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Friday, May 10th 2013

Tart Side of the Moon
(Brewery Vivant)


Brewery Vivant continues to produce some absolutely amazing beers and push the boundaries of brewing creativity. Tart Side of the Moon is another example of both, a "dark farmhouse ale" that clocks in at almost 10% and is packing both heat and pucker power. To say it mildly, we're very excited to crack this open and let the ride begin. Cheers!


From the Brewery Vivant site:

"This hearty dark ale is fermented with a blend of two Belgian yeast strains which gives this beer an upfront tartness followed by hints of coffee, dark chocolate, and black cherries. Decadent and delightful, this beer is not for the faint of heart."

Here we go...

 

Pour - pitch black coming out of the can with a fizzy head that quickly dissipates and leaves a very calm dark sea on top with only small remants of head ringing the glass.


Aroma - vinous, black cherries, dark roast coffee grounds, and notes of alcohol that sting the nose and eyes just a bit. Very aromatic with lots of notes of dark fruits, red wine, and dark chocolate. 


Taste - one sip and the tartness is apparent. It's almost sour but immediately followed by creamy espresso, cocoa, vanilla, and blackberry flavors. Each concurrent sip brings about more red wine-like dryness and puckering sourness which is then followed and smoothed out by the flavors of coffee and dark chocolate. At close to 10% ABV this has some notes of alcohol and certainly warms you up. So many flavors, especially as this approached room temperature. Amazing stuff...

 

Overall - they're not kidding when they say "tart", and just like the can describes, the tartness is followed up by the flavors of coffee and chocolate. This is a unique beer that has some amazing red wine like qualities and a multitude of flavors. Tart-Sweet-Dry. Repeat. Get some if you can. 

Note - Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon was an immediate success, topping the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart for one week. It subsequently remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. With an estimated 50 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd's most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. It has twice been remastered and re-released, and has been covered in its entirety by several other acts. It spawned two singles, "Money" and "Time". In addition to its commercial success, The Dark Side of the Moon is one of Pink Floyd's most popular albums among fans and critics, and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time. - Wikipedia



Can Scale:
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Tart Side of the Moon
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
City: 
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 9.8%
IBUs: ???
Date: May 10th, 2013

Posted by Russ


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Friday, March 8th 2013

Hop A Potamus
(Great River Brewery)

 

Great River Brewery in Iowa is producing some outstanding beers and doing so in a fairly quiet way. One of their beers that certainly garners them a bit of attention is their Hop-A-Potamus. This is a big, hop-laden beast they refer to as a "Double Dark Rye Pale Ale". Call it what you will, it's an altogether unique brew with a lot for your palate to experience. Once we've finished staring at the hop-munching hippo on the can we're going to dive into this...cheers!

 

From the Great River Brewery site:


"Hop-A-Potamus is a double dark rye pale ale made with a ton of pale and six kinds of rye malt for a "full" body. This double dark pale ale is fiercely hopped with a Northwest blend for a stampede of flavor and aroma."

Here we go...


Pour - deep auburn in appearance with a thin head. Slightly viscous at 9%. Some reddish hues make an appreance when held to the light. Dark and mysterious like the Hop A Potamus himself.


Aroma - bready and toasty, Tootsie Rolls, caramel, pineapple, candied fruits, and some hints of pine.


Taste - the malty sweetness of Hop A Potamus hits the palate first. A load of caramel, molasses, and brown bread combines with some tropical fruit flavors and other fruit esters. The rye certainly does not go unnoticed as it provides a spicy, dry finish that is anything but subtle. It really works well with the malt/hop balance of this bigger beer. This is "soft" on the palate as the carbonation is on the lighter side and it is fairly high gravity. 

 

Overall - certainly a full-bodied brew with plenty going on. The big malt and hop flavors and the kick of bitter rye adding some dryness and spiciness in the finish all make for a solid beer drinking experience. One, perhaps two, of these and you'll be feeling just fine - drink the whole 4-pack and in the morning you may feel like the Hop A Potamus trampled you unmerficully. 

