Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Blackstack Chop Chop Review

Name: Blackstack Chop Chop
Style: India Pale Ale (Hazy/NE Style)
ABV: 6.6%

Venturing back into hazy territory, we’re taking a look at another offering from Blackstack Brewing. Today’s beer is Chop Chop, a hazy IPA that was done in collaboration with Falling Knife Brewing, which is based out of neighboring Minneapolis.

Appearance – Hazy bright yellow color with a light amount of visible carbonation. The head itself is quite soapy but manages to maintain a thin retention and the lacing is on the spotty side

Aroma – I’m getting some potent pineapple notes mixed in with some melon and orange slice. There’s also a moderate pale maltiness in here as well.

Taste – Strong melon & cantaloupe notes followed by some citrus hops and pineapple on the back end of the palate, along with a solid pale malt backbone. The aftertaste is a mix of bittersweet orange peel and a light melon flavor.

As far as hazy IPAs go, this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve had. The reason being that there’s a good amount of layering with the flavor yet at the same time, it’s super easy to drink; Dare I say almost dangerously crushable? In any case, this is one beer that should be on your docket to try out!

Blackstack Chop Chop – 9/10

Monday, April 27, 2020

Central Waters Brewer's Reserve Rye Barrel Stout Review

Name: Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Rye Barrel Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.9%
IBUs: 42

I’m taking a break from reviewing hazy beers to look at another entry into a beloved series of mine from Central Waters Brewing. Since reviewing their Cherry Stout, I’ve made it a goal of mine to try out all of the Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve beers since I’ve grown accustomed to the quality of the offerings in the series.

For my sixth look in the series, I’ve got my hands on their Rye Barrel Stout, which is of course, an Imperial Stout aged that was aged in rye whiskey barrels for a full year. There isn’t really much else for me to say, so let’s take a look at this!

Appearance – Opaque black color with a thin brown colored head & a spotty amount of lacing left behind along the sides of the glass

Aroma – Strong chocolate malt and roasted barley scent upfront with some vanilla and oak notes tucked away behind that. There’s also a light but encompassing rye spiciness there to let you know that this is very much a rye barrel-aged stout.

Taste – Right away, I’m getting that strong chocolate maltiness and roasted barley flavor, which is immediately followed by that vibrant oak and rye spiciness. On the back end of the palate is where that vanilla sweetness starts to shine and help bring balance; Especially to the rye aspect of the flavor. In the aftertaste, I’m getting some light bitter hoppiness paired with those oak, vanilla and chocolate malt flavors; Along with a light boozy heat and it lingers for a few moments.

It goes without saying that this is a fantastic beer. I’d even go as far as to recommend that even those who aren’t fans of Rye Beers will enjoy this, it’s that good! Everything melds together wonderfully and it is a nice change of scenery from all the beers that I’ve had as of late. That said, this is very easy for me to recommend.

Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Rye Barrel Stout – 9.5/10

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Toppling Goliath Supa Sumo Review

Name: Toppling Goliath Supa Sumo
Style: Imperial IPA (Hazy/NE style)
ABV: 7.8%
IBUs: 100

Time to look at a beer from Toppling Goliath, a brewery that I haven’t looked at in ages. The beer is question is Supa Sumo, an Imperial Hazy IPA. Why is it called Supa Sumo? I have no idea but what I do know is that it’s made with Citra & Mosaic hops. Let’s have a look!

Appearance – Murky orange-yellow color with a mold amount of visible carbonation. The head itself is quite thin and there's a light amount of lacing left behind.

Aroma – Citrus and orange peel notes are immediately apparent upfront along with a malty backbone. However hidden behind all that is a subtle yet noticable bitterness.

Taste – Starting out, I'm getting those nice citrus and orange peel notes that I got in the nose, both of which linger throughout the palate. Then on the back end of the palate, that bitterness that wasn't really apparent before seemingly drops out of nowhere and dominates the remainder of the palate. This is in conjunction with that citrus and orange peel notes along with that pale maltiness.

