Bender is like your best friend

For me, the bottom line is that I will always choose a Furious over a Bender. Not that the two are really even in direct competition, they’re different styles of beer. It’s just that I love the extreme bite of a Furious so much. So it’s hard to pass that by and opt for a Bender. Of course if I were going to be drinking one after the other, Bender would be a much better companion. But typically when I have Surly it’s that I’m splurging on a 4 pack, and I want to savor them, so I’m only gonna drink one at a time anyway.

Here’s a good analogy I just thought of (mornings happen to be my most creative time): Bender is like your best friend. You can go over to his house and play war, video games, go skateboarding, etc, all day long. He’s awesome. But he’s got an even awesome-er older brother. When the older brother is around he’s kind of a dick to your best friend, but he’s just so damn cool, that you’ll join in and be a dick to your best friend, just so that Furious, I mean the older brother, thinks you’re cool.

ready for some fries?

Let me be the first to say that the novelty of having a keg of beer at work never wears off. And not just any keg. It’s Summit EPA; it always has been and it always will be. It’s the only authorized Clockwork beer, and it’s become a standard by which my coworkers and I judge and compare most other beers. The only side effect is that I never order a Summit EPA on tap at the bar. It would be like if you always ate really good mashed potatoes for dinner at home. When you go out  to a restaurant, you’ll probably order fries or baked potato or something. Is this analogy a stretch?

A big commitment

I’ll be honest, I preferred last year’s Snowstorm. I think it had to do with the surprise of what looked to be a darker winter ale actually being a fruity Belgian. But then it’s unfair to compare these two completely different styles. So for the rye that it is, I enjoy it quite a bit. Enough that I just picked up another 12 pack, and for me, the guy with a 9 months pregnant wife who’s cut way back on beer intake, that’s a big commitment.

how is this not in the Winter sampler?

I was over in the Midway yesterday, my old stomping grounds, so I went to Big Top to pick up the Summit Porter. I ended up getting a 12 pack only because it was a better value than the 6 pack ($10.99/12 vs. $7.99/6) and the Winter sampler pack only had Winter Ale, Extra Pale Ale, Extra Special Bitter, and India Pale Ale. Maybe it’s just me but I totally think the Porter should be in there instead of the EPA. Continue reading how is this not in the Winter sampler?

The Bronze Medal

Alright, time for catch up. Schell Octoberfest definitely had a tough act to follow, coming after both Summit and Surly. If I had to rate the three, I’d probably put Schell’s in third, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. Definitely had the characteristic Marzen style taste, heavy on the malt, but pretty smooth. I think it was just a little less flavorful by comparison.

Perfect Saturday Afternoon

First, thank you to Colin at Barley John’s for coming out on a Saturday, hanging out and talking beer. It was awesome to try the 4 different beers on tap and even more awesome that it was warm enough to sit out on the patio.

I loved everything we tasted. The Little Barley Bitter was nice and light, Stockyard IPA was nice and hoppy (even though Colin says it’s a different combination of hops than usual) and the Old Eight Porter was smooth and rich. The Dark Night Returns, at 13.5% alcohol was definitely the most intense flavor. The bourbon came through in the right amount for me, and the slight buzz I got helped with the increasing cold wind.

By the time we finished we were all ready to go inside, warm up and grab some food. Keep an eye out for a real food review on Erin and Ben’s a, but I will say that my burger was awesome, and I’ve had some really good pizzas in the past.

So if you haven’t made it Barley John’s, do so. And again, thanks Colin for hanging out with the Brew52 crew!

I give it one big spiraly circle!

Much of my experience at the Autumn Brew Review is a blur, but fortunately I was smart enough to keep detailed notes in my program guide as to what beers I tasted and which ones I liked. And by detailed notes I mean a series of different pencil scribbles that I seemed to abandon about half way through. I hit up the Minnesota booths first so most of them are marked, and next to Schell’s Bavarian Forest Dampfbier is a big spiraly circle while many just have a check, or a dash, or in some cases a sad face. Continue reading I give it one big spiraly circle!

