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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Minneapolis Town Hall’ Category

Surly Abrasive Ale

May 4th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Ale Asylum, Brewer: Minneapolis Town Hall, Brewer: Surly, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

Like anything in American life, the IPA debate always gets whittled down to an East coast/West Coast thing and I won’t make a 2Pac/Biggie joke in the year 2010.  But there’s more to America than the coasts, than “flyover” country as us snobs call it, and the Midwest is making some absolutely stunning IPAs as well, the Eminems of the IPA debate if you will.  And why shouldn’t they be making good IPAs?  They have hops just like we do.  Then again, they have yeast and dough just like we do and their bagels still suck.

Abrasive Ale

9% ABV canned and tap

No matter how Beer Advocate classifies it, Abrasive Ale is not the much beloved 16 Grit simply repackaged and renamed.  Surly brewmaster Todd Haug told me as much.  It is recipe-wise very similar to 16 Grit though–a beer I unfortunately never got to try–and it is a magnificent beer.  Within a few hours I was fortunate enough to get to try batch 1 on tap, batch 1 canned, and an ever so slightly tweaked batch 2 on tap. Now while batch 1 and the first canned version I tried were both magnificent, both A level beers, batch 2, the batch that I suppose will be the recipe from now til iniquity, blew my mind and is clearly one of the best IPAs I have ever had.  This is a darker than normal DIPA, a rich and gorgeous caramel with potent smells of tropical fruits and hops.  The taste is as good as it gets–an over-explosion of hops with strong brunch tastes of grapefruit and sugar, a perfect combination that adds a kiss of sweetness to balance out the bite stripping the enamel from your teeth.  Wow.

A+

Tea Bagged Furious

6.2% ABV on cask

This has long been a most wanted beer of mine even though, like a dope, I didn’t even know what exactly it was.  I naively assumed it was your typical delicious Furious somehow infused with some tea flavoring.  Eh…I don’t know.  I now feel like some idiot 10 year old that never quite understood the birds and the bees until an older kid explained them to him.  Luckily, I finally did learn what the tea bagged refered to, right around the time I got to try this magnificent beer.  Tea Bagged Furious is simply Furious that has been dry-hopped in a firkin cask with various hop varieties in a bag.  OK, I think I get it now.  Kinda like Surly’s novelty answer to Dogfish Head’s Randall I suppose.  Whatever the case, this is a brilliant beer, packed full of juicy hops, made all the more interesting to enjoy on cask where that pesky carbonation doesn’t get in the way of your tongue picking up all those subtle flavors.  Not that this sucker is subtle in the least.

A

Town Hall Mango Mama

6% ABV on tap

A tap-only selection, pretty much only available at the brewpub, Mango Mama is another beer, another IPA, I’d long wanted to try.  I’m a typical “more is better and please Supersize that shit” American, so I usually skip right over IPAs and tell ‘em to make mine a double, but Town Hall’s regular 365 days a year offering, Masala Mama is a nifty little production, a no frills, incredibly drinkable and delicious effort.  The slightly rarer Mango Mama blows that one away and has to be arguably the best 6% ABV or lower IPA around.  I expected a sweeter IPA, but I guess I just don’t know what a mango is (most of my knowledge of fruit comes from the various Skittles packs, so that’s no surprise) because this was a shockingly citric and bitter IPA.  One of the more bitter ones I’ve ever had.  Seemingly no malt backbone or sweetness at all, this is just like straight fruit juice mixed with hops.  And that ain’t a bad thing.  Highly recommended.

A

Ale Asylum Bedlam!

Finally, we come to a Wisconsin IPA, and a Belgian one at that.  Bedlam!–I love when names of things force you to punctuate–is my first introduction to the brewpub’s offerings and one of my first introductions to citra hops, a semi-rare hop varietal that seems to add a somewhat green onion aroma and flavoring to the beer.  A not unpleasant and certainly unique sensation that makes you feel like you just got chives on your baked potato, scallion cream cheese on your bagel.  As we know, Belgian IPAs are pretty de rigueur right now and there’s several new and good ones on the market (Nebraska Hop God and The Bruery Mischief most notably) and this one stacks up for sure.  While not quite as good as those two, it’s certainly a unique offering as the citra hops meld with the overwhelming Trappist yeast for a nice bite and a silky finish.  Obscure, but worth seeking out fo’ sho.

