Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Leinenkugel's Ginger Shandy Review

Name: Leinenkugel's Ginger Shandy
Style: Radler
ABV: 4.2%

Well since I've already reviewed the Summer, Grapefruit, and Watermelon Shandies, I might well take a look at this last one. What we have here is yet another Leinenkugel's shandy offerings, but this time around it's their Ginger Shandy. Now I'll be honest, if you told me 3 months ago that a Ginger Shandy would be a good combo, I wouldn't have believed you but Boulevard did a ginger shandy and they pulled it off remarkably well, so I have my expectations set here.

Appearance - Much like the last beer, it takes on a cloudy dark yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. Again, the head itself is quite thin and fades to a spotty filmy appearance after a couple of minutes.

Aroma - Right away, that ginger scent hits you right away and it's quite potent but I'm also getting some malted wheat notes with a light hint of barley.

Taste - Moderate ginger spiciness upfront that provides a mild amount of heat that lingers throughout. Towards the middle is where that malted wheat flavor starts to show up with some mild lemon zest, while the back end of the palate is mostly light ginger and malted wheat, with the ginger lingering in the aftertaste for a few moments afterwards.

If ginger shandies are going to be a thing, then I welcome the trend with open arms. The ginger gives this a nice crisp feel while providing a good kick without overwhelming the palate with that heat. If you're ever curious and so happen to come across this, I think this is worthy checking out.

Leinenkugel's Ginger Shandy - 8/10

Leinenkugel's Watermelon Shandy Review

Name: Leinenkugel's Watermelon Shandy
Style: Radler
ABV: 4.2%

A couple weeks back, I reviewed New Belgium's Heavy Melon, a beer that I thought was so awful, that I have adapted a "Scorched Earth" policy in regards to how I feel whenever I have talked to people about my feelings for it. Since I gave it the lowest score I give out, I got a couple emails from some rather upset people about my score, with one of them saying I was "unfairly salty" towards the beer itself; Right, because having your beer taste like rotten fruit is absolutely no reason to be mad.

One of the emails said that I should give watermelon beers a second chance, with the top suggestion in both emails being Hell or High Watermelon. Well since I already think that Hell or High Watermelon is bad, a user on Twitter recommended I try out the Watermelon Shandy from Leinenkugel's. As luck would have it, I bought a Shandy Sampler pack for a Memorial Day Bar-B-Que, I just so happened to have a can on hand. Also, Shandy Sampler packs are a thing, and have been so for well over a year now apparently. Let's hope this beer is better than Heavy Melon.

Appearance - Cloudy dark yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head itself is quite thin and fades to a spotty filmy appearance after a couple of minutes.

Aroma - Malted wheat with some mild watermelon sweetness and a hint of barley.

Taste - Malted wheat some mild watermelon notes upfront, with the back end of the palate consisting of more of that watermelon sweetness and some barley notes. The aftertaste is also quite dry as well.

Out of all the watermelon beers I've had, this is probably the best one yet and it helps that it tastes like actual watermelon as opposed to watermelon rind or rotten fruit. It goes to show you that even watermelon beer can actually work given the right circumstances. Overall, I'd say this beer is worth taking a look at.

Leinenkugel's Watermelon Shandy - 8/10

Monday, May 30, 2016

Avery Vanilla Bean Stout Review

Name: Avery Vanilla Bean Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.8%

You know something, it's been a long while since I've had anything remotely dark save for Fuel Cafe from Lakefront Brewing. So I've decided to take a look at Avery Brewing's Vanilla Bean Stout. Introduced late last year in bottles, this is a stout made with vanilla beans (duh!) and aged in bourbon barrels. It's been a while since I've had anything Avery on this website, so let's take a look, shall we?

Appearance - Pitch black with a thin oily brown head and the lacing itself is non-existent as well, leaving behind nothing.

Aroma - Chocolate malts & marshmallows upfront with some potent vanilla notes along with some bourbon smokiness and oak.

Taste - Chocolate malts and strong vanilla sweetness on the front of the palate with some bourbon heat towards the middle. In the back, I'm getting some mild oak flavors with more of that vanilla sweetness and even a hint of smoke. The aftertaste is more of that vanilla flavor along what tastes like some light lactose notes.

