Folded Mountains Majesty (er, an A-rated wine from Aldi)

Dave returns (!) with a review (!!) of a beer from…well, duh, Aldi. Is it worth the money? Does it get a good grade?

Folded Mountains

Folded Mountains Pale Ale

Hello, sports fans. I’m back. (I won’t bore you with the gory details of my absence; suffice it to say I can now tolerate some libations. And I’m also visiting Aldi again.)

I thought I’d return to what made me happy about beer – the pale ale – and used the most recent trip to Aldi as an excuse. So let’s give this one a try: Folded Mountains Pale Ale. From Aldi. Did I mention I got it at Aldi?

Taste

In a word: Hoppy. That, to me, is a good thing. I want a pale ale that pushes the boundaries between hoppy goodness and IPA bitterness. (I have discovered, through years of research, that my own preference would be an IBU figure of about 45.) This one has to be right in that zone, I would bet.

Allow me to apologize for being wrong all these years. The correct term is “International Bittering Units.” I thought it was “Bitterness.” Oops. Metasip regrets the error.

My all-time favorite beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and this reminded me a ton of that. (Foreshadowing the eventual grade for this one.)

Profile

5.3% ABV. One is plenty for the aging beer-drinker with cluster headaches. (Brewed in Rochester, NY.)

Value

If memory serves, I spent $6.99 on the six-pack.

Let’s talk about pricing for a second, not on this stuff, but on all ales. WHAT GIVES? I’m telling you, it’s like I took a break from drinking, came back, and everyone raised the price on everything. Why? Because they can? Because they should? Supply and Demand? The FDA?

Srsly, $10 is becoming about the norm for a six-pack of anything “craft brewed” – and I get it, you need to charge a premium, but I’m all like “whoa!”

Metasip Grade: A

Yeah, I’m going there. This is an A-rated beer, and I don’t care that we give out so few As and it’s been at least a year since I rated beer here. From the first sip to the last, this beer reminded me of Sierra Nevada, and that’s a really good thing.

Please go get some. Thank me later.

 

Temperance Beer Company’s Greenwood Beach Ale

Friend of Metasip Bill Mayeroff returns with a review of a beer brewed in Evanston, Illinois, USA.

I like my beer to taste like beer. Sometimes I want hoppy, sometimes I want malty, sometimes I want bitter. But no matter what sort of beer characteristic I’m craving, I still want it to taste like beer.

Image courtesy of Binnys.

Image courtesy of Binnys.

So when I first went into Evanston, Ill.-based Temperance Beer Company and saw Greenwood Beach — a blonde ale flavored with pineapple — on the menu, I wasn’t sure about it. I was worried it would be too sweet or that it wouldn’t taste enough like beer. Nonetheless, I was there and I wanted to try everything they were offering, so I ordered a 4-ounce taster.

That, friends, was the right decision.

This is pretty close to the perfect summer beer. The pineapple flavor is subtle, but noticeable (and it still tastes like beer). It’s an ale (albeit a very light one), so it’s a bit more robust and full-flavored than a lot of the lagers people tend to drink during the warmer months. But it’s not so hefty that you’ll feel full after drinking one.

Greenwood beach makes for a wonderful session beer. It’s only 4 percent ABV, which means you can knock back 3 or 4 pretty easily without getting sloppy. I find also that one danger of fruit-flavored beer is that you get tired of the fruit flavor quickly. Not so with Greenwood Beach. I can (and have) put away a few of these at a stretch without becoming annoyed with the pineapple.

This is one you folks should try now that summer seems to be here in earnest. A few cans (6-packs available at Binnys for $9.99) of Greenwood Beach + a rooftop deck/beach/porch/patio = the perfect summer day in Chicago.

Metasip Grade: A-

After Three Sips of This Beer, I Read the Label…and What I Found Shocked Me!

