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[Beer Reviews] Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Overpacked Mixed 15 Pack

Back when I first got into craft beer and drove to an area with vastly different distribution than what I’m used to one of the first brewiest I latched on to that weren’t readily available to me was Southern Tier. Of course, my first introduction was the wildly popular Pumking, but I also really dug releases like Live, 2XIPA, and their oak aged Unearthly. To this day when I find myself face to face with some of my favorites and new releases I do not hesitate to bring some home with me. Most recently I stumbled across their “new to me” mixed 15-pack jam packed with all new beers or new recipients I hadn’t had the chance to try–with the exception of Tangier. So with all that new, how could I resist the urge to chat/write about them?

Instead of deep diving into each beer like I would normally do with a full on beer review, this will be a collection of quick observations based on my own notes as I worked my way through this pack. Before we even begin I’ll lay down an unnecessary spoiler alert that if you can get this, then get it. Each beer is well worth introducing to your taste buds regardless of the fact that they might not redefine the beer landscape. 

2xSmash – I’ve never been one interested in following much a unified strategy when I sit down to enjoy multiple different styles of beer in a sitting. So naturally the first out of the pack is the single malt, single hop Double IPA. Pouring deep gold with a fingers worth of head and settling beautifully in the glass. Lots of malt and grapefruit on the nose which transitions nicely into the beer’s actual flavor profile. The initial smack of grapefruit smooths out over the palate finishing with a mostly pleasant malty backbone. A very balanced first impression of the pack that–for my taste–allows the malt to take over more than I generally look for. Rating: B

German Pils – Anyone who visits regularly (which lets be honest, is wishful thinking) may have noticed a bit of a drought on the page in recent months. The reasons have been two-fold. One is more of a focus on personal life (which includes work and my beautiful 18-month old daughter). The second is a bit of fatigue–both in other commitments with my movie opinions and with my tastes in craft beer. Over that time I’ve rekindled a love of the delights within light lagers. ST’s German Pils is a delightful take on the style that pours transparently golden with a soapy head. Visually the carbonations bubbles satisfyingly slide up the glass giving it a refreshing appearance. Light aramatics include noble hops and biscuity malts. The flavor profile is more hop forward than your traditional German Pilsner, but remains crisp, crackers and crushable–reminiscent of another American take on the style, Pivo, from Firestone Walker. Rating: B+

Citra Hopped Live – Fresh ST Live was a euphoric experience way back when I first had it. It became harder and harder to locate bottles within anything resembling why would be considered fresh whenever I was looking to buy some. Much to my delight I came across this pack with their updated recipe and well within the fresh threshhold. More of the same in its appearance. Golden beer with a soapy head and crisp citrusy nose–pineapple coming through predominantly. Much of the same on taste. Light mouthfeel, pineapple and crisp citrus finish. Refreshing, but maybe not quite as memorable as it once was even with the addition of one of my favorite hops. Rating: B (Sorry guys/gals. Must have forgot to get a pic of this one–I’ll update if I find it)

Tangier – I finished off a six pack of this well over a year ago and remember being uninspired by the overall drinking experience–again, not quite as fresh as I would have liked. Opening this I wasn’t expecting a lot having already had some preconceptions. However, fresh it has much of the same running theme of the pack overall–crushable. This is a relatively straightforward IPA with lots of sweet orange aromatics and present with the flavor profile. Finishes slightly bitter with some rind notes on the back end. Rating: B

Nu Skool IPA – To round out the pack it seemed right to finish it off with one of their newest offerings. This beer has strikingly similar appearance to the rest and the aromatics as well as the flavor profile comes together like aF rankenstein monster of all the other beers combined. A grapefruit citrus cocktail with a hint of crackery malt to carry it through, but with a stereotypical bitterness that lingers. An interesting take on their style of IPA that’ll certainly have its place poolside, but nothing that’ll blow your socks off and is a statement point for what you’re in for with all the beers in the pack. Rating: B

Overall – All rock solid beers, but it’s gettin’ hot around here so gimme more of that pilsner!

There ya go. Some hot takes on the five tasty beers in Southern Tier’s Overpacked mixed 15 pack. What say your beer drinkers? Have you had a chance to try all these? If so why are your favorites? Lemme know!

Beer Review: Double NZ IPA by Zipline Brewing Company

doublenzipa_tgofZipline Brewing Company (Lincoln, NE) has- over the last few years- posited itself as one of my favorite local breweries. Their beer portfolio probably isn’t going to turn any heads in terms of creativity, but the styles they put out in the market are always top notch in execution. Just this year they decided to axe their NZ IPA, which they referred to as a “fan favorite” and instead released a revamped IPA to the market- one I find to be a significant improvement over the NZ. Not one to disappoint fans they decided not to forget their roots, but expand them by making Double NZ IPA a seasonal release in 750 ML bottles. It’s now up for debate as to whether or not that is a good thing.