Maybe it's the fact I haven't had anything super malty and heavy lately but this is quite tasty. The flavor is nice & complex and there's also no boozy flavors to speak of here save for a mild heat. Overall, if you happen to see this, I'd very highly recommend picking this up and giving it a go; you won't be disappointed.

Avery Vanilla Bean Stout - 9.5/10

Caslte Danger Summer Crush Review

Name: Castle Danger Summer Crush
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.7%

Well, with the exception of a few more weeks, summer is pretty much here. So naturally there are some summer beers that just need to be tried out. With that said, Castle Danger just released a new beer called Summer Crush, a beer that has been described as an Un-Shandy because of the lemon zest that you find in Shandies is from using Sorachi Ace hops as opposed to lemonade.

Appearnace - Hazy dark yellow with mild carbonation. The head isn't thick but there's tons of lacing.

Aroma - Lemongrass and pale malts with some light hops and mild spices.

Taste - Pretty similar to the nose. You've got some lemongrass and pale malts upfront with some very mild hoppiness and yeasts towards the back end of the palate. The aftertaste is also quite dry save for some barely noticeable yeasts.

Summer Crush is not a beer looking to change the world, but it doesn't necessarily need to be. What we have here is a nice and sessionable summer beer that is perfect for warmer weather. If you see this, I would certainly recommend checking this out since it's another solid lineup in Castle Danger's lineup.

Castle Danger Summer Crush - 8/10

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Flying Dog Mint Julep Ale Review

Name: Flying Dog Mint Julep Ale
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 6%

Well, it seems like out of nowhere, Flying Dog Brewing has returned to Minnesota after a 2 1/2 year absence. Me personally, I'm quite excited simply because of the artwork, all of which is done by Ralph Steadman, who is one of my favorite artists. He also worked with renowned writer Hunter S. Thompson, who I also consider to be my all-time favorite writer.

For the time being, let's talk about the beer. Since their return, they've brought with more of their offerings than before, which comes in the form of their Brewhouse Rarities series. The beer which we're looking at in that series is their Mint Julep Pale Ale, which is a Blonde Ale made with Mint Julep.

Appearance - Mildly hazy yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head is quite thick but rather fizzy, which ultimately settles to a thin film that retains throughout.

Aroma - Getting some pale malts & floral hops followed by some mild grassy notes and just a touch of mint.

Taste - Pale malts & barley upfront with some very light floral hoppiness. Towards the middle is where the mint makes itself known in a very prominent way and lingers throughout while maintaining it's strength. The back end of the palate is more pale malts but is overshadowed by the mint, which stays in the aftertaste throughout.

Well I like the fact there's mint in here but with a blonde ale, it just doesn't mesh well with the style. Had this been done with say a porter or a stout, I think my opinion would be vastly different. As for this beer, it's not offensive but at the same time, I'm not digging it.

Flying Dog Mint Julep Ale - 5/10

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dark Horse Rain in Blood Review

Name: Dark Horse Rain in Blood
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 11.7

There are many things I enjoy aside from craft beer and one of those things is heavy metal. Though I'm not the world's biggest Slayer fan (that title belongs to a friend of mine), I do find their music to be quite awesome and perfect for when I'm out running or when I'm driving home from work. So leave it to Dark Horse Brewing to create a beer inspired by one of Slayer's most famous albums "Reign in Blood" and a tribute to Slayer's late guitarist, Jeff Hanneman

I give to you Rain In Blood, an APA made with blood orange juice. Look, even the label pays homage to Slayer's eagle logo, but complete with Dark Horse's own twist of art style. Now Slayer actually has their own beer called Slayer 666 Red Ale which is made Sweden (Ironic considering Slayer is based out of California) but it currently isn't available in my area so this will have to do for now.

Appearance - Very hazy dark orange color with no visible carbonation. The head is pretty thin for the most part with some decent retention and the lacing itself is also moderate.

Aroma - Faint orange & citrus aroma with with some toffee maltiness with some light raisin notes on the end.

Taste - The taste is quite similar to the nose. You've got some faint orange & mild citrus hop aroma in the front with some toffee malts towards the middle while the back of the palate is mainly light raisin notes. It's worth noting that the blood orange is mild at best, which does become more prevalent as it warms up but you have to dig for it.

