Surly Brewing Anniversary Beers

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on October 6th, 2013

Surly Brewing Anniversary Beers

Surly’s Brewing Company in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota has been brewing awesome beer for Minnesotans for over 7 years now.  With head brewer Todd Haug in creative control, Surly has brewed up quite a following.  Each year the number of Surly lovers has grown substantially and to mark each awesome year brewing, Surly has released an anniversary brew.  While not all of their anniversary beers have been bottled, the most recent 4 have been along with Surly Two.

In the same way that Surly has generally thrown style guidelines to the wind with their year-round and seasonal beer offerings, the anniversary beers are don’t fit a specific style of brew to but define their own.   Why constrain yourself within style guidelines anyways?  Deliciousness knows no style requirements.

No bottling of Surly One.  Surly Two was offered in just 89 bottles, sold one per person at a rate of 3 per day, 3 Saturdays in on a cold winter day at the brewery.  I’m sure some others also remember making that trek to the brewery on those days and waiting in the short line to get a bottle.  Three wasn’t bottled, then Four was the first to see in-store distribution.  Since then the size of the releases has increased though they have sold out with a quickness.  While the number of bottles increases, it still comes nowhere close to being enough to satisfy the ever growing number of fans out there looking to get their hands on bottles for now and some for the cellar.

With the release of Five, the brew was so good that Surly brought it bad as a yearly release called Pentagram.  Great move as it’s a wonderful beer.  If only some other favorites from previous years would make a second appearance.

If you’d like to know more about each of Surly’s anniversary beers, you can find that info here on their website.

Surly Anniversary Brews

Bell’s Brewery HopSlam

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on May 22nd, 2013

Bell's Brewery HopSlam Glass

It’s safe to say that most craft beer fans love hoppy IPAs. The wonderful aromas and fruity or bitter flavors. What makes that all better? Making it bigger. Double IPAs are loved almost more than your typical IPA. More malt, more hops, more booze. What’s not to like about that? There are some big names in double IPAs and we see more excitement for the return of one more than any other. Bell’s HopSlam release each year in late January is an event that craft beer fans look forward to with mouths ready.

Brewed with six hop varieties and then dry-hopped with plenty of Simcoe hops, HopSlam packs the hop power that true hop heads are looking for. While many stock up on as much of this beer as they can get their hands on (with most places limiting it to around a case per customer), I’ve moved away from buying HopSlam in liquor stores in the past years. To a wonderful beer when fresh but it seems to lose its original luster quicker than any other beer out there. Even a couple weeks after its release it becomes a former shell of itself. Not that it’s bad by any means but knowing what it once was, you find yourself wishing for that once brewery fresh product you’d started with. With my old traditional case a year, even drinking one a day until they were gone lead to the second half of them being less than ideal. We’ve also seen many other double IPAs hit the market since HopSlam first made a splash in the craftbeer world. The honey added to HopSlam and its bigger sweetness when compared to dryer double IPAs out there turn me away in addition to the greater availability of other options make it a hard sell.

While I may not buy as much HopSlam as years ago (with Surly Abrasive Ale highly available in the area and better tasting plus Founders Double Trouble and others), I still enjoy a glass or two of this brew on tap each year. This year I grabbed it at two NE Minneapolis bars. Bulldog NE (pictured here along with Grumpy’s NE. Two awesome spots to enjoy all kinds of craft beer if you’re in the area. With so many killer imperial IPAs out there now, challenge yourself not to get too crazy about HopSlam next time around. Try it in a blind tasting with other brews and I’m sure you’ll find that much of it is the excitement that goes with this beer that does it for ya. But still don’t totally give up on an old friend. Grab a glass on tap when you can.

