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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ace WeizenRyemer (Hunter's Brewing)

I love Hunter's Brewing. I've liked all of the brews I've tried so far. But based on the Facebook page description I really didn't think I'd like this beer. I don't go out of the way for a dunkelweiss. I'm not a fan of the banana esters produced by the weihenstephan yeast (though brewed at a certain temperature with a certain yeast concentration you lose that flavor). Throw in a rye spice and this just sounded like it could go terribly wrong.

I couldn't help but try it though. When I made it out there last weekend, soon after it was tapped, I ordered a 4.5 oz taste. If I ever learned anything from Mr. K, it's to try anything once, or twice, or...anytime it's offered.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This black beer had a chocolate head that quickly settled to a thin ring. I honestly didn't take the time to smell this one. The flavor was taking all of my attention.

Taste: It had all the flavors described. I tasted the chocolate and banana upfront. It was like dessert. It was boozy. It was viscous. It was roasted. The rye spice was detectable, like a spicy chocolate. It had all these wild flavors, but none of them were overpowering, they all blended together.

This was good. I'd order a snifter of this, if not just to see how the flavor changed as it warmed. I'm not saying I'd drink it all day, but this wasn't meant for that. This is a sipping ale. It was a nice surprise. This would be a great seasonal release.


From the Hunter's Facebook page:
Come try Ace WeizenRyemer! It's a hybrid beer style based on our Iron Brewer home-brew competition recipe from a few years ago. The Iron Brewer ingredients are Sorachi Ace hops, Weihenstephan yeast and rye malt. We chose a wheat beer brewed with chocolate wheat malt as the base style. Extremely complex flavors and aromas - banana, lemon, wood and roasted chocolate. Very excited to have brewed this at our brewery to share with everyone!

Freeze Frame (Hunter's Brewing)

I was happy to try this Belgian Stout. I'm a big fan of stouts, especially this time of year. I tried their delicious coffee roasted porter, Porter County, last time. This sweeter-style stout was just as good.

One of the brewers was telling the story behind the name while I was there. Apparently, she travels a lot and was on the way to the airport. A snow storm came in. She went back to the shop and brewed this Freeze Frame stout. I'd like to imagine they were dancing around to the J. Geils Band's Freeze Frame whilst brewing this.


General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This black brew has a coffee-colored head that quickly settles to a ring. That ring sticks around. I smelled the sweetness.

Taste: It was slightly sweet, sticky sweet. It was rich. At 4.7% I'm surprised that I got a slight booziness to this. It was very thick and rich. It was drier than the chocolate wheat beer I tasted beside it.

Meridian (Hunter's Brewing)

I enjoyed a 4.5oz pour of this next to the Threadsplitter IPA and it was a great contrast. While Threadsplitter was more grassy and earthy, Meridian was much more bitter citrus and had that chilling cascade.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This gold brew had a deeper, amber-gold color. It had a white frothy head. The hop oils left light lacing on my glass as I drank it down.

Taste: It had a strong grapefruit bitterness. It was pithy. I got the goose bump-inducing cascade hop flavor. All of this was balanced by a caramel maltiness. It was a very good IPA.

Exit 26 (Hunter's Brewing)

I'm always on the look out for a good Scotch/Scottish Ale. This offering from Hunter's Brewery in Chesterton is a Scottish 70, a 70 shilling brew, a heavier (but not heaviest) Scottish Ale. It has a slightly lower ABV than your standard Wee Heavy, but just as much flavor.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This dark brown brew had a very slight red tint. It smelled biscuity toasted. I could smell the sweet caramelly malt. It was great to smell.

Taste: It was pretty carbonated. The smells carried through to the taste. It was toasted and biscuity. The caramel flavors rounded it out.

Mirror Image (Hunter's Brewing)

Last weekend I made it a point to stop off at Hunter's Brewing again on my way out to LaPorte for a quite weekend getaway. I wanted to check out the new brews they had on tap. Just a taste before heading off to a secluded B&B. The experience was much the same as the first time with craft brew chatter, comfortable space, and friendly brewers. Mr. K and I tried five of the new beers on tap in perfect 4.5 oz pours. The beers ranged from an amber to a viscous chocolate wheat.

First notes are on the American Amber. This hearty beer had more to it than your standard amber ale.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This amber-colored brew smelled like caramel and grain. It had a thick, dense white head. It left heavy lacing on my sample glass.