You know, considering the quality that I usually expect from Dark Horse, I was expecting something a bit more robust,particularly with the blood orange aspect but even then the rest of the beer comes across as rather lackluster. As it stands, it's merely a mediocre beer that would be easier to recommend if the price were taken down a couple extra dollars but I use the term "easier" loosely.

Dark Horse Rain In Blood - 6/10

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 2016 Review

Well, it's time to look at this year's Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp series, which is when Sierra Nevada Brewing collaborates with different breweries across the country to work on some truly unique beers. For reasons I don't know of, there was no release last year with the exception of the re-release of the hoppy lager from 2014.

When I first reviewed Beer Camp a couple years back, they collaborated with 12 different breweries on twelve different beers. This year, they've collaborated with 30 different breweries. However, there are only 6 different beers this time around, with 5 different breweries plus Sierra Nevada for each one.. Unlike the previous Beer Camp Series, I'll be doing this all in one swoop to give everyone the final verdict as to whether or not to buy this.

Just a fair warning too, this article may be a bit long. If you want to know whether or not to buy this, just scroll down to the very bottom; It'll be in big bold letters.

Name: Family Values
Style: Imperial Brown Ale
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 35
Collaboration with: August Schell Brewing, Sun King Brewing, Dark Horse Brewing, Half Acre Brewing, & Perennial Artisanal Ales

First up is the Midwest Collaboration, which is an Imperial Brown Ale made with Minnesota Wild Rice, Michigan Hops, Missouri Oats. Indiana Honey & Illinois Cocoa; The states of each brewery doing the collaboration.

Taste - Getting some honey and chocolate malts upfront with some wild rice notes and bitter notes towards the middle. On the back end of the palate is where that honey starts to reemerge along with more of those chocolate malt notes and and aftertaste of light wild rice.

I have to say this is pretty good and the flavor is also quite complex as well, with every ingredient making in appearance in some way in the flavor profile! Strong start so far, let's see how the rest of the beers hold up

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Family Values - 9.5/10

Name: Sweet Sunny South
Style: Saison
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: 23
Collaboration with: Austin Beerworks, Bayou Teche Brewing, Creature Comforts Brewing Company, Funky Buddha Brewery & Wicked Weed Brewing

Described as a Southern Table Beer, this is a Saison that is made with a laundry list of interesting ingredients which include:
  • Corn Grits
  • Black Tea
  • Honeysuckle
  • Peach
  • Papaya
  • Guava
  • Prickly Pear
Taste - Upfront I'm getting some of those guava and prickly pear notes with some mild hop bitterness. Towards the middle, I'm getting tea leaf and bitter sweet mango peach notes while the back end of the palate is pale malts, tropical fruits, cereal grains and some mild Belgian yeasts. The aftertaste is fairly dry, save for some light pear notes.

For a session beer, there's a lot going on here and to me that's impressive. Out of all the session beers I've had in recent memory, this one is definitely one of the better tasting ones and dare I say it's one of the best Saisons I've had in a while.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Sweet Sunny South - 9/10

Name: Moxee-Moron
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 70
Collaboration with: Bale Breaker, Barley Brown's Beer, Black Raven , Melvin Brewing, & Odell Brewing Company

Next up is the Pacific NW & Rockies collaboration and is actually described as an Imperial Session IPA (hence the name), but for the sake of the article, I'll be calling it an IPA. Nothing really much here, with the exception of 4 different types of hops; One of which is an experimental one, so that should make things interesting.

Taste - Getting some passion fruit and citrus hoppiness upfront, with some pale malt towards the middle. In the back, I'm getting some melon sweetness with some bitter hoppiness to wrap things up.

It's an IPA that isn't unlike anything I haven't seen before but it's still pretty good. I don't know much about the breweries involved with this beer with the exception of Odell but it will definitely please any seasoned craft beer fan.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Moxee-Moron - 8/10

Name: West Latitude
Style: Rye Beer
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 55
Collaboration with: Bear Republic, Faction Brewing, Mad River, Magnolia Brewing, & Maui Brewing

Next up is the Northern California collaboration, though Maui Brewing (based out of Hawaii) somehow infiltrated their ranks but whatever. This next one is a Rye Beer made with Hibiscus. There's really not much else to say so let's try it out shall we?

Taste - Strong rye notes upfront with some roasted barley & light hibiscus. Towards the back, I'm getting some light floral hops with more of that rye spiciness and just a touch of that hibiscus sweetness.

