Beer goggles

A report from the Land ‘o’ Beer (aka Wisconsin)…

We had a stroke of luck going to the Audacious Beer Celebration in Hartland, WI on Saturday, as my sister was able to score free tickets to the festival so none of us had to pay to get in (lesson learned: it’s good to be in with the Rotarians).

To honor this good fortune, I tried my hardest to taste as many beers as possible. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

I’m more of a wine person than a beer geek, but lately I’ve been getting back into beer again. Thanks to fellow blogger, Kris and her recommendations of what to try, I looked like I had a clue.

Here’s what I sampled:

Amber ales:
Ale Asylum Ambergeddon (WI)
Rogue American Amber (OR)
Wheat ale:
Bell’s Oberon (MI)
American pale ale/American strong ale:
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale (offered in can rather than bottle) (CO)

Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale (CA) (cool labels on the Stone beers)

Ale Asylum Hopalicious (WI)
I liked the Dale’s pale ale the best and went back once or twice for this.

Abbey Trippel / Belgian ales / Belgian white ales:

Brasserie d’Orval Orval (Belgium)
Tripel Karmeliet (Belgium)
Unibroue Blanche de Chambly (Quebec)
Allagash White (ME)
Kiuchi Hitachino Nest White Ale (Japan)
Goose Island Matilda (IL)

Among these, my favorites were the Allagash White and the Hitachino Nest, and went back for seconds (and thirds) of this.
Victory Prima Pils (PA)

German hefeweizen:
Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier (Germany)
Heller bock:
Rogue Dead Guy Ale (OR)
Premium bitter / ESB:
Surly Bitter Brewer (MN) – the only Minnesota beer represented
Goose Island Summertime (IL) (didn’t seem like much flavor after the rest of the beers I drank)

IPAs/Double IPAS:

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (DE)
Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA (DE)
Stone IPA (CA)
Stone Ruination IPA (CA)

Dupont Saison Vieille Provision (Belgium)
Fantome Saison (Belgium)

I liked both of these; the Fantome was a bit stronger tasting and fruitier.

Fruit beers:
New Glarus Raspberry Tart (raspberry) (WI)
New Glarus Belgian Red (cherry) (WI)
Founders Cerise (cherry) (MI)
Magic Hat #9 (apricot)

My favorites were the Founders Cerise and Magic Hat. I did a side-by-side tasting of the New Glarus Belgian Red and Founders Cerise; I preferred the lighter style of the Founders Cerise, the Belgian red was sweeter and stronger cherry tasting than the Cerise.
Oh, and I also took little sips of some of the darker, crazier beers, including NOGNE O Dark Horizon Second Edition Imperial Stout (infused with whiskey) and Brauerei Heller-Trum Aecht Schlenkerla (smoky like a campfire).
As you can probably tell, I’m not into darker beers like stout, porter, etc. I like lighter stuff that has some character to it. Put me firmly in the pale ale / white ale / Belgian ale / saison / hefeweizen camp.
Funniest moment of the afternoon: at the Ale Asylum table, a tipsy guy in lederhosen told me all about Ale Asylum’s brewpub in Madison and how the Hopalicious smells like a bag of crappy marijuana, you know, the Hawaiian stuff. It did smell skunky…He went on to explain how closely hops are related to the marijuana plant.

There weren’t as many cheeses to sample as I expected, compared to the plethora of beer tables. The represented cheesemakers included: Carr Valley, Faribault Dairy Company, Hollands Family Cheese, Widmers, Boar’s Head and Saxony Homestead.
I made many passes back by the Faribault cheeses to snag some of the St. Pete’s Select Blue Cheese – yum! (BTW, for a fascinating look at Faribault’s cheese caves, check out Jim Norton’s profile of the Faribault Dairy on the Heavy Table website). And Boar’s Head had some tasty salamis on offer, too.
As I stumbled through the forest shortcut back to my sister’s house, I thought, yep, I got my money’s worth from this event…

Beer on the brain

I’ve got beer on the brain today. Yep, it’s Friday.

We’re fortunate in Minnesota to have so many local micro-brewers to choose from. As a gift for my Chicago friends that I visited earlier this week, I brought along a sampler of 3 Minnesota beers: Lake Superior Kayak Kolsch, Brau Brothers Sheep Head Ale and the newly released Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison.

I also planned to bring some BT McElrath chocolate bars made in my own ‘hood of Northeast Minneapolis, but in the rush to the airport, I forgot them in the fridge. Blast! I’ll just have to eat them myself. What a hardship.

It looked like touch and go getting the beer there in one piece; I wasn’t allowed to carry it on and had to check it instead. But it did make it there without breaking, and that’s how I found myself drinking a Minnesota micro-brew in Chicago, instead of the city’s own Goose Island.

Now, I’d heading to my sister’s outside of Milwaukee tomorrow and we’re going to the Audacious Beer Celebration in the afternoon (imagine that, a beer festival in Wisconsin…hmm, I’ll refrain from going into any more ruminations on stereotypes I have about Midwestern neighboring states [see earlier Chicago example]).

There will be 177 beers for tasting, along with cheeses. Hmm, beer and cheese, can it be more Wisconsin??? Okay, I couldn’t resist that one. Lucky that this event is within walking distance of my sister’s house.

So, the question is, which beers to try at the festival. I’m not really into stout, porter, or brown ales; I’m more of a pale ale, Belgian beer, wheat beer, lager kind of girl.

Beer lovers, help me figure this one out.

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