Bier for a stein!

I was a little worried I wouldn’t find any Surlyfest left on the shelf, but fortunately I was able to snag a four pack from the last case at Surdyks earlier this week. I’ve commented before on beer packaging and specifically how much I like Surly’s can designs. Surlyfest does not dissapoint, with it’s checkered blue background and character with a German hat. Probably my favorite detail is that the typical “Beer for a glass, from a can.” statement has changed to “Bier for a stein, from a can.” Continue reading Bier for a stein!

Say no to pumpkin ales

Fall kicks ass. This year especially because it means I don’t have to water my new sod twice a day any more. And of course because of all the great seasonal beers. No not the Pumpkin ales, although I always buy a couple 6 packs, and I’m always a little dissapointed. I’m talking about Octoberfest. Continue reading Say no to pumpkin ales

the jig is up

I tried Schell’s Stout while over at Josh’s on Saturday night. It was important to me that I drink a thicker man beer as we were being coaxed into watching Baby Mama with our ladies. Actually I had wanted to see that a bit myself, mainly because Tina Fey is awesome, and hot. Anyway, the beer was really good, very sweet and chocolatey, which now as I’m typing I’m realizing means that it is probably not very manly at all. But at least it’s dark. Ok, I guess the jig is up, I like girl movies and sweet chocolate beers.

Tapping Tonight

Had a great time at Rock Bottom tonight. Ben, Josh, and I got there early enough to have a beer before the tapping. I had the IPA which is pretty intense, so my taste buds were somewhat shot when we got the try the Catcher in the Rye Pale Ale, but it was nice. Similar to the IPA, but less hoppy, which means I liked it a bit less. Although as I’m typing this there’s a commercial on tv for Bud Lite Lime, which really puts things in perspective for me.

I also think it’s worth pointing out that it was super nice of Rock Bottom to give out free pints to everyone in the bar. Plus, they weren’t jerks about the happy hour. Where some bars quit 15 minutes early Rock Bottom was nice enough to honor the cheap drinks and appetizers right up until the last minute.

Only weird thing for me is that they don’t list their beers anywhere on their site that I can find, plus they didn’t have any description of the Catcher in the Rye Pale Ale except for a sheet hanging above the urinals. When I asked the waitress if they had any extras she looked really confused. I warned her that my other option was snagging one from the bathroom.

Another late night scramble

This is the first Schell’s that I’m not such a fan of. Nothing wrong with the beer itself, I guess I just don’t love the all-malt lager style. All hops I love, but all malt doesn’t do it for me.

Side note, I did drink this beer late on a week night, after Rebekah went to bed as I scrambled to get the firebrick photo cut out and the description on the web site. So maybe I wasn’t in the right mood to judge Schell Firebrick? Whatever the case, I’m giving it a 3.

Life has been known to cause loud talking

What I remember most about Life was that this close-t0-8% drink gave me a great buzz. With a Lingonberry Milk Porter in my belly, and a Life in my hand everything was perfect. For a while there I think I was talking pretty loud, and not having seen Josh in a while we covered all sorts of ground. From my surprise at the $6.99 video game rental price tag when my young bro-in-law was visiting, to my love and his distaste for Triumph motorcycles. At one point I looked over and saw that there was a table full of young women with a cute little baby, and I realized that I should probably turn the volume down a bit, and lay off of the swear words. Oh well, I guess the little fella will learn them sooner or later.

Like a smooth Surly 2

When Josh and I got to Town Hall on Thursday we were disappointed to see two of the three infusion beers crossed out on the menu. Fortunately, they still had the Lingonberry. It reminded me a bit of Surly 2, but definitely less potent. Where Surly 2 made me scrunch my face like the Sour Patch Kids, this really smooth. More my style. I guess this was the milk porter at work? Anyway, it was enjoyable, but not enough that I wanted two of them. So we moved on to Life Double Red Ale.

