Saturday, April 30, 2016

Leinenkugel's Grapefruit Shandy Review



Name: Leinenkugel's Grapefruit Shandy
Style: Radler
ABV: 4.2%
IBUs: N/A

Now that spring is officially here, it's time to finally start switching gears to more season appropriate beers....just kidding, I'm reviewing whatever I feel like but I do plan on looking at some more spring-ish beers coming up. With that said, let's take a look at today's beer: Leinenkugel's Grapefruit Shandy.

Introduced last spring as part of one of their many shandy seasonals, Grapefruit Shandy was amongst the most popular of sellers at the bar I worked at last year. I recall the rep telling me that it was created as a way to capitalize on the whole grapefruit craze that has been running its course for the better part of a year.

Appearance - Very cloudy yellow color with no visible carbonation. The head is rather thin for the most part but it has some great retention, though there is no lacing left behind.

Aroma - Grapefruit & orange juice with some light pale malts and wheat notes. If you were to blindfold me and make me smell this, I'd swear it would be grapefruit juice. It's powerful but it feels a bit artificial.

Taste - Grapefruit & orange peel on the front of the palate with some malted wheat towards the middle. The back of the palate is more grapefruit notes with some pale malts and more light malted wheat. The grapefruit definitely isn't as strong here as it was in the nose....and that's probably a good thing.

You know what? I like this and it's probably my favorite shandy from Leinenkugel's thus far. The grapefruit element is pronounced without being over-powering and it's just a good sessionable beer that you can turn your mind off to as you drink it.

Leinenkugel's Grapefruit Shandy - 8/10

Friday, April 29, 2016

Mankato Boomchickapop Popcorn Ale Review



Name: Mankato Boomchickapop Popcorn Ale
Style: Saison
ABV: 5%
IBUS: 24

We've seen beer made with apples, cocoa nibs, coffee beans, and even goat brains but now Mankato Brewery has given us a beer that even I couldn't have forseen: a beer made with popcorn. More specifically: Angie's Boomchickapop Popcorn, which is also based out of Mankato, MN. When I first saw this, I assumed it was an April Fool's joke, because the day I first saw this was during April Fool's Day but later that day, reports started coming in that it was available at stores in the Mankato-area and then last week, it was on store shelves here in Minneapolis.

True to their word, one of the ingredients listed in here is popcorn. Not stuff that tastes like popcorn but actual Angie's popcorn. I have to give both companies credit because popcorn is definitely not at the top of my list in terms of ingredients I'd use in beer. You know, this almost reminds me of Fulton's Hefewheaties, which was disappointingly made with no Wheaties.

Appearance - Mildly hazy yellow color with a high amount of carbonation. The head is on the fizzier but with a high amount of volume side and here isn't much lacing left behind.

Aroma - Belgian yeasts with some pale malts and light floral hoppiness. I am getting a fairly light popcorn scent in here as well but it definitely isn't as strong as the rest of the nose.

Taste - Belgian yeasts and light cloves in the front with some floral hops towards the back along with some pale malts and a light hint of popcorn. For those of you wondering, the popcorn aspect of the flavor is just plain. Meaning that it doesn't taste salty or buttery but rather like it just came out of an air popper. It's like flavorless popcorn if that makes any sense.

The popcorn aspect of the flavor is, for the most part, a novelty but this still comes across as a good Saison, which I think was their original intent and if anything, proves that you can make a great beer with even the most unlikeliest of things. If this were more expensive, I would say pass on it but since it commands a fairly reasonable price point, I say this is worth a gander.

Mankato Boomchickapop Popcorn Ale - 8/10

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lift Bridge 93X The Brotherhood Review



Name; Lift Bridge 93X The Brotherhood 
Style: Light Lager
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: N/A

Let's turn back the clock to November when I reviewed Good Ass Beer, an offering from the Rhinelander/Minhas Brewing Company. I first heard about this beer from listening to the 93X Half Assed Morning Show when they were promoting the hell out of this beer last summer. When I got around to having it, I thought it was very bland & watery and even suggested that they call it Bland Ass Beer because that's pretty much what it was.

