Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Leinenkugel's Hoppin' Helles Review

Name: Leinenkugel's Hoppin' Helles
Style: Munich Helles
ABV: 5.5%

Leinenkugel's just added a new beer to their year round line-up called Hoppin' Helles. While it's nice to see that Leinenkugels is diversifying it's portfolio, I do find it rather odd; Especially when you consider Leinenkugels other year round offerings and let alone a large brewery adding a Helles-style beer to it's permanent line-up.

With that being said, I'm not really one to judge.....Ok, that doesn't really make a whole bunch of sense because I AM one to judge because we WILL be reviewing this beer.

Hoppin' Helles pours a pale yellow color with some mild looking carbonation. The head on this is filmy but has some foamy volume to it. As for lacing, there isn't a whole lot here.

The aroma starts out with a pale malt scent with some strong lemon zest, mild citrus hop notes, and grains/barley.

The flavor is very earthy and starts with some strong grassiness, lemon zest, citrus hops, barley, and a light malty backbone. Aftertaste is bitter yeasty/mild citrus hoppiness with a dry finish. For a beer that claims to be brewed with 5 types of hops, I didn't really get much of a hoppiness here.

The body is thankfully lightly carbonated and the overall weight of the beer is pretty light. It goes without saying that this is easy to drink.

I know Munich Helles aren't supposed to be overtly hoppy or malty, but Hoppin' Helles seems to be lacking those in both departments. Despite these complaints, this is actually not a bad beer but one that is very easy to drink and enjoyable as long as you don't expect too much.

Leinenkugel's Hoppin' Helles - 7/10

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale Review

Name: Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale (APA)
ABV: 5.9%

Earlier this year, Kona Brewing started distributing to Minnesota and they are the first brewery from Hawaii to be available commercially here. I've had a few of their beers before and thought they were good but I never got a chance to review them. To my knowledge, they are the only major brewery in Hawaii that distributes out of state.

Tonight, I'll be reviewing their Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale. Like most of their lineup, the beers constantly remind you that it's from Hawaii with most of their beers being named after things in Hawaii....and serves as a reminder that I will probably never visit Hawaii in my lifetime...

Kona Fire Rock pours a reasonably clear yellow color with a very slight haze. The head has a very filmy appearance which has pretty good retention with lots of lacing and some mild looking carbonation.

Floral Hops & yeasts are present in the nose along with some pale malts, slight toffeeiness, and mild resin.

The flavor starts out with some noticeable piney, citra, and dry hoppiness before settling into a yeasty and somewhat malty finish. The aftertaste has a light citrus characteristic to it.

The body is more on the lighter side with a very thin watery feel to it. The carbonation is in-between mild and moderate so it gives it a crisp feel.

While it doesn't do anything out of the ordinary as far as APAs go, you really can't go wrong with it at the same time. Kona Fire Rock plays it safe and the end result is a pretty good American Pale Ale.

Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale - 8/10

Friday, October 25, 2013

Central Waters Sláinte Review

Name: Central Waters Sláinte
Style: Scottish Ale
ABV: 5.2%

Recently I came across a mix-a-six of Central Waters and decided to review the last couple that I haven't tried out as of yet so keep an eye out for the others...when I decide to get around to it that is. The next beer I have from Central Waters is Sláinte, a Scottish Style Ale. Using my detective skills, I found out that Sláinte means "Health" in Scottish Gaelic and is one of the equivalents of "Cheers" in both Ireland and Scotland.

Sláinte pours dark brown color that borderlines on black. The head is brown and soapy in appearance and the lacing is rather abundant.

The nose starts off with a very roasty and chocolate aroma mixed in with some coffee, barley and light toffee.

While the aroma is quite roasty, flavor-wise it's got a surprisingly sweet chocolate taste along with coffee, roasted malts, toffee and even some mild citrus hops! Astonishing considering it's a darker beer and even the aftertaste has a sweet chocolate finish!

It possess a rather heavy body that has some moderate carbonation to it, allowing one to enjoy the flavors without coming off as too intense.

I'll admit I wasn't expecting too much when I got this but it's a malt-heavy, robust and flavorful beer. As such, I would highly recommend trying this out if you get the chance to do so.


Central Waters Sláinte - 9/10

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Goose Island 25th Anniversary ESB Review

Name: Goose Island 25th Anniversary ESB
Style: English Special Bitter
ABV: 6.4%

It would appear that many major breweries around the country right now are celebrating their 25th year in business and Goose Island Brewing is no exception to this. So to celebrate, they have released an ESB (English Special Bitter) to mark the occasion. Most beers in this category tend to be in the mid 5% ABV range; This one comes in at 6.4%. Also unlike Honker's Ale, which is now contract brewed out of Fort Collins, CO thanks to the purchase by AB-InBev, this one appears to be brewed right in The Windy City.

