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Tuesday, January 31st 2012

TailGate Hefeweizen
(TailGate Beer)

TailGate Hefeweizen is the second canned release from San Diego-based TailGate Beer following their debut with their Blacktop Blonde. This is another beer from TailGate aimed at raising the bar when it comes to session-able style beers. Cheers!


From the TailGate site:


"TailGate Beer does an American take on the German classic. This hard-to-pronounce cloudy ale has hints of citrus complemented by sprinkles of spice. Proud of the name’s “weizen” (wheat) base ingredient, TGB draws most of its flavor from the famed grass plant. This Hefe is one truly crisp and refreshingly unfiltered ale that garnishes well with a lemon or an orange! Be sure to impress your friends with your fine tuned palate and cultured vocabulary next time you belly up to your TailGate Beer “HEH-feh-vite-zehn."


Here we go...


Pour - pale straw color with a thin white head, solid carbonation. No cloudiness as you might see in other hefeweizens. This one appears filtered, clean and clear.


Aroma - a big whiff of stewed cereal grains, light citrus notes, an essence of apples and floralness. 


Taste - first sip brings about some nice honey and light caramel flavors along with a little lemon peel. Some light cider flavors and nice floral notes. Carbonation levels make this dance on the palate and go down smoothly. A little dry in the finish.


Overall - very refreshing. Hits the marks as a session-able hefe that is light on the palate with some nice malt sweetness and hints of citrus. Great option for folks who like a lighter beer and aren't looking for a bland yellow light lager. Ths is an Americanized and session-ized version of the style that has some drinkability qualities that might be hard to beat.


Note - TailGate Beer is also releasing their Hefeweizen in cans now. They plan on releasing two cans a year and word is that they're planning something hoppy for next year. They've also just released 24 oz. cans of the styles you see below. Cheers!

 

        


Can Scale:
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TailGate Hefeweizen
Style: Hefeweizen
Brewery: TailGate Beer
City: 
San Diego, California  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: 28
Date: January 31st, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Tuesday, January 31st 2012

Q & A with Terry Kishiyama
(Oskar Blues Artist)


 Q & A with Terry Kishiyama (Oskar Blues Artist)

 

With the upcoming release of Deviant Dale's IPA, and this being the 10th Anniversary of Dale's Pale Ale in cans, we were interested in finding out more about Oskar Blues' as a brand. The artwork, the message and the theme. Perhaps you've noticed the initials "TK" on a can of Oskar Blues' beer, perhaps not, we honestly never did. They happen to stand for Terry Kishiyama. Terry is the graphic artist behind the branding that has helped Oskar Blues attain phenomenal growth in a very crowded craft beer industry. His imagery, can designs, and graphics are true works of art. We bombarded Terry with questions and he was gracious enough to answer all of them. Cheers Terry!


 

(CC) Can you give us a little background on yourself?

 

(TK) I have been practicing art most of my life, first award was 2nd place "Color Your Way to Disney", age 5, I won a Mickey Mouse watch and it made the newspaper in my home town - Scottsbluff, Nebraska, not too much goin on back then, worked as cartoonist at my high school newspaper and interned at small town papers in Nebraska during college- painted a ton in college, die the whole art major thing, sculpture, art history, building my own canvases and stretchers in the wood shop, never cut off any fingers, and after college, only art job I could score was as a signmaker for 3 years, making stuff, not really too creative, House For Sale By Owner signs and SALE banners....then moved to Colorado in Dec. 1999, experimented a lot with monotype printmaking and abstract sharpie art --while honing the graphic design and illustration skills at a printshop downtown on Pearl Street in Boulder called Eight Days a Week--created a lot of logos and marketing collateral, got my feet wet with brand identity and awareness.


 

(CC) When did you start working with Oskar Blues? 

 

(TK) Started in, i think about 2003 or so, with some early magazine ads, most of the stuff since, has had my hand in the artwork. There's posters and events, etc where I am not involved too much, but when it comes to the beer/brewery image, I'm in there. We do a lot of truck wraps, novelty posters, merchandise --we're always working on the next round of ideas, the standard let's put a logo in the middle of a t-shirt ideas are chock full, so expect to see more seasonal and out-of-the box ideas that represent the Colorado lifestyle, suited for the outdoor enthusiast, who likes to dance by the fire and bark at the moon over a cold can of beer.

 

 

(CC) Did you design the first Dale's Pale Ale can?

 

(TK) Not the very first it was more Eastery pastel colors - the first ad i ever created for Dale --was for Frontier Airlines Magazine, they were serving it aboard --and I just used a sharpie, like John Madden football style, it sort of set a funky edgy advertising concept that still remains in the ads today, but the packaging turned to a more symbolic color design, circa 50s (before Psychadelics) like old Oil Cans back in the day.


(CC) What were the initial design elements that Oskar Blues wanted to include in the first can?

 

(TK) It was like I said, the stripe down the middle of a football helmet and a retro idealogy with a throw-back feel, 2 or 3 spot color hand-made look and some Evel Knievel smothered on top....


 

(CC) How would you describe the graphic theme for the lineup of Oskar Blues' cans? What design qualities are similar across the styles?

 

(TK) If you take an image of all the cans -and turn em all black & White, and squint at them, they all look pretty similar, same bloodline, we have some USA stars / stripes and some Mountains & Sunrays thay symbolize the blue skies and hilly climbs in coloRADo...


 

 

(CC) What are the challenges you face when designing the artwork for a can of beer? 

 

(TK) The challenge is that I just found out this beer art needs to go to the Feds for approval this afternoon, so we can make it time to put some in cans before the event featured in the 200 posters we just put up.

 

 

(CC) How long does is it take to go from that first draft to the final product?

 

(TK) The first can of Dale's went on for quite a while, once we stamped that one--the others naturally fell in line, I think we did Gubna in 2 hours--the Dale's lasted a couple months, making mock-ups and bouncing the ball around between us--there's some quick ideas, that is kind of an inside joke between the Oskar Blues creative team, that can be --urban dictionary style, but occasionally they leak out in newspapers like The Onion, like our F!@# YOU IF YOU DON'T LIKE SANTA campagin.

 

 

(CC) What was it like holding that first can that you had designed?

 

(TK) Kinda sucked cause it was filled with sand, but was the first one I saw, part of a funktified display in Lyons on top of the flagstone on top of the taps upstairs--no seriously, it was great to see the real thing after that first production --our first Old Chub design was more complex with some "plaid" graphics, small and subtle -and orange and green and black and yella --after big success with the simplicity of the Dale's design, we made a quick adjustment with just Black and Green, and used the raw aluminum as an important part of the overall color and contrast.


 

(CC) What are some things people might not necessarily notice in the designs of the cans you've done?

 

(TK) Well where the fuck is Waldo man? Let's let the peeps stare into the hypnotic 4-Dimension Oskar Blues can and see for themselves.

 

 

 


some alternate Deviant Dale's can designs 

 

(CC) Deviant Dale's certainly plays off the original Dale's Pale Ale can and is described as something of a bigger version of the beer. What design work went into making the first 16 oz. can from OB stand out from it's smaller brethren. 

 

(TK) We thought about doin' something totally different with Deviant, a bigger can, some abstract renderings came up, with the new technology in can printing, ton of special features possible --my first concept, had FIRE involved, it was more Jackson Pollock Flames style--maybe it will show up in the future as a different elixir, but in the end, we stayed true to the brand recognition already developed with the other classic flavors.



