Monday, April 19, 2010

Abrasive Ale: F#%k Yea!

Yes, I have been slacking on my posts. I never thought working 50 hrs a week plus going to school could keep a guy so busy. Plus I need time in there to drink beer. Anyways, DLD is this weekend, so I will def be posting on that. I will have lots of fun stuff to read about.

For today, however, I have a review of Abrasive Ale from Surly. This beer was originally DVDA, then it was 16 Grit (which I had last year on tap at Stubs), and now is being canned for the first time with the name Abrasive Ale. It is Surly's version of a DIPA!

Poured into Surly Darkness snifter.

Pours almost a finger of beige khaki head. Fades down to a thin layer leaving some light lacing. Color is a glowing golden orange.

Aroma: I am smelling PtY here or what? The aroma reminds me so much of younger, but more floral notes. Huge floral hop profile. I can detect (yes this word is lame in a review) a fairly large biscuity malt profile (maybe some caramel malt as well which adds some sweetness to the beer). The citrus blend is also well represented in the nose. A big flavor. I dig it straight up.
Taste: Huge beer. Massive amount of floral hops, but the level of malts is high to keep it slightly balanced. Caramel and biscuit flavored malts keep things going here. The citrus notes are hard to separate, but there seems to be a lot going on. I would have to go with mango and grapefruit.There is a level of sweetness in there that reminds me a bit of the sweetness in hopslam as well (very little, but a bit). Big hop resin going on here.

Mouthfeel: It starts out relatively creamy, not the level of bitterness that I was expecting. It is bitter, but not too bitter. As it warms, however, the bitterness comes out more. Very big body for the style with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends very clean with some hop flavor sticking around. Nothing sticky or dry which is incredible for the style.

Overall, Surly has done it again. I had 16 grit last year on tap and this seems to top it. It reminds me a lot of PtY, which I thought was amazing. This beer packs more floral notes however, which is fine by me. It is extremely drinkable and my can is going fast. My wallet is going to be hurting for the next couple of weeks as long as this is on the shelves.

Do yourself and get some of this while you can!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Polish Beer Night

So tonight I have two Polish beers that I will be reviewing. To be honest, I reviewed them on separate nights so I didn't mess with my taste buds. My friend recently moved back to Poland after being in the states for over 4 years and she gave me two beers from Poland before she left. She knows I enjoy trying new beers so she always surprises me with something. So, these are two beers directly from Poland!

These beers are similar to the American macro lagers. They are light in color and flavor. Nothing to spectacular about them. Consider them the Bud and the Miller products of Poland. Up first is Lech Premium.

Poured into a pilsner glass.

Pours a large layer of fluffy white head.Decent retention. Leaves some nice lace which surprised me. Color is a clear golden yellow. Lots of active carbonation.

Aroma: Lots of rice, corn, and low level hops. Reminds me a lot of the typical macros in America. Nothing to special.

Taste: It is definitely different from the American macros. It has the pale malt present but also has a European flavor to it. Corn and rice flavors with some malt. Very basic but a little different from the American macro lager. Very dry with grassy hops... reminds me a little of a pils.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, smooth, relatively easy drinking. A little dry. Light bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends a little dry and grassy.

Overall, it was fun drinking this beer. I knew it would taste like an American macro, but Europe/Poland has different malts and hops than us so it was fun to try something new. It was a fun experience. Fairly drinkable.

Next up is Zywiec. I think this beer is available on the East Coast, but this is from Poland so it is a bit more legit.

Poured into a pils glass.

Pours a little over a finger of creamy white head. Fades down to a thinner layer. Leaves a lot of splattered lace. Color is a clear straw yellow. Lots of carbonation bubbles in the glass.

Aroma: a lot like the typical American macro lagers. Grain and corn flavors, with a lower quality of grassy hops. Some light citrus zest with some pale malts.

