Monday, September 30, 2013

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Uber-Oktoberfest Review

Name: Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Uber-Oktoberfest
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 8.5%

After a couple of weeks of waiting and searching, I've finally been able to snag a bottle of Leinenkugel's other Oktoberfest called "Uber-Oktoberfest" as part of their Big Eddy Series. I mentioned in an earlier review that the Big Eddy Series is the line-up of stronger beers to appeal to the craft beer drinking crowd which, in my opinion, has been fairly successful in making some good beers.

The other thing you'll probably notice about this beer is it's 8.5% ABV, which is very strong for this style of beer considering that most beers in this category fall in-between the 5-<6.5% range.

Uber-Oktoberfest pours a clear dark amber color with a foamy yet fizzy head that fades away after a few minutes. The lacing left behind is pretty good and rather sticky.

The nose kicks things off with a pretty strong citrus hoppiness and caramel malt notes up front. This is followed up by roasted barley & malts, yeasts and some mild nutty notes.

The flavor has some strong floral hop notes up front with  strong roasted barley, nuts, yeasty and citrus/grapefruit notes. Quite hoppy even for an Oktoberfest beer.

The body is fairly moderate in weight but it feels thick at the same time. The carbonation is actually quite mild compared to Leinie's other Oktoberfest beer.

Well the term "Uber" was properly utilized in the name because this is a strong tasting Oktoberfest. I thought this was rather good. It has some really strong flavors in it's profile, particularly with it's hops and is also bit boozy at the same time. If this were available in 6-packs (as opposed to 4) and a couple dollars cheaper this would be my go to Oktoberfest beer.

It's hard to describe how a stronger Oktoberfest beer tastes after having so many of them, so my advice to you is to try it out and make the call for yourself.

Leienkugel's Big Eddy Uber-Oktoberfest - 8/10

P.S. Keep your eyes open for a special review tomorrow night as I'm going to be looking at something completely different (and awesome!)

Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest Review

Name: Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 5.1%

Tonight I'm doing something a bit special, as I will be doing two reviews of same style of beer made by the same company, Leinenkugel's. My first review will be their regular Oktoberfest beer, which is released around this time every year and the second beer I'll be reviewing is their Big Eddy Über-Oktoberfest beer.

With the case of many Leinie Seasonals, you're bound to find this in pretty much anywhere in the Midwest, whether it's a bar, grocery or liquor store; Though I'm unsure how widely available Leinie's is available in the rest of the country.

Leinie's Oktoberfest pours a clear orange color and a foamy head with excellent retention. The carbonation has a very mild appearance and the lacing is fairly decent.

The aroma has some light caramel to it, but the majority of the nose is grain adjuncts, cooked corn and some grassiness.

The flavor starts out with a mild caramel and Munich Malt-esque taste but aside from that it's grain adjuncts, corn, and grassiness make up most of the flavor. The finish is also quite dry so it doesn't linger on the palate

The body is quite light but the carbonation is quite intense for what it is, a sharp contrast compared to what I saw earlier.

There isn't really too much going on here: it smells like a typical adjunct lager and while the flavor somewhat resembles what an Oktoberfest should be, it just doesn't cut it. You're better off getting something else if you're looking for a decent fall seasonal.

Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest - 6/10

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mikkeller 1000 IBU Review

Name: Mikkeller 1000 IBU
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.6%

Ever seen a beer that seems so out there, that when you look at it you think to yourself "It could be very bad but I want to try this anyway?" Well this is one of these beers. While I was at a store over in Superior, I was talking with one of the employees about IPAs in general when he came across this oddity from Mikkeller Brewing, whose operations are based out of Denmark but this was brewed at Proefbrouwerij in Belgium, which is a facility dedicated solely for third parties to brew their own beer

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that it wasn't the cat burglar on the front that drew my attention to the beer but the "1000 IBU" on the front in bold font; Almost like it was trying to scream it at me. In case you didn't know, IBU stands for International Bittering Unit, which is a scale that determines how bitter it. Up until having this, the beer with the highest IBU that I had ever had was Flat Earth's Northwest Passage.

