Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Whale A Week: Goose Island Madame Rose 2012





Last week we finished up our series of Surly Anniversary beers from Four to Eight!  This week we take a trip back to sour territory with Goose Island's Madame Rose 2012.  This bottle was donated by Keith Brady from his cellar for our enjoyment!

Goose Island Madame Rose 2012

I've already discussed my love-hate relationship with Goose Island in my previous post about Bourbon County Coffee Stout, as well as my recent vitriolic post about AB-Inbev and their lack of understanding of craft beer fans.  So I won't go into that stuff again here.  

Madame Rose is described thus on the Goose Island web page: "Madame Rose is a crimson colored Belgian style brown ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on cherries in wine barrels. Layers of malty complexity, sour cherry, spice and wood notes make Madame Rose an ideal beer to suggest to Bordeaux enthusiasts and beer drinkers fond of Belgian Kriek and Flanders Brown Ales."  Made with 2-row, wheat, carapils, special B, and chocolate malt.  The web page also kindly has food and cheese pairing ideas.  The bottle claims that the beer will age up to 5 years.  The fermentation of this beer is much like that seen in Rodenbach and other Flanders Red and Flanders Brown style beers--using a mixed culture of lactobacillus, pediococcus, and brettanomyces.  

Madame Rose got its name from the first female brewmaster in Belgium, Rosa Merckx of Leifman's Brewery.  Currently 88 years old, she continues to have a hand in that brewery famous for its sour fruit beers.  Click HERE for a little more background on her.  Leifmans is known for their paper wrapped bottles, you know you've seen them at the liquor store and wondered about them!  Their Goudenband is an amazing Flanders sour that ages well--I got to try a 20 year old bottle of it at The Kulminator beer bar in Antwerp a few years back that was stellar!

The first release of Madame Rose was in 2010.  I won a bottle of this in a silent auction for a very special young lady with cancer.  The beer was wonderful and full of tart flavors, but I remember it not having enough cherry flavor for our tastes.  At the time my wife and I decided that we liked Juliet (blackberry) and Lolita (raspberry) of "The Sisters" the most.   After aging the next batch for nearly two years, the next release of this beer was in 2012.  This past year, 2014, they released their third batch, using some new techniques and sour cultures.  I have not managed to get my hands on the 2014 yet.  I'm unsure of the quantity of the beer being made, but the Madame Rose seems to be the hardest to find of any of Goose Island's sour ladies series.  Madame Rose has a current rating of 93 on BeerAdvocate and a 99 on RateBeer.  Both of these ratings are aggregate numbers including all three vintages.

Our bottle was one of the old style bomber 22 oz bottles from before Goose Island moved to the fancier wine-type bottles.  Bottled 7/31/2012.  ABV 7.1%.  Goose Island was bought by AB-Inbev in 2011, so this batch was most likely brewed prior to the buy-out but bottled afterward.  As such I can drink it with impunity and lack of guilt.  

This tasting took place at Mike and Kristin Lebben's basement bar.  Mike is a hardcore brewer with a fantastic Sabco brew system in his basement.  Kristin is not a beer expert, but has a great palate.  And Keith is one of the best homebrewers I know, who specializes in hoppy beers.  We all tasted separately and took notes on our impressions, with further discussion afterward.




Aroma: 

Eric: Very tart acetic acid aroma, followed by a very classic funky barnyard Brett character.  Dark and tart cherry wafts out after that initial sour slap on the nose.  My mouth puckers just from the aroma.  Earthy, as well as almond, cinnamon, and cherry pit.
Keith: Tart, sour, cherries, touch of malt, spice, slight acetic aroma.  Very pleasant.  Honey.
Mike: Funky-good-horse blanket.  Cherry.
Kristin: Funk!  Fresh floral and old barn board.  Happiness :)

Appearance: 

Deep copper to almost light brown in color.  Mike describes it as a very specific "Denny's decaf diner brown."  Very fine white head that leaves a faint lace.  Slightly hazy.

Flavor: 

Eric: Up front crazy tartness!  Acid as well as complex aged and Brett flavors. Tart aged cherries like baked cherry pie, but more sour.  Has an almost salty note at times, but not in a bad way.  Tannic, woody, pit bite to it resulting in a dry finish. Somewhat oxidized with an almost metallic note.  Mouthfeel fairly thin.  Carbonation is appropriate. 
Keith: Robust, tart, sour up front.  Slight malt in the middle.  Whole lot of dried fruit sour on the end.  Acetic?  Dries the front of the tongue.  Mouthfeel a little weird.
Kristin: Nirvana.  Sour cherry funk.  Clean.  Crisp.  Dry.

