peach bitters

You may have noticed that I haven't been keeping up with Brew52. Part of the problem was my inability to find one of the beers at the handiest store that was supposed to carry it. Dumb, I know, but then it was easy to let it slide another week, then another week...

Another part of the problem is that I really haven't been too thirsty for beer this summer.

I've been making cocktails. It probably started when we bought our bar. We bought it for a reason- we had spirits that needed to be stored- but aside from Pimm's Cups and the occasional margarita or Kangaroo (tip o' the hat to Sparber), I didn't really drink too many spirits.

I'm not sure I'll ever get too crazy with the mixology, but I really enjoy making cocktails and mixed drinks. Learning to make drinks is a slow process, as I tend to have one or maybe two and I'm done for the night.

There isn't really any rhyme or reason to the way I've approached learning new drinks. I mostly come across things that sound interesting online or in Imbibe magazine. I recently acquired a couple of books that ought to help the process.

As the weather has warmed up, I've found that I'm moving out of the citrusy gin drinks and into the whiskeys. I have some simple syrup around, and I really like a basic cocktail- spirits, water, sugar, bitters. I used muscovado sugar for the most recent syrup I made. I've been drinking bourbon or rye with the simple syrup, water and peach bitters. It's simple, refreshing and delicious.

Anyway, Kassie and I went to a wedding yesterday. I knew that bourbon, water, sugar and peach bitters was going to sound good. I also knew that there was no way they'd have peach bitters. So I brought my own. The bartender was amused. I killed the bottle, so it looks like I'll be making a trip to Surdyk's.



brew52, weeks 14, 16

Schell Maifest, Summit Maibock:

Put a Schell Maifest and a Summit Maibock side by side last night, in an effort to get caught up around here.

They looked about the same, pretty blonde color, decent head on both. Nice mouthfeel, excellent flavor (I like the maibocks). No disappointments with either one. The Maifest was a little sweeter than the Maibock.

Both these beers appropriately provide a great transition from my winter beer preference (dark, heavy and sweet) to my summer beer preference (lighter, hoppier). I’m pretty happy that we have more around the house.

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brew52, week 13

Flat Earth Winter Warlock:

Some of my favorite beers are English barley wines.

I can’t quite figure out what it is with this beer, and it’s been the same with the other Flat Earth beers: Close, but not quite what they’re presumably shooting for. And not quite what I’d be eager to drink again.

I know I want more body, more flavor and more finish from a barley wine. I don’t know. I feel kind of bad slagging it, ’cause it sounds like the brewers are decent folk.

I guess it left me uninspired. Thus, probably the dullest review I’ve ever written on here…

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brew52, week 12

Finnegans Irish Amber:

My grandmother’s maiden name was Sullivan. Her father dropped the O’ when he came to the US.

In ancient times, the O’Sullivans of Tipperary and the Finnegans of Galway were enemies. Something about a Finnegan goat that went missing. Despite the distance between them, the Finnegans blamed an O’Sullivan and it sparked a bloody feud that lasted well into the 16th century.

As a descendant of the O’Sullivans, I was eager to do battle with this beer called Finnegans. It made very little sense and I stopped midway through. No, wait. That was Finnegans Wake.

Upon further reflection, I take that back. I, of course, am talking about Ulysses. Yes, I did mighty battle with Ulysses and lost.

But I rather enjoyed the beer.

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brew52, week 11

Anagram for Schell Pilsner Beer:

Rebel Princess Hell

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brew52, week 10

Lake Superior Special Ale:

Sonny and Cher, Gutter Twins, bbq chicken and white zinfandel, MySpace and News Corp, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and Kitchen Nightmares, eMachines and Vista, HW and Reagan, Renault and AMC, you get the idea… right?

Mixing the boring with the bad.

The Special Ale. Ho hum. Yet another American-style pale ale. Booorrring. Seems like everybody makes one and they all taste more or less the same. It’s the new American-style lager. And though I may bitch, as thoroughly bored as I am with the style, I thought this was a pretty tasty example. I like it, it just bores me.

More interesting: I took last week’s beer, Frame Straightener, and mixed it with this one. It’s a good way to finish the rest of that Brau Brothers six pack.

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brew52, week 9

Brau Brothers Frame Straightener:

I'm a little late here, as last week the local beer to be had was Belikin.

