Friday Quick Pick - Leinie’s Explorer Pack

Are you the type of person that has trouble with commitment? Does the thought of having six of the same beer make you run screaming from the liquor store like a frightened little girl? Um, no….so that’s just me? Never mind. (He does that you guys. He flails and screams like a little girl. I will try to get it on video sometime)


ANYway, then sampler packs are made for you! It seems that this time of year there are quite a few out there. We picked up two in the liquor store and decided to try them. This week, we are featuring Leinie’s Explorer Pack.  

This sampler pack was intriguing because it is a good mix of some summer and fall flavors.  A perfect segue between the two seasons. Here are our thoughts on the beer:

Creamy Dark:

Doug - Mild chocolate and nutty flavors.  Slight malt roast as well.  It is described on Beer Advocate as a Euro Dark Lager, but I would say it is very porter like.  I wouldn’t exactly call it creamy though.

AnnieFor a beer called ‘creamy dark’, it’s not all that creamy. It has quite the carbonation to it. Has a bit of coffee, bark, mildly floral. Does get smoother as you drink it. 


Doug - A traditional marzen that has come nice caramel flavor with a touch of spice. Medium carbonation and it finishes clean which is to say that is not more there.

AnnieIt’s a little caramel, a little spice, a little floral, pretty mild, with a mildly spicy, then clean finish. It’s a nice smooth drinkin’ Oktoberfest


Doug - Really, do I even need to describe this one?  Who hasn’t had this?

Annie - No

Orange Shandy: 

Doug - Holy sugary orange smell Batman. Like traditional wheat beers, this is very cloudy.  This beer is very light though, the citrus taste is very subtle. It is crisp, clean and easy to drink.  It is pretty good.

AnnieOhhhhh I could drink a LOT of this on a hot summer day. Smells like Tang, and tastes like orange peel and dry grass. I’m seriously…this is a great beer.


In all seriousness, sampler packs are a good idea when you have a small group with diverse tastes, or are looking to get a good variety of flavors in one package. If you are a fan of Leinie’s, this isn’t a bad sampler to get…Honeyweiss notwithstanding.

Until next time.





Craft beer at the Minnesota State Fair


The reason I called this blog The Beer Stand is because next to beer, my other passion is deer hunting (i.e. from a tree stand).  Wanna know what one of my favorite parts about deer hunting is? The fact that when I am hunting, the nearest person to me is 200 yards away.  I don’t like crowds. 



So why in the world would I go to the Minnesota State Fair, aka the “Great Minnesota Get Together”, where attendance for the day was 164,192 people? The beer, of course. 

To understand why Craft Beer and the Minnesota State Fair are such a good combination, you need to understand what makes craft beer so special.  The craft beer craze is about so much more than good beer.  It is about building community, sourcing locally grown ingredients and celebrating regional culture. That is exactly what any state fair is about too.


This year, the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild carved a nice little corner out of the Agriculture Horticulture Building to promote craft beer and educate people on what craft beer really is.  

They called this celebration The Land of 10,000 Beers.  Clever. Not at all predictable. (Come on, I’m from Wisconsin, I have to get my jabs in every now and then.)


There are two things that really stood out to me about how they set up this wing of the building.  One, they really set out to educate people about beer and the brewing process.  There were posters, displays and other information about beer in Minnesota and how it is brewed.


They didn’t humor fair goers by any means either.  There was information on where the flavor of beer comes from, styles, color, and the brewing process.  I may or may not have contemplated stealing them some how. 






They also had a huge map of the state that showed where all of the breweries in Minnesota are located.  This is was actually my favorite one.


The second thing that stood out to me was how they organized the beer sampling. They offered seven different flights of four beers each.  Every flight was organized by a specific theme.  They included Belgium, Darker, Hoppier, Lighter, two Minnesota Mixture and a Specialty flight.  Each flight was $8 and offered 4 oz samples of four beers.  




Here is what the Darker and Hoppier flights looked like.



Now for me, the centerpiece of the State Fair beer experience was the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild area, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t other areas of the fair that featured craft beer.  Several permanent food establishments featured locally made craft beer.  Two in particular stood out to me.  

