Sunday, May 31, 2015

Real Ale Real Heavy Review

Name: Real Ale Real Heavy
Style: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
ABV: 9.3%
IBUs: 27

Real Ale Real Heavy, I cannot think of an easier-to-remember name than this, though I'm inclined to say Real Ale Really Heavy for some odd reason; You know how that pesky English language can be. In any case, it's also their Wee Heavy offering and it is also the third-to-last beer I have in the Texas craft beer package which I got a couple weeks ago.

Appearance - A dark ruby red that is fairly clear in appearance with no visible carbonation to speak of. The head is quite thin and there is no lacing to speak of.

Aroma - Strong toffee malts and vanilla notes followed by a fairly strong caramel sweetness and a light smokiness. The toffee aroma is amongst the strongest I've ever gotten out of a Scotch Ale as it is front and center; Not to mention I think it's quite easy to pick out and it only intensifies after it warms up

Taste - It's quite similar to the nose. Strong toffee & caramel malt and vanilla sweetness upfront, followed by some light smokiness, marshmallows and is rounded off by some more toffee maltiness. The aftertaste consists of some light roastiness and caramel malt sweetness.

Between to vibrant & robust flavor and the wonderful aroma, I have to say this is quite delicious! From what I gathered this is just a seasonal release so if you have the opportunity to try this out, I would highly recommend doing so.

Real Ale Real Heavy - 9/10

Friday, May 29, 2015

Real Ale Devil's Backbone Review

Name: Real Ale Devil's Backbone
Style: Tripel
ABV: 8.1%
IBUs: 35

Now I'm moving on to the last few beers from my Texas beer package. This beer is from Real Ale Brewing Company, based out of Blanco, Texas, who've made an appearance on this blog before in my Surly Blakkr Review as part of a collaboration Real Ale did with both Surly & 3 Floyds.

Today I've got an original offering from them in the form of Devil's Backbone, a Tripel-style ale that gets its name from a "winding stretch of highway in the Hill Country highway."

Appearance - A very bright yet extremely hazy yellow color with a thin yet foamy head with good lacing retention. I'm not picking up on any carbonation but that may be due in part to the haziness

Aroma - Starts out with some Belgian yeasts, cloves & light coriander followed by some pale maltiness and some bitter hoppiness in the back.

Taste - Belgian yeasts and cloves upfront, followed immediately by bitter hops, cloves and pale malts. Bit of coriander too but not as strong as the nose. Aftertaste is mainly Belgian yeasts and Bitter hops.

It's a good drinkable Tripel-style ale but at the same time, it doesn't do anything I haven't already seen and plays it safe for the most part. Don't get me wrong: I like it......but I don't love it.

Real Ale Devil's Backbone - 8/10

Lakewood Till & Toil Review

Name: Lakewood Till & Toil 
Style: Saison
ABV: 7.1%
IBUs: 21

Now for my final beer from Lakewood Brewing! For this beer, I've got Till & Toil Saison, which is one of their Spring seasonal offerings. It's also worth noting that this beer uses both Citra & Mosaic hops. Unless my memory is fuzzy, I don't recall ever having a Saison before that used Mosaic hops, though I've been running into this hop type a lot as of late

Appearance - Hazy golden straw color with a light amount of visible carbonation. Head is quite fluffy upon pouring but settles to mostly a finger width.

Aroma - Belgian yeasts, mild citrus fruitiness, orange peel, cloves and some pale malts and toffee. The Mosaic hops are there, but not too loud and clear. That isn't too surprising given the IBUs.

Taste - Belgian yeasts and moderate citrus hoppiness (mosaic is loud and clear here), followed by toffee, pale malts and some bitter hoppiness. Aftertaste is a mix of citrus sweetness and very light bitter hops.

You know, as good as this beer is, I think that if there was a great emphasis on the hop profile, it would be perfect. With that said, I'm not going to be too picky because while the hops are not the centerpiece of the overall flavor, it is still a fantastic beer and every other element of the flavor is done wonderfully.

Lakewood Till & Toil - 9/10

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lakewood The Temptress Review

Name: Lakewood The Temptress
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.1%
IBUs: 56

The next beer I have from Lakewood Brewing is The Temptress, described on the label as an Imperial Milk Stout and touted by the brewery as "seducation in a glass." It's also the second Imperial Milk Stout I've reviewed recently, a trend which I hope to continue to see in the near future. It also goes out of its way to point out it's brewed with Lactose and Vanilla, so I'm quite eager to have this

Appearance - An opaque pitch black color with a little carbonation along the sides of the glass. The head takes on a medium khaki-color and the lacing is sticky and abundant.

Aroma - Rich Lactose & vanilla notes upfront , mixed in with some robust chocolate malts, oak, and some toffee sweetness. Also encompassing the flavor is a light hint of roastiness.

Taste - It doesn't deviate too much from the nose; You've got the rich lactose and vanilla notes on the front of the palate, followed by chocolate malts, oakiness, toffee notes and of course that mild roastiness. The big difference here is that there is some moderate floral hoppiness that lingers throughout the latter half of the flavor.

