Saturday, December 31st 2011
Hop Knot IPA
(Four Peaks Brewing Company)
Hop Knot IPA is one of three beers currently being canned by Four Peaks. If you're a fan of big, pungent IPAs that still fall into the category of easy drinking and six-pack worthy than this is one you'll want to hunt down.
From the Four Peaks site:
"Hop Heads this is your beer. American malt, lots of American hops, mixed in with a bold pioneering American spirit. Hop Knot IPA gets its name from weaving seven different hops added at seven seperate times during the brewing process. Including the cavernous hop-back, which gets so stuffed with whole leaf hops that we feel genuine guilt for its excess.So you know it's chock full of hoppy goodness. It's the cure-all for the hop obsessed."
Here we go...
Pour - on the lighter side of amber to gold in appearance. Half an inch of loosely formed foam on top that sinks away leaving some faint lacing and a thin layer of wispy white head.
Aroma - lemon and lime with some pineapple and mango notes followed by some sweetness and some hints of pine, floral hops and resiny-ness. Certainly aromatic enough to entice most hopheads.
Taste - you know the type of IPAs that make you say, "yes, there you go, that is what I want"? Well, this is one of those type of IPAs. Plenty of floral hop notes but also a nice punch of grapefruit and pine to remind you that this is indeed something that says American IPA and says it loud and proud.
Overall - another great canned brew from Arizona! They're giving Colorado some serious competition when it comes to craft beers shroud in aluminum. Definitely an IPA worthy of any hopheads fridge, cooler or backpack. Easy drinking, hopped-up to eleven and well worth your time.
Note - a nifty little video that Four Peaks put together announcing the release of Hop Knot in cans last year.
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (10) | Country (318) | Brewery (2) | Style (52)
Labels: American IPAs
Friday, December 31st 2011
Best Cans of 2011 Poll Results
and our Year End Shout Outs!
This year we did something new. We let the public vote on their favorite canned craft beers of 2011 so thank you to everyone who took the time to vote! We know that these results don't truly represent the "best" of 2011 as beer is extremely subjective and not every beer of every style is available everywhere. With that being said, we'd like to recognize all of the the great breweries out there and the brewers who use their skills and creativity to bring us these amazing beers. Support your local brewery! If 2011 is a barometer for what is to come, 2012 promises to be an amazing year for canned craft beer. So, without further ado we present to you the results of the "Best of 2011" polling as well as some of our own shoutouts (NOTE: The poll winner is in the middle of the podium and the two beers beside it are ones that we've chosen to recognize - not necessarily 2nd and 3rd in the polling). Cheers!
One of the most commonly canned styles are Amber or Red Ales. There are over 30 canned versions currently available so kudos to Breckenridge Brewery's Avalanche Amber Ale, the brewery's flagship brew, for garnering the most votes in the polling! We'd also like to recognize two small craft breweries that began canning this past year and both released very solid versions of this style. Cheers to both Crazy Mountain Brewing and Baxter Brewing respectively who both also have big plans for 2012!
Stouts are quite versatile as is seen by the variety of versions being canned. It's hard to deny that Oskar Blues' Ten Fidy is an amazing beer and certainly worthy of topping the polls for the category! This is a 10.5% behemoth of a stout, if you've yet to try it you need to put it on your list for 2012. We'd also like to give praise to two coffee stouts that don't see national distribution but are both fantastic. Cheers to Great River Brewery and Santa Fe Brewing who both partnered with local coffee company's to produce amazing brews.
The opposite end of the spectrum from IPAs comes the malt forward, and very drinkable, brown ale. Over a dozen breweries now can a brown ale and that number is growing. Topping the polls for the style was Tallgrass Ale, a smooth malty delight that is rich and flavorful. With increased distribution coming you should be able to find this in quite a few states in 2012. We'd also like to recognize Big Sky's Moose Drool and Half Acre's Over Ale as being excellent examples of the style.
The almighty American IPA! There are about 70 different American IPAs currently being canned by craft brewers and this represents the most commonly canned style in the industry. Congratulations to SKA Brewing's Modus Hoperandi for getting the most votes in the polling. A fantastic hoppy brew with a large following, this was one of the first IPAs ever canned. There are so many great canned IPAs that its certainly hard to choose these days. However, we'd like to recognize Snake River Brewing's Pako's IPA as one of the very best we've ever had and also bring attention to Surly's WET which is the nation's first, and only, wet-hopped IPA and is pure lupulin perfection!
Who doesn't love a well put together pale ale? One of the most commonly canned styles and one that can fall anywhere on the hop scale. DC Brau's The Public was at the top of the poll with an astounding 40% of the votes. Despite having very limited local distribution the first canned release from DC's first production brewery in over 60 years has a very loyal following. Two other pale ales to certainly get your hands on, both found in pint cans no less, are Half Acre's Daisy Cutter and Sun King's Osiris. Both are on the high end of the hop scale for pale ales and both are amazing.
Wheat as an ingredient in brewing can be many things to a beer. As a category this is pretty broad and we did our best to include some variety. Standing at the top of the polls was Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat from Tallgrass. What was originally slated to be just a summer seasonal, this extremely well-crafted American Pale Wheat Ale won the hearts of so many drinkers that it immediately became a year-round release. Other wheat beers that grabbed our attention were Cornstalker Dark Wheat from Thunderhead Brewing and SanTan Brewing's CANFEST gold medal winning HefeWeizen. Both are great examples of well-crafted wheat beers.
You've got to give credit to any craft brewery that is willing to put the extra time and effort (and money) into brewing a lager or pilsner. To take that a step further and package it in cans and put it on shelves and in coolers alongside the big boys is even more impressive. Oskar Blues' Mama's Little Yella Pils captured the top spot in the poll for this category. The brewery's crisp, easy drinking pilsner is now available for the first time in 12-packs.
A couple other cans in this category that captured our attention were Avery's Joe's Premium American Pilsner, a beer that is brewed only for cans and has never been bottled, as well as Bohemian Brewery's Viennese Lager, one of three excellent lagered beers they produce.