The first was the Ball Park Cafe.  The reason they stood out?  Mini. Donut. Beer. And I’ll be damned if it didn’t taste exactly like a mini donut.  The rim of the glass was sugar coated which helped give you a very sweet initial taste.  That taste was quickly followed by a blast of malt and carbonation, but the kicker is that the beer finished cinnamon-y sweet. It was really good.


The next beer I found was S’Mores beer at Giggles Campfire Grill. I saw this beer on their menu and just had to try it.  Just to say I’ve had it once.  This beer was very chocolately, creamy.  The rim of the glass was coated with chocolate and ground graham crackers.  It was a pretty good milk stout with a nice creamy texture.


I have to admit, going to the fair was a spur of the moment thing, so I didn’t really plan all of the places I should have hit.  If you want to give it a go yourself, Growler Magazine has a really good guide to craft beer at the fair

I will tell you this, if the organizers of the State Fair and the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild put on a display like this again next year, I will be going again and I will plan it a lot better.

Until next time.


Smith & Forge Hard Cider

So I’m standing in front of my fridge full of beer looking for the next beer to write about.  The problem is, all of the beer in my fridge is being saved for future posts.  (Insert shameless “Check back later this week!” plug). I glance around and I happen to take a look at something I bought for my wife. I thought…..”Hm, what the hell.” So I picked up one of the hard ciders I bought for her.  


The cider I got for her this week is from Smith & Forge.  You may have caught some of their commercials during the World Cup earlier this summer.  I have to admit, whomever their marketing person is should get a raise.  I usually don’t pay attention to ciders, but these ads caught my eye.  Heck, even their cans have a pretty cool look to them.

Here are some of their regular commercials:

Check out the rest of their commercials on their YouTube page. 

 If you haven’t had hard ciders before they can range in flavor from extremely dry, like champagne, to really sweet, like carbonated apple juice.  Most traditional ciders have a tendency to lean towards the dry spectrum. Another characteristic I have seen in the ciders is that they are highly carbonated. Where does Smith & Forge fall?  First, some additional info about the cider:

Price Point: About $8 for four 16 oz. cans.

Cellarable: Haven’t even really thought about it, but at 6% and with all the sweetness, I would think no.

Availability: Year round and all over the place.  Check their website to find it.


On to the tasting!

Aroma - Very mild apple aroma. There is something else there too…can’t quite place it.  It is almost like a sparkling wine aroma.

Appearance - 11 on the SRM scale.  The head was a really bright white, but it disappeared really quickly. 

Taste -  This has to be one of the best combinations of sweet and dry I have had in a cider.  The sweet is not overpowering at all and the dry doesn’t make your jaw clench. I would compare the apple flavor to that of a braeburn or fiji. 

Palate - This has a great low to medium carbonation level and drinks like a an ale.   

Overall - I am thoroughly impressed with this beer…uh cider. It falls right in the middle of all of the cider characteristics I am used to.  It has great flavor and is easy to drink.  Plus, with the cool ad campaign they have you don’t have to worry about losing your man-card when you drink it. Unless of course you are a woman….and if you are a woman and have your own man-card, you have bigger issues.

Until next time!


The BSB gets wet with the #ALSIceBucketChallenge!

In case you live under a rock, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge has taken over social media. It’s a great cause, and their donations are exponentially larger than they have EVER been thanks to the campaign. 

People are super awesome!

That being said, The Beer Stand Blog crew took the challenge this week, and here is the ensuing mayem!

We will go in chronological order, starting with our fearless leader himself, Doug BizzleB. He started this crazy, so he’s up first! I regret not being present to dump ice water on his head…

Next is me, Miss Annie, the lady of the blog. I wore a white shirt…but it wasn’t as much fun as it seemed it was gonna be. Mwahahahaha I’m so sneaky! And kinda mean! :) Also, Doug got to do the water dumping on this one…something he did not enjoy AT ALL.

Last but not least, our regular feature writer, @guitarboyjohnny. He took great efforts to conceal his identity AND produced a helluva piece. Impressive sir. Impressive.

@guitarboyjohnny ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from Billy C on Vimeo.

I love being a part of this blog, and a part of a team that hops on board with an enormous grandstanding trend that just so happens to support a great cause. 

To donate, head to the ALS website. Let’s work together to help eliminate Lou Gehrig’s Disease!



