Beer Brief #57 – Black Ops

Brewery – Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, New York

Beer – Black Ops

Style – Imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels and re-fermented in the bottle with Champagne yeast

ABV – 11.5%

Color – Opaque black with a tan to light brown head

Aroma – Milk chocolate, toffee, anise, blackberry, vanilla, hint of coffee, bourbon, sweet alcohol aroma similar to sake

Flavor – Semi-sweet chocolate chips, vanilla, medium roast coffee, bourbony goodness, definite alcohol flavor, blueberry in the finish?

Verdict – This is a very enjoyable rich imperial stout that has the noticeable aroma and flavor of alcohol, but drinks lighter than one would expect. There is not a discernible “hotness” from the ABV, even though it makes its presence known through the other senses. Still, if you’re lucky enough to find a bottle, I would recommend aging it for at least 6 months. That should mellow out the strong alcohol character. As is though, this is a solid and enjoyable brew. If I can find some more (which I doubt), I will have to buy a bottle or two and put it in my Brewbicle for future sampling…

P.S. – The mystique revolving around this beer is awesome. I went to the Brooklyn brewing website to get more info for this Beer Brief, but didn’t see Black Ops listed with their other brews. I had to do a Google search to get the “secret” Black Ops page on Brooklyn’s website to show up. Here’s the link to the page so you can read the very cool description on their site.

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Beer Brief #56 – La Lune Special Ale

Brewery - Borealis Fermentery, Knife River, Minnesota

Beer – La Lune Special Ale

Style – Belgian style special ale brewed with spices

ABV – 7%

Color – Reddish copper with a thick, rocky, off-white head

Aroma – Honey, cotton candy, biscuity malt, bit of stone fruit, herbal spice

Flavor – Honey, caramel, toast, bubble gum, light fruit, strong earthy bitterness

Verdict – A nice Belgian-style that starts off great but finishes much more bitter than I like for this type of beer, so much so that I’m finding it challenging to consider buying another bottle. Of course, that’s just my thoughts on the old balance of malt sweetness to bitterness. La Lune does seem well crafted and I am definitely intrigued enough by this brew that I will want to check out the other beers in the Borealis line-up.

P.S. – The name of the brewery, Borealis Fermentery, instantly caught my attention. Being a native Minnesotan who visited the BWCA twice a year during my teenage years, I developed a great fondness for the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) after watching them in the night sky numerous times.

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Beer Brief #55 – 120 Minute IPA

Brewery – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Delaware

Beer – 120 Minute IPA

Style – (super huge) Imperial IPA

ABV – Anywhere from 15-20% according to the website

Color – Hazy reddish copper with an off-white head

Aroma – Biscuit and caramel malt, brown sugar, green resiny herbal and spicy hops, surprisingly slight alcohol

Flavor – Big rich malt profile, caramel, toffee, a bit of toasted bread, chewy resiny hops, a bit of grapefruit, maybe a hint of mint leaves, semi-sweet wine, alcohol (although not in the levels you might expect for a beer this big), bitterness that struggles to balance the sweetness of the brew

Verdict – This beer does not drink at all like it’s ABV would imply. This is a big, rich, sweet brew that obviously used a lot of hops, but not enough to overpower the malt bill and the alcohol. It drinks somewhere between the qualities of a English barleywine and an American barleywine, but with much higher alcohol. Although, you’d be hard pressed to guess that it’s ABV is any higher than 10-12 percent. I am really enjoying this, and I think it would make a great after-dinner brew to share with a good friend.

P.S. – I’ve always wanted to try this beer, but have never been able to get my hands on a bottle of it. (It doesn’t help that Dogfish Head doesn’t distribute to Minnesota.) I was finally fortunate enough to try this big brew thanks to some friends of mine. I recently saw them when they were up for a visit from Texas and they gave me this very special brew as a birthday gift. Thanks for the tasty experience, Reid and Brenda!

