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Friday, August 22, 2014

Sheep Eater Scotch Ale – Grand Teton Brewing Co.


                The latest Cellar Reserve beer from Grand Teton Brewing Company was released this past Friday, August 15th; although it may still be another couple weeks before we see a bottle this far east.  The third beer in the 2014 Cellar Reserve series is the Sheep Eater Scotch Ale, a beer which originally debuted in the 2009 Cellar Reserve series and has become the more requested Cellar Reserve release in the years since.  I personally enjoy the Cellar Reserve series and look forward to each new release.

                I was fortunately able to get ahold of Grand Teton Brewmaster Rob Mullin to get his take on Sheep Eater so be sure to check that out at the bottom of the “They Say” section.  It’s always great to get additional information direct from the brewmaster.

                Over the next few weeks I am sure that ratings for the 2014 release of Sheep Eater will start to roll in on the two major ratings sites.  The previous release scored a 90 on Beeradvocate and received a 92 from the Bros.  Over at ratebeer it received a 97 overall and a 95 for style.  On to the review!


They Say:

Sheep Eater Scotch Ale was first brewed in 2009 and has become our Cellar Reserve most-requested for a comeback. Scotland's cold, blustery climate lends itself to the growing of barley and oats but not to the production of hops, which are almost always added sparingly. In order to create depth and diversity in the beers brewed in Scotland, malts were roasted and kilned to help bring out hidden flavors.

Scotch Ales are some of the world's most flavorful beers. The specially roasted and kilned malts used in the mash impart roasted, caramel, and raisin sweetness to the flavor profile. Our ale is brewed with black roasted barley and peat-smoked malt, adding even more complexity to the palate. It is gently hopped, fermented cool and aged cold for exceptional smoothness. The result is a copper-brown color and a pleasant mouthfeel and body.

We ferment this beer colder than most ales ferment so that we do not risk producing any flavors driven by yeast-produced esters. Instead, we want the malt to shine through and provide all the wonderful flavors Sheep Eater has to offer.

Drink this beer at cellar temperatures between 47-57 degrees Fahrenheit. The strong dark malts and high levels of alcohol will make this beer an ideal candidate for prolonged cellaring. Enjoy this beer with flavorful meats such as honey ham, well-marinated and grilled steaks, and roasted root vegetables lightly seasoned with salt. With dessert, try crème brûlée and a side of berries; the light and airy texture of the crème brûlée and tartness of the berries will balance nicely with the thick, sweet mouthfeel of Grand Teton Brewing’s Sheep Eater Scotch Ale.

Alcohol by Volume: 7.5%.
Original Gravity (Plato): 22˚
Color (Lovibond): 20˚
IBUs: 21

Sheep Eater Scotch Ale will be available August 15, 2014 in 1/2 and 1/6 bbl kegs and bottle-conditioned 750 mL cases.

Brewmaster Rob Mullin adds:

                Sheep Eater is definitely one of my personal favorites. It was originally inspired by my memories of McEwan's Scotch Ale, over twenty five years ago my first exposure to strong, flavorful beer. If I had to choose one beer that inspired me to brew, it'd be McEwan's. Thick, rich, complex, almost syrupy malt, balanced by mellow warmth and a hint of smoke.

                Of all the beers in our Cellar Reserve Series, I think Sheep Eater best demonstrates the appeal of aging beer. This year's version was brewed with the same recipe we used years ago, and the specs are
almost identical, yet through its time in the cellar I was a little worried. It just didn't have the rich complexity I was looking for,
and remembered from the first batch. We bottled the 12 ounce samples a
few weeks ago, and racked some kegs. That beer, with just a little age, has already gained most of what I remember loving about Sheep Eater. With more time it will only get better. The phenolics from the
peat will mellow, the edges will smooth out, and the flavors will blend even more harmoniously. I'm really excited to drink this one over the next couple of years.

                If this is a style you like, I'd recommend buying a few bottles. We filled fewer than 400 cases so I don't think it'll be around long.

 
I Say:

                Sheep Eater Scotch Ale pours a very clear deep mahogany with a thick, creamy, light tan head with moderate rocky breakup on top.  The headstand holds very good retention, sticking around minutes after the pour, but not through until the end of the glass.  This is a very pretty beer to look at, but no one ever buys a beer just to stare at it, at least no one in their right mind.  The aroma is dominated by sweet, toasted malts that signal more complexity to come.  Slight caramel notes are evident, alongside dark raisins, and a subtle, peaty smokiness that lends additional complexity.  Earthy hop notes and caramelized sugars round out the back end.

