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Friday, January 30, 2015

Framrood – Funk Factory Geuzeria & O’so Brewing Co.


                Friday January, 23rd, 2014 marked the release of the second round of collaborations between Levi Funk, of the Funk Factory Geuzeria and Marc Buttera, of O’so Brewing Company.  This latest round release featured two beers: Framrood, a raspberry lambic; and Door Kriek, a cherry lambic.  The two beers, released exclusively at the party, were “spontaneously fermented” by allowing the hot wort (unfermented beer) to cool in a shallow open vessel referred to as a coolship.  The wort cools in the coolship (more on this below) and is then added to the fermenter, in this case French Oak barrels for fermentation.

                The practice of using coolships, or koelschip if you prefer the Dutch/Flemish spelling, dates back to the early days of brewing before it was possible to quickly cool the wort using some sort of heat exchanger.  As early brewing became more advanced, someone likely noticed that if they increased the surface area, and decreased the depth of the wort in their cooling container the cooling process would be accelerated.  Over time as brewing technologies advanced, sanitation became viewed as the key to producing consistent beer batch after batch; and the traditional coolships were phased out.  The early brewers were right; sanitation is the key to producing consistent beer that tastes remarkably similar from batch to batch.  When a brewer can control all aspects of the brew day, and now all aspects of the fermentation process, it is much easier to consistently produce the same lager or ale over and over again.

                Brewing is an art though, and art isn’t always orderly.  Fortunately Belgian brewers in Brussels and the Pajottenland region, like Cantillon, Brouwerij Boon, Brouwerij Lindemans, and 3 Fonteinen continued the traditional brewing process but quickly realized that if they let the cold wort sit in the coolship overnight, it would become inoculated with local microbes and result in a wonderfully complex sour beer.  The microbes in different regions developed different flavor profiles giving a unique flavor and aroma, creating a unique beer in each region.  Until recently, the common knowledge was that American craft breweries were unable to ferment a lambic style beer because the microbes that produced good sour beers were native to France and Belgium.  Fortunately adventurous American craft brewers were not led astray and sought to develop American lambics.  Breweries like Allagash, Russian River, and Anchorage Brewing Company led the way; and many followed.

                Last year Marc Buttera and Levi Funk released the first in what will hopefully be many collaborative lambic, and now here we are with the second major launch event, and a bottle of Framrood.  On with the review.


They Say:

                Framrood is a blend of lambic style beer that was aged in used French oak wine barrels for 18-24 months. It was then re-fermented with two pounds per gallon of red raspberries for 3 months.

                We recommend drinking Framrod fresh, but it will age very well in the cellar.


I Say:

                Framrood pours a crystal clear raspberry red with a thin, small bubbled white head with minimal retention.  The head quickly fades to a thin collar around the edges.  The thin collar on the edges leaves no lacing behind in the glass.  A mild funkiness, with notes of oak and slightly jammy raspberries leads the aroma.  Raspberries linger throughout, although slightly bandaid phenolics sneak up on the back end as Framrood warms to room temperature.  Fortunately the phenols only become apparent after Framrood has warmed to room temperature and remain masked by notes of oak and raspberry while the beer remains chilled.

                Slight funky barnyard, and slightly citrusy notes come to the forefront, with notes of slightly tannic oak notes and tart red raspberries rounding out the first sip.  The raspberries take on slightly jammy notes, with the mild funkiness of the base lambic fading slightly throughout the majority of the glass.  Untoasted oak and raspberry round out the drinking experience, leaving Framrood with a lingering tart raspberry finish.  The tart raspberries play off nicely against a slight citrusy funkiness that intertwines with the various flavors in the beer.  With a moderately light body, and a moderately high carbonation, Frambrood is surprisingly refreshing.

                Framrood is a little on the funky side, at least as far as the krieks that I have had go.  It is an amazingly complex beer though with a considerable amount of raspberry in both the flavor and aroma.  As an American Wild Ale, this beer should continue to develop in the bottle becoming a little funkier and picking up additional depth as it slowly oxidizes.  I only wish I had another few bottles to track how it is going to develop over the next couple years.  Framrood is definitely an excellent beer, and if you happen to know someone who was at the release Friday, January 23rd; or if you were one of the lucky few to get a pre-sale ticket, you have a great beer to look forward to.  If you missed the pre-sale however, there might be a few bottles available if you look hard enough and ask around on the beer trading sites.  This is my first Funk Factory beer, but if it is any sign of what’s to come, it is only a matter of time before Funk Factory beers become highly sought by craft beer drinkers around the country.

