Had it at the Muddy Pig – where the glassware always smells a little like their detergent.  Hey at least it’s clean! 

Everything seems to be in balance with this one.  It’s easy to drink and packs a punch; a huge beer in palatable form.  I can’t think of anything bad about my Darkness experience.  I may have expected a more extreme beer from Surly, but was even more pleased to get a great beer that was good all-around.   

blanket weather

I’m a sucker for slightly chilly weather and strong beer.  Combine the two and I’m one happy camper.  Thanks to everyone for hanging out, we had a blast.  Thanks to Colin for being such a genuinely happy beermaker. 

I enjoyed the sample pitchers as a way to try all the beers and was pleased that nobody got visibly disgusted by the rinse pitcher.  The Little Barley Bitter would make a great end of a long day beer.  The IPA….well….I wasn’t impressed.  It seemed, judging from Colin’s tone, that the brewers at Barley John’s were aware this mix of hops was a bit of an experiment and in that regard it turned out well.  Stacked up to other IPAs that I’m a fan of, though, it doesn’t hold up as well.  The Wild Brunette, though is a great brown ale without being watery (something I’ve noticed in browns….could just be me).  For a final act in the 4-part sampler, I don’t think anyone could top the Dark Knight Returns.  I also don’t think any healthy American should enjoy any more than each of us poured.  It was big, bold, complex and I think I may have napped for a few minutes after drinking what little I had.  I particularly enjoyed the contrast from the aroma to the taste.  The heavy bourbon smell was only mildly present in the flavor – a perfect balance for a beer of that style, IMHO.   

best of the fest

I could Google it, but that just kills a conversation.  What’s the significance of the blue and white checkered pattern with Oktoberfest?  The Surly can just looks like a picnic tablecloth, but I became interested when I saw the pattern on a Schell’s Oktoberfest label.  Anybody?

 And for the record, this one is great.  Having this beer at this time of year makes me proud to be fractionally German. 

big brown bottle

No question, I liked this one a lot.  This is the most surprising Schell’s beer I’ve had.  Others have been safely tasty, but not particularly memorable.  This was full bodied and drinkable.  It had great flavor that didn’t leave a sour lingering taste like I’d expect some stouts to.  I found this in a 22oz bottle and thought it might be a challenge to finish – not the case.  I even initially thought the label was kind of drab but now I’m kind of smitten with it. Ohh, cute.   


A fitting day: I watched broadcasts from St. Paul during the day and tried the Convention Ale at night.  Drinkable, with just enough bite to keep it interesting.  My wife put it best I think “Kind of like [candidate name excluded].  Good.  Pretty non-offensive, but there’s something better” 

And as a testament to my steel trap of a mind – I was about an hour past finished with the bottle when I finally got the play on words in the name (conventional/ale)

Red Hearted

I’m muddling my way through a six-pack and things have been getting progressively better.  My first bottle was with dinner one night and the taste was a bit too astringent.  I don’t recall what I was eating, but my guess is that the food didn’t feel that I should be drinking a beer so the two flavors proceeded to fight.   I brought in a Bell’s Two Hearted to quell the riot.  It worked.  For the record, I mixed the two at a ratio of approximately 2/3 Two-Hearted to 1/3 Mesabi Red (perhaps a bit more Red, wasn’t measuring).  The end result was very surprising and tasted better than the Red alone. 

 For what it’s worth, the other bottles of Mesabi Red have been satisfactory.  Not my favorite,  just good. 

moral success

Angry Planet is nothing flashy or groundbreaking.  I was concerned because every organic beer I’ve had until now has provided me with a raging headache almost immediately.  Did not happen this time though!  Organic….meh, great, but in this case the taste matters more than how good I feel about the ingredients.  It’s ok, not too much of anything – hops, malt or otherwise.  Just right….or just enough.  Sure not to offend anyone.

solid, but not amazed

Bock? Porter? Both? Yes. They aren’t lying, that pretty much describes it. More malty than hoppy, but a good balance of the two. Very drinkable.