                Much like the aroma, the flavor is dominated by malts.  There is a pleasant upfront caramel malty sweetness which quickly becomes considerably more complex.  Notes of raisins, and toasted malts transition to more caramel and peat smoke to a touch of roasted barley and earthy hops in the background.  The roasted barley dries out the finish, although not so much that there is a persistent slightly smoked caramel aftertaste.  Sheep Eater is smooth and sweet up front, transitioning to a semi-dry finish.  It is on the full side of being medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

                I have never made a secret of the fact that I enjoy the beers coming out of Grand Teton Brewing, and that I feel the Cellar Reserve beers are some of the best I have had.  The Sheep Eater Scotch Ale is no exception, it is a remarkable beer that I will be stocking up on to enjoy once the weather gets colder.  As Rob noted above however, this is a particularly small release, so it might be a hard one to find in stores.  If you see it though, I would recommend that you do pick up at least one bottle to see what it’s all about.

                That’s all for tonight, I will get another review up next week!  Have a great weekend and Happy Drinking!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Badger State Brewing - Interview with Andrew, Sam, and Mike


            Very rarely do I have the opportunity to speak to, and interview a brewer, or in this case the three founders of a craft brewery so soon after founding.  Heck, very rarely am I stumped when I go to look up directions to a brewery that I am familiar with and find out that there is a relatively new one that I am hearing about for the first time.  Such was the case with Badger StateBrewing.  The brewery, which has been open since November, 2013 is a stones throw from restaurants and bars that I have tailgated at whenever I am in Green Bay.  Little did I realize that instead of the standard fare of excellent, yet decidedly less local craft beer, there was a great, local craft brewery just around the corner.

It was with cautious hope that I reached out to the three founders of Badger State Brewing on Twitter to find out where their beers were on tap.  Little did I realize at the time that Andrew, Sam, and Michael would invite me by the brewery to get an informal tour and sample their core lineup: Bunyan Badger Brown Ale, Walloon Witbier, their Belgo Pale Ale, an Imperial Maple Porter, Green Chop Session IPA, and a couple test batches of their upcoming beers.  I had the good fortune to meet the three founders of Badger State Brewing a couple weeks ago when I was up in Green Bay on a business trip.  Badger State is definitely going to be my new go to spot for Packers tailgating.  Whether you are in town for a Packers game or not, you should definitely stop by and try their offerings, not to mention hang out for a few beers in their soon to be opened taproom!

What you really came here to read though is the interview, so let’s get on with it.  Stick around at the end for a few brewery pictures.

The Current Taps

The Interview

WIBG: Sam, you started brewing in 2005, with Mike and Andrew picking up the hobby shortly after, is that correct?

Badger State Brewing: Yes, looking for a hobby during college I found brewing to be a fun way to relax and hang out with friends on weekends. When my cousin Michael got curious I invited him to join me and we went from there. Andrew was aware that Michael was brewing with me and asked to teach him after receiving a brewing kit from his brother as a Christmas gift.


WIBG: When did you decide to jump up to all grain, and then move on to developing your own recipes?

BSB:  We would always make our little tweaks to the brewing kits when we started. Change the hops, other ingredients, etc. The jump to all grain was really a decision made by all three of us when we decided to get serious about pursuing the brewery idea someday. 


WIBG: What made you decide to get into commercial brewing?

BSB:  Andrew was the one who started the whole thing. He began writing a business plan and scouting potential locations. He presented it to Michael and I and asked us to join him. We all knew it was something one person could not do themselves and after lots of coaxing we thought we should give it a shot.


WIBG:  I know that you are in the middle of an expansion and about to open a taproom, which will hopefully be open during the Packer season, what scale are you sizing up to?

BSB:  We will begin brewing on a 15 BBL system once the expansion is complete.


WIBG:  Is there any one beer that you foresee being your flagship beer, or will you let sales be the judge?  The success of Bunyan Badger probably puts it in the running.

BSB:  Our flagship beers include Bunyan Badger: an English-style Brown Ale, Walloon Witbier: a Belgian-style Witbier, and Green Chop: an American Session IPA. Each one has sold extremely well and will continue to be the beers we brew constantly.


WIBG:  You currently have six, pretty awesome, beers on tap.  How many beers are you planning to have in your year round line up?

BSB:  The six beers currently on tap will be the ones you see almost year round. We would like to get to 12 different styles and then mix in seasonal and one-offs.


WIBG:  With the wide selection of hops currently stocked in the walk-in cooler, are there any plans to brew more IPAs?  Please tell me that you have more of that great Nelson Sauvin IPA that I had when I was up there in the works!

BSB:  Lots of IPAs will be brewed because Andrew is a quote “hophead”. Unique hops make for fun and exciting brews. If any of those stick we will consider making them full time beers. More of the New Zealand Style IPA with tangerine peel will be brewed too!


WIBG: Do you have any special releases coming up? 

BSB:  We have some fall beers in the works and our second high gravity beer planned as well – a  Belgian style gold ale with some hoppy “oomph” to it.


