Middle school Me to adult Me: You’re writing a post about how good social studies is? Who have you become, man?
Because of all the awesome Trillium Brewing Company beers I bought on my craft brewery road trip two weeks ago, I’m still getting around to posting about the other awesome breweries I hit up with my buddy, the Galley Cookin’ Beer Snob. Today, I want to talk to you a bit about Castle Island Brewing Company. It was the second stop on our tour, and we weren’t there for very long—just took a quick look around and bought cans—but I was pretty happy with the spot, and the beer I took home.
The coolest thing going on at Castle Island while we were there was the Can derby. I’m not sure the rules, or how it all works with the signups and such, but a large space within the brewery was used to create a race course, and entrants made cars out of beer cans to battle it out for supremacy. You can see one of the cars in the photos below. It was pretty awesome, and makes me definitely want to go back to CIB when I have more time to spend there.
About the social studies: It’s a rotating series of single hop hazy IPAs from CIB, from which eight beers have been released: Citra, Ella, El Dorado, Simcoe, Ekuanot, Azacca, Mosaic and Amarillo. I managed to grab a four-pack of the Amarillo, and I was pretty happy with it. The Amarillo hop produces some great tropical aromas and notes of ripe Mandarin orange. I dug it. Didn’t mind doing the homework on this one at all. I also picked up a four-pack of the Dream Police, a spiced porter, that I’ll review down the road sometime.
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Sometimes, you just need a cool brewery on the Windowsill!
I love when a brewery is good to its followers and fans. Back Channel Brewing Collective is one of the coolest breweries I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with on social media. It all started a week or two ago when, while perusing my Instagram feed, I ran into a post that featured a super delicious looking IPA… in a bowl. A bowl? Yeah. Straight up. Like a soup bowl.
I commented on the post, asking if the brewery distributed to CT, because the beer looked good and the bowl was kickass. I almost immediately got a DM from the company—actually by Josh Leddy, one of the owners and brewers—saying that they didn’t distribute to my area, but they wanted to send me something to try. How cool is that?
About a week later, the beer mail came. Not only did Josh and Back Channel send me a 24.5 oz crowler of their brand new Gonzo IPA—they only sell beer out of their taproom, and Minnesota state law says they can only sell in 750 ml or 64oz containers—I also got… THE BEER BOWL!
Before we get into the bowl, let’s chat a bit about the brewery itself. Back Channel was founded in 2016 by Josh Leddy, Melissa Leddy (yep, they’re married), Mark Makarem, Matt Olson and Joe Meehan. Their brewery, which sits on a back channel of Lake Minnetonka, opened its taps in 2017. Not only did the location inspire the name, but Josh Leddy told me the other meaning of the name. “Backchanneling is a secondary, or secretive, way to pass information around,” said Josh. “So all of our beer names are descriptions of famous Minnesotans, or people with significant ties to Minnesota.” Their beer names act as hints to the identity of the inspirations for the beer itself.
OK. So why, exactly, does Back Channel Brewing have beer bowls? Josh actually sent me some marketing copy about this. It seems the gang was on a beer trip in Asheville, NC, and they plum ran out of clean beer glasses. They had to use bowls. In doing so, they realized how having such a wide opening for your beer made the aromatics of their IPAs pop like never before. Also, the care it took to take that sip—two hands, nice and slow—also added to the experience of tasting the beer. Hence, the official beer bowl was born.
I suppose I should talk about the beer, right? The Gonzo is an IPA brewed with Motueka and Strata hops. Josh told me that the batch completely sold out in five days, making it the fastest beer ever to sell out through their taproom. Why is it called Gonzo? Well, the brewery never really reveals who has inspired the name of a particular beer, but I did get one hint: someone from Minnesota was very involved with Jim Henson’s Muppets. My guess? Jerry Juhl—head writer for the Muppets Show. and native of St. Paul. Whether I’m right or wrong, the Gonzo was pretty awesome. Think Julius from Tree House Brewing Company… in a bowl.
My final evaluation of this experience? Back Channel is awesome. The Gonzo is amazing. The bowl? Although it’s a kickass souvenir, and it totally does everything Back Channel says it does with the aromatics, I’m probably more likely to use it for soup over beer in the future. I just can’t commit both of my hands for drinking every beer I ever taste for the rest of my life, lol.
