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Mike Campbell

Beer recommendations

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If you're in or near Evanston I recommend the Prairie Moon Cafe.  I was there a couple of weeks ago and they had an awesome selection of local and national crafts on tap.

 

I tried Lagunitas Sucks IPA this weekend, and it's pretty damn good.  It's overhopped but not overpowering.

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If you're in or near Evanston I recommend the Prairie Moon Cafe.  I was there a couple of weeks ago and they had an awesome selection of local and national crafts on tap.

 

I tried Lagunitas Sucks IPA this weekend, and it's pretty damn good.  It's overhopped but not overpowering.

 

Our conference is in Lombard, and I think there's even a Harry Carays in the hotel. The only night I'm not sure of where we'll be is probably Monday night since we're meeting with a vendor.

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Speakeasy's labels just keep getting better and better.

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I went to a cask-conditioned ale event to kick off Madison's craft beer week last night and drank some extremely good shit.

 

Tallgrass Brewing 8-Bit IPA - I'm not a big fan of this in cans or on tap, but the cask was infused with simcoe hops and orange peel.  Those gave it some really nice citrus with an orange taste instead of the grapefruit you usually get in IPAs.  Delicious and super-drinkable.

 

Wisconsin Brewing Company Porter Joe - A porter aged with espresso and star anise.  The anise took a backseat to the coffee flavor and complemented it without being overpowering.

 

Door County Brewing Norwegian Black Ale - Not so much black ale so much as a sour imperial stout.  An interesting concept but a little went a long way.

 

Vintage Brewing Tijuana Trainwreck - A chocolate mole abbey ale with guajillo chilis.  Had some nice chocolate flavor, but a little heavy on the spice.  Not as bad as the mayan chocolate ale next to it that was all spice.

 

Bell's Double Cream Stout - I had high hopes for this one but it was slightly disappointing.  Smooth and rich but not really exceptional.

 

Red Eye Black Rye IPA - Awesome.  Plenty of pepperiness from the rye came through and a moderate level of hops.  

 

There was other good stuff there that I'm not remembering right now.  

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My mother won an Empire Brewing growler in a raffle, with a coupon for a free filling. My wife is taking me there for Father's Day to sample some beers and fill 'er up. I'm looking forward to trying their Cream Ale, since it's brewed with nitrogen.

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If it's on nitro, they won't fill a growler with it.

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BLAKKR is pretty ace. It's a collaboration between Surly, Real Ale Brewing and somebody else, and it's an Imperial Black Ale (which is different from a Black IPA but damned if I know how.) Delicious, hoppy and heavy at the same time, and fairly expensive at $12 for 4x12 oz. can't see making a habit of it, but I'm very glad I splurged.

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BLAKKR is pretty ace. It's a collaboration between Surly, Real Ale Brewing and somebody else, and it's an Imperial Black Ale (which is different from a Black IPA but damned if I know how.) Delicious, hoppy and heavy at the same time, and fairly expensive at $12 for 4x12 oz. can't see making a habit of it, but I'm very glad I splurged.

It's the same beer style, the name just changes according to how pedantic you are. For the pedants, "Black IPA" is an oxymoron since the P in IPA stands for pale, and you can't have a pale, black ale. For the rest of us, "Black IPA" refers to a modification of a well-established style, and is thus a perfectly good description, conveying what is needed to know.

Also, some northwesterners have gotten territorial about the style, and have attempted to name it "Cascadian Dark Ale". Everyone mostly just agrees they're dicks.

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My beer habits have shrunk to the point where I really don't give a shit about "the chase" anymore. I don't care about getting the latest hotness. This week is Philly Beer Week, and I'm not taking part for the first time since 2010. I'm staying far away from local beerfests. For the first time since I can remember, I went out of state last weekend - and didn't go beer shopping for shit I can't get in PA. It's just so tiring. I went to a bar I hadn't been to before on Monday that had 50 taps, and ended up drinking beers by Magic Hat, Goose Island, and Shock Top. I really just couldn't care less anymore. It's disappointing, but it is what it is.

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BLAKKR is pretty ace. It's a collaboration between Surly, Real Ale Brewing and somebody else, and it's an Imperial Black Ale (which is different from a Black IPA but damned if I know how.) Delicious, hoppy and heavy at the same time, and fairly expensive at $12 for 4x12 oz. can't see making a habit of it, but I'm very glad I splurged.

 

Couldn't agree more.   My local beer store somehow got a few Surly beers (they normally don't distribute here) and this was one of them.  Goddamn, was it good.

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I've gotten a bit complancent as far my experimenting goes. I spent the last couple of months just sticking with the usual stuff that I really liked. Then, my buddy turned me on to Untappd, and I'm back into trying different things. They may not be the most manly brews, but I'm loving the Ithaca Beer Co. Apricott Wheat Ale.  I also gave the Booklyn '55 Penant Ale a try after having a few Pale Ales that were drinkable, but nothing I'd run out and grab a case of, and I'd definitely drink that again.

