Thursday, March 31, 2016

Happy 3rd Anniversary from Nick's Beer Blog

It's hard to believe it's been 3 years since I first came home and decided to start this blog on a whim. From all the places this blog has taken me to where it'll lead me in the future, I for one can say I am excited to what the future holds for myself.

I know my reviews have been rather spotty over this past month and a half because there have been a lot of positive changes in my life and I wanted to let everyone that I haven't forgotten about this blog. In fact, I've got about a few reviews at the ready that I will be posting tomorrow and over the weekend, so stay tuned for that.

To everyone who has supported me throughout my endeavors, I thank you. Here's to another year of great beer.



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sam Adams Noble Pils Review

Name: Sam Adams Noble Pils
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: 34

Next up on the Sam Adams beers that I got is their Noble Pils. Not really much here aside from the fact that it's a Pilsner and I've been trying to focus more on other styles aside from IPAs as I feel that I have been focusing too much of my energy on that style (though coming up in a couple reviews, I'll be taking a look at some that I've been wanting to review for a while.)

Appearance - Mildly hazy yellow color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is on the thinner side and soapy in appearance while there is nothing here in terms of lacing.

Aroma - Floral hops and pilsner malts with a bit of yeastiness along with some light pale malts.

Taste -  Pale malts and floral hops on the front of the palate. Towards the middle, I'm getting some light pilsner malts and lemongrass nottes, while towards the back I'm getting some more pale malts and light hop bitterness, along with some light citra notes. The aftertaste, however, is quite dry.

Much like the last beer, nothing I would consider to be special but it's nice, light and drinkable and there certainly isn't wrong with that. If you see it, it would be worth checking out at least once.

Sam Adams Noble Pils - 8/10

Sam Adams Cold Snap Review

Name: Sam Adams Cold Snap
Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs: 10

Winter may be over but I got my hands on a couple of winter seasonal beers from Sam Adams that I figured I would take a look at. The first beer is Cold Snap, a witbier made with orange peel and spices. I recall this coming out in particular a couple years back when I lived in Duluth due to the outrageously cold winter we were experiencing back then...........or in other words, a cold snap.

Appearance - Hazy dark yellow color with a a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is fairly foamy and there's a decent amount of lacing left behind along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Malted wheat and spices, along with some coriander and orange peel, with just a hint of floral hops.

Taste - Starts out with some malted wheat notes, followed by some orange peel and coriander in the middle with a light spiciness. Towards the back, I'm getting some light floral hoppiness and yeasts. The aftertaste is just a light malted wheat and coriander finish.

It's nothing terribly special, but it's got a good flavor and I have no qualms about drinking this. If you see it in the future, I would suggest you try it out.

Sam Adams Cold Snap - 8/10

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Leinenkugel's Pale Ale Review

Name: Leinenkugel's Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.8%

First they have given us an India Pale Lager, then they gave us a Braggot and now they have given us, of all things, a Pale Ale. Yes, it looks like Leinenkugel's has finally started to embrace craft beer trends that have been around for years. Better late than never I suppose, right?

So today we're looking at their Pale Ale, which is actually part of their 12-pack sampler but I managed to grab this as a single bottle. I also saw Heart of Oak sitting on the shelf next to it at the store I was at so perhaps I'll grab that next time I'm there. Doing some research on this beer, I haven't really been able to pull anything up about this beer aside from that it's a very new addition to their line up.

Appearance - Mildly hazy orange color with a very high amount of visible carbonation. The head is foamy yet soapy in appearance, leaving behind just some mild lacing.

Aroma - Pale malts with some mild floral hops and a some lager yeasts. I'm also getting some pils-grassiness, which is a unusual for this style.

Taste - Pale & pilsner malts and some lager yeasts upfront with some mild floral hops and cereal grains towards the middle. Towards the back I'm getting some more yeasts with some light spiciness, which caught me off guard. The aftertaste is made up of light bitter hops, which linger for a couple moments.

While it has everything that makes up a pale ale, as a whole, this feels very underwhelming and frankly a bit too light in the areas of flavor which matter the most (i.e. hops & yeasts.) It's nothing I would consider to be offensive, but after seeing what Leinenkugel's has produced over this past year, this is a bit of a let down.

