Thursday, April 30, 2015

Stillwater Artisanal Stateside Saison Review

Name: Stillwater Artisanal Stateside Saison
Style: Saison
ABV: 6.8%

Tonight I've got a beer from the classily named Stillwater Artisanal Ales based out of Baltimore, Maryland. It's a brand that I've seen on the shelves before and have heard about in the past but have never seemed to try it out. Thankfully that changes tonight!

I've got their Stateside Saison, and with it is a beer label that just screams Ed Hardy. I mean seriously, I half expect to see this style of logo on the t-shirt of a college frat boy rolling with his buds at a nightclub in downtown Los Angeles.

Appearance - Very hazy yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head, while foamy during the initial pour, is on the thinner side with a filmy appearance and the lacing is quite abundant and has some excellent retention.

Aroma - Right off the bat, I'm picking up on some Belgian Yeast and clove notes. However, I'm also getting some mild passion fruit notes and floral hops in here, along with some pale maltiness. The fruitiness in particular seems to be more prevalent when I move away from the glass itself, but it could also be in my head.

Taste - Strong Belgian Yeasts and cloves on the front of the palate before following up with some surprisingly strong bitter hoppiness and light floral hoppiness. The malt profile teeters between pale and pilsner, and there is just a hint of earthy/grassiness here as well.

I think I would've liked this more if it had more of the fruity characteristics that I picked up on in the nose. However the flavor still holds up very well, and while it doesn't match up with what the nose leads you on to, it doesn't take away from the fact that this is a good beer. If this is available in your neck of the woods, I would say that this is worth giving a try.

Stillwater Artisanal Stateside Saison - 8.25/10

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Busch Light Review

Name: Busch Light
Brewed by: Anheuser-Busch 
Style: Light Lager
ABV: 4.1%

I've mentioned before that my review of Busch Signature Copper Lager is, and remains to this day, my most viewed post of all time. So the other day I asked myself the following question: What does Busch Light taste like? didn't quite go down like that, in all honesty. What really happened is that I was at the store and noticed that this was on sale, so I figured why not try it out. After all, what's the worse that could happen?

So we're looking at Busch Light, and one could argue that it's the parent of Busch Signature Copper Lager. Neverminding the fact that sales for Busch Light have been on the decline over the past couple of years and that it takes its name from its parent company Anheuser-Busch, there really isn't a whole lot to say about this beer

Appearance - A very pale yellow color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is quite thin & soapy that sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies and there isn't any lacing to speak of.

Aroma - Pale malts, adjunct grains, light booziness and maybe just a light touch of floral hoppiness. It smells just like I'd expect an adjunct lager to smell like, for lack of a better term. Of course, there is that skunky smell that starts to gain momentum as it warms up

Taste - Pale malt sweetness on the front of the palate with cereal & adjunct grains in the back. I wish I could say there is more flavor (or do I?) but that's pretty much all there is. It is, after all, a light beer.

Hoo boy, this is quite awful! It's devoid of pretty much any good flavors yet it takes on this offensive skunky smell when it warms up. The only thing that "saves" this beer is that the skunky smell doesn't transfer over to the taste, but even that is not enough to save this beer from its blandness. My advice would be to spend an extra dollar on a bomber of Sierra Nevada or New Belgium, you'll get much more of your money's worth that way.

Busch Light - 2/10

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lucette The Farmer's Daughter Review

Name: Lucette The Farmer's Daughter
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.8%

On a recent excursion to the Twin Cities, I decided to grab a few beers that I don't yet have immediate access to. One of those beers I'm starting off with is The Farmer's Daughter by Lucette Brewing Company, based out of Menominee, Wisconsin. It is described as a Blonde Ale brewed with spices. With the exception of limited releases, the beers all come in 16 oz Tallboy......sorry.....Tallgirl cans.

Appearance - Moderately hazy orange color with a very light amount of visible carbonation. The head is about one finger in width and there's not really much in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Orange peels and yeasts start things off in the nose. I'm also picking up on some light pale maltiness, some mild spice notes and even a touch of honey sweetness along with some light hoppiness as well.

Taste - Starts off with some orange peel and honey notes before it gives away to a mild hoppiness and yeastiness. The spices in here are also fairly subdued as well but it fits the overall flavor profile quite nicely.

Not only does it smell awesome but it also has some good flavors to back it up. If you're looking for a good sessionable beer that has some good taste, then this is definitely worth checking out if it's available in your area.

