troispistoles1I had serious issues with this beer. After pouring the glass I offered a taste to my wife, whereupon she said she liked it and headed off into the next room! What to do? Fortunately she returned shortly with the glass half empty allowing me to continue the review.

A dark ale with good roasted malt and cherry flavor and just a tiny hint of hops. Poured a nice head and left just the right amount on the glass as I drank it. Not enough bite to drink more than one at a sitting but I did like the flavor and my wife REALLY liked it. Even at an ABV of 9.0 it did not have a high alcohol feel. This one  could sneak up on you.

Recommended. I had it at 35 degrees in a Guinness pint glass. Might be fun at bit warmer in a snifter while wearing a smoker jacket in front of a fire.

This beer pays an homage to a lady the brewer knows that could be classified as a “wild brunette”. Having known brunettes in my past it makes sense that this beer company moved from Minnesota to Wisconsin, and lets everyone know that they came from MN. Left too early to see the beer boom here and now longs to be known once again as a Minnesotan…

You might be confused when you drink it – unless you know what wild rice tastes like from the field. This is not a beer that will blow your mind or having you set it down the first time to a “wow”. This one builds on you. Like “Minnesota Hot Dishes”. An outsider looks at it and tries it, but there is not much there. Then there is the second tasting. For this beer, this is the subtle harshness of the Wild Rice – for the hot dish it is the subtly of the minor flavors like mushroom or potato. The color comes from the wild rice as well, with a red-brown hue.

Overall, this one is a tasty treat, but its wonderment may be lost to those who do not treasure the flavor of wild rice as we do – which may be why Barley John’s is trying to be “Minnesotan” again…

ABV 6.5% – 75 IBUs – Citra & Cascade hops – Tangerine Puree

This is an IPA that was made for the nose. Pouring this into a glass it comes out orange-brown and has the distinct, and heavy, aroma of citrus rind. It has more grapefruit than tangerine on the nose, but the flavor comes through with a blood orange and clementine taste. Its description has it brewed with tangerine puree, but after tasting it this could just be spooned out of a cylinder of juice from your freezer.

I’d call this one a gateway IPA. Something you give to your aunt who loves grapefruit but can’t drink it anymore, and at a holiday gathering you pass this to her and just say “Try it”. “But I don’t like beer, what kind is this?“. “Violet, you’ll like it”. “But what kind is it?“. “It is an IPA, just try it already!”. “Ok, but if I don’t like it I am giving it back“.

Later that night you find your empty case in the beer cooler of a garage and Aunt Violet digging around in the attic for her old doll set, half naked and yelling that someone downstairs ruined her childhood. Like I said, gateway IPA. I’d say its good for a one-pour at a bar, but I would not go for another.

jps-craft-beer-4-cansIn the 24 beers of Advent schedule it is entirely possible that I’ve sampled this one out of turn. Nonetheless, let’s get to it.

I sorta liked this beer. It fails the German purity law on many counts and is outside my usual reaction to “they put what in my beer!?” but it is smooth and goes down just fine. No hops of note. Kinda sweet and chai-like, chocolate malts. Even though it went down fine I had to rate this one with a “4”- would only drink this if it’s free. Better than 21st Amendment’s Watermelon, but not as good as Pyramid’s Apricot Ale.

On a related note, the JP is for James Page. James Page was a very early microbrewery in the Twin Cities that made a fine lager and sold home-brew gear. I miss the lager- perhaps now that Stevens Point bought the label it will offer it again?

If there is one thing that I love in life (other than the obligatory wife and puppy response) I would say sitting down in the couch after a day on the job and hearing the crack of a beer and the long sigh that reciprocates from my body.

When looking around to find a “dark” beer or two to fill that criteria in the beer advent I found JPs Brewing sitting on the shelf. This caught my attention because – A: never heard of them, and B: they have a White Stout. For those of you who got the White Stout, you are in for a treat. For those of you who got the Porter, I am doubly jealous. We split this company up randomly for who got the cases

Who knew you could make a Stout that looked like a pilsner? These guys have it [mostly] figured out. Too many times working behind the bar I have been told that a person does not like “dark” beers but in our conversation I slide them one and they say “oh… I like that!” Where did this mantra come from!

JPs White Stout is a stab at that idea. It is a beer that pours light amber but tastes just like a robust stout. Its not a doppelgänger to a stout it has the right ideas – light in flavor, malt backbone, and high drinkability. What really can you ask for in a beer?

Taking the chance to add your homebrew to an event that rates and compares a diverse array of top brews from professional breweries across the planet is a bold move.  You are putting your craft out there for comparison with a variety of tested and often perfected recipes produced by brewers who have made the switch to brewing as a profession. In addition The decision of where to place the brew in a twenty four day event had to be a difficult decision. Put it too early in the list and risk that some have not had the opportunity to expand their palate to the variety of adjuncts and new flavors that many breweries are playing around with lately, too late and people may be more locked down on the flavors and styles that they have liked thus far. Being the third in a series of twenty four I need to disclose first that this entry came after two brews that I found highly palatable and will may end up purchasing at a future rate having enjoyed both.