Ale Asylum - Hopalicious

I don’t know why but I haven’t been able to shift gears to the smoother more refreshing beers this summer. Usually when the heat sets in I begrudgingly push aside the stouts and IPA’s and turn my attention to beers such as Heineken or Summer Shandy. So what was different this year? Maybe it’s because the hot, hazy months never came? Sadly, with every passing day, this indeed appears to be the summer that never was. On the brighter side my love for heavy, flavorful beer lives on in all its glory.

About a week ago while perusing the aisles of my favorite liquor establishment I happened upon Ale Asylum’s Hopalicious. Whenever possible I prefer to drink beers that are brewed locally in Wisconsin, and when I saw that Ale Asylum was located in Madison, I knew I had found my next tasty victim.


Once I decided that Hopalicious would be a good beer to write about, I set out to do my mandatory research on the brewer, Ale Asylum. I was surprised to find I was already familiar with several of their selections. I had previously tasted Ambergedon, their amber ale, Contorter Porter, an English porter, and also Bedlam, their Belgian IPA. So it turns out that my taste buds are more up on things than my brain. Sounds about right. You may also notice that Ale Asylum has a clever tongue-in-cheek way of naming their creations. I like a brewery that doesn’t take itself too seriously.


My first taste of Hopalicious was out on the old patio, where I spend a great deal of my time.  The sun was just setting on a cool (of course) August evening. I poured the beer into a glass and noticed the appearance was a rich caramel color. I can best describe this color as what beer normally looks like when exiting the body, not entering it. But this was not going to be a deterrent for me.


Editors note: Hopalicious?  I don’t think so.

The first sip, as advertised, was dominated with a full hoppy sensation. It’s a flavor that I love, but one that my wife refers to as “skunky”. In other words it is not for everyone. It’s what I like to call a good old fashioned “R-rated” beer. Along with the hoppiness was a very satisfying citrus flavor which I also find appealing. Ale Asylum describes Hopalicious as having a “bold hop flavor without crazy bitterness”. But this beer tastes bitter to me, and that’s not a bad thing.

Hopalicious is an American Pale Ale. It has a 5.8 ABV, which is slightly above average for this type of beer. An APA is generally characterized as having a good balance of malt and hops. My taste buds are not sophisticated enough to pick up on that, but I did know that it immediately found a place in my heart. This beer would go very well with almost any food, but might be a bit much if paired with anything hot and spicy.


Hopalicious is available year round. That’s great news for pale ale lovers like me. It is designed to attract and satisfy beer drinkers who love a hoppy flavor. Curiously enough it is also meant to lure those who hover around full flavored beers but rarely find the courage to imbibe. It’s my belief that Ale Asylum has over-estimated the adventurousness of the everyday American beer drinker. I believe a Miller High Life drinker, upon tasting this beer, would run home screaming in terror with arms flailing. So approach with caution, dear reader. Take a chance! Run with the devil! Walk through the valley of the shadow of death! YOLO! Oops, forgot this wasn’t Twitter.

Much Love,


Friday Quick Pick - New Belgium Tour De Fall

One of the first beer fanatic stories I ever heard was about a couple that I went to college with.  They used to take a trip out to Colorado every year with an empty car and return with it filled with New Belgium Fat Tire.  They even painted their basement the Fat Tire colors.  Every since that day I have had my eye on New Belgium Brewery. 

We’ve featured New Belgium on our Quick Pick before with Shift pale lager. This week’s quick pick is their brand new Tour De Fall.

We are starting to get into that time of year where tastes shift from light and crisp to slightly fuller body and mouthfeel.  This beer is no exception. I’d give you my own notes on it, but New Belgium sums it up better than I ever could:

VISUAL - Deep amber colored and bright with billowy foam.
AROMA - Hops dominate with pine, floral, tangerine, lemon rind and tropical fruit notes, honey bread malt character balances out the hop aroma bouquet.
FLAVOR - Bitter upfront, becomes balanced with malty sweetness, finishes with some light bitterness and fruity sweetness.
MOUTHFEEL - Round mouthfeel that finishes crisp.
BODY - Medium body.

This beer has an ABV of 6% so you can knock back a few and it’s reasonably priced at $8.99 a sixer.

