Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stone Enjoy By 12.26.14 IPA

The Stone Brewing Company is in Escondido, San Diego County, California. This 9.4% ABV beer is, according to the bottle, "Devastatingly Fresh." The name incorporates the limited "best by" date of the beer, because they really want you to drink it as fresh as possible. Specifically brewed not to last, the bottle is filled with warning slogans, "Live for the now, the present," "There is no better time than right now to enjoy this beer," and simply "Enjoy Now!" 

The beer pours orange honey golden and copper in color. There is a tall, thick, white foamy head. The aroma is passion fruit, guava, cantaloupe, tropical fruit, and very musky. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all of the same notes of tropical fruits, melon, musk and pine. The bitterness is light to moderate. It drinks smooth with a tingle of carbonation. I have tried three versions of Enjoy By and this is the best batch yet. This one is more like a flavorful Toppling Goliath offering than the normal Stone lineup.  My biggest critcism of Stone is that they too often seem to mistake massively bitter for excellent flavor. Not so here, this has absolutely excellent flavors.


Surly Darkness 2013

The Surly Brewing Company is in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, although their new destination brewery in Minneapolis will be opening soon. Darkness is their annual special Russian Imperial Stout release. This is a bottle from 2013 that I have had for just over a year and wanted to try before I got into my 2014 barrel aged bottle.

The beer pours the utter blackness of a soul sold to the devil. There is nearly an inch of thick, almost creamy, tan head. The aroma is dark roasted malt, light char, chocolate, very fruity, lots of dark cherries, an almost vinous quality as the tang of the dark fruits combines with the alcohol. The taste follows the aromas, first hitting with a wave of deep, bittersweet dark chocolate. This is followed by ample, dark red, sweet cherries. Although the fruit is mostly sweet, there is a bit of a fruity tang. Then there is a rich, darkened caramel covered in dark chocolate. I’m talking the type of caramel that if you heated it for ten more seconds it would be burnt, but you killed the heat right before it hit that point, getting it as dark as the caramel could get without burning. Despite all the sweetness, the beer ends dry for the most part, with a moderately strong bitterness. As you proceed, waves of alcohol heat begin to warm the mouth, inner cheeks, tongue, and down the gullet. The alcohol warms right to the point of stinging, but never crosses the line. There is a bit of raisin in the aftertaste. The beer drinks smooth, full and round. There is a light tingle of carbonation. 

Many Russian Imperial Stouts have a lot of char and coffee notes along with their dark chocolate. This one goes the dark fruit route with lots of cherry and raisin.


Free State Winter Fest IPA

This India Pale Ale is from the Free State Brewing Company of Lawrence, Kansas.

The beer pours a deep orange amber and copper. There is nearly an inch of thick and somewhat creamy off-white head. The aroma is guava and passion fruit, over caramel malt. The taste hits the same notes as the aromas, adding in a quite bitter finish, with a quenching, grapefruit rind type effect. The beer is medium bodied with a crisp, tingling, refreshing carbonation.  Solid.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Central Waters Octoberfest Lager

This seasonal release is from the Central Waters Brewing Company of Amherst, Wisconsin. The Oktoberfest season is basically in the rear view mirror, but I found this tucked away on the shelf of my local store. I had  missed it before, so I picked it up.

The beer pours a deep, yet clear, copper and amber in color. There is a half-inch of white to off-white foamy head, a bit fizzy. The aroma is tangy, lightly nutty and fruity, a bit of caramel. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all of the same notes. The fruity, nutty and caramel notes of the malt are in good harmony. There is a light bitterness on the finish. The beer drinks easy with a refreshing carbonation. I keep saying this, but this certainly must be my last Oktoberfest beer of the year (unless I find another one I haven't tried).


I thought I hadn't tried this before, I do a pretty good job remembering which beers I have tried considering how many I have tried. But in loading the pic, it turns I have had this before in 2011.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout - 2012

This is the 2012 vintage of Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout. It is a 15.0% ABV stout aged in bourbon barrels.

The beer pours deep black and viscous. There is a short and relatively thin head of brown foam. The aroma is bourbon whiskey, vanilla, oak, dark molasses, and some dark fruits, with a background of deep, rich, mocha coffee. Now, I don't mean black coffee type aromas, but the kind of aromas if you were inhaling an Irish coffee or a coffee with Bailey's in it. The taste follows the aromas, full of bourbon and dark notes, coffee, dark cacao, dark fruits, dark molasses, and then that creamy coffee filled with booze. The beer is sweet, but never too sweet. The alcohol is very warming, but not too hot. The beer drinks very smooth and rich, with very little carbonation. The aftertaste is like eating the best raisin ever immediately after a sip of fine bourbon, which you poured as you finished your coffee.

