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Thursday, June 28th 2012

Colorado Kolsch
(Steamworks Brewing Company)

Our third review of Steamworks’ canned offerings and, coincidentally, the third of almost a dozen canned Kölsch in the CraftCans database. We’ve always liked the design of all three of Steamworks’ cans - not to mention the contents of those containers - so we’re happy to give this one a try and place another colorful can on our shelf.

It also seems fitting to bring attention to the wildfires that are currently burning out in Colorado. You can help support the fight against those fires in a number of ways. One of which is to purchase a shirt, such as the one below, from a company called Wildfire Tees. 100% of proceeds benefit wildfire victims!


From the Steamworks' site:

"Colorado Kölsch has earned two silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival and another silver medal at the Word Beer Cup. It is a light and crisp derivative of German-style Kolsch bier with a hint of sweetness. This quenching ale is a perfect outdoor companion!"

Here we go...

Pour - Pale gold with a perfectly level half finger of tight bone white foam on top.

Aroma – Notes of sour grapes and a nice whiff of pale malts here and there. All aromas are very reserved and if pressed to describe it in just a few words we’d have to go with “lightly malted white wine.”

Taste – A thin-bodied, slightly carbonated taste of light malt kicks things off. Tea-like flavors emerge in the middle before the carbonation returns at the finish to dry things out a bit leaving a barely sweet and pale grain aftertaste.

Overall – Kölsch beers may be viewed as rather unremarkable in today’s sea of hop- and malt-bombs (all of which we love, by the way). The 2008 BJCP guidelines use words like “clean, balanced, subdued, and subtle” to describe a well-crafted Kölsch. Steamworks’ offering fits that description perfectly. If you aren’t “wowed” by this beer or any other made in the same style it’s because you shouldn’t be. We found it to be refreshing as the brewer promised, and a good brew to just relax with and appreciate one of the simpler styles of craft beer.

Notes: There’s nothing unremarkable about the Colorado Kölsch package. We weren’t surprised that the Colorado Kölsch can took home a 2012 Canny Award for Best Local Tie-in. Congratulations!

Colorado Kölsch
Style: Kölsch
Brewery: Steamworks Brewing Company
Durango, Colorado  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: 17
Date: June 28th, 2012

Posted by Trent

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Labels: Kölsch

Friday, June 21st 2012

Q & A with Justin Brandt
(Owner of Northwest Canning)

Northwest Canning is one of four mobile canning companies, and one of two in the Pacific Northwest, that have launched within the past two years. Located in the brewery-rich lands of the PNW, they're bringing their can labeler and their Wild Goose Canning Line to breweries wishing to put their beers in cans. Beginning operations earlier this year, they've already got their hands full doing canning for quite a few breweries in their area. We took a few minutes and launched a barrage of questions at owner, Justin Brandt, who was kind enough to answer them and share a little bit about his company and their mission. Cheers Justin!

(CC) Tell us a little about yourself... 

(JB) I grew up in the small town of Snohomish, Washington. For college, my business partner Arne and I went to Linfield College and we graduated in 2007 and 2008 respectively. After college, we both went on to be financial advisors for military families in the Tacoma, Washington area. We both love beer and, in early 2012, I quit my job to start Northwest Canning!


(CC) When did the idea for Northwest Canning first came to mind? 

(JB) One of my favorite summer activities is to take leisurely floats down some of the local rivers with good friends and good suds. I make a big effort to drink local beer and, last year while scanning the grocery isle for something tasty, I noticed there were very few local craft brews in cans. After doing a lot of research and planning, we set out to change that.


Northwest Canning uses a Wild Goose Canning MC-50 machine*

(CC) What sort of canning set-up do you have? 

(JB) Right now, we use the MC-50 mobile canning system from Wild Goose Engineering. It’s one of the best manual machines on the market and is a great starter system! With it we are able to average about 10 16 oz. cans a minute. Things have been going well and next week we are putting a down payment on two new machines that will increase our production to 40 cans a minutes! This will help reduce our costs so we can keep prices low for the breweries we work with.


(CC) What is your main "goal" so to speak when it comes to the business you provide? 

(JB) Our goal is to help small breweries, plain and simple. For a small brewery, one of the best ways we can help is by being available when they need us. One of the main gripes I hear from brewers is about outside service providers not being reliable, so we’ve made the commitment to go the extra mile for our clients.


"Our goal is to help small breweries, plain and simple."

(CC) What were some of the challenges you faced when getting things started? 