This sucker is brand new and should be hitting your local liquor store shelves soon, if it hasn’t already.  Try this one if you are getting your palate ready for the fall beers that are coming up right behind it.

Until next time

Founder’s - Dissenter Imperial IPL

Imperial Pale Lagers are a different kind of beer, and you won’t find them terribly often. They’re considered a bit of a ‘straggler’ in the craft beer world because they so blatantly cross the two, very well-defined, styles of beer - ales and lagers.

An imperial pale lager is a lager that has been hopped vociferously (in the case of Dissenter, with several kinds of citrus hops). Generally, over-hopping is reserved for Imperial Pale Ales, with Lagers being reserved for that much more smooth and malty flavor. They also have a higher yeast strain, and that causes the hops and malts to come out even moreso. Aka, if you’re a hop-head, you’re gonna love this beer.

The beauty here is that Founders does a great job of marrying the two types of beers. Because of the length of time it takes to brew a lager, this beer has a smoothness to it that one rarely finds in an ale - but the hops really give it this sweet, tart, lovely undercurrent. Furthermore, because of the smooth lager style, the finish is silky and sexy. I have to say, it’s one of the best beers I’ve tried in a long time! 

Here is what Founders has to say about Dissenter:

Dissenter is the first lager we’ve brewed since Noble Lager, a beer that hasn’t been in our production cycle for twelve years. Dissenter is our argument in favor of the potential for complex lagers, clocking in at 8.7% ABV and 70 IBUs.

This beer is a departure from our other releases for a couple of reasons: All of the beers in our standard lineup are ales, which are fermented at warm temperatures, whereas lagers are fermented cold. Plus, Dissenter uses a different kind of yeast from other Founders beers. Test batches of the Imperial IPL were brewed using our pilot system and have been on tap in our taproom off and on throughout the past few months. The longer brewing process used for lagers gives this beer an exceptionally clean finish, allowing the clear beauty of the hops to shine.

Here is some additional information on the beer:

Price Point - $12 for a bomber

Cellarable - 8.7% which is on the edge, but it has such a strong hop flavor, not sure you would want to.  If you are ballsy enough, at least buy two bottles so that you can drink one then compare the aged version.

Availability - Just this summer.  Get it while you can!

And now, the tasting, from your fearless leader, DB:

Aroma - We would describe this as floral-y (Is that a word?) citrus.  Not resiny, piney or acidic like regular IPAs.  Very earthy.

Appearance - 7 or 8 on the SRM scale.  Nice pale color with a hue of orange. Bright white head with small rocky bubbles. 

Taste - Very mild at first.  This beer has some serious subtle flavor to it.  You could also call this a earthy or grassy flavor up front. BIG pine flavor in the middle and on the back end. It finishes with a bit of bitterness on the tongue…but it’s not unpleasant.

Palate - Mild carbonation with a medium mouth-feel. It’s rather smooth, considering many IPAs are full of carbonation. This IPL is much more, well, lager-like. (see what I did there)

Overall - This beer is SO good. The English hops and yeast coupled with a heavier malt give this beer a really smooth feel, and the hops give it such a fresh, citrus bite. We are big fans! Founder’s…they know how to get ‘er done.

This is part of Founders’ Backstage Series - meaning it is limited in its release, and many craft liquor stores are only getting a case or two of bombers. If you see Dissenter around, make sure you grab one! You won’t regret it.



Until next time

Friday Quick Pick - Summit Saga IPA

I have to admit, Summit is one of those breweries that I often overlook.  They are a local St. Paul brewery that continues to put out a steady stream of good beers, but I guess since they don’t do it with a lot of flare or put out really rare beers every now and then, they aren’t the first brewery that pops to mind when I go looking for beer. 

This week’s Quick Pick will rectify that. Welcome to Summit Brewing Saga IPA. 


The craft beer world seems to be pretty IPA heavy these days….in fact I think it’s written in the Craft Brewery bi-laws that you have to brew an IPA just to be considered a craft brewery. (Just kidding…there are no such things as Craft Brewery bi-laws… least I don’t think there are.)


Saga is another light and easy drinking IPA at 6.4% ABV. One of the things I like most about this beer is that it is a good combination of citrus sweet with a hint of grapefruit.  If you have read me before, you know I don’t like bitter in my IPAs and this one has a great balance to it.

