Monday, December 30, 2013

Surly CynicAle Review

Name: Surly CynicAle
Style: Saison
ABV: 6.5%

I'm finally making amends with myself by reviewing some of Surly Brewing's lineup which I have been putting off for a while. Tonight we're having a beer from Surly and it's their CynicAle, which is their Saison-Style beer.

This beer is one of the first Belgian/Farmhouse-Style beers that I ever had when a couple years back a friend of mine recommended it to me while I was still reluctant to give Furious a second go. Like Surly Furious, I had never gotten the chance to really sit down and review it as I've had it on tap almost every time that I have it; That is until today!

CynicAle pours a reasonably clear golden color with some visible moderate carbonaion. The head is somewhat fluffy in appearance and the lacing left behind is fairly abundant.

The aroma has a strong yeasty scent to it and some cracked peppers to go along with it. There are also some cloves, floral hops and barley notes in here as well.

The flavor is also pretty yeasty with notes of pepper, mild floral/resin hops, cloves and barley. Pretty much the same as the nose but with more of a hoppy taste. The body is fairly light in weight with some moderate carbonation to boot, which gives it an overall crisp palate.

Being that this is the first Saison that I ever had, it's stood up pretty well since I first had it. It's got a great taste yet it's approachable enough for any newcomers to the style. Overall, you really can't go wrong with this beer.

Surly CynicAle - 8.5/10

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Summit Biere de Garde Review

Name: Summit Biere de Garde
Style: Biére De Garde
ABV: 7.3%

In my previous Unchained Review for Another IPA, I mentioned that Summit Brewing would be releasing their next Unchained with a fancy new label as part of their redesign campaign which kicked off earlier this year. Well true to their word, they have indeed changed the design of their label to reflect

The latest release in Summit's Unchained Series is a Biere de Garde, a Farmhouse-Style Ale that originates from France; In case the name wasn't already a big enough giveaway as it is. I've only had a couple of Biere de Garde style ales, namely from Flying Dog & Schell's so it'll be interesting to see how this turns out.

Summit Biere de Garde pours an almost black color which becomes a dark crimson red when held up to a light. The head is rather fizzy and fades away fast and the carbonation, while harder to see, is moderate in appearance.

The aroma has some cloves & toffee notes with some Belgian yeasts, caramel and a mild but noticable sweet cherry tartness. Overall a very interesting mixture in the nose.

The flavor is starts out with a toffee and caramel sweetness. This is followed by some floral hops, cherries, Belgian yeasts and cloves. The aftertaste consists of roasted barley & mild cherry tartness. The body is thick and heavy. The mild carbonation is a welcome compliment to the overall flavor so extra points for that.

There's a chance I may be alone in saying this but I think this is the best Unchained offering yet. I really admire the taste, particularly with the cherries and how well it blends in with the Farmhouse-style flavor. There's still a couple of months left until the next Unchained beer comes out so grab this while you still can!

Summit Biere de Garde - 9/10

Friday, December 27, 2013

Samuel Smiths Organic Chocolate Stout Review

Name: Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout
Style: Sweet/Milk Stout
ABV: 5%

Well now that the holiday are over, I'm back to my normal grind. Since the past few days have been rather hectic, it's time to have a beer. Like many brands, Samuel Smith Brewery is one of those brands I've seen all over the place but never really bothered to check out. That was until a co-worker of mine, who knows I'm into craft beer, showed me an article in our local paper about Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout. Needless to say, I was enticed by what I read after it was given a glowing review. Since I enjoy the occasional Milk/Sweet Stout, I decided to procure a bottle for myself to see if the man in the paper was telling the truth.

Organic Chocolate Stout pours a pitch black color with a brown-khaki colored head. In terms of carbonation it's pretty mild and the lacing left behind is decent.

Sweet milk chocolate permeates the nose with hints of roasted barley, chocolate malts, and mild hops. I've had many sweet stouts before but this is by far the sweetest smelling one I've had so far.

At this point, I expected the flavor to be good but not as good as the aroma; However that couldn't be any further from the truth. The flavor has a rich sweet chocolate flavor mixed in with roasted barley, chocolate malts, light floral hops and just a tiny hint of toffee. The aftertaste is a sweet flavor of milk chocolate, which compliments an already excellent flavor.

The body is quite heavy and somewhat thick but the light carbonation gives it a very creamy texture. In other words, it fits the flavor perfectly so that you're allowed to enjoy the flavors this beer has to offer.

The man in the paper wasn't lying, this is an absolutely fantastic beer and a fantastic Sweet Stout! It's absolutely worth your time to pick this up if you ever see this on the shelf! On top of that, it's also decently priced so you're paying just the right amount for this beer.

Samuel Smiths Organic Chocolate Stout - 9.5/10

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Green Flash Le Freak Review

Name: Green Flash Le Freak
Style: Tripel
ABV: 9.2%

San Diego seems to have a thing for Minnesota this year. First we are given Ballast Point and now Green Flash Brewing which is another high profile brewery to come out of San Diego that recently has graced it's presence on our shelves.

What I have here is an interesting creation from them, their Le Freak Ale. According to the brewery, Le Freak is a combination of an Abbey Tripel & an Imperial IPA, hence the name.The only "mixture" I've had of two beers is Mississippi Mud Black & Tan, which is a Porter & Pilsner combination.

Le Freak pours a mildly hazy orange color with some visible moderate carbonation. The head is quite foamy in appearance and the lacing left behind is quite good.

A strong aroma of lemon zest and citrus hops starts things off in the nose. I'm also getting some fairly strong clove, banana, toffee and pale malt notes as well.

The taste is a pretty wide assortment of flavors. Right off the bat are cloves, spices, lemony zest, piney hops, grapefruits, caramel, pale malts, and yeasts. A bittersweet resiny flavor makes up the aftertaste.

The body is pretty heavy and the carbonation is surprisingly strong for what it is. Given the complexity of the beer, it's pretty easy to overlook and it adds some dimension to the flavor.

True to it's description, it really is like someone mixed together an Abbey Tripel and Imperial IPA. Thankfully it pulls it off quite well thanks to it's complex and robust flavor. It's a different take on the Tripel style and an excellent one at that!

Green Flash Le Freak - 9.25/10

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red Review

Name: New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 4%

Earlier this year when this blog was in it's infancy, I reviewed a bottle of New Glarus Serendipity and found it to be absolutely fantastic. It's now 8 months later and New Glarus has brought back the beer that was originally in Serendipity's place, Wisconsin Belgian Red.

While Serendipity is/was brewed with cherries, apples, and cranberries; Wisconsin Belgian Red is brewed with just cherries. You see last year (2012), the cherry harvst in Wisconsin was severely affected by one of the worst droughts the Midwest had experienced since the 1930's. This drought caused New Glarus to use apples and cranberries in the recipe, in addition to whatever cherries from Door County they could get. The end result was an award winning fruit beer that became highly sought after across the country, and all of it happened pretty much by accident.

Now after being in cryogenic suspension for over a year, Wisconsin Belgian Red has made its triumphant return, hopefully to co-exist with Serendipity side-by-side. It calls itself the marriage between wine and beer, and uses a pound of Door County cherries used per bottle. Let's see if any of that holds up.

Belgian Red pours a clear ruby red with a red fizzy head and no lacing left behind. The carbonation appears quite high at first before going to a more subdued level. It looks like someone poured a bottle of Big Red soda into my glass.

The aroma gives off a sweet fruity cherry notes with an almost Pink Moscato-like scent and some light malts. That's all I'm getting because the cherries and moscato are quite strong.

