Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cold Spring IPA Review

Name: Cold Spring IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%

Cold Spring Brewing brings back memories of visiting my friends at St. Cloud State University in Central Minnesota for one particular reason: Hackstein Light, the cheapest and probably the nastiest beer I have ever had. Hackstein was the staple of every kid at SCSU who drank beer and you could buy a 24 pack for literally $6.59 up in St. Cloud just 8 Years Ago. We in the Twin Cities had Natty Ice but my friends in St. Cloud had Hackstein, or "Hacks" as they called it. It was the lifeblood of Frat Boys and beer drinkers at SCSU and Cold Spring Brewing was to thank for that.

Hey Brah, let's shotgun some Hacks and order some Domino's!

From what I understand, Hackstein was discontinued a few years ago and their main focus has been Third Street Brewhouse, a "state-of-the-art" brewing facility which was formed after the owner of Cold Spring Brewing wanted to revitalize their business and become a prominent player in the Craft Beer Industry. You know they want to change for the better when the owner of the brewery, Doug DeGeest, openly admits that their beers have not been up to par with what they want thanks to the outdated equipment they have been using. So far, I think Third Street Brewhouse has worked out surprisingly well for them and I'm glad to see that it paid off. The beers they've released under the Third Street brand have also been really tasty, especially their Rise to the Top Cream Ale; Check it out if you haven't already!

Aside from that, their other focus has been contract brewing for 21st Amendment & starting soon Alpine Brewing, which I understand has a pretty high reputation on the West Coast so I'll have to keep my eyes on that.

For the time being, we're going to be looking at one of Cold Spring Brewing's own products, their Cold Spring IPA. On the label, it proudly states that it is Dry Hopped and Double Hopped and it also comes in a Double Pint Can, which is a quart of beer or 32 oz. In fact, it's probably the largest can of beer I probably will ever come across. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, refer to the picture below...

As you can see, it's a pretty damn big can and I only picked it up for $2.59, not a bad deal. I did mention earlier, however, that the owner was not satisfied with the quality of his product so let's take a look at the actual beer.

It pours a dark hazy orange with a yellow tinge on the bottom. Head pours around 1 finger in width and has some pretty good retention and the lacing isn't half bad either.

The nose has some strong dry floral hops, yeasts and malty notes. I use the term "strong" not in a powerful sort of sense, but because dry hops used here give the aroma an almost chalky-like quality to it. The flavor's hop profile is very mild and has a pine-like taste to it, and there are some mild citrus, yeast and malty notes to go along with it. There's also a chalk & rust-like quality to the flavor that hard to put my finger on; Aftertaste is a bitter dry hop finish.

The body is moderate in weight and the carbonation is light so you won't have a hard time drinking this and it actually feels pretty crisp.

I can totally understand why Mr. DeGeest admitted his beer quality was poor, because this is not a great IPA. The dry hops used give it a chalky taste and the flavor overall is too mild and metallic for my liking. In Cold Spring's defense, they are changing the way they're doing business and it has worked out very well for them so far. I expect good things for Cold Spring Brewing/Third Street Brewhouse in the future.

Cold Spring IPA - 4.5/10

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lion Stout Review

My regular readers will recall that I had wished to try out a beer from Pakistan; Well this will have to do for now until one magically appears on my desk. What I'm reviewing today comes all the way from Sri Lanka, which is located about 20-30 miles off of the southern coast of India. Like India, it was once a British colony.

I honestly had no idea how to name this post because the brewery is named Lion Brewery, which is a subsidiary of the Carlsberg Group. The brewery was first established in 1881 in Sri Lanka, which was known back then as Ceylon. Like India, it was at one point a British Colony but never a part of India proper. It's astonishing to see that there has been a brewery there for that long, because when I think of Sri Lanka, beer isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

Today we are reviewing Lion Stout from Lion Brewery Ceylon/LLC, which is classified as a Foreign Stout with an ABV of 8.8%

To start out, it pours a pitch black color with a foamy brown head. It starts out with some lacing but it finishes quite clean.

The nose is a mix of chocolate, mild black coffee notes and roasted malts. It smells like a drier version of Guinness Stout. The flavor is more robust with chocolate, coffee and roasted malts but there's also a distinct smokiness that encompasses the flavor. I almost aspires to be like a Baltic Porter but the smokiness is still pretty subdued so it's still a stout.

The body is in the middle in terms of weight and the carbonation is light. When drinking it feels pretty smooth so it's easy to drink.

The smell may come off as dry, but underneath that is a pretty robust flavored stout. It's fairly identical to Guinness Foreign Extra Stout except this has a distinct smokiness and it's pretty easy to drink. I got this as part of a mix-a-six but I've seen this before going for prices ranging from $3.99-$4.99 for a bomber of this so you're getting a good deal for what you pay for.

Lion Stout - 8.5/10

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA

Deschutes Brewing just released a seasonal beer called Fresh Squeezed IPA, which is a Wet Hop IPA with an ABV of 6.4%.  I'm pretty familiar with Deschutes; in fact their Mirror Pond Pale Ale is one of my goto beers if I'm never too sure what to get and it's pretty easy to find here in Minnesota.

It pours a fairly clear orange-ruby color with a 1 finger head that stays around for a while. The lacing along the sides of the glass is pretty good as well.

Right away, a strong wet citrus hop aroma makes itself known, which are backed up by caramel malts, yeasts and grapefruit notes.

The flavor has pretty strong citra-hop and grapefruit notes upfront, followed by caramelized malts, mango, yeasts, and fruity notes. The aftertaste is a bittersweet citra-hop and mango flavor . The mango in particular reminds me of 3 Floyds Dreadnaught.

Body is quite heavy but the carbonation is mild, so it compliments the flavor quite well and it feels pretty smooth when drinking.

