Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lakewood Saint Dymphna Review

Name: Lakewood Saint Dymphna
Style: Tripel
ABV: 8.6%
IBUs: 34

Continuing on with my second Texas Craft Beer package, I have yet another offering from Lakewood Brewing in the form of their Saint Dymphna, which is a Tripel-style ale that is part of Lakewood's Legendary Series. Doing my usual research, I found out the Dymphna is the patron saint of those with mental illness as she cared for them and supposedly cured them of their ailments when she was alive.

I'm guessing the reason this beer is named after her is because she fled her home country of Ireland to escape her father's prosecution and ended up living in the city of Geel, Belgium until her father tracked her down and murdered her. Makes for an interesting backstory, don't you think?

Appearance - Hazy dark golden color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is white & on the filmier side and the lacing is abundant and quite sticky.

Aroma - Right away I'm getting some pungent banana notes and strong Belgian yeastiness. I'm also getting some pale malts, a bit of bubblegum sweetness and even some candied caramel maltiness.

Taste - Strong Belgian yeasts and cloves up front, followed by some banana, bubblegum and toffee notes. The back end of the flavor is mainly toffee and caramel sweetness with a light hint of floral hoppiness; The latter two of which make up the aftertaste.

It's been awhile since I've had a great Tripel and this hits the spot! I know the availability of this beer is probably limited to Texas only but those who are able to try this out should definitely do so if it so happens to be available in your area.

Lakewood Saint Dymphna - 9/10

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Boulevard Dark Truth Stout Review

Name: Boulevard Dark Truth Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.7%
IBUs: 60

Another beer from Boulevard Brewing and this time it's their Dark Truth Stout, which is an Imperial Stout. Yeah, it's the dead of summer but anytime of the year is good for an Imperial Stout. I see too that it's part of their Smokestack Series. What's the "Dark Truth" behind this beer, I wonder? The website doesn't say but one can speculate, right?

The last time I had anything from their Smokestack Series was back when I was a senior in college. If my memory serves me correctly, I got it from Zipp's in Minneapolis and it was their Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale. I remember it tasting wonderful but I do recall there being a ton of sediment floating around the insides of the glass.

Appearance - Pitch black color with no visible carbonation. The head is filmy & dark brown in appearance with some decent retention and the lacing is surprisingly sparse.

Aroma - Getting some strong chocolate malt notes with some mild roastiness and a hint of vanilla. There is also a bit of cherry and raspberry sweetness lingering around that becomes more prevelant the more it warms up.

Taste - Fairly identical to the nose; You've got Chocolate malts and vanilla here but the is stronger, more prevalent roastiness in the middle of the palate with some strong bitter hops, cherry and raspberry notes on the back end of the palate. There's also a lingering chocolate malt and bitter hop aftertaste here as well.

Dark Truth is an Imperial Stout that doesn't do anything that hasn't already been done with the style. At the same time, it's got a good flavor profile that is sure to please even the most seasoned fans of the style so therefore this is easy for me to recommend.

Boulevard Dark Truth Stout - 8.5/10

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Boulevard Hibiscus Gose Review

Name: Boulevard Hibiscus Gose
Style: Gose
ABV: 4.2%
IBUs: 11

Look who's back after a 2 year absence, Boulevard Brewing! Last time I saw you, I was just leaving for Duluth. My goodness, you haven't changed at all! Let's catch up since we haven't seen each other for two years and what better way to do so than with reviewing a beer?

Today, I've got their Hibiscus Gose, which is some that I believe that have just recently added to their line-up since I last had anything from them. In addition to being brewed with Hibiscus, this is also brewed with coriander and........sea salt?! There's another Gose out there that I know of that I know of which is brewed with sea salt and that's Six Point's Jammer. Maybe I'll get around to reviewing it one day.

Appearance - Mildly hazy yellow-pinkish salmon color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head has a bit of volume to it but is quite fizzy for the most part and the lacing is sparse at best.

Aroma - Strong cereal grains & pale malts upfront with some saltiness. Even after warming up a bit, the hibiscus and coriander notes are mild at best. Not trying to fault the beer here, I'm just pointing out that it's rather adjunct-y in the nose.

Taste - Strong saltiness and moderate hibiscus notes on the front of the palate, with the coriander showing up in the middle of the flavor and lingering until the end. The back end of the palate & aftertaste is made up of pale malts, light floral hops, more salt, and hibiscus. Everything is here but the salt is strong with this one.....a little too strong.

This would be an awesome Gose, except for the fact that it feels like I'm eating drinking a spoonful of salt with every sip. I understand that Gose beers are supposed to be salty/sour but this one overdoes it to the point where it interferes with the other elements of the flavor. Everything else works just fine but it's eclipsed by all that sea salt.