A-

Maui CoCoNut Porter

December 21st, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Maui, Brewer: Minneapolis Town Hall, Brewer: Williamsburg AleWerks, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: B plus, Style: Porter

5.7% ABV canned

I’ve been too precious with my beer lately.  Just keeping it on the shelf, in the fridge, admiring it more than drinking it.  Almost scared to uncork my bottles if not for a special occasion.  Right, like I have special occasions.  I’d become like some douchebag who owns a fleet of Porsches and Ferraris yet never takes them out of the hangar, instead pedaling a beat-up Schwinn to the store every time he needs a carton of milk.  So this past weekend, with a load of looming trades headed my way, I decide to take some inventory and free up some space in my cellar.*  By drinking through my bottles one by one.

I’ve been drinking a lot of porters lately–a style I’m starting to think I can only differentiate from stouts in my mind–and each one of these three came in a trade from my three favorite fellow beer bloggers.

I don’t know why, but I’d wanted to try Maui’s CoCoNut porter for a long time.  Maybe because it just sounds exotic.  Maybe because it would be the first Hawaiian beer I’d ever had.  Maybe because I have a weird fetish for quality canned beers.  Or maybe just because I’m a fan of unnecessary midWord capitalization.  Alas, I finally got a can courtesy of my man Jay at Hedonist Beer Jive.  I’m sad to report, though, I was a tad disappointed.  Much like the Stone’s Ken Schmidt collaboration (which, yes, also included some help from Maui), I think this is another middling review that we somewhat have to blame on my own faulty expectations.  I don’t know why I keep expecting these coconut beers to taste like a liquidized Mounds bar, but I just can’t shake the desire for that taste.  Just like Ken Schmidt though, this one tastes nothing like that but instead is a very, very roasted offering.  I also found it somewhat lacking in complexity for such an ambitiously created beer.  A slightly thin mouthfeel would be another debit, but this is actually a pretty nice drinking porter for the low ABV.  I may not sound like I liked it, but I truly did, I just wasn’t floored by it.  I’d love to get my hands on the rest of Maui’s offerings as well.

B+

Minneapolis Town Hall Odin

8.4% ABV from a growler

Minnesota has become a craft beer mini-mecca and luckily my man The Captain lives right in the eye of the storm and, even luckier, has no compunction with mailing heavy ass growlers halfway across the country for, you see, two of Minnesota’s top breweries–Town Hall and Barley John’s (which I have still yet to try an offering from)–are tap/growler only.  After their legendary Masala Mama, Odin is the second offering I’ve had from the Town Hall boys and it’s another very good one.  Full bodied and roasted but with a hint of nice sweetness on the back-end.  Beautifully complex and quite enjoyable.  Not too boozy but a little too heavy to be super drinkable, then again, I had no clue the ABV on this was so high until I just this second looked it up on BA.  I enjoyed this one quite a bit and hope to continue stockpiling Town Hall growlers.

B+

Williamsburg AleWerks Bourbon Barrel Porter

ABV unknown from a bomber (#0334/2009)

This final offering comes from Dave the Drunken Polack.  I had, quite frankly, never even heard of this Virginia brewery but when Dave asked if I was interested in this beer I saw those three magic words–BOURBON.  BARREL.  AGED–and I was sold.  Wise decision as this is a very solid offering in perhaps my favorite sub-style of beer.  Aged two months in oak bourbon barrels with tastes of caramel, chocolate, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon this is a very complex and very strong beer.  It smells like a masterpiece but the taste doesn’t quite deliver as it’s a little hot and a little bitter.  Well worth seeking out though and along with Williamsburg’s absolutely outstanding Pumpkin Ale that I had back in October but never formally reviewed, I’d definitely have to label this relatively-known brewery as one to watch.

A-

*Like I have a cellar!  Ha.

RE-REVIEW: Masala Mama India Pale Ale

February 10th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Minneapolis Town Hall, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

5.9% ABV from a grrrrrrrrrrowler

Google:  the geek squad sucks

Results 1 - 10 of about 120,000 for the geek squad sucks. (0.23 seconds)

Google:  fuck the geek squad

Results 1 - 10 of about 58,900 for fuck the geek squad. (0.19 seconds)

Google:  the geek squad can fellate my giant circumcised jew-cock

Information No results found for “the geek squad can fellate my giant circumcised jew-cock”.

Well then let me be the first to add that phrase to the internet and get it search engine filed.  Should help my SEO among angry Jews with computer problems.

They are the Geek Squad and, yes, they are admittedly, clearly, geeks, but I’m not sure that is even the most apropos name for these miscreants:

The Wispy Upper Lip Hair Squad?

The Foul Body Odor Squad?

The Asocial Pedant Squad?

The Virgins Til I Angrily Bugger Them Squad???

