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The Beer Spot Blog - August 2011 Archives

Official TBS Blog

The Great Nebraska Beerfest 2011
Posted Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 by Tip Top

Great Nebraska Beer FestI have to be honest and say that I didn't know much about this beer festival before I decided to go.  I did know one thing though.  It was being thrown by some of my favorite people, Nebraska Brewing Company.

We drove down Friday after work and got to the Brewers/VIP Event after it had already been going for more than an hour.  Paul greeted me right away and we got squared away with our wristbands.  There was food and a nice selection of beer.  There was some great stuff from the local homebrew club.  I particularly liked the Watermelon Double IPA, but my favorite of the night (which I kept going back to) was the old reliable Hop God from Nebraska Brewing.  The event was laid back with lots of great mingling with all the brewers.  I spent lots of time sitting and talking with Aaron Heaton from Grimm Brothers (TheBeerSpot's own Oxymoron).  I was able to chat with everyone from Nebraska as well as meet Gordon from Funkwerks.  I ended the night in the brewpub chatting with Aaron and Trevor from Thunderhead Brewing.  It was a great night, which lead to optimism coming into the fest the next afternoon.

Saturday afternoon we headed to the brewpub to have lunch.  After we finished eating, there was a table conveniently placed in the pub where we were able to get our glasses and wristbands.  This made getting into the fest a breeze.  We were in as soon as we could walk up.  The Beer Fest was held in the parking lot of the shopping center across the street from Nebraska Brewing.  It provided plenty of space for all the breweries, fest goers, the band's stage, etc.

One of the things that made me excited to go to this festival was that there were all sorts of breweries and brewpubs that I had never tried anything from, not to mention local homebrew clubs too.  Everything was set up with several small tents and plenty of space in between them.

Some of my highlight beers from the fest...

Nebraska Brewing Hop God - always a favorite for me

Nebraska Brewing Toasted Barn - perfect amount of smoke for this guy.  A highlight rather than dominating the beer.

Crooked Stave - Wild Wild Brett Rouge 

Funkwerks Saison - I could drink this beer every day if it were available here

Grimm Brothers Little Red Cap - I had at least 5 samples of this one

Boulevard Love Child #2 - Smell was all bourbon, but the taste was all funky sour

Grape Blueberry Mead - Sorry, can't remember if it was South Omaha Homebrewers of Railroaders that brought this one

Upstream French Oak Cabernet Barrel-Aged Grand Cru - This was the highlight of the festival for me.  Good enough that I went to Upstream to buy some on Sunday

I really like that they had a seminar tent.  I sat down and listed to Chad Yakobson from Crooked Stave give his presentation on Wild Ales.  He did well in explaining more than just the basics and relating it for the homebrewers in the crowd.

Another highlight that I really didn't expect was the air show.  There was an Air Show going on at a near by air base that we could see from the parking lot.  It's not often that you are drinking beer and watching a B2 Stealth Bomber flying overhead.

For a smaller festival, I thought it was really well run and organized.  No lines got crazy, including for the bathroom when I went, which is no small feat.  There were lots of interesting beers that would please any beer geek.  Water and food were readily available for good prices.  I'd highly recommend that you attend next year if you have the chance.  I've already heard some things in the works that will make next year's Great Nebraska Beerfest even better.  

Thanks again to Paul, Kim, Tyson, Sam, Angela and the whole crew from Nebraska Brewing that set this up and treated me great.  I had an even better weekend than I expected and you guys are the reason.


Great Taste of the Midwest 2011
Posted Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 by Tip Top

The Great Taste is something that I have struggled to recap every year.  There is so much that I forget about even the next day that I always think that I should have included.  There is always someone's booth that I miss.  Here's my take on this year's Taste.

I arrived on the grounds at about 11am, thanks to media credentials.  Even this process seemed much improved over last year.  We set down our stuff by the same tree as every year and started walking around the fest.  With having the pre-party the night before, we obviously wanted to talk with the folks at Shorts, Central Waters, Nebraska and Lift Bridge.  Things are at different states of ready when you get there early, so we try to say hello, but let the brewers finish up.  

After chatting with everyone, it was time to really walk around and see what was what this year.  Same amount of main tents, but the offshoot tents were a little different.  Bell's and Goose Island had huge setups.  Vintage had a huge setup with countless taps.  Quite an impressive showing from the local brewpub.  Shorts expanded on last year with spreading out the two boats and a merch booth in the middle.  I never stopped by the Milwaukee or Leinie's setup.