Overall: Average rating 5/5!

Eric: A fantastic beer!  Quite complex with a character that changes with every sip.  Crazy different cherry notes from tart, sour, dried, cooked.  Much better than the 2010 I tried a few years ago that was somewhat disappointing.  This was anything but!  5
Keith: Wow!  Very nice sour cherries still come through well.  Hint of malt in the middle is nice.  Really wreaks havoc on your tongue!!  Pissed I didn't buy 5! 5
Mike: Complex!  Many different stages as you drink. 5
Kristin: Beautiful.  My tongue is doing the happy dance.  I can die now. This one was actually Brewed The Hard Way. 5

I think you can tell what we all thought of this beer!  Thanks go out to Keith for sharing this wonderful cherry sour.  I found the cherry character in this one to be well above that of the disappointing 2010 bottle, so I'm guessing that the brewery has increased the amount of cherry in the beer since that first batch.


Next week we move to the sweeter side with Lost Abbey Angel's Share 2013 Vintage.  Tune in!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Photo Challenge #12: I Like Them Curvy...



After playing along with Erin's 30 Word Thursday weekly challenge on her Treasures Found Blog for the past year I have finally taken the plunge and started taking photography more seriously.  Starting with my iPhone, I soon found that the limitations of that device were getting to me.  Upgrading to a Cannon Eos Digital Rebel SL1 camera, I've started experimenting more with technique.  I have also invested in Photoshop Elements 12 and most of my post-production on photos will be from that program.  As a way to force myself to try new things, I'm doing a weekly photo challenge--each week focusing on a different photography or editing technique.  Some of these may be simple and others more difficult.  I encourage any of my readers to take part in the challenge! 


I Like Them Curvy


Last week we dealt with textures and abstracts to get a different take on things.  This week we focus on a special section of Photoshop Elements (not sure if other programs have the same nomenclature) called Curves.  I have not messed with these settings at all and felt it was time to push myself to try something more unusual and new.  So much of what you can do with these photo editing programs is "under the hood" so to speak and one would never know it was in there at all until someone tells you about it.

Curves for black & white photos are used to change the light character in the picture.  One can lighten the highlights, mid-tones, or shadows to get a different effect.  Or you can darken them.  This allows for some fancy manipulation of just an isolated aspect of the photo without just darkening/lightening the entire thing with the brightness/contrast settings.  Just a little more control.  The picture I used for this looked very different on my large screen Mac at home but on the laptop really didn't look much different so I left it off.

For color photos one can do the same thing, but by taking things to the extreme settings you can get some really cool but wacky effects.


Like I said...pretty wacky!  But I like this effect.  I tried this on a few nature pictures but they looked really unnatural so I scrapped them.  Seemed to work best on structural photos with strong lines.


This was taken in Maastrict, Netherlands last spring.  The light wasn't amazing but I really like this picture.


Using the Curves setting I was able to brighten up the mid-tones adding a warmer feel and bringing out more detail in the reflections on the water.


For the final bit, I went back to a technique from a few weeks ago and Burned-In the clouds, making them a bit more dark and bringing out more detail in them.  
So there you go!  Messing with Curves to get a bit more complexity and control in your post-production.  While it is still best to take a great picture in the first place, sometimes the lighting or conditions are not perfect and you need to tweak things to get closer to what you actually saw.

Feel free to take part in the challenge and post your web/blog page below.




Next week we will be working with The Orton Effect!  This is a technique originated by Michael Orton in the 1980's where he would sandwich two slides together--one in sharp focus and the other underexposed.  This results in a strange and possibly dreamy or trippy effect.  Nowadays most photo editing programs can do this easily.  The trick is to find the right picture to use this on.  Start getting to work!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Whale A Week: Surly Eight




Hey folks, time once again for A Whale A Week!  Last week we tasted Surly Seviin, and this week we finish up our series (until next year's Nine release) of Surly Anniversary Beers!