This is pleasant all around, just what I was craving on this cold and snowy Thanksgiving. 


Boulevard Collaboration No. 4 Saison

This 7.5% ABV beer is part of the Collaboration portion of the Smokestack series of limited releases from the Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Missouri. Number four of the Collaborations is done with Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York. Each brewery brewed a saison with their own house yeast, and the two beers were then blended together.

The beer pours amber and copper in color. There is an inch of thick, foamy off-white head. The aroma is floral, dry, yeasty. The taste is lightly sweet malt, bready, floral, honey, very dry. The beer drinks with a soft, yet intense, fine carbonation. The bottles says this was brewed with spices, not sure which ones, I didn't really pick up too much spice. 


Surly Pentagram

This is a seasonal release brew from the Surly Brewing Company of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. They are nearing completion on a huge new destination brewery and taproom in Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota campus. The taproom is expected to open in the next month or two I believe.  This is a dark beer that uses Brett yeast and is then aged in used red wine barrels.

The beer pours a very dark brown, nearly black, along with dark ruby. There is a short head of off-white to light beige head. The aroma is sour, tart, funky, old leather, spicy, vinous. The taste is dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, mocha, along with the notes of the aromas, sour, balsamic vinegar, vinous, old red wine, leather, earthy, woody. The finish is very dry and immensely tart. The beer drinks smooth and round, as much like wine as like beer, but for the soft carbonation. This is well-done. 


Arcobrau Zwickl

This is a 5.2% ABV Zwickl bier, or unfiltered German lager, a style related to the kellerbier. It is from Arcobrau of the Bavaria region of Germany. 

The beer pours a cloudy dull yellow, like a lemon meringue. There is nearly an inch of thick, white foam. The aroma is straw, sweet grain, bread, lightly floral and fruity. The taste follows the aromas, hitting the same notes. The beer drinks smooth and easy with a light carbonation. Not a lot to say about this one, just a solidly enjoyable straightforward German beer.






Zeppelin

"So Schmeckt Geschite," or "this is how history tastes" is the motto of Zeppelin beer from the Brauerei Max Leibinger in Ravensburg, Germany, near to Lake Constance. It is an unfiltered kellerbier or cellar beer.

The beer pours a lightly hazed dark amber to medium brown in color. There is over an inch of thick, creamy, foamy, off-white head. The aroma is malty, caramel, raisins, and straw in a barn. The taste follows the aromas, pleasantly malty, caramel, dark fruits, straw, with a  moderately bitter finish that is also dry. The beer drinks easy and smooth with a soft tingle of carbonation.


Bauhaus Wonderstuff

This 5.4% ABV "Neo Bohemian Pilsner" is from Bauhaus Brew Labs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

The beer pours a pure and clear golden in color. There is over an inch of thick, white foam. The aroma is bright, citrusy, bread dough, grassy. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all the same notes, adding in some golden grain and very light straw, and the tanginess turns into fruitiness. The finish is the thrill of the bumper cars as all the wonderful flavors ram full speed into a car load of quite bitter grassiness. The beer drinks crisp, easy and refreshing. If this beer doesn’t put you in a good mood, I don’t know what will. It’s the most fun ride of a pilsner I’ve had in awhile.

This beer absolutely epitomizes the toast that is on all of their cans: "Gemutlichkeit!" (You'll have to look it up, like lots of German words, it does not have a straightforward English word-to-word translation.) I'll start with this when I make it to their tap room on my next trip to Minneapolis. Wonderstuff is Wunderbar!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

McEwan's Scotch Ale

This is a 8.0% ABV Scotch ale from McEwan's of Edinburgh, Scotland. They are now owned, brewed and bottled by Wells & Young's of Bedford, UK. I lived in Edinburgh in 1992-1993 and almost all the beer was either by McEwan's or by Tennents.  They were kind of like the Anheuser-Busch and Miller-Coors of Scotland (but with much better beer). I was partial to the McEwan's 80 shilling "heavy" at the time. When the wind was right, Edinburgh was filled with the malty, sweet potato smell of its breweries.

The beer pours nearly black in color, very dark brown and lots of ruby. There is nearly an inch of light tan head, a bit creamy, not long lasting. The aroma is sweet, yet tangy, dark fruits, caramel, a whiff of peat smoke. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all of the same notes, lightly smokey, turning herbal, with almost a root beer effect. The beer drinks smooth, sweet, but never cloying.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Backyard Rye Stout

The Goose Island Brewery is in Chicago, Illinois. This is one of their famous Bourbon County brand stouts aged in bourbon barrels. This one is aged in rye whiskey barrels along with mulberries, boysenberries, and marionberries (the fruit, not the Mayor, think blackberries here). It is 12.7% ABV and was bottled on November 20, 2013.