WIBG: Do you currently have plans to distribute your beers outside of the brewery?

BSB:  Our beers are currently available at around ten bars and restaurants around the Green Bay and Fox Valley area. You will see this number increase once we begin brewing more beer on the new system.


WIBG: Wisconsin is a pretty big farming state, with the fields of barley and wheat in the state, and with hop growing taking off, do you have any plans to source ingredients locally?

BSB:  Our malt comes from Chilton, WI. A decent amount of our hops come from right here in the state as well. We will be brewing an “all Wisconsin” products beer this fall too.


WIBG: What is your favorite beer style?

BSB:  Sam says he will drink anything, especially a craft beer he hasn’t had before, recently he has been on a sour beer binge. For myself (Andrew) it’s all about the IPAs and barrel aged beers. Michael seems to prefer the weird stuff – Heather ales, anything aged on natural oak, brewed with grape must or dandelions or whatever.


WIBG: Is there one brew of yours that you would say is your favorite?

BSB:  Sam – Bunyan Badger and his newest creation chocolate wheat. Andrew – the IPAs we make AND Dubious Ruffian our Chocolate Stout. Michael loves the Belgian Witbier


WIBG: Do you have a favorite beer, from any brewery?  Is there a beer that you look forward to every year?

BSB:  Nothing particular. We all like to see what’s new and to see the return of the special stuff like the big barrel aged stouts and imperial beers year in and out. We aren’t delivery truck chasers though. Having the chance to try Heady Topper earlier this year was pretty cool, that is an amazing beer.


WIBG: Is there a particular brewer or brewery that you look up to?

BSB:  We all have read Sam Calgione’s book so we are fans of his. Other than that we have a tremendous respect for the other brewers in Green Bay and around the rest of WI whom we have had the chance to meet over the last year.


WIBG: Are you planning any upcoming collaborative beers with other breweries?

BSB:  Several things in the works with local WI brewers. All top secret!


WIBG: Do you have any advice for home brewers that can help them brew better beer more consistently?

BSB:  Attention to detail and good notes is key. Besides that, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to your processes and keep self-teaching and reading constantly.


WIBG: Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in starting a craft brewery?

BSB:  You have to be a little bit insane to pursue it legitimately. Make sure to pay attention to the little details. Only do it if it is something you truly love because it will break you down some days, your family and social life will be affected too. But if you do it as a labor of love it will get better over time.


WIBG: Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you would like my readers to know about your brewery?


BSB:  Hope to see you all stop in for a beer sometime soon!


The Most Awesome Growler Filler Ever!
The Current Brewhouse
Mid-Boil
The Current Fermentation Tanks

The New Brewhouse

A New Fermentation Tank

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry, & Chocolate Ale – Rogue Ales



                The first two Voodoo DoughnutRogue Ales collaboration beers were interesting to say the least, and well worth trying at least once.  After all where else is it possible to find a maple bacon doughnut ale, or a chocolate, peanut butter, banana ale.  Sure, a wider selection of odd beer flavors is being brewed every year, just look at the amazing selection coming out of the Shorts Brewing tap-room.  However, with very few exceptions, Rogue is doing something no other brewery is even attempting.  Hopefully more commercial breweries will follow the lead and brew odd flavored beers for distribution.

                I enjoyed the previous two Voodoo Doughnut beers, and was looking forward to this newest release from the moment that I heard about it.  I mean come on, who doesn’t like a good jelly doughnut, and personally I love raspberries, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a bottle.  Unfortunately, Wisconsin always seems to get these new Voodoo Doughnut beers over a month after their release, so it was a long month of checking liquor store shelves for a bottle.

                The Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale is based on the Voodoo Doll doughnut, a raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake.  Sounds pretty good, eh?

                Currently Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry, & Chocolate Ale has a score of 79 over at Beeradvocate.  At ratebeer, it has a score of 69 overall with a 92 for style.


They Say:

A Collision of Crazies. Rogue Ales has again collided with Voodoo Doughnut to create Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale!

STYLE: Doughnut Ale 

FOOD PAIRING: Dessert, Doughnuts

14 INGREDIENTS:
Malts: 2-Row, Munich, C120, Chocolate, Black,  Kiln Coffee & Rogue Farms Dare™ and Risk™ Malts
Hops: Rogue Farms Rebel Hops™
Adjuncts: Pretzels, Raspberry Extract, Chocolate
Yeast & water: Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water
DEDICATED TO TRES & CAT DADDY, ROGUES OF VOODOO DOUGHNUTS
Specs:
13° Plato
31 IBU
73 AA
78° Lovibond


I Say:

                Voodoo Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale pours a slightly hazy deep mahogany with ruby highlights.  It sports a thick, creamy head with moderate breakup that has surprisingly little retention.   The aroma begins bready with subtle toasted malts, and milk chocolate, before developing a hint of raisin.  Midway through the aroma there are notes of raspberry and slightly salty pretzels before a long, lingering chocolate finish.  The aroma at least hits all the expected notes, with the right mix of doughnut-y malts, raspberry, pretzel, and chocolate.