So far every beer I've had in the beer mail from Texas I've gotten has been a delight to try out, and this beer carries on that trend quite well. Plus how awesome is it that this beer, an Imperial Milk Stout of all things, is a year-round offering. You can bet that if I lived in Texas, I would be buying this on a very regular basis.

Lakewood The Temptress - 9.5/10

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lakewood Hop Trapp Review

Name: Lakewood Hop Trapp 
Style: Belgian IPA
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 55

Continuing on with my package of Texas craft beers, I'm moving along to a couple of beers from Lakewood Brewing, based out of Garland, TX. My first beer which I'll be having from them is Hop Trapp, which is their Belgian IPA.

When I was conducting the beer trade, I wasn't too specific about what I wanted as I usually like to be surprised, but I did request that at least a couple of the beers be Belgian-style with no regards to whether it be an IPA or Saison. Plus I have always wanted to try real craft beer from a state that is best known for Shiner. It's also been a few months since I've had a Belgian IPA so I'm very eager to try this out.

Appearance - Very dark & cloudy orange color with a small amount of visible carbonation. The head takes on a thin khaki-colored appearance and there is tons of lacing to back this up

Aroma - Rich citrus hops and coriander notes upfront, with a healthy amount of Belgian Yeasts & cloves and a solid caramel malt backbone to help round things out.

Taste - It doesn't deviate too much from the nose. You've still got the citra hop and coriander on the front of the palate, but there is also an addition of grapefruit notes as well. This is followed by some Belgian yeasts, cloves and caramelized malts. As for the aftertaste, it's more grapefruit bitterness and caramel malts.

I have to say, I'm quite pleased with this. It's nicely balanced and yet is very vibrant in both the nose and the flavor palate. So far, I'm liking what I see from Lakewood Brewing and I'm very eager to see what the other beers taste like!

Lakewood Hop Trapp 9/10

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Macrobrewers & the Craft Beer Market Part 1 - Craft vs. Crafty

Macrobrewers & the Craft Beer Market Part 1 - Craft vs. Crafty

A couple weeks ago, a man by the name of Evan Parent, filed a lawsuit again MillerCoors. The reason? Because he alleges that Blue Moon's marketing, pricing & placement amongst other craft beers lead him to believe that Blue Moon was a craft beer. He also says that it violates California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act and how it's misleading and a bunch of other legalese I'm not even going to bother with.

Point is that this whole lawsuit has motivated me to write a couple of pieces regarding the whole Craft Beer vs. Crafty Beer argument. I feel that I have enough experience and know-how to throw in my two cents about this topic. Plus I feel that this is an issue that will really start to take off over the next couple of years.

While the whole argument of Craft vs. Crafty has been on the minds of beers drinkers for quite a while, it was never really bought to the forefront and was, until recently, mostly commentary of a not-so-serious nature. That all changed when this commercial debuted during this year's Super Bowl.....

When this commercial was released, the responses were all over the place. Some took an analytical approach to it, other breweries decided to put together their own response and others took this as a declaration of war on craft beer industry. It's no secret that there are breweries out there that may seemingly appear as a craft brewery to the uninformed consumer but are, in fact, owned by a macro-brewer like MillerCoors or AB In-Bev.

Who is a craft brewer?

According to the Brewer's Association, they define a craft brewery as the following:


Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.


Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.


A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

These guidelines were created with good intentions as a means of helping beer drinkers tell the difference between an independent brewer and someone who was, well...............not. It seemed all clean-cut and such, but there was a problem.

A couple of years ago, there was a bit of controversy with what defined a craft brewer. One brewery in particular, August Schell Brewing, was "blacklisted" because the ingredients used their long-standing Grain Belt lager used adjuncts in the brewing process, which started out of necessity when the brewery first opened up and has been used still out of tradition. Even many thought they fulfilled the requirements of all three guidelines.

I remember when I first saw this news, I was shocked. I always have considered them to be the original Minnesota craft brewery, who will be celebrating their 165th Anniversary this year. Sure they make Grain Belt, which is their flagship beer, but they also make a ton of other styles and they aren't owned by any major corporations. In fact, I would even argue that Sam Adams is more along the lines of being big beer than Schell's is. Thankfully, a little over a year afterwards in early 2014, the BA changed their definition as to who was a craft brewer and August Schell's was finally considered to be a craft brewer again.

Compare that to the likes of Goose Island & Blue Moon, both of which are owned 100% by Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors respectively. Though Goose Island was considered craft prior to its buyout to Anheuser-Busch, Blue Moon was created specifically by MillerCoors about 20 years ago so they were never considered craft at any point of their existence.

Now here is where I become a Devil's advocate of sorts because while I do think companies like Goose Island and Blue Moon are trying to pass themselves off as crafty, isn't that really the point? If there is anything I have learned from marketing, it's that the whole idea behind marketing is so that a company can draw in and retain business long term. In fact, it's safe to assume that the vast majority of craft breweries on the market today owe their very existence, directly or indirectly, to Big Beer.

