Dark Lord 2016

Image courtesy of beerunderthelabel.com

Image courtesy of beerunderthelabel.com

I’m special to someone.  He shared his bourbon-barrel aged variant of 2016 Dark Lord Russian-style Imperial Stout with me.  We are now truly brothers.  Dark Lord (Three Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, IN) is black motor oil that’s got a few thousand miles too many on it, with a nice bouquet of licorice, smoke and peppery Brazilian hard woods with a boozy sweetness throughout.  The texture is super-smooth and the body full and inviting.  Dark Lord is a real gut warmer at 15% ABV.  It’s a sipper, and I think a 22 oz. bomber is good split between four people.  Drink it at basement temperature so that you don’t miss any of the subtle scents and flavors.  When you are finished, save the glass and take an occasional whiff.  It’s still good.  Excellent stuff, very rare, and chances are you’ll never get a chance to try it.

As I said, I’m special, and so is Dark Lord.

95/100 Imperial Stout

Oktoberfest Celebration Lager

Photo by Fabiano da Silva

Photo by Fabiano da Silva

Ooh, I can smell the sweetness from two feet away as I open this can of Oktoberfest Celebration Lager from Rochester Mills Beer Company, Auburn Hills, MI.  Generous carbonation keeps the 1/8 head afloat for a good long time and sticky lace foreshadows malty loveliness.  The bouquet is sweet with a touch of rust and some alcohol sharpness, and at 6.2% ABV it does what I want it to do.  Malty, caramel, medium-bodied and saliva thickening, Oktoberfest Celebration Lager is good stuff, and one of the perks of the season.

85/100 Oktoberfest

Widow Maker Black Ale

Widow Maker Black Ale

Widow Maker Black Ale

Named after a pneumatic drill that was notoriously dangerous for the UP miners that used it, this black ale from Keweenah Brewing Company, South Range, MI, sports a fine-beaded head that doesn’t take much drilling to get through.  The lace slides gently down the glass, and a clean bouquet wafts upward.  Slight coffee, subtle hop and deep black color makes for interesting contrasts in Widow Maker.  It is much lighter-bodied than you think, being smooth and creamy with a mellow roasted caramel foundation.  There’s even a hint of hardwood smoke.  Widow Maker is an easy drinker, light and flavorful with virtually no hops presence to note.  Definitely not an APA or IPA, and that’s a really pleasant change of pace.  My only complaint is the terrible label art, and since the can is pour and pitch, it didn’t bother me for very long

82/100 Black Ale

Here Gose Nothing

Image courtesy of Gordon O'Keefe

Image courtesy of Gordon O’Keefe

Sour beers are becoming more popular these days as brewers try to one up each other with obscure ingredients, new and or/historic beer styles and with “I’m hip, are you?” attitudes, and you truly either love sour beers or hate them.  I’ve tried them on a number of occasions, and I can appreciate that everyone has different taste buds and different perspectives on what a good taste or a bad taste is. I’m a dope from the south suburbs and grew up thinking Pixie Stix and Bubs Daddy was haut cuisine.  Without trying to influence you one way or the other I will give you my summary of Here Goes Nothing from Destihl Brewing, Bloomington, IL.  Vinegar, body odor, tart lime, sauerkraut, sour apples and salt.  Spontaneous fermentation, like hot summer garbage can.  Tastes like the love child of an Eryops fossil and a steaming landfill.  But please, judge for yourself!  If you hurry, my friend Al might not have poured the fifth can of his six pack down the slop sink yet.  That’s where I got mine.

Have a great day!

Good Ryes Wear Black

Image courtesy of Wm. Goodwyn the Sign Guy

Image courtesy of Wm. Goodwyn the Sign Guy

Good Ryes Wear Black.  Black Rye India Pale Ale.  Brewed and Canned by Hop Butcher For The World (formerly South Loop Brewing Company), Chicago, IL.  Pours like motor oil, thick and black.  Notes of dark roasted grains and coffee abound.  Smooth texture, a bit dry, a touch peppery, lots of coffee, earthy, dark semi-sweet chocolate, rich, probably a million calories.  6.5% ABV.  Great can artwork.  I absolutely love this stuff!

South Side Pride

south side

Image courtesy of Baderbrau Brewing Company

Yep, I’ve got it.  You can’t grow up at 149th and Hamlin and not have it.  South Side Pride.  What am I proud of, specifically?  None of your damn business is what.  But South Side Pride beer-flavored beer from Baderbrau Brewing Company, Chicago, IL is a nice representation of what south siders might consider pride-worthy.  This 4.8% Munich Helles Lager is light gold and decently carbonated. The less-than-luxuriant head lasts a surprisingly long time.  South Side Pride is mildly sweet, but notable for its grainy qualities and it’s generous use of light malts.  The taste is grainy and malty, a touch dry, a touch bitter.  There’s a lot going on here, more than meets the eye.  But the beer, like we south siders, is not vainglorious.  It’s Polish, it’s Irish, it’s German and it’s us.  It knows what it is.  It’s a good, hard-working, fun-loving beer that would love the opportunity to kick Old Style’s ass back north.

Go Sox!

Belt and Suspenders India Pale Ale

Image courtesy of beer syndicate.com

Image courtesy of beer syndicate.com

Good packaging design sells.  It attracts attention and stirs interest.  Buckledown Brewing of Lyons, IL knows that, and when good packaging design and great beer get together, you get Belt and Suspenderts India Pale Ale.  I was attracted by the label, saw that a local brewery was responsible for it and I was sold.  Belt & Suspenders is a beauty;  amber with a generous, frothy head and super-sticky lacing.  This 7% ABV (you can smell it) IPA has low carbonation but that doesn’t stop it from being bright and lively on the tongue.  The bouquet is piney and malty, and the alcohol again makes it presence known.  There’s a little hint of earthiness and maybe rust, too.  In a good way.  Belt and Suspenders is full-bodied but not heavy, with a smooth round mouthfeel.  It’s a substantial beer, but don’t be intimidated.  The sweetness of the malt helps balance the hoppiness, but let’s face it, the hops should and do win here.  The finish is gut-warming and a bit dry, and there’s a vibe, something I can’t quite put my finger on, that reminds me of long-defunct Chicago Brewing Company’s Legacy Lager, the beer that made me fall in love with local craft brew.

Well done Buckledown, I look forward to visiting your taproom  soon.  Who’s in?