The beer pours a deep and dark black, totally opaque. There is a relatively short head of brown foam. The aroma is sweet, dark berries, juicy, tangy, with dark roasted malts in the back, lots of berry notes like a dark berry breakfast syrup. The rye is there, but subtle, almost as much implied as explicit. I take a taste. Wow. Pow! The berries are just right there, like eating them by the handful, fresh, full and ripe on a warm summer day. The berries are the star, but they fit right in and complement the dark stout. The beer drinks smooth and round. This is amazingly easy to drink. It is like taking full, ripe berries in a field, squeezing them immediately to juice on a hot summer day, and drinking the warm, sweet, tangy, nearly thick result. The rye is not up front, but adds a pleasant warming on the back end. Unbelievable.

I grew up in an area where mulberry trees were easily found, but mostly ignored.  They were almost like a weed, except in tree form. I don't know why they were ignored, their fruit is delicious and we used to eat the berries off the trees until all of our finger tips were stained black purple. This is the beer equivalent of that experience.




Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Cherry Rye Stout

The Goose Island Brewery is in Chicago, Illinois. This is one of their famous Bourbon County brand stouts aged in bourbon barrels. This one is aged in rye whiskey barrels along with whole Michigan cherries. It is 13.7% ABV and was bottled November 12, 2012.

The beer pours deep black, and with a viscous appearance like used motor oil. There is a short head of dark brown foam. The aroma is dark roasted malt, dark molasses, deep and dark cherries, both deeply and richly sweet and tart, light rye, light vanilla, and a spicy note. The taste is surprising compared to the aroma, it is an explosion of cherries, wonderfully flavor, both sweet and tart, deeply rich. Around the cherry flavor is the dark roasted malt, giving notes of dark chocolate and coffee that temper the tart end of the cherry flavors. The beer has a spicy finish with warming alcohol, even two years after bottling. There is no obvious rye, but its effect lurks in the overall finish. The beer drinks very smooth and rich. 

This beer is like taking the most amazing cherry every, letting it steep in rye, then rolling it in mocha powder, before dipping it in dark chocolate and then eating it. This one lives up to the hype.


Bauhaus Stargrazer

This 5.0% ABV German-style schwarzbier is from Bauhaus Brew Labs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Literallly "black beer," schwarzbier is a German black lager style using dark roasted malts.

The beer pours black in appearance, very dark brown and dark ruby when held to the light. There is nearly an inch of very light tan head. The aroma is dark roasted malt, pleasant char, smokey. The taste follows the aromas, dark, charred, smokey, leading into very dark stone fruits. There is sweetness in the malt, but the dark roast and dry finish keep it in check, with a moderate bitterness on the finish. The beer drinks smooth with a mild carbonation. This is a very nice schwarzbier.  I have now tried three different Bauhaus beers in cans, they seem to do a good job with the German beer style of having great flavors paired with seriously easy drinkability.  "May the Schwartz be with you!" (you're welcome Spaceball fans)




Innis & Gunn Rum Aged

This is a 6.8% ABV beer aged on rum oak chips. It is by Innis & Gunn of Edinburgh, Scotland. 

The beer pours a dark brown with a ruby tinge. There is about a half inch of off-white head. The aroma is sweet, with a fruity tang, and a bit of spices, molasses, dark fruits, with a light woodiness. The taste follows the aromas, and has a hint of smokiness. On the end, there is a bit of vanilla. The beer drinks quite light, almost watery. The aftertaste has a weird effect, like artificial sweetener and too much woodiness. 

I have now tried four of their beers. I liked the Original Oak Aged, but the other three I have tried have been fairly disappointing, although this is better than the Toasted Oak IPA and the Scottish Porter which were both extremely disappointing.


Bent Brewstillery Rose Gose

This is a 4.6% ABV Leipziger Gose style beer (a German style made with salt and coriander). This version uses Jamaican sorrel (hibiscus), allspice and roses. It is from the Bent Brewstillery of Roseville, Minnesota. It is their Fall 2014 release made for the Where the Wild Beers Are beer festival.