After having this, I can't really say I'm sold on the hibiscus/rye combination though it isn't offensive by any means but I was also expecting more out of the flavor. For me, it's take it or leave it since there isn't anything I like or dislike about this beer.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp West Latitude - 6/10

Name: Pat-Rye-Ot
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 39
Collaboration with: Devil's Backbone, Dogfish Head, Lawson's Finest Liquids, Stoudts Brewing, Trillium Brewing

Second to last beer is the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Collaboration and for this, we have an American Pale Ale made with rye and apple cider.......D'Okay! Plus this uses experimental hops in the brewing process. As to how many different kinds, I cannot say but let's take a look.

Taste - Rye grains and yeast upfront, with some bitter & floral hops towards the middle. Back end of the palate is where the rye makes a reappearance along with some more of that bitter hoppiness. The aftertaste is fairly mellow save for a light rye flavor and some light apple skin notes

It's solid but when you look at the breweries behind this beer, I can't help but feel that there wasn't any better ideas thrown around in regards to what to make. I mean, there's supposed to be cider in here and yet I'm not really getting it. As I said before, it's solid but nothing memorable.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Pat-Rye-Ot - 7.5/10

Name: Stout of the Union
Style: Stout
ABV: 7.3%
IBUs: 64
Collaboration with: Bagby Beer Company, Beechwood Brewing, The Lost Abbey, Smog City, Societe Brewing

Finally onto the last beer in the Beer Camp 2016 series and it's time for the Southwest collaboration, or if you want to be more specific, the Southern California collaboration, since that is pretty much what it is. In any case, we have ourselves, ironically enough, a stout. I'll admit, I'm kind of shocked that they didn't get together and decided to make a big West Coast-style IPA.

Taste - Chocolate malts, lactose and light smokiness upfront with some floral hoppiness towards the middle. In the back, I'm getting some dark chocolate and surprisingly strong bitter hops, with the latter lingering in the aftertaste.

It's a solid stout....but I was expecting something more exciting. I mean, look at the breweries involved in making these and you can't help but feel underwhelmed, at least from my point-of-view. Overall, it's good but nothing exciting

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Stout of the Union - 7.5/10
So how does this compare to the previous entry? 

Let's start with the pros first. The good news is that every beer has its own personality and characteristics that set itself apart from each other and you can tell that a couple of the entries had a lot of heart & effort put into it. When you read the story behind some of beers as well as the people who made them, it makes you appreciate them even more and that's something that makes Beer Camp so unique. On top of that, most of the beers I had are those that I would definitely have again.

However, I do have some complaints. Remember when I said that all the beers this year had their own unique personality. Well, all twelve of the Beer Camp Beers from 2014 had their own personality too. Plus while most of the beers are good, I feel that some of them, especially Pat-Rye-Ot & Stout of the Union, didn't have enough effort put into to it. I had high hopes in particular for Stout of the Union because you have highly renowned breweries like The Lost Abbey & Smog City working on them and yet the beer we get is just a stout that isn't unlike anything we've seen before & I can't help but feel that they got lazy. Plus when we only have 6 different beers to choose from as opposed to twelve, it makes me wonder what could've been so that definitely hurt it.

Also consider this, out of the 31 Breweries (Sierra Nevada included), 10 of these breweries are based out of California. I know California is known for their craft beer and such but come on, you can't call it "Across America" when a third of the breweries are from just one state, that makes no sense. There is so much more ground that could've been covered here and yes, even with 31 different breweries, there is plenty of missed opportunity. Look, I know I'm nitpicking here, but this is a $28 twelve-pack and I know the price was $3 less a couple years back. Thankfully I had a gift card and only ended up having to pay $5 for it, but even at $28, I expect a good array of beers to choose from and high quality across the board and I'm honestly not getting that here. 

So is it worth buying? Unless you and a couple of friends decide to split the cost, I wouldn't recommend getting this. There's no denying the beers are good, but compared to the last Beer Camp entry, this is very disappointing and the fact that we're paying more for less of a variety is reason enough to avoid buying this.

