Saturday, August 24, 2019

Pipeworks Velocity of Light Review



Name: Pipeworks Velocity of Light
Style: India Pale Ale (New England/Hazy)
ABV: 7%
IBUs: N/A

Ahh, Pipeworks Brewing. The last time I had anything from this brewery, they were not yet available in Minnesota. Fast forward four years later, they seemed to have brought everything including the kitchen sink to the fine state of Minnesota in terms of selection. So it should come as a complete shock to no one that they too have their own interpretation of a Hazy IPA.

Which brings us to Velocity of Light, a double dry hopped Hazy IPA made with Galaxy, Mosaic & Cryo-Mosaic hops. Also they threw some oats into the mix as well. It’s a beer an aroma that “breaks free from the vacuum of your glass as fast as the velocity of light.” Well, let’s see about that….

Appearance – Bright hazy yellow color with a mild amount of carbonation. The head has a rather thin look to it but there’s plenty of lacing left along the sides of the glass.

Aroma – Citrus hops and lemon peel dominate most of the nose. There is a mild toffee maltiness lingering in the background throughout.

Taste – The front end of the palate is vibrant citrus hops and mild lemon peel, whereas the back end of the flavor opens up to some surprisingly strong hop bitterness, even though it last for only a split second. It is in the aftertaste that we finally see those oats that I mentioned early make an appearance and it lingers around for a few seconds before fading away.

It’s got a layered flavor profile which I always enjoy and everything comes together in one neat little package. As far I’m concerned, this is another fantastic beer from Pipeworks and anyone who has the chance to try this out ought to do so!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Central Waters Mimosa Review


Name: Central Waters Mimosa
Style: Brut IPA/Pilsner
ABV: 6.1%
IBUs: 35

One of the newest trends to pop up in my absence is the rise of the Brut Beers, modeled to have a taste reminiscent of champagne. I've had a few of these beers, mostly in the form of an IPA or Bock, and my experience with them has actually been fairly positive.

Which brings us to Mimosa from Central Waters Brewing. According to the label they took a Brut Pilsner, blended it with a Hazy IPA and added tangerines during the brewing process. It's an interesting idea to say the least.

Appearance - Cloudy dark yellow color with a soapy head and little in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Orange peel and citrus hops dominate most of the palate. I am picking up on some pale malts along with a hint of white grapes

Taste - Mild citrus hops and light orange peel on the front and middle of the palate with a lingering pale saltiness throughout. The back end of the palate has a slight bitterness to it but is otherwise quite dry.

I like the concept behind this beer & there's nothing offensive about the flavor. However the flavors don't mesh together that well and I feel that the citrus aspect just isn't profound enough; Plus I feel the Pilsner/IPA balance isn't where it should be at to give it a more vibrant flavor. Overall, I can't say I'm a fan of this one.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sierra Nevada BFD Review



Name: Sierra Nevada BFD
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.8%
IBUs: 33

I’ve got a new offering from Sierra Nevada but this one is a bit different and that beer is their BFD. What does BFD stand for? Big Friggin’ Drink? Beer From Dave? Barney From Denver? No, it actually stands for “Beer For Drinking.” It also shows in both the style (Blonde Ale) & ABV (4.8%), which means that Sierra Nevada is trying to reach a wider market. Also, unlike most Sierra Nevada beer containers that have some sort of artwork depicting the outdoors, mountains, etc., Sierra Nevada opted for a generic design this time around.

Appearance – Dark cloudy yellow color with a high abundance of carbonation. The head is pretty foamy and thick with some good lacing retention.

Aroma – Pale malts dominate in the nose followed by mild floral hops, along with a slight earthy undercurrent.

Taste – For the most part, the composition of the palate is the same with one key difference. At first the Pale Malts are pretty profound but the middle of the palate is where those floral hops become more vibrant before fading away into what I consider to be a dry aftertaste.

