Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Three Floyds Pride & Joy Mild Ale Review

Name: Three Floyds Pride & Joy Mild Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5%

I've got a couple more beers that I have left in my beer mail package. Next on the list is Three Floyd's Pride & Joy, which is yet another American Pale Ale (APA) from the brewery. What makes this different from the other APAs I've have from Three Floyds is that this is their session Pale Ale, hence the "Mild Ale" portion.

I recall seeing this beer on the shelf at Casanova Liquor in Hudson, WI when I was down in the Twin Cities a few months back, but I passed since the asking price was a bit too high for my liking. I've never really had anything sessionable from the brewery before and Three Floyds isn't exactly well known for making session beers, so let's see how this is.

Pride & Joy pours a very hazy orange color with a foamy white head but with some soapy lacing. As for visible carbonation, I'm not picking up on anything in particular.

The nose has a surprisingly strong citrus hop and grapefruit forward but I'm also picking up on some piney hop bitterness in here too. There's also some nice caramel/toffee sweetness in here as well as some light yeastiness. For a session ale, this smells like a very solid IPA.

The flavor starts out with some prominent grapefruit notes and bitter piney hoppiness. The malty backbone that was present in the nose starts out strong initially but fades away on the back of the palate. As for the aftertaste, it consists mainly of piney hop bitterness.

The body lands somewhere in-between light and moderate, in terms of weight with just a touch of thickness. The carbonation is on the mild side, which makes this pretty easy to drink.

Pride & Joy is definitely one of the better session ales that I've had due to the fact that it possesses that flavor punch that a good chunk of session ales lack. The best way to describe Pride & Joy is that it's a session ale dressed up for an IPA audience and, for the most part, it works. Check it out if you get the opportunity.

Three Floyds Pride & Joy Mild Ale - 8.5/10

Monday, August 25, 2014

Three Floyds Backmasking Review

Name: Three Floyds Backmasking
Style: Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 5.9%

Backmasking (n) - A recording technique in which a sound or message is deliberately recorded backwards in a track that is meant to be played forwards.

Backmasking, one of the very reasons Snopes is in existence today. Several major bands have been accused of using backmasking to subliminally manipulate the unaware music lovers. From Judas Priest to Led Zeppelin; From Pink Floyd to Weird Al Yankovic; These are just a few bands that have either been accused of backmasking or have partaken in it.

So leave it to Three Floyds Brewing to create a beer that pokes fun at this cultural phenomenon that, only 30 years ago, had parental advocacy groups convinced that the musicians were trying to corrupt the youth of the nation. With this in mind, you have to admit that the beer label is hilarious.

Backmasking pours a pitch black color with a brown head that has a thin creamy appearance. It's hard to tell if there's any carbonation in here but the lacing is very abundant.

The aroma starts things off with a very strong chocolate malt scent and some robust oatmeal notes. There's also a fair amount of roastiness on the back end of the nose along with some light dry hop notes. What I like about this beer is that you can actually smell the individual oats, something which I always look for in any oatmeal stout I have.

The flavor is fairly representative of the nose. For starters, you have a strong chocolate malt and oatmeal foundation but there's also a fair amount of lactose  in the middle of the palate. As for the aftertaste, it's primarily a bitter hop and roasted barley finish.

The body is fairly heavy in terms of weight and has some fairly mild carbonation. It also has a very smooth creamy texture, which helps add to the drinking experience as well as making it a bit easier to handle.

Backmasking may look intimidating, but this is actually a very smooth, flavorful, and well put together oatmeal stout and it's probably one of the best oatmeal stouts I've ever had. If you happen to see this, I would very highly recommend checking this out.

Three Floyds Backmasking - 9.25/10

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA Review

Name: Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.5%

I was planning on continuing my Three Floyds care package reviews, but they're all on my laptop which is currently without a charger or battery life until it arrives in the mail next week. The joys of having a Macbook, I tell ya! For this review I've decided to take a look at an offering called 75 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head Brewing.

