Black Ale.. um what?

Leave a comment

Escanaba Black Beer from Upper Hand is not quite a stout, but had to put up some info about it just to maybe ease my mind. But let’s dive in any way. Keep in mind this will be longer than normal, as you will see why.

These are canned beers. Which I like. We all know the benefiet of packing cans for road trips.

Opening the first can I was greeted with no hiss or normal opening sound you would get from a can. But it did pour decent enough. Ended up with a very thin light tan head that did not stick around very long at all. A few seconds at most. Still no signs of life. No carbonation bubbles, no cascading show. Just a very dark brown mass.

(I would have thought if you put black ale in the name, the beer would be black)

In the aroma though there is some nice roast coming thru, and a bit of the dank hop. I think I was expecting the opposite. More hop less roast, but it does work. Some grainy notes along with some sweet sugary notes finish it out. So far so good I’m thinking.

Here is where I’m looking for easing my mind on this beer. The taste. What in the hell happened? I can only describe it as an old minnow bucket. I mean it was really bad. There is no way a pro brewer would (or should) let this out into the wild.

But.. in this cans favor,, there was quite a bit of that dank hop action and roast notes to play against the minnows. But also as I expected,, it was nearly dead flat.

I thought to my self that this must be a single can issue because..damn. But couldn’t force my self to try another right away.

The next day I had enough guts to try again. This time we got a nice pour with that tannish head that stuck around this time. Not a thick creamy head.. but decent.

Same roasty danky grainy aromas as the first can, but very much livelier looking. But as we get to tasting, still get a twang of that minnow.

Now is that stuck in my head from the first? I dont think so as it started getting more pronounced as it wamed up. But again hoppy and roasty.. but almost a chocolate thing. Almost. Like that plastic taste you get if you were to mix a pack of hot chocolate with 4x the amount of water.

While yes I would say this is better than the first can,, I still would not call it good.

Day 3. So I opened another can of this today.

From past experience I figured I would not waste a glass on this, and just drink from the can.

Opens with decent carbonation and smells the same as the other three. Same minnow taste. But everything else about it seems like a different beer. Its thin.. its sweeter. Like a faint sugary koolaid (Sweeter is getting further away from what most would call a black ale.) The hops taste far less than the last 2. Could this be from not opening up from a pour? I dunno.

So what I’m left with is 1- 6 pack. 3 beers drank. 3 completely different beers. That is some poor quality control. I think the best out of the 3 was the second one I had,, but thats not saying a whole lot.

Would I call this a Black Ale? Maybe the second one. Would I call this a stout? No. Porter? You could convince me that the 3rd one was porterish I guess.

I’m not sure this is happening with this companies other beers or even other 6 packs of this brand… but I am pretty sure I will be skipping over these guys from now on.

Due to a generally bad taste and crazy bad consistancy I really have no choice but to give the lowest score I can for this beer.

If you have tried this beer and have a better review of it please let me know as I want to believe this was just a one off problem 6er. (I have not yet tried the other 3 cans. I will be bringing these to our next beer meeting to get a grip on what’s going on with them)


Proper Porter

Leave a comment

Been finding quite a few Porters hitting the shelves lately. One in particular caught my eye yesterday.

Proper Porter from Lakefront Brewery.

This Brewery has some good examples of various styles so expecting a decent beer here.

Opening the 12 oz bottle instantly gets you a nose of light roast. Curious, I somehow wasn’t expecting that from just cracking the bottle open.

Pouring into the shaker provided a foamy, almost rocky tan head that I would suspect would stick around for some time

Now that we have it out of the bottle, I was expecting more of that roast. But its actually more of a background thing. No hop. Slight grainy peeking through. A level of sweet that is just there enough to notice. This foamy head is definitely keeping aroma levels in check.

I wouldnt say it’s black. But it’s close enough. Ruby highlights and crystal clear. And the slow intermittent bubble of carbonation streaming up indicates a possibility lower carb level.

On first taste. I’m totally surprised. Not by overwhelming roast or a blast of hops.. but by how amazingly relaxed this beer is.

This is the kind of Porter that you found 20 years ago. Simple, solid. Hitting all the correct points and nothing out of balance.

Roast, sweetness, hop all staying just under the radar enough to let you get all three at the same time. While ever so slightly letting the yeast esters come through.

Almost chocolate but not quite, definite black roast, but not enough to stand out.

The carbonation is about as spot on as you could get for this medium bodied, mid gravity Porter.

These are the kinds of beers that craft brewing of old built its self on, but have seen to get away from. Fantastic, while not being gimmicky. Just letting the beer as a whole be the star,, not any one point taking over.

For me this is one of the best beers I have had in quite a while, and also one of the more ordinary… And that’s why I like it.

Take your 4.75! I’m going back for more of this.

Happy Feeling?

Leave a comment

Today I am having another local Brew. The Titletown Brewing Happy Feeling spiced coffee Porter. Sounds like a lot going on there.

I get the porter in the big mug. It arrives with a nice foamy tan head. Large bubbles?… Could be over carbonated? Could be a hard pour

The first aroma get is…celery? Yep celery leaves. But that quickly turns into coffee. Only way to describe it because i get no other roast, or sweet or hops. Maybe some grainy after it warms a bit.

Almost black but not quite. It’s got that Porter look of dark brown and clear as a bell.

