Full Circle

I can’t believe it’s already time for Schell Snowstorm again. I think Joe is right that this year’s version is better than last year. It’s maltier and while still sweet, it’s not as sickly sweet as last year’s version.

It’s been a fun year of beer tasting and this has been a great forum for sharing opinions about different beers every week. Thank you to all the other reviewers who shared your views on various beers, I learned a lot about beer this year thanks to you. Thanks also to Rett for putting up and maintaining the brew52 site, I know it’s been a burden at times but it’s been fun for me and I know others have enjoyed it as well.

Gateway Beer

Summit EPA is the beer that weaned me off of domestic light lagers and on to a new appreciation of what beer could be. Even better, its still one of my favorite beers after sampling a ton of craft beer offerings the last few years. It’s a great session beer with plenty of hoppyness to keep things interesting. It’s nice to get out there and explore Belgians, imperial IPAs, porters, black lagers and the like, but there’s something about Summit EPA’s chilly embrace that keeps me coming home. Thanks Summit!

Follows the Surly Equation

Take an ordinary oatmeal brown ale and add more hops then seems prudent, then add a bit more hops and you end up with Bender. I like Bender for the contrasting tastes and smooth finish. Also, the Surly beers are great for camping since they can be crushed and easily packed out when you’re done. Something we took advantage of last summer. Just be sure to take one glass because this is a beer for a glass… from a can.

The Dark Night Made My Day

It was great to get together with some friends and other Brew52er’s on Saturday to taste some of the great beers at Barley John’s. The brewmaster, Colin, was kind enough to drink a beer with us and talk about the brewing process for some of the beers we tasted.

The Dark Night is a thick, syrupy porter that really warms you up on a cool, windy day. I like the bourbon taste that comes through and aging in the bourbon barrels really smoothes out the beer. There are plenty of other good beers on tap as well; I also really enjoyed the IPA.

A Great Beer for a Rock Bottom Price

Given the name of this brew and without any information on what type of beer it was, I wasn’t sure what to expect last night when we tried out the new Rock Bottom creation. One good tip for putting the reviewer’s mind in the right place is to give the beer away for free. Good call Rock Bottom.

I really liked this beer since it is very similar to an IPA (a style I always enjoy) but it adds the unique rye taste that sets it apart from the rest. I will definitely have another one on my next trip to Rock Bottom but I won’t try to fight the traffic to get there before 6:00.

Tastes Like Summer

I am not a big fan of the summer brews but even I have to admit that Summit’s Hefe is a good beer. This also seems like the perfect week to test this type of beer since it’s the hottest of the year so far.

The Hefeweizen is a light beer with a foggy, unfiltered look to it. The citrus flavors are enough to liven up the taste without overpowering. A great beer to enjoy outside on a hot summer day.

Double the ABV, Double the Fun, Double Rett’s Volume

Town Hall’s Double American Red Ale is a great beer. It doesn’t taste that alcoholic, like an Imperial Stout might, but you can definitely feel the effects when you’re half way through the glass. This beer had a clean, hoppy taste that I really enjoyed.

Rett may have been talking a little loud but it was still hard to hear him over the other conversations, traffic noise and the sound of my brain cells absorbing this beer. Maybe that’s where the term “buzz” comes from.

Lingonberry with a touch of Milk Porter

This was my first Milk Porter and I wish I could evaluate the style but the lingonberry aftertaste was so strong that it really was hard to evaluate. This is a smooth beer with a very sour, but not hoppy, aftertaste making for a unique drinking experience. Rett and I sampled this right after work while sitting at Town Hall’s patio on a beautiful summer day so that may skew my review more positively. I might order this beer again next time they have it but certainly not two in one sitting.

Decent Hefeweizen

I enjoyed this beer after mowing the lawn tonight which may result in a higher then normal rating. Almost any beer tastes good after mowing the lawn.

I’m not a big fan of Hefeweizen but I thought this was a decent beer. There is a slight taste of hops when you first sip the beer and a smooth finish. I like the design of the can. Judging by his mustache, the guy on the can is related to Rett in some way. Maybe that’s why he picked this pub pint for review.

Fresh from the Tap

Our volleyball team decided to stop at Stub and Herb’s last night after the final game of the season. I asked about the Schell Dunkel since it wasn’t on the beer menu and the server responded that they just tapped it five minutes ago. What luck!