                The flavor has a strong, up front milk chocolate character that quickly transitions into bready malts with a hint of caramel.  Subtle raspberries and pretzels come forward as the beer transitions to a lingering chocolate and pretzel finish.  The after taste is dominated by pretzels, chocolate and bready malts.  Voodoo Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale has a medium-low body, with a moderate carbonation level.

                Out of the bottle, the raspberry flavor leaves much to be desired, it never really came forward and screamed raspberry, leaving subtle notes on the tongue instead.  I really would have enjoyed this beer more if there was a stronger, fresh raspberry flavor.  In fact, the next time I buy a bottle, I am going to puree some raspberries and mix them in for the added effect.  That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy Voodoo Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale however, because I actually did.  Much like the previous Rogue - Voodoo Doughnut collaborative beers, this one struck a note that feels almost more like a homebrew than a commercial product from one of the country’s top breweries.  It has that playful quality that is all too often missing from commercial beers.

                This is definitely a beer that I will be buying again, and if the description above sounds even remotely interesting, it might be one you would enjoy as well.  So, if you enjoy what you read up top, pick up a bottle the next time you are in your local liquor store, it should be easy to find on a shelf, being pink and all.

                Well, that’s all for today, Check back soon for another review!!


Happy Drinking!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Splash Down Belgian Style Golden Ale – Grand Teton Brewing



                I really enjoy the beers that come out of Grand Teton Brewing, and I especially enjoy their Cellar Reserve Series, which I look forward to with each new release. The second beer in the 2014 Cellar Reserve Series is Slash Down, a Belgian-style Golden Ale. For a few years, Grand Teton was on a roll with the summer Cellar Reserve release being a sour beer, first Snarling Badger Berliner Weisse, which will be re-released this summer as a summer seasonal, and Oud Bruin. The switch to a Belgian Golden Ale caught me a little by surprise, but I had high hopes going into it.

                Splash Down currently has no reviews posted on either of the two major rating sites, but I am sure they will come rolling in after the May 15th release date. On to the review.


They Say:

GRAND TETON BREWING COMPANY RELEASES

Splash Down Belgian-Style Golden Ale

VICTOR, ID – Grand Teton Brewing Company, known throughout the West for their exceptional craft brews, is proud to announce the release of Splash Down Belgian-Style Golden Ale, the second offering in their 2014 Cellar Reserve series.

                Splash Down Belgian-Style Golden Ale is a smooth and crisp Golden Ale, brewed with Belgian practices and techniques in mind. True to style, this beer starts sweet, then finishes dry with a mild yet progressive bitterness from European Noble hops. Though pale in color, Splash Down proves to be complex and inviting, with intriguing spiciness created during fermentation by Belgian Abbey yeast.

                Splash Down contains Idaho 2-row barley that provides the pale golden color. A hint of Belgian caramel malt adds color in the cheeks and sweetness on the tongue. Clear Belgian candi sugar was added during the boil to help increase alcohol content while allowing for a dry finish and light body.

                Their Belgian Abbey yeast ferments warm and produces tastes and aromas like sweet bananas, bubble gum and cotton candy. A small kettle hop addition of Czech Saaz hops gives a spicy and earthy hop aroma, while imparting bitterness on the front of the palate that slowly fades to the back of the tongue.

                This Belgian-Style Golden Ale is perfect for summertime drinking and also for prolonged cellaring. Even with an alcohol by volume of 7.5%, this Belgian-Style Golden drinks smooth and easy and is very refreshing. Consume this beer thoroughly chilled. Enjoy with pungent cheeses, a simple arugula salad or grilled white meats such as chicken or fish lightly seasoned with ground black pepper and fresh squeezed lemon. A tart dessert like lemon meringue pie will balance well with the residual sweetness of this delicious summer seasonal.

Alcohol by Volume: 7.5%
Original Gravity (Plato): 18˚ P
Color (Lovibond): 8˚
International Bitterness Units: 25


Splash Down Belgian-Style Golden Ale will be available May 15, 2014 in 1/2 and 1/6 bbl kegs and bottle-conditioned 750 mL cases.


I Say:

                Splash Down Belgian-Style Golden Ale pours a slightly hazy pale golden amber with a moderately thick, off-white, rocky head that holds moderate retention but leaves behind very little lacing in the glass. The aroma is complex, as expected from a Belgian-style ale. It is all Belgian yeast on the front end with notes of banana and bubblegum with a hint of clove phenolics. Sweet malts and candi sugar round out the aroma, leading to clove phenolics, and earthy hops in the finish.

