Saturday, January 30, 2016

Regular Guy Brewing Contra Code Extra Pale Ale Review

Name: Regular Guy Brewing Contra Code EPA
Style: English Pale Ale
ABV: 6%

It's been a while, but the guys at Regular Guy Brewing have come through for me again by sending me some samples of their latest wares. I've got a couple new beers from them to review and the first I'll be looking at is their Contra Code EPA, complete with the code and everything on the front. Now since the Contra logo is trademarked by Konami, this probably won't be the final label design but it still looks incredibly fun!

Appearance - Very hazy dark orange color with no visible carbonation. The head is nice and foamy though very small in terms of volume but there is a lot of lacing left behind

Aroma - Bready biscuits and floral hops dominate the front of the nose. Alsogetting some mild marmalade & grapefruit notes with some light bitter hops towards.

Taste - Biscuits and floral hops on the front of the palate once again, followed by some mild orange peel and bitter hops. Aftertaste is mostly yeasts and light floral & bitter hoppiness.

Looking back at the last EPA that Regular Guy did, it's apparent to me that this is a new recipe & isn't unlike any other EPA out there and is more in line with what a traditional EPA tastes like. It's got all the staples of the style (Floral hops, yeastiness, etc.) and it plays it safe for the most part. The important thing here is that it's got a good balance to it and that works in its favor.

Regular Guy Brewing Contra Code Extra Pale Ale - 8/10

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Southern Tier Back Burner Review

Name: Southern Tier Back Burner
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 10.5%

The other day, I was browsing the shelves at the store when I noticed Southern Tier's Back Burner was now available. Having seen this on store shelves for the past few years, I had never really bothered to try it out; Nothing against the beer itself, its just that my interest in it was never piqued per se.

What did grab my attention, however, was that the price of this beer had dropped compared to last year, when it was going for at least $3-4 more than what I saw it for presently. "Awesome!" I thought to myself, "A decently priced barleywine, I guess I should check it out!" So I bought it and decided to see what it was all about.

Appearance - Very dark & cloudy amber/mahogany color with no visible carbonation. The head starts out thin upon the initial pour but fades away after a minute'

Aroma - Strong caramel malts & molasses notes, followed by some chocolate notes and mild booziness. I'm also picking up on some mild floral hops but it isn't immediately apparent until it starts to warm up a bit

Taste - Strong caramel and raisin flavors, with some molasses and floral hops in the middle. Very strong booziness here and buttery notes in the back (not the good kind either.) The aftertaste is a mix of booziness, dark molasses and a potent buttery flavor.

Well at least now I know why there was a price drop because this barleywine is pretty bad. Buttery flavors aside, it tastes too sweet for my liking. I'm not sure if there was an issue in the brewing process or if it has always tasted like this but either way, this is definitely one of the worst barleywines I've ever had, and that hurts just by typing it. Don't let the price tag lure you in like it did for me, trust me.

Southern Tier Back Burner - 3/10

New Belgium Side Trip Review

Name: New Belgium Side Trip
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 22

Now we're looking at the other beer that New Belgium just released a couple weeks back alongside their Citradelic IPA and that is their Side Trip Belgian Pale Ale. Apparently the idea for this beer was conceived last year at New Belgium's retreat to............Belgium!!

You see, like Fat Tire, this marks the second beer from the brewery that was inspired by a trip to Belgiam. However, unlike this beer, Fat Tire was inspired by a bike ride while this beer was inspired by the brewmaster making "Side Trips" to find a good yeast strain to use. Well since we have this beer in front of us, he obviously found something.

Appearance - Fairly clear bright yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head has a good amount of foam to it and the lacing left behind is quite abundant.

Aroma - Belgian yeasts and candied caramel malts, with some notes of cloves and mild floral hoppiness. I'm also picking up on some bubblegum, bready biscuits, and banana notes in here too.

Taste - Fairly similar to the aroma. In the front you've got that Belgian yeast and candied caramel malt sweetness, followed by some clove and mild floral hoppiness in the middle. Towards the back you get some bready biscuits followed by some mild bubblegum and banana notes. The aftertaste is surprisingly dry save for a mild clove kick.

I would've like to see something more than just cloves in the aftertaste, but it's a very minor complaint in the grand scheme of things. What we've got here is an excellent Belgian Pale Ale and having this makes me wish that more breweries would release their own rendition of a Belgian Pale Ale. Bearing in mind too that Belgians are not exactly in high demand, I will happily drink this for the time being.

