Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Off Color Dino S'mores Review

Name: Off Color Dino S'mores
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%
IBUs: 40

Lookie here, a new beer that I recently picked up from Off Color Brewing. This time around, we've got Dino S'mores, an imperial stout made with marshmallows, graham flour, vanilla bean and cocoa nibs; In other words, a S'more Stout. When I stumbled upon this, I saw there was a one bottle limit per customer, which is fine since I personally rarely buy packs of the same beer. Plus the asking price of one bottle is enough to deter me from putting down money on an actual 4-pack of this stuff. Speaking of which.....

I personally have not heard anything from anyone about this beer, aside from its very high rating on Beer Advocate. My first exposure to this brewery came in the form of their Scurry Altbier, which I thought was good but the asking price for it was a bit high for a 4-pack. I'm hoping it won't be the case with this beer.

Appearance - Pitch black with a thin brown colored head that settles down to a semi-translucent appearance. The lacing starts out promising initially but it ends up being very sparse.

Aroma - Chocolate malts and vanilla sweetness, followed by some graham crackers, marshmallows and dark chocolate with a bit of hop bitterness on the back end of the nose. Well I have to give them credit, it certainly smells like a S'more.

Taste - Chocolate malts & cocoa nibs accompanied by marshmallow and vanilla beans. The back end of the palate opens up to those graham cracker notes along with more of that cocoa nib sweetness along with some mild bitter hoppiness. The aftertaste is a mix of chocolate, vanilla and graham crackers.

There's no other way to put this: It's a S'more in liquid form and it works very well. Every element of the flavor compliments the others quite well and what we end up getting is a very robust and tasty Imperial Stout that manages to fire on all cylinders.

 I've had a some S'more stouts before from a couple of different breweries, but they all lacked that "Wow" factor that should've been there. It's almost like Off Color came along and said "Look, THIS is how you make an awesome S'more stout." In short, if you're able to find this beer, then it would be in your best interests to check it out. Don't let the price of admission scare you on this one, the ride is worth it.

Off Color Dino S'mores - 9.5/10

Monday, December 28, 2015

Alaskan Hopothermia Review

Name: Alaskan Hopothermia
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 70

Now that Christmas is finally over with, it's time to get back to reviewing some beers. Since the first major snowfall is supposedly going to be hitting us tonight, I thought now would be a good time to review Alaskan Brewing's Hopothermia.

Hopothermia is Alaskan's first widely available Imperial IPA. It's beginnings trace back to that of being a draft-only release when it came out roughly around three years ago. In fact, I recall having it on tap when it was first released at a bar in Minneapolis (The Republic in Uptown I want to say....?) I'm guessing it proved to be popular enough to warrant a bottle release.

Appearance -  Fairly clear dark amber color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head starts out foamy but retains a mostly thin appearance with a moderate amount of lacing..

Aroma - Very dank piney hops on the front of the nose with a strong caramel malt backbone, along with some mild grapefruit rinds.

Taste - Piney & citrus hops with some mild dankness. Further in you start to pick up on some grapefruit sweetness and caramel maltiness, while on the back end of the palate is just more bitter hops. Aftertaste is some more bitter piney hoppiness with some light toffee notes.

If you like your IPAs with a bit of dankness to it, this beer is for you. It's reasonably priced and there's nothing that I would consider to be wrong with it. Maybe it's just me but I remember this being more.......exciting when I first had it, though it could be my change in palate or a change in recipe. Either way, it's still good and I could see myself drinking this again.

Alaskan Hopothermia - 8/10

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Oskar Blues Death by Coconut Review

Name: Oskar Blues Death by Coconut
Style: Porter
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 25

It's been too long since I reviewed anything from Oskar Blues, with the last beer review being from over 2 years ago. Well today I'm here to change with that with Death by Coconut, their winter seasonal which they added to their lineup last year. It's a porter but made with coconut.

It's one of those beers which I've seen online a few times but the temptation never struck me to seek it out whether it was travelling to Wisconsin or through trade. Ah.....but since Oskar Blues is now available in Minnesota, the opportunity to try it out came across me the other day while I was at the store. Plus I had this on tap at JL Beers this past weekend and thought it was a good excuse to expedite.

Appearance - Pitch black save for a minor dark brown tinge on the bottle of the glass. The head takes on a khaki color with a mild amount of foaminess, along with the lacing which is fairly mild as well.

Aroma - Strong coconut sweetness & chocolate maltiness. I'm also getting some coffee grains along with some roasted barley. When I had this at the bar, the bartender mentioned it was like smelling coconut suntan lotion; He wasn't exactly wrong when he said that.

Taste - Sweet coconut notes followed by some solid chocolate & caramel maltiness. Middle & back end of the palate opens up to some roasted barley notes and light floral hoppiness while still maintaining that coconut sweetness. The aftertaste consists of more coconut, roasted barley & light bitter hoppiness; all of which linger for quite a while.

I'll throw this out here right now, if your not a fan of porters, this beer may cause you to think otherwise for a couple different reasons. The first being that the coconut not only balances out the other elements of the flavor but also tips it in its favor. The other reason being that my wife, who hates dark beers with a passion, tried this out and ended loving it!

For the casual craft beer drinker, this is certainly worth checking out. Some may find the sheer coconutiness(?) to be off putting but I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to, which makes this beer all the easier to recommend.

Oskar Blues Death by Coconut - 9/10

Monday, December 21, 2015

Bauhaus Brew Labs Tallander Review

Name: Bauhaus Brew Labs Tallander
Style: Scottish Ale
ABV: 6.0%
IBUs; 25

Today I've got a new beer from Bauhaus Brew Labs, a brewery which I haven't had any beers from (on this blog anyways) since last winter. My previous entry from Bauhaus was their Jingle Fever Baltic Porter (now known as Winterloper), which at the time, I thought was their be-all end-all winter seasonal.

Well, this year they've given us Tallander, their true winter seasonal which is described by the brewery as basically a cross between a Scottish Ale & a Wee Heavy. They've even made a commercial for it too, which you can watch here since Blogger hasn't made it available for embedding as of yet. If you watched the video, you probably figured out that the name itself draws from the film Highlander. I remember watching it when I was about 11 years old, and having a hard time following it. I guess the brewer must be a fan of the film.

Appearance - Clear dark brown/amber color with no visible carbonation. The head takes on a khaki color and is fairly foamy in terms of appearance. The lacing left behind is moderate and is somewhat sticky.

Aroma - Some fairly potent roastiness on the front of the nose with some Munich-like maltiness. Also getting some light peated scotch notes along with some chocolate maltiness.

Taste - Some moderate roastiness on the front of the palate, followed by some chocolate maltiness and light peated scotch notes. On the back end of the palate I'm getting some mild bitter hops along with more of that roasty flavor mixed in with some very light smokiness. It's also worth noting that it finishes rather dry.

I'm not normally into Scottish Ales but I like this. It's nice & balanced and I think the Scottish/Wee-Heavy hybrid works out rather well. On top of that, Tallander is also very reasonably priced so that makes it a lot easier for me to recommend as well. If you see this, I would certainly recommend checking this out.

Bauhaus Brew Labs Tallander - 8.5/10

Friday, December 18, 2015

Toppling Goliath Light Speed Review

Name: Toppling Goliath Light Speed
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.8%

Well today is the day that the new Star Wars movie comes out. Hard to believe that the last time a Star Wars movie was in theaters, I was only in high school. Unlike the majority of Americans, I will be waiting a few weeks before I actually go and see it, since I've always hated crowded movie theaters. Plus I know that The Force Awakens will be making the runs for a long time.