Boulevard Hibiscus Gose - 6/10

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Lakewood Mole Temptress Review

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

A couple months ago, I reviewed a bunch of Texas craft beer that I got in a beer mail. Well, guess what? My connection in Dallas has come through again with some even more craft beer, making this the first time I've done a beer trade with the same person twice. Plus there's a couple beers here that I'm really looking forward to reviewing but we'll get to that later.

The first beer I'm going to review is Lakewood Brewing's Mole Temptress. Some of my regular readers may recall my review of their Temptress Milk Stout I did back in May earlier this year. This is essentially the same beer but made with vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate and 4 types of peppers (ancho, chipotle, pasilla and guajillo.) Plus the bottle itself kind of reminds me of the Lips of Faith design that I see from New Belgium.

Appearance - Pitch black with a very thin brown colored head with a most flimsy retention. There's a mild amount of visible carbonation here and the lacing is non-existent here. There is a couple of specs floating around in here and I was able to find out it's leftovers from the peppers used in the brewing process

Aroma - Chocolate malts, lactose and cinnamon notes start things off with a hint of spiciness. These are followed by a bit of roastiness and a slight hint of ancho chilies. As it warms up, everything becomes more vibrant and the smell reminds me mildly of a chocolate cake.

Taste - Moderate lactose notes, ancho chiles, and strong chocolate malts start things off. Right after that is some fairly strong cinnamon characteristics which show up seemingly out of nowhere in the middle and lingers through to the back, which has some mild heat, roasted barley and some bitter hoppiness.

Between this and the original, they both taste amazing....but I think I like this one just a little more. It's wonderfully layered and it goes out of it's way to show off the diverse array of flavors it has to offer. In fact I'd even go as far to say that this is one of the best Imperial Stouts I've had in recent memory! I should throw out too that due to the heat you encounter, this beer is definitely more of a sipper but with all the flavors going on here, you'll get no complaints from me. If you're looking for a complex tasting beer, this is it right here!

Lakewood Mole Temptress - 10/10

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stone Ruination 2.0 Review

Name: Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 100+ (That's what the Stone website says)

Yes, it's another beer from Stone Brewing but this is an interesting specimen that we have here. Not because of what's in it but rather the history behind it. Earlier this year, Stone announced that their Ruination Double IPA was going to be retired, because they were bringing on a newer version, more leveled-up version of Ruination for a couple of reasons. These included a bigger variety of hops, improved brewing techniques, and the change in palate for consumers who have grown accustomed to big, hoppy beers.

So today we have Ruination Double IPA 2.0, a newer and improved version of the original. Now I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I never had the original Ruination as I never got the urge to try it out for whatever reason. That said, I won't be comparing this to the original and will be looking at it with a fresh set of eyes, so to speak

Appearance - A mildly hazy dark orange color with no visible carbonation. The head is thin but is rather foamy with some good retention and the lacing is also sticky and fairly abundant.

Aroma - Strong Citrus and grapefruit hops start things off in the nose with some light toffee notes, followed by light spiciness & some buttery biscuit yeastiness that encompasses the nose.

Taste - Strong Grapefruit and citrusy hoppiness upfront with the grapefruit taking more of a central role than the citra hops. These are followed by some moderate toffee sweetness, a hint light spices and more buttery biscuits notes. The aftertaste is made up of some emerging bitter hop notes and some light yeastiness, both of which linger on the palate for quite a while after everything is said and done.

I'm not entirely sure what the original tasted like and probably never will but what I do know is that is a damned tasty beer. If this is considered by the brewery and beer drinkers to be the superior version of Ruination, then I'll take their word for it because they will get no argument from me in terms of the quality of this beer.

Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 - 9/10

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Stone Saison Review

Name: Stone Saison
Style: Saison
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 35

Everyone stop the presses, a beer made by Stone Brewing that ISN'T an IPA? What is this world coming to? All kidding aside, it's nice to be reviewing a beer from Stone that isn't an IPA for a change; Not that I haven't reviewed any Non-IPA beers from them before.

Today, I've got their Saison. There's no fancy name here nor is there any adjectives used. Plain, simple, and straight to the point. However rather than the "Enjoy By" expiration date that I normally see on these bottles, I instead see a "Bottled On" date in big bold-ish yellow letters of 05/15/15. Well, at least I know it's not old!

Appearance - A fairly hazy bright yellow color with a bit of translucence with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is white and fairly thin for the most part but it does have some pretty good retention. The same can't be said for the lacing, however, as it's soapy and there's no left over.

Aroma - Grassy pilsner malts kick things off with some Belgian yeastiness to back it up. A bit of clove spiciness along with some pale maltiness. For a Saison, it smells quite earthy, kind of reminds me of Saison DuPont in a way.

Taste - The taste is quite Belgian yeast forward with a bit of sweetness contained within, of which it's hard to put my finger on to determine what it exactly is. The grassy pilsner malts are still here but not quite as strong as they were in the nose. On the back end of the palate, you still have the Belgian yeasts but there's also some bitter hoppiness in here too. The bitter hoppiness in particular lingers on the palate after you take a sip.

