Sunday, August 24, 2014

Against the Grain Citra Ass Down

This is an 8.2% ABV double IPA from Against the Grain Brewery of Louisville, Kentucky, with their bottled beers contract brewed in Westminster, Maryland at the Pub Dog Brewery. 

The beer pours the color of dried apricots, with some clover honey. There is an inch of thick, foamy, somewhat ragged, white head. The aroma is full of citrus, oranges, tangerine, lime, along with some light passion fruit. The taste follows the aromas, tangy citrus, especially tangerine, over a crackery, biscuity malt. It drinks with a subtle carbonation, refreshing, zesty, quite bitter, like fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. 



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bell's Special Double Cream Stout

This 6.1% ABV stout is made with ten different malts. It is from the Bell's Brewery in Comstock, Michigan. 

The beer pours black in color, opaque, but with some dark brown around the edges when held to the light. There is a half-inch to inch of tan, creamy head. The aroma is dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee, pleasant char. The taste follows the aromas, milky, creamy, bittersweet, dark roasted. The mouth is round and soft, but with a tingle of carbonation, sweet, but coming to a fairly bitter and dry finish.  Wow, this is so good. 


Founders Double Trouble

This is a 9.4% ABV and 86 IBU Double IPA from Founders Brewing of Grand Rapids, Michigan (that's a lot of abbreviations for one beer). 

The beer pours an orange tinted deep golden in color, turning into a clear, light copper. There is about in inch of pure white foamy head. The aroma is passion fruit and mango skin with a light, earthy dankness. The taste follows the aromas, it is big, sweet, fruity, bitter, overripe melon and caramel malt joining the passion fruit and mango. More musky dankness enters as it warms. The beer drinks, full, round and smooth, with just a tingle of carbonation on the end. It is fairly bitter, but tempered by the sweetness of the malt.


Founders Dissenter Imperial IPL

An IPL is an India Pale Lager, combining the upfront hoppiness of an India Pale Ale with the body of a lager. This 8.7% ABV offering from Founders Brewing of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is the first time I have seen the IPL style made imperial (generally a fuller, higher alcohol version of a style).

The beer pours a deep golden with a light touch of orange and copper. There is a relatively short head of white foam. The aroma is mango, cantaloupe and passion fruit, with a light bit of dankness or lagery funk. The taste follows the aromas quite directly. It has a very nice fruitiness, both tangy citrus, and rich, ripe tropical and melon. The finish is moderately bitter, with a bitter tang like passion fruit skin, with a touch of grapefruit rind. The hops shine here, the malt is just a sufficient delivery device. The mouthfeel is smooth and round with a good body. Founders is always good, but this is even better than I expected.


Left Hand Sawtooth Ale

The Left Hand Brewing  Company is in Longmont, Colorado. This is a 5.3% ABV amber ale. The side of the bottle has a glassware selection. I have a pretty good idea what glass will work with or is appropriate for many styles of beer, but I still do like it when the brewery puts their suggestion on their bottle. Only a handful of breweries do it.

The beer pours very clear and a dark amber, light chestnut brown in color. There is a thin and very short-lived head of off-white to light tan foam that leave medium lacing down the glass. The aroma is light, caramel and dark stone fruits, biscuit with plum jelly. The taste is caramel, a bit nutty, and light fruit. The finish is moderately bitter. It is refreshingly carbonated and easy to drink. This is one of those solid and sessionable amber ales, nice, without too much going on in any area.




Left Hand Polestar Pilsner

The Left Hand Brewing Company is in Longmont, Colorado. This is their 5.5% ABV pilsner. The side of the bottle has a glassware selection. I have a pretty good idea what glass will work with or is appropriate for many styles of beer, but I still do like it when the brewery puts their suggestion on their bottle. Only a handful of breweries do it.

The beer pours a very pale yellow, golden in color. There is a tall, thick, foamy head of white. The aroma is lagery funk, bread dough, honey, floral, citrus. The taste is grassy, bread dough, straw, with a very bitter finish. The beer drinks crisp, dry, and refreshingly carbonated. This is a top notch American pilsner!


Boulevard Pop-Up Session IPA

The Boulevard Brewing Company is in Kansas City, Missouri. This is their 4.3% ABV session IPA. It is bottle-conditioned. All of their IPA's are on a mobile home trailer theme, so the regular is a Single Wide, their DIPA is Double-Wide, and their session IPA is a Pop-Up trailer.