 

Note - the can design for Hop-A-Potamus won a "Canny" award in the category of "Best Illustration of Beer Name" during the 2012 Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego. It was done by Kevin Deichmueller.




Hops Scale:
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Can Scale:
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Hop A Potamus
Style: Rye Beer
Brewery: Great River Brewery
City: 
Davenport, Iowa  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: Pale, Rye
Hops: ???
ABV: 9.0%
IBUs: 99
Date: March 8th, 2013

Posted by Russ


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Monday, July 23rd 2012

Ryeteous Rye IPA
(Renegade Brewing Company)

Renegade just recently began canning their Ryeteous Rye IPA. With the help of the nomadic canning crew at Mobile Canning, Renegade was able to put a bunch of their best-selling brew in bright white pint cans.  Emblazoned with a big "R", they're hard to miss! Big thanks once again to our buddy Mike for making the trek down to Denver to pick some of these up for us. Cheers!

From the Renegade site:

"Hop head? Yeah, this one's for you. Crisp malt with a touch of caramel and a generous helping of rye. Oh yeah, and hops, hops and more hops. This Rye IPA is 7% ABV and 100+ IBU's."

 


Canning at Renegade | 5280 Magazine

Here we go...

Pour – bright orange with a peachy sort of glow and some great looking lacing filling up what little space is left at the top of the glass. Carbonation levels look spot on and this looks ready to enjoy!

Aroma – tropical fruit, caramel malts, some spiciness along with hints of citrus and pine needles. All of those aromas come together and form something quite appealing and very aromatic. 

Taste - big brash hop flavors abound with plenty of grapefruit, oranges, lemons and some tropical flavors like mango mixing with sharp pine notes. The rye lends a spicy backbone to this bold hoppy brew. Its light on the palate, almost soft on the tongue, with a taste that is definitely more unique compared to the standard American IPA. The rye and the hops lend to a dry finish that keeps your face in the glass. Very tasty brew.

Overall - perhaps the "Rye Beer" category is a bit too broad and we need to give the Rye IPAs there own category. There seems to be more and more these days. This is a great beer and the combination of the rye and the hops really give it something special. We could definitely enjoy a few of these every week.

Note - A few months ago I was out in Denver and stopped in for a visit to Renegade Brewing. What really struck me about this new, and relatively small, craft brewery was the fact that it was truly a neighborhood place. It had a taproom with some tables and a food truck parked outside. There were bikes locked up out front that showed that a bulk of the patronage was coming from close by. To me it just seemed to represent a part of the craft beer industry that is truly taking off. Its not about being the next Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head, instead its about making a living brewing beer and supporting the community in which you operate. If you're ever out in Denver be sure to check it out. 


      Cheers!




Hops Scale:
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Can Scale:
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Ryeteous Rye IPA
Style: American India Pale Ale
Brewery: Renegade Brewing Company
City: 
Denver, Colorado  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: Crisp, Caramel and Rye malts
Hops: ???
ABV: 7.0%
IBUs: 100
Date: July 23rd, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Sunday, April 29th 2012

Great Crescent Coconut Porter
(Great Crescent Brewery)

 

I'm a huge fan of brewers using unique ingredients in their beers, despite my own failures with them as a novice homebrewer. Coconut is an example of an ingredient that has a flavor profile that can be a great addition to a dark beer. So much so that many American breweries and brewpubs have come up with their own brews using this tropical fruit. A quick search of RateBeer's entries pulls up over a hundred examples from breweries all over the US. This year-round offering hails from Indiana's Great Crescent Brewery, far from the land of coconut, and is one of only two canned options available. We're pretty happy to have the chance to give this one a try. Cheers!

 

From the Great Crescent site:

"This beer is brewed as a traditional English Style Porter. We use the best malts and hops to create a distinctive American interpretation of this classic beer style. Our Porter stands on its own as a great beer, then we add one more ingredient to make it truly unique. Coconut is added during the boil to give this beer a nutty flavor that blends perfectly with the style."

Here we go...

 

Pour - dark as pitch with no light able to squeeze through. A rich, thick coffee-colored head lays on top that collapses into itself leaving just a ring and some faint lacing.

