July 14, 2015

Pipeworks Cherry Murderous "The Lookout" English Barleywine Style Ale brewed with Cherries

Brewed By: Pipeworks Brewing in Chicago, IL  
Purchased: 22oz bottle (Batch #755) bought at Bottles & Cans in Chicago, IL; 2015 (bottled 07.02.2015)
Style/ABV: English-Style Barleywine/Fruit Beer, 9.5%
Reported IBUs: ?

Pipeworks has arrived...and it's been a while since I have reviewed anything from them. So here we go. I've previously reviewed the regular Murderous, as well as the barrel-aged Murderous. I think this is a pretty average beer, so I'm curious to see how the cherries work out. A
bout Pipeworks:
Pipeworks has humble roots. The brewery was founded in Chicago in 2011 by Beejay Oslon and Gerrit Lewis. The duo were both homebrewers that met while while working at West Lakeview Liquors. In 2011, they began to raise money for their brewery using the online Internet site, Kickstarter. Olson and Lewis were both educated at De Struise Brewery in Oostvleteren, Belgium. With that knowledge, and the money from their kickstarter, Olson and Lewis created a unique brewery that is smaller in size, and intended to brew smaller batches of beer. The company's motto is "small batches, big beers." And indeed, since the brewery has been around, they've been releasing a lot of one-offs and small batch releases. The goal is to release a new beer every week. You can read more about the brewery at their website HERE.
The Cherry Murderous "The Lookout" bottle reads: 

"Rejoice in the return of your best friend! Your trusty lookout had not been completely lost, although different now from time spent apart, he still sees all through midworld. Albeit with a tinge of red washing over his view. Rest him on pommel or table, and let The Lookout guide you on your journey. "
Pipeworks Cherry Murderous

This is a thick, slow-pouring, hazy beer. It's unfiltered and riding some line between brown/orange/red, with a thick orange head that doesn't last for very long. Overall though, it looks good, and it looks the part for the style. 

Oh man, that aroma. This doesn't really smell the part of an English-style Barleywine. It smells like a malty bock mixed with Sam Adams' Cherry Wheat. I'm actually a fan of the Cherry Wheat, but that comment is going to read like a slap in the face for many. The cherry aroma does leave you with the impression of cherry skins, some cherry fruits, and some cherry pits. It drifts into medicinal territory at some point, and there's a lot of toasty and caramelized Bock-esque malt notes. If you handed this to me in a blind tasting, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with Barleywine.

This is a mess, but it is less of a mess than I expected. The cherries actually add a nice layer of complexity to the otherwise lackluster base beer. This is sweet and heavy, and you feel like it needs a few years to thin out. But the good news is the cherries add some nice, deep fruity notes. I'm getting cherries, cherry pits, cherry skins, cherry pastries, cherry candies, and some nice Quad-like stone fruits. This almost veers into the land of Belgium, but is grounded with a malt base that is toast, toffee, toasted nuts, and caramelized sugars. The cherries stand out as a counterpoint to the otherwise sweet and one-dimensional base. I think this is the best take on The Murderous I have had.

At 9.5%, I'm not getting much in the way of alcohol. This is full-bodied, and fairly thick stuff. This isn't overly complex, and the sweetness is only barely offset by the cherries. Still, this has great depth, with each sip lasting for quite some time. You get a nice two-dimensional blast of cherry flavors, followed by that malty base. It dabbles in Quad land but is strictly pseudo-English. It feels kind of Bock-like to me, actually. So I guess we can go to Germany on this wild ride.  

Rating: Average (3.25/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Light 
Average on this. This is by far the best take on The Murderous, and I really have no reason to pick up the base beer after drinking this. I'd love to grab another bottle of this Cherry Murderous to age, but the demand is still too high. I'd like to see Pipeworks brew this again. I think they can clean up the base a bit, attenuate the beer a little more (get this up to 11%+), and maybe throw in some hops or something. I don't know. 

Random Thought: I'm really happy to see Pipeworks doing as well as they are. I know I am slacking in my reviews, but focusing on graduate school for the betterment of myself takes precedence over beer reviews. Having said that, I cracked into the most recent batch of Pipeworks' Blue Lady and it was fan-freaking-tastic. This brewery is going places, and I am happy to have had a chance to watch them grow up over the past couple of years. 

June 28, 2015

Une Année Xellensis

Brewed By: Une Année Brewery in Chicago, Illinois  
Purchased: 750ml (1 Pint 9.4 FL OZ) bottle bought at Bottles & Cans in Chicago, IL; 2015 (Batch #X151)
Style/ABV: American Wild Ale/Belgian Inspired Blond Ale, 8.8%
Reported IBUs: ?

More Midwest shelf turds. About Une Année:
Une Année Xellensis - unsexy photo FTW
Une Année is a brewery based out of Chicago, Illinois located near the intersection of Grand and Ashland in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor (three blocks from the Goose Island Fulton St. production brewery). The brewery was founded in early 2012 by Jerry Nelson, who is "an Architect, Marine, Siebel Institute Graduate, and Chicago native who started homebrewing in 1995 while stationed in California." Currently, Jerry is the head brewer along with Dustin Zimmerman, who also attended the Siebel Institute, and previously brewed at Hamburger Mary’s Andersonville and worked at Nøgne Ø. The name "Une Année" means "one year" in French, and was chosen to reinforce the two main ideas behind the brewery: a focus on Belgian and French style beer, and an emphasis on seasonal beers. For more info, check out the brewery's website.
The Xellensis is a Belgian Inspired Blond Ale brewed with Brett. The bottle reads, "A not sweet blond, brewed exclusively with brettanomyces bruxellensis. This ale will go the distance-provoking your senses and only growing tougher over time. Are you up for the challenge?"