At first the flavor seems pretty upfront but once that bitterness kicks in, it becomes a pretty different beer. For me, it's a change of pace and it's what sets it apart from a lot of the hazy beers I've had recently. As far as I’m concerned, it’s another great offering from Toppling Goliath and one that you should absolutely check out.

Toppling Goliath Supa Sumo – 9/10

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Blackstack Barely Street Legal Review

Name: Blackstack Barely Street Legal
Style: India Pale Ale (Hazy/NE style)
ABV: 7.3%

Time to check out another brewery that people just can't seem to get enough of around here. Today we are looking at a beer from Blackstack Brewing, based out of Saint Paul, MN.

The beer is question is Barely Street Legal, a DDH Hazy IPA brewed in collaboration with 18th Street Brewing based out of Gary, IN. It's made with Citra, Strata and (admittedly cool sounding) Experimental #07270 hops.

Appearance - Hazy yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head itself is pretty thin and there's a light amount of lacing left behind.

Aroma - I'm getting some nice citrus & apricot notes along with some good pale maltiness.

Taste - The flavor itself is fairly straightforward with those citrus and apricot flavors throughout most of the palate with just a hint of peach; All of which is backed by a nice pale malt backbone. As for the aftertaste, it's surprisingly dry save for a light hint of citrus.

As stated in the previous paragraph, the flavor on this is pretty upfront and there's nothing wrong with that. It's not the most complex hazy out there, but there's no excuse not to try this out.

Blackstack Barely Street Legal - 8.5/10

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Surly Space Race Review

Name: Surly Space Race
Style: Imperial IPA (Hazy/NE Style)
ABV: 9.5%
IBUs: N/A (Low per Surly’s Website)

I’ve decided to take another dive into Surly’s BC Small Batch Series. This time around, we’re venturing into the Hazy IPA category with their Space Race, a hazy Double Dry Hopped (DDH) Imperial IPA. Why the name Space Race, you ask? Well, according to Surly, the mix of El Dorado, Citra, and Simcoe hops will “send you straight to the moon.” Sounds like fun, I guess?

Appearance – Hazy dark yellow with a fairly thin head along with some great lacing.

Aroma – Pineapple, kiwi, and orange peel dominate most of the nose along with a slight hint of pale maltiness. Fairly straightforward as far as Hazy IPAs are concerned.

Taste – The majority of the palate is made up of vibrant pineapple, kiwi and citrus notes with a light touch of the passionfruit, along with a nice pale malt backbone. In the aftertaste, I’m getting a nice orange slice sweetness that lingers for a couple of moments.

I’m enjoying this one and it’s another awesome entry for Surly’s BC Small Batch series. I recall a time where the only Imperial IPA that Surly offered was their Abrasive Ale, so seeing them putting their resources to good use to create even more offerings make me thankful to have a brewery like Surly around. Is it complex? No, but given how vibrant the flavor profile is, that more than makes up for it!

Surly Space Race – 9/10

Monday, April 20, 2020

Sixpoint Party Hat Review

Name: Sixpoint Party Hat 
Style: India Pale Ale (Hazy/NE Style)
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 0

The fine folks at Sixpoint have bestowed upon us another Hazy IPA called Party Hat. I guess it’s called Party Hat to indicate a good time because the label proudly totes that there is no bitterness in here in both the description and on the 0 IBUs on the label, which saves me the task of having to find it. Plus after having their excellent Meltdown, I’m eager to see how this one turns out.

Appearance – Hazy yellow color with a light amount of carbonation. The head itself is soapy but has some good retention and the lacing left behind is light.

Aroma – Citrus, orange peel, peach and mango fruitness dominate the nose along with some light pale malts. No bitterness so far!

Taste – Much like the nose, the palate consists of vibrant citrus, mango, orange peel notes along with a solid pale malt backbone. The aftertaste is a nice, but light citrus aftertaste.