A quick recap:  The Surly Anniversary beers have been quite a mixed bag over the years, but I appreciate the brewers stretching their brewing chops to try new things.  One was a Quad/Doppelbock concoction that I never got to try.  I assume it was good.  Two was a cranberry milk stout that I first tried at a charity benefit--very tasty and tart.  That one made it to a small bottling run, but I've never actually seen one in person.  Three was a braggot, made with half honey and half grain.  I did not like that one fresh, but a year later it was much more balanced and mellow.  I'd love to try this again now!  Four was the first of these that I loved from the get-go and is reviewed HERE.  Five was their first sour and is reviewed HERE.  Syx was a 15% multi-wood aged monster, and is HERE.  Seviin was a Belgian strong ale finished off with brett and was reviewed HERE.


Let the Wild Rumpus begin!

Surly Eight

Surly Eight just came out November of 2014 and one can still run across a bottle here or there in the hinterlands of the Twin Cities.  As such it is perhaps not as rare or "whale-like" as some other beers, but I felt that I should really go ahead and finish up my run of the Surly Anniversary beers with it.  Not to rest on its laurels, Surly decided to try making a new category of beer: an Oat Wine.  This is a strong ale made a generous proportion of oats, that was then aged for many months in High West Rye Whiskey barrels.  Currently the beer has ratings of 93 on BeerAdvocate and 98 on RateBeer.  The beer comes in a bomber bottle dipped in white wax and decorated with a disturbing bit of artwork by local artist Josh "Jawsh" Lemke.  He's famous for his aerosol mural artwork and has done a couple of other things for Surly including one of their Darkness labels.  

This beer was released very late in the year (their actual anniversary is February) because Surly found they needed more time in the whiskey barrels to even this beer out.  I first tried this at Autumn Brew Review in a preliminary form before the final bottling.  At that time I felt the beer probably needed a bit more time, but was quite an unusual experience.  I've been waiting to crack a bottle and officially review it!

For this week's review Steven Mathistad, myself, and my wife Sj all gathered up in the basement bar to taste this new addition to the Surly cannon.  I served the beer in Surly stemware glasses and we got to work!  We all agreed pretty much on the review, so I just combined our thoughts together below.


Steven waiting patiently for his serving of Eight...

Aroma:

Initial aroma has a hint of unexpected sourness.  Some vanilla and toffee or sweet caramel.  Has an alcoholic zip to it.  Peppery.  As it warms I get increased tart and sourness as well as a subtle vegetal note.

Appearance:

Deep gold to almost amber in color.  Slightly hazy.  Large off-white head with medium sized bubbles.  Head fades slowly.

Flavor:

Initial sweet toffee that was hinted at in the nose.  Mouthfeel is medium, not as thick as I expected.  Lingering boozy finish rife with vanilla and marshmallow.  The end is actually off-dry despite the boozy notes.  As it warms I get more of the sourness that I can smell in the aroma.  Steven pointed out that he also got more whiskey as it warmed up.

Overall: 

The big issue here is that the beer is souring.  I remember getting a tiny hint of that tartness the first time I tried it, but I assumed that might be from the wood or the rye whiskey.  The beer is not very complex, likely because oats have almost no flavor of their own, so they don't add much to the body and flavor of the beer.  Most of the flavor present comes from the whiskey barrel, so this is pretty one-note.  I feel that this beer will probably get more sour with time.  If you have some in your stash I would probably drink them now or throw them in the fridge to slow that process.  I have four of these bad-boys and will age a couple just to see what happens over time.

Ratings: Since both Steven and I had such a hard time deciding on a score, I decided to allow quarter increments on this one.

Eric: 3.75
Steven: 3.75
Sj: 3.5  "Meh"



So that concludes our review of Surly Four through Eight!  My personal favorite?  Probably Surly Five, just because it has matured into something so much better than what it once was.  Least favorite was the Seviin--we had a bad bottle initially, but even the retry wasn't amazing.  I would say that the Surly Anniversary beers have been a bit of a mixed bag, but I do appreciate Todd Haug take some risks.

Next up on A Whale A Week:  Goose Island Madame Rose 2012 Vintage

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jack Of All Brews February 2015 Meeting: "Where you can find IPA's that don't suck!"


For the February Jack Of All Brews Homebrew Club meeting we met up at my place in Waconia.  We had a pretty good showing with between 20-25 members (I was too lazy to actually count.)

BrewCred since last meeting:
Upper Mississippi Mash Out--Brett Lincoln 1st place Barleywines, Eric Wentling (me!) 1st in Spice/Herb/Veg and 3rd in Barleywines.

Dues &Shirts:  We still have many XL and XXL hoodies for sale and Sj wants them out of our house!  Contact Steven to buy one.  If you haven't renewed dues yet this year also talk to Steven--Jim brought our new member cards this month as well so you grab those if needed.