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If you get the chance, you should really give Allagash Brewery's Saison a try.  Just a really perfectly crisp drink and not too hopped; I think they really hit it out of the park this year.

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I really need to contribute to this thread - I'm the beer buyer at a Baltimore liquor store. We've been running a very successful growler station since it's been made legal in the city and I've had the opportunity to drink a lot of special stuff and discuss it while tasting my (wonderful) customers on them. I did some beer write-ups after I was going through the store's Twitter feed. These are some thoughts I had on some of the sleepers we've tapped since Jan 1st.

 

 

Victory Hop Ticket #2 / Sly Fox Helles - All hail the oncoming Pennsylvania Lager Renaissance! This is a bit pipe-dreamy, I know, but I believe the market for craft lagers is going to open up next Spring. Victory needs to be the guys to lead the charge. They've got renewed buzz (thanks, Dirtwolf), market presence, and incredible talent. They've got 7 of the top 25 Pilseners on Ratebeer as of right now. Hop Ticket #2 tragically underrated at 21st (the clearly inferior, if still awesome, Firestone/Sierra Beer Camp Pils is sitting at 4th). It's only available on draft or in their Summer 12-packs, which are well worth it.

 

I mention Sly Fox as well. They aren't as well-known but they brew some of the most true-to-form German styles I've ever drank. Their Weiss could pass for Weihenstephaner on a good day, they make the best Grisette in the world, and their lagers are usually exceptional. They just can't brew a good pale ale to save their lives and their stronger stuff is very hit-and-miss. Pick up a six-pack of their Helles Lager if you've got Budweiser company coming over and you might change a life.

 

Cisco Island Reserve Geuze - Cisco's an OK brewery that gets most of their buzz from New England natives who like their simple stuff. I could really care less about their Whale's Tail Pale or their well-I-guess-somebody-has-to-brew-it Light Pale Lager. I keep an eye on them because they quietly brew some of the best sours on the East Coast. Keep an eye out for their bottles at stores, they tend to get overlooked and are worth experiencing. Word of warning - the acidity of the Kriek will melt your teeth.

 

Union Craft Brewing Double Duckpin Cask (conditioned with Galaxy hops) - For my money, Union is making the best beer in Baltimore. It looks like they're going to start canning their Double Duckpin DIPA soon, and I'm excited. This beer really shines on cask - it should drink like pure hop juice. No bubbles needed.

 

Oskar Blues Ninja Cow ESB - Oskar Blues draft-only is ridiculously rare out east. I think our whole state got three or four sixtels of this stuff. If you're a buyer for somewhere that sells draft beer, it's you're duty to give the people what they want. Turns out people LOVE ESBs without even knowing it. They are the holy middle-ground between the IPA drinker and the casual lager type. Nobody has really been able to capitalize on this with package beer and it's a shame.

 

2012 Sierra Nevada Narwhal, tapped Jan. 2014 - It's really cool to see what happens to the hoppier Imperial Stouts after you put enough time on them. Once the hops fade you never know what direction they're going to head off towards. I thought Narwhal was gonna go all Quad-y and show dark fruit, but it wound up being really unctuous and savory - far more complex than a fresh keg of it would lead you to believe.

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I really liked Oskar Blues G'Knight Imperial Red - but I'm wary of drinking American beers with the distance they have to travel. Victory Hop Devil wasn't quite what it claimed to be on this side of the Atlantic, though was still tasty. The Two Roads Road 2 Ruin DIPA was better.

 

I can certainly review Mikkellers if there's interest.

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I really need to contribute to this thread - I'm the beer buyer at a Baltimore liquor store. We've been running a very successful growler station since it's been made legal in the city and I've had the opportunity to drink a lot of special stuff and discuss it while tasting my (wonderful) customers on them. I did some beer write-ups after I was going through the store's Twitter feed. These are some thoughts I had on some of the sleepers we've tapped since Jan 1st.

 

 

Victory Hop Ticket #2 / Sly Fox Helles - All hail the oncoming Pennsylvania Lager Renaissance! This is a bit pipe-dreamy, I know, but I believe the market for craft lagers is going to open up next Spring. Victory needs to be the guys to lead the charge. They've got renewed buzz (thanks, Dirtwolf), market presence, and incredible talent. They've got 7 of the top 25 Pilseners on Ratebeer as of right now. Hop Ticket #2 tragically underrated at 21st (the clearly inferior, if still awesome, Firestone/Sierra Beer Camp Pils is sitting at 4th). It's only available on draft or in their Summer 12-packs, which are well worth it.