1000 IBU pours an extremely hazy dark orange color with a foamy head which has excellent retention. The lacing, of course, is also fairly abundant. Looking at the sediment at the bottom of the glass, I can also see that this is an unfiltered beer. Carbonation activity is also fairly calm.

The nose is very citrus & piney hop forward with some caramelized malt notes. I wish I could say more about the aroma but this is literally all I was able to come up with because the hops overpower the other aspects of the nose with the exception of the caramel malt notes.

When I took my first sip, I was greeted by a very malty-caramel sweetness and even a bit of toffee flavor. It was quite pleasant and for a moment I thought to myself "Say, this isn't so bad!" 

Then it hits you. The piney hop bitterness literally comes out of nowhere and hits the palate with such intensity that it is completely overwhelming. The aftertaste is a lingering bitter hop resiny flavor. It's like walking in a rainstorm and getting hit by wind-swept rain, then all of a sudden golf ball-sized hail starts falling at the same consistency as the rain and mercilessly pelts you as you try to run for cover; It's kind of like that.

The body is quite thick & heavy and the carbonation is on the moderate side, which adds more intensity to what is already an intense beer.

I have a sneaking suspicion that 1000 IBU was created for the sole purpose of seeing how hoppy/bitter one could make a beer, almost like an experiment. If that was the case then it was a resounding success.

With all this in mind, I declare this to be a novelty beer. It's hoppy, malty and there is no booziness to speak of. It also accomplished what it was trying to achieve which was create a bitter/resiny beer. I'd normally say that it should tone down the bitterness but then I realized that would defeat the entire purpose of this beer existing. All and all, this beer is a prime example of "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."

Mikkeller 1000 IBU - 6/10

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stiegl Radler Grapefruit Review

Name: Stiegl Radler Grapefruit
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 2.5%

The Stiegl Brewery based out of Salzburg, Austria is one of the more popular makers of craft beer is Europe though it's status as a craft brewery could come into question depending on who you ask.

In my review of Leinie's Summer Shandy, I mentioned that the beer was an American interpretation of the Radler, which is lemon/grapefruit soda mixed with beer. Well this is an actual European Radler I have here from an Austrian Brewery. I also learned that the term "Radler" is a German word which means "Cyclist" and the beer is meant to be a thirst-quencher of sorts not unlike a sports drink. This could also help explain the very low ABV content of this beer, coming in at just 2.5%

Stiegl Radler pours a pale hazy yellow color with a fizzy head that vanishes very quickly. The carbonation activity is also fairly high.

The aroma has a sweet grapefruit and lemonade scent, along with some barley & what I can only describe as an "earthy hay" smell.

Much like the nose, the flavor is mostly lemonade, grapefruit, with some minor barley & hay notes. Doesn't really taste like a beer.

The body is light and the carbonation is moderate. Strangely enough, it fits the flavor quite well and t feels rather refreshing.

Stiegl Radler aims to quench thirst and give flavor to those who wish to drink it and it accomplishes that quite well. Though you can pick up Summer Shandy for cheaper, this has a lot more flavor to it and I feel that you get more of your moneys worth here. This also isn't a beer that you're gonna catch a buzz from thanks to the very low ABV content, but unlike Session Ales, this one has alot more flavor to it.

So would I recommend this? Yeah, but only if you're outside on a hot day. Otherwise, you're better off with something else.

Stiegl Radler Grapefruit - 7.25/10

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Summit Extra Pale Ale Review

Name: Summit Extra Pale Ale
Style: English Pale Ale
ABV: 5.2%

When Summit Brewing Company first opened it's doors, no one would've imagined that they would've grown into one of the largest craft breweries in America (Ranked 23rd as of 2012) and 2nd largest brewery in Minnesota behind August Schell Brewing Company. In fact, when the local NBC affiliate KARE11 did a piece on the brewery's grand opening back in 1986, they featured a very familiar beer that Minnesota holds dear to it's heart as you will see in the video here.

