Quote of The Week

14 Aug


“Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.”
– Tom Robbins

New MN/WI Beer

9 Aug



Another article from the Growler (www.growlermag.com) about new breweries opening up in the greater Twin Cities area. Easy and fun way to catch up on big news.

Brew Review: Outta Kilter

9 Aug

outa kilterBrew: Outta Kilter
Brewed by: Hoppin’ Frog Brewery (Akron, OH)
Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy (8.2% ABV)

Not my first beer from Hoppin’ Frog but my first review here of one of their beers. They are best known for their B.O.R.I.S. imperial stout, which I have had, but decided I wanted to see what else they had to offer when I picked this up on a little trip over to WI. The label has this listed as a ‘wee heavy scotch style red ale’ which is a lot to throw into a style so I think I am going to just stick with the scotch ale or wee heavy since that will probably encompass most of what’s happening in this brew.
The Outta Kilter poured out a thick murky copper color, very dark copper. A very dark red that gave way to a big loose head that was a reddish white color. I liked the appearance but I wish it would have been a little clearer. The murk that came with it wasn’t really part of either a red ale or a scotch ale.
The aroma of the brew was what I would expect out of a big hoppy red ale or an imperial red ale. Lots of nice hop smell backed up with a solid malt bill supporting them. There was some nice warming booze in the aroma well but mostly dominated by the malt.
The taste was full of sweet sugary malts with hints of peat smoke as well. The booze is present but not bad in any way. The scotch style shone through in this part of the beer and it was very tasty.
I think this beer sort of straddled the line between a scotch ale and an imperial red. There were distinct elements to both fused into this one beer. In the end I really liked the outcome. I have a soft spot for hoppy red ales and I have been one to try a scotch ale whenever I can so this beer sort of took care of 2 beers with one drink so to speak. The balanced aspects of the scotch ale and red ales really made a quite enjoyable beer. It’s a bit heavier so I wouldn’t recommend for a summer sipping but with fall and football season right around the corner here this would be a great bottle to brush off and really get into.

Final Grade: B+

Brew Review: Chasin’ Freshies

9 Aug

freshiesBrew: Chasin’ Freshies
Brewed by: Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR)
Style: American Fresh Hop IPA (7.4% ABV)

Another offering from the great Deschutes brewery, this one is part of the Bond Street Series that the brewery has experimented with. This brew is available from Oct. – Dec. and I am writing this review up from old notes from last year. So if this review really turns you on to this beer it should be showing up here in the next couple months for your drinking pleasure. This beer is described as a fresh hop IPA, I’ll let Deschutes explain that further: “At harvest, we rush Goschie Farms’ Cascade hops fresh from vine to kettle. Not any Cascades, mind you, but an heirloom strain, from a single field, restored from the original rhizome.” So this brew is a fresh Cascade beer, an idea I really like and hoped worked for this beer.
The Freshie poured out a golden yellow. It was clear and the bubbles keep rising, solid carbonation. The carbonation creates a thin white head, not especially impressive but the beer looked tasty either way.
The aroma was of grassy herbal hops. I usually think cascade hops lend bright citrus and floral aromas and tastes. However, this one seemed more like a nugget hop was present with the herbal and earthy tones I smelled. After the hops, there was a faint bready malt character that came through. Looking up the beer on the Brewery website it looks like they brewed it was pilsner malt and flaked oats which definitely lends to the basic malt bill and basic bread aromas coming off the beer.
On to how the beer tastes. Up front on the first sip there was the floral hop taste that I have come to expect from cascades. After that bit of floral goodness, which you could tell at least for a bit was from fresh hops, the bitterness swung in. After that there really isn’t much to talk about. After the initial fresh cascade floral treat the bitterness came and dominated the taste and didn’t really leave room for anything else.
The idea of this beer is a good one, take a super basic recipe, cascades and pilsner malt and add a little twist, the fresh hops. Seems like a great idea since the cascades are such a versatile and well known hop. However, it sort of fell short in my opinion. I think they tried to do this as an IPA when they should have done sort of what Schell’s did with their Fresh Hop Pils. The basic pils beer was great, just like Deschutes Mirror Pond or Inversion IPA is and with an addition of fresh cascades it could be even better. Thinking back on the description from the website it looks like this is an old school rhizome of the cascade hop which also might have had something to do with how this turned out. Hops have become higher in the acids that lend bitterness and their amazing aromas and flavors over the years and maybe this strand was a subtle earlier ancestor of what we know as cascades today. Needless to say I think I should probably try this one again to give it another opinion, oh well more beer for me.

Final Grade: B-

MN Beer

8 Aug


A good article on some beer news in Nordeast.

Joseph Wolf Berliner Weiss

8 Aug

wolf weissBrew: Joseph Wolf Berliner Weiss
Brewed by: Joseph Wolf Company (Stillwater, MN)
Style: Berliner Weiss/Sour Wheat Ale (4.3% ABV)