If you're looking for a decently priced Wet Hop IPA with great flavor, you're getting the best of both worlds with this beer. I'm not sure how long this'll be available for but grab it if you get the chance.

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA - 9/10

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lakefront Bridge Burner Review

So I've been on a bit of a Surly Spree these past few days, so let's get back to something that isn't Surly, and that's Lakefront Brewing's Bridge Burner with an ABV of 8.5%. Now when I picked this up, the clerks told me it was a Barleywine, but when I got home, I found it was an American Strong Ale; Much to my minor disappointment.

Bridge Burner pours a fairly clear but dark crimson color with a off-white head that has a brownish tinge. The lacing it leaves behind is decent as well.

The nose has some fruity-plum notes followed by a spicy & licorice scent before ending with a citrus hop and caramel malt finish. The smell almost reminds me of Stone Arrogant Bastard but with a couple of differences; In fact if you were to blindfold me, I would probably mistake this for a Arrogant Bastard solely based on the smell.

The flavor has a fairly strong citra-hop kick up front, followed by licorice, caramelized malts, fruity notes and spices. Again it reminds me of Arrogant Bastard, but the big difference is that Arrogant Bastard uses Piney Hops, not Citrus Hops.

The body is moderately weighted and the same can be said about the carbonation. At the same time, it feels quite watery and thin feeling; It doesn't really feel right considering what kind of ale this is.

Even with it's imperfections, Bridge Burner is a solid Strong Ale with a great taste that is worth checking out. It's nice to see a change-up in how Lakefront has been doing business in terms of beers they offer. Hopefully their Chad Barleywine will be as good as I was told.....but that's another review.

Lakefront Bridge Burner - 8/10

Monday, June 24, 2013

Look what I just found!

So remember that post I made last week about the beers I wanted to try out? Well....I went the store today and I grabbed the last one sitting on the shelf. Can you guess what it is?

Here, I'll show you!

I consider myself very fortunate to have finally acquired this. I'm gonna try to find one more for aging purposes, but keep an eye out for the review in the near future!

Surly's New Destination Brewery Plans Revealed

Around this time 2 years ago, the Taproom Bill AKA Surly Bill, was signed into law, which allowed Minnesota Breweries to sell pints of their beer on their own premises. This bill was spearheaded by Omar Ansari, the CEO of Surly Brewing but they didn't advantage of their namesake bill until recently.

The reason behind the bill was that Omar Ansari wanted to create a destination brewery/beer garden that would allow the brewery to sell their own beer but this was illegal in Minnesota up until 2011. So thanks to social media and a very active fan base known as the "Surly Nation", they were able to change the law and what followed was an explosion of breweries popping up all around Minnesota. The Surly Bill will forever be remembered as the linchpin that brought national attention to the Minnesota Craft Beer scene.

When plans for the Surly Destination Brewery were revealed in 2011, it looked like this....

As you can see while the architecture was definitely sound, it looked more like a building you'd expect to see at a college campus. It was different, but I figured it would work because of the quality of the Surly brand name. Keep in mind, this was just a colorful sketch of what Omar had in mind for his business and it was enough for him to change the laws to help make his dream a reality.

Well, last night at the Surly SeVIIn launch party, renderings for what I assume will be the actual brewery were revealed.....

Surly Beer, it's to die for!

I am not an architect by any means, but I have never seen a concept design that would contain ghosts drinking beer. On the plus side, the brewery looks great!

In all seriousness, the interior looks absolutely fantastic and nails what I would expect out of a destination taproom or brewery. I can only imagine how fun it'll be to tour the place once it actual opens.

Then of course, there's the exterior.....

If a Chipotle restaurant and a VCR had a baby, this what it would look like; In other words, I'm not a fan of the design. I know people aren't going to care when they're inside having a CynicAle or Furious but I expected something more aesthetically pleasing.

Well the important thing is that we know that development is coming along fine and is expected to open next year. Am I still going to go? Of course I am, I've been waiting for this to open up for a couple of years now and I probably will be there opening day. As long as they keep making quality beers, that's all I really care about.

Surly Bitter Brewer Review

Surly Brewing has a regular lineup of seasonals, but in the case of Surly Bitter Brewer it was released in May as opposed to Late March/Early April which is when it is normally released. I guess with all the stuff going on with their new planned destination brewery, that would be good reason to delay it slightly.

Bitter Brewer is an English Bitter which is a lighter style of beer with a lower ABV level, like is the case with Bitter Brewer which is 4.1% ABV. Perhaps the most widely known English Bitter known is Goose Island Honker's Ale, which I believe you can find in all 50 states, or at least in the lower 48 but that's just an educated guess.

Bitter Brewer pours a dark golden color with some mild haze and carbonation. Head is a bit on the soapy side and it finishes clean.

In the nose, I'm getting some light caramel malts, citrus hops, yeasts, and fruity notes. Fairly mild aroma but you can still make out what is in here. Fortunately, the taste is alot better than what you are expecting. You have nice marmalade, malts, yeasts and floral hop notes and they all seem to fall into place at once; With the exception of a slight dry bitter hop finish.

The body is light in weight and has a very low amount of carbonation but it doesn't feel watery; So there aren't any issues with the body here.

While Surly is known for their stronger stuff, their lighter stuff like this and Hell shouldn't be overlooked. It's a great tasting beer whether you factor in the low ABV or not and it has some really good drinkability. Maybe once their new destination brewery is open, this'll go the way of Hell and be available year-round

Surly Bitter Brewer - 8.5/10

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout Review

Southern Tier Brewing just released their Creme Brulee Stout this week, or Crème Brûlée if you want to be fancy. It's classified as an American Double/Imperial Stout, though Southern Tier calls it an Imperial Milk Stout with an ABV of 9.6%.