Like many Dogfish Head beers, there's usually something that makes it unique which in this case, there are two. The first thing that makes it unique is that this is an IPA made with maple syrup, but that's not the thing that I found most interesting about this beer.

See the label above? Pretty awesome, right? However you're probably wondering why the man tapping the cask is wearing a Groucho Marx glasses-and-mustache. You see, this isn't the original label. Here's the original label....

It's none other than the Man in Black himself: Johnny Cash! When this beer was first released a few years back, it was known by it's nickname Johnny Cask, which drew it's name from the 15 barrel tank which the beer was originally made in. I'm guessing it was probably changed due to the risk of a lawsuit from the Cash Estate. Being a huge Johnny Cash, I think it's an excellent way to honor his memory.

75 Minute IPA pours a fairly hazy dark orange color with a white thick albeit soapy head. Nothing really much in terms of lacing and the visible carbonation is very mild.

The nose starts out with a very citrus hop and grapefruit forward scent. The maple syrup is initially very mild and blends in with the toffee & caramel malt sweetness, but it becomes more prominent as the beer warms up.

Mirroring the nose, the flavor starts citrus hop and grapefruit forward as well as some resin pine bitterness. The back end of the flavor is fairly malt heavy with caramel, toffee and maple syrup sweetness. The maple syrup isn't as noticeable compared to everything else but it doesn't taste artificial (which is good) and it blends seamlessly with the rest of the flavor.

The palate is pretty heavy in terms of body weight and has a bit of thickness to it. The carbonation is fairly moderate but it doesn't interfere with the overall drinking experience and it still allows you to enjoy the flavors that this beer has to offer.

I think 75 Minute IPA is a very flavorful and well-balanced IPA. Even though it doesn't play the biggest role in the overall taste, I think the maple syrup is an excellent addition to this beer. I would definitely recommend checking out this beer should you get the chance.

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA - 9.5/10

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Three Floyds Calumet Queen Review

Name: Three Floyds Calumet Queen
Style: Kolsch
ABV: 5%

Next up on my Three Floyds care package that I'm finally getting around to reviewing is more of an off-beat offering, at least in my opinion. The beer in question is Calumet Queen, the brewery's kolsch style ale. Up until getting this, I had only seen this beer on Beer Advocate and was always curious to see what it tasted like.

The name originates from the "Calumet Region" which is synonymous with Northwestern Indiana. Munster, which is where Three Floyds is located, is in Northwestern Indiana.

Calumet Queen pours a very pale yellow color with a mild haze to it, but otherwise fairly clear. Visible carbonation is pretty mild with a very thin white head.

The nose is fairly pale malt forward, a fruity grape (not grapefruits) scent with some barley notes and some light yeasty notes.

The flavor has some pale malts and some hop bitterness upfront. There's also some grape notes and some pilsener malts on the back of the palate.

The body is very light but the carbonation is a bit more on the moderate side. Nonetheless, it does feel very crisp and fits the overall flavor profile quite well.

In short, Calumet Queen is a nice offering from the brewery that proves to be reasonably flavorful yet sessionable beer. It's a good nice summer seasonal that's worth checking out should you get the chance.

Three Floyds Calumet Queen - 8/10

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Three Floyds Jinx Proof Review

Name: Three Floyds Jinx Proof
Style: Dortmunder Lager/Pilsener
ABV: 5.1%

Next up on my Three Floyds Brewing care package is a little something called Jinx Proof, which is the brewery's Pilsener/Dortmunder Lager (depending on who you ask) style of beer. The beer gets its name from a Washington D.C.-based tattoo parlor, who I assume also did the artwork for the bottle though this is just speculation on my part.

This is also the first time I've had this beer in over two years. Many of my readers know that I was once a resident of Chicago and finding Three Floyds at the bar wasn't all that uncommon, such as The Fat Cat along Broadway Ave on the Northside, which is where I had this beer on-tap. Now that I have a bottle for myself, it's time to give this beer a proper review.

