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Prairie Okie

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Okie is the shortened form of Okie Dokie, which is itself an alternate way to say Okay, which can be abbreviated OK, which is the two letter state code for Oklahoma, which is where Prairie Artisan Ales is based, which is why this beer is named Okie. Though clearly it should be called Oakie, since this is a whiskey barrel aged imperial brown ale. We will give them the benefit of the doubt and guess that these Prairie guys don't enjoy puns as much as most brewers. You stay classy Prairie. In the meantime, I will drink your beer:

Prairie Okie

Prairie Okie - Pours a clear, deep brown color with some amber highlights and half a finger of white head. Smells of dark malts, toasty, nutty, toffee, not a lot of barrel character, but some vanilla comes through. Taste is very sweet, some of that typical brown ale toast character, a little nutty, maybe hints of molasses, again very little bourbon barrel, but it's there, and it contributes to the sweetness factor. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, full bodied, very sweet, almost creamy. Full bodied, but not super heavy, and it feels mellower than you'd expect from a BA imperial brown. Overall, this is quite nice, though one could wish for a little more barrel character. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 10/24/15. Bottled July 11, 2015 (I think).

I think I've generally enjoyed everything I've ever had from Prairie, but few things have blown me away. This one is on the upper end, and I have generally been impressed with their barrel aged stuff. Nothing on the immediate horizon, but I will clearly be seeking out more from these fine gentlemen.

The Bruery Cuir

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The Kaedrin beer cellaring program, also known as that shelf in my basement, is getting out of hand. As such, I think it behooves us to dip into some of these well aged bottles and see how they're doing. Tonight we tackle a bottle that we've intentionally aged for a while, The Bruery's third anniversary ale, Cuir (French for "leather", corresponding to traditional wedding gifts). This series holds a certain sentimental value for me, so the Kaedrin cellarman always ensures I have a bottle to age each year. We know from experience that these age reasonably well, though at 4ish years old, this represents the oldest Bruery Anniversary beer I've had yet.

2011 was also the last year where only a portion of the standard release was aged in bourbon barrels (25% of this bottle was BBA, though there was a 100% BBA version that the cool kids got to drink), so I expect the fruity aspects to come out more than the recent, more Bourbon forward entries. I won't rehash the pedantic Solera discussion yet again, but it is one of the more interesting long-term projects going on in the beer world these days. Clocking in at 14.5% ABV, this is a bit of a project to take down, but it's a delicious project and certainly more manageable than the recent 16+% ABV entries. I actually wonder if it might be beneficial to do another blending year in order to keep the ABV in check, and allow for some additional complexity. Anywho, enough preamble, let's get down with some swanky leather sugar water:

The Bruery Cuir

The Bruery Cuir - Pours a deep, murky brown color, maybe some robey tones if you look at it right, and just a cap of slowly-forming, off-white head. Smells deeply of dark fruit, plums, raisins, caramel, toffee with just enough oak and vanilla to offset the fruit and malt. Taste starts off sweet, with rich caramel, toffee, vanilla, and oak, but those dark fruit notes come through strong too, maybe some chocolate covered fruit caramels or something like that (do such glorious things exist?), hints of unidentifiable spice (cinnamon?), finishing with a bit of booze and that fruit. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, low to medium but perfectly calibrated carbonation, some sticky sugary qualities, a bit of boozy heat but it doesn't quite feel as strong as it is. Overall, this is a beauty, rich, intense, and complex, but it's right up my alley. It's definitely showing its age, but hasn't started a decline just yet. A

Beer Nerd Details: 14.5% ABV bottled (750 ml black waxed cap). Drank out of a snifter on 10/23/15. Vintage: 2011. Bottle Number: 06677.

A delicious trip into the cellar. More are sure to be coming in the near(ish) future, so stay tuned...

Fiddlehead Understable

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Is it surprising that people in Vermont like to play Disc Golf? Is it surprising that world champions Nate Doss and Valarie Jenkins actually play Disc Golf for a living? Is it surprising that Vermonters like Nate and Valarie really like beer and are homebrewers? Is it surprising that a visitor from Vermont very generously gifted this beer to me? To answer those questions: No. Yes. No. Yes!