The beer pours deep golden in color with a touch of apricot. There is a very tall, bubbly, foaming, bottle-conditioned white head. The aroma is tropical fruit, mango and passion fruit, a bit of dankness, along with bright citrus. The taste follows the aromas, with the fruits taking the front and the dankness falling back, over a soda-cracker malt. It drinks easy and refreshing. This is great, and drinkable by the quart.




Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nectar Ales Black Xantus

This 11.0% ABV imperial stout is from Nectar Ales of Paso Robles, California. They have been brewing since 1987. They were purchased by Firestone Walker who is still brewing their beers, although another company I believe now owns the name. The company was originally founded by a former Oakland Raider who used his Super Bowl bonus as the start-up funds.

The beer pours a deep and dark black, nothing else even when held up to the light. There is about an inch of light brown foamy head, nearly creamy. The aroma is surprisingly light, but get some char and mocha. The taste is also surprisingly light for an imperial stout of 11% ABV. Light char, light dark roasted malt, light coffee, very light dark chocolate. It is smooth and full and round in the mouth. It hides the high ABV well, but does have a noticeable warming effect. This stout would make great sense at 5.0% or so ABV, but I don’t get why its aroma and taste were made so mild in an imperial style.


Fulton Patience Barleywine

This big 13.2% ABV barleywine is 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 bottle states that the name indicates the final ingredient to a barleywine, and also the way it should be consumed. This is definitely not a chugger and better shared.

The beer pours a deep, dark, yet gleaming, copper and amber, notes of glowing burnt orange to burnt umber. There is a short and thin head of very light tan head. The aroma is malty caramel with a rich, fruity tang, dark berries and stone fruits. The taste follows the aromas directly, lots of caramel and dark fruits. There is a light bitterness and tannin-like feel on the finish. It is not boozy, but is very warming with its alcohol. It drinks smooth and round. This is a very nice and pleasant barleywine, patience is rewarded in this instance.






Mad River John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale

The Mad River Brewing Company is in Blue Lake, California. This is the 2012 vintage of their barleywine, coming in at 11.1% ABV. It takes its name from an old British folksong that personifies the barley crop.

The beer pours a very dark brown, ruby and garnet. There is a very short head of off-white to very light tan head. There is very little carbonation. The aroma is molasses, sherry, caramel, dark stone fruits, light booziness. The taste follows the aromas, there are dark roasted malts, nutty, nearing mocha, a zone of sweetness, caramel and other sugars, nearly saccharine sweet, but just enough fruitiness and a light bitterness, along with the roasted flavors, bring it back from the precipice. It’s main drawback is its mouthfeel, it is both full, yet watery at the same time. The watery note meets the sweetness in a bad place and puts the one negative to this beer. It does not drink boozy, but a very strong alcohol warmth builds at the back of the mouth, in the throat, and down the gullet. Overall a very nice barleywine, and one that would be interesting barrel aged.  Have they ever done that to this beer? (some internet checking indicates that they have)




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Central Waters La Petite Mort

This is a weizenbock beer aged in bourbon barrels from the Central Waters Brewing Company of Amherst, Wisconsin. It is brewed in collaboration with Local Option Bierwerkers of Chicago, Illinois.

The beer pours a very deep, dark brown, ruby and garnet, looking essentially black except when held to the light. There is a short and thin head of light tan foam. The aroma is malty, molasses, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, wood, and light bourbon. The taste takes all the aromas and melds them together, takes off any harsh edges, and makes a smooth, round, full, sweet, bourbon delight. A bit boozy, but within the scope of the beer, warm, lots of sweet malt notes, woody, but ending smooth and warm. The first sips are divine, but it gets back the sharp notes from the aroma in the taste as it progresses.  If they could make the whole glass drink like the first few sips, they would have a five star.


Deschutes Doppel Dinkel Bock

This is a 10.7% ABV doppelbock from Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon. The "dinkel" is the spelt that is used in the brewing. The beer is release number three of their Conflux Series where they brew a beer with another brewery. This was brewed with Distelhauser Brauerei of Tauberbischofsheim, Germany. 

The beer pours a deep amber and burnt orange. There is a short and thin head of off-white to light tan. The aroma is sweet and fruity malt, malty, a bit toasted and roasted, some caramel, dark stone fruits, some yeasty banana notes, but they are well incorporated into the caramel and dark fruit. The taste is deep and rich malt, dark caramel, dark cherries, with a tangy, fruity aftertaste. It drinks smooth and round with a light tingling carbonation. There is some warmth, but the alcohol is fairly well hidden in the rich malt. One of the best doppelbocks I’ve ever had.