The first beer that Summit ever released, Extra Pale Ale (EPA), has continuously been their best selling beer and like Spotted Cow in Wisconsin, you can find it literally anywhere in Minnesota, whether it's in a bottle or on tap. Like Sierra Nevada, it's also one of the first craft beers I ever took note of thanks to my Dad's company picnics when I was younger; It was the beer of choice amongst my dad's co-workers, beating out Budweiser & Miller Lite as they sat submerged in ice.

Since I've already reviewed quite a few of Summit's offerings, I figured now would be a good time to look at Minnesota's own flagship craft beer.

Summit EPA pours a mildly hazy dark orange color with a foamy head and good lacing along the sides of the glass. There's also some light carbonation visible as well.

The aroma gives off a strong baked bread & yeasty scent. In the back are some floral hop, pale malts & barley notes which add a nice touch to the aroma.

The flavor is a bit more well rounded with yeasts, floral & dry hops, pale malts and barley. Aftertaste is a mild floral hoppiness with just a teensy bit of resin.

As far as the body goes, it's fairly moderate in weight and while the carbonation starts out in the middle, it does mellow out the more you drink it.

It's a staple of the Minnesota beer scene and it isn't hard to see why that after 27 years, it still holds up nicely. You've got a nice flavor that aims to please and it's a beer that's perfect for any occasion. Sure, it's not going to knock your socks off with it's flavor but at the same time you definitely aren't making a mistake by drinking this either.

Summit Extra Pale Ale - 8.25/10

Sunday, September 22, 2013

South Shore Northern Lights Ale Review

Name: South Shore Northern Lights Ale
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.3%

Despite Duluth being pretty much the central hub of beer along the shores of Lake Superior, many seem to forget that Northern Wisconsin has it's share of breweries as well. With the exception of Thirsty Pagan located over in Superior, Northern Wisconsin's brewery scene doesn't really get any recognition here in Duluth. South Shore Brewery based out of Ashland, WI is pretty much the only brewery located in Northwestern Wisconsin. The other breweries in the northern part of the state are closer to Rhinelander or situated along Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Today I will be looking at South Shore's Northern Lights Ale, which is their Blonde Ale and the one I most commonly see on the shelves.

Northern Lights pours a hazy yellow color with a surprisingly fizzy head yet no carbonation to speak of that's visible.

Barley, pale malts and yeasts with an encompassing grassiness make up the aroma. There are also some hints of wheat in the nose as well, but it only becomes apparent once it warms up.

The flavor has a surprisingly sweet pale malt and wheat profile, backed up by yeasts and barley. The earthiness that was present in the nose isn't as strong here but it's noticeable. There's also some strange adjunct grainy notes to the taste.

The body is pretty lightweight but the carbonation, contrary to it's seemingly dead appearance, is rather moderate for what it is.

I can't say that Northern Lights Ale blew me away because it certainly didn't. The flavor has a strange and unnecessary adjunct taste to it and could forgo the earthiness; If you remove those, this would've been a great blonde ale but it's an okay blonde ale for right now.

South Shore Northern Lights Ale - 6.5/10

Robinsons Trooper Review

Name: Robinsons Trooper
Style: Premium Bitter/ESB
ABV: 4.7%

While I was down in Minneapolis for the State Fair, this was one of the three beers I had picked up, the others being Flat Earth Element 115 and Stone's Gotterdammerung. I picked up this beer because I had heard about it many times before and I am a huge Iron Maiden fan. When I heard Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden, was making a beer  in collaboration with Robinsons I just had to try it out.

The beer by Robinsons Brewing called Trooper is inspired by the Iron Maiden song of the same name.
The name of the song is inspired by The Charge of the Light Brigade which took place at Battle of Balaclava in 1854 during the Crimean War. A light brigade cavalry were suppsoed to be sent to attack some retreating Russian forces but due to a miscommunication higher up on the command chain they were instead sent to attack a Russian artillery unit. Upon initiating the attack, the British soliders were surprised by the artillery attacks and were forced to retreat but not before losing 118 of their troops and 60 of them captured by Russian Forces.