Bell's Brewery HopSlam Top Shot

Stone Brewing Enjoy By 05.17.13 IPA

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on May 8th, 2013

Stone Brewing Enjoy By 05.17.13

Stone Brewing has been releasing Enjoy By IPA in batches around the US for several months now. With each release of this brew, the bottles show the date that this hoppy brew should be enjoyed by or before. Hoppy beers (and most all beers for that matter) are best enjoyed as fresh as possible from the brewery. Stone has taken that a bit further and put that date right on the bottle. No collaring here. This beer should be consumed the minute you buy it. There’s no better time to enjoy this beer than right now.

Pours a light straw yellow with a light white head of foam. After a while the foam settles leaving a good ring of fluff still stuck around the edge of the glass. Lots of fresh citrus aroma with tropical fruit notes and a light peach. Taking a sip the tongue is greeted with lots of the tropical fruit found in the aroma followed by a blast of hop bite. With 13 different hop varieties packed into this brew, there’s plenty of hoppiness going on here. A nice light peach flavor sticks around a bit in the aftertaste. While the color, looks, and aroma don’t give it away, this IPA weighs in at 9.4% ABV putting it well into imperial IPA territory. The mouthfeel does give away the size of this brew a bit with a bit thicker malt profile than one would find I your typical IPA. A nice dry finish with a light malt sweetness works well here.

Stone is measuring the social media impact of Enjoy By. You can view real-time impact of this tasty brew by visiting the Enjoy By page on Stone’s website. Drinkers can tweet about it using the hashtag #EnjoyBy along with the hashtag for your state’s appreciation such as #EnjoyBy #MN

Stone Brewing Enjoy By 05.17.13 Top

612Brew Main Stage Amber Ale

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on April 24th, 2013

612 Brew Main Stage

While IPAs, imperial stouts, sours and other big flavored beers have been the hype for some years now, it seems session beers are a growing presence. Is is great news for those of us looking to enjoy several beers while we’re out and not have to worry about what kind of condition we’ll be in when we have to drive home. 612Brew has introduced a very nice brew with Main Stage Amber Ale that offers plenty of flavor along with a low enough alcohol content to enjoy a few without waking up with a hangover.

Main Stage Amber Ale blends caramel, Munich, and Victory malts for a nice medium body and a low hop profile along with an ABV of 4.5%. Plenty of flavor from the malt combo with a light biscuity flavor and plenty of smooth light caramel.

Stop in and enjoy this Amber while it rocks the stage at 612Brew. Be ready to throw some dollars at it and spend the night courting a few. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

Get your wallets out. You’re about to fall in love. This Amber ale has a great body and complex character from the Caramel, Munich, and Victory malts. Low-hops and low-alcohol, so you can enjoy several throughout the night, this Amber looks great seated next to you and you can tell, really likes you. The song is almost over.

Time to order another from the Main Stage.

4.5% ABV 31 IBU 14 SRM

Arcadia Ales Imperial Stout

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on April 10th, 2013

Arcadia Ales Imperial Stout 2007

Winter time.  While most of us hate the colder weather, most seem to love the big beers that come out to keep us warm this season.  Big barleywines and imperial stouts with malty bodies and higher alcohol levels to warm the cheeks.  While many of us look forward to big names that may be hard to get, we should be paying more attention to the great beers that are much easier to come by.  Acadia Ales Imperial Stout is a perfect example of a great imperial stout that can hold it’s own aginst the big guys and is easy to get your hands on.  It even won a gold medal for bottle conditioned beer at the 2002 Real Ale Festival.

This bottle is from 2006 and aged wonderfully.  For 8.4%, it held up very well over the years and was still thick and viscous.  The nose had plenty of chocolate and a light alcohol note.  Lots of milk chocolate in the taste with a nice bit of roasted malt bitterness still around.  I’d definitely cellar this one again.

Acadia Ales sells this brew in 4-packs of 12oz bottles making it easy to grab several for the cellar.  Enjoy a couple now and put a couple away for 6 months to a year from now.  It’s great to experiment with aging reasonably priced brews and seeing how they change over time.  There is less risk financially than doing so with the expensive, limited released bottles.  The bargain prices also means you can afford to pickup a number of them to put away.  Check one out every 6 months and see how it progresses over time.  Save some for a vertical tasting from several vintages over the years.  12oz bottles also mean you don’t have to finish a whole lot of big beer if you do choose to go at a bottle on your own.