Well a few weeks ago on my way into work, I was listening to the 93X Half Assed Morning Show when they were talking about The Brotherhood, a lager made exclusively for them by Lift Bridge Brewing. I'm guessing either people were catching on to the fact that Good Ass Beer was not actually good or that the crew over at 93X couldn't keep lying to themselves about how bland the beer itself was. I say this because on the front on the can, it's referred to as a "Smooth Ass Beer", no doubt a jab at the white canned menace that we all know and love.

Appearance - Clear pale yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head itself is quite thin with some decent retention though there is nothing in terms of lacing

Aroma - Pale malts with some light barley & bubblegum notes. Not really getting much in terms of hops, save for a very faint floral aroma.

Taste - Pretty similar to the nose. You've got some pale malts that linger throughout along with some more barley & bubblegum notes on the back of the palate with just a light touch of floral hoppiness to finish things off. As for the aftertaste, it's pretty dry with no flavors.

To my knowledge, this is the first lager ever released on a wide scale by Lift Bridge and it's a pretty good one at that. If this is the beer that 93X wants to have their name plastered on, then it's a very wise decision. That said, it's by no means a complex beer but this isn't necessarily supposed to be and that's alright. If you see this, check it out, you may surprised!

Lift Bridge 93X Brotherhood Brew - 8/10

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Grain Belt Lock & Dam Review



Name: Grain Belt Lock & Dam
Style: Amber/Vienna Lager
ABV: 5%
IBUs: N/A

I'm a terrible Minnesotan. Despite having this blog for just over 3 years, I have never reviewed Grain Belt or Grain Belt Nordeast, which are staples of the Minnesota beer scene and though I've had them both before, I just never bothered to review them. I digress, there's no point over dwelling on the past, let's focus on the latest iteration of the Grain Belt Series (Can I call it that yet?)

I give you Grain Belt Lock & Dam, another nod to Minneapolis' history much like how Nordeast was a nod to Northeast Minneapolis. The name is a referral to the St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam along the Mississippi River right by the iconic Grain Belt sign in Minneapolis. Also, I have seen a bunch of ads both online and in print regarding this beer since the start of this year. I mean, we're talking more so than New Belgium's Slow Ride, so you know that Schell's is obviously putting a lot of money into marketing this beer, so let's see if the hype is worth it.

Appearance - Clear orange color with a very high amount of visible carbonation. The head is fairly thin in appearance but is quite foamy and has some surprisingly good retention. The lacing is on the soapier side though and is rather sparse

Aroma - Pale and light Vienna malts with some light floral hops with just a touch of tastiness.

Taste - Vienna malts and light roasted barley notes followed by some light bitter & floral hops. The finish is quite dry, save for a bitter hoppiness that lingers on the back of the palate for a couple of moments.

Much like Nordeast when it first came out 6 years ago, I anticipate there will be a lot of people buying this because it's decent. However, the other thing Lock & Dam shares in common with Nordeast is that it's fairly unremarkable because it is a beer meant to appeal to the masses and frankly, that's fine. Grain Belt isn't supposed to be a thinking man's beer but just simply a beer you drink. It's inoffensive & it's good for what it is. That said, if you happen to see this, there's no shame in picking this up.

Grain Belt Lock & Dam - 7.5/10

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dogfish Head Immort Ale Review



Name: Dogfish Head Immort Ale
Style: Strong Ale
ABV: 11.5%
IBUs: 50

As happy as I was to move back to the Twin Cities last year to start graduate school, there are times where I still miss Duluth and the things I used to do there. Things like riding my bike out to Park Point, having a Sammy's Pizza for dinner, catching a local show at the Red Herring Lounge, and driving over to Superior for beers that can't be found in Minnesota. That's right, it's been well over a year since I last reviewed anything from Dogfish Head, which was featured fairly regularly on this blog (amongst other brands) while I lived in Duluth.

Last weekend, I was in Hudson to visit Pitchfork Brewing when I stopped at Casanova to see what was available. When I was there, I decided to grab some Dogfish Head, particularly ones that I hadn't tried yet. Well, I had a difficult time doing that but I ended up going with today's beer (Plus a 4-pack of Burton Baton). I give to you Immort Ale, a strong ale that is made with vanilla, maple syrup and is barrel aged.

Appearance - Dark brown color with no visible carbonation. The head is fairly thin with a faint khaki color but with no lacing left behind on the sides if the glass.

Aroma - Chocolate malts with some maple & molasses notes with a bit of oakiness, a hint of vanilla and a fairly light bitter hoppiness.