Trooper pours a clear dark orange color with a foamy head and sparse lacing. I'm not picking up on any visible carbonation activity in the glass.

The nose consists mainly of marmalade, strong floral hops, caramel, barley and biscuits. With the exception of the floral hops, all the other notes feel somewhat subdued.

The flavor has a stronger floral hop profile, but the caramel, barley, and yeasty flavor are again all very subdued and pretty much in line with the nose.

In terms of weight, it's pretty light but the carbonation is pretty much non-existent and the body as a whole feels kind of watery.

As stated before, I'm a big Iron Maiden fan but I'm not a fan of this beer. It's not offensive in any way, but the flavor feels imbalanced and severely lacking at the same time. There are better ESB/Bitter Beers out there than this one.

Robinsons Trooper - 5/10

Saturday, September 21, 2013

New Glarus Staghorn Octoberfest Review

Sorry for the poor & rushed picture quality

Name: New Glarus Staghorn Octoberfest
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 6.25%

Continuing on with fall tradition, I travelled over the bridge to Wisconsin and acquired New Glarus' very own Staghorn Octoberfest beer (and another seasonal, look for a review in the near future!) I have heard some good things about it, and plus the label is a departure from most New Glarus labels in that it features black backdrop as opposed to white.

Staghorn pours a dark and mildly hazy orange color with a foamy white head. Not really much visual activity in terms of carbonation.

The nose starts out with some mild caramel and Munich malt notes. This is followed by some roasted barley, nuts, and yeasts.

The flavor is pretty consistent with the smell with it's Munich Malt, caramel, nutty and roasted barley profile. There's also a slight hoppiness to the flavor as well and some yeast and buttered biscuit notes.

The body is moderately weighted and the carbonation is on the mild side, making this a reasonably easy beer to drink.

Staghorn is a solid Octoberfest beer and the slight hoppiness helps add to it's uniqueness because you don't see a hoppy profile in an Oktoberfest too often. Mind you, it didn't blow my socks off but I found it to be enjoyable nonetheless.

New Glarus Staghorn Octoberfest - 8/10

Surly Wet (2013) Review

Name: Surly Wet (2013 Edition)
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.5%

Every fall, Surly releases their seasonal wet hop beer properly titled "Wet", it's a beer that usually flies off the shelves as quickly as it arrives. Even on the can it clearly states that this is a beer not meant to be aged. A couple of years ago, you would've been hard pressed to find this anywhere outside of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, but thanks to the booming market here in Duluth I was able to find some at the first place I stopped by.

I was surprised to even to find it in Duluth in first place because production of Wet was reduced to 1/2 of what it normally is this year because of space limitations to make room for Surlyfest (Surly's Oktoberfest Beer) but the more likely culprit is Darkness, Surly's highly-regarded Russian Imperial Stout. Hopefully once the new destination brewery opens up, space limitation won't be an issue. Since their original Brooklyn Center brewery will still be open, I'm guessing it'll be used solely for their speciality beers.

Every year, Wet uses different hops in it's recipe. Back in 2011 when I first had this, it used all Citra hops. Fast forward 2 years later, it used 75% Cascade Hops and 25% Centennial Hops. Let's see how this affects the flavor. I also want to note that the beer was canned on 9/12/13, a little over a week ago at the time of writing this.

Wet pours a clear orange color with a high amount of visible carbonation, foamy head and good lacing retention.

The aroma is made up of citrus hops, yeasts, biscuits, and malts. There's also a noticeable earthiness to the aroma as well. For some reason, it doesn't smell as strong as I remember it.

The flavor has a bitter resin hop flavor that hits the palate upfront followed by yeasts, buttery biscuits, light caramel and malts. The flavor is also not as vibrant as I had expected.

The body is moderate in weight but lightly carbonated. It's pretty easy to drink and it doesn't have an uncomfortable mouthfeel.

It pains me to say this but I'm disappointed in this year's release and I don't think it was worth the money I paid for it. Keep in mind, this isn't a bad beer but I've had better Wet Hop IPA offerings. Also I really can't pin the blame on Surly fully because of this year's hop shortage and the need to improvise. I hope next year that Surly Wet will have higher output and better quality thanks to their destination brewery, which will hopefully be open by the time the next Wet release comes out.