Lucette The Farmer's Daughter - 8.5/10

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Brewery Ommegang Three Eyed Raven Review

Name: Brewery Ommegang Three-Eyed Raven
Style: Saison
ABV: 7.2%

Two years ago when I first started this blog, the very first beer I reviewed was the Iron Throne Blonde Ale from Brewery Ommegang. Since that review, they have gone on to make four additional beers in the Game of Thrones Series with this being the 5th one. I give to you the Three-Eyed Raven, which is described by Ommegang as a Dark Saison.

I would explain the meaning behind the name but.......well let's just say I would spend more time trying to explain the name rather than the actual beer itself. My advice in this case would be to watch the show. Speaking of which.....

In my very first review, I made the statement that one day I would get myself into the show. Well, that happened and now I'm hooked on the show. So when I saw this on the shelves last week, I just had to try this out.

Appearance - Black with a slight brown tinge on the bottom of the glass with no visible carbonation to speak of. The signature foamy head that I've come to expect from Ommegang, which takes on a khaki-color, is here and with it is some very abundant lacing.

Aroma - Some potent Belgian yeasts & clove spiciness on the front of the nose paired with some roasted barley and chocolate notes. I'm also picking up on some moderate floral hoppiness and a light plum-like scent.

Taste - Belgian Yeasts and cloves are the strong aspects of the flavor here, but the roasted barley & chocolate malts play a big role in balancing out the overall flavor with the moderate floral hoppiness rounding things out at the back of the palate. The Belgian yeasts in particular also linger throughout the flavor and provide some much needed support overall.

I'm a bit saddened to see that this is only a one-time offering from Ommegang because I found this to be a very robust and flavorful beer. Plus it isn't too often that you see a dark saison save for an offering from a couple of major breweries, let alone one that is as well balanced as this one. In the meantime, one can only hope that this will be rebranded in the near future as a regular offering.

Brewery Ommegang Three-Eyed Raven - 9/10

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero Review

Name: Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero 
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9%

Today I've got a beer from Clown Shoes Brewing with the unusual name of Chocolate Sombrero, which is described as a Mexican-Style Chocolate Stout. This a beer that is brewed with chocolate (duh!), ancho chilis, cinnamon, and vanilla. I've been a bit hesitant to try this out because my history with chili beers hasn't exactly been the best but I'm approaching this one with an open mind because it's from Clown Shoes and I've heard some very good things about this beer.

I also want to add that of all the breweries out there, this brewery makes my favorite label artwork, most of which I consider to be funny and/or creative. Each of these labels also incorporate a pair of clown shoes in the said artwork. With that said, I love the illustration of a four-armed luchador running from 2 chili peppers with mustaches brandishing guns.

Appearance - Pitch black color with a mild amount of carbonation climbing up the sides of the glass. The head takes on a nice & foamy khaki-colored look with some very abundant carbonation.

Aroma - Chocolate malts and cinnamon dominate the front of the nose. I'm also picking up on some light spicy notes paired with some vanilla sweetness and there's even a decent amount of hops in the nose as well.

Taste - Strong Chocolate malts & moderate cinnamon notes are at the center stage of the flavor, much like in the nose. However the roasted barley and vanilla sweetness are also in here too towards the back and the same goes for the mild hoppiness. As for the chilis, they're there but they're quite mild and are most noticeable in the back of the palate where I am picking up on some light heat. Aside from that, this is a very chocolate-y tasting beer.

If there's one complaint I have, it's that I didn't try this out sooner because I think this is an excellent beer. The chili aspect in particular is not only very well controlled but it works in synchronicity with the other flavors at work here. If you've had bad experiences with chili beers before, this is a beer that will no doubt change your mind about them. As for the rest of us, it's an excellent beer that is worth checking out.

Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero - 9.25/10

Monday, April 20, 2015

Michelob AmberBock Review

Name: Michelob AmberBock
Style: Bock
ABV: 5.1%

Want to know a fun fact? Michelob makes the number one selling beer in the State of Minnesota with Michelob Golden Light.....but that's not the beer we have today. Instead, I have Michelob AmberBock, which is one of the most rated Bocks on both Beer Advocate & on RateBeer. Why I haven't gotten around to this sooner, amongst many others, is beyond me.

Appearance - A dark but clear amber color with just a hint of mild visible carbonation. The head starts out initially with a good amount of volume but it fades away fast and leaves nothing more than some film that covers about half of the surface. There's also no lacing at all.

Aroma - There is some potent caramel maltiness in here but sitting right next to it are some cereal grains along with some light roastiness and chocolate notes

Taste - Moderate caramel maltiness upfront for maybe 2 seconds before giving away to cereal grains, pale malts, and light roastiness. I'm also getting light hoppiness but even that isn't terribly noticeable.