Anyways in celebration of the release, I've decided to take a look at a beer that is related to Star Wars....sort of. Toppling Goliath has finally started bringing their specialty bombers to Minnesota and the one I'll be looking at is the Lightspeed Pale Ale, which is brewed with Millennium & Falconer's Flight Hops; how clever.....

I did a little digging about this beer and I found out that it actually was called Millennium at one point, but I'm guessing they had to change it due to the risk of copyright issues lest they incur the wrath of Disney.

Appearance - Moderately hazy dark orange color with no visible carbonation. Head starts out somewhat foamy but ultimately takes on a thin filmy white appearance. There's also a good amount of lacing left behind along the sides of the glass

Aroma - Rich orange peel and citrus hops mixed in with some toffee & pale maltiness. I'm also getting some mango & grapefruit notes in here as well. It smells remarkably similar to PseudoSue....

Taste - Bitter & citrus hops on the front of the palate with some mild mango sweetness in the middle, followed by some grapefruit rinds and toffee maltiness. Aftertaste is primarily mildly bitter & citrus hoppiness with some pale maltiness.

It's a good solid beer overall and the choice of hops, no matter what the intent was, manages to come together quite well. Though I can't help but feel that many of TG Pale Ales feel too similar to one another in terms of overall flavor....but you know what? As long as they're still good, I'll keep drinking them.

Toppling Goliath Light Speed - 8.5/10

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter Review

Name: Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter
Style: Porter
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 16

As I type this, there are sounds of rolling thunder outside along with some heavy rain. Keep in mind that this is the middle of December in Minnesota & there is usually a foot of snow on the ground by this time. To which I say good riddance. After the winter we had two years ago, I'll be happy if it stays like this until next summer.

Winter seasonal beers, on the other hand, I am always looking forward to trying out. This brings us to Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter. I remember having this about three years ago, maybe a few months before I launched this blog if my memory serves me correctly.

Appearance - Black with a dark red tinge around the edges of the glass on the bottom due to the light shining through. The head takes on a tan color and is fairly foamy in appearance but the lacing is very sparse.

Aroma - Chocolate malts & vanilla followed by some roasted barley and caramel sweetness with a light hint of coffee grounds.

Taste - Chocolate malts & roasted barley with some mild caramel and vanilla bean notes. The aftertaste is mainly light vanilla and light chocolate. I remember the vanilla being a little more pronounced for some reason,

I recall this having more vanilla flavor a couple years back, so I wonder if the recipe was tweaked at some point? Aside from that, it's a solid porter and I have no qualms about that. I say it's worth checking out at the very least if you haven't already done so.

Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter - 8/10

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sixpoint Resin Review

Name: Sixpoint Resin
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.1%
IBUs: 103

Here I am still sitting around, awaiting in the recovery unit and looking at possibly a couple hours before discharge; The joys of same-day surgery I tell ya. Moving onto the other beer which I had from Sixpoint Brewery, we have Resin, which is their Imperial IPA offering. To my knowledge, this is one of their two Imperial IPA offerings. This too comes in a 12oz. Red Bull-style can like Bengali before it.

Appearance - Mildly hazy dark orange color with almost no visible carbonation. The head has a decent amount of foaminess with some sticky lacing.

Aroma - Strong resiny & piney hoppiness with some light caramelized malts. Pretty hop forward smelling for the most part

Taste - Strong piney & bitter hoppiness followed by a mild caramel malt backbone. Aftertaste is mainly bitter resiny hops and some light grapefruit rinds.

Resin is a good Imperial IPA.....but for some reason it doesn't quite cut it for me. Sure it's hoppy and has a fair amount of maltiness, but I keep telling myself there is something missing and it's a something I can't quite put my finger on. Is it the malts? The hops? It's hard for me to say for certain what it is so I'll try to summarize it as best I can: It has all the parts to make it work, but they don't quite come together like they should. I think I'll stick with Bengali for the time being.

Sixpoint Resin - 7/10

Sixpoint Bengali Review

Name: Sixpoint Bengali
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 69

I'm currently at the hospital right now on account of my wife having surgery. Since I'll be here most of the afternoon and possibly the first half of the evening due to it being a same-day surgery, I figured I'd spend the time here wrapping on some reviews that I've had on the back burner while the wife is recovering.

The first beer I'll be looking at is from a brewery that just entered the Minnesota market about 4 weeks ago, which is Sixpoint Brewery based out of Brooklyn, New York. The beer in question is their Bengali IPA, a beer I recall seeing on store shelves at Binny's back when I lived in Chicago. I also remember it being once called "Bengali Tiger" but they changed the name I believe last year when they tweaked the original recipe.

I would also assume they're trying to go after the Red Bull crowd with their can design. When I first opened the six-pack, it took me a second to figure out that I had a 12oz. can in my hand. I mean, it seriously looks like an energy drink that you would use to chase a shot of Jagermeister with (not that it make it taste any better, but that's another story.)

Appearance - Fairly clear bright orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is quite foamy and full of volume; even with a gentle pour and the lacing is also very abundant.

Aroma - Hefty caramel & toffee maltiness with some bitter piney hops. I'm also picking up on some mild orange & grapefruit rinds.

Taste - Much like the nose, very caramel & toffee malt forward, which is followed by some bitter piney hoppiness. In the aftertaste, I'm getting that orange peel and grapefruit rind bitterness with a slight caramel accent. It kind of reminds me of a maltier Surly Furious.

It isn't anything that I already haven't seen, but when it comes to a balanced IPA, it doesn't get much better than this. The hops and maltiness compliment each other nicely, which makes the drinking experience all the more enjoyable. It's worth picking up if you so happen to come across this.

Sixpoint Bengali - 9/10

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Swag Brewery Beer Candy Review

Every year for the past couple of years, Max from Swag Brewery has kindly provided me with some gift ideas for the holidays. Two years ago, it was their beer soap. Last year, it was their beer candles. This year, we have.......Beer Candy!

That's right, we finally have something that is meant to be consumed as opposed to being lit on fire or rubbed against the body. We have something that is safe to eat! Now I'm quite familiar with hop candy and have had it on a few occasions but here there are 3 flavors to choose from: Hoppy IPA, Roasty Stout and Honey Ale.

Hoppy IPA - Light lemon flavor with that hop resin flavor sans the bitterness. I'm also getting some floral hoppiness on the back of the palate. True to it's name, it tastes like actual hops with out the bitterness.....that's a good thing. Tasty!

Roasty Stout -  Roasted barley and light coffee grounds, with some notes of milk chocolate and dark cocoa. The longer I taste it, the more I can pick up on a very light hop bitterness, you really gotta dig for it, though. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it literally tastes like I have a stout in my mouth right now.

Honey Ale - Strong honey notes followed by some light floral hoppiness (yes, I said it) and even some light citrus notes. I don't recall any honey ale tasting this......honey-forward but it still tastes like a honey ale, albeit a very rich one. It's also got a bit of that toffee malt sweetness in here as well.

Well I can safely say that if you love beer, you will love this candy. You get the experience the taste of a wonderful craft beer without the risk of getting drunk. Oh yes, it's also a great gift for that craft beer lover in your life and it's actually a fairly unique concept & idea; One that works out quite well!

As always, if you'd like to get some of these for yourself or someone you know, you can find it at

A big shoutout to Max from Swag Brewery for providing me with these goodies!



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Insight Hell Chicken Review

Name: Insight Hell Chicken (AKA In The Garden of the Hell Chicken)
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%

I have another can from Insight Brewing and it's their Hell Chicken Pale Ale which is made with Yuzu Fruit. I was going to review the Troll Way IPA but before I cracked it open, I found out that there was a recall due to the quality issues with the beer. So because of that I will have to get my hands on a can from the newer batch.