Surly Wet (2013) - 7.5/10

Friday, September 20, 2013

Blacklist Or De Belgique Review

Name: Blacklist Or De Belgique
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 9.5%

Blacklist Brewing Company is a relatively new brewery here in Duluth....well not quite a brewery. Right now they rent out space at other breweries to brew their own beer; Or as they call it "Gypsy Brewing" according to their website. While this beer was brewed BY Blacklist, it was brewed AT Dubrue Brewing which is another microbrewery here in Duluth. They plan on setting up shop permanently in the future in either Northern Minnesota or Wisconsin, but for right now it's strictly rental.

Right now, I have only seen their Belgian Strong Ale: Or De Belgique, which means Gold of Belgium in Dutch(?). According to their website, they have a rotating lineup for each month of the year.

The beer pours a hazy dark yellow color with a fizzy head that becomes permanently filmy once it settles down but the lacing retention is surprisingly good. The carbonation activity visible is pretty high according to what I can see.

The aroma takes on a lemon zest, clove and pepper character upfront, followed by some bananas and pale malt sweetness.

Yeasts, cracked pepper, cloves and lemon zest start off the flavor before settling into a sweeter banana, bubblegum, and malt sweetness.

The body has a moderate weight to it but the carbonation is actually quite light and allows one to savor the flavors that this beer has to offer.

It's worth noting that while getting this beer open was like trying to pull a sword of a stone, the sword in this case is Excalibur. This is my way of saying that even though it's incredibly difficult to open, the great tasting beer that is contained within is well worth the effort to get it open.

Blacklist Or De Belgique - 9/10

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lift Bridge Hop Dish Review

Name: Lift Bridge Hop Dish IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 70

As I sit here waiting for Grand Theft Auto 5 to install, I figured I would take this time to review a beer. This one is Lift Bridge Brewing's first venture into the IPA market called "Hop Dish", a tongue-in-check acknowledgement to the casserole called "Hot Dish." According to Wikipedia, the Hot Dish is a popular dish here in the state of Minnesota, which is news to me because it's absolutely disgusting and shouldn't even exist to begin with.

With that said, let's hope that this is alot better than it's namesake "food" which it's named after.

Hop Dish pours a hazy golden color with a semi-foamy head and great lacing. There's some moderate carbonation visible inside of the glass.

The nose starts off with a good mixture of citrus & piney hops along with grapefruit, peach and caramel. Has a nice mixture of both fruity and sweetness.

The flavor starts out with some prominent piney hop and resiny notes before revealing the citrus hop, peach, and caramel malt finish.

The body is light in weight and the carbonation is rather mild, making this an easy to drink IPA.

As expected, Hop Dish beats out a Hot Dish in pretty much every category, including the "Possessing a great flavor that doesn't suck" category. Lift Bridge's first shot at an IPA is a great one and I'm glad to see this one is becoming a regular offering instead of a seasonal.

Lift Bridge Hop Dish - 8.5/10

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ale Asylum Bedlam! Review

Name: Ale Asylum Bedlam!
Style: 7.25%
ABV: India Pale Ale (IPA)

Ale Asylum is a brewery based out of Madison, Wisconsin. The brewery itself just recently underwent an expansion according to the website, which would allow them to brew up to 50,000 barrels a year. From what I have gathered, Bedlam! is their summer IPA and no, that exclamation point is not a typo as it is in the actual name itself.

Bedlam! pours a hazy orange color with some high carbonation activity. The head is rather filmy in appearance but the lacing it leaves behind is quite abundant.

The aroma starts out with pungent citrus hop and yeasty notes upfront while caramelized malts, grapefruit and orange peels provide the backbone of the nose. It's a cross between caramel sweetness and fruity citrus in a balanced way.

Flavor-wise it's more straightforward with citrus hops, caramel, resin and a slight yeasty flavor. The flavor does carry over some of that caramel/fruity balanced I mentioned earlier but it isn't as obvious here.