It's always funny when you meet people you know from the internet out here in real life. This has happened to me a few times, most recently this past weekend when @LipstickNLager visited the Philly area (we met up with some other beer Twitter peeps). Much fun was had by all, and she generously offered a couple of us cans of this exclusive Fiddlehead Session IPA that were brewed for the Green Mountain Disc Golf Championship (and only really available there). Fiddlehead is one of the new crop of Vermont brewers tearing up the scene and I've quite enjoyed most of what I've had from them, so this was a most welcome development. I know squat about Disc Golf, but near as I can tell "Understable" is a reference to disc stability (i.e. it's tendency to bank laterally). I can't find any details on hops used, but my SWAG is that this is some Nelson Sauvin juice right here, very nice:

Fiddlehead Understable

Fiddlehead Understable - Pours a slightly hazy, very pale yellow color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head, retention, and lacing. Fabulous nose on this, lots of juicy citrus hops, but also some grassy, floral notes. Taste starts off with those floral characteristics, moves on to the citrus towards the finish, which has a nice, bitter bite to it. Mouthfeel is crisp, light, and refreshing, very dry, crushable. Overall, this is a rock solid session IPA, the sort of thing you'd love to have on a hot afternoon in the sun (while disc golfing, I guess). B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/18/15. Caned 09/16/15.

Fiddlehead continues to be a winner in my book, and I will always be keeping an eye out for Second Fiddle and whatever else they have available. Many thanks to LipstickNLager again for sharing this beauty with us!

Logsdon Far West Vlaming

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Everyone loses their mind when a brewery sells out, but the business of brewing is one of those topics I just can't seem to get too worked up about. That being said, I can get on board with the anxiety of a sell out if it's one of your favorite breweries. There's a natural worry that your favorite beer will be reformulated or go away completely because the new regime is unenlightened or something. So when I heard news of David Logsdon's sell out of Logsdon Farmhouse Ales along with a simultaneous announcement that Brett Porter was leaving (one of the best brewer names ever, right up their with Wayne Wambles) I was a little worried. Seizoen Bretta is one of my favorite beers and a go-to way to blow less-beer-focused minds, Oak Aged Bretta is spectacular, and Peche 'n Brett is delicious. I don't want to lose these brews!

Fortunately, there are a few bright spots in this whole transaction. Firstly, this wasn't a sellout to a giant multi-national conglomerate, but to another relatively small beer-focused local business. Second, Logsdon will still be involved: "I am not stepping away from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. I am stepping away from the day to day operations of running this farmhouse brewery. I will still be overseeing the brewing and recipe development and quality control with no plans to remove myself from that." Finally, this might even involve more availability, which would be a great thing for this beer. So it appears all my old favorites aren't going away and will still be under the watchful eye of David Logsdon. That's a relief! To celebrate, lets crack one of their specialties...

Far West Vlaming is a reference to the West-Flanders style of beer historically brewed by the Flemish people (a Germanic ethnic group who speak dutch, and to bring it all together, Flemish translates to Vlaming in Dutch). I'm not an expert on brewing this style, but there are some distinct practices here. It's a mixed fermentation, meaning standard saccharomyces yeast in primary, followed by a wild secondary fermentation (Brett and souring bacterias) and a long stint in oak. The resulting juice is then blended with young beer to balance out the sourness. Logsdon's take differs from most Flanders Reds that I've had in two ways: 1. It's highly carbonated and effervescent (the style is usually lower to medium) and 2. It's mostly a lactic sourness as opposed to an acetic sourness (i.e. no real vinegar type flavors here). Of course, there's nothing wrong with either of those things, and the resulting beer is delicious, but it doesn't really feel anything like other Flanders Reds that I've had... Let's take a closer look:

Logsdon Far West Vlaming

Logsdon Far West Vlaming - Pours a very pretty, deep orange amber color with a finger or two of fluffy white head that actually sticks around for a change. Smell has that characteristic Logsdon funk, musty with a little earth and lots of fruity esters. Hints of oak and vanilla as it warms. Taste starts off sweet, hits some vinous fruit notes, a little lactic tartness but not super sour, circling back to earthy funk in the finish. Again, as it warms, maybe a little oak comes out, but it's not a big influence. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, medium bodied, only a hint of acidity kicking around. Overall, this ain't no Flanders anything, but it's pretty darned good in its own right and maybe you could just think of it as a different take on a classic style. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml waxed). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/16/15.