Well if the intended purpose of BFD is to make it a beer that one can drink without having to think about it, then they’ve certainly accomplished that with BFD. Yeah, it’s probably not going to win any awards and there’s nothing particularly mind-blowing about this beer…….but it’s still an ideal beer to drink for a casual setting like say at a bonfire or picnic. It’s beer, it’s drinkable and that’s all there really is to say about it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Leinenkugel's Northwoods Lager Review


Name: Leinenkugel's Northwoods Lager
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: N/A

Time to look at another offering from Leinenkugel's with their Northwoods Lager. This is somewhat of an older offering from the brewery as I've seen articles referencing it's "comeback in 2008. I've also seen this beer as a part of Leinenkugel's Explorer Pack but haven't bothered to check it out until now.

Appearance - Clear dark orange color with tons of carbonation. The head itself is quite thin and there's some spotty lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Munich malts dominate most of the palate with some light floral hops & barley notes.

Taste - Much like the nose, the flavor consists  mainly of Munich Malts and barley with a slight bitterness on the back of what is an otherwise dry palate.

This isn't a beer that's trying to knock your socks off in terms of flavor and that's totally fine with me. In fact, based on the flavor, I'd classify this more in the Vienna Lager territory than anything else. Yes, there are more tasting complex lagers out there but I wouldn't turn this down again.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Visit to LocAle Brewing

After spending a couple hours recuperating from hiking, beer & food in our hotel room in downtown Mankato,  I was getting antsy and wanted to stretch my legs. I recalled my conversation with the bartender at Mankato Brewery in which she mentioned that a new brewery had recently opened up Mankato but I didn’t recall where exactly it was located other then that she referred to the place as “the local brewery.”

With curiosity getting the better of me, I looked it up on my phone and the top search result was: LocAle Brewing Company. Upon closer inspection, I saw that LocAle was a mere 2 blocks away from my hotel room, which meant that I didn’t have to rely on my phone or car to get there from where I was at.



LocAle Brewing is actually located in a pretty busy part of Mankato, right off of South Riverfront Drive, which runs along the Minnesota River, and a block from South Front Street, which is the main hub of Restaurants and Shops in downtown Mankato. Which means there’s plenty of food options for you to bring in should it be warranted.

The brewery & taproom itself are pretty brand new having been set up during the last part of 2018; No idea if the building is brand new. The taproom is pretty roomy, with plenty of seating options as well as a nice bar space, complete with a big screen TV to watch your favorite local sports on. Patio seating is also plentiful as well but I preferred the colder temperatures of the indoors. After all, I had spend a good portion of that day outside.

Then there’s the beer. Since I had pretty much lighter beers of similar styles that day, I decided to switch it up. Yet I had to keep in mind that I had to take Mrs. Nick’s Beer Blog out for our 5th Wedding Anniversary Dinner after I was done, so I knew that couldn’t get too crazy at that point. It’s also at this time I wanted to give a shout out to LocAle for having both regular pint glasswear as well as half-pint glasses; More breweries need to do this….seriously



Name: Helles
Style: German Helles
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: 13

My first beer after walking through the sweltering head. Plus this beer (at the time of having this) has been released the prior day. This beer has a nice pale malt profile & some mild floral hoppiness with a reasonably dry aftertaste; Oh did I mention the body was very smooth and light. Perfect beer for a 90 degree day like it was that day.


Name: Saintson
Style: Saison
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs: 20

I’m all about locally made beers, but I know that there are some instances that craft breweries will often source their ingredients from outside of their local area/state. That is not the case with Saintson as all the ingredients are sourced from Minnesota. To save myself the time of listing the ingredients and origins, I’ll just show it in the picture below.



Saintson has a nice Belgian Yeast & Clove foundation while the malted wheat and mild citra/bitter hoppiness builds upon that and lingers throughout the palate. The aftertaste is on the dryer side, save for a mild earthiness, which I didn’t expect. Overall, it’s a solid beer and a nice change of pace from the lighter beers I had earlier in the day.



Name: Norselander 2.0
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8%
IBUs: 70

My last beer while I was there. If you assumed that a beer named “Norselander” would have some Scandinavian ingredients in it…..you’d be right. This is a beer made with Norwegian Farmhouse Yeast with very non-Norwegian Wai-Ti, Pacifica, & Motueka hops. This beer has a nice bright flavor profile of citrus, mango & kiwi with some toffee maltiness and light bittersweet orange peel on the back end of the palate. All and all, a great beer to close out with.