Leinenkugel's Pale Ale - 6.5/10

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A visit to Wicked Wort Brewing Company

Last weekend, I took advantage of the nice day to go out and about. Upon wondering what to do with my free time, I remembered that a brewery called Wicked Wort Brewing Company had recently opened their doors in Robbinsdale, MN so I decided to take it upon myself to go check it out. You're probably wondering why I decided to go to this brewery in particular, and that's because Robbinsdale is my hometown. That's right, I was born and raised there for the first 15 years of my life before I moved away.

Needless to say, I just had to check this place out and see what my hometown had to offer. Located in the old TCF Bank building along Broadway Ave on the main drag in downtown, the space looks very different than it did 15 years ago. Even the bartender who I was talking with shared memories of coming there as a kid.

Anyways, enough about that. You're probably wondering how the beer is. Luckily for me, they had a very wide variety of beers to choose from, which is shocking considering how new this place is. So I managed to get a flight as well as a pint of beers so I could cover my bases in terms of styles go.

Banks Closed Brown (6.3% ABV) - The first beer I had and an homage to the building's former occupants.. For a brown ale, it was surprisingly roasty and had a porter-like taste to it. Aside from that, you've got your chocolate malts & nuttiness with just a touch of bitter hops. Aftertaste was a bitter roasty finish.

Birdtown Blonde (4.6% ABV) - A blonde ale which gets its nom de guerre from Robbinsdale's nickname. Starts out fairly pale malt forward with some light floral hops with some light yeasts and more light hoppiness towards the end. Even though they had a lager on tap there (which I didn't get around to), this felt very much like a lager, which is certainly not a bad thing.

Cheap Seats IPA (5.3% ABV) - Citrus hops and mango notes on the front of the palate that sustain throughout the flavor with some pale & toffee malts showing up towards the back end of the palate with some hints of orange peel. The aftertaste is mainly a light bitter hop finish.

Ape Hangers Pale Ale (5% ABV) - Named after a style of handles on a motorcycle. Moderate floral hops with some pale malt on the front of the palate followed by some light bittering hops and yeasts, which both make up the back end of the palate and the aftertaste.

Burly Eyed British Bitter (4.2% ABV) - Bitter and floral hops upfront, followed by some light buttery biscuit notes and a bitter hop aftertaste.

I'm not going to lie, the past couple of new taprooms that I've been to have been somewhat disappointing in terms of overall quality and I was expecting this to be more of the same here. Thankfully every beer I had here was good & drinkable and bucked that trend of mediocre tasting beers.

At the same time, I could tell that they were playing it safe as far as the beers go since they are a fairly new brewery. On top of that, none of the beers really jumped out at me as being "great" but rather just simply "good." So while the beers were pretty by-the-numbers, I will definitely be keeping my eye on this place as I think these guys have the potential to do awesome things in the future.

For those of you wondering if it's worth checking out, I would say absolutely. The beers are good, the taproom aesthetics and atmosphere capture the spirit of Robbinsdale quite well and it's the perfect place to hang out on a nice spring afternoon.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Summit 30th Anniversary Double IPA Review

Name: Summit 30th Anniversary Double IPA Review
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 101

Well, one of Minnesota's most respected craft brewery's is celebrating the big 3-0 this year. That's right, Summit is now offically 30 years old. To celebrate this occasion, they're releasing 4 limited release beers throughout 2016 to mark this occasion.

The first beer in the series, which we will be looking at today, is an Imperial IPA. This is also the second Imperial IPA that I will have had from Summit, with the first being their Hop Silo, which was released as part of their Unchained Series last year.

Appearance - Mildy hazy yellow color with some equally mild carbonation. The head is nice and foamy with a ton of lacing.

Aroma - Pineapple, mango & grapefruit notes along with some apricot and peach sweetness. I'm also getting a light hint of caramel maltiness and light yeasts.

Taste - Potent peach, pineapple & other tropical fruits like mangoes and pineapple on the front of the palate. Towards the middle is where that tropical citrus hoppiness transitions towards a bitter hop flavor. On the back end of the palate is mainly more bitter hops, pale malts and yeasts.

If this beer is any indicator of how this series will turn out, then I am eagerly looking forward to what the rest of this series has in-store. There's a ton of rich & robust flavors going on in this beer, all of which becomes more prevalent as it warms up. I'm not sure what the exact availability is for this beer but it is most certainly worth checking out should you come across it.

