Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sorachi Ace (Brooklyn Brewing, Brooklyn, NY)

Got a bottle from Petschens and very happy with Brooklyn again. Hazy shimmering gold beer with a lingering white head. Drank it the same day I bought it, so didn't let it settle out, so I may be the cause of the haze. Gorgeous complex lemongrass, citrus nose and strong peppery spice that is clean and multi-layered at the same time. Carbonic tang on the tongue and the yeast and spice fills the mouth fully. Dry finished that accents the hops. Brewed with rare Japanese Sorachi hops (according to the website), the lemony character is intrinsic to the hop. I'm a fan and would love to get some more of this beer.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Clutch-Lips of Faith series (New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO)

Being a fan of sours, New Belgium is always a good bet and this one doesn't disappoint. Dark brown to black beer with a tan head that falls with a nice lace. Sour note on top of chocolate malt and some dark fruits. Subtle but interesting. Light sourness in the mouth that lingers nicely with taste of dark chocolate and cherries. Sweetness and malt underneath the sour in a fine balance. Well worth the effort to get a bottle.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

2012 Black Ale (Stephens Point Brewery, Stephens Point, WI)

Tan head bubbles up nicely on the pour over a nearly black ale, as advertised. A very light mouthfeel is the weak point of the beer. Watery base has a light roast malt, but not overly complex or interesting. More coffee than roast in the nose, which is fine,and none of the Cluster, Saaz and Cascade hops listed in the brewery's website description. Overall, a serviceable beer for the night and a standard beer for Stevens Point.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Claymore Scotch Ale (Great Divide Brewing, Denver, CO)

Dark tan head that fell quickly over a dark brown with ruby highlighted beer. Strong malt with light peat and smoke in the nose. Light and pleasant. Some dark fruit in the nose as well. All of the nose continues cleanly in the taste with the fruit increasing a bit. Mouthfeel is a bit light for the style. Overall, the beer is well done and perfectly adequate. However, it's not a stellar beer that's going to get me to pick up a six pack.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Big John (Goose Island, Chicago, IL)

Dark tan head billows up nicely and lingers for a long time. Look almost luscious sitting on top of a jet black opaque beer. For all the dark malts in the beer (according to the website: chocolate, caramel, roasted barley, de-bittered black), there's not a coffee or an overly roasted smell in the nose. Just chocolate thanks to the cacao nibs. If you pause slightly, there's a light spice on the top from the hops (Columbus from website). Mouthfeel is luscious and creamy with slight hotness from the 11.5% ABV and a slick oiliness as well. The chocolate from the nibs give a clean, earthy chocolate taste that's different and nice compared to most chocolate stouts. Overall, a very well done big beer that's fun to drink. This bottle is only six months old, so drank it as a baby. Might have to get another bottle to aged it up to suggested five years on the label.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bedlam (Ale Asylum, Madison, WI)

Burnt orange and cloudy in the glass with a slightly off white head that falls into a nice lace. Overripe grapefruit in the nose and some pepper and spice on top of some funky, yeasty smells as well. Good but convoluted. Bite is fairly strong from the hops in the initial taste that's followed by the funky, yeasty spice. Citra hops in the website description are apparent in both. More funk than hop in the taste. Nice Belgian IPA (note how easy it is to talk about it like it's a singular style already), but the marriage of the yeast and hop on this one is not a comfortable pairing. It seems to fight a bit, but just fine for the six pack I bought of it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fat Lorenzo's (Minneapolis, MN)

I'll start with this review, but I would like to go back and give Fat Lorenzo's another chance. May have had a bad night. 

Beer list was good. Maybe 40 beers on the list and a nice combination of locals like Summit and Surly and a few regional like Tallgrass. Asked about taps and was told the bottle list was it. Sitting on the patio, so didn't really look or figure it out. Had a Tallgrass Halcyon and a Summit Honeymoon Saison, both beers I hadn't tried yet, so that was nice. Served in a can and bottle respectively, but brought a pint glass on request. 

Food was alright. Alfredo pasta was good, but a bit watery and the garlic bread was nothing special that came with it. A slice of Slim's veggie pizza was good NYC style, but not quite on the mark. Bit underdone and arrived cold. Which was the crux of the issue--the service was slow.  One meal came out slightly longer than reasonable, but fine for a busy night; two more of us just ordered one slice of pizza each, which took forever to show up and well past when our dining companions were done eating. And, the slices were cold when they arrived--astounding. Still tasted good, but put a damper on the evening and I was the only one willing to give the place another try some time in the future. 