Creme Brulee is a french custard desert topped with caramelizd sugar and flavored with vanilla. The closest thing I've had to an actual Creme Brulee was a Frostop Creme Brulee-flavored Root Beer when I was in high school; It was an....interesting flavor but it really didn't mix well together.

To start off, it pours a pitch black color with a off-white head that has a slightly brown color to it. You can also make out some mild carbonation rising up along the sides of the glass.

The nose is a surprisingly vibrant mashup of Vanilla, Cheesecake, Chocolate Malts, Amaretto and Caramel Marciato. The aroma is truly unique amongst other stouts which I have tried out; It smells kinda like an Iced Coffee/Milk drink that one would get from Starbucks.

For the flavor you have Vanilla, Butterscotch, Cheesecake Milk Chocolate, Caramel Marciato and Roasted Malts; Which all become more noticeable as it warms up. It finishes with a bittersweet dark chocolate aftertaste.

Body is in the middle in terms of weight and the carbonation is a couple steps below that, allowing that extra dimension of the flavor to shine through.

I've had a couple of Southern Tier's offering before and thought they were decent, but I was very impressed by this. The flavor is pretty unique and reminds me of eating a slice of Chocolate Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory, but at the same time it's still very much an Imperial Stout. It costs around $8.99 in my area for a bomber, but it was well worth the price of admission.

Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout - 9.25/10

Surly Hell Review

Tonight marks the first night that Surly Brewing has opened a taproom at their brewery; Took them long enough seeing as how they helped push for a Taproom Bill in Minnesota 2 years ago, but have only recently established one. It should hold over beer fans for the time being until their Destination Brewery is opened. The brewery floor-plan/sketch reveal is planned for this Sunday at the SeVIIn release party and I will be doing a piece on that when the time comes.

In honor of this event, I will be reviewing Surly Hell, their Dortmunder/Helles style beer; Which clocks in at 4.5% ABV. Dortmunder style beers are pale lagers which are usually lighter in color but use actual ingredients instead of adjuncts in their recipes. This beer also holds a place in my heart as the first Surly brew I had ever tried out that I actually liked when I first got into craft beer a couple years ago

Hell pours a Yellow/Golden color with a moderate amount of carbonation and a soapy head. There is any lacing along the sides of the glass and it finishes clean.

The nose has an aroma of biscuits, yeasts, pale malts and barley. Nothing really too complex, but it smells nice and is easy on the senses. The flavor is also pretty much the same as the nose; With pale malts, yeasts, bready-biscuits and barley. Flavor is nice and simple but manages to be pleasant at the same time.

In terms of body, it's light, crisp and mildly carbonated. It's not only easy to drink but refreshing at the same time.

This is a great session ale with a simple yet robust flavor and a light and crisp body to it. If you have friends who are not familiar with craft beer, then this is the perfect beer to introduce them to it.

Surly Hell -  8.5/10

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Top 10 Beers I would like to try out (Part 2 & New Format)

Continuing on with the Top 10 Beer list from my previous post, it's now time to reveal the second half of my list. I've also changed up the format just to see how it works out so if you absolutely hate it and want it changed back, just let me know. Anyways, onwards with the list!

5) Russian River Pliny The Elder

Any craft beer fan knows that Russian River's Pliny the Elder needs no introduction. Widely regarded as one of the best beers in America multiple times, people will regularly form lines or camp outside the brewery just to get their hands on what many consider to be the Holy Grail of Craft Beer....

So why isn't this higher on my list? Since Pliny the Elder has so much hype regarding how awesome it is, I start to question if it actually does live up to the hype or not. In my past experiences, I've had similar experiences with movies, TV shows and even video games which have had hype surrounding how great it is. When I finally get around to experiencing it, I occasionally will come to the conclusion "Wait, THIS what everyone has been talking?" With that in mind, I would like to try this out one day. Since Russian River's is distributed in places very far away from me and I have no beer loving friends in California, it may be a while before I finally get to try it out.

4) Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

When I lived in Chicago, you could pretty much find Goose Island anywhere they had beer. Now I've had this before at the Goose Island Wrigleyville Brewpub and it was a fantastic beer but I never gave it a proper review and I would love to have some more again. I do know it's distribution is sporadic but it's not impossible to find. I will try to keep my eyes peeled for this in the future; Ya know, for science!

3) Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

If you know me, I love my Barleywines, and I love my barrel aged beers. Central Waters Brewing offers the best of both worlds with this Barleywine. I think obtaining this will be a bit easier for a couple of reasons. The first is that they are located in neighboring Wisconsin and they distribute here to Minnesota. The second reason is that I've actually seen this on shelves in Minnesota so it's a matter of being at the right place at the right time.

2) Cigar City Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout

A couple years ago, I did a beer trade with a friend of mine who lives in Florida. I sent him some Surly and in exchange he sent me some beers from Cigar City Brewing, which the only major craft brewer in South Florida. When I tried them out, I was blown away with how good it was, especially the Jai Alai IPA & Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale. It wasn't until after I looked into Cigar City's lineup that I saw Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout; Knowing how awesome my beers from Cigar City were, I knew I had to try to get my hands on this. Hopefully I can arrange something in the near future but for the time being, it's a no-go.

1) Firestone Walker Double Jack

Firestone Walker has been at the top of my list of breweries to try out ever since I got into craft beer, but they currently do not distribute to the Midwest, they are only distributing West of the Rocky Mountains at this time. If I had access to Firestone Walker, this would be my first beer to try out because I love my Imperial IPAs like no one's business.

I hope you enjoyed reading because I enjoyed sharing this list with you. I have other obligations I must attend to at this time, but look out for a review later tonight!


Top 10 Beers I would like to try out (Part 1)

Today was a pretty long day so I don't feel like doing any reviews tonight. Tonight it's just me, some Spotted Cow and Sinatra on Pandora. So instead of doing a review I would like to put together a list of the Top 10 beers I would currently like to get my hands on. Please note that one of these entries has not been released yet.

