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Monday, April 29, 2013

Kuhnhenn Brewing Company: New Bottled Beers

It is always fun to see a new beer on the market and it is doubly fun when it is from a brewery that I really like.  I have been a fan of Kuhnhenn Brewing Company ever since I visited the brewpub a few years ago.  The Kuhnhenn family makes a variety of beer styles (and also mead) and most of these beers are top-notch.  The only problem is that Warren, MI is too far for me to visit this brewery on a regular basis and I can rarely find Kuhnhenn beer in bottles at my local beer store.  So, I was quite pleased to find two beers recently at my favorite beer store in Ann Arbor, MI—the Wine Seller.  (I know the name is ironic, but they have a great selection of beer and very knowledgeable and pleasant owners and staff.) 

One of the beers was called: A Few Shillings Too Many Ale.  This is an excellent, and slightly boozy (11.0% abv) Scotch Ale. I had tried this beer at the Warren taproom and was pleased to now have a label that identified the beer (although the label is a bit boring).  The beer was worth every shilling I spent on it. 

The second beer was called Alderbaron Ale, a Belgian IPA (9.25% abv).  This hoppy, high gravity beer was a pleasure to taste and I don’t remember ever having seen it at the taproom.  The name is Arabic and translates as “the follower.”  More on the name’s celestial meaning can be found on the label.  Cool name and a pleasurable beer.

I hope that this brewery continues to get some of their beers out in bottles for all of us who cannot frequent the taproom but still want to enjoy some of the best craft beer that Michigan has to offer.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Iron Throne Blonde Ale: Brewery Ommegang

Even though winter is over A Game of Thrones starts a new season on HBO.  I’m still a little surprised that such an imaginative and complex story as the Song of Ice and Fire was so successfully transformed into a television series.  Other similarly complex stories, such as Frank Herbert’s Dune, have generally failed to translate well onto the big or small screen.  I’m pleased to see the Game of Thrones become part of popular culture and George R.R. Martin getting some well-deserved attention.  The epitome of this pop culture is the production of a beer made especially for the HBO series.

The beer, called Iron Throne Blonde Ale, is brewed by Brewery Ommegang and is the first in a series.  The brewery has come up with some loose justification for the beer style and its tie-in to the story—something about the Lannisters being blonde and having control over the Iron Throne.  More likely, they made a blonde ale because this beer style is what Brewery Ommegang does best.  Indeed, it tasted to me like other white ales (witte) produced by this brewery.  Brewery Ommegang makes great beer, but I was really hoping to see something a little more interesting for Iron Throne.  Hopefully, Brewery Ommegang will get a little more creative on the next three beers in the series. I wonder what the names will be?  Here are some suggestions:

Hodor Hefe Weisen—It seems like the big guy would enjoy a hearty wheat beer.
Littlefinger Lite—The perfect beer for Lord Baelish’s continual scheming.
Night’s Watch Imperial Stout—Dark, brooding, and keeps you warm on the wall.
The Imp IPA—Bitter and humorous, dwarfing other IPAs.
Winterfell Holiday Ale—the name just sounded good to me.
Baratheon Barleywine—Tastes great by the fire after a day of boar hunting; I’ll take a horn full.

I think that is more than enough.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Tart Side of the Moon: Brewery Vivant

Two of my favorite things are progressive rock music and craft beer.  I was delighted to see Brewery Vivant’s tribute to one of the best progressive rock albums of all time, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  Tart Side of the Moon, a dark farmhouse ale, was brilliantly planned (I’m sure) to be released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the album.  Well done Brewery Vivant!

The label artwork is fantastic, using the instantly recognizable prism imagery developed by Hipgnosis with a beer-related twist—the prism is substituted for a chalice-style beer glass. The chalice is divided into four parts, with each part showing what appears to be the four ingredients of the beer: Hops, barley, water, and yeast.  The label also has a description of the beer and a listing of complimentary foods.  I was really hoping for a listing of complimentary progressive rock albums other than Dark Side of the Moon, but alas we will all have to come up with our own list.  Here’s a partial list of mine:  The Yes Album (Yes), 2112 (Rush), Leftoverture (Kansas), Seconds Out (Genesis), Brain Salad Surgery (Emerson, Lake, & Palmer), and I Robot (Alan Parsons Project).

In wonderful Brewery Vivant fashion, Tart Side of the Moon is full of flavor and has a distinct sour/tartness.  The beer is high in alcohol and pours a perfect dark color.  This craft beer is a delight to all of the senses.  I'm told it is available only in limited quantities, so if you are lucky enough to live in Michigan be sure to grab a 4-pack if you can.