Am I being hyperbolically harsh?  No, I don’t think.  Because I would go so far as to say that–ignoring public employees such as those that work at the USPS, the DMV, for the MTA, and in the House of Representatives–Geek Squad employees are the worst workers the American private sector has to offer above such other anti-luminaries as Time Warner customer services reps, Poughkeepsie Dunkin Donut employees, and New York Knickerbockers.

My computer has the most minor of problems right now as the back plug-in has been jostled a bit through everyday wear and tear and now I can no longer keep my power supply in and, in fact, the battery has completely drained, rendering my computer a $1000 piece of cheap plastic and metal that can’t be used.  Now I’m no expert, but I figured fixing this would be quick, cheap, and easy.  No, sir.  Not when the fucking Geek Squad is involved.

Firstly, I do all my errands in the middle of weekdays so I don’t have to deal with buffoons.  It’s interesting, for such a committed Manhattanite, I absolutely detest dealing with other human beings that aren’t bartenders and avoid them all costs, ordering everything I buy off the internet and only dealing with real folks in the most dire of circumstance.  Well, as I predicted, Best Buy was dead as disco at 2 in the afternoon on a Tuesday and I found only one other person in front of me in the Geek Squad line.

45 minutes later I was still behind this hipster doofus who was in an Earl Weaver/umpire shouting match, a typical scene at Geek Squad HQ.  Meanwhile, I could count at least a dozen employees in visual sight, at least half of them other Geek Squad workers, sitting in the back, lounging, reading Wizard magazine, having some homoerotic grab ass.  With several other registers and countless counter space available to help me you’d think one might hop to, but nope, not how the Geek Squad works.  To much WoW strategy to discuss.  And seemingly no upper management to yell at the lower-level staff.

I finally get to the front of the line and am greeted by a stereotypical Squad member.  Doughy enough to sell biscuits in a tube, short sleeved dress shirt with visible underarm yellowing, black tie covered in Quizno’s mystery sauce, greasy hair matted to his head, and some beady eyes staring at me in contempt behind giant Harry Carey goggles.

At this point, no matter what the problem with your computer, no matter how large or small, you will enter a standard operating procedure between you and the Geek Squader in which he will behave in the follow steps.

Step One:  Truculently greet you

No “Hello, sir”–no “sir” or “ma’am” at all for that matter–no “How can I help you?,” “What seems to be the problem?,” or “How are you?”  No, you will be greeted with an eye roll and perhaps a grunt.  Or, even worse, you will have to clear your throat, bang on the counter, or simply say, “Can I get some fucking help?!” to get the Geek to even look up at you.

Step Two:  Dismiss your problems

I briefly explained my problem and he quickly dismissed me, acting as if I clearly broke my laptop.

“Do you ever carry your laptop around?”

Yes, of course, it’s a laptop.  That’s like asking me if I drive my car.

“Do you every type on it on your lap?  Or in a coffee shop or something?”

Again, yes, of course, it’s a motherfucking laptop.

“Well then, the cord probably got banged up due to your aggressiveness with it while moving it around.”

“Aggressiveness?!”  Ha.  The only way I could have been less aggressive with my computer in question would have been to never take it out of the box.

Step three:  Act like you’re a fool that knows far less about computer than them.  Offer expensive fix.

This step involves the Geek doing a lot of scoffing, a lot of supercilious smirking, and a lot of upturned palms “Whadaya want me to do about it?”s.  Then, they suggest you pay approx. $500 to have it fixed.

Step four:  Don’t even test out their theories on what is wrong.  Offer expensive fix.

My Geek looked at my laptop for about a millisecond before saying, yeah, it’s the plug-in that’s broken.  That’ll cost you an absurd amount.

But how could he know all this in a millisecond?!

Step five:  Begrudgingly test when you yell at them because you are far bigger than them and could give them a wedgie

I was furious at how quickly he examined my laptop, how he tried to throw around computer jargon and argot that he thought I might not know in order to make me cower and completely allow my fate to be settled by him.  I mean, look, I spent my youth playing sports and being popular, but I’m not a retard, I know a thing or two about computers.  “Could you at least test a few things out and confirm for me what is probably wrong with it?”

With a huff and a puff…

Step 5b.  Pull out universal power adapter.

This is the Geek squads’ one go-to move.  In fact, it’s the only fucking move they have.  You know why?!  Cause they don’t know how to fucking do anything related to computer aside from wasting your goddamn time.  So they’ll reach under the counter, pull out a giant bag of widgets, look for the one that matches your device’s plug-in, then hook it up to the universal adapter and plug you in.

And, you know what…?