The body as a whole is fairly light, both in terms of carbonation and weight so you're easily able to enjoy this without having to worry about too much carbonation getting in your way.

I think Bedlam! is a great IPA and would love to try out more of their offerings. Sadly Ale Asylum doesn't distribute to Northwestern Wisconsin or Superior yet but I hope they do soon! With their recent expansion, I hope that becomes a reality.

Ale Asylum Bedlam! - 8.5/10

Monday, September 16, 2013

Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA Review

Name: Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.5%
IBUs: 102

Stone Brewing has been in business for 17 years and they celebrate with a special edition beer every year to mark the occasion. This year it's an Imperial IPA called Götterdämmerung, which is German for "Twilight of the Gods". The name itself comes from an an opera by created by German composer Richard Wagner.

The reason for the tongue twisting name is because this beer uses all German malts and hops; In fact, some of the hops strains are brand new and only have started seeing usage in the craft beer market. It's always exciting to see new hop strains because it just increases the possibilities that brewers have to make new beers!

Götterdämmerung pours a bright clear orange color with a high amount of carbonation and a thick yet filmy head that has good retention. The appearance almost reminds me of Enjoy By, another beer by Stone.

The nose starts out with a very strong citrus hop and grapefruit scent. In the middle we have piney hops, peaches & caramel; While at the back there are pale malts, and mangoes.

While the nose has some strong citrus hops upfront, the flavor has a strong piney hop profile, followed by citrus hops, pale malts, bitter resin, mangoes and an over-encompassing earthiness. The after taste starts out quite bitter but ends on a peach & mango notes

Wait a minute, a nose & flavor with peaches and mangoes? If I didn't know better, I'd say I was drinking a Three Floyds' Dreadnaught. What sorcery is this?!

The body is fairly moderate in weight and the carbonation is rather mild, allowing one to fully savor the flavors that this beer has to offer.

If Enjoy By & Dreadnaught were to, under rhetorical circumstances, have a baby together this would be it. It's fruity, citrusy, and piney and has all the components needed to make a great Imperial IPA and it does so very well. I doubt this'll be released again anytime soon so pick one up if you get the chance!

Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA - 9.5/10

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Flat Earth Element 115 Review

Name: Flat Earth Element 115
Style: California Common/Steam Beer
ABV: 5.5%

About a couple weeks ago, I was down in the Twin Cities for the Minnesota State Fair, where I indulged myself with mini-donuts, cheese curds and, or course, beer.  During my time there I even managed to get some of Lift Bridge's Mini-Donut Beer, with each glass being rimmed with cinnamon and sugar.

The Verdict: When mixed with the cinnamon and sugar, it tasted amazing. When drank without the sugar and cinnamon it tasted like a liquid donut and was quite filling; I'd give it a C+.

Now while I was down in the Cities, I grabbed some beer that is (currently) not available in the Twin Ports area. The first one I have is a summer seasonal from Flat Earth Brewing called Element 115, which is a Steam Beer.........or California Common if you want to avoid getting sued by Anchor Steam for trademark violation.

Element 115 pours a dark but clear copper color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation and a foamy head.

The aroma consists mainly of yeasts, pale malts, barley, light caramel and cider; Like Strongbow Cider. I'm not sure how else to describe it, except for Cider!

The flavor has a moderate yeast taste, along with cider sweetness, pale malts and barley. There is also a mild floral hop profile within the flavor that wasn't present in the nose.

The body is very light in weight and the carbonation is rather moderate, matching the visual appearance of the carbonation. It's quite crisp and rather fitting considering the flavor.

It's simple tasting, crisp, easy to drink and decently priced for what it is. Definitely check it out before all the fall seasonals kick it off the shelves!

Flat Earth Element 115 - 8/10

Rogue Chocolate Stout Review

Name: Rogue Chocolate Stout
Style: Sweet Stout/Milk Stout
ABV: 6%

Chocolate Stout by Rogue Ales harkens back to when the idea of dark beers was a foreign concept to myself. Eventually I overcame my fears and tried out Deschutes' Obsidian Stout. Sadly I ended up hating it due to my inept palate and I deduced that darker beers simply were not for me.