                That’s all for today, check back soon for my review of Funk Factory Geuzeria and O’so Brewing Company’s release of Door Kriek, the second beer released at the Coolship Release Party.


                Happy Drinking, remember to always Drink Wisconsinbly!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Dubbel Czech – MobCraft Beer and Badger State Brewing



                After meeting at a few beerfests and instantly striking up a friendship, the founders of Mobcraft Beer and BadgerState Brewing thought it would probably be a good idea to brew a collaborative beer together at some point in the future.  This past fall they got together and thought it would be fun to launch a Packer’s themed beer, Badger State Brewing is only a couple blocks away from Lambeau Field after all, and launch it during a Packers game.  From those noble beginnings, Dubbel Czech was brewed and released in time for the Packers final regular season home game against the Lions on December 28th.  I have long since made it part of my pre-Packers game ritual to stop by Badger State on my way to Lambeau Field for Packers home games and was pleasantly surprised to walk into the brewery and also be walking into a beer release party.  I immediately ordered a couple pints of Dubbel Czech at the bar and went back later to buy a couple bottles.

                With the NFC Championship game coming up this weekend, what better beer to drink during the game than a Packers themed beer produced by the collaborative team of Mobcraft Beer and Badger State Brewing.  The beer, Dubbel Czech is a mashup of two excellent beer styles, a Belgian Dubbel, and a Czech Pilsner.  You might be thinking, “wait… isn’t that Czech Pilsner thing what Budweiser, Coors, and Miller have been claiming to sell all this time?”  First off no, and second, not even close, but I will get to that some other time; believe it or not a good Czech Pilsner actually pretty flavorful.  Let’s move on for now and double back at some point in the future.  Belgian Dubbels are complex, malty and sweet with fruity Belgian esters of raisins, plums, dried cherries, and apples; many of which come from the dark malts and Dark Belgian candi sugar that gives a Dubbel its characteristic color.  Czech Pilsners on the other hand have a rich pilsner malt character that can come across as grainy or Graham cracker-like with soft, rounded floral or spicy hops.  A fusion of the two, well, there is only one way to find out.

                Back to the beer, the name Dubbel Czech is in reference to a famous Championship Belt celebratory move by none other than Aaron Rodgers, which became the Discount Double Check in the now famous State Farm Discount Double Check commercials.  By the way, if you are unfamiliar with the commercials, by all means check them out because they are pretty hilarious!  The player on the Dubbel Czech label, well that could be anyone with the greyed out visor but I choose to believe that it’s my favorite QB doing both a Lambeau Leap and his signature celebratory move.  However to avoid any potential lawsuits the guys just decided to make him a generic Packers-themed player.  Interestingly enough, on either side of the player are the owners of the two breweries.  From left to right on the Badger State side is Sam, Mike, and Andrew; with Mike holding the Badger State sign.  On the other side from left to right (and I really hope I am getting this right) are Giotto, Andrew, and Henry.  The label is a great testament to the two breweries and my favorite football team!

                On to the review, Dubbel Czech does not currently have a score on either Beeradvocate or ratebeer.


They Say:

                Ahh, collaboration!  After meeting at a few beer festivals and realizing we had a lot in common (three founders in their mid-20’s, brewing beer and loving it), we decided to put our heads together and brew an awesome beer to launch on a Sunday afternoon in Green Bay, WI!  This Blond Dubbel features the classic Belgian yeast character on a bed of pilsner and abbey malts with Czech noble hops for a malty, golden colored ale that finishes with earthy hop notes.


I Say:
 
                Dubbel Czech pours a crystal clear reddish amber with a creamy moderately thick eggshell (off-white) colored head that holds excellent retention, lasting through almost the entire glass.  The thick creamy head leaves heavy lacing behind in the glass, which is of course a good thing.  Sweet pilsner malts come to the forefront in the aroma with their characteristic delicate grainy breadiness.  Belgian yeast esters blend into the aroma contributing notes of overripe pears, and golden raisins which match well with earthy, herbal, floral, and slightly spicy hops.  Subtle notes of bubblegum round out the perceptibly sweet aroma, indicating that this brew, like the offerings of both Mobcraft and Badger State is remarkably complex and welcoming.

