Monday, September 23, 2019

Where have I been? (Update)

Hello everyone,

You might be wondering why I haven't been posting a lot recently. Well, that's why I'm here today: To explain what has been going on with me these past couple of weeks.

So there's actually a couple different reasons that have more-or-less compounded with each other so I'll get straight to the point:

  1. I recently moved - After 7 1/2 years of renting, we finally committed to buying an actual house. This past week, I've been busy packing and moving stuff; As a result, I haven't had much time to write about beer. Once I get settled in, I'll be right back at it.
  2. New job - The other major change that has happened has been the transition to a new role. It's a change that I've been working towards for months and it just so happened to take effect the same that I've been moving.
Once the dust has settled with all of these changes, I'll be back at writing and posting regularly. Plus, I figured I owed it to everyone to give an update as an explanation for my lack of posts.

As always, thank you for your continued support. I look forward to sharing my adventures and reviews with everyone. 


- Nick

Friday, September 13, 2019

Summit Saga Review

Name: Summit Saga
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 65

Time to look at what has become a standby in Summit Brewing’s lineup and that is their Saga IPA. Named after the Norse Goddess Saga, she was also a drinking buddy of Odin so naturally, there’d be a beer named after her.

This is also one of those beers that I’ve had so often that I could’ve sworn that I had done a review on it at some point. After all, according to Untappd, I’ve been drinking this beer on occasion since 2014. However, after reviewing my archives the other day, I found out that this was not the case. Let us change this, shall we?

Appearance – Mildly cloudy dark golden color with tons of visible carbonation. The head has a nice foamy look to it and the lacing left behind is rather abundant.

Aroma – In the nose, I’m getting some potent citrus and piney hop notes, all backed up by a solid toffee malt backbone and slight yeastiness.

Taste – The front of the palate is dominated by piney hops with the middle opening up to light citrus hops and a solid toffee malt backbone. Towards the end of the palate as well as in the aftertaste, you start to see a lingering bitter hoppiness that lasts for a few moments after the last sip.

What can I say? There’s a reason why I’ll order this while I’m out if I’m unsure what I want to get. The hop profile is nicely balanced in conjunction with the malt backbone and the end result is a nice, drinkable IPA. Check it out, should you get the chance!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Hunyuck Malarkey Review

Name: Hunyuck Malarkey
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%

I’ve stated countless times that many breweries have popped up in my absence on this blog and Hunyuck Brew Co. is no exception. Currently, they contract brew at Barley John’s in New Richmond, WI but will one day have a brewery to call their own. I first encountered Hunyuck at the Summer Beer Dabbler last year and was impressed with their Oger IPA, which I covered in an article that I posted on my old website.

Well last week, I just so happened to come across their Malarkey, a new(er) offering from them, at a tasting they were conducting at my regular haunt and decided to give it a shot. What is Malarkey, you ask? It’s their Pale Ale brewed with Mosaic, Centennial & Amarillo hops, along with a “Golden Grain Bill.” What’s a Golden Grain Bill? More importantly, how does it taste? Even more importantly, why does it specifically tell us to serve this colder than a tin toilet seat? Let’s find out.

Appearance – Cloudy dark golden color with lots of carbonation. The head is rather thin but with good retention as is the lacing left behind.

Aroma – Citrus hops with a potent pale/toffee malt base. I'm also picking up on some bitter hoppiness and light yeast notes.

Taste – On the front of the palate I'm getting that Mosaic citrus, which lingers throughout the palate. In the middle is where that toffee Male backbone and yeast flavor comes into play, while the back opens up to a light bitter hoppiness.

In an age where hazy & barrel-aged beers are all the rage, this is a nice call back to the beers that I started out with when I first got into craft beer. The hop profile is on point and, as the label promises, is indeed “crushingly refreshing.” It’s a beer that you can enjoy for its flavor without necessarily having to think about it. As such, it’s an easy beer to recommend!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale Review

Name: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Style: Pumpkin/Yam Beer
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 28

It’s the changing of the guard in terms of the transition between Summer & Fall. With it, the seasonal releases from breweries are also following suit.

Which brings us to today’s beer: Punkin from Dogfish Head. Every year, the label art on this beer changes and this year we have anthropomorphic pumpkins in leather jackets playing drums, guitar and there’s even one singing. How punk indeed.

Appearance – Clear dark orange with a ton of visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass. The head is thin and on the soapy side with very sparse lacing along the sides of the glass.

Aroma – Pumpkin Spice & Nutmeg dominate most of the nose with a solid toffee malt foundation. I’m also picking up on some floral hops but they’re not immediately apparent; Not that I would expect them to be.

Taste – Fairly reflective of the nose. You’ve got that pumpkin spice & nutmeg that make up the majority of the flavor, which in turn is backed up by that toffee maltiness. I’m also picking up on a mild but noticeable nutty flavor in the aftertaste that reminds me somewhat of a brown ale, along with a slight floral hoppiness.

Pumpkin beers were one of my favorite beer styles when I first got into craft beer almost 8 years ago and I’ll admit that it’s fallen out of favor with me in place of more traditional styles. Having Punkin reminds me why I fell in love with the pumpkin beer-style in the first place and has got me thinking that I should maybe revisit the style. Overall, I liked this and it’s a great beer to help celebrate the start of fall!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Insight Crazy Aunt Review

Name: Insight Crazy Aunt
Style: Herbed/Spiced Beer
ABV: 6%

One of the other trends I’ve seen pop-up in my absence is the rise of “cocktail” beers, which are beers meant to taste like mixed drinks, with Gin & Tonic and Moscow Mules being the most common of the bunch. I mean, I’m all for exploring uncharted territory in craft beer and all but I’m not really quite sure if I’m 100%  onboard with the idea of cocktail beers because if I want a mixed drink, I’ll make a mixed drink.

