I bought a bottle of this new beer from Blacklist which is an interesting “gypsy” brewing group started by Brian who used to brew at the Brewhouse. Took me a while to get around to having it after reading about it on Facebook but scored one at the Beer Cave and gave it a whirl.
After I fought with the cork for a while I poured this into a goblet and sipped on it for about a half hour whilst sausage fingering away at my guitar. Nice hoppy aroma with some Belgian yeast. I was impressed by the lack of alcoholic heat for this 9.5% brew. I’d assume that it wasn’t aged for a ton of time either which makes it even more impressive.
I heard one report of a gusher bottle but mine was nicely carbonated with a steady stream of really small bubbles coming up from the non-etched goblet.
I was looking at the label and it said that this was brewed here in Duluth at the DuBrue facility (another ex-Brewhouse adventure). I haven’t stepped foot into that brewery but I understand that it was kind of cobbled together. I haven’t had a DuBrue beer that I liked yet but it is good to know that quality stuff can come out of that system.
This Gold of Belgium beer is a fine introduction to the Blacklist boys. I’d recommend it to my fellow local swillers. If I were to criticize one thing it would be that it came off a bit too sweet for my taste buds but was nice and clean and seemingly well-brewed.
Looking at the Blacklist website calendar here , if they can get the borrowed brewing space to pull this off, I am very excited about some of these off-center projects!
I had the opportunity to get over to the Thirsty Pagan recently with SWMBO, Crazy Cat Man, and the Barrister. Some of you may recall one of my earlier posts about the Pagan and the hit or miss quality of their beers.
I have good news to report. I got a sampler of all eight of their beers (plus a bonus: White Winter Cider from Iron River) to go with their most excellent pizza that most of us know and love.
Unbeknownst to me, Thirsty Steve now has a female head brewer which is really cool in itself. But the fact is, she is making what I consider to be the best line-up of suds in my ten years of patronage!
It’s kind of funny in that many of us kind of got the message from the former brewers at TPB that the faults in the beer were based on the limitations of their brewing system and its location. I had a hard time believing that off-flavors that seemed to stem from sanitation practices could have been equipment driven.
If it has been a while since you last checked out the Thirsty Pagan, I would urge you to do so. It was really refreshing to have eight beers and actually have a hard time deciding which one to drink a follow-up pint of as they were all pretty good!
I was especially impressed by the two lagers that were on tap and the fact that many of the beers had the balance that I long for these days (IPA aside). There was also another iteration of the sour brown that I had in sessions past and it has developed nicely. I am still very psyched that someone in town has a souring program.
You can check out their offerings via the website here
Congrats to the brewer on her efforts. We need another place with good locally brewed beer. If my last visit was any indication of the future, TPB now officially qualifies.
As the snow falls outside this lovely April 18th day and passes the six foot mark since Groundhog Day, I decided to take a little break from work and sip on something befitting such a scene. SWMBO is home today and dancing around the casa doing chores so I offered up a goblet to her which was gladly accepted. That was about an hour ago and all is quiet now. I’ll go look but I’d bet that she is sacked out on the couch napping like a cat after 11 oz of 8% yumminess.
Lift Bridge Brewing out of Stillwater, MN has been around for a few years now and I have liked what I have tasted so far. I have been enjoying their Farm Girl Saison the past couple of summers and recall a wonderful pitcher shared in Ely fresh out of a week in the BWCA.
A fine friend B-man presented me with a gift this week of their Irish Coffee Stout and said that rumor has it that it is tasty. I poured out two glasses from the 650 ml bottle and retired to my window upstairs and waited for it to warm up.
According to Lift Bridge this beer is a Russian Imperial Stout aged in whiskey barrels then blended with a milk stout and infused with coffee.
I have been sipping for the last hour and it really has developed nicely with increased temperature. I think that this one is really well done as the flavors knit seamlessly with mild coffee, bourbon, wood, and thankfully only moderate sweetness. It isn’t sticky like Darkness and not the bourbon bomb that some of the barrel aged beers are. Really well meshed flavors, no alcoholic heat, and balance all around. I might snag a couple of bottles while this limited beer is still around and tuck it into a corner of my cellar to bring out next winter.
Hats off to Lift Bridge!
Have you ever heard that record with Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield, and Steve Stills? It’s worth a download to check out.
Anyway, after the most disappointing session beer from South Shore I decided to try another new to me low alcohol brew to hopefully get some redemption for the style.
Not sure when Deschutes Brewery released it but their River Ale is a 4% beer that actually has some great things going on. If you ever feel like pounding a few bottles but don’t want to get too potted, this one might be the ticket.
River Ale strikes a balance between tasty Left Coast hops and pale malt with decent mouth-feel for something of limited strength. This is a tough task for the brewer to retain that malt character.
As an aside, I fondly recall floating the Deschutes River many moons ago with my dear pal Mellow. We spent a couple of nights on the river fishing for trout, drinking Mactarnahans, and retelling old battle stories. The memory that is etched in my mind however is when he was laying cable one morning and nervously called out my name as a rattlesnake slowly crawled between his legs. How could you forget that?