While putting this post together, I found out I made a boo-boo with my review of Sunken City, as it's true name is "In The Halls of the Sunken City." Each beer has a name that correlates with a chapter in a book and each chapter has a name of several characters. The same applies to this beer as well. Let's be realistic here, if people are using Google to find out about this beer, chances are they're not going to be typing "Insight Brewing In The Garden of the Hell Chicken." They're probably going to type "Insight Hell Chicken" to avoid redundancy.

Appearance - Mildly hazy dark yellow color with some equally mild carbonation. The head is about one finger in width with some soapy and sparse lacing.

Aroma - Sweet pear and (what I assume is) yuzu sweetness. I'm also picking up on some toffee maltiness in here as well. I really can't get anything else because of the sheer fruity sweetness.

Taste - Bitter floral hoppiness with a sweet yuzu kick. I'm also getting some toffee maltiness and light graininess. Aftertaste is mainly bitter floral hops and yeasts with a slight pear sweetness.

Much like the Sunken City, I was a bit skeptical and even a little put off by the aroma at first but it ends up being a solid, well put together pale ale that does just enough to stand out from the crowd. The yuzu in particular really gives this beer a nice dimension in terms of flavor. It's by no means complex but if you like Pale Ales, I think you'll appreciate what this beer has to offer.

Insight Hell Chicken - 8.5/10

Monday, December 7, 2015

Insight Sunken City Review

Name: Insight Sunken City
Style: Saison
ABV: 7.8%

Since I will not be doing the remainder of my Sam Adams Winter Seasonal pack due to it's abundance of empty bottles, I figured why not do some local beers? Recently Insight Brewing started releasing their beers in tallboy cans after being on draft for what seemed like forever. I've been sitting on a couple cans for the past week so I figured I might as well crack 'em open.

The first one is their Sunken City, a Saison that is brewed with Sauvignon Blanc white grapes. I'll admit it's an original, if not, unusual twist to what is otherwise a fairly traditional style.

Appearance - Mildly hazy bright yellow color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is surprisingly fizzy with only a semi-filmy retention and there isn't anything in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Belgian yeasts and light cloves upfront, followed by some Sauv Blanc white grape notes and pale malts. I'm also getting a very light boozy scent in here as well, along with a light floral hoppiness.

Taste - Once again, the Belgian yeasts are front and center with some stronger-than-the-nose clove notes. The middle of the palate is where those white grape notes shine through without being too wine-y along with some pale maltiness, which shows up in the back. As for the aftertaste, I'm getting some bitter notes and light floral hops.

I have to say that this is really good. I was a little off put by the nose at first because it reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc mixed with beer, but after drinking it, I have to say that using the Sauv Blanc grapes actually works in delivering an extra dimension to the flavor. If you see this, check it out!

Insight Sunken City - 8.5/10

Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale Review

Name: Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 5.9%
IBUs: 25

I was going to continue reviewing my Sam Adams Winter Seasonal pack but I had some friends over this past weekend. As a result, I decided to bring some beers, of which, these were my choice of beer. Kind of sad, since I didn't take notes on the Chocolate Bock as I thought it was probably the best beer that I've had from Sam Adams in a long time.

In any case, I have their Old Fezziwig Ale, which is a winter warmer style beer. Unlike the previous beer, which was added very recently to the Sam Adams line-up, this beer has been around for over 14 years, according to it's addition to Beer Advocate. As for the beer name itself, it comes from the character Fezziwig from the Charles Dickens' book (and perhaps unsurprisngly) A Christmas Carol.

Appearance - Dark brown color with mild amount of visible carbonation. Head is fairly foamy with a light khaki colored head, though there really isn't much in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Plums & chocolate malts and toffee sweetness upfront. This is followed by some light roasted barley notes and a hint of spices & cinnamon.

Taste - Doesn't deviate too much from the nose. You've got some chocolate malts & caramel, followed by some mild roastiness with some more cinnamon and allspice notes. Aftertaste consists of toffee sweetness and mild cinnamon notes.

I personally there should be a little smokiness here to add some dimension to the flavor. However as it stands, it's a good beer with a nice flavor. Not available as a standalone, at least to my knowledge, but it's one certainly worth checking out.

Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale - 8.5/10

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sam Adams Sparkling Ale Review

Name: Sam Adams Sparkling Ale
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.8%
IBUs: 20

You know winter seasonals wouldn't be complete without some offerings from Sam Adams. I recently came into possession of the Sam Adams Winter Sampler and with it are a few beers that I have never tried before (with the exception of the Boston Lager of course).

The first one I'll be looking at is a fairly new beer if Beer Advocate is to be believed and it is their Sparkling Ale, which is a Blonde Ale. I find it a bit odd considering that winter seasonal beers are usually dark whereas this one is light. Also looking back at the photo itself, I feel like I should've poured this into a flute instead of a standard pint glass. Oh well....

Appearance - Bright yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation with a fairly foamy white head and some mild lacing.

Aroma - Pale malts, bitter floral hoppiness & cereal grains (not necessarily in the adjunct sense though.) I'm also getting some light malted barley notes as well.

Taste - Floral hops & orange rind followed by some lemongrass, pale malts and malted barley. As for the aftertaste is pretty much all lemongrass with some light pale maltiness.

I really can't say this left too big of a lasting impression on me, but this is certainly a nice sessionable beer. It's certainly a different take on the blonde ale style and, for what it is, it manages to be quite drinkable.

Sam Adams Sparkling Ale - 8/10

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Avery Old Jubilation Ale Review

Name: Avery Old Jubilation Ale
Style: Old Ale
ABV: 8.3%
IBUs: 45

Here comes another Christmas beer courtesy of the Avery Brewing Company. For this review I'll be taking a look at their old jubilation ale. It's an Old Ale with an ABV of 8.3%. It is been quite a while since I've taken a look at anything from Avery and since I've never had any of their winter seasons before, I'm curious to see how this is.

Appearance - Very dark brown color that almost looks black in appearance until you hold it up to a light, in which you can see some brown tinge around the edges of the glass. The head itself is quite thin but with a fair amount of foam.

Aroma - Dark fruit and plum notes, with a mild amount of smoke, and some decent carmelized malts. I'm also getting some very light citrus and floral hoppiness.

Taste - Dark fruit notes and caramelized malts, followed by some smokiness in the middle, before finishing up with a chocolate and roasty finish with some light bitter happiness.

I can't say that this is my favorite winter beer by far but the flavor works and it doesn't have any issues  otherwise. I'd say if you're looking for a good winter beer and you have a couple extra bucks to spend, then this wouldn't be a bad choice. Otherwise, you're better off sticking with another winter beer that's a little cheaper.

Avery Old Jubilation Ale - 8/10

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Schell's Snowstorm (2015) Review

Name: Schell's Snowstorm (2015)
Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 6.2%

Alright everyone, the holidays are officially here so for the next several reviews, I'll be doing pretty much all winter seasonal beers. In order to keep myself from hating winter seasonal beers as a whole, I'll be breaking up the monotony with some beers that recently became available in the marketplace. So let's do this!

First up is a beer that has become an annual tradition on this website and that is August Schell's Snowstorm. Every year when this beer is released, the style changes along with it. Last year, it was a Grand Cru/Belgian Strong Ale and this year, Schell's is returning to Belgium with a Wallonian-Style Brown Ale. Wallonia is, of course, a region in southern Belgium.

Appearance - Clear dark brown color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head takes on a thin but foamy khaki color and the lacing left behind is mild but sticky.

