Beer Profile: Saranac’s Blueberry Blonde

Profiled by Ken Carman

Very white head with frothy foam and small bubbles. Holds a long time. Slight haze in a very yellow quaff. Slight bubble rise in the quaff.

The aroma is the light sense of walking past a field of blueberries. Way behind that pale malt. No off fermentation sensed. No hops sensed. Smells slightly sweet, fruit sweetness not sugar or anything else.

The balance is slightly towards the malt. Finishes slightly dry. The malt has a hint of cracker to it, no caramel. The blueberry is almost an afterthought, and I sense some skin: pectin-like. Not enough to be problematic, just enough to set it aside from other Blondes.


Carbonation is tad low and has a carbonic tang to it. It makes the body: high side of light, seem low side moderate. No astringency.

Let me be honest here. I’ve had some of the classics of the style according to BJCP 2015, like Kona Big Wave, and I am not a fan. There’s not a hell of a lot to it. However that doesn’t matter. This is well made and has enough of a distinct difference to make it a worthy quaff for those who do care for the style. I would order a pint and move on, but for those who like the style this is immensely quaffable. It’s also lawnmower-ish, though I never recommend mowing laws and drinking.

If you like the style you’ll love this.

3.4BA… most reviews first page positive, rest no explanation. RB 21/39 style… what happened there? “Faint vomit?” Someone got a bad bottle. Also got sense many didn’t know the style.



Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”


_________________________________Beer HERE

Pyramid “Outburst” Berry Tart IPA: A Tart Apart

In the burgeoning universe of sour beers, there are some that just suggest sour and some that are almost indistinguishable from those odd drinking vinegars that have been nibbling around the edges of our beverage consciousness for the past five years or so. Breweries have tended to blur the lines between these styles a bit, as their stylistic aesthetics dictate but, in general, beer fans are becoming savvy enough about Euro styles to appreciate that a Gose or a Berlinerweisse are going to land on the tart end of the scale and present less of a challenge for sour beer newbies. But, past that, navigating the murky waters of what may actually be too sour for your tastes is a crapshoot, at best.

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Episode 66 – Flash Frozen Homebrew

Denny Conn during a more musical moment.

Sit back and relax, it’s getting frosty in here! On this episode of the podcast, we breakdown the results of our Cryo/T-90 experiment. And since the results were so “weird” – we brought in some extra help in the form of some of the IGORs who helped with the podcast including Brad Macleod, Eric Pierce and Miguel Loza Brown. Together we talk what went right (and sometimes what went wrong with the brew days) and what we all thought of the Cryo beers (including some numbers courtesy of White Labs).

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Addressing the Question: Are Kids Welcome in Breweries?

It was early on a snowy Sunday afternoon at Modist Brewing Co. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A historic winter storm had dumped 20 inches onto the city, clearing out grocery stores and closing some businesses. The roads were passable, however, so while flurries blew around outside, inside the brewery things were hopping.

Among the clinking of glasses and adult conversation, a bulldog and a terrier-mix sniffed introductions to each other while along the street-facing windows, a few toddlers were sitting in a circle playing with blocks and a ball. The place had a jovial mood as parents, happy to be released from the confines of the house, sipped on pastry stouts and lagers, and kids explored new terrain.

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Beer Profile: Westbrook’s Mexican Cake Imperial Stout

Profiled by Ken Carman

I love it when a beer’s name evokes memories that stimulate the palate. This one does but…
Where’s the cake?

Aroma: Sweet chocolate, hint molasses, aroma. No hops. Great complex malt bill with some focus on a dark chocolate sense.

Appearance: black as all hell. Head big but fades into nothing. What there was pure foam. Head that fadedc fast is damn near as dark as the quaff. More brown than black.

Flavor: dark chocolate, very sweet, finishes tad dry to medium. The balance is towards the malt: deep, dark, delicious. Slightest bitter, no hop flavor.

Mouthfeel: light side of heavy, malt with some bitter lingers on the roof of the palate. Dark chocolate hangs the heaviest on the palate.

Overall: Where’s the cake? This mostly tastes like a great RIS with maybe a hint of cake like sweetness, at best. The balance is malt specific and the bitter does balance it well, but it should at least softly say, “Mexican cake!” I do think there’s just a hint astringency lingering in the background as if I’m eating baker’s chocolate in otherwise an excellent RIS.

I admit it is incredibly enticing, quite good. But the Mexican cake I have had is actually fairly delicate. RIS and delicate are not synonyms. Felt like I was chewing on baker’s chocolate is the worst aspect.

4.4 BA.
100% RB.



Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”


_______________Beer HERE


Deschutes “Twilight” and Passion Fruit IPA: One Birth, One Resurrection

The thing that has – for the entire twenty-eight years I’ve lived here in the uber-verdant Pacific Northwest – made Deschutes Brewery my favorite maker of beers that I can just sit, sip ‘n’ savor is their relentless experimentation.

I get bored easily – very easily – and especially with beer. I try, really hard, never to drink the same beer any more than once in any thirty-day period, the sole exception being when we buy a growler of something and have a finite window for draining it. But if it’s in bottles or cans, it’s in a large rotation and is gonna sit for a while.

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From the Bottle Collection: Carling Dark Beer

 Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice: tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s; OR, cover them with… The Bottle Collection.

 I’m sure this came from the 60s, at best the very early 70s. Back then, on the east coast, “exotic” qualified mostly as beer like this. Forget anything that would eventually qualify as craft. The closest was probably Anchor, but that was west coast. When we got Coors a lot of folks thought it a “special treat.” In upstate NY you had to go far west or Canada. We chose Canada in 74 and had Guinness Foreign Extra: the one they just brought into the country a few years ago. Then there was Prior Double Dark out of Pennsylvania which, from what I remember, was probably closest to a London Brown, though it may have been a lager.
 Of course I have no way of reviewing something I had almost 50 years ago. I would think it probably would qualify as an International Dark these days: adjunct lager with some food coloring, a few more complex malts at best and not highly hopped. Similar to Shaeffer Dark, Miller Dark, Pabst Dark, Utica Club Dark. It probably wasn’t the best one, either that or all that available. I think we used to drink a lot of Pabst and Shaeffer. Continue reading “From the Bottle Collection: Carling Dark Beer”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: New Scoresheet Anyone?

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 My regular readers may remember my column on AHA scoresheets. I admit: I wasn’t too kind when it came to the check off judging sheet used mostly at Nationals. My opinion hasn’t changed. Now there’s a new BJCP/AHA score sheet. I like it, but…
 One change they never seem to consider is to scoring: drop the top aroma point value from 12 to at least 10 and maybe add it to mouthfeel?
 Oh, I understand aroma contributes a lot to beer. How many entries have I judged with almost no aroma that otherwise are to style and phenomenal? Yes, the link between the two is substantial, but is it so important that the range be so wide that might punish an otherwise great entry? Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: New Scoresheet Anyone?”