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Beer Brief #54 – St. Whatshername

Brewery – Pour Decisions Brewing Company, Roseville, Minnesota

Beer – St. Whatshername

Style – Belgian tripel, fermented with brettanomyces and aged in wine barrels

ABV – 9%

Color – Between straw yellow and gold with a white head

Aroma – Honey, hay, barnyard, cotton candy, white pepper, tart cherries

Flavor – Mellow sweetness, grassy, touch of lemony tartness, leather, dry white wine, herbal bitterness

Verdict – As a fan of brett beers, I have to say this brew is really enjoyable! The fact that the entire fermentation was done with brettanomyces is amazing to me as a homebrewer. It has just the right amount of funk and acidity to go with the tripel malt base, while the wine barrel aging has definitely added a noticeably crisp character to the flavor. I might have to buy another soon…

P.S. – Pour Decisions is no more! I had been a fan of this brewery since the beginning when I attended their grand opening celebration. At first glance, it would seem that this was the end for the Roseville brewery. Luckily, that’s not the case. Pour Decisions recently merged with Bent Brewstillery (who had been brewing their beer in the same brewhouse) under the Bent Brewstillery name. According to the website, Pour Decisions head brewer Kristen England will continue to be the head brewer and keep pumping out the beers from the Pour Decisions lineup along with the Bent beers. So, that means we will hopefully continue to see St. Whatshername for years to come!

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Coborn’s Tasting Today!

I fell behind schedule and didn’t get this post up as early as I would have liked…  Oh well, better late than never, right? This is very short notice for any of you who read the blog, but here goes:

Today, from 2 – 6pm, I’ll be pouring some delicious samples at the Hastings Coborn’s Liquor. What’s more, this will be my first time sharing delicious brews with you since I officially became a Certified Cicerone®! Stop by the store and have a taste from these options:

  • Bell’s Christmas Ale
  • Green Flash Le Freak Belgian IPA
  • Samuel Adams Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout
  • Summit Unchained Batch 14 Biere de Garde

Also be sure to enjoy a little beer talk with me while you’re there. I can help you find the perfect brews for gifts and/or pairing with your holiday meals!

I hope to see you there!

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Beer Brief #53 – Old Friend Holiday Ale

Brewery – Indeed Brewing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Beer – Old Friend Holiday Ale

Style – Winter warmer brewed with honey and fresh ginger

ABV – 7%

Color – Red with some copper and a light tan frothy head

Aroma – Toffee, ginger, biscuity malt, hint of nuttiness

Flavor – Very similar to the aroma, biscuity nutty malt, caramel, very faintest hint of chocolate, ginger, touch of berry fruitiness, herbal hops, nice balancing bitterness

Verdict – Quite the enjoyable winter warmer. The malt and hop profile reminds me a bit of an ESB, while the ginger adds a nice complementary spice. Moderate carbonation does a great job of amplifying the ginger, and the pleasant medium-body mouthfeel is capped off nicely by some alcohol warmth after swallowing. I’d definitely be happy to call this brew an “Old Friend”.

P.S. – So far, this is the seventh beer I’ve had from Indeed. I must say, I haven’t been disappointed by a single one. If you have an opportunity to try any of the brews from their line-up, I highly recommend you do so! I know they are ranking pretty high on my “favorite Minnesota breweries list” these days…

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Bomber Tasting on Thanksgiving Eve

Just wanted to make a quick post to invite all of you to the Hastings Coborn’s Liquor tomorrow for our first ever Thanksgiving Eve Bomber Tasting. From 4:30 – 8:30pm, I’ll be pouring some tasty samples from multiple 22 ounce bottles from our shelves. Beers present will be:

  • Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
  • Lagunitas Imperial Stout
  • New Belgium Lips of Faith Coconut Curry Hefeweizen
  • New Belgium Lips of Faith Yuzu

So stop on by the store and try some samples with me. I’ll also be happy to help you find the perfectly delicious brews to pair with all your favorite Thanksgiving dishes. I look forward to seeing you there!