Winter is here and it’s time to stock the cellar and settle in for the cold months ahead (and the holidays where a big of alcohol helps to ease the stress of the season).  Checkout Acadia Ales Imperial Stout and keep warm this winter.

Barley John’s Brewpub 13th Anniversary Ale

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on April 5th, 2013

Barley John's 13th Anniversary Ale

Barley John’s Brewpub in New Brighton, MN has been offering some of the best beer in the state along with awesome food for years now.  This March marks their 13th anniversary and as always, their anniversary beer is a big Irish Red Ale.  The 13th Anniversary Ale is a strong Irish red ale that’s big enough that it may be called a barleywine over in Ireland but here in the US the alcohol, at 7.3% ABV, makes is a bit low for that.  It’s still plenty big for a style that normally clocks in between 4.0% and 6.0% ABV.  Along with amped up alcohol comes big flavor.  Lots of light caramel in the aroma with a nice full malty kick.  The flavor is very full but light at the same time so it doesn’t overwhelm.  Plenty of malt body with notes of light caramel and a slight sweetness.  The light sweetness in the flavor turns to a nice dryness in the aftertaste making this beer easy drinking and really rounding things out nicely.

After 13 years in business, Barley John’s continues to brew up great beer and offer wonderful food to go along with it in a welcoming little brewpub just outside Minneapolis.  If you haven’t stopped in or it’s been a while, make your way there and checkout the much loved year-round offerings along with a ton of great seasonals they’ve been cranking out lately.  They had a total of 9 seasonal beers alone when I was in the other night enjoying this 13th Anniversary Ale.  Just because there have been an explosion of new brewers in the Twin Cities lately, we shouldn’t forget the older staples that make brews we’ve loved for years.  Drop into Barley John’s soon for the 13th Anniversary Ale and try some of the other fun stuff on the menu.

Barley John's 13th Anniversary Ale Top

Barley John’s Brewpub Cocoa Old 8 Porter Cask

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on March 27th, 2013

Barley John's Old 8 Porter Cask Cocoa

Barley John’s Brewpub in New Brighton just minutes outside of Minneapolis offers awesome beers and food.  With the return of casks on Wednesdays, a number of great new brews have popped up.  This most recent cask beer took their awesome year-round Old 8 Porter and added cocoa to the cask.  Normally there is plenty of wonderful roastiness, chocolate, and coffee in both the aroma and flavor but the addition of cocoa added a nice extra hit of chocolate to this favorite.  Cocoa Old 8 Porter pours nicely from the cask via gravity pour and leaves a nice frothy bubbly light-brown head.  The foam didn’t stick around as long as it normally does on tap, likely due to the additional oils of the cocoa killing head-retention but that just meant it was even easier to get the brew straight to your mouth.  The cask pours extra smooth thanks to a lower carbonation level than the normal brew and allows many of the flavors to really come through a bit more than normal.  The aroma has nice notes of chocolate and light coffee with the cocoa adding a bit to the chocolate hints.  Smooth and light milk chocolate.  Light coffee and a light and balanced roastiness with just a hint of roasty bitterness.  A very nice addition to the Old 8 Porter.

Wednesday casks offer fun new version of Barley John’s normal brews along with their seasonals beers.  With spring coming and their great patio opening at that time, you need to plan a time to drop in for a Wednesday cask offering and checkout the great things they’re brewing at Barley Johns.  Drop in soon.

Barley John's Old 8 Cask Cocoa Top

Town Hall Brewery Red Sterling Lager

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on February 15th, 2013

Town Hall Brewery Red Sterling Lager

Lagers are still a style that many craft beer fans don’t seem to appreciate. The problem is that they seem to have preconceived notions of what lagers are and believe they can’t be the flavorful brews they love. Town Hall Brewery has been pumping out fantastic lagers in the last several years and they’re just what people need to turn them on to the great things a lager can be. Their newest is the Red Sterling Lager.