Summit 30th Anniversary Double IPA - 9.5/10

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Waconia Waconiator Doppelbock Review

Name: Waconia Waconiator Doppelbock
Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 8.8%
IBUs: 20

Waconia Brewing is a fairly new brewery that opened up within the past couple of years. I say this because it was one of the many breweries which opened their doors during my time in Duluth. As you have have guessed from the name, this brewery is based out of Waconia, MN. Today I have their Waconiator Doppelbock, which is a play on Spaten's Opimator Doppelbock. Like many new breweries around here, they're bottling their beers in bomber or 750ml bottles.

Appearance - Murky dark brown color with no visible carbonation. The head initially starts out foamy but fades away after a few moments, leaving behind no lacing.

Aroma - Caramel malts, followed by some light chocolate notes. I'm also getting some light toffee sweetness in here as well

Taste - Strong caramel malts & floral hops towards the front, with some chocolate notes towards the middle. There is some toffee and light bitter hops towards the back with some more caramel malts and light hops in the aftertaste.

What can I say; It's a doppelbock and a good one at that. I really haven't been able to find too many Doppelbocks as of late and having this was a very nice change of pace for myself after seemingly splurging on IPAs for so long. In short, it's nothing that I already haven't seen in a Doppelbock but it's got a fairly robust flavor so it makes this one worth checking out.

Waconia Waconiator Doppelbock - 8/10

Monday, March 14, 2016

Great Divide Orabelle Review


Name: Great Divide Orabelle
Style: Tripel
ABV: 8.3%

It's been a few months since I've reviewed anything from Great Divide, and it's been even longer since I reviewed a Tripel. Today I have Great Divide's Orabelle, which is their Tripel-style ale that was released a couple years back. Doing some research on the name, I wasn't able to find much, except for the origin of the name, which so happens to mean Beautiful Seacoast.

Appearance - Very hazy dark yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is pretty foamy and the lacing is rather sparse.

Aroma - Lemongrass, floral hops and Belgian yeasts along with some pale malts and clove spiciness, along with a light hint of banana.

Taste - Pretty Belgian yeast & pale malt forward with some coriander, clove and banana notes towards the middle. In the back is where the Belgian yeasts start to gain momentum once again along with some light floral hops and light clove spiciness. In the aftertaste, I'm getting a very light bubblegum sweetness.

For what it is, it's a fairly standard Tripel that manages to please without doing anything that I haven't already seen before. On top of that, it commands a fairly reasonable price point so that it ensures you're getting your money's worth. So if you so happen to see this, I would say check it out.

Great Divide Orabelle - 8.25/10

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Green Flash Passion Fruit Kicker Review

Name: Green Flash Passion Fruit Kicker
Style: Wheat Ale/Fruit Beer
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 5

There are times where I think my memory is excellent and other times where my memory is like that of a goldfish. Case in point, Green Flash Brewing. I've had quite a few beers from them since they first became available in our area but I've only done 2 reviews by them on this blog to date.

Why am I bringing this up you ask? Because looking back at my Untappd checkins, the vast majority of Green Flash beers that I've had have been mostly IPAs and, to a lesser extent, pale ales. I've been saying for a while now (not on this blog) that San Diego-based breweries should focus their efforts on making beers that aren't an IPA or Pale Ale, specifically Green Flash.

Well my prayers have been answered in the form of Passion Fruit Kicker, a wheat ale brewed with Passion Fruit. At the risk of sounding like a smart ass, a wheat beer is probably the last style I'd expect to see from San Diego, the de facto IPA capital of the world.

Appearance - Hazy dark yellow with a fairly thin head with nothing in terms of visible carbonation or lacing.

Aroma - Malted wheat and floral hops upfront along with some sea salt, cactus & tart watermelon fruit notes. I'm also getting some pale maltiness in here too. Honestly, this smells more like a Berliner Weisse than it does a Wheat Ale

Taste - Strong & fairly tart passion fruit & watermelon notes upfront followed by malted wheat notes towards the middle along with some pale malts. Towards the back, I'm getting some floral hops and malted wheat notes with some more tart watermelon notes, the latter of which lingers in the aftertaste for a couple of moments.

Despite my earlier remarks about how San Diego should focus on other styles than the IPA, this isn't exactly what I had in mind and frankly, I expected much more. Some of my readers who've had 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon will find this eerily similar in terms of overall flavor. If you see this at the store, I would resist temptation and keep on looking.

Green Flash Passion Fruit Kicker - 5/10

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sixpoint Hi-Res Review

Name: Sixpoint Hi-Res
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 10.5%
IBUs: 115

A couple months back, I took a look at Resin from Sixpoint Brewing. I thought it was a decent yet unremarkable Imperial IPA for reasons I couldn't quite put my finger on. The best way I described it was that it had everything there to make it work but it didn't seem to come together like it should. When it was all said & done, I had left it at that and thought nothing else.

