Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Voyager Brewing Devil's Kettle IPA Review

Name: Voyager Brewing Devil's Kettle IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: 70

Well it's been about 2 weeks but I'm back. I apologize for the lack of updates but I've been a very busy person so writing hasn't exactly been at the top of list of priorities but I'm back and ready to go.

While I was in Duluth a week or so ago, I picked up a beer from the Voyager Brewing Company based out of Grand Marais, MN, which is located about 2 hours up the North Shore from Duluth. Right now, their distribution is, to my knowledge, only in Northeast Minnesota so the availability is somewhat limited at this time.

I have their Devil's Kettle IPA, which according to the awesome folks at Mount Royal, is the brewey's top selling beer. I got this as a single since it was the only one available and I didn't feel like spending money on a six pack, of which they are bottles as opposed to cans.

Appearance - Very dark brown color with a high amount of haziness. The head is quite foamy & off-white in color but not alot left behind in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Strong piney & bitter hops with a moderate amount of caramel maltiness and some light roasted and chocolate notes.

Taste - Very strong bitter hops upfront and equally strong piney hops with some very light caramel malts to back it all up. The aftertaste has an extremely bitter hop finish, way too bitter for my liking as a matter of fact.

I try to be supportive of all the craft beer here in Minnesota and I always want to find the good in the beers I have. With that said, I don't think that this is good at all. The big problem here is that is just too bitter and piney with little maltiness to help offset it and it comes off as very imbalanced. It actually makes me wonder if they missed a malt addition in the brewing process.

I'm glad that the North Shore is more covered in terms of breweries but I really expected something more along the lines in terms of the quality that I've gotten used to from that area of Minnesota.

Voyager Brewing Devil's Kettle IPA - 3/10

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Hello everyone,

You may have noticed that my postings this past week have been......non-existent. The reason for this is because I've been busy with my vacation and a bunch of other things that have been happening this week. Needless to say, my posts have been somewhat lacking. Rest assured that I will be returning to writing in the very near future.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bent Paddle Double Shot Double Black Review

Name: Bent Paddle Double Shot Double Black
Style: Black Ale
ABV: 11.2%
IBUs: 52

It took me over a year, but I finally did it. That's right, I finally procured a bottle of the ever elusive Bent Paddle seasonal release Double Shot Double Black, which is an Imperial Black Ale aged for 15 months in bourbon barrels. This is also the strongest beer I've had from the brewery to date, with an ABV clocking in at 11.2%.

I recall when this was first released back in 2014. I was at work at the time of the release the day after Thanksgiving when it was officially released in stores across Minnesota. Sadly by the time I was able to make it to the store, it was already sold out. Nevertheless, I managed to get a bottle this time around so I'm finally able to see what the fuss is about.

Appearance - Pitch black with no visible carbonation to speak of, not even along the sides of the glass. The head produces a khaki color with a slightly larger-than-thin size and a light amount of lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Dark chocolate malts and cookie dough notes upfront that reminds one of a chocolate chip cookie. I'm also getting oakiness with some light vanilla notes and light coffee grains. I could literally keep smelling this all evening

Taste - Strong dark chocolate & cookie dough flavors upfront with some vanilla sweetness and mild coffee grains and oak notes towards the middle. In the back is where those coffee notes start to taper off and gives way to more vanilla & dark chocolate sweetness along with some very light bitter hops. It's also worth noting too that the flavor comes across as very mellow and not at all boozy.

I'm going to say something right now that will probably be considered hersey amongst the craft drinking crowd in Minnesota: This may be one of the best beers to come out of Minnesota.....ever. This beer isn't in your face like so many dark beers out there and prefers to give you the flavor in layers, which is a huge plus for me.

I know that the availability for this beer is somewhat limited but should you come across it, it is absolutely worth checking out for any dedicated Minnesota beer lover out there. As far as the best beers of 2016 go, this one is currently a front runner.

