Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sierra Nevada Brown Ale to be produced year round, country wide, forever

Ok, perhaps not forever, but you get the idea. Sierra Nevada isn't a Minnesota brewery and this isn't even a beer that 's available most place yet, so why mention it? Because I love brown ale. It's delicious, there's so much room for variation in the style(s), and it's terribly unappreciated. Why, I will never understand, but hopefully SN's brown will help sway some beer drinkers.

Keep an eye out for it this fall when it will become available, possibly just as a seasonal, but if Celebration Ale is the bar that's been set for Sierra Nevada seasonals, I'm fine with that. Even more exciting, I'll post a review and possibly a clone recipe once I get my hands on some.

Apparently the beer is named "Tumbler".

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Beer Review: Left Hand Milk Stout

My beer review for today is Left Hand's Milk Stout. "Why Left Hand Milk Stout for your very first beer review?" you might ask. "What a fucking rude question" I might respond "I'm not charging you to read this blog". In reality, it's the only commercial beer I have in my fridge right now (aside from some Hop Slam I'm saving for a special occasion). Left Hand Milk Stout is probably the first (and best) milk stout I tried and it's one of the few beers that I can come back to time after time, and I'm never disappointed. In fact, there are few beers that I come back to after a while of not having any, where I think to myself 'this is even better than I remember'. Very rare indeed. The 'milk stout' style is actually a historical one with a slightly misleading name and past. In the 19th century, they were actually marketed as being healthy and having restorative properties. At some point this line of thought was shut down by the know-it-alls and the naysayers. "Milk isn't good for you", "babies shouldn't drink beer". "SHOVE OFF!", that's what I say. I could fill a bag of cats* with what the prohibitionists can tell you about beer.

Milk stouts today contain some amount of lactose, or milk sugar, rather than any actual milk (the combination of alcohol and milk is generally not an appealing one, for obvious reasons, but this style is no longer brewed with anything but milk sugar to my knowledge). Lactose is a sugar which is unfermentable by brewer's yeast so it remains in the beer and leaves some residual sweetness. Some sweetness is typical of the style. I've tried lactose on it's own and it does not taste sweet; it's a powder, and it tastes much like powdered coffee-creamer. Anyways, enough with the hypothetical/internal dialogue. I can imagine you want to read about someone else drinking beer already.

abv: 5.9%
IBUs: 25
OG: 1.062
Color: dark black

Initial Impressions: Dark, creamy and complex. Very drinkable.

Left Hand Milk Stout pours nice and dark and has a creamy, thick texture. The taste at first sip is very much one of pleasant, dark maltiness and earthy hops. There isn't much bitterness from the hops, though, nor is there any tartness that some expect from stouts a la Guinness. As you drink, the aroma builds as a mix of graininess, malt and some earthy, bright hop aroma. It's quite nice. This is a beer I find myself sipping, almost putting back on the bar, and then bringing it up for another sip, repeating as necessary. The beer is full and complex without being overpowering or exhausting to drink several pints of. This is the beer I give to people who tell me either they don't like beer, or they don't like dark beer. Rightfully so. When I met one of the brewers from Left Hand, he said that their Milk Stout is the highest selling beer they produce, which is unusual for a dark beer. I asked him briefly about the yeast they use, but he was somewhat reluctant to give any specifics. With the heat of summer encroaching you might think that something dark and slightly heavy would be less appealing, or out of place, but I don't think so. Despite it's moderate alcohol content, it is firstly a drinkable beer, and an enjoyable one.

*That is an expression, right?

Friday, May 14, 2010

American/Minnesota Craft Beer Week

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
American Craft Beer Week
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

That's right, American craft beer week starts May 17 (that's this Monday) and it runs through the weekend. At the same time, Minnesota Craft Beer Week is going on, what a coincidence!

There are a boatload of events, check them out at Minnesota Craft Beer Week

Monday, May 10, 2010

Beer and Food

Pairing beer and food has been the topic of a veritable crapload of books and blogs. The best beer writer ever, Michael Jackson, covered pairings in his Beer Companion*, among other places, so trying to top what's already out there may be an exercise in futility. That's not what I'm going to write about because despite my love for [the real] Michael Jackson, I honestly think the idea of pairing beer with specific dishes is a bit absurd. The beauty of beer is that it's disposable and it's wonderful. Most beers are made to be turned around quick and drunk fresh, so the idea of crafting an exquisitely snooty menu around a beer (or vice versa) just seems a bit silly.

Don't get me wrong; I love beer and I love food, so I love beer and food together, but the idea that one beer is better suited to a dish than another just strikes me as a bit off. What beer, I wonder, is more suited to listening to Highway 61 or Rocket to Russia? Best beer in the shower? What about the beer most suited to getting punched in the face?** They seem silly questions to me, when my instinct is to say: any beer. Any good beer is the right beer for the moment. There is a perception that beer is for the masses and not for the connoisseur. Both are true, and trying to make beer into wine by pairing it with food like wine misunderstands the appeal of beer. Beer is fantastic without imposing itself. Beer is fresh, beer is alive, good beer is about variety and a good beer is the perfect accompaniment to everything. Grains grow, we ferment their sugars, drink them, and the whole cycle starts again. So have a stout with your steak, have a stout with mussels. In fact, have a stout, and a bitter, and a dubbel with your steak. As it happens, beer comes in an ideal pint-sized bottle (or glass) so we're not really limited to finishing a six-serving bottle, like wine drinkers*** are.


*Michael Jackson's Beer Companion is probably one of the most interesting and complete books about beer, in my humble opinion. If you have not read it as a home brewer, someone who enjoys beer, or someone who enjoys anything of any sort, I highly recommend it.

**Miller Lite, obviously, would be the best choice for 'best beer to have right before getting punched in the face'

***I enjoy wine too but, I mean... honestly.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Odell Brewing events

Odell Brewing's MN launch is this week and they're hosting a blitzkrieg of events:

Monday, May 3
Mackenzie Pub

Sweeny's Saloon

Stub & Herb's

Happy Gnome

Tuesday, May 4
Princeton Liquor
4:30 - 6:00

Four Firkins
6:00 - 7:00

Muddy Pig
7:30 - 9:00

Old Chicago - Roseville
starts at 9:00

Wednesday, May 5
St Athony Village Wine and Spirits

Buster's on 28th
6:30 - 8:00

Thursday, May 6
South Lyndale Liquors
4:30 - 5:30

Longfellow Grill
4:00 - 8:00

Nomad World Pub and right next door at Acadia

Friday, May 7
Grumpy's - downtown
12:00 - 1:00

Grumpy's - Northeast
4:00 - 6:00

Mac's Industrial

Pracna on Main

Saturday, May 8
Longfellow Grill, Edina Grill, Highland Grill, and 3 Squares
Beer Breakfast @ all locations

France 44
2:00 - 5:00

Groveland Tap

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Great Lakes Brewing events

Great Lakes beer is finally in Minnesota. Check out the beer at these events:

Pracna on Main
May 3 6:00 - 9:00

May 4 6:00 - 9:00

The Muddy Pig
May 5 7:00 - 10:00

Pairings Food & Wine
May 6 4:30 - 6:30
Gold Nugget
May 6 7:30 - 10:30