Tag Archives: Brew Review

Brew Review: Leinenkugel’s Big Eddy

24 Mar

Brew: Big Eddy

Brewed By: Jacob Leinenkugel Brewery Co. (Chippewa Falls, WI)

Style:  Russian Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV)

When I first ordered a Big Eddy at my local gastropub I was a little wary. Most of the Leinie’s brews I have tried in the past have been merely a better version of a Bud or a mediocre attempt at some other more interesting style.  They really have just all fallen short of what I would have hoped for.  Needless to say, when they brought out this heavy, tar-lookin’ brew I was expecting a hollow beer that slid down my throat like a bock or a lighter ale with a deceptively dark profile.

Big Eddy turned out to be something totally different. It is not only unique in that Leinenkugel’s finally made a pretty good beer for once, the style itself was an exception to the rule.  It is unlike anything I had had before from this Chippewa Falls-based brewery.  Out there in the backwoods of Wisconsin they have created something that was unprecedented to my taste buds.  This black beast packs a fruity, bitter, tart punch that puckers my lips when I took a sip.  It is a big beer with a big taste.  This unique quality caught me off guard in a good way.  I like the fact that this pitch-black pint threw me a curve and made me really think about what I was trying.  It is enjoyably complex with a lot going on and the bitterness starts to mellow out as the beer warms up, which it inevitably did, as I took my time; this was not a brew that was to be thrown back like a Silver Bullet.  After letting the brew mellow, the fruity, sweet flavors jumped out and took me for a ride.

On the whole, I am pleasantly surprised and happy with the brew that Leinie’s came up with.  The name fits nicely as this is a BIG beer with a lot to offer. Good for a cold winter night by the fire when you need something to warm up your insides.

Final Grade: B+

Brew Review: New Glarus Back 40 Bock

23 Feb

Brew: Back 40 Bock

Brewed By: New Glarus (New Glarus, WI)

Style: Bock (5.5% ABV)

Back 40 Bock from New Glarus is a cute beer. Reggie Bush dancing-around-in-the-backfield-and –covering-thirty-yards-to-gain-two cute. It’s the guy who always seems to immediately fall into the ‘friend’ category with the pretty girls and never gets another shot at the big time. Granted, it’s better than being Brandon Jackson or the creepy guy who girls avoid at all costs, but it’s not really where you want to be.

Bocks were originally brewed by Belgian and Bavarian monks as sustenance to get them through the fasting of the Lenten season. They are supposed to be big, strong, calorie-filled, malty brews that stick to your ribs and warm your soul. In Germany it is sometimes referred to as ‘liquid bread’.  Not so much with Back 40. Although it’s a nice, drinkable cerveza, it doesn’t really hit you like an excellent bock can and should.

Usually stellar New Glarus brewmaster, Dan Carey, takes a long-lived traditional lager and puts training wheels on it, making it more broadly acceptable beverage, but one that will neither wow you nor get you through 46 days of piety and hunger. This is a solid beer that I would gladly drink, but probably won’t buy anymore sixers of it myself.

Enjoy it while it lasts, make it breakfast in the morning, give it a kiss on the cheek, and move on to bigger and better bocks.

Final Grade: B-

Brew Review: St. Rogue Red Ale

22 Feb

Brew: Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale

Brewed by: Rogue Ales (Ashland, OR)

Style: Red Ale (5.1% ABV)

Let me start off by saying that I am a fan of red ales and a fan of Rogue brews.  After selecting this bottle off the shelf at the Ale Jail, I was pretty excited to see what it had to offer.  It had a nice rich deep ruby/red color when I poured it into the glass, I was happy about this.  It smelled sweet, which in my mind is how a red ale should smell, and I was pretty excited about that.  On a second whiff, I noticed those hops that they are talking about in the name where it mentions, “dry hopped.”  This was pretty neat.  Not only is it a red ale that is nice and malty, but its got a nice hop section that sings out from the background and if you really think about it, will step up to the plate show you what it can do.

It went down really smooth and was a sweet the whole way through.  It’s a cool 5.1% so not something that will sit you down and m ake you stay there, but it’s a solid session beer that keeps its flavor after it warms.