(CC) The top of the can has the line "Let's sling a little mud, girl" - a line from the Widespread Panic song "Tall Boy". Whose idea was it to feature that on the can?

 

(TK) It was one of the first conversations I had with Chad (Melis) when the Deviant art concepts started, I said "Tall Boy, huh --Sippin' on a Tall Boy"- it was just a natural comparison with the WP song, I think we've both been to our fair share of shows, then some other lyrics popped in -- I actually thought the top said crawling through the darkness...but slinging mud means the same thing..just a reference to that feeling when a chorus comes in- the whole crowd sings it together, and feeling real gooood.

 


too bad this didn't end up being canned!

 

(CC) One of the images you shared with us was of a label design for "Honey Badger" Smoked Porter. What is the story behind that? 

 

(TK) It was a beer that was short-lived in the mass distribution idea, but I think they still make batches of it for the Tasty Weasel Taproom at the brewery--friggin deliciosa!! This is one good thing that came out out of the creative session to brand the beer, just messing around with the Macho Man Randy Savge holding a honey badger head....this is how we began the session to stay motivated and laugh a little.


(CC) Chad also mentioned you were in a band that is based in Lyons. What is the band called and where can people learn more about your music?

 

(TK) I play in a power trio called Interstate Stash Express, and side projects include Los Fear of Shrimp and working on a solo record, called TK THE GEMINI, there's actually 2 of us in the brain, but definitely a solo record. You can hear some online or better, come out to a show in Colorado - we play a fusion style with Rock, Blues, Americana & Experimental.

 

 

(CC) What does it feel like to see your art on a canvas that is so widely seen and enjoyed?

 

(TK) I'm stoked, with Oskar Blues, it's a simple message, we live in a sweet part of the world, with trails and creeks and landscape that takes your breath away --it's fun to try and create a brand image that eats and sleeps what it practices and preaches, like Chad- i talked to him yesterday and said what are you doin this weekend? He said, oh I gotta work, gotta drink beer, gotta race my bike--they had equal influence, but you know he ain't normal if he just wants to just drink beer and race his bike and not work...what the Oskar Blues brand is saying is that we can do it all, and that is our work.



Posted by Russ



Thursday, January 26th 2012

Joseph James American Lager
(Joseph James Brewing Company)

It’s time for the CraftCans Team to wrap up our reviews of Joseph James Brewing Company’s three canned offerings, including Fox Tail - the first gluten-free beer in a can – and their super hoppy, high octane Hop Box Imperial IPA.   Let’s put their craft lager to the test.  

From the Joseph James Brewing site:


"Traditional Style American Lager brewed with the finest Pilsner malts and organic rice. This light bodied lager is crisp and refreshing at 5.2% ABV, 15 IBU's, and is best enjoyed at 45°F-55°F. Serve in a 16oz pint glass."


Here we go...

POUR: Clear, pale yellow and very clear.  Nice half-inch white head on top that held its own and left moderate but sturdy lacing.

AROMA: Standard aromas of biscuit dough and fruity lager yeast.  We find it challenging to find much variety in the aromas in our craft lagers, but the taste is where the rubber meets the road anyway, right?

TASTE: Malty sweetness and the addition of fermentable rice contributes to a nice, round mouthfeel during the start and middle before just a touch of hops emerge at the end and lead us to a semi-sweet finish.  This is such a smooth drinker that it disappeared from our glass in no time. 

OVERALL:  A very pleasant, easy drinking American Lager that leans a couple ticks towards the malty side of the scale with no hints of bitterness.  We found the medium body and strong malt flavors very satisfying, especially on this cold and snowy day.

NOTE: Those of us who have been of legal drinking age for a couple decades know today’s scene is miles ahead of where it was when we cracked our first can of fizzy, yellow beer.  We applaud Joseph James, Fort George, Ska, Brooklyn, and all the other craft brewers who are offering today’s beer drinkers a much better can of lager.

          


Joseph James American Lager
Style: American Adjunct Lager
Brewery: Joseph James Brewing Company
City: 
Henderson, Nevada  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Pilsner malt, Organic rice
Hops: ???
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: 15
Date: January 26th, 2012

Posted by Trent


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Labels: Lagers


Thursday, January 26th 2012

New South White Ale
(New South Brewing Company)

Some cans find their ways to us quickly and others can take a while – sometimes a long while!  New South’s White Ale is one of the latter.  First canned in 2009 and with distribution apparently limited to South Carolina, White Ale only recently found its way into the hands of the CraftCans team after a recent business trip by a friend's wife. It’s the only one of six New South beers currently available in cans...but they'll soon be canning their Nut Brown Ale.

From the New South Brewing site:

"An American interpretation of a classic Belgian wheat ale.  A hazy light golden color gives this beer its name.  This light and refreshing ale is brewed with just a hint of coriander and orange zest giving way to a citrus finish."

Here we go...

Pour - a cloudy, bright yellow ale with a very loose, disorganized head that dissipated quickly and left two lone spots of lace on the side of our can glass.


Aroma - dry biscuit and just a wisp of citrus.  Not a lot going on here. 


Taste - the first few sips have a very unique, subtle sweet peppery flavor.  The coriander and orange zest seem to be combined in perfect balance, as though the fruit of a pepper-orange tree found its way to New South’s fermenters.  The flavor changes drastically as it warms and the pepper fades in favor of sour citrus.  The sudden loss of that wonderful pepper-orange combination makes us wonder if the yeast strain plays the dominant role in the flavor profile of this witbier.   


Overall - lA pretty good example based solely on style guidelines.  We really liked the ratio of coriander to orange that was most noticeable at the start.  Recommended if you start and finish this one while it’s at the lower end of the serving temperature range.   You can do it - it’s available in the perfect container to get it cold quickly! 

Note - There’s something about the design of this can that we find especially pleasing.  Perhaps it’s the soft, sandy colored background that makes one think of warm Carolina beaches or the red block letters that are reminiscent  of many classic can designs from days long past or the script letters that prompt thoughts of southern ladies’ lilting accents.  Or it could be a combination of all of the above that make us think southern tradition and class. Cheers to New South and their designer for the nice can! 

      



Monk Scale:
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Can Scale:
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New South White Ale
Style: Witbier
Brewery: New South Brewing Company
City: 
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 4.6%
IBUs: ???
Date: January 26th, 2012

Posted by Trent


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Labels: Witbier


Thursday, January 26th 2012

Good People Brewing Debuts Cans
of Snake Handler Double IPA


empty Snake Handler cans on pallett

This week, Birmingham, Alabama's Good People Brewing Company filled, seamed, packaged, and shipped their initial canning run of Snake Handler Double IPA. Cans hits area shelves yesterday. This is the third canned offering from the state's first, and so far only, canning craft brewery. Thanks to Gabe Harris, President of Alabama's grassroots organization, Free the Hops, for being at the brewery on canning day and taking all of these great pictures showing how empty cans on highly-stacked palletts come to life after being filled with that liquid we all love so much. Great work, we can't wait to try the finished product!


cans of Snake Handler go around the bend

Something that makes Snake Handler so special, besides being a very good Double IPA, is that it wasn't that long ago that a beer like this was illegal for brewers to produce within the borders of the state. Something most of us don't even think about since a vast majority of states don't place such limiting restrictions on beer.


