Thursday, October 27, 2011

Harvey (Brugge Brasserie, Indianapolis, IN)

Bright red sour ale with a bright white head that falls quickly in the goblet. Slightly sour nose with a clear but not overwhelming fruit. Light hop or spice underneath. Blackberry arrives in the mouth--light and refreshing summer beer--sourness is there, but light and compliments the blackberry fairly well. If you're looking for boundary pushing funk--this isn't it. But, it's a very nice, light beer that balances the sweet and sour.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 10-27-2011 00:37:44

Golden Zoe IPA (Thr3e Wise Men, Indianapolis, IN)

Ordered the mug special--$10 for a 25 oz filled mug and you go home with the glass. The mug was for their dubbel Long Fang--which is evidently a online gaming reference that means something is cool or ???. While the very nice waitress explained the reference to me--I don't remember enough of it to relay it here. Nice glass though, and took it home to drink bombers of homebrew. 

Amber IPA with shimmering red highlights back lit by the plasma TVs with three different football games on.  Ever so slightly off white head that falls with a nice lace.  Muddled malt, biscuit, toffee, caramel and grapefruit in the nose. Good caramel and malt base with a nice hop bit as well in the taste--slightly metallic and vegetal taste lingering underneath. Adequate IPA for the moment, but I'm not a fanboy.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 10-27-2011 01:25:30

Brugge Brasserie (Indianapolis, IN)


I tried Brugge Brasserie at Great Taste in 2007 and was looking forward to the stop in Indianapolis. My niece is a newly minted Boilermaker, so we picked her up from my alma mater to head to Indy to be tourists. After a walk through the memorials downtown, we headed to the Broad Ripple neighborhood to hang out and hit the pub. Of the three pubs in the area, BB is the highest rated over Broad Ripple and Thr3e Wise Men. 

Walking in the door, we had very friendly and quick service. Took a seat and ordered up some frites. As an avid traveler and fan of the Netherlands, I'm well acquainted with frites. However, these didn't taste very authentic. Unless you're really hungry, think twice about ordering the L'Enorme--it's truly enormous. Waitress at the next pub said they couldn't finish it with five around the table one night. For dinner, we ordered crepes--scrambled eggs, roasted tomato, double glazed onion and swiss. Enjoyed it a lot. 

Had a sample of the I70 Ghost Ramp IPA--and wasn't impressed. First draft was of the Tripel de Ripple, which was ok but lacked some character. The final draft was Harvey--a sour ale with blueberries. Easily the best of the night, but still light and middle of the road. Good stop and enjoyed the dinner, but don't think I'll make Brugge Brasserie a regular stop for future Indy trips.

Reviewed on: 10-27-2011 00:51:08

Thr3e Wise Men (Indianapolis, IN)


Walking back to the car from Brugge Brasserie, we saw Thr3e Wise Men across the street--and over we went. Sports bar atmosphere with lots of plasma TVs and multiple games running. Nice U shaped bar, and light wood throughout the place, including the oversized communal picnic tables and beer barrels with tops to stand up at to drink and eat. Place was small up front, but it extended through the back behind the restrooms. Glass wall for the brewhouse in the back makes for a nice setting. Overall, a nice little sports bar. 

And, they seem to be trying very hard. Not sure on the food since we'd already eaten at Brugge Brasserie down the street, but the free popcorn was pretty good. Our server Arianna was attentive and friendly, and really made it a pleasant stop. Chris (a manager?) stopped to chat, and was a '09 Boilermaker (we we're all dressed for homecoming), and seemed to really know beer as we chatted about the local beer scene. And, the attitude of the brewers (Long Fang and Centennial DIPA on push and cask) attest that they have an attitude to push some beer limits. My guess from this, and previous trips, is that the Indiana beer scene is developing but not quite ready for prime time, even with the obvious exception of a Three Floyds in state (technically, near Chicago).

Reviewed on: 10-27-2011 01:38:33

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spazzerack! (Three Floyd's Brewing, Munster, IN)

Blood red to brown combo of Alpha King and Robert the Bruce aged in bourbon barrels. Star anise is evidently cheap, or just very potent, because its abundantly clear in the nose. With the sweet malt added, smells just like anise candy that can be found around Christmas in Dutch bakeries. If you pay attention, the orange of the description can be found tucked away in the side of the anise. Syrupy sweet base with more anise, but the AK hop taste--grassy and grapefruit--pops in the middle. Add to that some peat and bourbon, and this is one interesting beer. I don't think I'll take this one home, but it is one incredible beer that I'm honored to try; the type of beer that's a testament to the art and creatively of brewing that those in the club seek out. Those reading this review can ponder the difference between my rating and those on BeerAdvocate that were much harsher. In part, I'm guessing the anise is a tough mistress when so strong.  But, if you're looking for the beer frontier--this is it.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 10-26-2011 02:33:33

Behemoth Blonde Barleywine (Three Floyd's Brewing, Munster, IN)

Amber barleywine with a golden glow backlit by the kung fu movie on the plasma TV over the brewery window. Slightly off white head falls to a nice lace in the snifter. Big, hoppy citrus nose like a west coast IPA. Cool and reminds me a bit of Stone Old Guardian, but a bit more rough around the edges. Dark cherry, chocolate and caramel underneath the commanding hop. Sweet malt backbone that mellows the hop but by no means subdues it.  Lingering Quad resin with more dark fruit and caramel on the tongue, and a bitter finish from the hop. Classic FFF hop interpretation of a standard style. Get it, drink it and live life.  Going to find a clone of this one, and try to brew it at home.

11/4/11 Just drank the bottle of Behemoth that I brought home from 3F and love it even more. Really has moved to the top of my list for favorite barleywines along with Stone OG. Great beer and a must try if you get a chance.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 10-26-2011 02:53:10

Zombie Dust (Three Floyd's Brewing, Munster, IN)

Gold to amber APA with a full head that falls to a rounded lace in an imperial pint glass.  Menu says 50 IBUs, but it packs a much bigger punch. Grassy, earthy nose that sings of hops, light fruit, and bitterness up front on top of caramel sweetness. Not a big beer, but doesn't taste light or watery at all--just not heavy. Smallish beer that showcases the hop bite for those with a zombie like craving for hops.

Serving type: on-tap

Reviewed on: 10-26-2011 02:58:50

Lafayette Brewing (Lafayette, IN)

My wife and I hit Lafayette Brewing every year or two when we head down for an annual football game at my alma mater.  LBC is easy to find in the downtown area and generally easy to park across the street or farther down on side streets. When we've been there, the place is generally packed during the post football game hubbub and seems to enjoy a good reputation locally. Generally, there's one new beer on tap to try, and the rest stay pretty standard through the year.  All of the beers are good to very good, but nothing to really test the beer limits of many geeks. Nice if you're in town, but I wouldn't go too far out of the way for it. We would've skipped it this trip, but Chumley's down the street is a bar only, and our freshmen Boilermaker niece wasn't allowed in, so we headed down to the more family friendly LBC. 
The go-to beer for the place is the Black Angus Oatmeal Stout, which I like drinking, in part, for the irony that I'm a vegetarian. Of which, the food choices are bad for veggies--two entrees, a salad and a couple of appetizers. No food this trip because of the earlier pizza run to Arnie's, but I have eaten at LBC before and not been disappointed. New beer for this trip was an Aussie Red Ale called Bushmen's Bitter. Not bad. Hoppier than I expected and I assume with Australian hops because of the extreme fruitiness of the nose, but the amber ale was very light and almost watery. Great transition beer since nothing was 'scary' except the hop forward character of the beer. 

Good stop, nice place, sure bet if you're visiting Purdue. And, unlike the bar down the street--LBC is smoke free; evidently, not a given in Indiana.

Reviewed on: 10-26-2011 01:58:01

Three Floyds Brewing (Munster, IN)

Was able to finally return to Three Floyds on a trip through Chicago to Purdue. While the review below clearly shows my love of FFF, this trip made it it one of my very favorite spots. It helped that my wife was along to DD this time, so the tasting was a more intense, but it was also the fall line up of beers compared to the summer brews that I had last time. Drinking Behemoth, Artic Panzer Wolf, Zombie Dust and Spazzerack! took all of my energy so that I didn't even get to Dreadnaught--one of my favorites. 