Just like the nose, the flavor consists mainly of sweet cherries, light moscato grape along with some mild malt, oak and barley notes. Here is where you can tell that this is still very much a beer. With that said, it's still sweet tasting thanks to the cherries.

The body is pretty lightweight with a bit of a syrupy texture to it but it doesn’t hurt the quality. As for the carbonation, it's fairly tame so it doesn't get in the way of enjoying the flavor.

I'll get this out of the way now, this is an excellent fruit beer that is definitely worth your time, money and attention. With that said, I still think that Serendipity is a superior fruit beer because of it's more balanced and possesses a more complex flavor. Belgian Red didn't ”Wow” me as much as Serendipity did, but it still makes for a very robust & delicious fruit beer!

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red - 9/10

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Redhook Long Hammer IPA Review

Name: Redhook Long Hammer IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%

Redhook Brewing is fairly well known in the craft beer world; From their oddly shaped bottles as you can see in the picture above, to their exclusive "Game Changer" beer available only at Buffalo Wild Wings. In case you were wondering, it's mediocre at best and you're better off ordering something else instead.

I grabbed their Long Hammer IPA as part of a mix-a-six because I wanted to check out some of their offerings. After all, they did make one of the first ESBs that I ever had an thought it was quite good at the time, though I haven't had it for a good while.

Long Hammer pours a pretty hazy yellow color with a fairly mild amount of carbonation. The head is quite filmy in appearance and the lacing is abundant and rather sticky.

The nose has a fairly mild floral/citrus hop & resiny aroma along with some pale malt notes. No I'm not forgetting anything else, that's all I'm really getting out of this.

Flavor-wise it's got mild floral hops with caramel & pale malt notes. There's an encompassing bitter resin taste throughout but it's quite mild just like the rest of the flavor. The carbonation and overall body weight are quite moderate as well.

For an IPA, it's very bland. Any flavors in here are too mild for their own good, which makes this very hard to recommend. You're better off picking up a Two Hearted instead.

Redhook Long Hammer IPA - 5/10

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Goose Island The Illinois Review

Name: Goose Island The Illinois
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.4%

You're all probably scratching your heads right now as to why I have a picture of a growler instead of a bottle above. A couple of weeks ago over in neighboring Superior, WI at a little place called Keyport Liquor introduced their very own growler fill station like the one located at Casanova in Hudson, WI.
Since Minnesota law prohibits you from filling a brewery's growler with another brewery's beer, this is considered to be quite a novelty amongst Minnesota craft beer drinkers.

Now keep in mind that Keyport doesn't quite have the selection of Casanova, missing breweries like Toppling Goliath, Ale Asylum, Three Floyds, and so forth. Right now, they have some pretty good stuff Milwaukee Brewing, Southern Tier, Sierra Nevada, Bell's, and Goose Island.

Named after Frank Lloyd Weber's vision of a mile high skyscraper called "The Illinois", we have a growler of Goose Island's The Illinois. To my understanding, it was supposedly only brewed once and it's only available on draft. Since I now have a growler, it's time to give this a proper review.

The Illinois pours a clear orange color with a fairly filmy head. The lacing left behind is pretty good and the carbonation has a very mild appearance.

The nose opens up to a fairly sweet apricot aroma with hints of piney hops, grapefruits and mild caramel maltiness. Not too overwhelming and rather mellow smelling for an Imperial IPA.

A bitter citrus hoppiness greets the palate upon drinking mixed in with some peaches, apricots and mild caramel malts. The aftertaste leaves behind a bitter resin/piney hop flavor. Flavor isn't mild but it isn't vibrant either. The body is quite heavy in terms of weight and the carbonation is has more of a moderate intensity.

The Illinois is a pretty good Imperial IPA. It may not be as robust as other beers of the same style but it's quite smooth and you definitely aren't making a bad choice by trying this out!

Goose Island The Illinois - 8.5/10

Friday, December 13, 2013

Moylan's Hopsickle Review

Name: Moylan's Hopsickle 
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.2%

Recently, I've been seeing more of Moylan's Brewing on the store shelves here but have never really bothered to check it out. That was until one day when one of the store employees at my regular haunt recommended this to me since they know I'm a big fan of Imperial IPAs.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm getting over a rather nasty cold so no beer for me until I regain my sense of smell. Fortunately I'm off the cocktail of cold medications which I have been taking for the past few days so Oooh Yay for that. Since I can't have any new beers for the time being, I shall finish writing about the ones I've already had!

Hopsickle pours a hazy orange color with a thin filmy head with some good lacing retention. The visible carbonation is also pretty high in appearance.

Strong grapefruits, oak, citrus and mild caramel in the nose. There is a strong encompassing musky smell, no doubt showcasing the Simcoe Hops used in the brewing process.

The flavor is fairly piney hop forward with caramel, oak,grapefruits and a bittersweet resiny aftertaste. Like the aroma, the Simcoe Hops are on full display with it's oak and muskiness.

The body is surprisingly lightweight and fairly mild carbonation, so you're able to enjoy the flavors.

All and all, it's a pretty good Imperial IPA. It may be a little too woodsy or musky for some but for any seasoned Imperial IPA fan, it's worth checking out.

Moylan's Hopsickle - 8.5/10

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Glarus Apple Ale Review

Name: New Glarus Apple Ale
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 3.8%

You may have noticed that I am posting an astonishly high number of reviews today, but that's because I had to call in sick today on account of a cold. Since I can't have beer due to my lack of smell and have a few reviews in the pipeline, I figured I would divvy up my time between playing Diablo 3 and finishing those said reviews.

Earlier this year in May & June, New Glarus Brewing released their Apple Ale as part of their Thumbprint Series. Sadly, while I was over in Wisconsin earlier this year procuring some Three Floyds, Apple Ale was nowhere to be seen and I had to settle for another bomber of Dreadnaught (Talk about first world problems, am I right?)

Then a couple of weeks ago, New Glarus announced via Facebook that it was bringing back Apple Ale. My excitement grew even more when the owner of Keyport Liquors over in Superior, WI was on the radio talking about Apple Ale and how they had just gotten it in. Needless to say, I knew where I need to go to get my own!

Apple Ale pours a clear dark golden color with a rather filmy head, high carbonation and no lacing along the sides.

The nose has a sweet aroma of apples, cider, spices and some pale malts. It's almost like someone poured a bottle of Angry Orchard into my glass.

The flavor is pretty similar to the aroma with sweet apple tartness, cinnamon, barley and pale malts. It's much more obvious that this is a beer than an actual cider due to the barley and pale malt presence. The body is pretty light and the carbonation is quite mild as well. It's a pretty easy to drink beer overall.

All and all, it's a great yet mellow tasting fruit beer and I feel that even those who aren't generally fans of craft beer will find something to like in this. It isn't quite as complex or robust as New Glarus' other fruit beers but this is still very easy to recommend.

New Glarus Apple Ale - 8.5/10

Ballast Point Pale Ale Review

Name: Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale
Style: Kölsch
ABV: 4.6%

A couple months ago, Ballast Point Brewing Company started distributing to our neck of the woods much to the delight of craft beer lovers everywhere. I've even been hearing about this brewery outside of liquor stores and bars which is pretty significant in my eyes.

When I picked up Yellowtail Pale Ale as part of a mix-a-six, I assumed that this was Ballast Point's own rendition of their pale ale; I mean the label says in bold lettering "Pale Ale." However when I got home and inspected the label, I made a startling discovery...

Y u do dis, Ballast Point?

Okay so we're NOT having an American Pale Ale but a Kölsch instead. I'm not terribly familiar with Kölsch style but the only one I've had has been from Lake Superior Brewing right here in Duluth and I thought it was pretty good. Let's take a look at this, shall we?