Then the other day at the store, I noticed Hi-Res sitting on the shelves. According to what I've been able to dig up about this beer, this is a slightly imperialized version of Resin, which is their year-round Imperial IPA. So in other words, it's a............Triple IPA?

Appearance - Fairly clear orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is pretty foamy and the lacing along with it is quite good.

Aroma - Piney & light citrus hops with some light caramel malts and some light biscuit butteriness, but not necessarily in a diacetyl sense.

Taste - Moderate bitter hops with some caramel maltiness, however the bitter hops become quite powerful towards the back and a lot more of that piney flavor being emphasized but with that caramel malt backbone fading away. The aftertaste is mostly bitter hops which lingers fora few moments.

Much like Resin, it has all the makings of a great Imperial IPA but again it doesn't come together like it should. With that said, the hop profile is a bit more pronounced here which works in its favor but I feel it is too similar to Resin, albeit a slightly improved version.

Sixpoint Hi-Res - 7.5/10

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Capital Grateful Red Review

Name: Capital Grateful Red
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs: 65

We've come to the final beer in the Capital Brewery Pale Ale sampler pack and I've been saving this one for last by choice. I give to you Grateful Red, a red IPA that was also introduced to the Capital lineup very recently, and by that I mean it was released last year. For those of you who live under a rock, the beer obviously takes its name from the band The Grateful Dead. If you didn't know this before, all I can say to you is that I pity you.

Appearance - Mildly hazy dark amber color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is about one finger in width and lightly khaki colored. It eventually settles to a thin film look but still maintains good retention. The lacing left behind, however, is nice and sticky.

Aroma - Citrus & piney hops paired with some caramel and Munich malts. I'm also getting some light lemongrass notes in here as well.

Taste - Moderate citrus & piney hops with some caramel and Munich malts towards the middle while the back end of the flavor is more citrus hops with some light bitterness and light orange peel.

Overall, it's a decent IPA. Nothing to write home about but at the same time, I would happily drink this were I to find it somewhere on tap or in the store. It could've used a little more malt but I won't nitpick here.

Capital Grateful Red - 8/10

Capital Dark Voyage Review

Name: Capital Dark Voyage
Style: Black IPA
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 80

Next up in my Capital Brewery sampler pack is Dark Voyage, which is a Black IPA. However according to Beer Advocate, this is classified as a Black Ale but RateBeer classifies this as a Black IPA. So whose telling the truth?

In either case, this beer was added to Capital's lineup a couple years ago, if the internet is indeed being truthful with me. So first we have Ghost Ship, and now Dark Voyage. I'm starting to notice a very.....boat-ish theme here and it comes from the heart of Wisconsin.

Appearance - Pitch black with a dark brown tinge along the edges of the glass. The head pours a fairly thin khaki-color with some good retention and leaves behind a decent amount of lacing.

Aroma - Piney & bitter hops with some roasted barley. I'm also getting some chocolate malts and orange peel in here too.

Taste - Strong bitter hops and roasted barley on the front of the palate, with the latter lingering throughout the palate. Towards the middle, I'm getting a very noticeable smokiness, chocolate malts and some very light piney-dank hops. As for the back end of the palate, it's mostly roasted barley, smoke and a potent bitter hoppiness.

I've had many Black IPAs before but this comes across as more of a hopped-up porter than it does a Black IPA because the flavor profile is definitely darker & more roasty overall than it is hoppy. Even with the hop profile, because it seemingly gets absorbed by the roasty/dark aspect of the flavor, it comes across less like a Black IPA and more like a porter.

It's not offensive but I'll have to pass on this one.

Capital Dark Voyage - 6/10

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bent Paddle Hop Forest Review

Name: Bent Paddle Hop Forest
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.9%
IBUs: 100

Alright so before I continue, I have a confession to make: I was honestly planning on doing more reviews this past weekend, but I came down with a rather nasty case of a seasonal allergy cold and my ability to taste things was nullified as a result. Along with my brand new job and Grad School presentations, I haven't been able to update this blog as much as I'd like but I'm back and ready to get things rolling again.