March Meeting topic will be brew sculptures, and the style of the month will be Irish Reds.

Upcoming Competitions:

1) March Mashness in St. /Cloud taking entries now through March 1.

2) 1st Round Nationals: Entries already done but judging is April 10-11 if you are interested in helping out.

Survey:  I released a survey on the Facebook Group in which we hope to gather some intel on what the make-up and desires of our club is like these days.  Please fill it out!

After official business, we broke open a few of the little brown vials of the off-flavor kit to taste some terrible flavors!  We poured each vial into a pitcher filled with Grain Belt (because I couldn't get myself to buy Bud Lite) for what JAB members lovingly called "roofie night".  We tasted through Metallic, Diacetyl, and Bitter--making Grain Belt even worse.  This also led to the great quote of the night: "Make the pennies go away!"



Washing the taste of dirty pennies and buttered popcorn from our palates, we moved on to our Mash Paddle style of the month: IPA!  We had 5 versions that evening with the Mash Paddle going to Mike Lebben for his extract Warrior IPA.  Second place went to Keith Brady for his Living in AmeRakau.  Every one of these beers was stellar and I would have been happy to find them on tap anywhere.  This sentiment prompted Tim Roets to ask the rhetorical question: "Where do you get IPA's that don't suck?  Homebrew club!"

Mike Lebben wins the Golden Mash Paddle!  With intense photobombing by Tim!



Monday, February 16, 2015

Photo Challenge #11: Abstracts & Textures


After playing along with Erin's 30 Word Thursday weekly challenge on her Treasures Found Blog for the past year I have finally taken the plunge and started taking photography more seriously.  Starting with my iPhone, I soon found that the limitations of that device were getting to me.  Upgrading to a Cannon Eos Digital Rebel SL1 camera, I've started experimenting more with technique.  I have also invested in Photoshop Elements 12 and most of my post-production on photos will be from that program.  As a way to force myself to try new things, I'm doing a weekly photo challenge--each week focusing on a different photography or editing technique.  Some of these may be simple and others more difficult.  I encourage any of my readers to take part in the challenge! 

Abstracts and Textures

This week the challenge is to get up close and personal with some textures.  With no formal art training, but growing up around a bunch of artists, I was always intrigued by different textures.  I had an aunt and an uncle who were potters, and I remember even as a child loving to hold and touch (carefully) their works.  Having now taken up the camera, I wanted to see how I could translate such a physical media into two dimensions.  I also wanted to get a different view on some familiar subjects!

Now, I realize that some of these following pictures are more Macro shots, but I think they all fulfill the idea of looking more up-close at textures and tactile appearance.


This was a tarnished iron sculpture at The Walker Sculpture Garden.  I enjoyed the pits and trails from the elements and oxidation.

This was a cool coiled rope from Fort Ligonier in PA.

Weathered wood from the Fort.  Light was fairly terrible that day, so I enhanced the contrast and light in Photoshop a bit on this one.

This was peeling paint from the garage of our B&B in Ligonier…proof that there is a photo wherever you look closely.

And last up is an old wooden park bench from the Arboretum.


So there you have it, some work on catching textures on film!  I'll be working on this more with the coming of spring and actually getting outside more to take pictures.  Some of these pictures would actually have worked well with my previous background texture challenge HERE.  As usual I have put a link below for folks to play along each week.


An InLinkz Link-up


For next week's challenge I'm going to mess around with Photoshop Elements Curves functions.  To some extent these may lead to High and Low Key effects.  We'll see how that goes!  I'll be posting that next Monday per normal.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Whale A Week: Surly Seviin




It's time again for A Whale A Week!  Last week we continued our series on Surly Anniversary beers with the misunderstood  and much maligned Surly Syx.  This week we move forward in time to last year's Surly Seviin.

The Surly Anniversary beers have been quite a mixed bag over the years, but I appreciate the brewers stretching their brewing chops to try new things.  One was a Quad/Doppelbock concoction that I never got to try.  I assume it was good.  Two was a cranberry milk stout that I first tried at a charity benefit--very tasty and tart.  That one made it to a small bottling run, but I've never actually seen one in person.  Three was a braggot, made with half honey and half grain.  I did not like that one fresh, but a year later it was much more balanced and mellow.  I'd love to try this again now!  Four was the first of these that I loved from the get-go and is reviewed HERE.  Five was their first sour and is reviewed HERE.  Syx was a 15% multi-wood aged monster, and is HERE.