It's interesting to see Stone do something that is more Eurocentric than what they are most known for and what we have here is a solid Saison-style ale. However given the reputation that Stone has and the access to other Saisons I have, this probably wouldn't be my first choice as far as the style goes.
Stone Saison - 8/10

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stone Delicious IPA Review

Name: Stone Delicious IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.7%
IBUs: 80

It's been about 3 1/2 weeks since I last reviewed an IPA, which I think may be the longest time in which I haven't reviewed a single one. Today we'll be breaking that spell with Stone Brewing's Delicious IPA. According to the label, it's a "flavorful, cutting-edge, modern-day IPA for everyone." and totes its reduced gluten content compared to their other beers so that more people can enjoy it. It's also made with El Dorado & Lemon Drop hops.

Now I've had one beer before this that I knew used Lemon Drop hops and that was Summit Brewing's Hop Silo Double IPA. Even though I never got around to reviewing it, I can say that Lemon Drop hops, when used correctly, make a beer taste amazing and that was the case with Hop Silo. If Summit ever decided to bring it back, I'll make sure to review it; Though I've been saying the same about their Hefeweizen for the better part of four years now.

Appearance - Very hazy orange color with a fairly foamy white head. Really not picking up on anything, carbonation-wise but there is some pretty good lacing to be had here

Aroma - Lemons and citrus hops dominate the front of the nose, along with some caramel maltiness, toffee sweetness and some very light biscuit notes. It's almost like the took an IPA and added lemonade to it, or a lemon cobbler.

Taste - Strong lemon zest along with some citrus hoppiness with the malt backbone more along the lines of a toffee flavor rather than a caramel one. The aftertaste is made up of buttery biscuits and lemon zest.....kind of like a lemon cobbler!

Is it the best IPA that I've ever had from Stone? No. Is it worthy of the name Delicious? Absolutely and the Lemon Drop hops in particular help give it a nice zing that separates it from other IPAs out there. If Lemon Drop hops are going to be the next big thing, I'd say it's a trend I welcome with open arms.

Stone Delicious IPA - 9.5/10

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A visit to Broken Seal Brewing

Last week was a busy one for me, which was spent mostly packing, moving & unpacking. With all that was going on, there was little time to review beer. Hence why I had 3 articles released to occupy the time while I was getting settled in. By Saturday morning, the dust had finally settled and (mostly) everything was unpacked, so I needed something to celebrate both the unpacking and the successful move. Luckily about a week prior, I was invited to a tasting party by Russ from Broken Seal Brewing Company based out of Cottage Grove, MN so I decided to accept the invite! Besides, what better way to embrace my return home than with some local beer?

Broken Seal Brewing is currently in the R&D stage and are still technically homebrewers, so right now they do their brewing in a garage. To put it in perspective, they're at roughly the same stage that Angry Inch Brewing was at when I first met them last year. Right now, they're working on their beers and are looking for a place to set up shop somewhere in the Southeast suburbs of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

Between my time mixing and mingling with the people there, I got to try out a variety of different beers. Since it's summertime, most of them were on the lighter side of the spectrum alcohol-wise, which is good because the temperature was in the upper 70's/lower 80's range that day. They even had little cards that you could fill out to tell the guys what you thought of the beers. Speaking of which, you probably want to know how they tasted, don'tcha? Well, here they are. Please note that these are in the order in which they were listed at the tasting event.

Cream Ale (5.8% ABV; 18 IBUs) - Made with 2 Row, Pilsner Malts, flaked rice, sugar and lightly hopped using Liberty hops. 

For a cream ale, it was very grassy and somewhat on the earthier-side to point where it started venturing into Pilsner territory. Not bad, but not quite true to the style but it's called R&D for a reason.

Kolsch (5.4% ABV; 22 IBUs) - Made with Pilsner & Vienna malts with Hallertau hops.

Nice & light body with some mild pale & pilsner maltiness and even a slight hint of white grapes & mild hoppiness on the back of the palate. Simple flavor but I could see myself drinking this on a hot summer day...which I was!

Berry Blonde (5% ABV; 22 IBUs) - Made with Pilsner, Honey & Crystal Hops with Willamette hops. Infused with raspberries & blackberries.

A nice crisp lager with some nice pale maltiness & light honey notes. The addition of raspberries and blackberries however really help make this already good lager become better. Like the Kolsch before it, perfect for a nice summer day or for a good old fashioned Bar-B-Que. I jokingly suggested the name of Barry Blondes* but I don't think that'll be happening.

Mild (4.2% ABV; 17 IBUs) - Made with British Pale, Crystal & Chocolate Malts with Kent Golding Hops. Described as an English Brown Ale that's high on flavor but low in alcohol.

