Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I'm always happy to hear about a new brewery opening in Minnesota. Many questions immediately come to mind when I hear news like that: Where is the brewery? Who is the head brewer? What kind of beers do they produce? Are they hiring beer geeks like me? It also makes me very excited about the future of our craft beer culture in this state. I think someday we might even compare to great beer states like Oregon and Colorado. That would be pretty cool...
We recently had some brand new local breweries pop up including Harriet, Pour Decisions, Castle Danger, and Olvalde. Not to mention the already existing brewing companies that have been contract brewing and now started the setup of their own brewing space and equipment, like Lift Bridge and Fulton. Yep, things are looking bright for Minnesota craft brewing.
Today, I'm focusing on a beer from one of those brand-spankin' new breweries: Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company. They are a small operation located on a family farm in Rollingstone, MN. Their goal is to create ales "that honor ancient brewing traditions and culture." I like the sound of that.
The first (and only, for right now) beer that Olvalde has bottled is The Auroch's Horn. This brew is based on a very old style made with barley, wheat, and honey. It is unfiltered, refermented in the bottle, and weighs in with big 10% ABV.
Why did they name the beer The Auroch's Horn? That's a fun bit of trivia. The aurochs were a species of huge wild cattle that lived in Europe, Asia, and northern Africa until they officially became extinct in 1627. Their horns were often hollowed out and used as drinkware for the ales of that time. Pretty cool, huh?
I pour from the 750 ml bottle into my oversized wine glass. Yep, I said wine glass. Don't fret, my friends, I haven't gone crazy. It's actually appropriate for this style. The fast building off-white coarse head peaks at 3 fingers high, then slowly fades to a sticky, soapy-looking film. The body is a nice orange-ish gold color.
Some pleasant aromas make their presence known. The sweet smells of honey and ripe apricot combine beautifully with herbal spice and a slight musty quality. There is also the definite scent of alcohol.
This is tasty stuff. The flavor matches the aroma almost identically. The honey starts it off and and mixes with stone fruit, black pepper, bittering herbs, booziness, and a little metallic twang as it carries all the way through to the finish.
The brew's moderate thickness and some prickly carbonation make for a wonderful mouthfeel. A nice dry, crisp finish is accompanied by a building warmth after each sip. Some pretty lacing is left on my glass as the liquid disappears.
I'm a big fan of Belgian beer styles and now I'm a big fan of Olvalde. I'm proud that this lovely creation was crafted in Minnesota. It has a wonderful combination of sweet fruit, spice, and some constructive bitterness that makes me want to drink a lot more of this brew. I can't wait to see what Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company will create next. Definitely go out to buy yourself this beer and help me support this new brewery.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
I just recently received an email from Wendy Littlefield of Vanberg & DeWulf. They have updated their website and recently returned from a successful trip to Belgium, which means they will be bringing 10 new beers into this country very soon!
For those of you who may not know, Vanberg & DeWulf is a wonderful beer importer based out of Cooperstown, New York. One of the best-known beers they bring to us is the legendary Saison Dupont.
Wendy asked me to share this information with all of you:
Friday, May 6, 2011
I recently realized that I need to try very hard to keep from falling behind on my beer sessions with our local limited batch brews. I did manage to fully catch up on the Schell's Stag Series first, and then picked up the slack on the Summit Unchained Series. Now that those sessions are complete, it's time to get to the present beer in the Unchained Series: Batch 06 - Gold Sovereign Ale.
If you've been watching the Unchained Series closely, you'll have seen that each batch has been created by a different Summit brewer. Batch 06 is no different and the mastermind behind this beer is Damian McConn.
Damian is the guy in charge of Summit's casks, so you may be familiar with his work. (I personally was blown away when I first tried the dry hopped cask Horizon Red Ale.) When I participated in Great Waters' Ultimate Beer Tour, I was lucky enough to have him as a tour guide when we hit Summit. I can definitely say that was the best Summit tour I've ever had. Damian is a fun guy with a lot of beer knowledge (obviously), so I was excited when I initially heard he created this batch.
Damian based this batch on an old English ale recipe from 1857. The twist is this: he used very modern ingredients that have only been used by British brewers within the last few years. I've heard it called an East India Pale Ale; I've heard it called a Victorian Pale Ale. Whatever you want to call it, all that really matters is how it tastes. I'm ready to get this session rolling, but first...
If you compare my past photos of Summit beers to this photo for Unchained 6, do you notice anything different? Look closely at the top of the bottle. See it yet? That's right, they switched from twist-offs to the traditional pry-off caps. Summit had been hearing customers tell them how hard it was to open the twist-off caps. (I myself had shredded a little skin up from time to time so I could enjoy their beer.) This was due to the fact they put the caps on as tightly as possible to protect the precious liquid inside, which is a noble deed appreciated by craft beer lovers. The only problem was that most people had to resort to using a bottle opener to get the cap off. So, the minds at Summit figured they might as well switch to pry-off caps if an opener was already required for the twist-offs. Now, you still have to use an opener, but the beer is protected better than ever!
I pour the 12 ounce bottle into my imperial pint glass and create a 2 finger off-white head in the process. The foam gradually sinks into a coarse, uneven coating with a sticky ring around the sides of the glass. The body is slightly cloudy and golden in color.
Pleasant, light aromas fill my nostrils. Honey, bread, and what smells like fresh-cut grass blend wonderfully with the scents of peaches and apricots. There is also a definite herbal quality present in the nose. I'm starting to crave a taste...
The flavor of biscuits along with a light fruit sweetness is followed by just a bit of citrus zing. Then a slightly earthy hop spice chips away at a bit of the malt while a bitter tang starts building from midway through and lingers strongly at the finish.
The weight of this brew is surprisingly light in the mouth with some mild carbonation. It's very smooth and easy to swallow, yet keeps a nice crispness. My glass has some pretty lacing sticking as the beer level drops.
Gold Sovereign Ale is very different from most IPAs I've tried (if we've decided it's an IPA), but it a good way. It's light, fruity, easy to drink, and very refreshing with a good amount of bitterness to balance it out. This tasty brew drinks like a session beer, but I bet it's high enough in alcohol that it's probably not. The ABV is not listed anywhere that I can find. However, using my homebrew knowledge and the listed original gravity of 1.060 from Summit's website, I'd guess it's somewhere in the range of 6 - 6.5%. Go get some and enjoy it on a lovely spring evening!
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Tomorrow, May 6th, I'll be pouring samples of six tasty beers at the Hastings Coborn's Liquor:
- Abita Turbodog
- Brau Brothers Moo Joos
- Full Sail LTD 05 - Amber Lager
- Lake Superior Mesabi Red
- Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale
- Summit Unchained Series Batch 06 - Gold Sovereign Ale