Aroma - Chocolate malts, bubblegum & cotton candy notes. I'm getting some light floral hoppiness and butter toffee sweetness in here too

Taste - Strong Belgian yeasts and cloves on the front of the palate followed by some bubblegum notes. The middle of the palate possesses some solid chocolate maltiness, cotton candy and banana notes. The aftertastes consists mainly of Belgian yeasts & chocolate malts with a light floral hoppiness.

You know what, this is probably the best beer in the Snowstorm Series I've had yet. In fact, this is best beer I've had from Schell's since I had their Cave-Aged Barrel Aged Lager earlier this year. Needless to say, you absolutely need to check this out if you see this on store shelves. Since winter is just kicking off, finding this beer shouldn't be too much trouble. Cheers to the guys at Schell's for making yet another fine Snowstorm this year.

Schell's Snowstorm (2015) - 9.25/10

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Boulevard Tell-Tale Tart Review

Name: Boulevard Tell Tale Tart
Style: Wild Ale
ABV: 6.2%
IBU: 10

Before I start, I must apologize for getting sidetracked with those other reviews. You know how it is, you're reviewing some beers when, out of the blue, something catches your eye and you just have to have it. Oh yes, I'm sure you're all aware there are tons of beers coming out right now and I try to get around to all of them but sometimes that isn't the case. Oh well, it's a good problem to have I suppose.

Now then.....time for the final beer in the Boulevard Great Eight Variety Pack. This beer is actually a fairly new addition to the Boulevard line-up and it's a Wild Ale of all styles. I give to you Tell Tale Tart, which takes it's name from the Edgar Allen Poe story Tell Tale Tart. From what I gathered, this is also a year-round beer as part of their Smokestack Series.

Appearance - Fairly clear orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation/ There isn't really anything in terms of a head though, with the exception of a few moments where it is visible before fading away entirely. There also isn't any sort of lacing to speak of either.

Aroma - Citrus-apple tartness along with some pale & toffee maltiness. There's also some light rum raisin notes that I'm picking up on as well.

Taste - Strong raspberry tartness (not sourness) with some light citrus notes. I'm also getting some light pale maltiness along with some cereal grains. I am getting a tiny hint of that rum raisin that was present in the nose in the aftertaste along with some more raspberry tartness.

If there is any beer that I think would be a good introduction to sour beers, this would be on the top of my lists. It's tart and yet it isn't what I would consider to be sour, though that could change depending on how your taste buds are. At the same time, those who are fans of Wild Ales will find something to like about this beer. It may not do anything new in regards to the style but this is still a tasty beer.

Boulevard Tell Tale Tart - 8.5/10

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

LTD Sleepwalker Review

Name: LTD Sleepwalker
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 11.5%
IBUs: 135

A new brewery has graced its presence here on my website. Today I have Living The Dream Brewing, or LTD Brewing for short. They're a fairly new brewery based out of Hopkins, Minnesota and I believe they just recently started bottling their beers, which leads us to today's beer (more on that in a minute). LTD is one of those breweries that I heard about back when I lived in Duluth but I believe it wasn't until recently that they started distributing their beers in the form of bomber bottles in stores.

Which brings us to Sleepwalker, which is described by the brewery as a Triple IPA. Given the name of the brewery, it's not too surprising that some of their beer names have to do with sleeping or being asleep or in some other state of (un)conciousness. The label artwork is pretty cool, it kind of looks like a 6-foot tall zombie Yoda....what you don't see it too?

Appearance - Dark mildly hazy amber color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head is has a decent amount of width a quite foamy with some lacing that is on the mild side but has some sticky retention nevertheless.

Aroma - Very pungent & sweet Citra hop notes and a tiny bit of bitter hops. There is a very hefty caramel malt backbone though and some light grapefruit rind notes. I'm not getting any booziness yet in the nose yet though.

Taste - Big citrus & bitter hop notes on the front of the palate with a solid caramel malt backbone. Lots of bitter hoppiness towards the back end of the palate with some noticeable booziness and apple juice notes. Needless to say, the finish is quite bitter with just a mild amount of caramel maltiness.

I have mentioned a couple times before that I think Imperial IPAs that venture beyond the 10% ABV mark tend to be wobbly in terms of quality. Almost like the flip of a coin: They're either great or not great. This beer is the equivalent of a coin landing on it's side; It's got some really good things going for it, like being a big bold IPA that will certainly please those looking for a hop fix but the booziness is a bit too much for my liking.

In short, I like it but I don't love it. In this case, my advice would be try a bottle out for yourself and decide.

LTD Sleepwalker - 8/10

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Good Ass Beer Review

Name: Good Ass Beer
Brewed By: Rhinelander Brewing Company/Minhas Brewing Company
Style: Light Lager
ABV: 4.2%

I've got a beer for everyone today and it's one whose origins are interesting to say the least. Before I get into that, lets turn back the clock a few months. It all started back in July when I had moved back to the Twin Cities after living in Duluth for the past two years. Unbeknownst to myself, living in Duluth had kept me in the dark about some happenings that were going on in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, despite my constant visits to the Twin Cities & my daily readings of area news sources like the Star Tribune and City Pages.

As I was driving to work the Monday after I moved back, I was listening in to the Half Assed Morning Show on the 93X Radio Station when one of the prizes that was being given away was 20 cases of what they called "good ass beer." Naturally I assumed that they were giving away 20 cases of good craft beer like Stone, Indeed, etc. It wasn't until I got to work that day that I found out that the beer was literally called....Good Ass Beer.

So where did this Good Ass Beer come from? How did it go from being a virtual unknown beer to something that the local rock station was promoting the hell out of? Well, I did some digging around and I found out the Rhinelander Brewing Company in Rhinelander, Wisconsin makes this beer but they either do, or did, contract brew at Minhas Brewing Company in Monroe, Wisconsin, which is the 10th largest brewery in America. I also know Minhas does a lot of contract brewing along with City Brewing, which is based out of La Crosse, Wisconsin.

As for the beer, the can is very basic in design. It's plain white in color with just two logos which is show donkey with a bottle cap as a halo with the words "Have a Good Ass Time!" below and on the back of the can is the Surgeon General's warning and some nutritional facts; Who knew that this beer has almost one full gram of protein? The can reminds me of a lecture I had during my junior year Economics class. My professor told us that he was so broke that he bought a 6-pack of beer that was a white can that just said "Beer" in big, bold, black letters on the front and nothing else.

Appearance - Very pale yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head has a good amount of volume to it but there is no lacing left behind at all.

Aroma - Cereal grains, cardboard sweetness, light cooked veggies, some pale malts and a light hint of booziness. Nothing really much else here

Taste - Pale malts, cereal grains and that all? No more flavors? Not even an aftertaste? Nope, that is all I am getting here. There isn't even the appearance of a single hop, it's almost like they were not given an invite to the flavor party.

I think a better name would be Bland Ass Beer because that this what this pretty much is: bland. Now I can see myself drinking this when it's a hot summer day with temperatures reaching an excess of 100 Degrees but that is probably the ONLY time I would be drinking this beer.

In defense of this beer, the price point is very low at around $4 a six-pack and around $15 for a twenty-four pack. When you look at it from a economical point of view, you are getting your money's worth so I guess I could recommend this if you're on a budget. And.......I suppose if you are looking to ween yourself off of beers like Michelob Golden Light or Bud Light, then this would be a good beer to start with but that's pretty much all I can say that is good about this beer. If you have a couple extra dollars to spare, buy yourself a better six-pack.