In any case, we have Crazy Aunt from Insight Brewing, which is a Gin & Tonic-inspired beer made with juniper berries & coriander. There is a companion beer to this called Rowdy Uncle, which is a Moscow Mule-inspired beer but I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. For the time being, this will have to do.

Appearance – Fairly clear pale yellow color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation rising up from the bottom of the glass. The head itself is thin & somewhat foamy but the lacing is plentiful.

Aroma - I'm getting some pale malts, along with some of juniper and coriander notes and a light floral least that's what it smells like.

Taste - Strong boozy gin flavor upfront that lingers throughout the palate. In the middle, you get some of that juniper sweetness and coriander along with some light floral hops. Also, much like a traditional Gin & Tonic, the aftertaste is reminiscent of a dry gin finish

If there's one thing this beer does perfectly, it's emulate the actual flavor of a gin & tonic. If that is what the aim was with this beer, then Insight nailed it. If your looking for something different, this will do nicely.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Blacklist Peach Hazy Review

Name: Blacklist Peach Hazy
Style: India Pale Ale (Hazy/New England style)
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 28

It’s been well over five years since I reviewed anything from Blacklist Artisanal Ales. The last time I reviewed anything from them, they were contracting brewing at the old Dubrue facility before settling into their current spot in Downtown Duluth, which I'll cover in a future article!

In fact, my first post about Blacklist was 6 years ago this month! I recall they were packaging their beers in 750ml bottles and topping it off with corks that were too big for their own good. I remember coming home from work with a bottle of their Or de Belgique and spending upwards of 10 minutes trying in vain to pull out the cork with both my hands and corkscrew, all whilst swearing up a storm in an attempt to get at that "Gold of Belgium."

Going through my unused photos for my Or de Belgique article from 6 years ago, I took this photo after managing to finally to uncork this monstrosity.

...And here's me expressing my hatred and frustration at the cork which I had spent what seemed forever trying to open.

After what seemed like forever in my attempt to open it up, it finally popped out and I was taken aback by how good it was; It made all my efforts worth it! A year later, when I was helping promote & organize Bradtoberfest in Duluth, I actually met one of the former owners, Jon, at Endion Station since Blacklist was one of the sponsors of the event.

I recall shaking Jon’s hand and telling him how awesome Blacklist’s beers were before immediately mentioning the corks. A look of resignation came across his face as he was fully aware of the cork issue since the ones they ordered ended up being a millimeter too big from what their initial measurements were.

Nowadays, they utilize cans which are much easier to open. Which brings us to Peach Hazy, their own version of the Hazy IPA and one that was teased by one of my friends who works at Blacklist back in June. Since there was so much hype surrounding it, you know I have to check it out.

Appearance – Hazy dark orange color with no visible carbonation. The head is quite foamy in appearance but there’s no lacing to be had here.

Aroma -  Strong peach and citrus hops permeate throughout the nose. It’s like someone sliced open a fresh apricot and stuck it in your face. Sure there’s some mild maltiness in here but it’s pretty much all apricot.

Taste -  Much like the nose, the palate is dominated by the peachy sweetness and citrus hoppiness, both of which linger in the aftertaste along with a light bitterness. There is an encompassing mild maltiness in here but that is secondary compared to the peach and citrus aspect of the flavor.

If you enjoy hazy IPAs and/or in-your-face fruity beers, this beer is pretty much a love letter to you. The peach and citrus hop aspects of the flavor work in-tandem with each other to create a rather memorable drinking experience. That said, this one is definitely worth picking up should you see it!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Bell's I: Song of Myself Review

Name: Bell’s I: Song of Myself
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%

A few years back, Bell’s Brewery released a series of seven beers based on Gustav Holst’s musical composition “The Planets,” with each beer taking a name from each of the musical sections. It was a fantastic series and produced some of the best beers that I’ve ever had to pleasure of trying out. Needless to say, I was somewhat heartbroken when it ended and I even wondered if Bell’s would try something like this again.

Well, that question now has an answer as Bell’s has unleashed upon us “Leaves of Grass,” a series of seven beers based on the Walt Whitman book/poetry collection of the same name. I know next to nothing about Walt Whitman aside from the fact that he’s a famous poet from the 19th century and that he wrote stuff. In fact, the first time I had heard the name “Walt Whitman” was from The Simpson’s episode where Homer tries to find his mother and instead discovers the headstone of Walt Whitman and proceeds to assail it while proclaiming his hate for the writer and even mentions Leaves of Grass in the process. I’ll post it below….

Now that we got that out of our system, it’s time to take a look at the first beer in the series: Song of Myself. From what the label tells me, it’s a German-Style IPA and is made with hops and malts that are 100% German in origin.

Appearance – Hazy dark yellow color with a lot of visible carbonation. The head itself is pretty thing but there’s a healthy amount of lacing left along the sides of the glass.

Aroma – Strong toffee and caramel malts dominate most of the nose but some potent bitter hops lurking underneath.

Taste – Flavor-wise, it’s a mirror image of the nose. Throughout the palate you have strong toffee and caramel maltiness with a fairly strong bitter hoppiness on the back with a lingering resin aftertaste.

I’ve had a few “German-Inspired” IPAs before and this is definitely one of the more meltier ones that I’ve had. That said, I enjoyed this. It might be a more bitter IPA, which’ll turn off some people, but the malts used more than help balance this beer out. I’m looking forward to seeing what else this series will have to offer and hope to check them all out.