I usually try to have some Logsdon bottles around the house in case I get an opportunity to share, and it usually goes over like gangbusters. Well worth seeking out.

Four Seasons Of Mother Earth - Autumn

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According to my record-keeping gnomes, I have reviewed beers from 318 breweries (check them out over there on the right of the page), which sounds like a lot and also like I should seek professional, medical help, but given that the good ol' USA has surpassed 4000 craft breweries (not to mention non-craft and imports), I've barely scratched the surface. To the procurement department! These folks are always busy here at Kaedrin, such that we often collect too much beer, but they also keep their eye out for breweries that are new to me and that are putting out interesting stuff.

Enter Mother Earth Brew Co., a San Diego area brewery that friends have nice things to say about, but which I know almost nothing about. Everyone seems charmed by their IPAs, but we thought we'd check out their barrel program, because we're like that. Four Seasons of Mother Earth is a quarterly release roughly aligned with the various equinoxes and solstices, and every release is different. Last year's Autumn release was a BA stout, this year it's a Bourbon Barrel Aged Quadrupel. There's some florid description about "Johnny Law" on the back of the bottle, but barrel aged quad? Procurement department done good:

Four Seasons Of Mother Earth - Autumn 2015: Johnny Law

Mother Earth Four Seasons Of Mother Earth - Autumn: Johnny Law - Pours a murky amber brown color with a cap of head that is short for this world. Smells utterly fantastic, boozy bourbon and oak, rich caramel, toffee, dark fruit, vanilla. Taste feels a bit muted compared to the nose, but the flavor profile is similar. Caramel and toffee, but not nearly as rich or sweet as you'd expect from the nose. Not as much dark fruit either, but it's there. Bourbon, oak, and vanilla, but surprisingly balanced, maybe more booze emerges as it warms up. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and surprisingly dry, only a hint of stickiness in the finish along with a little boozy heat. Overall, quite an interesting brew, I usually think of dry belgian ales as not working so well with bourbon barrels, but this one bucks the trend, even if it's not necessarily top tier. A high B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/9/15. Vintage: Autumn 2015.

Certainly a good first impression, and clearly I need to try out more of their stuff. Also of note, a NC based brewery of basically the same name. I smell epic legal showdown in the future.

Half Acre Pony Pilsner

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I have been surprisingly consistent in my newfound but still mild acceptance (an upgrade from moderate disdain) of lagers this summer, averaging about two or three new lagers a month. I still can't say as though I've got the thrills for the pils (not really a pilsner man, Teddy), but I've gained a modicum of respect for the style and will probably continue to explore as time and liver capacity permits. To be honest, I'm still at the, "yep it's a pilsner" stage, which is pretty sad considering how long I've been at this, but I am getting better, I swears.

This German style pilsner is one of Half Acre's staple beers. Would have been nice if this was packaged in those adorable little pony bottles, it is available in handsomely designed pounder cans. Despite the cute little pony in the artwork, I prefer to believe this beer was named after the venerable Hyundai Pony, the South Korean answer to the AMC Gremlin and Ford Pinto (um, legends in their own right). Maybe it was one of the owners/brewers first cars or something. Of course, I have absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever, but this is the internet so it must be true. I... should probably stop now before the libel lawsuits start rolling in. Let's take a ride on this pony:

Half Acre Pony Pilsner

Half Acre Pony Pilsner - Pours a very pale straw yellow color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head and decent retention. Smells biscuity, some of those earthy hops doing their thing, maybe some faint hints of citrus. Taste has that bready quality to it, biscuits and crackers, some earthy, spicy hops kick in towards the middle and proceed through the finish, those faint citrus hints emerge a little more in the taste too. Mouthfeel is light, crisp, and clean, goes down quick and hits that lawnmower beer spot. Overall, a very light (but quenching) take on the style, but enjoyable. B

Beer Nerd Details: 5.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 10/9/15.