Taste - Strong caramel malts and oak on the front of the palate with some vanilla and bitter hops towards the middle. In the back, I'm getting more caramelized malts with some more maple and molasses noted with some light chocolate roastiness and some moderate boozy heat. Aftertaste is some light vanilla boozy heat and oak.

It isn't the best beer I've had from Dogfish Head but it is certainly nowhere near the worst and if anything, I'd say my biggest gripe about this beer is its price. With that said, I like how it tastes remarkably similar to Founders' Old Curmudgeon, albeit a version that is a little rough around the edges. So my advice would be this: If you're willing to pay the price of admission, you might find something to enjoy with this one.

Dogfish Head Immort Ale - 8/10

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tallgrass Sweet Tooth Review




Name: Tallgrass Sweet Tooth
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 9.2%
IBUs: 30

A few months back, I reviewed an offering from Tallgrass Brewing's Explorer Series, which was a variation of their Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat aged in bourbon barrels with cinnamon. I know there have been other offerings but I sadly was not able to get around to them when I first had it. Today, I'm looking at what appears to be the newest offering in that series called Sweet Tooth.

Described as an Belgian Strong Ale with salt and brown sugar, this is apparently an homage to Tallgrass' love for Belgian beers. It's a statement I find a bit ironic considering that I never happen to see these any of their Belgian offerings anywhere on store shelves with the exception of their new Saison, which they released a couple months back. In all honestly, I suspect this beer may have something to do with New Belgium's Salted Caramel Brownie beer that they did as a collaboration with Ben & Jerry's, which to my understanding, was a pretty big hit for the brewery.

Appearance - Mildly hazy dark brown color with no amount of visible carbonation. The head is rather thin and has some semi-decent retention, however I'm getting nothing in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Brown sugar and light Belgian yeasts upfront, followed by a solid caramel malt backbone, some slight saltiness and a hint of dark chocolate. Wouldn't you know it, it smells like an actual salted caramel.

Taste - Much like the aroma, you've got some very strong brown sugar notes upfront with an equally strong caramel malt backbone. Towards the middle, you've got some light Belgian yeasts with a dash of cloves and some noticeable saltiness, which actually counteracts the sheer maltiness remarkably well. In the back is where you get a light hint of floral and bitter hops but that caramel malt, salt and dark chocolate notes almost completely overshadow it. I am getting some mild boozy heat in the back, but it's not enough to ruin the experience.

I'm not sure what Tallgrass' intention was with releasing this beer, but whatever reason it may be, they nailed it. It actually tastes like a salted caramel in liquid form, as hard as it is to believe. It's not too often I see a beer that tries going of a certain flavor and actually meet those expectations but they have done so here. Now I know for a fact it comes in a 4-pack of 12oz. cans (I got this as a single) and it is a bit pricy for what it is & the flavor may be a bit too sweet for some. However, to those looking for something exciting, Sweet Tooth fulfills that criteria.

Tallgrass Sweet Tooth - 9/10

Friday, April 15, 2016

Uinta Farm Side Review



Name: Uinta Farm Side
Style: Saison
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: N/A

I don't think I've ever had anything from Uinta Brewing before even though I seem to see their Hop Nosh IPA seemingly everywhere, plus the people who I've talk to swear by it as being one of the best IPAs in America. However, we're going to focus on their Farm Side Saison, which according to what I've dug up it, it is a brand new release from the brewery as a spring seasonal.

According to the label, it's also made with Gooseberries and white grape must.........or white grape juice. Ok, there's no need to be pretentious here by using fancy wordage, just say white grape juice, it doesn't make you any less of an adult by saying it.

Appearance - Mildly hazy dark yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head is quite thin but has good retention but the lacing left behind is quite sparse.

Aroma - Pilsner malts & lemongrass, followed by some light Belgian yeasts and a touch of floral and citrus hops. I am maybe getting a hint of grape in here but it isn't immediately apparent.

Taste - Pilsner malts and Belgian Yeasts, followed up with some pilsner and pale malts along with some lemongrass. Towards the back, I'm getting some mild spice heat, light Belgian yeasts and a hint of floral hops. Aftertaste is mainly light belgian yeasts and a dash of cloves. Again there's also a light hint of grape in here but I'm not getting any gooseberries.

