Tag Archives: session

Indeed Brewing Company Day Tripper Pale Ale

One of the best things about my brother coming down to visit about every two months is that contained within his family’s minivan is a box or two with lots of Minneapolis beers unavailable to us in the great state of Iowa.

Indeed Brewing Company is a Minneapolis based brewery located in a hot spot of the fermentation arts with Dangerous Man Brewing Company being located just to the west and 612Brew a chip shot toward the University of Minnesota’s East Bank campus. Not too far away as well is Surly’s new flagship brewery, taproom, and event center. Founded in 2011, Indeed has a good local following for a series of different beers. Today we are going to talk about their Day Tripper Pale Ale.

Depending upon who you talk to Day Tripper is one of the brewery’s mainstay offerings and accounts for a great portion of the company’s sales. This is understandable since people want beers they can drink with their friends after work or in the fading light of a glorious Minnesota summer evening without getting blotto. Trust me, it’s easy to spend an hour or two on a patio in Minneapolis in July and forget that you have a thrown down three or four beers that would equal a half dozen or more Bud Lights.

At 5.4% ABV and only 45 IBU this is not a beer that is going to bowl over any hop heads or pale ale purists. Day Tripper is representative of two trends: session beers and American pale ales. I am a fan of more drinkable beers that have elements of a pale ale without hewing to the stylistic mannerisms of the IPA crowd.

It pours fairly light and also drinks fairly light. Like some other attempts at session IPAs Day Tripper Pale Ale does not really have a lot of interest in the body of the beer. In this case it reminds me a lot of New Belgium’s Slow Ride IPA. As a matter of fact, the two beers could almost be interchanged with little risk of offending the person being served:

Two Mug Purchase

See what others are saying about Indeed Brewing Company Day Tripper Pale Ale at Beeradvocate.

Note: Sorry for the lack of a picture, but I somehow managed to drink all of the Day Tripper Pale Ale without saving a single photo.  My bad.

Lagunitas Day Time IPA

“Session” beers are the rage. After spending what seemed like an eternity in the wilderness searching for flavorful, low alcohol craft beers I now have a plethora of choices. From the excellent Founder’s All Day IPA to New Belgium’s Slow Ride and on down the list there seems to be a new “session” IPA that comes out every week.

The trend seems to be to make lower alcohol IPAs, which is good because these recipes could stand to take it down a notch from eleven. Seriously, how many double and triple IPAs does the world really need? And how many of those double and triple IPAs can a person drink? It is tiresome to listen to beer snobs—like myself, mind you—prattle on about how they will not consider drinking a beer unless it is above a certain ABV threshold. It’s bro behavior in a hipster mask.

Lagunitas Brewing Company out of Petaluma, California brings Day Time IPA to the fray:

DayTime IPA

At 4.65% ABV and ~54 IBU this beer seems to have the bones for a good session beer. You will notice from the picture that it pours light and the beer drinks light. Described as a “fractional IPA” Day Time comes across lacking in any serious notable flavor. You drink one and there is little memory of the drink on your palate or in your brain. Could it be that Lagunitas created the “Coors Light of session IPAs?”

There is a little notable bitterness, but there is almost no malt body to give that bitterness some spine. It actually reminds me a lot of what New Belgium did with Slow Ride. In aiming for a broad appeal flavor profile the beer comes across as being bland. It’s not bad, just boring.

It’s surprising coming from Lagunitas because I am a fan of their more traditional IPAs.

Two Mug Purchase

Here is what others are saying about Day Time IPA on Beeradvocate.

New Belgium Slow Ride IPA

When you cut back on drinking beer you begin to curate your selection a little bit more because each bottle seems like part of a zero sum game. I did not give up drinking so much as curtail it down to a few bottles per week. Moderation if ever there was such a thing.

If there is one trend that has made it easier for me to stop brewing my own beer—never mind the entire drinking a lot less beer—has been the emergence of “session” IPAs. The adjective session has lost a lot of meaning in the past couple of years, which is no surprise given the wide ranging style differences that can occur under previously well understood definitions like IPA or stout.

New Belgium Brewery recently came out with Slow Ride IPA. It was debuted at Winter Park in January and made its national appearance soon after. BTW, New Belgium is now the official craft brewer for Winter Park. I think once craft breweries start becoming the “official brewery” of anything it means they are not really craft in the manner that many of us think.