We went there on the strength of the pizza and that my brother in law had had it as delivery, but in person we were sadly disappointed for a place that has a great old school rep. Should probably have sat inside. Patio was extremely loud next to Cedar Ave and I wouldn't sit outside again. Guess there was a reason why the wait for the inside was longer in spite of a being a perfect patio night. Hope to get another chance to eat inside and see if the experience improves. Not an exceptional place for beer, but easily passable if you're there for the pizza.

Reviewed on: 08-11-2011 02:43:42

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thunderstorm Summer Ale (Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN)

Thunderstorm is a beer that I didn't much like at all when I first tried it, but really love the beer now. My first note of a beer named Thunderstorm at Town Hall was in 2004, and I'm unsure of how much it's changed over that time. Now it's one of my very favorite beers made by the brewery.

Sunny gold ale that has a puffy white head that has great retention. Light biscuit and malt in the nose with some spicy notes from hops and spices. Like smelling a flowerbut since I'm allergic to flowers, this is so much better. Notes of lavender and lemongrass. Clean and pleasant.

While true to a degree for all beer (or should be), this is truly a multi-sensory ale. Taking in the first taste, the floral and spicy characteristics pop on the tongue and blend with the nose. Each is a bit different and the contribute and build nicely together. Lemongrass comes out in the mouth more, and lingers nicely as you sip on the beer along with a nice sweetness. Slightly astringent as well, but in the very best way.

Carefuldrinking a few can catch you unaware as the immense drinkability of this beer masks the 7% ABV. A very remarkable beer that testifies to Town Hall's quality as a brew pub.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hop Index (Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN)

Beer the way it's meant to be. In spite of my best efforts to be an omni-style drinker, I'm falling into the depths of being an hop head and love this beer. Copper colored beer that turns burnt orange in the light. Very nearly white head that bubbles up nicely without foaming too much, and lingers nicely with a heavy lace. Normally not a big fan of growlers, this one doesn't seem to have lost a step like most beers when they come home compared to the tap. This one matches or exceeds what I had two days ago on tap, but I was distracted when I drank on site, so the comparison might be fuzzier than warranted.

Enormous nose that is clean and fresh without being grassy. This is a skill that I would like to learn. Lots of fresh citrus, grapefruit from the Summit and CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk and Zeus) according to the website. I was surprised by the 104 IBUs (again, according to Town Hall) because, while there's a very clear bite, it's so nicely balanced with the malty backbone of the beer that it's not overwhelming. The grapefruit dances lightly on the tongue and lingers there about until the next sip. Fills the mouth and really makes for a pleasant experience. The body of the beer is full and smooth, and light enough that the hops shine.

While not tasting the same, Hop Index is analogous to Masala Mama (a bit more hop than malt) and Flying Dog Double Dog Double Pale Ale (again, not necessarily a direct comparison of taste) in that it's a strong pale ale and doesn't have the qualities of an Imperial IPA. Light, refreshing, and crazily hoppy. Summer in a glass.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cocao Stout (Round Barn Brewery, Baroda, MI)

Dark, nearly opaque, chocolate brown beer with a sizable tan head on top. Very clean cocoa, dark chocolate with light roast and floral notes in the nose. Light coffee underneath, but very little. Lactose added to the brew (according to website) makes for a very smooth mouthfeel, sweet and somewhat luscious in spite of a rather thin body otherwise. Cream and malt early, and the roast and coffee hit harder in the end. Nice, well done stout, especially for someone who's learning the style and wants something more accessible. Good stout, if a bit thin is all.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mad Belgian (Mad River Brewing, Blue Lake, CA)

Orange gold beer under an almost white head that falls with little to no lace. Higher carbonation on the cap pop, which can be felt on the front end. Strong yeasty smell with orange and lemon, a faint must and vinegar. Clear alcohol in the nose as well. Acidic, yeasty taste up front and the fruit is muted. Very sweetwould guess the attenuation is low. Overall, an ok Belgian with a clear yeast characteristic, but too many things going in different directions. Final product doesn't meld well into a great beer.