Goose Island Sofie

Sofie is a 6.5% ABV Belgian-style farmhouse ale from Goose Island Beer Company of Chicago, Illinois (now owned by AB-InBev). This is the 2013 vintage, bottled on November 4, 2013. It is 80% Belgian-style ale blended with 20% Belgian-style ale that was aged in wine barrels with orange peel.

The beer pours yellow and golden with a touch of haze. There is about an inch of fizzing, foamy white head. The aroma is tart, bright, citrusy, funky, a touch of tropical fruit, hints of white wine and wood. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all the same notes in a wonderful, balanced, medley and cacophony of flavors, tart, funky, citric, tropical, round, vinous, brassy, floral, yeast, woody. It has a tingling fine carbonation, but also a round softness to its mouthfeel. The ending is mild, with soft aftertastes of the original flavors. This ranks up there with the masterpieces of fine beer making. 


Peace Tree Blonde Fatale

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 their 8.5% Belgian-style blonde ale that won a gold medal at this year's World Beer Cup.

The beer pours a deep and dark honey golden in color, with tints of burnt orange. There is a short lived head of fizzy white foam. The aroma is yeasty, bright, brassy, tangy, but also sweet, with lots of banana esters, like sweet banana bread made with citrus zest. The taste follows the aromas directly, loads of banana, citrusy, sweet, but not cloying. It is full-bodied and smooth, with a very light carbonation. Excellent.

Josephsbrau Heller Bock

This is a 7.0% golden bock beer from Trader Joe's. It appears to be a rebranding of their old Hofbrau Bock.

The beer pours a very deep, dark golden, nearing amber. There is a tall, thick head of white foam. The aroma is malty, sweet, yet grassy, grains and honey. The taste follows the aromas, lots of sweet malt, honey flavors, yet also straw and grass, finishing moderately bitter. It is easy drinking with a crisp finish. This is one of those hidden gems of Trader Joe brand beers. 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Boulevard Single-Wide IPA

The Boulevard Brewing Company is in Kansas City, Missouri. This is their 5.7% ABV standard IPA. It is bottle-conditioned. All of their IPA's are on a mobile home trailer theme, so the regular is a single wide, their DIPA is Double-Wide, and their session IPA is Pop-Up.


The beer pours the color of apricots, or a dark honey with orange tints. There is a tall, thick, foamy head of white. The aroma is fruity, oranges, citrus, cantaloupe, touch of mango, with a tang from the yeast used for bottle conditioning. The taste follows the aromas, the fruit is a little deeper and richer than in the aroma, and the finish is fairly bitter with a quality of grapefruit astringency. It drinks smooth with a tingling carbonation. Solid. 



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Indeed Mexican Honey Imperial Lager

This is a 7.2% ABV imperial lager brewed with Mexican orange blossom honey and Amarillo hops. It is from the Indeed Brewing Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Like several other recent and brand new brewers in the Twin Cities, they 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. 

The beer pours a deep honey golden and yellow in color. There is a tall, very thick, soft and foamy head of pure white. The aroma is amazing, floral, light honey, sweet, grassy, a field of prairie grass and flowers, or sweet hay freshly cut and laying down in the early morning sun as the dew slowly evaporates. The taste follows the aromas directly, an elegant, exciting, amazing mix of honey, flowers, grass, straw, grains. The beers drinks as smooth as non-viscous honey, with a subtle carbonation. The finish is fairly bitter, the sweetness exists as an aroma, but is cut down on the tongue by the wonderfully contrasting grassy bitterness. This is a masterpiece, the best lager I have ever had.


Summit Union Series Southern Cape Sparkling Ale

This is a 4.4% ABV sparkling ale that is made using pale malt from Australia, caramel malt from Chile, Waimea hops from New Zealand and Southern Passion hops from South Africa. It is from the Summit Brewing Company of St. Paul, Minnesota. This is the second in their limited release Union Series which according to their website is "The inspired union of new ingredients and time-honored brewing traditions. Brewing has always been about discovery. For the Summit Union Series, we scour the globe for new (and sometimes rare) hops and malts. Then we add equal parts craft and creativity to bring you a whole new brew. Released in small batches every so often." 

The beer pours the color of orange tinted honey. There is a head of white to off-white foam that is fairly quick to disappear. The aroma is dank and earthy hops with an underlying light tropical fruitiness, mangos and passion fruit. The taste follows the aromas with the hop notes sitting on a bed of toasted malt. The finish is moderately bitter and quite dry. It is nicely carbonated and drinks very crisp and refreshing. Oh god, why does this have to be a limited edition?


Boulevard ESB

The latest 12 pack sampler from Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Missouri includes two new "Tasting Room" beers, beers that have been available in their tasting room in the past, but never before bottled. There is this ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, a British style, and their Ginger-Lemon Radler.


