August 28, 2015

One Well Brewing Sweet Water Street

One Well Brewing Sweet Water Street
Brewed By: One Well Brewing in Kalamazoo, Michigan
Purchased: 32oz Howler from One Well Brewing; 2015 (poured on 08/26/15)
Style/ABV: American Adjunct Imperial Porter, 7.1%
Reported IBUs: ???

This was, by far, the second best Porter/Stout I had on my trip to Kalamazoo. This beer deserves a nod and shot out, because it is really fucking good. The brewery isn't too shabby either. About One Well Brewing
One Well Brewing is a nano/micro brewery based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The brewery was founded by home brewers Chris O’Neill and T.J. Waldofsky, and currently features a 3-barrel brewing system. The tap house is warm and cozy, with board games and a bar. The place was packed an hour before closing, and the staff was friendly. My biggest regret is that I discovered this place during my last day in Kalamazoo...
The Sweet Water Street is an Imperial Porter brewed with donut holes from Sweetwater's Donut Mill, and coffee from Water Street Coffee Roaster. Coffee is my life force, so while in Kalamazoo I had a chance to visit Water Street Coffee Roaster twice. The coffee is solid, and is locally roasted. 

So good...
The Sweet Water Street itself pours into a dark body kicking up a couple of fingers of dense, tan-brown head. It looks like every other genero-Porter until you dig into the aroma and get that rich chocolate coffee cake smell. This kicks up espresso and hazelnut and lots of fresh coffee, but the coffee stays grounded in the cakey malt base. This hints at macaroons and candy bars, and suggests so much more than a straightforward coffee beer. 

And the taste lives up to the aroma's hype, and then some and more so. At whatever percentage this clocks in at (7.1%???), the malt body stands up to the strong coffee flavors. This has a cake-like body with chocolate malts, trailing malt balls on the back end, rich espresso, hazelnut, and liquid coffee cake. 

The mouthfeel on this is full and expansive, and this beer has depth and density. This squeezes all the money's worth out of the 7.1%, and the malt body does not go to waste. The palate is full-bodied, and this has enough layers to beckon complexity. It has good duration too...each sip lingers. You get a lot of straight Porter in the front, but by the mid palate this drops coffee and chocolate. The back end rounds out with earthy coffee notes, hints of macaroons, and malt balls. This cleans up nicely would expect loads of residual sugars and you really get none of that here. 

Rating: Divine Brew (4.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Decent Divine Brew on this. This is one of the best beers currently on tap in Kalamazoo, and you owe it to yourself to check this beer out. On top of that, One Well Brewing's other beers were good, and the vibe of their little bar is fantastic. Would definitely stop in again. 

Random Thought: The number one dark beer on my trip goes out to 18th Street Brewing...maybe more on that later. 

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.