Saturday, November 28, 2015

Good Ass Beer Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Ass Beer - 4/10

Boulevard Imperial Stout Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boulevard Imperial Stout - 8/10

Friday, November 27, 2015

Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale - 9/10

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Boulevard The Calling Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boulevard The Calling - 9/10

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tallgrass Bourbon-Barrel Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Shmaltz He'Brew Death of a Contract Brewer Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Clown Shoes Flight of the Angry Beast Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clown Shoes Flight of the Angry Beast - 9.25/10

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lagunitas Doppel Sticky Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lagunitas Doppel Sticky - 8/10

Monday, November 16, 2015

Boulevard Collaboration No. 5 Tropical Pale Ale Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 13, 2015

Clown Shoes Ride The Wendigo Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clown Shoes Ride The Wendigo - 9/10

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Off Color Scurry Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Color Scurry - 8/10

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Summit Old Braggard Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summit Old Braggard - 9.25/10

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lift Bridge Farm Girl Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lift Bridge Farm Girl - 8/10

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Stillwater Vacuum Readymade Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stillwater Vacuum Readymade - 7.5/10

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Foster's Lager Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foster's Lager - 5/10

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Belgium Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale - 8/10