25th Anniversary pours a clear orange color with a foamy white head. The lacing initially appears to be somewhat lacking but it does leave behind a rather abundant amount. There's also some mild carbonation visible here as well.

The nose is fairly citra-hop forward with some caramelized malts, grapefruits, and some yeastiness. For an ESB, it's rather hoppy & fruity with all things considered.

It's got a mildly bitter piney hop taste upfront along with some citrus hops, roasted barley and grapefruit notes. There's also some mild malty & biscuit/yeasty flavor in here, but it's overshadowed by the hop and fruity notes.

The body has some weight to it and the carbonation is in the middle in terms of intensity, which allows you to take in those extra flavors.

For an ESB, it's very hoppy. As such, it does feel a bit imbalanced because of the sheer hoppiness which makes it a bit harder to recommend. Still it's a pretty good beer but not exactly one that I would go out of my way to try again.

Goose Island 25th Anniversary ESB - 7.5/10

New Glarus Stone Soup Review

Name: New Glarus Stone Soup
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
ABV: 5.3%

With the expansion of New Glarus Brewing currently underway, I've been seeing more and more seasonal beers become "rotating beers", case in point with Stone Soup, which is usually released in the Spring but it was released just last month in September so maybe we'll see more old favorites returning (hint hint!)

Stone Soup is a Belgian Pale Ale which is named after the children's story called......Stone Soup. For those of you who don't feel like googling it, Stone Soup is about some hungry travellers who have no food except for a kettle pot. They fill the pot with water, toss a stone in there, and tell those who ask that they're making an awesome soup but they need a few more ingredients. At the end of the story, they get tons of people to add ingredients to their pot and the result is an awesome soup enjoyed by all.

Is this beer as awesome as the soup it's based on? Well let's find out!

Stone Soup pours a very hazy orange color with a fizzy head that retains it's filmy appearance. There isn't any lacing left behind so it finishes clean.

The aroma starts things off with a clove and bubblegum scent with some spices, pale malts, barley and some mild grassiness. There's also a mild floral hoppiness sitting in the back.

The flavor reveals a more pronounced banana flavor along with some bubblegum, cloves, spicy notes, pale malts and barley. The grassiness which was present in the nose is nowhere to be seen here.

The body is rather light in weight but the carbonation is fairly strong for what it is. All things considered, it does bring about a rather crisp feel.

Stone Soup is a fairly well rounded beer. It's got a good amount of flavor, some pretty easy drinkability and it's just a good beer. It doesn't do anything spectacular but it's an approachable Belgian Ale that's well priced and therefore easy to recommend.

New Glarus Stone Soup - 8.25/10

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ballast Point Sculpin Review

Name: Ballast Point Sculpin
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7%

Recently Ballast Point Brewing, a very well regarded West Coast brewery, started distributing here to Minnesota along with Green Flash Brewing. I decided to grab some of their Sculpin IPA upon hearing that it's amongst the best widely available IPAs on the market and, according to someone I talked to, it's comparable to that of drinking from the Holy Grail.

Well seeing as how the Sculpin is a poisonous fish that leaves a stinging sensation, which is something they proudly boast about in the commercial description, let's see if that is really true.

Sculpin pours a mildly hazy orange/amber color with some light carbonation and a semi-foamy head that has some good retention.

The aroma kicks things off with some very strong fruity notes which include, mango, apricots, citrus hops and grapefruit. Rounding it out at the end are some caramelized malts. Very fruity and somewhat malty; I've been encountering this alot more as of late.

The flavor is also very fruity and malt forward with citrus hops, grapefruit, apricot, mangoes, peaches, and some caramel maltiness. There's also some piney hops and resin-like notes in there as well throughout that were not in the nose. Sneaky sneaky!

The body is quite heavy and the carbonation, while had light appearance to it when first poured into the glass, is surprisingly aggressive in nature. What I mean by that is that it's not overwhelming but...stingy; Kind of like it's namesake fish.

I can safely say that this is, in fact, one of the best widely available IPAs on the market. It's got a rich & robust flavor, a nice aroma, and a body that's unique but doesn't hamper the overall experience. I would highly recommend checking this out, particularly if you're into the fruiter tasting IPAs!