Surly Seviin

Confessions of a geek: I painted this little guy back in junior high school.  

Seviin was Surly's seventh anniversary beer and was released only once in 2013.  Brewed with rye, oats, and wheat, this was the first Surly beer to ever use wheat in the grist.  It was also dry hopped for added hop aroma and finished with Brettanomyces yeast.  The beer comes in a yellow wax dipped bomber bottle with quasi-religious art by local artist Brent Schoonover.  The beer clocks in at 12.5% ABV.

I first tried a preview of this beer at a Happy Gnome beer dinner before it was released.  Having just been to Belgium not too long before that, I was very impressed with the beer at the time.  Strong in alcohol like a Quad but lighter in color, it had a flavor and mouthfeel that reminded me a lot of Westvleteren 12 (and yes that one is on my future AWAW list).  I tried it later in the bottle and noted a mild brettanomyces funkiness that was not really present in the initial taste at the Gnome.  At that point it seemed more like a strong version of fresh Orval (another place I visited while abroad).  It has now been well over a year since I've tried this beer and I've been looking for a good excuse to crack one and see where things stand.  Currently BeerAdvocate has Seviin rated at 89 and RateBeer at 88 making this the closest the two sites' ratings have been to each other since I've started doing this series.

We served this among a group of friends including Mike & Kristin Lebben and Keith Brady.  My pour was into an Alaskan Smoked Porter snifter glass since I was away from home and didn't have my Surly glass.  It hurts me!  We all tasted and took notes, and here are some highlights.

Aroma: Showing that aroma can be somewhat subjective, but elements certainly come through...

Eric: Floral, sweet honey notes.  Some orange citrus.  Spicy and slightly musty Brett character.  Very little Belgian yeast ester.
Keith: Picking up noticeable tart Brett, slight banana, cherry, dried fruit.  Malt and slight popcorn.
Mike: A little sour.  Boozy banana, citrus.
Kristen: Caramel, banana, citrus.  Slight unpleasantness to the overall aroma.

Appearance: Where we mostly agreed.

Deep copper to orange or amber color.  Very little off-white head, and what is there fades quickly. Light lacing on the edge of the glass.

Flavor:  In which we all sensed different but similar things.

Eric: Sweet orange blossom honey and maltiness up front.  Strong citrus orange peel with a residual bitterness like metal or apricot pits.  Some slight phenol clove, but very little banana to my taste-buds.  Light musty Brett tartness.  Mouthfeel is medium making the beer seem more thin than expected.  Carbonation is low which makes this more syrupy.
Keith: Metallic on first sip.  Bitter then slightly tart.  Bitter orange peel.  Citrusy as it warms.
Mike: Metallic!  Medicinal orange antibiotic from my childhood.
Kristin: Malty caramel.  Good mouthfeel.  Citrus at the front, but brown sugar and tinny/coppery at the end.

Overall: In which we all agreed on our overall enjoyment of this beer.

Eric: Not nearly as "Belgiany" as I expected, especially as compared to previous tastings.  I felt that the esters were very low (though my tasting compatriots got more banana than I did.)  Not as complex as I remember this either.  The tart Brett gives this a little kick, but not as much as I expected having tasted aged Orval.  The beer also lacked carbonation which hurt my overall enjoyment of this.  The metallic boozy finish hurts this a bit as well. 3.0
Keith: Pissed I bought five of these!  Completely different from trying it fresh.  Definitely will age longer. 3
Mike: Either it has gone bad or it needs to wait. 3
Kristin: I want to like it...but it isn't what I wanted it to be. 3

So there you have it!  According to my Untappd, I gave this beer a 4.5 when I last tasted it, so my full point drop is a notable decrease.  Having aged a lot of strong Belgian ales, I was expecting this one to be more complex and interesting.  I did not expect Surly Syx to beat out Seviin!  I'm actually tempted to open another one just to see if we got a tainted bottle or something.  Thanks to my tasting panel for helping me drink this big bottle of Surly!  If you have a Seviin and want to taste along post a link to your page/blog entry on the free link-up tool below.  Or you can just leave a comment to tell us what you think!