This is a pretty good Saison, even though I'm not getting much of the flavors touted on the bottle. From what I gathered, it's also very reasonably priced so that also makes it easier to recommend. Plus with spring officially here, this is the perfect beer to mark this occasion.

Uinta Farm Side - 8.5/10

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Five Craft Beer Trends that need to die.

As the craft beer industry continues to grow, trends start to emerge. Some of them are pretty cool; Others........not so much. I've read a couple articles about trends in the craft brewing industry and decided I'd throw my hat into the ring and give you my personal pet peeves of the craft brewing industry. Let's get things started....

Weak Session Beers

The need for session beers first came to prominence when beer drinkers wanted the full flavor of a good beer without sacrificing their sobriety in 1-2 bottles and that's completely understandable. However, there seems to be this increasing trend of session beers that have considerably less flavor than their higher-ABV brethren. Half the time, when I see something labeled as a Session beer, I'll pass on it because I know that the flavor is more likely going to be a letdown unless I've heard that it's supposed to be awesome. I get it, session beers aren't meant to be groundbreaking or revolutionary but we can certainly stop them from sucking.


$15 six-packs

This. Needs. To. Stop.

I'm talking about Ballast Point in particular because they are the worst offenders on this. I can understand paying $15 for a six-pack of an Imperial IPA or Barleywine but charging that same price for a regular IPA or a Cream Ale is ridiculous. Unless that beer is considered to be the universally accepted best beer ever, it isn't worth it. I'll tell you this, I've reviewed a few beers from Ballast Point that I got as singles that would otherwise be from a $15 six-pack and they are definitely not worthy of that price point.

Sure enough, I've seen a couple breweries follow suit with this pricing strategy and so far, it appears to not be working since it's still sitting on the shelf at the stores I visit. I don't know about all of you, but we cannot let that become the new normal in terms of pricing goes. I don't care how anyone justifies it, 6-packs aren't supposed to get that expensive.


Locally Made Beer = Good Beer

I know many people who think that anything that is locally made is automatically good. While I encourage everyone to support their local brewing scene, at least support the ones who are making good beer. I've been to a few taprooms recently that are fairly new and I honestly question whether or not they're going to make it in the long run because of the sub-par quality of their beer. Places like Wabasha Brewing, Eastlake Brewing, Lakes & Legends, and 56 Brewing; the quality of the beers I have had from those breweries has been either inconsistent or just bad, and to me, that is troubling. In my article about Wicked Wort, I mentioned that it was the first new taproom that I had been to in recent memory which had consistently good beer across the board because my visits to the aforementioned taprooms left a literal & figurative bad taste in my mouth and my expectations had been lowered as a result.

Recently I had a bottle of Voyager Brewing's Devil Kettle IPA and it is probably the worst IPA I've had to come out of Minnesota. At first when I had it, I tried to justify myself trying to give it a higher score because their other offerings, while uneventful, were at least decent and drinkable. In the end, I decided that I wasn't going to give into the whole "Minnesota Nice" spiel because this beer was very unpleasing on the palate and I couldn't find a single thing to like about it. Frankly, reviewing that beer made me realize that local beers are just as capable of being just as awful as macrobeers and I think that is something we need to accept but I don't foresee that happening in the near future.

Craft Beer = Good Beer

Much like the last entry, craft beer is perfectly capable of being just as offensive and undrinkable as beers like Bud Light Platinum and Miller Fortune but many people just aren't willing to accept that fact. Many of my readers know that I've come across some pretty awful craft beers and I wasn't afraid to admit it and I'm still not. 

There has been talk for a while about a potential craft beer bubble in the future. For the longest time, I thought it was all hogwash but based on the quality of beers I've had from several different breweries, I start believing that more and more everyday. In the end, the consumer is the driving force for the craft brewing industry and they will speak with their wallets as far as who stays and who goes.

Despite all of that, there are some of the emails I've gotten in the past I can only describe as colorful. There are some out there who I like to call Craft Beer Zealots: people who are huge advocates of craft beer industry but will attack anyone who speaks even slightly ill of craft beer. I even had someone accuse me of being on Anheuser-Busch's payroll for giving a higher score to a Goose Island product than to a beer that I had reviewed earlier in that month.

Because yes, I totally love Bud Light.....