 

Aroma - fresh roasted coffee, fudge, molasses, cherries, vanilla and malted milk balls. I also pick up what I can only describe as the aroma of burnt marshmallows. Go figure. 

 

Taste - a rich, malty, roasty porter that has some milky, earthy notes along with a creamy texture and a bit of a mineral-y aftertaste. Hard to pick up a lot of coconut from this one while its cold but give it the chance to warm in the glass for a bit and you'll get a lot more. I let this warm up for about 15 minutes and some of those subtle nutty and creamy flavors are certainly present. This reminds me a bit of a local coffee-roaster's coconut coffee as it has a lot of coffee-like notes and more of a subdued coconut flavor going on.

 

Overall - great tasting beer but I wish the coconut flavor was a little more pronounced. I get the feeling that achieving a good balance and decent amount of coconut flavor is not easy to do in the brewing process - not without overdoing it anyways. Regardless, this is a solid porter and as it warms more of those subtle coconut flavors do come out. 


Note - Great Crescent cans every one of the beers that they brew, and are one of two American brewers to can a Coconut Porter. Hawai'i's Maui Brewing began canning their well known CoCoNut PoTeR in 2007 and is now one of their most popular year-round offerings. Two learn more about these two Coconut Porters beers click on the image below! Cheers! Mahalo!

 


Can Scale:
(See All Rated)
Great Crescent Coconut Porter
Style: English Porter
Brewery: Great Crescent Brewery
City: 
Aurora, Indiana  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 33
Date: April 29th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Monday, April 16th 2012

Zaison
(Brewery Vivant)

 

Zaison is Brewery Vivant’s second limited release of 2012, which was followed by two more limited, brewery-only releases - Trebuchet and Tripel - just a few weeks later. Amazingly, more canned releases are on the Brewery Vivant agenda for 2012. These fellows are keeping us busy!

 

From the Brewery Vivant site:


"Zaison takes its inspiration from the famous Saison style of beer made in the southern region of Belgium. Traditionally this beer is made in the coolness of the winter months to be enjoyed in the spring and summer. Our special yeast strain gives this beer a little funkiness and is accented with tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel. At 9% abv this is probably one of the strongest summer beers you will encounter. The alcohol contributes to the flavor so who are we to try to reduce it? This is the strength the beer wanted to be, so we left it that way."

 

 

Here we go...

 

Pour - beautiful hazy copper-orange pour with a tight, off white head constructed of thousands of tiny bubbles. As it warmed up the thin but sturdy lacing left drooping curtains around our glass that were almost Dali-esque in their patterns (and that ain’t the beer talking - yet). 


Aroma - Sour orange citrus and some faint peppery notes – both of which we expected – and a hint of toasted grains and light bread that might be the “funkiness.” We’re accustomed to more Belgian yeast spice in the aroma of our Saisons, and its absence reminds us we’re drinking our first Imperial Saison made with a special yeast strain.    


Taste - Our first sip of this full-bodied ale is full of bubbly fresh orange flavor followed by a substantial bump of pepper spice. Big orange flavor returns for the finish that is a bit more tart than at the start. As has been the case with several of the brews we’ve tried that are made with peppercorns, the citrus sweetness overtakes most of the spiciness as it warms.  Every bit of the 9% ABV is completely hidden in this ale, making it an especially dangerous drinker (the beer starts talking here).   


Overall - A very big and flavorful ale that hints at the Saison style but is so different that it belongs in its own category. The full, almost heavy body of this beer was a very pleasant surprise, as was the Imperial kick that performed a complete sneak attack on our spirit and raised it several notches before we knew what hit us (and that, friends, is the beer talking).     

 

Brewery Vivant “Abbott of Beer” Rick Muschiana pours our first Zaison
from a big can against a backdrop of the more portable version.  

Note - Special thanks go out to owner Jason Spaulding and his “Abbott of Beer” Rick Muschiana for inviting the CraftCans team to the Zaison release party. We enjoyed great beer, great food, and great company! Plus we got another good look at Rick's hair, which is legendary at the brewery and is the envy of the entire CraftCans team.   