This beer shows some promise in the nose, but it quickly disappoints upon consumption. To it's credit, there aren't any offensive characteristics about this beer & what remains is something that somewhat resembles a Bock beer. My recommendation though is to skip this beer since you aren't really missing out on anything.

Michelob AmberBock - 5/10.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout Review

Name: Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.1%
IBUs: 45

Even though Spring is here, I've still got one more winter seasonal in my reserve that I've been sitting on for a while. Since it's a nice and balmy 41 degrees out right now, I figured today was a great day to warm up with Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing.

As for the name I couldn't come up with too much, but almost anyone can guess that anything with the name "North" usually implies that it's going to be a darker and/or heavier beer.

Appearance - Opaque black color that makes it hard to pick out any type of visible carbonation. The head is fairly foamy & khaki colored with some very good lacing retention

Aroma - Strong chocolate malts and roasted barley followed by some marshmallow and vanilla notes. Tucked away in the back of the nose is some chocolate-cherry sweetness and bitter hoppiness.

Taste - Strong roasted barley and chocolate maltiness upfront with a surprisingly strong smokey profile. Middle of the palate consists of light vanilla & cherry notes while the back end of the flavor is a mix of dry hops and light roastiness.

I'm one that isn't usually a stickler for consistency but it's always nice to see the nose & flavor identical to each other and that's the case with Northwind. It's got a strong chocolate/roasty flavor profile with enough components underneath to add some much needed complexity. It may not be winter anymore but it is still very much worth seeking out should you happen to see it.

Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout - 9.25/10

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lazy Monk Bohemian Pilsner Review

Name: Lazy Monk Bohemian Pilsner
Style: Pilsner

Well look at this, a brand new brewery to be featured on this blog! Hailing from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, we have Lazy Monk Brewing! Today I've got their Bohemian Pilsner, which is considered to be their flagship beer. The thing that makes this beer (and brewery) so unique is that the brewmaster, Leos Frank, is a native of the Czech Republic and has set up shop in America's Heartland.

Appearance - Clear yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is rather thin in appearance but with a good filmy retention with no visible lacing.

Aroma - Strong pilsner maltiness in the front of the nose with some pale maltiness as well. I'm also picking up on some biscuit and yeasty notes. Interestingly enough, I'm not getting any earthiness in this.

Taste - Strong buttery-biscuits and pilsner malts make up the front of the palate, with pale malts and a light bitter hoppiness making up the back end of the flavor. The aftertaste is quite dry save for a lingering pilsner maltiness

You know when you go buy an Imported Pilsner but it smells and tastes skunky because it's been sitting on the shelf longer than your dog has been alive? Well that's not the case here, because it not only tastes fresh but it also feels very refreshing. As cliché as it may sound, it's like they took an authentic Czech Brewery, placed it in Wisconsin and created this. What I'm trying to say is that this is an excellent beer and one of the best pilsners I've had in a long while. Right now they only distribute to the Southern half of Wisconsin, but I hope one day to see their distribution expanded even further.

Lazy Monk Bohemian Pilsner - 9.5/10

Monday, April 13, 2015

Toppling Goliath Pompeii Review

Name: Toppling Goliath Pompeii
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%

I am on a roll recently with all of these Toppling Goliath beers since the brewery first became available in my area. Today I have their Pompeii IPA, which was until recently a draft only release. I believe they only started bottling this only a couple of months ago.

Come to think of it, with the exception of one beer, every beer I've reviewed from Toppling Goliath has been a Pale Ale in some form or another.

Appearance - Hazy orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is rather thin but foamy at the same time. As for the lacing, it's very sparse.

Aroma - Rich citrus hop & grapefruit notes with just a touch of piney hops. I'm also getting some mango sweetness and some caramel & toffee maltiness in here as well. Needless to say, it smells very good!

Taste - It starts out with robust and vibrant citrus hop & tropical fruitiness that lingers throughout the flavor. In the second half of the flavor is where the caramel maltiness really starts to shine through along with just a touch of mangoes. The aftertaste is made of of tropical fruitiness and a light bitter hoppiness

Of all the beers I've had from Toppling Goliath, this is my favorite I've had from them hands down. On top of that, this is a beer that showcases the Mosaic hop really well and does it in an extraordinary way! It goes without saying that this should be on your radar if you happen to be in the upper Midwest.

Toppling Goliath Pompeii - 9.5/10

Sunday, April 12, 2015

612 Brew Gateway Park Review

Name: 612 Brew Gateway Park
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 5.6%

I've got a first for this blog and that is a beer from 612 Brew, based out of Northeast Minneapolis. I've been to their taproom a couple of times and have had their offerings before but never had the chance to review any of their stuff. Today I've got their Gateway Park Prohibition Lager, which takes its name from the Gateway Park district in Downtown Minneapolis.

