No Labels

As readers will know, I am a fan of stealing great ideas from elsewhere and here is another fine example….

The Growler Magazine of Minnesota has launched—Unlabeled: A Blind Tasting Showdown.

The twist? Well there are two. First, “the tasting is 100 percent blind and only one specific beer style will be poured at each event in the Unlabeled series. Each beer will be “unlabeled” and guests won’t know which brewery made which beer until the grand reveal at the end of the event.”

Unlabeled No. 1, will have Minnesota-made Hazy IPAs and No. 2 will be an Oktoberfest both will use an app custom-made for the event to register your tasting notes and guesses.

I would love to see maybe ten breweries max do this in LA. Start with IPA cause that do sell tickets and maybe add in a food pairing component too.

Review – Super Bowl Beers

Instead of talking about the final score of yesterday’s really good game, instead let’s talk about the score of bottles and cans that were had while waiting for play to resume on the field….

Beer buddy Richard and I started with Bell’s seasonal Hopslam. Go big or go home. The smoothness of the honey really works with the hops. It’s been a while since I had this beer and it was really good.

That was followed by KSA from Fort Point. You can’t drink big hops all game long especially a game with so many interruptions (though this year, not too many flags from the officials) and KSA was a good palate cleanser.

On to the third can of the day, this one from Pizza Port, their new Surf Stop Pale Ale, which seemed more IPA, maybe session IPA.

Next came yet another can, this the first cans ever from Brewyard Beer of Glendale. They put their Blonde Common Lager, Sunday Morning into 16oz cans and it was probably the winner of the day by a field goal over the crowler of Fortunate Islands that I had picked up from the DTLA Dankness Dojo earlier in the day. This was the grapefruit version and it was brewed here in Los Angeles.

As confetti rained on the Eagles, the final beer was opened from Yo-Ho Sorry Umami IPA made with bonito flakes. It wasn’t super savory. Was actually more like a saison and though not an IPA it was quite good.

P.S. Thanks to the Metro Expo line for getting me to the party and back in one piece!

Minnesota Brewery # 3 – Wild Mind Artisan Ales

Those in South Minneapolis will get to look through a wall-sized window and either watch the paint dry or look at the foudres where mixed-fermentation magic will be going on inside the wood. Wild Mind Artisan Ales beers will be aged for anywhere from six to 12 months.

Brewer/Founder Matt Waddell has plans to dedicate most of his 16 draft lines to the wild and farmhouse-style ales. Amping up the sour and brett as time passes and customers acclimate to the beer.
Since they literally opened a day or so ago, those fancy beers like barrel-fermented saisons won’t be at the tap room now but you will be able to try their Table Beer, Hoppy French Saison, Hoppy Rye Wild Ale among others.

All thanks to the foudres and Waddell’s “Carefully chaotic” style.

Minnesota Brewery # 2 – Utepils

Not too many soon-to-be breweries can boast of not only a backyard waterfall but also a natural springs that the brewery can use for their future beer. But what was initially Bryn Mawr Brewing and is now Utepils (ooh-ta-pils) will be rocking in the fall of this year.

If you are not a Norwegian language expert the name in short means Outside Beer but in common parlance has come to mean “the first beer enjoyed outdoors in the sunshine after a long, dark winter.” The brewery has snagged Eric Harper who has had past brewing stints at Summit Brewing and the famed New Glarus.

Since they are not open as of yet, the full beer menu has yet to be written but there are at least three to start your taster tray off with…
….a traditional hefeweizen, an altbier, and a Czech-style pilsner made using special hops from Bohemia Hop Company.
As you can see, there will be a bit of a traditional European bent to the beers to begin.

Minnesota Brewery # 1 – Venn Brewery

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 11.25.12 AM
You may see the word Venn and think diagram but it is also Norwegian for “Friend” hence the head brewer working at another area brewery while Venn gets up and running, later this year.

When Venn Brewery does open, these are the beers I will be trying in their Minneapolis taproom:

“Sometimes called a “Black Pilsner,” this beer is deceivingly dark. It is nearly black in color, yet light and refreshing, and offers a mild roasty flavor with hints of bread crust. If you’ve never thought of yourself as a dark beer drinker, this is the beer that will make you think again.”