Zaison
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
City: 
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 9.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: April 16th, 2012

Posted by Trent


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Friday, April 13th 2012

Bacon Brown Ale
(Uncommon Brewers)

Bam! It's bacon time! Not only is Uncommon Brewers' Bacon Brown Ale one of very few production beers actually brewed with real bacon, its also brewed with real organic bacon. You've got to admire Uncommon Brewers' devotion to doing unique things with beer. Brewery owner, Alec Stefansky, is not afraid to try new things. If you missed our Q & A with him check it out as he reveals a lot about what can be expected in the future from Uncommon Brewers.

From Uncommon Brewers' owner Alec Stefansky:

"...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."

 

Here we go...

 

Pour  fills the glass with a deep, dark, chestnut color. A very rich brown with a nice fluffy off-white head on top. Great looking pour coming out of the can.

 

Aroma – fairly sweet with a toasted brown bread and doughy aroma along with some slight hints of smokiness as well as dark fruits like red grapes, plums and ripe apples.


Taste – the first sip is a definite mix of flavors. Plenty of those fruit flavors come into play at first, its sweet and malty but in the end there is a lingering smokiness. This is a beer that you'll want to sip many times and let warm up to really allow for the flavors to come out. As my glass warms the flavor profile shifts and the smokiness of the bacon begins to manifest itself slowly and surely. Wow, is this good. Not over the top smokey which is key. You don't want to drink this too quick or too cold or you're liable to miss out on the main attraction. 

 

Overall - we're big supporters of brewers doing what they want to do and Alec at Uncommon Brewers is a great example of this. His Bacon Brown Ale is an altogether unique and "uncommon" ale with an ingrediant that many of us never thought they'd find in their beer - but it works. The smokey undertones of bacon in this brown ale really work well and to the unassuming imbiber they might not even realize there is bacon in their beer - organic bacon at that! Cheers Alec! Keep on being uncommon!


Note - Uncommon Brewers actually had to file paperwork with the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to include actual (organic) pork in this beer. Because of the animal additive, Bacon Brown Ale is one of very few beers that actually needs approval at the federal level. - source Santa Cruz Sentinel

 




Campfire Scale:
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Bacon Brown Ale
Style: Nut Brown Ale
Brewery: Uncommon Brewers
City: 
Santa Cruz, California  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: ???
Date: April 13th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Tuesday, April 10th 2012

Great Crescent Mild Ale
(Great Crescent Brewery)

 

From the brewery that brought us the first barrel-aged beer to ever be canned comes America's first "English Dark Mild Ale" in a can. Great Crescent has produced some amazing beers and we're looking forward to trying this one as it's not a style that many American brewers tend to brew. Cheers!

 

From the Great Crescent site:

"Great Crescent Mild Ale is a Midwest interpretation of a classic English-style Mild. This beer has moderate malt aroma with biscuit, caramel and lightly roasted malt flavors. The bitterness of this beer is kept low and most people appreciate that there is a lower alcohol level without compromising on malt balance and flavor.

The Great Crescent Brewery uses 5 different malts to create this beer. Our mild ale is mahogany color, clear and unfiltered to so we can maintain the fresh natural flavors craft beer drinkers are seeking."

Here we go...

 

Pour - dark hazelnut and auburn in appearance with a wispy off-white head on top. Light carbonation with a clean look.

 

Aroma - fresh roasted coffee, brown bread with honey and caramel. 

 

Taste - this beer has such an amazing roasted malt flavor that you would swear it was brewed with coffee. Lots of toasty, bready notes along with a sweet, caramel finish. Nothing light or weak about this brew, just lots of malt flavor that has many layers. So many great flavors in this beer, wow. Finishes with a kiss of toasty sweetness.

 

Overall - absolutely fantastic beer! If you're a fan of brown ales, coffee stouts or porters, Scottish-style ales or anything else that focuses on maltiness than this is a beer you'll love. So much great roasty, toasty flavors that is soft on the palate and extremely pleasurable to drink.I f you're a fan of malty brews than you've got to get your hands on some cans of this. Very well done Great Crescent!