Taste: Not as enjoyable as the aroma. It is very bready. Lots of pale malts and grassy hops. It is a bigger beer than I was expecting. Some grain and corn flavors.

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy for the style. Crisp as well. Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends very dry and grainy.

Overall, it is always fun getting to try new beer and a Polish beer is never an exception. This tastes a lot like American macro lagers, but it definitely has that European tough to it with the hops and malt flavors I can taste. Relatively drinkable.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Firkin Fest 2010... Long Overdue

Well, I am still busy as normal, but I really had to get something up on Firkin Fest.

First off, let me say this... 64 casks under one tent is pretty solid. Firkin Fest is one of the only beer fests in which the host buys all of the beer. In this case, the Happy Gnome bought all 64 casks, which is quite impressive. There was many solid beers as well as some disappointments. Before I get to the beer I just wanted to comment on a few things.

Cost - $10 plus $1 each for an approximate 4 oz sample of any beer. I had talked to a few people in the beer industry and they had heard many people complaining about the price and the fact that they had to pay for the ticket and then the beer. I think that this fest is a great deal. After you pay for your ticket it cost $4 for a pint of beer! That is a great deal. Some beerfests range from $30 - $60 so this fest is in that range as well (unless you plan on drinking a ton of samples).

Space - It started out pretty packed. There was a line for a decent amount of time after the doors open. If you check out the picture here, you can get an idea of how many people were at the event. Seemed to be a popular event. The mass amount of people at the event made for a few problems. 1) Bathroom lines were very long. That was fixed later on in the event and they ordered more Out-houses. Also, the amount of people there caused the beer to run out an hour or two early. Lots of thirsty people I guess.

Now for a few comments on the beers:

First beer I started out with was Surly's 2010 Oak Aged Dry Hopped Darkness. I was a little letdown with this beer. It was good, but not as good as regular Darkness. It had a lot of chocolate flavors but a very odd mouthfeel. I would have liked the oak to show a bit more as well.

Next was a huge letdown: Avery's Uberschwein Barley Wine. This is their double dry hopped Hog Heaven. It tasted like ditchweed alcohol. 'Nuff said.

I then had the Ola Dubh 18 yr followed by the 40 yr. These were some big beers that had a lot of barrel flavors to them. The 40 yr tasted more like scotch/whiskey than it did beer. Pretty good though. This beer was only available with a golden ticket that you got if you bought 20 tickets. It sold out pretty fast.

Nightstalker on cask = bad. It had way to much citrus notes and it didn't even compare to what it is like on tap. I barely wanted to even finish my sample. Big stout meet citrus fruit. Ugh.

Fulton War and Peace. This beer pretty much was near the top of my charts for the day. I love coffee stouts and this one competed with some of the other top coffee stouts I have had. The peace coffee they used was so fresh and blended with the stout really well. I was shocked a new brewery (Fulton) could make a beer this solid. My hat is off to these guys!

Brau Brother's Elisha Old Ale.... not too much of an old ale imo. I am glad I had this hear and didn't have to buy a $10 750 mL bottle of it to try it. This beer was nothing near the caliber of some of the old ales I have had. It just had some caramel and toffee malt with some dark dried fruits. Some people may like it, but if I want an old ale, I will go with Hair of the Dog.

Founder's Double Dry Hopped Red's Rye was awesome. It was the typical goodness of Red's Rye with some great citrus flavors. Very fresh and extremely drinkable. I just wish Founders would have had some 'special' treats cough kbs/cbs cough.

The last beer that I want to comment on is by the Lift Bridge crew. These guys are awesome. I had a blast BS-ing with Steve and glad I got to try some of his wild beers. The beer that I want to talk a bit about is Ol' Pine Box. This is their Cross Cut Pale Ale dry hopped with Cascade hops and grapefruit zest added in. This beer tasted like Christmas. Lots of spruce pine notes. Very awesome tasting and original beer. The pictures with the LB guys are of the trophy they won for best cask at the event.

