Saturday, June 27, 2015

Third Street Brewhouse Angry Pirate Aye Aye PA

Third Street Brewhouse is the craft beer offshoot of the Cold Spring Brewery of Cold Spring, Minnesota. This their 9.1% ABV Imperial IPA, usually shortened to IIPA, but these are pirates, so it is an Aye Aye PA, you get me?

The beer pours orange golden and the color of dried apricots. There is a tall, thick, head of white foam. The aroma is oranges and citrus rinds, and also slightly sweet. The taste follows the aromas directly, loads of orange, pithy, citrus rinds, all over ample malt, with a light sweetness, but a dry finish and moderate bitterness. The beer drinks smooth and full, without being heavy. This is big and nice and round, it is a breast loving trucker from the late 1970’s stopping at a truck stop and finding the latest issue of Juggs magazine.


Great Lakes Holy Moses White Ale

This 5.4% ABV white ale is from the Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It was part of their spring sampler pack. It is brewed with coriander, orange peel and chamomile.

The beer pours a hazed golden yellow with nearly champagne like carbonation streaming up the glass. There is an inch of thick, white, whipped egg-white foamy head. The aroma is floral and spices, with a touch of honey sweetness. The taste follows the aromas, with the floral, spices and honey-touched grain in sweet harmony, with just a bit of citrus tang bouncing of the herbs and spice. The finish is dry with a light floral bitterness. The beer drinks smooth, yet nicely carbonated. This is a really fine white ale.


Great Lakes Brewing Lawn Seat Kolsch

This 4.8% ABV kolsch-style beer is from the Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It was part of their spring sampler pack. This beer uses Mt. Hood hops for this German style beer.

The beer pours a sparkling, carbonated, golden. There is over an inch of white, foamy head. The aroma is bread, grass, grains. The taste follows the aromas, the inside of French bread, a touch of sourdough, golden and toasted grains, along with a grassy bitterness. The beer drinks easy, well carbonated, refreshing. This is a great beer for hot days and warm evenings. 





Amstel Radler

Amstel Radler is a 2.0% ABV radler, or mix of lager beer and lemon juice or lemonade. It comes for the German word for cyclist, the people who originated this light, thirst quenching beverage. The Amstel brewery is in Amsterdam, Holland, the Netherlands.

The beer pours a cloudy light lemon yellow. There is an inch of white, fizzy, foamy head. The aroma is of a Euro lager, toasted wheat, and lemon juice. The taste follows the aromas note for note. It drinks crisp, dry, carbonated, and refreshing. It is almost impossible not to chug and drink in great draughts. This is a good and very drinkable radler. 


Toppling Goliath Watershed Wheat

The Toppling Goliath Brewing Company is in Decorah, Iowa. This wheat beer's label credits crop circles to aliens.

The beer pours a cloudy amber with dull burnt orange tint. There is a tall half-inch of white to off-white head that does not last particularly long. The aroma is red plum jam and browned wheat bread toast. The taste follows the aromas, adding in a bit of estery fruit and a fairly bitter finish. The mouthfeel is somewhat watery, with a moderate carbonation. This is the only TG beer I have ever tried that I would not drink again (I have been lucky enough to try more of their releases than I have missed).  I find them to be the best brewery in Iowa, and one of the best in the country, but this one just doesn't work for me.


Tin Whiskers Parity Pilsner

This 4.8% ABV pilsner beer is from the Tin Whiskers Brewing Company of St. Paul, Minnesota. All of their beers are named after things to do with electrical circuitry. So, their motto is "Join the Resistance."  Get it?

The beer pours a clear light golden yellow in color. There is an inch of pure white head. The aroma is light bread dough, grass, and lemony citrus. The taste follows the aromas, a fruity and bready pilsner, with a dry finish. The bitterness on the finish starts mild, builds to a fair intensity, and then wanes to moderate. The beer drinks easy, with a moderate carbonation. This is a light and fruity American pilsner, well-suited for drinking outside on a warm day.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Hobbit: Gollum Precious Pils

This 9.0% ABV imperial pilsner is part of the line of beers inspired by the Hobbit and made by Fish Tale Ales, the Fish Brewing Company, of Olympia, Washington. This beer also has a whopping 85 IBU's. If you have not read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you are really missing out (and the movies aren't too bad either).