Bent Paddle Double Shot Double Black - 10/10

Victory Agave IPA with Grapefruit Review

Name: Victory Agave IPA With Grapefruit 
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 50

Victory Brewing has launched a new lineup called the Blackboard Series, which is supposed to have four releases for 2016 and is meant to showcase what the brewery is capable of doing. The first beer in this line up is their Agave IPA with Grapefruit.

As I mentioned in my review of New Belgium's Citradelic, many breweries are trying to ride the wave that Ballast Point's Grapefruit Sculpin has created and I believe that this beer in particular is doing just that.....but with Agave. I will admit upfront I know nothing about agave aside from the fact that it's used to make tequila, however I'm very curious to see how this one turns out

Appearance - Mild hazy dark yellow color with a light amount of visible carbonation. The head is initally thin after the pour and fades away to nothingness in just a couple of minutes, save for a white foamy ring around the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Pale malts and what I assume is agave sweetness with some light floral/citrus hops and grapefruit sweetness, which is also very light in the nose. Honestly, if no one told me that this was an IPA, I would've guessed this to be a cream ale or a pale lager.

Taste - Pale malts and moderate agave sweetness on the front of the palate, while some bitter hops towards the middle with some very mild grapefruit rinds. Back end of the flavor is mostly pale malts and more bitter hops.

If this beer was meant to kick off exciting new things for Victory, then color me very disappointed. I mean not only does this lack the hops that one expects out of an IPA, but the grapefruit aspect of it is also so underwhelming that they may have well just labeled this as a different style altogether and without even mentioning that there was grapefruit in this beer.

It also goes without saying that the agave part of the flavor certainly doesn't meld well with everything else and I feel it gets in the way more than anything else. I applaud Victory for branching out and trying new things but c'mon guys, you're better than this! Needless to say, I would avoid buying a six pack if I were you.

Victory Agave IPA Review - 5/10

Monday, February 8, 2016

Rogue Voodoo Donut Mango Astronaut Ale Review

Name: Rogue Voodoo Donut Mango Astronaut Ale
Style: Fruit Beer(?)
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs: 20

Remember when I reviewed Rogue's Bacon Maple Ale a couple years back? Well apparently they've released quite a few Voodoo Donut beers since I posted that last, so the other day when I was at the store I came across today's beer, which is their Mango Astronaut Ale.

According to what I've found, this is the latest beer in the series and like the other entries, it is painted Pepto Bismol Pink. Although I have noticed that this bottle has more of a finished sheen to it as opposed the first beer I reviewed, which came off as more spray-painted.

Appearance - Hazy dark orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is pretty thin with some soapy foam and very little in terms of lacing retention

Aroma - Sweet mango, pineapple and peaches with some orange fruitness and some very light yeastiness. I feel like I'm almost taking a whiff of a Pina Coleda or something but beer isn't the first thing that pops into my head when I smell this.

Taste - Mango sweetness and light bitter hops, followed by some pineapple and orange notes in the middle. The back end of the palate is more of that mango sweetness mixed in with some yeasts and light floral hops.

I could honestly see this being a good 4-pack beer for around $10, but since I paid around $12 for a bomber of this, I find it a bit harder to recommend this. Still to its credit, it does indeed taste like Mango plus other tropical fruits and I did enjoy this more than I did with the Bacon Maple Ale. As such, it is worth trying out for those who are curious but only just once.

Rogue Voodoo Donut Mango Astronaut Ale - 7.5/10

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Lift Bridge Biscotti Review

Name: Lift Bridge Biscotti
Style: Belgian Dark Ale
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 27

Here's a beer from Lift Bridge that I've seen before but have never bothered to try out mainly because the first time I saw this, the asking price was a little higher than what I was willing to pay for it. Thankfully it's not more reasonably priced so I decided to finally pick it up.

I'm of course talking about Biscotti, the brewery's winter seasonal Belgian Dark Ale, which takes it's name from the Italian food delicacy. However this beer is made with vanilla beans, star anise, honey and Grains of Paradise....which an actual biscotti is not made with.

Appearance - Moderately hazy dark amber color with no visible carbonation. The head is rather thin but there's a very sparse amount of lacing left behind.