cans being filled

In May of 2009, the Free The Hops' Gourmet Beer Bill was signed which allowed brewers in the state to produce beers over 6% (Snake Handler clocks in at 9.3%). It remains essentially illegal to homebrew in the state and sales of containers over 16 oz. are prohibited. Organizations like Free the Hops are fighting for more relaxed laws that will help to promote better beer in Alabama and to allow for the state's brewers to have more freedoms. 


cans being seamed

Along with being the third canned beer from Good People Brewing, Snake Handler is the first American Double/Imperial IPA to be canned in the Southeast. There are currently 17 versions of this style being canned.


cans are packaged by hand

About this beer (from the Good People Brewing site):

"A big, joyous celebration of all things hoppy (5 different varities). Large flavors and aroma of pine, citrus, flowers, spice, pineapple, and grassiness complimented with a touch of biscuit and caramel backbone. Our most requested beer." 9.3% ABV, 103 IBUS


the finished product ready to go

 



Posted by Russ



Tuesday, January 24th 2012

Today is Canned Craft Beer Day!


poster by Richard Mitchell

On this day back in 1935 the almighty beer can was born. The first beers to be canned were Krueger's Finest Beer and Krueger's Cream Ale from the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company in Newark, New Jersey. 77 years later the American craft brewing scene is in full swing and there are now close to 500 differents cans of craft beer available from nearly 160 different breweries located in 40 states as well as Washington, DC. 

To honor all of the craft breweries who have chosen cans, and to the brewers who make all that great beer that ends up in those cans, please hoist one of your favorite canned beer today and say CHEERS!


poster by Amara Nichols

Spread the word on Twitter by using the hashtag

#cannedcraftbeerday 

Post a picture on Facebook of your favorite CANNED craft beer

Specify on Untappd that you're drinking a CAN of craft beer

While you're at it, tell a friend about the virtues of cans and if you're not a believer in cans give one a chance today - and remember to pour those beers into glassware (unless of course it's can of The Alchemist's Heady Topper)! Also, if you know of any events supporting the first annual Canned Craft Beer Day please let us know so we can spread the word. 

Click on the map below to see which craft breweries are canning their beers!


Craft beer is canned in 40 states and Washington, DC!

 

 


Posted by Russ



Tuesday, January 24th 2012

Deviant Dale's IPA
(Oskar Blues Brewery)

Deviant Dale's IPA will be the first 16 oz. can released from the folks who got this whole canned thing rolling a decade ago. Not a bad choice considering this was the hop-laden brew that just won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the very competitive India Pale Ale category. As you can plainly see, this is not the new can. It's merely a vessel used to transport the precious liquid in advance of their new canning line becoming operational. It's what's inside that truly matters, right? A big thank you to Chad at Oskar Blues for letting us have a sneak preview of what is to come!

From the Oskar Blues site:

"At 8% ABV, four hop additions, and a final excessive wallop of Columbus dry-hopping, this beer is meant to say one thing: MORE HOPS! The Deviant is a returning favorite from the little brewery in Lyons, Colorado that started the CANNED Revolution with Dale’s Pale Ale."


       
it's what's inside that matters


Here we go...

 

Pour – a darker golden hue with a sticky, clingy white head that leaves some serious lacing inside the glass. A very clean appearance with the look of a well-brewed IPA.

Aroma – I believe that someone has knocked me unconscious and I have woken up inside a huge pile of hops and could possibly suffocate from intense hop aroma. This is the real deal. TONS of that lovely grapefruit and mango goodness that the upper echelon of hopped up beers deliver. Plenty of pine, and pineapple for that matter, and overall super magnified lupulin experience for the olfactory system.

Taste – massive pine and resin flavors coming flooding in and are rounded out by a punch of bitterness and finally some sweet maltiness in the finish. Lots of those great tropical fruit flavors from the constant barrage of hops to the palate. A little less boozy than G'KNIGHT or GUBNA but certainly no less focused on hops. So, yes, this is worthy of it's medal and worthy of any IPA lover's glass. Cheers!

 

Overall - This one packs a wallop that is for sure. A full pint of this will certainly leave your tongue wounded but asking for more. This is a beer that will please even the most picky hopheads as it is balanced with a clean hop taste that isn't one-sided or a cloying, syrupy mess. We can't wait to have access to more of this brew on a regular basis and are certain that hopheads nationwide will rejoice when 4-packs of these tall boys are released.

 

Note - tall boy cans of Deviant Dale's should be hitting shelves in the next 4-6 weeks throughout the Oskar Blues distribution area. Oskar Blues is currently installing close to $4 million worth of new equipment which includes a new canning line filler and seamer that will allow them to can 300 cans per minute. 



Coming Soon Enough



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Deviant Dale's India Pale Ale
Style: Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
City: 
Longmont, Colorado  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: Columbus
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: January 24th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Tuesday, January 24th 2012

Two Brothers Brewing to Release Outlaw IPA in Cans in April

Exciting news from the folks at Two Brother Brewing Company! Look for cans of their Outlaw IPA this April! Check it out...Cheers!


Posted by Russ



Saturday, January 21 2012

Hilliard's Saison
(Hilliard's Beer)

One of two canned beers that Seattle's Hilliard's Beer has recently released. The brewery itself opened it's doors in October and their Saison was first put into cans in December. It joins their Amber Ale as a tandem of canned goodness on shelves in Washington State. Cheers!

From the Hilliard's site:

"Simple beer, complex taste and aroma.  A special yeast and unique fermentation profile give this beer hints of coriander, orange peel, and maybe a bit of pepper.  Castle Malting Pilsner Malt and Golding Hops, no spices added."

Here we go...

Pour - straw-colored pour that is soft and slightly cloudy. A nicely formed inch of foam on top. As it settles a bit it clarifies a little.


Aroma - yeasty spiciness, coriander, sour wheat, grainy, lemons, pears and honey. Very aromatic. 


Taste - light on the palate but plenty flavorful. Sweet with hints of pears and green apples along with some grassiness and plenty of spiciness from the yeast strain. Some hints of bitter lemon and light wheat. Clean and crisp, this goes down extremely well (and perhaps a bit too fast!). Carbonation is spot on and it has tartness that combines very well with the tangy, yeasty finish.


Overall - love this beer. A very well brewed Saison with the great yeasty spiciness that defines the style. Crisp and refreshing - an excellent brew anytime of year. We love that they chose to can a Saison early on and can't wait to see what they choose to can down the road. Did we also mention we love the retro-esque look of Hilliard's can designs? Well, we do. Cheers!

Note - Hilliard's Saison is one of three Saisons currently being canned. The others are Brewery Vivant's Farm Hand and Surly's CynicAle. Three other American craft brewery's also have plans to can Saisons in the near future. 



Monk Scale:
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Hilliard's Saison
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Brewery: Hilliard's Beer
City: 
Seattle, Washington  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: ???
IBUs: ???
Date: January 21st, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Thursday, January 19th 2012

Le Mort Vivant
(Southern Star Brewing Company)

Le Mort Vivant (French for "the undead" or "living dead") is the first canned release from Southern Star that utilizes their new multi-style can. As you can see this will function as their seasonal release can with a sticker showing the name of the beer affixed to the top. Le Mort Vivant is also the first Biere de Garde style beer to be canned and Southern Star might be the first Texan brewery to ever brew the style. We love the can and the innovation going on here. This is the first of what will be four seasonal canned by Southern Star over the next couple years. Cheers!

A great write-up about this beer by Ronnie Crocker can be found over at Beer, TX.

