Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hop Heads Only Volume 5 at The Blue Nile (Minneapolis, MN)

While I love going to one of Al's events at The Blue Nile, I admittedly can be irresponsible and don't always make them. Happily, I was able to make Hop Heads Only Volume 5 for a wealth of hoppy beers that I hadn't been able to drink before.

Twelve IPAs and Double IPAa on tap for the takeover and I was missing just under half from my list. If not for Al's quest for Urine Trouble, a Surly/Three Floyd's collaboration last June during our Chicago escapade and a draft on site at Brooklyn Brewery on my last trip to New York, I would have been on the short side of the list. This rarely happens to be on my travels (The Local in Eureka, CA is a recent exception) and is a testament to Al's beer showmanship.

Flights of three samples (4 oz) for $7 was the deal tonight. A thirsty drinker need only write the three taps he wanted to try on the handy, dandy sheet that was provided and they would appear. It did make it very easy to remember which beer was which, especially since the IPAs often looked very similar and were easily confused.

Started with Great Lakes' Erie Monster, which is very big and smooth with a resinous body. The 9.1% alcohol is completely unapparent. This is one try again in the future.  Next is Lucid Duo, a hop sledgehammer, just as touted in the description. Just smooth enough with a great nose to keep it out of the hop stupid category. Third beer of the first set is Squatters Hop Rising, a surprisingly malty beer with a strong caramel note in the middle with the hops fighting to get out. Nice first set.

Now a little hop philosophizing. Hop heads are often derided for being of a single mind following the hop god.  In this set alone, three very distinct types of hoppy IPAs are showcased that show the infinitely variety that is the real draw for hop heads—like me. With no limit in sight for the combinations of hops and malt, this set is the reason why so many of us are hooked.

Erie Monster, Duo and Hop Rising samples
with identifier mat and 
My second set was similar and could have made the same point. Moylan's Hop Craic XXXXIPA is an easy order since a random beer geek on the other side of the bar said it's his favorite; plus saying "I want Hop Crack!" is simply fun: fresh and fruity with a bite to grab your attention and the smooth piney resin pulls it all together. Best Moylan's I have ever had to date and was my full draft pick of the night with dinner. I followed up with Goose Island The Illinois. I have always been a fan of Goose Island since my first visit in 2001. However, either they or I have changed, and this malty Imperial IPA, lacking a clear hops presence, is disappointing. Thanks to Al, I had a draft of the Surly/Three Floyd Urine Trouble on our Chicago trip. Decided to it as a sample for another look at home: it's light in the glass but delivers a funky hop bite; barnyard and fruit in the nose that makes it fun. Made for a Big Cat Sanctuary benefit, this is a hoppy beer that fits well in the Surly line that will push the limits of some.

In straight forward terms, Al does a great job of delivering fantastic beers at the Blue Nile. Unfortunately, the crowd was light for this exceptional line up, probably the best of the series. If you head down soon, I'm guessing some of them will be on tap in the coming weeks to try a pint. With life interfering, I am also guilty of passing up some of Al's beer offerings when I should be there, but more of us should attend these great events whenever possible.


  1. I second the kudos for Al's dedicated and fine contributions to the TC beer scene.

    Carl,it was great meeting you at the event!...Rick

  2. Nice meeting you as well. See you on the beer trail.