A hoppy anniversary beer from Stone Brewing?! No way. They’ve done hoppy anniversary beers in just about every way possible. They did an imperial rye IPA for their 16th Anniversary beer, an Imperial Black IPA for their 15th Anniversary beer, and British like Emperial IPA for their 14th Anniversary beer. You get the picture. With the release of the 17th anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA, Stone took a German pilsner, made it imperial then hopped the heck out of it using German hops.
When the sale of Goose Island to brewing giant AB-InBev happened back in March of 2011 took place, many craft beer fans swore they were done with Goose Island and wouldn’t give any of their hard earned dollars to a company owned by a multi-national brewing conglomerate. While many may have said such things at the time, it’s apparent that few have kept that promise when it comes to Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout.
While beer is awesome to drink, that doesn’t have to be the only way you consume it. It can be used in cooking, baking, and even making delicious frozen desserts like this ice cream. Two local Twin Cities ice cream makers have taken local Minnesota brews and used them in making delicious ice cream flavors.
New Glarus is the Wisconsin brewery that we all wish was available in our home state. For years they’ve been cranking out one hit after another with beers that run the style spectrum. They offer amazing beers at a reasonable price with most everything they make seeing great distribution throughout the state. Even special releases like the Thumbprint Series shows up in gas stations all over Wisconsin. The current Thumbprint Series is the Wild Sour Ale and it delights like the rest from this brewery.
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.
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.