But what really put it over the top was the food. I had pizza last time, which was very good. Maybe it's improved as well--didn't have a chance to try this trip. We really liked that they offered small plates so the meal was a more appropriate size. We started with the butternut squash soup--amazing--black truffles, hazelnut yogurt and pickled squash made this a soup to remember. After that, I had the mac n cheese. Doesn't sound too adventuresome, but the old fashioned comfort food with American cheese was spiced up with pickled onions and bread crumbs. I know--onions in mac n cheese? Just have to try it. 

The basic format of the bar hasn't changed in the last few years, but they seem to have settled in with more beer paraphernalia and other decorations on the walls. The big screen TV with a kung fu movie playing was a nice touch--and nice to watch with dinner over the brew house. Not sure how, but it adds to the attitude of the place. Not fancy--just good. Fits my personality exactly. I feel lucky that FFF is directly on my route to visit my alma mater, and hope to make this a much more regular stop in the future to one of my very favorite brewpubs anywhere in the world. 

8/1/07 review from my first visit: Three Floyds is an Indiana legend with Alpha King, as they should be. Lots of attitude, unique, and surviving by just brewing beer too good not to drink, similar to Stone of CA and Surly of MN. This was such a good stop, I simply drove home to Minnesota instead of hitting the rest of my planned stops. 

Needed lunch, and ordered the five cheese pizza as the main veggie option. It was very good--and big. Two or three people at least to eat. It was also good cold for dinner half way through Wisconsin. 

Jumped in with a half pint (thanks FFF for pouring halfs) of Remus: Bravo. This was a paired brew with Remulus: Apollo. They beers were idential APAs except for the Bravo and Apollo hops. Remus the better beer for me--cleaner and smoother compared to the Remulus that had a bit of a grassy taste, unusual for FFF beers in spite of the very large hops bill that must have annually. Next was a draft of the famous Dreadnaught IPA, an Imperial IPA that is worth the travel. The bottle I took home was just as good though the bite was a bit different and lacked the balance of the draft for me. The final beer (so I thought) was the Fantabulous Resplendence (aka X), FFFs tenth anniversary ale. Not really sure what the style should be labelled but it was 100 IBUs, so a DIPA range, but lots of Belgain characteristics, probably from the yeast. Very easy drink with lots of kick. In spite of eating most of the pizza and sitting for three hours, the accumulation of the beers forced the long wait before hitting the road again. 

And, then, a FFF worker tapped a new beer--Gorch Fock Helles--and handed me the test glass to make sure the tap was working properly--then dumped it and repoured another for me because it didn't look quite right to him. To me, this emphasized FFFs commitment to quality at all levels and it is easily seen in the beer. 

Hoping to return for an evening to check it out as well. The only downside of the pub (not for me but for others maybe going there) is that it's basically a thrown together in a corner of the brewery. And, the whole place is in a warehouse district south of Chicago that's a bit out of the way and I found to be hard to find that day. Personally, I like the comfortable college dorm furniture feel that concentrates on beer or form, but maybe not everybody will like that. If you're there to drink good beer--go; if you want a pretty place, head downtown.

Reviewed on: 10-26-2011 03:17:30

Osiris Pale Ale (Sun King Brewing, Indianapolis, IN)

Golden American Pale Ale with copper highlights. Head falls to a light white film--no lace. Huge citrus, grapefruit, light lemon and pepper. Light toasted malt, but overwhelmed by the hop. Clearly a hop vehicle, as promised on the side of the tallboy can. Grassy hope bit with citrus continued on tongue with a sweet malt bed. Hop forward and fun.

Serving type: can


Satisfaction Jacksin (Ale Asylum, Madison, WI)

Hazy burnt orange beer in a shaker pint. White tightly bubbled head that lingers for a long while before falling to a full lace around the full glass. Big citrus nose--grapefruit, orange, lemon. First sniff with a head was very strong, but then more subtle as it settled. Slight earthiness in nose as well. Sweet malt for the front of the taste followed by a solid hop bite with more fruit, pine and resin underneaths--coats the tongue with a slightly oily bitterness that builds to the bottom of the glass. Wanted to take this one home, but no bottle sales after 9 pm, evidently.

Serving type: on-tap

Happy Ending (Ale Asylum, Madison, WI)

Blood red beer in a footed goblet with a thin white head. Burnt cherry pie in the nose, dark chocolate, sourdough bread and a light spice. Not heavy, but nice as it soaks in. Caramel, toffee and a fair amount of sweetness in the mouth which drops clean off the back. Mouthfeel is a little thin, but adequate. Nose is more intriguing than the taste. Perfectly nice beer, but not the top of my list from AA.