                Slightly grainy pilsner malts lead in the flavor with a subtle, sweet note of honey backing them up.  Pear and golden raisin esters blend with herbal, floral, and earthy hops, adding additional depth to the flavor profile, and greatly increasing the complexity of the beer.  Slight spicy phenolics linger on the edges as the beer warms, although they are undetectable through most of the glass.  There is a slight sweetness with notes of pear and raisins in the finish, transition to a slightly grainy and herbal aftertaste.  Moderately malty with moderately high hop bitterness, Dubbel Czech is a little closer to the Chzech Pilsner side of the blending than the Belgian Dubbel, at least on the hopping frequencies.  With a medium body and a moderate level of carbonation, it comes in right where a blending of the two styles should be.

                Dubbel Czech is a great blending of a Czech Pilsner and Belgian Dubbel!  The guys at both Mobcraft and Badger State have some serious brewing acumen, doing some interesting mashups and just having an amazingly drinkable product.  And yes, I am still moving forward with my ever persistent campaign to reclaim the word drinkability to have it be applied to beers and beer styles that are actually worth of the label.  Great craft beer, like Dubbel Czech, embodies what drinkability should stand for, something that can be enjoyed without getting trashed on the first sip.  It is malty, fruity, and appropriately hoppy; this beer is the definition of drinkability.

                Be sure to pick up a bottle or two if you can still find them to enjoy during the NFC Championship game!  That’s all for today, be sure to check back soon for my next review!


                Happy Drinking, and remember to always Drink Wisconsinbly!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Brandy Barrel Old Fashioned – Mobcraft Beer


                While a Bourbon Old Fashioned Wisconsin may be a great drink, and the beer inspired by it was excellent (see my earlier post this week), Wisconsin is really a Bourbon state, at least when it comes to mixing up the state drink, the Old Fashioned.  The brandy old fashioned has stood the test of time, and has become a signature drink many bars and supper clubs.    Since Brandy is the alcohol of choice at many Wisconsin Supper Clubs, it seems only right that the guys at Mobcraft would age some of their base Old Fashioned Berliner Weisse in Brandy barrels.

                After having the Bourbon Barrel Old Fashioned and being pleasantly surprised by it, I figured what better to do that open up a bottle of Brandy Barrel Old Fashioned for comparison purposes.  Theoretically the two should be very similar since the only difference is the type of barrel that the beer was aged in, but brandy and bourbon do have distinct flavors.

                Before getting into the review, take note on the eminent social commentator Lewis Black’s opinion of Wisconsin and Brandy Old Fashioneds, and drinking in Wisconsin in general.


                Brandy Barrel Old Fashioned does not currently have a score on either Beeradvocate or ratebeer.


They Say:
                Old Fashioned Berliner Weisse with Cherries and Spices by Casey Groh

                This beer plays off two things that are very "Wisconsin" German Heritage and Old Fashioneds, Casey suggested a traditional German recipe, Berliner Weisse (a moderately sour wheat beer) featuring some elements of the classic Wisconsin cocktail the Old Fashioned (Cherries, Oranges and a few of the spices found in bitters).



RECIPE DETAILS
Scaled down so you can brew your own 5 gallon batch

SPECIAL INGREDIENTS· 1oz Star Anise
· 1oz Cardamom
· 1oz Juniper
· 2lbs Cherries
· 1lb Oranges (Zested And Juiced)

YEAST
· American Ale

MALT BILL
· 3lbs Acidulated Malt
· 3lbs Pale Malt
· 4lbs White Wheat

BOIL TIME
· 60
HOP REGIMEN· .75oz Summit @60
GRAVITY· 1.050/1.015
IBU· 30
ABV· 5%


I Say:

                Brandy Barrel Old Fashioned pours a very clear copper with a moderately thick, creamy white head with slight rocky breakup.  The head holds moderate retention (~2 min) before leaving thick lacing behind in the glass.  The aroma, similar to the bourbon barrel aged version is very reminiscent of an old fashioned.  Orange and cherry lead with notes of sweet brandy, tart lactic acid from the lactobacillus added to the beer to give it more complexity.  Lactobacillus is more commonly featured in yogurts, giving plain yogurt its characteristically tart and slightly sour flavor.  Light herbal notes round out the aroma with the core spices, cardamom, juniper and star anise all playing a part.  As with the bourbon barrel aged version, the brandy barrel aged release really nails the Old Fashioned aroma.  In this variation however, the spices are a lot more subdued with the fruit and alcohol taking center stage.