Step six:  Are now somewhat confused about what is wrong.  Problem is ambiguous.  Offer expensive fix.

Their earlier dismissiveness is now proven wrong because they are fucking wrong.  In fact, they are now as confused about your computer’s problem(s) as you are.  In fact, they won’t be able to fix it in the actual Best Buy you currently stand in.  But they never act like they are so inferior that they can’t fix a simple computer, oh no, they continue to act rude and superior to you.

Step seven:  Send in to shop.

What is the point of the fucking Geek Squad if they can’t fix shit?!??!  I’ve constantly gone to the Geek Squad with some of the most minor computer problems ever–some of which I later went home, Googled the problem myself, and then with nothing more than a pair of needle-nose pliers, perhaps another tool, fixed the computer myself–and never once has the employee said, “Sure, we’ll have this fixed in an hour.  Go look through some DVDs and video games and we’ll page you when we’re finished.”

Nope.  Getting a computer “fixed” by the Geek squad always involves them charging you money so that they can mail it to the manufacturer so that the manufacturer can spend several weeks fixing it themselves before mailing it back to the Geek Squad.  Fuck the Geek Squad.  Save yourself some time, cut out the middle man, assume the Geek Squad can’t fix shit, and just mail it to the manufacturer yourself.

Step eight:  Go back to reading Wizard magazine

The Geek Squad exists as nothing more than gatekeepers to misery.  Timewasters of the highest order.  There is no point in using them unless you need your ire greatly raised.

Well, now I know.

I was so fucking heated after my futile foray with the Geek Squad that I needed beer, post-haste.  Luckily, The Captain had literally shipped me a fresh and full sealed growler of Masala Mama, to make up for the less-than-fresh attempt we propagated last time.  Beautiful.  Fragrant.  Flawless hops bitterness.  One of the best single IPAs I’ve ever had just below DFH 60 Minute and one of the great session beers of all time.  Not sure it deserves its lofty place on the Best of BA list–I reserve best beer in the world status for bigger asskickers–but it is truly a great beer.

So here I am, computerless, forced to type my hilarious Vice Blog entries using t9 on my mobile phone–seriously–or during the rare chances I can borrow my fuck buddy’s computer when she isn’t playing Scramble on Facebook.*  Alas, it is not the easiest way to write.

Oh well, I got a new laptop being shipped to me right now.  I ordered it online.  I’m never dealing with humans again.   Any one want to buy another laptop that can’t be turned on?

A

*I’ve always hated the word “fuck buddy.”  So childish, so lame, so crass, so unnecessarily profane.  Can’t we come up with something better, people?  Fornicating friends, bangin’ buddies, intercourse pals, coitus companions, copulation cronies, screwing sidekicks, intimate intimates…?  I like the elegance of the lattermost, personally.

Masala Mama India Pale Ale

November 6th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Minneapolis Town Hall, Country: America, Grade: INCOMPLETE, Style: IPA

5.9% ABV from a growler (sorta)

There’s a lot of obvious reasons why alcohol is so grand.  It calms, soothes, eases the pain, uninhibits, takes away fears and neuroses and self-consciousness, makes your arm steadier and your nerves steelier for bar games, allows you to dance without feeling like an asshole, and is the only reason why you have so many friends on Facebook.  It gives you liquid courage and the famed beer goggles.  Both to the women around you and even to yourself.  (I surely can’t be the only person who after pre-gaming at home, goes to the mirror for one final check before heading out and thinks, “Goddamn, Goldfarb, have you gotten better looking in the last hour?”)  And, yes, I cherish and agree with all those reasons.  But an oft-underlooked aspect of alcohol consumption which may be most crucial is that it turns one’s brain off.

When I’m sober my mind is racing, cunning, conniving, scheming, improvising, scrutinizing, analyzing, calculating, Machiavellian, and generally being too smart and clever for mine own britches.  But when I drink, I love everyone, and everything, and I’m interested in only the most non-cerebral, reptile brain, visceral pleasures in life: those gastrointestinal, bacchanalian, carnal, and Syracusebasketballal. 

My mind sober is scary, frantic and racing with creativity.  It won’t stop coming up with ideas.  Some genius (BallooNYC, Manhattan’s first and only hot air balloon tour*) while some less-than-stellar (cloth candy bags at movie theaters as to prevent the loud and annoying noise that comes with the repetitive crinkling of plastic during the snack’s consumption).  I had no idea where a recent idea I had would fall on the scale.