Appropriately named

I’m sitting here in the only cold room in the house (the one with the air conditioner) freezing my toes off at 11pm. So it seems appropriate to be sipping on a Cold  Spring Moonlight Ale. For that I can appreciate this craft brew. There wasn’t too much to the smell, and my first taste wasn’t as flavorful as I’d like, but it’s definitely better than Miller lite or MGD of which I drank plenty this past weekend while canoeing down Minnehaha Creek. So while I promised the wife that I’ll just have a sip, enough to write my review, I think I’ll finish it. And I can only say that because I know she won’t read this 🙂

Premo!

Grainbelt Premium has long been a favorite summer drink-a-lot-in-a-row beer. So I think it’s fitting that we celebrate this Minnesota classic during hump week, our Brew52 half way point. As you sit back and chug one after another, I ask that you think about all of your good memories involving Grainbelt. For me the top two have to be playing bean bag toss on the fourth of July and bungie jumping off of the Grainbelt billboard. Ok, the second one hasn’t actually happened…yet.

Straight to my brain

I met up with some Brew52’ers on Sunday where we sampled beer out on the patio. I started off with the Milk Porter which was super smooth, super creamy, and a bit too sweet for my taste. Then I had an 1800 IPA and it totally hit the spot. A really nice bite to it, but not too bitter. When the server came with my tab she asked if I had one or two IPA’s and I had to think really hard for a half a minute and I still wasn’t entirely sure. This is either a good sign for the beer or a bad sign for my brain.

I can relate

Surly Bitter Brew is crisp and refreshing. I drank mine on a cold and rainy evening, and it was enjoyable, but I think it would be even better sitting outside in the hot sun. And by the beer being better I mean life would be better if it wasn’t raining every stupid day of the week. Anyway, it was comforting to spend some time with Surly Bitter Brew, especially since the can is covered with angry drawings, it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. The best part was that I finished my glass, took the dog for a walk, came back and realized I still had a good 4 ounces of beer left in the can!

Mmmm, fish-chicks.

I’m no fisherman, but I have to agree that there is nothing better than the idea of a mer-babe surfacing on a lake to bring me a beer. Apparently the advertising firm Pocket Hercules was able to convince both Schell and Rapala of this as well. The best part is that in this fisherman’s fantasy there’s not one, but twelve bikini-clad fish-chicks, one for each bottle in a 12-pack. Being a classic American lager it’s easy to go through several of these in one sitting, perfect for boating on a lake, or in my case, sitting in front of the television.

A hidden gem?

I really want to find a Cold Spring beer that I like. And it seems likely that among the many different lines they produce that there would be a hidden gem. So when I found the Colonial Pub Pints I was pretty excited. They come in tall cans (just like Surly!) and the labels feel right with their old time mustachio’d gentlemen. But the Hefeweizen is still lacking something, and I can only describe it as tasting watered down.

Now when I purchased the four pack at Surdyk’s I saw the Colonial Pub Pint Old Johnny Ale variety as well. It was on a display that said “Manager’s Choice,” and at the sale price of $4.50 I picked up a four pack of it as well. So I’m still holding out hope that I’m going to find something I really like.

On Tap!

Make sure to get out and try Schell’s 1867 Munich Dunkel while it lasts! According to their site, it’s is on tap at the following nearby establishments:

Blue Nile, Minneapolis, MN
Stub & Herb’s, Minneapolis, MN
MacKenzie’s, Minneapolis, MN
Buster’s on 28th, Minneapolis, MN
Mac’s Industrial Bar, Minneapolis, MN
Groveland Tap, St. Paul, MN
The Happy Gnome, St. Paul, MN
The Dubliner Pub, St. Paul, MN

Malt-tissimo

Very much malt. I don’t have a good bench mark for what a scotch ale should taste like, but I’d guess this is pretty accurate. I think it’s the peat-smoked malt they mention on the label that’s giving me the smoky taste. I was pretty disgusted to find peat-smoked malt described as “medicinal/bandaid-like” when I googled it. Yuck, if I ever taste bandaid in my beer I promise that I’ll dump it down the drain. On second thought maybe this is a good beer to have out when playing softball to pour on someone’s fresh scrape. When they start screaming at you, you’d reply “What?! It contains peat-smoked malt which is medicinal/bandaid like!!”

