Saturday, December 6, 2014

Beer Changes with the Weather

 As the weather gets colder, you'll find many beer drinkers turn to darker, thicker beers like Stouts.  I am no exception to that, not to say I still don't enjoy a good Pale Ale, Lager, or IPA too.  Some of the best Stouts in Iowa, and in the country are from Millstream Brewery in Amana, IA.  They are the oldest craft brewery in Iowa, and I think with all the new exciting choices of breweries we have these days, they sometimes get forgotten.  I'm here to tell you, that is a big mistake.  Their standard brews are perfect examples of high quality, dead on representations of their styles (i.e. Bock or Pilsner.)

But Chris really showcases his creativity with their Brewmaster's Extreme Series.  The Great Pumpkin Imperial Stout is exactly what I crave in the
fall.  It's a thick and complex Stout with loads of smooth pumpkin flavor.  This is one of my favorite pumpkin beers, and must have every autumn.

New to the lineup this year is the Raspberry Latte Stout.  I love a good coffee beer, but they are not easily found.  I thought Chris found a perfect balance of his great Stout, good strong coffee flavor (but not over powering,) and just a hint of raspberry.  Being a home brewer, I know how hard it is to blend the flavors properly, and on this beer there are so many great ones coming together it would have been very easy to mess this up.  I thought they nailed it.  This is a great beer that I can't wait to share with my brother in-laws at our next get together.
 When I first started to truly appreciate good beers, New Belgium was a mainstay for me.  These day, I don't buy them very often any more.  Is this because they aren't a great brewery?  No, it's because there are so many excellent options out there, I rarely buy the same beer multiple times anymore.  Sometime it's nice to get back to a familiar taste.  Their 1554 Black Lager is a perfect brew for that.  It's an extremely smooth beer, but still packed with complex flavors.  I think this is an excellent beer to try if you think you don't like dark beers, this may be the one to change your mind.
 The Bitter End by Two Brothers as an interesting take on a Pale Ale.  Good hop balance, and an unusual grain choice made this beer memorable to me.  I haven't had much from this brewery, but what I've had, has always been good and solid.  This is certainly a brewery worth trying.
 The beer I got from Doug (thanks to the Lions, see my last post,) was St. Bernardus Prior 8.  It's a tradition Abbey Dubbel, and it's exactly what I want and expect from this style.  It's thick and sweet with just a bit of the alcohol burn you'd expect from a Dubbel.  This is a great beer, and made all the better, because it was free and the Detroit Lions won.  Thanks Doug!
 I have some friends that I occasionally supply with some of my home brew.  A few weeks ago, I gave Pam a bottle of my Nugget Galaxy Amber Ale, and was surprised with a 6-pack sampler of New Glarus.  They are one of my favorite breweries, but you can only get them in Wisconsin.  Next time you get there, skip the cheese and check them out.

Spotted Cow is a mainstay for them, it's a light, yet flavorful brew that any beer drinker can enjoy, not just us beer geeks.
Speaking of beer geeks, I've been seeing this beer pop up on the Iowa beer Baron's Twitter feed lately (@iabeerbaron,) so I thought I should try it.  I was not disappointed.  Sour beers are an acquired taste.  The ones I like, I really like, and the ones I don't, I would never drink again.  This falls into the first category.  It's a great blend of maltiness and sour, and I found it very refreshing.  This is my first beer that I've tried from Destihl, and I can't wait to try more.

Below is my brother in-law Dale.  He's one of my family members that appreciates a good beer.  So when the family got together for thanksgiving, I had to share a Dale's Pale Ale with him.  This Pale Ale is loaded with hop flavor and bitterness, but also has a great malty backbone to balance that out.  Oskar Blues is another brewery that I have enjoyed the few selections that I've had so far, and can't wait to get a hold of more.

My next blog, I will list some of the best beers I've had this year.  Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments below.  You can also follow me on Twitter @Crinkletalk or on Untappd - Crinkletalk.

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