Overall, I was pleased with the offerings from LocAle. The taproom itself has plenty of room, there’s ample seating, it’s in a great location and there’s a good variety of beers to choose from. Plus there’s plenty of places close by to grab some food from should the occasion warrant it. If you’re ever in the area, check them out; It’ll be worth your time!

They are located at:
LocAle Brewing Company
228 Poplar St
Mankato, MN 56001

Monday, August 12, 2019

Bell's Official Hazy IPA Review



Name: Bell’s Official Hazy IPA
Style: India Pale Ale (New England/Hazy)
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 55

Since everyone and their mother has seemingly released their own interpretation of the Hazy IPA style, it would make sense that some of the larger breweries would follow suit. Which brings us to Bell’s Official Hazy IPA, which is, of course, a hazy IPA. This beer is made with Mosaic, Citra, Azacca, Amarillo and El Dorado Hops; So you get sort of an idea of what we’re drinking today.

Appearance – Hazy bright yellow color with a light amount of visible carbonation. The head is pretty foamy but the lacing is more on the mild side.

Aroma – Bright orange peel and citrus hops dominate most of the nose but I am picking up on some light bitter notes but they don’t become apparent until the beer warms up.

Taste – Much like the nose, the palate is mostly orange peel & vibrant citrus hops with some mild pale/toffee maltiness encompassing the palate. However on the back end of the palate is where that bitter hoppiness starts to make itself known, in addition to the bright fruity flavors.

Bell’s has always been a reliable brewery for me and this beer helps reinforce that mindset. On top of that, the asking price for this beer is also very reasonably priced compared to some other Hazy IPAs out there. If you see this, this one is definitely worth grabbing!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

A visit to Mankato Brewery



Last weekend, I celebrated my five year wedding anniversary. We wanted to celebrate at first by doing something massive and extravagant. However since a first class flight to the Bahamas wasn't exactly feasible, we decided on the next best thing: A weekend in Mankato!



Mankato is one of those cities that you consistently hear about constantly but don’t visit unless you or a loved one happens to go to Minnesota State University. Which is kinda sad because there’s quite a bit to see around there in terms of nature & hiking and the food there too is also rather good. However this is a beer blog and we’re going to focus on, what else, beer!

After spending the morning scrambling along the hiking trail to get to the bottom of the waterfall at Minneopa State Park and watching herds of Bison roam the prairies, we decided that it was time for a beer! Since we were in Mankato, we decided to visit Mankato Brewery!



In comparison to most of the craft breweries in Minnesota, Mankato Brewing is actually one of the more senior craft breweries in Minnesota, having been formed in 2010. Also despite having the name of Mankato Brewing, the brewery itself isn’t located in Mankato, but in North Mankato which sits right across the Minnesota River from the actual city of Mankato proper.



If I could use one word to describe the taproom, it would be: roomy. The taproom consists of a bar with stools, tables that extend way beyond the bar at which patrons can sit at and all of the brewery equipment in view of everyone. This is one of those situations where the taproom is both intimate and roomy at the same time.



Now let’s talk about the beer itself. Since it was a hot summer day, I opted for styles of the mostly lighter variety. With that said, let’s get to it!

Name: Mr. Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11%
IBUs: 80

Opaque black in color, this beer has a strong chocolate malt and smoke profile upfront with some mild bitter hops and smokiness in the aftertaste. Despite all this, the beer itself feels incredibly smooth for being at 11% ABV in both body and texture and the boozy aspect of the flavor is hidden perfectly. It might not have been Imperial Stout weather that day, but this was an absolute pleasure to have! I’ll definitely be seeking this out once it becomes available in cans again.


Name: The Gob
Style: Shandy/Radler
ABV: 4%
IBUs: 10

Named after the caverns/ravines of the Mankato Golf Club in which countless golf balls have fallen into. This beer has a fairly bright lemon flavor with a mild lemon sweetness on the back end of the palate, but is otherwise fairly dry. Complex? No. Refreshing? Absolutely!