Ready to take flight

I had a great time at the Ugly Mug, although there was definitely a lot of room for improvement in the service. I’m never able to relax until I know my beer is at least on it’s way, and after waiting for about 10 minutes as the server passed us up multiple times, I just went to the bar.

Whatever, the beer was tasty, and at $2.50 a pint it was a great deal. It was also fun to hear first hand from Jeff all about the beer and how they taste-tested many different concentrations, ending up with the 25/1 beer to coffee ratio. Oh and I should mention that even though the server was non-existent, we did manage to order some food. It was bountiful, we must have had 5 enormous chicken tenders, only they were actually full chicken breasts, and the mini hamburgers were more like quarter pounders. I’d go back, but I’d sit at the bar.

A distant memory

Ok, truth be told I’m only writing this review because the page throws a bunch of errors when there aren’t any reviews. So I plan to retaste this beer on Saturday when the wife and I get back from our vacation in San Antonio. I remember really liking this beer. We had a sampler pack when we went snowboarding at Lutsen a few months ago, and the Oatmeal Stout was my favorite. So with that distant memory, I’ll give it a solid 4.

Hidden in the cave of mystery

This has to be one of the most intriguing beers I’ve reviewed thus far.  Just think about it, all of the other Minnesota beers say right on the label where they come from, and usually they point you to a web site where you can find out more info. BORING! Brewer’s Cave keeps you on your toes with it’s mysterious label stating “Handcrafted by the Blue Diamond Brewing Company” and lack of web site. Continue reading Hidden in the cave of mystery

Hostel Warlock

What if instead of suggesting food pairings they had recommended movies to watch while tasting a beer? I certainly don’t think anyone would recommend Hostel Part 2, which is what we watched last night while I drank my Warlock. But I definitely think over-the-top horror is the right genre. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Descent, or even Hostel Part 1, would be good. Not just because of the name Warlock, but because you need a 9%+ alcohol drink to make it through one of these. What do you think Jeff?

Happy St Patty’s Day!

I had a lot of different “Irish” drinks over the weekend: Irish Eyes, Black and Tan’s, Black and Blues, and Finnegans. Finnegans was by far the best session drink. Our fridge was extra full so we left the 12 pack of Finnegans outside during the day and then just had it sitting on the kitchen table for the evening. I found Finnegans to be much tastier as it warmed up a bit. I use this term probably too often, but I thought it tasted creamy. I wish I could say that I tasted the potato, but really it was just a nice light and crisp amber beer. I’ll definitely be having another one today.

I’m going to go grab another

I am just finishing up my second Schell Pilsner and man I feel good. I think it helps that I also just watched two episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with some coworkers. That is some funny stuff. Anyway, I have to agree with most of the reviews…this is a good classic pilsner. I’ve been on such a “drink good beer only” kick (ie. always trying new varieties that cost too much) that I’ve forgotten what a traditional beer tastes like. And let me tell you, it tastes good. I’m going to go grab another.

