Sunday, June 29, 2014

Odell Fernet Aged Porter

This 9.8% ABV beer is a mixture of 50% porter and 50% porter aged in Fernet barrels. The beer is from Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado. The Fernet barrels are courtesy of Leopold Bros., a distillery out of Denver. Fernet is an herbal liqueur, the exact make-up varies by brand, but the Leopold version uses lavender, honeysuckle, ginger root, bitter aloe, dandelion root, rose petals, chamomile and peppermint.

The beer pours pure black, just the slightest bit of deep, dark ruby and dark brown can be seen on the bottom edge when the light slants through it. It has intense, champagne-like carbonation. There is a huge, foaming, billowing, fizzy, bottle-conditioned head of light tan foam. The aroma is mint, sage, ginger, herbal, floating over a dark roasted malted porter, with char, coffee and dark chocolate. The taste follows the aroma, loads of flowers and herbs, mint and ginger, all together giving tones of sage and black licorice, over a solid roasted porter. The wood is not out front, but comes out in the dry and astringent finish. It has the buzzing carbonation of a bottle conditioned beer. It drinks light for a porter, not a heavy one. Definitely an interesting beer, although it tastes like a liqueur, it drinks fairly light. This would in fact be a good beer to drink along with various liqueurs. 

August Schell North Country Brunette

This is a 5.4% ABV Berliner Weisse style beer made in the marzen style is from the August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota.  Schell's was established in 1860 and I believe they are the second oldest family owned brewery in the United States, behind Yuengeling. 

This beer is the third release in their Noble Star Collection of Berliner weisse style beers that they are making. The first release was Star of the North (unfortunately I missed that one), and the second was the Framboise du Nord made with raspberries.   These releases are made in the brewery's original 1936 cypress wood lagering tanks. The bottles are hand filled and bottle-conditioned. The bottle said to use a pokal glass. I have a number of beer glasses, but I admit I had to look that one up, and I used the one I had that most approximated the style.

The beer pours a cloudy medium brown with an orange tint. There is a tall head of very light tan fizzy foam that dissipates fairly quickly. The aroma is tart, toasty wheat, roasted malt, nutty, some caramel, tangy dark fruits not yet ripe. The taste occurs on two separate planes; there is an intense, face-crinkling, lip-puckering, sour tartness, and then there is a toasted, roasted, nutty, toasted wheat germ, touch of sweetness maltiness. The two tastes remain separate, but connected, swirling around each other like strands of DNA. The carbonation is both light, yet intense, subtle, yet tingling, finer even than most bottle-conditioned carbonation, akin to champagne. And to think the craft brewer's association only recently called Schell’s craft, when they are making masterpieces like this!

Against the Grain Rico Sauvin

This is an 8.2% ABV Double India Pale Ale from Against the Grain Brewery of Louisville, Kentucky, with their bottled beers contract brewed in Westminster, Maryland at the Pub Dog Brewery. It uses Nelson Sauvin hops. I always have a picture of the bottle and figure you can see that for yourself, so I generally don't comment much on the labels. But in case you can't see all the detail, this bottle has "Rico" and yes, he has grapes coming out of his pants, appears to have hop flowers for a mustache, is rubbing his own nipple, and there is a sheep behind him. Put the pieces together however you want.

The beer pours the color of honey, but with an orange and dried apricot tint, and a bit hazy. It is well carbonated, and has a large, white foamy head. The aroma is of white wine, kiwis, passion fruit, green melon, with some earthy muskiness. The taste follows the aromas directly, with increased muskiness in the flavor, and a dry and fairly bitter finish. There is some malt and hop fruit sweetness, but then the bitterness immediately washes over. It has a round softness to the mouth, but the carbonation bubbles in to sting a bit refreshingly. This is really nice, a bit like Zeelander from Toppling Goliath. 

Pour Decisions Kalamity!

This is a 13.0% ABV English Stock Ale that was then aged in rye whiskey barrels. It is bottle 456 out of 600 of the quarter cask rye version, and it is from the Pour Decisions Brewing Company of Roseville, Minnesota. Pour Decisions has now merged with anther recent Twin Cities area brewery, Bent Brewstillery, and they will henceforth be Bent Brewstillery. 