Ballast Point Sculpin - 9.5/10

Monday, October 21, 2013

Goose Island Honker's Ale Review

Name: Goose Island Honker's Ale
Style: English Bitter
ABV: 4.3%

Goose Island Brewing brings back a flood of memories for myself when I lived in Chicago. No matter where you went in The Windy City, you could find this beer (amongst many others) at pretty much any bar and restaurant in the Chicagoland area. In fact, for quality purposes, I would recommend reading this review while listening to the song below because Chicago is a pretty awesome place plus this song, like the beer, reminds me of Chicago.

I remember having this very beer for the first time at Giordano's along Rush Street about a block from Michigan Ave. We were waiting for our deep dish pizza to finish up when a buddy of mine recommended that we have a beer while we wait and Honker's Ale was his recommendation. I thought it was pretty good at the time and we ended up having a couple more pints to go along with our meal.

But there is however a bittersweet anecdote to all of this. You see Goose Island was bought out by AB-InBev in 2011 and while I personally don't think it's hurt the overall quality of the products, Honker's Ale is now contract brewed out of Fort Collins, CO but their more specialty beers like Bourbon County and Pepe Nero are still brewed in Chicago at least to my understanding.

Honker's Ale pours a copper color with an amber hue and a slight hazy appearance. There is a high amount of carbonation and a semi-foamy head.

The nose has a semi-pungent yeast and bready scent with a slight floral hop aroma and some pale malts to go along with it.

Like-wise the flavor is fairly comparable to that of the aroma but with a slightly more profound yeasty/biscuity notes.

The body is moderately carbonated which slowly subsides and it's a pretty light weighted beer. It also has a pretty crisp and refreshing feel to it, adding to the overall drinkability.

This is by no means a complex tasting beer, but it manages to still be a good one. It's one of those beers that's perfect for any occasion and I'm happy to say that despite the InBev purchase, this still is as good as I remember it. Like the label says: You'll look forward to it time and time again!

Goose Island Honker's Ale - 8/10

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Deschutes Black Butte XXV Review

Name: Deschutes Black Butte XXV
Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 11.3%

Since 2008, Deschutes Brewing has released a stronger version of year-round Black Butte Porter, starting with Black Butte XX to signify their 20th year in business and so forth. This year it's their 25th anniversary in business so therefore it's the roman numeral for 25 (XXV). I should've probably reviewed the original Black Butte first before having this.....Oh well!!

This will also be the second Imperial Porter that I've had, the first being The Dark Knight Returns from Barley John's Brewpub based out of New Brighton, MN.

Black Butte XXV pours a pitch black color with a Khaki colored brown head. The lacing retention is also pretty good and there's only a couple bubbles along the sides of the glass.

The aroma starts off with a chocolate-raspberry sweetness with some vanilla, coffee, plums and roasted barley. For a Porter, this smells rather fruity.

Chocolate & roasted barley make up the the front of the flavor along with raspberries/plums, burnt malts, vanilla and coffee. The aftertaste is a bit of an oddball here because unlike most Porters that I'm used to, which have a roasty-toasty finish, Black Butte XXV finishes with a tart chocolate & raspberry flavor.

The beer extremely hefty in weight and thick but paired with the light carbonation, it makes for a very smooth and creamy body. It definitely helps you enjoy every bit of the flavor that's in here.

Black Butte XXV is a very well put together & robust beer that offers slightly different take on the porter style particularly with the raspberry/plum notes so check it out if you get the chance! I will for sure be getting this again next year!

Deschutes Black Butte XXV - 9/10

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Epic Barley Wine Review

Name: Epic Barley Wine
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 11.2%

Note: This review is based on the Release #10 batch

I have been seeing more and more of Epic Brewing popping up. Recently I've been seeing other release series besides their Exponential Series on the store shelves which is quite nice to see and they have no plans for stopping in terms of selection.

In my review of their Imperial Stout, I mentioned that the ABV shifted depending on the release for the beer in question. The same holds true here as well though I was unable to gather the previous ABVs for the last releases of this beer, though this one comes in at 11.2%

Epic Barley Wine pours a dark crimson color with a filmy brown head and a strong haze. The carbonation visible in the glass is moderate and you can make it out along the sides of the glass.

The aroma starts off with a rather malty scent with chocolate, caramel, and plum notes. In the back there are some fairly pungent grapefruit and citrus hop notes, which is faintly masked by the maltiness.

Much like the nose, the flavor is also fairly malt heavy upfront with caramel, toffee, roasted barley which are followed by a citrus hop sweetness. There is some boozy sweetness that is rather noticeable throughout.

