Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jolly Pumpkin

The Deschutes beer release this week completely overshadowed some other tasty beverages that found their way to our shelves on Monday. We received a fairly hefty Shelton Brothers order on earlier this week. The Sheltons are known around the globe as being the distributors of some of the best breweries on the planet. Taken from their website:

Beer should have depth, texture, and nuance – it should sometimes even be a little rough around the edges. There are a few (very few) exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, that means the following about a brewery’s beers:
  • Brewed in small batches using traditional methods
  • Unsweetened
  • Unpasteurized
  • Unfiltered / Bottle-conditioned
  • Little to no use of spices or adjuncts
  • Slow-fermented
  • Distinctive house yeast or yeasts
  • Dry as opposed to sweet
We at Zipp's couldn't agree more. Tonight, I'm going to profile one of (in my opinion) one of the best breweries that Shelton Brothers carry...

From the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery in Dexter, Michigan come some seriously wild and funky ales. JP uses traditional open-vessel fermentation and oak aging for their beers. They also use very distinct strains of yeast; those yeasts in combination with the barrel aging gives the JP beers a very distinctive funky, tart and slightly "wild" house character.All of their beers are unfiltered and bottle conditioned.

This excerpt from the Jolly Pumpkin website sums up all the qualities why I think JP is one of the best breweries in the United States today:

Welcome to a land of open fermentation, oak barrel aging, and bottle conditioning. At Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales we are dedicated to more than the traditions of old world craftsmanship. Everything we do is designed to create ales of outstanding art and flavor. Focusing on traditional rustic country style beers brought to life through labor and love, we strive to create beers to lighten the spirit, and soothe the soul. Sharing our joy to the betterment of mankind is the most that we could hope for.

Here's a brief rundown of what we currently have in stock:

Oro de Calabaza: A slightly tart and spicy Belgian Strong Ale. The nose and palate both show notes of white pepper, dusty hops, tart cherries, wood tannin and spicy yeast. Crisp, refreshing and highly drinkable finishing with a zesty kaffir lime bite.

Bam Biere: Jolly Pumpkin's take on the saison style. Musty, sour and spicy on the nose: cheese, bananas, new oak and grass. Bracingly dry with a hint of acidic sourness on the palate with flavors of tart lemon zest, dried pineapple, earthy brettanomyces yeast. Bone dry and insanely drinkable. A wonderful summer sipper. 

La Roja: JP's interpretation of a Flanders Red Ale. Dry and oaky with flavors of tart cherries, musty wet wood and a melange of spices. Lighter notes of vanilla, red wine and apple cider vinegar, with a good dose of acetic acid on the finish. Complex and quite robust, La Roja drinks great fresh, but has some serious aging potential... I've had 4 year old bottles of La Roja that were absolutely stellar: crazy funky and tart with lots of acetic and lactic acid on the finish. 

Bam Noire: Another saison, except this one has a much darker malt base than the Bam Biere. Wonderful aroma of lemon zest, wet oak, some lactic funk, yeast and a hint of tart, pineappley brett. Great flavor profile: Lots of wood tannin hitting you in the back sides of the tongue. Some raisiny tart/sweetness from the malt, but balanced quite nicely by the funky yeast and drying oak. Lively and crisp carbonation. Finishing with a blast of dry wood tannin.  

Madrugada Obscura: JP's Belgian style stout. This is one of the more unique beers in their portfolio. The dark malt base of the stout blends seamlessly with the tart and funky JP house style. Awesome stout/sour aroma. Loads of roasted sweet malt and a sour funkiness An odd, but delicious sour stoutiness (is that a word?) on the palate. The beer is mostly dry, but slightly sour  with notes of lightly roasted malt. Tart cherries and baker's chocolate. Medium bodied with lively carbonation. Very unique. 

If you haven't had any of Ron Jeffries' (the head brewer) creations, you need to come and buy some of their beers. The guys at Jolly Pumpkin are certainly pushing the envelope of what craft beer can be in the US today. We try to stock these beers at all times, but the demand in the States for their beers is so high, that we can't keep them in stock year-round. Once this latest shipment is gone, it may be a few months before we get more in stock.

Cheers and mahalo plenty from Jolly Pumpkin (and Zipp's)!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Deschutes... finally!