Slow Ride is definitely a lighter IPA coming in at 4.5% ABV and 40 IBU:

New Belgium Slow Ride IPA

Slow Ride uses Mosaic, a well known hop variety, and Nelson Sauvin, which I had never heard of until visiting New Belgium’s website. It’s a hop grown in New Zealand. A lot of the descriptors sound like “Sideways” wine guy words, but it seems like the main current of description is that it is a fruity hop that imparts white wine like notes. Okay, I’ll bite but it seemed like a pretty standard dry hop profile to me when I drank a couple of bottles. Call me unsophisticated. It won’t hurt my feelings.

Slow RIde comes close to the golden ratio of 1:1 ABV to IBU that I have been fiddling with for a while now. If your beer is 4.5% ABV it should be 45 IBU. It seems to hold true that beers like this are very balanced if the body of the beer can hold up its end of the bargain.

This is where I feel like New Belgium beers have really been falling down lately. The body of the beers has been lacking. You could say the beers are thin, but for a product that is mostly water even in the thickest instances it is not really the most appropriate descriptor. What is lacking is interest. Some beers have it, even if the alcohol and bitterness are not at stratospheric levels, and a lot of other beers do not. This is where true brewing talent shines.

Overall, this is a solid effort and if you want something easy to drink on a warm day that actually tastes like beer grab a pint of Slow Ride:

Two Mug Purchase

Steel Toe Brewing Provider Ale

The first beer I drank from Steel Tow Brewing was big and brassy—Size 7 IPA—but Provider Ale was a totally different experience:

steel toe provider

At only 5% ABV and 15 IBU there is little “big” about this beer. It is also hard to categorize. It’s not a wheat beer, even though it pours with a golden straw color and is unfiltered. It has some sweetness and the hop notes are floral as opposed to resinous.

If you were looking for an analog I would suggest a cream ale like New Glarus’ Spotted Cow or Galena Brewing Company’s Farmer’s Cream Ale. These are both light beers that pour like a wheat beer but have a very different flavor that is hard to categorize.

These beers are actually quite hard to pull off from a technical standpoint because there is little hop flavor and aroma to “hide” behind when off flavors present themselves in the malt body of the beer. I have also found these beers to be heavily influenced by the temperature at which they are fermented. It might be the exact same recipe, but the fermentation spent a few days at a temperature higher or lower than ideal which leads to a totally different beer. Trust me, I have brewed Northern Brewer’s Speckled Heifer partial mash kit a few times and each batch tastes noticeably different. Not bad, but definitely different.

If Provider Ale and Size 7 IPA were poured side by side a person would be hard pressed to know that these beers were from the same brewery. It is a very different approach to beer in each glass:

Two Mug Purchase

Finally, a Trip to Lion Bridge Brewing Company

1441430_457244274380802_767164573_nWith my Community Supported Ales (CSA) certificate in hand I finally made my first trip down to Lion Bridge Brewing Company in Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village. I know, it seems crazy that someone as into beer as me would wait this long to visit a brewery in his own backyard but life has a way of intruding on so many things.

A note on the space first. In 2008 Czech Village, along with a lot more of Cedar Rapids, was decimated in an apocalyptic flood. Slowly areas have begun to rebound as infrastructure was rebuilt, etc. It is great to see a person making a commitment to an area like the good folks behind Lion Bridge Brewing. The brewery is housed in a building that once contained a business called Maria’s Tea Room. I cannot speak to that business, but I imagine it was quite different. Finished in an industrial chic the tasting room reminds me a lot of Perennial Artisan Ales setup in St. Louis. This is a very good thing.

I would have included some pictures, but I did not want to be that guy photographing everything like a blogging a-hole. It did not seem to fit into the ethos of the evening.

The first pour was a pint of Workman’s Compensation. At 4.7% ABV this beer is aiming to be a session beer, in terms of alcohol, but its body is significantly more malt forward than most session beers. It lingers on your palate more like a brown ale than would be expected.