New Belgium Side Trip - 8.5/10

Monday, January 25, 2016

New Belgium Citradelic Review

Name: New Belgium Citradelic
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 50

A couple weeks ago, New Belgium released a couple new beers to their existing lineup, both of which so happened to be Pale Ales. For this review, I've got their Citradelic, which is described by the brewery as a Tangerine IPA. Looking at New Belgium's website, they used "Tangerine infused orange peel" in the brewing process.

Doing some further digging, I found out that the inspiration of this beer may have been influenced by Ballast Point's Grapefruit Sculpin, which apparently has been selling like crazy despite the (in my opinion) ridiculously inflated asking price. Then again, that beer in particular is causing other breweries to scramble for their own answer to Grapefruit Sculpin, so it means someone is buying it.

Appearance - Clear bright yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head is foamy but thinner in terms of overall volume and the lacing borders between that of sparse & moderate.

Aroma - True to its name, I'm getting some strong citrus & tangerine notes with some light grapefruit sweetness and mild yeastiness. I am also picking up on some mild floral & bitter hops but they're mostly overshadowed by the sheer citrus aroma.

Taste - Strong Tangerine & Citrus flavors upfront that remind me of Froot Loops, while the middle of the palate gives way to some mild bitter hoppiness. Towards the back is where that Tangerine sweetness makes a very brief visit while the yeasts and light citrus sweetness linger for a few moments after a sip is taken.

I can foresee Citradelic being a huge hit amongst the GS crowd as well as craft beer drinkers as a whole. I know New Belgium makes good beers but they aren't exactly known for making awesome beers with the exception of their Lips of Faith series. This, however, exceeded my expectations and I see this being a welcome addition to the New Belgium lineup.

The biggest drawback here is that it isn't as vibrant as GS in terms of overall flavor. However, it's still a very good and citrusy/tangeriney(?) IPA and it's literally $5-6 cheaper than GS. As such, I find this easier to recommend than Grapefruit Sculpin in terms of price point and that your getting more than your money's worth with the overall flavor.

New Belgium Citradelic - 9/10

Kona Castaway IPA Review

Name: Kona Castaway IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 50

It's been awhile since I've reviewed anything from Kona Brewing, over 2 years to be precise. Then again, what do you expect since the brewery itself isn't exactly known for releasing new beers seeing as how their lineup has changed little these past couple of years.

Well, today I've got their newest beer, which is their Castaway IPA. Keeping in spirit with the other beers in their lineup, the label let's everyone know that this is made in Hawaii, this time around with a guy in an Outrigger Canoe paddling along the Hawaiian coast.

Appearance - Hazy yellow color with some mild visible carbonation. The head is very thin and almost completely translucent, though the lacing is rather plentiful.

Aroma - Citrus & piney/dank hops upfront, followed by some caramel & pale malts along with some light yeast notes.

Taste - Bitter & citrus hops, followed by some light pale maltiness upfront. Back end of the palate is fairly dry, with some more light citrus hops and biscuit notes. Needless to say, the aftertaste is also very dry, save for some light bitterness which only lingers for a couple of seconds.

I find it hard to believe that this is 6% ABV on account of the lack of flavor, as in I expect the flavor to be spread more instead of being focused in just the front. I've had session IPAs that have literally more robust flavor profiles than this. In short, this beer is uneventful at best. It's not terrible or offensive but it's not worthy of your time.

Kona Castaway IPA - 6/10

Friday, January 22, 2016

Steel Toe Size 11 Review

Name: Steel Toe Size 11
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 11%
IBUs: 111 (supposedly)

It's been a while since I reviewed anything from Steel Toe Brewing, but the other day I was at the store and saw that Size 11 was now available. A few of the stores I patronize have this bottle on display and I've thought to myself "Man, I'd like to try that one day."

Well today is that day, for Size 11 is an Imperial IPA. I've already reviewed their Size 7 IPA and they also have a Size 4 IPA, which is their session IPA. The last one, however, is currently not available at the time of writing this but I'll settle for what is in front of me.

Appearance - Very hazy bright orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head doesn't have too much volume to it, but what's there is foamy and the lacing is also pretty good.

Aroma - Strong citrus hops and grapefruit notes with just a hint of bitterness. Also getting some caramel maltiness in here too, primarily towards the back.

Taste - Strong citrus hops with some equally strong candied caramelized malts upfront. Towards the middle it becomes more focused on the malts with a slight hint of bitterness, while the back end of the flavor opens up to some light grapefruit notes while retaining that candied caramelized maltiness. Aftertaste is a mix of caramelized malts, orange peel and light hop bitterness.