Enjoy your weekend!

Until next time.

Orkney Brewery - Dark Island Reserve (2011)

You ever get a wild hair up your ass and just say, “I’m gonna do this….just because.”? Well, that’s how I ended up with this beer. 

Many of you who read this will look at the price of this beer and think I’m nuts for paying that much for a beer.  Truth is, I bought a $39.99 22 oz bottle of beer just because I wanted to.  Well, that and it’s a Scottish ale aged in Orkney Malt Whiskey casks for three months. Yyyyum!


Orkney Brewing Company is a Scottish Brewery that has been brewing beer since 1988.  It was purchased in 2006 by Norman Sinclair and since then, they have been turning out a lineup of award winning beers.  They focus on ales with bottled and cask versions of each of the beers they produce.  The beer I purchased is their Dark Island Reserve.


I have learned to appreciate the aging of a good beer so what drew me to this one, which I purchased in November 2013, was that it was bottled in November of 2011.  This beer already had two years of aging on it.  I may or may not have sported wood in the liquor store when I saw this.

To recap….a scottish ale brewed in Scotland, aged in whiskey barrels and bottled in 2011.  Yep, I’ll lay out $39.99 for that.

Now you are probably asking why I then waited another 8 months to drink it? I may have been eager to buy it, but hell if I’m just gonna pop it on any old night to drink.  I saved it for when I got my new job….then I savored it.


Here are some additional notes on the beer:

Price point - $39.99 for a 22 oz bomber. The most expensive beer I have ever purchased.

Cellar-able - Absolutely. 10% ABV and this one was from 2011.

Availability - Good luck! Although I am seeing the 2012 or 2013 vintages in various liquor stores.


Now, onto the tasting!

Aroma - Even the aroma is smooth on this beer.  Very strong scotch smell (yeah, Duh!).  Oak is very present. 

Appearance - Very dark with very little light penetration (heh….I said penetration). There are some dark mahogany hues to it but its really dark.  The head disappears instantly so it was hard to get a read on.

Taste - So much scotch.  Wow! That is quickly followed by a lot of charred oak and a little bit of a dark fruit as well. Other flavors include cherry, plums, vanilla, and toffee.

Palate - Not as heavy as I expected.  There is very little carbonation making it so incredibly smooth.  Very little alcohol bite.

Overall - This is what Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy’s are meant to be to me.  This is an absolutely incredible beer and worth every penny to have it at least once.  So smooth, great scotch flavor and really easy to drink.

Until next time.


All Pints North Beer Festival - Duluth, MN

That’s right. The Beer Stand Blog went beer fest’in again! Hundreds of unique beers, all in one place, several of them unique to the festival.
Don’t mind if we do…


All Pints North was on July 26th from 3-7pm. There were a LOT of people there, but not so many that you felt crowd. Also, PLENTY of port-a-potties, which, in my opinion, is a key component of any beer fest.

The below map shows how well laid out this festival was. What it doesn’t show is the lovely bay that is right behind that stage. It was a brilliant backdrop to all of the delicious beer. (All program screen shots courtesy of MN Craft Brewers Guild.)


Now the only thing I would say is that it would’ve been nice if the beer tents were staggered. That way, you’re not all cramming into the walkways. They certainly seemed to have the space. In the end, it wasn’t too bad though. It only got bad when there were a pile of people waiting in line for certain special beers.

When we first got there, they were scanning people in. They put us all into that courtyard walkway, which I would liken to cattle in a cattle run. I didn’t mind. It gave me the opportunity to plan where I was gonna head first…


The program was well-done, as is every program that the MN Craft Brewers Guild does (including Winterfest and Autumn Brew Review). It gives you enough room to take notes on each beer, as well as a solid description of each beer. It’s organized by brewery, so everything is easy to find. We also got adorable tasting glasses, as per usual.


I loved the fact that Mr. Michael Agnew himself, our local beer class teacher, gave his basic tasting note ideas in the program:


These are solid ideas for any beer that you’re tasting, so give it a try next time you have a brew in your hand!