It possess a rather thick body and while the carbonation starts out strong, it does taper off after a while. Best to let it sit for a few minutes before trying it out.

All and all, it's a solid barleywine-style ale with a pretty good flavor. The booziness does get in the way of the flavor but it isn't a deal breaker. Besides at the price I paid for it ($5.99) I really can't be one to complain too much.

Epic Barley Wine - 8/10

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rogue Dead Guy Ale Review

Name: Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Style: Heller Bock
ABV: 6.6%

There is usually a debate about some breweries over which beer it is most well known for. In the case of Rogue Ales, everyone pretty much agrees (myself included) that their flagship beer is their Dead Guy Ale. It is considered by many to be the beer with put the brewery on the map. It also happens to be one of the first craft beers that I could really get into, plus the bottle glows in the dark!

Though unlike Shiner Bock, this is an actual Bock style of beer. C'mon, this is Oregon we're talking about here, they can't mess up beer.....right?

Dead Guy pours a dark amber color with a mild haziness. The head is quite frothy in appearance with good retention and decent lacing. The amount of carbonation visible is also quite low with just a few bubbles.

The aroma starts off with a sweet caramel & honey scent with some light butterscotch, pale malt, floral hop and yeasty notes. Smells a bit like a Maibock!

The flavor has rather malty caramel and honey taste before finishing off with a floral hop, light butterscotch and yeasty flavor. The taste is pretty similar to the nose.

The body is quite thick and heavy in weight but thanks to the low carbonation, comes off as rather creamy and smooth. This is a pretty easy beer to drink and it fits the style well!

I feel that this is a great beer for any craft beer enthusiast as well as anyone who is just getting into craft beer. The flavor is great yet not overwhelming; Heavy yet smooth & an overall pleasure to the senses. Definitely worth picking up should you get the chance!

Rogue Dead Guy Ale - 8.5/10

Shiner Bock Review

Name: Shiner Bock
Style: Bock
ABV: 4.41%

The Shiner brand is probably the most well known brand of beer to come out of the State of Texas. Brewed by Spoetzl Brewing based out of Shiner, Texas; They are one of the oldest breweries in the North Star State, founded in 1909 according to their website. It is also the most widely available brand of beer from Texas, currently available in 43 states.

Out of all the beers that they make, their Bock beer is their most well known offering which is also the beer in question we are reviewing.

Shiner Bock pours a clear dark red color with a fizzy and a high amount of carbonation. Nothing here in terms of lacing as it finishes quite clean.

The aroma's strongest aspect belongs to the barley, along with some barnyward hay, light caramel, malts and some grassiness.

As for the flavor.....well there's not really much of it here. Aside from some cereal grains, light caramel malts and some minor dry hops. The aftertaste is also very dry. It's an adjunct lager with malt syrup.

The body is light but the carbonation is quite heavy. Given the style and lack of flavor, it does not fit at all.

Calling Shiner Bock a "Bock" beer is like calling this....

....a Porsche: It requires a lot of imagination to convince yourself it really is. There are much better Bock beers out there than this Adjunct Lager/Malta Goya concoction. Avoid this if you can.

Shiner Bock - 3/10

Central Waters Satin Solstice Review

Name: Central Waters Satin Solstice/Solitude
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 7.5%

I find myself in a bit of an awkward position with this review. In a previous review, I mentioned that Central Waters Brewing was responsible for one of the first Imperial Stouts that I had ever had and that I would do a review on it.

Well the good news is that I found Satin Solstice to review! The Bad News? It's no longer called Satin Solstice but Satin Solitude. Oh did I also mention it now looks like this?

Much like Summit Brewing, they underwent a label/branding redesign overhaul on all of their products. So this means that this beer has been sitting around for quite a while and probably a left over from last winter. Being the brave adventurer I am and (possibly) against my better judgment, I have decided to review this anyways. Fingers crossed that it aged well!

Satin pours a pitch black color with a high amount of carbonation along the sides of the glass. The head is fluffly-later-filmy brown in appearance with some good lacing.

The aroma starts it off with some chocolate, coffee, & cocoa notes with some nice vanilla bean, roasted barley and faint hops to back it up. So far it's looking pretty good!

Starting off the flavor are some fairly strong chocolate, coffee, roasted barley, and a slight oakiness. The aftertaste is a bittersweet chocolate finish.

Bodywise, it's pretty moderate in terms of weight but the carbonation packs quite a punch when you consider the style.