I was expecting this beer to have a heavier body like many Imperial IPAs, but I was pleasantly surprised by how light bodied this was. There is a lot going on in the flavor, all of which makes it a very robust and vibrant IPA. On top of that, the asking price for a bomber of this is very reasonable, which makes this very easy to recommend. If you see this, it's most certainly worth picking up.

Steel Toe Size 11 - 9.5/10

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bent Paddle 14° ESB Review

Name; Bent Paddle 14° ESB
Style: Extra Special Bitter 
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 32

Before getting started, I just wanted to thank everyone for all of the positive support over my article regarding my thoughts on the proposed PolyMet mining site. It really means a lot to me that all of you care about this issue and how it has sparked discussion over how we need to be better stewards about the environment. After all, we can't have good beer if we don't have good water, which is the most important ingredient in beer.

Now after writing this article, I realized something: I've been behind the curve as far as reviewing beer from Bent Paddle, despite having them numerous times on tap. So I figured I might as well start getting them out of the way. Today I have their 14° ESB, which has been part of their regular lineup for a while now.

Appearance - Dark brown that turns into a clear amber when held up to a light. The head is pretty thin but with a good amount of foamy and the amount of lacing left behind is quite abundant.

Aroma - Yeasts and floral hops with some toffee sweetness and chocolate notes. Also getting some light Vienna maltiness in here as well but it's secondary to everything else.

Taste - Floral hops & roasted barley upfront, followed by some Vienna malts and dark chocolate sweetness. I'm getting some bitter piney hops and more Vienna/Munich malts towards the middle & back while the aftertaste consists of light yeasts and moderate toffee sweetness with a hint of marmalade.

As mentioned earlier, I've had Bent Paddle's offerings on tap numerous times before and this beer is amongst those I've had before. Needless to say, I had kind of an idea what this beer was going to be like as I had it yet again, and it's not surprising to me that this is quite good, despite not having it for almost a year if my Untappd checkins are correct. If it's available where you're at, check it out!

Bent Paddle 14° ESB - 8.5/10

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Surly Brett Mikkel's IPA Review

Name: Surly Brett Mikkel's IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7,5%
IBUs: 80 (per RateBeer)

It's been a busy past couple days for myself, so it's time to play catch up on a couple of beers. What better way to start than with some Surly? Today I've got their Brett Mikkel's IPA, which is a collaboration with Mikkeller Brewing based out of Denmark. As you may have guessed from the name, it's an IPA made with Brettanomyces yeast.

I recall having this at the Surly Taproom a couple months back but I wasn't taking notes, so imagine my shock when I discovered this stilling on the store shelves last week. I've only had one beer from Mikkeller and that was their 1000 IBU beer, which I think is a beer only for the truly curious. Let's see how this one turned out.

Appearance - Mildly hazy orange color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is rather thin in appearance but not much in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Citrus hops & grapefruit notes with some caramel maltiness. I'm picking up on some sour cherry funk/tartness and a hint of lemongrass

Taste - Tart raspberry and citrus hops on the front of the palate followed by caramel malts and grapefruit sweetness. The middle of the flavor is mainly just more caramel malts while the back end of the flavor is where that tartness and citrus hoppiness starts to reemerge

There's some funk & tartness in here, but they're secondary to the rest of the overall flavor and not what I would consider to be strong. With that said, if you're looking for a great introduction to sour beers, this would definitely be one of my first recommendations. As an IPA, it's a great beer and I could get used to drinking this, permitting it's not a one-off offering.

Surly Brett Mikkel's IPA - 8.5/10

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Mining Trouble: Why I stand with Bent Paddle Brewing

A couple weeks ago, it was announced that business owners on the Iron Range were boycotting Bent Paddle Brewing on account of Bent Paddle's opposition to the PolyMet mining site in Hoyt Lakes, MN located next to the St. Louis River, which flows right into the Twin Ports (Duluth-Superior) area. In addition to Bent Paddle, they are calling for a boycott of all business affiliated with a group called the Downstream Business Coalition, a group of area businesses that are opposed to the PolyMet mine amidst concerns that it will harm the environment and the greater St. Louis County area as a whole.

The concerns are that the mine will pollute the water and turn every major drinking source in Northeastern Minnesota into, quite literally, undrinkable swill. The decision on whether or not the mining will happen is expected to be decided on next month.

I write this article knowing that a significant amount of my viewership comes from the Iron Range and frankly, I'm willing (and ready) to deal with any flak that comes my way.

So here it goes: I think the PolyMet mine is a terrible idea.