That was until that fateful evening at Stanley's Northeast in Minneapolis while I was in college 2 years ago when I was given a sample of Rogue Chocolate Stout to try out. Placing my lips to the glass I took my sip and it was like discovering the Holy Grail, it was fantastic! It goes without saying that I have had this beer before but have never given it a proper review, that is until now.

Rogue Chocolate Stout pours a pitch black color and a khaki brown colored head with good retention and lacing.

The nose consists of milk chocolate, roasted barley, malts, coffee and a mild hoppiness. The hoppiness in particular is something I haven't really noticed until now; Unusual for a dark beer.

The flavor starts out with a very rich milk chocolate & cocoa flavor, before finishing off roasted barley, malts and mild hoppiness.

The body is moderate in weight and mildly carbonation. Very smooth bodied and it goes down quite easily.

Anyone who is intimidated by or even isn't a fan of darker beer, at the very least, should give this one a try. The flavor isn't particularly robust but it's just right so that you're able to savor the flavor without being too overwhelmed. As for those who like their beers dark, this should be a no-brainer!

Rogue Chocolate Stout - 9/10

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sam Adams Octoberfest Review

Name: Sam Adams Octoberfest
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 5.3%

Fall is starting to rear it's head into our collective consciousness which means only one thing: Oktoberfest Beers. It seems this is the most widely available type of seasonal out of the entire year and pretty much every brewery has their own interpretation of this style. Now from an objective point of view, I've never had an Oktoberfest-Style Ale that has blown me away. In my experience, they've either good, okay or bad; Never great or excellent. Although I have heard whisperings and rumors that Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Uber-Oktoberfest is quite excellent....

From what I understand, Sam Adams Octoberfest is one of the most widely available Oktoberfest out on the market; If not the most widely available Oktoberfest style out there. So why not kick things off with something most beer drinkers are familiar with?

The beer pours a dark orange color with a filmy brownish head. There isn't much in terms of lacing and there's no carbonated activity as far as I can see.

Aroma-wise, I'm getting pungent Nutty and Munich Malt notes along with hints of Caramel, Yeasts and Toasted Barley. Slightly sweet and rusty scent, the latter of which is typical in some Oktoberfest Beers.

In terms of flavor, you have some strong Nutty, Bread Crust, Toasted Barley, Munich Malts and a slight Floral Hoppiness. Thankfully, no rusty taste to speak of.

The body is pretty light and the carbonation is also very light as well, though I think it does feel a bit watery at times.

Sam Adams Octoberfest is a decent beer though I wouldn't go out of my way to have it again unless it's on tap. Those who are familiar with Oktoberfest beers know what they are getting when they drink this.

Sam Adams Octoberfest - 7.5/10

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Brau Brothers Rye Wyne Review

Name: Brau Brothers Rye Wyne
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 11%

So this'll be my last rye beer for probably the rest of the year, because while the style has certainly grown on me, I'm getting tired of Rye Beers as a whole. Never fear for I will wait until I can confront my old nemesis, Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA, once again. Victory will not be so easily obtained for you this time Ruthless Rye!

Anyways...... Brau Brothers is the only (major) craft brewery located in Southwestern Minnesota and are in the process of expanding which includes moving from Lucan, MN to the larger city of Marshall, MN. They are known primarily for their Moo Joos and Bancreagie ales, though once a year they release a limited edition beer. Last year they released a Quad-Style ale, which was quite good and aged in Templeton Rye Whiskey Barrels. Well this year, it's their Rye Wyne which were also aged in the exact same barrels as the Quad Ale. If the label is to be believed, this has been conditioning since 2011.

Rye Wyne pours a dark brown color with a creamy khaki colored head. As far as carbonation goes, there really isn't anything visible here.

The nose starts out with a fairly prominent caramel and chocolate scent; Followed by roasted barley, hops, rye, malts and spices. Oddly enough, the rye isn't as strong in the aroma as I had expected.