Good Ass Beer - 4/10

Boulevard Imperial Stout Review

Name: Boulevard Imperial Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.5%
IBUs: 63

Now onto the second to last beer in the Boulevard Brewing Great Eight Variety Pack is their Imperial Stout aged in whiskey barrels. I was originally going to call this "Boulevard Smokestack Imperial Stout Review", but I discovered that this whiskey barrel aged version of the Imperial Stout is, in fact, their regular Imperial Stout, even when you consider that they have a couple other Imperial Stouts out there, one of which I have already reviewed on this blog.

Appearance - Pitch black with a foamy brown head with some excellent lacing retention.

Aroma - Strong whiskey & oakiness, followed by a solid chocolate malt backbone and some roasted barley. Of course, I'm also getting some mild vanilla sweetness and a hint of booziness.

Taste - Woo-wee! The whiskey is strong with this one on the front of the palate, along with some potent oakiness. Towards the middle & afterwards is where you start to see that strong chocolate maltiness, roasted barley and vanilla sweetness. The aftertaste is more of that whisky booziness and oak with some light roastiness and hop bitterness. There's also a light encompassing smokiness that adds some dimension to the flavor.

If you like barrel-aged beers, this beer is for you. Some may find the whiskey aspect of the flavor to be a bit too overpowering for their liking, but when your beer is in high in alcohol content like this beer, it's to be expected. As for me, the whiskey aspect of the flavor is a bit too much of a good thing for my liking and this is coming from someone who loves barrel aged beers. However, everything else is just fine in terms of flavor.

Boulevard Imperial Stout - 8/10

Friday, November 27, 2015

Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale Review

Name: Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
Style: Saison
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 38

Next up in the Boulevard Great Eight Sampler Pack is the Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, which is a Saison. As you may have guessed from the name, it comes from the brewery's number 7 fermenter tank which, according to the brewery, is where all their Belgian-Style ales come together perfectly.

Appearance - Very hazy orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is nice and foamy and the lacing is sticky and abundant.

Aroma - Very Belgian yeast forward with a hefty amount of citrus & floral hops. I'm also getting some peppery aroma along with some pale malts and light booziness.

Taste - Belgian yeasts, cloves and cracked peppers, followed by some mild citrus and floral hoppiness. The back of the flavor has some of that pale maltiness & bitter hoppiness. The aftertaste is light citrus/bitter hops, and Belgian yeasts. Throughout the flavor, there is a mild but noticeable encompassing booziness. However it blends together with everything else nicely.

Much like The Calling before it, Tank 7 is an excellent bee. It also holds the distinction of where the flavor actually benefits from having a boozy taste as opposed to hurting it, so kudos to Boulevard for pulling that off. So if you see this on it's own or in 4 packs, this one is certainly with checking out.

Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale - 9/10

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Boulevard The Calling Review

Name: Boulevard The Calling
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 75

I recently came into possession of the Great Eight variety pack from Boulevard Brewing and it contains four of their highly renowned beers. The first beer I will be looking at is The Calling, which is an Imperial IPA. Why is it called The Calling, you ask? Well the brewery so happens to give us a reason why it is called such:

The Calling is an undeniable IPA we were driven to make. It's our tribute to like-minded dreamers, adventurous spirits, and glass half-full optimists. It's also our most heavily hopped beer ever, bursting forth with unmistakable tropical fruit and pine hop aromas and flavor supported with a slightly sweet malt character, tapering to a crisp, dry finish. Heed your call and enjoy.

Appearance - Dark hazy orange color with a thin but foamy head. The lacing retention here is also pretty good as well.

Aroma - Pungent citrus and grapefruit notes upfront. I'm also getting some pale & toffee malts, particularly towards the middle, along with some surprisingly prominent yeastiness.

Taste - Rich citrus & mango notes with some grapefruit rind. Some bitter hops towards the back end of the palate, of which there is some moderate toffee maltiness along with some lighter pale malts and mild yeastiness. I'm also getting some light apple notes, mainly in the aftertaste.

This is a fantastic beer. It's nice and fruity yet it has an excellent malt backbone to help level things out. Be careful though because looks can deceiving as it doesn't taste like an Imperial IPA should, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. Myself? I love it and you should too.

Boulevard The Calling - 9/10

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tallgrass Bourbon-Barrel Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat Review

Name: Tallgrass Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 20

Recently Tallgrass Brewing has been releasing some limited edition beers using the Explorer Series moniker. Today I've got their Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat, which is a bourbon-barrel aged version of their existing Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat, a beer that is also a variation of their regular Buffalo Sweat.

However there is a bit of a twist here. In addition to being barrel-aged, this beer also has some cinnamon thrown in to give the flavor a bit of an extra twist. Personally, cinnamon wouldn't have been my first choice in terms of things to add to this beer but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Appearance - Pitch black color with a foamy khaki colored head. In terms of lacing, however, there isn't really anything here.

Aroma - Oatmeal, chocolate malts, vanilla and lactose notes on the front of the nose, followed by some fairly strong oak notes and cinnamon spiciness. Despite my earlier statements, everything blends together quite nicely and, dare I say, it smells like a good beer for the holidays. Interestingly enough, I'm not picking up on any kind of heavy roastiness.

Taste - Cinnamon & vanilla start things off while being backed up oatmeal notes, chocolate malts & lactose. On the back end of the palate is where you get a tiny hint of roastiness followed by more chocolate malts, oakiness, & vanilla with a slight cinnamon zing at the very end.

I have to say I enjoyed this quite a bit. It has a nice vibrant & varied flavor profile and everything ends up blending together quite nicely. If this is what the Explorer Series has been up to so far, I can't wait to see what other offerings come of it. I've been told availability is limited on this beer so be sure to snag it if you so happen to stumble across it.

Tallgrass Bourbon-Barrel Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat - 9/10

Friday, November 20, 2015

Shmaltz He'Brew Death of a Contract Brewer Review

Name: Shmaltz He'Brew Death of a Contract Brewer
Style: Black IPA
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 70 (supposedly)

Up until recently, Shmaltz Brewing did all of their brewing at other facilities via contract brewing for the past 18 1/2 years until they recently opened up a place to call their own in Clifton Park, New York. To commemorate this event, they released a new beer called Death of a Contract Brewer, a black IPA made with 7 different types of hops and 7 different types of malts.

You may have noticed that everything in this beer revolves around the number 7. It's not just a coincidence, this is actually intentional. There is a Jewish tradition called Shiva, meaning "Seven" in Hebrew. For seven days, family mourns the loss of a family member who passed away. The tradition also says that it is customary for visitors to bring offerings of food to the family of the deceased. Since the brewery had recently stopped contract brewing, this beer was brewed to acknowledge this event and also to turn a new chapter in the life of the brewery. Even during my interview with Jeremy Cowan, we discussed this beer for a bit, which is one of the reasons I decided to grab it while I was at the store the other day

Appearance - Very Dark brown that almost comes across as completely black. The beer itself takes on a dark crimson color along the edges when held up to a light. The head is pretty thin for the most part and has a light brown color to it, along with some moderate lacing.

Aroma - Strong bitter piney hops with notes of grapefruit rinds. Towards the back I'm getting some of that roasted barley scent and a good amount of chocolate maltiness & coffee grounds that gives this beer sort of a chocolate orange aroma.

Taste - Interestingly enough, it's very roasty in the front of the palate along with some of that chocolate maltiness. In the middle though is where I'm starting to get some of that potent bitter hoppiness, which lingers throughout the rest of the flavor. On the back end of the palate, that hop bitterness is joined by some coffee grounds and mild grapefruit notes, all of which linger on long after you take a sip. The hoppiness becomes a lot more prominent as the beer warms up to the point where it takes equal footing with the malty & roasty elements of the flavor.

I'll be honest, I was all ready to call this more of a Black Ale rather than a Black IPA, but as I let it warm up, that hoppiness really starts to shine through and gives the overall flavor a much needed balance. Even if this were a Black Ale, I still think this is a great beer to commemorate the transition from contract to having a place to call your own.

