweet and tangy maltiness. It is medium to heavy bodied with just a tingle of carbonation. This is very true to the style.

O'Hara's Leann Follain Stout

This is a 6.0% ABV stout from the Carlow Brewing Company of Carlow, Ireland. The beer pours completely black, even when held to the light. There is a tall, ragged, thick head that is light brown in color. The aroma is rich, dark roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate. The taste follows the aromas directly, dark roasted malt to the point of char, lots of coffee and various dark chocolate malts, with that classic Irish stout mineral-like tang on the finish. It is medium bodied with medium carbonation and it drinks very smooth and rich. This is good, I can only imagine how good if you were drinking it fresh out of a tap in Ireland!

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon

This is a 4.9% ABV wheat beer made with watermelon. It is from the 21st Amendment Brewery of San Francisco, whose beers are contract brewed in Cold Spring, Minnesota. The 21st Amendment to the Constitution repealed the 18th Amendment which had prohibited alcohol.

The beer pours a hazy yellow in color. There is a white head that is quick to disappear. The aroma is light toasted wheat and a Jolly Rancher-ish watermelon note. The taste follows the aromas directly. Pretty simple beer this, if you like watermelon Jolly Ranchers, give it a shot.

That's the Statue of Liberty sitting on the Golden Great Bridge. Picture is not to scale, guess Lady Liberty drank some nuclear waste.

Hammer 30 Revolutionary Ale

This 5.0% ABV beer comes from the Rhinelander Brewing Company of Monroe, Wisconsin.  It came in a 30 pack from a Fresh n' Easy store in California.  I don't know if it is a store brand or not. I am also not sure what makes it a "revolutionary" ale except for its pseudo-Communist era imagery. "Nail Your Thirst" is its motto.

The beer pours a deep golden yellow in color. There is a tall head of fizzy white foam that bubbles quickly away. The aroma is a bit malty, some light straw and grass, a touch of sweetness, and a bit of green apple. The taste follows the aromas, adding in a medicinal bitterness and some strange sweet-sour-candy-chemical notes. The mouthfeel is light, yet syrupy. It has medium carbonation. This is pretty bad. There is a smooth, malty beer in the aftertaste that would like to come out, but the off-notes from cheap production kill it before it blossoms.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rogue Brutal IPA

The Rogue Brewing Company is in Newport, Oregon.

This beer pours orangish-copper in color with a tall and billowy, thick off-white head that leaves medium to thick, sticky lacing down the glass.  The aroma is citrusy, melon, a bit of pine, and some lightly sweetened sun-brewed tea with lemon.  The taste is hop forward, fruity, citrus, tangy, tea with lemon balanced very well on a rich, roasted, toasted and caramel malt base.  The beer has a smooth mouthfeel, medium body and carbonation. It finishes with comparatively very little bitterness despite its hop forward profile. The bitterness it has is reminiscent of grapefruit rind.  This is a very drinkable, tasty and nice IPA.

This is the new bottle design, and a picture of the old bottle design as well (I like the new design much better).

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Great Nebraska Beer Fest 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013 was the fifth annual Great Nebraska Beer Fest, but it was my first time attending. The fest was held in a parking lot area at the Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion, Nebraska (just south of Omaha). The area was between the Nebraska Brewing Company, a sponsor, and Dick's Sporting Goods. After a mostly mild summer, the heat came out and it was in the mid-90's as the fest rolled from noon (for VIP's) to 6:00 p.m.  It was very hot by the last third of the fest. In a nice touch, the VIP's got a free lunch as part of their ticket price.

It was a very good festival, so let me get my two gripes out of the way first. The free lunch thing was great, but what was not great was that there was no choice in food at the fest.  Anyone who was hungry could have a polish sausage and chips or nothing. My other gripe was that their program did not list the beers brought by the approximately 80 breweries attending.  It is very hard to keep track of what you have sampled when you can't just put a check by it.  The website for the fest had the list of beers well in advance, so I don't know why they didn't print it.

There was a good selection of breweries, including a number of Nebraska and Kansas breweries.  There were not long lines compared to a lot of fests, and the VIP hour was particularly not crowded, despite all VIP tickets being sold. That indicates to me they sold an appropriate amount to keep it "VIP". Another nice touch was the inclusion of several area home brewing clubs who brought a large variety of beers to the fest, and some very good ones.  The homebrewers had better beer than a few of the breweries attending. I also liked that there were plentiful kegs of drinking water (however, in the heat, they ran out near the end and there was not enough other available water at that point).