Below is a short description about Le Mort Vivant from that article:

"...the beer is brewed using traditional techniques and an extended boil with French, German, Belgian and American malts; French and Czech hops; and a French yeast. Hamm had to sell Fougeron on the idea of including Six-row malt, a higher-enzyme variety that is more common to the macrobrewers of the U.S. but in this case mimics the barley used by the French." - Jeff Hamm (Brewer, Southern Star)

Here we go...

Pour - a nice dark shade of auburn in appearance with a rather thin head, yet one that lasts a long, long time. Soft looking, almost a bit hazy with some nice highlights when held upwards. 

 

Aroma - biscuity and doughy, caramel, honey on brown bread, very sweet citrus, stewed grains and some hints of grape juice.

 

Taste - a malty, honey-kissed brew with some hints of caramel apples and oranges. Lots of depth to this beer. The layers of maltiness are apparent as are the subtle flavors from the yeast strain. A little dry in the finish with some sweetness left on the tongue. 

 

Overall - very well done! A great beer for the colder months, even in Texas, as this is on the stronger and maltier side. If you're not familiar with Biere de Gardes why not grab some cans and learn while you drink? We really love that Southern Star chose such a unique style to be their first canned seasonal and look forward to their future releases. Cheers!

 

Note - Biere de Garde, which means "beer to keep" or "beer for keeping", is a strong pale ale style beer that has roots in Northern France near the Belgian border. The style is similar to that of Saisons in both production and flavor. Biere de Gardes tend to have a bit more malt character and a less pronounced yeast flavor. Salut!


 



Can Scale:
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Le Mort Vivant
Style: Biere de Garde
Brewery: Southern Star Brewing Company
City: 
Conroe, Texas  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: 23
Date: January 19th, 2012

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Thursday, January 19th 2012

Brewery Vivant to Release Kludde

Michigan's Brewery Vivant has just finishing canning "Kludde" their first "Brewer's Reserve Limited Release" beer. This Belgian Style Dark Ale gets it's name from Belgian folklore and refers to a "water spirit which roams the Flemish country side." Judging by the can design, and what we've read online, "Kludde" is not necessarily a nice character. However, this beer sure sounds nice. It weighs in at 9.5% and is brewed with star anise and green raisins.

From the Brewery Vivant site:

"Watch out for Kludde! Belgian folklore’s water spirit who roams the Flemish countryside in the form of a monstrous black dog… This monstrous ale is made with green raisins, star anise and dark Belgian candi sugar. Notes of dried plum, fig and chocolate mingle with the complexity of our two house yeast strains. Let Kludde warm you up…"

Four-packs of Kludde go on sale at the brewery tomorrow and to area retailers in the coming weeks.


Super fresh cans of Kludde

From what we can gather it looks like Brewery Vivant will be utilizing a can that was designed to allow them to simply affix a sticker that designates the beer inside. They're the fifth brewery to go this way with their seasonal/limited releases.

    


Posted by Russ



Thursday, January 12th 2012

Wee Muckle
(Sun King Brewing Company)

We review our third specialty brew from the folks at Sun King, and one of eight (yes, eight) Sun King brews to earn a medal at 2011’s Great American Beer Festival. Share why don't you! Seriously though congratulations! That is very impressive! Wee Muckle took gold in the Scotch Ale category, which is saying a lot when you consider one of our all-time favorites, Old Chub from Oskar Blues, took bronze in the same category.     

From the Sun King site: 

"A large, malt-balanced ale with huge
 toffee flavors and hints of port-like character."


Wee Muckle was one of four Sun King beers to win GOLD at the 2011 GABF!

 

Here we go...

Pour – on the deeper side of ruby-brown with a big, loose head that faded fairly quickly.

Aroma – wonderful aroma of caramelized light brown sugar and roasted malts.  A great start! 

Taste – nice malty flavor at the front with a toffee-like light brown sugar sweetness. Mild hoppiness near the finish does a great job offsetting the rich, sweet start to this Scotch Ale. Just a touch of alcohol lingers in the back of the throat to remind you to sip this one. Medium-full mouthfeel fits the style (and my personal preference) perfectly.   

Overall – A well-balanced Scotch Ale that is deserving of its gold medal at the 2011 GABF. The light sweetness doesn’t linger and the modest hop finish made this one very enjoyable. The lack of smoke and peat flavors that we sometimes find in big Scotch Ales made Wee Muckle especially appealing to my palate. I plan to hold on to a can of this until I can get my beer-soaked paws on a can of Old Chub to do a side-by-side blind comparison and see which one wins out.  It will be a close call!    

NOTES - Thanks to the efforts of Sun King and Great Crescent, Indiana is becoming a canned craft beer state. Despite being the only two craft breweries that are actively canning, between them they have made 17 great beers available in our favorite portable containers, including this Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal Winner, Johan the Barleywine (the first canned barleywine) which was a 2011 GABF Bronze Medalist and Great Crescent's Bourbon's Barrel Stout which was the first canned barrel-aged stout.  Cheers to the Hoosier State!

 
Sun King's limited release canned lineup thus far


Can Scale:
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Wee Muckle
Style: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
Brewery: Sun King Brewing Company
City: 
Indianapolis, Indiana  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 9.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: January 12th, 2012

Posted by Trent


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Wednesday, January 11th 2012

A Decade of Canned Craft Beer
Part 1: 2002-2007

This year we'll celebrate a decade of canned craft beer. As the industry continues the shift towards canning and a lot of of new breweries are choosing cans over bottles we wanted to take a look back at how we go to where we are today (close to 500 craft beers in cans from close to 150 different brewers). The first five years were very different than the second. We start with just one brewery canning just one beer and from there things begin to grow. Here is a brief, one could say canned, history of that first half decade. Cheers!

The Early Years

Oskar Blues is widely credited as being the first craft brewer to can their beer. This can be attributed to their being the first to can their beer "in-house" using their own canning line. A few other craft brewers however did try canning before 2002.


An ad for Chief Oshkosh Red Lager Beer from 1993

Back in 1991, a beer called Chief Oshkosh Red Lager from Mid-Coast Brewing Inc., was canned at Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin. It was an all-malt red/amber lager that sold for $3.99 a six-pack. Sadly, among other things, it was this early alternative packaging that led to it's ultimate demise. Seven years later in 1998 another Wisconsin brewery, Capital Brewery, first canned their Wisconsin Amber, which is still canned today, also with the help of Stevens Point Brewery. A few years after that, in 2001, Brooklyn Brewery began canning their Brooklyn Lager which they still brew and can off-premise. Other early craft brewers that took a stab at canning with the help of larger breweries with canning lines were Pete's, Pyramid and Saranac.



A modern icon is born

2002

The modern era of canned craft beer is born. Now synonymous with the canned beer revolution, or what they call the "Canned Beer Apocalpyse", Oskar Blues Grill & Brew, a small brewpub in the tiny Colorado town of Lyons, takes a big risk by beginning to hand-can their hopped-up pale ale in an old barn.

The Oskar Blues story has been re-told countless times and yet it's so fitting of the successes that craft breweries have encountered over the years. Big risk equals big reward and with success comes followers - in the form of consumers and competitors. An on-line article from November of 2002 really sums up Oskar Blues' vision, even if they thought it was laughable at the time, of what cans could/would mean to the craft beer industry. These quotes from brewmaster Brian Lutz and Oskar Blues owner, and Dale's Pale Ale namesake, Dale Katechis still ring true today and continue to be part of the branding and marketing of many canned craft beers.