You may be surprised to know that Belgian beers like Mort Subite, Rodenbach and Hoegaarden have all been canned. On this side of the Atlantic American brewers have begun to challenge consumer expectation and put some amazing Belgian-style beers in cans. Getting the most votes in this category was Tallgrass Brewing's Velvet Rooster. The first ever canned Belgian-style Tripel, Velvet Rooster is an exceptionally well put together, golden-hued beauty. This was one of the best brews we had in 2011.
Also, on the podium are two Belgian-style brews we just had to mention. Triomphe, a Belgian IPA, from Michigan's Brewery Vivant is a hoppy, spicy brew that really wowed us and Monk's Blood from 21st Amendment, a complex dark Belgian-style brew with a myriad of ingredients and aged on oak.
This was another diverse category with several styles challenging one another. Coming out on top was 21st Amendment's Back in Black - an ode to all things dark and hoppy. This was the first canned American Black Ale (a.k.a. Black IPA) and has gained quite a following since it hit shelves in the summer of 2010.
We'd like to also recognize Maui Brewing's Coconut Porter, an outstanding use of "hand-toasted" coconut in a very well brewed and robust porter. Also, barely squeeking into the polls, as it wasn't released until earlier this month, was Crabtree Brewing's Eclipse Black IPA. Canned with the help of Boulder's Mobile Canning, this "Belgo-style Black IPA" packs a punch and plenty of IBUs to match. Complex and delicious, we look forward to more from Crabtree in 2012!
These are the super-hopped, extra-strength and high IBU brews that truly embody the American brewing spirit. Pick any of the dozen or so canned versions of this style and its unlikely you'll be disappointed. Tallgrass nation certainly came to the polls in strong numbers as once again they came out on top, this time with their Oasis Ale. A well-balanced hopped-up brew that would make any hophead blush. This is one of our favorites from the Kansas brewery. Like we said, pretty much any of the canned Double or Imperial IPAs on the market are worthy of your attention.
That being said we'd like to give some shoutouts to Heady Topper from Alchemist Cannery in Vermont. The much beloved Alchemist brewpub was closed down for good due to Hurricane Irene - the same week the Alchemist Cannery opened. This is the only beer they brew and can, so far, and it is outstanding. Also, how can we not mention Gandhi-Bot from New England Brewing? A tremendously hoppy beer with limited distribution that flies off shelves whenever a batch is released. Again, everyone of the beers in this category is top notch. Cheers!
Surprisingly "sessionable" is not a real word. It should be. These are the beers that are easy to drink and great for those afternoons at the beach, playing disc golf, BBQ'ing, hiking or whatever other activities you enjoy with a beer. Rising to the top of this category was SKA Brewing's Mexican Logger. Released for the first time in cans this year, Mexican Logger is a Saaz-driven lager that is a great option on warm day. Additionally, Sixpont's Sweet Action made us very happy with it's nice balance, dry-hopping and altogether easy drinkability. Also, who can argue that 21st Amendent's Bitter American isn't a great beer to stock a cooler with? A truly session-able and more than sufficiently hopped American Pale Ale that we wish we could find all year-long!
2011 was a busy year for canning craft breweries. A ton of new beers were released and the grounds were laid for what should be a very eventful 2012. This was yet another poll in which fans to Tallgrass made their voices heard. Velvet Rooster, the world's first canned Belgian-style Tripel, reigned supreme yet again! It's hard for us to argue as we really enjoyed this one too! There were so many other great new beers this year it was practically impossible for us to narrow it down to just two, but somehow we did.
First, a beer that many folks may not have had but we truly loved. Earlier this year, Great Crescent Brewery released Bourbon's Barrel Stout, the first barrel-aged stout in a can. Silky smooth with nice vanilla notes, hints of bourbon and all wrapped within a not-so-boozy stout. Also, after much deliberation, we'd like to once again give a shoutout to the Alchemist's Heady Topper. Through much heartache this little brewery in Northern Vermont is churning out a very special, and very hoppy, beer that is keeping their local population at ease during difficult times.
Cans are an amazing medium for art and design. They offer 360 degrees of space to work with and some talented artists have utilized that space to create some amazing things. This year we're happy to see Crow Peak's 11th Hour IPA at the top of the poll for design. Mike Palmer is the talented artist behind this eye-catching design. He's also done a similar design for their Pile O' Dirt Porter and their soon to be released Canyon Cream Ale. Congrats Mike and to everyone at Crow Peak Brewing in Spearfish, South Dakota!
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention one of our favorites from 2011. 21st Amendment's Allies Win the War was the first collaboration brew to be canned (21st Amendment & Ninkasi Brewing did this one together) and the design was meant to look like an end of World War II newspaper showing the three allied leaders with superimposed heads on each. It was a great use of the space that a can allows and are hats are off to the folk who put this together (anyone know who that was by chance?). Also, last year we gave recognition to Santa Fe Brewing for the design on their Oktoberfest can but we actually love the designs for their whole canned lineup and this year we again want to bring some attention their way. Cheers to Matt McCaffree and Brad Jungles for their work on those cans and we look forward to seeing what you guys do with that upcoming Irish Red can. Beer is Art. Cheers!
Without innovation we wouldn't have nearly the number of styles of craft beer and we also wouldn't have things like Randall the Enamel Animal or nitro-widgets. With this category we wanted to bring attention to the craft breweries that were going one step further and helping to drive the creative forces that make the American craft brewing industry so great. At the top of this poll is Oskar Blues. A decade ago they were willing to take a risk and put their Dale's Pale Ale in a can and look where they, and the industry, are today. The Colorado brewery continues to innovate and they currently run a farm called Hops and Heifers where they grow hops used in some of their beers including their HGH series and raise cattle that are fed the spent grain from their brewery. They also just started up a bike company called REEB. Look for 16 oz. cans of Oskar Blues' Deviant Dales IPA this coming March and what comes after that is anyone's guess.
