Beer Exploration of the Week: 2 New Pumpkin Brews

I have indulged in yet another two autumn craft beers, these two happened to be pumpkin ales.

I will tell you right away – one of the following two beers I tried was absolutely outstanding in flavor, color and presentation. The other one was a beer I will soon forget about.

As always, you can refer to my Sip Score to see how I lay things out.

HornyCopia  Pumpkin Ale

First, I have to give this brewery credit for their clever names. Check out their website for HornyCopia_Beerthe full list of beers, but Horny Blonde, Baby Got Bock, Hopped Up N’ Horny IPA… you get the picture!

This beer is very carbonated at first sip – not a very powerful pumpkin flavor, but you can definitely taste some spices. This is perfect for the beginner craft beer drinker.

Here’s how Horny Goat Brewing coins the beer:

“We mash in pumpkins with 2 row, Vienna and Caramel malts for a hearty ale with just the right amount of body. Spices added to the boil create a complex yet deliciously harmonious flavor. We used pumpkin and spice to yield a brew we proudly describe as “Pumpkin Pie in a Bottle””

This was not my favorite beer, I probably won’t ever drink it again – but that’s just my opinion.

Sip Score: 1.5 sips out of 5 


Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale


By now you can guess which beer I liked better. This beer was amazing. I had just got done playing two grueling hours of Dodgeball (I know, right? Sounds awful. It kinda is, but it’s also a lot of fun) and I was very, very thirty. I was pleasantly surprised and my thirst was deliciously quenched with this pumpkin ale.

Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale is brewed out of Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin. (They are over 150 years old – I definitely recommend checking them out)

Here’s my review:

Very distinct smell – a mix of cinnamon, pumpkin and other spices are present at first sip. It actually smelled just like pumpkin pie – it was rich, flavorful and so delicious.

Here’s what the experts say:

Handcrafted using real pumpkin and savory pumpkin pie spices with hints of all natural cinnamon and nutmeg.  Perle hops balance with rich Munich, Roasted, and Caramel malts for the full-bodied taste and exceptional flavor.

Sip Score: 4 sips out of 5



Beer Exploration of the Week: Fall Favorites

The best time of year for beer is here! (I didn’t plan for that to rhyme)

Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Ales, Caramel Apple Spiced Ales – they are all back!

I tried two Oktoberfest beers this week and I was highly impressed with both of them. As always, if you have any suggestions on beer I should try – send them my way!

See my Sip Score breakdown here if you haven’t yet.


Schells Oktoberfest

Schells Oktoberfest A great Minnesota beer with a long history. Schells dates back to 1860 when founder August Schell “laid his first brick”.

If Schells can make it through prohibition and still brew beer in 2014 – it’s a beer worth drinking.

So, they have this Oktoberfest beer they have been brewing every year – and it’s pretty amazing. Just saying.

 Here’s my review:

A slight sweetness but with full flavor. It’s crisp, malty and perfect for cool autumn days. It’s incredibly smooth with an earthy finish (stole the word “earthy” from another review – but I totally agree with it)

Here is how Schell describes it:

“The use of Munich and Vienna malts give the beer its toasty malt backbone, and melanoidin-rich flavor and aroma.  It has a soft malt sweetness, pleasant mouthfeel and a slight spiciness.  Hop character is subdued, as the malt takes center stage with this beer.”

I, of course, had to set the mood and light a pumpkin spice candle as I enjoyed this tasty beer! 🙂

Beer Exploration Schells Oktoberfest

Sip Score: 4 sips out of 5

Summit Oktoberfest

Two Minnesota beers? I definitely didn’t plan for that. Who would have thought my two Summit Oktoberfestfavorite Oktoberfest beers are both brewed in Minnesota?

Another validation of why Minnesota is great to live in 🙂

I got this beer on tap about a week ago, but never had the chance to take a photo, so I got a sampler pack and made sure to get this one again.

Here’s my review:

This beer is outstanding. My favorite thus far in my fall beer explorations. Spicy, medium-bodied, very flavorful. Notes of pumpkin and nut towards the end.

Here’s how Summit describes it: 

“Brewed in the classic Märzen style with Northern Brewer hops from Germany. Rich, toffee malt flavors up front with a clean hop finish as crisp as the autumn air.”

Sip Score: 5 sips out of 5

What’s Next?

Fall comes and goes so quickly. I need to get in all of the seasonal beer sampling why I can. Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come next:

Fall Beers

Beer Exploration: Last Minute Summer Sips

As summer abruptly comes to an end this Labor Day weekend, I thought my summer beer tasting experience was over. I happened across two beers in the last few weeks, however, that deserve some recognition as I sip some of my favorite summer beers for the last time. Ok, well, until next summer. But that seems dreadfully far away with a Minnesota winter looming upon us.

In case you missed my last beer exploration, I created a “Sip Score” that I use to rate each beer I have:

 Sip Score rating breakdown [1 being the worst, 5 being the best]

1. Nope. Never. Don’t ever drink this (This is my personal opinion. I do appreciate good beer, even if it’s not my style).