“Pronounced Hell-ess, this golden lager is evenly balanced between malt and hops. Easily drunk, yet plenty flavorful, it will satisfy both the craft beer connoisseur and the dedicated light lager drinker. We call it our gateway beer, because, well, taste one and see.”

“Light gold in color, this hop-forward lager has notes of fresh bread dough with a crisp, floral, slightly spicy finish. A throwback to the way pilsners were made pre-Prohibition, this beer takes the best American ingredients and treats them the way our German immigrant ancestors did. It’s a pilsner with the volume turned way, way up.”

SAHTI (7%)
“Venn’s take on a traditional Scandinavian farmhouse ale. Mashed with rye and oats and boiled with juniper berries, Sahti offers an earthy and complex malt profile with a bright, piney finish. We may not make it over burning wood fires in the forests of Norway during the deepest part of winter, but we do imbue this unusual brew with all the flavors of the northland for a beer that’s as captivating as it is delicious.”

“The complex union of lemon, orange and black pepper compliment the soft and elegant malt character of this amber Belgian ale. It is very dry and carbonated, a refreshing drink for spring and early summer. If champagne died and was reborn as a beer, this is what it would come back as.”

Gluten Free Brewery # 2 – Burning Brothers Brewing

With a nod to the Artist formerly known as, we head to Minnesota next to Burning Brothers Brewing whose About declares, “Burning Brothers is committed 100% to gluten-free. We don’t use gluten-free filtering, gluten-free enzymes or any other gluten-free gimmicks. Instead we use naturally gluten-free ingredients to create great-tasting and unique beers for you.”

Without further ado, here are the beers that I would put in my taster tray:
“Parched” Lime Shandy: “The citrus notes of our all American hops combined with the lime of our shandy will have you salsa dancing in no time. Our fans state that “Parched” taste like summer. Not too sweet with a nice tart that balances with the hops like they were meant to be together.”

English Mild: “Subtle, crisp bitterness on the front finishes with a touch of biscuit and nuts on the back. This session style comes in at a low alcohol (~3.0% ABV) and is intended to be a lightly-flavored, easy to drink and malt-accented beer.”

“Pyro” American Pale Ale: “An American twist on an English bitter, this light fruity beer is a drink that can be enjoyed at any time! We substitute the traditional English flavor with our own unique blend of American hops. Note the initial taste of orange followed by just a hint of grapefruit. Three years in the making, our APA stands strong against any other APA on the market.”

“Roasted” Coffee Strong Ale: “Beer is one of the oldest beverages humans have produced, and Arabs began cultivating coffee in the 14th century. With histories like that, and our love for coffee being almost as great as our love for beer, how could we not combine the two? “Roasted” is a single-hopped strong ale blended with cold brewed coffee. Because we never heat the coffee, the bitter oils in the coffee remain present, but not dominant. This creates a smooth balance of bitter and sweet with hints of caramel. This award winner took third place in a brewing competition, yet we forgot to tell them it was gluten-free.”

Holiday Beer # 9 – Stir Crazy from Indeed Brewing

Indeed Stir Crazy

Indeed Brewing Stir Crazy Winter Ale/ Minnesota

” A new season means new adventures. We created Stir Crazy Winter Ale to warm you from within during the coldest time of year. Our sturdy winter warmer is brewed with cocao nibs, vanilla, raisins and brown sugar. Layers of malty goodness create a dark ruby color and satisfying notes of chocolate and rich caramel, while pulverized raisins and brown sugar provide a fruity complexity. Bundle up and enjoy!”

Is it over-rated?

File this under “beer names that make me chuckle”. Surly Brewing does some impressive beers that I wish I saw more often in my ‘fridge and this one might make for an interesting flight alongside some West Coast IPA’s that might have inflated ratings.


Brewing in Minnesota for awhile now, Summit Brewing Company’s 25th anniversary beer is named after Odin’s drinking companion, Sága. And according to their website is not for smelling impaired.

A blend of Citra, Amarillo, Centennial and a New Zealand hop by the name of Rakau. It might be leaning more West coast than east. I have been fortunate enough to have a couple Summit beers and this one sounds great.