I'll admit upfront that I wasn't expecting much out of this beer, flavor-wise. Having had my fair share of mild ales, I was expecting maybe a couple seconds of flavor before it went dry; That wasn't the case here. A nice chocolate maltiness dominates the palate with some mild roastiness. The kicker here is that the aftertaste isn't dry and is made of the aforementioned flavors and they linger for a fairly long time.

Perhaps it was a spur of the moment, but I even told them that I was so impressed with this that I didn't feel that it needed to be improved upon. What makes this even more impressive is that this is their first time brewing this style of beer.

Mosaic Pale Ale (5.8% ABV; 40 IBUs) - Made with Mosaic Hops & 2 Row, Vienna & Munich Malts

I'm a huge fan of Mosaic hops due to their robust and fruity characteristics and so are the guys at Broken Seal. The hop profile is nicely displayed here without being overpowering and the maltiness and light yeasts compliment the hops quite nicely.

Session IPA (5% ABV; 48 IBUs) - Made with 2 Row, Crystal & Vienna Malts with Cascade, Centennial & Crystal Hops

A mix of citrus & floral hoppiness with some slight bitter hoppiness on the back of the palate and in the aftertaste, which is otherwise fairly dry. Backing this is up is a nice pale maltiness that balances the flavor out nicely. Nothing I haven't already seen in a session IPA but it does no wrong in my book.

Saison (5.6% ABV; 25 IBUs) - Made with Pilsner, Wheat & Munich Malts with Hallertau Hops and the addition of blood orange zest and cracked peppers.

I'm going to admit upfront that this was my favorite out of all the beers I had there. You've got a nice Belgian yeastiness that is backed up by this buttery-biscuit maltiness with the blood orange zest & light cracked pepper elements giving the flavor a lot of dimension.

The flavor was different than many Saisons I've had before this but it was executed fairly well. Micah from Broken Seal says he wishes to add a little more cracked pepper to the mix in the near future, something which I can say could help but for the time being I'll take this! Some traditionalists of the may think otherwise but I say that this is one tasty Saison!

ESB (6% ABV; 40 IBUs) - Made with 2 Row, Pale Ale & Crystal Malts with WVG Hops

The strongest beer they had in terms of alcohol content. It's got a fairly strong caramel/roasted malt backbone with some bitter hoppiness thrown in for good measure. Nothing mindblowing about it, but a solid beer nonetheless.

Overall, these guys have some great ideas and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do moving forward. Hopefully they will be able to close in on a place to open up their brewery in the near future. A big shout out to Russ for inviting me out to the event, it was the perfect way to unwind after a crazy week. Also, thanks for the pint glasses guys! My wife may not be thrilled but one can never have too many beer glasses!

You can also check out Broken Seal on Facebook by clicking (here)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Four Loko Blue Hurricane Review

Name: Four Loko Blue Hurricane
Style: Malt Liquor
ABV: 12%

So I swore that I would never look at anything like this, but I've gotten a couple requests over the past few months to review this. Against my better judgement, I've decided to try out Four Loko Blue Hurricane, which comes in a can with a blue camo design that looks like it was ripped from a pair of camouflage pants that one would find at Hot Topic.

Speaking from experience, back when I was in college, I remember seeing people at various get togethers drinking either this or Joose. Thankfully the temptation never struck me to try it out on account of me sticking with my imported Canadian beers. I also know at one point that Four Loko was touted as an alcoholic energy drink but they removed the caffeine and other energy drink ingredients a few years ago, so now it's just a malt beverage in a huge can.

The can gives no information about what the flavor of Blue Hurricane is but I did manage to pull this description from the official Four Loko website:

"A new Four Loko flavor is taking the nation by storm – Blue Hurricane is coming ashore offering fans a great way to chillax. With a tasty cyclone of tropical flavors, Blue Hurricane Four Loko should be on everyone’s “good times” radar."

Oh I'm sure it will be!

Appearance - Hazy aqua blue color and a fizzy blue head which fades away almost instantly. There's tons of carbonation in here though, but don't expect there to be any lacing because.........I shouldn't have to tell you why. It looks like someone poured some windshield washer fluid in here

Aroma - Mangoes, peaches, blueberries and moderate booziness. It'd be awesome if this were all hop sweetness but it's not though. Instead it's more along the lines of artificial sweetness that reminds me of some tropical Kool-Aid I had as a kid, but on steroids

Taste - It's the same as the nose. You've got the mangoes, peaches, blueberries but the alcohol is powerful here,, with a sickly sweet mango and blueberry aftertaste. It's worth noting too that this somehow manages to burn esophagus as it goes down. Maybe it's just me but I don't think beer isn't supposed to hurt me when I'm drinking it.

My regular readers know that the worst beers I've ever had are Molson XXX, Miller Fortune, and Bud Light Platinum. Well, chalk up one more beer to the "Worst Ever" category because this is absolute garbage. Plus any drink that irritates my throat to the point where I'm coughing long after I've finished having it is not worthy of being drank by anyone.

