The Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery is probably my favorite Twin Cities brewpub. This is in part because it is within walking distance of my home. It’s always nice to be able to have a brew (or a few) and not have to worry about driving. The main reason though is the beer. Brewmaster Mike Hoops and his crew craft a wide assortment of great tasting, advice ever-changing, and sometimes innovative beers. New releases happen every week.
I talked with Mike Hoops during the Saturday afternoon session of the Great American Beer Festival on September 18th. During the interview he talked a bit about trends he’s seeing in craft beer (herbal beers anyone?), as well as happenings at the brewpub, including an upcoming anniversary celebration and the opening of a new South Minneapolis taproom.
Seeyoulator Doppelbock Boulevard Brewing Company, tadalafildiagnosis Kansas City, cialis Missouri
Style: Cedar-Aged Doppelbock
Serving Style: 750 ml Bottle
Aroma: Woody with sweet caramel malt beneath. Undertones of dark fruit and herbs.
Appearance: Deep, check clear mahogany. Large and persistent, creamy, tan head. Pretty beer.
Flavor: Prominent malt flavors; toffee, toast, bread crust, and hints of coffee, raisins and figs. Moderate bitterness balances the sweet malt with cooling herbal hop flavors. As the beer warms subtle spicy notes from the cedar make an appearance; cinnamon, clove, and allspice. Alcohol is noticeable. The dry finish lingers on toffee, herbs, and earth. Vaguely distracting phenolic impression giving the faintest suggestion of something Belgian yeasty.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full body, yet easy to drink. Creamy with low carbonation. Somewhat warming.
Overall Impression: This is a nice winter curl-up-by-the-fire kind of beer. The cedar-wood spice adds a layer of complexity to the already complex doppelbock malt. I’m not sure where that slight phenolic note came from. The wood perhaps. It was a bit distracting, but not enough to spoil this otherwise enjoyable beer.
Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth is a multi-faceted brewpub/restaurant/musical-entertainment venue located in the original 1881 brewhouse of the old A. Fitger and Company Lake Superior Brewery. With three different concepts under one roof (the Brewhouse Grille, health Red Star Lounge, sildenafil and Burrito Union), Brewmaster Dave Hoops has his hands full keeping over 20 beers on tap at any given time. And good beers they are, too.
I caught up with Dave during the Saturday afternoon session of the Great American Beer Festival. Here’s the interview.
We shot a lot of video interviews with local and not-so-local brewers at the Great American Beer Festival last month. I am just now finding the time to pull those videos into the computer and edit them. Look for a few of these to go up in the next week or two.
The first interview is with Eric Harper and Eric Blomquist, sitesales brewers at Summit Brewing Company. Just a bit before the interview was conducted, see they had been on stage accepting the Silver Medal for Summit EPA. Congratulations again to Summit!
Anchor Brewing Company’s promo for Humming Ale, their fall seasonal release, states that “HUMMING is an ancient term used centuries ago to describe both ales and beers.” This tie to beer history is one that piqued my interest. Presumably the use here of the words “ales” and “beers” refers to the olden days when beers were made with hops and ales were un-hopped. (To find out more about the different uses of the terms “ale” and “beer” through time check out Martyn Cornell’s Zythophile blog. It’s geeky stuff, but fascinating if you are into that kind of thing. I’m into that kind of thing.) But what of this term “humming?”
Numerous internet searches only turned up one historical reference. An 1889 book titled The Curiosities of Ale & Beer: an Entertaining History, by Charles Henry Cook, John Greville Fennel, and J. M. Dixon has this to say:
“Another epithet applied to ale, and denoting great strength, was ‘humming,’ and a reason for the term is shown by the extract from a letter from John Howell to Lord Ciffe (seventeenth century), who, in speaking of metheglin, says ‘that it keeps a humming in the brain, which made one say that he loved not metheglin because he was used to speak too much of the house he came from, meaning the hive.’ The humming in the head would be equally applicable to the effects of ale as of metheglin, though the hive would only apply to the latter. The same idea is sometimes expressed by the term hum-cup, as in the lines from the old Sussex sheep-shearing song, beginning :—
‘Tis a barrel then of hum-cup, which we call the black ram.”