Jinx Proof pours a very hazy yellow color with a pretty thin white head. There isn't anything here in terms of lacing and some moderate-level visible carbonation.

The aroma starts out with a mix of pale and pilsener malts, some citrus hop notes, yeasts and a bit of lemon zest. Sure enough, it does smell like a cross between a Dortmunder and Pilsener.

The flavor, much like the nose, starts out with a strong pale and pilsener malt base with a stronger lemon zest presence and some mild yeasts before ending with a bitter citrus hop aftertaste. Judging from the taste, it's pretty easy to see why its classification has fallen into two categories.

The palate has a very light body and some moderate carbonation, which gives it a very crisp feel. Paired with the flavor, it's quite fitting.

Jinx Proof is by no means the beer that Three Floyds will best known for. However what we do have here is a nice flavorful lager that many beer drinkers will no doubt find something to enjoy about it. This is a beer that is best described as a "crowd pleaser," but you can rest assured that you're making a good choice by drinking this.

Three Floyds Jinx Proof - 8.5/10

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Northland Beer Presents The Duluth-Superior Pride Fest Craft Brew Tent

In a couple of weeks, the 28th annual Duluth-Superior Pride Festival will kick off August 28th thru August 31th and will feature a wide range of events and activities to choose from. That is why it is my pleasure to announce the first ever Duluth-Superior Pride's Craft Brew Tent, sponsored by

Northland Beer will be running the very first Pride Festival Craft Beer Tent during the Pride Festival in The Park on August 30th from 11am-7pm in Bayfront Park in Duluth. Featured will be beer from Duluth's very own Bent Paddle Brewing and for the first time ever in the Twin Ports, Sociable Cider Werks, Minnesota's very first producer of hard cider.

Come on down to the festivities in Bayfront Park on August 30th, support the GLBTQ community and have some good beer and cider at the same time, courtesy of Northland Beer.

I hope to see you all there.


- Nick

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Punisher Bottle Opener Review

A couple of weeks ago I received a package from Chris of Skulls-n-Bones, who was awesome enough to send me a product of his for review. The package contained a brand new bottle opener that had caught my eye a couple weeks prior and I just had to try it out so I got in contact with him. Since I got it literally the day I left to go out of town for my wedding, I was unable to do a write up about it until now.

Dubbed "The Punisher" based on it's design, it's a bottle opener that looks like it's been taken out of the personal arsenal of the aforementioned superhero. This has got to be one of the coolest looking bottle openers I have ever seen. Laser cut and made from stainless steel, it feels incredibly smooth and the craftsmanship put into this bottle opener is really something to behold. The best part? It's 100% American-made!

You open the bottle by using the "Cuspids" situated along either side of the skull to hook the bottom of the cap in conjunction with the secondary incisors to open the bottle. It may look delicate at first glance, but this is a very durable bottle opener and it's actually very effective at getting the tougher bottles open.

You'll notice in the photo above that I'm using The Punisher to open my bottle of Thomas Hardy's Ale which I got for my wedding. Since the bottle was 9 years old, the cap has settled for a whole and it was a bit of a doozy to open with my normal opener. That's because I've found that The Punisher works wonderfully if you've got a bottle of beer that is a bit stubborn when it comes to trying to pry it open. Please note that despite my hand positioning, you're actually supposed to open it towards you, not away.

It's one thing to have a great look, but when it's look, design and usefulness compliment each other, it makes it easy to recommend. It makes for a great gift idea for someone you know or just for yourself. There are also some other designs to choose from on their product page in case you're looking for something else, which you can find here. Whether you go with The Punisher or something else, you can rest assured that everything that is offered very reasonably priced.

A special thanks once again to Chris for sending The Punisher my way, I'm proud to call this awesome looking bottle opener my very own!