To start things off, at the center of all of this is Bent Paddle, who is the biggest production brewery in the Twin Ports area. They have been credited with bringing Duluth back into the spotlight with their phenomenal beers. In fact, the reason why Bent Paddle joined the Downstream Business Coalition is, understandably so, because they get their water from the St. Louis River and it's pretty much the reason why they make beer in the first place

You see Bent Paddle isn't the only business that's against mining, but there are quite a few members on that list and these aren't just some small no-name businesses but ones that are fairly recognizable:

  • Amity Coffee
  • Anahata Herbals
  • Andi’s
  • At Sara’s Table/Chester Creek Cafe
  • Bella Terra Landscaping
  • Bent Paddle Brewing Co. 
  • Carmody’s
  • Day Tripper of Duluth 
  • Deer Tail Press
  • Dirt Candy Designs
  • Duluth Coffee Company
  • Duluth Grill
  • Duluth Running Company
  • Duluth Technology Co.
  • Evolve
  • Gilbert Law Office
  • Heck of the North Productions
  • Intectural
  • Just Take Action (Fitger’s Brewhouse Restaurant Group)
  • Lake Avenue CafĂ©
  • Lake Superior Art Glass
  • Loll Designs
  • Luke Chiropractic and Wellness
  • Med Search Network
  • Nordic Firewood
  • Northern Waters Smokehaus
  • Old Saw Media
  • Pure Clean
  • Red Herring Lounge 
  • Sawbill Canoe Outfitters 
  • Sawtooth Outfitters 
  • Sled Dogs to St. Paul 
  • Superior Paddle
  • Taiga Design Built
  • The Thirsty Pagan
  • Up North Fungi
  • Vikre Distillery
  • Yker Acres
You'll also notice too that Bent Paddle isn't the only brewery on the list. in fact, there are three other breweries on the list, plus a distillery. This leads me to believe the reason for Bent Paddle being targeted in particular is because they're not only the largest brewery but also have the widest reach; With availability across Minnesota (mostly) and parts of Wisconsin.

Now I understand the Iron Range has had a pretty terrible year, from ore prices dropping, the mines shutting down to the numerous layoffs. I can understand PolyMet providing jobs for miners but for how long will those jobs last before you're back at where you first started? There has to be another way to revitalize the Iron Range economy without causing more harm to the environment. Plus when you factor in the hundreds of years of supposed mitigation & cleanup and the proposed effects that the mine could have on both the environment and the economy of St. Louis County, Duluth and Minnesota as a whole are too great to risk and support.

Duluth has been on an economic upswing for a while now, a far cry from where they were back in the 1980's. When mining took a nose dive, it forced Duluth to diversify their economy, to which they have been successful in accomplishing. I see the PolyMet mine wiping away any progress the area has made in the long run. To make my case more relevant, those breweries (and distilleries) that rely on clean water to make our beers would be in serious trouble, not to mention the people who need access to a clean source of water.

In regards to this whole boycott, I feel it isn't just detrimental to the economy, it also pits small businesses against other one another for what I consider to be all the wrong reasons. For example in this article, the owner of a Vi's Pizza in Biwabik went from ordering around $2,000 worth of Bent Paddle a month (which is a pretty large amount) to ordering none. Not offering a product your customers have a very high demand for not only hurts your business when you stop offering it, but it also hurts the company that makes the product.

Even though I no longer live in Duluth, I still feel an immense connection not just to the town itself, but Northeastern Minnesota as a whole. It's a beautiful area and it would be heartbreaking to see all of it go to waste on account of what I would consider to be a temporary solution . As such, I stand behind Bent Paddle & the Downstream Business Coalition. You can love me or hate me about what I think about this whole issue but I stand by my belief that there is a better & more sustainable way to strengthen the Iron Range economy without putting the rest of the area at risk.

- Nick

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ballast Point Grunion Pale Ale Review

Name: Ballast Point Grunion Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 35

It's time to look at another beer from Ballast Point, and this time around it's their Grunion Pale Ale. Unlike another beer, which I'll talk about in a moment, this is a honest-to-goodness APA made with Mosaic & Calypso hops. I was told by an employee at the store I was at that it was not only better than beers like PseudoSue or Zombie Dust, but that it was the be-all, end-all of pale ales out there. Sounds ambitious to say the least.

On a side note, a couple winters ago, I reviewed their beer named Pale Ale. However, a pale ale, it was not but rather it was a Kolsch instead. Two years later, the labeling remains the same with the disclaimer that it's a Kolsch still being in tiny letters at the very bottom. Whatever, I'll let bygones be bygones, let's check the beer out.