I've already explained in my review of Bud Light that the newer generation of beer drinkers, namely Millennials, are less likely to drink a Budweiser product because of lack of brand loyalty and a wider selection of beers to choose from than 20-30 years ago. One thing we can all agree upon is that macro-brewers are trying their hardest to appeal to a wider demographic and retain their share of the beer industry. Which is why Anheuser-Busch recently acquired well-known craft breweries like Elysiun Brewing & 10 Barrel Brewing.

This is, of course, something I will touch upon more in the next post.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Community Beer Company Inspiration Review

Name: Community Beer Company Inspiration
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 10.2%

Well I'm on my final beer from the Community Beer Company based out of Dallas, Texas. This time around, I've got Inspiration, which is named after the street at which the brewery is located on. Inspiration is a barrel-aged Belgian Strong Ale, a style which I haven't had for a long time. As for the type of barrels used in the aging process, I could not find out what they were, despite my best efforts.

Apperance - Initially appears pitch black in color but it turns to a very cloudy dark brown color when held up to a light. The head is off white in appearance with some pretty good lacing.

Aroma - Rich oak & vanilla notes paired with some caramelized malts. I'm also picking up on some figs, Belgian yeasts, light bitter hoppiness, blackberries and plums.

Taste -  The Belgian yeasts take a more prominent role, being front & center on the front of the palate with along with some equally strong oak, vanilla and plum notes. Figs, blackberries, & bitter hops make up the back end of the palate while the caramelized malts form a solid backbone which encompasses the overall flavor.

Nice, complex, and smooth; Just the way a Belgian Strong Ale should be. The people of Dallas should be proud to have this brewery because they make some pretty good beers and it's a pleasant surprise to see this style of beer come from the heart of the Lone Star State. There's a good chance I'll be heading to Dallas in the not-too-distant future so I'll be sure to snag some more of these bottles when I'm there

Community Beer Company Inspiration - 9.5/10

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Community Beer Company Legion Review

Name: Community Beer Company Legion
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.9%
IBUs: 70

Next beer from my Texas Craft Beer care package is another beer from the Community Beer Company based out of Dallas, TX. This time, I've got Legion, their Russian Imperial Stout, which just so happens. It gets its name from and I quote:

Community Beer Company’s legion of beer lovers grows larger every day, and this massive Russian Imperial Stout transcends rank and echelon!  Welcome to our Legion.

Well if there's one thing this beer has already done well, it's got me pumped up to take on an entire group of heavily armored Centuria! Okay, I was making that up but my curiosity has piqued and I'm very eager to try this out.

Appearance - Pitch Black color with a very light amount of visible carbonation climbing the sides of the glass. The head takes on a fairly foamy brown appearance that's about 1 finger in width and the lacing left behind is rather plentiful

Aroma - Rich chocolate malts and robust cherry and vanilla notes. I'm also getting some marshmallows, bitter hops, oakiness and some slight booziness

Taste - Strong chocolate malts, bitter hops and cherry notes upfront, followed by vanilla sweetness and more bitter hoppiness. The aftertaste consists of bitter hops and moderate roasted barley. Thankfully the booziness in the nose is nowhere to be found here.

This is a pretty good and well put together Imperial Stout. My only complaints are that there could've been a little more roastiness in the flavor and that the overall bitter hoppiness could've been toned down a bit or better masked. Still it doesn't take away from the fact that this is a great beer and that it's worthy of your attention.

Community Beer Company Legion - 8/10

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Community Beer Company Mosaic IPA Review

Name: Community Beer Company Mosaic IPA
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.6%

A couple weeks ago, I did a beer trade for a care package consisting of Texas craft beers in exchange for some New Glarus beers. The first couple of beers I will be looking at is from the Community Beer Company, based out of Dallas, TX. I really don't know too much about the brewery aside from the fact they're from Texas. My first beer from them is their Mosaic IPA, which is their IPA made with Mosaic hops.

Appearance - A very hazy dark orange with a thin white head. The lacing is on the spotty side but there is no visible carbonation due to the dark coloring

Aroma - Rich mango, peach & citrus hop notes, followed by some caramel malts and toffee sweetness. Not much else to say, expect that the Mosaic hops used in the brewing process are on display well here.

Taste - It's fairly identical to the nose. It's got strong mango & citrus hop notes on the front of the palate while the back end is where the caramel and toffee sweetness make themselves known. The aftertaste is made up of mango sweetness with a light bitter hoppiness.

As I stated earlier, the Mosaic hops are on display wonderfully here, both in the nose and in the flavor. On top of that, the caramel malt and toffee sweetness help balance things out wonderfully. I'll be sure to pick this up again if I ever find myself in Texas and I recommend anyone living in Texas to check this beer out. I'm only one beer in to my care package and I'm already excited to see what the rest of it has to offer.