Shmaltz He'Brew Death of a Contract Brewer - 9/10

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Clown Shoes Flight of the Angry Beast Review

Name: Clown Shoes Flight of the Angry Beast
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 10.75%

Another new Clown Shoes beer has arrived on store shelves, but this is an interesting concoction this one is. According to the brewery, Flight of the Angry Beast is a mix of their Blaecorn Unidragon Imperial Stout, Undead Party Crasher Imperial Stout & Billionaire Barleywine. All of these beers have been aged in either bourbon or scotch barrels.

Since this is a mix of 3 different beers, I initially had no idea what to classify this as so I'll go along with Beer Advocate's classification of an American Strong Ale.  I'll be totally honest too, I have never been into beer cocktails and the idea does sound like one but on a much....grander scale.

Appearance - Black color with a mild amount of visible carbonation climbing up the sides of the glass. Head is dark khaki in color and quite thin in appearance. As for the lacing, it is very sparse and barely there.

Aroma - Strong chocolate malt, whiskey and vanilla notes, paired with some mild citrus and grapefruit hoppiness. Also some mild roasted barley and oak notes towards the end

Taste - Strong chocolate malts and vanilla once again upfront, plus I'm picking up on some peated scotch and whiskey notes. That grapefruit and citrus hops are much stronger in the back and more present than in nose. Aftertaste is a mix of oak, bitter hops, vanilla and roastiness. It's worth noting too that the barrel aged aspects of the flavor (scotch, bourbon) are quite powerful here

There's obviously more Imperial Stout going on here than Barleywine...but I like this. Yes, the mixture of two strong but polarizing styles is somewhat bizzare and will turn some people off to this beer but if you're looking for a good variety of flavors, then I would highly recommend checking this beer out. Plus if you enjoy barrel aged beers, you will find plenty to love here.

Clown Shoes Flight of the Angry Beast - 9.25/10

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lagunitas Doppel Sticky Review

Name: Lagunitas Doppel Sticky
Style: Altbier
ABV: 7.7%
IBUs: 66

The last time I had anything from Lagunitas, which was about a year ago according to this website, the brewery was it's own independent-owned self. Well, just a couple of months ago, 50% of the company was sold to Heineken for around roughly $500 million dollars. Many have criticized this move as selling out, considering the founder, Tom Magee's past criticism of big beer as a whole. The reason he gave for this choice was that he wanted to take the brand to a bigger, global scale.

Myself? As long as they continue making beer, I'm going to drink it; Which brings us to today's beer: Doppel Sticky. When I first picked this beer up, I thought it was a Doppelbock. However imagine my surprise when I found out that this was, in fact, an Altbier. Why put the word "Doppel" in your beer name when it's not actually a Doppelbock. This is the equivalent of calling a beer a Pale Ale when it's actually a Kolsch, which totally has happened by the way,

Appearance - Fairly hazy bright orange color with no visible carbonation. The head is nice and foamy with a slightly off-white color that looks slightly orange in color with some pretty abundant lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Piney hops mixed with some hefty pale & toffee maltiness. There's also a bit of resiny bitterness in here as well.

Taste - Fairly strong bitter piney hops upfront with that toffee and pale malt backbone providing a great deal of support. I'm picking up on some yeastiness and a dark caramel sweetness on the back end of the palate. The aftertaste is a mix of dank hops and toffee maltiness.

I'll be completely honest, nothing about this beer screams "Altbier" to me, bearing in mind that while Altbiers aren't as familiar of a style to me as IPAs are, I certainly know the traditional flavor profile of what an Altbier should be.

This beer comes across as a more of an English-style IPA more than anything else, but I still like this beer and I would drink it again should it be offered to me. No it's not what I'd consider to be an Altbier but it's still got a good flavor profile and that's the important thing.

Lagunitas Doppel Sticky - 8/10

Monday, November 16, 2015

Boulevard Collaboration No. 5 Tropical Pale Ale Review

Name: Boulevard Collaboration No. 5 Tropical Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: 50

Boulevard Brewing recently released the fifth iteration of their Collaboration Series. This time, they have made a beer with Cigar City Brewing based out of Tampa, FL. Keeping in spirit with the latter brewery being in a sub-tropical environment, they have released a beer that has been described as a Tropical Pale Ale. Since this is my first time looking at any of Boulevard's Collaboration beers, I'm very curious to see how it turns out.

Appearance - Fairly hazy orange color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head is quite thin in appearance but there is some mild lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Mango, tangerine & pineapple sweetness upfront. I'm also getting some grapefruit notes in the middle with a nice toffee maltiness. It's a very fruity smelling beer to say the least.

Taste - Very Fruity. Mango, tangerine & pineapple sweetness. I'm also getting some moderate toffee maltiness with some grapefruits and some mild yeastiness. It's not overly hoppy but just really fruity tasting.

In the end it comes off as a bit too sweet for my liking. I mean the tropical fruitiness of the overall flavor is  here but I feel there is a bit too much of it going on here. Still for all intents in purposes, it's certainly worth a look for those even remotely interested in if you're looking for something overly sweet. As for me, it's not my cup of tea.

Boulevard Collaboration No. 5 Tropical Pale Ale - 7/10

Friday, November 13, 2015

Clown Shoes Ride The Wendigo Review

Name: Clown Shoes Ride The Wendigo
Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 11%

Clown Shoes loves to show love to its target markets every so often, which come in the form of state-exclusive beers. Earlier this year, I reviewed Bill vs. The Mosquitoes, which was a Minnesota-exclusive beer from the brewery. Now it's a few months later and they have dropped their latest MN-only beer in the form of Ride The Wendigo, a scotch ale that has been aged for 10 months in Pierre Ferrand Cognac barrels. These are the same brand of barrels used for their Pierre Ferrand Billionaire Barleywine.

The label itself depicts a lass clad in tartan riding through Minneapolis' Sculpture Garden fighting off mutated badgers whilst riding atop a hulking creature known as a Wendigo. So what the hell is a Wendigo? Well the ever reliable Wikipedia has kindly provided us with a description:

The Wendigo is part of the traditional belief systems of various Buffalo people in the northern United States and Canada, most notably the Ojibwe and Saulteaux, the Cree, the Naskapi, and the Innu people. lthough descriptions varied somewhat, common to all these cultures was the conception of Wendigos as malevolent, cannibalistic, supernatural beings (manitous) of great spiritual power. They were strongly associated with the winter, the north, and coldness, as well as with famine and starvation

Basil Johnston, an Ojibwe teacher and scholar from Ontario, gives one description of how wendigos were viewed: The Wendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Wendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody. Unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, the Wendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption.

That relates to Minnesota culture.....I guess? I can understand Itasca Loonidragon and the Mosquitoes know what, let's just roll with it and check out the beer!

Appearance - Very dark brown color with a red tinge along the sides of the glass. There really isn't too much in terms of visible carbonation, along the the head and lacing, the former of which fades away completely a few moments after the initial pour.

Aroma - Strong smoked peated scotch notes with some caramel maltiness. I'm getting some potent oakiness here along with some vanilla notes and an encompassing smokiness.

Taste - Pungent dark fruit notes like plums paired with some vanilla sweetness upfront, followed by some oak and peated scotch. On the back of the palate is where some of those plum notes start to reappear along with that peated scotch flavor. It's worth noting that it has an overall very rich quality to it. The aftertaste, however, is made up of rum raisins and oak.