Should You Buy This? - No

Monday, May 16, 2016

Lakefront Riverwest Stein Review

Name: Lakefront Riverwest Stein
Style: Amber Lager
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 15

Last in my Lakefront Sample Pack is a beer called Riverwest Stein, which is an amber lager and is named after the neighborhood in which the brewery is located in. There's not really much else to say, other than its been a while since I've looked at an Amber Lager

Appearance - Dark & mildly hazy amber color with no visible carbonation. The head is pretty thin for the most part and there's a good amount of lacing left behind.

Aroma - Munich malts and lager yeasts with a hint of roastiness. I'm also getting some light floral hops in here as well.

Taste - Munich malts and lager yeasts with a slightly larger roasty profile towards the back with some light floral hoppiness towards the end. The aftetaste, oddly enough, is quite dry.

It's a pretty good beer. Much like every other beer in this sampler pack, there's nothing that really stands out about it but it's a solid beer on it's own. If you happen to see this on store shelves, it's for sure worth a look.

Lakefront Riverwest Stein - 8/10

Lakefront IPA Review

Name: Lakefront IPA 
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.6%
IBUs: 35

Second to last in the sampler pack is Lakefront's IPA.....I'm sorry, I mean EYEPA. Get it, because there's a giant eye in the "I" on the label? No? Well so much for my horrible puns. In any case, it's another one of Lakefront's IPAs that I've seen before in 6-packs but have never bothered to try it, so let's give it a go shall we?

Appearance - Hazy dark orange color with no visible carbonation. The head is very thin and fades away after a few moment but there's some decent lacing left behind along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Strong caramel malts and moderate piney & bitter hops with some mild apple juice notes.

Taste - Strong caramelized maltiness upfront with some bitter and light piney hops to back it up. The back end of the palate is more or less of the same, with the aftertaste being a mix of light toffee sweetness and bitter hops

For an IPA, it's definitely on the maltier side of things, perhaps a little too much so. Still, the hop profile is there and makes the most of the situation, even if it is a bit too sweet by standards for the style. If you like your IPAs to be a malt bomb, then this is the beer for you.

Lakefront IPA - 7/10

Lakefront White Review

Name: Lakefront White
Style: Witbier
ABV: 4.6%
IBUs: 13

On to the next beer in my Lakefront Brewery Sampler pack. This time, we have a beer simply called White, complete with a 40's style jester/cherub-looking character holding a glass of beer. As you can imagine, this is a witbier and it's a fairly light one at that, only coming in at 4.6% ABV.

Appearance - Moderately hazy bright yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is pretty thin after it settles but with good retention and the lacing left behind is also quite plentiful.

Aroma - Malted wheat & coriander with some light citrus notes and floral hops along with some light yeastiness.

Taste - Much like the nose, there's some malted wheat and coriander upfront, followed by some citrus notes and light floral hoppiness towards the middle and back, with some very mild bitterness making an appearance in the back. Aftertaste is a touch of coriander with a light yeasty finish.

Nothing special as far as Witbiers go and this certainly won't turn any heads, but it's sessionable and easy to drink and that's all I can really say about it.

Lakefront White - 7.5/10

Sunday, May 15, 2016

New Belgium Heavy Melon Review

Name: New Belgium Heavy Melon
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 14

Alright so as I was editing my other reviews from Lakefront Brewery, I was having this beer when I suddenly decided that I needed to expedite this review. Right now, we're shifting our focus to New Belgium Brewing, who just released a new beer called Heavy Melon, complete with a Gallagher reference in the label as well.

It's a fruit beer made with...........watermelon and lime. Ok, I can understand that they want to do a fruit beer, but using watermelon is a dicey choice since watermelon beers don't exactly have a glowing reputation for being good. However I'm willing to hold off on judgement until having it.

Appearance - Clear bright orange color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head is on the foamier side but there's not much in terms of overall lacing.

Aroma - Skunky, rotten fruit. No, I'm not making that up, I'm getting nothing but a skunky-like aroma here that reminds me of rotten fruit. I'm hoping that it tastes much better than it smells.

Taste - Well, the good news is that it does taste slightly better than it smells. The bad news? The taste is still pretty bad and there's really isn't a whole lot here in terms of taste. Sure you've got the watermelon flavor, but I'm looking for that lime to help balance things out. The only lime I'm getting is a very faint lingering at the end of the palate. There isn't even any hops or anything in here to give it an additional dimension of flavor.