The beer pours a very light amber and copper in color. There is nearly an inch of just off-white head. The aroma is light, a bit of toasted, and lightly roasted malt, very light caramel note. The taste follows the aromas, hitting the same light malt notes, with a meek note of nuttiness, and a grassy and lightly to moderately bitter finish. Nothing wrong with this, just not much going on either.


Boulevard Ginger-Lemon Radler

The latest 12 pack sampler from Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Missouri includes two new "Tasting Room" beers, beers that have been available in their tasting room in the past, but never before bottled. There is this beer, and their Extra Special Bitter. Radler comes from the German word for a bicyclist, the persons supposedly responsible for mixing lager and lemonade for a lighter refresher.


The beer pours the hazy yellow of lemon meringue with a tall white, fizzy, foamy head. The aroma is lemony, lemon curd, toasted wheat, touch of the spice of ginger, this is like a liquid lemon/key lime pie with a graham cracker crust. The taste follows the aromas precisely, lemony tart, but with an underlying sweetness. It drinks easy and refreshing. This is liquid lemon pie made of beer, an excellent radler!


Tried this again August 2015 in a can, but didn't like it as much: The beer pours a cloudy yellow golden, lemon meringue color. There is over a half inch of white foamy head, both fizzy and meringue like. The aroma is ginger first, then lemon, and finally toasted wheat and graham cracker crumbs. The taste follows the aromas, but the ginger really raises the tartness of the lemon in the taste. The finish is dry. This is a radler I might want to have a snack with due to its high level of lemon juice tartness.



Schell's The Current

This special take on their Zommerfest kolsch-style ale is an offering from the August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota. They were established in 1860 and they are the second oldest family owned brewery in the United States, behind Yuengeling. This beer was brewed to support Minnesota Public Radio's 89.3, the Current. If the link still works, you can find out more about the beer and listen to the radio station online here.

The beer pours a deep yellow golden in color with over an inch of white foamy head. The aroma is golden toasted grain, grassy, with just a touch of clover honey. The taste follows the aromas, a slightly honey sweet toasted maltiness, followed by a wave of grassiness and a light bitterness on the finish. It ends dry, and drinks with a crisp and refreshing sting of carbonation. A very serviceable American kolsch-style, it would be great at summer music fests, you know, like ones sponsored by radio stations.


Two Brothers Engine No. 1 Kolsch

The Two Brothers Brewing Company is in Warrenville, Illinois. They brewed this German-style kolsch in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Warrenville Fire Department. All of the profits from this beer are donated to The Hundred Club of DuPage County , a charity that helps families of fallen and injured firefighters and police officers. 

The beer is 5.2% ABV and pours a bright yellow and golden in color. There is an inch of pure white foamy head. The aroma is grassy, lightly fruity, with some golden grain and straw.  The taste follows the aromas directly. It drinks easy, crisp, carbonated and refreshing, but with an underlying smoothness too. It is a well-done, straightforward kolsch.
 

Keg Creek Sharp Street Stout

The Keg Creek Brewing Company is in Glenwood, Iowa and sits on Sharp Street. The street is named after Joseph Langworthy Sharp, one of the founding fathers of the town, and I am guessing that is his visage gracing the bottle.

The beer pours black, opaque even when held to the light. There is a short head of light brown cappuccino color foam. The aroma is dark roasted malt, loads of dark chocolate and cocoa, mocha, light coffee, lightly charred. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all those nice dark roasted malt notes, a touch sweet, but then immediately bitter, with a fairly dry ending. It is very smooth and round, but drinks fairly easy, with a tingle of carbonation. This is one very nice stout.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Schell's 30th Anniversary Hefeweizen Series Weizenbock

This beer is part of the 30th Anniversary Hefeweizen Series from the August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota. They were established in 1860 and I believe they are the second oldest family owned brewery in the United States, behind Yuengeling (this is the 30th anniversary of their original hefeweizen release, not of the brewery itself). This sampler pack contained the 1984 Recipe, the 2014 Recipe, a Weizenbock, and a Dampfbier.


The beer pours a hazy yellow golden in color, nearing a dark lemon meringue. There is about an inch of white to off-white head that disappears to a single level quickly. The aroma is tart and yeasty, bananas and cloves, lemony, some toasted wheat. The taste follows the aromas, this is the most yeasty and the most lemony of the bunch, with a bitterness on the end that doesn’t quite jive with the taste. It has a moderate carbonation. Nice enough, but initially to me it was the weakest of the four, but only by a hair. It did grow on me as I made my way through it.