Maybe I’m the only one, but Cold Spring Brewery just seems….different without a solid identity. Maybe I’m just missing their marketing efforts. Beer and energy drinks out of the same place, though? No shame in making a dollar when you can, I guess. Watch out for the packaging of their hard lemonade.

Few infusions

Luckily, I was able to snag two of the Infusion series beers before they ran out.  The raspberry stout was already gone.  The chocolate milk porter was almost a meal by itself and may have been great topped with whipped cream.  The lingonberry milk porter, I would describe as a not-too-bitter milk porter with a hint of berries at the end. Tart, but definitely not overpowering.  I don’t think I noticed the berries right away because I blew my palate away with chips and guac before hand. 

renegade review

Enough.  I’ve had a bottle of Whirly Bird sitting in my fridge for about four weeks.  No more delays.  I drank it, and enjoyed it.  It’s not as heavy as Lake Superior’s oatmeal stout, but has just as much bite.  I ate oatmeal in the morning and drank the beer at night – a nice way to close the loop on the day.  Bonus: the label for this one is by far my favorite of all the Braus. 

Thanks to Heritage Liquor in Maplewood for having this before I was even looking for it.  I’ll save the Pale Ale for some other day. 

Paddington Beer

Well, the can says it has hints of marmalade so this must be Paddington Bear’s favorite beer.  Why not couple alcoholism with an already odd addiction to an orange jelly?  He’s a bear in a raincoat!  Cute!

 The beer did have two distinct flavors:  the hop blast at the beginning followed by the flowery/fruityness.  It could pass as a marmalade flavor, I think.  Definitely a good summer beer. 

on sale

Funny, I found a four-pack on sale for <$5 too.  The beer was pretty good.  It’d probably be even better on a hot day.  I like the pint can, and the copy writer who squeezed out that blurb about the Bavarian aristocracy…etc. deserves a pat on the back for a particularly colorful paragraph.  The one thing that bugs me is that I think the dude on the can resembles someone from the railroad tycoon/robber baron era rather than a “Colonial” one.  Meh, he still looks like everyone’s favorite drinkin uncle.   

helicopters make me think of Rambo

Well, the meetup turned out to be a definite fail on my part. We were there but didn’t really interact due to our clandestine location. We walked in and snagged the only open table in the joint. You’d think that would be great…and it was. Not having to stand is nice. However, we did end up around the corner from any and all action happening aside from Big Buck Hunter 2006. *see diagram*

The plus side was far greater than the lonely table. This was the best smelling beer I’ve ever had. Black Helicopter smells like coffee – no surprise there – and good coffee at that. Not burnt coffee or like Sanka. It smells more like a cold press. The flavor is stout but doesn’t hang around long, making it pretty drinkable. Unfortunately coffee stouts seem to create some sort of negative reaction in my body. I enjoy both coffee and beer and I’m theorizing that the two of them battle for my beverage love and it leaves me unable to consume more than one in a sitting. The same phenomenon happened at last year’s Gnome Fest, I just found out after the fact…while I was biking.   I digress.  Kudos to Flat Earth for coming out with good new brews and thanks to the Ugly Mug for hosting – and giving me a super cheap happy hour. 


This one cought me off guard. I had no expectations, and quite honestly I was just planning on slogging through a bottle for the sake of the review. I was, however, very happy with the product. Worth it if you don’t like hoppy beer, but like a full-bodied one.

I see that a Yarusso brother is the one who kept this recipe going. Yarusso’s is a nice old Italian place on Payne Ave that looks respectable (I’ve never been but know those who have). I have been to Morelli’s Liquor which is right next to Yarusso’s. Good prices and a nice wine selection and a top-notch deli.  The place just oozes attitude: the old Italian food and wine shop…..that’s family run……since the 30’s…….that doesn’t take plastic (leaving no paper trail)…..

not sayin, just sayin.

oh Mai,

Well that was nice.  I just finished a Maifest and am happy it didn’t sneak up and whack me with a drunk-bat like other Maibocks I’ve had.  This one was sweet, not hoppy but still interesting to drink.  I expected a pretty tame version of this style of beer from Schell’s and was pleasantly surprised at the actual product. 

barley champagne?