Hey, speaking of which.....

Beer Snobbery:


I know it sounds ironic coming from someone who writes about craft beer but let's get real here. This whole image that anyone who drinks craft beer automatically a snob who looks down upon anyone who drinks anything that isn't defined as "craft" needs to end because there are many people who practice this. Just because some likes to drink Bud Light instead of Pliny the Elder doesn't automatically make them a bad person. Just like how someone who drinks a Three Floyds Zombie Dust doesn't necessarily make them better than someone who decides to drink Natural Ice. It is that type of mentality that has given craft beer drinkers a bad name and companies like Anheuser-Busch know this. That's why they've created those commercials mocking the craft beer industry which has been wildly successful, if not, polarizing because it plays off of and reinforces that "Beer Snob" stereotype that we've all heard so much about.

And yes, I write this even as I quipped this Hunter S. Thompson quote in my previous article:

"Good People Drink Good Beer."
On top of that, there have been efforts by marcobrewers to release their own interpretation of beer styles are that popularized by the craft brewing industry that I don't think get enough credit because it's not from a craft brewer and no one don't give credit where it's due. Blue Moon released a White IPA last year that I thought was good, Leinenkugel's has been on a roll with most of their limited & new releases, and Goose Island, for all the flack they have gotten, are still producing good beers. Despite my preference for craft beer, I can still give credit where it's due.

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So there you have it, my top pet peeves of the craft brewing industry. I hope this article at least gets some people talking about how we as craft beer drinkers conduct ourselves along with how the industry operates.

As always, thank you for your support.

Cheers,

- Nick

Monday, April 11, 2016

Affiliation with Homebrew Supply

My fellow readers,

For the past 3 years, I have been bringing you beer reviews on this website and I still have that excitement of sharing my thoughts with all of you today just as much as I did when I did my first inaugural post. Since then I've been running this website with just a laptop, camera and of course, beer. During this time, the number of craft breweries, along with craft beer drinkers has grown exponentially. Since the popularity of craft beer has risen dramatically, so has the popularity of this website.

For the past couple of years, I have been trying to figure out was I can benefit financially from all of this. Since I'm running this website on the Blogger platform, the preferred choice for generating revenue is Google AdWords. However, AdWords currently prohibits ads on websites that promote the sale of alcohol, and it has cost me quite a bit in missed potential revenue. I've been approached in the past by numerous different companies have offered me money to do promotional posts/spots on this website, but all of these companies had virtually nothing to do with beer so I ended up turning them down because I felt it went against the very purpose of why I created this website.

That puts me in a truly unique position: I want to be able to generate revenue but I want to be able to do so without having to sell my soul for it. Plus I want it to be relevant to what I write about. Running this website certainly isn't free, so what do I do?



Well, recently the guys over at Homebrew Supply approached me and asked if I could become an affiliate of their's and do advertising for them on my website. After much consideration, I have decided it is something that I feel very comfortable with advertising on here because not only does it relate to what I write about but it also allows me to start generating revenue. Plus long time readers of mine know that I have been a huge supporter of upstart breweries for a long time and I strongly encourage anyone who has dreams to be a brewer one day to go for it.

So what's going to change? Absolutely nothing! I'm still going to do beer reviews & articles but you'll now see some banners throughout the website for Homebrew Supply and that's pretty much it. Again, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't feel it wasn't relevant to the content of this website and I feel it strongly relates to what I write about and I'm pretty excited about all of this.

Be sure to check their website out, they have a very good selection of ingredients and equipment to choose from, and plus they have supplies for home distilling, which is something that I haven't seen as of yet.

As always, thank you all for your continued support and remember the immortal words of Hunter S. Thompson:

Good People Drink Good Beer.

Cheers,

- Nick

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Barley John's 6 Knot Review



Name: Barley John's 6 Knot
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: 50

Another beer from Barley John's Brewery for today. Last review, I looked at their Wild Brunette Wild Rice Brown Ale and I thought it was pretty awesome, so naturally I'm pretty excited for today's beer, which is their 6 Knot IPA.

I know that their Old 8 Porter and Wild Brunette are staples at the brewpub in New Brighton but I think this may be an original recipe that was made for when the brewery in Wisconsin opened up, though that is just speculation on my part.