 

I mention Sly Fox as well. They aren't as well-known but they brew some of the most true-to-form German styles I've ever drank. Their Weiss could pass for Weihenstephaner on a good day, they make the best Grisette in the world, and their lagers are usually exceptional. They just can't brew a good pale ale to save their lives and their stronger stuff is very hit-and-miss. Pick up a six-pack of their Helles Lager if you've got Budweiser company coming over and you might change a life.

 

Cisco Island Reserve Geuze - Cisco's an OK brewery that gets most of their buzz from New England natives who like their simple stuff. I could really care less about their Whale's Tail Pale or their well-I-guess-somebody-has-to-brew-it Light Pale Lager. I keep an eye on them because they quietly brew some of the best sours on the East Coast. Keep an eye out for their bottles at stores, they tend to get overlooked and are worth experiencing. Word of warning - the acidity of the Kriek will melt your teeth.

 

Union Craft Brewing Double Duckpin Cask (conditioned with Galaxy hops) - For my money, Union is making the best beer in Baltimore. It looks like they're going to start canning their Double Duckpin DIPA soon, and I'm excited. This beer really shines on cask - it should drink like pure hop juice. No bubbles needed.

 

Oskar Blues Ninja Cow ESB - Oskar Blues draft-only is ridiculously rare out east. I think our whole state got three or four sixtels of this stuff. If you're a buyer for somewhere that sells draft beer, it's you're duty to give the people what they want. Turns out people LOVE ESBs without even knowing it. They are the holy middle-ground between the IPA drinker and the casual lager type. Nobody has really been able to capitalize on this with package beer and it's a shame.

 

2012 Sierra Nevada Narwhal, tapped Jan. 2014 - It's really cool to see what happens to the hoppier Imperial Stouts after you put enough time on them. Once the hops fade you never know what direction they're going to head off towards. I thought Narwhal was gonna go all Quad-y and show dark fruit, but it wound up being really unctuous and savory - far more complex than a fresh keg of it would lead you to believe.

What store do you work at?  I live right by Canton Wine and Spirits that does growlers and it's just sublime.  And much love for the Union love.  Haven't tried that one from them, but Duckpin is really good.

 

About to do a Heavy Seas brewery tour Saturday, followed by more beer and more beer.  I really should not drink that Rebel IPA in the fridge tonight, but you know...football.

 

And Untappd is a tremendous app.  The checkins are nice, love the badges you get.  The recommendations are a bit out of my range mostly, as lots of them are beers that don't have distribution to MD.  But it's overall a great app to use.

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Picked up some Dogfish Head Festina Peche last weekend. First had this at a craft brew pub last year, gave it a try because I like fruity beers and I love peach. It was my first ever sour and I've been a huge fan since. The Festina Peche isn't too sour, and the peach is rather subtle. It's definitely refreshing, and if it weren't $10.50 for a 4-pack I'd probably make it my regular while it lasts.

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If you get the chance, you should really give Allagash Brewery's Saison a try.  Just a really perfectly crisp drink and not too hopped; I think they really hit it out of the park this year.

 

Speaking of Allagash, I tried their stout (Allagash black) this past weekend and it was glorious.

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Picked up some Dogfish Head Festina Peche last weekend. First had this at a craft brew pub last year, gave it a try because I like fruity beers and I love peach. It was my first ever sour and I've been a huge fan since. The Festina Peche isn't too sour, and the peach is rather subtle. It's definitely refreshing, and if it weren't $10.50 for a 4-pack I'd probably make it my regular while it lasts.

 

My beer store had this on sale so I picked it up last night.  I'm not really feeling it.  The flavor doesn't really read as peach to me, just sweet, and it could use a little more maltiness backing it up.  Not bad, but not what I hoped for.

 

I also got some of DeStihl's Hoperation Overload IIPA.  It's pretty good: overhopped but surprisingly smooth.  Would drink again.

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I'm bringing this thread back to life because BELL'S TWO HEARTED ALE showed up at my local grocery. I've had it in Michigan and fucking adored it, and I literally let out a little squeal when I realized I could get it in Brooklyn.  

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I'm bringing this thread back to life because BELL'S TWO HEARTED ALE showed up at my local grocery. I've had it in Michigan and fucking adored it, and I literally let out a little squeal when I realized I could get it in Brooklyn.  

 

Yeah, it's been pretty much everywhere but New York forever. They just started distributing here this year, so Two-Hearted can actually be pretty easy to find now.

 

Let us know if it tastes differently to you. Almost every time I've had it locally, it's been a let down from the times I've had it in Michigan and Florida. I don't know if they're bottling it somewhere else, or what.

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Haven't had a beer in longer than some of the folks here have been alive, but if they still make Arrogant Bastard and Newcy Brown, that's all you'll ever need. ;-) 

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They do still make it, John, a friend of mine actually told me last night to check that out if it's available near me.

 

I did a beer tasting yesterday at Three Brothers Winery in Rochester, NY. I had a declicous Black Lager called Gunny Mack, it tastes like a coffee stout, only not as heavy.

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