The Nebraska Hop Growers and Brewers Collaboration had a booth, and they were serving four beers from Nebraska brewers, all featuring Nebraska-grown hops. These were four of the best beers at the fest, all were very good: Zipline Brewing's Oatmeal Pale Ale, Nebraska Brewing Company NE Hopped Blonde Ale, Upstream Brewing Serenhoppitous India Brown Lager, and Lucky Bucket Heartland Cascading Wheat.

Schell's also brought a beer specially brewed for the fest, a nice Oak Aged Oktoberfest beer.  As always, there was so much good beer, I hate to mention favorites only because I know I am missing many that I also really enjoyed.  Two of my favorite overall brewers from the fest were 4 Hands of St. Louis, Missouri and the Zipline Brewing Company of Lincoln, Nebraska whose whole line-ups were solid.  I give best new brewery at the fest to Zipline as a clear winner.  I really liked the Session IPA from Peace Tree Brewing of Knoxville, Iowa and the Zwickl from Urban Chestnut of St. Louis, Missouri. The Zwickl was true to German form. The Blind Tiger Brewery of Topeka, Kansas had a nice selection of good IPAs. Finally, I don't profess to know really anything about mead, but the Moonstruck Meadery of Bellevue, Nebraska really had some tasty meads!

Winner of the not ready for prime time award from the fest goes to the newly revived Storz Brewery.  Their history might be storied, but their line-up of beers was not ready for release. They better go back to the drawing board quick and get better beer or they won't last long.

Where you there? Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

The amusing VIP snifters.

The unique tap handles of the home brewers Brauer Untersttzungs Verein of Omaha, Nebraska.

Winner: Best Dressed

The crowd grows...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Deschutes Black Butte Porter

The Deschutes Brewery is in Bend, Oregon. This porter is 5.2% ABV.

The beer pours straight and dense black, dark ruby when held to the light. There is an inch of creamy, foamy head which is light brown in color. The aroma is dark roasted malt, coffee, some dark chocolate, with a bright and grassy hoppiness too. The taste follows the aromas directly, with a light, pleasant tang on the finish. It is very flavorful with lots of dark roasted malt notes, but drinks light without being watery. It has a moderate carbonation. Solid.

Trying in 2017: The beer pours a very dark brown, basically black. There is a half-inch head of light tan foam. The aroma is dark fruit, tangy, creamy, rich, dark chocolate, with a bit of char. The taste follows the aromas, hitting the same notes, dark roasted malt, with fruit, cocoa, and char. The beer drinks light and smooth, big taste on an easily drinkable body. The finish is mostly dry with light bitterness.

Badger Hill Foundation Stout

The Badger Hill Brewing Company is in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The beer is 6.5% with 45 IBU's. It uses pale, chocolate, and crystal malt, roasted barley, and American hops.

The beer pours black in color, with some brown on the edges if held to the light. There is a tall head of brown foam. The aroma is dark roasted malt, char, some coffee, and a tang on the end. The taste follows the aromas directly, adding in some dark chocolate and a creamy element. The beer is well carbonated with a medium mouth feel. 

Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout

The Brooklyn Brewery is in (surprise!) Brooklyn, New York. There website describes its construction so well, it just seemed best to quote them: "Brooklyn Irish Stout is brewed the old-fashioned way, without the nitrogen addition. A large portion of the grain is roasted like coffee beans, developing the typical color and flavor of this beer. Aside from British pale malts, the beer includes caramel malts, black patent malt, unmalted black barley and a proportion of flaked raw barley, which helps the beer develop a beautiful, thick natural head. The famous East Kent Golding hop lends to the earthy aroma. The beer is neither filtered, nor fined and has a light, brisk carbonation. The blend of grains gives the beer an espresso-like bite, followed by coffee and chocolate flavors. At 4.7% ABV, this is among the lightest beers we make, and one of our favorites. Be sure to serve it with “two fingers” of foam, and enjoy the flavor of Brooklyn Irish Stout. Slainte!"

The beer pours black in color, dark brown on the edges if held to the light.  There is a short head of light brown foam (I tried to pour vigorously enough to get the two fingers, but it just didn't foam up for me). The aroma is dark roasted malt, coffee, a touch of chocolate, nutty, caramel popcorn. The flavors follow the aromas directly. The mouthfeel is medium to start, but seems a bit watery in the finish. It is fairly dry and only lightly bitter. It has a fine, tingly carbonation. 

Wild Onion Hop Slayer Double IPA

This 8.2% ABV double India Pale Ale is from the Wild Onion Brewing Company of Lake Barrington, Illinois. It has 100 IBU's.