Addendum:
Mike, Sj, and I were hanging out whilst adding our Imperial stout collaboration into my rye whiskey barrel this weekend and I cracked a second bottle of Seviin.  This bottle had much more carbonation which improved the mouthfeel and aerosolization of the aromatics greatly.  I got more bright aroma and flavors from this version.  Everything we noted in the above descriptions was present, but the overall quality was improved and fresher tasting.  I noted a distinct similarity of some of the metallic apricot flavor between this and Syx as well.  We all agreed that we would give the second bottle an upgrade to 3.5.  So there Keith, maybe having 5 isn't so bad after all!

If you want to play along and post your review of this beer--use the free link tool below!



Next week we finish our Surly Anniversary series with the recently released Eight.  Tune in and play along if you still have one of these lurking in your cellar!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brewery Review: Live The Dream (LTD)


Let me just start out this entry with a bit of my own history.  I grew up in Hopkins, Minnesota, a small 1950's era suburb of Minneapolis.  I lived two blocks from Alice Smith Elementary school and would walk there on my own.  I could also walk "downtown" to the small Hopkins Main Street where we had a library, a bank, a grocery store, a couple of old restaurants, a Goodwill, and a tattoo parlor.  Oh, and a reptile pet shop.  Not a lot else.  I loved my cute little town which seemed to live in an older, more innocent age when I was growing up.  I've been gone a long time, and my little town has grown up some.  Main Street now has coffee shops, legitimate restaurants, a Center For The Arts, nice apartments, and now their very own brewery!

Open since June 2014, I had been hearing about LTD (Live The Dream) for a few while now, but just hadn't had the time to get out there yet.  However, recently my friend Bryan was in town from Chicago and we met up with his dad Russ for a taster at this new brewery.  Russ still lives a few easy blocks from the brewery and has been singing its praises as a great place to stop after a long bike ride.

The brewery is located just a block up from Main Street in a quasi-industrial park complex.  At this point they have a banner on the side of the building and a smaller lit sign over the door.  Entering, the building, one is struck by a distinct difference from many of the recent "hip" reclaimed wood, industrial chic, open light bulb kind of taprooms I've been visiting.  This is more relaxed.  Perhaps a bit more "found" and mismatched furniture around.  The room was a bit dark, but not dingy, with several tables clustered about. There are a few small couches near the entrance facing a flat screen TV where one could have a rousing game of retro Mario Cart on the Gamecube.   A small bar hosts a cool mixed metal tap tower that would look great in my home bar...




The service while we were there was very good, with two servers coming around with tablets and taking our orders at the tables.  Fast and efficient, we had our two beer samplers in no time!  A fine popcorn machine at the end of the bar furnished a nice salty snack for proper beer drinking.




One can see the small copper brewery toward the back of the building, shining away!  I love that the main set-up is called the Dream Machine.  Near there, taking up one wall is an enormous blackboard enticing visitors to share their dream.  It was great fun to look at all of the ideas and dreams written in there!



Between the four of us we split two samplers so we could try all 9 of their beers (with one double).  They had a wide range of beers from a pleasantly hoppy New Zealand IPA, to a tasty and thick chocolate milk stout.  I'm going to be up-front here: several of the beers had problems.  As a BJCP National ranked beer judge and homebrewer for 25 years I sometimes have a hard time not noticing flaws in beers.  I don't go out of my way to pick apart and spank every beer I try, since I want to enjoy the beer.  However, at least 5 of the beers from LTD had a very strong smoky phenolic flavor that was hard to ignore.  This was strongest in the Irish Red--tasting like a malty smoky peat fire--not exactly unpleasant, but surely not what the brewer intended.  The smokiness came out in the Nightmare stout, but actually added complexity and layers of flavor to the dark beer.  The worst of them was the IPA where the favor just detracted and clashed with the bitter hops.  This type of phenol off flavor (smoke, band-aid, chemical, plastic) comes mainly from infection, ie wild yeast or bacteria that shouldn't be present in the fermentation process.  Sometimes poor yeast health or temperature management can do this, but unlikely in this wide range of styles.  Also dirty tap lines can result in this type of flavor and aroma--gross, but actually the easiest thing to fix of these problems!

I think the base beer recipes and range of styles is great, but there are some serious issues here that need to be addressed if LTD wants to succeed and compete in the rapidly growing Minnesota craft beer scene.

What is your dream?

Despite my gripes with the beer itself, I did really enjoy my visit to LTD.  The place is comfortable, a bit less pretentious than many a taproom I've been to.  When it comes down to it, I got to hang out with old friends in our old home town, at a brewery!  Here's hoping that LTD gets things turned around soon, so I'll be excited to visit again.