The beer pours a very dark chestnut brown to mahogany, dark enough to be essentially opaque. There is over an inch of thick, somewhat creamy, light tan head. The aroma is oak, vanilla, rye whiskey, sweet and tangy, a bit spicy, malty, sweet potato. The tastes follow the aromas, lots of rye whiskey barrel, with the wood and vanilla and whiskey, lots of malt, sweet potato, a bit of caramel; with the malt in the taste being even more roasted than in the aroma, adding in some notes nearing coffee, but a highly sweetened, cream filled coffee, bringing in toffee and butterscotch. The alcohol is present and warming, but not overwhelming for its whopping 13.0% ABV. It has a firm and tingling carbonation, but also drinks smooth, full bodied without being syrupy. This is pretty damn fine.

Bent Brewstillery Moar Scottish Session IPA (nka Historical India Pale Ale)

This is a Scottish Session IPA (whatever that is supposed to be) from the Bent Brewstillery of Roseville, Minnesota. It is 4.4% ABV with 44 IBU's. The bottle tells us to "Drink Moar, Think Less!"

The beer pours an orange-tinted honey golden in color. There is a tall, foamy, bubbly head of  off-white. No, I don’t really know what a Scottish Session IPA is supposed to be as a style, but a huge, foaming bottle-conditioned type head seems incongruous to a Scottish beer, a session beer, or most IPA’s. The aroma is tangy, citrusy, a bit of maltiness, a bit yeasty, with an off soapy note. The taste follows the aromas, with the soapiness even more intense in the taste. Something is not right here.  It has the fine and intense carbonation of a bottle-conditioned beer. I suspect an inadvertent secondary fermentation in the bottle that was not by design. I’ve liked their other beers I have tried, but this one fails. (Tried it again in 2015, see below.)

2015- So the beer is now in a can, and is now called a Historical India Pale Ale. It is 4.7% ABV and 47 IBU's. The beer pours honey golden with apricot tints. It has a tall, raggedly foamy head of white. The aroma is fruity, tropical, jasmine tea. The taste follows the aromas, fruit and tea over a lightly toasted caramel malt. There is a bit of pine on the finish as the beer progresses. The finish is lightly to moderately bitter. This beer drinks easy and refreshing. There was definitely something off about the bottle, because this was very nice.

New Holland Michigan Awesome Hatter

This 5.8% ABV India Pale is made with Michigan grown ingredients and is from the New Holland Brewing Company of Holland, Michigan. It is made in conjunction with Michigan Awesome. It uses Centennial hops from the Leelanau Peninsula and Michigan grown and malted barley.

The beer pours a deep and dark copper and amber. There is over an inch of thick and foamy off-white head. The aroma is relatively mild, this is odd, celery, caramel malt, a bit of papaya and a bit of pine. The taste is caramel malt, grassy, herbal, light fruit, of pear or plum, and a bit of bubble gum. This is an odd duck of an IPA. 

Destihl Hoperation Overload

This 9.6% ABV double India pale ale has 85 IBU's and is from the Destihl Brewery of Bloomington, Illinois. Looking at the can, I guess you are supposed to think Operation Overlord (D-Day), but with lots of hops.

The beer pours a deep copper in color. There is a tall head of thick, off-white foam. The aroma is citrus and passion fruit, with a touch of pine, over ample caramel malt. The taste is a punch of tangy citrus, a slap of pine, with a wallop of caramel malt, and a kick of hoppy booziness. The finish is quite bitter, to the point of astringency. It has a sparkle of carbonation, but also drinks a bit hot from the hop overload and hot ABV. Hoperation Overload will definitely invade your taste buds.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kalona Sucha Much IPA

This India Pale Ale has 68.5 IBU's and 7.1% ABV. It is from the Kalona Brewing Company of Kalona, Iowa. It takes its name from Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans who have an album called Such a Much. On the can "Heavenly Beers Brewed by Mere Mortals."

The beer pours honey golden in color, just a tinge of orange. There is over an inch of white, thickly foamy head. The aroma is dank and musky, overripe melons, and papaya. The taste follows the aromas directly, there is a moment of fruit and malt sweetness, but with a dry and quite bitter finish. The bitterness in the finish is like drinking quinine heavy tonic water that had grapefruit rind squeezed into it. As you proceed through the beer, some mango starts to come through. It drinks soft, tingling and medium bodied. There is sucha much going on here.

Bent River Steamboat IPA

This India Pale Ale has 68 IBU's and 6.2% ABV. It is from the Bent River Brewing Company of Rock Island, Illinois (original brewpub in Moline, Illinois). Their motto: Get Bent!