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Beer Brief #52 – Lunker

Brewery – Steel Toe Brewing Company, Saint Louis Park, Minnesota

Beer – Lunker

Style – English barleywine aged in Templeton Rye whiskey barrels

ABV – 10.5 – 14.4%? I’m seeing conflicting reports regarding batch, and the bottle doesn’t specify

Color – Very dark crimson brown with a minimal light tan foam skimming the surface

Aroma – English toffee, vanilla, dark dried fruit, toasted nuts, molasses, alcohol

Flavor – Rich toffee, chocolate, prunes, hint of nuttiness, vanilla, roasty bitterness, little spice

Verdict – A very delicious brew that fits the season well. Each sip warms me up after I fully enjoy all the rich and decadent flavors and aromas within the beer. I had tried this at the brewery on a terribly snowy blizzard of a day late last winter and it suited me so well that I had to take home a bottle. I’m enjoying it so much again that I know I will have to get another bottle as soon as it is available…

P.S. – So, for those of you who might not be sure – lunker is a word reserved for describing something big, usually a fish. Steel Toe did a great job of incorporating that into the label. This brew is aged in Templeton Rye whiskey barrels, which was Al Capone’s favorite booze, according to legend. So, very appropriately, the label features Al Capone sitting on a Templeton Rye barrel out on a dock with a fishing pole and his line in the water, presumably trying to catch a lunker. (And of course, this is a “big” beer, so Lunker is a great name for it.)

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Beer Brief #51 – Storm Cellar Series #1 Schoko-Weizen

Brewery – Bad Weather Brewing Company, Minnetonka, Minnesota

Beer – Storm Cellar Series #1 Schoko-Weizen

Style – Dunkelweizen with cacao nibs

ABV – 7%

Color – Dark brown, nearly black, with hints of red and a light tan head

Aroma – Chocolate, bit of clove, slight banana bubble gum, and some roasted coffee bean

Flavor – Very similar to the aroma, weizen characteristics are there but subdued, chocolate and coffee dominate with a bit of nuttiness

Verdict – This beer was very surprising, but also very good. I expected the typical weizen flavors and aromas to be the dominating characters. However, chocolate and roastiness are the rulers of this brew. If I didn’t know it was a wheat beer, I’d say it drinks like a light-bodied, nutty porter. Unexpected, but delicious and definitely worth a try. I’m probably going to look for another bottle before it disappears from liquor stores…

P.S. – (This is a new section I want to incorporate into some of my beer briefs, depending upon if I feel the need to state anything above and beyond the basics. Let’s see how it goes…) This is the fourth brew I’ve tried from Bad Weather, and I’ve enjoyed all of them. I wasn’t able to taste them until recently, so the experiences are very new (as are the beers) and fresh in my head. For those of you that don’t know, they share brewing equipment and space with both Lucid and Badger Hill in Minnetonka. It’s cool that these 3 breweries can share and grow together.

On a side note, I learned something fun by reading the label for this beer, which I always enjoy: Schokolade is the German word for chocolate. Hence, the “Schoko” portion of the name.

And finally, for the last bit of the new “P.S. section” there’s this little unimportant nugget: I’m pretty sure there’s a spelling error on the bottle. Cellar is spelled “Celler” on the front. Now, normally I would think this was by design (because brewers do all kinds of crazy stuff with their beer names and labels), but both the website and the description on the back of the bottle spell it “cellar”. It’s no big deal, but I did notice and thought it would be fun to point out. I guess that’s what happens when you work in the print industry as long as I have. Maybe that error will make the bottles more collectible one day…

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Beer Brief #50 – Foundation Stout

Brewery – Badger Hill Brewing Company, Minnetonka, Minnesota

Beer – Foundation Stout

Style – American Stout

ABV – 6.3%

IBU – 45

Color – Black with a dark brown edge showing when held up to light, light tan head

Aroma – Light roast coffee, chocolate muffin, slight black licorice, bit of berry fruit

Flavor – Molasses, coffee, dark chocolate, very subtle blackberry, big bitterness

Verdict – This is a highly enjoyable brew that surprises with it’s drinkability. Not as rich or full bodied as one might expect from a 6.3% stout, the slight dryness and lighter mouthfeel make this beer one you could revisit a few times in a single evening. I know on one particular occasion, I did just that while enjoying a burger at Red Robin…

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