July 31, 2017

Triptych Dank Meme

Brewed By: Triptych Brewing in Savoy, Illinois  
Purchased: 64oz growler from the brewery; filled on Saturday, July 29th, 2017 
Style/ABV: New England APA, 5.0%
Reported IBUs: 45

Dank Meme ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
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Triptych are that brewery from Savoy, Illinois that no one is talking about because they are a brewery from Savoy, Illinois. It's the butthole armpit of Illinois, albeit with slightly less racism than what you'd get if you went a few clicks south. This is one of many Kickstarter breweries, but clearly one of the better executed efforts.

Dank Meme is the kid brother Pale Ale to Really Dank Meme, the brewery's amped up New England IPA. It has been and is available in cans, and I've seen distro as far North as Chicago.

In terms of appearance, this dials in juicy orange juice with very little room for interpretation. The beer kicks up solid head, and the carbonation hangs around leaving ample webs of lacing. This is very much a hazy affair, and much like prison OJ, even my brightest desk lamp is unable to penetrate.

The aroma is dialed back compared to the Really Dank Meme, and drops more of that water crest malt base. I get tons of peach and guava, pretty legit mango, some shades of red papaya, sweet pineapple, banana waffers, and light grass/hemp. It's like a Tony Magoo apparatus and channels those West Coast weed field vibes...but with more water than the West Coast has seen in the past 10 years. 

This is dialed in shit, cutting across your tongue like a juicy/wet blade of grass. Up front is a splash of hemp and peach and guava, with pineapple and green banana following. The back end bitters up with some papaya and lingering mango notes. It's so wet and drinkable the juice label is apropos. Mouthfeel is is medium-light, with good palate depth and complexity. This is not overly light or basic, and that is often the trap these New England Pale Ales fall into. This unfolds in three waves with those hemp/peach/guava notes first, followed by that green banana, and finishing with mango/papaya. It's also balanced and has nice bitterness. 

Rating: Strong Above-Average (4.0/5.0 Untappd)

Real talk, Triptych is brewing one of the best New England Pale Ale and New England IPA in Illinois. These guys are killing it. If you needed an excuse to visit the central part of the state, this is it. ISO. ISO more. MOARR. Triptych send me cans. 

Random Thought: 
What the foam did you just firkin say about beer, you little macro drinker? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Cicerone certification online program, and I’ve been involved in numerous bottle shares of rare beers, and I have over 300 Untappy check-ins. I am trained in home brewing and I’m the top shopper in my entire home brew supply store. You are nothing to me but just another line mule. I will passive-aggressively complain about you to my wife with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my angry forum post. You think you can get away with saying that macro swill to me over the Internet? Think again, /r/craftbeer poster. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of homebrewers across the USA and your yeast strain is being traced right now so you better prepare for the knowledge storm, pale lager drinker. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your “beer knowledge”. Your cellar is drain poured, hipster-hater. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can brew beer in over seven hundred ways, and that’s just with my natural body yeast. Not only am I extensively trained in beer blogging, but I have access to the entire arsenal of Garret Olive’s bees and I will use it to its full extent to make delicious bee-barelywine-ales with all the presidents, you plebian macro drinking scum. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your craft beer a little higher. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you Yinlin-chugging, Heady-Topper-drinking-from-the-can-er-er. I will downvote all your terrible beerporn posts in /r/craftbeer, and you will ruin your BCBS keg by giving it a handjob. You’re not even a level one Cicerone, bro.

March 11, 2017

[Cellar Review] 2017 Traquair House Ale VS. 2013 Traquair House Ale

2013 Vintage Traquair Ale
The Traquair House Ale is an instant classic. The beer has gained notoriety for its interesting history and ability to be aged. I lucked into a few bottles of this beer back in 2013, and thought I would throw one in my cellar. I was thinking about when I wanted to pull the beer and try it. And as fortune would have it, while cruising the import aisle at Binny's looking for some Irish Dry Stouts, I stumbled upon a new vintage of the House Ale. So here we are.