10) Murree's Classic Lager


That's probably what you are thinking right now. Well there's a couple different reasons why I chose this. First of all, Murree Brewing is one of the oldest breweries in Asia, at least to my knowledge. It was formed in 1860 during the British Occupation of India to meet the needs of thirsty British Soliders stationed over in the Indian Subcontinent.

That is not the main reason why I'm eager to try it out. The main reason is because it was established in Rawalpindi, India back in 1860. Well, a little thing called the Partition happened in the Indian Subcontinent in 1947. Suddenly Rawalpindi was no longer in India, but was now in the newly formed country of Pakistan; Yes, THAT Pakistan!

Due to Islamic law, Muslims are not allowed to purchase alcohol in Pakistan...not legally anyways. It can only be purchased by Non-Muslims and is only available in Pakistan at this time; So the chances of getting my hands on this are pretty slim.

Yeah, I want to try this out is mainly because it's from Pakistan; Let's be fair, the first thing that pops into our heads when we think of Pakistan is terrorism and not beer. When I first heard about this brewery, I was curious about it's existence but now I'm interested not just their beer, but their Single Malt Whiskey, Gins, and Spirits, which I heard are excellent. Maybe one day Murree Brewing will be allowed to distribute internationally 

9) Surly Seviin

I've never had any of Surly Brewing's Anniversary beers before and would love to try at least one out. This year I will try getting my hands on Seviin, which will be a Belgian Strong Ale to commemorate their 7 years of being in business and is supposed to come out next week at the time of writing this so hopefully watch out from a review in the near future.

8) Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

One thing I miss about Chicago is Dogfish Head Brewing, you could find it in many liquor stores, grocery stores or even tucked away in a seedy little convenience store that you would never guess had a good craft beer selection. I had a wide variety of of their beers but one always seemed to elude me, and that was their 120 Minute IPA. I have had their 60 Minute IPA & 90 Minute IPA but never their 120 Minute IPA. Later this year, I hope to go back to Chicago to finally get my hands on this but until then I can only hope they start distributing to Minnesota.

7) Three Floyds Dark Lord Imperial Stout

And the award for most badass looking beer label goes to......

The other beer that reminds me of Chicago is.....well, not from Chicago but about 25 minutes away in Munster, IN; I'm of course talking about Three Floyds Brewing. I recently did a review of their Dreadnaught Imperial IPA and it was amazing! There's one release I've always wanted to get my hands on and that is their Dark Lord Imperial Stout. 

We here in Minnesota have our own Surly Darkness and I've heard Surly Darkness is better than Three Floyds Dark Lord while I've also heard the argument the other way around. Hell, they even have a Darkness Day for Surly and Dark Lord Day for Three Floyds. As long as it's good, I don't care who's is better. Likewise, availability is very limited and looks to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

6) The Alchemist Heady Topper

Whenever I see pictures of beer hauls, pictures of a beer someone is drinking or a beer trade on either Beer Advocate or the Beer-related Subreddits on Reddit, The Alchemist Heady Topper is one of the beers that somehow happens to be in EVERY other picture. 

I've come to the conclusion that either half the beer drinkers on the internet live in Vermont or they have good connections. Either way, I wouldn't mind getting my hands on this but I won't be going to Vermont anytime soon.

That's the end for Part 1, if you've made it this far and wish to continue, click here for Part 2!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Surly Pentagram Review

Name: Surly Pentagram
Style: Wild Ale
ABV: 6.66%

Earlier this year, Surly Brewing released Pentagram which is a Wild Ale. For those of you not familiar with Wild Ales or Sour Ales, they are viewed as an unusual style and for good reason. For starters, it's typically brewed with a type of yeast strain called Brettanomyces or "Brett", which is sometimes used in winemaking. It usually gives the wine/ale it's in a sour funk smell, which could understandably turn off many beer & wine drinkers.

It generally isn't used in beer-making because it's viewed as an "infected" yeast strain. It is used on occasion deliberately in a certain styles of ale, like say Lambics, Flemish Reds or in this case, Wild Ales. I like to compare Brett to Nuclear Power: when done correctly it can do wonderful things but if it used isn't intentionally used or left unchecked, the results can be bad.

I'm personally split on the issue, because I've had extremely awesome Wild Ales and ones that made my stomach hold a grudge against me for about 4 hours after I had it. I had wanted to try Pentagram out when it first came out but I never really got around to it. Up until last week, I had all but forgotten about Pentagram until last weekend while getting some beer for a bonfire. As I was making my way to grab some Miller Lite for the occasion, I strolled past the cooler and saw it sitting there. I figured since it was one of the last bottles in circulation, I would just go ahead and grab it.

On the websites and bottle, Pentagram's ABV is listed at 6.66%....Oh ho ho, I see what you did there Surly; Trying to be cheeky with me, are you? Hmph, we'll see about that. My first assumption is that it's just a chance to be clever but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. It's also hard to believe that Pentagram comes from the same people who gave us this....

An innocence lost!

Pentagram pours a dark mahogany/brown color with a filmy head that vanishes fairly quickly upon being poured. You can see a little bit of carbonation along the sides of the glass and it finishes rather clean.

With the nose, I'm getting raspberries, oak, malts, sour funk and Chianti wine. This doesn't come as too much of a surprise knowing that this was aged in Red Wine Barrels prior to bottling.

The flavor is a mixture of tobacco, oak, grapes, red wine, sour yeast and malts. Not too different from the aroma and has that barrel aged taste to it. The one difference I've noticed between Pentagram and other Wild Ales I've tried is that Pentagram is a tad more sour as opposed to the other ones I've had, which have a more tart characteristic.

The body is moderately light and the carbonation is rather mild, and makes this an easier ale to drink. With that said, Wild Ales are not meant to be chugged in 2 minutes.