Appearance - Hazy dark yellow with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head has a good amount of foam to it and the lacing retention is very good as well

Aroma - Marmalade & citrus sweetness upfront, followed by some orange peel notes. I'm getting a good amount of both pale & caramel malts, plus a light hint of yeastiness. It may sound bizarre, but I feel this smells like an IPA

Taste - Marmalade & grapefruit sweetness dominate the front of the palate, while the middle opens up to that toffee & pale maltiness. Towards the back is where that grapefruit sweetness shifts into more of a sweet orange flavor, albeit, with a significant amount of bitterness, along with some light yeasts. Aftertaste is quite dry, save for a lingering bitter hop resin flavor which fades after a few moments.

This is no doubt a good pale ale and has everything one is looking for in a good APA. The only problem? Much like Calm Before The Storm, it's very overpriced and that alone makes it harder to recommend this. I had to once again buy a single bottle of this as opposed to a 6-pack just so I can try it out. I can understand paying $15 for a six-pack of Dorado, but I can't understand why you would line price 80% of your beers at a cost that is higher than your competitors. I can see why if it were a superior product but.............

As for being the best pale ale on the market, I don't think it deserves a spot among beers like PsuedoSue or Alpha King, If you're willing to spend the money on a six-pack of this, then by all means, do so. As for me, there are better quality APA style beers out there available in my area that are priced a lot more reasonably

Ballast Point Grunion Pale Ale - 8/10

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bent Paddle Harness IPA Review

Name: Bent Paddle Harness IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: 87

It's been about 6 months since I've moved from Duluth, and I don't think I've done a terribly good job with covering beers from that region since my departure, so let's change that up because you know I've got to show some love to the Zenith City. For this review, I've got Bent Paddle Brewing's Harness IPA, which is their winter seasonal IPA.

Harness IPA actually went by the name Harness The Winter IPA when it was first released last winter, but I'm guessing they decided the name needed a bit tweaking....or something like that. Anyways, Harness is a Rye IPA and I think the timing of this review is perfect because this is the first time this winter that we've experienced sub-zero temperatures and it looks like it'll stay that way for quite a while

Appearance - Dark amber color with a mild amount of visible carbonation and a slight bit of haze. The head is off white in color and quite foamy and appearance, with a very high amount of lacing left behind along the sides of the glass

Aroma - Citrus & Piney hops with some pronounced rye notes. I'm also getting some caramel maltiness with some light yeastiness.

Taste - Strong grapefruit and rye notes upfront, followed by some piney hops towards the middle. The back end of the flavor opens up to that caramel maltiness, with more rye flavor and some citrus hops. Aftertaste is a mix of rye spiciness and light bitter notes.

If there's one word I'd use to desrcibe this beer, it would be Hearty. It's got a nice full body, a good rye bill and an even better hop profile to back it up and it's perfect for those cold winter days that want nothing more than to make your life a living hell. So if you see this beer, be sure to check it out and use it to warm your soul.

Bent Paddle Harness IPA - 9/10

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sixpoint The Crisp Review

Name: Sixpoint The Crisp
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5.4%
IBUs: 44

Time for another beer from Sixpoint Brewing, who just became available in our area just a couple months ago. This time around, I have The Crisp, and yes, there is a "The" in the name. I dunno, seems a bit tacky to have a "The" in a name that would otherwise only have one word. Though I can see it being utilized in conversation, like this: Hey Mitch, have you had The Crisp from Sixpoint Brewing yet?

As for the beer itself, the can refers to it as a lager but when I looked it up on BeerAdvocate and the brewery website, it was lovely referred to as a Pilsner. Though BA specifically referred to it as a German Pilsner, I will be referring to it as a Pilsner for convenience.

Appearance - Bright yellow with a mild amount of visible carbonation and just a slight bit of haze. The head is pretty foamy, more-so than it is full of volume and there's a very high amount of lacing left behind along the sides of the glass

Aroma - Pilsner malts and yeasts upfront. Getting some mild floral hops in the middle along with some light biscuit notes

Taste - Floral hops and Pilsner malts start things off, before a sweet lemongrass flavor takes over the middle of the palate. Towards the back, I'm starting to get more floral hops again but this time, it's that biscuit/yeast flavor that I'm getting instead of that maltiness. Aftertaste is pretty dry, save for some light yeasts and pale malts.

If there's one thing this beer proves, it shows that they can make a very good Pilsner and the addition of some more prominent floral hoppiness really adds some dimension to this beer. Even if there weren't any noticeable hop flavors in here, I'd still say this a very good Pilsner. It goes without saying that this is one of the best pilsners I've had in a long time and it's one that's worth your attention.

Oh, in case you're wondering, it does in fact, feel crisp on the palate.