Community Beer Company Mosaic IPA - 9/10

Monday, May 18, 2015

Door County Biere De Seigle Review

Name: Door County Biere De Seigle
Style: Saison
ABV: 7.0%

Recently a new brewery has arrived on the store shelves in my area called Door County Brewing Company, based out of Bailey's Harbor, Wisconsin. Where is Door County you ask? You know that peninsula that sticks out into Lake Michigan on the east side of Wisconsin? That's Door County right there! It's also where many of the cherries used in regional cherry beers, such as Fitger's Cherry Batch and New Glarus Belgian Red, come from.

Today I've got their Biere De Seigle. Contrary to what the name leads you to believe, this is actually a Saison-style ale and not a Biere De Garde ale. Plus Biere De Seigle is french for Rye Beer. Speaking of which, half of the label is adorned with the French language while the other half is in English; In other words, it's like Canada.

Appearance - A moderately hazy dark yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head has a foamy-soapy appearance and the lacing is surprisingly plentiful and sticky

Aroma - Before putting this to my nose, I could smell the Belgian Yeasts even when the glass is sitting 2 feet from me. That said, the nose is very Belgian Yeast and Pilsner Malt forward, with some grassiness and an underlying rye scent.

Taste - Much like the nose, the taste is dominated by Belgian Yeasts and Pilsner malts upfront but joining these flavors is some pale maltiness. The second half of the flavor is more Belgian Yeasts, mild-to-moderate bitter-citra hops and rye. The aftertaste though is made of of Belgian Yeasts, light rye spiciness and bitter hops.

Before seeing this beer on the store shelves, I had never heard of Door County Brewing and, like many breweries I had never seen before, was a bit skeptical at first. That said, I think the flavor is excellent and nicely balanced. On top of that the rye actually gives it sort of a crisp feel to it, a trend which I have been seeing recently and have no problem with. After having this, I will be sure to check out more of their offerings in the future and I advise anyone to do the same!

Door County Biere De Seigle - 9/10

Leinenkugel's India Pale Lager Review

Name: Leinenkugel's India Pale Lager
Style: India Pale Lager
ABV: 6%

Leinenkugel's recently released a brand new beer and it's a style that has been gaining popularity in the past couple of years. It's an India Pale Lager (IPL) that carries the name of the style, with no fancy name to go along with it. I saw this at the Keyport Growler Station and just had to try it out; Plus it's been a long while since I've had a good IPL.

It's an interesting choice when it comes to style choice, especially from a brewery like Leinenkugel's but then again they also have just released a Braggot that's brewed with raspberries and rye as part of their Big Eddy series, so I'll give credit where it is due.

Appearance - A very clear dark golden color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is fairly foamy and takes on an off-white color with decent retention, while the lacing is quite sparse.

Aroma - Strong citra and piney hops on the front of the nose with a healthy pale maltiness to back it. There's even a hint of caramel sweetness and even a bit of yeastiness in here as well while still retaining that lager scent.

Taste - Strong piney hop bitterness with the citra hops taking a secondary role. On the back end of the palate is where the pale malts and lager yeasts starts to shine through, while the piney hop bitterness & citra hops linger throughout. The aftertaste is light hop bitterness with light lager yeasts and is otherwise on the drier side.

The last couple of offerings I've had from Leinenkugel's were okay, but not something I would necessarily go out of my way to have again and frankly, I was expecting the same when I got this. Needless to say, this beer is much better than I expected and it's definitely one of the better offerings I've had from Leinenkugel's. The hop profile is quite nice and the rest of the flavor is nice, crisp and balanced. I believe it's a draft only beer right now, but if I were to see this in bottles, I would definitely pick it up again!

Leinenkugel's India Pale Lager - 8.5/10

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Steel Toe Collision Course Review

Name: Steel Toe Collision Course
Style: Imperial IPA

So I was originally going to review something else today, but I acquired a new offering from Steel Toe Brewing on a recent excursion to Minneapolis. I give to you Collision Course which is a Double IPA offering from Steel Toe Brewing.

The reason for the expedited review is because the bottle specifically says to drink this fresh which may or may not suggest that this is fresh hop IPA; It does say it was bottled on April 27, 2015 after all. When I purchased this, I was told that this was originally a draft-only release at Steel Toe's taproom but it became popular enough to warrant a limited bottle release.

Appearance - Hazy bright orange color with some moderate visible carbonation. The head is nice and foamy with some very abundant and sticky lacing.

Aroma - Rich grapefruit fruitiness and caramel maltiness, backed up by some robust mango and apricot sweetness. I'm also picking up on some light toffee sweetness in here as well.

Taste - Strong Mango and grapefruit notes on the front of the palate, with the caramel maltiness and toffee sweetness providing some much needed back up. The later half of the flavor is made up of toffee sweetness and bitter resin hops. As for the aftertaste, it consists mainly of bitter hops and light grapefruitiness

I can totally see why they wanted to bottle this instead of limiting it to just their taproom. The hop profile is nice and robust, while at the same time, retaining a nice and balanced malty backbone. It also helps that the price tag is quite reasonable for the style. Should you come across this, it would certainly be worthy checking out.