After scoring six cherished bottles of Surly Darkness (review soon!) and being a prince of a man to actually send me one, The Captain wanted a few more Minnesota beers to include in his package.  I had noticed that a seemingly obscure Minnesota brew loomed at #10 on the Beer Advocate’s Top 100 list.  I questioned The Captain on that, could he get me some?  He noted that the brewery was amazingly just a few miles from his house, yet even more amazingly he had never had the beer before.  He made a phone call and learned that it only came in a growler, which he would gladly send me.  I had to quickly put the kibosh on that.  True, I am selfish and care about my needs above all others’, but I simply hated the idea of the poor guy having to lug a no-doubt fifteen pound block of unwieldy glass and beer to FedEx and then pay probably $50 to ship it.  Oh well, guess I’ll never have it, I thought.  Then, I had a Eureka! moment.

Realizing that The Captain is an accomplished homebrewer and that he has bottling capabilities, I asked him if he couldn’t just buy a growler for himself, make me a bottle, and then enjoy the rest of the growler at his leisure.  It was so utilitarian, we would both benefit!  He readily agreed it was splendid idea.

The Captain bought the growler on Thursday, transferred it to bottle that night, mailed it on Saturday, I received it on the next Thursday at about 11:45 AM, I refrigerated it at 11:46 AM, and by noon I was drinking it.

Before he’d even shipped it he had warned me of potential issues.  The Masala fresh has such high levels of carbonation that after the bottling it settled down to filling only half the bottle, about six ounces.  Air and space is anathema to keeping beer fresh so this was a grave concern.  The Captain said he would normally put corn sugar (live yeast) in his own beers to keep them fresh, but in this case he didn’t want to taint the sample.  He was almost certain the beer would be flat by the time it got to me.  I actually kinda prefer flat soda to fresh stuff (the sugariness shines through a bit more while my sensitive esophagus isn’t pelted by the prickly carbonation) so I thought this might still work.

I knew I had no choice but to drink the Masala Mama immediately upon its arrival, despite having a lot of stuff to do for the rest of the day.  I gotta say, The Captain probably did as good of job of re-bottling as possible.  As I opened the unlabeled bottle a surprising *pfffffffft* of air was released.  Hmmm… this was promising.  The dark amber pour, however, showed not much fizz left and next-to-no head.  This coming from a beer more famous for its head than Monica**.  But, it smelled fantastic, bordering on world class, one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had the pleasure to stick my face into.

The taste though was “eh.”  Off.   Flat beer just has a weird mouthfeel.  I told myself I was drinking it from a poorly-managed cask.  Nevertheless, it was still very flavorful.  Beautiful hop bitterness along with orange and lemon citrus zests and a nice hint of caramel sweetness.  I can tell this is an A/A- beer when it’s fresh, perhaps even deserving of its top ten legendary status.  Even a week old and flat, I’d still say it’s better than maybe 95% of beers out there.  Glad I got to try it even in a distorted way.  I refuse to give an official grade to this sample so let’s call it:

INCOMPLETE

(with the note that I suspect it’s an A- at the least, though probably higher, something I hope to confirm one day)

*Seriously, you don’t think this would be a smash hit?!  In New York City, one can pay to utilize all of the following vehicles for either tours or travel: train, subway, tram, limo, black car, taximeter cabriolet,  bi-plane, ferry, cruise boat, rowboat, powerboat, sailboat, kayak, boat-bus hybrid, bus, double-decker bus, bang bus, motorcycle, Vespa, bicycle, tandem bicycle, scooter, helicopter, Rascal, horse, hansom cab, pedi-cab, rickshaw, rollerblades, zeppelin, and motherfucking GOB Segway.  Yes, there’s only one vehicle in the world not on that list.  And it ain’t llamas steered by Nepalese midget jockeys.  It’s hot air balloons.  How awesome would it be if hot air balloons were going off every half hour from the Columbus Circle and Plaza corners of Central Parks?  Drifting high above the park to get a better bird-eye’s view of the city than even those rubes that wait for hours to go to the Top of the Rock or Empire State Building.  And tourists will over-pay for anything.  They already pay $50 for Top of the Rock, $30 for a hansom cab, and actual money to shop at the Hershey’s store.  I figure we could charge them to the tune of $200, perhaps $500 to even a grand per basket.

I know your next question:

“Is that even legal?  You can’t just have balloons hovering over the city!”

To that I say, I’m not sure, but my research shows that it isn’t illegal.

Whatever the case, I have this brilliant idea protected so if you want to steal it from me, don’t.  However, If you are a VC that wants to produce the idea then please contact me and let’s talk.  I even have a logo I’ve already designed.  It would look quite swell on our company Polos.

**Did he really make a Lewinsky joke?!  In 2008?!