Yellowtail pours a bright yellow color with a rather fizzy and filmy head. The carbonation visible is quite mild and there is no lacing left behind.

The nose starts things off with a sweet & grassy pale malt backbone and fruitiness; Along with some wheat, bready and barley notes.

Likewise, the flavor is also pretty representative of what's in the nose. You have sweet pale malts, fruitiness, sweet wheat notes, yeasts and barley. The overall flavor is a tad earthy and the aftertaste is also pretty dry with just a hint of fruitiness lingering on the palate. The body as a whole is pretty light with some moderate carbonation to compliment it, giving it a crisp feel.

It doesn't hold a candle to Sculpin in terms of flavor but I found this to be quite enjoyable. It's like they took an American Adjunct Lager and made it not only drinkable but quite good! In fact, I'd say this is a great beer for your non-craft beer drinking friends. It's not everyday you see a Kölsch-style beer on the shelves but I'd say this one is definitely worth trying out if you see it!

Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale - 8/10

Surly Darkness Review

Name: Surly Darkness
Style: Imperial Stout 
ABV: 10.3%

Every fall, one of the most highly anticipated craft beers in Minnesota is released by Surly Brewing which is their Darkness. How highly anticipated you ask? Some stores have to release it in waves to ensure everyone gets a fair shot at getting it and some stores sell out of their entire supply in less than half an hour. This isn't some $5 bomber either, it ranges in price anywhere from $17-25.

Since we didn't get this here in Duluth until about 3 days or so after they sold out of it in the Twin Cities, procuring a bottle of this was much less of a hassle than it was when I first got it. And by "less of a hassle" I mean not having to call ahead or be put on a list.

The bottle artwork also changes yearly as well and it always looks pretty badass. A couple years ago, when I first had it, it depicted a zombie holding a snifter glass. This year it's a Hell Demon holding a chalice as it's face is melting off. If anyone from Surly happens to stumble upon this blog, next year have Cthulhu as your artwork. Just saying!

It goes without saying that there's a good chance that by the time you are reading this, every bottle of this year's Surly Darkness will either be consumed or cellared for aging purposes. In my case, it was consumed!

Darkness pours a pitch black color with a foamy khaki-colored head. There isn't any visible carbonation and the lacing it leaves behind is great.

The nose has a strong chocolate, vanilla and cherry scent about it. Complimenting this are roasted malts & barley with some light smokey notes. For some reason, I'm expecting this to be barrel aged given my initial impressions and they apparently do have a barrel aged Darkness.

In the flavor I'm getting chocolate nibs, vanilla, cherries, and dark fruity notes. This is supported by a stronger smokiness, chocolate malts and roasted barley and some mild but noticeable hoppiness. The flavor as a whole is very rich and robust.

It's got a very smooth and creamy body that is light weight and almost free from carbonation. You should have no trouble drinking this at all.

Simply put, Darkness is a beer that you must experience for yourself. It has everything you'd want out of an Imperial Stout and more which makes it one of the best Imperial Stouts I have ever had. Since it is more than likely sold out for 2013, try and seek this out if you can next year around the end of October. Trust me, it'll be worth it!

Surly Darkness - 9.75/10

Monday, December 9, 2013

Southern Tier Live Review

Name: Southern Tier Live
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%

Southern Tier is best known for their stronger interpretations of traditional beers (pumpkin, helles, etc.) but it seems that this offering is more traditional in terms of style. Named "Live" for it's.......liveliness or something, is an American Pale Ale, which according to the brewery, has strong citrus hops balanced with malt breadiness.

Live pours a darker hazy yellow color with a foamy head. The lacing retention is good and the carbonation is mild in appearance.

Bready yeasts permeate the nose along with lemon zest, citrus & piney hops, and pale malts. There's a bit of a Pilsner influence in the aroma that's pretty easy to distinguish.

Flavor-wise, it's got a surprisingly potent floral hoppiness and lemon-zest. This is all followed up by yeasts, barley and pale malts. It's a bit earthy overall and the citrus hops are mysteriously absent.

The carbonation is somewhat moderate in intensity but the overall weight is rather light, giving it a nice crisp feeling.

Though it lacks the citrus hoppiness touted in the commercial description, Southern Tier Live is still a good American Pale Ale. Check it out if you see it!

Southern Tier Live - 8/10

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Review

Name: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.8%

Every winter, Sierra Nevada Brewing likes to get in the holiday spirit by releasing Celebration Ale, their winter seasonal IPA. As you can see in the picture above, it depicts a cottage covered by snow, which is ironic considering that the brewery's location does not get any snow at all.

As I mentioned in my previous review, not every winter release is necessarily a darker/heavier beer and this certainly isn't a darker beer by any means. In fact, it's one of the most highly anticipated widespread winter releases I have ever seen around here.

Celebration Ale pours a hazy orange-brown color with a fairly thin foamy head. The lacing left behind is quite good and the carbonation takes on more of a mild appearance.

The nose starts out as fairly caramel malt forward followed up with some hefe-clove notes, citrus & piney hops and a slight yeastiness.

Likewise, the flavor is also fairly malty with stronger hefe-cloves, spiciness, citrus hops, and yeasts with a bittersweet piney-resin aftertaste. Highly unusual to see cloves in an IPA, but it works pretty well.

The body is pretty light and the carbonation comes off as more moderate than what it's mild appearance lets you believe.

Some beer drinkers may not like the cloviness in this beer, but I feel it helps give a wintery feel to the IPA style without making it too different. Overall I found this to be a very enjoyable IPA and worth checking out if you're in need of a good seasonal IPA.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale - 8.5/10

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Grand Teton Sweetgrass Review

Name: Grand Teton Sweetgrass
Style: American Pale Ale (APA)
ABV: 6.0%

Idaho's own Grand Teton Brewing has been popping up all over the midwest as of recently. For a state mostly associated with Potatoes and Napoleon Dynamite, they've made quite a name for themselves in the past few years. Earlier this year I reviewed their Pursuit of Hoppiness and found it to be rather good so I figured I should check out their Sweetgrass APA to see how it is.

Sweetgrass pours a bright hazy orange color with foamy head, some decent lacing and mild visible carbonation.

Floral hops and yeasty notes starts things off in the nose, followed by some grassiness, caramel, and pale malts. A bit earthy smelling for an APA if I do say so myself.

Flavor consists mainly of floral hops, caramel, grassiness, pale malts, and bitter resiny aftertaste. Overall, the flavor is rather bitter even by APA standards.

It's got a fairly light body and the carbonation is pretty moderate, giving it crisp feeling on the palate.

For a beer with the word "Sweet" in it's name, this is a pretty bitter tasting beer. All and all, it's not a terrible beer but there are much better APAs out there than this.

Grand Teton Sweetgrass - 6/10

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Belgium Accumulation Review

Name: New Belgium Accumulation
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.2%

For those fortunate enough to be living in a warmer climate, we had roughly around 3 feet of snow over the course of 48 hours in our area. Thankfully the worst is over for the time being and now it's just very cold out, like -10 Degrees Fahrenheit cold.

So in continuing on with our theme of being snowed in, I bring you a beer that hits a little too close to home with me considering the events of the past week. I'm talking about New Belgium Accumulation, the brewery's newest winter seasonal. What's interesting about Accumulation is that it's a White IPA, a style usually seen in the late summer/fall months. This is a stark contrast to most Winter Seasonals which tend to be darker and heavier in terms of style.

Accumulation pours a mildly hazy yellow color with a foamy head that leaves behind some good lacing. The visible carbonation is also pretty mild in appearance.

The aroma starts off with yeasty and citrus hop notes. Wheat, floral hops, pale malts, apricots and mild earthiness make up the rest of nose.

The flavor consists of citrus/floral hops, yeasts, wheat, pale malts and mild toffee notes. The grassiness in the nose isn't present here.

The body is very lightweight and the carbonation is also very mild, giving it a smooth texture that allows you to enjoy the flavors.

After having this, I can safely say that this is the best IPA offering by New Belgium. It's got more of a complex & robust flavor yet at the same time is very approachable. If New Belgium made this a year-round offering, I would definitely be buying this on a regular basis. For now it's only a winter seasonal, so grab this while you can.

New Belgium Accumulation - 9/10

Friday, December 6, 2013

Summit Winter Ale Review

Name: Summit Winter Ale
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 5.9%

Winter has come to Minnesota and that could mean only one thing: Winter Seasonals! And since we had a terrible blizzard annihilate us this week, what better way to commemorate the arrival of winter than with a Summit Brewing's Winter Ale!

Summit Winter Ale pours a dark clear brown color with a semi-fluffy head, sparse lacing and some light visible carbonation.

The nose starts things off with some spice and caramel malts and in the back are toffee, vanilla and some mild hoppiness. Reminds me a bit of vanilla porter....almost!

The flavor has more of a chocolate taste along with roasted barley, toffee, yeasts and mild hoppiness. For a winter warmer, it's somewhat complex and quite vibrant for what it is.

The body is pretty lightweight and it's mildly carbonation so it's quite easy on the palate.

In terms of Winter Seasonals (that aren't of limited release), this is one is pretty good. Mind you I'm more inclined to their regular year-round line-up but this one is quite solid.

Summit Winter Ale - 8/10

Blacklist Spruce Tipped Imperial IPA Review

Name: Blacklist Spruce Tipped Imperial India Pale Ale
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.5%

Today I have another beer from Duluth's very own Blacklist Brewing, and this time it's their Spruce Tipped Imperial IPA. I'll admit that that I was sold solely on the fact it's an Imperial IPA with Spruce in it, though they aren't the first Minnesota Brewery to do a strong spruced beer as that honor goes to Olvalde Brewing with their Ode to a Russian Shipwright.

This time around, I didn't make the same mistake of using my hands in an attempt to open this up. Instead I used a corkscrew and after about 20 seconds, it popped off. So when you have this have a corkscrew handy, I mean it...

Spruce Tipped pours a very hazy dark orange color. The head is pretty creamy & filmy in appearance which leaves behind no lacing and there also isn't any visible carbonation here.

The nose is pretty citrusy and sprucey upfront, with caramel malts, oak, and raisin/dark fruity notes. Both citrus and spruce notes in particular are both equally strong and almost overshadow everything else.

The flavor is a bit more caramel malt forward with citrus/piney hops, spruce, oak and rum raisins. Not too different from the flavor except with more of a malty backbone. If I could sum up the flavor in one way, it would be that it tastes like Christmas.

The body is fairly moderate in weight but feels pretty thick at the same time. The carbonation is also very mild and creamy, so it's pretty easy to drink for an Imperial IPA.

It's a different take on the Imperial IPA style and I think Blacklist has pulled it off rather well. It's more of an "off-the-beaten-path" style of beer so it isn't for everyone. However those looking for something a little different yet tasty will find this to be an enjoyable beer.

Blacklist Spruce Tipped Imperial IPA - 9/10

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Review

Name: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 14.9%

Right now we are in the midst of what I consider to be the worst snowstorm that I have ever experienced in my life. Everything from high winds to accumulating snow; From reckless drivers to poor snow plowing jobs, this storm has it all! Since I was let out of work early today due to our wonderful weather, I decided to spend the afternoon playing some Diablo 3 and having a couple of beers.

Since I have no plans tonight other than to just hang out and ponder my existence among the swirling winds of Lake Superior, I figured now would be a good time to review another beer from my bucket list. I'm talking about Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout! You'd think that it would be almost impossible to get but there seems to be a steady supply this year! The first thing that caught my eye was the ABV, which comes in at 14.9%. For comparison sake, Rum-Chata, my favorite liqueur, clocks in at 13.8%.

Now a disclaimer before I begin this review: I have had this beer once before at the Goose Island Wrigleyville taproom in Chicago but I never gave it a proper review. By the way, if you ever find yourself there, they have great food but it's pricey; Hey it's Chicago after all!

Bourbon County Stout pours a pitch black color with a filmy brown head that fades rather quickly. There also isn't really much in terms of lacing and the carbonation visible is quite high.

While it isn't anything special in the looks department, the nose is quite different. Here there are potent vanilla, oak, chocolate nibs, cherries and roasted malts. It's worth pointing out that while the aroma is quite robust, it's also very strong smelling in an almost boozy sort of way and it's no surprise when you consider the ABV.

The flavor is very vanilla and chocolate forward with oak, cherries, and roasted malts. The bourbon characteristic here is also very strong and makes itself known in the flavor, which has a boozy kick to it. The aftertaste is a mix of sweet vanilla and roasted malts.

The body is pretty heavy and thick and the carbonation ranges from mild to moderate. In terms of palate feel, you shouldn't have too much difficulty drinking this.

If you have been paying attention to my review, I shouldn't have to tell you that this is best enjoyed in moderation because this is an Imperial Stout that will grab you by the neck collar, throw you onto a table, run you across the length of the table and toss you into a wall, which then it'll proceed to laugh at you and flick a cigarette in your direction. With that said, it is quite robust and will please anyone who's looking for a stronger Imperial Stout.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout - 9.5/10

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Alaskan Winter Ale Review

Name: Alaskan Winter Ale
Style: Old Ale
ABV: 6.4%

Alaskan Brewing Company is one of those breweries that I saw frequently in the form of LED signs outside of bars and restaurants before I got into craft beer. Since getting into it, I have had quite a few of their offerings, my favorite being their draft-only Hopothermia Imperial IPA. However today is the first time I'm doing an actual in depth review.

Tonight we're having their Winter Ale which is classified as an Old Ale. The last time I had an Old Ale was Founders Curmudgeon way back in May, so it'll be interesting to see how this compares. It they also use spruce tips to make this beer, making this the second time I've had a spruced beer; The first being Olvalde's Ode to a Russian Shipwright.

Winter Ale pours a pretty clear orange color with a soapy head and no lacing. The carbonation visible is also somewhat moderate.

The nose has some molasses notes, along with caramel, grains, mild hops and mild spruce. It's all there but it all feels somewhat muted.

The flavor is a bit more malt forward with a distinct buttery caramel taste along with cereal grains, mild spruce and what I can only describe as a bubblegum-like sweetness. Despite all the interesting flavors, it still feels underwhelming in terms of taste.

The carbonation here is very mild and the body is pretty light, so you shouldn't have any problems drinking this.

It's got some pretty interesting flavors, particularly with the spruce but none of these flavors are fully realized or used to their full potential. The end result is a mild tasting beer that, while still good, leaves something more to be desired.

Alaskan Winter Ale - 7/10

Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Glarus Fat Squirrel Review

Name: New Glarus Fat Squirrel Nut Brown
Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 5.5%

I mentioned in a previous review that New Glarus brought back a couple of their beers which were previously regulars. The first being their Uff-Da Bock and the other, which I have here tonight, Fat Squirrel which is their Brown Ale. I recall having this a couple years back while vacationing in Wisconsin Dells but at the time reviewing it wasn't exactly high on my priorities list. However since it is now (at the time of writing) 28 Degrees and snowy instead of 82 Degrees and sunny, now's a good time to take a look at it.