I had a 'few' other samples but these were just a few I wanted to write about. I have all my reviews posted on BA if you care to check them out.

Overall, the fest was great and I am glad I went. I will be back next year.

Thanks for reading and sorry it was delayed so long!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Summit is off the hook! (Unchained)

So the other day I grabbed the latest Summit Unchained beer. This is the 3rd in the Series and is an India Style Rye Ale. Mike Lundell, one of the senior brewers at Summit, came up with this recipe.

Poured into bells tulip

Pours 1/2 finger of creamy beige head. Decent retention with some great lace walls. Color is a dark copper brown with a slight ruby hue. Very nice looking beer.

Aroma: Lots of spices and rye. Very malty with some roasted notes and caramel. Reminds me of campfire smoke. Has some earthy hops flavor, but mainly malt here. I really like it though. Very complex.

Taste: Lots of spices again. Crushed black pepper sticks out a lot. Rye of course. I get some bitter floral hops here which add yet another level to this beer. A decent amount of roasted/smoked malts really work with this beer. I must say I am impressed.

Mouthfeel: Roasted, smoked, and bitter. Medium bodied with a nice amount of carbonation. Ends dry with a lot of spice and rye flavors.

Overall, I am very impressed with Summit. This has to be one of the best beers to come out of their brewery. I have never met Mike, but I give props to him for this creation. Very drinkable.

If you get a chance, this one is worth picking up a 6er of. I hope the Unchained series continues to produce some wonderful beers.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I have been slacking!

I just wanted to put up a post apologizing for the lack of content lately. Getting a new job and now working 50 hours a week plus going to school allows me for very little time for much else.

I will try and break my post on Firkin Fest into two pieces. I know it is a little outdated, but still should make for a decent read.

As always, if you have any topics you want me to blog about or a beer you want me to review, just comment on this article.

Be sure to follow me if you like my material!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cafe Twenty Eight and Surly Four

Last week while in the Twin Cities I decided to roll by Cafe Twenty Eight for some Surly Four. Linda Haug happened to be around and I was able to chat with her a bit. Linda is Todd Haug's wife and Todd happens to be the brewmaster at Surly.

Cafe Twenty Eight has been open for almost 8 years. When they opened they had 5 of the 8 trappist ales available and focused on serving quality beers. Once Surly opened they were the first account to have Surly on tap. Linda told Todd that if it didn't sell well, she would have to take it off the tap line. Not once did she have to take Surly off (big surprise).

Linda says that Surly is aggressive and not everyone will like it. She will bring samples to the customers so they can try something new and some really enjoy the beer.

A random question came about while I was talking with her. Feel free to comment if you can answer this question. What will future generation beer drinkers be drinking as their 'standard' beer? For her it was Summit's EPA and now for me it is Surly Furious. The beers keep developing and getting better, so it really makes me wonder what will bring about for the next generation.

Now, onto Surly Four. This was poured in a Darkness snifter and enjoyed on the patio at Cafe Twenty Eight on a gorgeous spring day (sounds amazing, right?).

Served with 1 finger of thick, creamy mocha tan colored head. Decent retention with some very nice lace walls. Color is a dark black.

Aroma: Tons of coffee flavors, with a large amount of hops. Big roasted malt profile with some rich chocolate. Vanilla notes in the background.

Taste: Tons of espresso and coffee flavors with roasted malts up front again. Huge earthy hop profile really balances this beer out, but still it is big. Very typical of Surly to hop the hell out of their beer. I like it. Big chocolate flavors with a light amount of vanilla. Well done.

Mouthfeel: Roasted, creamy, smooth, and bitter Medium (very nice amount) of carbonation with a medium to full body. Ends roasted and very clean.

Overall, extremely drinkable. It was hard to set my glass down. I really enjoyed this beer and I think it was well done for the style. I am glad I got to drink it. I hope I can find more of it around. This one is a must have!