Note - Great Crescent cans every one of the beers that they brew, although not all are available all the time, including a Coconut Porter that we've been dying to get our hands on. To learn more about this small Indiana brewer go HERE. Cheers!




Can Scale:
(See All Rated)
Great Crescent Mild Ale
Style: English Dark Mild Ale
Brewery: Great Crescent Brewery
City: 
Aurora, Indiana  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 4.2%
IBUs: 26
Date: April 10th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Tuesday, April 10th 2012

Great Crescent Stout
(Great Crescent Brewery)

 

This brewery located in Aurora, Indiana (population around 4,000) is cranking out canned beers at a tremendous rate. Their canned offerings now total an even dozen, lending credence to our theory that use of alternative labels on can blanks allows more craft beers to find their way into our refrigerators. Their Bourbon’s Barrel Stout earned a CraftCans.com 2011 Reader’s Poll Shout-Out for Best New Beer, so let’s check out the base stout that created that fantastic brew!

 

From the Great Crescent site:

"Great Crescent Stout is crafted using American hops and is the same stout we use in the Bourbon's Barrel Stout; we pull some off before it goes into the barrels. This beer is created using dark roasted malts and exhibits full flavors of chocolate, coffee and has a full bitterness from the black malt that balances with the sweetness from the 2-row malt. If you already enjoy stout this one will impress you."

Here we go...

 

Pour - Pitch black as a moonless night. Our aggressive pour resulted in a nice and sturdy tan head with some black spots here and there. Wet rings of lacing hold on for a few moments before rolling back down into our can-shaped glass.

 

Aroma - well-roasted chocolate malts, strong bitter coffee, and hops.

 

Taste - A touch of smokiness at the start before a wash of light sweet chocolate, a few moments of bitter coffee in the middle, then a very pleasant hopped chocolate finish and aftertaste. Pause long enough between sips and some anise/black licorice flavor seems to come out. The flavor profile is great and the mouthfeel is interesting - what seems like a thin, watery start evolves quickly into a heavier, flavorful finish.  


Overall - A very nice stout that is definitely worth trying if you can get your hands on some. We especially liked the interplay between the chocolate and coffee flavors without the overwhelming aroma of smoke that we sometimes find in the stouts we’ve tried. The chocolate goodness that prevails at the finish is always a hit with the CraftCans team and keeps us wanting more.


Note - As indicated on their site, this is the same stout that finds its way into Maker’s Mark barrels for Great Crescent’s fantastic (and first barrel-aged beer to be canned) Bourbon’s Barrel Stout.  Based on the beers we’ve tried – canned, bottled and on draft – we know it takes a great base stout to create a great barrel-aged stout. We’re thinking this beer would make a great java stout too (and yes, Dan, Lani and the rest of the Great Crescent crew, we’re dropping a hint!)


 


Can Scale:
(See All Rated)
Great Crescent Stout
Style: English Stout
Brewery: Great Crescent Brewery
City: 
Aurora, Indiana  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 67
Date: April 10th, 2012

Posted by Trent


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Monday, February 6th 2012

McKinney Eddy Amber Ale
(Piney River Brewing Company)

Cans of Piney River brews hit the market late in 2011 and the we were fortunate enough to score some samples of both of their Missouri Mule IPA and McKinney Eddy Amber. The husband and wife team of Joleen and Brian Durham recently took Piney River Brewing from nanobrewer to microbrewer status with the recent installation of a seven barrel brewhouse and a Wild Goose canning line. The brewery itself is located in a 70 year old barn,  or BARn, on their property in the “Show Me” state. We enjoyed their delicious and dangerously drinkable IPA, so we have high hopes for their amber. 

From the Piney River site:


"In the heart of Texas County, McKinney Eddy on the Big Piney River was home to our friend and master blacksmith, Charlie McKinney.  Charlie toiled over an anvil with purpose, passion and pure Ozark creativity—an inspiration for our handcrafted amber ale."


Here we go...