The beer came out with almost no head but it tasted pretty carbonated. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this beer but it was tasty enough for me to order another instead of picking something else off their impressive beer list. I don’t know if I would go out specifically to test this beer but if you happen to be at a bar that serves Schell’s Dunkel, try it out.

Crap

I really like the Sam Adams Scotch Ale so I was expecting to enjoy the Brau Brothers version as well. This beer tasted nothing like I was expecting. It is very tart and fruity and I have a hard time tasting any smoky malt. As some people complained about the previous Brau Brothers beer I think it’s possible I got a bad batch. I have a sixer so I’ll update this post if the others are better. I’m starting to really dislike Brau Brothers beers.

Better Then Advertised

I wasn’t expecting much from this beer after hearing Ben badmouth it for the last few weeks but I think it delivers on it’s promise. The label says it’s a caramel lager and that’s exactly what it tastes like. The caramel flavor really jumps out in this beer making it a little sweet for my taste but I wouldn’t mind drinking this once in a while. It doesn’t hurt when your expectations are low to begin with.

This Warlock Packs a Punch

This is my first experience with a barley wine ale and it has me feeling a little light-headed. The 9% ABV kind of sneaks up on you and I think 5igmund is on to something with the 12-oz option. The Flat Earth Winter Warlock is sweeter then I would like but it is nicely balanced with the bitter hops. A solid after dinner drink.

This isn’t a beer I would usually buy for myself but it would be a good one to share with some friends.

Finnegans: Irish for Beer

I thought it was only fair to sample this week’s beer on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not usually impressed with Irish themed food and drink. I don’t like corned beef and cabbage or Jameson whiskey or Killian’s Irish Red but Finnegans has broken that cycle.

Finnegans is a great session ale without an over indulgence of hops. I think Rett was right about the crisp, creamy taste and I like that the profits go to charity. The only bad part is that TurboTax doesn’t accept my charitable purchase of Finnegans as tax deductible. Must be a bug.

Average Pilsner

I picked up the Schell sampler pack last night since the only other option was a 12-pack and I don’t like pilsners enough to justify that. I thought the beer was an average pilsner with maybe a little more hops than average. The rest of the sampler pack sounded more interesting, I can’t wait for Caramel Bock week.

Exactly as it Should Be

When I buy an ale in a bar or liquor store this is how I expect the beer to taste. The Lake Superior Special Ale is refreshing and hoppy without being overpowering. The type of beer you could drink all night without getting sick of the taste. It doesn’t wow me with unique or powerful flavors but I don’t want that from every beer.

A Lesser Belgian

I was really looking forward to this beer after the Flat Earth version but this just seems like a watered down replica in comparison. The Frame Straightener has a light Belgian taste but it doesn’t grab my attention. I can smell the hops but they don’t come across in the flavor.

I don’t think I ended up with a bad batch like some of the other reviewers but this beer doesn’t do much for me.

Kool-Aid Man

Surly always seems to take their beers to the farthest extreme possible. It gives me a chance to try a variety of tastes that I wouldn’t normally look for. Surly Two was too fruity and overpowering for my taste, I didn’t even bother drinking a full beer. Erin was nice enough to let me try hers.

The initial taste reminded me of the old kool-aid commercials when the kool-aid man would bust through the wall saying, “Oh Yeah!” Except the wall in this case is my mouth and the kool-aid man is full of cranberry beer. You get the picture right?

Cool-Aid Man

Party at Herkimer, and in my mouth

The Herkimer Alt is aptly named as a great alternative to standard pale ale. It has the hops and smoothness of pale ale with an extra German kick that makes it stand apart. I’m not sophisticated enough to know what it is but I like it.

It was great to meet many of the Brew52 reviewers, thanks for setting it up Rett. Also, thanks to the staff at The Herkimer for their hospitality!

Winter at it’s best

Summit Winter has a strong look (a very dark brew), a strong smell (heavy malts, caramel and hops) and a strong taste (thick and a little flat). As I write this review it’s 3 below outside and somehow that make this beer more enjoyable. As a newcomer to the “winter” genre of beers I feel like this Summit must be a good example to judge other “winters” by, but I invite the more experienced members to suggest other worthy contenders.

Unique and Tasty

This beer and others like it are the reason I really enjoy this site/festival. I wouldn’t normally go looking for a Belgian-style pale ale but I was quite surprised with how well the two styles mesh.

The guy on the label seems to be happy with this beer despite his impending, waterfall induced, death. I too would be less concerned about my watery grave with this fine beer in hand.