Of course, your fearless leader took copious notes in the midst of the fray. Below are his thoughts on many of the beers he put down:


612 Brew - Rye IPA on Sour Patch Kids - Not really tasting the Sour Patch Kids as much as I thought I would. Good but not great. 3.5/5.0

Bell’s - Hopsolution IPA - Great citrus flavor that is sweet but not bitter. 4.5/5.0

Brau Brothers Brewing - Bancreagie Peated Scotch Ale - Great toffee flavor with more carbonation than I thought. 4.0/5.0

Castle Danger Brewery - Wimpy - Strong citrus aroma, but flavor is more mild and has a slight alcohol bite. 4.0/5.0

Central Waters Brewing Company - Satin Solitude Imperial Stout - Very good, easy to drink. Smooth! Love it.  4.5/5.0

Deschutes Brewery - Black Butte Porter - One of my all-time faves. Sweet toffee aroma.  Mild though with great flavor. 4.5/5.0

Side note from Annie: Check out the sweet-ass beer barrel truck Deschute’s brought! It would be even more awesome if the giant tap on the back actually worked. Hashtag highway beer…


Enki Brewing - I Anno Enki Chocolate Hefeweizen - Spicy aroma.  Sweet upfront, chocolate follows, and finishes yeasty,  3.5/5.0

Fargo Brewing Company - Barrel Buster Imperial Porter - Smooth with a sweet caramel/toffee aroma and mild hop flavor.  4.5/5.0

Fargo Brewing Company - Raspberry Infused Stone’s Throw Scottish Ale - Finishes well with a bit of raspberry upfront. Pretty good. 3.5/5.0

Great Waters Brewing Company - Raspberry Ka-Pow IPA - Eh. Too much raspberry with no IPA characteristics. 2.5/5.0

Great Lakes Brewing Company - Edmund Fitzgerald with Cherry and Vanilla - Cherry/Vanilla is really mild.  This is a great twist on an already great beer.  4.5/5.0 (Annie almost had an orgasm over this beer. No seriously)

Great Lakes Brewing Company - Triple Dog Dare - Spicy sweet with nutmeg. Tastes like Christmas. 4.0/5.0

Great Lakes Brewing Company - Wandering Pelican Black Lager - Malty sweet with a heavy caramel/toffee flavor. Hints of cherry and apricot as well. 4.5/5.0

Green Flash Brewing Company - Double Stout - Mild coffee but heavy toffee aroma. Good mouth feel with a mild toffee flavor. 4.0/5.0

Hammerheart Brewing Co. - Barrel Aged Surpensblood - WOW! 5.0/5.0

Mankato Brewery - Leaf Raker Firkin - True to the description, malty, nutty flavors, hint of smoke as well, More carbonation than I thought. 3.5/5.0

Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub - Smokehouse Porter - Strong hop flavor.  Wasn’t expecting that. definite malt and smoke flavors as well.

Odell Brewing Co. - St. Lupulin - Great sweet hop flavor that finishes just a touch bitter.  3.5/5.0

Red Wing Brewery - Pepie’s Porter - Hoppy up front and doesn’t finish well. 2.0/5.0

South Shore Brewery - Bourbon Barrel Coffee Mint Stout - Best of show right here.  This was an outstanding beer.  Very subtle flavors and incredibly smooth.  The mint works really well. 5.0/5.0


Side Note from Annie: This stout was my favorite beer as well, even though Bent Paddle won the best beer award for their Madagascar Vanilla Cold Press on Nitro (another solid beer - but I think it got the edge because the brewery itself is mere blocks from this festival ;) No offense guys!)

Surly - Blakkr - Do I even need to note this? 5.0/5.0

Surly - Darkness 2013 - Duh. 5.0/5.0

WHEW…as you can see, he went all out with the notes while I wandered aimlessly and jotted barely readable numbers next to a few beers. Well done, Doug.

So in the midst of all of this beer, we got some food. We agree that we wish there would’ve been a bit more selection. What we did find at the Chow Haul food truck was really delicious though!


We went with the Braised Pork Tacos. So much num, and desperately needed after plowing through some serious beer…


All in all, it was a super successful day. The weather was utterly perfect, other than the first half, which was crazy hot. I didn’t mind though. Some breeze and coolness came in during the second half that really helped. We were also treated to this in the end:


I’m 100% sure this was God smiling on our totally awesome afternoon activities. Probably.



Until next time,