Yes I am quite aware that it's cheap booze and I'm not expecting anything more given the $2 I paid for it. All of that still doesn't take away from the fact that this is quite bad. If you've got an extra dollar, spend it on a bottle of Summit EPA or Dale's Pale Ale.

Four Loko Blue Hurricane - 1/10

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bell's Uranus Review

Name: Bell's Uranus
Style: Imperial Black IPA
ABV: 9.5%

Well I honestly thought I'd never get to review this due to everything that's been going on and the fact I hadn't seen it on shelves until last weekend, but now my bottle cap collection can continue. Today I've got the second-to-last offering in the Bell's Brewery Planet Series which is Uranus: The Magician.

This time around, we've been given an Imperial Black IPA. It's a style I've never had before from Bell's, let alone a Black IPA from them. However they've added Citra, Galaxy & Polaris (The North Star) hops, because, you know, it's all about space. Though I will admit it's fairly clever to implement the said hops.

Appearance - Initially pitch black in color but it turns to a very dark brown color when held to a light. The head is reasonably foamy but not by any means voluminous. There is some pretty good sticky lacing here but there isn't any visible carbonation

Aroma - Chocolate malts upfront followed immediately by bitter & citrus hoppiness. There's also a bit of light roastiness thrown in as well. Aside from all of that, the nose feels just a little underwhelming even after warming up. On the plus side, I'm not getting any booziness.

Taste - Strong citrus and bitter hops upfront backed up by a solid chocolate malt backbone and light roasted barley. I'm also getting some grapefruitiness more towards the back of the palate along with some light marshmallow notes that seemingly encompass the flavor.

All and all, I wouldn't go as far as to say that this is my favorite of the series (That distinction still belongs to Saturn) but it's up there! That said, it's a great tasting black IPA in it's own right. If Bell's were to add this as a seasonal, I would certainly be buying this as a six pack. Like many beers I've had in the Planet Series, it's makes my heart sink just a bit knowing that we could potentially never see these beers made by Bell's again.

Bell's Uranus - 9/10

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mankato Ceres Summer Ale Review

Name: Mankato Ceres Summer Ale
Style: Wheat Ale
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: 24

Well, it's certainly been a busy and interesting week but the move is (mostly) complete so I'm going to sit back, relax and have a beer. I've got a little something from a brewery that hasn't been featured on this blog for well over two years now, due to the fact that this brewery didn't distribute to Duluth.

That's right, please welcome back Mankato Brewery to this website! Today I've got their Ceres Summer Ale, which gets its name from the Roman Goddess of agriculture and grain. Yes, I'm aware that I just reviewed a bunch of summer beers recently but I can't pass up the chance to review something from Mankato, especially after an unusually long hiatus.

Appearance - Very hazy bright yellow color with a mild amount of carbonation. The head is nice and foamy and the lacing is also rather abundant and sticky.

Aroma - Light bitter hoppiness with light orange peels with some malted wheat notes and a light amount of pilsner-grassiness.

Taste - Fairly strong malted wheat and bitter floral hoppiness followed by some light orange peel and pale-like maltiness, with a dry aftertaste save for a light bitter hoppiness that lingers on the back of the palate for a few seconds.

For a session ale, it's got a fairly robust flavor profile and there's nothing wrong with that. If you're able to have this or are in Southern Minnesota, then I'd recommend checking it out and maybe even buying a six pack if you're able to.

Mankato Ceres Summer Ale - 8.5/10 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Blood, Sweat and Beer Movie Review

It's not too often that I review something that isn't beer but today I've got a special treat for my readers: I'm going to be reviewing a movie! Not just any movie, but a documentary about craft beer called Blood, Sweat and Beer. It that specifically focuses on the growth of two new craft breweries:

  1. Backshore Brewing (AKA Shorebilly Brewing)
  2. The Brew Gentleman Beer Company

In addition to that, the movie focuses on the growth of the craft beer industry as a whole across the United States, as well as the challenges faced by new startup breweries.

Right away when introduced to the two startup breweries, you can't help but feel like that they are each in their own planet. Shorebilly Brewing is a new but established brewery located along the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland. Brew Gentleman, on the other hand, is located in Braddock, Pennsylvania, which is a steel town located outside of Pittsburgh. Unlike Backshore, they have not opened up yet at the start of the movie.

These contrasts of locations are where the cinematography really comes into play nicely. On one end, you've got Ocean City, which is a picturesque summer tourist destination situated along the Atlantic Ocean. If no one told me where it was located, I could've easily mistaken it for Long Beach, California. Compared to Braddock, which is considered to be a Rust Belt city and it is in very rough shape with the majority of the buildings in town sitting abandoned and a population that is a fraction of what it once was.

Shorebilly Brewing has already been around for a couple of years at the start of the movie. Their story highlights the owner Danny Robinson's desire to grow their distribution, the struggles of seasonal traffic and the trademark lawsuit which could potentially shut down the brewery; The latter of which is the primary emphasis for Shorebilly's Story. If there is one thing I really like about this, it's that it shows just how ugly the whole litigation process is and it especially shows really shows when Danny is talking it. It is a name which he essentially poured his soul into making over the past few years after leaving the restaurant industry.