(JB) The logistical issues have been some of the most challenging. The key to a mobile system is being able to fit all of your equipment into an easily transportable unit, which this is not an easy task. It took a tremendous amount of planning to bring Northwest Canning from concept to reality in 6 months.


labelling Wingman's cans

(CC) Where are you based? Are you mostly looking to work with breweries in Oregon and Washington? 

(JB) We are based in Portland and our main service area is between Eugene and Seattle. In the next few months we plan to lease a separate warehouse in Seattle so we can expand our services and cover both states as well as Idaho.

Wingman Brewers' cans

(CC) Which breweries have you worked with so far? Which beers have you canned? 

(JB) We’ve canned for two breweries so far, Wingman Brewers in Tacoma and Emerald City Beer Co. in Seattle. Wingman is great! They are the smallest nano-breweries around to start canning and they are putting out their “P-51 Porter” and “Ace IPA” in 16 oz. cans. Emerald City is one of the few micro-breweries to focus on lagers and they have done an amazing job! Their “Dottie Seattle Lager” is crisp and perfect for summer. Not to mention the 16 oz. can is one of the best looking around! We will be starting up with seven others in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Emerald City Brewing's "Dottie Seattle Lager" cans

(CC) We read recently that you might be looking to also can wine and even water in the future? What can you tell us about that? 

(JB) Absolutely. We haven’t formalized anything yet but there has been some interest from wineries to do cans. The Pacific Northwest is the perfect area for the “wine in a can” trend to take off. As far as water goes, Ball has developed a great new twist-top can that would be a perfect fit for this. For us, nothing is off the table. If people want it in a can, we are going to work our hardest to get it there.


the finished products keeping cool!

(CC) What do you see in the near future when it comes to canned craft beer? 

(JB) Canned craft beer has a very bright future. When you see large breweries like Sierra Nevada investing millions to ramp up their can production, you know it’s going to be a lasting trend. 

(CC) When you're not helping others can their beer where can you be found enjoying a beer? What are some of your favorite local beers?

(JB)You can usually find me and a few friends at the Green Dragon, in Southeast Portland, on Thursday. They put on a “Meet the Brewers Night” and bring in brewers from all around the nation. It’s a really fun place to meet fellow beer lover and enjoy 50+ taps. There’s no way I could pick a favorite local beer but a few notable choices are Burnside Brewing’s “Sweet Heat” and Amnesia Brewing’s “Desolation IPA”.


(CC) How can people get in touch or stay connected with Northwest Canning?

(JB) Stay connected with us by liking our Facebook page and get in touch via email at northwestcanning@gmail.com!



*all images courtesy of Northwest Canning


Posted by Russ

Thursday, June 21 2012

Monkeynaut IPA
(Straight to Ale)

Monkeynaut is brand new to cans and is the first aluminum clad offering from Alabama's Straight to Ale. The brewery's hometown of Huntstville is known as "The Rocket City" due to its association with U.S. Space Missions. In the late 1950s, the Jupiter rocket program took shape and became the space vehicle that would take several space monkeys into the heavens, including "Miss Baker" who can be seen on the Monkeynaut IPA can.

From the Straight to Ale site:

"Albert. Able. Gordo. Miss Baker. Bonny. Goliath. Between 1948 and 1961 these primate pioneers and others bravely went where no man had ever gone before, paving the way for manned U.S. spaceflight. This hoppy little monkey of a beer is a tribute to those Simian heroes of yesteryear. It has a citrusy, floral hop aroma, a strong malt body and a crisp finish."

Here we go...

Pour – dark amber to cherry in appearance with loads of sticky white lacing stuck inside the walls of the glass. Carbonation looks spot on and we're ready to get down to business. 

Aroma – loads of citrusy hop aromas along with a faint aroma of black pepper, sweet oranges, pineapple and other tropical fruits. Quite aromatic and inviting.

Taste – one tasty sip and we're on to something quite delicious. Monkeynaut has some solid, bitter hoppy notes that combine some citrus and pine with tropical fruits and packs a righteous amount of malt backbone needed to keep everything well balanced. When it comes to well put together IPAs this is certainly one to add to the list.

Overall - very enjoyable brew. This is the type of beer you'd be happy to introduce to a friend and/or have as your go to backyard BBQ beer. Very appealing in the heat of the summer. Put some of these in the cooler and get them nice and cold and let that hoppiness satisfy your thirst. Well done Straight to Ale! Cheers!

Note - the monkey featured on the Monkeynaut IPA can was a squirrel monkey known as "Miss Baker". She was born in Peru and in 1959, at the age of 2, she went to space aboard a Jupiter rocket. She would be the first American "animal" to go to space and return alive. She would live to the ripe old age of 27 before passing away in Straight to Ale's hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. She is buried at the entrance of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. 