Steel Toe Collision Course - 9.25/10

Friday, May 15, 2015

Clown Shoes Crasher in the Rye Review

Name: Clown Shoes Crasher in the Rye
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.5%

I've a new beer from Clown Shoes Brewing that I acquired last weekend while in the Twin Cities and I think it's a very interesting find. Clown Shoes has always been one to be creative with their releases (and their label artwork) but this one really caught my eye.

It's called Crasher in the Rye, a play on words of the book Catcher in the Rye, which many of us were forced to read during High School. This beer is described by the brewery as an Imperial Oatmeal Milk Stout aged in Rye & Bourbon Barrels.

Appearance - Pitch black with no visible carbonation. The head takes on a thick, creamy brown appearance with tons of lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Strong vanilla & oak notes with an equally strong chocolate maltiness and oatmeal notes. The rye spiciness is also quite strong here as well and it encompasses the flavor

Taste - Strong chocolate maltiness, oakiness, and roasted barley in the front of the palate. The back end of the palate consists of strong vanilla sweetness, bitter hoppiness and rye spiciness, all of which become more prevalent as it warms up. The aftertaste is mainly oak notes, rye, bitter hoppiness and light vanilla sweetness. On top of that, there is no booziness to speak of whatsoever.

Overall, this is a fantastic beer! There is a ton going on in the flavor, which is both unique and flavorful. I'll admit I was a tiny bit skeptical about an Imperial Oatmeal Milk Stout Aged in Rye & Bourbon Barrels but it works out wonderfully! I know Clown Shoes isn't available in all 50 states so if you have access to this in your area, this is absolutely worth checking out!

Clown Shoes Crasher in the Rye - 9.5/10

Thursday, May 14, 2015

21st Amendment Monk's Blood Review

Name: 21st Amendment Monk's Blood
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 8.3%

Here's a brewery that I've been meaning to start look at for quite a while. Tonight I've got 21st Amendment Brewing's Monk Blood. It's a Belgian Strong Ale that, despite the name, does not contain the blood of the servants of God. They're also the first brewery that I remember when I first got into craft beer that had all of their beers in 12 oz. cans.

There's a lot, and I mean A LOT of text on the can in Ruritania font that I'm not even going to bother trying to read, though it says plain and clear on the bottom of the can it's brewed with cinnamon, vanilla, oak chips and dried figs.

Appearance - A fairly clear but dark crimson which has a decent amount of visible carbonation. The head is fairly thin with some sparse retention but the lacing is rather plentiful.

Aroma - Dark fruit and oak notes, some roasted barley and chocolate maltiness on the front of the nose. The vanilla and figs starts to gain momentum as this warms up and it encompasses to aroma itself. Try as I may, I haven't picked up on any cinnamon

Taste - Dark fruit, oak and fig notes on the front of the palate, with caramelized malts and vanilla sweetness in the middle; The latter of which lingers until the end. The back end of the flavor is made up of light chocolate sweetness and cinnamon notes, along with the vanilla notes that I mentioned earlier.

I love the sheer complexity of this flavor and it only becomes more vibrant as it warms up. Don't let the 12oz. can fool you, contained inside is an absolutely flavorful beer that will be sure to please anyone looking a complex tasting beer!

21st Amendment Monk's Blood - 9/10

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Widmer Brothers Hefe Review

Name: Widmer Brothers Hefe
Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 4.9%

I've got a beer from Widmer Brothers, a brewery that I featured in my blog about..........2 years ago. I really need to keep up with the breweries I feature on this website. Oh well, I can't cover them all I suppose. Today I've got their Hefe, which as you probably guessed from the name, is a Hefeweizen. This beer calls itself the original American Hefeweizen and, to their credit, the brewery has been around for 30 years.

I used to have quite this style often, usually from Summit Brewing. They have since ceased making it much to my dismay, but I'm holding onto the belief that they will one day make it again (Hint Hint Nudge Nudge.)

Appearance - Very hazy yellow color with no visible carbonation. The head is white & very thin in appearance and the lacing itself is sparse with very little retention.

Aroma - Pale malts & malted wheat at first, but there is some banana sweetness that starts to emerge as it warms up. I'm also getting some bitter hoppiness tucked away in the back.

Taste - Malted wheat and light banana notes on the front of the palate, followed by some pale malts and bitter hoppiness. As for the aftertaste, it's pretty much just bitter hops and it lingers for a good while.

It's a hefeweizen that meets the requirements of the style, but having had many offerings of the same style from many different breweries and this sadly isn't close to the best I've had. Add it to your mix-a-six if you must but it isn't good enough to warrant the purchase of a six pack.

Widmer Brothers Hefe - 7/10

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Leinenkugel's Canoe Paddler Review

Name: Leinenkugel's Canoe Paddler
Style: Kolsch
ABV: 5%

Leinenkugel's has become synonymous with Spring and Summer beers here in the Midwest. Between their numerous shandies, and light seasonal beers, chances are you can't go to any picnic or camping trip in the Midwest without coming across at least one beer from Leinenkugel's.