Well this was a pleasant surprise, not only did it still taste good but I get the feeling that it's been allowed to age somewhat and it ended up tasting better than what I remember it! Permitting it's not anywhere near as robust like Dragon's Milk but it's still a tasty beer that is definitely worth checking out!

Central Waters Satin Solstice - 8.5/10

Monday, October 14, 2013

Labatt Blue Review

Name: Labatt Blue
Style: American Adjunct/Pale Lager
ABV: 5%

Looks like we have ourselves a beer from our Canadian neighbors. I'm talking about Labatt Blue, courtesy of Labatt Brewing from London, Ontario. Many consider Labatt Blue to be Canada's Miller Lite but one must bear in mind that Labatt is owned by InBev-AB, so it would technically Canada's Budweiser.

I remember Labatt Blue commercials from when I was in middle school with that guy in the bear costume who sounded like John Ratzenberger. To give you an idea what I'm talking about, please refer to the video below...

As you can clearly see, the bar patron is more than happy to receive a Labatt Blue and is pretty calm for someone who just had a beer handed to them by a talking bear. Maybe the taste of Labatt Blue is so good that she forgot he was even a bear? Or maybe she was worried that the bear was gonna rip her face off?

In any case, let's take a look at Canada's Budweiser.

It pours a pale clear yellow color with a soapy head that has surprisingly good retention. The amount of carbonation visible is also pretty high in here as well, something which I'm not too surprised by.

I'm picking up some cereal grains, pale malts, cooked veggies, and some barnyard hay in the nose. As far as smell goes, it's like Budweiser but with a slightly less malt sweetness to it.

In the flavor, there are some cereal grains, pale malts, slight dry hoppiness, and barley. I find the taste to be slightly better than the aroma but the flavor as a whole is pretty mild & dry.

The body is pretty light in terms of weight and the carbonation starts out pretty strong but ends up being somewhere in the moderate range after a few minutes.

This is an example of a beer that tastes a lot better than it smells....but that isn't saying too much because the flavor is quite dry. To sum it up: skunky smell but dry flavor. Needless to say, this is one beer I will not be purchasing again anytime soon.

Labatt Blue - 3.5/10

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Summit Another IPA Review

Name: Summit Another IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 5.6%

I'm beginning to suspect that Summit Brewing has an IPA fetish and for a good reason. You see, they already have 3 IPAs in their lineup: Horizon Red, Sága, and their aptly named India Pale Ale. That was until one day earlier this year when this gem popped up in my Twitter feed. Due to Blogger's lackluster support for embedded videos which I need, I've had no choice but to link it.

For the lazy or those not interested in watching a movie, it's a video to promote the newest beer in the Unchained series: Another IPA. No, that's not a typo, that's the actual name; Very Ironic/Tongue-In-Cheek/etc. name. This'll be the last Unchained release that uses the the label you see above as they are changing the design to reflect Summit's new design.

Well, let's give Summit's usual label a good old fashioned Irish Wake and take a look at this, shall we?

Another IPA pours a hazy yellow color with a foamy/filmy/chunky looking head. You know when the head on the beer starts to go away and what you are left with is a filmy head with some chunky balls of foam on the surface? It's like that. The lacing it leaves behind is decent.

For an IPA, it's rather fruity smelling with some citrus hops, tangerines, caramel, light mango, piney hops and some pale malts.

The taste is alot more piney hop forward with some mild citrus hops, pale malts, barley and some pils-grassiness. For an IPA, it's quite earthy.

It's very heavy both in terms of body weight and carbonation. Not really quite ideal considering the style of beer.

It's got a decent taste and the earthiness actually is quite nice but the body is mismatched compared to overall flavor. It's a good IPA but I'll stick with Summit's existing IPAs as I think they are much better.

Summit Another IPA - 7.5/10

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Swag Brewery Apricot Wheat Soap Review

Now onto the second beer soap which I received courtesy of Swag Brewery, a craft beer-themed gift company based out of Minneapolis, MN. They have everything from hop candy to earrings & apparel and even soap! Check them out if you haven't already.

Last week, I reviewed their Porter Soap which I thought was quite awesome and made me want to eat the soap because it smelled THAT good. This week, it's I have their Apricot Wheat Beer Soap so I'm very eager to try this out and after a good workout, what better time to try it?

This has an orange appearance with tiny specks of what I assume are the wheat and walnut. It looks like something that one would find at Bath & Body Works (I mean that in a good way!)