Recommendation - Buy This!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Three Floyds Alpha King Review

Name: Three Floyds Alpha King
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6.66%

Recently I received a beer mail from Jared in Indiana, who was kind enough to send me a Three Floyds Brewing care package, along with a couple of extra goodies which I will get to later. The first beer I'm going cover is Alpha King, their American Pale Ale which is considered by the brewery and many others to be their flagship beer. It is also considered by many beer lovers to be the best APA (American Pale Ale) in the country, ranking right up there with the ranks of Zombie Dust (another Three Floyds beer) and Toppling Goliath's Pseudo Sue.

Now in terms of the brewery's APAs, I've never had Alpha King before I have had their Zombie Dust before which I have mentioned in a few previous posts that I regard Zombie Dust as my all-time favorite APA. Let's see if Alpha King can claim that title.

Alpha King pours a very hazy orange color with a low amount of visible carbonation. It possesses a very foamy head but pretty soapy lacing.

The aroma is very piney hop forward with some light grapefruit notes and an emphasis on the caramel maltiness. There is also some mild but noticeable hints of citrus and floral hops in here as well.

The flavor flips it around as it's very citrus and floral hop forward with some grapefruits, yeastiness and some solid caramel maltiness; All of which are very vibrant in their own way. The aftertaste is a resin piney hop bitterness, which was most prominent in the nose.

The palate has a very moderate weight to it but with some mild thickness to it and some light carbonation. It goes without saying that this is a very easy drinker.

You know, after having Alpha King, I'm strongly considering making this my new favorite American Pale Ale. It's flavor is rich, extremely vibrant yet the palate makes it very drinkable all at once. Having this beer makes me wish that I had the same availability right now, just like back when I lived in Chicago. Any beer lover absolutely owes it to themselves to try this out!

Three Floyds Alpha King - 9.5/10

Monday, August 11, 2014

O'Hanlon's Thomas Hardy's Ale Review

Name: O'Hanlon Thomas Hardy's Ale
Style: English Barleywine
ABV: 11.7%

Every once in a while, I'll dip into my reserve of stronger beers (Barleywine, Imperial Stouts, etc.) after I've let them age for a while just to try them out to see any changes in flavor. I will usually let it sit for a year before I decide to crack it open and nothing else. In fact, the oldest beer I've ever had was a 3 year old bottle of Three Floyds Behemoth Blonde Barleywine a couple years ago over at a friend's house back when I lived in Chicago.

Then last weekend at my wedding, I received a bottle of Thomas Hardy's Ale, brewed by the Hanlons Brewing Company (formally known as O'Hanlon's), which is based out of Great Britain. When I did my research on this beer, I found out that this was actually brewed originally by Eldridge Pope Brewing from 1968 to 2002, at which point O'Hanlon continued to make this up until 2008 when production was halted altogether and it has not been made since then. Although it's worth noting that I have read rumors that this may be brought back in the near future but everything is speculation at this point.

Taking it's name from renowned British poet Thomas Hardy, Eldridge Pope decided to commemorate his memory in a beer back in 1968 thanks in part to his novel "The Trumpet Major". In the novel he describes the beer from Dorchester (the city which Eldridge Pope was based):

"It was of the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset; free from streakiness of taste, but, finally, rather heady"

Looking into the reputation of this beer, I found out that it is one of the most highly sought after beers in all of England and is meant to be aged for a long time. In fact, Draft Magazine posted an article a couple years ago that featured 3 bottles of Thomas Hardy Ale from 1968, 1987, and 2008. It's absolutely worth reading if you have a minute to spare.

This brings me to the bottle in my possession, which is from 2005, making it 9 years old and the oldest beer I've had to date. Now on Beer Advocate it's classified as an Old Ale but everywhere else seems to refer to this as an English Barleywine. With this information in mind, I will be referring to this as the latter.

Thomas Hardy's Ale pours a very cloudy brown color that is devoid of any visible carbonation or lacing. The head is also non-existent save for a couple of bubble clusters which fade away almost instantaneously.

The aroma is very caramel malt and boozy forward. These scents are backed up by some very strong molasses and chocolate notes which are just trying to undermine the front of the nose but is still secondary, a term which I use very loosely.

