Posts Tagged ‘Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club’

Beers of the British Isles (take two)

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

The July Meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club

When: Friday, July 30, 2010
Cost: $25
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to join and RSVP.

Great Britain has a long and storied beer history. Its brewers invented porter and then made it the first mass produced industrial beer. It is the origin of IPA. Baltic Porter and Imperial Stout were both born here, as were Irish stout, milk stout, and oatmeal stout. And what would life be like without the traditional Bitters? And its beer culture is still going strong today in pubs across Britain, where real ale is still pumped from casks the old-fashioned way.

English ales were the original inspiration for the American craft beer movement and the reason many a craft brewer on this side of the ocean began brewing in the first place. Most of them still include at least one traditional English style beer in their line-ups.

For this meeting we’ll sample our way through the beers of the British Isles from subtle bitters to big imperial stouts. We’ll taste the wares of brewers from over there and from over here. We might even do a blind tasting or two to see who does it best.

Beers of the British Isles

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

The June Meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club

When: Friday, June 11, 2010
Cost: $25
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to join and RSVP.

Great Britain has a long and storied beer history. Its brewers invented porter and then made it the first mass produced industrial beer. It is the origin of IPA. Baltic Porter and Imperial Stout were both born here, as were Irish stout, milk stout, and oatmeal stout. And what would life be like without the traditional Bitters? And its beer culture is still going strong today in pubs across Britain, where real ale is still pumped from casks the old-fashioned way.

English ales were the original inspiration for the American craft beer movement and the reason many a craft brewer on this side of the ocean began brewing in the first place. Most of them still include at least one traditional English style beer in their line-ups.

For this meeting we’ll sample our way through the beers of the British Isles from subtle bitters to big imperial stouts. We’ll taste the wares of brewers from over there and from over here. We might even do a blind tasting or two to see who does it best.

Category 23: Specialty Beers

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

The May Meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club

When: Friday, May 21, 2010
Cost: $25
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to join and RSVP.

In the Beer Style Guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) there is a place called Category 23. Like the infamous Area 51 deep in the Nevada desert, Category 23 is a place of mystery and myth. It is a category that only the most intrepid individuals dare to judge. Category 23 is a realm of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas; a wondrous category whose boundaries are that of imagination. You enter this realm by unlocking the door of experimentation and crossing over into…specialty beers.

For this meeting we’ll taste beers that don’t fit anywhere else. We’ll try beers that utilize unusual techniques and abnormal ingredients; beers that mimic traditional or historical styles. In short, Category 23 is the place for any experimental beer that the brewer creates. This is where we will go. Are you up to it?

Beers of Scandinavia

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The April Meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club

When: Friday, April 2, 2010
Cost: $25
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to join and RSVP.

If you think very much about Scandinavian beer (and it’s doubtful that you do) you probably have images of middle-of-the-road golden lagers. Until recently, with some notable exceptions, that is what you would find. But recently the Scandinavian countries have been experiencing a microbrewing boom inspired in large part by the craft beer industry in the United States. As of a couple years ago Denmark led the world in breweries per capita. Innovative brewers are pushing local palates from Norway to Finland with Nordic twists on American, Belgian and English styles. Scandinavian craft brewers tend toward bigger beers and hoppy styles, but exercise a balance that ties them closely to English and continental traditions.

For this meeting we’ll sample selections from some of the most innovative of the Nordic breweries, Mikkeller, Nøgne-Ø, Huvila, and Haand Bryggeriet to name a few. We’ll also try some of those exceptions that I mentioned above, like Carnegie Stark Porter. It’ll be a celebration of our Minnesota Scandinavian roots (even if you’re not from here).

Wild Beers

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The March Meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club.

When: Friday, March 12, 2010
Cost: $35
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to join and RSVP.

You only thought the beer club was wild. We’re about to get really wild. I’m talking wild fermentation, baby.

Sour beers were once enjoyed the world over. Even English porter was once a blend of fresh beer with “stale” or sour beer. Guinness still adds a small amount of soured stout to their beer to give it a slight acidic tang, a holdover from that earlier time. Over the years sour beers dropped from favor until only a few examples remained, centered mostly in Belgium where old brewing traditions die hard. The traditional lambic breweries of the Senne Valley have continued to hang on despite declining consumption at home. Enter the American craft beer scene. The discovery of sour beers in the United States has spurred a revival of these styles. American beer fans now provide the main source of support for those very same traditional Belgian breweries, and dozens of American craft brewers are turning up the funk in home-grown barrel-aging programs.

Sour beers are among the most mind-blowing, uniquely complex and delicious beers in the world. These are beers that will forever shatter your notions of what beer is. Acidity, not normally a component of beer evaluation, is what these beers are all about. They inspire flavor descriptors like “horse blanket”, “barnyard”, “old cheese”, and “dirty socks”. Tart, cidery, vinous, fruity, funky and delicious, these are some of the best beers in the world.

For this month’s meetup we’ll dig deep into the wild and wooly world of wild and spontaneous fermentation. Get gaga for gueuze. Luxuriate with a lambic. Delight in a lightweight Berliner Weiss (I may even be able to locate some raspberry and woodruff syrup to drink it the way the Germans do). We’ll do fruity Flanders reds and full-on funky 100% brett fermented beers. With fermentation agents like brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus how can you go wrong? Bring a roll of Rolaids and let’s get funky.

And take my advice – learn to look beyond the sour.

Lager Beers

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

The January Meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club

When: Friday, February 12, 2010 NEW DATE!
Cost: $25
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to join and RSVP.

I often hear people (even beer geeks) saying, “I don’t really like lagers.” I say this is poppycock! Don’t be fooled by the mass produced, pale-yellow brew commonly called “Lager Beer.” The only thing differentiating lager from ale is the yeast.

The world of lagers is a rich, varied, and flavorful one. While the so-called American Lagers are part of the family, beyond these lie beers for people who want something more. The light colored lager styles include the boldly bitter Bohemian and German Pilsners, the maltier Munich Helles, and the balanced Dortmunder Export. There are the amber colored Vienna and Märzen styles and the smooth, black, and malty Schwarzbier. Then there are the Bocks. From the summery Maibock to the sumptuous Doppelbock, these beers display intensely rich toasted malt that fills the mouth without being cloying. And it wouldn’t be craft beer without the outliers, those experimental beers that defy categorization.

At this meetup we’ll sample a mind-blowing array of bottom fermented brews. We’ll shatter your mega-brew induced preconceptions of lager. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You will never again be able to say, “I don’t really like lagers.”

Holiday Beers & Winter Warmers

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

The November meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club.

Holiday Beers & Winter WarmersWhen: Saturday, November 21, 2009
Cost: $25
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to join and RSVP.

We just did fall beers, but Halloween is over and ‘tis the season to start making merry for the yuletide. Thanksgiving is all that stands between us and the Christmas shopping season. Every year at this time brewers around the world release their special holiday offerings. Spice and spruce are the order of the day, along with sumptuous malt and elevated alcohol to warm you up as the winter winds howl.

For the November meetup we will taste our way to holiday festiviousness by sampling eight of the season’s jolliest offerings. We’ll try a bit of everything from the ancient (for American craft brewing) tradition of Anchor Christmas to a big ‘ol Belgian fruitcake in a bottle and maybe a slightly funky Danish beer to round it all out.

If people are willing to pony up, I will try to score a bottle of Sam Adams 2009 Utopias, the strongest beer in the world.

Autumnal Ales Recap

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Continuing on the fall beer kick, the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club met on Friday night to enjoy some of the best beers that autumn has to offer. Eleven of us gathered at the home of club member Loren to sit by the fireplace and sample nine great brews, including a good number of local and regional selections.

Furthermore Fallen AppleThe night began with Fallen Apple, the quintessential autumn offering from Furthermore Beer in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Light and refreshing, but surprisingly high in alcohol, this tasty, tart, cider/beer blend was loved by all in attendance. One member reported that while she didn’t like cider, Fallen Apple tasted enough like beer to overcome that. It was one of her favorites for the night.

Next up was Wisconsin Amber from Capital Brewery, another regional brew from Wisconsin. Capital specializes in German style lager beers. Wisconsin Amber is a smooth, balanced Vienna style lager. The sweet, toasty malt is dominant, but is well balanced by spicy German hops and a crisp lager finish. A couple of the more beer-knowledgeable members commented that they had always passed this beer up with the thought, “Wisconsin Amber…how interesting could that be?” They won’t be passing it up any more. Wisconsin Amber was the second favorite beer of the night overall.