                The flavor is equally complex with sweet malts on the front end, transitioning to sweet, fresh bananas, and bubble gum complimented by earth and spicy hops. Clove phenolics and a moderate hop bitterness round out the up-front sweetness, with the beer finishing dry and becoming bitterer on the back end. The combination leads to a moderately bitter after taste. Splash Down is relatively light bodied with a moderately high level of carbonation.

                Splash Down Belgian-Style Golden Ale is a pretty interesting beer, it seems to straddle the line between a Belgian Pale Ale and a Belgian Golden Strong Ale. The complexity expected in a Belgian-style ale is definitely present with excellent sweet malts, banana, and bubblegum; however the bitterness seems a little too pronounced when combined with the phenolics, completely dominating the finish and aftertaste. There is no doubt that many of you will find this to be a refreshing summer ale.

                I usually pick up 4-6 bottles of every Grand Teton Cellar Reserve release, but I think this round I will only pick up a couple to see how it ages. If you enjoy hoppier Belgian-style ales, this might be exactly what you are looking for, so you might want to pick it up when it lands in stores on May 15th. For more Grand Teton Brewing reviews, click on the Grand Teton Brewing Company label at the bottom of this post.


That’s all for today, check back soon for another review!


Happy Drinking!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Jalapeno Imperial IPA – Alaskan Brewing Company


                As many of you know, I love beer.  Heck, I wouldn’t have started this blog if I didn’t enjoy talking about, writing about, and drinking beer.  Coincidentally I also really like spicy foods, so when one of my friends mentioned last week that Alaskan Brewing Company released a Jalapeno Imperial IPA, I knew that I had to try it.  Alaskan Brewing releases very good beers, so I was pretty sure that their newest Pilot Series beer would be enjoyable.  I was not sure if the spicy jalapenos would play nice with the hops, but I will get more into that at the end of the post.  However, with my love of spice, my previous enjoyment of Alaskan Brewing Company beers, and my increasing enjoyment of imperial IPAs, I was intrigued.  Read on for more info…

                At Beeradvocate, Jalapeno Imperial IPA has a score of 86.  Over at ratebeer, it has an 89 overall with a 95 for style.


They Say:

Pilot Series

The Alaskan Pilot Series showcases the boundless creativity of the Alaskan Brew Crew through a rotating collection of big, bold and distinctive brews packaged in 22 oz bottles. Each new recipe is first perfected in our 10-barrel pilot brewhouse, then tested through our Rough Draft series of draft-only beers. Those special brews that fly beyond expectations ascend to a limited release in the Alaskan Pilot Series.

The specialty beers in our Pilot Series are available in limited quantities throughout the states where Alaskan beers are sold. Because this is a rotating collection, we recommend trying our Pilot Series brews soon after their release date - they may not be around for long!

Style

The American Imperial IPA style was developed and made popular by west coast American breweries seeking to create a highly intense drinking experience. The style is most often characterized by a gold or copper color, citrus hop character, big malt body and lingering bitterness. The addition of jalapeño peppers lends itself to furthering this intensity, while effortlessly pairing with the style’s hop profile.

Flavor Profile

This Jalapeño Imperial IPA is fresh from the onset, with a quartet of bright hops playing off zesty jalapeño heat. A lustrous head retains the citrusy combination of Centennial, Sterling, Magnum and Apollo hops. Fresh jalapeños are used not only during brewing, but also after fermentation for a pleasant aroma, full-bodied flavor and genuine picante kick. A sweet bready malt backbone provides balance to the peppery fire. 

History

Alaskan brewers set out on a quest to brew up a hop-forward beer with a smooth malt body and just enough heat to stave off the cold of an Alaskan winter. In the spirit of exploration, and as a challenge to their skill, they sought to maximize the flavor of jalapeño. The result is a well-balanced beer that showcases not just the volcanic power of the jalapeño pepper, but also its flavor and aroma.

Ingredients

Alaskan Jalapeno Imperial IPA is made from glacier-fed water, the finest quality Centennial, Sterling, Magnum, and Apollo hops, premium two-row and specialty malts, and a whole lot of fresh jalapeños.

Recommendations

A complex hop build and jalapeño kick make this beer a perfect pairing for pub fare, such as fish and chips and cheeseburgers. Rich foods like red meats and cheeses will pull out the malty characteristics, but ultimately South and Central American food is the partner this brew was born to tango with.

The Story Behind the Label

Forming the Northern part of the seismically-active Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands are home to dozens of active volcanoes, making up over three quarters of the volcanoes that have erupted in the past 200 years in the U.S.  The largest 20th century explosion on earth occurred here, the 1912 eruption of Novarupta and Katmai, which formed the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. While Alaska is often thought of as a cold place, this unexpected heat is also a part of who we are, and the jalapeño heat in this double IPA provides a reminder that you may be surprised by what you find in Alaska. The volcano pictured on our label is Augustine, named by Captain Cook in 1778, which is the most active of the eastern Aleutian volcanoes and is often seen letting off steam in Cook Inlet. 