Fat Squirrel pours a hazy orange color with a slight crimson tint. The head is off-white that starts out foamy but settles to a thin yet semi-foamy look which leaves behind some good lacing. The visible carbonation is also pretty mild in appearance.

The nose starts out with a strong roasted barley scent with chocolate, nuts, and some mild floral hoppiness.

The flavor is also quite roasty with chocolate, hazelnuts, roasted barley, roasted malts and floral hops. Not too different from the nose but still pretty good.

The body is also fairly light in weight with some pretty strong carbonation.

Fat Squirrel doesn't do anything too special to set itself apart from other brown ales out there but it's still a good, enjoyable beer. Anyone who's a fan of brown ales and happen to find themselves in Wisconsin should definitely check it out.

New Glarus Fat Squirrel - 8/10

Friday, November 29, 2013

Horny Goat Exposed Review

Name: Horny Goat Exposed
Style: Cream Ale
ABV: 4.9%

I recently got a bottle of beer from a co-worker of mine to try out to see if I like it. It's from a company called Horny Goat Brewing but it's owned by a company called Rex Beverage Holdings. From what I have gathered, their primary beers are the Horny Goat Brand but I could be mistaken.

I recall seeing Horny Goat in a few stores while I was in college. A couple years ago when I was still in school, I remember it being on sale at Zipp's Liquor near the back of the store right next to the malt liquor cooler and thought nothing of it.

Now thanks to my Co-worker, I now have the opportunity to try out their Exposed Cream Ale. From what I understand, alot of beer made by Horny Goat rely heavily on double entandrés and if you need to look up what that means, you're probably not old enough to read this blog.

Exposed pours a hazy yellow color with a fizzy white head and high amount of visible carbonation. Since there's no lacing, it has a very clean finish.

The nose starts things off with some pale malts and grassy notes.In the back are barley and cereal grains with a cardboard like quality.

Flavor has a maltier grassy taste but is otherwise the same as the nose with a less pronounced cardboard flavor.

Body is light and moderately carbonationed, and it comes across as rather crisp and refreshing.

If you were to take Spotted Cow and mix it with a Budweiser, this would be pretty close to that. It's not as bad as it could've been, but I wouldn't buy this. The good thing about this? I got this for free.

Horny Goat Exposed - 5/10

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Anchor Old Foghorn Review

Name: Anchor Old Foghorn
Style: Barleywine
ABV 8.8%

Anchor Brewing is most well known for their Anchor Steam Beer to most beer drinkers out there but many people seem to forget that they make other beers besides just Steam. Last year, Anchor Brewing announced they were going to bring back Old Foghorn, their barleywine, after an extended absence. Up until recently finding it has been somewhat of a chore, but here it is!

Old Foghorn pours a clear crimson color with some high carbonation and a filmy head. There's no lacing here so it finishes clean.

The nose starts things off with caramel malts, plum, and dark fruity notes along with some mild citrus hops. It's got an almost ”Dubbel” like quality to it.

The flavor is pretty malt forward with strong caramel malts, plums,light spice and mild citrus hop notes. The aftertaste is a sweet caramel and grapefruit taste. The Dubbel-like quality is present here as well.

The body is fairly light in weight and carbonation is moderate, so it gives some character to the flavor.

For a barleywine, it's rather tame considering it's flavor and ABV. However it's still a great beer and an approachable one at that. Anyone curious about the style should definitely check this one out!

Anchor Old Foghorn - 8.5/10

Monday, November 25, 2013

Castle Danger Local Fresh Hop IPA Review

Name: Castle Danger Local Fresh Hop IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7%

Earlier this year when I was visiting Duluth, I did a review of Castle Danger Brewing's George Hunter Stout and found it to be quite good. Well now that I'm living in Duluth, I think I'll be going back there more, just like I did last weekend! It was a cold windy and rainy afternoon that was reminiscent of a Nor'Easter we had just a few weeks ago. We were north of Two Harbors when it started picking up and we could feel the wind push on the car. But lo and behold we had made it.

While I was at the brewery (you can find the pictures in my George Hunter Review), I had the chance to talk with Clint MacFarlane and his plans for the new brewery that's scheduled to be open for business in Spring 2014. During this time, we talked about the Fresh Hop IPA he had made with Cascade Hops and Brewer's Gold hops made locally from Brule, WI. Since I've been craving a good Wet Hop IPA, and a local one nonetheless, I decided to make it my growler of choice for the visit.

Local Fresh Hop IPA pours a nice clear orange color with a soapy filmy head, sparse lacing and high amount of visible carbonation.

The aroma gives off a fairly pungent caramel malt and citrus hop scent with some grapefruit and grassy notes. While not particularly complex, each component is vibrant in it's own way.

Citrus hops, caramel malts and grapefruits are fairly prominent in the flavor with a bittersweet resiny aftertaste. Much like the aroma, it's not what I'd call complex but still very vibrant for what it is. On top of that, it actually has that wet hop taste that has been eluding me for a while!

The body itself is pretty lightweight but contrary to my earlier observations, the carbonation is actually quite mild. On top of that, it's got a very smooth & creamy texture, giving it extra points in terms of drinkability.

Local Fresh Hop IPA is an incredibly smooth & well-balanced wet hop IPA. At the same time, it isn't overwhelming either like others in the same category. I would consider this to be a very approachable wet hop IPA and I could definitely see this being a regular visitor in my fridge. Make the trip up to the brewery, grab a growler and see for yourself.

Castle Danger Local Fresh Hop IPA - 9/10

Surly Abrasive Ale Review

Name: Surly Abrasive Ale
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9%

Around the last two months of each year, Surly Brewing likes to pay homage to what it was before it became a brewery. You see the parents of Omar Ansari, owner of Surly, ran an abrasives facility in the current building for 35 years before Omar took over and converted the building into a brewery. Hence the name!

When Abrasive was first released a few years ago, it was originally called 16-Grit (another type of Abrasive) and was made to comemmerate the end of Growler sales but it has since been renamed and is released as a Fall/Winter seasonal.

Abrasive pours a clear orange color with a thin foamy head and mild carbonation. There's also some good lacing along the sides of the glass.

Nose is fairly mango & apricots forward with grapefruits, tangerines, citrus & piney hop notes. Very fruity smelling and reminds me of Dreadnaught.

Strong citra-piney hops and mango fruitness take the lead in the flavor with grapefruits and a caramel malty backbone. The aftertaste is equally malty & resiny in flavor.

It's got a fairly heavy body and some mild to moderate carbonation so in terms of texture, it's pretty manageable if you're used to it.

Simply put, this is an outstanding Imperial IPA! It's got a nice mixture of hops, malts, and fruity sweetness & quality that rivals that of 3 Floyds Dreadnaught. Anyone looking for a showcase of what the Imperial IPA can do should seriously look into this.

Surly Abrasive Ale - 9.5/10

Sunday, November 24, 2013

O'so Lupulin Maximus IPA Review

Name: O'so Lupulin Maximus IPA
Style: Imperial India Pale Ale
ABV: 9%

It's not often that I buy a beer that has something so unusual about it that I buy it on the spot without having any prior knowledge about the beer. Save, of course, for Rogue Voodoo Maple Bacon.

Yet somehow O'so Brewing had managed to do just that with their Lupulin Maximus IPA. What's so unusual about this beer you ask? In each bottle there is at least one hop cone. I say ”at least” because in the pictured above, there were two inside. The label even has a warning on it advising potential drinkers that there may be hop cones contained within the bottle. It is worth mentioning however that the two of the other bottles in the 4-pack only had one hop in them while another had none in it.