True to its name, this is a beer with no bitterness to speak of. It’s bright, vibrant, juicy & just a good time overall. It’s more straightforward than Meltdown was in terms of flavor but that it’s still a great beer nevertheless. As such, this one is easy to recommend!

Sixpoint Party Hat – 8.5/10

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Blacklist Spruce Review

Name: Blacklist Spruce
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.5%
IBUs: 90

Let's turn the clock back to 2013, shall we?  It was a different time for myself:  My beer blog was still pretty new, I was living in Duluth and the craft beer scene in Duluth (as well as Northeast Minnesota/Northern Wisconsin general), while vibrant, still wasn't nearly the powerhouse that it is today.  Back then, one of the new breweries that I was introduced to was, of course, Blacklist Brewing.

One of the first beers that I ever tried out from them was their Spruce Tipped. I recall it being a wonderfully made beer that I, at the time, considered off the beaten path in terms of the usage of spruce tips in the brewing process. Well since then, craft beer being made with nontraditional ingredients has become the norm so you could consider my old article to be a product of its time. Also, Blacklist has made this beer again under a different name simply called: Spruce.  To my knowledge, they've also tweaked the recipe a bit so I figured now is a good time to take a look at this beer once again.

Appearance - Mildly cloudy dark orange color with a moderate amount of visible carbonation. The head takes on a foamy off-white look and some good lacing to boot.

Aroma - Strong caramel malts mixed in with some moderate bitter & citrus hops. I'm also getting some light spruce towards the back in here as well.

Taste - Strong caramel malts make up the bulk of the front end of the flavor, which is followed by that potent piney & citrus hop flavor in the middle. On the back end of the palate, however, is where that spruce shines! It's not too overpowering but it's just right! As for the aftertaste, it's mainly that spruce flavor with some mild maltiness.

Looking back at my notes from 2013, there is a noticeable difference in the overall flavor...but I think it's for the better. The spruce aspect of the flavor is more pronounced than before and it just feels more well-rounded as a whole.

This was already a great beer seven years ago, but I strongly feel that this one is better. As such, this is a very easy beer to recommend and I think it serves as a testament to how much Blacklist has evolved over the years.

Blacklist Spruce - 9.5/10

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Angry Inch False Penance Review

Name: Angry Inch False Penance
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 11.2%
IBUs: 52

One more beer from Angry Inch left to go! I did have a crowler of their Crabby Appleton Graf but that got consumed during a bonfire, so we’re moving onto the main event: False Penance.

It’s a Rye Barrel Aged Belgian-style Barleywine, so one can assume that there will be a lot going on in this flavor. When I was talking with Jon, he touted this as one of his favorite beers & it’s also been a long time since I’ve had a proper barleywine to review. Needless to say, I’m very eager to try this out.

Appearance – A fairly hazy dark red color with no head or lacing to speak of.

Aroma – Strong rye, oak and sherry port notes with some mild bitter hops along with some light Belgian yeast and clove spiciness. The caramel malt backbone is nice and strong here as well.

Taste – Upon taking my first sip, the rye spiciness and oak notes are front and center along with that port flavor. In the middle is where those Belgian yeast and mild bitter hop notes shine nicely the back end of the palate is where that caramel & toffee maltiness are most prevalent.

There’s a lot going on in the flavor and I, for one, love it; Espcially the rye flavors! That said, if you’re not a fan of rye, this beer isn’t going to win you over simply based on how prevalent the said flavor is…..but if you enjoy rye & barrel aged beers, then this beer is pretty much a love letter to you!

Angry Inch False Penance – 9.5/10

Friday, April 10, 2020

Junkyard Murky Dimensions Review

Name: Junkyard Murky Dimensions
Style: Imperial IPA (Hazy/NE Style)
ABV: 8.1%
IBUs: 41

Another beer from Junkyard Brewing? Don’t mind if I do! This time around, I’ve got another Hazy IPA from them in the form of Murky Dimensions, complete with some pretty neat cover art on the front.