Stats:
Original Gravity: 1.081
Alcohol by Volume: 8.5%
Bitterness: 70 IBU
Color: 15 SRM


I Say:

                Alaskan Jalapeno Imperial IPA pours a brilliantly clear copper with a thick creamy white head that holds moderate retention and leaves intricate lacing behind in the glass.  This is a gorgeous beer to look at but no one ever pours a beer with the intention of staring at it, so moving on…  Mild citrus hops immediately come to the forefront on this beer, with notes of bready and caramel malts.  Fresh, green jalapeno comes in just behind the hops and malt.  The spicy jalapeno carries through to the finish with a hint of orange.  The aroma is pleasantly complex, an excellent combination of citrusy hops, and spicy peppers.

                Bready malts and orange citrus hops come to the forefront in the flavor with a dose of fresh green jalapenos rounding out the hops.  Lingering citrus and jalapeno carry throughout the flavor and linger long after the last sip.  The jalapeno is only moderately spicy, but the combination of the spicy jalapeno, orangey citrus hops and bready malts work well together.  Jalapeno Imperial IPA is moderately malty with a moderately high level of hop bitterness.  It is medium bodied with a moderately high level of carbonation.

                Alaskan Brewing Company’s Jalapeno Imperial IPA is a great beer!  Going into this, I didn’t think that Jalapenos would work well in an IPA because hop bitterness enhances spice, so I thought one would overwhelm the other.  Fortunately though, the spice is subtle enough, and the bitterness is smooth enough that the two do not interfere with each other.  The citrusy hops, bready malts, and jalapenos all work together excellently in this beer, although I find myself wishing there was a more heat.  That doesn’t highlight a deficiency with the beer more than just a personal preference on my part.  In fact, it’s probably better that the spice isn’t more pronounced because the subtle spicing will get more people to enjoy this beer and go back for a second bottle.

                If you are new to spicy beers, pick this one up, it will be an excellent introduction to the joys of brewing with peppers.  I know I will be picking up a few more bottles the next time I see Jalapeno Imperial IPA on a shelf and isn’t that really the best thing anyone can say about a great beer?
                
                That’s all for today, check back soon for the next post!
                
                Cheers!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lazy Marmot – Grand Teton Brewing Co



                It’s getting to be that time of year again when the first Grand Teton Brewing Cellar Reserve beer is released.  Year round, the good folks at Grand Teton produce solid beers that are for the most part underrated, but where they really shine is in their seasonal Cellar Reserve releases.  The first release for this year is their Lazy Marmot Maibock Lager.  I contacted brewmaster Rob Mullin to get some insights into this beer that were not included in the press and got some great feedback, including the insight that Lazy Marmot is almost twenty years in the making.  I have a lot of respect for Rob and am grateful for his additional insight.  As usual, the press release contains some great information about the style, and is worth the read.

True to form, brewmaster Rob Mullin and his team chose to brew with local ingredients, with the base malt being Idaho 2-row instead of the more traditional Pilsner malt.  The difference being that pilsner malts produce a more delicate malt flavor that is crisper and cleaner than 2-row, whereas 2-row is smoother, maltier, and a little bready.  I was unsure what to expect from a maibock with a 2-row base malt, rather than the crisper pilsner.  However, the Grand Teton crew has produced consistently excellent Cellar Reserve beers in the past, so I went into the beer without any preconceptions, taking it as it was and hoping that the decision to switch out the pilsner malt for a local American 2-row would be a be a good decision.

                With that said, on to the review.  I am sure that over the next couple weeks there will be a score for Lazy Marmot on the two main beer review sites, but as of now there is no score and no reviews on either Beeradvocate or ratebeer.


They Say:

GRAND TETON BREWING COMPANY RELEASES
Lazy Marmot Maibock

VICTOR, ID – Grand Teton Brewing Company, known throughout the West for their exceptional craft brews, is proud to announce the release of Lazy Marmot Maibock, the first in their 2014 Cellar Reserve series. 

Lazy Marmot is brewed squarely in the German tradition. Grand Teton Brewing used Idaho 2-Row Pale along with German Vienna and CaraHell malts for a clean, slightly sweet flavor, then subtly spiced the brew with German Tradition hops. They fermented with lager yeast from a monastery brewery near Munich and allowed it to ferment and condition for more than three months for a smooth yet crisp character.

In Germany, strong lagers are called “bocks” or “bock biers.”  There is some dispute over the origin of the designation. “Bock” in German also means goat, and that animal often appears on labels as a symbol of the style. Some say bocks are brewed for the season of Capricorn, which includes Christmas, while others say that the beer has the “kick of a goat.”

