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