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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale pourSierra Nevada Celebration Alesurlyfurious2surlyfurious1Rush River The Unforgiven Amber AleLake Superior Oktoberfest

Anchor Steam Summer beer

August 13th, 2008 by Casey

Anchor Steam Summer


 Picked up a six pack of this at the local MGM.  I am an absolute sucker for Anchor Steam's entire look.  The packaging and label are beautiful, not to mention their signature bottle style.  Poured with a giant head that dissipated after a few sips.  Faint smell of wheat and lemons.  The taste starts with malted wheat and citrus, which is quickly washed away by the carbonation.  It has a very crisp dry finish, with a very slight hop bite.  This works well for a summer beer, as you keep coming back for more and you don't have a heavy taste left in your mouth.  This beer seems best suited to a hot summer evening shared with a couple of friends.


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Bell’s Lager of the lakes

April 29th, 2008 by Casey

Bell’s Lager of the Lakes

Back from my rather long hiatus. Beer reviews will be alot shorter and to the point. Got a six pack of Bell’s Lager or “Lager of the Lakes” as the label displays. Its described “refreshingly crisp as a morning swim in a Great Lake”, which was enough to sell me during the brief spell of good weather we had. Pours a clear golden color, with a crisp scent and very mild hop aroma. Exactly what I was looking for after a run-in with a mini keg of Bell’s two-hearted a week before. This lager went down easy and in fact did remind me of a swim in a great lake. When I was growing up as a kid my neighbor owned a company that drilled wells, and I remember the crisp cold taste of the water straight from a well. This beer reminded me quite a bit of that taste. This is the type of beer you’d drink after you finished mowing your lawn while relaxing on your porch. Probably not worth the premium if your plan is to drink more than 2 or 3 at a sitting, but still a great tasting beer.

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Review #6 Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

November 26th, 2007 by Casey

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale


Sierra Nevada Brewing is one of the most well-known in the “craft beer” industry. They brewed their first batch of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on November 15, 1980. 27 years later, I have a bottle of the wonderful Celebration Ale on my table. It pours a wonderful orange and amber color with a thick fragrant head. It smelled like a traditional IPA, pine and hops with a little extra spice. Taste is full of sticky hops that linger in your mouth, only to be washed away by the high carbonation. Leaves a really smooth finish with the alcohol leaving a faint spice. The balance is perfect, you savor every sip and come back craving more. This is an excellent beer and continues to be one of my favorite around the holidays.


9 out of 10 hops – a truely excellent beer




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Review #5 Rush River The Unforgiven Amber Ale

November 5th, 2007 by Casey

Rush River The Unforgiven Amber Ale

Rush River Brewing is located in River Falls, Wisconsin and just recently started selling 6 packs of their two most popular brews. The Unforgiven Amber Ale is one of them. I drank the six pack over the course of about a week, making mental notes to myself for the upcoming review. The first one I poured was a very cloudy, amber color. It had a nice sweet hop smell, very fragrant. A very interesting toasted malt taste, combined with a little bit of sourness from the visable yeast. Very light mouthfeel, which is surprising from the cloudy thick pour. I had problems reviewing this beer because three of them poured cloudy, and three poured clear. I’m not really sure why this happened, but they also tasted different to me. The cloudy beer had a more pronounced yeast taste to it, and the finish was less hoppy. The clear beer tasted more like a traditional ipa, with a longer hop finish. I favored the cloudy beer for its unique taste, but the clear pour wasn’t bad either. I’m going to have to try this one again, as my results were inconclusive.

Amy’s comments

She’s off the hook for this beer, because I drank them all before she had a chance to taste it.

What others thought

Not many reviews of this beer, probably because it hasn’t been available in bottles for too long. I didn’t find anybody else that had my clear/cloudy results. Everybody else got the cloudy version, which I’m assuming is the way Rush River wants it to be. Alot of reviewers noted the sweet caramel nose, and bready “doughy” taste. Rush River uses a custom created yeast in this beer, and most reviews note the unique taste it adds.

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Review #4 Surly Furious

October 26th, 2007 by Casey

Surly Furious

Surly Brewing opened in late 2005, 10 beer loving years in the making. Based on craft brewed beers, they quickly caught on in Minnesota. Surly Furious is one of the beers that ushered them in. A furiously hopped American ale, it pours a glowing amber color with tightly laced bubbles. The first smell is pine needles followed by hops and spice. I noted an “orchard” type smell to it, mixed with grapefruit and spice. The first taste is a shock to your senses, lots and lots of hops. This is the beer that taught me to recognize Cascade hops. The hops assault you with a black pepper and pine spice, followed by a surge of citrus(grapefruit mostly). I noted a toffee and bread taste from the malt. You get a taste of alcohol at the finish, and its gin-like in complexity, probably my favorite part about this beer. Something about this beer always makes me describe it as “chewy”, I think its because you’re left smacking your lips with the long aftertaste. This beer just seems to stick to your palate, lingering at the top of our mouth and sides of your tongue. Its quite an intense experience, and an enjoyable one at that. Furious is like a rollercoaster, its fun to ride a few times, but too many in a day and you’re done for. This is exactly what I think Surly intended the beer to be as well, I mean they did name it Furious for a reason right?

Amy’s comments


smells like “flowery orange”


tastes like “citrus rind”


What others thought

This beer makes me think maybe I know what I’m doing. The flavors are so pronounced that I think it would be hard not to pick up on them, but still I’ll take what I can get. I read alot of comments referring to its grapefruit taste, along with lemon, pineapple and even tangerine. Surly writes on the can “brewed with a dazzling blend of american hops and scottish malt,, this crimson hued ale delivers waves of citrus, pine and caramel-toffee”, and most reviews follow that closely. As usual I’d love to hear your comments on the beer as well.