Eat your heart out, Hoptimum!

Lupulin pours a nice hazy orange color with a filmy head, good lacing retention and low amount of visible carbonation.

The Aroma consists of some pretty pungent citrus hops, apricots, mango, and mild caramel notes.

Citrus hops and mangos are very strong upfront in the flavor. This is followed by some caramel malts, piney hops, and some mild grapefruit notes. The aftertaste is a strong bitter citra-hop flavor.

It's got a fairly heavy body and some moderate carbonation so it's got a slight bite to it.

The name ”Lupulin Maximus” translates roughly to Bitter Hop Superior. While it's certainly not what I would call bitter with the exception of the aftertaste, this is still a bold and excellent Imperial IPA. The flavor may very slighty depending on the hop cones (or lack thereof) contained, but this is one Imperial IPA that is worthy of the name Maximus.

Oso Lupulin Maximus IPA - 9.5/10

Fitger's Big Boat Oatmeal Stout Review

Name: Fitger's Big Boat Oatmeal Stout
Style: Sweet Stout
ABV: 6.6%

I ought to review something from Duluth for a change and what better place to start than Fitger's Brewhouse. The original brewery was established in 1857 and continued to operate for 115 years before shutting down in 1972. At it's peak, they made over 100,000 barrels of beer in a year, which even by today's craft brew standards is alot!

Then in 1995, the old brewery complex was bought by it's current owners and now houses a hotel, fitness center, bookstore, 2 nightclubs, and a few clothing stores; As well as a couple other places I may have missed. But Fitger's Brewhouse is probably the biggest draw out of all business at the complex because they are known around the country for making some quality beer. On top of that, it's very close to where I live!

For my first in-depth Fitger's Brewhouse review, I decided to review a beer that is on their tapline pretty much year-round and that is their Big Boat Oatmeal Stout.

Big Boat is pitch black with a thin brown head, with light carbonation and no lacing; Giving it a very clean finish.

Roasted barley & oatmeal permeate the nose upfront in addition to some chocolate malts and some mild hoppiness. The flavor is alot more sweeter than roasty with oatmeal, chocolate malts, caramel-toffee sweetness and some mild, but noticeable, hops.

The body is moderate in weight and somewhat thick but the carbonation is very mild which gives it a very nice creamy texture and easy drinkability.

Big Boat Oatmeal Stout is an easy drinking stout with enough vibrancy to make this a very enjoyable beer. If you're ever in Duluth and happen to come upon Fitger's, this is a great beer to get yourself started on.

Fitger's Big Boat Oatmeal Stout - 9/10

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon Review

Name: Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.5%

It's high time I did a Clown Shoes beer review. I believe they started popping up late last year in stores when I was still living in Minneapolis. While I have had Clown Shoes quite a few times, I've never done a proper review. Right now, it's availability in Minnesota is limited to Minneapolis/St. Paul as it's currently not available up here in Duluth....but it IS available right across the bridge over in Superior, Wisconsin (Keyport Liquor for those wondering!)

Tonight we're having their Blaecorn Unidragon Russian Imperial Stout. The name is a portmanteau of the phrases "Soul Dragon" & "Black Unicorn" though I think that Blaecorn Unidragon sounds like a monster you would fight in a Final Fantasy video game. Also the artwork looks like something Boris Vallejo would paint after watching an episode of Game of Thrones.

Blaecorn Unidragon pours a black opaque color with a filmy brown head. The lacing on the sides of the glass is pretty good and it has a small amount of carbonation visible.

The aroma is fairly mild by Imperial Stout standards with roasted malts, chocolate, barley and cocoa nibs. Subdued but still quite noticeable.

The flavor starts out with a strong chocolate molasses taste, followed by roasted malts, some strong piney hops, and a slight vanilla flavor. The aftertaste is a weird one with both chocolate AND bitter piney hoppiness.

Both the body weight and carbonation are moderately leveled and there's also a slight thickness to the overall mouthfeel.

While some may not like the higher-than-normal hoppiness here, it's still a fairly rich & robust Imperial Stout that tastes great and is not afraid to be a little different. Check this one out if it's available in your area.

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon - 9/10    

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Glarus Uff-Da Review

Name: New Glarus Uff-Da
Style: Bock
ABV: 7.3%

New Glarus Brewing recently brought Uff-Da & Fat Squirrel out of cryogenic suspension much to the delight of New Glarus fans everywhere. As you can probably already guess, we're taking a look at Uff-Da!

Every once in a while, I'll see a beer label and think to myself "Why on Earth would they call it that?" and this is no exception to that rule. Uff-Da is a term used by some residents of the upper Midwest and primarily those of Scandinavian/Norwegian descent. It's a slang term used when you hear something that's rather unpleasant or discomforting. To better illustrate my point, I've created this dialogue for your reading pleasure:

Sven: Hey did you hear about what happened to Ollie down at his farm?
Olaf: No, what happened?
Sven: He was tending to his cows when one of the horses got startled and kicked him right in the...well, you know....
Olaf: Uff-Da, that must've hurt!

Well, hopefully this beer won't put me in the Emergency Room, so let's take a look!

Uff-Da pours a clear crimson red color with a filmy-looking head with some decent lacing and some mild visible carbonation.

Caramel Malts are the first thing noticeable in the aroma along with yeasts, some floral hop notes and some roasted barley. Pretty basic smelling, even for a bock beer.

Likewise, the flavor isn't too different. You have caramel & pale malts, yeasts, floral hops and roasted barley. The roasted aspect is a alot stronger here along with some mild pale malts and hoppiness in the aftertaste.

It's pretty heavy in terms of weight on the palate and the carbonation is fairly moderate and not too overwhelming. It's enough to help one enjoy what this beer has to offer.

As much as I like New Glarus, I wasn't too impressed with this. Keep in mind that while it's certainly not a bad beer, it's a bit too roasty and not malty enough to even things out. I say if you're gonna buy this, buy it as part of a mix-a-six and decide for yourself

New Glarus Uff-Da - 7/10

Milwaukee's Best Premium Review

Name: Milwaukee's Best Premium
Brewed By: Miller Brewing Company
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 4.3%

The name of the beer is Milwaukee's Best Premium.....or as we called it in college: The Beast.  Yes, I recall many times with The Beast. Every once in a great while we would tire of Miller Lite and Natural Light and seek out some Milwaukee's Best. You see to a 21 year old college student, Milwaukee's Best was considered ”high end” due to the price we would have to pay at the various University of Minnesota campus liquor stores.

Of course, all of that changed when my old roommate from Wisconsin introduced me to New Glarus Spotted Cow. Now that I'm a few years older, I've decided to take a look at the beer that helped shape my college experience.

Milwaukee's Best Premium pours a very pale yellow color with a high amount of carbonation and a foamy head. There's also no lacing to be had here.

The aroma is mainly cereal grains, pale malts, grassiness and cooked corn. With that said, the taste is also pretty much the same but with a more pronounced barley flavor.

The body is pretty light but it's very heavily carbonated, but crisp at least.

For an adjunct lager, it’s not too bad and it's higher in quality compared to other beers of the same style. With that said, I really can't say that'd go out of my way to try this but I can say that it's tolerable at least.

Milwaukee's Best Premium - 5/10

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sprecher Pipers Scotch Ale Review

Name: Sprecher Pipers Scotch Ale
Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 8.27%

Been a long week for myself so I figured it's time to review one of my favorite offerings from Sprecher Brewing. Now as you may recall from my last Sprecher review of their Belgian-Style Dubbel Ale, I pointed out that I wasn't too crazy about it.

