Monthly Archives: May 2017

Two Brothers–Bare Tree 2014

I had the 2013 vintage of this annual beer a month or so ago, my first attempt at a wheat wine-style beer.  Far different than a barley wine; a bit tangier, less bitter, much easier to drink.  I liked the 2013 version and I expect the same from this 2014 model.

Pours a golden orange color with a clear body, until the chill haze clouds things.  A thin white head, nothing like a barley wine, sits on top and kind of resembles a par for the course ‘beer.’  Check out the sweet glass they gave me for buying a gift box of the 2013 and 2014 beers.


I don’t know if tangy has a scent, but this gives off whatever tangy smells like.  Again, that’s the wheat at work.  This particular vintage was aged in Cabernet barrels and that wine-like scent is prevalent.  I notice nothing that indicates hops were a concern.

It tastes like it smells…there’s a wine-like character that can’t be overlooked.  Aside from the wine notes imparted from the barrels, a fruitiness evolves.  Green apples and probably some green grapes work well with the wheat malt bill to give a wine/beer hybrid.

Tart fruit notes marry well with the tangy wheat to keep your palate guessing.  There’s simply no bitterness, just a little heat that builds from the 11.2% ABV in the finish to break up the duet from the tart and tangy feel.  Wheat usually gives a light-bodied feel, but that high ABV number gives it a fuller feel.

While I don’t care for wine, this type of beer works for me because the wine notes take the form of tart fruit and the lack of bitterness makes for an easy to drink beer.


Bell’s 30th Anniversay Ale

Extreme dark black pour. Viscous. Sort of a cascading brown head begins to form, but it’s got no legs and settles into a tiny ring around the top edge. A swirl brings the creamy head back to life, but again, it’s short lived.


As you might guess, this isn’t a hoppy beer. It’s all about that malt. Chocolate and caramel immediately present. Licorice seems to be hiding in the background. A little smoky char shows its face from the time the bottle is opened til the last sip.

Really yummy stuff here. Like the nose, it’s a big malt bomb. A sip brings forth lots of chocolate, coffee, and toffee flavors, along with a bit of the 11.0% ABV. Slight hop presence in the finish.

Very smooth and creamy initially before some of the graininess comes alive. Very full-bodied. Some sweetness before mid sip and then some bitterness and heat near the swallow. Not so much a smoky feel, but charcoal presents.

A big manly beer, but superior drinkability. That high ABV combines with a lot of chocolate to give a great dessert beer or night cap.

Tallgrass Brewing–King Buffalo

King Buffalo is a jacked up version of Tallgrass Brewing’s Buffalo Sweat beer.  They use 9 different malts to push the ABV to 10.5% and add 3 different hops.

I went a little more aggressive on the pour than I should have, resulting in the large head, but there’s plenty of carbonation without my help.  With all those malts the body is dark black and the ensuing head is a khaki color.  Large bubbles keep the head tall and also cause the head to more implode than dissipate, as the bubbles fall on top of each other.  Lots of retention and a crazy thick lace.


Despite the addition of 9 malts, dark roasted barley and chocolate dominate.  The deep roasted barley gives off a smoky, coffee-like scent while the chocolate creates the dessert scent.  Hops are not noticed.

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I enjoy the flavor in beer and Tallgrass has done an amazing job of not going overboard with coffee flavor.  The sweeter chocolate malt helps provide balance.  This taste resembles one of those new fancy coffee drinks that kids enjoy.  Think dessert beer.

Not surprisingly, they’ve created a thick, viscous beer that borders on chewy.  It’s sweet and bitter, all the while keeping a smooth, creamy profile.  Each sip takes you on a ride from sweet initially to a lingering bitterness that lasts deep into the finish.  All the malts and the 10.5% ABV make for a full-bodied filling beer.

King Buffalo goes down easy, without even a hint of warmth from the high alcohol.  A teally good beer from this Kansas brewer.