The beer pours a light amber in color. There is over an inch of thick, foamy, slightly ragged off-white head that leaves very thick and sticky lacing on the glass. The aroma is bread dough, caramel, with a bit of fruit. The taste follows the aromas to a point, but then there is a bit of dish water tartness, followed by a massive bitterness that is incongruous to the fruity sweetness of the malt. If this was a dry, grassy, straw type of pils, the high bitterness would work better. The beer drinks nicely carbonated, with a refreshing feel on the throat.  This is an amber lager that tries to be a pils through bitterness alone, and overall it doesn’t work for me.


Toppling Goliath Intergalactic Warrior IPA

The Toppling Goliath Brewing Company is in Decorah, Iowa. This India Pale Ale is made with, keep the name of the beer in mind here, Galactic and Warrior hops.

The beer pours a bit hazy and the color of dried apricots. There is an inch of thick, long-lasting, white foamy head. Extensive and sticky lacing is left on the glass. The aroma is dank, a touch of pine, tangy and zesty citrus, lime, and passion fruit. The taste is both dank and juicy at the same time, bright and tangy citrus juice, with a dry and quite bitter finish. The bitterness increases between sips, ramping up to the effect of drinking tonic water while biting grapefruit skins. The beer drinks smooth and refreshing.


Toppling Goliath Light Speed Pale Ale

The Toppling Goliath Brewing Company is in Decorah, Iowa. This pale ale is made with Millenium and Falconer's Flight hops. Based on that, it used to be called Millenium Falcon, but I guess that the owners of the rights to Star Wars came calling.

The beer pours honey golden with orange tints. There is a tall, thick, foamy head of white that leaves sticky lacing down the glass. The aroma is a very bright citrus, tangy, zesty, with mango skin and light tropical fruit. The taste follows the aromas directly, zesty and bright citrus notes abounding, lighter tropical underneath, with enough toasted malt to hold all the hops up, but that also lets them shine. The finish is fairly bitter and dry. The beer drinks easy, medium body, smooth, with a tingle of soft carbonation. A very well done beer, a hop head’s pale ale with brighter and tastier hops than most IPA’s.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Toppling Goliath 1492

The Toppling Goliath Brewing Company is in Decorah, Iowa. This India Pale Ale features Columbus hops (now do you get the name?).

The beer pours a lightly hazed orange, amber and apricot in color. There is a short head of white foam that leaves a sticky lattice of lacing down the glass. The aroma is dank, funky, somewhat piney hops, mango skin, with orange and citrus underneath. The taste follows the aromas directly, hitting the same notes, dankness, followed by a bright blast of fruit, with a quite bitter finish, like biting into a grapefruit rind. The beer drinks smooth, easy, and refreshing. 


All Hands On Deck

This English Summer Ale is a collaboration in honor of Des Moines Beer Week 2015 from several brewers from the Des Moines, Iowa area. The brewers are Confluence, 515, Firetrucker, Court Avenue, Exile, Flix Brewhouse, New American, and Rock Bottom. 

The beer pours a cloudy and bubbly golden orange. There is a short and thin head of white foam. The aroma is citrus, lemon and orange, over toasted wheat. The taste follows the aromas, fruity, lightly sweet, over toasted grains, before a moderately bitter and dry finish. The beer drinks easy and refreshing. This is a very nice summer beer, understated, but tasty and drinkable.


Toppling Goliath X-Hops White Pale Ale

The Toppling Goliath Brewing Company is in Decorah, Iowa. This is the most recent release in their X-hop series of pale ales using experimental hops. The beer was bottled on June 15, 2015 and consumed on June 17, so freshness is definitely not an issue.

The beer pours the color honey and dried apricots mixed together. There is a tall head of thick, foamy white. The aroma is bright and citrusy, fresh squeezed citrus juice mingled with the essential oils squirting out as you squeeze. There are lighter notes of tropical melons and mango skin with a light toastiness in the background. The taste follows the aromas, lots of tangy and fresh citrus and fruits, along with some toasted wheat. The finish is dry and moderately bitter, like biting into a grapefruit. The beer drinks easy, round, smooth, with a light tingle of carbonation. Tasty, enjoyable, and drinkable!


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Steel Toe Brewing Size 7 IPA

Steel Toe Brewing is in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The boot motif on their labels is an appealing graphic design to me.