This year we tried to get some pictures out to people waiting in line to whet their appetites.  I was sort of successful as I figured out the new app on my phone to get it to share to twitter and both facebook accounts.  I had it down by an hour in.  Next year, it should be spot on.

Time to sample some stuff before the gates opened up and it got too crazy.  The Pom Juliet and Marisol from Goose Island were both good.  Brugge continues to be a highlight of the fest with all the great Belgians they bring.  I get a sample of Spider and know I'm going back there early and often.  Down the hill we go to hit up Kuhnhenn (again).  I had already tried both the Straight and Tangerine Play in the Hay Wild Ales, so this time Mike and I finished up with that series, getting Mango and Blueberry.  The whole series was great, but Tangerine was my favorite beer that I had tried to that point.  I'm a sucker for both wild ales and Tangerines.  Dave's Brewfarm's Rhubarb Saison was nice.  Got a couple tastes of the always good Jolly Pumpkin stuff.  

Towards the end of the time before the flood gates opened I worked my way through things I wanted to try at the cask tent.  I really liked both Shoreline offerings.  Unfortunately, the others I would've called highlights I can't remember and they were among the "TBD" beers from the program.

Time to get to the gates and capture the opening.  Mike took video while I took a couple pictures.  It always amazes me how they get so many people into the fest in such a short time period.  From what I've heard from people that were towards the back of the line, it sounds as though they got six thousand people through the gates in 15-20 minutes.  Quite the amazing feat that big fests like Great American Beer Festival could learn from.

Here are some quick observations from the time the gates were open.


  • Goose Island doing Lolita and Juliet Sno Cones was a really cool idea, but their Bourbon County Bacon Caramel Corn stole the show over there.
  • I wish the food was mixed in with the tents.  Not sure why, but it seems like more work than it needs to be to go find the food lines.
  • There were a few breweries with long lines, but I found the some great places with just as good of beers proved to be the way to spend your time.  I never once waited more that 3 people deep at Brugge.
  • I hope the fest stresses sample size even more next year.  It was much improved over last year, but it's a waste when you are getting 4+oz of something and you really only need the 2oz taste so you can try more stuff.
  • Lines for the bathrooms were very reasonable.
  • Short's Carrot Cake tastes and smells just like Carrot Cake.  It was shocking just how good it was.
  • The Livery continues to impress me with the likes of Impeche and Tripel Weizenbock.
  • Nebraska Barrel Aged Hop God is really good.  Needed to confirm this from last year.
  • Surly's idea to have carnival games with winners getting bottles of Five was pretty damn cool.  
  • Surly Two has lost almost all presence of cranberry, which is too bad as it's usually a highlight beer for me.
  • New Albanian had a ton of good beers and the people seemed to know that this year.  More of a line than I have ever seen.
  • Too bad the rain wouldn't hold off for another hour.


Anyway, that's my take.  I'm sure I forgot some stuff in here as I always do.  The fest is usually my highlight of the summer and this year didn't disappoint.  I've already put in my time off request for next year.


Central Waters Brewing Company's Tap List for the 2011 Great Taste Pre-Party
Posted Saturday, July 30th, 2011 by Tip Top

Central Waters LogoAnello told us that he wasn't going to be shown up by out of state brewers on his own turf and he wasn't kidding.  Here is the crazy list of beers that Central Waters is bringing...

Boubon barrel Stout vintage 2009

Boubon Barrel Stout vintage 2010

Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout

Brewhouse Coffee Stout

Exodus (Sour Ale)

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine 2009

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine 2011

Peruvian Morning

Bourbon Barrel Aged Glacial Trail IPA

Mudpuppy Porter

Shine On 

Belgian Blonde

Glacial Trail IPA

Not sure what to tell you if that list doesn't impress.  TONS of top notch beers from a top notch brewery.


Shorts Brewing Company's Tap List for The Beer Spot's 2011 Pre-Party
Posted Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 by Tip Top


So, it took me a little longer to post this as I couldn't get it done before I left for vacation.  Thanks to the wonders of technology and in-air wifi I'm able to post it now.  As soon as it's 100% set in stone, we'll post the beer list for Central Waters.  Since I don't have beer descriptions for all the beers that Shorts is bringing, I'm just going to list the beers and styles here.  Check out Shorts' website for some of the description.