The historically-minded staff at Grand Teton like to credit the style’s originators, the people of Einbeck, in northern Germany. The beers that gave Einbeck the nickname, “City of Beer”, were first brewed in the 14th and 15th centuries. They were brewed very strong because they were sent long distances, fermenting on the way. Before long, Einbeck, pronounced Ein-bock by the southerners of Bavaria, became famous for its strong beers, which came to be known simply as “bocks.”

Einbeck is a beautiful medieval city, architecturally distinctive for the one story--or taller--arches that grace each house. These arches allowed entry of the town brew kettle, which passed from house to house according to a lottery held each year on May 1st. A pale bock brewed to commemorate the lottery became the city’s most celebrated beer—Maibock.

Try Lazy Marmot Maibock as an aperitif to stimulate the taste buds, or with any flavorful fish, such as trout or salmon.   

Alcohol by Volume:  7.8%
Original Gravity (Plato): 18° P
International Bitterness Units: 18
Color (Lovibond): 10°

Lazy Marmot Maibock will be available February 15th, 2014 in 1/2 and 1/6 bbl kegs and bottle-conditioned 750 mL cases.

Brewmaster Rob Mullin adds:
The Maibock is a blast from the past for me. I started brewing professionally 23 years ago at Old Dominion, a lager brewery in Northern Virginia. For years we only brewed lagers, including our flagship Dortmunder Export Dominion Lager and our spring seasonal, Dominion Maibock. 

Although we didn't use the strain commercially at Old Dominion, I did acquire the Lazy Marmot's lager yeast around that time. I've carried it with me from brewery to brewery for almost twenty years, before finally banking it at White Labs. We used it this time at a very low temperature (48F) over a long time (twelve weeks total in the tanks) for a very traditional, smooth malty lager flavor. It brought back many great memories.


I Say:
 
Lazy Marmot pours a slightly hazy light honey in color with a moderately thick, creamy, bright white head that holds excellent retention through almost the entire glass.  It leaves a moderate amount of lacing behind.  The aroma is very malty with sweet and lightly toasted notes that blend well with slight herbal hop notes, and a hint of sweet alcohol.

                The flavor is very rich and malty with biscuit and honey malt notes.  Herbal, and slightly spicy, hop notes give way to a hint of sweet alcohol warmth on the back end that compliments the complex maltiness.  This is a very well balanced beer, with a moderately high maltiness and a moderate level of hop bitterness.  Lazy Marmot is medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

                Maibocks are one of my favorite styles in the spring, and Lazy Marmot is definitely a very good example of the style!  The brewers at Grand Teton have once again brewed an excellent beer that is worthy of inclusion in the Cellar Reserve series.  I know that I will be on the lookout for it when cases start arriving in Wisconsin, and you should be too!  The hops will likely fade and the malt will become increasingly more complex as this beer ages.  I for one am going to pick up at least four bottles, 2 for immediate consumption and two for extended cellaring.
               
Well, that’s all for today, check back soon for another post!
               
Happy Drinking!



It’s getting to be that time of year again when the first Grand Teton Brewing Cellar Reserve beer is released.  Year round, the good folks at Grand Teton produce solid beers that are for the most part underrated, but where they really shine is in their seasonal Cellar Reserve releases.  The first release for this year is their Lazy Marmot Maibock Lager.  I contacted brewmaster Rob Mullin to get some insights into this beer that were not included in the press and got some great feedback, including the insight that Lazy Marmot is almost twenty years in the making.  I have a lot of respect for Rob and am grateful for his additional insight.  As usual, the press release contains some great information about the style, and is worth the read.

Friday, January 3, 2014

17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA – Stone Brewing Co.



                As I am sure many of you are aware, an IPA is best when fresh, with the hop character fading quickly in some and at a slower rate in others.  Stone Brewing is a big proponent of drinking their beers as fresh as possible, most notably with their Enjoy By series, which is great if you have ready access to Stone beers and can pick up a bottle shortly after its release.  Up here in Wisconsin that isn't an option, and hasn't been for a few years.  Personally, I get my Stone beers from Colorado when family comes out to visit or on a rare trip down to Illinois where Stone is still readily available.  The 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA is one of the former.  Sure, it came out on August 14, 2013 but I didn't have a bottle in hand until mid-December.  Heck, I almost didn't grab my notebook to take notes on 17th Anniversary because I was convinced that there wouldn't be much life left to this beer.  Then I remembered a speech Mitch Steele gave at the Home Brewers Conference last year, mentioning that many of the newer Stone beers were holding their intended flavor far longer than expected, so I grabbed my book, popped open the beer and prepared to take notes on it so that I could compose a post for all you nice folks who take an interest in my opinions.  On to the review!

                On Beeradvocate, 17th Anniversary has a score of 88, with the bros giving it a 90.  At ratebeer, it has a score of 98 overall with a 92 for style.

