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Tart 'n' Hoppy Refreshment By the Bottle
Written by Mike Reis   
Friday, 24 July 2015 19:22

Tart 'n' Hoppy Refreshment By the Bottle

To Øl has never been a brewery that adheres to strict style guidelines. They make wonky beers with crazy ingredients and stick them in barrels from wine and spirits producers from every corner of the world. They might make spiced beers, imperialized beers, and black versions of pale beers, and then they'll go and ferment 'em all with some strain of Brettanomyces. Imagine our surprise, then, when we received bottles of a beer called LikeWeisse, labeled simply: "Berliner Style Weisse Ale." It was hard to believe that these masters of the bold and extravagant would make a straightforward, simple, tart Berliner.

What the label neglected to mention is that this is indeed an extravagant Berliner weisse. As you'd expect, it is pale, wheaty and tart, but the To Øl twist is that, unlike it's authentically Berlin-born forebears, this is hoppy stuff. Really hoppy stuff in fact--it is citrusy and tropical with just a gentle touch of bitterness. You'll want one of these in your fridge as the thermometer creeps up this summer--it is pure tart 'n' hoppy refreshment.

And as if that's not enough To Øl-iness for you, they've also sent us a "Director's Cut" version of the same beer. It is bigger and bolder in every way. While the original version weighs in at a sessionable 3.8% ABV, the Director's Cut is a bit stronger. Okay, almost three times stronger. At 10.5% ABV, the remix is a force to be reckoned with. It's richer, more sour, and even fruitier. It's delightfully unlike anything out there.

Each variant is available now in 330ml bottles.

Also new from To Øl:

Jaemes Braun - A dense and "brauny" strong brown ale with deep malt complexity and a sturdy bitterness.

Insane in the Grain Rustic IPA - A full-bodied, earthy, zesty beer made with barley, wheat, rye and oats.

Mr. White - A "double India wheat ale" hopped with Citra, Amarillo, and Simcoe hops. 96 on RateBeer!

Reparationsbajer (Director's Cut) - An IPA made with an ultra-long boil to concentrate malty flavors and bitterness. A 17% ABV face-melter.

Simple Life Saison - A tart saison fermented in white wine barrels with Lactobacillus. Gently hopped with Mosaic and Simcoe. An elegant drink that disappears too quickly.
A Blended Masterpiece
Written by Mike Reis   
Friday, 24 July 2015 19:12

A Blended Masterpiece

Siren's 2014 Maiden is the product of one of the most ambitious blending projects the beer world has ever seen. Simply referring to it as a "barrel-aged barleywine" sells it way, way, short.

To create this year's release, the brewery partnered with a winemaker from Le Grappin and the East London Liquor Company. Their mission: to produce a beer of unparalleled depth and complexity, armed with a collection of used barrels that once produced red wine, Sauternes, Banyuls, and whiskey. They brewed up a hoppy, American-style barleywine, filled their oaken vessels, and waited until the fateful day of blending. On that day, the team set aside the barrels that had become tinged with the funky character of wild yeast, put together a series of blends from the barrels they liked best, and voted amongst themselves to pick the tastiest blend on the table.

That blend became the beer we present to you today: Siren's 2014 Maiden. It is a dense and malty barleywine that reveals new layers of flavor with every sip, each suggestive of a different barrel used for its production. Still, it is undeniably beery, with rich maltiness and a spike of balancing bitterness and warming alcohol on the finish. Only one pallet was imported to the United States.

Available while supplies last in 375ml bottles.

(hint: it's almost gone!)
Open Your Eyes to Mikkeller's Vanilla Sky
Written by Mike Reis   
Friday, 10 July 2015 18:45

Open Your Eyes to Mikkeller's Vanilla Sky

2001's Vanilla Sky is a bizarre movie. It's got cryogenic suspension, creepy masks, and more than two hours of Tom Cruise. It's a genre-bending surreal trip. So when Mikkeller was tasked with making a beer for the recent Blu Ray re-release of the movie, it couldn't be some run-of-the-mill pale ale or stout.

The beer those Danish geniuses dreamed up became the aptly-named Vanilla Sky, an IPA brewed with vanilla beans. It sounds bonkers, but it works. The vanilla plays a subtle, background role, complementing an aggressively citrusy and firmly bitter base with a soft creaminess.
It too, is a trip. A satisfying and unique trip.