Appearance - Hazy yellow color with no visible carbonation to speak of. The head is quite thin yet foamy, though there isn't really any lacing to speak of.

Aroma - The nose starts off with some lager yeastiness, followed by some flaked corn, pale malts, and finally some mild floral hops in the back.

Taste - Very pale malt heavy on the front the palate followed by some flaked corn, moderate lager yeasts and light floral hops with a fairly bittersweet aftertaste. There's also a very light bitterness that encompasses the overall flavor.

If you're looking for an easy drinking yet great tasting lager, Gateway Park will satisfy both of those requirements. Right now they're only available in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area but I have faith that the availability on this will be more widely available in the future.

612 Brew Gateway Park - 8.5/10

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tallgrass Zombie Monkey Review

Name: Tallgrass Zombie Monkey
Style: Porter
ABV: 6.2 %

First it was 400 Pound Monkey and now I've moved on to Zombie Monkey Porter from Tallgrass Brewing Company. You can't tell from the photo, the can itself has a raised surface but it is referred to as "Tactical Grip" on the bottom right hand corner of the can. It's made so that when the inevitable zombie apocalypse happens, I can grab the can and not have to worry about dropping it when I'm fleeing from hordes of the undead. It's good to plan ahead I suppose

Appearance - Pitch black color with a little visible carbonation on the sides. The head takes on fairly thin khaki-colored appearance with some pretty good lacing.

Aroma - On the front of the nose are some potent chocolate malt & roasted barley notes which are followed by a bit of dark fruitness and some light hoppiness. Fruitness aside, it smells like a fairly typical porter

Taste - The flavor is very roasty with some roasted barley notes followed by chocolate malts. The back end of the palate consists of coffee ground notes and bitter hops, which are most prevalent in the aftertaste.

Zombie Monkey is a good, albeit by-the-books, porter that doesn't do anything extraordinary. If you're looking for a good Porter, this'll do just fine but don't expect to be blown away.

Tallgrass Zombie Monkey - 8/10

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey Review

Name: Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.8%

Here's a brewery that is new to my blog: Left Hand Brewing Company, which is based out of Longmont, CO. Today I have their 400 Pound Monkey, which is their English-style IPA. Me being a stickler for name origins, I looked into it and found the official description and I found this:

"Why does the world need another IPA? Because this one ain’t like them others. We use hops of a different color, earthy and herbal, well-balanced by bready malt. The result? An English-style IPA that separates itself from the ubiquitous bunch. Cartloads of bitter monkeys flinging wasteful amounts of bananas into the jungle … we’re so done with that."

Uh........what? First of all, that makes no sense! It's like they took a perfectly good description and decided to take last Saturday's Mad Libs game and tack it onto the description. Secondly, monkeys ARE likely to throw things into the jungle, but it probably won't be bananas.

Appearance - Fairly clear orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is about one finger in width and has some pretty good retention, but the same cannot be said for the lacing as it is quite soapy and sparse

Aroma - Significant roasty character with some strong toffee sweetness at the forefront. Behind that are some fairly strong grapefruit & dry hop notes along with some mild yeastiness. Just like the bottle states, it does have a bit of an earthy smell to it as well.

Taste - Strong toffee malts with some grapefruits upfront, the latter of which is more prevalent here that it was in the nose. Following this is a surprisingly mild roastiness and some light marmalade notes. As for the aftertaste, it is here that the bitter resiny hops shine the most along with some light yeastiness & caramel sweetness. I do feel that the earthiness is downplayed more in the flavor as it is in the nose.

Despite my earlier ramblings, 400 Pound Monkey is a great example of an English IPA. With its robust malty backbone and hop profile, you won't be throwing this into the jungle anytime soon. With that said, please don't litter.

Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey - 8.5/10

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Review

Name: Sierra Nevada Narwhal
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.2%

Sierra Nevada Narwhal: an Imperial Stout that I have seen continuously over the past couple of years but have never actually gone out of my way to try it out for reasons unbeknownst to myself. Today I'm changing that by trying out a bottle all the way back from 2014 as I've been sitting on this for a good while.

As for the name, I have no idea why they're named after the proclaimed Unicorns of the Seven Seas but I only hope that no actual narwhals were harmed or maimed in the brewing process. While we're at it, let's just get this out of the way as well...

Appearance - Pitch black with a small amount of carbonation near the top of the glass. The head takes on a creamy, thick-looking brown color that is about one-finger in width. The lacing is both sticky and abundant here.