Pour – Dark amber that matches the color of the can almost perfectly. Very cool - how often does that happen?  A loose but stable head holds firm on top and some good lacing sticks to the side of our can-shaped glass.


Aroma – Deep, dark sweet fruit aromas remind us of candied dates and triggers the palate to expect a rich, flavorful brew.  


Taste – Wow! McKinney Eddy starts off with a bit of grainy caramel sweetness similar to the flavor and mouthfeel of our favorite scotch ales.  Rich caramel sweetness and mild hoppiness collide in the middle before a sweet, light malt finish.  The pleasant sweetness lingers long enough to make this one a very good sipper.  


Overall – We sometimes find ambers one dimensional and super-sweet throughout.  Not this one!  This is a wonderfully complex amber that is well worth stretching out and reliving the flavor experience as many times as the “Piney pint” allows.  Get your hands on some next time you pass through Ozark country!  


NOTES:  Piney River’s story is a great example of the spirit and vitality of today’s American brewing scene.  If you'd like to learn more about Piney River check out the Q & A we did with brewery co-owner Joleen Durham.


 
Piney River Brewing Company's first two cans



Can Scale:
(See All Rated)
McKinney Eddy Amber Ale
Style: American Amber/Red Ale
Brewery: Piney River Brewing Company
City: 
Bucryus, Missouri  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: ???
IBUs: ???
Date: February 6th, 2012

Posted by Trent


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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. 



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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

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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

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Friday, December 23rd 2011

Golden State Ale
(Uncommon Brewers)

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."

 


Golden State Ale will have a new look in 2012


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. 


   



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Golden State Ale
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Brewery: Uncommon Brewers
City: 
Santa Cruz, California  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: ???
Date: December 23rd, 2011

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Monday, December 12th 2011

Diesel
(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:

"Each dawn is clear

Cold air bites the throat.

Thick frost on the pine bough

Leaps from the tree snapped by the diesel"

- Gary Snyder


 



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Diesel
Style: American Stout
Brewery: Sixpoint Craft Ales
City: 
Brooklyn, New York  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: Columbus and Northern Brewer
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 69
Date: December 12th, 2011

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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. 

          



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Big Cock IPA
Style: American India Pale Ale
Brewery: Great River Brewery
City: 
Davenport, Iowa  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: Pale Malt
Hops: Simcoe and Amarillo
ABV: 7.0%
IBUs: 70
Date: December 10th, 2011

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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!

"Behold! A provocative variation of our enticing anomaly! Our rich and complex Syzygy has consumed the wine and wood characteristics of Sonoma County Cabernet barrels. Aged for 12 months in French Oak Cabernet Sauvigon Barrels and then intensely dry hopped. It's a once in a lifetime occurrence."

 


Can Scale:
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Eclipse Black IPA
Style: American Black Ale
Brewery: Crabtree Brewing Company
City: 
Greeley, Colorado  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 7.7%
IBUs: 71
Date: December 8th, 2011

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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.

 
Piney River Brewing Company's first two cans




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Missouri Mule IPA
Style: American India Pale Ale
Brewery: Piney River Brewing Company
City: 
Bucryus, Missouri  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 7.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: December 7th, 2011

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Sunday, November 27th 2011

Redband Stout
(Great River Brewery)


Great River Brewery out of Davenport, Iowa has continuously made us happy with each of their canned releases thus far. We were pretty excited when we heard they were canning a coffee stout and equally excited when we actually managed to get our can-loving paws on some of it. This one comes highly touted so we can't wait!


From the Great River Brewery site:


"We love our local roaster’s New Orleans Iced Coffee so much we decided to use their beans in our brew. Redband Stout is made with Indonesian and Ethiopian beans using our 18-hour cold brew extraction method, resulting in a satisfying brew with intense coffee aromatics. The marriage of two of our favorite beverages."


Here we go...

POUR: pitch black, looks just like fresh-brewed French roast was poured into the glass leaving a nice, earthy-colored foamy head. 

AROMA: you haven't smelled a great coffee stout until you've held a glass of this up to your nose. Wow. So much aroma of fresh roasted coffee beans, vanilla, toffee and dark chocolate malts. This definitely comes across like a coffee milkshake. Creamy, sweet with tons of bitter, coffee aromas. Absolutely incredible.