I haven't had a bad beer from Clown Shoes yet and this beer continues that trend. The barrel aging aspect does feel a bit underwhelming for what it is but it doesn't take away from the fact that it is quite tasty. It's a nice, rich and robust scotch ale that any seasoned fan of the style will no doubt fall in love with.

Clown Shoes Ride The Wendigo - 9/10

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Off Color Scurry Review

Name: Off Color Scurry
Style: Altbier
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs: 18

Off Color Brewing, a brewery at which one of the owners is a former employee of Goose Island, recently arrived on store shelves here in Minnesota. I recently came into possession of one of their offerings after it caught my eye.

I give to you Scurry, an Altbier that is brewed with molasses, oats and honey. I was initially told that this was an ESB but I knew better simply by looking at what's inside the bottle that it was most certainly not an ESB. Plus the combination of ingredients used seemed so random yet so tempting I just had to try a bottle out for myself.

Appearance - Pitch black with tinges of brown when held up to the light. The head takes on a khaki-colored look while maintaining a thin filmy appearance. There's also no lacing to be had here.

Aroma - Caramel malts, oats, and some sweet honey; Just like the label says. I'm also getting some moderate floral hoppiness and even some light yeasty notes. I am getting a hint of molasses here, but it is overshadowed by the rest of the nose.

Taste - Caramel malts and sweet honey, mixed in with some roasted barley and oatmeal notes. I am also picking up on some chocolate sweetness, mainly on the back end of the palate with some light honey and oatmeal flavors. Despite the roastiness, it isn't even in the finish, which itself is quite dry save for some mild molasses bitterness and light floral hoppiness.

The flavor profile, while not overwhelming, is interesting enough to the point where it is definitely worth a look. My only complaint about this beer is that it is a tad high for the asking price, so buy this as a single bottle first (like yours truly) before deciding to spend money on a 4 pack.

Off Color Scurry - 8/10

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Summit Old Braggard Review

Name: Summit Old Blaggard
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 10.1%
IBUs: 50

After years of waiting on my part, Summit is finally taking off the boxing gloves and strapping on a pair a brass knuckles; That's right, they've finally released a Barleywine called Old Blaggard. The latest release as part of the Union Series, which uses brand new hop and malt varieties, this is described as an English-style Barleywine by the brewery.

Sure you have the great & interesting releases as part of their Unchained Series (Particularly the Old 152, Biere De Garde & the Hop Silo) but I have always yearned for the brewery to create something that pushes the boundaries of what they normally do. To date, this is the strongest beer the brewery has ever made, clocking in at a 10.1%. Even the web page for this beer has a warning next to the ABV that says "Careful, laddie." Personally I am quite excited to try this out because for years I have been saying that Summit needs to make a beer that they have never released before.

Appearance - Clear mahogany color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head is white in color and on the thin side but some good filmy retention, along with the lacing which is also quite abundant as well

Aroma - Strong caramel & toffee malty sweetness upfront followed by some mild but potent floral hoppiness. As it warms up, I'm getting some light plum & dark fruit notes.

Taste - Much like the nose, the flavor is very malt forward with some caramel & toffee maltiness. This is followed by some surprisingly strong chocolate sweetness and mild-but-still potent floral hoppiness. As for the aftertaste, that's where I'm picking up on that plum dark fruitiness. There is a light boozy characteristic in here, but it does not hinder the flavor by any means. Needless to say, the flavor reflects the aroma perfectly.

It may have been a long time coming, but this beer is an exemplary example of the English Barleywine style. It's got malts & hops in all the right places and it strikes a perfect balance that is ideal for the style. It may have taken a while to perfect but Summit absolutely nailed it here. It's beers like this that make their Union Series (and Unchained Series) such delights to try out with each new release. If you see this on the store shelf, you need to try this out. Summit's first venture into the 10%+ ABV territory is a good one for sure!

Summit Old Braggard - 9.25/10

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lift Bridge Farm Girl Review

Name: Lift Bridge Farm Girl
Style: Saison
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 19

I've recently noticed that my reviews of Minnesota-based beers has become somewhat sparse, which happens when you have a good selection to choose from. So I took it upon myself to pick up a couple of beers from Lift Bridge Brewing. One of these beers is their Farm Girl Saison.

I recall taking a tour of their brewery a couple years back and I remember the tour guide telling me that Farm Girl was their highest selling beer and considered by many to be their flagship beer. Makes sense when I think about how often I see it in both 6 & 12 packs in pretty much every store I see. I remember when just 4 years ago, this was an absolute pain to find because the stores literally couldn't keep it in stock, at least the ones I visited.

Appearance - Very cloudy pale yellow color with a very high amount of visible carbonation. The head looks foamy at first, but in all reality, it's quite fizzy and fades away after just a couple of moments almost entirely.

Aroma - Strong pilsner malts paired with some potent grassy notes. I'm also getting some mild Belgian Yeasts and clove notes, along with just a light hint of cardboard & booziness. Those last two may sound bad, but in all reality, they're not.

Taste - Belgian Yeasts & pilsner malts upfront, followed by some moderate floral hoppiness, cloves and some earthy grassiness. Aftertaste is surprisingly dry save for some more mild floral hoppiness and light grass notes.

It's a little too earthy for my liking but I can see why this is so popular with Minnesota beer drinkers, particularly those who are really into imports from places like Belgium or Germany. The most important thing is that it's inoffensive and a solid Saison at the end of the day.

Lift Bridge Farm Girl - 8/10

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Stillwater Vacuum Readymade Review

Name: Stillwater Vacuum Readymade
Style: Black Ale/Smoked Black IPA
ABV: 8%

It's been a couple of months since I've looked at anything from Stillwater Artisanal Ales so I figured why not look at something that is somewhat more on the niche side, a Smoked Black IPA. I give to you Vacuum Readymade, a name that looks like something you'd see on poorly translated Chinese packaging that one would find at a 99 cent store.

Which begs the following questions, why is there a picture of a handheld vacuum on the label? More importantly, why call it that name? Never fear, for Stillwater has kindly (sort of) told us why this is the case:

"The layout of the label reinforces the absurdity by recalling both early promotional materials from Braun and Alfred Stieglitz's photo of Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain".

..................I have no idea what that even means so rather than focus on it more, I'll just nod my head in agreement and move on to the beer.

Appearance - Pitch black color with no visible carbonation. The head starts out about 2 fingers in width with a khaki colored head. After which it settles to a filmy half-finger in width and there's some good lacing to be had here.

Aroma - Roasted barley and chocolate malts upfront, followed immediately by some pungent bitter hoppiness & mild smokiness. I am getting a hint of toffee sweetness in the back too.

Taste - Moderate chocolate malts, followed by some mild encompassing smokiness and a big roasted barley profile, after which the bitter hoppiness starts to poke its head through. On the back end of the palate is some more roasted barley with an aftertaste of mild smokiness and strong coffee grains.

I'm not sure where the idea of calling this a black IPA came from because I feel this is more like a cross between a Black Ale & a Baltic Porter. At the same time though, I feel that it doesn't quite reach the potential it could from a flavor standpoint, like you know this beer was meant to be awesome but it isn't quite there yet; It just isn't working for me for some reason. I'd say buy a single bottle of this and decide for yourself because 4-packs of this are a tad pricey.

Stillwater Vacuum Readymade - 7.5/10

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Foster's Lager Review

Name: Foster's Lager
Style: American Adjunct Lager
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 12

Every once in a while, the wife and I will go out to eat and we alternate between where we eat. While I'm more inclined to local eating establishments, my wife usually opts for chain restaurants and one of those is Outback Steakhouse. One of the beers that is always on the menu is Foster's Lager, since it is an Australian restaurant after all and Foster's is Australian for beer after all....or is it?