Another beverage knock-off from our friends at Aldi. But this one…

Boot Tread Amber AleWe’re back with another review of another beer – but we’re also having a little fun with this fact: Writing ridiculous headlines that ask people to click on a post can only work if you (1) have something interesting to say and (b) use too much hyperbole. So, while the real headline here should be something like “An Aldi Beer that’s 11 (or so) Ounces” or, more accurately, “Boot Tread Amber Ale Review,” we went with what’s called a “BuzzFeed-style Clickbait Headline.” Reality: After Three Sips of This Beer, I Read the Label…And What I Found Shocked Me!

Consider yourself an SEO test case. We’re gonna see how well this works.

Boot Tread Beer Review

Honestly, I picked this up because I was at Aldi and it was a “Belgium Amber Ale.” And it had a very “where have I seen that label before?” look to the bottle. (Hint: Fat Tire.) And the price was good – or so I thought! – leading me to say “what the heck?”

Taste

Closer to Blue Moon in taste – an assistant Metasip taster said “that is like Blue Moon, but hoppier” – I found it to be rather average, actually. Not even close to Fat Tire: too much of a wheat beer feel for me.

Profile

Again, wheat. If I had to guess, I’d put the IBUs at about 10 or 15.

Value

Here’s where the “scandal” comes in:

11 point 2

IT’S NOT A 12-OUNCE BOTTLE!

Math: $6.49 for a 6-pack, 11.2 ounces per bottle, equals roughly 9.657 cents per ounce. OR, if this were a 12-ounce bottle, we’d actually be looking at $6.95 for a 6-pack.

Since Fat Tire is normally about $8.99 a six-pack, this is a value in comparison. (If you’re comparing to Blue Moon – price of that vs. Fat Tire is pretty much a wash.)

Why 11.2 ounces? No idea.

Metasip Grade: B

I wasn’t wowed by this beer, and found it too close to Blue Moon and not close enough to Fat Tire to fit into a nice, clean category. Were it a direct knock-off, like the last Aldi beer we reviewed, it would get a higher grade. But no.

After Three Sips I Read the Label…

Okay, what I found didn’t actually shock me, but it did have me question why there’s .8 ounces less per bottle than the norm.

Not Your Fathers Root Beer

Whoa. Like, I think I found my new favorite…what IS this stuff, anyway?

Not Your Fathers Root Beer

It’s clever, this “Not Your Father’s Root Beer,” which we sampled for the first time yesterday – though, to be honest, it wasn’t the first time we had a “spiked” root beer, having sampled some last summer at a place called the Courthouse Pub in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. This stuff, BTW, is from Wisconsin, too – Small Town Brewery, LaCrosse, WI, – and it’s cool to see some things coming from the Dairy State that do not have the name New Glarus attached to them. (No offense.) Finally, we know that we have “Fathers” in the title without an apostrophe, and we did that for SEO purposes, so…well, it’s our website.

To the review!

Not Your Fathers Root Beer Review

Before we get into the whole “Taste,” “Profile,” “Value” thing, I need to address something. I gave up soda almost five years ago. You can learn more about that quest over at the 10KaYear blog. I want to tell you – er, rationalize – why this isn’t cheating, with these two reasons: (1) This particular “Root Beer” is not soda – I consider soda to be stuff like Coke and Pepsi, the traditional sugar water that is really bad for you. In fact, the bottle itself says “Ale.” Let’s go with it. (2) This was research. Just like I would have tonic water in a Vodka Tonic for tasting, or I would cave and have a splash of soda, or a Coke in Jim Beam and Coke or Rum and Coke, it’s part of the job.

Taste

Where this got me – really GOT me – was its non-traditional root-beer-y-ness. That is not a word, and I don’t care. It tasted like root beer at first, but wasn’t all foamy and frothy. Didn’t seem all that carbonated, either. The kicker was, well, the kicker – almost had a Jaegermeister feel on the finish. Not clean, bordering on medicinal. But oh, so good. Yes, I felt like I was drinking root beer – but from the stand root beer, not that crap from the can.

Profile

ABV of 5.9% – but there are limited editions with up to 19.5% alcohol. (Wait, WHAT?) Officially, according to the website, “Ale with the taste of spices.” Amazingly, oddly, puzzlingly…only available in draft in Illinois.