Pipers Scotch pours a dark brown color with a fairly strong hazy appearance with a fizzy 2 finger head, a high amount of visible carbonation and only has a sparse amount of lacing.

The nose has strong caramel, oak, and smoke notes. There's also a pronounced butter rum and vanilla/bourbon aroma to it.

The flavor has a more pronounced oak/bourbon/smoke taste with hints of caramel malts, hops, and peated scotch. There's a slight booziness but it's very minor compared to everything else. The aftertaste is an oaked vanilla flavor that sticks around for a couple of minutes.

The body as a whole is reasonably light but the carbonation is a bit heavy for what it is and I feel it could be toned down just a bit.

While the body could use a little work, the flavor is fantastic even if you take into consideration the booziness. Anyone who loves Scotch Ales should definitely check this out as I think this is one beer that shows off just how vibrant and robust a scotch ale can be.

Sprecher Pipers Scotch Ale - 9/10

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA Review

Name: Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.2%

It's been a fairly hectic week on my end so I'll try to make this one nice and quick. Tonight I will be having Sierra Nevada's Torpedo Extra IPA.

With many of Sierra Nevada's labels, the name usually coincides with the portrait in the center. So why does the artwork in the center show off a prairie landscape and yet calls itself "Torpedo?" Instead it should be a picture of Marko Ramius in his snappy outfit; Just saying!

Torpedo pours a mildly hazy orange color with a slightly orange tinted foamy head. The carbonation visible is fairly mild.

The nose gives off a fairly strong piney and citrus hops aroma with some mild mango-grapefruit notes with some slight caramel maltiness.

Flavor-wise it's pretty much with piney & citrus hops, grapefruit, caramel, and a slight resiny aftertaste that comes off as surprisingly dry.

The body has a moderate weight to it but the carbonation is very mild, giving it an almost creamy feel. With that said, it goes down pretty easy.

Despite the lack of Marko Ramius, this is a great IPA! It doesn't have all the bells and whistle of other IPAs out there, but each flavor is very robust which makes for an enjoyable IPA!

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA - 8.5/10

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Deschutes Chasin' Freshies Review

Name: Deschutes Chasin' Freshies
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.4%

Note: This is the 2013 Release

Deschutes Brewing seems to have a thing for wet hop IPAs this year much like Summit Brewing has a thing for IPAs in general. Chasin' Freshies is the second wet hop IPA released this year after their Fresh Squeezed IPA. From what I understand, last year (2012) was the first time it was released and was brewed with Cascade hops. This year it's brewed with Amarillo hops and since I can't compare and contrast like I did with Surly Wet, this'll be a first for myself.

Before I start this review, I'd like to ask a question: Now is it just me or does the name "Chasin' Freshies" sound like the movie title of a stoner comedy?

Chasin' Freshies pours a pale hazy yellow color with a low amount of visible carbonation, semi-foamy head and good lacing.

In the aroma, it starts out with a grapefruit and citrus hop profile with some caramel malt, apricot and resin notes. The hops at large don't really give off a "wet hop" smell like Fresh Squeezed did.

With that said, the wet hops are quite noticeable flavor-wise with mango and apricot fruitness, toffee, piney & floral hops with a bitter resin finish. Now this is more like it. Permitting it's not quite as hoppy as say Fresh Squeezed, but the wet hops are present here.

It's got a moderate weighted feel to it but the carbonation is a bit too strong for my liking, and that is probably my biggest gripe and a relatively small one at that.

All and all, it's a very good wet hop IPA.......but I still prefer Fresh Squeezed over this. Sure it's got one of the better wet hop profiles that I've seen this year, but Fresh Squeezed just came off as more vibrant and satisfying. However I would still recommend checking this out because it's still a great IPA!

Deschutes Chasin' Freshies - 8.5/10

Monday, November 11, 2013

Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Review

Name: Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale
Style: Wheat Beer
ABV: 4.2%

Goose Island Brewing loves to make it known that they are a Chicago-based brewery, despite contract brewing some of their highest selling beers out of state though they still continue to operate in Chicago and continue to make beers in their original location.

For those who are not familiar with Chicago, 312 is the area code which the city uses and is used by the majority of residents in Cook County. It's either that or 773, which is used primarily in the surrounding suburbs and/or counties.

While it bears the area code in which I once resided, it doesn't remind me of Chicago as much as Honker's Ale does. In any case, let's take a look.

It starts off with a hazy yellow color with a soapy head, with a high amount of carbonation and decent lacing along the sides of the glass.

The aroma has a strong cereal grain scent with wheat, pale malts, grassiness, slight floral hop notes and some mild skunkiness.

The taste is mostly cereal grains, pale malts, some slight wheat notes and mild earthiness. The hops present in the nose are nowhere to be seen here. Aftertaste is a mixture of grains and pale malt sweetness. Tastes more like an adjunct lager than a wheat beer, in my opinion.

Body feels a bit heavy with some rather strong carbonation. Doesn't feel all that good considering the flavor.

If you're looking for a good wheat, this one will disappoint you in almost every way because it tastes more like a Bud than a Wheat Beer.

Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat - 4/10

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Central Waters Glacial Trail IPA Review

Name: Central Waters Glacial Trail IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%

This weekend is a lightning round in terms of reviews; Meaning that I have a few reviews that are in the pipeline that I'm gonna get out of the way.

The first lightning round review on the list is from Central Waters Brewing with their Glacial Trail IPA. If there's one thing thats not short supply here in the Twin Ports, it's Central Waters amongst other things.

Glacial Trail pours a hazy orange color with a foamy head and some mild carbonation. The lacing left behind is also pretty good.

The aroma has a strong bread/yeastiness quality up front and some mild citrus hop notes along with some toffee malts.

The strong yeastiness also carries over to the flavor, which is also fairly malt forward with toffee, caramel and mild citrus hop notes before finishing with a mild bitter piney hoppiness.

The body is moderate in weight but light in carbonation; Giving it a mildly creamy mouthfeel.

Even though it calls itself an IPA, I feel more inclined to classify this as an English Pale Ale and unbalanced one at that because of the relatively strong yeast and malty characteristics and mild hoppiness. With that said, it's still a decent beer but an unremarkable one at that.

Central Waters Glacial Trail IPA - 7/10

Canal Park Dawn Treader Review

Name: Canal Park Dawn Treader
Style: Tripel
ABV: 9.2%

Around a year ago, a new brewpub opened it's doors here in Duluth much to the delight of beer geeks, locals and tourists alike. It's name is Canal Park Brewing Company and it gets it's name from the Canal Park area of Duluth which is where it's located. It's also a frequent tourist destination year round here in Duluth so it's usually packed whenever there's something going on here in town, which is almost every weekend.

To celebrate their 1 year in business, I've decided to honor this occasion by reviewing the first beer that I ever had from this brewpub: Dawn Treader Tripel. It's not too often you see a brewpub with a year round Tripel offering, but Canal Park has just that.

Dawn Treader pours a clear golden color with a foamy head and a good amount of lacing. The carbonation visible is moderate in appearance.

The nose has some strong spicy, clove, banana and fruity notes paired with some pale malts and mild citrus hops.

Flavor-wise, the maltiness has a bit more of an obvious presence with caramel, cloves, bananas, citrus hops and yeast/biscuits. The aftertaste is a mixture of banana-cloves and spiciness.

It's got a medium weighted feel to it and the carbonation is just a notch below moderate, which is perfect for allowing the flavors to settle in.

This is the perfect beer to try out if you're a seasoned beer aficionado looking to get acquainted with Canal Park for the first time. It's rich, robust and it's available all-year round!