Flavor-wise, it is very caramel malt forward but I'm very shocked to see some apple fruitness in here, which form caramel apple flavor that one would experience from actually eating one. The molasses is also very prominent in the flavor, particularly on the back of the palate along with some dark chocolate notes. The booziness does encompass the flavor, but it's masked much better here so it doesn't hinder the overall drinking experience.

The palate is not as heavy as I expected, falling into the moderately weighted range but it's still on the thick side thanks in part to the molasses aspect. As expected, there is no carbonation to speak of, but that's just fine because it allows one to enjoy the flavors that this beer has to offer without having any interuptions.

Given that this has been bottled up for 9 years, the flavor has held up remarkably well and still managed to be robust and flavorful. It's too bad that this is no longer made because considering the growth of public interest in craft beer these past few years, I have no doubt in my mind that this would be a crowd pleaser. If you so happen to come across this by whatever means, I would highly recommend trying this out.

A special thanks to Jim & Marie for hooking me up with this awesome wedding gift, I'm glad that I got the opportunity to try out a truly wonderful beer!

O'Hanlon's Thomas Hardy's Ale - 9.5/10

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bent Paddle Daypack Pale Ale Review

Name: Bent Paddle Daypack Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 4.7%

It's been over a year since I've reviewed anything from Bent Paddle Brewing, despite the numerous new beers they have made since I reviewed their Black Ale and Bent Hop IPA last year. Since writing those reviews, they have made tremendous strides and have grown beyond even my wildest expectations. To give you idea, they started distributing to the Twin Cities at the end of 2013, something which I didn't expect would happen until around this summer.

With all this growth, it makes sense that they would want to diversify their portfolio. Earlier this summer they released their Paddle Break Blonde (fantastic, by the way), which was featured in their taproom last year as a draft only release. Now they have given us their Daypack Pale Ale, which is their proclaimed sessionable American Pale Ale.

Daypack Pale Ale pours a fairly hazy orange color with a head that has a very thin appearance. The lacing is quite abundant

The aroma has a nice subtle scent of citra hops, grapefruit and with a moderate caramel sweetness. For a sessionable APA, this smells quite sweet.

The flavor has some mild citrus & floral hoppiness, a bit of yeast esters and some caramel maltiness, all of which seem to hit the palate at once. There isn't really anything in the aftertaste so it's very dry.

The palate is very light in both body and carbonation, so it's very easy to drink. Given the flavor, it fits very well.

All and all, it's standard session ale that has some good flavor that isn't complex by any stretch of the imagination. However, if you're outside doing yardwork or out on a hike and are in need of a refreshing beer, Daypack will definitely hit the spot.

Bent Paddle Daypack Pale Ale - 8/10

Friday, August 8, 2014

A visit to The Boathouse Brewpub & Restaurant

This week is technically supposed to be my honeymoon, but me and the wife had to improvise as far as what to do for a vacation. Since places like Germany, Mexico, and Italy are (currently) out of the questions, we decided to get away for a couple of days and make our way to beautiful Ely, Minnesota.

Ely is a remote town located in the northern part of Minnesota's Iron Range and is the primary entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in the Superior National Forest. Ely is considered by many to be the Canoe Capital of the world due to its high production of canoes and proximity to the BWCA. For the record, I had never been to Ely before; In fact, I've only been to the Iron Range maybe about 3-4 times either for Giant's Ridge or for hockey back when I was in high school, so this trip was somewhat of an adventure for myself.

Now I wouldn't be writing about this unless there was beer involved, which in this instance there is. Which brings us to The Boathouse Brewpub, the only brewery located in the Iron Range. Located on the main drag of Sheridan Road (the main street that runs through Ely,) this brewpub has more of a quaint feel to it, yet the atmosphere accurately reflects that Northwoods feel that we all know and love.

Since the drive was about 2 1/2 hours, I decided to sample all of the beers they had on tap through a flight. Keep in mind that a couple of these beers are no longer on tap at the time of writing this but I feel this article accurately reflects the choices that Boathouse offers on a regular basis.