The beer pours the color of amber, copper and dried apricots. There is a tall, thick, foamy head of off-white. The aroma is relatively light, grassy, fruity, peach and pineapple, with some floral/herbal. The taste follows fairly true upon the aromas, with a massively bitter finish, like biting grapefruit skin and pine needles. There is just enough malt to hold all this up. This has great flavors, but is mild compared to many American IPA’s, not in your face, but enjoyable nonetheless. It is medium-bodied, smooth, with a tingling carbonation. Give this one time, at the first aroma and first couple of sips, I was not impressed. But as I made my way through the beer, I realized how solid it was. This one doesn't knock you over the head, but you depend on it to not let you down.

Peace Tree Royale 41 Imperial India Pale Ale

The Peace Tree Brewing Company is in Knoxville, Iowa. They do a lot of really good and interesting beers and they always have a good time at beer fests. This is an Imperial India Pale Ale named after the 41st parallel, which  marks both the northern latitude where the brewery is located and the southern latitude where the New Zealand hops used in the beer are grown. It has over 100 IBU's.

The beer pours amber and apricot in color. There is a tall head of thick off-white foam. The aroma is hop forward, fruity, lots of cantaloupe, passion fruit, citrus, tropical, mango skin, apricots and overly ripe peaches. The taste follows directly upon the aromas, bright, tangy and full-flavored fruits, enough caramel malt to hold it up, but the hops shining. There is a sweetness, but the finish is fairly bitter. It drinks full, round and smooth. This beer is so good, hard to do it justice, give it a try if you are lucky enough to find a bottle.

This beer exemplifies something I have noticed lately.  Many of the imperial/double IPA's that are around the 100 IBU mark taste less bitter to me than many IPA's in the 60-ish IBU area. I think it is because the really high IBU ones are generally made with large amounts of malt and in addition to the bittering hops have very fruity hops as well. That helps to blunt the bitterness effect for me. Anyone else notice this on their palate?

(This beer also reminds of the scene from Reservoir Dogs; "Do you know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in Paris..a Royale with Cheese!")

Spitfire Premium Kentish Ale

This 4.5% ABV ale is from the Shepherd Neame Brewery in Kent, England. It takes it's Spitfire Ale name from the fighter plane used by the British during the Battle of Britain in World War Two. It was first brewed in 1990 which was the 50th anniversary of the battle. In a sad pun, they then put "The Bottle of Britain" on the bottle. The cap is the British circular airplane insignia. 

The beer pours a dark amber and copper in color, but still highly translucent. There is a tall, foamy head, off-white in color. The aroma has some skunkiness, apparently due to the clear glass bottle having been exposed to too much sunlight before it got to me. Underneath there is hay, straw, caramel, toffee, herbal and spicy. The taste follows the aromas, lots of caramel, a fruity tang, herbal notes, along with a quite bitter and dry grassy finish. It drinks easy and refreshing, nicely carbonated. Overall very enjoyable, anyone want to donate so I can try it fresh out of a tap in England?  Thanks!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Goose Island "The Illinois"

This is a 9.0% ABV Imperial India Pale Ale from the Goose Island Brewing Company of Chicago, Illinois (now owned by AB-InBev). It clocks in at 95 IBU's. The beer takes its name from a high skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the city of Chicago that was never built. If built, it would still be the tallest building in the world today.

The beer pours a gleaming dark copper in color. There is over an inch of thick, off-white foamy head that leaves some sheets of thick lacing down the glass. The aroma is cantaloupe, tangerine, nectarine, and passion fruit. The taste follows the aromas directly, hitting all of the same fruit notes, lush, full, round, ripe, tropical in its rich profusion of flavors. The malt stays behind the fruit of the hops, but there is enough there to hold all of this up. While bitter, it seems surprisingly moderate for its 95 IBU’s, I think because of the richness of the fruit flavor and malts. The mouth is like the flavors, lush, round, smooth and full. This is excellent!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Bigfoot Barleywine

In 2013, to honor the 30th anniversary of their Bigfoot Barleywine, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company of Chico, California had a limited release of the beer that had been aged in whiskey barrels. It is 12.2% ABV.