Bent Paddle recently released their first Imperial IPA, aptly named Hop Forest. Unsurprisingly enough, this comes in a 4-pack as opposed to the normal 6-packs which they normally give out. I also don't recall seeing this at the taproom or at their annual festiversary. Since they are mostly known for their mid-level ABV range beers (and that last beer from them I reviewed), I'm curious to see how their first Imperial IPA turns out.

Appearance - Moderately hazy bright orange/yellow with a mild cloudiness. The head is pretty voluminous and foamy with a good amount of lacing left along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Strong mango & tropical fruitiness with some caramel malts. I'm also getting some hefty grapefruit, cantelope & pineapple notes in here as well. Contrary to what the label says, I'm not getting any piney hops in the nose. In fact, the nose as a whole reminds me of a Pina Coleda.

Taste - Once again, there's some strong mango and tropical fruit notes upfront with some caramel malts and grapefruit & pineapple notes. However, about halfway through, the hop profile goes from being sweet and fruit to piney & bitter in the back with the caramel malts holding throughout. The aftertaste is mainly bitter hops that linger on the back of the palate for quite a while along with a light malt sweetness. There's also a slight boozy heat in here as well but it doesn't get in the way.

One word I'd use to summarize this beer is deceptive.

It starts out very sweet, particularly in the nose and even the front of the palate. However, once you start going further in, that hop bitterness seemingly takes over from there on in, which I think is this beer's biggest strength because it exemplifies a lot of flavors in what initially seems like a one track aim.

Simply put: you need to try this beer out. There's so much going on this beer that it needs to be experienced. I know a good portion of my reader base is outside of Bent Paddle's distribution area so my advice to you would either be visit Minnesota or arrange a beer mail trade in order to try this beer out.

Bent Paddle Hop Forest - 9.5/10

Capital Ghost Ship White IPA Review

Name: Capital Ghost Ship White IPA
Style: White IPA
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 55

Next up in my Capital Brewery Sampler Pack is their Ghost Ship White IPA, as I mentioned in my previous post, every beer in this sampler pack is a Pale Ale of some sort. I would've liked to have seen more of a variety in terms of styles go but I will make due with what's in front of me.

This, of course, is a white IPA. I'm going to assume that it's called this because stereotypical ghosts/spirits/apparitions are supposed to appear as white in color, I suppose? Though this is probably the only ghost ship that you can drink.

Appearance - Very hazy bright orange color with no visible carbonation to speak of. The head isn't terribly large but it is foamy and it leaves behind a ton of lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Citrus hops and malted wheat, with some pale malts. I'm also picking up on coriander/spices and light floral hoppiness.

Taste - Citrus hops and malted wheat on the front of palate followed by some mild spiciness and pale malts. The back end of the flavor opens to some more spices, orange peel and a light lemon taste. The aftertaste is mainly bitter hops and light wheat notes.

I have to say this is pretty good! It's nothing I already haven't seen in a White IPA before but I'd be damned if I said I didn't enjoy drinking this. So far in the sampler pack, this is my favorite thus far but I still have two more beers that I have yet to look at. Regardless, if you see this at the store, I would recommend picking this one up.

Capital Ghost Ship White IPA - 8.5/10

Capital US Pale Ale Review

Name: Capital US Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: 40

Today I'm going to be taking a look at some sampler pack beers from Capital Brewery. If my calculations are correct, it has been exactly two years (and I do mean EXACTLY) since I have last reviewed anything from this brewery.

First up is their U.S. Pale Ale, complete with an American flag shield on the front along with a starry background. I'm guessing if Capital wanted to let everyone know that this is an American beer, then they have passed with flying colors. It's also a session pale ale. Speaking of which, pretty much every beer in this sampler pack is a pale ale of some kind as you'll see shortly.

Appearance - Mildly hazy dark yellow color with a fairly high amount of visible carbonation. The head is fairly thin but foamy and there's a good amount of sticky lacing left along the sides of the glass

Aroma - Pale & caramel malts with some mild floral hoppiness. I'm also getting some barley grain and yeasts as well as some light orange peel notes.

Taste - Floral hops and pale malts upfront, followed by some light orange peel and yeasts. That grainy aspect that I got in the nose is present primarily towards the back of the palate but that's not necessarily a thing. Aftertaste is on the lighter side, but what is there is a light bitter hop flavor that fades after a couple of moments

It's nothing I'd consider to be special by any means but it's a functional beer that gets the job done. Given the IBUs as well, there's a good amount of hop flavor in here without necessarily being overwhelming. If you see this, I guess it's worth checking out.

Capital US Pale Ale - 8/10