It's a solid offering from Surly but Pentagram isn't quite the best Wild Ale I've ever had but it's definitely up there; It's a little rough around the edges mainly because the sour & tart flavors are not as balanced as I would like. With that said, it's still a great tasting beer and with a little more age, it'll be even better than it is now. Since it's a Wild Ale, Pentagram is not a beer for everyone but fans of Flemish Red or Wild Ales in general will be pleased with this beer.

Surly Pentagram - 9/10

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Miller Lite Review

Using my incredible psychic powers, I can project your current thoughts onto the space below. Don't believe me? Watch this:

"Why are you reviewing this? We've all had it before!!!!!"

Yes, I can safely say the majority of beer drinkers out there have had Miller Lite at least once in their lives even though some of us will not admit to it. EVER. I'll admit to drinking it, even now, if it's the only thing available that is! Whether it's at a softball match, a hockey game or a bonfire; You will never see me turning down beer.

Miller Lite is one of the most widely sold beers in the world, but is out paced by it's distant cousin, Bud Light. Still when it comes to beer, Miller Lite is a least when it comes to sales.

For me, Miller Lite brings back memories of a simpler time: being a broke college student! Miller Lite was the cheapest beer that we could find in mass quantities. Back then things were simpler, we didn't care about how it tasted, how it was made or what kind of hops (or lack thereof) were used nor did we worry about the crippling amount of student debt we would all incur one day. We cared about one thing when drinking Miller Lite: That it was cheap beer!

Now that it's been a few years since those times and my palette is a bit more refined, I'm going to approach Miller Lite from a critical point of view. Marketing gimmicks aside of course....

Why thank you! I always wanted an unnecessary porthole to help make my drinking experience more enjoyable.
Despite the label on the can that says "Great Pilsner Taste", this isn't a Pilsner and tastes nothing like one. Miller Lite is an American Adjunct Lager with 4.2% ABV

To start off, it pours a very clear and pale yellow color with tons of carbonation. The head is quite fizzy with a bit of foam to it and it finishes rather clean despite some lacing early on.

The nose is rather skunky with cooked corn, cereal grains, yeasts and a bit of malt sweetness thrown in.  The smell gets more offensive the more it warms up, not surprisingly. The flavor is pretty much the same but the flavors aren't as noticeable; This could also be because it's got a very dry aftertaste to it but  much like the flavor, it starts to taste worse the more it warms up.

The body is light and the carbonation is too heavy for it's own good, so not really a surprise there.

Even if you are a casual beer drinker, you know exactly what you are getting when you buy this. Much like Pabst, Miller Lite is best enjoyed straight from the can because if you pour into an open glass, everything about it goes further south than it already is. The difference between PBR and Miller is that PBR only gains a bit of skunkiness after an extended period while Miller tends to gain alot of skunkiness after a short period of time. Drink Miller Lite if it's the only thing there, otherwise seek out other options instead

Miller Lite - 2/10

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lift Bridge Silhouette Review

Lift Brewing Brewing Company is another Minnesota-based Brewery that has grown exponentially in the past couple of years and has just recently announced their third expansion since opening up just a couple of years ago. This is not uncommon seeing how tremendously the craft beer scene has grown these past couple of years. It is indeed a good time to be a beer lover here in Minnesota; Mind you, we are not at Colorado or Portland-level yet but one day I feel we will.

Anyways, Lift Bridge is located in Stillwater, MN; Which is a town literally right across the river from Wisconsin. Their most popular brew based on what I've seen at bars and stores is their Farm Girl Saison. Today I'll be looking at their Silhouette Imperial Stout, which comes in at 10% ABV. According to the brewery's website, this is a Winter Release. To me, Imperial Stouts are a year-round thing and some of them age wonderfully.

Silhouette pours a pitch black color with a filmy dark brown head. You can see little carbonation bubbles on the sides of the glass as well as your own reflection.

The nose has a fairly nice aroma of Vanilla, Bourbon, Cherry, Oak, Chocolate Nibs and Roasted Malts. I know they did a barrel aged edition of Silhouette a couple of years ago and what I have in front of me certainly smells like it but at the same time I know that may not be the case.

When it comes to the flavor, it's surprisingly smokey for an Imperial Stout. At the same time, it also has the rich Vanilla, Oak, Roasted Malt and Chocolate flavor. It's still got that Vanilla-Bourbon flavor to it but not overtly so. The smokiness reminds one of a Baltic Porter, but the other flavors serve as a reminder that this is still very clearly an Imperial Stout.

The body has a moderate weight to it and the carbonation is quite mild. Very smooth and creamy feel to it and compliments the flavor quite nicely.

It's an Imperial Stout with a slight Baltic Porter twist to it, and it works out quite well for the most part. It's got a great flavor and a smooth body and any seasoned Imperial Stout fan looking for something tasty and slightly different should definitely try this one out!

Lift Bridge Silhouette - 9/10

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Brooklyn East India Pale Ale Review

Well we are finally at the end of the Brooklyn Brewing Sampler Pack and I'll be finishing it off with a review of Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, an English India Pale Ale with a 6.9% ABV. It's supposedly based off of a recipe used by George Hodgson, a brewer who lived in England during the 19th Century, who would brew this ale and send it to British Troops who were stationed in India during the time of the British Raj. These beers would usually arrive in the city of Kolkata (Calcutta) in West Bengal, India

Since I just got done watching Kahanni, which is not only an excellent Indian movie but also is set in Kolkata, I feel it's only appropriate to take a look at this beer.

It pours a fairly clear orange color with a fairly large amount of carbonation. Head has a soapy look to it and the lacing it leaves behind is spotty.