We’ll get to my final thoughts on the beer, but lets ease into it, shall we? Double NZ IPA pours beautifully into the glass settling just slightly hazy (possibly some chill haze) bright orange with a medium creamy layer of head- the lacing of which is pretty impressive, again dipping into Zipline’s ability to execute styles. (more…)

Beer Review: Frame the Butcher IPA by Kinkaider Brewing Company

 Growing in popularity in their home state and hailing from Broken Bow, Nebraska is Kinkaider Brewing Company. This micro brewery did something on April 1st that no other brewery in the state has attempted thus far. Bottling a beer, handing it to the distributor, in the hands of several retailers and in the glasses of fans across the state within hours of bottling- thanks in large part to House of Beers, their distributor. The bottling began at 12 a.m CST and this particular beer drinker had it in hand by 9 a.m. and in a glass to drink about an hour later. This sort of thing is common amongst some of the heavy hitters and whalez around the country, but a first here in Nebraska- particularly for a brewery several hours away from my stomping ground in Omaha.

Ok so big deal, right? Any brewery can make, distribute, and sell fresh beer- the real trick is making, distributing GREAT (even good) fresh beer. Luckily enough for anyone sipping this particular beverage, it’s quite good, maybe even quite great. The best way to describe what you’re getting when the beer is poured from their speak yet simple packaged bottles is a mild yet borderline refreshing IPA. The style itself contains a tapestry of hop bombs and bitter drain pours outside of the standbys and trade bait brands. Frame the Butcher doesn’t punch you in the face with any of its aroma or flavor, it settles you in and makes you feel right at home. As someone who tends to like an IPA’s aroma to be just slightly aggressive this beer does not hit that level, but it most definitely works for what Kinkaider is aiming for.  (more…)

Beer Review: Modern Times’ Booming Rollers

IMG_5994 Livining in the Midwest, beer lovers often stare longingly out the window dreaming of the golden suds being made out on the West Coast. Folks in California are spoiled by the likes of Pliny the Elder and many of Russian River’s other stellar beers. Now, over the last couple years a new contender for up and coming CA brewery Modern Times has been churning out an impressive lineup of solid beers. This review will focus on their recently released seasonal offering, Booming Rollers.

Billed as a Hoppy Citra IPA per the text on the front of the 16oz can, Booming Rollers is incredibly aromatic right from the opening of the can. There is a slight haze around the glass that only slightly clears up when sitting in the glass for a few minutes, but settles a bright golden color with a thin tightly packed layer of foam.  (more…)

Beer Review: Carton Brewing Company’s Boat Session Ale

cartonboat_tgofMaybe I’m getting soft in my old age. Maybe I’m a little too sensitive about my age, which isn’t that old by traditional standards, but I am a huge fan of the trend of session ales/session IPAs. You get all the flavor with half or less of the ABV that you generally expect from the india pale ale style. It’s the fact that I’m so on board with these low ABV beers that I’m wondering if I’m slipping with age that I don’t crave the challenge of high alcohol beers and side in favor of a beer I can drink all day long with less risk of getting hammered. That being said, it’s been tough finding local session beers that I’m happy to drink all day long. I have my go to’s that I would call “sessionable” but the ABV is technically higher than that word really signifies.

Session beers are beers that you can enjoy in a single sitting or for an extended amount of time without the added risk dying of alcohol poisoning- at least that’s my well thought out explanation. Lots of beers can be described as such though- I can think of several right off the top of my head I could “session,” but because they carry a higher alcohol content my body is gonna hate me in the long run. The trend of Session Ales is meant to bring a beer that is (usually) less than 5% ABV, maybe even less than 4% depending on the style. IPAs are my poison though and if you can give me all the IPA flavor with less of the ABV I will follow you around like a puppy for the rest of my days. Carton Brewing Company is the latest brewery to bear that cross as of late due to a generous Untappd friend who bestowed upon me some cans of their Boat Session Ale.  (more…)

Beer Review: Zipline Brewing Dry-Hopped Black IPA

zipline_blackipaNebraska has been enjoying a bit of a craft beer boom over the last few years. Several new breweries have opened their doors over the last year alone and others are celebrating young anniversaries. The fastest growing of the younger breweries is none other than Zipline out of Lincoln. Zipline expanded distribution for the first time last year across the border into Iowa and recently announced a small expansion to Eastern South Dakota. Their growth in the state is very exciting since they are putting out some pretty solid beers and I’d love to see their name growing in the minds of craft beer nerds all over the country.

