New Brew Friday: May 6, 2016

May has arrived, and a long with it the warm weather and summer beers! Look for breweries across the country to begin to release light, refreshing, and often citrus flavored beers for the next couple of weeks. Here are four new releases for the first week of May, cheers!


Nitro Vanilla Porter by Breckenridge Brewery Breckenridge, CO

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“Our remarkably complex, wildly popular ale combines hints of chocolate, caramel, and coffee with an inventively delicious twist, for good measure. A vortex of flavors made even more alluring by a blast of nitrogen. Look for more from this series later this year.” Available: May 11th


El Sully by 21st Amendment Brewery San Francisco, CA

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” Who is El Sully? Grab a can of this Mexican-Style lager, head to the nearest beach, even if it’s imagined, and perhaps he’ll come to you. A crisp, drinkable beer with light notes of spice from Northern Brewer hops.” Available: Year Round/ Now


Summerhook by Redhook Brewery Seattle, WA

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“Say hello to Summerhook, Redhook’s new summer seasonal! Summerhook is a golden rye ale that is crisp, refreshing, and built for sunny days. Summerhook is a new addition to Redhook’s seasonal line up that features crisp hoppiness and rye malt characteristics. Summerhook’s light body and 4.7 percent ABV make it a refreshing must for the season.” Available: May 10


Alfalfa Kang by Off Color Brewing, 3Floyds Brewing Co., and Wiseacre Brewing Chicago, IL

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“A 6.2%  ABV Pale Ale with alfalfa and alfalfa honey was brewed in collaboration with 3 Floyds and Mephis brewery Wiseacre. Packaged in 750ml bottles and available on draft.” Available: April 2016

Brew Review: Luponic Distortion 001

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From the mind of Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson comes the experiemental, hop rotating series, Luponic Distortion. Every 90 days Matt and his team will brew a new beer with a variety of hops “designed to deliver mind-blowing flavors that break the rules with each new release.” Revolution No. 001 was canned in early March and features six different, some rare, hops that boast tropical fruit aromas and flavors. Once the 90 days is up, around early June, 001 will be retired for 002. This sample was poured from a 12 oz can into a 16 oz snifter and came in at 5.9% ABV.

Appearance: Light orange to gold in color with a large, white and frothy head. Translucent, thin to medium body.

Aroma: Tropical fruits, pineapple, mango, melon, grapefruit, lemon, peach, earthy hops, slight cracker

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Taste: Like the nose, tropical fruit forward in flavor. Pineapple, melon, grapefruit, and peach are all prominent. The mouthfeel is smooth and extremely juicy. The entire palate is coated in a fruity, refreshing juiciness. A touch of bitterness from the hops rounds out the beer, but the juicy, tropical flavors dominate. The body is light, refreshing, and a very smooth.

Rating 5/5: Luponic Distortion is my top IPA of 2016 thus far. The gigantic tropical fruit aromas are matched in the flavor and they create an extremely refreshing and tasty beer. The lower ABV and small amount of bitterness let these flavors shine, a real benefit for the experimental brew. I eagerly await for N0. 002 to see what Matt and Firestone Walker experiment with next!

Brew Review: Tocayo Hominy White Ale

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Chef Rick Bayless, famous across Chicagoland and nationally for his many award winning Mexican restaurants and other culinary collaborations, has begun another one of those collaborations, this time in the world of beer. Bayless and Constellation Brands, America’s third largest importer of beers including Corona and Modelo, have teamed up to create Tocayo Brewing Company. Tocayo Hominy White Ale is the company’s first beer, “a refreshing, sessionable wit beer inspired by the flavors of Mexico.” Hominy White Ale can be found on draft in locations across Illinois, as well as in bottle and can distribution. This sample was poured from a 12 oz can into a 10 oz snifter, and came in at 5.5% ABV.

Appearance: Vibrant gold in color. A large, white head appears after the pour. A bit hazy with a stream of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass.

Aroma: Belgian yeast, corn, orange, citrus, coriander, spices11f1df80-869c-46ab-a152-116e769da56c (1)

Taste: Citrus up front that’s authentic in taste and slightly sour. The familiar Belgian yeast, banana, coriander, and earthy hops are all present. The hominy is most noticeable in the body as it provides a creamy, corn forward base for all the exotic flavors to build off of. The finish features more spices, a bit more of the hops, and is very refreshing, not dry like most wit beers.

Rating 5/5: I have had numerous Belgian-style Wit beers this spring and Tocayo Hominy White Ale is easily my favorite. The Mexican inspired ingredients like the hominy and fresh orange zest pair wonderfully with the spice heavy Belgian ingredients. It’s light and refreshing yet still has a nice body and feel to it. Of course I sampled it with a taco dinner, an excellent pairing I highly recommend.

