Thursday, April 17, 2014

Beer Review: Surly Brewing Blakkr Imperial Black Ale


Style
: American Black Ale
ABV: 9.99% (get it? 666 upside down whoooaaa!)

Fun Fact About the Brewery:



All right, only took me nearly 5 months to do another post. And hey, it's another Surly beer! My midwestern connection (hi in-laws!) comes through yet again, this time with a collaboration beer between Surly (MN), 3 Floyds (IL), and Real Ale (TX). Apparently all 3 breweries each canned or bottled their own versions of this beer. Now of course with a name like Blakkr and a brewery like Surly with their affinity for devilish imagery, they went full heavy metal with a very hellish can design.

Thoughts: 
So Beer Advocate calls it an American Black Ale and Surly calls it a black IPA on the can. To me, it's definitely hoppy enough to fall under the black IPA category and it is a fantastic one at that. Tons of dark malt, heavy and grainy mouthfeel, and a strong alcohol presence brings it all together for a big punch in the taste buds. Yet another stellar beer from Surly. Big thanks to Jim picking this up and to Nora for bringing it out to Seattle!

Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, December 27, 2013

30th Birthday Brewery Stroll

This post is about 2 months overdue now, but I wanted to just post a few photos from my 30th birthday party. A group of my good friends and I set out to make it to six breweries in the Fremont/Ballard area and we made good on that promise. Here's the proof and some thoughts to go along with it.

We started off on a high note at Fremont Brewing, which never disappoints. Had the new Bonfire session winter ale and the Sister imperial IPA, both are fantastic.

Molly and Bobby with the birthday boy, gettin' pumped

More of the crew

Then we strolled over to the Asgard Tasting Room by Odin Brewing. Not the most mind blowing beers in Seattle and the place doesn't have much character yet as it's still fairly new. But, Thor's Equinox is a great brew.

Cassie and Molly tryin' to get service from the lady bartender who did not care for other ladies it seemed


Next up was the funky ol' Outlander. Hands down one of the oddest brewpubs in Seattle, both in terms of the place itself and the wacky small batch beers they make. For some reason, I really like the place. Only the 2nd time I'd been there since their opening. Had some low ABV ESBs and other English style ales that were awesome.

Us chillin' in the weird upstairs of the Outlander, which is basically some dude's rec room. Note devoted Miami Hurricanes fans Matt and Jess watching the game on their phone

After that, we took a long stroll to Ballard and stopped first right by the Ballard Bridge at the fairly new Peddler Brewing. Guess what, they like bicycles. Details get a bit fuzzy past this point. Beer here is good, though. I like that they try some more diverse styles than a lot of newer breweries.

Joe Shoop bein' all Joe-ic (TM)

Yep
While Jim, Justin, and Cassie (Bless their lil' hearts!) made a side trip to pick up some pizza from Zayda Buddy's for us, the rest of us stroll on to the very new Stoup Brewing. The tap room has a very cool vibe. Feels very Ballard, whatever that may mean. Beers are uncomplicated and very solid. I recall the porter being very good. Keepin' my eye on these guys to see what they put out next.


Just a lil' cool bathroom light fixture selfie at Stoup, don't worry bout it
Then we made it to the final stop, conveniently 2 blocks away. Reuben's Brews! Next to Fremont, they might make my favorite beers in Seattle. We got there just before last call and this is the only photo I snapped. Cannot remember the dog's name but he was adorable and shook my hand.


Dirty Thirty Brewery Stroll accomplished. Thank you to Cassie and all my friends for making it a great birthday.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Rare Midwestern Beer Round-Up: Surly Darkness, Surly Smoke, and New Holland Dragon's Milk


Greetings! Once again, I've returned from a prolonged blogging absence to share some thoughts on beers. Wow, it's been since August? Good grief. Practically missed a whole season. Lots to get caught up on, starting with a bit of a hodge podge post centered around some rare Midwestern beers I've enjoyed lately.