They Say:

                Our latest anniversary beer, starring an all-German cast of malt and hops, is yet one more glorious example of a Stone IPA brewed outside the box. Our brewers have brought their experiments with German hops to fruition, leaving convention behind to create this hefty IPA entirely with pilsner malts. These provide a superbly crisp mouthfeel, while a unique mix of noble and new-school hop varieties adds layers of bright, bitter flavors. Despite the daunting name, this beer isn't designed to bring about the end of the world, but it just might destroy some of your preconceived notions of what an IPA can be. 

Brewmaster Mitch Steele’s Tasting Notes
Appearance - Pours deep gold and brilliantly crystal clear with an off-white colored head of foam.

Aroma - Focused on hoppy, with herbal and stone fruit hop aromatics.

Taste - European hops-herbal, floral, spicy, peppery and resiny, balanced by very clean, intensely bitter, beautiful subtle malt flavors, and just a hint of alcohol.

Palate - Crisp and bitter. A very refreshing beer; well suited for the summer!

Overall - A very fun beer for us to brew. Through a series of intense dry-hopping trials that we have been running over the past couple of years, we found several newer German hop varieties that we thought were unique and different from the citrusy American hops and fruity New Zealand hops that we have been using so much of this year. An interesting twist on a Double IPA (a German IPA, perhaps?), brewed with malts and hops traditionally used to brew German lagers and European pilsners. Some of the hops we included in this recipe include Strisselspalt, which has long been one of my favorite noble hops, with a delicate floral character and hints of citrus; Sterling, a US-bred hop with Saaz heritage, and is a hop we haven't used much before, but we just love the intense resiny and spicy pure hop flavor; Herkules, a newer high-alpha German hop variety with intense stone fruit and tropical fruit characteristics; and Hersbrucker, a classic German aroma hop with intense floral and stone fruit flavors.

Suggested Pairings by "Dr." Bill Sysak
Appetizers - Honey-ginger chicken skewers, crab cakes, grilled peaches with blue cheese, Marcona almonds

Salads - Citrus with goat cheese, summer fruit, Thai seafood, Waldorf

Main Courses - Rotisserie chicken, Cajun shrimp and grits, tofu stir fry, cedar plank salmon

Desserts - Peach cobbler, carrot cake, rhubarb pie, lemon squares

Cheeses - Grana Padrano, Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar, Green Mountain Blue Cheese, Point Reyes Blue

Cigars - Drew Estate Herrera Esteli, Montecristo Platinum Churchill, My Father Flor de las Antillas Toro, Illusione Epernay Le Martin

Youtube Video: 



I Say:

                 Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA pours a hazy golden amber with a thick, creamy, white head that holds excellent retention and leaves a moderate amount of lacing behind in the glass.  The aroma is surprisingly strong and complex with a strong up front floral and almost peach-like hop aroma backed up with a subtle spiciness and a hint of herbal hops throughout.  The soft pilsner malts definitely come forward in the aroma, although there is no doubt that this is a west coast hopped IPA, regardless of the malt and hop combination used.  The strong hoppy aromas seem like they will lead to a strong hop bitterness, even though the two aren’t necessarily correspondent.

                The flavor has a considerable floral flavor up front that intermingles with clean, subtle pilsner malts throughout.  A slightly spicy, almost noble hop character is barely perceptible midway through the experience, although that could be my expectations fooling my perceptions than the other way around.  The floral hops are definitely the more dominant aspect of the experience, with the high hopping rates translating into a moderately high hop bitterness that is more than adequately balanced by a moderate malt presence.  There is no denying though, that this is distinctly a west coast hopped IPA.  It has all the qualities that I have come to expect out of a solid Stone west coast IPA, even having the lingering bitter hop finish that I have come to love.  Götterdämmerung IPA is medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.  This is not a beer to be sipped lightly, it might even be a beer that the weaker among you are not worthy of receiving

                I went into this beer expecting most of the hop flavor to have faded, and maybe it did, but I still got an awesome German hopped West Coast-style IPA out of the 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA almost SIX months after the release!  This is an amazing beer, and if it still had this amazing hop presence this long after the release, I wish I would have tried it fresh!  This is definitely a beer that you should pick up if you find it.  Don’t worry that it is well past the release date, pick up a bottle and enjoy it.  I wish more hoppy beers still had this hop character after 6 months in the bottle!

               Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA is an amazing beer!  I wholeheartedly support this experimental beer put forward by Stone Brewing Co, it throws the traditional styles to the winds with the same arrogant attitude we have all come to expect from Stone Brewing.  I look forward to more experimental Imperial IPAs from Stone in the future, and only wish that they were still available in Wisconsin.
  
              That’s all for this week, check back soon for another review!

               Happy Drinking!