The nose has a fairly strong caramelized malt scent to it, along some citrus hops, toffee and yeasts. It smells oddly familiar to my Sierra Madre Pale Ale homebrew I did, but my homebrew has a strong malt profile. The flavor is more balanced out with citrus hops, caramel, malts and yeasts. The aftertaste is a bittersweet piney hop finish.

The body overall is pretty light, crisp and easy to drink. Being that this is an English IPA, it fits in rather well when you consider the sum of it's parts.

This is a straight up English IPA just by how it smells and tastes. The aroma may come off as a bit malty but the flavor is very well rounded and balanced when compared to the former. I think Brooklyn Brewery did a good job with this one and I would recommend trying this out.

Brooklyn East India Pale Ale - 8/10

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My First Homebrew! (Which doesn't suck!)

Today I'm going to change things up just a bit, for I will be looking at my very own homebrew! As for a review, I have something special in-store so stay tuned!

For my birthday last year, I received a homebrew kit from Northern Brewer and it came with a starter kit for some Caribou Slobber, which is Northern Brewer's clone of Big Sky's Moose Drool. Well, about 3 weeks after I got it, I tried my hand at homebrewing. Upon taking my first sip, I quickly realized something went horribly wrong. I was expecting a nice brown ale, but instead I got a rather sour, lemon-like flavor that reminded me of a Berlin Weisse. I love my Wild Ales and all, but this was horrible! Using my CSI-like detective work, I pinpointed where I had botched it up completely.

Amongst my missteps:
  • Boiled for way too long
  • Possible contamination of equipment
  • Improperly bottled the beer, caps were attached loosely instead of being secured properly
  • Left it in the below freezing temperatures of our garage.
Reeling from my failure, I sort of forgot about homebrewing and moved on with other things that were happening in my life at that point.

Fast forward 6 months later, I am moving my stuff around the house and noticed my homebrew kit was amongst the boxes I was moving. I opened the box, saw my equipment, which had gathered dust and I said to myself "Eh, why not?" I made the drive over to Northern Brewer and picked up a couple of kits to try out and experiment with. I picked up a Sierra Madre Pale Ale & White House Honey Porter kit to experiment with, so I decided to try out the Sierra Madre kit first to see how it would go this time.

Sierra Madre is Northern Brewer's answer to the West Coast Style Pale Ale. When brewing this, there were 4 hop additions added into this. Since I'm not 100% familiar with what hops do what or what they taste like (aside from Fuggle Hops), I could only assume it would have a citrus like characteristic to it.

Even though it's wort, it's already better than my first failed batch.

After letting it boil, cool off and siphoning the beer into the jug (AND making sure that I avoided the pitfalls of before), I wiped the sweat off my brow and had a beer after the process. 2 weeks later, it came time to siphon the beer into the bottle and bottling it correctly.

Well, here we are 4 weeks after I first started the brewing process and finally able to try out the result of my efforts.


Well it certainly has a different smell to it; It has some very strong caramel malt notes and the hops are very fresh-smelling! But I'm not getting any sourness, so....yay for progress? Well enough stalling, let's taste the damn thing; You know.....for science!

Pretty much like the taste, very strong caramel malts up front and the citra-hop taste is very fresh but not quite as strong as the caramelized malts, in fact the combined flavors give it an almost Mango-Like quality to it. Fruity-tasting with a bit of caramel and piney hops! Body is more on the heavy side, and the carbonation is mild.

I thought it was pretty good, all things considered. It tasted like a Pale Ale, albeit a bit more fruity than I'm used to. I'm also not sure what the ABV on this is, but I got a good buzz going after having a bottle of this stuff.

Wanting a second opinion on my efforts, I gave one to my stepdad to see what he thought of it as he has homebrew experience. His verdict? For a first timer, very good and tasty. A little maltier than most Pale Ales out there but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Overall, I'm glad it turned alot better than my last effort. This Monday I will be bottling my White House Honey Porter and will have a look at that once it's been bottle conditioned long enough.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Brooklyn Pilsner Review

So now we're on the second-to-last beer in the Brooklyn Brewery Sampler Pack and this time it's their Brooklyn Pilsner, which is, obviously their Pilsner...or is it Pilsener? I'm not getting any red squiggly lines under Pilsner or Pilsener, so one could assume it is spelled both ways, but we'll just go by what's on the bottle; Brooklyn Pilsner has an ABV of 5%

This pours a clear & filtered pale yellow/straw color with a high amount of carbonation. The head comes off as soapy but has fairly good retention. It also leaves behind a fairly healthy amount of lacing in the glass.

The aroma has your typical pils notes; Lemon Zest, Yeasts, Pale Malts, Barley and Grassiness. Not as earthy as other pilsners on the market, but the earthy qualities are still there

The flavor, however, has a strong Pale Malt backbone which helps support the Floral Hops, Yeasts and Lemon Zest. Aftertaste is a piney hop resin-like flavor and some earthy-grassiness. Surprisingly prominent malt characteristics, yet it helps balance everything out quite nicely

The body and carbonation are both light, and generally feels refreshing for the most part. It does feel a bit too watery though due to the very low amount of carbonation present; It's a not a big deal but worth noting.

Aside from the minor body issues, this is a pretty good Pilsner. While the flavor doesn't do anything groundbreaking, it is nicely balanced and it makes for a great session beer.

Brooklyn Pilsner - 8/10

Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55 Review

For our next beer from the Brooklyn Brewing Sampler Pack, we have an English Pale Ale clocking in at 5.1% ABV called the Pennant Ale '55 or "Brooklyn Ale" according to This beer is named after the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers who beat the New York Yankees to win the 1955 World Series. Let's be fair, whenever the Yankees lose anything, it is cause for celebration...except for Yankee fans, they will whine like little kids who have just been told they cannot have another chocolate chip cookie after eating 27 of them because it'll spoil their dinner.


Pennant Ale pours a slightly hazy orange color that gradually turns into yellow at the bottom of the glass and leaves behind a filmy head up top. It also leaves behind some pretty good lacing along the sides of the glass.