The photo above is the incredible haul I received for my 30th birthday (yuck!) in November from my generous Minnesotan in-laws, The Dufresnes. Jim did the legwork of acquiring the beers and Nora schlepped them out here on one of her regular business trips to Seattle. Huge thank you to both of them. A truly special gift consisting of Surly Darkness, Surly SeVIIn (which I reviewed awhile back here) and 2 bottles of New Holland Dragon's Milk.

Let's get to the reviews!



Surly Brewing Co. - Darkness 2013
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.3%

Thoughts:

Yep, that's a bottle of Surly's ultimate rare beer, Darkness. Yes, that means my father-in-law bought a ticket and stood in what I can only assume was a massive line just for the opportunity to buy a few bottles of this much-hyped monster beer. For that, I salute you, good sir!

Onto the beer. Well, I'm pretty sure this was the first time I've had beer that has score of 100 on Beer Advocate and I gotta say, it fully lived up to the hype. It has that typical Russian imperial stout kind of dry, malty feel to it, but then there's SO MUCH depth more to it. It rolls around your taste buds and just has a party in your mouth. There's chocolate, coffee, maybe some vanilla, and what sort of tastes like chocolate covered fruit in there, too. And the alcohol is hidden very well, even at 10.3%. The only other Russian Imperials that I've had that come close to being this good are Firestone Walker - Parabola and the barrel aged version of Old Rasputin. Darkness takes the top spot, though, no doubt about it.

Rating: 5/5



 

New Holland Brewing Co. - Dragon's Milk
Style: American Imperial Barrel Aged Stout
ABV: 10%

Thoughts:

New Holland is based in Michigan and is one of those hyped Midwest breweries that us West Coasters get jealous about like Founders, Great Lakes, and well, Surly. So I was pumped to try this, especially since it's a barrel aged stout in a 12 oz bottle, which is the perfect amount of a strong beer for when you're just having a beer at home and not looking to bust open a 22 ouncer of some 12% monster beer and fall asleep on the couch by 8:30....ahem. Mr. Dufresne described it as similar to chocolate milk, and that pretty much nails it. Super smooth mouth feel, lots of chocolate, oak, vanilla, and then a big ol' hit of bourbon. Awesome beer.

Rating: 4.25/5





Surly Brewing Co. - Smoke 2012

Style: Baltic Porter
ABV: 8.2%

Thoughts:
I brought this bottle back with me from my trip to Minnesota last December and it aged gracefully for a year in my cellar aka kitchen cabinet. I cracked it open a couple weeks ago and it was worth the wait. Just another fantastically layered and complex beer from Surly. Beer Advocate calls it a Baltic Porter, but it says Lager on the bottle. I'd say it's a mash up of both styles, a modern take on the classic German Rauchbier style. The smoked flavor, which practically tastes like smoked meat, is more of a compliment to the chocolate, roasted malt, and brown sugar flavors that are in the forefront of the beer. As the beer warms a bit in your glass, all these flavors come out even more robustly and the effect is kinda like drinking a delicious porter in front of a campfire while eating maple bacon. Something like that. Great, now I'm hungry.

Rating:  4.5/5

Friday, August 30, 2013

Beer Review: Fremont Brewing Company - SBW #5 Pacific NW Barleywine


Style: American Barleywine
ABV: 9.5%

Fun Fact About the Brewery:


Might as well just rename this blog ERIC REVIEWS AWESOME FREMONT BEERS, but what can I say? Fremont is my favorite Seattle brewery. On a related note, I just got married to my lovely lady Cassie 2 weeks ago over in West Seattle, and I rented 5 1/6 barrel kegs for the reception. The beer was a huge hit, a combo of the Summer Ale, Interurban IPA, and Universale Pale Ale. And the folks at the brewery were super easy to work with and even gave me 2 free tulip glasses. Anyways, onto the beer!