Calling a beer a session beer is getting to mean as little as the term pale ale in the American brewing spectrum. One consistent theme is a lower alcohol content, which is a good thing, because it seems like every time I turn around someone is releasing another beer that is riding north of 9% ABV. Try drinking a few of those after work and doing anything other than craving fried mozzarella sticks for the rest of the evening. Nonetheless, the beer was a success:

Purchase 3 Mug Rating

As a member of the CSA, I was entitled to my first growler fill gratis and I chose Workman’s Comp.  Drinking it over the course of the last couple of days I cannot help but draw some comparisons to beers that use coffee extracts or dark roasted chocolate malts. It has that coffee bitterness, in a good way, that is somewhat unexpected. Try it for yourself and see if you notice the undercurrents.

Next was a pint of Mad Maximillion.

Mad Max was described as being aggressively hopped with Australian Topaz, a variety heretofore I had not been exposed, but I doubt that most American “hop heads” would consider this to be a bomb of resin and such. It’s a smoother bitterness without the lingering hop resins that can build sip after sip until you are left with a mouth full of hop aroma that makes it seem like you are breathing out of a bong.

I did not get a chance to try it, but Mad Maximillion was available on a nitro draft system. Overall, a solid beer:

Two Mug Purchase

Belgian Golden Wheat was really surprising. I expected this to be the lightest of the three beers in terms of both alcohol and body. It was the highest alcohol (6% ABV) and the body was light, but not to the point like a lot of wheat beers where it is vapid. Saaz hops, I do not know if these are from the Czech lineage, are always a welcome addition because the variety has a really clean profile with a lot of peppery notes. Combine Saaz with a rye malt base and you have a really complex peppery beer. Just an idea.

I came in wanting to savage this beer, but left liking it as much if not more than Workman’s Compensation:

Purchase 3 Mug Rating

Overall, the beers being poured at Lion Bridge Brewing are a nice departure from the hop forward pale ales that seem to dominate American craft brewing.   You won’t find piles and piles of Cascade, Willamette, Amarillo, or Citra hops. It’s a nice change of pace to drink beers with different profiles.

Here is to hoping that a patio is in the plans because warm summer nights call out for enjoying a beer al fresco.

SMASH American Session Ale

2014 is going to be the year of session beers.  You cannot swing an empty growler without hitting another variation of the theme.  You know how I know it is going to be the hot trend?  The term session has become almost meaningless like IPA before it.

Why meaningless?  You see brewers calling beers session ales that have alcohol levels ranging from under 3% ABV to over 8% ABV.  Bitterness levels are equally all over the map.  This is okay, but it does confuse the beer drinker.  It just requires a little leg work and tasting.  First world problem, I know.

Keeping myself on trend, I brewed up a batch of Northern Brewer’s SMASH American Session Ale:

SMASH IPA

iBrewMaster calculated the beer to be 3.8% IBV and ~48 IBU.  Ignoring the voluminous head of some of the bottles in this batch, it’s a pretty well balanced beer.  The bitterness is about perfect and the dry hopping adds a resinous after taste that lingers just long enough to enjoy without becoming annoying.

The beer could use a little more body to it to balance out the bitterness and “hoppyness.”  I would not suggest upping the alcohol content because I found this to be a very drinkable ale, but I would rather find a way to incorporate a malt structure that has a better chance of supporting the excellent flavors present.

I am a recent convert to the powers of dry hopping.  Between this beer and my recent dry hopped Chinook IPA  I am prepared to forgo my former opposition to the practice as gimmicky and embrace the effort to enhance the flavor or beer.

I did not like this beer as much as the second Chinook IPA, but that is not to say that I did not like this beer a lot.  I have been drinking this beer for the past couple of weeks and the great flavor has been appreciated during this recent cold snap and holiday break.  Even when I was sick and nothing tasted like much else there was something refreshing about a glass of dry hopped goodness bursting through to my taste buds.

In the past I have been leery of the Simcoe hop variety.  Beers I have tried using this hop always tasted like something was burnt or ashtray like.  It was not a flavor in the body of the beer, but something that sat in the back of the throat.  After drinking this beer I am going to chalk my suspicion up to the execution of the brew rather than the ingredient.    It would be interesting to duplicate this recipe using a different hop variety.  Citra, perhaps?

The verdict?

