How fast we go. Fifteen new beers into the hopper this month. A below average number, I suppose, but I spent a good amount of time pounding Summits and Surlys on patios and mixing bloody marys and gin and tonics lakeside. And there were some monuments: my first Three Floyds (the stellar Alpha King and slightly puzzling Fantabulous Resplendence XI Anniversary). Still waiting for the right moment to pop the Dreadnaught IPA. I added my first gluten-free beer to the list, Gordon Biersch's Bard's Tale Beer, a sparkling sorghum mess also known as Bard's Tale Dragon's Gold. Just starting to see this one pop up in the Twin Cities.
So, let's drag this out a bit. Mid-summer awards.
Best hibiscus-infused Belgian: Goose Island Fleur. I guess my taste buds don't have much experience with hibiscus, because I basically tasted a Belgian ale. It was good, though I suspect had I stuck with my original order of Founders Cerise I would have left the Happy Gnome a bit happier. Too hard to pass up a draught-only limited edition hibiscus beer, though. And it blew away my companion's beer, Widmer Hefeweizen. I'm done with hefes I think. Most are drinkable, pleasant, but none blast your palate. Congrats, Fleur.
Best month-cap nightcap: Last night's Tsingtao Pure Draft. Also the worst. Possibly, in fact, the worst beer I had this month, however predictable that may have been. Purchased only for the Chinese characters on the label. I have another character-laden brew in the basement that's identity may never be discovered. Tsingtao just felt right at 2 am I guess.
Best surprise: Rouge Brutal Bitter. Picked up on a whim while passing through Hudson, WI. Took me straight back to my local London pub. A fabulous English bitter, punishing Crystal hops. I remember calling it stifling, but I love a tastebud-challenger. A classic style of beer, one that would never take hold in this country, but a terrific homage to the best of our friends across the pond.
Upon reading month's reviews, the real worst beer of the month: Spanish Peaks Honey Raspberry Ale. Given to me for free at Heritage Liquor in Maplewood, and for good reason. Side note: if you've never been to Heritage, go after reading this. Friendliest and most helpful service of any store in the area. Great guys who know their beer and give outstanding recommendations. Anyway. This beer was intended to go to any one of the non-serious beer drinking females present at a work gathering. Ended up coming home with me, where it sat for weeks until I bit the bullet. Tasted like flat sparkling water that had been forgotten in a car trunk for a summer. I shudder even thinking about it.
August will most certainly bring more new beers to my collection: I leave Monday for Colorado, where I've planned Oskar Blues, Avery, Boulder and Left Hand trips, as well as the side stops at brewpubs and west-friendly beer stores. My buds are ready.