We'd also like to recognize two Indiana breweries that are making amazing beers and utilizing a similar innovative technology that allows them both to bring more great beer to the masses. Sun King Brewing and Great Crescent Brewery are both utilizing a can designed to allow the brewery to fill it with whatever style they choose and the simply adhere a sticker to the can to denote the particular brand. This has allowed Sun King to can Johan the Barleywine, the world's first barleywine, as well as their uber-hoppy Grapefruit Jungle IPA and just recently their GABF gold-medal winning Wee Muckle Scotch Ale. Great Crescent puts every beer that they can into their specially designed can and that includes beers like their Bourbon's Barrel Stout, the first canned barrel-aged stout, and their Coconut Porter. Look for cans of their Frosted Fields Winter Wheat in cans in a few weeks.
Two other breweries that really impressed us were Tallgrass Brewing with their unflinching willingness to put the first Belgian-style Tripel in a can, Velvet Rooster - perhaps you've heard of it by now, and their continued devotion to sending new beers down their canning line. We can't wait for the release of 8-Bit Pale Ale (check out the artwork on this can!) and whatever else 2012 might bring! Also, of note was Finch's Beer Company who teamed up with Threadless.Com and ran a contest to pick the design for their soon to be released cans of Threadless IPA. A ton of great artwork was submitted and what an amazing canvas to showcase someone's talents! The winner should be announced soon. Keep on innovating!
Poll Winner: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
It must be said that the true winner of this category is us, the beer drinkers. More and more breweries are choosing to can their beers and 2012 will certainly see a few more of the big players making the move. The tope vote-getter in the category of most "anticipated cans of 2012" was Sierra Nevada. Look for 12 oz. cans of their world famous Pale Ale and 16 oz. cans of Torpedo Extra IPA on shelves in the coming weeks!
Judging by the percentage of votes each of the breweries we chose received, it's pretty clear that consumers are excited for all of the new cans due out in the coming year. That is why we've chosen to give shoutouts to the other breweries in the poll as well. Cheers goes out to Bell's Brewery (which beers will they be canning?), Golden Road Brewing (a brand new canning brewery in LA with a cult following already), Abita Brewing (oldest and largest craft brewery in Louisiana) and of course Cigar City Brewing whose epic beers can't arrive in cans soon enough.
Thanks for supporting us and our mission to promote the canned beer revolution! Cheers to all of you and all the best in 2012!
Posted by Russ
Labels: Best of 2011
Thursday, December 29th 2011
Hop Box Imperial IPA
(Joseph James Brewing Company)
Joseph James Brewing Company has canned three of their offerings thus far. They first began canning in September of 2011 and along with this Double IPA they've also canned their JJ's Craft American Lager and Fox Tail Gluten Free Ale - the nation's first canned gluten-free beer.
From the Joseph James Brewing site:
"This Imperial IPA has a large Hop Aroma and sweetness from dark caramel malts. This brew uses Simcoe and Cascade hops and is hopped at 5 lbs per barrel. The brew is 9.3% ABV, 90 IBU's, and best enjoyed at 55F. Serve in a 25cl goblet."
Here we go...
POUR: dark auburn in color with some reddish hues and a big, off-white pancake batter-like head on top. Clean in appearance with some serious lacing as that big head retreats into the hoppy depths.
AROMA: sticky and sweet with scents of pine needles, pineapple, Cara Cara oranges and ruby red grapefruit. This smells like a big, bold, hopped-up red ale.
TASTE: smooth and sweet with lots of sweet citrus notes. Plenty of hop bitterness and some astringency. The tongue is bombarded by an onslaught of IBU-laden hop rockets and caramel maltiness. As this warms a bit it really comes out just how easy to drink it is even at 9.3%. It's a tad bit scary.
OVERALL: a very nicely put together Imperial IPA from the folks at Joseph James. Not knowing much about this Nevada brewery we weren't sure what to expect. This was a nice surprise. If you like a BIG hoppy brew with a very generous grain bill to match than this is one to hunt down.
NOTE: there are now about a dozen canned Double/Imperial IPAs available in the US.
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (6) | Country (318) | Brewery (3) | Style (18)
Labels: American IPAs
Wednesday, December 28th 2011
Sam Adams in Cans? One day soon...
Jim Koch has been known to change his feelings about beer in the past. He once denounced the idea of a Sam Adams Light but the brand became a reality in the end. He's also included cans in his list of Sam Adams no-no's. Something that will very likely become a yes-yes in the near future.
In a recent article by Daniel Fromson in the Washington Post it was (sort of) made clear that Sam Adams is in fact pursuing the idea of canning their beers. It's quite interesting to note that the nation's largest American-owned brewery is intending to change how cans are lined in order to meet Jim's requirements.
So what is the deal? Okay, so Jim has gotten over the fact that good beer can indeed come in a can so what is wrong with the current beer cans? They seem to be doing a good enough job for lots of amazing beers. Here you go...
We do love Daniel's line about how "many brewers disagree with him" and it has been proven many times over that great beer, including many very hoppy beers, tastes excellent from a can. So, where is all this going? Well, say what you will about Jim Koch and Sam Adams this does have some implications for the craft brewing industry, the consumer and all those breweries that are already canning their beers.
If a new can lining is developed specifically for the needs of Sam Adams it will be interesting to see if it becomes the staple and/or if they use it as a marketing tool. Jim Koch has also been an opponent of cans in the past due to BPA in the linings and has mentioned that cans of Sam Adams would come when this was no longer an issue. Whether or not this is in fact something they're addressing with this new can lining is yet to be determined. It is obviously not an easy thing to remove entirely or it would have been done by now.