Appearance -  Dark orange color with a light amount of visible carbonation. The head is nice and foamy and has a light khaki color look to it with great retention. On top of that, the lacing left behind is also rather abundant.

Aroma - Citrus hops paired with a very strong caramel malt backbone with just a hint of piney hops towards the back. I'm also getting some dankness in here as well along with some mild licorice notes.

Taste - Dank citrus hops upfront while the middle is this massive caramel malt backbone paired with some mild piney hops. The back end of the flavor is more of that caramel maltiness but in a more candied sense, paired with some mild bitter hops. The aftertaste is mainly more caramel malts with some of those dank citrus hops making another appearance, though it lingers for just a couple moments.

All and all, another fantastic beer from Barley John's. The malt profile is nice and strong and compliments that hops perfectly. I've said before that I'm not as well versed with Barley John's as other local craft breweries out there, but having this beer tells me exactly how they've built up a local following over the years. That said, I can't wait to see what else they bring to the table.

Barley John's 6 Knot - 9/10

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Surly Xtra Citra Pale Ale Review



Name: Surly Xtra Citra Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: N/A

Why......it's a new offering from Surly Brewing! I guess with their new brewery, they've been cranking out new beers left and right this past year and they've truly come up with some cool new beers, both on-tap and in either bottle or canned form.

This newest concoction is called Xtra Citra Pale Ale, which is their session pale ale made with citrus hops, a point which they make painfully obvious in the description on the back side of the can. Some have said that this beer is in response to Toppling Goliath's entrance into the Minnesota market; namely with their PsuedoSue and other beers.

In reality, this beer is actually switching the places of Bitter Brewer, which is being retired in place of this beer. Sad news considering how much I enjoyed that beer but there must've been good reason behind it.

Appearance - Mildly hazy yellow color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is quite thin and filmy but retains for a while and the same thing goes for the lacing, which is also rather mild.

Aroma - Citrus hops and orange peel notes with a solid pale malt backbone. I'm also getting some hints of lemon and just a light touch of bitterness.

Taste - Citrus hops and orange peel with a light bitter hoppiness on the front of the palate. The orange peel carries over to the middle of the palate, where that pale malt backbone makes itself known along with a very light grapefruit flavor. Towards the back, you've got some light citrus hops mixed in with some equally light bitter hops. As for the aftertaste, it's just more light bitter hops with a touch of orange.

While I'm sad to see Bitter Brewer go, I feel that this is a worthy replacement. Much like Bitter Brewer, it's very sessionable but the difference here is that Xtra Citra has a much more robust flavor profile than its predecessor and that alone makes it worthy replacement. As a standalone beer, its great and I'd be hardpressed to find any beer out there with so much flavor at such a low ABV (sours not withstanding). If you see it, check it out!

Surly Xtra Citra Pale Ale - 9/10

Capital Maibock Review



Name: Capital Maibock
Style: Maibock
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 25

Well look here, it's another beer from Capital Brewery and it's not a pale ale for a change! No, this one is actually a Maibock simply named Capital Maibock. Not really much else to say about it aside from the fact that there is the silhouette of a goat on the front of the label along with a mountain peak. Also last time I checked, there were no mountains in Wisconsin.

Appearance -  Very clear gold color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is pretty thin with a somewhat soapy appearance. As for the lacing, there is a fairly sparse amount of it left behind.

Aroma - Caramel sweetness and pale malts with some light floral hoppiness. I'm also getting some toffee along with some light barley notes.

Taste - Starts out fairly sweet. You've got your toffee and caramel sweetness backed up by some floral hops towards the middle and light yeastiness towards the back. The aftertaste is a mix of light bitter hops and caramel sweetness. All of this is encompassed by a moderate pale malt backbone.

I like this. It's nice & drinkable and it fits the spring mood perfectly after months of enduring winter seasonals. Sure it's not as close as Summit's Maibock but it comes reasonably close. If you so happen to see this, I would absolutely recommend trying it out.

Capital Maibock - 8.5/10

Monday, April 4, 2016

Avery Liliko'i Kepolo Review



Name: Avery Liliko'i Kepolo
Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 10

It's been a while since I reviewed any offerings from Avery. I think the fact they have been available in Minnesota again for quite a while has made it not as novelty as it was before and this brewery in particular has kind of fallen off of my radar, for lack of a better term. That was until I stumbled upon the beer for this review.