Anyway, by all means get some of this latest offering from Deschutes and support the brewery that makes some of the most consistently tasty beer in the US microcosm.
I haven’t been over to Ashland much in the past couple of years. I had several friends there who have all since departed to greener pastures. Seems like a pretty cool little town with a great bakery (wish we had one like it in Duluth….please open a branch!), decent coffee, and nice little co-op.
Nestled in the heart of the old downtown is South Shore Brewery which unfortunately for the citizens of Ashland (or “Ass-land” in local parlance) is one of few places to go out to eat and drink.
South Shore has the infamy in beer circles of brewing a rather insipid beverage called coffee mint stout. Unless you are deprived of sugar and extracts, please steer clear of it.
I have been to the pub a few times and have had several bottles of their beers over the last ten years. They can brew a decent pilsner and on occasion I’ve sampled a bottle that suits my taste buds but for the most part I am not a fan of their art.
Case in point: Northern Lights Ale. I believe that this used to be called Northern Lights Cream Ale but the name has changed. At least formerly styled “ale brewed with herbs” this one rings in at a session beer strength of 4.3% abv which is true to form for cream ales. It is very light colored and light in body and flavor.
The 12 oz. bottle that I opened was a total gusher and completely over-carbonated I had a hard time pouring out a sample glass so took a pull to almost Champagne-like fizz. No hops present, some wheat, some corn, some herbaceous aroma and taste, yet an overall lack of complexity and almost devoid of body.
Thankfully I got this beer as a freebie so that I don’t have any buyer’s remorse (nor another five beers to give away).
So far this one is a candidate for the worst beer of the year for me. YMMV.
Adonis and I decided to pay Canal Park Brewing a visit a couple of nights ago to see how things were progressing via their tap lines. I will say that CPB has been fun to watch as they are such aggressive marketers via social media. Their gift shop is loaded to the hilt almost to the level of a brewpub chain. I hope that they will do well over the long haul and I know that most of us are excited about the prospect of the outdoor drinking space yet know what will happen once the tourists come back.
I had a sampler of four beers that I hadn’t tried since my last visit a fair while back and also had a sandwich that I will be kind and won’t review.
1. Click Drag Kölsch – This was a pretty decent beer. I don’t know a ton about the style but have had the pleasure of visiting Cologne twice and drinking the authentic local versions even for breakfast at the train station (and I wasn’t alone!). Nice and light with pleasant fruitiness and a dry finish. Perhaps a bit too many hops for the style but I enjoyed it.
2. Neoprenanzug Malfunction German Wheat – Spot on aroma and classic German hefe taste but to my taste buds lacking body. Would have been good on a warm summer night but I certainly missed the mouth feel that you get from the better examples of the style (locally with the hefe at the Brewhouse).
3. 40 Acre Saison – I like saison a lot. My favorites have a nice spiciness from the Belgian yeast. I thought that this one was a bit sweet and perhaps more alcohol than I like. To nitpick, slimming down the grain bill and finishing the beer a hair lower would have suited my tastes more. Pretty well done and nice to have close to home.
4. Foggy Jack Porter – By far my least favorite of the night and a reminder of the overall impression that I get from the brewers at CPB. Nice appearance, decent aroma, decent roasted character, but where’s the body? I don’t know what these guys are doing their beers but my suspicion is over-filtering.
I wanted to have a full pint after the sampler so I went with what I feel is their best beer over my three prior visits: Stoned Surf IPA. Look around the next time that you are there and I bet that you’ll find most folks drinking this one.
I wish CPB all the luck and I know that they will do well with the Minnesota-nice palate as the tourists flock to the shores of Canal Park.
Lord I was born a ramblin’ man.
Geekdom. I think that a lot of us visit it from time to time. I certainly am guilty when talking about things which I am passionate about. Currently beer, bikes, fishing, music….formerly cars, wine, guitars.
Recently I was on an extended road trip back from visiting an old friend and got some much needed windshield time. I got into a groove/rut thinking about beer and all of the levels of geeking out that some of us go through. I think that it is a fun passion and, provided that we keep the consumption in check, has so many angles to study, taste, brew, and focus on. Upon my return to the Zenith City I got the most recent issue of The Growler magazine and realize that there are tons of deeper levels of beer interest than I experience.
I have friends who think that I know everything about beer. I certainly have a pretty decent base of knowledge but feel that my palate is only mediocre. I know a few folks who are BJCP judges and am in awe of what they can pull out of a beer. Granted, it would cool to know what grain bill and hops are in most everything that I taste but that is a level that I probably will never get to. I just want to keep having tasty beers and not take it so seriously.
I started the Beer Snob in response to a local friend who chuckled at the notion of Duluth being some sort of epicenter of Midwestern beer culture. IMHO, there is only one really significant brewery in town and one up the shore who is doing small but pretty special things. I think that it is cool that folks keep trying and new places keep opening but at this point to have a great beer culture you have to have great beer. Obviously great beer is subjective and we all have different taste buds. I think that the hallmark of a proficient brewer is to make product that is repeatable, well-crafted, adequately aged, and delivered in proper form. I’m hoping that we’ll get more of this as the scene matures.