"The canned market offers nothing for the beer connoisseur," says Lutz, whose beers have won three medals in the Great American Beer Festival’s professional judging contests. "There’s a void there that needs to be filled, craft beer lovers deserve a choice in beer packaging." In addition to providing the most protective package for his beer, Lutz notes, "Cans are far more environmentally friendly than bottles, they’re much easier to recycle. They also make it easier for outdoor enthusiasts to take great beer into the backcountry, in the canoe, the ski-pack, anywhere they want to go."

"Outdoor recreation," Katechis says, "will never be the same thanks to Dale’s Pale Ale." (Beer Notes, 11.15.2002)



SKA's ESB Special Ale was first canned in the summer of 2003

2003

It wasn't long after Dale's Pale Ale started appearing on shelves and delivering looks of confusion that several other Colorado breweries also started canning their beer. Durango's SKA Brewing released their Special ESB in its familiar red can during the summer of 2003. Later that year came cans from yet another Colorado brewer. Short lived, yet one of the first to be canned, was Tommyknocker Brewing's Ornery Amber Ale. It can be said that Colorado was the leader in canning from the very beginning. Today there are twenty breweries in the state canning over sixty different beers. 2003 also saw the first can of Choc 1919 from Pete's Place/Krebs in Oklahoma. The only beer they ever canned, it would be available in until 2010 when canning ceased.

 


Some of the cans first released in 2004

2004

In 2004 the industry began to take notice of what was going on in Colorado and several breweries started taking the idea of canning seriously. With the help of Cask Brewing Systems, makers of the small canning lines used by almost all craft brewers in the 2000s, small breweries were able to package their beers without investing in a costly and space consuming bottling line. Breweries like Connecticut's New England Brewing Company, Alaska's Sleeping Lady Brewing Company, Michigan's Keweenaw Brewing, Rhode Island's Newport Storm, and Colorado's Pug Ryan's Brewery all started canning in 2004.

A number of breweries that have since stopped canning or folded also released cans this year. Collectors and craft beer drinkers may remember cans of Stone Coast Sunsplash Golden Ale, Warbird Red, pint cans of Hopluia and Archer's Ale from Massachusetts' Sherwood Forest Brewers.


Old Chub was Oskar Blues' second canned release

Also in 2004, Oskar Blues released their second canned offering, a Scotch Ale, called Old Chub and Dale's Pale Ale gets a makeover more reminscent of the look it has today.

 


Heiner Brau and Caldera both began canning in 2005

2005

A few years out from the initial canning of Dale's Pale Ale and Oskar Blues is starting to get some press. The stigma against cans is very much alive and well in the craft beer consumer world but things are beginning to change. It was in 2005 that the New York Times did a piece in which they sampled 24 different American Pale Ales and chose Dale's Pale Ale as the best and went on to tout the so-called benefits of cans. Other brewers that also saw those benefits and began canning that year were Heiner Brau in Louisiana (who still can their Kolsch), Cottrell Brewing in CT (no longer canning), Top of the Hill in NC (no longer canning), Ukiah Brewing (first canning brewery in California and the first to can an organic beer) and of course Ashland, Oregon's Caldera Brewing Company

With the continued success of Dale's Pale Ale and the addition of Old Chub to their lineup Oskar Blues' released two special canned beers this year. A super hoppy brew called Gordon and a dark, malty brown ale called Leroy hit shelves in limited supply around the holidays. Both were filled, sealed and labeled by hand. One was to go on to be one of the first big, hoppy beers to be canned while the other disappeared and was never seen again. What ever happened to Leroy?

 

 


some of craft beers biggest names started canning in 2006

2006

A big year for cans. 2006 saw some of the major players in the canned craft beer world come on board. Breweries like Sly Fox, 21st Amendment and Surly, three of the more prolific canning craft brewers, all released their first cans in this year. This was also the year that a small Hawai'ian brewery called Maui Brewing Company chose to put their beers in cans in an effort to be more sustainable and to keep broken glass off nearby beaches. Montana's Kettlehouse Brewery begins putting their beers in 16 oz. cans, one of the first craft brewers to do so, and becomes the state's first canning craft brewery. Two of their first cans were Fresh Bong Water Hemp Pale Ale and Olde Bong Water Hemp Porter. Perhaps we'll see those in cans again one day - if the TTB allows it. The first cans also came off the line at Carolina Brewery in North Carolina, Butternuts in New York, Bohemian Brewery in Utah (who now can three amazing lager beers), Steamworks in Colorado as well as Mudshark Brewing in Arizona.

2006 was the year that Oskar Blues gave Gordon a shiny new makeover and it was added to their regular canned lineup. A few new breweries came into existance this year and released some cans. Breweries such as California's David's Ale Works and North Carolina's Cans Bar and Canteen both released cans in this year but both stopped canning and/or shut down not soon after.

 


Caldera's IPA, Surly's CynicAle and Butternuts Moo Thunder all debuted in 2007

2007

It's 2007 and entering this year there are a about twenty-five craft breweries actively canning their beers. Surprisingly it is a rather slow year when it comes to new breweries beginning to can. A brewpub in Iowa City, IA called Old Capitol Brew Works began canning and released a number of paper-labeled cans. Ultimately they stopped canning but the folks who started Great River Brewery (makers of great beers in cans) both started their careers in beer at Old Capitol. Although no current canning breweries began cannning this year many of those that were already canning added new cans to their lineups. Beers such as Caldera's IPA, Butternuts' Moo Thunder Stout, and Surly's CynicAle were all first released in cans in 2007. 

The first five year's of craft canning were full of trial and error and trying to find ways to market cans to a rather skeptical market. Dealing with large can orders and finding the space to store the cans were definitely factors that still turned off many craft brewers from working with cans. In the first five year's after Dale's was first released by Oskar Blues, 28 other breweries and brewpubs gave canning a shot. Including Oskar Blues, twenty of them still can their beers today.

 


Urban Wilderness Pale Ale from Alaska's Sleeping Lady Brewing Company

 

A Look Ahead

The next five years will see a lot of change in the craft beer industry, the public's opinion on cans and the sheer number of cans on beer store shelves. We'll see a new canning line manufacturer emerge, more adventurous styles being canned, the idea of "mobile" canning and some of craft beers largest contributors starting to can some of their beers. Much of the groundwork of today's canned craft beer segment was laid down early on. Much respect to those breweries who were the first to see the benefits of canning and for sticking out some tough years. From 2008 until the end of 2011 well over a hundred breweries will start canning and the number of craft beers in cans will increase ten-fold. This will be the era in which canned craft beer finds acceptance and its market share gets noticed.

To be continued...


Posted by Russ



Tuesday, January 10th 2012

Bridal Veil Rye Pale Ale
(Telluride Brewing Company)

A number of firsts with this beer. This is OUR first beer from Telluride Brewing Company. This is THEIR first canned offering and we believe it is also the first canned rye pale ale. The only other rye beer that we know of being canned is Surly's SurlyFest, which is an Oktoberfest-style beer brewed with rye malt. We're pretty psyched to crack this open. Cheers!

From the Telluride Brewing site:

"Brewed with a generous amount of German Rye malt and an abundance of American hops, our ale embodies an earthly flavor and finishes with a hint of spice.  This powerhouse of an ale excites even the most dormant of tastes buds."

Here we go...

Pour - very nice honey, dark straw color with a good inch plus of white foamy head that leaves some great lacing within the glass. We're sold, time to dive in.