Which brings us to Canoe Paddler, a Kolsch that is brewed with, of all things, Rye. It's interesting because whenever I see rye used in the brewing process, it's usually with heavier styles like IPAs & Barleywines. For some people, it seems like an unlikely combination but it really isn't for me seeing as how there's a beer that has goat brains in it, which yes, is totally a thing. In short, I've become desensitized.

Appearance - Bright and clear yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is quite thin and there isn't any lacing to speak of.

Aroma - Pale malts and cereal grain on the front of the nose, followed by some bitter hops and a touch of rye spiciness. The white grape scent I'm used to in Kolsch is mysteriously absent in the nose.

Taste - Pale malts and cereal grains once again dominate the palate like they did with the nose. The second half of the flavor is where you get the bitter hops and light white grape sweetness. It isn't until the aftertaste the the rye spiciness starts to make an appearance and it lingers for a bit before fading away.

After having this, I honestly say that I really like the idea of a Kolsch brewed with rye.....but I can't really say I'm a big fan of this. The cereal grains are way too dominant, which makes it come off more as a glorified adjunct lager than an actual Kolsch. It's kind of sad when you think about it because this was a Gold Medal Winner at the World Beer Championship.

At the same time, the palate does feel nice and crisp thanks in part to the rye used in the brewing process and I could see why someone could drink this on a nice spring or summer day. Given my options though, this wouldn't be my first choice as far as Kolschs go.

Leinenkugel's Canoe Paddler - 7.25/10

Monday, May 11, 2015

Schell's Stag Series: Cave Aged Barrel Aged Lager Review

Name: Schell's Stag Series: Cave Aged Barrel Aged Lager
Style: Black Lager
ABV: 7.7%

Let's go back in time all the way to......2013, when I first started this blog. One of my earlier reviews I did was Schell's Stag Series: Barleywine. It was a good beer but it was a little underwhelming for what it was.  Two years later, I have the newest in the Stag Series, which is a Cave-Aged, Barrel-Aged Lager.

For those of you wondering, back before we had refrigeration, beer would have to be fermented in cool places like cellars & even caves to protect it from warm temperatures. Schell's has taken this a step further and aged it in barrels as well. Hence why the name of this beer is so incredibly long.

Appearance - Initially it has a very dark, almost black, color. However when held up to a light, it takes on a clear dark crimson color, with no visible carbonation to speak of. The head is about one finger in width, khaki color, and has some pretty good retention. The lacing, however, is quite soapy and really has no retention to speak of.

Aroma - Roasted barley and vanilla notes in the front and some oakiness and chocolate malts in the back. Encompassing this is a distinct smoky and marshmallow aroma that compliments the nose wonderfully.

Taste - Vanilla, Chocolate Malts, Oak, Marshmallows, Roasted Barley, Caramel Sweetness, and Bitter Hops; All in that particular order. I'll be honest, there is a lot going on here in the flavor all at once and I'm finding it a bit hard to keep up.

Wow, I'm impressed with the sheer complexity of the overall flavor and it's from a lager of all styles! I know this is a limited release beer but I would love it if Schell's made this a seasonal release because I know I would be buying this every year. Until then, one can only savor while it lasts and hope it isn't just a one-off deal.

Schell's Stag Series: Cave Aged Barrel Aged Lager - 9.5/10

Left Hand Sawtooth Ale Review

Name: Left Hand Sawtooth Ale
Style: ESB (Extra Special Bitter)
ABV: 5.3%

Today I've got Left Hand Brewing's Sawtooth Ale, which is considered by the brewery to their flagship beer. I've seen this beer quite a few times and finally decided to get this as part of a mix-a-six. There really isn't anything too much to say about this beer aside from the label referring to this as an amber ale whilethe website calls it an ESB.

Appearance - Fairly clear amber color with tons of visible carbonation. The head is quite thin but has some very good retention and the lacing is abundant and sticky

Aroma - Strong yeast and bready-biscuit notes paired with a lightly toasted toffee malt backbone and some dry & floral hoppiness.

Taste - Toffee malts and floral hops are front and center on the palate. The second half of the flavor opens up to a bitter hop and lightly roasted barley notes, both of which also make up the aftertaste.

ESB's are one of those styles that are good, but never seem to floor me when it comes to flavor, and that's the case with this beer. There isn't really anything special about this beer. It's a simple, safe & good tasting beer that's worth adding to your mix-a-six should it be available in your area.

Left Hand Sawtooth Ale - 7.5/10

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bell's Saturn Review

Name: Bell's Saturn
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 11.5%

Bell's Brewery has just released the fifth beer in their Planets Series, which is based off of The Planets suite by Gustav Holst. Tonight I have the beer based on the fifth canto of the suite: Saturn.

The style is a barleywine that has been aged in bourbon barrels, and it's meant to be aged for a long time according to the brewery's website. it makes sense when you consider that the full name of this canto is Saturn: The Bringer of Old Age.

Appearance - Dark orange/brown color with just a hint of carbonation. The head is on the thinner side but has some good filmy retention and the lacing itself is rather plentiful

Aroma - Strong caramelized malts on the front of the nose followed by some potent vanilla sweetness and oakiness. I'm also getting some strong bitter and piney hoppiness here too. The more it warms up, the more that vanilla and oak start to shine through, so you can definitely tell this has been barrel-aged.

