nebraska

[Beer Review] Kros Strain’s Helles Creek–Making Lagers Exciting Again 

Untappd users or various other forms of social media users have often seen friends and acquaintances indicate they are drinking a lager and post some snarky comment like “Welp, it’s a lager.” That comment is usually accompanied by or hints at a mediocre to just slightly above average ranking–the idea being that lagers have little to offer in the craft beer world in terms of flavor and nuance. Maybe you’re reading this and guilty of it yourself. Maybe you’re the person writing this and have been known for similar sentiments. Guilty. As. Charged.

It hasn’t been until the last year wherein an ongoing stint with palate fatigue or maybe just beer fatigue in general, that the subtle delights of the simple lager were starting to brighten my spirits. Along came Kros Strain Brewing Company–a brewery barely a month or two old as of writing this–that came in swinging with a trio of six packs in stores before their official grand opening and a sweet space nestled in La Vista for their taproom location. One of the three sixers was their Helles Creek an American take on the German classic lager. A love has since blossomed. (more…)

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[Beer Review] Kinkaider’s Bearded Bock–A Late Summer Treat Built for Fall Bonfires

Seasonals are at the mercy of the brewer’s whim, though most follow a fairly standard formula in terms of what styles go great with certain seasons. Kinkaider hit Nebraska with their cocktail inspired Moscow Mule Ale that at the beginning of summer that nailed its target, but often came off as a ginger bomb that perhaps could have benefited from a different base beer. Nebraskans took in the summer seasonals bracing for the influx of pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests to hit late July and early August. Then came Kinkaider tapping on our shoulders with one more late summer treat–a nice malty Bock.

Certainly not your typical late summer drinker, Bearded Bock is a collaboration with Omaha contractors, Bearded Builders, that–per Kinaider’s own admission–may or may not have used actual beard in the brewing process. Regardless of the secret ingredient, Bearded Bock pours like rich melted caramel and settling in the glass with a deep reddish brown hue and an off white/tan head. The beer does not come with an overly complicated aroma, very straightforward lager characteristics with some nutty flavors coming through with a large enough inahale.  (more…)

[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…)

[Beer Review] Snow Beast Winter Ale by Kinkaider Brewing Company

snowbeast_tgofLots of beer drinkers out there have their go-to style for winter drinking, but not this guy. Winter warmers and stouts are the typical drink of choice because they have a warming effect for the consumer, while I continue reaching for the hoppy familiarity of my favorite IPAs and pale ales. That’s not to say I don’t still dip into the occasional stout and winter warmer, they just do not tend to be my standbys in the fridge. All that being said, there might be a change on the way as a new contender has emerged from the snowy oblivion of Nebraska courtesy of the good folks at Kinkaider Brewing Company in the form of their Snow Beast Winter Ale.

Pouring beautifully deep amber in appearance and settling much darker in the glass–festive red hues when held up to a light. The foam dissipated quickly, but upon finishing the pour it held a thin and soapy consistency.  My preconceptions on the aroma are quickly shattered in an instant. Instead of a malty spicy mess I’m welcomed warmly by sweet vanilla and some darker cherry-like fruit. The cinnamon does not pop out even with some deep inhales, but the beer comes across in aroma like a delicious Christmas dessert, close to that of a cordial cherry.

The first sip is a bit of a show stopper. A very unique flurry of flavors swirl around on the tongue. Drinking temperature definitely impacts certain notes that are perceivable. (more…)

[Beer Review] Vanilla Bean Blonde by Infusion Brewing Company

I love vanilla. Call me crazy, but a nice bowl of vanilla ice cream puts me in my happy place. Maybe that’s why Infusion’s logo for their extremely popular local offering sits so well with me. I also don’t generally review draft beer, simply because I feel like a tool sitting around typing notes into my phone in the middle of a bar and holding a glass up to examine light and what not. So now that Infusion has decided to roll out their taproom staple to bottles I’m finally ready to sit down and ramble about it.

When Infusion first opened I took to social media to let all my friends and family know how much I loved it. As time has gone by that glowing recommendation had turned to nothing more than a displeased grunt. A few less than satisfactory trips and interactions with folks behind the bar soured me to the beer, regardless of the quality the beer may have had. So over time my indulgence of their beer resorted to other local bars or beerfests, but I often defaulted to the Vanilla Bean Blonde- cause like I said, vanilla is my weakness. (more…)

2016 Great Nebraska Beerfest Preview

img_0978One of Nebraska’s largest craft beer festivals returns and for the 3rd year in a row Werner Park plays host. Having attended the fest for the past four years, I have to say the ballpark is perfect for outdoor beer sampling and having a baseball field as the backdrop makes this particular beer and baseball fanatic very happy. The venue offers plenty of shade and a comfortable breeze often flows through the concourse.

This year’s festival sees the return of many local and regional favorites bringing their beer for fans to enjoy as well as a slew of new breweries. Recent events certainly cast a shadow for some as the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission stepped in and blocked homebrewers and non-licensed breweries in planning from participating and pouring their beer for thirsty patrons. Upcoming breweries like Marto, Code Beer Co, Jukes Ale Works, Get Lost, Kros Strain, and Vis Major are among the previously announced participants that will now be absent when the doors open at 12:30pm for the VIP session and 2pm for general admission ticket holders. (more…)

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: Scratchtown Brewing Company Wonder Twins Double IPA

scratchtown_wondertwinsMosaic and citra hops are the hot ingredient this summer for many IPAs hitting the market. It’s not really a mystery, both are delicious as a single hop showcase, so it’s a no-brainer to throw them together and bring the collective of beer geeks to the bring of euphoria. Here in Nebraska we aren’t necessarily hurting for good beer, but we often don’t locally source the types of beers that craft beer junkies are jonesin for and overvalue in trades. In steps Scratchtown Brewing Company with a double IPA that rivals some of the best on the market.

Scratchtown’s Wonder Twins Double IPA comes in a 22oz bottle and is a mosaic/citra hop bomb. Coming out of Ord, Nebraska Scratchtown in and of themselves until recently have not been readily available in many markets outside of their little corner of the world. Their first foray into the bottle distribution game was their Black Eye Imperial Porter- which much like Wonder Twins is a fantastic representation of its style.  (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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