To all the brewers out there, please, please stop with the watermelon beers. Use cherries, apples, cranberries, blueberries, or even bananas. Anything but watermelon! Watermelon by itself may be awesome but it doesn't work when it comes to using it to make beer. I've had quite a few watermelon beers since I first started drinking craft beer and all of them have either been horrible or sub-par at best.

Had the lime aspect of the flavor been more pronounced, it wouldn't be as bad but it still wouldn't be pretty good. Honestly, this is the worst beer New Belgium has done and I think it's one of the worst craft beers that I've had to date. I can understand wanting to branch out and try new things but I would rather see a much better effort from the brewery.

This one is a drain pour. If you feel tempted to buy this at the store, for the sake of your taste buds, just keep walking!

New Belgium Heavy Melon - 1/10

Lakefront Fuel Cafe Review

Name: Lakefront Fuel Cafe
Style: Stout
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 17-19

Next up in the Lakefront Brewery Sampler Pack is a beer called Fuel Cafe, which is a stout brewed with Fuel Cafe coffee, who are also based out of Milwaukee. However, like many of Lakefront's beers, it is USDA certified organic and uses all organic ingredients, everything from the barley right down to the coffee beans used. According to Lakefront, they are the first brewery in the United States to have a certified organic beer.

Appearance - Pitch black with a thin darker tan colored head with some moderate lacing left along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Chocolate malts & roasted barley. I'm getting some very faint coffee ground notes but it's overshadowed by the malts and roasted barley.

Taste - Chocolate malts & coffee grounds with the latter of the two flavors carrying through the rest of the palate while the back end opens up to some light bitter hoppiness. As for the aftertaste, it's just more of that coffee ground bitterness.

Overall, it's a good stout and the coffee adds a nice touch to the flavor. If you're a fan of dark beers and/or coffee, then this is the beer for you.

Lakefront Fuel Cafe - 8.5/10

Lakefront Klisch Pilsner Review

Name: Lakefront Klisch Pilsner
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 16-20

Next up in the Lakefront Brewery Sampler Pack is what appears to be a Spring Seasonal and that is Klisch, which is their Czech-style Pilsner. It also appears to be a Spring Seasonal since it doesn't appear on the sampler box though please correct me if I'm wrong on that. As for the name, it comes from the owners of the brewery, whose last name happens to be Klisch.

Appearance - Fairly hazy yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head is about one inch in width and the lacing left behind is on the sparser side.

Aroma - Pilsner malts and floral hops, with a light touch of grassiness and malted barley.

Taste - Pilsner malts and light grassiness upfront with some pale malts and light floral hops in the back of the palate. The aftertaste is rather dry, save for some light pilsner grassiness

Overall, Klisch is a pretty good pilsner and fairly ideal for a nice spring afternoon/evening. It's got a nice & balanced flavor and it's very crisp to boot, so if you're looking for a solid Pilsner, this will do just fine.

Lakefront Klisch Pilsner - 8.5/10

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lakefront Fixed Gear Review

Name: Lakefront Fixed Gear
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: 54

I'm sorry Lakefront Brewery for being so neglectful to review any of your beers, but there are just so many beers out there to choose from that its hard to keep up with them all. So I bought myself a variety pack from Lakefront to check out their wares. These reviews will be quick and fast-paced, kind of like my mixtape.

The first one up is their Fixed Gear, which is their Red IPA. The name itself refers to the style of bike that has no gear shifters and is restricted to one gear. Remember that bike you rode when you were growing up that in order to brake instead of using handle breaks, you had to pedal backwards? That's the one right there.

Appearance - Hazy dark amber color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is white & about 1 finger in width with some decent retention, though the lacing is on the spottier side.

Aroma - Citrus & floral hops with a fairly hefty toffee malt backbone with just a slight hint of hop bitterness.

Taste - Toffee malts with some moderate citrus & floral hops. Towards the back, I'm getting some of those light bittering notes towards the back along with some more of that toffee maltiness. As for the aftertaste, it's just more toffee.

Fixed Gear is a beer that, while there's nothing wrong with it, it also isn't anything I'd consider to be memorable. It's a solid malty IPA with a good balance and there's nothing wrong with that so if you see this, I'd say it's worth a look.