Another reference to Humming Ale in the same book is this poem by Charles Dibdin the younger that relates a tale of the socializing power of beer.
THE BARREL OF HUMMING ALE.
Old Owen lived on the brow of an hill,
And he had more patience than pelf;
A small plot of ground was his labour to till,
And he toiled through the day by himself.
But at night crowds of visitors called at his cot,
For he told a right marvellous tale ;
Yet a stronger attraction by chance he had got,
A barrel of old humming ale.
Old Owen by all was an oracle thought,
While they drank not a joke failed to hit;
But Owen at last by experience was taught,
That wisdom is better than wit.
One night his cot could scarce hold the gay rout,
The next not a soul heard his tale,
The moral is simply they’d fairly drank out
His barrel of old humming ale.
From these references it would seem that the term “humming ale”, while perhaps not exactly ancient, refers to some sort of strong ale. And Anchor’s Humming Ale is sneaky strong. It’s deceptively light body masks a surprising 5.9% ABV.
Here’s my notes:
Anchor Brewing Company, San Francisco, California
Style: Something very much like a strong bitter
Serving Style: 12 oz Bottle
Aroma: Citrusy hops; orange mostly with some grapefruit pith. Lightly sweet caramel malt lies beneath the hops. Softly fruity.
Appearance: Voluminous and persistent ivory head. Light amber color with slight haze.
Flavor: Hops dominate. Solidly bitter, but not excessive. High levels of hop flavor; earthy, floral, grassy, orange/grapefruit pith. Grainy sweet malt barely balances at first, but comes in more fully as the beer warms with caramel notes making an appearance. Orange notes are also enhanced with warming. Finish is dry with lingering hops and light sweetness.
Mouthfeel: VERY light body, almost thin. Surprising for the 5.9% ABV. Medium carbonation.
Overall Impression: Basically this is a hopped-up English bitter with a pumped-up alcohol content. Light, easy to drink, and clearly on the hoppy side, with hops carrying through and through; aroma, bitterness, and flavor clear into the finish. Let it warm up a bit or the hops become too aggressive and harsh. The alcohol content was a surprise.
I met briefly with Joe Heron, CEO of Crispin Cider yesterday; always a pleasure. I was fortunate to walk away with a pre-release bottle of a new, very limited-edition, 8.3% apple wine called The Jacket. The Jacket is a blend of four apple-wines that is aged in Jack Daniels barrels. The first and second parts of the blend are the undiluted base of The Saint and Lansdowne, Crispin’s Artisanal Reserve ciders fermented with Belgian ale yeast and Irish ale yeast respectively. The remaining portions are a Colfax varietal apple-wine and a wild-fermented apple-wine.
The name is obviously inspired from the Jack Daniels barrels used for aging. A less obvious inspiration is the band My Morning Jacket, one of Heron’s favorites. This is an extremely limited release; only 1000 cases were made. The Jacket will debut on October 28th in Louisville, at a St. Crispin’s day event benefiting the Louisville Youth Orchestra. Look for a Minnesota release on or near that date.
Here’s my notes:
Crispin Cider Company, Minneapolis, MN
Style: Barrel Aged Apple Wine
Serving Style: 12 oz. Bottle
Aroma: Deep. Earthy. Applesauce with brown sugar. Background whiffs of bourbon that stick in the nose. Oaky vanilla.
Appearance: Murky gray-brown. Light carbonation bubbles. Not exactly pretty to look at, but the appearance is appropriately earthy and mysterious for the flavor and aroma.
Flavor: Deep, dark and mysterious. My grandmother’s homemade applesauce. Earth, oak, and must. Loamy. Notes of vanilla, wood and bourbon that ebb and flow in and out with each sip. Lightly tart acidity. Gentle alcohol. It finishes tart, but then lingers on apple-pie-like raisins and brown sugar. This apple wine conjures an image of an old, graying, wooden crate that has sat for decades in a barn.
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and warming. Lightly spritzy. Alcohol warms all the way down.
Overall Impression: There is a lot going on here. Sip this one slowly over time and let all the flavor sensations bounce around in your head. This is a thinking person’s cider; deep, rich, dark and old. It wants food. Maybe pork stewed with exotic spices. Or just savor it on it’s own.