Straight to Ale also brews a "Gorillanaut Imperial IPA" that weighs in at 9% and is the "bigger, badder brother" to their flagship Monkeynaut IPA.

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Monkeynaut IPA
Style: American IPA
Brewery: Straight to Ale
Huntsville, Alabama  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: 70
Date: June 21st, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Wednesday, June 13th 2012

Rodeo Clown Double IPA
(Karbach Brewing Company)

Recently I was down in Houston for a week for work. I didn't know much about the beer scene there but was directed to check out a few places and a few local brews. One of the breweries that I knew I'd be on the lookout for was Karbach Brewing (the name comes from the street that the brewery is located on). Despite being relatively new to Houston they've done very well in their hometown thus far as their beers are available on draft and in cans at a lot of places around the city. Rodeo Clown is one of four beers that they're currently canning with hopefully more to come. Cheers!

From the Karbach site:

"It’s a job. And a hazardous one at that. Benefits, you ask? I hardly think so.

But the show must go on. So, it’s with bravado that the Rodeo Clown takes his place in the arena lights. Whether or not he’s insane is not important right now.  It’s with grit and intensity that the Clown steps in the path of almost certain destruction.

Our Double IPA is much the same. At 9.5% ABV, Rodeo Clown Double IPA coats the tongue in bitterness and packs a punch that will knock a bull on its ass . Intense and maybe a little insane drink carefully, but drink often. Ladies and Gentlemen, let the show begin."

Here we go...

Pour – fills the glass with a dark amber liquid with a big, off-white, sticky head that creeps down the inside of the glass. A nice clean appearance. This looks very tempting.

Aroma – as soon as the can was cracked open some of hop aromas made their way a good 2-3 feet right to my nose. This has some seriously intense citrus hop aroma along with some tropical aromas of pineapple and mango. There is quite a bit of sweetness in the aroma as well, its obvious that this is packing some bitterness and some heat simply by sticking your nose in the glass.

Taste – a little viscous on the tongue, swirling around the mouth there some burnt caramel flavors, some of those big sweet tropical fruit notes and of course a boat load of hop bitterness. As it warms a bit some flavors of mandarin oranges and grapefruit come out. A tad sweet on the tongue, sticky and coating, but quite delicious. Surprisingly for a beer of this strength it is quite balanced and the tongue is battered and bruised but will certainly survive to see a few more beers this evening. 

Overall - very solid and well put together Double IPA. All the big hop flavors and aromas are present and accounted for and a nice malty sweet backbone is there to back things up. The tropical notes are especially nice and the rather complex hop profile is fun to try and figure out as this warms. 7 different hops from both sides of the Atlantic were used in this beer! Enjoy!

Note - Rodeo clowns are now commonly referred to as bullfighters. The job they do today is much more serious compared to what it was many years ago when they were simply there to entertain the crowd much like circus clowns do. Yet, they still dress like clowns. Go figure.

Hops Scale:
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Rodeo Clown Double IPA
Style: Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Brewery: Karbach Brewing Company
Houston, Texas  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Pale, medium Crystal, dark Crystal, Munich, Biscuit
Hops: Amarillo, Citra, Chinook, East Kent Goldings, Simcoe, German Magnum and Sapphir. Dry-hopped intensely with Citra, Sapphir and East Kent Goldings
ABV: 9.5%
IBUs: 85
Date: June 13th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Thursday, June 7th 2012

Trebuchet Double IPA
(Brewery Vivant)


Trebuchet is very unqiue offering from the folks at Brewery Vivant. This is their take on the big, bad, double or Imperial IPA with a Belgianesque twist. One of only a few brewers taking a stab at this new hybrid style of beer. They also brew and can Triomphe, which is a Belgian-style IPA. Trebuchet is also one of five recent special Brewer's Reserve releases that this Michigan brewery has put into their specially designed cans. Look for even more in the future. 


From the Brewery Vivant site:

"Somewhere there is a Belgian Monk who's head is spinning. A Belgian brewer would never put this much hops into a beer.  However, we are not Belgian are we? We can do whatever we want.  This is an unconventional beer. Belgian candy sugar, classic Belgian yeast, and a boat load of hops, plus some dry hopping in top of that.  A very unique take on a Double IPA that will make it stand out in a crowd."

Here we go...

Pour - dark amber with some reddish hues, a bit murkey with a great looking head on top that is thick and leaves quite a bit of lacing. This looks every bit like a high volume beer.