I stopped into a brewpub that I had never heard of during my aforementioned road trip. Per usual I sat down at the bar and ordered a sampler and prepared myself for mediocrity yet was super surprised to find the entire line-up tasty and well crafted. They were pouring maibock, pilsner, porter, stout, amber, IPA and APA. I loved that they were making lagers. The joint was pretty quiet and when I asked the barkeep about jacketed fermenters he sent over the M.O.D. who sat down with me and we got into a pretty fun conversation about the brewery, brewer, the state of beer in their State, micro-brewing in the US, as well as collecting beers. What was memorable about the conversation was that he offered up the opinion that micro-brewers in the US are sick of making high BU beers and are trending back towards making well balanced representations of styles other than IPA/DIPA that have been all the rage as of the last decade (?). Dude was definitely preaching to the choir!
Let me know what you think.
To celebrate the impending Spring, I ventured into the world of bock last night for the first time this year. This new offering from New Belgium Brewing appears to be a Maibock which puts me two months early for traditional consumption but hey I’ll drink weissbier in the winter and barleywine in the summer.
I don’t typically drink too many Maibocks as the weather is warming and I am not always interested in malt forward lagers. However, I usually have a few of the Summit Brewing’s version on tap and others should I encounter them.
Hoppy Bock clocks in a 6.9% ABV which is right in line with the style. It is an interesting version as it comes loaded with hops in the nose and features moderate bitterness to help balance the lightly toasted malt sweetness and what I discern as a bit of alcoholic heat. The beer pours a deep gold and is pretty dry in the finish. I see from the label notes that they included rye in the kettle and I can taste its addition to the mix.
I’d like to try this alongside some of the stalwarts of the style: Hacker-Pschorr Hubertus, Hofbrau, and more recently Sierra Nevada Glissade.
Overall a welcome to spring for me. I like the hops kind of how I like the hops in Surly Fest where they are perhaps a bit much for the style but tones down the maltiness.
“Candor is the brightest gem of criticism”
Per my Super Bowl session, I mentioned my intrigue stirred by the advertisement for Beck’s Sapphire (I guess $4MM/30 seconds works!). Well I found it staring at me at Mount Royal the other day so I decided to give it a go. I like Beck’s and the other German exported green bottle beers as they were some of the first interesting beers that we all had access to back in the day of domestic schwag dominance. Prior to having my first St. Pauli Girl or Becks, Mickey’s Big Mouths were a treat.
I will admit that I was pretty excited when I popped open the Sapphire as I hoped that my string of drinking tasty pilsners would continue. Upon first whiff, instead of getting that familiar green bottle skunk, I got sweet grain. Truth be told I was hoping for a snap of hoppiness in the nose to no avail.
Disappointingly, I really had to search hard for any kind of hop character. I’m not that familiar with Saphir hops but do know about other German noble hops and despite my attempts, all I could taste was an overly sweet pilsner that seems to utilize adjuncts to boost the alcohol to 6%. The beer didn’t come across as hot to my tongue, just sweet and corny.
Perhaps I’ll brew up a simple pale ale this spring and will use Saphir hops at the end of the boil and maybe dry hop it so that I can get to know their character. I have read that they are sweet and lightly citrusy but I highly doubt that they contributed much to what I tasted from this new beer out of Bremen.
There I go spewing song lyrics again. Mixing my love of tunes with beer as most often they go hand in hand in my life. What more can be said of the first Ryan Adams’ record Heartbreaker? IMHO the best in his catalog and near and dear to my heart.
Last week I located a bottle of Sam Adams Stony Brook Red from their Barrel Collection. It didn’t take long before that baby got poured into snifters and shared with the wife. This was my first chance to try one of the few beers from this collection and I will be hunting more down in the days ahead!
Not sure where the name comes from but Stony Brook to me conjures up images of that state university in the New York system located out on Long Island where the Grateful Dead played a show in 1970 only really notable for the last Viola Lee Blues performance. I am a big fan of that 68 thru 70 era when Captain Trips was oozing tone from his Gibsons (SG and Les Paul) prior to switching to the noodling on the Strats in ‘71. How I digress…..
The Barrel Collection is brewed with Sam Adams’ in-house strain of bugs called Kosmic Mother Funk. This beer is made as a nod to the beers from the west of Belgium with the base coming from a strong red ale. The Stony Brook Red didn’t quite have the sour punch of Rodenbach nor the sticky sweetness of Bacchus. What I found was a really nice malty brew with great lactic character, moderate tartness, strong wood notes, a bit of Brett funk, and a very well masked 9% ABV.
SWMBO’s initial reaction was that it had dark cherry taste. I found some of that plus perhaps plums. The beer is aged in Euro oak casks that apparently come from brandy production. I didn’t know that prior to drinking but I think that some of the brandy did shine through in hindsight.
The whole series comes in these really cool bottles and are corked and caged. I hate to just recycle this vessel. I might just have to soak the label off, stick a candle in it, and fire up that show from ‘70 one of these winter evenings.
Hope that I can find some more of these beers! Did I mention only $8.99? Nice work Sam!