Thoughts: 
Y'all know I love me some barleywine and this is one of Fremont's first stabs at the style. They brewed a limted amount specially for Seattle Beer Week 5 back in May, but I surprisingly found a bottle of it at Bottleworks a couple weeks ago. It's lighter in color than most barleywines, a nice copper color. Toasty malt and caramel flavors are balanced with quite of bit of hops, but it had almost no head at all. It has just a bit of sweetness, but not overwhelming at all. It cracks me up that they call this a "session" barleywine since it's 9.5% and most barleywines are over 10%, but it is kinda nice to sip on one that won't totally knock you on your ass. If someone had never had a barleywine before, this would be one to try since it's not super sweet, has some hoppiness, and isn't super boozy. But it's pretty scarce at this point so we'll have to wait til next year to see if they brew something like it again.

Rating: 4.25/5

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Beer Review: GoodLife Brewing Sweet As! Pacific Ale

Ah, good life, indeed.

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6%

Fun Fact About the Brewery:


Hailing from Oregon's other craft beer mecca, Bend, GoodLife Brewing increased their output by over 60% in January 2013 and also began canning a few of their beers. I'm a sucker for pale ales and good beer in cans, so here we are!

Thoughts: Well, since summer is pretty much over at this point, might as well review one more pale ale for old time's sake. This is one fantastically unfiltered and slightly fruity pale ale that just hits your taste buds in all the right spots. Fruity might not be the right word as there's no actual fruit in it, but something about it smells tropical to me. I actually wish the ABV was around 4.5 or 5 because this is the kind of beer that leaves you wanting like 4 or 5 more. It has a lightly bitter, but refreshing finish. Don't let the dumb name throw you, this is a great pale ale. Nice can design and color scheme, too. Grab some for Labor Day and enjoy the last bits of summer before the Northwest grey comes for us all.

Rating: 4.25/5

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chimay Grande Reserve Ale (Blue)

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 9%

Fun Fact About the Brewery:

Chimay is one of the big boys of the Belgian Trappist beer world. Founded in 1862 in the Belgian municipality of Chimay, the beer is still brewed by monks in the trappist tradition and is sold to help support the monastery.

Thoughts: 

Pours a very dark, brown/black color with a velvety head that lingers. Lots of spices, figs, and plums in the flavor profile. A very smooth and overall fantastic example of the style. There's a reason why this ale is so widely distributed. You can find it in just about any grocery store and it's definitely worth it.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, July 19, 2013

Surly Brewing Co. - SeVIIn


Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
ABV: 12.5%

Fun Fact About the Brewery:

Surly Brewing from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, has been one of the biggest crusaders for promoting craft beer in the state. You know how liquor laws differ from state to state? Minnesota used to have some very restrictive laws regarding the brewing and selling of beer.The founder of Surly, Omar Ansari, has been working along with other Minnesota brewers since 2005 to change these local laws. In the last 2-3 years, there has been a absolute explosion of microbreweries all around the Twin Cities. But, so far in my visits to Minnesota, Surly is still king of the hill when it comes to delicious and unique craft beer in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes."

Thoughts: 


As you can probably deduce, this ale was brewed to celebrate Surly's 7th anniversary. My soon to be father-in-law Jim went way out of his way to buy this beer. Apparently whenever Surly releases one of their specialty limited release beers, people go out of their minds and line up around the block for it. More so than any Seattle beer release I can think of. It's a testament to Surly's quality, I suppose. Anyways, huge thanks to Jim for scoring me a bottle and to Cassie for bringing it home from her recent trip to the Twin Cities.

Onto the beer! This one was pretty dang special. It was brewed in a quasi-Trappist style, but also with rye and wheat. One of the few Belgian ales I've had with rye. Very unique and also very strong. This one is a complex, slow sipper. The color is actually very reminiscent of Maudite by Unibroue (the tulip glass is a happy coincidence), a dark reddish amber hue. From what I'd heard, I was expecting the clove spices and banana aroma to be a bit more overpowering, but I was pretty pleased with it. And with age the beer will only get smoother, I'm sure.

Rating: 4.5/5