Still, though, I have to give it up to Josh and the rest of the Back Channel crew. Their beer is legit, and I hope I get to try them again some day.
Check this out on Instagram now for a video of me using the bowl! Be sure to follow Beers on Windowsills for more amazing craft beer!
Once again, we have a delicious IPA from SingleCut Beersmiths on the Windowsill today. The Mo’ Shuggie Double Dry-Hop IPA! This one comes courtesy of my neighbor Jesse. He told me this was his favorite beer from SingleCut, and that I had to try it. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed!
As usual, the Mo’ Shuggie gets its name because of SingleCut owner Rich Buceta’s undying love for obscure classic rock lyrics and artists. That’s not meant as any disrespect towards Johnny Alexander Veliotes, Jr. aka “Shuggie” Otis. But I, like many casual music fans I’m sure, had never heard of Otis before I started researching this beer. So who is he? Only one of the best guitarists of his day, of course. He’s a cult legend who was once asked to join the Rolling Stones on tour, and was approached by Quincy Jones to produce an album. He turned both down!
I’ll let you guys do your own research on this guy, but check out his song “Strawberry Letter 23.” Although Shuggie didn’t make this a hit, it became a hit when the Brothers Johnson covered it in 1977, and it has been sampled to high heaven in the decades since. Watch the video below!
None of this matters if the beer’s no good, right? SingleCut originally released a beer called the Shuggie Mini Soulbender IPA. It was a session IPA named after Otis, and a type of guitar pedal used by musicians like him for sound distortion. Several months later, they released the Mo’ Shuggie Soulbender IPA—a bigger version of the beer. Finally, in 2018, they double dry-hopped the crap out of the beer. Even Mo’ hops. Even Mo’ malts. Even Mo’ Mo’ Shuggie.
The result is a beer that’s deliciously hazy and hoppy. Great aroma, wonderful flavor. Great usage of those New Zealand hops! Just plain awesome. Go get some!
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Is it too late for a Christmas post on the Windowsill?
I don’t know, but it’s definitely been too long since I had a SingleCut Beersmiths selection on the Windowsill. For those of you unfamiliar with the Queens, New York brewery, y’all better get familiar. Whether it’s their array of hoppy, hazy, juice IPAs or their collection of delicious stouts, everything they make is awesome. Also, their brewery, and all of their beers, are named in reference to something related to classic rock.
Owner Rich Buceta specifically loves himself some David Bowie, which is where the Electric Blue name comes from. In 1977, Bowie released his 11th studio album, “Low.” Although it wasn’t embraced initially by critics, it is considered one of Bowie’s best, and most influential, outputs. The first single off of that album was a little song called “Sound and Vision.”
It’s a bit of a somber tune in which Bowie sings the following lines: “Blue, blue, electric blue / That’s the colour of my room / Where I will live / Blue, blue.” According to Genius Lyrics, the song is about someone who is depressed and bound to their room, with only the light of their black and white TV to brighten their existence. Super sad.
The beer itself is a Double Dry-Hopped IPA that SingleCut refers to as Weird & Gilly’s slightly bigger brother. As with most of their beer recipes, I couldn’t find the exact hop bill for this one, but the Electric Blue did taste very similar to to what I remember Weird & Gilly tasting like. Super juicy and delicious. Extremely hoppy and hazy. Solid IBU, too. So good! I definitely wasn’t blue after sipping this one on Christmas Day.
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I bet you’re green with envy about what’s on my Windowsill today!
Corny jokes aside, it’s almost inexcusable that I haven’t had this Tree House Brewing Company classic on my sill yet. According to the official description, the Green is a favorite of the crew at the brewery. With all the incredible beer they make there, I’d say that’s very impressive.
Why is it so good? Maybe it’s the hop combination. Although they don’t reveal the exact combo, I do know that the recipe includes hops from America and Australia. It’s “intensely” hopped—in the kettle and dry—giving it huge notes of lemon-lime, orange, tangerine and pineapple. It’s also got some solid bitterness on the finish and the mouthfeel is really rich and smooth. The key to this beer is balance. It’s delicious, and green enough for Yoda!
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There’s something comforting about seeing a light on the Windowsill when you come home.
Lights On was brewed for a very special reason. Before moving to their current gigantic facility in Charlton, Tree House Brewing Company were based at a 10,000 square foot brewhouse in Monson. The Lights On was brewed to celebrate the opening of that Monson location. Prior to that, Nate Lanier was brewing in a 550-square-foot garage. With Lights On, they wanted a beer that represented everything Tree House was, is, and will be. They did a great job.
