Hell yeah

This years’ release of Darkness is much more accessible and sessionable than 07 in my opinion (altho I liked last years better I think), while still packing a wallop of malts and hops to enjoy. Chilled and in a pint glass it was incredible; I can only imagine how good it will be at 55 degrees and in a nice tulip glass. Proper. Grab a glass while supplies last.

This is the way it’s supposed to taste?! I like it.

I suppose I should preface this review with the statement that I don’t much care for scotch ales or beers with any smoke, be it peat or malt. In fact I almost passed this week’s review up so that I wouldn’t have to drink a smoked scotch ale.

I’m glad I didn’t.

This Scotch Ale may be my re-introduction to both styles. Or maybe it’s the combination of the two that did it for me. I can’t say I’d rush out and buy a sixer of it, but I was certainly surprised at my appreciation of this brew. Sure, it was a little sweet and malty, a little smoky, lacked the hop backbone (and frontbone) I prefer. But it wasn’t repulsive to my palate–to the contrary–as many representatives of the styles are. 

 *Edit*

I just read some of the other posts, alluding to a bad batch, which is maybe why I liked this smoked Scotch Ale that didn’t really take like a smoked Scotch Ale. It does have a funky sorta bandaid taste, typical of some wild beers and apparently smoked Scotch Ales.

Sir Duluth is one smooth Mr. (shut yer mouth!)

So I feel like I’ve been harshing on my boys from Lake Superior a little bit, if only to myself. Their barleywine just didn’t measure up, and their red has disappointed way too many times.

But wow, their Oatmeal Stout is fantastic. The chocolate malts seem to hit me first, followed by a little sourness perhaps, and a nice malty finish. Smooth. I burnt through a bunch of stouts this winter, mainly imperial ones, but I wish this woulda been in my rotation. Nice job, LS!

To Style

Mai Bocks are a sure sign of spring and summer to come, especially in Minnesota: They’re released in March, and you start looking forward to the Hefeweizens and Saisons–and then wham! you get 8 more inches of snow. I’ve been ready to leave the bock season for a couple weeks now, including the 2 or 3 I brewed myself, so it’s hard to finish this Mai Bock.  With that, I think this nails the style. Strong, yet easy to drink with a nice sweet aftertaste. I have found that I prefer the darker bocks like dopples, so while I drank the entire bottle of Summit Maibock, I didn’t enjoy it!

Golden it is, barleywine not so much.

I loooove a good barleywine, especially dark and hoppy and strong ones–see Avery Hogheaven. I first sampled the Warlock at Winterfest, and thought it seemed a little light, but blamed it on the fact that my taste buds were totally destroyed from 3 hours of imperial stouts and Belgian craziness. But, no, the liquid in the bottle was indeed just a tad on the light side. Seemed like a blend of a Belgian golden ale and a English barleywine, and left me wanting more of a punch, more flavor. I’ll stick one away for next winter and hopefully it will improve.

Love Flat Earth, but…….

I had a bottle a few weeks ago, and it was great, one of the better porters I’ve ever had. Then I had one this week for the review, and it had a ton of coffee, which some people love, but I’m not a fan of. I keep trying coffee porters, and not many are pleasing to my palate. With that in mind, I do think that cygnus nailed the style, but like many of Flat Earth’s beers, while very tasty, the inconsistency is frustrating. Woulda been a four, four-and-a-half. Keep it coming guys!

Soooo good

Ok I tried this at Winterfest last weekend. It was good, but I thought I would probably pass on it the next time around. Then my wife and I had dinner at Cafe 28 tonight (owned by Linda Haug, wife of Surly head brewer Todd), and I thought, well I better give it a second shot, when I hadn’t had 20 beers already.

And I’m so glad I did. It had some of the same hop characteristics as Darkness, of course reduced by the cranberries and dark malts. Some have said its a one-and-your-done beer, but I could easily have had two or three. This is one of my favorite Surly beers. I can’t wait to pick up one of the bottles and throw it in my basement for a year or two.