The beer pours a very dark brown and cloudy. There is a short, thin and short lived head of off-white to very light tan head. The aroma is caramel, toffee, vanilla, lots of oaky wood, with an undertone of whiskey that grows as the beer warms. The taste takes all of the notes of the aroma, but melds them together in a much more blended and harmonious way, with the malt melting into the wood, blending into the whiskey. It warms without being boozy. There is dark, sweet fruitiness that blends in as well. The finish has an astringent and woody dryness. It is fairly bitter. The beer drinks smooth, full, rich and round. Nice one, they should do this more often! 

Terra Incognita

Terra Incognita is an 8.5% ABV ale aged in whiskey barrels is a collaboration between Boulevard Brewing of Kansas City, Missouri and the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company of Chico, California. It was brewed and bottled at Boulevard. The beer uses pale  malt, amber malt, and malted and unmalted wheat, hopped with Bravo and Styrian Goldings, then dry-hopped with East Kent Goldings. It is then barrel-aged for nearly three months with Brettanomyces yeast. It is a blend of 45% toudre-aged beer (a toudre is a large wooden container traditionally used to age wine), 30% Templeton Rye barrel aged beer, and 25% fresh dry-hopped beer.

The beer pours a very dark mahogany to black in color. There is a huge, billowing, foaming, bubbling head of very light tan foam. The aroma is quite funky, floral, yeasty, fruity, tangy, with some sweetness and vanilla, woody, whiskey hinted at more than present. The taste follows the aromas quite directly, the finish is tangy, woody, astringent, and moderately bitter. It has the intense, fine, tingling carbonation of bottle-conditioning. As in the aroma, the whiskey hangs like a thick fog, omnipresent, but not substantial. Quite an interesting beer, but I wouldn't mind they let it pick up a bit more rye effect. 

Fulton The Libertine

The Libertine is an 8.5% ABV imperial red ale from the Fulton Brewing Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ten percent of the profits of this beer go into the Ful10 fund that provides micro loans to entrepreneurs.

The beer pours a nearly opaque dark brown and red. There is a relatively short head of light tan foam. The aroma is bright, fruity, malty, strawberries, cherries, caramel. The taste follows the aromas, this is definitely malt driven, but with a tang, lots of caramel, some sweet potato, dark fruits, raspberries, strawberries. It is medium to full bodied, but not at all thick. It has a subtle carbonation with a moderate bitterness on the finish. This has some nice malt flavors, but it a bit too tangy on the end, it clashes and loses balance. This one fell a little short for me.

Figure Eight Raven Tor Oatmeal Stout

This 5.75% ABV oatmeal stout is from the Figure Eight Brewing Company of Valparaiso, Indiana. The bottle art gives a Game of Thrones vibe. Googling Raven Tor gives a couple of different results (place in England different than the picture, Medieval re-creation society), not sure what the brewery was referring to with theirs.

The beer pours black in appearance, very dark brown with tints of dark red when held to the light. There is a tall half-inch of creamy and very light tan foam. The aroma is dark roasted malt, molasses, earthy, bitter dark chocolate. The taste follows the aromas, nicely charred, very smooth, very balanced. This has a great creamy feel from the oats. The finish is dry with a moderate bitterness. It has just enough body for all the flavors, but is still easy to drink. There are no off notes at all, this is really good, worth repeating.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Zipline Oatmeal Porter

This 6.0% ABV beer is from the Zipline Brewing Company of Lincoln, Nebraska. The beer pours coal black, entirely opaque, even when held to the light. There is over an inch of thick, foamy, somewhat creamy light tan head. The aroma is a tangy dark roasted malt, a bit of char, a bit of yeast, dough of dark bread. The taste follows the aromas, deepening the char, nearing coffee, adding in mocha, with a mineral tang on the finish. It drinks easy, smooth, with a light tingle of carbonation. It could actually use just a bit more body to hold up its flavors.

Boulevard Love Child No. 4

This is limited release from the Smokestack Series from the Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Missouri.  They release a version of this sour each year. This is year 4. This year it comes in at 9.0% ABV and is 50% aged in whiskey barrels and 15% aged in wine barrels. The label has a nice 1960's hippie era graphic feel (plus the stars are actually sparkly).