The flavor reveals a different and arguably more complex offering. The front of the flavor starts out with some strong fairly strong vanilla, chocolate and rye notes. Then in changes it up by having some smoked malts, oak, caramel, and light hoppiness. The rye is much more pronounced here than in the aroma, which helps add to it's complexity in addition to the other flavors. Kind of disappointed that I'm not getting any Quad hints in the flavor though, but hey at least there's no booziness!

The body is pretty light for a barleywine and thanks to the low carbonation, gives it a very smooth and creamy feel.

Even though I'm taking a self-imposed break from rye beers, this was extremely good! If you like Rye Beers or if you're looking for a different take on the Barleywine style, this is definitely worth checking out.

Brau Brothers Rye Wine - 9.25/10

Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Glarus Two Women Lager Review

Name: New Glarus Two Women Lager
Style: Pilsener
ABV: 5%

Two Women is New Glarus' Pilsener offering which, to my understanding, was released in 2010 with a recipe change in 2001. The beer is a collaboration (sort of) between New Glarus Brewing and Sabine Weyermann Malting, the latter of which supplies malts to various brewers and homebrewers alike, at least that's what I found out. The name "Two Women" derives from the fact that both New Glarus Brewing and Weyermann Malting are both owned by women, Deb Carey and Sabine Weyermann respectively. 

Two Women pours a bright orange color with a mild haze and a soapy slight off-white head which has fairly good retention. The carbonation visible in the glass retains a reasonably high level throughout.

The nose consists with an aroma of yeasts, barley, grassiness and pale malts. Fairly typical Pilsener smell and about what I would expect from the style.

The flavor is mainly yeasts, lemon zest, barley, floral hops and pale malts. While the parts may not seem impressive, the flavors themselves are surprisingly robust and well rounded.

The body is fairly light and the carbonation has a surprisingly mild feel to it and the end result is a crisp body and palate.

Two Women Lager is a robust yet well rounded and refreshing Pilsener. Even if you aren't a fan of the Pilsener Style, having a bottle of this will probably change your mind.

New Glarus Two Women Lager - 9/10

Friday, September 6, 2013

Budweiser Black Crown Review

Name: Budweiser Black Crown
Style: Amber Lager
ABV: 6%

Early this year Budweiser released Budweiser Black Crown onto the market. According to the company, In 2012 they asked 12 of their brewmasters to come up with their own beer and of those twelve, six were sampled nationally. This was part of their "Project 12" campaign and I remember it because I recall seeing Budweiser Project 12 Sampler Packs on store shelves, though I never really bothered checking them out.

After doing the sampling, it was the Los Angeles Budweiser Brewmaster's creation, Black Crown, which won the hearts and minds of beer drinkers everywhere and thus a new addition was added to Budweiser's least that's what they told the public. In my eyes, it's just another attempt to try and market to the craft beer drinking market.

This also isn't their first attempt at targeting the craft beer drinkers. Just a few years ago they released Budweiser American Ale which is, coincidently, also an Amber beer.

But let's approach this with an open mind, shall we?

Black Crown pours a clear golden color with a soapy & fizzy head. The amount of carbonation visible is quite high and the lacing is....not there.

In the nose, I'm getting some caramel, barley, pale/munich malts, toffee and a slight hoppiness.

Wait a minute....

A Budweiser with a hoppy smell? Did hell just freeze over or something?! It had to have because hops in a Budweiser is just unheard of!!!!

Sadly the hoppiness that peaked it's head through in the aroma is not present in the flavor, which is mainly your macro cereal grains, light caramel, barley, and malt sweetness. Not really much in terms of aftertaste, in fact it's quite dry.

The body is very light and on the watery side, though the carbonation is actually quite moderate and the end result is a smoother body than regular Budweiser.

Black Crown is a beer that shows some promise in the aroma. However once you drink it, you are reminded very quickly that you're drinking a Budweiser product. To Black Crown's credit, it's a lot more tolerable in terms of flavor and mouthfeel. Though as a beer I wouldn't recommend buying this unless you are absolutely curious to try it out.

Budweiser Black Crown - 5/10