October 26th, 2007 by
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?
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.
Posted in Beer reviews | 6 Comments »
October 22nd, 2007 by
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.
“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.
Posted in Beer reviews | 2 Comments »
October 18th, 2007 by
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.
“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.
Posted in Beer reviews | 3 Comments »
October 18th, 2007 by
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.
(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.)
“smells like an Opal”
“tastes like leafy compost”
Posted in Beer reviews | 4 Comments »
October 15th, 2007 by
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.
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »