Pale Ales

[Beer Review] 4 County Pale Ale by Kinkaider Brewing Company

Another April Fool’s Day and another fresh load of hoppy deliciousness from the gold folks at Kinkaider Brewing Company. Maybe you remember last year at this time they unleashed hours old bottles of their Frame the Butcher IPA throughout Nebraska–something that almost never happens in the Cornhusker state and something local politicians were recently trying to make impossible to ever happen again…but let’s not go there. This year Kinkaider chose this usually awful and obnoxious day to debut the updated recipe of their 4 County Pale Ale and have it available or in the hands of customers within hours–bottled April 1, 2017, delivered to stores April 1, 2017 in six packs of 12oz bottles and on draft.

Previously brewed exclusively with Cascade, the new recipe enlists the unique and broad qualities of Equinox, Citra, Cascade and 7C’s (which itself is a blend of Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Cluster, Citra, Columbus and Crystal hops). The new and (SPOILER ALERT) improved version of 4 County Pale Ale pours very cloudy, settling into a reddish orange/amber color in the glass with a fingers worth of off-white head.   The beer is beautifully hazy (not turbid–like the trendy wave of New England Style hop bombs) showing distinct signs of being unfiltered and packed with glorious hop flavors.  (more…)

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Beer Review: Xtra Citra Pale Ale by Surly Brewing Company

surlyxtracitra_tgofCitra hops have been my personal favorite hop over the last few years with mosaic following in a close second. The problem with citra is that if used “incorrectly” or perhaps too liberally, they sometimes have a bizarre quality to them. Now, hops are all different things to all different people so this is not a universal feeling, but for my personal tastes when it comes to a beer that uses citra exclusively moderation is key. The two best examples (that also happen to be pale ales) are psuedoSue by Toppling Goliath and Zombie Dust by Three Floyds. To be fair, that’s a high bar to place in front of any beer for equal consideration, but it’s also the gold standard to some and to fall short can be considered a disappointment.

Surly, a top tier brewery in and of itself, makes their fair share of stellar beers. If I were to be so bold as to cut right to the chase, Xtra Citra certainly doesn’t measure up to the heavy hitters in the style. However, this is a sessionable pale ale so the question is whether or not this should be held to the same standards as the “non-sessionable” pale ales. Session itself at times feels like an arbitrary categorization to be begin with so in my opinion, no it should not. PsuedoSue and Zombie Dust respectively clock in at 5.8% and 6.2% ABV while Xtra Citra comes in at 4.5% ABV. The difference in percentages are slight to say the least and while Xtra Citra has a much lighter body, the ABV doesn’t quite play into the drinking experience.  (more…)

Brew & View: The Buzz Awakens

The Movie (No Spoilers)

img_8405To celebrate the long awaited release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it seemed long overdue to bring back a favorite feature of mine, Brew & View. It’s been a long long time–and in a galaxy far away if you will–since we last saw the likes of a Brew & View. Even still, this will not be your typical Brew & View–let’s call it, View & Brew to be a bit more accurate. The following will be a spoiler free review of The Force Awakens, followed by the beer pairing for the film. The beer in question, Toppling Goliath’s Light Speed Pale Ale.

First things first though. It was only a few years ago that J.J. Abrams rejuvenated a series that this reviewer previously had no allegiance to. Abrams successfully injected a sense of enthusiasm and fandom into me that was previously void, so the monumental wait for the filmmaker to tackle a franchise where enthusiasm and fandom already existed was almost unbearable. J.J. tackled the unenviable task of reviving a series that was nearly destroyed by its creator with an uncommon poise and emerged on the other end having given the franchise a much needed infusion of modern tastes that brings Star Wars into a new generation with extreme spectacle.

The Force Awakens picks up some time after the events of Return of the Jedi, wherein Luke has disappeared following a failed attempt to train a group of Jedis. In that time a new threat, the First Order, has risen from the ashes of the Empire, but the Resistance is seeking to ensure that they do not succeed. Both are searching for Luke knowing that he could be the key to stopping the First Order. (more…)

TGoF’s Year in Beer – 2014

IMG_5433Well, another stellar year of beer drinking is in the books. Four beer fests, several trades and a number of new breweries entering the market it’s entirely safe to say that I had my fill. So, with another 365 days in the rear view- well 325 if you include the 40 days of lent where I took a beer sabbatical- I thought it was time to reminisce on my highlights this year.

I won’t get into too much detail except to list of my favorite beers I was able to try for the first time this year. Maybe even highlight a local brewery to watch out for that opened in 2014. Either way, if you see something below you haven’t tried, it’s safe to say I’d recommend you finding a way to get it in your hands in the near future. Cheers to an equally fulfilling 2015! (more…)

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Collaboration 12 Pack Review (Part 1)

beercamp_sierranevadaI like Sierra Nevada- but I do not get particularly excited about their beers. Given that they are pretty readily available throughout most of the United States their beers are not spectacularly hard to track down. That has never stopped me from enjoying their Pale Ale and Ruthless Rye IPA on a semi-regular basis. Sierra Nevada no doubt makes good beer- I’ve yet to be blown away by anything, but they make damn good beer. The last time I got excited about something Sierra Nevada put out was a 12 pack of four different IPAs they had worked on- the pack left a lot to be desired. Again, none of the beers were “bad,” but they were plain and uninspired- except for the Snow Wit, I did not care for that one much at all.

By now though I’m sure everyone familiar with craft beer has heard of their latest mixed 12 pack which has been making the rounds both as a packaged product and as a touring festival. The Sierra Nevada Beer Camp of 2014 this time has taken 12 different breweries to collaborate on 12 different beers- each brewery contributing a style and working with the folks at Sierra Nevada to create the mixed pack. These have been making the rounds long enough that I’m sure there’s been plenty of time for people to dig into the beers so that’s what I’m gonna talk about now- six at a time. (more…)

Beer Review: Nebraska Brewing Company Cardinal Pale Ale

20140712-093306-34386041.jpgBeing a Nebraska native for over a decade now there were a number of things I had to get used to. Once you get passed the crappy weather, boring scenery and annoying stereotypes people around the country throw at you it’s not half bad. As a beer drinker though, your choices aren’t near as exciting as other parts of the country. It’s been gradually getting better in recent years, but it was slim pickens for a while- at least once I burned through the readily available choices.

Nebraska Brewing Company wasn’t always around when I first moved and to be honest, the first time I was able to try the majority of their lineup I wasn’t all that smitten. For several years all that was available as packaged in stores were their Reserve Series beers which all carried a $20 price tag per 750 ml bottle- which I don’t always tend to default to on my beer runs. Then February of this year (2014) the long awaited canned offerings started rolling into stores with their core lineup of Cardinal Pale Ale, IPA, EOS Hefeweizen and Brunette Brown Ale. Eventually I plan to write up each of them, but I wanted to start with what I consider the best of the bunch.

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Beer Review: Toppling Goliath PsuedoSue

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Once upon a time a young man stared in wonder at the shelves of a liquor store. Shelves that contained an endless amount of beer for him to choose from. He often reached out and closed his fingers around the soft but somewhat sturdy cardboard that gave a little as it was lifted from its position. On the box the words ‘Bud Light’ gleamed like a beacon from heaven. The second the can was cracked open and the liquid touched his lips- he suddenly awoke from the nightmare of his own doing. That young man finally came to his senses and has now quite possibly tasted one of the most amazing beers he’s had since venturing into the craft beer universe.

It’s true that I’ve come a long way since the days of regularly buying and chugging the fizzy yellow water. At this point I’ve been able to try many of the beers I held high on my “Must Try” list and though Toppling Goliath only recently came into my life, I’ve crossed off another. Lots of hype surrounded PsuedoSue before I stumbled across it almost by accident. I traveled to Des Moines on a short road trip with my wife to sample some of the local flavors and the extensive menu at El Bait Shop offered a staggering amount of choices but the elusive Sue was not listed. I already knew that finding a bottle would be a fool’s endeavor but I asked the locals anyway. As it turns our asking was the best thing I could have done as my waitress overheard and informed me that she would go get me a glass- as Sue had just recently been tapped once again. (more…)