Despite the fact it got its start in Australia by two American brothers, the brand is now owned by SABMiller & it's brewed almost exclusively in Great Britain which, ironically enough, set up Australia as a penal colony for criminals because the jails of England were overflowing with the low-life of society. So to any of you who drink a Foster's at Outback, you're pretty much drinking the beer of Imperialists (not really.)

Enough history, time to talk about the beer. Let's get started with the can. Aside from the large can, called the "Oil Can," there's a bunch of artwork. You've got things like boomerangs, kangaroos and palm trees; no koalas though. However since this is an "Australian" beer, there's a bunch of "Australian" sayings along the sides. Sayings like:

  • Toss me a tinny
  • Oi, Oi, Oi
  • No wuckers (worries), mate
  • Grab a feed
Judging from the artwork, one can safely conclude that this is a totally accurate reflection of Australian culture and absolutely does not reinforce stereotypes of any kind. 

Appearance - Very clear yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation. It's got a nice foamy head that has some pretty good retention but I'm getting nothing in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Cereal grains, cardboard & pale malts. There's just a smidgen of hoppiness in here but it's barely noticeable. Also getting some light booziness as well.

Taste - Sane goes for the flavor. You've got those cereal grains & cardboard notes with some pale maltiness. The hoppiness that I picked up on in the nose is nowhere to be found here and the aftertaste is primarily just that pale malt/cardboard sweetness.

Well, I'm kind of shocked. This is actually not as bad as I had expected it to be and it's surprisingly inoffensive.. With that said, it's fairly unremarkable at the same time. Yes, it has none of that skunky taste or aroma that you see in beers like Corona or Heineken but this isn't something that I would go out of my way for again. 

Foster's Lager - 5/10

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New Belgium Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale Review (Collaboration with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream)

Name: New Belgium Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale
Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 14

I know I said that my reviews will be primarily on the weekends and holidays but that doesn't mean I won't sneak one in during the weekdays every once in a while. Since I have nothing going on tonight, I figured now would be a good time to look at something that recently caught my eye.

I'm talking about a new beer from New Belgium that they made in collaboration with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. Since I'm a huge can of Ben & Jerry's, I just had to check this one out. The beer itself is a brown ale, or more specifically, a salted caramel brownie brown ale. I recall the brewery doing a beer like this last year for their Lips of Faith series except that one was an Imperial Stout. I had it on tap and I thought it was pretty good so I'm hoping the quality of this beer is just as good as that one.

Appearance - Clear dark brown color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is fairly foamy with an off-white appearance and the lacing is on the abundant side.

Aroma - Chocolate malts and vanilla followed by some moderate lactose notes. I am getting some caramel sweetness and even a light bit a saltiness here too. It comes off as almost milk stout-like. Considering that this was more than likely made with ice cream, I'm not terribly surprised by this.

Taste - Chocolate and vanilla once again are the stars here. The caramel & saltiness show up on the back end of the palate and make up the bulk of the aftertaste. For those of you wondering, the salt is very mild and gives this beer a nice kick.

I can't say this beer blew me away like I had hoped but it is a nice, solid brown ale. If by chance the two companies were to do another collaboration in the future, based on what I tasted today, I would for sure check it out again. So yeah, it's worth checking out and is priced the same as the other New Belgium offerings.

New Belgium Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale - 8/10

Friday, October 30, 2015

Half Acre GoneAway Review

Name: Half Acre GoneAway
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7%

So now I'm on the last leg of my Chicago beer mail and what a ride it has been so far. My last beers I will be reviewing come from the Half Acre Brewing Company, a brewery which I have some degree of familiarity with but most of the beers I got from them I have never had before.

Starting things off is their GoneAway IPA. This used to go by the name of Senita IPA but it had a name change within the past 2 years. Even when it was called Senita, I never actually had it in that form either. It's former description as Senita calls it a "western charged firecracker", which leads me to believe that this is a West Coast IPA

Appearence - Fairly hazy bright yellow with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. Not really much in terms of a head save for a thin white film but the lacing is pretty good.

Aroma - Pungent citrus hop sweetness accent with some floral hoppiness. I'm also picking up on some light lavender notes with some grapefruit rinds and a solid pale malt backbone. I'm really enjoying the smell of this!

Taste - Rich citrus & floral hops with some lavender notes. Back end of the palate has some more citrus hop sweetness and a big pale malt backbone and some grapefruit rinds. Aftertaste is fairly sweet with some citrus hoppiness and a slight hint of hop bitterness.

If you like your IPAs sweet and fruity, this is the beer for you. I'll admit that I expected a lot more bitterness in the flavor but the lack thereof isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, why does it need to be bitter in the first place? Frankly, I like this beer just the way it is and that's the important thing. If you have access to this beer, I would highly recommend seeking this out.

Half Acre GoneAway - 9/10

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pipeworks War Bird Review

Name: Pipeworks War Bird
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
ABV: 4.5%

Confession Time: Last Friday when I got home from a long day of work and dealing with other things, I decided to rent Mad Max: Fury Road for my viewing pleasure. During the course of the film, I mistakenly opened my bottle of Pipeworks' Scarlett Betta and drank it without taking any notes or even a photo. Upon making this realization, I kicked myself for this mistake and vowed to pay more attention (and just stick with Summit EPA during movie time.)

So because of this, we're on to the last Pipeworks beer in the Chicago beer mail; Hang in there as I have a few more to review. This is War Bird, Pipeworks' Session Pale Ale, with some awesome artwork to back it up. Not really much else to say about this, aside from let's see how this is.

Appearance - Extremely hazy yellow color with a very foamy white head that has some excellent retention. The lacing, however, is spotty at best.

Aroma - Sweet citrus hops with a light hint of bitterness. I'm also picking up of some light pale maltiness & cloves with a hint of yeast.

Taste - Moderate citrus and bitter hops upfront with some light pale maltiness and some yeasts that come off as cracker-like. The finish, of course, is fairly dry save for a bittersweet citrus hoppiness. The cloves, interestingly enough, are nowhere to be found here.

Session ales are not usually at the top of my list as far as go to styles save for when I'm out and about. With that said this one is pretty good, but it's definitely not the best session ale I've ever had. However if you need something to sip on while you're out with friends and will be driving home by yourself, this will do just nicely.

Pipeworks War Bird - 8/10

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pipeworks Blood of the Unicorn Review

Name: Pipeworks Blood of the Unicorn
Style: Amber/Red Ale
ABV: 6.5%

I apologize for the lack of posts these past few days since I have been busy with work, grad school and other family matter but I'm back and ready to continue looking at all of these Chicago beers. The next one I will be looking at is another beer from Pipeworks Brewing called Blood of the Unicorn, which is described by the brewery as a Hoppy Red Ale.

Appearance - Dark & mildly hazy amber red color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is fairly foamy and the lacing is quite abundant with some good retention.

Aroma - Very toffee & caramel malt forward followed by a some strong piney & citrus hoppiness. I've had many beers in my time, but the smell is almost identical to that of Surly Furious. I wish I were making this up but that is literally the first thing i think of in this case.

Taste - Toffee & caramel malts paired with a robust piney and citrus hop profile make up the bulk of the palate for the most part with some grapefruit sweetness peeking it's head through in the back half. The aftertaste is basically more caramel maltiness with some mild grapefruit & bitter hop notes.

For those of you who are familiar with Surly Furious, this tastes pretty much identical to that with the only difference being that there's a slight hint of grapefruit. However, I don't necessarily believe that this is a bad thing. People who have this may be quick to call this an IPA but either way you look at it, what you have here is a solid beer that is worthy of your attention.

Pipeworks Blood of the Unicorn - 8.5/10