The Town Hall Brewery Red Sterling lager combines Munich and European Pilsner malts to create a brilliant deep amber colored brew plus a bit of crystal and wheat malts to round things out. This makes for a great warm malty aroma and body. Plenty of Noble hops in this brew please even the hopheads in the crowd with a great aroma and bite in the flavor. The brew is balanced nicely and drinkable for glass after glass. Weighing in at 6.6% alcohol by volume, it’s plenty drinkable and won’t do you in after just a glass or two.

Winter seasonal beers at Town Hall go quick and plenty of the regulars and staff are really enjoying this one. Make time to get down to the brewery and grab a couple pints and possibly a growler while it’s still around. As much as I hope it sticks around for a while and comes back again soon, there is no guarantee. Grab a pint of Red Sterling Lager while you can.

Town Hall Brewery Red Sterling Lager Top

Tyranena The Devil Made Me Do It

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on January 18th, 2013

Tyranena Devil Made Me Do It

Tyranena Brewing Company out of Lake Mills, Wisconsin offers a wonderful lineup of great beers with offerings for everyone.  While their regular lineup of year-round and seasonal brews has something for everyone, their Brewers Gone Wild series brings with it many special treats for the craft beer fan.  One of the offerings that has returned several times in the past few years is the Brewers Gone Wild The Devil Made Me Do It, a coffee imperial oatmeal porter.

Over the years, Tyranena has made a name for itself with it’s porters and this one blends a mix of a big porter with roasty coffee and the silky oats.  Light chocolate and coffee in the aroma with a nice roastiness rounding things out.  The Devil Made Me Do It is smooth and lightly creamy from the oatmeal up front with notes of warm chocolate and a nice coffee note in the aftertaste.

The Brewers Gone Wild series showcases the wonderful talents at Tyranena and offers some special treats for beer drinkers.  The offerings rotate and change and are only available for a limited time so get them while you can as they may or may not ever return again.  The Devil Made Me Do It is available now and one you’ll want to get your hands on while you can.  Grab a 4-pack or two now and don’t worry about what the significant other says about it.  If they ask, tell them the devil made you do it.

Devil Made Me Do It Close Up

Town Hall Brewery Pint Club Ale

Posted by Beer Blogger | Beer Pictures | Posted on January 16th, 2013

Town Hall Brewery Pint Club Ale

They really do single hopped pale ales right at Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery.  This one, the Pint Club Ale, is a made using Amarillo hops.  These hops impart a ton of citrus aroma and flavor in this beer and really shine through nicely with just enough malt to stand up to them but also let them be the star.  Amarillo hops have been difficult to get in the past couple years so it’s exciting to see them back and the availability improving for brewers.  This one weighed in at 4.8% ABV so it drinks nicely pint after pint.  While there are plenty of hops in this brew, they don’t overpower and one could session this drink for an evening without burning out their tastebuds.

The introduction of Pint Club Ales is something new for Town Hall Pint Club members.  The Pint Club Ale will be available from time to time and always be $3 a pint and $7.50 a growler (refill price) for Pint Club members.  No waiting for happy hour or other promos to get a discount on this beer.  A delicious pint for just $3 all the time until the beer is gone.  The beer itself may or may not change batch to batch.  Pretty cool deal that makes the already awesome Pint Club membership even better.

With the Pint Club Ale being discounted to Pint Club members and available to everyone else too, it’ll go quickly.  A tasty single hopped brew to kickoff this new deal for members is sure to please.  While in last night I enjoyed several pints of this beer and other Pint Club members did the same.  Staff seemed to really enjoy it too.  A good sign that it will likely go quick.  Time for you to get in there and grab a couple pints and possibly a growler, while you can.

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