                Brandy leads the flavor with a strong blend of citrusy/herbal cardamom.  Sweet cherries round out the sweetness, blending into a slight tartness, likely owing to the lactobacillus that was added to the brew.  As with the bourbon barrel aged version, the brandy-aged Old Fashioned release has notes of both club and lemon-lime soda, likely resulting from a combination of the production of lactic acid, as a by-product of lactobacillus, during fermentation and the resinous flavor of juniper berries.  After the initial tart/sour notes from the lactobacillus, which remain in the background, the finish is sweet and smooth with the brandy and fruits coming to the forefront again culminating in a citrusy aftertaste.  The herbal notes of the star anise are restrained throughout the Brandy Barrel Old Fashioned, adding complexity without ever coming to the forefront.  As with the Bourbon Barrel version, this one has a moderately light body and a moderate level of carbonation, bringing the experience even closer to drinking an Old Fashioned.

                After drinking the Bourbon Barrel Old Fashioned Berliner Weisse, I thought I knew what to expect out of the Brandy Barrel release.  Heading into a new beer with prior expectations rarely works out well however, and while the beer added into the two different barrel types was the exact same beer, the choice of barrel effected the two releases differently and created two distinctly different beers.  Visually, the brandy barrel release is noticeably darker shade of copper than the bourbon release.  While the herbal notes of star anise and juniper berries were prominent in the bourbon barrel aged beer, they were much more restrained after the beer was aged in a brandy barrel.  The brandy release is also sweeter and smoother than the bourbon release, which could be a difference in distilleries, or could be due to the sweeter nature of brandy.  When it comes to barrel aging, especially in barrels that were previously used for spirits, a lot of the flavor gained comes from what was previously in the barrel.  Even the same beer aged into two barrels that held the same spirit at the same distillery can produce beers that taste different, but that’s where blending plays into the eventual flavor experience.  In this case, The Brandy Barrel Old Fashioned highlights how different spirits barrels can affect the flavor of the same beer.

                As with the Bourbon Barrel Old Fashioned, the Brandy Barrel release presents a drinking experience very close to drinking an actual Old Fashioned.  This release shows that the guys at Mobcraft really know their stuff!  Cheers again to Casey Groh for submitting this recipe concept, and cheers to Mobcraft for pulling this off!  In case you missed it in my bourbon barrel post, check out the Mobcraft Craftfund site, and if you are feeling generous, chip in some cash to help them expand and ramp up production! 

                That’s all for today, check back soon for my next post!


                Happy Drinking, and always remember to Drink Wisconsinbly!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Modern Times Brewery / Monster Park Imperial Stout aged in Rye Barrels

Modern Times Brewery | Monster Park Imperial Stout aged in Rye Barrels . (13%) San Diego, CA.


Looking forward to this limited release from Modern Times . The last    Modern Times beer I had was the other Monster Park barrel aged variation with coffee added. 

Pour : Dark black , verging on a deep  brown . Little carbonation when poured . Bubble retention was quite low . Yeah at 13% it's a huge looking barrel aged stout , almost looking identical to the coffee version I had previously . 

Aroma: Huge notes of rye and vanilla and even though I like this , it's almost to dominant . Subtle notes of dark chocolate , oats , maybe a little bit of an chocolate almond aroma as well , but lots of booze . It's almost just like the coffee version , but a little less sweet and more booze . 

Taste : Almost following the aroma exactly . Lots of rye , bourbon , and vanilla . The amount of sugary , oaky , and chocolate taste is enjoyable , but again it may be a little bit unbalanced . The mouthfeel is medium-thin , but what I like about it is that I think if it had a fuller body that all the malt and chocolate flavors would be an overkill to this beer . It's a solid offering , but I think I like the coffee one a touch better because it added a tad more complexity with more dark chocolate  and a touch more mouthfeel . 

Verdict : 88/100 . A solid offering from Modern Times and in about 6-8 months I might seek to repurchase the variants of Monster Park . Cheers !