Taste - The vanilla and oakiness move to the front and center of the flavor along with the caramelized malts, all of which linger throughout. During the second half of the flavor is when you starting getting that bitter and citrus hoppiness. The aftertaste consists of some vanilla and oak notes paired with some bitter hoppiness

My favorite barrel-aged barleywine before having this was from Central Waters, but I think this is slightly better. I've been very impressed with the Planet Series so far, but this stands out right now as my absolute favorite of the series. Even if you don't decide to wait and age this, you're still in for an absolutely fantastic beer!

Bell's Saturn - 9.75/10

Friday, May 8, 2015

Dark Horse Scotty Karate Review

Name: Dark Horse Scotty Karate
Style: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
ABV: 9.75%

It's been awhile since I've looked at any scotch ales since the colder months of the year are now behind us, but I saw this in the store and just had to try it out. This is Scotty Karate from Dark Horse Brewing, based out of Marshall, MI.

The reason why I decided to pick this up is because whenever there's an announcement that this beer is in stock, its window of availability is equivalent to that of a mosquito at a summer picnic. So it goes without saying this a lot of people seem to like this beer. Let's see just how good this beer is.

Appearance - A very dark & cloudy brown color with no carbonation to speak of. The head is khaki-colored and thin but the head & lacing retention are both quite good.

Aroma - Very strong peated scotch notes on the front of the nose with some strong caramel malts to back it up. I'm also getting some chocolate notes and even some toffee sweetness in here as well. The smokiness which I've come to expect out of Scotch Ales recently is mysteriously absent.

Taste - Strong peated scotch, plums and roasted barley flavors dominate the front of the palate. Following this up are flavors of rum raisins & chocolate before finishing with a bitter hop and blackcurrant aftertaste. It's also worth noting that I get a warming sensation when drinking this as well.

It's a great wee heavy through and through, but I can't help but feel that trademark smokiness is missing from the flavor itself. As such, I think it may taste a little too sweet for some but I'm not going to continue to nitpick. Point is that it's a great beer and that any dedicated Scotch Ale fan will find something to like about this beer.

Dark Horse Scotty Karate - 8.5/10

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sam Adams Rebel Rider Review

Name: Sam Adams Rebel Rider
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 4.5%

Well the Sam Adams IPA trifecta has come full circle. First it was Rebel IPA, then there was Rebel Rouser Double IPA and now we finally have Rebel Rider IPA, which is their new year-round session IPA. Though I noticed on the Sam Adams website under the "Rebel Family" section that there is one more space on the right hand side, so perhaps there will be another Rebel IPA in the near future?

I've also noticed that I have been on a session beer binge as of late, so this'll probably be my last one for a while. Then again too, I say that to myself about a lot of beer styles.

Appearance - A mildly hazy yellow color with some equally mild carbonation. The head is white and takes on a rather soapy appearance. The lacing itself is also quite soapy as well but still has some very good retention.

Aroma - Upfront I'm getting some moderate citrus and light floral hoppiness along with some pale malts and something that almost resembles flaked corn notes. If you didn't tell me, I'd say this almost smells like a India Pale Lager (IPL).

Taste - Bitter hoppiness and light citrus notes upfront followed up by some pale maltiness. The aftertaste is mainly bitter hops and pale malts, the former of which lingers around afterward. The flavor is quite simple really.

I feel that Rebel Rider reminds me more of an IPL than an actual IPA, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in this case. The flavor is pretty good for what it is and I would consider the be a fine example as to how to do a session IPA/IPL the right way. While I can't see myself buying this to have at home, if I'm going to a picnic and need a good beer you can drink throughout the day without making a fool of myself, then I would definitely recommend this.

Sam Adams Rebel Rider - 8/10

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wisconsin Brewing Ol' Reliable Review

Name: Wisconsin Brewing Ol' Reliable 
Style: Munich Helles
ABV: 4.8%

Today I've got a beer from the Wisconsin brewery called....Wisconsin Brewing Company, based out of Verona, Wisconsin. I really don't know too much about the brewery aside from that they started becoming available in our area recently and that they did a collaboration brew with students from UW-Madison as part of their Campus Craft Brewery program, which actually sounds very cool; Maybe for a future review?

However I will be focusing on their Ol' Reliable, which is a Munich Helles Lager. Why the name? According to the brewery, it's got a flavor you can always depend on for great taste. I'll be the judge of that, let's take a look.

Appearance - A clear yellow color and a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head itself has a rather thin & filmy appearance and the lacing is soapy and quite spotty.

Aroma - Right away I'm getting some nice bready-biscuits on the front of the nose paired with some pale maltiness. I'm also picking up on some light floral hoppiness tucked away in the back. It's got a simple aroma but it sure smells good; Almost like freshly baked bread.

