November 21, 2016

Middle Brow Show Me Love

Brewed By: Middle Brow Beer Co. in Chicago, Illinois  
Purchased: 12.7oz bottle bought at West Lakeview Liquors in Chicago, Illinois; 2016 
Style/ABV: American Wild Ale/Saison, 6.9% ABV
Reported IBUs: ?

I'm popping my Middle Brow cherry by popping a raspberry saison. It sounds pretty great, actually.

Middle Brow Beer Company is a CHARITABLE brewery founded by a group of home brewers in Chicago, Illinois. 50% of their proceeds go to courageous people who are fighting to improve the community..

The Show Me Love is a "farmhouse ale aged in wine barrels with raspberries." Ingredients here include a brettanomyces blend, seedling farms raspberries, and cabernet sauvignon barrels. "A portion of the profits from every bottle sold go to Cure Violence, a Chicago-based international violence prevention program."  

Middle Brow Show Me Love
A hard pour yields some cackling carbonation that quickly settles into a lifeless, juicy beer. The body of this beer is shades of ruby and orange, and it is comparable to the color of the inside of a grapefruit. Little dots of carbonation explode on the beer's surface, indicating that the beer is properly carbed. If you shine a bright light through the beer you can pick up yeast sediment suspended in the body. 

The aroma on this is wonderful. There is griping acidity: apple cider vinegar, sour fruits, and WOOD. There is some oak and leather. There is definitely a red wine aspect to the aroma that comes through. I'm getting rich, red grapes, and big sour cherries. There's also a seedy aroma to this, like the pit of a very sour blackberry. 

This is really interesting to taste. There's an airiness to the mid-palate...but more on that in a minute. Up front I'm getting a lot of jammy fruits: namely raspberry, strawberry, and some sour cherries. There is a good amount of Saison character up front, and it has a fruity, farmhouse character. The back-end of the front palate drops the oak and wood. The lingering flavors on the back palate include wine barrel, white wine, oak, gooseberry, sour cherry, and faint cabernet sauvignon. There's also a light kiss of alcohol and observable heat on the back.

Structurally, this is a vinous beer. It is very dry and juicy, and the carb is flat and even. The palate progression is really interesting. The front end is loaded with all those interesting fruit and farmhouse notes, and the mids kind of drop out a bit. And then you get hit with a lot of the barrel, oak, wood, and wine notes. I really think this is a beer that unfolds in two waves. There's actually a lot of complexity here, and this is a sophisticated brew. This is definitely one to think over.

Rating: Average (3.25/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Strong Average on this. This has a ton of complex nuance, and reminds me of Goose Island's Lolita. The jammy fruits are there, and the barrel complexity and wine notes are on point. It's a little acidic, and the airy mids leave me wondering if some small changes can really push this beer into the realm of divine beers. I would definitely recommend picking this up to try. 

Random Thought: Speaking of Lolita...the prohibitive price on GI's Sisters has relegated them to shelf turd status. I can literally walk into my nearest Jewel (a middle-of-the-road, regional grocery store) and walk out with $26 bottles of GI sours. I guess times could be worse. 

November 7, 2016

Avery Vanilla Bean Stout

Brewed By: Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado  
Purchased: 22oz bomber bought at Binny's in Chicago, Illinois; 2016 
Style/ABV: American Imperial Stout, 11.0% on bottle, 10.8% on website
Reported IBUs: ?

Avery is doing some very cool stuff these days. If you would have said to me earlier this year, "Hey man, there's this awesome bourbon barreled vanilla stout, you wouldn't believe who brewed it." I would be probably be like, "Okay who?" And you'd be like, "Avery." And I'd be like, "'re right."

Ahhh...Avery. What to say about these guys. Avery is a brewery that was founded in September 1993 by homebrewer Adam Avery. You've heard this story before: homebrewer makes awesome beer, homebrewer jumps into the booming craft beer scene with great beer. Between 1993 and now, Avery has expanded numerous times, including bigger tanks in 1995 and in 1997. In 2000, the brewery replaced their brewhouse, and in 2002 more tanks were added, and 2004 marked the second year of Avery's barrel program. Since then, it's been all uphill with more expansion, canned beer, and continued success. To read more, check out Avery's website.

The Vanilla Bean Stout is a new[?] addition to Avery's lineup of beers. Brewed with a trio of "Tongan, Ugandan, and Mexican whole vanilla beans," the beer also pulls vanilla flavors from bourbon barrels. They also seem to add a pinch of chocolate, caramel and molasses.
Avery Vanilla Bean Stout

I won't comment much on the appearance, which looks like every other Imperial Stout ever. It is a fairly opaque affair, with bright light failing to penetrate this beer's body. You get the rooby dooby reds on the edges, and the head retention is nice.