Name: Juice Box Hero
Style: Shandy/Radler
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: 10

Named after the Foreigner song, this is a shandy made with raspberries & cherries. Much like the aforementioned Gob, the flavor itself has a bright fruity profile consisting of raspberries and cherry, with the former being the more potent of the two. Aftertaste is also pretty dry but there’s a subtle sweetness in there too. Much like The Gob, this is an ideal summer beer.


Name: The Sorceress Lemon Sour
Style: Sour-Fruited/Wild Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 10

If I had to compare this beer to anything, it would be a Lemon Warhead candy albeit way less intense. Lemon tartness dominates most of the palate with some light pale malts on the back end along with some lemon peel. I've had some local sours that have been okay, but this is definitely one of my favorites!


Name: Ribfest
Style: Light Lager
ABV: 4%
IBUs: 10

Made for the annual Ribfest celebration that the city of Mankato hosts every year. Clocking in at 4% ABV, this beer has less alcohol content than Bud Light, but slighter higher in terms of IBUs (Bud Light is 4.2% ABV &  6 IBUs). If you took the adjunct flavor of Bud Light and replaced it with pale malts and barley, this is pretty much what you’d get. They’re clearly not trying to accomplish anything complex here in terms of flavor but it works for being an ideal beer to drink in the sweltering heat.

Overall, Mankato Brewing has a good vibe going for it. The taproom is nice, roomy, & atmospheric; The beer selection is plentiful and it’s just an overall nice place to kick back, relax and have a few pints. Plus the taproom staff are more than happy to point you in the right direction in terms of where to find some great beers/taprooms, which I’ll cover later on. If you find yourself in the Mankato area, this place is definitely worth checking out!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Dogfish Head Dragons & YumYums Review



Name: Dogfish Head Dragons & YumYums
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 25

The last time I did a Dogfish Head review, distribution had not yet reached Minnesota. Yet during my absence, they FINALLY decided to set up shop here and now I no longer have to make the trek across the border to Wisconsin to get my Dogfish Head fix.

Anyways, today I’ve got their Dragons & YumYums Pale Ale. This beer is a collaboration between Dogfish Head & The Flaming Lips: one of my favorite bands from when I was a freshman in college and was fortunate enough to see them live during that time. Who am I kidding, even now I still listen to them! This is a beer made with passionfruit, pear, dragonfruit, black carrot juice & yumberries (yes, they’re a thing).

Appearance - Mildly clear orange/magenta color with some mild carbonation. The head itself is pretty thin and the lacing itself is rather spotty.

Aroma - Toffee malts & citrus hops upfront with some pear and passion fruit notes. I'm also getting some light earthiness in here too that reminds me of apple skins.

Taste - Potent pear and toffee maltiness upfront, with some vibrant passionfruit & mild citrus hops in the middle. There is a bittersweet fruity taste and tartness in the back, which becomes more prevalent as the beer warms up.

At first I wasn't too sure, but the flavor gets way more complex the more it warms up and I like it! It's not a pale ale for everyone but if you want something different, then this beer is for you!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Omni FAD Review



Name: Omni FAD
Style: Imperial India Pale Ale (New England Style)
ABV: 8%
IBUs: 45

One of the styles has come into prominence over the past couple years is the Hazy/New England Style IPA. Normally I’d go into a discussion about it, but I’ll save it for a later article. For the time being, I will say that, love it or hate it, the Hazy IPA isn’t going away any time soon.

The beer we’re looking at today has become a real favorite amongst beer drinkers in these neck of the woods and it would be Omni Brewing’s FAD, which is an acronym for “Friggin’ Awesome Delicious.” I’ve actually had this beer before and did a brief write-up on it for my Summer Beer Dabbler article that I did on my old travel website last year. However it’s time to give this beer a proper review, so let’s have at it!

Appearance – Bright and cloudy orange color with no visible carbonation. The head itself is very thin and the lacing is very spotty to say the least.