Taste: I enjoyed how hearty it was while still fitting into the style. Amber ales vary so greatly, but are generally light and not very complex. This one had the standard maltiness, but it had flavors I wanted to savor. While it was sessionable, it wasn't one that I just wanted to gulp down. It was still an every(wo)man's brew though. I think it would have wide support as a flagship brew.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Thomas Frank Discussion

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a Thomas Frank discussion at Paul Henry's Art Gallery in Hammond, IN. It was informative, entertaining, and enlightening. We sat in one of the rooms at the old hardware store gallery surrounded by his art. Temporary walls were put up to provide a clean frame for the work. Some of his past work and inspirational books, cards, and notes were displayed on a long table along the wall. 


At a glance, the Water Column Series: Phase II smoothly flowed from set to set. These pieces are wax on panels. He mixes beeswax with damar crystals to harden it. He separates it out into workable palm-sized pieces and mixes it with pigment for later use. 

The tools of his trade were laid out on a tray in front of Thomas as he spoke. They were spread out on the table behind him. Irons, hot guns, brushes, and bowls. He described it as process-driven painting in an unforgiving medium. It's a race against the clock as it sets and spreads. The next layer can completely alter the design. He imbues the meaning after the dust settles. It's an after-story. His being, his background, and his thoughts drive his quick hot gun and brush strokes. They drive the amount of wax he presses into the board. They compel him to layer or to stop. 

The art was graphical from a distance, but had delicate nuances in the strokes and layers when viewed at the tip of my nose. 

The discussion started with his background, which set the stage for the discussion on this latest series. Briefly, this artist really lives. He learns from all aspects of his education, background, and travels. He experiences life. He doesn't go through the motions of life; he seems to get the most out of it.

Thomas Frank is the son of a commercial artist. He studied art at a university, which gave him a different perspective on art from those who studied at art institutes. He traveled through Europe and studied different artists and different styles. He focused on ultra-realism, space, and form. It seemed that he was trying to translate the world around him. 

Coming back to the States, Thomas entered the instructional design field. He started in the beginnings of online learning. He had to do much of the coding and design work himself. He focused in the medical science fields. The graphical representations used for training intrigued him. He explored the way that these graphics could depict processes and reality. They included a range from scans of the human body to algal blooms. 

He moved to East Chicago, Indiana set to contribute. He became the director of the Water Management District, which included oversight of the most polluted canal in Indiana (Indiana Shipping Canal). 

At one point, he worked on city planning charrettes using GIS imagery and computer graphics programs. Then he got back to working with his hands.

In his art he goes into the scans of his past in the medical industry. He incorporates the spectral imagery used to represent the pollution in East Chicago and throughout the region. These scans showed pollution, the plumes, the 3-D rendering of the landscape. These are what came through in Water Column Series: Phase II. He saw these images as the way we displace the humans, through vitals and stats.

With this glimpse into the artist, I looked at the art again. I saw the double-helix chains. I saw the smoke plumes. I saw the skeletal images. I saw the layers. I saw the water. I saw the data represented. I saw the human condition.

Additional Information
The Water Column Series: Phase II installation runs through April 12.
Thomas Frank's | Blog in the Production of Space - How we Move Through the World: http://blog.thomasfrank.org

Thursday, March 21, 2013

3Beans (Sixpoint Craft Ales)

I heard about this brew when it came out in January. This stout is made with cacao beans, coffee beans, and romano beans. On a recent trip to my local liquor store chain, I picked up a 4-pack. It was hard to pass up some of the other Sixpoint brews, but I really wanted to try something new.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This dark brown ale had a thick off-white head. I smelled a strong roast and caramel.

Taste: It was rich and bitter. It was acidic. It wasn't as creamy as I was expecting. I was expecting it to be more malty-sweet. It was just about as roasted as I thought it would be. It was boozy, really boozy. I was warm after two sips. It tasted like liquor with that alcohol burn. It was like there was a shot of whiskey in it. The aftertaste was all dry. Interesting brew. I'd drink it again.


From the Sixpoint Facebook page:
It's Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (or perhaps dessert). Made with Stumptown Coffee Roasters cold brew, Mast Brothers Chocolate Cacao, and Romano Beans. Based upon an old Baltic recipe but with a Mad Scientists twist.

From the can and the Sixpoint site:
Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans...and put them into one vessel. The beans of bygone brewers, united with cacao and coffee, to create a trinity of roasted, rich, and savory flavors.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Paul Henry's: A Portal to the Arts

Paul Henry's Art Gallery
416 Sibley Street | Hammond, IN


Paul Henry's Art Gallery is a local bastion of art located in an old hardware store in Hammond, Indiana. It provides support to a vibrant art community. This gallery is a comfortable space with hardware displays still intact, keeping ties with the venue's roots. Showcasing work of more than 170 artists, the mix of works on display is enough to keep you occupied for hours. Each time you stroll through the three rooms that make up the space, you'll find something new hidden in a corner or hanging overhead. 