We've actually written to Boston Beer Company in the past to ask them about the possibility of their canning some of their beers and were met with this canned response (no pun intended, seriously):
Let's fast forward a year. You walk into your local beer store and see cans of Sam Adams Boston Lager sitting in the cooler. What are your thoughts? Well, as a craft beer lover you may not really care as you probably haven't bought a six-pack of Boston Lager in awhile (or maybe you have, who knows). But, if you're the average consumer (sorry, hate to say it) you may see those cans and think to yourself, "wow, a good beer in a can!". Cans of Sam Adams will certainly have a profound impact on the consumer base and as a result they'll have an impact on the craft beer world as a whole. Sam Adams takes from other craft brewers and vice-versa. Cans of Boston Lager would likely push other regional craft brewers, that aren't already canning, to perhaps consider how a move to cans might help their bottom line.
In the end, cans of Boston Lager, and/or other Sam Adams brands, may be on shelves this summer or they could be on shelves sometime in the spring of 2014 (okay, that might not qualify as "soon"). Who really knows? Just know that it is going to happen. I guess what you take away from all of this is that, yes, Jim Koch has a lot of influence and, yes, cans are certainly here to stay. You may never buy cans of Sam Adams or maybe you can't wait to do just that. Wherever you may stand on the matter it's hard to argue that what Jim Koch does is going to imact the craft beer industry as a whole. They have sway. If Sam Adams begins canning you can bet that other brewers will take note and consumers will certainly be impacted. Which may be a good thing. Cheers!
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, December 27th 2011
Fox Tail Gluten Free Ale
(Joseph James Brewing Company)
Joseph James Brewing Company began canning their beers in September of 2011. The brewery, which is located outside Las Vegas, has so far canned Fox Tail Gluten Free Ale, Hop Box Double IPA and JJ Craft American Lager. Fox Tail, a gluten-free pale ale, is one of only a handful of craft-brewed gluten-free beers and is the first American gluten-free beer to ever be canned. Gluten intolerant craft beer lovers CAN now rejoice.
From the Joseph James Brewing site:
"A gluten free pale that has citrus notes and is light bodied. You will find no sorghum in this beer, but rather organic rices, nectars, and North American hops. This brew is 5% ABV and 50 IBU's. Enjoy this brew at 45°F-55°F. Serve in a 25cl goblet."
Here we go...
POUR: very pale straw color with about a half inch of loose foam that quickly fades to a thin white film on top. Clean and clear with nice looking carbonation. Very much like a light lager in appearance.
AROMA: honey, floral hops, white pepper, grape juice, lemon zest. Very unique aroma that really has you searching for descriptors.
TASTE: the first thing we notice is the effervescence, this has an almost seltzer like carbonation that dances on the tongue. Plenty of bitterness from the hops right up front with a tangy but not overly sweet finish. Unlike many other beers it has none of the malt characteristics so familiar to many beer drinkers - instead it showcases quite a bit of hop flavor and aroma with only a subtly sweet background. Some citrus notes come along with a peppery flavor that stay on the palate.
OVERALL: Fox Tail is a whole new type of beer drinking experience, yet one that is vaguely familiar at the same time. It certainly has some of the qualities of a light-bodied yet hoppy brew - just without the malt profile to which one might be accustomed. For those of you who've gone without a beer due to Celiac disease, and most folks know at least one person who falls into this category, this is certainly a beer worth seeking out. To learn more about where Fox Tail is available you can check out the Joseph James' product retailer list.
NOTE: Celiac disease, also known as gluten intolerance, is a genetic disorder that affects at least 1 in 133 Americans. Symptoms of celiac disease can range from the classic features, such as diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition, to latent symptoms such as isolated nutrient deficiencies but no gastrointestinal symptoms. (from Celiac.Com)
There are very few gluten-free craft beers that are packaged in either bottles or cans. The current limited selection will likely continue to expand in the coming years. A sign of gluten-free beers becoming a more mainstream offering is the recent news from Dogfish Head that they'll be bottling their Tweason'ale, a gluten-free sorghum-based beer brewed with strawberries and buckwheat honey. It will hit shelves in 12 oz. bottles next week.
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (6) | Country (318) | Brewery (3) | Style (39)
Labels: Gluten-Free Beers
Friday, December 23rd 2011
Second City Canned Revolution
Q & A with Josh Deth of Chicago's Revolution Brewing Company
We first heard that Chicago's Revolution Brewing Company was making the move towards canning quite a few months ago. Being the politely curious folks that we are, we decided to follow up with them to see how things are going. It turns out they're pretty damn busy getting things in order for what should be a very exciting 2012 for them - and for their loyal patrons who CAN indeed look forward to cracking open some cans of Revolution beer soon enough. Owner, Josh Deth, was nice enough to take the time to answer our questions and for that we are very thankful to him. Cheers Josh!
(CC) Where is Revolution Brewing when it comes to being set up to begin canning?
(JD) Our new 50,000 square foot production brewery is under construction now and will open in the spring. Draft and bombers of some specialty beers will come out first with cans following.
(CC) What is the estimated timeframe before cans are on shelves?
(JD) We are estimating June, but it could be sooner. We are installing a big canning line and have left ourselves some time to work out the kinks and do some quality control work before we begin sales.
(CC) Which of your beers will you be canning?
(JD) We'll start with our three year-round beers first:
We're also planning to do seasonals including:
Rosa Hibiscus Ale
(CC) Will distribution remain pretty local?
(JD) At first distribution will remain local. The Chicago area is a huge beer market and we're gonna start by focusing our energy there before looking elsewhere.
(CC) Why the move to cans?
(JD) Why not? For us, just moving from a brewpub into packaging beer in general is a big step, especially in less than two years since we opened. I like drinking out of cans and think they are a good fit for our brand. They keep the light out and are recycleable, but I really like cans because they are lightweight. Carrying a case home from the store on your bike is a lot easier with cans.
(CC) What has been the biggest challenge as far as preparation for canning and distributing goes?
(JD) There's definitely an element of education that you need to provide to the public about cans to address people's misconceptions. As far as distributors and the supply chain, I think they already see the light and are eager to have more canned craft beer options to sell.
(CC) Who is doing the can designs?
(JD) Ian Law is our designer.