Available now in 330ml bottles and 30L kegs.
The Olympic Peninsula, Bottled
Written by Mike Reis   
Friday, 10 July 2015 18:44

The Olympic Peninsula, Bottled:
Finnriver's Solstice Saffron

Finnriver's line of seasonal botanical ciders, the Elijah K. Swan series, is comprised of some of the most interesting ciders we've ever tasted. Inspired by the bounty of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, Finnriver dreams up some delicious and totally unexpected flavor combinations.

In the fall, you'll see a cider with ginger and foraged fir tips. In the winter, it's cranberries and rosehips. And now, we've got Solstice Saffron, a cider delicately flavored with fennel seed, anise, and locally-grown saffron from Phocas Farms in Port Angeles. Yep, you heard right, there's a farm growing saffron in Washington.

The result is an aromatic, complex, and balanced cider that is spicy, floral, and tart. It's drinkable and food friendly stuff, as comfortable alongside a hefty bone-in pork chop as it is with an early-summer stone fruit tart. Available now in 500ml bottles.

Also available from Finnriver:

Sparkling Pear Cider
- An apple cider that is backsweetened with pear juice, creating a lush and unified one-two punch of tree fruit tastiness. Now available in 500ml bottles and 1/6 barrel kegs.

Sparkling Black Currant CiderA perfectly balanced cider celebrating the best parts of the apple and the black currant. It's snappy-tart, grippingly tannic, and ridiculously drinkable. Now available in 500ml bottles and 1/6 barrel kegs.

Lavender Black Currant - Another entry from the Elijah K. Swan series, Lavender Black Currant adds a touch of floral complexity to Finnriver's most-popular Sparkling Black Currant Cider. Now available in 500ml bottles.

Dry Hopped Cider -Cascade and Crystal hops are incredibly well-integrated into this tart and crushable cider. The acidity of the cider's base wakes up the fruit flavors present in the hops to create one of the best hopped ciders we've ever had. Now available in 500ml bottles.

Habanero Cider - This cider is more than just heat. The wonderful fruitiness of the habanero pepper shines here, nicely complementing that of the cider. A just-right hot streak rounds out the drink's finish, helping it to stand up to richer foods like cheeses and barbecue. 95 on RateBeer! Now available in 500ml bottles and 1/6bbl kegs.

Raspberry Brandy Wine - Fermented raspberries meet apple brandy in this deliciously sweet, fortified meal-capper.

Black Currant Brandy Wine - Tart and tannic black currants help to balance the sweetness of this lush black currant wine fortified with apple brandy.

Honey Meadow Botanical Cider - An off-dry Spring delight made with lemon balm, chamomile, and local honey. Balanced and aromatic.

Fire Barrel - An elegant integration of cider apple flavor with tannic, woodsy, bourbon-soaked oakiness. Spectacular stuff.

Farmstead Cider - A cider built from apples from Finnriver's own farm and from the backyards and orchards of friends and neighbors from all over the Olympic Peninsula. Traditional cider varieties express themselves with balancing tannin and acidity. We look forward to this one every year!

Artisan Sparkling Cider - Washington dessert apples are given the
méthode champenoise treatment in this bright and effervescent sparkler packaged in 750ml bottles.

Spirited Apple Wine - A contemplative, potent blend of custom-distilled apple brandy and a sweet cider base. Best sipped slowly.

For World Class Belgian Beer, Look to...Missouri?
Written by Mike Reis   
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 01:01

For World Class Belgian Beer, Look to...Missouri?

That's right. Some of the world's finest Belgian-style beers are being made by our friends at St. Louis' Perennial Artisan Ales.

They have unbelievable command over the characterful yeast strains that give these beer's their Belgian flair, and use that skillset to bring malt, hop, yeast, and water together in truly beautiful and unique beers.

We've just reloaded on Hommelbier (Mike R.'s favorite!) and are ready to bring it to you, California.

It's a breezy, earthy, and crushable masterpiece of a Belgian-ish pale ale made with American hops. Tangerine, black pepper, pine, and a touch of tropical fruit flavor sit atop a balancing bready maltiness. It's incredible stuff (rated 99 on RateBeer!), and it's available now in 1/6 barrel kegs.


Also available from Perennial:

- A tropical strong saison fermented with two strains of Brett. Available in 30L kegs and 750ml bottles, while supplies last.

Saison de Lis - An elegant saison brewed with a gentle dose of chamomile. Available in 1/6bbl kegs and 750ml bottles. 95 on RateBeer!

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