Canal Park Dawn Treader - 9.25/10

Central Waters Mud Puppy Porter Review

Name: Central Waters Mud Puppy Porter
Style: Porter
ABV: 5.5%

The next beer in my lightning round review session is yet another beer by Central Waters Brewing, this time it's their Mud Puppy Porter.

Contrary to what the name suggests, it is NOT named after an adorable beagle which has been frolicking around in the mud. In fact, it is named after something that is the total opposite of adorable: A salamander that lives at the bottom of muddy river streams.

All I want is a hug!
Mud Puppy pours a Clear Dark Red color with a filmy head with an abundant amount of lacing and a high amount of carbonation.

The aroma is very roasty with roasted barley & malt notes, paired up with chocolate and some floral hoppiness, unusual for a porter to say the least.

The hoppiness is even more prevalent in the flavor with some roasted barley, coffee and chocolate notes. Aftertaste is a bittersweet dark chocolate flavor.

The body is a bit on the heavier side with some mild to moderate carbonation. Not ideal, but at least it allows you to savor the flavors which this has to offer.

It's not perfect but it's roasty, malty and surprisingly hoppy for a porter. Overall I say give this one a shot and decide for yourself; I enjoyed this and I hope you do as well.

Central Waters Mud Puppy Porter - 8/10

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY Review

Name: Oskar Blues Ten FIDY
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%

In honor of World Stout Day, I'm reviewing Oskar Blues very own Imperial Stout offering. That's right, I'm talking about Ten FIDY and yes, the FIDY is capitalized. In case you were wondering, the name comes from it's 10.5% ABV; Were you expecting someone else.....?

To my knowledge, this is the only Imperial Stout I know of that comes in a can, though if I'm wrong please feel free to correct me. I know craft beer in cans is becoming more of a commonplace, but it's quite unusual to see this style of beer in a can. Then again, this is Oskar Blues we're talking here.

Ten FIDY pours a opaque black color with a dark brown foamy head and a large amount of lacing. The carbonation which is visible is mild in appearance.

The nose starts off with strong chocolate malts, caramel, roasted barley and toffee. There's even some noticeable hoppiness thrown in for good measure.

The roasty and malty aroma is amplified in the taste with chocolate, roasted barley, vanilla, peasted scotch smoked malts and oak. The hoppiness isn't quite as noticeable here as the nose but you can taste it if you allow it to sit on your palate long enough. Speaking of which....

The body is fairly heavy and somewhat thick and the carbonation starts out moderate but tapers off into a more mild feel.

For an Imperial Stout, it draws heavily from Scotch Ales in terms of Smokiness but it's thankfully an asset in this case.  While the smokiness may deter some people from enjoying this, it's still got a very nice mix of flavors to make this worth checking out. As for me, I loved it and look forward to having it again.

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY - 9/10

Friday, November 8, 2013

Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale Review

Name: Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%

Dale's Pale Ale, one of the staples of my beer fridge while I was living in Chicago! What I lacked in Surly, it was made up for in Dale's Pale Ale. Now that I'm back in Minnesota and right across the bridge from Superior, I now have both. It's like karma has rewarded my good deeds with beer and now both Surly & Oskar Blues are now regulars in my fridge.

Oskar Blues is a brewery based out of Colorado and are available in several states, though I've heard whisperings and rumors on Beer Advocate that they will distributing here to Minnesota sooner than expected on account of Oskar Blues being a guest tap down in Minneapolis. We shall see for the time being.

Anyways, let's take a look at Dale's Pale Ale!

Dale's Pale Ale pours a mildy hazy orange color with a fairly foamy head, good lacing and some mild carbonation visible on the sides of the glass.

The nose has a fairly prevalent not overly strong floral and piney hoppiness up front to go along with the caramel malts and grassy scent. There's also some mild apricot fruitiness in the aroma as well.

There is a sudden citrus hoppiness in the flavor complimented by grapefruit, apricot, floral hops, and caramel malts. The grassy/earthiness that was in the nose is nowhere to be seen here. There is a fairly strong resin & malty aftertaste that is surprisingly balanced.

It terms of weight, it's a couple sets above moderate and has a slight thickness to it, but the carbonation is very light here so you're able to take in all the flavors without having to worry about irritating your palate.

To me, having this again is like hanging out with an old friend, spending the afternoon together, having lots of fun and realizing why you guys used to hang out together so much in the first place.

It's a very well rounded and balanced pale ale. It's well balanced profile of malts, fruitness and hops make this an extremely easy beer to recommend. It's not "Zombie Dust" caliber by any means, but it's good enough to keep me coming back for more. It's also decently priced so that also works!

Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale - 8.5/10

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

AleSmith Speedway Stout Review

Name: AleSmith Speedway Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 12%

At the risk of sounding smug, we Duluth (And Superior, Wisconsin) residents have gotten some access to some pretty sweet beers recently. While the selection isn't quite as bountiful as say....Chicago, Colorado or the West Coast, I feel it is safe to say that we got quite alot on our hands.

Recently, AleSmith Brewing started distributing to Wisconsin and have brought their beers to our neighbors over in Superior, WI. I've been reading about this brewery in particular online and have seen their Speedway Stout at the top of many "Must-have" beer lists. They are also a very highly regarded California Brewery and joins Ballast Point in terms of availability in our area.

I don't know if I should consider myself lucky it is! My review of AleSmith Speedway Stout!

Speedway Stout pours a pitch black color with a creamy-looking filmy brown head. The lacing has some good retention and the carbonation visible is mild.

The nose has a sweet chocolate nib and coffee aroma, with some licorice, vanilla, chocolate malts and roasted barley.

Flavor-wise, it's got a very strong coffee taste upfront with rich some chocolate, roasted barley, and malty notes. There's some minor but noticeable booziness in the flavor throughout. Aftertaste is a bitter coffee and malty flavor

The body is very heavy in weight and carbonation-wise, it lands in between mild & moderate; So it's quite manageable.

The flavor, while robust, isn't quite as complex as the aroma and it tastes somewhat boozy. With that said, it's still an excellent Imperial Stout that is worth checking out. Since they have brought multiple offerings to our area, I'll be sure to check all of them out.

AleSmith Speedway Stout - 8.5/10

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Molson XXX Review

Name: Molson XXX
Style: Malt Liquor
ABV: 7.3%

When I picked this up as part of a mix-a-six, I wasn't really sure what to expect. On the front it says "Super Premium Beer" with a fairly high ABV of 7.3%. I figured it was Molson's answer to Bud Light Platinum. Upon looking this up, I discovered that I had purchased a Malt Liquor. You really don't see them in 12 oz. bottles much with the slight exception of Mickey's, which come in those 8 oz. ”Grenade” bottles.

Aside from the name & information above, I really don't have other information about this beer, so let's dive right in shall we?

Molson XXX pours a clear pale yellow color with a filmy head and a high amount of visible carbonation. In terms of lacing, there isn't anything here.

The nose starts off with a very powerful boozy smell with some cereal grains, pale malts, cardboard, grassiness and some skunk. Well, it for sure smells like a malt liquor!

The flavor is a cross between burnt cardboard, pale malts, booziness, grassiness and skunkiness (If it wasn't a word before, it is now!). Oh dear god, it's like they took the boozy & skunky scents and made it into a flavor!

The body is fairly light and crisp but the carbonation is very strong and it really doesn't matter much at this point.

If there is a beer underworld, then this deserves to be cast down into the furthest depths. This is probably the worst thing to come out of Canada since Justin Bieber and that's saying alot.  I've came up with a motto for Molson XXX in the event it is horrible and it is very much so. So here it is:

Molson XXX, it SuXXX.

Molson XXX - 1/10