Lakefront Fixed Gear - 8/10

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fulton 300 Review

Name: Fulton 300
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: 74

It's always an exciting time when a local brewery issues a new release and today I got a new offering from Fulton Brewery called 300, which is a Mosaic Hop IPA, which I'm pretty sure is the only hop used in this beer. I've mentioned before that Mosaic hops are one of my favorite hop varieties and, according to Fulton, are very hard to obtain.

You're probably wondering why it's called 300, and it's not because the brewers are fans of the testosterone-oozing-from-the-pores movie of the same name. Rather because it refers to the original batch number of which this beer was made. It was also incredibly popular with beer-lovers when it was first released, which would explain why it's now a year-round offering from Fulton.

Appearance - Hazy dark orange color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head is pretty thin for the most part but the retention is quite good and the lacing is also rather plentiful.

Aroma - Citrus, mango and tangerine notes with some pale malt and toffee sweetness. I can most certainly smell the Mosaic hops in here!

Taste - Citrus and tangerine notes upfront with some mango sweetness in the middle. Towards the back is where I'm getting some hefty toffee maltiness with some light bitter notes along with more of that citra sweetness.

If you like Mosaic-hopped IPAs, then this is essentially a love letter to fans of the style. The Mosaic hop is utilized wonderfully here, the flavor profile is showcased in an almost perfect way and it's easy to see why people love this beer. 300 isn't the most complex beer by any stretch of the imagination but it's certainly a very robust one at that.

You know, despite the growth we've had here in Minnesota these past few years, I still feel that we don't have our own "Zombie Dust" or "Heady Topper" that people across the country will actively seek out with the exception of maybe Surly. That said, I can see 300 becoming a very highly sought after beer not just in Minnesota but across the country at large.

Fulton 300 - 9.25/10

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Boulevard Ginger Lemon Radler Review

Name: Boulevard Ginger Lemon Radler
Style: Radler
ABV: 4.1%
IBUs: 12

A couple days ago, the unthinkable happened: Minnesota was the hottest place in the United States (more specifically Two Harbors.) This meant two things: Spring was most certainly here and that hell pretty much froze over. Since we're half way to summer, I figured now was a good time to stack up on more spring beers.

It's been a while since I looked at any offerings from Boulevard so when I saw this the other day, I thought I should give it a go. I give to you Ginger Lemon Radler. It's a fairly new addition to their lineup having been introduced last year but I never got around to having it until now.

Appearance - Hazy dark yellow color with a high amount of visible carbonation. There isn't really much of head to speak of save the first few moment after the initial pour and there's no lacing here either

Aroma - Moderate ginger scent with some lemon juice, malted wheat and pale malt notes.

Taste - Much like the nose, you've got some moderate ginger notes followed by some lemon, malted wheat and mild pale maltiness. The aftertaste itself is quite dry though it's worth noting that the ginger itself provides a very nice kick.

You know, maybe it's just me but I'm really starting to appreciate these lighter beers after dealing with the heavy weights these past few months. As for this beer, it's nice, simple & crisp and like I said before, the ginger gives this beer a very nice kick without being overpowering

Boulevard Ginger Lemon Radler - 8/10

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mankato Kato Lager Review

Name: Mankato Kato Lager
Style: Munich Helles
ABV; 5%
IBUs: 18

Kato Lager, a newer (to my knowledge) offering from Mankato Brewery, is a beer that I've been seeing on the shelves lately so I decided to grab a bottle of this and see for myself. It's a Munich Helles Lager, a style I haven't had in a while so I'm eager to see how this is.

Appearance - Moderately hazy bright yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. There isn't really much in terms of head and the same goes for the lacing.

Aroma - Pale malts and toffee sweetness mixed in with some fairly light floral hops and light pilsner-grassiness.

Taste - Pale malts and grassiness upfront with some mild toffee sweetness towards the middle while the back end of the palate is quite dry save for some light pale malt sweetness. As for the aftertaste, it's mostly light bitter hops with a touch of pale malts

Lagers do get a bad rep sometimes, which is rather sad because this is a nice & easy drinker that's got a good flavor and is very reasonably priced. I honestly wish that more breweries would embrace lagers as a regular offering since they are, more often than not, quite good. Needless to say, this one is worth checking out.

Mankato Kato Lager - 8/10

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Insight Phantom Taxi Review

Name: Insight Phantom Taxi
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9%
IBUs: 84

As some of you may have noticed, many of my recent reviews have been lacking in the IPA department and there's a reason for this. I still very much like my IPAs but I feel that I haven't devoted enough reviews recently to make it more diverse. Fear not, there will be more IPAs popping up in the near future. With that said, let's take a look at Insight Brewing's Phantom Taxi.