Serving type: on-tap

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ale Asylum (Madison, WI)

I've been to Ale Asylum several times over the years, usually the morning after Great Taste on the way out of town to pick up some beers to drink at home. This time I was meeting a friend and had some time to spend for a change. They've really grown over the years, improving food offerings and expanding their beer selection. Still a fan of Ambergeddon and the new (to me, anyway) Bedlam was a fun addition. Had the veggie burger for dinner and it was better than average, more than good enough, especially the very fresh bread. Great stop right off the freeway.

10/19/11 addition
Made another pit stop at the Ale Ayslum. Stayed in Madison for the night heading to Chicago and Purdue the next day, so stopped in for a night cap. Satisfaction Jacksin was on tap, which is my new clear favorite in the AA line up. Very nice Double IPA that is worth the trip out to the freeway.

Reviewed on: 07-28-2011 22:13:36

Lips of Faith BELGO (New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO)

Glimmering straw gold beer with a nice lace down the glass. Nose is fruit and spice, apples, pears, unripe grapefruit, pepper and pine, and bread with a hint of earthiness underneath. Carbonation and hop bite is strong and tingles the tongue. Love it. Spice spreads out and lingers on the tongue, and it seems to be a combination of hop and yeast creating the tangy spice. Looks light in the glass but has a solid mouthfeel. Very nice beer and, to me, seems to be a much better beer than the initial rating from BAs. Glad I got a six pack of this one.

Serving type: bottle


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Northwest Passage (Flat Earth Brewing, St. Paul, MN

Coppered colored ale that's straw gold around the edges with stark white head that lingers nicely. Big hop nose with grapefruit under grassy spice and fresh mowed lawn. Clearly lots of hops--115 IBU from a combo of Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade, & Columbus (according to a Four Firkins description). Clearly, northwest hops seems like a great idea. Sharp hop bite, but not overwhelming. Chewy from hops, and the grassy notes continue in the mouth. Can feel the acid linger on my tongue. I like it quite a bit, but can see where it might put off those that don't like chewing on hops. Mouthfeel seems a bit light, but that's what let's the hops shine through. Very nice beer for a fall evening.

Serving type: bottle

Headwater Pale Ale (Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA)

Back lit, the beer is a clear, straw gold with a lingering white head. Biscuity malt with an earthy spice for the nose. A little research pulled up a note from Lew Bryson that it's Citra/Centennial hops as the American hops. Caramel and sweet on the tongue with a slight tang from the hop bite on the back of the tongue. Bitterness from the Citra lingers and builds further into the beer. I like the beer more as I go--better than the initial taste. Named for the local waters that supply the brewery, this is a good strong pale ale that is on par with all of Victory’s offerings.

Serving type: bottle


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blue Nile Restaurant and Lounge (Minneapolis, MN)

After years of going to the Blue Nile, I'm finally doing a review after attending last night's Battle of the Belg. I didn't try them all, but filled in my list with a few new beers. Last night's sampling included De Ranke XX Bitter and Harriet Brewing Dark Abbey. Both fine ales, but in different categories for the head to head format of the tasting. Tried both Epic Brainless on Cherries and Kasteel Rouge in the fruit category to finish the night--for me, Kasteel wins hands down, but I walked away with more respect for the Epic ale than I had when I tasted the bottle last fall. 

Over the years, I've added 50 new drafts to my list with excellent beers ranging from St. Amand French Country Ale to Boulder's Killer Penguin, and many of those--like Monk's Flemish Ale--are difficult to find other places. Since I live over 20 miles from the Nile, I'm an irregular regular at best. But it's always a treat when I do. Bar manager Al McCarty--aka feloniousmonk--always does a fine job of not only bringing in great beer, but you know that the beer is always going to be well served in its proper glass. The beer you're drinking is the beer the brewery wanted you to drink. For me, there's no greater compliment. 

Food is excellent as well. My favorite meal is from the bar menu. It's the falafel sandwich, made with simple, fresh ingredients that makes it my usual. I've tried the range of vegetarian options of authentic Ethiopian food and have enjoyed them all. While the menu may be new to many, the descriptions of the food and the help from the servers makes ordering and indulging accessible for everyone. 