The nose has faint buttery biscuit notes along with floral hops and barley. You really gotta let it warm up before you start to smell anything truly noticeable. As for the taste, it has a mild butter-biscuit profile, followed by some faint caramel, floral hop and yeast notes. Really isn't much in terms of an aftertaste as it is rather dry save a faint floral hop bitterness.

The body falls in the middle in terms of weight, while the carbonation falls a couple of notches above that; It helps add to the flavor but can come off as a bit too strong.

For a beer that's named after a great sports upset, this is kind of...average. I enjoyed the buttery-biscuit flavor but there simply wasn't enough of it. This could've been an excellent English Pale Ale had the flavor been more vibrant but as it stands, it's just average.

Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55 - 7/10

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brooklyn Brown Ale Review

Next in the Brooklyn Brewing Sampler Pack is the Brooklyn Brown Ale, which of course, is their Brown Ale. Tonight I will be mixing it up a bit as I will be having some Macaroni & Cheese to go along with this after being told by a buddy of mine that Brown Ales go really well with it; Since I'm no cicerone, I'll have to take his word on it. Although I have had an English Pale Ale to go along with Macaroni and Cheese before and found the pairing to be excellent!

Brooklyn Brown Ale pours a dark brown, almost crimson color with a frothy off-white head. It is rather clear in appearance and has some lacing along the sides of the glass.

The nose has some nice chocolate and nutty notes along with some roasted malts, cocoa, mild floral hops and barley. Much like the aroma, the chocolate and nuts are fairly prominent in the flavor as well, along with the aforementioned roasted malts and finishes off with a slight hoppiness with a hint of cocoa. The body is also pretty moderate in weight but the carbonation is quite mild, allowing for pretty easy drinkability.

Brooklyn Brown Ale is a nicely balanced Brown Ale and quite sessionable at that. As for the pairing with the Macaroni and Cheese, it was alright but I prefer the stronger hoppy power of an English Pale Ale to help the palate more over that of a Brown Ale.

Brooklyn Brown Ale - 8/10

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Brooklyn Lager Review

Before moving onto my New Glarus and Ale Asylum beers, I'm going to burn through my Brooklyn Brewing Sampler Pack. I've been seeing more of these "Variety Packs" from brewers recently and have found it to be more cost effective (and sometimes cheaper) than my typical mix-a-six pack. So start it off, I'm going to review their best-selling beer simply called "Brooklyn Lager", which is their Vienna Style Lager according to their website. Besides, after working for 10 hours a beer sounds quite nice.

Brooklyn Lager pours a mildly hazy amber color with a filmy white head and some carbonation activity. Lacing along the sides of the glass is sparse but there.

The nose has some mild caramel notes, yeasts, toffee and floral hops. Not terribly complex and the aroma is slightly earthy.

The flavor is a little more diverse with mild caramelized malts, mild citrus & piney hops, and yeasts. Oddly enough, it's surprisingly hoppy for it's style! The aftertaste has both a bittersweet maltiness and metallic flavor to it.

Body is moderate in weight and the carbonation itself is a couple notches down from moderate as well. Somehow I don't feel it fits the flavor and style of the beer.

With a couple of exceptions, I am not a really big fan of Vienna Lagers as a whole and the reason is that I feel it tastes too metallic-like and the malty sweetness is all over the place and Brooklyn Lager is no exception to this. It isn't a terrible beer and you could do worse but if you aren't a Vienna Lager fan you probably won't like this.

Brooklyn Lager - 6.5/10

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Great Divide Colette Review

Name: Great Divide Colette
Style: Saison
ABV: 7.3%

Great Divide Brewing Company is the second craft brewer that I ever tried which was based out of Colorado, the first being Fat Tire. They have a pretty good line-up and I think they have one of the best widely available Barleywines and Scotch Ales out there. However I will be dedicating my first Great Divide review to their Colette Saison Ale, which is their Spring Seasonal release. Perfect type of beer to drink right now considering it's quite rainy out right now.

Colette pours a bright hazy yellow color and a soapy head and with just a slight bit of lacing along the sides.

The aroma has a mildly sweet malty scent to it, along with yeasts and fruity notes. Surprisingly sweet smelling for a Saison, which reminds me of New Holland's Golden Cap Saison. The flavor isn't too different from the nose but it has a very slight lemon sourness to it and some cracked pepper flavors.The sweet maltiness is also in there, along with yeasty and fruity notes. It also finishes quite dry with a slight yeastiness.

It's quite moderate in weight and the carbonation is rather mild and it fits quite well with the other elements of this beer.

Colette strikes a good balance between being earthy and sweet in terms of it's flavor. It's a well rounded Saison that comes off as quite sessionable and is an ideal Spring Seasonal for that purpose.

Great Divide Colette - 8.25/10

Friday, June 7, 2013

Three Floyds Dreadnaught Review

Name: Three Floyds Dreadnaught 
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.5%

The name Three Floyds brings back memories of when I lived in Chicago. I remember clearly going to Binny's Beverage Depot in the Lakeview neighborhood for the first time ever, and needlessly scourging for some Dogfish Head and mulling over what to throw into my Mix-A-Six. While talking with an associate working there, a woman approached us and asked for Three Floyds Zombie Dust, to which he said he was going to grab some from the back and asked me if I wanted some, to which I said  "Yes."

When he came back, he had with him two 6-packs of Zombie Dust and the woman left with hers while we talked about beer again. Then 3 more people showed up, apparently seeing the Zombie Dust in my right hand and asked for it as well, to which the associate gave away the final ones. Before leaving, he told me "Beer geeks across America would kill their firstborn child over that beer." Puzzled, I made my purchase, went back to my apartment and did some research on Zombie Dust and found out that it was one of the most highly sought after beers in America and I had a 6-pack of it sitting on the table next to me. Was it good? It was one of the best Pale Ales I've ever had and cannot wait for the day where I can try it again. In fact, I remember right before moving to Chicago I was visiting Haskell's and a store associate told me that the equivalent of Surly in the Chicago area was Three Floyds.