This pours into a blonde-orange body, kicking up a lot of thick, foamy, white head. There is a storm of carbonation in my glass, like Duvel. Head retention is good.

The aroma here is funky, chalky, uniquely Belgian, and Brett. I'm getting a lot of apples and wheat, big yeast esters, pineapple, leather, some earthy funk, must/chalk, and some fruity and spicy phenol notes. Peaches.

Oh wow...this is really nice. I wasn't expecting this. This is a lot thicker than I was expecting. I'm also not getting as much Brett as I thought I would. The Brett comes out as mild and fruity, with apples and pineapple. This has tons of tropical fruit notes, with pineapple, peaches, pear, and apples. There's a bitter kiss of Brett at the back end, with some wheat. This is rich with tons of clove. It kind of reminds me of Pipework's Pineapple Bling. This takes the Belgian thing to an extreme, and reminds me of Duvel and various other Belgian beers. 
 Better photo...

I'm digging this. This is one of the better Une Année beers I have had to date. I don't know if it as good as their Tripel or Quad, but it is pretty close. It also hides the 8.8% very well. This is creamy, full-bodied, and moderately complex. While the complexity could ratchet up, the rest of the beer holds up for the style. I'm wondering if throwing this in your cellar for a year or two would result in some additional Brett complexity. That's my one caveat with many of Une Année's offerings...they all seem like they could benefit from aging a bit longer.

Rating: Above-Average (4.0/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Decent Above-Average on this. This is a solid beer, I'd love to revisit it with some age on it. Really, the base beer is a fantastic Belgian Strong Ale. It's approaching that top-shelf echelon. If the Brett was dialed up a bit, this would be an easy 4.5/5.0. 

Random Thought: I'm really looking forward to 
Une Année's sour program.

June 22, 2015

Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra

Brewed By: Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware 
Purchased: 12oz bottle single bought at Binny's in Chicago, IL; 2015 
Style/ABV: American Strong Ale, 15~18% 
Reported IBUs: ?

This was once a whale, and now is a shelf turd. It's not waxed or in limited supply. It's also brewed by Cam Salamia and Dogfin Head. They have a hotel. About Dogfish Head:

Dogfish Head is a craft brewery based out of Milton, Delaware. The brewery was founded by Sam Calagione back in 1995.The brewery began as a brewpub (the first in Delaware) called Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, and was originally located in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The initial brewing setup included three kegs and propane burners. They brewed 12-gallon batches of beer three times a day, five days a week. In 1996 the brewery began bottling their beer, and by 1999 they had distribution to around a dozen different states. In 2002 the company outgrew their Rehoboth location, and moved to Milton, Delaware. More info can be found HERE.
The Raison D'Extra is the amped up version of DFH's stellar Raison D'Etre. Brewed with an "obscene amount" of malt, brown sugar, and raisins, the Raison D'Extra puts the "D" in Belgian Ales.
Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra

This pours into a reddish body that is reminiscent of a Belgian Dubbel, with purple tones in lower light. You get that sea foam carb on the beer, also reminiscent of a Belgian, with lots of lacing. It's very Belgian-esque. 

The aroma features the trademark high-gravity yeast/sugar aroma you get on all of DFH's high-gravity beers. You get a pound of sugar, muscovado sugar, jammy raspberries, raisin, alcohol, yeast esters, and some phenolic goodness. 

This tastes sublime...the beer rolls out massive raisins, dark fruits, jammy berries, jammy raisins, fruit preserves, muscovado sugar, intense phenolic notes, and lots of Belgian character typical of a Dubbel/Dark Strong. This is actually fantastic, and I would think that if you age this for a few years, it might start to take on some of that dusty/phenolic character you get in a good Belgian Dark Strong. There are some nice dark fruits in here as well, with shades of plums, blackberries, blueberries, and boysenberry. 

I'm a fan of DFH's high-gravity series, and this is no slouch. This brings the raisin along with a lot of other flavors, and it works out. At the variable 15~18% I'm not getting a ton of alcohol, but this definitely warms you up. Palate depth is good with nice duration -- making this a worthy sipping beer. This is also fairly complex, with lots of assertive raisin, muscovado sugar, and then more subtle dark fruit notes, Belgian character, and berries. Lots of berries. The finish is pretty clean too, and approaches drying. That in itself is commendable. 

Rating: Above-Average (4.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Strong Above-Average on this. At this time (I think this was bottled in late 2014? I couldn't tell, the date was smudged off my bottle) the beer is drinking just fine. BUT, I think with a little more age, this might settle into something really worthy. Since this is basically shelf turding these days, I will keep an eye out and try to snag a few more bottles to age. That actually shouldn't be a problem...I'd love to try this two or three years down the road.

Random Thought: It's hard to believe that there's basically just one more year of grad school left...