As for the smell, it has a very sweet & fruity apricot aroma along with a slight spiciness and a touch of wheat. Compared to the Porter Beer Soap, this smells more like an actual soap you'd find at Bath & Body Works (Again, in a good way!)

When applied to the body, it leaves behind a sweet yet pleasant apricot scent and a slight spicy/wheat smell. On top of that, it gets rid of all of that sweat and body odor and it leaves the skin feeling moist. Certain soaps leave my skin feeling rather dry but this one leaves it feeling refreshed.

I really like this! This is the perfect gift for that beer geek in your life. I can safely say that this has the potential to be a really big seller. As a standalone soap, it holds up quite nicely and I hope more people take note of that.

I wasn't too sure about the concept of beer soap before but after trying out some of Swag's offerings, I am a believer in the power of beer soap!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Brau Brothers Bancreagie Review

Name: Brau Brothers Bancreagie Peated Scotch Ale
Style: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
ABV: 7.6%

As I mentioned in an earlier review; Brau Brothers has been steadily growing over the past couple of years. Today I'm gonna review Bancreagie which is pronounced "Bohn-Cree-Gee"; And before you look it up, no could not find the meaning behind the name. If someone reading this is fluent in the Scots Language, feel free to educate me

This is their scotch ale and the first beer that I tried from them when I first got into craft beer. In fact, this was probably the first scotch ale that I had....ever! It'll be interesting to see how it holds up after a couple of years.

Bancreagie pours a mildly hazy gold color with a soapy head and some moderate carbonation.

The aroma has a distinct vanilla, chocolate, oak, caramel and bourbon smell. Caramel maltiness is there along with that vanilla bourbon/scotch scent.

The flavor has a fairly strong oak, smokey, vanilla, caramel and roasted barley flavor with a faint floral hoppiness. If I didn't know better, I'd say this was barrel aged! A little too smokey but good!

The body has a heavy feel to it with some moderate carbonation. Not exactly smooth but the heavy body does help ease the blow of the carbonation a bit.

Bancreagie is a pretty solid Scotch Ale that's unique enough to stand out yet good enough to enjoy. The taste is a bit too smoky for my liking when you consider the style but I'll gladly have this one again!

Brau Brothers Bancreagie Review - 8.5/10

Sam Adams LongShot Magnificent Seven Review

Name: Sam Adams LongShot Magnificent Seven
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 7.8%

Every year, Samuel Adams releases a few beers as part of their "LongShot" series. The concept behind the series is to allow award winning homebrewers to share their creation with a beer drinking public. The one I have here today is called "Magnificent Seven" which derives it's name from using seven kinds of hops and not the totally awesome movie which the name comes from. It is brewed by Zach Adams, who has absolutely no relation to the actual Sam Adams (Not that I know of anyways.)

Magnificent Seven pours a mildly hazy orange color with a fairly high amount of visible carbonation and tons of lacing. The head itself is rather soapy and but leaves behind some pretty good lacing.

The aroma starts us off with a mild citrus hop & caramel scent. Behind that are some toffee, piney hop and malty notes, all of which are also fairly mild.

The flavor has a strong bitter piney hop/resin, & light citrus taste with a slight caramel maltiness. This is rather bitter but at the same time there isn't a whole lot going on here in terms of flavor.

The body is quite heavy and thick at the same time and the carbonation comes off as moderate. For some reason, I feel the body makes the overall taste a bit more off than it already is.

Magnificent Seven nails the bitter aspect of what to expect out of an Imperial IPA but it forgot to bring along the rest of the flavor (namely the malts) which would have balanced out the said bitterness. It isn't an awful Imperial IPA but I would pass this up if I were to be offered this again.

Sam Adams LongShot Magnificent Seven - 6/10

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Central Waters Ouisconsing Red Ale Review

Name: Central Waters Ouisconsing Red Ale
Style: Red/Amber Ale
ABV: 5%

Ah Central Waters Brewing, makers of one of the best barleywines that has ever graced my lips! What other treasures do you have in store for a faithful beer consumer like myself? Well, quite a bit actually; This brewery is responsible for one of the first Imperial Stouts that I had ever had when I first started drinking craft beer so keep an eye out because a review will be coming in the near future.

For the time being we're gonna focus on Ouisconsing, which comes from the Algonquin word for the Wisconsin River. The name Ouisconsing would later become the basis in which the word "Wisconsin"  would come from. The description says that this will make you "want to be a Badger." Given my....ahem, academic background, that is up for debate.

Ouisconsing pours a hazy dark amber color with a high amount of visible carbonation and a nice foamy head. The lacing left behind is also pretty good.