I have Liliko'i Kepolo, a Belgian Witbier made with spices and passionfruit. Doing some research, I found that the name of this beer is Hawaiian for "Fruit Devil." Ironic that a brewery based in Colorado would make a beer with Hawaiian influences. Now one thing I did notice about this beer is that it comes in 4-packs and like many 12oz. 4-packs out there, it commands a higher-than-usual price tag. I didn't feel like buying a full 4 pack of these (like many beers I review here) so I opted to put it into my mix-a-six selection.

Appearance - Hazy yellow color with no visible carbonation. The head starts out rather foamy but loses much of its volume after a minute or so, leaving behind a thin white film, but the lacing on the other hand, is quite abundant.

Aroma - Pineapple & mango sweetness upfront followed by some malted wheat, lemongrass and pale malts.

Taste - Pineapple sweetness and apricot on the front of the palate with malted wheat and pale malts towards the middle. The back end of the palate is made up of light spices, mild floral hops and just a hint of orange peel. The aftertaste has this weird earthy taste that reminds me of leaves and it does linger for a few moments.

It's a good thing that I didn't commit to a full 4-pack of this because I would've incurred significant losses by doing so. That's my way of saying that this beer didn't do it for me. Yeah, you've got a wide variety of flavors in here but they don't work well together which is sad because, in theory, they totally should and I went into this review thinking it would. If you absolutely want to try this out, make sure it's a single can and not for a 4-pack.

Avery Liliko'i Kepolo - 5/10

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale Review



Name: Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.4%
IBUs: 30

I know what some of you are probably thinking: Hey sweet, it's a new offering from Goose Island. How cool is that? Well, I got some news for you, it's not brand new. Yes contrary to being new to the Minnesota (and the national market at large), this beer has been in existence for a few years now. How do I know this? Because I had this back while I was living in Chicago.

Yes, as you may have guessed from the name, this beer was once exclusive to the Chicago market on draft-only. For whatever reason, they've decided to expand this to a national scale but it may because they're discontinuing their 312 Urban Pale Ale. However, Chicago's supply of Green Line will be made in Chicago, while the stuff everyone else gets will be coming out of New York.

As for the name itself, every native of Chicago is familiar with the "L" train system and there's a line called the Green Line, which runs from the near South Side through the loop in downtown, and then west to Forest Park, a suburb of Chicago. I took the Green Line a few times while I lived there but I mostly took the Red Line to get to and from work.

Appearance - Fairly clear yellow color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is on the thinner side but is somewhat foamy and leaves behind a good amount of lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Getting some pale malts and yeasts with a decent amount of floral hoppiness. I'm also picking up on some pilsner-like grassiness, primarily towards the back.

Taste - Floral hops and yeasts upfront with some pilsner grassiness and pale malts towards the back along with some light barley notes.
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I remember Green Line being good at best and that is the same case with this beer, with the exception of it being slightly lighter than I remember. Still, having this reminds me of my late night outings with friends in Evanston or going out for a Saturday afternoon drive along Lake Shore Drive with the sunroof and windows rolled down while blaring some Wilco & Don Henley. I'm a sentimental guy, what can I say?

All that aside, it's got a good floral hop, malt, and yeast profile that help keep one-another in check. It's nothing special as far as pale ales are concerned, but if you see this, it certainly doesn't hurt to check it out and maybe, just maybe...........it'll bring back memories of days past.......or not! Just try this beer out if you see it.

Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale - 8/10

Sam Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA Review



Name: Sam Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 52

The other Sam Adams Rebel IPA iteration we're looking at is the Rebel Grapefruit IPA, which comes as no surprise considering that pretty much every other craft brewery in America has released their own interpretation of a grapefruit IPA.

Without a doubt part of the Grapefruit IPA craze that was started by Ballast Point, this is yet another Grapefruit IPA beer to add to the mix. Look at you, Sam Adams, keeping up the latest trends in craft beer and all. Unlike the Rebel Cascade IPA, I do know for a fact that this is available in 6-packs because, again, it's a grapefruit IPA.

Appearance - Mildly hazy dark yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is nice and foamy and leaves behind a good amount of lacing.

Aroma - I'm getting some potent grapefruit and orange peel notes, along with some pale malt, toffee and light bitter notes.