The two beers in their glory:

Brewed By: Traquair in Innerleithen, Borders, Scotland  
Purchased: 500ml (1 pint, 0.9oz) bottle bought at Jewel-Osco in Chicago, IL; 2013 
Style/ABV: Scotch Ale, 7.2%
Reported IBUs: ?
Best By Date: June 2018

2017 Vintage Traquair Ale
Brewed By: Traquair in Innerleithen, Borders, Scotland  
Purchased: 500ml (1 pint, 0.9oz) bottle bought at Binny's in Chicago, IL; 2017 
Style/ABV: Scotch Ale, 7.2%
Reported IBUs: ?
Best By Date: May 28, 2026

[2013] Appearance: Both beers kick up an eggshell head, but the body of the 2013 House Ale is considerably more murky and worn. There are ruby red tones, but they reside in a swampy haze.

[2017] Appearance: Ruby red, filtered, and deceptively looking like your run of the mill bottle of Shamal Adams. An intriguing, ruby body.

[2013] Aroma: Here is where these two beers depart. The 2013 bottle features peat moss, raisins, leather, faint wood/barrel, oxidation, sherry, some port wine, hints of fortified marsala, and these beautiful tropical and stone fruit notes that come across through shades of peat moss. 

Side-by-Side
[2017] Aroma: The 2017 beer is brighter on the nose immediately, and has a strong grain and malt presence, with a fair amount of peat. There is oak, Scotch Whisky, toffee, caramel, and some toast. Cereal grains are present, and the beer smells warm and inviting. It smells not unlike a brewery. Lots of peat.

[2013] Taste: Wow. Not at all what I was expecting, the 2013 vintage basically sips like a nice peat whisky, sans the alcohol and burn. This is all about the sweet peat moss, with notes of raisins, woodsy mushrooms, musty leaves, peat, peat moss, greens, shades of fruitiness, and some lingering barrel character on the back. As the beer opens up in my glass, I'm getting some fruity notes too (probably from the yeast). Interesting stuff.

[2017] Taste: The taste of the 2017 vintage mirrors the nose in many ways. This is an assertive, grain-forward beer with lots of peat notes. There's a fair amount of astringency from the grain (and water and barrel, hang on) which drops some cereal and toasty notes. The barrel adds oak and wood tannin, and peat moss. The water is hard. There's a whole lot of peat. 

[2013] Finish: Wonderfully complex, this lays Scotch whisky in your glass and doesn't look back. The beer is medium-full, with shades of peat moss, fruit, grain and barrel tannin. There's some oak, chocolate, musty mushrooms, and layers of complex and developed graininess. Palate depth is banging, and this is endlessly complex. It really develops in waves, with peat moss and Scotch whisky up front, fruity notes and then oak/chocolate in the mids, and lingering musty mushrooms and wood and barrel in the back. 

[2017] Finish: The 2017 vintage is thicker, heftier, hoppier, and maltier. It is probably more in line with what I would look for in a beer as a pretty stereotypical American craft beer nerd. The beer is medium-bodied, with good palate depth and moderate to full duration. Each sip does linger in your mouth for 30-60 seconds. And there's good depth of flavor here. You get grains and peat moss up front; cereal and hoppy bitterness in the mids; the back end drapes some of the wood tannin, oak, and more peat moss. The lingering flavor is decidedly the peat moss. If you like Scotch whisky, this is a good contender. 
With flash/potato: 2017 on the left, 2013 on the right

[2013] Rating: Decent Above-Average (4.25/5.0 Untappd)

This was fun to age, and I would age a bottle again. I think the aged bottle is more complex and more intriguing, although it appeals less to my own preferences and sensibilities. I'm not a huge Scotch whisky guy, but I enjoy the complexities of a good peat drink. The layers of grain, smoke, and complex fruitiness are nice. There's no doubts about it, the 2013 bottle morphed into something quite nice and complex. 

[2017] Rating: Light Above-Average (4.0/5.0 Untappd)

All around this is sweeter, hoppier, and smells and tastes like a brewery. The peat moss pops in as a secondary note, and brings along some oak, wood, and fruitiness. The yeast contributes some fruity characteristics to the beer as well. It's good, even thought it is not my go-to jam. It's no Dubbel. But this is an admittedly awesome beer. If you do see it, pick it up. This is one of those beers that comes around once in a while, and is worth checking out.

Random Thought: Proof that cellaring doesn't have to be super serious. Go buy some beers, stick them in your cellar, and see what happens. 

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.