Zipline began their bottling sometime in the Fall of 2013 and have slowly been rolling out a number of year round releases such as their Copper Alt, NZ IPA, Nut Brown and Kolsch, but also some larger 750ML Barrel-Aged releases. Their most recent bottled release happens to be the Dry-Hopped Black IPA. As one would expect, this beer pours….black- or a really dark brown as you can see just a bit of highlight around the class from the right angles. It boasts a thin, off white head and once settled appears to be pitch black in the glass- giving it a beautiful black velvety appearance.  (more…)

Beer Review: Empyrean Brewing Imperial Mango IPA

empyrean_imperialmangoNebraska breweries are pretty under the radar as is, but few are as below the radar as Empyrean- in my opinion. Hell, I tend to overlook their beers when I’m browsing my local bottle shop. Most of the time I only really put a glass of Empyrean in my hand when I go out to eat at a local restaurant, Lazlo’s, of which Empyrean is the house brew for. It’s sad that I don’t drink their beer often enough as nothing they make is bad by any stretch of the imagination, just pretty standard for the styles they make. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that most of the time I want the beer I drink to leave an impression on me and boy what an impression their latest Carpe Brewem beer left on me.

Empyrean’s Carpe Brewem series are generally small batch beers that are packaged and released in four packs of 12 ounce bottles. However, their Imperial Mango IPA I recall seeing on tap at several establishments throughout the Omaha area for weeks before the release of the four pack- so it’s possible this wasn’t as small a batch as others. Regardless of its tap and bottle availability it’s easily one of their more well received of their offerings. Spoiler alter, it’s also quite simply the best beer I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying by Empyrean Brewing Company. (more…)

Brew & View: Up In Flames

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Where there is smoke there is fire- I think that’s how the saying goes, unless of course you’re partaking in an alcoholic beverage. Smoked beers aren’t always my cup of tea, but every now and again I come across one that gives me hope for the next. There is also a first time for everything and a smoked IPA is indeed a first for me. Golden Road’s Burning Bush IPA indeed indicates that it is a smoked India Pale Ale, but for a smoked beer, I don’t quite get much of a smokey character out of it. With a name like Burning Bush though, how can I resist the urge to to a Brew & View with it.

Does anyone even remember FIRESTORM? Aside from the Seinfeld episode when the title is brought up several times- I don’t even recall if that is in reference to the actual film. Besides the fact that my memory isn’t what it used to be I actually remember getting a little bit of a kick out of FIRESTORM when it first came out. It sure isn’t going to redefine anyone’s faith in cinema, but what modern action films really do these days…or back in the late 90’s for that matter. (more…)

Beer Review: Epic Brewing Armageddon IPA

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For a while when my lips first touched a beer that was anything but the typical college kid shotgun friendly beers I was of the mind that the less hops the better. IPAs just were not my thing. That’s the beauty of craft beer, no matter the style there will be interpretations that ease a newbie gently into the fold and some just aren’t good, plain and simple. At this current moment I’m now of the mind, the more hops the better and Epic’s Armageddon IPA fits the bill.

Upon cracking this bad boy open I could immediately get a whiff of what this beer had in store and I wasn’t even holding it near my schnoz. As I poured the bomber into my snifter it’s hard not to admire the beautiful orange color filling the glass, not to mention the nice pillowy head that builds and slowly dissipates. (more…)

2013 Great Nebraska Beer Fest Recap

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My first official beer fest is in the books and one thing is certain- it will not be my last. I had a blast walking around and chatting with fellow beer lovers, enjoying beer with some friends, but most of all getting to try a whole bunch of new and exciting beers all in a span of a few hours. A few things kept me from getting to everything I wanted to try, the biggest being the unrelenting heat that chased me into the A/C next door to the tent area after about an hour and again another hour or so after venturing back out. I did get around to all the beers I for sure wanted to mark off my list before I put up the white flag and left the fest and I’m so glad that I did.

In my preview of the fest I expressed my excitement to try the beers that Cigar City, Firestone Walker and Stone were bringing and that excitement was certainly justified. I had earlier in the week attended a Stone Pint Night at a local craft beer bar and had a few of their beers I hadn’t had and also picked up a few at my local bottle shop knocking out most everything they were bringing except for their 2013 Russian Imperial Stout which I though was quite good and very boozy, but also not something that stood out at least for me when all was said and done. However, unrelated to the beer fest I tried for the first time Stone’s Ruination IPA both on tap and in a bottle and immediately after expressed that it would probably be in my top five of IPAs that I’ve tried. (more…)