Aroma - Belgian yeasts and cloves mixed in with some honey notes. Also getting some light roastiness in here along with some mild floral hoppiness. I'm not getting any of that vanilla though.

Taste - Belgian yeasts and light anise notes dominate the from of the palate, followed by some moderate floral hops. Towards the back I'm getting some light roastiness & nuttiness with a slight hint of vanilla that becomes more prevalent as it warms up. Aftertaste is some light honey and yeasts.

Biscotti is a good beer but I can't help but feel that for all the ingredients being used, everything isn't being used to their fullest potential. Nevertheless, there is a certain charm to this beer that is worth experiencing should you choose to try it out.

Lift Bridge Biscotti - 8/10

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Evil Twin/Lervig Big Ass Money Stout Review

Name: Evil Twin/Lervig Big Ass Money Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 17.5%

If there's one thing that I have to admire about craft beer, it's that there is always something new and exciting going on within the industry and you're always hearing about innovation amongst the countless breweries in this country. As many people have said before, we are truly living in a Golden Age of craft brewing.

That said, Evil Twin Brewing has taken this concept of innovation, and has given us something that not even myself could've anticipated. Their newest beer is a collaboration between themselves and Lervig Aktiebryggeri, a Norwegian brewery whose name which I had to copy-paste. For reasons I cannot quite explain, they decided to make a blisteringly strong Imperial Stout called Big Ass Money Stout, that clocks in at 17.5% and they decided to use frozen pizza in the brewing process.

That's right, the same stuff that guys across America subside on when their significant other isn't around to cook for them....is being used in an Imperial Stout. Still it's not as bizarre as say....using goat brains in a beer but it's definitely up there.

Appearance - Pitch black and what is possibly the dark colored brown head I have ever seen, which is thin in appearance and fade after a few minutes. These is a good amount of lacing left behind though.

Aroma - Chocolate malts and vanilla with some bitter hops and a moderate amount of booziness. Not getting anything remotely pizza related, so I'm left pondering if that's a good thing.

Taste - Chocolate malts & vanilla with some moderate smokiness. Also getting some more bitter hops and a ton of booziness, riviling that of Dogfish 120 Minute IPA. Still not getting anything pizza related as far as the flavor goes but Oh My God, I can feel my palate and throat being sterilized by the sheer booziness.

It's pretty much a chocolate-flavored boozebomb that may as well be a chocolate liquor just based on the sheer amount of that boozy burning sensation that I'm getting on both the palate and esophagus. If you're looking for the same kick, I recommend buying a pint of cheap vodka instead. When everything is said and done, this is a novelty beer and one that you should probably pass on. Trust me, you're not missing much should you choose not to buy it.

Evil Twin/Lervig Big Ass Money Stout - 5/10

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bell's Smitten Golden Rye Ale Review

Name: Bell's Smitten Golden Rye Ale
Style: Rye Beer
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 45

Though there is currently a blizzard barreling towards us as I write this, it hasn't stopped breweries from releasing their spring seasonals in the least. Today I have Bell's spring seasonal: Smitten, a golden rye ale. It's been a while since I've had a rye beer. Come to think of it, it's been at least a year since I've even reviewed one.

Appearance - Moderately hazy yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head is fairly thin but it retains a thin filmy look throughout. The lacing left behind is also quite abundant & sticky.

Aroma - Pale malts and rye, backed up by some floral hops. I'm also getting some light Belgian yeast-like notes in here as well, though that could just be my senses playing tricks on me.

Taste - Rye & pale malts on the front of the palate, with some more pale maltiness and floral hops in the middle. The back end of the palate is where the rye comes back for a second go, though it's not nearly as strong here as it was in the beginning, along with some lighter pale malts and moderate Belgian-like yeasts . Aftertaste is mainly some light bitter hops and barley.

The rye gives this beer a nice & crisp kick to what is already a good tasting beer, which makes this all the more enjoyable. After having a ton of dark, malty beers this winter, having this beer makes me look forward to the upcoming spring season. Even though it's just the start of February, this is worth trying out should you come across it.

Bell's Smitten Golden Rye Ale - 8.5/10