Aroma - Strong chocolate maltiness followed by some vanilla and marshmallow notes. I'm also getting some light raspberry and cherry sweetness in the back of the nose, along with some very mild floral hoppiness and roastiness.

Flavor - Chocolate malts and marshmallows on the front of the palate. Following this are some moderate bitter hoppiness, light vanilla and some raspberries. The aftertaste is mainly a strong roasted barley notes and some equally strong bitter hoppiness.

Though it may not be in season at this very moment, it is certainly worth checking out when it becomes available in the future. It's got a nice malty, roasty, and fruity balance to it that makes it an easy recommendation for any seasoned Imperial Stout fanatic.

Sierra Nevada Narwhal - 9/10

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Brau Brothers Sheep Head Ale Review

Name: Brau Brothers Sheep Head Ale
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.7%

It's been about 10 months since I've really taken a look at anything from Brau Brothers, which is funny considering that it was one of the first breweries I got into when I began to get into craft beer seriously. I really need to stay on top of things.

Today I have their Sheephead, which is their regular year-round IPA. Doing a bit of research, I found out the name comes from a card game that originally comes from 18th century Europe, which explains the random mish-mash of cards and sheep on the beer label.

Appearance - Very hazy and very dark orange color with no visible carbonation. The head is thin and khaki-colored but it retains pretty well, along with the carbonation, which is also plentiful.

Aroma - Moderate piney hops mixed in with a substantial caramel malt backbone. I'm getting some woodsy-like mustiness paired with some grapefruit-like bitterness in here too. I'm also picking up on some light roastiness as well.

Flavor - Pretty caramel malt forward on the front of the palate along with some woodsy must and grapefruit sweetness in the middle. On the back end of the palate is where the bitter hoppiness starts to shine through along with some light roasty & wooden oak notes.

I have to say this is quite good! It's got a nice balance of malt character and bitter hoppiness, plus the woodsy aspect of the flavor adds a very nice spin to things. Overall, if you're looking for an IPA with a slightly different flavor, then I'd say this is worth taking a spin.

Brau Brothers Sheep Head Ale - 9/10

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Milwaukee Brewing Doppelvision Review

Name: Milwaukee Brewing Doppelvision
Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 8%

A couple months back, I reviewed Louie's Resurrection, a barrel-aged Imperial Amber Ale from Milwaukee Brewing Company. I found the beer to be quite excellent and I consider it to be one of the best & most explementary bourbon barrel-aged beers I've had thus far. So imagine my excitement when I discovered Doppelvision, Milwaukee Brewing's bourbon barrel-aged Doppelbock.

I want to say name itself comes from the Foreigner song "Double Vision" or from Diplopia, which is the medical term for Double Vision. Speculation on my part, my one can do so, am I right?

Appearance - A brown color that takes on a dark crimson look when held up to a light, while still maintaining a good amount of haze. The head is thin and khaki-colored in appearance but the lacing is quite plentiful.

Aroma - Strong caramel malts with banana notes at the start of the nose. I'm starting to pick up on some oakiness, a hint of vanilla, subtle toffee sweetness and a bit of mild hoppiness

Taste - Caramel malts and oakiness on the front of the palate, followed by some vanilla and toffee sweetness. There's also a fairly moderate roasted barley profile which lingers on throughout the palate. The aftertaste consists of caramel malts, light oak, and mild bitter hoppiness.

I'll admit that my expectations were on the higher side for this, having never had a barrel-aged doppelbock before. Maybe it's just me but while I no-doubt got a great doppelbock, the bourbon-barrel aspect of this beer feels rather underwhelming, especially compared to Louie's Resurrection. I can't help but feel that this could've been amazing. Still, this is an excellent doppelbock and most certainly worth checking out if you get the chance!

Milwaukee Brewing Doppelvision - 9/10

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Happy Two Year Anniversary from Nick's Beer Blog!!!

Two years, I can't believe it's been only two years since I first started this blog. It may seem like a short span of time to some people but to me, it feels like so long ago that I first decided to step forth into the realm of blogging.

This time last year, I couldn't believe all that had transpired at that time. This year, I find myself in the same position. Since then, my following has grown tremendously in ways I had never thought possible even a year ago. That is, however, just the tip of the iceberg.

Many doors have opened for myself as well. From connecting with professional brewers that are well-established to meeting with brewers that are just getting themselves off of the ground. From meeting a film director to help promote a documentary about craft beer to helping raise awareness for a local charity event. And finally, being able to write for a craft beer oriented website and having the distinguished honor of finally calling myself a writer.

So what does the future hold for me? Who knows, but I'm very excited to see what this next year brings for myself! So to all my readers and everyone I've met, I thank you all for your support and here's to another year of great fun times!


- Nick