Sixpoint The Crisp - 9/10

21st Amendment Toaster Pastry Review

Name: 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 7.6%
IBUs: 74

It's been a long while since I've had anything from 21st Amendment Brewing, but when I heard about this beer while watching Beer Geek Nation a few weeks back, I knew I had to get my hands on this just to try it out. Thankfully, I didn't have to resort to a beer mail to find this as it's readily available in our area.

Which brings us to Toaster Pastry, a beer brewed by 21st Amendment to celebrate the opening of their new production brewery in San Francisco, which was once used as a production facility for Pop Tarts, hence the name. Prior to opening, they were contract brewing & canning their beer at various facilities around the United States, with one of the main locations being in Cold Spring, Minnesota at the Cold Spring Brewing/Third Street Brewhouse facility.

As for the beer itself, it's supposed to remind the drinker of having a Pop Tart, but in liquid form, at least according to what I've read up about this beer. Let's see if this holds true.

Appearance - Very hazy amber color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is thin but there's a good amount of lacing here.

Aroma - Moderate Vienna malts & citrus hop sweetness, followed by some bitter piney hops towards the end. I'm also getting some light toffee sweetness in here as well.

Taste - Bitter and citrus hops upfront with some Vienna & toffee malts towards the middle with some mild yeastiness. I'm also getting some mango/tangerine sweetness in the back along with some bitter hops along with some more Vienna malts.

I can't say that reminds me of a Pop Tart too much save for the yeast & tangerine sweetness, but it's a pretty good beer all around and I think it's a pretty clever way to inaugurate their brand new brewery. If you see this, I say it's worth giving a shot.

21st Amendment Toaster Pastry - 8.5/10

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Baxter Bootleg Fireworks Review

Name: Baxter Bootleg Fireworks
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9%
IBUs: 100 (per Eventbrite flyer)

Guess what everyone? It's beer mail time! You may recall last year that I reviewed a few beers from Connecticut that I got as part of a Beer Secret Santa gift exchange. Well I did the same thing this holiday season and I got some more beers from the east coast, but this time around, I got them from states other than Connecticut.

The first beer I will be looking at is from Baxter Brewing, based out of Lewiston, Maine. I got their Bootleg Fireworks, which is an Imperial IPA and it's brewed with 7 different hops. Why the name? Not quite sure but I do know fireworks (the fun kind like bottle rockets and such) are legal in Maine.

Appearance - Moderately hazy dark yellow color with a light amount of visible carbonation. The head is nice and foamy but there really isn't much in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Strong citrus hops upfront with some mango, apricot & tangerine notes. I'm also getting some light grapefruit sweetness along with some orange peel. There's some pale maltiness towards the middle & back along with some light clove notes in here as well.

Taste - Contrary to what I got in the nose, the flavor starts out pretty bitter. Strong bitter piney hops, followed by some tangerine, mango and orange sweetness towards the middle, along with some pale and toffee malts. Back end of the flavor opens up to some apricot notes, but this is also where those bitter hops start to reemerge from their proverbial slumber. Aftertaste is mainly bitter hops along with some very light orange peel sweetness.

There's quite a bit going on here, to say the least; Most of it being good. The hops are utilized properly & there's something for every IPA lover in this beer. It's a great Imperial IPA and worth checking out should you happen to stumble across it.

Baxter Bootleg Fireworks - 9/10

Friday, January 8, 2016

Oskar Blues Pinner Review

Name: Oskar Blues Pinner
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: 35

On to the other beer from Oskar Blues with their Pinner IPA, which is a session IPA. Aside from being called a Throwback IPA (which I'm not sure how the terminology applies to the beer), this is a beer that was released last year as the newest addition to their year-round line up and believe it or not, I've seen this beer more often in stores than their regular IPA. I'm not sure if it sells more than the regular IPA or I just haven't been paying attention.

Appearance - Clear bright yellow color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head starts out foamy but takes on a very thin filmy appearance with some good retention. The lacing is very sparse and what's left is mostly soapy.

Aroma - Citrus hops and mango notes on the front of the nose with some apricot sweetness. I'm picking up on some light pale maltiness with a hint of toffee.

Taste - Mango and citrus hop sweetness followed by some light pale malts. Middle of the palate is where I'm starting to get some sweet apricot notes and more moderate pale maltiness, while the back end of the palate is pretty much dry save for some light bitter hops. Aftertaste is also very dry, with no flavors to speak of that linger around.

Like most session beers, this one starts out with a lot of flavor on the front of the palate, but it all vanishes once you get to the end. With that said, what flavor is in here is very vibrant and probably the best I've seen from a session IPA so far. Hell, I'd even go as far to prefer this over some "regular" IPAs that I've had in recent memory.