The beer pours an orange honey golden, trending to light amber. There is a short and thin head of white foam. The aroma is spices, definitely getting that allspice, the fruity hibiscus coming through, very light rose, and light tartness. There is a slight medicinal rubberiness in the background. The taste follows the aromas, more tart in the taste than in the smell, light floral and the allspice is there, but lighter than in the aroma. Once all the flavors have combined and washed over the palate, there is a strange note, that I think is lingering allspice affected by the other flavors. It is lightly nutty, but also slightly off-putting as it just doesn’t seem to belong or jive with the overall beer. The aftertaste shifts more towards the hibiscus and tartness as you proceed through the beer, and you notice a light mineral quality, I am assuming from the salt. The beer has a fine, intense carbonation that compliments the tartness. Much like Boulevard’s Hibiscus Gose, this is a nice try, but ends up not overly impressive. 


Flat Earth Hep Cat Blonde Ale

This 4.5% ABV blonde ale is from the Flat Earth Brewing Company in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was originally brewed for the Saint Paul Jazz Festival.

The beer pours light amber to dark honey golden in color. There is a very tall, thick, billowing foamy head of white. It is very carbonated. The aroma is yeasty, floral, a bit of honey sweetness. The taste follows the aromas directly, very yeasty, estery fruit, very floral, a touch of sweetness, but then an exceedingly dry and moderately bitter finish. It drinks crisp and refreshing.

Innis & Gunn Scottish Porter

This is a 7.4% ABV made with molasses (or treacle) and aged on oak. It is by Innis & Gunn of Edinburgh, Scotland. 

The beer pours a dark mahogany brown, with dark ruby tints. There is a relatively short head of light beige foam. The aroma is sweet, dark sugars, tangy, mineral notes, with a very light oak. The taste follows the aromas directly, adds just a bit of dark roasted malt to all the dark sugars, and then ends with a finish that is both dry and very woody, but also has a very strong artificial sweetener component. I think it is the wood meeting all the sugar. The beer drinks smooth with a tingle of carbonation. This beer is not very good.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Innis & Gunn Original Oak Aged Beer

This is a 6.6% ABV beer aged on oak. Innis & Gunn is in Edinburgh, Scotland. 


The beer pours a gleaming copper in color. There is a short head of white foam. The aroma is toasted malt, oak, light vanilla, with a light whiskey-like note. The taste follows the aromas, lightly sweet malt, oak, vanilla and light whiskey. The beer drinks easy, tingling carbonation and smooth. There is a dry woody finish with a light to moderate bitterness. This is an easily drinkable beer that gives a light whiskey barrel effect.


2015: A bottle brought straight from Scotland by my brother. They are now using a brown bottle, this one tasted really good.



Innis & Gunn Toasted Oak IPA

This is a 5.6% ABV India Pale Ale aged on oak. Innis & Gunn is in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

The beer pours a light amber and copper, with about an inch of thick and somewhat creamy white head. The aroma is tangy, with pleasant mineral note, and light oak. The taste follows the aromas and adds in some vanilla. The notes are nice separately, but together they make a not very pleasant tasting whole. The beer drinks smooth with a light, tingling carbonation and a lightly bitter finish. This is a big disappointment.


Bad Weather Firefly

The Bad Weather Brewing Company is Minnetonka, Minnesota. This is their 5.5% ABV Northern Rye Ale.

The beer pours a medium dark brown, dark copper, the color of dark cream soda, lightly hazed. There is about an inch of thick, creamy off-white head that leaves curtains of lacing on the glass. The aroma is spicy rye, hoppy, pine, fruit and bubble gum, iced tea with lemon. The taste follows the aromas directly. The finish is dry and moderately bitter. The beer drinks smooth and soft, very drinkable, followed by a tingle of carbonation. This is a nicely drinkable American pale ale. 




Lucid Silo Saison

This is a 5.5% ABV saison style ale from Lucid Brewing of Minnetonka, Minnesota.

The beer pours honey golden in color with a light haze. There is a massive, billowing, bubbling, foaming head of white. The aroma is floral, semi-sweet, but also tangy, with herbal yeasty notes. The taste follows the aromas, lightly floral, fruity, including banana  notes, yeasty, a bit of honey and lightly herbal. The beer is highly carbonated and drinks stinging and finely fizzy. This is a decent American take on the saison style.


Boulevard Hibiscus Gose

This is a 4.2% ABV gose beer, a German style brewed with coriander and salt. This version adds in hibiscus flowers. It is from the 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 second release in the series. 

The beer pours salmon pink in color with a short and thin head of white to off-white. The aroma is tart, sour, tart, with a light fruity, floral note that must be the hibiscus. The taste is tart, but nearly as sour as the aroma indicated it would be. The coriander is lightly noticeable, the hibiscus even less so, with a light mineral saltiness. The beer drinks smooth, soft, round with just a tingle of carbonation. Nice effort, but this one doesn’t really work much for me, although I will say it improves some as you move through it.