I realize that it has been a very, very long time since I have added anything to this blog but I have been drinking some pretty good stuff recently so I figured I would put up a couple of new reviews. This brew comes from Stillwater MN, a relatively new brewery like within the last couple months. The Berliner Weiss beer has been gaining popularity over the last 6 months and many craft breweries are hustling to capitalize on peoples need for a bit of sour refreshment in their lives (on a side note, get a hold of Schell’s Star of the North Berliner Weiss if you can, it is most definitely a winner). For some more info on what a Berliner Weiss bier should be check here.
Now that I we have gotten past the formalities on to the beer. The beer poured out a bright lively yellow color. There was a fair amount of carbonation on the first pour from the 750mL bottle which ended up settling down into a nice little cap of white head on this effervescent beer. Another side note, this style of beer used to be called the ‘Champagne of the North’ and was favored by Napoleons troops because of the high carbonation and very refreshing character.
The aroma coming out of this beer was a little like lemons. There was some lactic acid that you could tell was present in the beer from the strains of yeast used. Otherwise it was crisp and slightly citrusy. Not a huge amount of fragrance coming from this beer but it was very enjoyable and probably correct for the style from what I got.
The taste was very pleasant. It was bubbly in my mouth, like champagne, and went down very smooth. At 4.3% it would be hard for this to burn in any way with alcohol and this was more like sparkling juice thank anything in that respect. The main aspect of a Berliner Weiss is the tart, sour or lactic flavors that are not like a gueuze or other beer that is known for its very active sour profile. The Berliner Weiss is better known to be refreshing with a background of sour. This beer was almost there in that respect. It came off as more sweet than sour and the sour notes were there but not in the force that I was wanting for.
For the most part this beer was good, I would argue that for 10 or 11 bucks (I can’t remember how much I paid for it) there are better options out there. The amount of sour associated with the beer should have been higher and the sweet would have then balanced out. Otherwise the appearance, aroma and most of the flavor was really solid. I will probably search out the other offering from Joseph Wolf I believe a Belgian golden ale.

Final Grade: B+

New MN Brew

7 Dec




Check out this nice little article about a few new breweries that are opening up right here in the Twin Cities area hopefully within the next few months.  More beer is never a bad thing.  Two of these are also within walking distance of my house so if you want to get out and try some new stuff I will be right there. 

Brew Review: Narwhal (2012 Vintage)

20 Nov

Brew: Narwhal (2012 Vintage)

Brewed by: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, CA)

Style: Imperial Stout (10.2% ABV)


It is officially stout season 2012.  Recently a plethora of breweries have put out their seasonal stouts in preparation for the colder months where it’s acceptable to sit around all day, watch TV and drink nice heavy beers to keep you warm.  Sierra Nevada throws out its Narwhal imperial stout as a limited release, not as abundant as its seasonal lineup. Either way this brewery is so big that there is plenty of Narwhal to go around for all the stout seekers out there.  I picked up a 4-pack of this big beer, drank one right away and plan on having the 3 throughout the winter and into next year to see how well they develop and change. 

The Narwhal poured out black.  Not much else to describe there as with most imperial stouts.  No light shone through and it looked like night.  There was a thin cap of head that was slightly tan.  Not an impressive head for a big beer like this, I have probably been spoiled by the head that shows up on Founders Breakfast Stout, that one is amazing.

The aroma of this beer is full of malts up front.  The roast is subdued which leads to more of the dark fruit, molasses, some coffee and chocolate taking up the smell and running with it.  A slight roast is a good balance but it’s nowhere near the center of attention.  A really complex and deep aroma wafts off this whale. 

The taste is slightly bitter due to the roast. That bitterness lingers but gives way to more chocolate and coffee roast.  Surprisingly it isn’t a super thick brew as the look would suggest.  The hops are still present as this brew is still fresh.  It is nicely creamy as it warms up. 

The Narwhal is somewhat boring in its fresh state.  There really isn’t anything that makes me want it again and again.  I still enjoyed it because I love imperial stouts but it could use some work. I am hoping that age will work wonders for this brew.


Final Grade: B

Quote of the Week

13 Nov

“I’ll have another beer.  I’m not driving.”

–Father Theodore, Trappist Monk



Brew Review: Black Helicopter Stout

12 Nov

Brew: Black Helicopter

Brewed by: Flat Earth Brewing Co. (St. Paul, MN)

Style: Oatmeal Coffee Stout (5.2% ABV)


Flat Earth brewing again.  This beer seems to be their most popular after their fall seasonal release of Mummy Train pumpkin porter.  So I saw it for a marked down price, I think it had been sitting on the shelf for about a year at my local bottle shop and they finally marked it down.  I don’t know for sure because Flat Earth doesn’t do bottle dates on their single bottles but I have a pretty good idea.  Haven’t had much luck with any Flat Earth brews but here goes.

The Black Helicopter poured out pitch black, pretty much what you would expect. Half inch tan or khaki head reduces down to nothing, not even a cap of foam on this brew after a minute or so. Average looking stout, the head dissipation was a bit disappointing. 

Upon first whiff, this beer emanates rich roast and coffee smells.  Smells kind of like stepping into a Caribou or Starbucks, pretty much dominated by coffee.  I can pick up that this is going to have some bitterness lying underneath from the roast and coffee.  There is a bit of breadiness that shows up as well.

The taste is lots of coffee.  Dominated by coffee with a thin mouthfeel to it. Slight bitterness from the brunt and roasted grains and the additional Dunn Brothers added coffee.  There is not much else from this brew other than coffee and bitterness.  Nothing sweet to round it out, maybe should have added a creamer and some sugar to this black cup o’ Joe.  No chocolate, nothing.  just a hollow tang that leaves my mouth with an unpleasant aftertaste.

This beer needed more, lots more.  It needed maybe some more oats to smooth the body out and maybe some lactose to increase the mouthfeel.  It desperately needed some sweetness to combat the bitter tang from the coffee and burnt grains.  This has the start of a good brew but the recipe needs to be tweaked to really make it pop.  I will give it the benefit of the doubt but it has a long way to go.


Final Grade: C+