Along with the Tocayo project, Chef Rick Bayless has recently opened his first brewpub in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. Cruz Blanca features six house brewed beers along with guest brews like Tocayo, and a small Taqueria menu. For more information on the beers and full menu, click here.

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Brew Review: Oskar Blues Beerito

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Beerito, the awesomely named Mexican Lager by Oskar Blues, is the brewery’s latest release to hit full distribution. This amber lager is brewed with a mixture of German and Colorado grown malt and noble hops, and features a low ABV of 4%. Why is this considered a Mexican Lager? Beats me! Maybe Vienna Lager isn’t as appealing….anyway, let’s take a look.

Appearance: Amber, dark caramel in color. Large, frothy cream colored head. Light to medium body with some bubbles present.

Aroma: Malt heavy aroma. Toasty, bready caramel malt, dark bread, slight citrus, spicy hops

Taste: Like the nose, the flavor is malt forward, specifically caramel and toasted bread. The spice from the noble hops comes through in the finish yet is subtle. Hints of citrus.

Rating 3/5: Beerito is perfectly average, as the rating suggests. It’s light and drinkable, with a malt forward flavor. Not much else stands out, either positively or negatively. Why Oskar Blues markets an Oktoberfest-like beer as a Mexican Lager, I don’t know, but I dig the name.

Brew Review: Milkstachio

Today’s beer is a collaboration between Chicago’s Hop Butcher For the World (Formerly South Loop Brewing) and Dry Hop Brewers. Got all that? Good. Milkstachio is a winter seasonal that is exactly what it sounds like: a milk stout brewed with pistachios. I had been looking for this one for a while and finally found a four pack just outside Chicago’s city limits, and just in time before it’s summer hiatus. This sample was poured from the beautiful designed 16 oz can by Dan Grzeca, and poured into a 12 oz snifter. Milkstachio comes in at 6.0% ABV.

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Appearance: Jet black in color with a small to medium tan head. Body is light to medium with no light or bubbles present.

Aroma: Chocolate, roasted coffee, nutty sweetness

Taste: Coffee and sweet chocolate dominate. The pistachio is a bit hard to find but shows up slightly in the finish. Sweetness from the lactose boosts the chocolate and coffee flavors. Roasty, sweet, and  slightly nutty.

Rating 4/5: Not as much pistachio flavor as I had hoped, but still a good tasting milk stout. Milkstachio’s body is creamy, smooth, and very light thanks to the lower ABV. A bit more pistachio flavor would really put this one over the edge, but as a dessert beer, Milkstachio is an excellent, easy drinking choice.

Brew Review: Jalapeno Pepper Ale

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Pepper or chili infused beers are one of the many trends to hit the craft beer world over the last few years. These beers feature the fruity flavor of the roasted vegetables with the kick of heat pepper heads love. In some instances, like Ballast Point’s Habanero Sculpin, the heat can be intensely hot, dominating the flavor of the beer. Bent River Brewing Co, pride of Moline, IL, brews a jalapeno pepper wheat ale as a year round offering. The beer pairs fire roasted jalapenos with a medium bodied wheat base, and comes in at a low 3.8% ABV. This sample was poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 12 oz tulip glass.

Appearance: Amber to dark orange in color. A small cream colored head appears after the pour and dissipates quickly. Hazy, medium body.

Aroma: Jalapeno peppers, citrus, earthy hops, wheat. No heat in the aroma

Taste: Smoky jalapeno peppers right up front. The roasted, fruitiness of the peppers stands out rather than heat. The creamy, wheat base comes next and compliments the vegetable flavor. Hint of citrus hops in the finish, with still virtually no heat, just the flavor of the peppers.

Rating 4.5/5: Bent River’s Jalapeno Ale is packed with flavor, without being stupid hot. The roasted jalapenos bring a smoky, fruity taste to the wheat ale. The low ABV and refreshing finish make it an easy drinking, fun beer.

New Brew Friday: April 22, 2016

Check out this week’s new releases from brewers around the country:


Poolside Ale by Bell’s Brewery Kalamazoo, MI

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“A refreshing Belgian-inspired Wheat Ale, Poolside is fermented with Montmorency cherry juice made from cherries grown near Traverse City in northern Michigan. Our Cherry Stout is also made with this local ingredient. It adds a subtle tartness and bright counterpoint to clove and other fruit aromas that result from the Belgian specialty yeast strain used to ferment this beer.” Available: May 2016


Mocha Marlin by Ballast Point Brewing San Diego, CA

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“Our Black Marlin Porter is the perfect beer for a mocha mashup. The addition of the coffee and cocoa plays perfectly off the roast, chocolatey flavors of this English porter, while a hint of vanilla smooths it all out. It’s full-bodied, but not too sweet; try it for breakfast…or dessert.” Available: Coming Soon