I'm not sure if this is flash pasteurized. I'm not sure why I would mention that in the aroma section. The aroma is creamy and rich, with vanilla bean, vanilla ice cream, crème brûlée, cheese cake, light wood and bourbon, molasses and burnt caramel sugars, and light notes of dark and white chocolate. There's some berry notes and alcohol as well.

This follows the nose with some added layers of alcohol and wood. It starts out with rich unfolding vanilla: cake, cream soda, coconut cake, vanilla bean, crème brûlée, cheese cake. There's some light coffee and roast, but this mostly sits in the realm of vanilla and dark fruits. There's a touch of wood and oak, and some nice alcohol to boot. 

The alcohol in here is a welcome and needed piece of the puzzle. Since this beer stays away from the heavy dark malts and over-the-top bourbon/barrel character, the profile could be nothing but vanilla. Fortunately, that is not the case. The alcohol and dark fruit notes offset the rich vanilla profile. This is NOT an overly sweet beer. It tastes weirdly balanced, with just the right amount of sweetness -- and that is in spite of the lack of dark malts. As this warms up the alcohol gets brighter, and the beer takes on a creamy root beer/cream soda aspect. This is moderately complex and develops with a smattering of vanilla and dark fruits, followed by lingering vanilla on the mids, and alcohol on the back. The wood comes and goes. 

Rating: Light Above-Average (3.75/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Light Above-Average on this. Actually, if this ends up shelf turding alongside New Holland's Dragon's Milk, breweries are going to need to watch out. This tastes kind of like how I imagine Breckenridge's 
Twenty Five was supposed to taste. This is good stuff. You can't beat the price or the availability. I hope Avery keeps this year round, because I would occasionally pick this up. 

Random Thought: Tonight's drama is titled, "kitchen nightmares." Or, how a simple batch of chili could become me cleaning up giant messes in the kitchen.

August 27, 2016

Karben4 Fantasy Factory

Brewed By: Karben4 Brewing in Madison, Wisconsin  
Purchased: 12oz bottle from a 6-pack bought at Pueblo Food and Liquors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 2016 
Style/ABV: American India Pale Ale, 6.3%
Reported IBUs: ?

The best beers are the ones you stumble upon with little or no expectations. I was on a drunken pilgrimage in Milwaukee to celebrate my friend's upcoming foray into holy matrimony when our bachelor party discovered this hilariously labeled beer. Of course we bought it. 

Karben4 brewing is a brewery based out of Madison that was "founded by Appleton, WI natives." The brewery is run by brewmaster, Ryan Koga,and business entrepreneurs Alex Evans and Zak Koga. But more importantly, there is a cat riding a unicorn that is breathing fire on the label of Fantasy Factory. 

The beer pours into a hazy orange body, with lots of sediment just kicking around in the body of the beer. The head retention is on point, and there is plenty of carb. This is a murky beer with lots of crap floating around. Homebrew levels of's not even juicy. But I love that dank, raw execution. If they ever filter this beer I'll be sad.1

The aroma is on point with how the beer tastes, and hits deep resinous hops. This drifts into weed-land, with hints of bong smoke, and then drops a layer of Mosaic hops with tropical fruits and pineapple. I'm also thinking this is hopped with Nelson Sauvin, as it has a pretty grape-y aroma, with some white grapes and gooseberry. 
Karben4 Fantasy Factory

Malts are what you notice first, followed by the dank weed-like blast of hemp oil, bong smoke, grapes (instantly transporting me to my nostalgic first experience with Nelson Sauvin), and some tropical fruit. This has a pretty rich malt base that is reminiscent of a nice dry, yeasty/bready biscuit. It's kind of like drinking a biscuit blended with pineapple in your stoner brother's bedroom. If that sounds unappealing it ISN'T. This is delicious stuff...

If not for the resinous hop assault, this would be pretty juicy. It is juicy, but it also drifts into resin and bitterness. This is medium-bodied, and feels its weight at 6.3%. This is pretty much a new age West Coast American IPA through and through, with lots of resinous hop bite and biscuit malt up front, a shit load of tropical fruit and grape in the mids, and a bitter and drying finish that leaves l
ingering smashed pineapple and guava. There's some grapefruit and citrus in here as well.

Rating: Strong Above-Average (4.5/5.0 Untappd)

This is pretty good, as in if this was in my distribution area I would buy it regularly. This could rival Zombie Dust or War Bird or Gone Away as a daily drinker.

Random Thought: 
Master Musicians of Bukkake's album, Totem One, is a serious beast of an album.