The beer pours a hazy amber in color. There is nearly an inch of thick and creamy off-white to very light brown head. The aroma is hop forward in a spicy, funky, garden onion way. The taste is earthy, floral, spicy and somewhat fruity hops on a bed of solid malt. It has a medium to heavy mouthfeel with minimal carbonation. The finish is dry and moderately bitter, not as bitter as you would expect for the 100 IBU's. This DIPA is not for the faint of heart (plus look at that dude driving that car).


This pale lager is from the Cerveceria Del Pacifico in Mazatlan, Mexico. The beer pours a pale golden yellow in color, like sun-bleached straw. There is a fizzy white head that bubbles away almost faster than I could take a picture of the beer. The aroma is corn, very light straw, a touch sweet, a touch grassy. The taste follows the aromas directly, lots of corn, a touch sweet, like fruit or even candy, but lightly bitter on the finish. There is also a strange wet cardboard taste in the background. It is refreshingly carbonated. I'd rate this beer higher if I was sitting on a beach in Mexico with my toes in El Pacifico.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brau Brothers Ivan the Great

This Russian Imperial Stout is from the Brau Brothers Brewing Company of Lucan, Minnesota. It is 9.5% ABV and a whopping 90 IBU's. 

The beer pours pure black, no hint of any color even when held to the light. There is an inch of thick and creamy head, a cappuccino brown in color. The aroma is dark roasted malt, creamy, chocolaty, coffee and mocha, with some sweetness and fruitiness. The taste follows the aromas, adding a tang of bitterness on the finish. It is quite bitter.  The flavors aren't as distinguishable in the taste as in the aroma. The carbonation is noticeable, yet there is also a thinness for all the flavor. I'm intrigued by this beer, it is a hot mess, a bit all over the place and filled with flavor, just not quite gelling in the end. I don't know if they have, but this seems like it would taste absolutely awesome if it spent a little time in a whiskey barrel.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pretty Things Baby Tree

The Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project is based out of Somerville, Massachusetts.  They are a tenant brewer, not owning their own brewery, but renting others' brewing equipment. This is a 9.0% ABV Belgian Abbey Quadruple style beer. Although mostly Belgian in style, the beer takes its name from a small pear tree in Yorkshire, England where bedraggled baby dolls hang.

The beer pours medium to dark brown, with a bit of ruby when held to the light. There is a short and fairly thin head that is light brown in color. The aroma is malty and a bit tart, there is caramel, brown sugar and lightly burnt sugar from the malt, and a bit of dark stone fruits, plum-like. The taste is sweet malt, lots of caramel, brown sugar, some dark dried fruits, with a moderately bitter and somewhat dry finish. The mouthfeel is a strange combination of medium to heavy, yet light at the same time, with a tingle of carbonation. This is nice, solid in its own way, but does not hold up to its inspiration of real abbey quads.

Sierra Nevada 2013 Beer Camp #94 Belgian-Style Black IPA

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is from Chico, California. This is a 7.7% ABV Belgian-style Black IPA that is part of their annual Best of Beer Camp series. Apparently people can submit videos and be chosen to attend beer camp, where the attendees learn about beer and choose the styles for that year's beer camp releases. It uses Sorachi Ace and Nelson Sauvin hops.

The beer pours coal black in color, nothing but black even held to the light. There is an inch of thick, creamy, cappucino-like, light brown foamy head. The aroma is dark roasted malt, floral yeast, and light fruity and very citrusy hops. The taste is a nice harmonious blend of all of the aromas. It is moderately to quite bitter, medium bodied and smooth. Adding the Belgian yeast adds a nice, new twist to the black IPA trend. As always, a solid offering from Sierra Nevada.

Beer Here Autumnic Fallout

Beer Here is from Denmark, but this bottle indicates is was brewed at DeProef, LochristiBelgium. This is a 6.0% ABV seasonal beer made with British malt and American hops. 

The beer pours a very dark brown in color, opaque from its darkness, some garnet if held to the light. There is a tall head of thick and somewhat creamy light brown head. The aroma is dark roasted malt, burnt sugar, orange, citrus, tangy grassy, more dark malt throwing off notes between pleasant char and coffee. The taste follows the aromas, combining dark roasted malt, even more coffee in the flavor, with the fruit, mainly orange. The meld of the contrasting flavor is elegant, well-balanced, perfectly executed. It is nicely carbonated, drinking medium bodied and smooth, with light bitterness. Here, here, Beer Here!