This 7.0% ABV India Pale Ale has 77 IBU's (detecting a pattern here?). The beer pours a glowing copper and amber in color with a tall, thickly foamy white to off-white head.  The aroma is floral, cantaloupe and light pine.  The taste is lightly fruity, a bit of pine, strong tea, and a very bitter finish that is reminiscent of grapefruit peels. The beer is medium bodied, moderately carbonated, and drinks refreshing with its just right carbonation and quenchingly bitter and dry finish. The bottle says if you dare call this beer balanced, they will kick you in your hop sack.


Abita Wrought Iron IPA

This 6.9% ABV India Pale Ale is from the Abita Brewing Company of Abita Springs, Louisiana. It uses Apollo, Equinox, and Mosaic hops.

The beer pours a lightly hazy apricot in color. There is a tall, very thick, foamy head of white. The aroma is oranges, ripe melons, mango skins, sweet and ripe and full. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all of the same notes. The finish is dry, pithy, and moderately bitter. The beer drinks smooth with a subtle carbonation. This won't blow you away, but it makes for a nice and drinkable IPA.


Bent Paddle Harness the Winter IPA

This 7.2% ABV India Pale Ale is from the Bent Paddle Brewing Company of Duluth, Minnesota. According to the can its name is inspired by sled dogs.  "The wheel dog is positioned just in front of the sled. A good wheeler is robust and steadfast - much like our Winter IPA."  The beer is brewed with oats and rye in addition to malted barley. As you can tell from its name, I am getting to this one a bit late.

The beer pours a deep amber, into dark chestnut brown, burnt orange, and garnet. There is a tall, thick, foamy, head of light tan, that leaves ragged and sticky lacing down the glass. The aroma is dankness and pine, fruits, tropical and dark, sweet, yet tangy, along with toasted caramel malt, I’m getting to this beer a bit late, but I can tell by the aroma that it is still going to be quite good. The taste follows the aromas, hitting all the notes of malts and hops, drinking smooth and rich, with a fairly bitter finish. The beer is refreshing and elegantly smooth. Oh my god this is good, I hope that next winter I can get some right when it comes out.


Schlitz Red Bull Malt Liquor

The Schlitz Malt Liquor Bulls are from the Stroh's Brewery which is now owned by the Pabst Brewing Company who has all their beers contract brewed.  I vaguely remember Schlitz Blue Bull being very popular in the late 1970's.  They even had national television ads where the bull would crash into some place and they had some celebrity endorsers.  You can find some of the old commercials on You Tube.

All the Schlitz Bulls now have some letter "code" and not just their color.  Red Bull is "X.L." for Xtra Long Malt Liquor. It is 5.9% ABV and pours a medium golden in color with an inch of foamy white head and a tornado of carbonation in the glass.  The head leaves medium lacing down the glass.  The aroma is slightly sweet, some toasted grain, cooked corn and green apple.  The taste follows the aroma pretty closely, sweetness, both grain and fruit, a bit of toasted grain, with a semi-sweet and tart finish. The beer drinks smooth and moderately carbonated.  It gets a bit better as you move through the 40. Interestingly, their website says the extra long means it is aged longer, yet it has far more green apple off-flavors in it than Blue Bull.  Apparently the green apple off-flavors are from bottling a beer way too soon. 

The Blue Bull is still the best of the Bulls.


Special Export

I remember seeing Special Export on the shelf as a kid and thinking, wow, it's special!  And it's good enough for export!  That really is special! Which is probably the effect they were hoping for at the time. This beer was from the G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the early 1980's the fourth largest brewer in the United States. All of their brands are now owned by Pabst. This beer remains popular in Minnesota.


The beer pours a clear golden yellow in color. There is about an inch of white, fluffy, foamy head. The aroma is grassy, a bit of lager funk, light golden grain, with a light tart note in the back. The taste is semi-sweet grain, some grass and straw, light lagerish funk. There is a light bitterness on the lightly dry finish. The beer drinks crisply carbonated, with a pleasant sting on the throat, but also a touch of smooth. As far as American adjunct lagers go, this is near the top.



Castle Danger Double Crossing IPA

This 9.1% ABV India Pale Ale is from the Castle Danger Brewery of Two Harbors, Minnesota. It was originally brewed as their second anniversary celebration beer in 2013. It has now become a spring seasonal offering from them.