On the flipside, Brew Gentleman's story focuses more on getting the said brewery off the ground. They tell you their life story, background and how they came to a town that would be the last place you'd expect to find a craft brewery. You get to see how they live on a day-today basis and hear their story about how they got to where they are now. The spirit of these guys is reflected mostly with their brewmaster, a former intern at Anheuser-Busch, who seemingly turned away a potential career with them and instead opted to work for Brew Gentleman in a town that many of the locals referred to as "Hell." What makes it all more profound is that he did it all for free.

The spotlight isn't just on these two breweries in particular. The filmmakers went out of their way to speak with the owners of other, well-established breweries like Victory Brewing, Heavy Seas, Brooklyn Brewing, Flying Dog & Terrapin just to name a few. Their input helps give the viewer a broader context of what the industry is really like and what they think the future holds for craft beer as a whole.

The movie also highlights the following that craft beer has. Ranging from the casual drinker at a beer festival to the man who has an entire cellar full of literally hundreds of bottles that he has set aside for aging. It does so in a nice way without making the follow seem fanboyish, which I'll admit was one of my initial concerns about this film when I first started watching it.

While the movie talks about all the positives that have come to light because of the craft brewing industry, it doesn't shy away from the fact that the growth will eventually slow down . On top that, it doesn't ignore the fact that some breweries are going to go out of business; Whether it be from competition or quality of beer. It also does a great job of putting into perspective of the overhead costs to keep a brewery running and paints a realistic picture that not all breweries (and their owners) aren't rich but ordinary people like you and me trying to make good beer.

The movie does touch briefly upon the topic of Craft vs. Crafty beer, which I wrote about early last month. This means that big beer companies are trying to take their share of the craft beer market by releasing their brand of beer designed to pass off as craft beer. It's a topic that I felt should've been covered a little more but at the same time I think that could've taken away from what the overall movie was about.

All and all, the movie does a great job of showcasing the growth of the craft brewing industry in the United States & the realities of opening up a new craft brewery. At the same time, I really have gained a greater appreciation for the beer which I drink and review on a regular basis. If you have any interest in craft beer, whether it be passing or as a loyal follower, you owe it to yourself to check this movie out!

If you'd like more information about the movie you can check out the link right here -

Friday, July 10, 2015

How I got into Craft Beer (Part 2)

In my previous post, I mentioned that my first experience with craft beer (and Surly) back in 2009 was probably not the best experience I had ever had; Having been given a Surly Furious for my first non-macro beer was probably not the best way to get me acquainted with craft beer. Looking back, I saw that my friend's intentions were good but he probably didn't know that I had no concept of craft beer.

About a month after that whole incident, me and a friend of mine decided to goto Surdyk's in Northeast Minneapolis as they were having a Labor Day sale of sorts. Upon our arrival, we noticed New Belgium had about 4 tables set up in the front of the store. At this time, I believe they had just started distributing to Minnesota and were looking for ways to reach out to the local populace.

I decided to try out a sample of a little known beer called Fat Tire: a name which I thought, at the time, was rather bizarre. Amongst the other names were Mothership Wit, Somersault and other one that I don't remember. It was at this moment that I was told by the representative that New Belgium was a craft brewery.

I was still reeling from my experience with Surly Furious when I was told this, knowing full well that they too were a craft brewery. I should also point out too that I hadn't yet realized that there was more to craft beer than just IPAs and I almost didn't try out the sample of Fat Tire. Still, my friend encouraged me to try it out anyways

So I took a sip....

Upon finishing the tiny Dixie Cup-sized glass, I was taken aback by the flavor because it was like a world of flavors was swimming around in my mouth. I still remember it: the biscuit malts, the light roastiness, the yeastiness and that light floral hoppiness. I still remember asking myself: Is this what craft beer is supposed to taste like? Fat Tire was awesome, but the Mothership Wit is what truly sold me. It had such a light yet robust flavor for a beer and I remember afterwards buying their sampler pack.

It was an eye-opening experience for me and after this I would dabble in the lighter side of craft beers, usually consisting of amber & wheat beers. It wouldn't be until a couple of years later that I again branched off into the heavier beers like IPAs & stouts. I even managed to fall in love with Surly Furious during that time but I'm still sure that my server from Pizza Luce still thinks of me as evil.

Oh and if you're reading this, New Belgium, please bring back Mothership Wit!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How I got into Craft Beer (Part 1)

**Since I will be busy with moving over the next few days, I will not the have time to do beer reviews. Instead of leaving you all hanging, I put together some materials in advance to hold you all over until I get settled in. Hopefully you'll like reading these as much as I enjoyed putting it all together**

Many of us fondly remember when we had our first beer, but some of us also remember our first time discovering the world of craft beer. For some, it was trying out something new at a friends house. For others, it came to us when we were out at the bar and were curious to try out the new draft offering.

