Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Wild Devil Ale" Victory Brewing Company

"Wild Devil" Belgian IPA, Victory Brewing (Downington, PA)

"It's arguable that our menacingly delicious Hop Devil has always been wild. With bold German malts and whole flower American hops this IPA is anything but prim. But add a touch of brettanomyces, the unruly beast responsible for the sharp tang and deep funk found in many Belgian ales, and our wild devil emerges completely untamed. Floral, aromatic hops still leap from this amber ale, as a host of new fermentation flavor kicks up notes of citrus and pine. Pour yourself a glass today - if you dare!"
Malt : Imported two-row malts
Hops : Whole flower American hops
ABV : 6.7 %

"Wild Devil"  is essentially Victory's flagship IPA, "Hop Devil" that has finished fermenting and then doused with "Brett" , that mysterious wild yeast strain that is the scourge of wine makers but is prevalent in some of the wonderful Belgian sours. It is known for creating funky barnyard volatile and unpredictable flavors, evolved to devour more complex sugars than regular yeast. As a result it tends to dry out the beer and over time will lower the ABV.
"Wild Devil" as advertised pours a deep amber with a lively foam collar. A little tart, a hint of sherbet and a little funky with a bone dry finish that lends itself well. Overall a nice Belgian IPA - compare it to the American IPA version sans brett ("Hop Devil"), interestingly both beers clock in at 6.7% ABV. No surprises which version I preferred! For a local version of the style check out the Brett IPA at the impossible to spell Sisyphus Brewing (712 Ontario Avenue West, Minneapolis) - in the shadow of Dunwoody College and a stone's throw throw from the Walker.
"Wild Devil" is available at the uber-reasonable price of $8.99 for a 750ml cork-and-caged bottle.
Paul's UNTAPPD rating : *** 1/2 (out of 5)
Beer Advocate Rating : 86 (Very Good)
Rate Beer Score : 96 Overall 76 Style

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Brrr, Widmer Brother's Brewing Company

Brrr....such a steal at a ridiculously low $2 a pint at HH in St. Paul!

I was just having a pint of this last weekend (okay, maybe it was several - sue me)! and it occured to me how criminally underated this beer is. It's a classic Winter Warmer born from the acclaimed "W" series in 2006 with a unique Northwest twist - lots of juicy cascade and citra hops that balance the sweet maltiness of the rich caramel and chocolate malts that also gives the beer it's beautiful mahogany hue. While not as hoppy as another of my favourite winter seasonals ("Celebration Ale" by Sierra Nevada) it still has a hefty 50 IBU's that should satisfy most hop heads and a warming 7.2% ABV that make it very drinkable. The holiday season always being a time for nostalgia this beer reminds me of the much lamented "Uptown Bar" (closed 3 years this past November - can you believe that?)! not just for the hangover breakfast but for the "Widmer Wednesdays" - cheap Widmer pints, keep the glass and lots of prizes. Seems like a long time ago now, maybe not quite "Four Score and Seven Years" (subtle reminder I need to get to "Lincoln") but late 90's for sure. If anyone needs an Uptown Bar pint glass with the Widmer logo, I'm your man, I have several hundred in my basement!

Widmer Brothers Brrr

Old Man Winter, Lake Superior Brewing Company

Old Man Winter Warmer, Barley Wine Style Ale, Lake Superior Brewing Company (Duluth, MN)

12oz bottle poured into a Lake Superior pint glass that I didn't know I had (I know technically a snifter is the vessel of choice for a beer of this magnitude).
ABV : 10.3%

  Old Man Winter Warmer (winter) – When it comes to spreading cheer, this Old Man doesn't mess around. Brewed in late spring and aged in our refrigerator until mid-Fall, this barley wine style ale brings a whopping ABV to the task. With mahogany color and flavors of dark fruits, along with oak infusion giving a slight vanilla background, this Old Man Winter Warmer does what its name promises for your nose and your thirst. O.G. 1.101. Available in 12oz. bottles and draft.

My take:

Pours - a dark mahogany, held up to the light reveals it's closer to a dark ruby red.

Smell -is of caramely sugar, booze, molasses, toffee.

Taste - Spices dominate, all-spice, chocolate, a little dark fruit for sure. I was expecting this to be "hot" consdering the high ABV but really it's pleasantly smooth and very drinkable.

Rating: B
Surprised me - Perhaps not overly complex as some other barleywines but I would definetly buy again (a six pack runs for about $12.99). Almost reminds me of 21st Ammendment's "Fireside Chat", albeit a little stronger.