Aroma - big floral hop notes, plenty of orange peel, lemon and faint hints of grapefruit and pine. Some sweetness comes through, sort of a dried pineapple meets some bread dough and bran flakes. All in all this is a great smelling beer and will certainly draw you. 

 

Taste - first sip brings a good amount of citrus and pine with some malt sweetness and a noticeable amount of rye spiciness. The more you get into this beer the more you're going to like it. Plenty of hoppiness to satisfy someone craving an IPA but with enough malt to back up those hops to make most anyone happy. A nice clean and bitter finish that leaves some light tropical fruit notes on the tongue. Complex but simple? Perhaps. An all around pleasure to drink. Man, I wish we had a bunch more of these. 


Overall - This is super refreshing washing over your palate as it has those nice floral citrus notes along with a great spicy, bitter finish without a lot of sweetness or alcohol to weigh things down. We really enjoyed this beer and feel its a perfect "bring along" for any outdoor adventure in Colorado (or elsewhere). Looking at the scenery on the can makes us want to take a trip out to Telluride to see it ourselves - and also maybe stop in at the brewery for a pint or three! Well done on your first canned brew guys! Cheers!

Note - the "Bridal Veil" in the name of this beer refers to the 365-foot tall waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls, that overlooks the town of Telluride. That is also what you're looking at when you're holding a can of this in your hand. It is considered one of the most difficult waterfall ice climbs in North America. It was first climbed by Jeff Lowe and Mike Weis in 1974.

 



Hops Scale:
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Bridal Veil Rye Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Brewery: Telluride Brewing Company
City: 
Telluride, Colorado  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: German Rye Malt & ?
Hops: Magnum, Cascade, Chinook, CTZ, Simcoe
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 65
Date: January 10th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Monday, January 9th 2012

Devil's Ale
(SanTan Brewing Company)

 

While we sip away on this freshly brewed can of Devil's Ale we'll let our minds wander to warmer places - like Chandler, Arizona - where this delightful American Pale Ale calls home. This year we hope to make it out to Scottsdale, Arizona for the 2nd AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival held on May 19th. SanTan plays host and a ton of great canned brews will be on offer. Cheers!


From the SanTan Brewing site:


"Devil's Ale is of the new breed of American West Coast Pale Ales. Devil’s Ale won a Gold Medal at 2011 GAZBF. It is the highest rated Pale Ale in Arizona receiving 96 points from Draft Magazine. Deep, golden maroon in color, Devil’s Ale is defined by a delicious citrus hop character derived from Cascade & Centennial hops grown in the Pacific Northwest, balanced with a firm caramel malt flavor."

Here we go...

Pour - dark golden or amber in appearance with a half inch of dense white head on top. Nice overall pour that's clean and clear.


Aroma - citrus, bread dough, burnt sugar, candied orange peel and some hints of caramel and malt balls. Aroma reflects a mort malty side of the pale ale family so we'll see how if the taste matches up.


Taste - first thing that comes to mind is balance. At first I'm confronted by a bitter, hoppy, citrusy mouthful of flavor that is almost immediately backed up by a wave of brown bread and biscuity malt flavors.The hoppiness of Devil's Ale certainly lifts it into the ranks of a very good American Pale Ale and each sip will remind you of that. This leaves the palate dry in the finish, just enough to stick your head back in the glass and take another sip. Very well done!


Overall - like malt kissed hops...or is it...hop kissed malt? Whichever you look at this is a solid American Pale Ale with a very nice malty backbone and some great citrusy hop notes as well as a crisp and bitter finish. Very tasty and certainly worth stuffing into your cooler, your backpack or your suitcase!

Note - at one point this beer was called Sun Devil Ale but apparently Arizona State University (home of the Sun Devils) got all upset about it and pushed the brewery to change the name - whereas Louisiana State University was pretty excited to work with Perfect Tin Brewing Company in Baton Rouge in the brewing (and canning) of a beer called Bandit Blonde which will be the official beer of the LSU Tigers. Go figure.

 

     


Can Scale:
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Devil's Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Brewery: SanTan Brewing Company
City: 
Chandler, Arizona  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Two Row Barley, Wheat, Caramel 80, Munich, Roasted Barley
Hops: Centennial, Simcoe and Cascade
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 45
Date: January 9th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Labels: Pale Ales


Friday, January 6th 2012

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen
(Paulaner Brauerei)

Quite a few German beers end up in cans in their home country but only a handful actually make it to the US. Paulaner began selling cans of their Hefe-Weizen Natural Wheat here during the summer of 2011 and did a lot to promote the sale of this beer to golfers. The beer itself is brewed and canned in Germany and shipped to the US for distribution. If you've had this beer on-tap or from a bottle you know the reputation that precedes it. Prosit!

From the Paulaner site:

"The Paulaner Hefe-Weizen natural cloudy beer is our brewery’s best-selling product. Specifically cultivated, top-fermented yeast give it its unmistakable character: sparklingly mild and fruity with a delicate yeast flavour. The eye is immediately drawn to its gleaming orange colour, its uniform cloudiness and the large head. The unfiltered brewing method allows it to retain its natural authenticity along with the many vitamins, minerals and trace elements."

Here we go...

Pour - brilliant straw color with some golden hues and a perfect inch of stark white head on top. Clean in appearance without only slight cloudiness. 

 

Aroma - wow. This is where this style really shines and this is a great example of it. Lots of bubblegum, cloves and ripe bananas. All spot on when it comes to aromas for this style. Sweet and tangy and very fragrant.


Taste - soft on the palate with some sweet flavors of caramalized bananas, brown sugar, cloves, honey and other subtle spices. Such a great combination of flavors without being watery or too complex. Hundreds of brewing know-how are evidently at work here. 


Overall - excellent example of the style and one that many breweries the world round are aiming to replicate. The aroma is enticing and the flavors are so pronounced for such an uncomplicated beer. Extremely enjoyable and very easy drinking. We're looking forward to seeing these on shelves again in the summertime.


Note - Paulaner is one of very few breweries that packages their cans in 8-packs. They've also released 1-liter cans of their Oktoberfest beer and limited edition 1-liter size cans of their "Oktoberfest Wiesn" so you can celebrate Oktoberfest with a proper pour! They've also canned their Original Munich Lager. 

  


Can Scale:
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Paulaner Hefe-Weizen
Style: Hefeweizen
Brewery: Paulaner Brauerei
City: 
Munich
Country: 
Germany  
Container: 11.2 oz. can
Malts: 60 percent Dark and Caramel Wheat, 40 percent Pilsner Barley and Munich Malt
Hops: Hallertau
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 10
Date: January 6th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Labels: Wheat Beers


Friday, January 6th 2012

White Thai
(Westbrook Brewing Company)

Westbrook Brewing Company did a great job desiging both the artwork for this can but also the beer itself. We love that they put their own spin on this style by adding ginger root and Sorachi Ace hops. Very cool! We loved their IPA so we can't wait to try this one and see what's next from this South Carolina brewery! Cheers!


From the Westbrook Brewing site:


"This beer, inspired by the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine, is a twist on the classic Belgian witbier style. Instead of the traditional coriander and orange peel spicing regimen, we add fresh lemongrass, ginger root, and a dash of Sorachi Ace hops. The result is a wonderfully refreshing ale with notes of lemon candy, citrus fruit, and a slight spiciness from the ginger. Best served at 45˚F in a tulip or wine glass."


Here we go...