(CC) It seems like a number of Chicagoland breweries are canning now, do you think the locals have accepted that cans are indeed better for their beer?
(JD) Chicago is a big city with a diverse set of values and perceptions and that's what I love about brewing beer here. Half Acre's cans have really been accepted well and in particular its nice to see them at fancy restaurants. We sell them at our brewpub as well as tallboys of Old Style, which is the classic beer in a can around here. I'm sure there are plenty of doubters out there, but more importantly for us, there are loads of people getting on board the can train. It's still a fairly new concept and we're fine doing something that is not universally accepted yet by the masses.
(CC) What is the most exciting thing for Revolution Brewing when it comes to making the move to cans?
(JD) I'm excited to be putting our Eugene Porter into a can. It's a 6.8% ABV robust porter with a nice malty, chocolate flavor and I think it's one of the best beers we make.
(CC) Is there anything people might not know about the brewery that they you'd like to share?
(JD) We're building a tasting room at the new brewery and we're putting the canning line right next to it behind a glass wall. It's an older Crown Cork & Seal 40 head filler that we believe came out of Stroh's in Detroit and it'll be fun to see it in action.
Posted by Russ
Labels: Canned Q & As
Friday, December 23rd 2011
Golden State Ale
One of seven ales brewed by this up-and-coming brewery, three of which are available in cans and a fourth – Bacon Brown – slated for release soon.
2011 seems to have been a whirlwind year of growth for Uncommon Brewers Alec and Reed, with distribution expanding into seven states. No small feat considering they’re shipping an unpasteurized and unfiltered product all over the country and as far east as Massachusetts.
From the can:
"The signatures of our Golden State are the mountain quail and the poppy flower. We can't make beer with quail, so we settled upon the poppy. How better to enhance the flavor of a traditional Golden Ale than to include the tanginess of toasted poppy seeds? Our Golden State Ale blends the sweet bite of toasted poppy with the aromatics of a Belgian yeast. It's pale and crisp, but carries enough body for the self-respecting beer drinker to think, "This is an uncommon ale."
Here we go...
Pour – Partly cloudy but still bright golden copper in the glass. Big, loose white head that receded very quickly. Appearance matches the name of this beer quite nicely.
Aroma – bready aroma with the standard clove notes that are commonly present with the use of many strains of Belgian yeast. Some light hints of white pepper that could be from the toasted poppy seeds.
Taste – there is quite a bit going on with this ale – reserved Belgian yeast flavors offer a light clove and peppery start, tight carbonation in the middle highlighted the unique “tanginess” of the poppy seeds promised by the brewer, and a slightly sweet but clean and occasionally orange citrus finish.
Overall - We’ve never tasted a handful of toasted poppy seeds so we couldn’t pin down exactly what they added to this beer, but overall it doesn’t really matter much: Golden State Ale is unique and very pleasant drinking. Trying to reach some sort of personal consensus on the flavor profile and in what category this beer really belongs added to the fun and caused us to finish off our lone sample can well before it warmed. Recommended for beer drinkers that enjoy thinking while they’re drinking.
Note - Our sample was in the can nine months before our tasting, which can sometimes be cause for concern. However, the side label put us at ease: “Our beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized, and undoubtedly uncommon. They’re designed to grow over time as they age. Store in a cool place and witness the change.” We can’t help but imagine how fun it would be to do a side-by-side comparison of this beer fresh off the line, one with six months in the can, and one aged for twelve months.
Posted by Trent
More from this: State (27) | Country (318) | Brewery (4) | Style (3)
Wednesday, December 14th 2011
The Bad Ass Beer Can Xmas Tree at Percy Street Barbecue in Philly
We've seen Christmas trees with a few beer cans hung on them but Percy Street Barbecue in Philadelphia has taken it to the next level (and perhaps beyond). Their "Bad Ass Beer Can Xmas Tree" took over 12 hours to put together and is made up of over 430+ cans! Percy Street is no stranger when it comes to canned craft beer. They currently stock over 75 different varieties and Manager Aric Ferrell is doing an amazing job adding more each month.
Most of the cans used to construct the "tree"were from Percy Street's "Six Pack Program" which gives customers the chance to order 5 cans and the 6th one is on the house. This is also where the bucket on top comes from as that is how the six cans are served. Wait, have we mentioned this place has absolutely AMAZING barbecue? Well, they do, so if you're ever near Philly you need to stop in and check this place out. (all photos by Drea Rane)
Posted by Russ
Labels: Percy Street BBQ
Tuesday, December 13th 2011
(SanTan Brewing Company)
From the SanTan Brewing site:
"SanTan Hefeweizen is an unfiltered Bavarian wheat bear, effervescent and sweet, with an unmistakable banana-clove character. Often paired with a lemon or an orange, SanTan embraces this American enhancement of the beer however we still believe it is the best the way it is brewed."
Here we go...
Pour - hazy golden to straw-colored with about a half inch of stark white foam on top that quickly fades. Looks fairly clean and pretty well filtered until I dump the remains of the can into the glass and all of a sudden all that yeasty goodness appears and this looks more the part.
Aroma - bananas, cloves, bubble gum. The usual suspects are present and accounted for upon first whiff. Some sweet and spicy notes are there as well as some biscuity aromas. Definitely smells like a well put together hefeweizen.
Taste - one sip and the subtle flavor of cloves and bananas are right there. It's truly amazing what yeast can do for a beer. Super clean and crisp with a touch of honey-like sweetness, a bit of citrus zip and a semi-dry finish that prevents the bottom of the glass from making contact with the table.
Overall - excellent wheat beer and just about perfect for the summer months or any month in the Arizona desert. Flavorful, easy drinking and low ABV. Sometimes those things come together perfectly. Well done SanTan!
Note - SanTan now cans four of their beers. They also play host to the AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival. This year the event, which will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona will be on May 19th - we're going to do our very best to make an appearance!