3 Star HomebrewMy New Year’s “beer resolution” is to develop a so-called house beer to have on tap in my newly constructed keezer setup.  The idea is to refine a single recipe rather than trot out singular attempts—dubbed a series of one night stands by a beer writer—in order to really nail down the finer points of that particular recipe.  Brew on.

Only in Wisconsin

One of the great benefits to a road trip through any part of Wisconsin is that you get an opportunity to purchase beer from New Glarus Brewing.  Based in the town of the same name, New Glarus is only distributed in the state of Wisconsin.  It has become something of a marketing ploy and rallying cry for this most excellent craft brewer.

You can tell that New Glarus is a big deal because almost every liquor store near the water park resorts advertises that they carry the beer.  It’s like a flame for those thirsty moths.  I already felt like a bootlegger heading home to Iowa with a truckload, or so it seemed at the time, of Surly Brewing cans in the bed of my pickup.  Thus, I played it close to the vest and picked up a few twelve packs of New Glarus products.  Restraint, it’s my new thing.

Some Spotted Cow was going to a neighbor who was kind enough to clear my driveway of snow while we were out of town and another twelve pack was going to be my gift to a forthcoming New Year’s Eve party, so I was left with a sampler pack to talk about.  It’s true, I love the sampler pack.  Contained within was the well-known Spotted Cow, Moon Man, Black Top, and Two Women.

If you have been in Wisconsin over the past few years, I am sure you have spotted a tap with Spotted Cow:

Spotted Cow

Described as a “Wisconsin farmhouse ale” Spotted Cow is the perfect beer for the state that prides itself on sausage, cheese, and snowy football Sundays.  Spotted Cow is light without being a throwaway. The fruit and spice notes are understated in a way that makes them complementary to most foods, especially heavier fare such as the aforementioned cheese and sausage.  True to the “farmhouse ale” designation, which I am going to say is akin to a low-alcohol saison, Spotted Cot is a beer that you can be comfortable in throwing down more than one without fear of being “that guy” at the bar.

In fairness to the other beers I will discuss in a little bit my opinion of Spotted Cow was not formed on the basis of the three bottles in the sampler pack.  Over the course of the weekend it was the one beer I consistently had on tap with dinner or during some bowling.  Many pints flowed from the taps.  I would also like to point out that I feel this is a much better beer out of a tap.  The differences in flavor and what else are not large, but the beer just seems better coming out of a keg than out of a bottle.

Moon Man is a more main stream American craft beer:

Moon Man

It’s a “no coast IPA” and I dig that designation.  It is both damning of the geographic labels we put on beer so often and an acknowledgement of the fact that Wisconsin has no coast to speak of if you conveniently ignore the awesome Great Lakes coastline of the state.

The idea behind Moon Man was to produce an IPA with a lot of flavor, but without the extremism that seems to haunt the style.  I think this beer is a smashing success.  It’s got a lot of hop flavor and aroma which is a direct result of a pretty hefty dry hopping, but the beer is neither too big in terms of bitterness or alcohol that it becomes overwhelming.  It is a deft hand that brews Moon Man.

I do not know what to say about Black Top:

Black Top

I wanted to like this beer a lot, especially after pouring a Moon Man and being impressed.  Something just fell flat and even after three bottles I cannot figure out what was not hitting the spot.  Maybe the flavors got muddled as the addition of darker chocolate and molasses notes fought with, rather than complemented, the cleaner body that seems to be a hallmark style of New Glarus.  I am not prepared to give up on the beer just yet, but it would take some convincing to give Black Top a fourth chance.

Two Women leaves me conflicted:

Two Women

I was sick for much of Christmas break, including when I drank some of these beers, so a grain of salt needs to be taken with every comment I make about flavors.  Nonetheless, something in Two Women gave me pause every time I took a drink.  A distinct burnt or off note was present in each glass that I still cannot place.

It should not be on account of the hops because Two Women is brewed with Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops which are relatively mild and balanced.  As a lager it should have a very clean flavor profile and the beer does except for that one off note.  Given my health over the break I would reach for another bottle of Two Women and see if something was off on my end.

New Glarus Brewing is putting out excellent beers.  I have found that you can always seem to have a new style to try depending upon where you find yourself in Wisconsin.  If you find yourself in Wisconsin, take part in an “only in Wisconsin” event and get yourself some beer from New Glarus.