2. Not my cup of tea, but probably someone else’s. 

3. Indifferent about it. Not amazing but not terrible. Drinkable. 

4. Great flavor, would definitely drink again.

5. Mind. Blown. Immediately adding to my “favorite beers of all time” list. 


Blue Moon Agave Blonde Ale

I am extremely disappointed in myself for not trying this seasonal beer sooner. I absolutely loved it! Light, refreshing and subtly sweet. It was a great tasting beer that is perfect on a hot summer BlueMoonBeerBlogday at the cabin.

As I am looking for online reviews of this beer – my search shows up for  “Agave Nectar Ale” – I am not sure if this is the same beer or not. They both have the the same label, and a similar description. Interesting.

(If anyone has any insight on this – please let me know!)

Although Blue Moon has been under fire in the past by the Brewer’s Association for pretending to be a craft brewery, when they are actually brewed by MillerCoors, I have always liked Blue Moon a lot.

 Here is my review of the beer:

A Wonderfully sweet, refreshing & crisp blonde ale that is perfect for any outdoor summer gathering. 

Here is how Blue Moon describes this seasonal:

“Agave nectar is a natural sweetener similar to honey, but with a nuttier taste. Our limited summer release is crafted with agave nectar and white wheat for a subtle sweetness and a balanced taste with a smooth finish.”

I am hoping I can find this beer again. I only found it in the Blue Moon summer sampler pack, so I might have to wait until next summer to try it again.

 Sip Score: 5 sips out of 5 (in the summertime)


Fulton – The Ringer

I had the pleasure of doing a brewery tour at Fulton a few weeks ago in Minneapolis. Can I just say they got extremely FultonBrewerylucky with their location? Centered right in the North Loop overlooking the Minneapolis skyline and Target Field? Amazing.

While I was waiting for the brewery tour to start, I enjoyed one of their selections that is only available on tap. I am almost positive this beer is also only available at the Fulton Brewery, but I could be mistaken. (Again, if anyone knows – let me know!) 

I really, really liked this beer. It’s probably not something I will seek out, but I am hopeful for its availability at Minneapolis bars once the Fulton Brewery expansion is complete.

Here’s my review:

“Full of flavor with a little hop at the end. A delicious traditional pale ale”

Here is Fulton’s description on its website:

“Bright citrus and floral aromas introduce refreshingly light malt body”

Sip Score: 3.5 sips out of 5


As always, if you have any recommendations for me comment below or tweet at me, cheers!

Beer Exploration of the Week – Summer Sips

As you can tell, it’s been well over a year since my last beer exploration.

No, I am not saying it’s been over a year since I’ve had a beer – who do you think I am?! I just haven’t documented it.

The past year has flown by and I really didn’t get a chance to stop and smell the roses (or, better put, stop and taste the beer). I spent a summer in Europe, enjoyed my last semester of college, graduated and jumped right into the working world! With many craft beers enjoyed throughout the last year, I unfortunately left this hobby astray.

With that said, let’s jump right into it. I took note of a few summer sips I enjoyed (many times) this summer. I leave you at the end of each beer with my Sip Score.

 Sip Score rating breakdown [1 being the worst, 5 being the best]

1. Nope. Never. Don’t ever drink this (This is in my personal opinion. I do appreciate good beer, even if it’s not for me).

2. Not my cup of tea, but probably someone else’s. 

3. Indifferent about it. Not amazing but not terrible. Drinkable. 

4. Great flavor, would definitely drink again.

5. Mind. Blown. Immediately adding to my “favorite beers of all time” list. 


Summer Sip #1: New Belgium Summer Helles


BeerBlog1I tried this for the first time at JL Beers in Minneapolis. If you haven’t been to JL Beers before, I highly recommend it. The burgers are outstanding and the vibe is really cool. Plus, they have great craft beer on tap!

In awe of their extensive beer list, I knew I had to make a snap decision, otherwise I would never make a decision. New Belgium has never really been on my list as a favorite brewery, I have tried quite a few of their craft beers and didn’t find anything that stuck out significantly. But, I had to give it another shot. I was immediately sold when the word summer was in the name.

So here are my initial thoughts upon trying it:

Light, airy and very refreshing but not as much flavor as I have tasted in other summer beers. 

Here is what the beer experts say from the world wide web:

“The aroma is fresh grains and honey among a spicy – herbal twang”


Summer Helles

Am I missing something here? Guess I don’t possess the delicate tastebuds of a craft beer connoisseur quite yet. 🙂

I don’t think I would get it again, but it was still a decent beer.

Sip Score: 3 sips out of 5 


Summer Sip #2: Finnegans Blonde Ale


This beer is especially near and dear to my heart because I am part of Team Finnegans and volunteer in my free time to help educate beer lovers everywhere about the amazing work Finnegans does.