Holy Moses White Ale by Great Lakes Brewing Company Cleveland, OH

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“Refreshment or bust! Orange peel, coriander, and chamomile stake their claim in this unfiltered Wit, named for our fair city’s founder, Moses Cleaveland. A Belgian wit ale spiced with orange peel, chamomile, and coriander.”Available: March-June 2016


Louisiana Spiced Ale by Abita Brewing Company Abita Springs, LA

 

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“In Louisiana, we like spice not just in our food, but in our lives and in our beer, too.  With hints of cayenne, celery, paprika, lemon peel and bay leaves, this beer has all the savory elements of a crawfish boil. Hopped with Cascades for a citrus flavor, it is refreshing, crisp and slightly sweet with enough kick to keep the party going.” Available: Spring-Summer 2016

Brew Review: Orange Avenue Wit

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Today we return to the sunny streets of Southern California to check out Orange Avenue Wit by Coronado Brewing Company. This So-Cal take on a Belgian Witbier  was named after the orange tree lined street Coronado calls home. Orange Avenue is brewed with fresh orange zest, orange blossom honey, and coriander to create a sweet, slightly spicy wheat beer. This sample was poured from a 12 oz bottle (also available in cans) and came in at 5.2% ABV.

Appearance: Light orange with a small white head that dissipates quickly. Thin to medium body.

Aroma: Orange zest, honey, coriander, earthy hops

Taste: Upfront is the familiar wheaty, coriander taste of a Belgian Witbier, similar to Blue Moon. Sweetness from the orange and honey come next and coat the palate. The orange flavor is reminiscent of orange candy or orange soda and the honey provides a nice amount of smoothness. The finish is dry and spicy.

Rating 3.5/5: Orange Ave is a nice take on the style but a bit too sweet for my liking. The honey and orange zest i thought created an artificial flavor that took away the meatiness of the wheat and coriander. Overall, it reminded me of an amped up Blue Moon. All in all, Orange Avenue is a good summertime beer ideal for the warmer weather.

Battle of the Brews: Chicago Pilsner

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Today we’re debuting another new feature for the site, Battle of the Brews! I will choose two similar beers and compare them head to head in appearance, aroma, and taste, ultimately choosing a winner. There are new trends, flavors, and styles constantly popping up in the beer world, and brewers from around the country try to stay competitive and put their spin on each new offering.

We will begin with two Chicago beers, both of which are entries into the new craft pilsner craze currently sweeping the country: Goose Island Four Star Pils vs Revolution Brewing’s Rev Pils. Both are giants in the Chicago market and both are brand new offerings from each brewery.Let’s see how they matchup!

Appearance:

Four Star: Straw yellow slightly leaning towards light orange. Foamy white head with a light to medium body.

Rev Pils: Pale yellow, extremely clear, with a much smaller head and much thinner body.

Winner: Four Star Pils

Aroma:

Four Star: Mild citrus, bready malt, crackers, hint of black pepper

Rev Pils: Tropical fruits, lemon, grapefruit, orange, hint of crackers

Winner: Rev Pils

Taste:

Four Star: Mild flavor, bready malt base with a hint of lemon, peppery hops in the finish. Dry & crisp.

Rev Pils: Extremely hoppy for a pilsner. Bold, tart lemon flavor coats the palate. Finish is refreshing and bready. Very drinkable.

Winner: Rev Pils

And the winner is:

Rev Pils. It’s body and appearance may be lacking, but its aroma and flavor easily carry the beer to a victory. Rev Pils is a hop loaded pilsner packed with citrus flavor, yet is light and refreshing enough to enjoy a few on a warm Chicago day. The bready, cracker like finish is just enough to classify it as a true pilsner.

 

Brew Review: Rev Pils

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Brand new from Chicago’s newest Craft Beer King, Rev Pils is Revolution Brewing’s  take on the popular German Pilsner style that’s taken the craft beer world by storm. Revolution uses a mix of German malt and hops with pure Lake Michigan water for their “American approach to a traditional German pilsner.” This sample was poured from a 12 oz can into a 16 oz pint glass, and comes in at 5.5% ABV.

Appearance: Light yellow, straw colored. Body is thin, clear, and very bubbly. A foamy white head appears after the pour.

Aroma: Crackers, lemon citrus, earthy hops

Taste: Huge citrus bitterness upfront. Tart lemon dominates and coats the entire palate, eventually giving way to a mild malt profile that’s reminiscent of crackers or white bread. The finish is crisp and refreshing, with the tartness from the lemon /hops still lingering. The body feels large for a pilsner yet drinkable. Definitely an amped up take on the style.

Rating 4/5: Pilsners can lack flavor, but Revolution has made sure this isn’t the case with Rev Pils. The citrus hops almost come off as too strong and if it wasn’t for the familiar pilsner finish, you would think you were drinking a hoppy lager or even pale ale. With this said, the flavorful beer was still quite enjoyable and I could easily see it becoming a popular summertime beer. It’s light, refreshing, and packed with a lemon flavor perfect for the warmer months.