The newest canned release from Insight, I believe this was originally a draft-only offering but I'm going to assume that it was popular enough to warrant a canned release. As for the name Phantom Taxi, the only lead I have to go on is the story of a taxi cab in California that drives itself on the back of the can.

Appearance - Mildly hazy bright orange color with a light amount of visible carbonation. The head starts out pretty foamy but settles to a finger width after a couple minutes but the lacing is nice and plentiful.

Aroma - Citrus hops & orange peel with some mild caramel maltiness. I'm also getting a very light hint of grapefruit in here as well.

Taste - Tangerine on the front of the palate with some orange peel and light grapefruit in the middle along with a solid caramel malt backbone. The back of the palate is more of that caramel maltiness and orange peel with a mild bitter hops. As for the aftertaste, it's just light bitter & citrus hops.

I like this. It's nice, bright. and is a textbook example of what a good West Coast IPA should be like. I've heard musings on Facebook that this is more of a limited release so be sure to grab this should you so happen to see it. As for the story itself, I want to know more. A novella perhaps, Insight?

Insight Phantom Taxi - 9/10

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Oskar Blues Beerito Review

Name: Oskar Blues Beerito
Style: Vienna Lager
ABV: 4%
IBUs: 21

The other day I was at the store when I saw this beer staring at me on the shelf. That's right, it's a brand new offering from Oskar Blues called Beerito, which is described as the brewery as a Mexican Lager. At first, I assumed this was going to be something along the lines of a beer like Corona or Modelo, but it's actually a Vienna Lager which I wasn't expecting.

Appearance - Dark & mildly orange color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is nice and foamy and there's even some lacing left behind along the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Pale & light vienna malts with some mild roastiness and light cereal grains. I'm even picking up on some very faint floral hoppiness as well. If this is what a Mexican lager is supposed to smell like, then I've been drinking the wrong kind so far.

Taste - Light pale and vienna malt with some very light bitter hops on the back of the palate....and that's it. There's not even an aftertaste or anything.

I'm not going to lie, I wasn't expecting too much with this beer but this is just about as bland of a beer as Good Ass Beer & Michelob Golden Light and that's sad because it started out rather promising. C'mon Oskar Blues, you're better than this! If you can make a good session IPA, then surely you can do the same with lagers? To its credit, it's not offensive but that's because there isn't really much here to begin with. Even at the low price of $7 for a six-pack, I'd still pass on this.

Oskar Blues Beerito - 3.5/10

Indeed Lavender, Sunflower Honey and Dates (AKA LSD) Honey Ale Review

Name: Indeed Lavender, Sunflower Honey and Dates (AKA LSD) Honey Ale
Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: 20

How have I not gotten around to reviewing this beer? Despite the widespread availability of Indeed Brewing, I have never once tried their LSD, which stands for Lavender, Sunflower Honey and Dates. In fact, it used to be called LSD, which made it nice and short but there are the man decided that the acronym wasn't going to fly. For this review, I'll be referring to this beer as LSD since the new name is quite long.

So about LSD itself! One of the brewers (I'm blanking on the name) for Indeed used to work at Town Hall as a brewer and this was a recipe that he created during his time over there. When Indeed opened their doors, he decided to take his recipe from Town Hall to his new humble abode and here we are!

Appearance - Clear dark orange color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head is pretty thin for the most part but it has a good amount of head retention.

Aroma - I'm getting some lavender upfront with some plum notes that I would assume are the dates. I'm also getting some floral hops along with a bit of caramel maltiness.

Taste - Plums and floral hops upfront, followed by some honey sweetness and lavender notes towards the middle, while the back end of the palate has more lingering lavender notes with some caramel sweetness and a touch of honey in the aftertaste.

I'm use my one free drug pun for this review: This LSD is one worth taking a trip on..............no? Well in any case, it's a good beer and the fact it's no longer in a 750ml bottle and instead in cans is not only a welcome change but it'll give the beer a wider appeal since Indeed is no longer limited to just the Minnesota market.

Indeed Lavender, Sunflower Honey and Dates Honey Ale - 8.5/10