I also noticed too during my research that there is, in fact, an old version of this beer; With the previous specifications being 8.5% ABV & with 57 IBUs. How long ago was the change made and why? Who knows, let’s check this out!

Appearance – Hazy yellow color with a mild amount of visible carbonation. The head has a nice fluffy and pillow-like look to it and there’s tons of lacing left along the sides of the glass.

Aroma – Nice peach and apricot notes mixed in with some citrus hops on orange peel notes, all backed up by a nice pale malt backbone.

Taste – Right away, that peach and apricot sweetness is on full display here, along with some citrus hops/orange peel; All of which take up most of the flavor. On the back end of the palate, I’m picking up on some pretty light hop bitterness that lingers for but a moment. Aside from that, the aftertaste is actually pretty dry

What can I say? It’s another solid offering from Junkyard and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Any dedicated fan of the Hazy IPA style (or Junkyard Brewing) in general will no doubt fall in love with this.

Junkyard Murky Dimensions – 8/10

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Angry Inch Speedy's Happy Pilz Review

Name: Angry Inch Speedy’s Happy Pilz
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 27

Next beer up from Angry Inch Brewing is Speedy’s Happy Pilz, which is listed as a Czech-style Pilsner. I recall the name Speedy from my first visit to Angry Inch back in 2014 when they were still brewing out of their garage and it’s brewed in honor of owner Jon’s old foreman who had passed away a few years prior. Back when I first visited them, the beer was simply called Speedy’s Lager and was, according to my notes, a darker lager with a chocolate malt finish. In other words, not the same beer we’re looking at today.

Appearance – A clear golden color with a ton of visible carbonation. The head is quite thin and the lacing left behind is spotty.

Aroma – I’m getting a potent pilsner malt scent along with some nice floral hop notes and just a hint of barley.

Taste – Nice Pilsner malt notes with some nice yet subtle floral hoppiness which linger throughout the palate, along with that light barley flavor. A  light bitterness briefly makes an appearance at the end before fading away in what is an otherwise dry aftertaste.

I have to say, I enjoyed having this a great deal. It’s an easy drinking beer with a nice & clean finish. It’s one of those beers that you can just sit back, relax, turn your brain off and just enjoy it; Especially after a long day at work (Maybe that’s the whole point?) Much like the name suggests, this beer will, indeed, make you happy.

Angry Inch Speedy’s Happy Pils – 8.5/10

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Angry Inch The Balvinchie Review

Name: Angry Inch The Balvinchie
Style: Wee Heavy/Scotch Ale
ABV: 8%
IBUs: 23

So since visiting taprooms is out of the question for an extended period of time, I figured the next best thing I could do is grab some beers to go straight from the taproom. With that said, I’ve got some new beers from the crew over at Angry Inch to take a look at. First up is The Balvinchie; What's a Balvinchie? Heck if I know!

In any case, this is their Wee Heavy. Come to think of it, I haven’t had a Wee Heavy in a long time, despite my love of the style. With that said, let’s check this one out.

Appearance – Mildly hazy dark crimson color with a light amount of visible carbonation. The head itself takes on a foamy khaki color and there’s some mild lacing left along the sides of the glass.

Aroma – Caramel malts and potent peated scotch notes. I’m also picking up on some mild smokiness and floral hops, along with some light spicy notes.

Taste – Like the nose, the flavor starts out with a hefty caramel maltiness and a nice, smoky peated scotch taste that lingers throughout. On the back end of the palate is where you start to see some of that light floral hoppiness and just a hint of spiciness. The aftertaste itself is mainly more of that caramel malts but it’s on the lighter side. Otherwise the finish is surprisingly dry.