This beer definitely turned my lights on. From the beautiful can art designed by @keever, to the improbably even more beautiful color, this American Pale Ale is a real eye catcher. All that haze hints at the hoppy nature of the brew, and it doesn’t disappoint the nose or the tongue. Tropical, citrusy, delicious juicy goodness. Loved this brew! Truly enlightening.
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It’s awesome when a beer has a great backstory, and In Perpetuity has one that comes from a place of love. On the eve of his one-year anniversary, head brewer Nate Lanier, brewed a beer for his wife Lauren (aka Tree House L-Dog). He wanted it to represent “foreverness—in love, passion and regardless of circumstance.”
So, is this brew a good sign for the future of their union? If the marriage of Citra and Nelson hops has anything to say about it, YES! I loved the In Perpetuity. It’s hazy, bright and tropical, with lots of strong citrus flavors in the backbone. So delicious, it made me want to say “I do.”
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Send fire, skulls and money… that shit has hit the Windowsill!
As a connoisseur of craft beer, I know that sometimes a can, bottle or glass isn’t always good enough to hold that glorious nectar. None of the vessels do a good enough job of keeping my beer cold for long periods of time. Sometimes, they need help. With that in mind, take a look at the container on my sill today. It’s the Hopsulator by BruMate, and it’s a really cool product. It can be used in several different ways: It’s meant to hold 16 oz beer cans (with the special screw top), but you can put 12 oz cans in it (with the booster). It’s also stainless steel, so you can pour your liquids directly in it… hot or cold. I use it just about every day for my coffee, and I sometimes pour my beer in it. Just switch tops, and it’s a drink on the go (coffee for the car, beer for the beach). Awesome product!
What beer did I pour in my Hopsulator? One of the best IPAs I’ve had all year. The Fire, Skulls and Money from Iowa’s Toppling Goliath Brewing Company was unreal. Incredibly juicy, amazingly hoppy (Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy and Nelson), and with haze for days. You can see some of that amazing color shining through the dark bottle in the sun, right? Unfortunately, I took this one to the beach, so I couldn’t open it to show you guys the full pour color, but trust ya boy when I say it’s incredible.
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Let’s pay homage to all brewery pets on the Windowsill today!
Every good brewery needs an official mascot. More often than not, dogs get the nod for this position, but not at Bloomfield, CT’s Thomas Hooker Brewery. Blumpkin (yep, that was her full given name) aka Blumpy the cat was the official mascot of the brewery for eight years. Unfortunately, a year and a couple of weeks ago, she passed away. The folks at Hooker decided to preserve her memory the only way they knew how—with a beer. The Ode to Blumpy was released a short time later.
You know the owners of a brewery known for solid beers weren’t going to skimp when it came to honoring their beloved pet. The Ode to Blumpy is an unfiltered IPA brewed with tons of Mosaic and Huell Melon hops. The citrus aroma got me salivating, and the flavor followed suit perfectly. Very light on the bitterness for such a hoppy beer, too. As Hooker says in the official description, it’s got a “remarkably unique character, just like its namesake.” Hope Blumpy is still running around a brewery in heaven. RIP!
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Let’s foster some cooperation on the Windowsill today!
I love a good brewing Co-op, so I was excited to discover a new one this past weekend: Fair State Brewing Cooperative. So what exactly is a brewing co-op? According to CrafttBeer.com, co-op refers to “an organization that is owned by its members, rather than outside shareholders.” You pay your membership dues, and you have a say in how the business is run and, most importantly, a share in its profits. The first ever Cooperatively owned brewery was Austin, Texas’ Black Star Brewing, which opened up in 2010 and inspired President & CEO Evan Sallee to start Fair State in Minnesota with 250 members on board in 2014.
Today’s Windowsill brew, just named IPA, is a dry pale ale brewed with malted wheat and six types of hops: Horizon, Chinook, Crystal, Cascade, Simcoe and Centennial. One thing I love about brewing cooperatives, is that their brews often seem like a cooperative effort, too. Lots of hops in this one, but not a lot of bitterness. Floral aromas and nice, dry finish made for a pretty tasty beer. Looking forward to tasting something else from Fair State.
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