We've waited and waited, and finally, the famed Deschutes brewery out of Bend, Oregon has arrived in Minnesota. To start, they are sending us two of their awesome year round beers in 22oz bottles: Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter. The Mirror Pond is an easy drinkin' American Pale Ale clocking in at 5.0%. Generously hopped with Cascade hops, this one starts sweet from the malted barley and ends crisp, dry and slightly bitter. The Black Butte is a rather deceptive brew: from the dark, opaque pour, you would expect the beer to be rather thick and heavy, but this is a very approachable and highly drinkable porter. Flavors of dark chocolate and coffee lead to a dry and crisp finish. Incredibly drinkable at only 5.2%. Both of these beers are absolute steals at only $2.99 for a 22oz bomber!

We were also incredibly lucky to get in very limited quantities of a few of their reserve beers. First off is their Mirror Mirror Barley Wine. This is more of an English-style Barley wine. Big, sweeter, chewy flavors of toffee, caramel and raisins up front give way to a drying, oaky and slightly warming finish. The slightest bit of juicy hops dance throughout to keep things interesting. This one is brewed only once a year... we have the 2009 vintage in now, but once it's gone...

We also got in some Black Butte XXI. This bad boy is their Black Butte Porter on some serious steroids! It's an imperial porter infused with cocoa nibs, coffee and then a portion of the beer sees oak aging in Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey barrels. At 11% this beer is not to be taken lightly, but despite it's alcohol, is quite drinkable. The roasted malt, coffee and cocoa blend seamlessly on the palate and the barrel aging gives it just a hint of vanilla oak tannin to round things out on the finish. Again... this one is very limited.

Finally, the Deschutes crew was nice enough to send us a very limited quantity of their Jubel 2010. This is their famous "once a decade ale." I was incredibly excited to try this one. Jubel is an American Strong Ale clocking in at a hefty 10%. The nose is absolutely beautiful: resinous and slightly earthy hops, toasted caramel, brown sugar, toffee and the smallest hint of spice. The pour is deep, nearly opaque ruby/brown topped by a creamy, rich dark khaki head. The flavor is quite balanced, if not a tad young right now. The creamy, slightly sweet toffee malt and the bitterness of the hops blend rather seamlessly. The only knock I have on this one is that the alcohol presence is a tad strong at the moment... not to worry. The beer has a "best after" date of 1/29/11 on the bottle. Jubel 2010 will cellar with the best of them.

All three of the reserve beers are extremely limited, are priced at $11.99/22oz and will cellar gracefully. Buy 2! One for now, and one for 3 years from now.

That's all for now! No come on down and support your local craft beer retailer!



Monday, March 22, 2010

New Brew Monday!!!

Surly Smoke is officially in stock! Come and get it before it goes away (which won't be long at all)! $15/750ml, 2 bottle limit per person.

TONS of new beer in today as well: Southern Tier Oak Aged Un*Earthly, Full Sail Top Sail Bourbon Aged Imperial Porter, Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura, Haand Dark Force, Haand Haandbakk, Haand Norwegian Wood, Goose Island Night Stalker... whew! I'm out of breath.

It's a wonderful time to be a beer geek in Minnesota!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Surrrrrrrlllyyy Smoooooooooooke!!!!!

About time! Surly Smoke (a smoked Baltic Porter) will FINALLY be out in 750ml bottles Monday the 22nd. From our Facebook page, here's all the info you need to know:

Surly Smoke 750's will go on sale Monday late morning/early afternoon. We will post here and on twitter (@zippsbeer) when they hit our shelves. Two bottle limit per person, $15.00 a bottle. Cheers!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quick Update; Odell, Goose Island, Boulevard and more!

Ohhhh man, it's an absolutely amazing time to be a craft beer fan in the state of Minnesota! I just received word that the wonderful little brewery called Odell Brewing out of Ft. Collins CO will be making it's way to Minnesota! Looks like we'll be getting the 90 Shilling Scottish Ale, 5 Barrel Pale Ale, India Pale Ale and the St. Lupulin EPA in 6pks as well as the Single Serve and  Oak Aged Woodcut Lines! Odell makes some kickass beers and I'm happy to report that they'll be our Beer of the Month in May with special pricing all month long!

This coming Monday, March 22nd, we will start selling Goose Island Night Stalker in 22oz bottles! Night Stalker is the same base beer as Bourbon County Stout, but instead of throwing it in Bourbon barrels, they dry hop the crap out of it with Mt. Hood and Simcoe. It's damn near as good (and as hoppy) as Surly Darkness (yeah... I said it!). Again, look for it in 22oz bottles priced at $9.99 on Monday the 22nd.