Taste - Things off with some yeastiness & pale maltiness which linger throughout the flavor, however in the second half of the flavor is where those floral hops start to shine through with even a hint of bitter hops as well. The aftertaste is a mix of pale malts and light bitter hops.

The flavor isn't even close to what I would consider complex but it tastes quite good and rather robust for what it is. Just like the description implies, the flavor will never let you down. After having this, I'm very excited to see what else these guys can make.

Wisconsin Brewing Ol' Reliable - 8.5/10

Monday, May 4, 2015

Blue Moon White IPA Review

Name: Blue Moon White IPA
Style: White IPA
ABV: 5.9%

Last week I was putting together a mix-a-six for myself when I noticed this beer sitting on the shelf. Upon seeing this, my reaction was: A macro-brewer released an IPA? This I've got to see! So here we are with Blue Moon's White IPA. Blue Moon, as I have pointed out earilier, was founded by MillerCoors but acts as a separate entity by producing beer that are along the lines of what is considered to be "craft beer."

I'm very curious to see how this turned out. My findings on the internet haven't revealed much, aside from that this is a very recent release and it's brewed with Cascade, Citra, and Huell Melon hops. Let's see how this turned out!

Appearance - A very hazy yellow color with no visible carbonation to speak of. The head is quite foamy and has some good retention though the lacing is surprisingly abundant and sticky

Aroma - Well this is interesting, the nose starts off with some rich citra hop/orange peel notes & honeydew melon sweetness, followed by some malted wheat and pale maltiness. There's even a hint of corinader in here as well, just like the label promised. The best way to describe the aroma is that it smells like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.

Taste - Strong malted wheat & moderate citrus hop notes dominate the front of the palate, with the latter lingering throughout the flavor. The second half of the flavor consists of berry sweetness
and some potent bitter hoppiness. As for the aftertaste, it's all bitter hops with just a hint of orange peel.

I can't believe I'm about to say this, but Blue Moon White IPA is quite good. Marco-brewers, take note: If you really are serious about enticing craft beer drinkers, make more beers like this. Now is this the best White IPA I've ever had? Of course not, but I would most certainly have it again should I be given the opportunity.

Blue Moon White IPA - 8/10

Lazy Monk Rye IPA Review

Name: Lazy Monk Rye IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.1% (Per Untappd)

Today I've got another beer courtesy of Lazy Monk Brewing based out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. This time, I have their Rye IPA which is aptly named......Rye IPA. Having had their Pilsner last time around, I'm quite eager to try this out. Plus it has been a good while since I've had any beers with rye in it.

Appearance - It pours a fairly hazy orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is thin in width, but has a rather thick feel to it. To top it off, the lacing is quite abundant

Aroma - I'm getting some potent citrus hoppiness in the nose upfront, but that rye spiciness manages to poke its head though. It also possesses a fairly strong caramel maltiness and even a hint of grape-fruitiness as well

Taste - The citrus hops & caramel maltiness are the strongest flavors here and linger throughout. However the second half of the flavor is where the rye and bitter hops start to shine through....sort of. While the bitter hops are most certainly there, the rye element of the flavor is very underwhelming when compared to the rest of the flavor.

As it stands, Rye IPA is a good beer but as I just mentioned, the actual rye aspect of the flavor falls flat, even after it warms up. However the rest of the flavor is quite good and that alone merits checking out this beer if the availability permits.

Lazy Monk Rye IPA - 8/10

Friday, May 1, 2015

Stillwater Artisanal Existent Review

Name: Stillwater Artisanal Existent
Style: Saison
ABV: 7.4%

When I picked up a couple of bottle from Stillwater Artisanal Ales a couple weeks back, I didn't exactly pay attention to the style which I was getting. So imagine my embarrassment when I got home and realized that I got two beers of the same style from the same brewery. Nevertheless, I shall proceed with having this.

Today I've got Existent, Stillwater's Dark Saison. I can deduce the name comes from the man on the label, who just so happens to be Frederich Nietzsche. He was also one of the leading contributors of the Existentialist philosophy movement (I knew I'd use what I learned in Freshman year Philosophy Class someday!)

Appearance - A very dark brown with a crimson tinge along the edges. It becomes completely crimson red when held up to the glass which gives it a surprisingly clear appearance. The head is less foamy here but the lacing retention is still excellent

Aroma - Picking up on some Belgian Yeasts & a potent chocolate maltiness in the front, followed by some roasted barley notes along with some dark fruitiness that reminds me of blackberries. This is paired with some floral hoppiness.

Taste - The chocolate malts & Belgian yeasts are the forerunners on the palate, but the blackberry and floral hoppiness follow up almost immediately. As for the aftertaste, I'm getting a mix of moderate roasted barley, mild floral hops and just a hint of Blackcurrant.

You know what? Between the two Saisons I've had from Stillwater, this is easily the better of the two. It's got a different yet vibrant flavor profile and the nose and taste are consistent with one another. I've had a couple different Dark Saisons before, but they didn't come close to what I have here in front of me. So if you're looking for a different type of Saison, this will hit the spot!

Stillwater Artisanal Existent - 9/10