When I moved back to Minnesota, I was happy to have my Surly and other local MN Beers again, but not having access to Dogfish Head and Three Floyds left an empty void in my life. Then last Friday, I decided to goto Hudson, WI and visit Casanova Liquors since it's only 20 minutes from where I work and I was craving some New Glarus and Ale Asylum (Those reviews will be coming in the near future.) As I was about to check out, I noticed a display with the trademark Three Floyds skull and below it were bombers of their Dreadnaught Imperial IPA, a Three Floyds offering that I had never had before. The rush of having a Three Floyds beer in my hand came right back to me and I snagged up 2 bombers to bring back home with me. I found a way to get Three Floyds again, and it is only a hop and a skip from where I work.

Dreadnaught pours a moderately hazy orange-yellow color with a moderate carbonation level and a very high amount of lacing along the sides of the glass.

The nose has a very sweet aroma of Peaches, Oranges, Citra-Hops and....Apricot? Quite fruity in the aroma, which is unusual for many Imperial IPAs I've had in the past which tend to smell way more hoppy as opposed to fruity.

The flavor is rich with a very nice and balanced blend of Peaches, Caramel, Citrus Hops, Toffee, and Yeasts. The aftertaste starts out very piney resin-like but ends on a Mango Sweetness note. You can definitely taste the hops but this is also very sweet tasting at the same time and its thankfully not boozy either.

The body is rather heavy in weight but that carbonation is quite mild, which helps add a bit of flavor. I would even go as far as to say that this is quite drinkable. At the same time, I would classify this as a sipper because the flavor is extremely rich and worth savoring

If you have never had Three Floyds before in your life and you happen to stumble across Dreadnaught,  grab it before someone else does! It's rich, robust, and very well balanced and quite easy to drink. I'm glad that I'm able to get access to Three Floyds and the best part is that I don't have to travel all the way to Chicago to get it. I hope that one day I'll be able to get access to their full line-up once more.

Three Floyds Dreadnaught - 9.5/10

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Olvalde Auroch's Horn Review

When it comes to the craft beer scene in Minnesota, Olvalde Brewing is somewhat of a more obscure and low profile brewery compared to other new breweries here in Minnesota like Fulton, Surly, and Indeed.

Olvalde is run by one guy, Joe Pond. He handles all of the brewing, bottling, and runs the entire brewery out of his farmhouse. I'm not sure how he does distribution, but I believe it's all handled by him as well. I liken him to Roland Deschain, the lone gunslinger (My readers who are loyal Stephen King fans will get my reference.)

When I was still living in Chicago, I stopped by The Four Firkins during a visit to bring some Minnesota Beer back with me to the Windy City. One of the beers recommended to me was Auroch's Horn, which I brought back with me, so I decided to give this beer a proper review.

Auroch's Horn pours a hazy orange/yellow color with a moderate amount of carbonation. The head is also fairly soapy but lasts a surprisingly long time.

The nose has quite a bit going on here. It has Apples, Honey & other Fruity Notes, along with Yeasts and Malts. It smells less like a beer and more like a mead or cider. It is however, a nice smell and provides a nice sensation to the senses.

The flavor is also pretty in line with the nose; Very sweet Apple, Honey and Fruity Notes, and the aforementioned yeasts and malts. Definitely tastes more like a beer here, and the malty backbone is fairly strong. Definitely one of the more unique tasting ales I've had in a while.

The body is quite light and the mild carbonation provides just enough to add to the flavor. It's also very crisp on the palate but this is beer is more of a sipper than anything else.

If you're feeling adventurous, looking for something different or are just looking for a great beer, Auroch's Horn is just the beer for you. I enjoyed it on the merits of it's rich flavor, drinkability and it's uniqueness. I will be keeping my eyes on Olvalde for future releases.

Olvalde Auroch's Horn - 9.25/10

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Schell's Barleywine Review

Had a long week at work, and today is technically the start of my weekend. To start things off, I have one more on my list of Barleywines and it comes from another Minnesota Brewer: August Schell Brewing Company or Schell's.

Schell's is known for producing Grain Belt and their other lineup consists of the usual styles ranging from Vienna Lager to Amber Ale, which aren't too interesting but they do have some pretty sweet seasonal beers. Recently they started releasing their Stag Series, which is their limited release series. So far, they have released a Rauchbier, Pilsener, Dark Ale, Altbier, Farmhouse/Saison, Burton, and their lastest release: Barleywine.

While it's incredibly awesome to see them trying out new styles, Barleywine is one of the last styles I would expect from Schell's. I mean, they are the same company that makes Grain Belt after all.

Stag Series Barleywine pours a clear amber color with a fairly brownish head and a high amount of carbonation. The lacing it leaves behind is moderate in volume.

The nose has some nice and sweet caramel, toffee, fruity and floral hops; None of which are particularly strong but each scent is pleasant in their own right. The flavor has a moderate citrus hop profile, along with caramelized malts, barley, toffee, and grapefruit. The flavor is rather moderate and controlled, but at the same time, well balanced.

The body has some moderate weight to it and the carbonation is quite mild despite my earlier observations of the high carbonation; So it's surprisingly easy to drink!

I can't say that I'm surprised that this Barleywine wasn't the strongest based on my expectations. Anyone looking for a Barleywine that'll knock you on your behind should look elsewhere. However, if you're new to the Barleywine style of beer and want to get into it, this is an excellent beer to start out with as it's not too strong and very well balanced in terms of flavor.

Schell's Stag Series Barleywine - 8.25/10