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (10) | Country (318) | Brewery (6) | Style (6)
Monday, December 12th 2011
(Sixpoint Craft Ales)
Diesel is Sixpoint's answer to the winter seasonal. This is the Brooklyn-based brewery's sixth canned release of 2011 and one of their oldest recipes. The brewery continues to push forward with cans and we can't wait to see what will be coming down the canning line in 2012!
From the Sixpoint site:
"Diesel stout has actually been offered each winter since 2005, the year after Sixpoint was founded. Rich, robust and deep brown-black, this beer will linger in your mouth like a streak of tar. Yet it’s surprisingly sessionable and effervescent, too. It starts with nutty roasted malts, which get combined with Columbus and Northern Brewer hops. Another dose of Columbus in the dry-hopping stage gives it a defiantly hoppy character. Poured in a glass, the head becomes thick and cappuccino-like, with lacing down to the last sip."
Here we go...
Pour - inky black flowing into the glass and ultimately settling in a pitch color with a rather thin espresso-colored head that leaves some lacing inside the glass. Looks mysterious and delicious.
Aroma - cocoa powder, coffee grounds, citrusy hops, molasses, brown bread dough and
Taste - first sip brings about some dry, bitter roasty flavors. Definitely some French roast coffee and bitter dark chocolate notes here. The maltiness is not all that sweet and this has leanings towards hoppiness that may come as a surprise. Diesel also has a brineyness to it, sort of a soy sauce like aftertaste from the hopping that isn't altogether unappealing but its not a sweet finish like some stouts. Reminds me a bit of a pretzel dipped in dark chocolate.
Overall - nicely put together American stout with a Sixpoint touch that makes it their very own. A malty and hoppy brew that goes down nicely on a winter evening. Love the black can as well. We're looking forward to Sixpoint's announcement on their upcoming spring seasonal release. We've heard a rumor about it being a saison. We shall wait and see..
Note - the back of the Diesel can has a short poem that was written by American poet Gary Snyder. It reads:
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (22) | Country (318) | Brewery (8) | Style (4)
Saturday, December 10th 2011
Big Cock IPA
(Great River Brewery)
I'm sure you're wondering by now how Great River Brewery managed to get the name of this beer approved by the powers that be. Hell, you might have only gotten this far because of that. Well, before you assume something childish and immature you should know that the name is one that pays homage to the Ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). Male pheasants are known as "cocks" and a "big cock" is...well you get it by now. Sure, it's a name that will turn some heads but the good news is that it's a pretty tasty beer and some of the profits are being given to a worthy cause. Cheers!
From the CAN:
"Changing habitat conditions have taken a toll on the populations of the beautiful and delicious ringneck pheasant. We donate a portion of the sales of our IPA to Pheasants Forever and named it as a prompt to other outdoorspeople to continue that support. True to the style, our IPA is brewed with pale malt and fiercely hopped, the perfect beverage after a day afield."
Here we go...
POUR: auburn colored liquid fills our glass and a very rich and creamy head erupts on top leaving some streaks of lacing as this IPA recedes. Carbonation levels look great and this is clean and clear. Very nice looking pour.
AROMA: lemon peel, powdered sugar, caramel, grilled pineapple, mandarin oranges and caramel.
TASTE: first sip we come across what appears to be a very balanced IPA with a rich, malty backbone backing up less pronounced hoppiness. Some flavors of orange and grapefruit are there and the finish is one with lingering bitterness and mouth drying potency. A little light in body but certainly not an IPA to turnaway or put back on the shelf.
OVERALL: solid IPA. Not a huge amount of pine or grapefruit and its not a hop bomb by any means but its a very drinkable and balanced hop-forward beer. We wish it had just a little more oomph to propel it into greatness but that's just us. Cheers! We really do love everything from this brewery.
NOTES: Great River Brewery has now canned six different beers. The brewery utilizes a shrink wrap type label for their more limited releases and have printed cans for both their 483 Pale Ale and Roller Dam Red Ale.
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (7) | Country (318) | Brewery (6) | Style (52)
Friday, December 9th 2011
Heiner Brau Kolsch
(Heiner Brau Microbrewery)
Our first canned brew from The PeliCAN State of Louisiana. It's only fitting that this was also the first canned craft beer in the state. Heiner Brau begin canning their Kölsch the same year they began brewing, back in 2005. Heiner Brau Kölsch is still canned by hand and is the only beer that the brewery has chosen to can thus far.
"Offered year round, Kölsch is a light and crisp golden German-style beer brewed in the finest traditions of the classic German Brewmasters. Traditionally brewed in Cologne, Germany, our version is similar to the classic Kölsch, but brewed and aged more in the Bavarian Style of a Kellerbier. Kellerbier (or Zwickelbier) is a beer natural carbonated and packed direct from the aging tank, without filtration or pasteurizing of the finished product.
Our Kölsch is warm fermented with Lager yeast and then cold-aged, or Lagered. Because our Kölsch is unfiltered and has natural brewer’s yeast remaining, it is not only very tasty and refreshing but is also a natural source of vitamin B. It is less bitter than the standard German pale lager and has a prominent, but not extreme, hoppiness."
Here we go...
Pour - light golden to straw like in color. A good half-inch of white foam lays on top of this pour. Clean and clear and looking refreshing.
Aroma - grainy, wet cereal, malty with some lemons. The more I stick my nose in this the more I smell some hints of pepper and spice.
Taste - crisp, malty and refreshing. Something about this style that makes it seem simple but I'm pretty certain that it's a style that takes a lot of skill to do right. This one has just the right amount of malt sweetness followed by a nice snap of a finish - one that has you continuously diving back in. It's not an overly complex style but it's one that doesn't hide mistakes. When it's brewed well you'll know and this one is brewed well.
Overall - I can't help but think that Kölsch is the style that should have been emulated by today's macrobrewers. Light, refreshing with actual malt flavor. Not a whole lot of hop profile but some citrus notes and altogether very satisfying. Well done Heiner Brau!