The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever so you can rest medicine

This weekend I’ve been testing the theory that you can beat a cold by drinking alcohol. Despite a valiant effort, I’m still sick, and the worst of it is that I didn’t enjoy a single beer I drank. That is until the sweet nectar of Lake Superior Special Ale made contact with my tongue just minutes ago. Despite my taste buds being all out of whack, I’m enjoying this beer very much. Kinda reminds me of a Summit Pale Ale but a little sweeter. As Ange mentioned, and I’m sure Chuck will be pointing out, the only bummer is the labels. They’re lacking the personality that the beer has.

with a name like that

So I shared a bottle of Frame Straightener with the wifey on Sunday and enjoyed it overall. I was pretty shocked to see Nick’s review, but I figured he just had some beef (like his girlfriend left him for one of the Brau Brothers or something). Then I saw a few more of the “bad batch” reactions so I went out and bought another six pack last night to try again. It still tasted good to me, but I agree that it’s just missing a bit of the impact…like Josh said, it tasted a bit watered down. Truth be told, I think the real reason I’m bothered by this lack of “pow” is that with a name like Frame Straightener you expect a powerful flavor. Oh well, I still like it and will have no problem finishing off the sixer.

Beer and baby, both enjoyable

I shared a bottle of Cygnus X-1 with my friend Kase as I got to meet his new baby Miles tonight. Both the beer and the baby were quite enjoyable. I would also describe both as light, Miles because he’s a 7 lb baby, and the beer because despite the creamy flavor it felt crisp and light in my mouth. The similarities end there for I did not taste the baby, much to Kase’s relief. I will definitely be having more of this beer, and I hope to be invited back to see Miles again.

Two of 2 is one too many

I tried Surly 2 in small sample size at Winterfest last friday towards the end of the night. I was getting pretty toasted so the different beers were beginning to merge into one glorious happy generic beer. Then Surly 2 came through and it was like someone stabbed a straw through my throat and began pouring cranberry-flavored cough syrup in. I quickly asked for a tea-bagged furious.

Then on Monday Rebekah and I met up with Erin, Ben, and Josh at the Blue Nile for an official sampling. This time I enjoyed it. I think partly because I didn’t have a bunch of other beers fresh on my tongue, but also because I was able to get past the initial shock of flavor. I ended up finishing Erin’s as well, and I’d say two of 2 is 1 too many.

Thank you Herk

Herkimer, I got nothin but love for you. You were a most gracious host on Wednesday for the first official Brew52 meet up. You brew a mean Alt Bier, which I found to be nice and hoppy, not too bitter, and actually quite creamy. You also make some really tasty dipping sauces. I especially enjoyed dipping my mini burgers in your tangy ketchup. Yum. Thanks for supporting Brew52 and I look forward to tasting more of your great beers. Oh and even though I didn’t take advantage of it, thanks for having a shuffleboard!

Wait, did I grab the EPA?

Not because of the taste, this definitely tastes different, and I really liked it. But when I was at the liquor store I had to double check to make sure it was the Winter and not the EPA. They just look so similar. From a brand perspective it’s important to have consistency across beers, but I’d like to see a bit more uniqueness. Continue reading Wait, did I grab the EPA?

Heavy on the Hype, I mean Hop

Don’t get me wrong, I love Surly, and I really enjoyed my can of Furious, but there’s something going on here. Something more than just the beer. Let me take a minute to throw out a few ideas on what’s gotten everyone so hyped up about Surly. Continue reading Heavy on the Hype, I mean Hop

the perfect morning beer

This morning I found myself doing something out of the ordinary because of a WordPress technical limitation. The week 2 beer page will only show up if there is a post associated with it. So what’s a not-too-techy guy like me going to do? Certainly not hack the code in WordPress, but rather hack the code to my morning routine by adding a line that says “if it’s Monday morning, insert Gluek Honey Bock into mouth and write a review.” Continue reading the perfect morning beer

Reminds Me of Summer

I cracked a Snowstorm expecting to have some dark winter stout. I was totally caught off guard when the beer tasted more like the Hefeweizen I brewed in the late summer. I quickly turned the bottle around and read that the Schell Brewmaster tries out a different recipe for Snowstorm each year and that this year it was brewed with a Belgian yeast. What an awesome idea! I couldn’t really taste the raisins or rum that they describe, but it definitely has a light, slightly fruity taste. A little bit of summer was just what I needed on a cold-ass Minnesota day.