In short, if you've never been a fan of session beers, I'd recommend giving this one a try as I think you will be pleasently surprised. As for me, I can't say that I had very high expectations of this beer going into it, which I think made this beer for me all the more enjoyable.

Oskar Blues Pinner - 8.5/10

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils Review

Name: Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs: 35

Yeah so..............I'm a little late to the party on this beer because it's been available in our market for quite a while. I decided that after having the Death by Coconut that I might as well start to get some other beers from Oskar Blues out of the way.

Thankfully as luck would have it, I was able to find a variety of their beers, but I realized that upon reviewing my blog that I about half of the beers I got I had already reviewed. Oh well, life goes on. For this review, I have their Mama's Little Yella Pils, which is described by the brewery as a Czech style Pilsner.

Appearance - Fairly clear bright yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is nice and foamy with some great retention, but the lacing, on the other hand, is rather soapy but still abundant nonetheless

Aroma - Pilsner & pale maltiness with some mild grassiness. I'm also picking up on some light floral hops and some flaked corn notes.

Taste - Pale and pilsner malts backed up by some mild floral hops. Towards the middle, I'm getting more of those pale malts with some light grassy notes, while on the back end of the palate is fairly light save for some light barley notes. The aftertaste is very dry, save for some mild pale maltiness.

Flavor is nothing really to mull over, given that Pilsners are supposed to be that way. With that said, it's nice, refreshing and easy to drink. It's one of those beers you'd drink if you're in the mood for something when you don't want to think about anything except having a good beer. In short, it's worth checking out and it's definitely one of the better pilsners available out there.

Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils - 8.5/10

Monday, January 4, 2016

Rush River Scenic Pale Ale Review

Name: Rush River Scenic Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 25

It's been a long while since I reviewed anything from Rush River, about two years according to my estimate with the last review being of their Minion IPA. Today's beer is, to my knowledge, the newest offering from Rush River with their Scenic Pale Ale.

I remember seeing this on draft at a few bars before I saw this available in the form of a bottle but I never felt tempted to try it out. On top of that, I saw listings for this beer in kegs at a couple liquor stores going for more than $100, which is a bit too much for me to shell out in order to try this beer. Luckily, it's now available in bottles so the need for seeking this out on draft again is now gone.

Appearance - Hazy amber color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head starts out foamy but settles for thin filmy look, while the lacing left behind is nice and abundant.

Aroma - Floral hops and yeasts, followed by some pale malt and toffee sweetness. Not much else but it smells pretty vibrant so far.

Taste - Floral and citrus hops start things out, while the middle opens up to some yeasts and light orange peel notes. The back end of the flavor is more yeastiness with a mix of floral and bitter hops, the latter of which lingers for a bit in the aftertaste.

Scenic is a standard run-of-the-mill pale ale that, while doing nothing new, still manages to be a decent beer. If you're a fan of pale ales, it's pretty safe to assume that you will enjoy this. Plus the asking price won't hurt your wallet too much. If you haven't had this yet, I'd say it's worth checking out.

Rush River Scenic Pale Ale - 8/10

Barley John's Wild Brunette Review

Name: Barley John's Wild Brunette
Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 50

This post marks the second time that Barley John's has graced their presence on this blog. The first time I had anything from them was back in 2014 (I can't say last year anymore) when I visited them during Minnesota Craft Beer Week. Since that time, they have opened up a brewery in New Richmond, WI as Minnesota State Law currently, at the time of writing, doesn't allow for brewpubs to distribute to stores.

Thankfully, the brewpub in which Barley John's is based out of in New Brighton, MN is still open so people are still able to have a beer where it all started. Which brings us to Wild Brunette, a recipe which, according to what I was told, was from the original brewpub that is made with wild rice. It's been a while since I've had a brown ale, so let's break that trend, shall we?

Appearance - Clear dark brown color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head itself takes on a light khaki color and the amount of lacing left behind is quite abundant.

Aroma - Chocolate malts with some roasted barley. I'm also getting some moderate floral hoppiness and a good amount of wild rice. I've had wild rice maybe a handful of times in my life but the aroma is unmistakeable if you're familiar with the food itself.

Taste - Chocolate malts and moderate floral hoppiness, followed by some light roastiness and a very pronounced wild rice flavor in the middle. Back end of the palate is made up of some cashew nut notes, chocolate sweetness and some more wild rice notes.

To say I was a bit skeptical about the inclusion of wild rice in this beer would've been an understatement, thanks in part to the lack of familiarity with Barley John's as opposed to say.....Fitger's. With that said, I enjoyed this beer a great deal enough to where I can say that this is one of the best brown ales I've had in a long time. For sure worth checking out if you so happen to see it.