From there we went for another essential autumn beer, pumpkin ale. We had two examples to sample and compare, Ichabod from Michigan’sDogfish Head Punkin Ale New Holland Brewing Company and Punkin’ from Dogfish Head in Delaware (thanks Stephanie). Ichabod is a session pumpkin beer, more beery than pumpkin, with rich caramel malt and nutty butterscotch flavors supporting subdued pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. The offering from Dogfish Head is more intense. Higher alcohol, full-bodied caramel malt, and an explosion of pumpkin and spice make this a more interesting beer overall, but one that you may not want to drink more than one. Both were tasty. In the end it comes down to whether you want a nice session beer or a high-intensity pumpkin experience.

The KaiserFor Oktoberfest, we dispensed with the traditional and went for the tweaked. The first of these was Surlyfest from Surly Brewing. Surlyfest has the toasty, caramel heart of a traditional Oktoberfest cranked up with spicy rye malt and higher levels of hopping for a sharply bitter/spicy bite. This was another crowd favorite, which was a surprise to some who did not expect to enjoy a bitter Surly brew. The other Oktoberfest was The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest from Avery Brewing in Boulder, Colorado. This 9.3% ABV bruiser of a beer received a mixed reception. While some liked the intensely sweet malt, others found it offensively boozy and perhaps a bit overly sweet.

You can’t talk about fall beers without a wet-hop IPA. For this, I selected Harvest Ale from Founders Brewing. Unfortunately I selected and purchased this beer for the event before trying it. You can read my review below. While a couple members enjoyed it, most did not. The general consensus was that “this was not so much a hoppy beer as straight-up unsweetened grapefruit juice.” Even the usual hopheads among us had difficulty with this one. It was the only beer to remain untouched during the “free-for-all” following the formal tasting.

The remaining two beers were Autumnal Fire from Capital Brewery and Chestnut Hill from the local Lift Bridge Brewing. Capital calls Autumnal FireAutumnal Fire a “doppelbock based on an Oktoberfest personality.” I have no idea what they mean by this, but the beer makes a mighty fine doppelbock in my view. It’s a smooth and malty brew with a bit of alcohol warmth and loads of raisiny dark fruit flavors. Some felt the raisin was a bit too intense. Others liked it precisely because of the intense raisin flavors. Lift Bridge’s Chestnut Hill was the nearly unanimous favorite of the night. One of my Autumn Brew Review top five picks, Chestnut Hill is brown ale for those who think that brown ale is synonymous with boring. Packed with toasty, nutty, caramel malt, balancing spicy/herbal hop flavor and bitterness, and just a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon spice, this is one delicious brew. It’s only available on tap and the supply is running out. You will need to get it soon if you want to get it at all…unless the Lift Bridge guys can be convinced to make more.

If you want more information about the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club go here and request to become a member.

Autumnal Ales

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

The October Meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club.

Atumnal AlesWhen: Friday, October 23, 2009
Cost: $25
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to join and RSVP.

Fall is finally here. The crispness in the wind signals change. The days are getting shorter, the leaves are turning, and there is a chill in the air. It’s time for the beers we’re drinking to change as well. It’s time to leave the refreshing summer beers behind. Enough of the lightweight wheat ales. Cancel the kölsch. Forget about the fluffy, fruity beers.

But fall is an in-between time. The air is chill, yes, but the bitter cold of winter has not yet set in. Daylight hours are decreasing, but it is still light at 4:00 pm. The same holds true for autumnal ales. It isn’t yet time for sipping barleywine by the fire. Imperial stout may still be too heavy and the spiced holiday beers haven’t yet been released. Fall is a time for in-between beers, beers with some color to match the trees and just enough alcohol warming to tame the wind’s bite.

For this meetup we’ll delve into the beers of autumn. We’ll taste toasty browns, aromatic ambers, and authentic (and maybe not so authentic) Oktoberfests. We might even sample a spicy seasonal specialty. Pumpkin anyone?