Aroma - lots of juicy, citrusy hops come to the nose almost instantly. Some sweet tropical fruits and caramel malts follow with perhaps a bit spice.

Taste - loads of those tropical fruit flavors, lemons and oranges, a bit of a spicy twang and a big malty sweet backbone gathering all the loose parts together. Love the citrusy hops and the yeasty spiciness. This is big and brash and definitely a unique spin on a relatively new style - a bigger, bolder Belgian IPA for sure. The scariest part is that this beer doesn't taste one bit like it should be tipping the scales at close to 10% alcohol. It's very smooth, not astringent whatsoever, and balanced. 


Overall - we loved it. Sure, it defies whatever boundaries people choose to put on styles but who cares. American brewers pretty much threw the style guidelines away long ago which has given rise to so many amazing beers its practically ridiculous. Brewery Vivant is brewing some amazing beers and are one of many small breweries to keep an eye on in the years to come. Cheers!

Note - the trebuchet was a popular war machine during the Middle Ages. It was the ultimate weapon to fire projectiles fast and far in the times before gun powder. The design is fairly simple, its a catapult with a counterweight that amplifies the speed of a swinging arm loaded with the missile. According to Wikipedia, the largest currently-functioning trebuchet in the world is a 22-ton machine at Warwick Castle in England. Based on historical designs, it stands 18 metres tall (59 ft) and throws missiles typically 80 lbs up to 300 meters.


Brewery Vivant's Brewer's Reserve Cans

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Trebuchet Double IPA
Style: Belgian Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 9.7%
IBUs: ???
Date: June 7th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Tuesday, June 4th 2012

Sobrehumano Palena'ole
(Maui Brewing Company)

Sobrehumano Palena 'ole, is a "blended Spanish-Hawaiian term meaning "superhuman" and "without limits". This is a collaboration brew produced by Maui Brewing and Michigan's Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and is the first canned collaboration to feature the logos of both breweries involved. This is Maui's first canned collaboration, but certainly not their last as they've recently had Sam from Dogfish Head over to the islands to brew another upcoming canned release. Sobrehumano Palena 'ole is set to make its debut at Savor in a few weeks. The artwork is a nod to a shared affinity for paddleboading by both Maui Brewing Founder, Garrett Marrero, and Head Brewer, and Michigan native, John Walsh. 

From the Maui Brewing site:

"Sobrehumano Palena 'ole is a red ale brewed with liliko'i and cherries. Maui Brewing Company and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales will both brew this beer; however Maui will use standard fermentation while the Jolly Pumpkin version is a barrel aged sour. The beers will be packaged both by Maui Brewing (in cans) and Jolly Pumpkin (in bottles). Maui Brewing will produce approximately 4000 cases and 80 barrels in draft of the Maui version."

Here we go...

Pour - cloudy, reddish-brown in appearance with a subtle white head on top. Looks a little mysterious and we're very intrigued.


Aroma - the very first whiff is French roast coffee or roasty malts, but that quickly becomes more of a tropical fruit aroma. Very unique aroma that has us shoving our faces into the glass over and over again. As it warms the aroma really takes shape and becomes something very special.

Taste - tart and tangy with some nice roasted malt flavors in the back. It all blends extremely well together. You can pick out the cherries and the passionfruit as this gets warmer which is when this beer really takes shape. The almost mouth puckering flavors from the fruits used in this beer really make this beer great and leave your tongue a little dry and thirsting for more. All we can say is try and appreciate all of the subtle nuances this ale has to offer. There aare many.


Overall - Hawai'i and Michigan may be thousands of miles away from eachother but they come together very nicely in every can of Sobrehumano Palena'ole. This is a great beer for summer as its got a very refreshing flavor profile and a sharp, almost sour, finish. We can't wait to see, and taste, the next Maui collaboration brew that comes out in the fall. Mahalo.

Note - Want to support Maui Brewing Company and their efforts to win a $250,000 small business loan? See below...

Maui Brewing Co. can be considered to win a small business grant sponsored by Chase and LivingSocial called "Mission: Small Business". Your support could translate into a $250,000 grant so please take a minute to visit www.missionsmallbusiness.com. Go to the "Log in & Support" button on the right, then login to your Facebook account. You will be directed to a page where you can vote. Just search for Business Name = Maui Brewing Co., State = Hawaii, City = Lahaina - and place your vote!

Can Scale:
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Sobrehumano Palena'ole
Style: American Amber/Red Ale
Brewery: Maui Brewing Company
Lahaina, Hawaii  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.0%
IBUs: 24
Date: June 4th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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