Barley John's Wild Brunette - 9/10

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Evil Twin Molotov Lite Review

Name: Evil Twin Molotov Light
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.5%

Hey.....remember when I reviewed Molotov Cocktail from Evil Twin Brewing about a year and a half ago, which I thought (and still think) it's somewhat of a boozy mess? During that time, I found out that Evil Twin released two variations of this beer; One called Molotov Cocktail Heavy and, the beer which I have today, Molotov Light, which is still an Imperial IPA but a far cry from the original in terms of alcohol content.. Plus since I have one more Evil Twin beer in the fridge, I may as well get it out of the way for consistency sake.

What can be said about this beer? Well, aside from what I've written, the blue hued can and usage of the word "Lite" leads me to believe that this is more than likely a shot at Bud Light. Even the description of the beer is sort of a tongue-in-cheek shot at Bud Light:

Back in the days, only uncomplicated and tasteless beers existed and people started feeling bored before happy hour was up. Molotov Lite is a understated tour de force in rebellious hoppiness, it’s a subtle spark for action and yet by far one of the most anti-authoritative beers ever made by Evil Twin Brewing.

Speaking of Bud Light, remember last month when they announced a label redesign for all their cans? Yesterday I was browsing the internet when I came across a new design for Bud Light's 16 oz. cans and.................well just see for yourself.....

Photo Courtesy of
Gee I wonder where Bud Light got the idea for that label from?

I wonder, I wonder.....

Appearance - Fairly hazy dark yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. It possesses a nice and foamy head that is white in color and leaves a good amount of lacing behind to boot.

Aroma - Citrus & Piney hoppiness with some toffee maltiness, along with some very potent buttery biscuit notes and grapefruit rinds. For an Imperial IPA, the buttery aspect is very strong for what it is. I can easily say I wasn't expecting this at all.

Taste - Bitter hops and mild buttery biscuits on the front of the palate, with the middle opening up to some toffee and caramelized maltiness. The back end of the flavor finishes things off with some more buttery biscuits, mild citrus hoppiness with a very small amount of booziness.

I was expecting this to be a "smaller" version of the original Molotov Cocktail, but to my surprise, it's different enough in terms of flavor where I feel it's able to stand on its own two feet. In fact, I can safely say that this is the superior Molotov Cocktail and the fact it lacks the punch of the original actually helps it out rather than hurting it.

With that said, the buttery aspect of the flavor will be off putting to some people and the hops don't quite meld together like they could. As for me, I think this is a decent beer and the asking price for it is not terrible. Unlike the original Molotov Cocktail, I'm more likely to drink this again but only if it were offered to me for free

Evil Twin Molotov Lite - 7/10

Friday, January 1, 2016

Evil Twin Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room Review

Name: Evil Twin Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10%

Happy New Year to all my readers out there. From Atlanta, GA to New Hartford, CT; From Dallas, TX to Tower, MN. I hope you all had a great time and that you all didn't do something you will probably regret later on in life. In any case, let's get around to a beer that I was going to originally review yesterday but due to time constraints on my end, I was unable to get near a computer yesterday.

I've reviewed quite a few beers from Evil Twin Brewing before, and they've ranged from being pretty good to being mediocre in terms of quality. They're one of those breweries that are all over the place when it comes to the quality of their beer yet I find myself drawn to them each time they release something new. Why this is I cannot say, but what I can say is that this one certainly grabbed my attention just with the name.

I give to you Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room. Yeah, how's that for a beer name? It's almost like the brewer was playing a Cards Against Humanity-esque game and this was one of the answers that was selected as a winner. Or maybe something went down in a Hotel Room in NYC and it's become somewhat of an inside joke. know what, let's just get to the beer.

Appearance - Pitch black with a thin dark brown head and light visible carbonation. Nothing in terms of lacing though.

Aroma - Chocolate malts followed by some mild bitter hoppiness. I'm also getting some coffee grounds and roasted barley.

Taste - Chocolate malts and bitter hoppiness, once again. These are followed by some roasted barley and light booziness on the back end of the palate along with a mild encompassing smokiness.

It's an Imperial Stout that isn't unlike any others I've had before this and there's nothing I'd consider to be awe-inspiring about it. Also given the fact there are cheaper Imperial Stouts out there that are more vibrant and diverse in terms of flavor (and in 6-packs), it makes this beer a lot harder to recommend. My advice to you would be buy a single bottle of this instead of buying a full 4-pack of this, because while it's not a terrible beer, the flavor doesn't match up with the asking price.

Evil Twin Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room - 6.5/10