Oaked IPA (Round Barn Brewery, Baroda, MI)

Golden IPA with straw highlights and a thin white head on top. In the bottle, the oak is more concentrated than the draft sample I had at the tasting room. Here, it feels a bit out of balance, and very strong on the wood. If you like oak, this is your beer. Very light malt and some floral notes in the nose; woodiness covers both a bit. Strong bite on the front of the tongue, and the same oak fighting with it a bit. Dry finish. I liked the beer a lot more on draft, mostly because the oak played a more normal supporting role.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Contorter (Ale Asylum, Madison, WI)

Pours a deep black with ruby highlights around the lighted edges. Tan head lingers nicely on top for quite a while. Light chocolate and roast in the nose without much else, maybe a light hop note in the middle of the bready base. Smooth is the selling point on the bottle and the website description, and it is very smooth with little to stop it from going dryly off the back of the tongue. Roast is light and lingers a bit on the tongue, but the thin body detracts from the overall taste. While a decent porter, it lacks enough depth to keep me interested beyond a bottle or two. Had the same beer on tap recently and it seemed to have a bit more too it then.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pitch Black IPA (Widmer Brothers, Portland, OR)

Living up to it's name, Pitch Black IPA is...pitch black. Only with a direct light behind it could I get copper highlights on the very edge. Tan head on top that fell with a nice lace. Big hop off the topCascade hops, from smell and according to the website. Some malt in the nose underneath, but mostly the hop. Not overly complex hop continues in the mouth with a clean, solid bite. Tastes like the hop addition was fairly earlyor at least fairly big for the early hops. Nice roast taste without an bitter or coffee taste. Grass and roast off the back, dry and clean. Not a bad beer, and, depending where I was, would have another if I wasn't distracted by other choices. Mouthfeel is a bit lacking and watery, but otherwise a good beer.

Bancreagie Peated Scotch Ale (Brau Brothers, Lucan, MN)

According to the label, Bancreagie is named after the granite that creates the aquifer from which the brewing water comes from in Lucan. The rest of the label basically says they are trying to make an authentic Scottish ale.

Off white head bubbles up high when I tip the glass a bit too hard for the last bit of beer, which settles into a light lace. Amber to copper ale in the glass with highlights around the edge. Definite smokey peat in the nose over top of lots of malt, some hop and a mineral smell. Light and airy in the mouth, peat isn't as strong as the nose would suggest. Strong caramel and burnt biscuit. Not a lot off the backsomewhat disappears. Not a bad beer, but I'm not a huge fan at this point. Happy to drink this one but unlikely to get a six pack.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Patrick's on Third (St. Peter, MN)

Just returned to Patrick's for a pint and some food. Had a Hofbrau Hefeweizen, which was clean, refreshing and very good. Followed that with a Bell's Two Hearted that was also well served and as hoppy as it should be. Being a bit further out, there's always the fear that the hoppiest beer will old or stale, but not true at Patrick's. Had I had the time, I would've gladly ordered either beer again. Tried the next veggie option on the menu: bean quesadilla. Good and served the purpose. Veggie pizza looked a lot better, but looked like too much food for me at that point and no way of making use of leftovers. Pizza on the next trip. 

Band was playing on the patio, and, thankfully, the noise stayed out there so those inside could choose not to be in the cacophony. Friendly, quick service as well. Same conclusion as before--glad to hit Patrick's if I'm in town.

Spending a week at Gustavus for a class gave me the opportunity to be a short term "regular" at Patrick's. Large bar with several areas to hang out in depending on your mood and group size. Old building with a metal ceiling just like Town Hall and other bars in Minneapolis. Service was friendly, if a bit slow at times, but overall they were trying to do a good job for college kids working off tuition. 

I had lunch there the first day, which was good but not mind blowing. Several vegetarian options but the cheese sandwich was the only one I tried. I was talked into a Bloody Mary by the waitress because it was just passed noon on a Sunday. I found out I don't like Bloody Mary's and quickly ordered a beer when I finished it. Everyone else in the bar seemed very happy with their BM's. Good tap list, including Moose Drool, Summit Horizon, Bell's Two Hearted and Oberon, and a couple of Leinie's. All of the beer was well served that I had, so no fear on ordering anything on the tap list. Didn't explore the bottles in spite of several visits--just settled on drinking Two Hearted for the week. 

I wouldn't go too far out of my way to get to Patrick's, but, if in St. Peter, it is a perfectly good place to stop.

Reviewed on: 08-01-2011 01:29:25

Brooklyn Local 2 (Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY)

Dark brown to black body with copper tints around the edges that shimmer a bit when back lit. Tall light brown head with very tight circles. Head dropped rather rapidly and left a thin film with a nearly undetectable lace. Clean, singular nose with a strong but not overwhelming spice with chocolate, dark fruits and malt. Not complex, but elegant. More cherries and malt in the mouth with the spice taking a subdued role in the taste compared to its upper hand in the nose. Dry end that finishes nicely. Warming up well and changing my perception of this beer from the initial taste. Let it sit for a bityou'll be rewarded.