Bourbon Barrel Old Fashioned – Mobcraft Beer




                Wisconsin may be a big beer state, but if Wisconsin had a state mixed drink, it would very likely be an Old Fashioned.  Sweet, sour, whiskey, bourbon, or brandy, take your pick.  The brandy variety being the typical Wisconsin staple, has stood the test of time, and has become a signature drink many bars and supper clubs.  With the importance of Old Fashioneds in Wisconsin, I suppose it was only a matter of time before Mobcraft tackled an ale tribute to the state’s favorite drink.  In case you missed my earlier Mobcraft post, the brewery chooses its next beer through an interesting process.  Rather than just planning a recipe, brewing it, and releasing it, Mobcraft accepts submissions and puts the submissions up for a vote.  The beer that gets the most votes becomes the next Mobcraft release.  Following Mobcraft rules, the recipe idea, the beer that would turn out to be the OldFashioned Berliner Weisse, was submitted by Casey Groh of Milwaukee.  It was chosen to be the best or at least the favorite recipe of the three that were available for voting at the time.  After the beer was brewed, the guys at Mobcraft split the batch in half, to be aged in either bourbon barrels or brandy barrels.  Two variations, Bourbon Barrel Aged, and Brandy Barrel Aged were released a couple months ago throughout the state.  I’ll cover the bourbon barrel release in this post, and get the brandy barrel post up later this week.

                I wasn’t really sure what to make of an Old Fashioned beer, but I love beer, and really like a good Old Fashioned so I figured it would be pretty good.  It didn’t hurt that the base style in a Berliner Weisse, my go to summer beer style.  It also doesn’t hurt, and this is one of my favorite things about Mobcraft, that the guys posted the recipe they used on the site so that I can brew up a batch of Old Fashioned, Mobcraft style, when the weather warms up again.

                Bourbon Barrel Old Fashioned does not currently have a score on either Beeradvocate or ratebeer.


They Say:

                Old Fashioned Berliner Weisse with Cherries and Spices by Casey Groh

                This beer plays off two things that are very "Wisconsin" German Heritage and Old Fashioneds, Casey suggested a traditional German recipe, Berliner Weisse (a moderately sour wheat beer) featuring some elements of the classic Wisconsin cocktail the Old Fashioned (Cherries, Oranges and a few of the spices found in bitters).



RECIPE DETAILS

Scaled down so you can brew your own 5 gallon batch


SPECIAL INGREDIENTS
· 1oz Star Anise
· 1oz Cardamom
· 1oz Juniper
· 2lbs Cherries
· 1lb Oranges (Zested And Juiced)

YEAST
· American Ale

MALT BILL
· 3lbs Acidulated Malt
· 3lbs Pale Malt
· 4lbs White Wheat

BOIL TIME - 60
HOP REGIMEN - .75oz Summit @60
GRAVITY - 1.050/1.015
IBU - 30
ABV - · 5%


I Say:

                Bourbon Barrel Old Fashioned pours a very clear copper with a moderately thick creamy white head that holds moderate retention (~1 min) before fading to a collar of foam around the edges of the glass and leaving behind moderately heavy lacing.  The aroma is reminiscent of a bourbon old fashioned with fruit, spice, and a hint of bourbon.  Licorice notes from the star anise com to the forefront and are quickly mellowed by orange and sweet cherries.  The aroma takes on herbal notes, likely a blend of the cardamom, juniper, and star anise, before giving way to a solid hit of bourbon.  Orangey/herbal notes from the cardamom round out the back end and linger on the nose.  A lot of thought seems to have gone into really nailing the trademark bourbon old fashioned aroma.

                Sweet cherries and orange lead the flavor, followed by the slightly minerally flavor of club soda.  Black licorice, bourbon, the slight resinous flavor from juniper berries, and the herbal citrus of cardamom transition nicely into the subtle Berliner Weisse base with its traditional lactic acid sour kick.  The lactic acid produced during the fermentation of the base beer really seems to mimic soda water and lemon lime soda that are usually used as mixers.  Bourbon Barrel Old Fashioned has a moderate malt level, with a low level of hop bitterness, but a moderate level of herbal spiciness.  The flavor much like the aroma goes a long way towards mimicking a good Bourbon Old Fashioned Sweet.  With a moderately light body and a moderate level of carbonation, even the mouthfeel comes eerily close to the mixed drink that inspired this beer.

                I poured this beer unsure of what to expect.  My time home brewing made me believe that Mobcraft could successfully pull off an Old Fashioned in beer form, but even so, I went in a little skeptical.  I am pleasantly surprised by what they managed to recreate here, because they really did hit the proverbial nail on the head.  Cheers to Casey Groh for submitting this recipe concept, and cheers to Mobcraft for pulling this off!  Henry Schawartz, Giotto Troia, and Andrew Gierczak have a great thing going and I hope they reach their funding goals over at Craftfund so they can expand into their own place and ramp up production!  Mark my words, there are great things coming for Mobcraft, hopefully they can keep up!

                That’s all for today, be sure to check back later this week for my post on Brandy Old Fashioned


                Happy Drinking, and remember to always Drink Wisconsinbly!