The beer pours a gleaming amber, burning orange, nearing redness. There is a short and thin head of light tan foam. The aroma is tart, woody, funky, very light notes of whiskey, vanilla, and wine. The taste is massive tartness, sour to the max, it overwhelms everything else. Where is the funk, and wood and whiskey and wine? It’s like drinking malt vinegar. If the taste was anywhere near the aroma it would be better. I like some sours (for example see Duchesse de Bourgogne, or Schell's Framboise du Nord), but this is disappointing because the whiskey, wine and wood should have been given a more pronounced effect on the overwhelming sourness.

I checked my review of Love Child No. 2 (now I remember why I skipped No. 3) and again added some Templeton Rye to balance the massive sourness and make it, for me, more drinkable.

Nebraska Brewing Company Brunette

This is a 4.7% ABV nut brown ale. It is from the Nebraska Brewing Company of La Vista, Nebraska. They have always had bottles of their special release, but they recently started canning some of their regular lineup. The can says "World Class in Every Glass." They are also a sponsor of the large Great Nebraska Beer Fest each August, a fest definitely worth attending.

The beer pours a dark chestnut brown with dark orange tints when held to the light. There is a half inch of light tan foam that dissipates fairly rapidly. The aroma is nutty, caramel, sweetness, yet with a fruity tang. The taste is roasted malts, very nutty, some dark caramel. It finishes dry with a light bitterness. There is a sweetness in the malt, but it does not drink sweet, there is an aftertaste of light hazelnut. It is medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Very tasty, but the body doesn’t quite hold up to the taste, just a tad thin for its flavors.

Lagunitas Pils

This 6.0% ABV pilsner beer is from the Lagunitas Brewing Company of Petaluma, California. I hear they are opening a facility in Chicago.

The beer pours a dark golden in color, nearing the color of honey. There is a tall head of thick white foam. The aroma is golden grain, a bit of straw, with a grassy and lightly floral finish. The taste follows the aromas, grains at first, attempting to put in some sweetness, but immediately checked by very grassy and somewhat floral bitterness. It is moderately carbonated, medium bodied, but still easy enough to drink. 

Westbrook Beer Table Table Beer

This is a 5.0% ABV self-described Czech-style pilsner from the Westbrook Brewing Company of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. It uses dry hopping and bumps the hoppiness of this beer to an American style. It is part of the Beer Table Table Beer series where different brewers brew the one beer they could drink everyday for the rest of their life.

The beer pours a somewhat hazy golden yellow. There is a tall head of thick white foam. The aroma is grainy, bright, grassy, floral, a bit citrusy, a note of jasmine tea. The taste follows the aromas directly, with a very grassy, floral bitterness on the end. The finish is dry. It drinks crisp and refreshing, well carbonated without being over carbonated. This is an excellent well hopped American style pilsner beer.

Founders Rubaeus Pure Raspberry Ale

This 5.7% ABV ale is fermented with raspberries. It is from the Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

The beer pours dark rose, dark pink, salmon color. There is a short and thin head of pink tinged foam. The aroma is straight up raspberries, mashed ripe raspberries, over a lightly detectable maltiness. The taste follows the aromas directly, blasts of raspberries, sweet raspberries mostly, but with some tanginess, and just a bit of maltiness on the end. If you love raspberries, this beer is a must for you. 

Boulevard Entwined Ale

This is a beer brewed with grape juice from Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Missouri. It is part of their Backroads series, meant to be off the beaten path brews for both brewer and drinker. I believe it is the first release in the series. 

The beer pours gleaming golden in color. There is over an inch of white, foamy head, but it does not last terribly long. The aroma is white wine, grape juice, over toasted grain. The taste follows the aromas directly. It is moderately carbonated and drinks easy, but does have a smooth element to the mouthfeel. I did think this would be more flavorful, but what is there is pleasant enough. It drinks a lot like one of the very early wine coolers before they started adding all the fruit flavors, but is a tad more beery than winey.  And shouldn’t we all be? 

Crow Peak Canyon Cream Ale

This 5.0% ABV cream ale is from the Crow Peak Brewing Company of Spearfish, South Dakota, in the Black Hills area. It uses local honey. 

The beer pours a very pale and washed out golden yellow, the color of champagne. There is a short and short-lived white head. The aroma is sweet grain, a touch of pears, and a whiff of straw. The taste is less sweet than the aroma, grain, straw, with a light grassy bitterness on the end and the pear coming on in the aftertaste. The beer drinks easy, but with a smooth, somewhat creamy mouthfeel. There is moderate carbonation. An easy drinker, good as a gateway beer, or for those times when a lighter easy drinker is called for.