The beer pours a light amber, dark apricot in color. There is an inch of white foamy head. The aroma is very ripe tropical fruits, citrus and apricot. The taste is very rich and ripe tropical fruits, lush, nearly overripe, sweet, but with tartness. The hops shine, but there is enough malt to hold it all up in balance. The beer drinks quite smooth, a bit spicy, with a moderate bitterness that would be more but for the sweetness in the beer. This is very good.


Tallgrass 16-Bit DPA

The Tallgrass Brewing Company is in Manhattan, Kansas. This is a 6.2% ABV Double Pale Ale. I really enjoyed their 8-Bit Pale Ale, so I have been eager to try this ever since I heard they were brewing it.  It took awhile, but I finally got a can of it.

The beer pours the color of orange tinted honey, with some dried apricot thrown in. It has a tall, foamy, bubbling head of white. The aroma is ripe tropical fruits, mango, orange, citrus, and a bit of pine. The taste follows the aromas, a fruity hop explosion of tropical and citrus notes, ripe, lush, sweet, yet tangy. The finish is moderately bitter and dry. The beer drinks amazingly smooth. This is great! It was a long wait to try this beer, but worth it.


Schell's Stag Series Batch No. 9: Cave-Aged Barrel-Aged Lager

This is offering number nine in the Stag Series of limited release beers 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 is a 7.7% ABV dark lager that they put into whiskey barrels and then aged in their naturally cool 19th century lagering caves located deep below the brewery.

The beer pours a very dark brown and dark ruby in color, appearing nearly black. There is nearly an inch of thick, light brown foam that settles down to a long lasting quarter-inch layer. The aroma is roasted malts, sweet whiskey, vanilla, oak, and some brown sugar. The taste follows the aromas, roasted and sweet, but with a dry finish with oak astringency. The whiskey and vanilla soften the roastiness. Damn near every beer gets barrel-aged these days, but you don’t see many lagers.  Maybe more should be barrel aged if this is any indication. 



Mankato Brewery Kato Lager

The Mankato Brewery is in North Mankato, Minnesota. It is the first production brewery in that city since 1967. This 5.0% ABV Munich-style helles lager is apparently based on the lager made by that last previous brewer in the city.


The beer pours a pale golden in color. There is an inch of pure white head that leaves rings of lacing on the glass. The aroma is grassy, grain, bread, touch of straw. The taste follows the aromas, rich, full flavors of grain and bread, some sweetness, but with a grassy finish that is dry and mildly bitter. This is a nice American lager; one of those beers where there is not a lot to say, but you can drink it all day long.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summit Hopvale Organic Ale

This 4.7% ABV ale is from the Summit Brewing Company of St. Paul, Minnesota. It is brewed with all organic ingredients including lemon peel.

The beer pours a hazy golden and apricot in color. There is a tall, raggedly foamy head of white to off white foam that leaves very sticky lacing on the glass. The aroma is fruity hops, lush and ripe melons, orange, citrus, with just a hint of dankness. The taste follows the aromas, putting the fruits over toasted malt. The beer finishes dry with a moderate bitterness.  It drinks incredibly smooth. This is one nice ale.


Old Style

Old Style began in 1902 in La Crosse, Wisconsin, brewed by the G. Heileman Brewing Company (who started as the City Brewery in 1858).  The breweries six grain bins were painted to look like a giant six pack of Old Style (now painted as La Crosse Lager from City Brewing). They were acquired in 1996 by Stroh's who was in turn acquired by Pabst.  Pabst continues to own this brand.  The beer is highly associated with Chicago, and they brand it as such now. Imagine, in 1983 Heileman's was the fourth largest brewer in the United States. I remember in the 1980's their marketing was that their beer was fully "krausened" or conditioned in a closed tank in the old German style.  

The beer pours a pale golden in color. There is a tall head of pure white foam, longer lasting than general for the style. The aroma is grassy and brassy over golden, lightly toasted grain, with a touch of apple. The taste generally follows the aromas, mostly light grain with a bit of grassiness. There is a light touch of sweet, and also a light touch of apple cardboard. The finish has a hint of bitterness, but very mild. It drinks easy, nicely carbonated, with a touch of smoothness. Good for an American adjunct lager.