Taste - Moderate grapefruit sweetness that lingers throughout the palate with some orange and light lemongrass notes towards the middle, Whereas the back of the palate opens up to some pale malts and bitter hops with a slightly tangy grapefruit aftertaste.

Say......This is actually pretty good, damned good, in fact! The grapefruit is there without being overpowering and the hop and malt profile used really helps balance everything out. On top of that, it may be the best priced Grapefruit IPA on the market right now. So yeah, if you see it, I would absolutely get a 6-pack of this especially if you want a great Grapefruit IPA without having to pay $15 for one.

Sam Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA - 9/10

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sam Adams Rebel Cascade IPA Review



Name: Sam Adams Rebel Cascade IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.3%
IBUs: 76

Remember last year, when I reviewed all 3 variations of the Sam Adams Rebel IPA family? In my review for their Rebel Rider Session IPA, I stated that the trifecta of those beers had been reached with the release of Rebel Rider. Well, guess what? I was wrong, I was so very wrong.

You see, since that review, Sam Adams has released 3 more beers in the Rebel series, one of which is a fresh hop Imperial IPA that is only available on the east coast, and the two new ones which I'll be reviewing here. I guess the series has been successful enough to warrant an expansion, which is ironic considering Jim Koch's less-than-favorable opinions on the IPA style in the past.

In any case, the first beer we're looking at is their Rebel Cascade IPA, which is brewed with, you guessed it, Cascade hops in addition to 3 other hops (Zeus, Simcoe & Summer if you must know). Let's see how this turned out.

Appearance - Clear orange color with a mild amount of visible carbnation and a pretty foamy head with a good amount of lacing left behind along the sides of the glass.

Aroma -  Fairly prominent caramel malt backbone upfront with some moderate piney and light citrus hops with just a hint of bitterness. I'm also getting some light yeasts in here too, primarily towards the back.

Taste - Bitter hops upfront, which change to more of a fruity middle with some orange and lemon peel notes but it has a rather bitter finish, with some bitter hops and light yeast notes.

It's an IPA that isn't particularly memorable but it's still drinkable and a good beer overall. Given Sam Adams' enormous market reach, I see this being another hit in what has already been a pretty successful series. As long as you're not expecting anything groundbreaking, I think you'll enjoy this.

Sam Adams Rebel Cascade IPA - 8/10

Friday, April 1, 2016

McAle's Hard Orange 'n Cream Review



Name: McAle's Hard Orange 'n Cream
Style: Slice of Heaven
ABV: 6%
IBUs: N/A but might as well be 10 for perfect

You guys, I have found it. I have found the perfect beer that trumps every beer I've had out there so far. Yes, even better than Bell's Neptune, AleSmith Wee Heavy and yes.....even Bent Paddle Double Shot Double Black. I give to you all McAle's Hard Orange 'n Cream.

I found this in the most unexpected place: In the $2.59 section of Total Wine & Spirits in a giant 23.5 oz can. I was a bit perplexed at first as to where this came from but upon having this, all my doubts were put to ease. Allow me to explain why I think this is, without a doubt, the best beer ever.

Appearance -  The sheer orangeness of this beer reminds me of that of a bin of bright orange cheese balls that you'd find at Target and the lack of head allows the aroma to run free and entices your nose.

Aroma - This beer just absolutely dazzles the senses. From it's strong orange and vanilla esters combined with a strong candy corn like scent, you can tell that this came from the heavens above or some plane of existence that is certainly greater than our own.

Taste - Goodness gracious, from it's strong orange and boozy flavors upfront, with some vanilla and candy corn like sweetness in the back, the flavor grabs you and refuses to let you go and makes it love it, and for good reason too!

Some of you may be thinking that I've lost my mind or that I'm being forced to write this review at gunpoint but I assure you that this isn't case. I'm as sane as I have ever been but when you experience this nirvana-in-a-can, it's like the equivalent of reaching enlightenment.

So do yourselves a favor, put that Heady Topper, Surly Furious, or whatever crap beer you are so used to drinking, into the sink and pick this us up and drink it. Drink it because it deserves your respect and if you so happen to disagree with me, may God have mercy on your souls because I certainly won't......you can be sure of that.

McAle's Hard Orange 'n Cream - 1000000000/10
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You don't ACTUALLY believe this, do you?