I often get asked how I got into craft beer and the answer is...well, I always find myself having to explain how exactly I got into it. Usually I'll say it was a process of trial, error, and the perseverance of human will....but that usually leaves people with a look of confusion on their face. So instead of having to tirelessly explain my tale, I figured to myself "Why not put it in writing form?"

My journey began when I first turned 21 years old. I had just left the DMV, having updated my license and was looking to celebrate my new-founded perk of finally obtaining alcohol legally. Conveniently located right down the street from the DMV was a liquor store, so I made my way over there and spent about 20 minutes deciding what beer to get. Since I didn't know what quality beer was, I settled for a six-pack of regular Coors. It's what all the cool kids drink, right?

Upon arriving back at my dorm that evening, I chipped away at a couple of beers while playing Halo 3 online with a couple friends of mine. During my time getting run over by a warthog driven by the blue team I pondered over the rather subpar taste of Coors and figured it would take some getting used to. Over the next couple of years, I would occasionally dabble with other macro beers like Budweiser, Rolling Rock & Milwaukee's Best before settling for Canadian imports like Labatt Blue & Kokanee. The world of craft beer was, at the time, not yet known to me.

Me circa 2009 AKA simpler times
Fast forward a couple years to 2009, I was at Pizza Luce is South Minneapolis with a few friends of mine when it was suggested to me that I try out a certain craft beer. Not knowing what a craft beer was, it was explained to me that it was beer but independently made and it came in many different styles. At this point, buzzwords like Tripel, Dubbel, IPA, Saison & English Pale Ale were thrown at me like I was on the wrong end of a one-sided food fight.

I caved in and ordered a pint of Surly Furious much to the delight of my friends. Upon the initial sip, I almost immediately spit it out, much to the shock of my friends. My underdeveloped palate convinced me that instead of getting beer, I got a glass full of Pine-Sol. I immediately flagged down the server with the Salvador Dali mustache, asked him to bring me a tallboy of Grain Belt, and openly told him that drinking the beer I had was comparable to that of having my taste buds violated by industrial-grade cleaning chemicals.

The look on his face was that of disappointment, anger and disbelief, all rolled into one. It didn't help that, as he was walking away, I heard him say "I can't believe ANYONE would talk that way about Surly." To him, I was the worst human being to walk the face of the earth in his eyes; All because of my horrible taste in beer.

I could not figure out for the life of me why he had taken such offense to my comments. Well, the beer in question that I ordered at the urging of my friend was none other than Surly Furious, considered by many craft beer fans to be amongst the best IPAs in America.....and I had just compared it Pine-Sol. Looking back, I'm very surprised that I made it out of there alive that night.

And that, my friends, is my first exposure to the world craft beer!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tin Whiskers Parity Pilsner Review

Name: Tin Whiskers Parity Pilsner
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.8%
IBUs: 29

Just a little heads up right now, this will be my last beer review for about a few days as me and my wife will be busy getting moved into our new place. No need to worry though, as I have a few articles already finished and will be releasing them periodically throughout the week. For right now, we're taking a look at another offering from Tin Whiskers Brewing.

It's been a few months since this brewery was last featured on here so I've decided to review their Parity Pilsner. Hopefully with my upcoming move, they will be featured more regularly here. Since the owners of the brewery have backgrounds in electrical engineering, I knew right away that the name had something to to do with their profession in some sense. Sure enough, I looked up the definition of Parity and here's what it means:

Parity - a technique of checking whether data has been lost or written over when it is moved from one place in storage to another or when transmitted between computers.

Appearance - Fairly clear pale yellow color with a mild amount of carbonation. The head is rather soapy but with good retention and the same goes for the lacing, which is also fairly sticky.

Aroma - Lemongrass and pilsner malts dominate the front of the nose. These are mixed in with some floral hops and pale maltiness. And yes, just like the label says, there's even some tea leaves in here but it isn't immediately apparent.

Taste - Pilsner malts and grassiness upfront with some floral hops and some lemon grassiness. The aftertaste is mostly lemongrass and pilsner malts. I'm not getting the tea notes that I experienced in the nose but the taste is somewhat on the earthier side, so perhaps that is where the tea should be.

All and all, it's a beer that tastes great and feels very crisp, making this an ideal summer seasonal. On top of that, the asking price is considerably reasonable at around $5, though this may vary from store to store. Since it's a relatively new brewery, distribution is currently limited to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area but here's to hoping that their reach grows in the future.

Tin Whiskers Parity Pilsner - 8/10

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Stone Old Guardian Review

Name: Stone Old Guardian
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 11.6%
IBUs: 80

After having all of those light beers, it's time to get back to the heavier stuff. The best way I can think of right now is to review a barleywine of all things. In this case, it's Old Guardian from Stone Brewing, which is their annual barleywine that is usually released in the winter/early spring.