Note - Henryk “Heiner” Orlik, owner and founder of Heiner Brau, is one of a select few German brew masters in the United States. In 1972, at the age of 16, Henryk began his brewing career in Germany.
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (3) | Country (318) | Brewery (1) | Style (3)
Thursday, December 8th 2011
Eclipse Black IPA
(Crabtree Brewing Company)
Fresh from the source! Thanks so much, again, to Mike out in Colorado for hooking us up with a can of this recently released Black IPA from Crabtree. Eclipse, formerly known as Syzygy, is the first canned release from Crabtree and the canning was done by Boulder-based Mobile Canning. The cans were individually labeled using shrink-wrap labels, talk about a labor of love! If you're lucky enough to get a can of this in your hands you should know that a LOT of work went into getting it there. Cheers!
From the Crabtree Brewing site:
"Eclipse, our Belgo-Style Black IPA is an exquisite fusion of black, roasted chocolate malts, and a generous heap of hops. It's bitterly aggressive with a roasty quality, fruity esters and a spice scent making this one superior brew."
Here we go...
POUR: super dark brown to pitch in color as this floods the glass. Great looking coffee-colored head on top that sticks around for quite some time. Carbonation levels look spot on which can be tricky the first time around with canning. Looking at this now we'd have to say that it's a pretty nice looking pour!
AROMA: a bit of cirtrus up front followed by licorice, dark chocolate, French roast coffee, chocolate malt, anise and caraway seeds. Some hints of spices as well but nothing too overwhelming.
TASTE: one sip of Eclipse and we're certain you'll realize that this is not your ordinary dark beer. Lots of flavors coming flooding into your mouth and wreak some havoc on your palate. One second you're getting citrusy hop flavors and the next you're getting bombarded by caramel, apple cider, brown bread dough, rye bread and coffee. On the tongue this is soft as silk and smooth all around. A nice lingering sweet citrus flavors is all that's left after each swallow and it lights the way nicely for the next mouthful.
OVERALL: excellent beer. We loved the complexity of this beer and all the subtle nuances from the sweet dark malts to the bitter hops and the citrus and spice notes that came along for the ride. Perhaps the yeast strain is what makes this "Belgo" and brings along with it some of those telltale spicy notes. It's a guess anyways. Overall, we loved it and having only one can is almost as bad as never having a can at all! Just kidding. We're very lucky to have gotten a chance to try this very special beer.
NOTES: Crabtree Brewing also releases a Barrel-aged version of this beer called Syzygy Barrel-Aged Black IPA. The brewery's description of this beer sounds pretty amazing!
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (59) | Country (318) | Brewery (1) | Style (2)
Wednesday, December 7th 2011
Missouri Mule IPA
(Piney River Brewing Company)
Cans of Piney River's beers have just come off the canning lines and are hitting shelves in the local area around the brewery. Along with Missouri Mule IPA they are also canning their McKinney Eddy Amber Ale. This relatively small brewery, it's a husband and wife team who both have full-time jobs, decided to can their beers to allow the folks in the Ozarks to enjoy their beers outside. This is why each of their cans has the line, "Pack it in. Pack it out. Enjoy nature."
From the Piney River site:
"Missouri mules hauled hundreds of wagons across the West and packed supplies in World Wars I & II. For decades, mules were also the most reliable Ozark farm hands. Like a Missouri mule, you can rely on our handcrafted India Pale Ale. This IPA packs a hop explosion that will not let you down."
Here we go...
Pour – fills our glass with a dark amber, reddish-auburn color with a soapy head that quickly dissipates leaving a perfect ring around the inside of the glass and some specks of lacing.
Aroma – caramel malts, Tootsie rolls, sweet oranges, lemon, pineapple juice and some floral hops.
Taste – That first sip hits the back of your palate with a wave of bitter sweet citrus that is followed by big malty aftershock. Very balanced with a great body and flavor profile. Some nice tropical fruit notes pop up from time to time as this one settles a bit. This ends with a bitter finish and just a kiss of sweetness. Nothing is too out of balance and I'd say a conservative take on a style that is often taken to extremes will serve this brewery well. Well done Piney River.
Overall – we wish we knew the ABV on this as it's dangerously drinkable (EDIT: We've been told that it's 7%). This seems to fall somewhere between a hopped up amber ale, a malty IPA and a strong pale ale. Wherever it lies in the beer style spectrum its certainly a worthwhile brew and is definitely making hop-loving outdoorsy folks happy down in the Ozarks!
NOTES: Piney River is the first craft brewery in the state of Missouri to both brew and can their beers in the state. Both O'Fallon and Schlafly have canned their beers but do so at Stevens Point Brewery in neighboring Wisconsin. If you'd like to learn more about Piney River check out the Q & A we did with brewery co-owner Joleen Durham.
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (5) | Country (318) | Brewery (3) | Style (52)
Tuesday, December 6th 2011
Morning Wood Wheat
(Pug Ryan's Brewery)
One of two canned brews by the folks at Pug Ryan’s Brewery in Colorado. With a name like Morning Wood Wheat, it’s no surprise that we could count on our good friend and fellow can fan to help us secure a can of this limited distribution brew. Thanks Woody!
From the Pug Ryan's site:
"A local favorite for years now is becoming a favorite everywhere. This lightly filtered unique recipe produces an easy to drink light beer."
From the Can:
"Nothing quite compares to a Morning Wood*. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Brewed and canned at 9,156 above sea level in Dillon, Colorado, it is no wonder that Morning Wood Wheat is an award winner. Each can is filled at high altitude and with the attitude of our brewers."
(*CraftCans note: using the can graphics as context, “morning wood” appears to be a euphemism for a pre-noon lake cruise aboard a wooden vessel.)
Here we go...
Pour – Bright yellow in our pint glass with a big white head that diminished quickly and left only a few spots of loose drips of lacing around the glass. Cloudiness suggests this will be a bigger-bodied pale wheat.
Aroma – Heavy, wet bread dough with distinct lemon and orange citrus notes.
