Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Heat Is On!

 After a long and stressful week at work, and with the arrival of hotter and humid weather, I chose a few good beers to relax and cool off with this weekend.  My first choice was Raygun IPA from Backpocket Brewery  This is a brewery I really need to tour, as I've heard from several people the brew house and taproom are beautiful.  Well guess what?  There beer is pretty good too.  I've been most impressed with my last two offerings from them.  Cane Blade (mentioned in the last entry) and this 7% ABV, Galaxy hopped Raygun IPA.  This is what I look for in an IPA.  Well balanced, great aroma, bitter, but not overpowering, and drinks like a 4% beer.  Cheers to Backpocket!  Featured in this picture in Jawbreaker from Skylanders.  Joseph insisted he was featured this entry!

I picked up this Clementine White Ale on my Spring trip to Delaware, and it seemed like to perfect time to enjoy this brew.  I was right!  This citrus, sweet, white wheat was just what I needed to cool off in the humid weather.  To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this beer, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The citrus was perfectly balanced with the spices, wheat, and Belgian yeast.  This is an easy drinking White Ale that would be perfect on the beach, camping, or just relaxing in the back yard.  
Recently I've seen a few people on the beer boards that have made the trek to the West Coast, and would post all these beers that I've only read about before.  So when I came across Ballast Point's Grapefruit Sculpin at Family Beer and Liquor in East Dubuque, I had to try it. I'm glad I did.  This was an excellent,  well balanced IPA whose flavors and aroma married perfectly with the citrus of the grapefruit. They did a great job of keeping the grapefruit subtle so it blended perfectly with the citrus of the hops, and showing why this is an award winning IPA.
Next time you're in the East Dubuque area, stop into Family Beer and Liquor (the store with the best name) and check out the amazing Craft Beer selection that Tim has amassed for our enjoyment.

Other than making it easier to enjoy some great summer brews, the hot and humid weather has also helped the Jalapeno peppers grow.  I've received two bags of peppers from my brother in-law Jared, and today I put them to good use.  A quick and easy pickling recipe will keep these pickles fresh and delicious all year round.  If only we had a bigger fridge so I could do more!

I'm currently lining up a tour with what may be the Midwest's best brewery, and will post more about that as soon as the details are ironed out.  I also hope to be meeting up with Dan from Dogfish Head Brewery in a few weeks when he makes a trip back to Iowa, so hopefully we can share a few brews together.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015


Summer is in full swing.  So it's time for outside activities, which in our house is mostly going to the pool and playing outside with the dogs.  I haven't had time for fishing this year, but I did make time to go to the Blasen Family Golf Outing a few weeks back.  This is me and my brother in-law Marty enjoying the ride from my nephew Charlie.  Charlie (age 9) was a pretty good driver, and much safer than his older brother Jake (age 11.)  After two holes with Jake driving, I took the wheel to finish up the coarse.  I had a great day with my dad, Marty, and the boys, and was able to catch up with some family I haven't spent much time with lately.  I also enjoyed a Founder's All Day IPA, and a few Blue Moons in the golf cart.  I would've have more of the Founder's, but Casey hogged it all.  Next year, I'll know better get there early!!
What's the best thing to do on the hottest weekend of the year.  Of course the answer is go camping!!  Last weekend we met up with Chad and Annie for a sweaty weekend outdoors (with the occasional trip inside their camper to cool off.)  We enjoyed a few brews by the fire (you know, because it wasn't  hot enough so we really needed to make a fire.)  The stand out brew for me was Cane Blade from Backpocket Brewing.  It's a deceptively smooth double IPA that was very delicious.  I've heard from a reliable source, they will have a new wheat beer and a Quad coming out in the near future.  I was also able to pick up a bottle of their new Raygun IPA on the way home.  I just hope it's as good as the Cane Blade.
Camping at Lake Red Rock, we were only 14 miles away from Knoxville, so it would've been a shame if we didn't check out Peace Tree Brewing.  Luckily for us, the heat gave us a great excuse to go into town, and sit in the air conditioned taproom for a bit.  Pictured to the left is No Coast IPA.  This 7.25% American IPA was just what I needed to cool down.  A mixture of pine and citrus from the hops in the well balanced brew, that was just bitter enough to make it interesting, yet still easily drinkable.

The other beer I had was their Templeton Sidekick, a 6% ABV Kolsch aged in Templeton Rye barrels.  Kolsch is near the bottom of the list of beers I would normally order, but I am a sucker for Templeton Rye Whiskey.  I actually really enjoyed this beer, and you won't hear me say this a lot, but it would've been even better if there was less whiskey flavor to it.  I think maybe mixing the barrel aged beer with the unaged Kolsch, would've made this an even more enjoyable beer.