The nose has a nice nutty and roasted barley scent to it with just a touch of caramel. There are also some mild floral hop and Munich malt notes in there as well.

Piney hops start out the flavor followed by some mild toffee, citrus, caramel, nuts and roasted barley flavors. There's also a dry bittersweet resin aftertaste thrown in for good measure.

The body is fairly light but with some moderate carbonation, which thankfully works in it's favor because it allows some dimension to the flavor itself.

While this doesn't necessarily make me want to become a badger, I found this to be a quite enjoyable beer. It's well rounded with just the right amount of hops and malty character to go around.

Central Waters Ouisconsing Red Ale - 8/10

Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Review

Name: Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin
Style: Pumpkin Beer
ABV: 8.5%

It's a cold, windy & rainy night here in Duluth and driving home is liking being in your own horror movie but without the dumb teenagers running from a serial killer. With Halloween about 4 weeks away, what better night than tonight to review a pumpkin ale.

A couple years ago, Sam Adams started releasing these specialty bombers of beer as a way to branch out more into the craft beer community and have been pretty successful so far. This one is Sam Adams' Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale, the brewery's own pumpkin ale. Much like Southern Tier's Pumking, this has a rather high ABV, clocking in at 8.5%. Many will call this an "Imperial Pumpkin Ale" but I think the term sounds a bit silly so we'll just call it a Pumpkin Beer for the time being.

Fat Jack pours a dark clear ruby red color with a foamy brown head that retains a filmy appearance after it settles down and leaves behind some good lacing. The visible carbonation is also quite light.

The aroma starts you off with a nice pumpkin pie and light cinnamon scent. After that, there are some spice, clove, nutmeg, malty and vanilla notes in the back. It's smell is not unlike that of Pumking.

The flavor is rather cinnamon and clove heavy upfront. The sweet pumpkin pie flavor takes a back seat to those flavors along with the vanilla, malts and hops.

The body itself is rather heavy and the carbonation starts out moderate before coming down a couple of notches to a lesser intensity.

It's a decent Pumpkin beer but the flavor is quite imbalanced and could use some work. Also I paid about a dollar more for this than Pumking, which I think is a more superior Pumpkin beer than this. If you have the money, go for Pumking instead of this.

Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin - 7/10

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sprecher Belgian-Style Dubbel Review

Name: Sprecher Belgian-Style Dubbel
Style: Abbey Dubbel
ABV: 6.5%

Up until few years ago, Sprecher Brewing was known to me as the people who made those kickass gourmet sodas at the grocery story (Puma Kola is amazing if you haven't tried it out yet!) and it never really occured to me until I got into craft beer that these guys also made beer. Well it turns out that not only do they make their own beer but they are celebrating their 25th year in business. Like many breweries celebrating their birthday, they have released a commemorative Abbey Dubbel beer to mark this event.

It pours a dark crimson red with an extremely fizzy brown head. There isn't really anything here in terms of lacing and the visible carbonation is rather high.

The nose has a strong licorice & plum note scent. Right behind that are some caramel, hoppy and earthy/grass notes.

The flavor has some mild licorice, plums, raisins, caramelized malts and a slight resin hoppiness. Aftertaste is rather dry and the flavor as a whole feels a bit underwhelming.

The body is light however the carbonation is waaaaaaay too strong for this type of beer; Almost like a club soda it seems.

Sprecher's attempt at making a Dubbel has all of the components to make a good Dubbel Ale but it doesn't quite fire on all cylinders in terms of flavor. As a Dubbel Ale, it's quite disappointing and you're better off looking elsewhere.

Sprecher Belgian-Style Dubbel - 5.5/10

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Glarus Imperial Weizen Review

My apologies for the half empty beer stein, I realized I forgot the photo about halfway through the glass.

Name: New Glarus Thumbprint Imperial Weizen 
Style: Weizen Bock
ABV: 9.25%

A couple weeks ago, I made the trip across the bridge to Superior to get my New Glarus fix. While I was deciding what to get, I noticed a new addition to the Thumbprint Series lineup called Imperial Weizen so I decided to grab it my own. Plus I always enjoy wrapping the red-foil off the top of any Thumbprint Series beer, it's like opening a Christmas gift!

This is a Weizen Bock style beer, which simply means that it's a strong wheat beer beer but not quite like wheat-wine.This will also be my second Weizenbock from New Glarus, the first being Dancing Man Wheat (which I mistakenly referred to as a Hefeweizen in my review.