Value

$10.99 for a six pack has the potential to lower the overall Metasip Grade for this brew. At almost two bucks per bottle, it had better be darn close to amazing to get an “A.”

Metasip Grade: A.

I’m telling you, this is one of the most outstanding beers of any variety we have had anywhere. That good. Highly, highly recommended. Our highest rating. We can’t stop talking about how great this stuff is.

Kinroo Blue Belgian White Ale

For the first time ever, the Aldi people actually talked this one up to me. Sorta. Here’s more…

Kinroo Blue Belgian White Ale

No lion (see what I did there?), Kinroo Blue Belgian White Ale from Aldi is supposed to be just like Blue Moon. The namesake beer and the one that launched a rather successful brewery, Blue Moon is known for being the one you put an orange in when you serve it, I guess. Blue Moon is a Belgian White Ale. Belgium used to own a good chunk of Africa; Kinrooi is a place in Belgium; the imagery on the front of the box and bottle are rather Safari-esque; I have explained my joke with no less than three semi-colons.

Enough. To the review.

Kinroo Blue Belgian White Ale Review

I mentioned above that they talked this up at Aldi. Yup, I was at the checkout and, while the beer was being scanned, the Aldi person actually said “that’s our answer to Blue Moon.” So I don’t think they’re trying to hide that fact. The similarities are pretty obvious, no? Orange peel. Coriander. The word “Blue.” Belgian. (Except this one is actually imported from Belgium. Score one for Dave’s lineage!)

Taste

What’s crazy about this? Easiest thing to do is to share my notes from the Facebook page from a couple weeks ago. (Along with a friendly reminder that you should totally become a fan of Metasip on Facebook.)

Kinroo Blue FB Review

Gee, I pretty much wrote the whole review, right?

A couple footnotes to that Facebook post: I’m not kidding, any sort of white ale gives me a headache. Blue Moon is notorious for doing so.  But I enjoy it and I’ll go out on a limb and say I have an above-average “palate memory.” It’s a knock-off and that’s okay.

Profile

HOWEVER…I’m a little off when it comes to the ABV comparison – this one has a little less alcohol than Blue Moon. Kinroo Blue is 5% ABV, so you could technically drink more in a sitting than Blue Moon, whose 5.4% could be enough to knock you over the edge. (Maybe THAT’S the reason for my headaches?)

FYI, on the Untappd site, which we like, there are some reviews of Kinroo Blue, which is, indeed, brewed in Belgium by Brouwerij Martens in Bocholt, Belgium.

Value

See above – $6.99 for a six-pack. Works for me.

Metasip Grade: B+

Probably because Blue Moon is enjoyable – but not outstanding. And this beer is enjoyable and a better value than Blue Moon, and, if a shade more than a buck a beer is your speed for a Blue Moon, this is about right. Way above average, but not worthy of an “A” rating.

As always, let us know if you disagree.

All the beers from Destihl reviewed

(Not all of ’em. I’m not a lush.)

Still, Destihl is a small Midwestern microbrewery and restaurant. Let’s learn a little more.

DestihlOn a recent trip to Central Illinois, I had the chance to sample enough of their beer to conclude that Destihl knows what the heck it is doing. While I couldn’t review all the beers from Destihl, the ones reviewed – five of them – were good enough to register four-plus stars, or at least a B+, on the Metasip scale. They have two locations, one in Normal and one in Champaign – both fine college towns, but only one with a playoff-bound football team. (Dig explained here: NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Bracket.)

So we’ll break format and waltz through five of the beers from this gastropub-slash-brewery and Bob’s your Uncle!

Normal Blonde Ale: B+

Normal IS the name of the town. Don’t poke fun – very livable city – and the state Normal School was founded there, thus the name. And thus the name of the blonde ale. 16 IBUs, 4.9% ABV, and mild in flavor. Good for those who want to have more than one – though the brewery serves 4-ounce sizes, too.

120 Schilling Scotch Ale: B+

Can’t find info online about this one, but my notes tell me it was strong – 9%+? – and had an overpowering flavor. But not a BAD overpowering flavor. Good job for a Scotch Ale, so we gave it a B+.