Both traditional and unconventional art abounds. It's a mix of arts, with various styles represented. Sculptures, photographs, drawings, and paintings line the walls. Wood carvings, stone works, and pottery fill the shelves. Display cases include painted light switch covers, jewelry, and other small works.

Artists like Gladys Cook and Lou Shields on Display next to Hardware Cases
This is a community shop. The prices of the artwork range from affordable small ceramic pieces and prints to hand-carved totem polls and large mosaics. Dave Mueller uses this space in every way possible to support the art community and provide locals with a portal to the arts. It doesn't end at displaying the art on the gallery walls. Weekly open jam sessions, art receptions, artist support groups, and discussions with the artists provide an outlet and forum for art.

Mr. Mueller maintains an active Facebook page providing gallery information about events and new artists.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2012 Bourbon Barrel Aged Date Night (Figure 8)

The first year I was aware of it, I missed Date Night by a couple of days. The idea of a date barleywine stayed with me for a year. When the time came around for the annual release, I asked for it. It was in the works. I asked for it again. It was in the queue, but needed a free tap. Then, finally, it was there, and it was glorious. Some brews have hints of these darker fruits, but this was date-infused ecstasy. This was my take on it then. When this barrel-aged release came out, I sent out a request to reserve it as soon as I could. And...I waited.

The sun is out now, but I broke out this hearty winter brew on a recent snow day. It was a perfect way to wait for the oncoming storm.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This black brew had a little coffee-colored reverse head. I smelled the savory dates. I also got smells of  caramel, vanilla, and wood from the bourbon barrel.

Taste: I really tasted the barrel. It was a little dry with strong bourbon flavors up front. It had a bite to it. It doesn't hide the booze. I was warm off of one sip of this brew. That wasn't the only quality that made this a sipping brew. It was hearty and savory. It had a little spice and brown sugar sweetness. It was a perfect winter warmer. I'm happy to have had the chance to try this brew.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Pair 3: Hunter's Brews

The last pair of 4.5 oz pours Mr. K and I shared at Hunter's Brewing last weekend were an Imperial Rye PA and an American IPA. They both had high bitterness measurements, higher than 100. 100 IBU is pretty much the max, after that it's just really bitter.

Threadsplitter
American IPA | ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 128.2
Look and Smell: This dark gold brew had little head. I didn't stop to smell this while I was drinking it.

Taste: The malt sweetness this starts with turns to bitter hops. It was very grassy-floral and it carried on in the aftertaste. A very nice IPA. I'd order it again. Not sure if Hunter's will have flagship brews, but this would be a good one!



Vermengen
Imperial Rye Pale Ale | ABV: 7.9% | IBU: 139.7
Look and Smell: This amber brew had a thick off-white head. The hop oils left thick lacing on the glass.

Taste: It was incredibly bitter spiced. It was sugary. This brew had an earthy/floral taste to it. It was creamy. It was a very heavy brew. I enjoyed this one as well. It didn't hide the rye at all.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pair 2: Hunter's Brews

The second pair of 4.5 oz pours Mr. K and I shared at Hunter's Brewing were Porter County Porter and Progressive American Pale Ale. They were both very good. Both of them had complex flavors; they were more than your standard brews.


Porter County
Robust Porter | ABV: 5.7%
Look and Smell: This black brew had a coffee-colored head. A ring stuck around until the end. I could smell the bitter roast over the crowd.

Taste: It was just like coffee, good coffee. I tasted little sugar sweetness. Not sure if that touch of creaminess was in my head, filling in the rest of that coffee-ness.


Progressive
American Pale Ale | ABV: 6.7%
Look and Smell: This gold ale had a white head. It smelled slightly like sweet malt.

Taste: It had a strong pithy bitterness. The sweet malt balanced it out. It was a well-balanced brew. It was a good example of an APA.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pair 1: Hunter's Brews

I visited Hunter's Brewing for the first time last weekend. It was a nice cozy spot to enjoy their delicious brews. Mr. K and I shared pairs of 4.5 oz pours so we could try them all, at least all that were there that day. Our first pair was a Cream Ale and an English Brown.