It pours a dark hazy golden color with a very high voluminous head, perhaps one of the highest I have ever seen which brings up a really good point: When you pour this, DO NOT POUR AGGRESSIVELY!!!! The first time I had this, I found out the hard way and had a foamy mess on my kitchen table. Be smart and slooooooooooooooooowly pour it in, you may have to stop a couple of times but it'll save you the hassle of cleaning.

In the nose, I'm getting some cloves, wheat, yeasts, spices, citrus hops, malts and bananas. It does have a similar smell to Dancing Man but with more spice and maltiness.

The flavor has some strong wheat and citra hop notes which are followed by cloves, pale malts and cinnamon. It's like Dancing Man but quite strong flavor at that and does come off as a little boozy.

The body is surprisingly light and the carbonation is pretty much not there but that allows you to savor the flavors that this beer has to offer.

The flavor is a little boozy but everything else works out remarkably well. It's got a good look, an even better smell, and an excellent flavor to boot despite the slight booziness. Those who are looking for a strong and flavorful beer will find something to love here as well as those who are looking for something a bit different.

New Glarus Thumbprint Imperial Weizen - 9/10

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen Review

Name: Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen
Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 4.8%

Even though fall started a couple weeks ago, it was still a relatively warm day here in Duluth. Since I have a couple summer beers still sitting around in the fridge, I figured now would be a good time to review and besides, I need a break from Oktoberfest beers for once a little bit. This one comes courtesy of Sierra Nevada with their summer seasonal Kellerweis, which is their own Hefeweizen style ale.

Kellerweis pours a hazy yellow color with a pillowy yet soapy head. There really isn't any carbonation to speak of nor is there lacing to be seen.

The nose has a clove & bubblegum like quality to it upfront with some light caramel and banana notes in the back. Pretty vibrant nose overall.

However the same cannot be said about the flavor. Sure it has clove, bubblegum, yeasts, wheat, banana and pale malt notes and even a bit of floral hoppiness... but none of them really jump out at you. It all seems fairly mild in comparison to the nose which gives me the impression of something more......robust! As for the aftertaste...there is none, it's pretty dry.

As expected from what I saw earlier, the body is pretty lightweight and there's absolutely no carbonation to speak of here.

Even though it looked like I was ripping this beer a new one, it's by no means a terrible beer but it fails to capture the essence of what the nose had to offer. Those who read my posts regularly know that I consider Summit Brewing's Hefeweizen to be my benchmark and this beer fails match that quality. Yes I can see the appeal this could have on a scalding hot day but the flavor just lacks the passion that the aroma gave off.

Summit Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen - 6.5/10

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Swag Brewery Porter Beer Soap Review

I recently received a care package containing a couple of goodies courtesy of Swag Brewery, a company based out of Minneapolis, MN that specializes in craft beer themed gifts. They have anything from your standard apparel, pint glasses, and coasters. However they also sell more speciality items like beer-cap earrings, hop candy and beer soap; You read that correctly: Beer Soap. It is also what I am reviewing tonight. The Porter Beer Soap is the first soap of the two I had received, the other being an Apricot Wheat Beer Soap which I will be looking at in the very near future.

Earlier today after getting off work, I had gone to workout for about an hour. After getting home, I figured I would put the soap to the test and have a nice shower beer to go along with it. Hey it's only fitting right? Plus, some scientists in Spain suggested that having a beer after a workout is good for you.

**NOTE** This will NOT make you smell like beer

Upon opening it up, I was treated to a surprisingly sweet & pleasant aroma of vanilla, chocolate, and licorice. This may sound a bit strange, but I wish that this was edible because it smells heavenly! Whenever I use soap, the only thing I usually care about is that it cleanses me. The aroma that this soap gives off is so good that, as strange as this may sound, makes me wish I could taste this!

However I don't want to get poisoning by ingesting soap, so I will resist temptation and use it for it's intended purpose: washing the body.

After drying off, I had a nice chocolate and light vanilla aroma to myself. It reminded me of a AXE deodorant I sometimes use but a little more subtle. On top of that, unlike some other soaps I have tried, this soap doesn't make my skin dry which helps considering how much lifting & running I do during my workout routine.

It's the perfect gift for that beer geek friend of yours and for those who are looking for something a bit different! What I enjoyed most about this is that it smells great, leaves the skin hydrated and I think that this could be a huge seller for Swag Brewery; All of which make this a very easy-to-recommend purchase.

Should You Buy This - Yes!

P.S. Keep an eye out for the other beer soap review in the very near future!