Pour - hazy yellow to gold in color with a not too thick wispy head on top. Sort of soft and opaque in appearance with a good deal of yeasty cloudiness.

 

Aroma - spicy and sweet, lots of great aromas coming from the glass. Some nice citrus notes along with some hints of ginger and coriander. Very spicy, warm and inviting.


Taste - that first sip is all we need to know that this is a very well put together witbier. Lots of those traditional flavors are present such as the coriander and the citrus notes but the ginger and the lemongrass really bring this beer to another level. Very spicy and refreshing and we can't really say enough about what the addition of ginger does for a beer like this. 


Overall - one of the best witbiers we've ever had. If only we had some of this in 2011, it would have certainly got some acclomation in the "Best of 2011" polling. Absolutely great beer with such well measured spice flavor and a nice crisp finish. Altogether fantastic. Very well done and cheers to everyone at Westbrook Brewing Company. 


Note - we can't help but wish that Westbrook Brewing and Uncommon Brewers would get together and do some sort of East Coast/West Coast collaboration. Both have really mastered the art of brewing with spices and have an apprecaition for what they can do for a beer. Perhaps we can persuade them to share some pints and talk it over. Cheers!


          



Monk Scale:
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White Thai
Style: Witbier
Brewery: Westbrook Brewing Company
City: 
Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: Sorachi Ace
ABV: 5.0%
IBUs: 16
Date: January 6th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Thursday, January 5th 2012

Westbrook IPA
(Westbrook Brewing Company)

Westbrook Brewing Company began canning their IPA and White Thai in late 2011. Both can designs are very appealing and the beers inside are certainly worthy of the great art on the outside. We've been looking forward to getting a few of these in our hands so cheers!


From the Westbrook Brewing site:


"A base of pale, Munich, and Carapils malts is just enough to contain the massive hopflavor and aroma packed into this highly drinkable IPA. A blend of four American hop varieties is added four times in the kettle and twice in the fermentor for a complex and layered hop experience. Best served at 45-50˚F in a tulip or English style pint glass."


Here we go...


Pour - peach colored with some red and orangish hues and about a half inch of frothy white head. Golden when held to the light. 

 

Aroma - sticking a nose close to the glass and I'm immediately met by some smells that will make a hophead happy. Mango and pineapple tropical notes along with some sharp citrus and pine aromas. 


Taste - lots of tropical fruit flavors from this IPA! Plenty of mango, passionfruit and pineapple to go along with a sweet orange and grapefruit finish. It truly is amazing how much hops can do for a beer - especially when applied liberally! The flavor profiles from the hops and the malt are very well balanced and this is a great example of an IPA that just might find some fans from the folks who might not like a super bitter hop bomb. The tropical fruit sweetness and overall flavors of this beer should please most palates. 


Overall - Very refreshing and altogether very easy drinking. This is one of the more aromatic and flavorful IPAs we've had. If you like a more tropical, grapefruit-y IPA then this one is for you. Very well put together and just a great tasting beer. We're wishing we had a lot more of these!


Note - Westbrook Brewing is the second craft brewery in the state of South Carolina to can thier beer, the first being New South Brewing Company in Myrtle Beach.


          




Hops Scale:
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Westbrook IPA
Style: American India Pale Ale
Brewery: Westbrook Brewing Company
City: 
Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Pale, Carapils and Munich
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: 65
Date: January 5th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Wednesday, January 4th 2012

Very Uncommon Brews are Coming!
Q & A with Uncommon Brewers
Owner & Brewmaster Alec Stefansky

Uncommon Brewers is a relatively small, organic brewery located in the coastal California town of Santa Cruz. They began canning their Siamese Twin, a Belgian-style Dubbel, in 2008 and have since added two other year-round cans (Baltic Porter and Golden State Ale). The brewery has recently expanded their distribution, announced the upcoming canned release of their Bacon Brown Ale and has other things in store in 2012. 

This is a brewery that puts their own unique spin on brewing and we wanted to learn a little more about them and what was in store for the upcoming year. Never in our wildest can-loving dreams did we think we'd learn what we did from Uncommon Brewers' owner and brewmaster Alec Stefansky. 2012 will see the brewery release some VERY, VERY special, and certainly uncommon, beers in cans including the first ever canned bacon beer, the first ever canned non-alcoholic craft beer and the strongest beer ever to be canned! Cheers Alec! We CAN't wait!!!


(CC) Can you give us some of the background of Uncommon Brewers and the role you play?

(AS) I'm the founder and Brewmaster for Uncommon Brewers. I started work on the recipes while in grad school back in 2002. The craft brewing community seemed energetic and vibrant, a place where risks could be taken and innovation rewarded... not something that I was seeing in many other career options. After some early and largely unsuccessful experiments brewing without hops the decision was made to focus on making beer with spices. Production began late in 2007 and sales in June of 2008. I started work on an expansion to the brewery late in 2009 which has proceeded with fits, starts, setbacks, headaches, turmoil, and much gnashing of teeth. I'm hoping to complete that work in one form or another by late spring 2012.

 

   

(CC) Uncommon Brewers definitely does some unique things with their beers especially when it comes to spices. Your Siamese Twin is brewed with kaffir lime leaves, the Golden State is brewed with poppy seeds and the Baltic Porter is brewed with licorice and anise. What's your approach when it comes to adding spices?

(AS) Beer is a wonderful conduit for bringing flavor to the palate, far better than any other beverage. Brewers have access to the full profile ranging from sweet to savory, bitter, sour, salty, and tannic, and all of that range just from our malts and mash. Beer pairs with food because it is food.

My goal with our spicing is to enhance flavors already present in the beer, or to help find a new balance point within an existing style. This is how the Siamese Twin Ale became a bit of a crossed-border hybrid, with coriander bridging between the malty base of a Dubbel and the citrus bite of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. It produces a dangerously smooth beer that's entirely unlike anything else.

 

(CC) What can you tell us about your Bacon Brown Ale? Will it be organic like the other canned offerings? 

(AS) In the newest addition to our line, the Bacon Brown Ale, I'm using toasted buckwheat and, yes, bacon-cured organic pork. It brings a hint of smoke to the nose and a nutty, savory finish to the beer. The bacon flavor is subtle, quite intentionally. I want the beer to be drinkable, not just a pork-fetish novelty. It'll never be like you're chewing on a piece of bacon. Instead the pork flavor comes on the finish, building as you get deeper into the glass.

 


(CC) When will cans of Bacon Brown Ale be hitting shelves?

(AS) I'm aiming for a late January release of the Bacon Brown cans, to coincide with a new label for the Siamese Twin. That timeline has to be pretty solid, since I'm down to my last two pallets of the original Twin cans.

 

(CC) What other cans are you releasing in 2012?

(AS) The entirely new beers are the aforementioned Bacon Brown Ale, a non-alcoholic Scottish-style Red called Scotty K NA, and a west coast strong ale aged on redwood tips (the closest that I can come to pinning it into a style) that'll be called American Special Bitter. Those first two will be in our standard 16oz cans; but since I don't want to be responsible for serving our customers a pint of 14.5% ABV American Special Bitter (ASB) that beer will hit the shelves in 8 oz stubby cans.

 

"The entirely new beers are the aforementioned Bacon Brown Ale, a non-alcoholic Scottish-style Red called Scotty K NA, and a west coast strong ale aged on redwood tips (the closest that I can come to pinning it into a style) that'll be called American Special Bitter. Those first two will be in our standard 16oz cans; but since I don't want to be responsible for serving our customers a pint of 14.5% ABV American Special Bitter (ASB) that beer will hit the shelves in 8 oz stubby cans."