Dan's Pink Skirt - American IPA

Spruce Pils - Imperial India Pilsner made with Blue Spruce Tips

Bludgeon Yer Eye - American India Black Ale

Crunchy Grooves - Organic Pilsner

Kolsch 45 - German Kolsch Ale

Smoked Apple Ale - German Rauch Beer made with Apples

Chocolate Wheat - Strong Porter made with Chocolate malt, not chocolate and ample amounts of wheat, but it's not a wheat beer

Nicie Spicie - American Wheat made with Lemon and Orange Zest, coriander, and three kinds of peppercorns

Stellar Ale - American Pale Ale

Saison Du Shorts - Saison


Nebraska Brewing Company's Tap List for The Beer Spot's 2011 Pre-Party
Posted Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 by Tip Top

Nebraska BrewingI figured it's about time to start posting the beer lists for our Great Taste of the Midwest Pre-Party.  As you already know, we are hosting this party along with and at Brickhouse BBQ right in downtown Madison.  Nebraska Brewing is going to grace the taps with a lineup of 10 beers.  Here's what you have to look forward to...

NE Blonde Ale - "This pale refreshing Ale is sure to delight with its delicate balance of pilsner malt and noble hops giving a slight fruitiness. Absolutely refreshing and every bit a Session Beer, the lighter aspects of this Ale give way to an interesting Hop finish that reminds us that while lighter in color, this should not be confused with a Light Beer."  5.1% abv, 19 IBUs.

Infinite Wit - "A light-bodied Belgian Wit beer brewed with Organic Orange Peel and Organic Coriander. Unfiltered, straw in color with an aroma that hints to the Orange /citrus character. Light and refreshingly crisp with a mild fruity/citrus character."  4.5% abv, 9 IBUs

EOS Wheat - Medium-bodied, unfiltered and pale in color, is accurately described as a Bavarian Hefeweizen. The aroma and flavor of this unfiltered beer is classic and decidedly fruity and phenolic. The nose is filled with banana, clove, vanilla, and bubblegum. Somewhat sweeter in style with a barely noticeable tartness."  4.8% abv, 10 IBUs.

Brunette Nut Brown Ale - Our version of the classic English-style Brown Ale has a blend of six different malts and a hop schedule that results in a low hop character.  The unique malt character brings to mind the taste of a blend of various nuts. Coffee, toffee, caramel tend to come to mind in this excellent session Ale."  4.8% abv, 15 IBUs

Cardinal Pale Ale - Our American Pale Ale is golden in color, mildly bitter, and characterized by a floral/citrus-like aromatics which are the result of dry hopping with huge amounts of Cascade Hops.  Crisp, crystal clear, and completely enjoyable."  5.8% abv and 29 IBUs

India Pale Ale - "Our India Pale Ale has a pronounced hop bitterness and wonderful hop aroma. Earthy, grassy, and a bitterness that exists without being harsh.  The taste immediately gives away the high hop characteristics with malt aspects playing second fiddle to this fantastic example of the style."  6.5% and 65 IBUs

Summertime Rye - "Summertime Rye is a crafty combination of Rye, Barley, and Wheat Malts carefully dosed with Citra Hops in the kettle and the fermenter.  The result is a markedly flavorful and refreshing lower ABV beer.  Summertime Rye is a real thirst quencher--we hope it helps you endure the summer!"  4.8% and 23 IBUs

Smoked Porter - "In our version, we use Briess Smoked Malt which delivers an intense yet smooth, sweet, smoked malt character not available in any other commercially available smoked malt.  This beer is a rich, chocolaty porter with a substantial smoky character and hints of citrusy American hops.  Made with 35% Cherry Smoked Malt from Briess"  6.0% abv and 40 IBUs

Hop God - "A beautiful golden crossbreed of a Belgian Tripel and a West Coast IPA.  A remarkable explosion on the palate with spiciness, tropical fruit, and a firm citrus bitterness that will leave you begging for more!  Aromas of grapefruit, citrus, and piney hops & tastes on the palate that tend toward pineapple,mango, and sweeter fruits."  9.8% abv and 108 IBUs

Reserve Series Barrel Aged Hop God - "An artful creation which began with our Hop God Belgian-style IPA further enhanced by a 6 month maturation in French Oak Chardonnay Barrels.  Hop God is a big, bold Belgian-style Tripel hopped in very high amounts to concentrate citrus, grapefruit, peach, and floral aromatics in the nose. The addition of Chardonnay barrel aging adds further dimension and oak dryness to an already wonderfully complex Ale. Enjoy!"  10% abv and 108 IBUs

So there you have it.  The first beer list of the four breweries that were good enough to work with us to host this great party.  A nice balance of some sessionable beers along with a couple big hitters.  Next up, we'll share what Shorts has in store for the party.