More info:

Lake Superior Brewing Company
2711 W. Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55806
'PH: (218) 723-4000

Monday, March 17, 2014

St Patrick's Day Pick : Leann Follain Extra Stout (O'Hara's, Carlow Brewing, Ireland)

Not even the sleepy Emerald Isle can escape the sweeping burgeoning beer-tsunami that is the craft beer movement. Over half of the 37 breweries (at last count) on the island have been set-up since 2009, and there has been a surge in public interest in independent craft beers, even as the recession closes many pubs, re-inforcing my suspicion that EVERYTHING in Ireland has improved since I was banished from it's shores (!) Long before the current boom, Seamus O'Hara and his brother Eamonn founded Carlow Brewing way back in 1996 as a family-owned brewery located in the heart of Ireland's malt-growing Barrow Valley region (based in Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow). Originally 75% of the beer they produced was consumed in the US and while America is still their biggest market, encouragingly 50% is now sold in there homeland of Ireland. From humble beginnings O'Hara's has grown to become Ireland's largest independent craft brewery, selling to 20 countries, producing over 2 million liters of beer annually and expanding it's workforce to a massive 15. "Leann Follain" (Gaelic for "wholesome stout" - and no, I don't speak the language but I am working on my English) is my favorite of the beers we carry by them. It's a full-bodied extra stout, roasty with flavors of dark chocolate, biscuity with a sweet hint of vanilla and mocha and a pleasant maltiness. Although in appearance it presents itself as a typical Irish stout with an opaque blackness and tan head it's definitely not typical in that it has a juicy finish as opposed to the dryness we are more used to for the style. The ABV is also a wee bit more substantial at 6%, and overall it's a luxurious and refreshing, satisfying stout that you will enjoy immensely especially given it's ridiculously low price of $6.99 for a 4pk of 11.2oz bottles! Also available - O'Hara's Irish Red, Stout (Irish Stout) and Pale Ale.

More information:
Carlow Brewing Company
Murine Bheag Business Park
Royal Oak Road, Bagnelstown
Co. Carlow, Ireland

Ratings : Beer Advocate : 89 (Very Good) Rate Beer : Overall 92, Style 90 UNTAPPD : 3.70/5
My Rating : B and 3.5 on UNTAPPD

The brewery also operates a pub called "Brewery Corner" in Kilkenny (20km from the brewery) that exclusively serves Irish craft beer with 13 beers currently on tap. 


Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day, 2014: Young's Double Chocolate Stout w/Lindemans Framboise

Beer's Answer to the Chocolate-Covered Cherry
Paul's Pick: Young's Double Cream Stout combined with Lindemans Framboise
If you were to peruse my profile on it would be enough to make even Fabio blush. Long walks on the beach at sunset, discussing the intricacies of the three tier system over a candlelit dinner, mulling the differences between a porter and a stout while Barry White's soothing tones plays in the background. That's me - an incurable romantic. So let's follow the trail of rose petals to the fridge and see what I exciting elixir awaits us this Valentines Day.

Chocolate and raspberries have long been paired together as a dessert in restaurants and it works great for beer too. I'm going to go for a classic for a sweet stout, Young's Double chocolate stout (Wells and Young's Brewing, Bedford, England) - luxurious and decadent and not too sweet, pour half into a pint watch in wonderment as the beer ebbs and flows and cascades like crashing waves on the shore (sorry, too many Harlequin romance novels) before it settles contentedly in the glass, the nitrogen widget smoothes and mellows any residual sweetness - cocoa and a lingering delectable bitter chocolate remains, resembling a luxurious chocolate milk. I recommend pouring it on your morning corn flakes.

Top with framboise from Lindemans (Vlezenbeek, Belgium). Traditional lambic (spontaneous fermenting beers) brewers since 1812, located SW of Brussels in the Senne Valley, Lindemans were the first lambic exporters to these shores in 1979. The acidity and sourness of the lambic blends perfectly with the addition of the raspberries, leaving a tart, fruity, slightly sour dessert beer that is only 2.5% ABV that I could drink gallons of! Married with the double chocolate stout the resulting concoction is a velvety seduction of chocolate and cocoa balanced nicely with the tartness of ripe fruit.

I chose Young's Double Chocolate Stout for nostalgic reasons (British candy is responsible for my dentist retiring a millionaire) but you can substitute almost any stout - for a bit more oomph try Brooklyn Chocolate Stout (10% ABV), Ommegang Chocolate Seduction, Boulevard Chocolate Ale, or Left Hand Milk Stout (nitro is creamier), anyway you get the idea. Any raspberry lambic works too but Lindemans is the most readily available, and the oldest. One pairing that doesn't work is Creme Brûlée (Southern Tier) with framboise - absolutely revolting, don't know what I was thinking, probably why I'm not a chef.

Thanks for listening, I'm pretty sure America's Most Eligible Bachelor is on the Telly, so I'm off.

Fabio (actually Flabio is more fitting, I drink a lot of beer)

Young's Double Chocolate Stout sells for $9.99/4-pack and Lindemans Framboise is $10.99/750ml.