I'm OK with the Frame Straightener. It tasted pretty good- I like fruity and yeasty- but I like more body and more finish (broken record). I put it in my mouth, I tasted something in there, then it was gone. Did I even swallow it? I think so, but I can't be sure.

On the other hand, the Belikin Stout was surprisingly tasty. I'd give it four stars.

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brew52, week 8

Flat Earth Cygnus X-1:

“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life…” -Ayn Rand


“Live for yourself. There’s no one else more worth living for. Begging hands and bleeding hearts will only cry out for more.”
“I set a course just east of Lyra and northwest of Pegasus. Flew into the light of Deneb, sailed across the Milky Way.” -Neil Peart


“This robust English style porter… has a creamy mocha chocolate flavor with a hint of spice.” -Flat Earth Brewing Company

Is this beer a delicious distillation of countless nineteen-year-olds’ favorite fantasy/philosophy? Or is it merely another bastard grandchild of a cold, bizarre Russian woman?

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brew 52, week 7

Surly Two:

A is for Al, who served me Surly Two at Blue Nile this evening. A pleasant fellow, to be sure.

B is for Better, which Two got as it warmed. It’s also for Body, of which Two has plenty. Oh, and Balance, which it has, too.

C is for Cranberry, which was definitely present, but not overpowering.

D is for Dessert, which is when I’d like to have another sometime.

E is for Evil, which is what I thought of the first sip. I had just brushed my teeth.

F is for Finish- tart and still roasty. Favorable.

G is for Good God, when will this end?

N is for Now.

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brew52, week 6

Herkimer Alt:


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brew52, week 5

Summit Winter Ale:

I just can’t get excited about this beer, which is too bad, because if I read its description somewhere, I’d tell myself that I ought to get some immediately.

I’ve been drinking this all winter, both at Tracy’s and at home. On my most recent pour at home, I managed about a finger of head. Lovely reddish-brown color. Smells like someone put roasted malt in there!

And then…

I don’t know. It just kind of tastes like a basic dark beer. Thin-to-medium body. It’s got decent malt-to-hops balance, with the roast flavor coming on fairly strong midway through and a mild, hoppy finish. It tastes like a light porter.

I like it. I drink it. I just can’t get excited about it.

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brew52, week 4

This week's beer: Surly Furious.

used to hate American hops… still think they’re overused, and still really prefer European hops, but as they say- when in Rome… have come around to grapefruity beer in the last couple years… also in the last couple years, don’t wear as much vintage clothing…

prefer to drink this beer in the summer… drank a lot last summer… nearly went broke…

lined up a Furious and a Bender side-by-side last Wednesday evening… more on that later, I’m sure… did not do well at trivia that night, but it’s not Surly’s fault… maybe…

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brew52, week 3

This week's beer: Flat Earth Belgian Pale Ale.


Thin body, decent taste, lousy finish.

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brew52, week 2

This week's beer: Gluek Honey Bock.

I wrote:

My dad was a camp director. Every summer until I was 17, my family would pack up and move to the shores of beautiful Lake Mudhen near Siren, WI.

Sometime around 1980, we got a brand new dining hall/bathroom facility and with it, a new septic tank. Previously, too many flushes in the old bathrooms and/or our neighbor draining his sewage into/under camp property would prove to be too much for the old septic tank and it would occasionally overflow. I can still remember raw sewage trickling down the hill. My dad dubbed it the Little Yellow River, a nod to the Yellow River, where we sometimes took the campers canoeing.

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One Minnesota beer every week.

I'm not a huge fan of a lot of our locally-produced beers, at least the ones that I can buy at the store, but this looked like fun, so Kassie and I hopped aboard the good-time train.

This week- Schell's Snowstorm. Here's what I wrote:

Sometime in autumn, the cold trips a switch in my body and I suddenly want cookies, cake, pie and darker, heavier, sweeter beer. Generally speaking, hoppy pale ales, lawnmower beers and tripels are out. Barley wines, imperial stouts, porters and dubbels are in.

A beer like this Snowstorm is what I want when it’s cold outside. It’s not the best dubbel I’ve ever had, but the flavor is there and the body is almost there. It tastes, looks and feels like a fairly typical dubbel. As it warms up, it’s getting better.

I don’t mind Schell beers, but I don’t often buy them. I would have been really surprised that I like a Schell’s offering as much as I do if I hadn’t read that others were surprised by how good it is.

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