At first…

The first taste of the Alt I must say was disappointing. It just tasted off. Thankfully, it did get better as the night wore on, that “interesting” taste fading to the background. I need to do more exploring of lagers to figure out what that is. Maybe its supposed to be there. I wish I had more opportunities to get to the Herk. Good meeting a few folks.

Subtle Perfection

A couple years ago I stopped drinking Summit Winter. Well, not completely. I would have one or two each year, and then hang it up. “This is just a brown ale,” I would decry. My friends and I would swear that Summit Winter used to be a spiced up porter, full of ambition and hope, and that a couple years ago they went soft

But now I’m not so sure. (Was it me? Did they change the recipe?)

I can’t get enough of this years’ brew.

Maybe it’s my palate, or maybe it was the Summit Winter on cask I had right before Christmas, smooth and creamy, reinvigorating my belief in Summit. That happens every so often; I get bored and worn down on Summit, and then I have a particularly fine pint of EPA, or try a limited release stout with brettomyces, and it’s like falling in love all over again. 

This year’s Winter is like that. It pours a creamy mahogany, exactly what I want on a cold night. I’m thrilled by it’s subtle perfection, and even more thrilled that it’s Summit that brought it to me.

Grapefruit in a can

Depending on my mood, I either love Furious or can pass it by. Sometimes it feels weird to drink beer that tastes like grapefruit, especially when it’s 5 degrees outside. This was not the case when I drank this particular can. My taste buds went all haywire just pouring it in a big tulip Duvel glass, and when it hit my tongue it was pure bliss.  If I’m in the mood for an IPA, Furious always exceeds my expectations.

Eh.

I had a realization after my first sip of this Belgian Pale Ale: I’m not a fan of the style. I had one a month or so ago and was surprised that I didn’t really like it, blaming in on the brewery being relatively new and still working the kinks out. But then I had the newest offering from Brau Brothers Brewing, the Frame Straightener, also a Belgian Pale, and my reaction was the same: eh. It did get a little better towards the end of the bottle, after my palate had warmed, or maybe because I knew I had a Furious waiting for me.

That being said, I suppose it’s a pretty good representative of the style. The Belgian yeast comes through the mellow hops, and isn’t overwhelmed by the malts. And I guess that’s what I miss. I prefer a little more sugar in my Belgians, a little more comlexity, an ABV closer to eight or nine percent. Sure, you could have 2 or 3 of the FE Pale Ales, but after one, I was ready for something a little more interesting.

Relied on my memory

Glueks Honey Bock has in the past been one of my summer session beers, something I could drink 2 or 3 of in a night along side some homebrews and not get totally plowed. After reading the reviews here I will admit I didn’t want to go out and throw $10 or $12 down for 24 cans of some crap beer, especially when it’s likely to just take up space in my basement until a hot July day.

So I didn’t. I will concur with the other reviews, and agree that yes, you get what you pay for with Gluek’s. But really, it’s a pretty good beer to drink after mowing the lawn or playing a few rounds of disc golf. At least that’s what my memory tells me.  But seeing that I’m a big ol’ cheater (and cheap), and can’t actually comment on the beer that I just drank for the review, maybe it has gone hill in the last year and is actually on par with Busch Light and Miller Lite.

At least you save a few bucks with Glueks HB and are able to support a local brewery.

Better with age

As usual, I was excited for this year’s Snowstorm–I loved last years Sweet Stout.  I brewed my first Dubbel this fall, and have gotten pretty heavily into the Belgians in the past year, and so was intrigued by what Dave had to offer. My first impression when I had it a month ago was that maybe my homebrew version had a slight edge, while recognizing that it’s much easier to produce 5 gallons than 500 gallons. Over xmas I had another bottle, and I must say it’s improved.  I put a couple away for next year, when I expect it will be off the charts.