Eric's Beer Blog

My online journal for beer (and other drinks) tasting, brewing, tourism, and general musings.

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Location: St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

Monday, September 18, 2006

Catching up...

We've been on the road so much lately that by the time we get home, the last thing we want to do is blog about our travels.. this leads to a backlog (backblog?).


Way, way, way back in May we went to Chicago to see a Cubs game. Of course there was a beer component to the trip. On the way to the Windy City we stopped in Munster, Indiana, home of Three Floyds Brewery (and not a whole lot else). But oh, the beer. Three Floyds makes some of the very best beer there is-- Alpha King, Robert the Bruce, etc., etc. Now I had hoped while there to try some of their legendary Dark Lord Imperial Stout, which had recently been released. But alas, I discovered that they sold out in about 4 hours. 4 hours. For.the.year.

No matter, I did get a Dark Lord t-shirt (pretty cool looking, I can tell you) and got to sample several beers at their cool pub which they don't sell elsewhere. I tried the Alpha Khan, similar to the Alpha King but even hoppier (and more citrusy), Brian Boru (a hopped-up version of Robert the Bruce), and I think Daniela had the Rabbid Rabbit (a saison). Great pub, amazing beer, really a must for any beer lover who's anywhere near Chicago.

Not long after that, in June, I went to Wisconsin for a wedding. You might know that Milwaukee was just named America's drunkest city. I did my part by drinking quite a bit of beer while there. But I also had to make a side trip for beer purposes only-- to Madison, Wisconsin, home of the University of Wisconsin and, I had heard, some great beer.


I only went to one place (though I've heard and read about many other great ones), which Beer Advocate members seemed to agree was the best in town. That place was the Great Dane pub. Now, people who know me know that I like brewpubs and have been to quite a number of them. This may well be the best I've ever found.

On the day I visited, they had 17 beers on draft, including one on cask. You read that right-- 17 of their own beers.

I had my work cut out for me... I sampled nearly half of the offerings and all were outstanding. There was the Extra Pale Ale on cask, a lovely example of what kind of beer to have on the hand pull for maximum effect: wonderful cellar temp, beautiful hoppy nose, fruity and delicious.

There was the Tri-Pepper Pilsner, with habañero, poblano, and jalapeño peppers!

There was the Dark Mild, a great session beer with roasty flavors but light body.

There was the Vintage Ale, a sweet tripel type beer.

There was the "New Peculiar," an homage to the venerable Thackeson's Old Peculiar.

It was amazing... I could have spent days there.

I also went to several good bars in Milwaukee, but nothing to compare to this place....

Almost caught up!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Oktoberfest, Part 1

Tonight's tasting:

Hofbräu vs. Paulaner. (can't find my "beer journal," so I'm just typing as I taste!)

Hofbräu tasting notes: unfortunately, the initial aroma is that green bottle skunkiness. Fortunately, it seemed to dissipate quickly enough and leaves a pleasant enough smell: a hint of malt, a sort of lager cleanliness.

The color is a (in my wife's words) shocking yellow. A hint of amber, but mostly straw-colored.

It tastes good. These folks have been at it for a while (since 1589, according to the label) and they know what they're doing. It's a clean, crisp, smooth beer, with that malty sweetness one looks for in an Oktoberfest beer, though it's not quite as malty as I prefer these beers to be. Quite fizzy as German beers tend to be, but not annoyingly so.

Paulaner notes: These johnny-come-lately's (only since 1634, the rookies) put their beer in the much-preferable brown bottle. The beer is a whole lot darker than the Hofbräu, with a much more intense aroma of toasty malt. It's a nice amber color, with very good lace and decent head retention.

Quite a bit more malty, and definitely a darker malt flavor. It's still well-balanced and clean, as you'd expect a German lager to be. Maybe even a bit more carbonated than the previous beer-- that aspect of German beers can get old if you're drinking a few...

The darker malt and overall malt profile is more hinted at than delivered, and leaves me wishing for more. At first whiff I thought I was going to really love this beer, but let's just say I'm still on the market for that perfect Oktoberfest.

I bought several more singles at the store today, along with a bunch of pumpkin beers and the odd fall seasonal, so there should be more to come.

My lovely wife likes the Hofbräu better, she says....