For all those who enjoy a solid red this is a good choice.  Rogue has put out some excellent beers and this is another you can add to the list.  The only side I didn’t really get that I expected out of it was it told me it was dry hopped, which usually leads me to believe there will be a bigger hop presence.  The hops showed up in the aroma but they sort of lost their presence in the flavor and finish of the brew, not to say they weren’t there but i was expecting more.  Oh well, this one is pretty damn good otherwise so I won’t make too big a fuss over it.  I only wish I had like 10 more instead of just this one.

Final Grade:  B+

Brew Review: Rush River Double Bubble

20 Feb

Brew: Double Bubble

Brewed by: Rush River Brewing Co. (River Falls, WI)

Style: Imperial India Pale Ale (9.0% ABV)

I can say that overall this was an Imp IPA that did not bide by the usual rules of the style.  This beer pours out a little cloudy, not something I was used to, looked more like a summer hefe or something.  It didn’t have that knock you on your ass hop smell that blasts out of the bottle right when you open it and it sat in the glass sort of biding its time waiting for you to take the first sip.

I should mention here that it says it is brewed with honey, actually the whole ingredient list is “water, barley, wheat, hops, yeast and honey.”  How is it that something so good (beer) is so simple?  Back to the honey, I think that because of this added ingredient the overall assault of the senses that an Imp IPA usually rages out with is dimmed in this brew.  It is a silent killer at 9% but it doesn’t drink like something that heavy, more like that summer hefe I mentioned before.

The taste just wasn’t something that made me want to get a whole case of it.  Unique, but I am partial to the hop-bombs that are par for the course in an IPA, especially an Imperial one at that.

This might be a beer that will take a couple tries to really appreciate it to its fullest.  Its not something that tastes terrible, but it is something that I was not expecting at all and therefore I need to be ready for it next time.

Final Grade:  C+

Brew Review: Surly Cynic Ale

15 Feb

Brew: Surly Cynic Ale

Brewed by: Surly Brewing Co. (Minneapolis, MN)

Style: Belgian Style Saison/Pale Ale (6.5% ABV)

Here we go with another yellow bubbly beer that comes from a can, good thing Surly tells us right on the top of that same can that this is “beer for a glass, from a can.”  Right away after pouring this into said glass, I can tell that this is not the yellow/clear piss that Grandpa James drinks and tells me that anything different is a “lady drink.”

The thing that really grabs my attention on this beer is the aroma.  This smells peppery and for some reason I can’t get the idea of a can of corn out of my head.  I think that’s the saison style coming through with the smell of the farm and the fields after a hard days work in the French speaking Belgian countryside.

The flavor is not as intriguing as the aroma but it has its good qualities.  The peppery flavor continues on here and it as easy drinking as it looks.  Good thing it only comes in pint cans because it went down almost too smooth and I found myself wondering how I only had a few sips left after only 10 minutes.  I can see why those farm workers/slaves used it in place of water.

This is a beer that is solid all around, I have not tried many saison style beers but of the few that I have had this ranks as the top.  The aroma can’t be beat and when I run out of water here in the land of the free and home of the brave (St. Paul) and the lakes are all frozen I can easily grab one of these and it works just the same.

Final Grade: B+

Brew Review: Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse

8 Feb

Brew: Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse

Brewed By: Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu (Munich, Germany)

Style: Hefeweizen (ABV: 5.0%)

If there was one word I’d use to describe Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse it’d have to be ‘Ahhhh’.  Pretty much every aspect of this beer satisfies.  It’s a nice cloudy beer that fills up your mouth with flavor without sticking to your ribs and weighing you down.  It’s also got a cool long German name so you can sound smart when you take a sip, wipe the foam from your upper lip, nod wisely, and explain to your bros that the name means ‘Franciscan monk wheat beer’ auf Deutsch.

Hefeweizen’s are usually some of my favorites and this one is in the upper echelon of the mass-produced variety.  It has a nice orange rind tang when you smell it and when you taste it, like Blue Moon on steroids.  Good enough for a beer snob, but also universal enough for the beer snob’s girlfriend to enjoy.  I’d definitely recommend this brew for all you bros (and gals) out there.

Final Grade: B