I also took home a growler of Hop Wrangler, a 6.25% ABV, Belgo-American IPA.  This is the beer that really made me take notice of what Peace Tree was doing years ago.  I have to say, my will power is pretty amazing, as it's still in my fridge.  Come on Friday night!!
After ditching us guys for some ice cream our families met us back and the tap room, and Joseph was able to enjoy his first brewery made rootbeer.  (His hair is getting so long, it went into the rootbeer before he even had a chance to taste it!)  A few minutes later, his uncle Chad made him laugh so hard, he ended up with rootber all over his face.

I was very impressed with the tap room.  They refinished an old industrial building and turned it into a beautiful gathering place.  I would also like to point out, that their service was top notch.  If you're in the Knoxville area, I would highly recommend stopping by for a few beers.  Overall, we had a nice afternoon at the taproom, and after going back out into the heat, we probably should have stayed there longer.
Arson and Toby playing tug-o-war when we got home (and it cooled down!)

I know, I know, I said I'd review Toppling Goliath's collaboration with Mikkeller.  I didn't forget, here's Nelson Schmelsson shown to the right, along with the new bottle caps from TG.  Wow!  That's it, just wow!  I thought this beer was absolutely amazing!  The powerful hop aroma hits you as soon as you open the bottle, and gets even better as you pour it.  Dank.  Dank is thrown about a lot in beer boards lately, and it really fits this brew.  Dank to me is just another was of saying hoppy goodness.  This beer has plenty of that, and a solid, malty body to go with it.  To be honest, this is one of the best beers I've had all year.  Congrats to Clark, Mike, and the rest of the Hop Patrol at TG, and the guys at Mikkeller for making such a fantastic Double IPA!
Word on Twitter is that TG will be releasing their Morning Delight in the near future.  This has been another of those elusive TG beers I haven't had yet, but will do my best to get a hold of this year, and of course, write about.  I also hope to have more from TG coming up, so keep checking back.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

I know you're all surprised that I'm starting this entry off with yet another Toppling Goliath beer.  This time I went for the Mosiac hop bomb Pompeii.  It's exactly what I've come to expect in an IPA from TG.  Loads of amazing aroma, good malt body, and loads more of hop flavor with not too much bitterness.  They always do a great job of balancing their IPA's just right so they're incredibly hoppy without being overly bitter.  Another great example of a Midwest IPA.
I've been saving this bottle for over 6 months to split with my brother in-law.  So, when he came over on Father's Day (to bring me the bottle of Pompeii,) I had to open it up.  This has to be one other the better Barley Wines I've ever had.  Another perfectly balanced beer with the thick, sweet malt, and citrus, hoppy bitterness.  Now I wish I would've grabbed a few more bottles when it came out!

You may also notice my son's new Skylander toy holding my Father's Day gift, a new beer bottle opener/magnet.
Lagunitas Sucks!  Great name and even better beer.  This is by far my favorite offering from Lagunitas that I've had so far.  They make very solid IPA's, but most are just a bit too bitter for my taste.  This one I found not quite so bitter, with a ton of citrus hop aroma and flavor that makes it a pretty damn good brew.
I haven't had a lot of Mikkeller beer in the past, what I had was always good, but not blow me away good.  To be honest, their high price tag is usually enough to keep me from trying more.  I found this IPA, Better Half, while I was on vacation, and decided to give it a try.  I was very pleased.  It is a solid IPA, with great aroma and flavor, but again, just a bit too bitter on the back end for me.  But still, if it was a bit cheaper, I would have no problem buying a 6 or 12 pack of these for camping.  They also recently brewed a Double IPA with Toppling Goliath called Nelson Schmelson, which will be in my next entry.  I've heard mixed reviews of it, but I'm very excited to try it.
One of my favorite breweries, Single Speed out of Cedar Falls, got together with another good Iowa brewery from Iowa City, Backpocket.  They brewed this magnificent Golden Bock.  This is not a style I would normally buy, but I decided to support my local breweries, and was rewarded for it.  Huge, thick, malty body, with loads of hoppy goodness.  For less than $5, this 7% ABV treasure is an absolute steal.

I'm about 2 weeks out from my last spinal steroid injection, and yet again, no super powers.  Oh well, at least I'm starting to get relief from the back pain again.  Who knows, maybe next time.  Tomorrow is my family's annual golf outing, I'll be riding along in the golf cart enjoying a few brews instead of golfing, so we'll see what makes it into the next entry.  I also hope to be doing a brewery tour or two soon.

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Don't forget: Life's too short to drink bad beer!