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 2010 Tasting - Part 2

Thanks for stopping back to check out the second part of the tasting. No need for an introduction as you already know whats up ;)

Next we opened Bell's Eccentric Ale 2008. This was a 12 ounce bottle, so it went pretty quick. This beer was just a massive amount of unique spices. Juniper berries, honey, maple, molasses, and syrup. Very unique and tasty, but a small pour was enough for me. Very unique. I wonder what the cellar would do to this one.

The next beer was a beer that I have been wanting to try for a long time: Ithaca LeBleu. Brad knew I really wanted to try this one and brought one to share! This beer was one of my favorites from the night. It is an American wild ale with blueberries and champagne yeast. This beer is brewed with brett. Everyone agreed that this was a unique sour in the sense that it had a massive amount of carbonation from the champagne yeast. It was crazy how much carbonation this beer produced. I really think it worked for this beer. A lot of sours are good with a lower amount of carbonation, so this was a complete 180 from many of the other sours I have had. The brett and oak flavors were very subtle, but I have a feeling with some age in the cellar this beer could change a lot.

I think it was before or after the LeBleu that we had the white whale of the night. Brad had traded for this beer and was itching to open it. It happens to be one of my favorite sours and something I would never pass down. Brad popped open the cork of an Isabelle Proximus! This is a beer that the other guys were very excited to try and I was stoked to get to have it again. This is a sour that was bottled at Lost Abbey, but is a collaboration between 5 brewmasters. They include Adam Avery, Tomme Arthur, Vinnie Cilirzo, Rob Todd, and Sam Calagione. These guys toured Belgium's finest gueze producers in 2006 and then came back to the states and brewed Izzy. I had this a few months back and noticed that it was more sour. Not a lot, but noticeable. The fruit flavors were taken over a bit by the sharp sour notes, but still very present. If I had another bottle, I wouldn't cellar it much longer as I think it is peaking (I really wish I had it fresh so I could better judge it). This is an awesome beer and I am so glad that Brad shared it with us all! (yes I had to get a picture with Izzy)

Somewhere in this spree of sours, we cracked a Supplication as well. This was from the recent 4th batch. I have had batch 3 with some age on it and loved it. Fresh batch 4, however, doesn't stand up to the Russian River standards that I know of. It just wasn't sour enough compared to what age can do to this beer. It has some sour cherries and a dominate oak flavor, but nothing mouth puckering. This beer will get much better with time, but it was great getting to try it fresh; it really makes a guy appreciate what a cellar can do to a wild ale!

Next we switched it up from the wild ales to a porter. A very solid porter for that matter! We opened up a Captain Lawrence Smoke from the Oak: Rum Barrel Aged. As you can probably guess, this is a smoked porter aged in wine barrels. What I really enjoyed about this smoked porter is that the smoke flavors were dulled down a lot and the oak and rum flavors were able to stick out more. I am not the biggest smoke flavor guy, but some beers benefit with a hint of smoke in them and I think this one did. It was surprisingly a beer that stood out in the tasting. A very basic style, but thrown in barrels really adds some layers to this beer.

Finally, we cracked open Cigar City's Barrel Aged 110K + OT Batch 2. This beer had rich whiskey flavors with a nice amount of chocolate going on. It has some vanilla flavors which rounded out the roasted malt profile a lot. The vanilla and oak went together well. It was also fairly hoppy. I noticed there was a big earthy hop flavor with this RIS. One thing that I really enjoyed about this beer was that it wasn't taken over by the barrels. It had the right amount of barrel aged notes to let you know it was barrel aged, but not something that tasted like straight whiskey. Another great beer at the tasting and something I wouldn't mind drinking again.

Well, that is all for our March tasting. I will be sure to get more pictures (and of better quality) for the next tasting. Hopefully we all throw down some treats again!

As always, thanks for reading! My next post will be on Firkin Fest 2010!