Decent stuff, as per usual from Half Acre. I'm sure we'll see more of them on the blog in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled. Or not, I'm not your mother.

Half Acre Gone Away

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While Half Acre Beer Co is located in Chicago, IL, the eponymous half an acre is actually located near Philadelphia. As a result, we've always been lucky to receive the occasional shipment of Half Acre beer. This despite Half Acre's seeming difficulty keeping up with demand in Chicagoland. I'm guessing the supply/demand ratio has changed a little as of late, as I've been seeing more and more Half Acre around here, and it is surely a welcome sight to many. Plus, while previous shipments have been mostly their flagship Pale Ale, Daisy Cutter, this time around, we're seeing more variety. Bonus!

They refer to this as their "cold weather IPA", whatever that means. It's apparently had quite the journey in being named, as another brewery brought legal action concerning their initial name "Senita", despite the other beer having "different words, with different spellings, meanings and visual identities". The joys of trademark law. So this got a new name, Gone Away IPA, and fancy new can whose artwork evokes old Nintendo-era games for some reason (this may just be me being a moron though). Anywho, let's go away with this beer:

Half Acre Gone Away

Half Acre Gone Away - Pours a hazy golden yellow color with a finger or two of dense head that has great retention and leaves lacing as I drink. Smells fantastic, bright citrus, some floral notes, and a helping of pine. Taste has a nice sweetness to it, citrus and pine hops kick in, and the bitterness emerges towards the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, light bodied, dry but velvety smooth, almost creamy. Overall, a rock solid if standard American Ale IPA. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/3/15.

This is nice, but that one off I had a while back, Beer Hates Astronauts, was considerably better. Alas, I don't think they've made that one again... In the meantime, I've got a few other staple Half Acre beers to work through, so stay tuned.

Avery Insula Multos Collibus

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During this, my most favoritest of seasons, I like to tie one on whilst watching horror movies. I try to select appropriate beers to match what I'm watching (for instance, last week's Pumpkin beer jamboree was paired with a trio of cheesy Larry Cohen films, making for a nice sorta gimmicky match), but this week was a Frank Henenlotter marathon and, well, there's no matching beers with that (and if there were, I don't think anyone would want to drink such things). So I just snagged this Avery beer with the Latin name, thinking perhaps I might inadvertently summon a demon or something.

Alas, that was not in the cards, but what I got was pretty good nonetheless! Insula Multos Collibus is Latin for "Island of many hills", but if you translate to Dutch, it basically means "Manhattan". It turns out that this is something of an ode to the cocktail. Aged in bourbon barrels with cherries and Avery's house souring cultures, which I guess gets you close enough to a Manhattan without getting too kooky (though wouldn't you use Rye barrels for this? Eh, better not overthink it.) So get your grimoire out and turn to the evocation passages, it's time to summon a cocktail in beer form:

Avery Insula Multos Collibus

Avery Insula Multos Collibus - Pours a murky amber color with a finger or two of short lived, tan head. Smells of a sorta bourbon cherry pie, rich and sweet, oaky, fruity. I'm no Manhattan expert, but I guess this is close enough while still hewing to (sour) beer. Taste starts off on the sweet side, fruity, boozy, but then it sorta dries out and a bracing fruit sourness kicks in towards the finish. Not as pie-like as the nose would have you believe, but admirable nonetheless. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, rich up front but it dries out by the finish, a little heat from the booze, and a bracing acidity. Overall, this is quite an interesting beer, better than your typical one note American Wild Ale, perhaps a bit too strong, but given the goal to emulate a pretty strong cocktail, we'll let it slide. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.7% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/2/15. Bottled: APR 16 2015. Production: 1308 Cases. No 27 in Avery's Barrel Aged Series.

This was certainly an interesting one, really quite happy I grabbed a bottle when I could. No more Avery reviews in the pipeline, though I did have a Rumpkin (which clocks in at 18% ABV this year, so lookout!) and might snag a Pump[KY]n if it shows up again... And any of these Barrel-Aged series beers generally interest me, so it probably won't be too long until we see another on here.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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