Bavik–Petrus Blond Ale

I don’t know much about this brewer.  They’re part of a larger brewing conglomerate, of which I’ve had a couple beers.  I bought a gift set that contained two bottles of three beers from Bavik because you received a Petrus chalice with the purchase.

The beer pours an orange color, a bit strange for a blonde Ale.  The body is completely full of particulates in suspension, more resembling Italian dressing than beer.  White bubbles sit above the orangey beer and retain quite well.


It smells like disappointment, a combination of Pilsner and pale malts, and a big void of nothing…it’s mostly lacking of a dominant scent.  Even as the beer comes to temperature, the olfactories search, to no avail.

The taste more resembles a blond Ale, but not something world class as other Belgians are known for.  The beer is a little too heavy on the yeast (as evidenced by the floaties in the body), so a peppery, spicy taste dominates…a shade too dominant.  It’s a very one-dimensional taste.

As mentioned, high on the spice and low on everything else.  A formula of spicy yeast, carbonation in the body, and Pilsner malt gives an extremely crisp feel.  Despite the only moderate alcohol level of 6.6% ABV, the alcohol only furthers the warmth from the peppery feel, giving a warm, somewhat rough finish.

Overall, I would have guessed this to be an American rendition of a classic Belgian style, given the rough edges of the blond Ale.  It’s not an easy drinking beer and the gift set comes with two bottles.  Bummer.

Goose Island–The Muddy

A great looking pour, just slightly thinner than I would guess. The darkest brown imaginable, bordering on pitch black. The cascading head starts brown, but lightens with each swirl. The head retains very well, never fully leaving. A moderately thick lacing stays behind.


A combination of dark roasted things fills the nose. Chocolate, coffee, a splash of vanilla, a skosh of licorice, and a bunch of charred grains. It’s pretty spectacular.

It tastes like it smells. There’s lots of dark things combined into this beer. On top of the aforementioned good isles hat overload the nose, a hot of alcohol starts to evolve.

It’s smooth and creamy up front but grows toward a grainy, chewy feel. Sweetness comes and goes with stout bitterness in between. The chocolate and licorice wage a continuing battle with the roasted grains with alcohol heat strengthening throughout.

A wonderful winter beer, or any time for that matter. Great for dessert or anytime the child is in bed.

Elysian Brewery–Space Dust IPA

Elysian is a Seattle, WA-based brewery that we recently started receiving in town.  I haven’t had the chance to try many of their before before, so I’ve been looking forward to this 8.2% IPA.

I went a bit aggressive on the pour as you can see from the thick head.  One of the malts used is a Pilsner type malt, which is why you see a fairly light, pale golden orange color in the body, with a bit of chill haze from the cold.  When that pillow of white foam above settles, it’s a frothy mess, leaving a spectacularly chunky lace behind.



Chinook and Citra hops are used at various time in the brewing process for bitterness and aroma.  Generally when hops starting with the letter ‘c’ are used, a citrus scent is left behind, and this is no exception.  Grapefruit is the citric fruit of the day, with little more than a dash of Pineapple.  Smells like the west coast should, minus the pine (which is prevalent with Cascade hops).

The taste works for me.  The citric hops shine as they echo the scent, this time with a bit of orange for balance.  While not a fan of Pilsner malts, the bready, cracker like sweetness blends well with the bitterness of the hops.  Only in the finish does the alcohol appear.

Surprisingly, the first word that came to mind to describe the mouthfeel was smooth.  The addition of whatever gives the orange taste balances the hoppy bitterness and alcohol, lending just the right amount of sweetness. The high ABV is well masked and hides the gentle, light body of the beer.  The equation of sweetness to bitterness is just about perfect for my liking.

Elysian had brewed an amazingly drinkable, yet fairly alcoholic IPA with Space Dust.    Fortunately the beer is not overly priced, is now in several local beer places, and I have 5 bottles left out of the six pack.