Nutty Brown Ale: A-

Higher in ABV at 5.6%, and higher in IBUs at 34. Right in my wheelhouse, too. The nuttiness put it over the top – we upgraded our rating from B+ to A- upon further review.

Belgian Pale Ale: A

This one also got an upgrade. Why? We helped down a growler later, then came back a few nights later and had more. Winner. Just a standout Pale Ale. I think the IBUs were probably around 40. I think the ABV was around 5. I don’t care, though, either way. This was the best beer we had in our trips there.

Sour Peach: A-

Not for everyone. Photo below – but I gotta tell ya, this was a sour beer that, really, if you’re into sour beer, wasn’t TOO peachy. And was quite tasty. I’d have it again, when I’m in the mood for sour beer – which I occasionally am – so I give this a good score.

All the Destihl beers reviewed?

Well, not all of them…but a good chunk. Well, five. Five of them.

Ever anywhere near Central Illinois, give these folks a try. You’ll be delighted.

Destihl Sour Peach

 

 

Bell’s Christmas Ale

Why am I drinking a Christmas Ale…on New Year’s Day?

Bells Christmas AleThis is a good question. Perhaps it’s because I bought too much beer for the Christmas season. I don’t know exactly why – there are no rules, really, around Christmas Ale. You drink them before Christmas, during Christmas, what’s wrong with a week after Christmas? Bell’s does good work, so why not give their Christmas Ale the week after test? Bells will still be ringing for awhile, right?

Ring some Bells for… Bell’s Christmas Ale

First of all, I don’t get into the hype around these things. In fact, first time I had one of these Holiday brews, I was all like…I ordered Sierra Nevada! But their Holiday Ale – maybe it was called “Christmas Ale,” but I’m afraid of overusing the keyword here – came in a bottle with a red label. I wanted a green label. Waaah!

Then there was the time I had the Great Lakes Christmas Ale for my post-Christmas birthday – it was a milestone birthday and, well, I got knocked out.

Anyway, this here bad boy from Bell’s had to be picked up because, well, it’s from Bell’s and their Oberon earned its stripes many years ago.

Taste

Hoppy, not too much so. They tell us on the bottle that it’s made with 100% Michigan barley malt – there’s a bit of a malty aftertaste, which I like. Not overflowing with weird, goofy spices – that’s something I don’t want out of my Christmas Ales. (Like going to Starbucks and ordering a double half-caff mochachino with two shots of gingerbread. No thanks.)

Profile

5.5% ABV. Can’t find IBU info – I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the 25-30 range – but here’s a link to the site.

Value

With any of the special series brews from any of the regional craft brewers, you’re paying more – $9-$12 for a six-pack. Is it worth it? Sure, in this case. It’s a quality beer.

Metasip Grade: B+

We couldn’t go much higher, as this one didn’t have us going batty – maybe it’s because the waters were sullied by some of the other experiences we had with holiday brews. (Watch this space for another review that still has us befuddled.)

 

Bridgeport Hop Czar Imperial IPA

My notes read “way too bitter.”

Sometimes this happens with reviews – you look at the bottle, you fall in love with the image, you start imagining things before you even try the product. Bridgeport Hop Czar Imperial IPA. The name sent my mind into a whirlwind. “Hoppy, but with a nice, clean finish. Like a really strong IPA, but not too strong that you don’t want to have the next sip.”

Sadly, the above is not a quote from my review, but the idea in my head that this was going to be a really good beer, not one that I tossed because I couldn’t finish it.

Bridgeport Hop Czar Imperial IPASigh.

To the review, he says, with a whimper.

Bridgeport Hop Czar Imperial IPA

(I just figured it out: it’s the wannabe graphic designer in me that says “ooh, cool bottle, gimme!”)

Taste

From my notes: “Floral. Weird after taste. Officially not my thing.” That’s not a good sign. Plus, as I mentioned above, “way too bitter.”