In short, if you haven't tried the Blue Nile and stopped in to say hi to Al, you are missing out of one the most unique beer spots anywhere. When I belly up to the bar for a special event or walk in for a Saturday afternoon pint, I simply ask Al--what am I drinking today? And, I'm never disappointed.

Reviewed on: 10-16-2011 19:08:45

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lava Porter (Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN)

In a weird turn, I actually like this beer better in the growler than on draft at the pub--a rare but pleasant surprise opening it up tonight. In a pint glass, it has a fluffy light brown head with very tight bubbles that fall after a bit into a light film across the top of a jet black porter. Light roast in the nose with a bit of biscuit and chocolate. Description at the bar set the beer up for failure I think--mentioned it should be like lava chocolate cake or similar--which it's not. However, it is a nice robust porter with significant chocolate, caramel in the taste; sweet without being cloying; and a slight bitterness from the malt off the back. Maybe a bit light in the mouthfeel, but it's a porter and shouldn't coat your tongue like an imperial stout or such. Glad I ended up with with this one at home.

Serving type: growler


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fresh Hop 2011 (Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN)

Copper gold beer with an off white head that fell to a lingering film from a pillowy pour. Fragrant noselight grapefruit and background lemon, citrus, pine and spice. 100% Chinook hops from the release description. Hop twang on tonguepleasantly sharp and clean from the single hop and high alpha acid. Solid malt backbone for a nice hop display. Worth the drive.

Wet 2011 (Surly Brewing, Brooklyn Park, MN)

2011 version of Wet on tap at Town Hall. Thin white head that pulls a full foamy lace down the side of the glass to an amber and gold body. Citrus with grass, alfalfa and a summer day in the nose with orange, tangerine and grapefruitall subtle and clean. Good malt and slight caramel backbone for the earthy and mellow hop bite. Lingers sweetly on the tongue.

Founder's Harvest Ale (Founder's Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI)

Straw gold ale with a clean white head that lingers on top with no lace over a light but not watery body that has a bit of bread and biscuit. Hop forward on top of the light bodysingular hop spice and light citrus in nose. However, the light body lets the grassy and bitter taste shine. Hop is clearly on displaythe lighter but not light mouthfeel is a frame for the picture perfect hops.

Fresh Hop Mirror Pond (Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR)

Copper ale with a stark white head that leave a nice lace. Grass and grapefruit nose with a light malty base. Taste lacks the hop, oddlysome bitterness, but muddled badly with a sourdough taste with watery mouthfeel. Sweet ending, but too off center to have more than one. I was surprised because I've often liked the Mirror Pond Pale Ale, but adding fresh hop just didn't pull together.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Envious (New Holland Brewing, New Holland, MI)

Dark black beer with ruby and purple highlights around the edges. Poured hard and was unable to get the slightly brown head to linger at all. Fell flat immediately. Fruity, syrupy nosesmells of raspberries, dark cherries, Morgan David wine and hot alcohol. Pear is listed in ingredients, and there is an undermined fruity smell in it. Taste is sharp and acidicstrong fruit, and dark fruit, raisins and overripe plums. Sour note on the end that's a bit of an off flavor. NH is an excellent brewery, but this experiment did not pay off.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Harvest Dance (Boulevard Brewing, Kansas City, MO)

Sunset orange beer with golden highlights around the edges. Fluffy white head lingers and bubbles nicely on top until a slow dissipation to just beer. Fresh wheat in the nose with spice and lots of soft fruitorange peel, mango, pear. Clear, clean spice from the yeast that continues in the taste. Mouthfeel is a bit watery, but a nice twang from the wheat and spice, but the fruit lessens compared to the nose. Very nice beer. 9% is completely unapparent.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tiny (Weyerbacher Brewing, Easton, PA)

Jet black beer that's pretty in the glass except for the chocolate brown head that falls flat almost before you can catch sight of it. Very subdued nosesome spice, roasted malt and chocolate, but light and easily overlooked. Sweet and slightly cloying initial taste on top of a roast and chocolate with a slight carbonic bite. Taste lingers nicely on the tongue and provides a pleasant evening sipping on the warming and slightly alcoholic beer.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oaked IPA (Round Barn Brewing, Baroda, MI)

Round Barn's Oaked IPA is a golden IPA with straw gold 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 its normal supporting role.  

Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 08-04-2011 17:37:33