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I chose to pour into a glass to best matching the style (Belgian Dubbel). It poured well with a decent head with a dark reddish amber color. The aroma had rich malty sweetness with slight notes of cranberry and very slight clove spiciness that can come from Belgian yeast. The flavor was very tart which partially distracted from the malty sweetness. The back end was somewhat bitter and the tartness from the cranberry flavor definitely remained.

Out of the gate I approached this expecting a traditional dubbel but was overwelmed by the tart cranberry. I found that given some time to come closer to room temp the tartness mellowed and I found it to be a more drinkable brew for the last few sips. I would place this brew in the category of specialty holiday brews to try once but couldn’t see going through more than one.

img_3677In the dance between malt and hops the Scotts favor the flavor of the malt. This brown ale is smooth and just a bit sweet, but very drinkable. Not the kind of taste you’d spend an extended afternoon with but certainly something tasty for the 11.3 ounces this bottle contained. Better than the more common brown ales and from a brewery deserving our respect I was glad to see this one in the mix.

Still, rated it only 5/10. Served at 38 degrees in a Guinness (did I cross a line?) pint glass.

Today’s beer is Belhaven‘s Scottish Ale. This brewery has been around a while, first opening its doors in 1719- as a reference: Liechtenstein became a sovereign member state of the Holy Roman Empire in that year. This beer sits at 5% ABV and 21 on the IBU scale.

Let me take a moment to walk you down memory lane. I spent some time in Kenya, in the farming city of Naru Moru specifically. I was there to climb the mountains and work with the schools that were in the area and how they could exist with the system of testing that they have. Often I would walk the 30 minutes after school down the gravel roads to the pub that existed at the crossroads. This place really only had two beers, and only one was ‘cold’ – White Cap. The taste of that beer after teaching those days made me feel like I was at home with a cold one, even though it was nothing like the beers I would pull off the shelves here. That being said, this beer tasted just so, in a way that my mind could go one of two ways – back to the homeland sitting on a couch, or wondering how a place could produce beer in a land of sagebrushes and dust storms. There really was nothing to White Cap Lager, only sugared malt and carbonation, and Belhaven’s Scottish Ale tastes the same to me.

Now that being said, I am not going to rate this one highly. The taste of crystal malt is not one that my tongue approves of. Although they may get a couple points due to taking me back to a place that my mind has not revisited in a while…

Before I start- please see Isaac’s post on this beer. I’ll leave out some of the details that he covered so well. And, for those just going us, we are in the 24 beers of Advent event. Day 1: Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA.

2brosIt’s an IPA. No brainer, I close my eyes and imagine that I’m working the Imperial Railroad as we make our way through India. To get any kind of beer here it’s going to be heavily hopped to keep it from spoiling. I look at the glass the porter just poured for me and notice NO HEAD. Nonetheless I take a big swallow and taste a thick swill with some serious malt that is quickly washed away by heavy hops. A definite after bite makes me start to wonder if the hops taste will ever go away.

Lots of things going on in this beer. But, a great IPA needs to deliver both strong hops and flavor. Two Brothers is certainly on the way but there’s nothing remarkable here. In some ways it reminds me of many of the hop-silly brews of recent summers. Looking forward to trying something else from this brewery. For now I’ve got to give this bottle a 4/10.

Served at 34 degrees in my Will Steger pint glass. Bellhaven tomorrow. Been to Scotland, we’ll see how it goes.

This begins our 24 days of beer reviews as we joined with Beer with Brendan to send cases out to friends and family to taste both what is new, local and unavailable in our area.

To start us off we have Two BrothersHeavy Handed” which is their wet hopped IPA. It sits at 6.7% ABV and 65 IBUs for their 12 for oz bottles. This beer has been produced for a couple years and has a 86 on the Beer Advocate scale of 100. Two Brothers brewing started in 1996 and with “You can buy our beer. You can’t buy our brewery.” proudly plastered on the front of their website you know these two are in it for the beer and not the trend.

Late in the wet hop lifespan this beer has lingering tangy bitter notes and a big mouth of malt. There are citrus tastes like pine and orange rind on the tongue. As it pours there is almost no head and very little lacing down the glass as the contents emptied. The beer finishes with a light linger but not dry as you would expect from heavy-hopped beers. Amber in color (had to ask, I am pretty decently colorblind).  Marked on the back of the bottle is “Cascade Lot #2706” and searches of this only produced real estate in Cascade TX, probably no correlation. They do different batches of this beer with different acreages of hops – It would be beneficial in the future to try a flight of these now that I know this, testing the base with different hops would be great!

What’s your comments on the beer? I gave this one a 5/10 as it tasted overly… everything. Too much of one doesn’t get balanced out by increasing the other for me. But this is coming from someone who does not have a taste for IPAs. Leave your comments.