Session Beer Night Recap

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

TC Perfect Pint Beer ClubMembers of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club who have attended even one meeting have heard me rant about balance and subtlety in beer. While I like big beers and appreciate the complexities of high alcohol, barrel-aged, über-hopped, snifter-sippers, my real preference is for simpler, smaller brews. With this in mind, the club met Saturday night at the home of member Vickie Parks to explore session beers. A session beer is the essence of balance and moderation. Low alcohol allows you to down a few and still retain reasonable possession of your faculties. The best ones are both flavorful and light enough to make you want more. Session beers are beers for socializing and conversation. For the purposes of this event defined session beer as having no more than 6% alcohol by volume. It would have been nice to stay below five percent, but in this time of “bigger is better” those beers can be a bit hard to find. We persevered, however, and sampled our way through eight flavorful beers ranging from 3.3% to 6% ABV.

We began the evening with Samurai from Breckenridge Brewing Company in Denver. Like an ale version of an Anchor Small BeerAmerican or Japanese rice lager, Samurai is light, crisp, and refreshing. Lightly sweet and grainy malt is balanced by moderately bitter spicy licorice hops that set off a nice apple and citrus fruitiness. A great lawnmower beer for the lingering summer. Samurai was followed by Anchor Small Beer. For this beer Anchor Brewing, the folks that make Anchor Steam, have revived an old English brewing practice of getting two beers from one barley mash. The rich, sweet first runnings become their Old Foghorn Barleywine, while the more dilute second runnings become Small Beer. At 3.3% this was the lowest alcohol beer we tasted. But low alcohol doesn’t have to mean no flavor. Small beer has a sweet caramel malt profile with hints of toast that serve as a base for an assertive bitterness. Pleasantly grassy hop flavor and light fruitiness round it out. The big taste in this small beer led one person to ponder why all the supermarket 3.2% beers aren’t as flavorful.

Next up was Trout Slayer from Montana’s Big Sky Brewing. This beer was the surprise hit of the night. Big Sky calls this beer a “wheat pale ale” and the description is apt. This is a very well balanced 4.7% beer with moderate bitterness, bright citrus hops, and a beautiful bread and biscuit malt. Neither malt nor hops dominate as the beer heads to a clean, dry finish. This one’s a keeper. A fruit beer was next. Samuel Smith’s Organic Cherry Ale to be exact. Next to the Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart from New Glarus, the Samuel Smith fruit beers are the best tasting fruit beers I have had in a while. These blended wheat-based ales are brewed in collaboration with Melbourn Bros., the last sour beer brewery in England. They are lightly tart, deliciously refreshing, and enormously fruity. While the strawberry and raspberry versions are great, the cherry gives the most fruit bang for the buck. I would drink this beer all night and at 5.1% ABV I could.

Tyranena Brewing CompanyIt’s time for Oktoberfest, so we celebrated the season with Ayinger Oktoberfest-Märzen. Traditionally brewed in March at the end of the legal brewing season in Bavaria, Märzen style beers were stored cold over the summer to be consumed in the fall to celebrate the harvest. Lighter in body than some examples and with a crisp, clean lager character, the Ayinger Märzen still has a rich caramel/melanoidin malt profile. Malt is the star, but it is supported by moderate bitterness and spicy German hop character. The other German style session beer that we tasted was Headless Man Amber Alt from Tyranena Brewing Company in Wisconsin. Brewed in the style of a Düsseldorf Altbier, it has a caramel and toast malt profile with assertive bitterness and spicy German hops. This was everyone’s least favorite beer of the night. I found it to be a bit out of balance with thin malt and overdone bitterness that was somewhat astringent in the finish.

The favorite beer of the night was Moose Drool Brown Ale, our second beer from Big Sky Brewing. Moose Drool displays a rich toasty and Moose Drool Brown Alecocoa malt profile that I described as toasted Tootsie Rolls. The balance leans toward the malt, but spicy/resinous hops play a significant supporting role and assertive bitterness from both the hops and the light roasted malt keep it in check. It had been a couple of years since I had tasted this one. I don’t think I will wait so long to try it again. The last beer of the night was also the biggest. At 6% ABV, the silky smooth Black H2O Oatmeal Stout from the Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis seemed almost decadent compared to the evening’s other selections. While some thought it was lacking in body and oat character, I found it to be quite satisfactory. Smooth and a bit sweet with pronounced coffee and cocoa roasted flavors, Black H2O was a satisfying capper.

At the end of the night, after tasting eight great beers and consuming the leftovers, we each headed our separate ways still sober. That is the real beauty of session beers.