I was suprised at how bubbly and light in color this was. I had expected something closer to…i don’t know…all the other barley wines I’ve had which have been dark in color and not flat but definitely not lighty and airy. The flavor was not hoppy in the least, but it was sweet and drinkable. I thought about doing a running timeline of how the 22 oz of 9% ABV affected my ability to play WarioWare: Smooth Moves on a Wii. Though I didn’t write it down, I can tell you my play was unaffected.


Right now it’s late at night and I’m watching a Fatboy Slim concert on a beach somewhere in England circa 2002. It’s just as, if not more, stimulating than the Schell’s Pilsner I happen to be drinking. This beer’s taste is a throwback to keg beer and plastic cups, only light years better for two reasons: #1- it is better. Better taste, better quality, and a better experience overall knowing it comes from a regional brewer.   #2 – I’ve come to appreciate history and knowing where a beer came from – in other words, I know brewing a pilsner would require a level of maintenance than I’m not up for just yet.  I respect that.

Still, the show and the camera shots switching in tune to the music is what is grabbing my attention now because the beer is good but not my style.  Sadly, techno is not terribly refreshing and would not as effectively…oh, say…cool a sunburn after a summer day of canoeing.  That’s where I see this beer fitting in well. 

little brewery on the prairie

I’m apt to enjoy Brau beer simply because it’s may be the only beer available at the Morris, MN liquor store that doesn’t come in a 30-pack cube.  The price is absurdly cheap to boot.  Frame Straightener was a nice beer with some sweet flavor and the feel of a homebrew.  Unlike some homebrews that leave you feeling like you just drank a whole meal, it did feel like I could have more than one.  

baby bear’s stash

Everything is just right.  Subtle aroma, crisp taste and a clean finish.  I like it.  Now, allow me to geek out and refer to a part of Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – just as Ford Prefect is about to hitch away with Arthur on the Vogon destroyer and he orders a few pints of bitters for the two of them because they’ll need salt in their system when they hitchhike.  Well this is what I imagine that beer tasting like:  i.e. something I could pound a few of in a matter of seconds because my life depended on it. 

Safe at first through home.

In his explanation for going with the 22oz bottles, Jeff from Flat Earth stated something to the effect of “if you’re going to indulge in a beer, indulge.”  Not an exact quote, but I agreed with what he said.  The Belgian Pale Ale was just right in the big bottle.  Not too pungent or syrupy to get sick of after a few sips.  Refreshing with a sweet, hinting at fruity, tatse.  A solid alternative to more hoppy beers – if that’s your taste.  I, personally, am not terribly descriminate. 

Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary

If I were a storyteller:

I would tell about the time I tried Cygnus X-1 and in a flash of light was whisked away to the farthest reaches of space in a giant bass guitar-shaped spaceship with a picture of menacing white owl on it.  Then I would tell everyone I knew about what I saw:  galaxies and worlds beyond our own, populated by beings who communicate in a language we can only understand if we drink strong, but not lingering porters that are surprisingly refreshing and come in 22 ounce bottles (and sometimes brandy snifters) and, of course, if we fly by night. 

But that’s if I could really tell a story.  I don’t think I’m very good, so forget it.  It’s not important.

Lots of it

This beer was the house beverage for our holiday ugly sweater party.  Well, for me, at least.  I bought a lot and everyone else brought their own.  I still haven’t finished them.  No worries, it’s a good, bold winter ale and it’s still unbelievably cold outside.   

snow strom thurmond

I’m not a changed man after drinking this.  That said, I was pleased to have Snow Storm around when the alternative was a case of Miller Lite my relatives were lusting over.  Drinkable, and pleasingly so, but definitely not the boldest of winter brews.  Sweet, but not too much, with a clean finish.  A pretty noncomittal, Minnesota Nice ale.