Boathouse Blueberry Blonde - Not only are blueberries used in the brewing process but they actually throw in a couple of blueberries after pouring! A fairly light blonde ale but the blueberry sweetness really livens things up and the fruity and light floral hop finish make for an excellent blonde ale.

Boathouse Husky Hefe - This beer starts out with some malt wheat and banana notes before changing over to a nice berry sweetness and finish. Not complex by any means but a perfect beer for a hot summer day.

Boathouse Dock Star Pilsner - A pilsner with some grassy notes and mild citrus hop sweetness. It possesses a solid pilsner and pale maltiness and finishes rather dry. Perfect beer for the warm summer day outside and the beer of choice for my wife.

Boathouse Katzenjammer IPA - I decided to try out both this and Bearded Fellers side-by-side. This IPA starts out with a nice citrus hop profile with a solid caramel malt backbone and a bitter floral hop finish.

Boathouse Bearded Fellers IPA - On the flipside, this IPA has a fairly strong piney hop profile upfront with a fairly mild caramel maltiness and a bitter resiny finish. Though they had two IPAs on tap, the differences were fairly obvious. Still a good IPA though!

Boathouse Off-Kilter Scottish Wee Heavy - Very smokey taste all around with some prominent peated scotch notes. The aftertaste opens up to a surprisingly strong (for the style) dry hoppiness and caramel sweetness. Definitely one of the smokier wee heavies I've had but I found it to be nicely balanced.

After trying out their beers, I would say that Boathouse Brewpub is definitely worth the drive up to Ely, especially if you're looking for something new or if you're in the mood for some truly local beer. They also have BWCA-legal plastic growlers in case you want to bring some with you canoeing. On one final note, it's worth mentioning that drive up there is gorgeous! I mean it when I say that the Northwoods are absolutely beautiful at this time of year and the clear skies made it even more so which makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Schell's Arminius Review

Name: Schell's Arminius
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 6.5%

Well the wedding is done and I'm officially a married man! Now that the dust has settled, it's time to get back to looking at some beers. Recently I've been watching August Schell Brewing Company starting to get creative with the beers which they have beeb releasing. From their Stag Series, to the 30th anniversary variety packs and recent canned releases.

Which brings me to Arminius, the newest release from Schell's, which is named after a prominent chieftain who united the tribes against the Roman Empire in what is now modern day Germany. Arminius has the distinction of defeating the Roman Army and holding off their invasion and all of this happened about 2000 years ago. Since New Ulm is a town that possesses a strong German heritage, they erected a statue in his honor, which is also referred to as "Hermann the German."

Also please forgive the lack of glassware in the photo, I had to make due with what the hotel had to offer.

Arminius pours a fairly clear pale yellow color with a fairly low amount of carbonation. The head is moderate in terms of volume but it's hard to gauge because the glass I'm using is quite small for what it is.

The aroma is rather though as I'm picking up on some nice citrus hops and even a bit of floral hoppiness too. There's also some pale malts in here as well but it smells very sweet and there's even a bit of a berry sweetness in the nose as well.

The flavor has some very nice citrus hop notes and some floral hoppiness to back it up. The berry sweetness I picked up on in the nose is more prevalent here and adds some dimension to the flavor. The aftertaste is a citrus hop and berry bittersweet flavor on the very end of the palate; Other than that, it's fairly dry and doesn't linger around for very long.

The body is pretty light in terms of weight and the carbonation is also very mild. It's a very easy drinker and it fits perfectly with the flavor.

Schell's has never been a brewery that has really left a lasting impression with me in regards to any of their beers. With that said Arminius is, hands down, one of the best pale lagers I've ever had! It's has a nice & robust, yet not overly complex flavor, it's easy to drink and it's crisp. I've heard that Schell's is making this part of their year round line up, which makes me happy because this is a very welcome addition!

Schell's Arminius - 9/10