Angry Inch has bestowed on us yet another fantastic beer and it’s a great way for me to be reintroduced to the Wee Heavy-style. Like many breweries, this one is available in the taproom for to-go orders only so if you find yourself in the Lakeville area, check this one out; You will not be disappointed!

Angry Inch The Balvinchie – 9/10

Monday, April 6, 2020

Bent Paddle Classic Review

Name: Bent Paddle Classic
Style: Cream Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 18

Wow, if my notes are correct, it’s been over three years since I’ve reviewed any offerings from Bent Paddle. In fact, a lot has changed at Bent Paddle since I last spoke of them here. They’ve moved their taproom a block away to a more spacious location and they’ve released a TON of new offerings that I promise that I will cover one day.

For the time being, I give to you their newest offering: Classic. Yes that is the name of the beer. Described as a “straight forward” and “easy going” beer, it’s a beer made for the crowd that just wants a “beer that tastes like beer,” hence the name.

Appearance – Clear straw yellow color with a lot of visible carbonation. The head takes on a white foamy look and the lacing left behind is plentiful.

Aroma – Lots of barley & pale malts in here with some mild earthiness and light floral hoppiness.

Taste – Pale malts and light floral hops upfront with some barley flavors in the middle. On the back of the palate is where I’m getting some light bitterness and more of that barley. Aside from that, the aftertaste is quite dry.

In an age of Hazy IPAs and complex tasting beers, sometimes having a beer that doesn’t require you to mull over its flavor is just what you need. Plus it helps that it’s a good tasting beer to boot! In short, I like this and if you’re looking for a beer that you can sit back and relax with, than this is the beer for you!

Bent Paddle Classic – 8.5/10

Friday, April 3, 2020

Lagunitas The Waldos' Special Ale Review

Name: Lagunitas The Waldos’ Special Ale
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 10.8%
IBUs: 100

Lagunitas, when was the last time I reviewed anything from you? Well checking my history, it was December 2016 with their Stoopid Wit. However, today’s beer is one that honestly has me at a loss of words but not in the way you might be thinking. I give to you The Waldos’ Special Ale.

With a lot of the beers I review, I always try and do some research on them and I feel like I kind of fell down a rabbit hole with this one. Case in point, here’s the description from the brewery itself:

In 1971, the Waldos met one afternoon at 4:20 in the front courtyard of their school near the statue of Louis Pasteur. They set out in a '66 Impala armed with a "treasure map" on a journey to find a secret garden near Point Reyes. They met there at the same time every day and continued their quest. They never found the secret garden....But they keep lookin'. The dankest and hoppiest beer ever brewed at Lagunitas was made with help of the Waldos for all treasure hunters. Cheers!

Let’s see here, we’ve got a 4:20 reference right off the bat and it’s anyone’s guess what this treasure map to “secret garden” is; Although they do tout it as the dankest beer ever brewed so use your imagination as to what this secret garden. However, my biggest burning question: who or what is a Waldo? Seriously, what is a Waldo, Lagunitas?

Appearance – Slightly cloudy dark golden color with a high amount of visible carbonation. The head has a thin soapy look to it and there’s nothing left behind in terms of lacing

Aroma – Strong citrus & grapefruit sweetness with a potent resiny scent with some notes of apricot & peach. The toffee & caramel malt backbone is also very strong here as well.

Taste – Strong grapefruit and bitter resiny hops start things off on the front of the palate and do they ever make themselves known! In the middle of the palate, that toffee/caramel malt backbone comes into play to keep things from getting too out of control. On the back end of the palate is where those peach & apricot fruitness helps bring things back full circle. The aftertaste consists of a lingering toffee maltiness and light bitter hoppy taste. There’s also a light boozy heat that I can feel after consumption.

Well, it’s certainly a dank tasting beer but it’s also got enough variety in the overall flavor to keep things interesting and there’s nothing wrong with that! As such, that alone makes this a very easy recommendation.

Lagunitas The Waldo’s Special Ale – 9/10