Boulevard Brewing has really stepped up their game the last few years with their Smokestack Series. This week, we will have their two newest releases. Rye-on-Rye and Dark Truth Imperial Stout. I'm super pumped to try the Rye. It's a hopped up rye beer aged in Templeton Rye Whiskey Barrels. Quantities are limited, and this one will go quickly. The Dark Truth is a 9.7% Imperial Stout brewed with barley, wheat, rye (for spiciness) and oats (for a creamy texture). Looks like this one will become a fixture in the Smokestack rotating lineup. For those that missed it, we have a very limited quantity of the Boulevard/Orval Collaborative Imperial Pilsner left. This beer is proof that you don't need a complex recipe to produce a delicious beer. 100% Pilsner malt and 100% Saaz hops... that's it and it makes for one hell of a snappy, earthy, grassy, floral beer. Get it now, because the hops taste great now and are going to fade with time.

Oh yeah... one last thing. Central Waters Brewing out of Amherst Wisconsin will be making it's Minnesota debut in April. I'll post in more detail as I know what beers they will be bringing.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Long time coming...

Much too long.

It's been waaaaaaaaaay too long since I've posted anything here. I suppose I could give an excuse, but to be quite honest, it just slipped my mind. Lots of changes in the last year, but one of the things I promised myself this year is to keep this as up to date as time allows. Alrighty... enough with the pleasantries. On to the beer!

New Beers - Week of March 1st, 2010
Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree - $14.99/4pk
Dark Horse Plead the Fifth Imperial Stout - $10.99/4pk

Two of the premiere beers from Dark Horse Brewing both happened to hit MN in the same week! Lucky for us. The Double Crooked Tree (DCT) is a massive Imperial IPA clocking in at 12%. The recipe changes a bit from year to year, but it's a guaranteed knockout every time. The beer opens with aromas of tangerine, apricot and pine resin from the hops followed by hints of toasty caramel and toffee maltiness. The hops definitely take the lead on the tongue. At 12%, though there is enough sweeter, caramel malt to balance the intense, resinous hop bite. All of this leads to a pleasant, albeit slightly boozy, finish. DCT drinks great fresh, but this one can also take a few years in the cellar. A couple of years will tone down the hops and round out the flavors turning the beer almost into a barley wine. Get it now, because quantities are incredibly limited and we've got all we've got until next year!

Plead the Fifth (PT5) is the final installment of Dark Horse's winter stout series. There's not a bad one in the bunch, but PT5 is the big daddy of them all. Clocking in at 11%+, this beer is a huge, malty, hoppy Imperial Stout. The aroma is classic American-style Imperial Stout: toasted vanilla bean, black licorice, roasted malt, baker's chocolate with a good dose of bright citrusy hops. The flavor shows notes of toasted and brandy soaked vanilla bean, oily roasted malt, a hint of smoke and ash, some dark bitter chocolate and a touch of coffee. Like the DCT, this one is awesome fresh, but a year or two in the cellar won't hurt thing either.

Boulevard/Orval Collaboration #1 Imperial Pilsner

Hot damn! I've been waiting for a while for this one ever since this kickass collaboration was announced last October. Boulevard and Orval you say? Why the hell not?!? With their Smokestack Series, the guys from Kansas City have proven that they can brew delicate, expressive Belgian-inspired ales. Just look at the Saison-Brett or Tank 7 Saison for examples. And Orval... well, let's just say that they're Orval. Know that.

The brewers put their heads together and came up with a decidedly simple, but incredibly effective recipe: 100% Pilsner Malt and 100% Saaz hops. They used a strong lager yeast which cranked the ABV up to 8%, which is out of the pilsner style guidelines, so we have to imperilaize it. No matter, because the beer is outstanding. The malt is so clean and crisp, the hops so fresh, grassy, floral, herbal and vibrant. The malt and hops really shine, showing nary a hint of the 8%. Bottle conditioned, unfiltered, this beer will cellar for a while, but I'm not sure I'd want to. Those Saaz hops are so clean tasting right now, I wouldn't want to see them tempered by time, but that's just me.

That's all for now. I promise I won't go another 14 months without posting!