Finnegans is a non-profit brewery. It’s one-of-a-kind mission and branding had me eager to get involved. I attended a Sampling Saint meeting where I learned all about the art of sampling beer and spreading the mission “turing beer into food”. That’s where I first tried Finnegans Blonde Ale, but didn’t quite get a sense for it’s exquisite taste until I bought my own six-pack later that week.

My reaction to it, while taking a few key terms from the Finnegans description:

Finnegans Blonde Ale is light-bodied ale with hints of floral and citrus notes. It’s light and extremely refreshing. It’s one of those beers that makes you go “ahhh” after you take a few sips.

Sadly, the reviews I found on the beer were far from positive. They are clearly amateurs:

“Pours golden with a thick head. A very faint and slightly sweet aroma. Smells like a light beer. Very light tasting. Very Miller Lite-like. Another miss by Finnegans… Just not much here to enjoy”

Don’t worry Finnegans, I got your back. Your beer rocks. 

Sip Score: 4.5 sips out of 5 


Summer Sip #3: Surly CynicAle 

Lastly, I bring you a beer that comes from a brewery with a stellar reputation. Nothing but positive reviews float in the graces of Surly Brewery Company. You probably recognize, and have enjoyed Surly Furious or Surly Bender if you are an avid drinker of craft beer. Today, however, I am going to be telling you about my delicious experience with Surly CynicAle.

Surly Blog1When I first heard about Surly, I was like – what’s all the fuss about? Then I tried a (warm) Surly Bender at a college party and resented the beer thereafter. Well, after spending a summer in England acclimating to traditional room-temperature beer all while expanding my horizons with different beers back home, I came to terms with the fact that Surly Brewery Company is simply the greatest.

I actually applied for a job at Surly a few months ago. I was literally jumping up and down when I saw they were in need for an Event Manager. I was like, HELLO – I AM YOUR GIRL. Sadly, I was told I wasn’t qualified for the position. Which I kind of expected. No hard feelings, I still love the beer. One of these days I will combine my love for craft beer & event management in some way, shape, or form and make a dream job out of it.

Enough rambling, let’s get to the tasting experience.

This beer really kicks you with flavor at first sip. It’s wonderful:

It had some floral notes and a slight hop, I also noticed something along the lines of nutmeg or cinnamon. A very good “savor every sip” beer with a strong, malty finish. 

So let’s compare my observations to how Surly markets this beer:

French malted barley, English oats and Belgian yeast create honey and black pepper flavors. Lively Slovenian hops provide the floral, apricot and peach notes

I caught a few of the key flavors on my own, self-five! All around, it was a great beer. One of those beers, however, that you sip and really enjoy. It’s a beer that says “I’m an adult and I am drinking an adult beer.” I highly recommend this brew for those who are fairly new to the craft beer scene, and want to be a little adventurous.

Sip Score: 4 sips out of 5 

Surly Blog2


So what’s my next beer exploration? Oktoberfest and autumn ales and pumpkin ales, oh my! My favorite time of year for beer. 🙂


Until next time – Cheers!

Beer Exploration of the Week

So, like I promised, I branched out of my comfort zone and tried two beers earlier this week that I, surprisingly, loved.

ImageThe first one made my giggle, it’s called Buffalo Sweat, sounds gross- right? I sure thought that when I saw they put it on tap at my work. Everyone who has tried it was raving about it all night at work. I couldn’t just take their word for it, I had to give it a sample, or three.

I think to myself, there’s no way I am going to enjoy this dark, oatmeal stout beer. I already felt myself throwing up a little. Okay, that was an exaggeration, it just sounded terrible to me.

The look and smell of the beer was far different from what I expected. I imagined it to taste bitter, malty and thick. It was the complete opposite. It was rich and malty in a good way, with a little coffee/mocha after taste. I haven’t drank a full one just yet, because I was taking advantage of the .75 cent cans of Rolling Rock that night (don’t judge, I’m a poor college student).

I am now not opposed to drinking oatmeal stouts. Also, Buffalo Sweat is fun to say!

The second beer I tried was interesting. It was very good at first, but noticed myself not really enjoying it anymore about halfway through. Initially poured, into a chilled glass, with a perfect head made the beer taste fantastic. But then, I got to talking- as I often do, and neglected it for longer than I anticipated. It then got on the warmer side and I wasn’t really feeling it anymore.

ImageBatch 19, from Coors, has a fun back story. It’s a beer from the prohibition era (an era I could never live in). The beer itself is inspired by the beers brewed around and prior to 1919. The recipe was found deep in the archives of the companies basement. They messed around with the recipe and finally got something acceptable to sell in 2013.

So, what did it taste like? It tasted like a lager, but with slight hops and a fruit-like after taste. It was full-bodied and tasted nothing like Coors Light or Coors (which is what I kind of expected).

The valuable life lessons one can learn from beer. Never judge a book by its cover- one may simply surprise you.