Well I am happy it don’t taste like it smells. The taste skips over the celery and hits a coffee note. Subdued. But there. The roast again.. subtle. But just a bit more than the coffee.

As I was thinking “why there is no spice in this spiced beer.” The faintest bit of nutmeg hits me. You can feel the spice on the tongue more than taste it, but it fits I guess with all the other low impact things going on.

No hops in taste or aromas. Which is good for this particular beer or they would have completely covered everything else.

Carbonation doesn’t feel high as the head made it look like. But I like where it is because it covers the heavier body just a bit.

The more it warms the more that celery starts to poke out in the taste. Not that its a bad to thing here. And really, I’ve come to expect it in the few coffee stouts and porters I drink.

I am gonna go ahead and give this a solid 3.75 because it’s not something I would have normally ordered but glad I did.

Titletown’s Happy Feeling spiced coffee Porter

Local Ruffian

Leave a comment

Another local beer this time out! We are at Badger State Brewing on a brisk 95 degree day. Perfect stout weather!
Their offering today is the Dubious Ruffian chocolate stout. One of the few (maybe two) year round local stouts.

This is usually in cans but since I am at their tap room this came in a pint. And as usual with the beers here, they are waaay to cold. Like Bud light cold. So take that into account when ordering.

Right at the pour there is not much for head at all. A thin little tan film. But this is probably from the pre-mentioned cold. Jet, opaque black.
Even the cold cannot stop the chocolate and sweet grain aroma. Right from the get go you know this is a chocolate stout. No perceived hop, alcohol or yeast aromas, But as it starts to warm a bit of roast starts to show.

Even though the roast in the nose was minimal, it is there is taste. An easy non overpowering roasty with no sharpness or burnt. Quickly followed by chocolate. Like a bittersweet chocolate square kind of thing.

It’s sweet, I’ll say that. But not anywhere near being overly sweet. Pair that with the almost non existent bittering hop you would think this would be syrup. But it keeps it’s self in check. The thin body, dry finish and moderate carbonation helps this for sure. And the mid 6% packs just enough punch to make it fun, but not dangerous.

This is a decent chocolate stout, but it really is in dessert beer range. And I’m not sure, especially on a screaming hot day like today, if I could have more than one or two at a time. Sweet, thin, low roast. But I do like it. And drink it quite regularly.

3.75 rated from me.


Leave a comment


The second Imperial Stout of the Craft Beer Week was Yin by EvilTwin. I have heard very little about this one.

Again this one came in a short snifter. Looks like a stout. Black yes, but somehow not like a “deep” black. I’m not even sure what that means, but thats what I see.

Before I can even reach out for it, I get a very strong waft of grape kool-aide. Not grapes, or grape juice. Grape Kool-aide. Anyone who knows me, know I have a very strong aversion to grape Kool-aide.

While my natural reaction was to immediately dump this beer on the floor and burn the place down,,  I forced myself to go ahead and drink it.

There are a whole lotta things you can taste all at once. Grape Kool-aide, cotton candy, wet grain, alcohol. Everything except roast or hops. I think if you closed your eyes and someone gave you this to try, you would say its a brown ale or some kind of amber.

Does seem quite boozy,, but seems like it should come with an umbrella in it. I can see why some people would like this, but it is not for me, and I’m not even sure I would call this a stout.

3/5 because I’m generous.



Central Waters Black Gold

Leave a comment

Finally had the chance to get out for some of the Green Bay Craft Beer Week #GBCBW. Of course one first things I wanted to grab was an Imperial Stout. And one of the nights special beers was Black Gold by Central Waters.

Right now, as I’m making my decision, I’m hearing others around me ordering this, so thats a good sign!

In the snifter the very black beer has a thin-ish tan head that mostly stuck around as expected for an Imperial Stout. There isnt much info on the stats of this beer. So lets just enjoy it.

Right off the bat the explosion of raisins hits you right in the nose. I was ready to put the haters on, but then a very nice, but different grain aroma came thru and pushes back the raisin to reasonable levels. No hop and quite low roast surprisingly

The beer is quite cold, so I let it warm before I took that first taste. When I did I was expecting heavy raisin or plums,, and yes those are there, but really restrained. And again there is this grain taste,, but not like the usual wet mash grain, this is like fresh crystal 40 or something. What ever it is, I want to put that in my own beers!

The dark roast is soo smooth. Not over the top, not harsh. No crazy caramel malt levels. No crazy yeast notes. Just a great clean balance of sweet, roast and those dark fruits.

There is something hidden in the back ground that I can only explain as cumin, or… chili powder? Faint,, but there. No heat or anything, just taste. As I ask some others around me who also have this. They too notice something,, but cant nail it down. But,, it really goes well with this beer.

The bitterness level is not distracting, but definitely high enough to make you take notice. Only the slightest amount of hop in the after taste. And low enough where I cant get a good read on them. Not citrus, more noble-ish type

This beer is rated quite high. And I also rate it quite high, but for other reasons. This stout really reminds me of imperial stouts from decades ago. No one was trying to push envelopes or be over the top in ingredients.

This beer is so balanced and crisp and,,, plain, that it stand out from the others because of it. I gave it a 4/5 but probably should be higher

Back at It

Leave a comment

Took a little Hiatus, but am anxious to get back in the swing of things.

Its Craft Beer Week and there are some local Stouts I have been meaning to get reviewed.

And I have a few Stouts of my own in the planning stages


Older Entries