TASTE: Redband hits the palate with a taste that's smoother than a jazz song playing in your dentist's office waiting room. This is quicksilver laced with coffee gliding down your throat. Tons of great dark roast coffee flavors along with a creaminess that definitely makes this come across as the best iced coffee we've ever had! Roasty, toasty flavors without a huge ABV masking the great profiles of the malt and the hard to produce "actual" coffee taste ("18-hour cold brew extraction method"). Not the easiest coffee stout to get your hands on but if you do you will NOT be let down.

 

"Redband hits the palate with a taste that's smoother than a jazz song playing in your dentist's office waiting room. This is quicksilver laced with coffee gliding down your throat."


OVERALL: hands down one the best coffee beers we've ever had, be it in a can or otherwise. Such strong coffee flavors that meld so well with a equally well-produced stout. Great River Brewery has yet to do anything but impress. Very, very, very well done!

NOTES: there are a few other coffee stouts available in cans nowadays. The first to be released was Surly's Coffee Bender in late 2008. Santa Fe Brewing also released their Imperial Java Stout last year. Word is Good People Brewing down in Alabama will eventually release their Coffee Oatmeal Stout. We'll keep an eye out for that and any other coffee beers that come to cans. Cheers!


      
other canned coffee beers worth checking out...





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Redband Stout
Style: American Stout
Brewery: Great River Brewery
City: 
Davenport, Iowa  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.0%
IBUs: 36
Date: November 27th, 2011

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Saturday, November 5th 2011

Velvet Rooster
(Tallgrass Brewing Company)

The world's first ever Belgian-style Tripel in a can! The folks at Tallgrass sure have taken a bold step by putting this 8.5% golden-hued beauty in 16 oz. cans. We're really looking forward to trying yet another first in the world of canned craft beers and very glad to see that today's craft brewers aren't shy about putting big, complex beers in cans. Cheers! 

From the Tallgrass site:

"This beer is a Belgian Tripel that lives up to its name. Smooth and carefully crafted like a fine velvet painting, but with an 8.5% ABV this bird has some spurs! The beer pours a golden straw color with brilliant clarity. Topped with a lofty pure white head the beer has a wonderful floral nose, with subtle fruit notes.  

The taste is clean and crisp, with subtle fruit notes and a touch of candy like sweetness. The beer has a Champagne-like effervescent that provides a crisp offset to its sweet finish.  While a pint glass is always nice, Velvet Rooster would also be at home in a tulip glass or Champagne flute. Something to crow about."

Here we go...

Pour - soft, golden yellowish-orange in color with a wispy white head on top. This is almost opaque despite the color and it definitely pours "heavy" with great carbonation. An innocent looking brew that certainly hides it's complexity.


Aroma - strong aromas of candy sugar, Belgian yeast spiciness and some warm toastiness. The spiciness from the yeast is very apparent and really draws you in. If you like what yeast can offer a beer in both aroma and flavor than this will definitely please your senses.


Taste - this is a sipper. As soon as you get this on your tongue the sweetness and the spiciness really take hold. Lots of flavors mingling and smoothing out as this warms. Some earthy notes are also detectable as are some faint hints at citrus (sweet oranges). Velvet Rooster is velvet-soft on the palate and the strength is so well hidden it's scary. 


Overall - absolutely incredible! I had no idea what to expect when I heard Tallgrass was canning a Belgian-style Tripel. This was a pretty big departure from their other offerings. I am very happy to say that they nailed it with this one. Velvet Rooster can strut proudly in a Belgian henhouse full of native varieties of this particular breed.


Note - Tallgrass currently cans six different beers covering a broad spectrum of styles from light and refreshing to malty to big and hoppy! Velvet Rooster is a great new addition to the Kansas brewer's portfolio. Cheers!



 



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Velvet Rooster
Style: Belgian Tripel
Brewery: Tallgrass Brewing Company
City: 
Manhattan, Kansas  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: November 5th, 2011

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