Taste – Orange sweetness at the start, a yeasty middle, and some drying orange citrus tartness at the finish. Medium body and mouthfeel that has a watery feel about it, perhaps the result of the big carbonation release at the pour.
Overall – Another well-crafted, tasty, and very drinkable American Pale Wheat that is definitely worth a try if you can get your hands on some. This is our tenth canned APW review, and we’ve yet to find two that were close enough in flavor profile and mouthfeel to suggest that any one of them is like another. Try all of them and find your favorite!
NOTES: The brewery at Pug Ryan’s is an adjunct to their steakhouse, and their Tiki bar offers gorgeous views of Lake Dillon. Check out their website for pictures, more information about their beers, and visual treats for foodies (check out their crab filet in the video– wow!).
Posted by Trent
More from this: State (59) | Country (318) | Brewery (1) | Style (12)
Monday, December 5th 2011
CraftCans.Com's Best of 2011?
We Need Your Help!
At the end of last year we came up with a bunch of "Year End Shout Outs" to give many canned craft beers, and their respective breweries, some well deserved praise. This year we're going to let you decide which ones were your favorite in 2011. Below are TEN different style categories and FIVE other categories. We need your help choosing the winners. Click on each image to be taken to the poll where you can vote for your favorite! Cheers and thanks for voting! We'll keep these polls open until December 29th and post the results on New Year's Eve.
NOTE: Once you've made your choice in a category you need to hit "SKIP" on the registration page you are brought to or the vote won't be counted. You do NOT need to register to vote but please make sure to get past that registration page for it to count, it only takes a second. Sorry for any confusion.
Posted by Russ
Labels: Best of 2011
Friday, December 2nd 2011
(Stevens Point Brewery)
The CraftCans team decided it’s never too late for an Oktoberfest, and we were thrilled when Kirk and Tim from I.H.S. Distributing helped us track down what turned out to be a rather elusive brand in cans in our markets. Thanks Kirk and Tim – you rock!
From the Point site:
"Point Oktoberfest is an authentic Marzen Style Lager beer, a style reminiscent of the beers originally brewed for the first Oktoberfest Celebrations in Germany during the early 1800's. Craft brewed using Hallertauer Hops and sweet Vienna roasted malts result in a full flavored, finely balanced beer brewed in celebration of the upcoming season."
Here we go...
Pour – Bright, clear copper color with a thin off-white head. Moderate lacing held firm to the side of the glass from start to finish.
Aroma – mildly sweet and yeasty aroma with an occasional whiff that reminded me of caramel and cider. Overall very pleasant and fitting for the season.
Taste – as expected, this one is big on malt flavor, though it has a light body for the style. Tea-like hop flavors jump out in the middle as the high carbonation starts to move things around. Nice and clean finish that dries out nicely. The lager yeast brings out some tart, almost cider-like flavors as it warms.
Overall – a highly drinkable Oktoberfest that is easygoing and unobtrusive, and for us the colder the beer the better the drinking. We reached the bottom of our first – and second – glass in no time. Most Marzens we’ve tried have been much sweeter and drank closer to a red or a big bodied amber. Point’s offering is the kind of ‘Fest we could drink large quantities of and maybe impress a few Bavarian barmaids with our drinking prowess.
NOTES: Canned Oktoberfests are a modern phenomenon. It’s reasonable that many of the old brands from days long gone by were Marzens or at least similar to that style, especially considering the German influence in early U.S. brewing history. However, we looked over nearly 15,000 (really, 15 thousand) pictures of beer cans, starting with the first in 1935, and found none branded as an “Oktoberfest” until the late 70’s and even then we found only three. Meanwhile, the CraftCans database already has seven listed, with an eighth slated for release in 2012. Here’s hoping more craft brewers find a way to get these fall treats in cans!
The few Oktoberfests that were put on the market many years before the craft can revolution. Note that all three designs lack the blue and white diamond pattern of the Bavarian flag that is common on many of today’s ‘Fests.
Posted by Trent
More from this: State (7) | Country (318) | Brewery (5) | Style (7)
Thursday, December 1st 2011
HGH (Home Grown Hops): Part Duh
(Oskar Blues Brewery)
Another very limited release from the folks that started this whole canning craze. This American Strong Ale is brewed using hops grown by the brewery. This is "Part Duh" in the HGH series and we believe that "Part One" was just a limited draught release. Big thanks to Mike out in Colorado for grabbing some of these at the brewery and sending us a can of this limited release from Oskar Blues! Cheers!
From the Oskar Blues site:
"HGH (Home Grown Hops) is an 8% ABV and 70 IBU Strong Ale juiced with hops locally grown at Oskar Blues Hops & Heifers Farm. Our home grown, high-potency, home run hitter is dry-hopped with Amarillo hops and then finished with a dose of Nugget and Centennial dry hopping. This farm raised strong ale injects more HGH than the 1998 home run race."
Here we go...
Pour - coming out of the can HGH is slightly viscous and fills the glass a bright orange and ruby-eqsue red color. Great looking, foamy off-white head that leaves some wonderful lacing. Who doesn't like lacing?
Aroma - first whiff and out comes cotton candy, burnt sugar, mango, passion fruit, mandarin oranges, sweet tea and hints of lemons and lime. Lots of aroma packed into this little can.
Taste - wow. Grapefruit and mango all over the place! This has some very strong tropical fruit notes with a nice malty sweet backbone that doesn't smother those delicate flavors. Certainly not an overly bitter brew, this has so much going on that I didn't expect. I'm loving all the tropical notes in this very unique brew!
Overall - awesome job creating something altogether delicious and flavorful and not just high in ABV and IBUs. This may pack a punch but you don't notice it and its cerainly not going to leave you're tongue all dried out. Well balanced, unique in character and just plain enjoyable. Wish we had a lot more of these!
Note - Oskar Blues is doing something pretty damn cool with their "Hops and Heifers" farm.
Posted by Russ
More from this: State (59) | Country (318) | Brewery (13) | Style (2)
Labels: American Strong Ales