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Review #3 Lake Superior Oktoberfest

October 22nd, 2007 by Casey

Lake Superior Oktoberfest

I found myself in the North Shore/Duluth area once again this weekend, a perfect time to sample another local brew. This time it was Lake Superior Brewing’s Oktoberfest. Had this on tap at Lakeview Castle in Duluth. As you can see its got a really nice honey/orange hue to it. The initial smell was heavy with citrus, honey and malt, with spicy undertones. Initial taste was a big sweet citrus malt followed by a more roasted malt and hop spice. I really didn’t think it tasted like a Märzen, more like a supercharged Märzen. I don’t have much to compare it to besides Paulaner’s oktoberfest, which seemed mild compared to this beer. It wasn’t as close to the real Oktoberfest style as the other German brews, but thats why I liked it. Bummer that you can only get this in the Lake Superior area on tap, I’d love to try it again. The Lakeview Castle also had Paulaner and Summit oktoberfest on tap to go along with its Oktoberfest menu of food. Not a bad place to stop by on your way up north if you want to get a little feel for Germany.

Amy’s comments

“smells like bird feathers”
“tastes like dirty shoe rubber”

What others thought

This beer got a number of positive comments over at Beer Advocate, and had somewhat similar reviews to mine. Alot of comments to the “toasted” and “caramel” malt flavors, some suggesting Vienna malt was used. One reviewer notes of the herbal hop finish, which after reading I would agree with. If anybody out there has tried this I’d like to hear your comments.


I got an email from Dale Kleinschmidt, the head brewer over at Lake Superior brewing. He informed me that the beer uses all German ingredients except for the water, and it has a similir taste to another Oktoberfest brand, Ayinger. Makes me think I have alot to learn about German beers. Either way it was awesome to hear from Dale, and I encourage everybody to give this beer a try.

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Review #2 Grimbergen Blonde Ale

October 18th, 2007 by Casey

Grimbergen Blonde Ale

From wikipedia: Grimbergen is the name of a group of Belgian abbey beers first brewed in 1128 at the abbey that Saint Norbert of Xanten built for the Norbertine monks in Grimbergen. They became famous for providing hospitality and their home-brewed beer to visitors, and handed down the recipe over the centuries. The beers are now brewed by Alken Maes brewery group.

This beer was suggested to me by the local liquor store clerk, and it was a good suggestion. I let this beer cool down to the proper tempature while taking pictures of it, and poured it into a glass. It produced a giant head with big bubbled lace that took a bit to settle down. Initial smells were flowery, honey, malty and sweet. First taste was very sweet, toasted caramel and malt followed by a nice bite from the hops. Huge mouth feel, with lingering honey grain taste on the finish. This beer was great. I suspected that the alcohol content was somewhat high, but it was hidden by the malt really well. A very complex tasting beer, I’ll have another one tonight and add to my thoughts.



Amy’s comments


“smells like a melted snowman” -she said this was a very easy call


pixie stix times a billion”



What others thought

I was fairly close with my review of this beer. Comments such as “Flavour of complex malts, candy sweetness, with a touch of tartness too” were common. Also alot of “fruity” comments hinting at peach and apricot. I never seem to be able to pull these tastes out of beer, I’ll have to try eating more peaches and apricots. Also alot of “spicy” comments hinting at cloves and corriandar, again something I need to work on tasting.


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First review: Lake Superior Kayak Kolsch

October 18th, 2007 by Casey

Lake Superior Kayak Kölsch

During a trip to the north shore I got a 6 pack of this at a liquor store in Tofte, MN. I drank 4 of them and managed to take 2 home with me. Somehow that number dwindled to one, so I figured I’d review it. I poured the beer into a glass and it was very flat, barely any head. This could be due to the long road trip home it had, but I’m not sure. It smelled like a typical american lager but a little more fresh or “golden”. First taste revealed that it did taste a little on the flat side, but that could be part of the recipe. It has a mild, crisp taste that doesn’t last long in your mouth. Seems to be a good malt/hop balance with a little more of the malt showing through. The after-taste is faintly bitter and I noticed a tonic water type of taste. It reminded me of a higher quality American lager with less carbonation. Was very very drinkable, you could finish off a 6 pack of this on a hot summer day quite easily.

After checking reviews I noticed that there is some inconsistency in the carbonation, and many reviews note that. Many reviewers comment that a Kolsch is supposed to be a “light refreshing ale” so it seems to hit its mark. Most people comment on its light fruit taste which I didn’t seem to notice unless it was very faint. The overall feeling I got from reading reviews on it were “an ale that drinks like a lager”. I think sums up this beer best, and the next time I’m in the Lake Superior area I’ll try it again.



Amy’s comments

(My wife Amy, hates beer. So as part of the reviews I’m forcing her to smell and taste each beer and get her comments.)

“that’s nasty”

“smells like an Opal

“tastes like leafy compost”

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First Post

October 15th, 2007 by Casey

So this is my beer blog.  My main focus will be tasting beers from Minnesota micro-breweries, but I’ll veer off the path quite a bit.  I’ll be reviewing beers without doing any research into how they should taste or are supposed to taste. After my review I’ll get a general consensus of reviews to compare mine to. This should help me and anybody else learn to put what we’re tasting into words. Comments are welcome, and anybody who would like to post a guest review can.

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