 
Uncommon Brewers' American Special Bitter will be the STRONGEST craft beer ever canned and the FIRST craft beer packaged in an 8 oz. can

(CC) Were you aware that the American Special Bitter was going to be the strongest craft beer ever canned as well as the first craft beer ever put into an 8 oz. can? It sounds amazing - we've never heard of a beer aged on redwood!

(AS) The ASB is fun. It's hopped up like a double IPA and black as sin. The nose has intense hop aroma and prominent alcohol. The body runs complex caramel malt sweetness forward, then intense bittering before the redwood tannins come on to dry out the finish, leaving smoky roasted barley. It's a beer for brewers, all of the flavors that we enjoy running up at their limits. Not sure how the general marketplace will receive it, but I think that the stubby can is going to do good things for us. I'll be able to put a high gravity beer out on the market in a single-serving size and a reasonable price. I didn't realize that it'd be the strongest canned beer. That's interesting to learn. I don't have a solid release date for it yet, since the canning line will need to be retooled to handle the shorter stubbys.

 


Scotty K NA will be the first ever non-alcoholic craft beer to be canned

(CC) What made you decide to can a non-alcoholic beer? Another first in the craft beer industry as far we know.

(AS) Do you know of any decent tasting non-alcoholic beers? As far as I can tell we'll have the first, and it'll be craft-canned organic to boot. I'm really excited about this one. The test batches have made for wonderful working beers after pulling fermenter samples in the morning. It's not always easy to go back to coffee once you have beer on your palate at 7am, but a little too early to start in on something like the Twin. The Scotty K begins as a nice malty red ale, so there's still good body to it after the alcohol has been driven off. It's named in honor of one of my guys, who's been working in the brewery for four years, but hasn't had a drop of alcohol in more than twenty.

 

  

(CC) We've heard you've given the three cans you've already released a makeover. Why?

(AS) We have three changed labels coming out in the new year, an effort to bring consistency to the entire lineup, as well as to better emphasize the identity of the individual beers. The Siamese Twin Ale, Golden State Ale, and Baltic Porter are seeing a change to the logo and beer name layout, as well as a few minor text changes. The Twin is also getting new artwork to replace that damn cut lime which has made so many people say, "Oh, it looks like iced tea."


(CC) In which states can people find Uncommon Brewers cans?

(AS) Our distribution is expanding in the next year. As of January our cans will be available in Northern California, Oregon, Nevada, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington D.C. We're also reaching across borders to British Columbia, Denmark, and Japan. I'm hoping to get something going in southern California again soon, and possibly several other overseas markets as well.

 

(CC) What is something people might not know about Uncommon Brewers, but should?

(AS) We're always happy to answer questions about the beers or the brewery. Please let your readers know that they shouldn't hesitate to get in touch.

 

 


Posted by Russ



Tuesday, January 3rd 2012

Cut Throat Pale Ale
(Finch's Beer Company)

 

It took awhile but we finally managed to get our hands on some cans of Finch's Beer Company beer! We've decided to post reviews of both of their current canned offerings today as a "two for Tuesday" as Trent put it - and also because these reviews are long overdue! All the best to the folks at Finch's Beer Co. as they embark on year number two in the craft beer world. Cheers!


From the Finch's Beer Co. site:


"Finch's Pale Ale is a refreshing experience from the pop of the top. Its fresh and hoppy taste with just enough supporting malt makes it easy to kick back more than just one. Our late kettle additions of American hop varieties and dry hopping techniques make this beer one of our favorites. The citrus hop character balanced with a malty backbone creates a delicious, accessible pale ale that is sure to satisfy with every sip. Enjoy this pale with just about any pairing of your choice."


Here we go...


Pour - the first thing we noticed, even before the beer left the can, was that the can stated that this was "ale brewed with Sweet Orange Peel". That's pretty cool - a little different than the norm which is nice. Pours a dark honey color with a well-formed inch of tight foam on top that clings tightly to the inside walls of the can-shaped glass. 


Aroma - sweet citrus entwined with caramel and Tootsie rolls. Lemon and orange zest seem to stand out more than any other aromas and are quite inviting.


Taste - first sip and this has the makings of a very pleasant drinking experience. Lemon, lime and orange flavors mesh well with some hop bitterness and are backed up nicely by a solid malt base. Plenty of flavor and not too light or heavy on the palate. A little tangy on the tongue at times but the carbonation does well to counteract that. Wow, this is going down quick. I wish I had a few more as this is a very enjoyable pale ale.


Overall - very, very drinkable with some great hop flavors with nothing overpowering. I'd go so far as to say that this would be a great session brew for anyone who loves something a little on the hoppy side but not too potent. A very well concocted pale ale from folks at Finch's. We look forward to their upcoming IPA release (read below).


Note - Finch's Beer Company recently teamed up with Threadless.com and ran a contest to find the artwork for their upcoming Threadless IPA can release. The winner will have their design forever immortalized on the cans. That is a pretty sweet canvas if you ask us! Once we know who the winner is we'll pass it on!

 

   



Can Scale:
(See All Rated)
Cut Throat Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Brewery: Finch's Beer Company
City: 
Chicago, Illinois  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: ???
Date: January 3rd, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Tuesday, January 3rd 2012

Golden Wing Blonde Ale
(Finch's Beer Company)

 

Our long-awaited cans of Finch’s beers finally arrived thanks to one of many friends that often serve as beer runners for us.  Sadly, one of our four Goldens blew a seam during its reasonably short voyage from Chicago to Kalamazoo, so we really owe Mike (and the trunk of his car) more than the usual gratitude for corralling this one for the CraftCans team.


From the Finch's Beer Co. site:


"Finch's Blonde Ale is an easy drinking and approachable American craft beer. It has a moderately sweet malty aroma and is deep gold in color. We like to think of this particular one as more of a 'Dirty Blonde.' When you first pour it, a soft lacey foam clings to the glass as malty aromas fill your nose and linger to the final sip. Upon finish, this blonde turns heads with a smooth finish and a touch of bitterness in the aftertaste. Enjoy this medium-bodied craft beer anytime of year."


Here we go...


Pour - Hazy gold color with profuse sediment floating about.  Being neither “clear” nor “brilliant” as prescribed by published style guidelines, we must conclude our beer suffers from chill haze. A thick off white head sits on top and invites us to drink up.

 

Aroma - This beer triggers my brain to think American Pale Wheat Ale. Some sour wheat notes, lemon juice, stale saltine crackers and corn.   


Taste - Rather tart, and almost sour. Subtle malt flavor with a lemony astringent bitter finish after each sip. Otherwise this beer offers not a whole lot more flavor to evaluate. The finish is parching and is reminiscent of a pale lager and club soda.   


Overall - We sampled all of our surviving cans to make sure we were giving this beer a fair review and found no difference between the three. I’ll offer that the can colors and design are very nice and the empty looks good on my shelf.


Note - We're going to go ahead and say that we enjoyed the Cut Throat Pale Ale more than the Golden Wing. We look forward to Finch's Threadless IPA which should be released in cans in the near future.

 

   


Golden Wing Blonde Ale
Style: American Blonde Ale
Brewery: Finch's Beer Company
City: 
Chicago, Illinois  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 5.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: January 3rd, 2012

Posted by Trent


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