Aroma – Orange slice and citrus hops dominate the nose with some light pale/toffee malts that remain underneath these aromas. It smells like orange juice, to say the least.

Taste – Much like the nose, that orange slice and citrus hop profile are out in full force and dominate pretty much the entire palate. There is, however, a light hop bitterness in here but it doesn’t really show up until the very end, and even then it’s still secondary to the citrus flavors.

Still as delicious as I remember it! Yeah, it’s not the most complex IPA out there but the flavor is extremely vibrant. Plus for them to give it a name proclaiming it to be Friggin’ Awesome Delicious and actually be so is really comething. This is definitely worth checking out should you get the chance to try it!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Schell's IPA Review



Name: Schell’s IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 40

Much has changed in the two years I was absent. For example: new exciting breweries have entered the market, Sunday Sales in Minnesota is FINALLY a thing now and Minnesota Beer Culture is flourishing like never before. However, there is one other change that even I never would’ve seen coming: Schell’s Brewing has made an IPA.

“Big deal!” one might say. “Every brewery has their own interpretation of an IPA!”

Except Schell’s isn’t one of those breweries. You see, as the second oldest brewery in the country, Schell’s has been extremely dedicated to brewing exclusively German/European-style beers and it’s a dedication I have come to admire. In fact, when I went on a tour of the brewery a couple years ago, you could see all the German influences throughout the facility. Even our tour guide told us “When you have a town full of thirsty Germans, you’ve better be making good beer.” By the way, the tour is totally worth it if you’ve got a day to kill.

Then about a week ago, I was looking at my regular haunt for something new to try out when this caught my eye. Perplexed, I asked one of the owners if this was some sort of elaborate prank, to which he told me it was 100% genuine. He even told me that there was a rumor going around that when Schell’s went to register the name with the State of Minnesota, they “jokingly” submitted it with the name “Okay, fine. Here’s your f***ing IPA.” Whether or not it’s true remains to be seen; Again, just a rumor so take that as you will.

Up until now, the closest thing that Schell’s had made to an IPA was Arminius: their Hoppy Pale Lager and it’s still one of my favorite beers by them to date.

Anyways, Schell’s IPA, here we go!


Appearance – Mildly Hazy dark yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head itself is fairly thin but there's abundant amounts of lacing left behind.


Aroma – Big citrus and light piney hop notes are front and center in the nose. Behind that are some moderate toffee malts and I'm even getting some lemongrass in here too, though I suspect that might just be the hops.


Taste – Citra hops and toffee malts take up the most of the palate though there is some bitter/piney hops the pop up in the back to keep things from getting too sweet.

I was expecting an IPA on the maltier side, reminiscent of an English-Style IPA. However, Imagine my surprise when I instead got a nice citrus-centric beer. I enjoy my bitter hop-bomb IPAs but having this is a nice change of pace from some those said IPAs and is definitely an easy drinker. If you see this, you owe it to yourself to try this out.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Review


Name: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale (APA)
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 38

During the first four years I was doing this blog, I reviewed many beers but there were some that I simply missed for reasons that are beyond me. I’m not speaking of rare beers but craft beers that are widely consumed. One of those beers is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, a beer which I remember from my dad’s old company picnics from back in the mid-90’s as it was one of the beers of choice of my Dad’s younger co-workers who were fresh out of college.

Now I’ve reviewed quite a few beers from Sierra Nevada but never this one and my reason is because….well, I though I already reviewed it. That is, until, I dusted off the website and looked at the archives. Am I ashamed? No, but just a tad bit embarrassed.

Appearance – Dark orange with a mild amount of haze to it, along with some abundant carbonation. The head itself is pretty foamy and there's a healthy amount of lacing left behind.


Aroma – Caramel malts dominate the nose but behind that are some bitter and light piney hoppiness.


Taste – Much like the nose, the caramel malts hit you on the front of the palate. This gives away to the bitter and light piney hops in the back with the malts taking a back seat. The aftertaste has a lingering hop bitterness along and a light maltiness.