Khao Hom Mali
Cream Ale with Jasmine rice. | ABV: 5.5%
Look and Smell: This brew was a pale gold. It had a light head. I didn't smell much at all. It wasn't just because it was a crowded spot, it was a light brew.

Taste: It was bitter, yet smooth. The rice added some sweetness and a slight creaminess. It was a very light brew. It was along the lines of a pils, but it was an ale. I probably wouldn't order it again, but I could see it being a top seller. It's just not my style, but it wasn't bad.


Mild Child
English Brown Ale. | ABV: 5.9%
Look and Smell: This dark brew smelled very roasted.

Taste: It had a stronger roast than expected for a standard English Brown. The aftertaste was a bitter roast rather than a sweet malt. It was quite tasty. Much more than a Newcastle, but just as drinkable. I'd have no problem sitting through a few pints of this brown.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Keeping it Classy: Hunter's Brewing

Hunter's Brewing Boutique Brews
1535 S Calumet Rd | Chesterton, IN
www.huntersbrewing.com | Cash & Credit | Limited Hours (generally Thurs-Sun - check website for hours)


I found out about Hunter's Brewing Boutique Brews in passing, literally. I saw a sign for this brewery leaning against a building at the end of a storage unit, next to the spot where I get my delicious goose eggs, shrimp, wonderful meats, and beet greens. I thought it was a brewing supply shop. Then I saw a local acquaintance like one of their Facebook posts. It was a nanobrewery. It was official, they were opening February 16.  

I made it out there this past weekend. It was a very convenient stop before heading to the Welcome to My Garden storefront at Sawgrass Marketplace to pick up some eggs, beef, and freshly butchered pork (bacon and shoulder).

There it was, at the end of a group of storage units. Parking was easy to get into, lined up along the building. On a busy night, I could see it being a bit of a pain. It's a small shop though; you get what you can. It was clean, and it was bare. The wooden bar was sleek with a side area for quick bar visits out of the way of the people sitting at the bar. The long tables gave plenty of room to rest your glass. Big, wood-framed windows provided a glimpse into their brewing operation. Like any warehouse setup, it could benefit from a few soft surfaces to absorb the sounds of their boisterous patrons. 

A chalkboard hung above the bar showcasing the frequently changing craft brew selections. They had a good range of brews, six in all. From a light rice beer to a heavy coffee roasted porter to a bitter hopped IPA, they had something for everyone. The prices were reasonable. The offered small pours (4.5 oz) so you can try them all. They had glassware for any type of brew.

Both of the brewers were at the bar pouring and chatting up the patrons a bit. There was talk of homebrew, breweries, and other beer-related chatter filled the bar (like every crafty spot). The only beer chat Mr. K and I had was about the beer in hand. We talked about life. 

They  have a small water cooler out for the patrons. A short pub menu includes little nibbles like chips and pretzels, larger snacks like noodle bowls and burritos, and drinks like bottled water, coffee, and soft drinks. It was enough to make it comfortable if you want to stay for a while. I tried each of the brews, got a second small pour of the coffee-like porter. I'd liked to have stayed there for a while, but the market was calling my name. Next time.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Snow Day (New Belgium)

This New Belgium brew replaced 2° Below a couple of years ago. I loved that ale, and it's taken me this long to try the new winter seasonal. We bought a case of 2° Below the last year it was released. It kept well and got me through a couple winters. I tried the new winter ale on tap at a local chain restaurant/bar. I was pleased with it. It was different than expected, though I didn't really remember hearing much about it (good or bad). The first time I read the description is when I added it below!


General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This ale was much darker than expected. It had a thick off-white head. This brew left a heavy lacing as a drank it down. I smelled hops...I was expecting heavy malt.

Taste: This brew was surprisingly hoppy! I was thinking it would be more of a traditional winter ale. I guess I should have suspected they'd go for something different than their previous winter ale. Initially the hops were pithy bitter, but as I drank it more it was more floral. It really smoothed out as I drank it. The nutty malt balanced it out. It was roasted to the point of smoky flavor. It was a nice change. It was warming, bitter, rich. It was a good winter brew.

From the NB site:
Pleasantly hoppy, Snow Day carries the subtle chocolate and caramel flavors of a new brewing malt known as Midnight Wheat. The Styrian Golding, Centennial and Cascade hops bring the backbone of hoppy bitterness to complement the roasty undertones. This beer is the deep garnet of a roasted walnut and presents a creamy tan head, floating artfully atop. Snow Day is bold and hoppy, drinkable and strong. It reminds you to enjoy the unexpected.