I actually picked this up about a couple months ago from Blue Max, and I kind of lucked out when I bought this because this is from 2014. I actually had this about three years ago when I was visiting Minneapolis from Chicago and managed to grab it as I was leaving. I had it upon arriving back to my apartment in Chicago and absolutely loved it but taking notes wasn't at the top of my list of priorities.

Appearance - A hazy dark red color with no visible carbonation. The head takes on a foamy, light khaki color with some pretty good lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Strong caramelized malts on the front of the nose followed by some potent piney hop and grapefruit notes, before being rounded out with some toffee sweetness.

Taste - Virtually the same as the nose. You've got strong caramelized maltes and piney hop notes upfront with grapefruits and toffee notes after that. The big difference here is that the caramelized malts and piney hops are a lot stronger here. The aftertaste is mainly toffee sweetness and bitter hoppiness

It's not the most complex tasting barleywine out there, even with some age but for the price I paid for it, I still consider this to be pretty good. If this were $15, I would recommend avoiding this but since I paid half that price, I'd say this is worth checking out.

Stone Old Guardian - 8.5/10

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Schell Shocked Grapefruit Radler Review

Name: Schell Shocked Grapefruit Radler
Style: Radler
ABV: 4.6%

Well, it's time to wrap up my Summer Seasonal beer series with something a little closer to home. I'll be looking at something from the August Schell Brewing Company called Schell Shocked Grapefruit Radler. According to the brewery's website, this was originally released as a draft-only beer back in 2012 before being bottled and canned a year later.

Like many of the beers I've looked at here, I've seen this everywhere but haven't gotten the chance to look at it. In fact, the last time I saw this prior to attaining this last week was in the middle of this past winter at a store here in town whose selection doesn't exactly have a high rate of product turnover. Aside from being a summer seasonal, no one wants to drink 8-9 month old beer unless you're aging it or are into that sort of stuff.

Appearance - A fairly clear pale yellow color with a light amount of carbonation. The head is about one finger in width and is quite soapy, along with the lacing which is also quite soapy and rather sparse.

Aroma - Grapefruit sweetness, some pale maltiness, grains, a light amount of floral hops and even a touch of earthiness. Not overly sweet like I was expecting.

Taste - Tangy and sweet grapefruitiness upfront, followed by pale malts, light orange peel & lemon twist and some light grains. The aftertaste is fairly dry, save for a strong tanginess that lingers on the back of the palate.

Out of all the Radlers I've had, this one is definitely my personal favorite out of the bunch. The flavor is nice and refreshing and there's something about the grapefruit aspect of the flavor that gives it a certain crispness, giving it the edge to stand out more. As such, I can see myself drinking this on a hot summer day in any given situation. If this is available in your area, I'd highly recommend checking this out.

Schell Shocked - 8.5/10

Coors Light Citrus Radler Review

Name: Coors Light Grapefruit Radler
Style: Radler
ABV: 4.2%

Earlier on I was at the store when I noticed a brand new offering from Coors and it was being sold for a very reasonable price. I'm of course talking about Coors Light Citrus Radler, a beer which, according to Beer Advocate, was released not too long ago. In fact, at the time of writing this, there are only 26 ratings for the said beer.

Normally I don't buy anything Coors related but this was on sale for $1.29 at the store and since I'm going through as many summer beers as possible, I figured this would be a good beer to review. In fact despite the fact it's from Coors, I'm always eager to see what they come up with because I follow the philosophy that even a broken clock is wrong twice a day. However, upon arriving home, I noticed that on the back of the can that it says this is "Coors Light with a blend of natural citrus flavors."

Oh boy, I've got a really bad feeling about this....

Appearance - Clear pale yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head has some decent retention but there's nothing in terms of lacing

Aroma - It's seriously, I'm not joking. You've got the lemon-lime aroma with maybe a bit of alcoholic booziness. It's like you just poured a can of yellow colored 7-Up into my glass

Taste - Light Lemon-lime notes that almost immediately fades to a light barley flavor backed up by some moderate cereal grain notes and light pale malts. The aftertaste is very dry and practically non-existent. It's really too bad that the flavor isn't as robust as the nose.

Remember in my last post when I said Leinie's Summer Shandy would taste great after a 20 mile bike ride. Well, if you gave this to me after a 20 mile bike ride, I would ask that you fetch me a Summer Shandy instead because it somehow manages to have lack both a decent taste and refreshing qualities that I look for in a shandy.

The big problem with this beer isn't that it has an offensive flavor, but more because it has little flavor to speak of. In fact, I've had cheap 99 cent beers before that, while have tasted awful, had more complex flavors than this. I feel that, even by paying only $1.29, I still feel like I paid too much for this beer. As such, if you're looking for an awesome summer beer, look elsewhere.

Coors Light Citrus Radler - 4/10