Profile

According to the bottle, 7.5% ABV. You can only have one, it seems – if you get through the one. I didn’t. 87 IBUs.

To be fair, other beers that were heavy on alcohol AND bitter and hoppy – not totally my thing, as mentioned before; I like the IBU number to be around 40 – have received good ratings by me. In other words, if I think you’ll like it but it’s not up my alley, I’ll tell you.

This…my initial notes told me “B” was about right. If it’s a value…

Value

I’m fairly certain this was in my $9.99 mixed-six. So that’s about right. (Maybe even a deal if you like high-alcohol beer.)

Metasip Grade: B

I can’t go higher on this one – the Lenny Bruce beer was way better IMHO, though higher in alcohol and probably more bitter than this. You might like it; if you can get a bottle in a mixed-six pack, do it.

 

3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides IPA

The name is a mouthful. So is the beer.

3 Sheeps IPAWe mean that mouthful statement in a good way – 3 Sheeps, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA, does some nice work. Or so we had heard. So we picked up some of their Really Cool Waterslides IPA at the Piggly Wiggly and are just now getting around to the review.

N.B. Wisconsin Piggly Wiggly stores, along with a couple in Illinois, are part of a different conglomerate. Here’s a link to the Piggly Wiggly that’s predominant in the South.

Speaking of animals…Enough blah blah blah, here’s the review:

3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides IPA

Taste

Bitter, hoppy, IPA. It tastes like an IPA should. There’s nothing crazy about it – but nothing sub-standard either. Good mouthfeel. Drinkable – in the time it takes me to post this, I have mostly finished one. Either I write quickly, or I drink quickly, or both. But it works.

Profile

6.2% ABV. 60 IBUs.

Value

We were in Sheboygan, where the brewery is, so $6.99 for a six-pack was an expected value. It’s worth it even for a couple bucks more.

Metasip Grade: A-

I’d drive across the border for more…but I don’t have to as their “Locaaaator” (clever, no?) tells me Chicagoland has this stuff. Yeeha!

 

Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale

I had the same feeling about this that I had about two gluten-free beers I reviewed: BEER! (Wait, it’s “sustainably brewed?” BONUS!)

Goose Island Green Line

Photo Credit: Goose Island Beer

Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale – I thought it got its name after the Green Line of the CTA – Chicago’s version of the Tube or the T or the Subway. Sorta, it did – but not really. It’s more about the fact it’s brewed using “green” methods. But I’m not going to talk about how wonderful it is that a beer is brewed using sustainable methods. I’ll let those sustainability blogs talk about it instead.

Here’s a little from a site called Beerpulse: Goose Island Sustainable Beer.

Here’s one from Huffington Post on the green beer movement in general: Huffington Post Sustainable Beer.

Wait, here’s one from the company itself! Goose Island Beer.

Enough about sustainability and the warm fuzzies you can get from saving the environment. What about the beer?

Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale Review

Taste

At a quintessential Chicago experience, the street festival, this one was just about perfect with the quintessential Chicago food – wait a minute, I had a Maple-glazed Pulled Pork Slider. Which I had never had before. Highly recommend, BTW. They were from Kinzie Chophouse.

I’m starting to say that I’m most partial to the pale ale, so I would be MAD if they messed this up. Quite the opposite – hoppy but not too much so, clean finish, slightly bitter but not overpowering. In other words, Pale Ale Done Right.

Profile

ABV: 5.0%. 30 IBUs. <– This combo is becoming my sweetspot.

Value

I was at a street festival, so I paid 6 tickets. Each ticket cost $1.00. So a beer set me back $6. (I’m good at math, no?)

What’s funny – a quick search of the web tells me little about the pricing at a store near you, or me; and I don’t recall ever seeing this in six-pack form at any liquor store. So I did a little research and…DUH…beer is expensive to bottle and transport, so you can only get this on draft in Chicago. Smart!

Metasip Grade: A

We try to grade holistically – see the other posts about Omission and Prairie Path. Those tasted like beer, and so does this one. I think it’s worthy of a solid “A” grade.

But…what do YOU think? Let us know in the comments!