The balance of hops and malt is optimal here and while it’s nothing new, it’s a very easy drinking beer. As such, I can see why this is a standby for many beer drinkers everywhere; Myself included. As the old saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Tin Whiskers Bit O' Honey Blonde Review



Name: Tin Whiskers Bit O’ Honey Blonde
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 5.4%
IBUs: 21

For my first review in over two years, I decided to do something special and it frankly didn’t take me too long to find the ideal beer. I give to you Bit O’ Honey Blonde, a collaboration between Tin Whisker’s Brewing Company & Pearson’s Candy, the latter of which is responsible for making Bit O’ Honey candy. 

This isn’t the first time these two St. Paul-based companies have joined forces as they’ve also made a Salted Nut Role Ale & Nut Goodie Porter in the past. Both of these beers came out right

Appearance – Dark yellow/orange with strong haziness to it with a light amount of visible carbonation. The head itself is about a finger in width with some spotty lacing along the sides.

Aroma – A strong honey & almond smell dominate the nose almost completely. It literally smells like they took a Bit O’ Honey candy and turned it into liquid form because the aroma is almost indistinguishable from the candy it’s based off of.

Taste – It starts off with a vibrant honey flavor on the front of the palate but it drops out completely in the middle with some pale malt and floral hoppiness. On the back end of the palate is where the almond flavor pops up and in the aftertaste. The honey flavor also reeappears and lingers for a few minutes after the last sip.

For me, this works! It smells great and the honey adds to the flavor perfectly. Some might find the aroma and taste to be a bit too sweet for their liking but if you’re looking for a good-yet-different take on the blonde ale, this beer is just for you!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Changes coming to Nick's Beer Blog

Alright everyone,

I’m in the process of cleaning up and getting back up and running, and with it, there are some changes that are going to occur. I’m here today to explain to you just what is going to change and how I believe each change will be for the better, Without further ado, let's get started:


Wine & Spirits - The biggest change here is that in addition to reviewing beer, I’ll also be looking at craft spirits & wine. My reason for this is that during my time running my old website, I visited quite a few distilleries & wineries and out their stories (and drinks) to be just as captivating as a brewery and their beer. Plus, it gives me a chance to explore other aspects of the craft alcohol industry in ways that would've seen foreign to me just a couple years ago.

No More Scoring System -  The other big change I’m making is that I’m no longer going to include a score at the end of each review. Looking back at my old reviews, I feel that assigning a numerical score to a beer is quite subjective and, in some cases, overshadows the actual review itself. I’ll still be following the same format as before but there’ll be no score at the end; Just a summary of my thoughts on the beer itself.

Layout Changes - It's no secret to those who were once faithful readers that my formatting didn't change much during the four years that I did blogging. That said, I feel the look of the website feels dated and is in need of a face lift. I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to proceed with the final look but you'll know it when you see it!

Name Change (or lack thereof) - In my previous post, I mentioned that I was considering changing the name of this blog. I was tossing around names like Nick's Booze Blog or Nick's Boozy Blog. However, I have ultimately decided against this, in spite of the forthcoming of non-beer beverages that are to be featured on here. My reason is because this blog started out as Nick's Beer Blog and the fact that I have already established this website as such. Plus the aforementioned names just don't quite sound as catchy.

There you have it. While I'm looking forward to these changes, the thing I'm most excited about is getting back to writing on this website. It's been a couple of years but it feels good to be home!

Cheers!

- Nick

Friday, July 12, 2019

I'm Back!

*walks up to the microphone*

Hello? Is this thing still on?

It's been over two years since I posted my last article on here. Much has changed since I made my last post here. Truth be told, so much has happened in the craft alcohol industry that temptation has more-or-less gotten the best of me.

That said, I've decided to take up the mantle of "Alcohol Blogger" once more. I say this because the craft wine & spirits industry has really taken off and I'd like to cover those as well. Plus half the articles on my new website are centered on alcohol in some capacity.

So with that said, I'll be making some changes to the website and already have a new name in mind, though it's not a big deviation from the current name of this blog. Also the idea of putting this website on a Wordpress website with its own domain is on the docket but for the time being, this is where I'll be posting.

It's been a while everyone, but I'm back!