Well my first Great Taste of the Midwest is in the books. For anyone that hasn’t had the opportunity to attend this event, I would tell you to make it a priority. The event is so well run and in one of the greatest cities in the US. Whether you have to travel from near or afar, I think you would have a hard time finding a better run beer festival.
I felt like I had a pretty good strategy in place. I did a few hours of research the two nights prior to the event. I spent a good portion of the first hour of the event figuring out some of the unlisted timed releases and crossing beers off the list. I also buddied up with Jim Agate so we would be able to try more beers collectively. It was very easy to keep a balanced mix of sours, stouts, and IPA’s throughout the day. Without further ado, I will get to the highlights. Also want to note that I will be including beers that I tasted at pre-party events.
Russian Imperial Stout (non barrel aged)
My first beer of the day was a RIS so I figured I would start here. Definitely a tough style to drink on a perfect summer day, but this list may be the most impressive of the day
- Toppling Goliath Morning Delight – Arguably the highlight of the entire day. The maple syrup component of this beer is used in such balanced perfection. Not as good as its barrel aged counterpart though
- Three Floyds Dark Lord (2011) – I have heard so many stories about this beer being too sweet and maybe it was the age, but I enjoy this beer immensely. The sweetness gives way nicely
- 4 Hands Bona Fide – From my favorite brewery of the day. The initial burst of chocolate that gave way to the burnt coffee was really nice
- Minneapolis Town Hall Russian Roulette – My first beer of the day and a bit on the sweet side, but so good. Actually had this beer a second time while in the BA Abraxas line.
Barrel Aged Stout
The most hyped category of the event and one that didn’t disappoint. Lots of great brews here from not only the big guys, but also some smaller breweries too.
- Bells Barrel Aged Batch 9000 – This isn’t a stout you say? Then make you own list! This beer had enough stout-like characteristics for inclusion. Had this beer at the pre-party event and I couldn’t believe the complexity of this beer. Seriously amazing and the best beer I had all weekend. Thanks to Maduros for the two 10oz pours!
- Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th – I loved this beer before and I love this beer even more now. Such an intense and flavorful ride, this beer didn’t let down from the first time I had it on the Michigan Beercation, which I thought it might
- Perennial Barrel Aged Abraxas – Probably the most hyped beer of the event. I have to say I was a tad let down. Had regular Abraxas a few weeks ago and the two were very similar, more pepper here, but not enough barrel
- Flat 12 Rye Barrel Aged Big Black Dog – This was my surprise beer of the day. This will be a brewery I seek out next year, great things
- Great Lakes Barrel Aged BlackOut Stout – A beer I have always wanted to try and finally got to. Not in the upper echelon of BA stouts, but very smooth and drinkable
-Goose Island Baudoinia – Only got 2 sips, but it could have easily been one of the best
-4 Hands Volume 1 – Very good, but flavors hadn’t quite come together
-Bells BlackNote – Drank next to BA Batch 9000 so it didn’t stand a chance
Hoppy Beers (PA/IPA/DIPA)
I love all of the pale ale varieties, but I have a really hard time comparing them to one another unless I am drinking them side by side. I am just going to throw out the list of beers I enjoyed the most, in no particular order
- Toppling Goliath SueZee – If I had to pick a favorite it was this one. Had this at a pre-party event. The added citra hops and on firkin, wow!
- 4 Hand Contact High – Had this beer for a second time and loved it. The orange peel is such a perfection addition
- Half Acre Daisy Cutter – Another beer I have had before and another one that did not let me down
- Kunhhenn DRIPA – My last beer of the day so things weren’t exactly the most clear. I also got a full pour so that made me happy. Definitely notable balance here
- Black Husky Sproose Joose – A beer I had heard a lot about and was excited to try. The spruce tips add a great second layer to this beer
-Revolution Anti-Hero – Another beer I was glad to revisit
-Barley Island Count Hopula – Didn’t taste the “intense sour profile”, but still solid
This is an all-encompassing category, but probably the grouping of beers I enjoyed most throughout the day, probably in part because sours are perfect for summer
- Destihl Flanders Oud Bruin – My top 3 beers are interchangeable, all were amazing. Unblended sours are such an art form and Destihl knows their art
- O’So Wee on the Lam – Had a bottle of this beer when it was first released. Super complex and everything blends so perfectly together. Such a happy mistake
- Schlafly Oud Bruin – I have been super impressed with both of Schlafly’s wild offerings and this one is the best. The wine barrel aging is a perfect addition
- Perennial Peach Berliners – This was my second brew of the day and while Berliners rarely ever blow your mind, I could have drank 17 glasses of this beer
- Goose Island Juliet (deconstructed) – Probably my favorite experience from the entire day. Goose Island presented the 3 different blends that make Juliet along with the finished product. None of the blends were that great, but the finished product will always be one of my personal favorites
-Bells Wild One – Pre-party beer that probably should have made the top 5
-Brugge Brasserie Spider – A gem that I have to thank Dan Weiser for finding. Strong dark ale aged in wine barrels with wild yeast strains, amazing! Another beer that deserved top 5 status
-4 Hands Berliner – Not as good as Perennial, but another great offering by this brewery
Not so great beers of the day
I wanted to keep this list mostly positive, but there were a few big misses on the day.
- Figure 8 Barreled Monkey – This brewery was on my must try list. I was excited to try this barrel aged red and a pretty nasty funk had settled into this beer. Not a nice tart funk, a sharp acidic funk. Probably should not have been served
- Bells Mad Scientist – Not sure this was meant to be good…it wasn’t
- Surly SeVIIn – My only trip through the Surly line and they were only serving this beer, which they can get away with since they are Surly. With so many other offerings I wanted to try I was even more let down by this beer. Not my style and not a good beer at that