Back Channel Brewing Collective: Gonzo

Back Channel Brewing Collective: Gonzo

Style: New England-style IPA

Special Notes: Beer bowl, bro.

Hops: Motueka, Strata

ABV: 6.75%

IBU: 58

Availability: Limited

@untappd says: 4.27/5

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?

Back Channel Brewing Collective: Gonzo
Look at this awesome crowler I got! (Credit: Martin Stezano/Beers on Windowsills)

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.

Gonzo IPA in a beer bowl
Did I drink it out of the beer bowl? You bet your ass I did! (Credit: Martin Stezano/Beers on Windowsills)

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!

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. Back Channel Brewing Collective: Gonzo . Sometimes, you just need a cool brewery on the Windowsill! . 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. 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? They even sent me a beer bowl! . OK so first, let’s get into why, exactly, Back Channel Brewing has 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. The official beer bowl was born. . I should talk about the beer. The Gonzo is an IPA made 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 Gonzo? Well, Back Channel is very proud of its Minnesota roots, and all of their beers are named as homages to people from MN. Back Channel never reveals who their beers are named after, but I got one hint: someone from Minnesota was very involved in Jim Henson’s Muppets. My guess? Jerry Juhl—head writer for the Muppets Show. He was from Minnesota. Whoever this beer is named after, it was pretty awesome. Think Julius from @treehousebrewco… in a bowl. . I have to give it up to Back Channel. Their beer is legit, and I hope I get to try them again. . Go to the link in my profile for more info about my experience with Back Channel! . ABV: 6.75%, IBU: 58, Limited Availability . @untappd says: 4.27/5

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SingleCut Beersmiths: Mo’ Shuggie Double Dry-Hop IPA

SingleCut Beersmiths: Mo' Shuggie Double Dry-Hop IPA

Style: Double Dry-Hopped IPA

Special Notes: The latest iteration on the SingleCut series inspired by cult guitar legend Shuggie Otis.

ABV: 7.2%

IBU: 77

Availability: Rotating

@untappd says: 4.16/5

Why settle for less, when you can have mo’?

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!

SingleCut Beersmiths: Mo' Shuggie Double Dry-Hop IPA

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!

As always, you can like this one on Instagram, and follow us for more great craft beer!

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. SingleCut Beersmiths: Mo’ Shuggie Double Dry-Hop IPA . Why settle for less, when you can have mo’? . Once again, we have a delicious IPA from @singlecutbeer on the Windowsill today. The Double Dry-Hopped Mo’ Shuggie! This one comes courtesy of one of my neighbors, @jessedaignault. 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? 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. . 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—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! . ABV: 7.2%, IBU: 77, Rotating availability . @untappd says: 4.16/5

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SingleCut Beersmiths: Electric Blue DDH IPA

SingleCut Beersmiths: Electric Blue DDH IPA

Style: Double Dry-Hopped IPA

Special Notes: Inspired by the David Bowie song “Sound and Vision.” A bigger version of another SingleCut IPA named “Weird & Gilly.”

ABV: 7.2%

IBU: 112

Availability: Rotating

@untappd says: 4.21/5

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.

SingleCut Beersmiths: Electric Blue DDH IPA
This beer lived up to its name. Absolutely electric! (Credit: Martin Stezano/Beers on Windowsills)

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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• SingleCut Beersmiths: Electric Blue DDH IPA • 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, 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 Wild & 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 Wild & Gilly tasting like. Super juicy and delicious. Extremely hoppy and hazy. So good! I definitely wasn’t blue after sipping this one on Christmas Day. • ABV: 7.2%, IBU: 112, Rotating availability • @untappd says: 4.21/5

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Tree House Brewing Company: Green

Tree House Brewing Company: Green

ABV: 7.5%

IBU: 90

Availability: Rotating

@untappd says: 4.48/5

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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Tree House Brewing Company: Lights On

Tree House Brewing Company: Lights On

ABV: 5.6%

IBU: N/A

Availability: Rotating

@untappd says: 4.26/5

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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Tree House Brewing Company: In Perpetuity

Tree House Brewing Company: In Perpetuity

Hops: Citra, Nelson

ABV: 6.7%

IBU: N/A

Availability: Rotating

@untappd says: 4.43/5

I hereby promise to love Tree House Brewing Company… in perpetuity.

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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Toppling Goliath Brewing Company: Fire, Skulls & Money

Toppling Goliath Brewing Company: Fire, Skulls and Money

Hops: Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy, Nelson

ABV: 7.2%

IBU: 50

Availability: Rotating

@untappd says: 4.29/5

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!

Hopsulator
The Hopsulator and its many accessories. Keep everything cold! (Martin Stezano/Beers on Windowsills)

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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Thomas Hooker Brewery: Ode to Blumpy

Thomas Hooker Brewery: Ode to Blumpy

Hops: Mosaic, Huell Melon

ABV: 7.0%

IBU: N/A

Availability: Rotating

@untappd says: 4.01/5

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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Fair State Brewing Cooperative: IPA

Fair State Brewing Cooperative: IPA

Hops: Horizon, Chinook, Crystal, Cascade, Simcoe, Centennial

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: 60

Availability: Year-round

@untappd says: 3.78/5

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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Two Roads Brewing Company and Lawson’s Finest Liquids: Typecast Farmhouse IPA

Lawson's Finest Liquids and Two Roads Brewing Company: Typecast Farmhouse IPA

Hops: Wye Challenger, Cascade, Centennial

Special Ingredients: Vermont White Cedar, Connecticut Balsam Fir Tips

ABV: 6.5%

IBU: N/A

Availability: Limited

@untappd says: 3.7/5

We have a really atypical collaboration on the Windowsill today!

I love a good collaboration brew, so you know I was excited to find out that one of my favorite local breweries, Two Roads Brewing Company, and one of Vermont’s finest breweries, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, had come together to create a very unique Farmhouse IPA—the Typecast. For those of you know know Lawson’s story, it shouldn’t be a surprise that these two made a beer together. They already make a lot of beers together. If you’ve ever had any Lawson’s in a can, know that it was actually brewed at Two Roads. The two have had a solid contract brewing relationship for a while now.

Now onto the brew. A farmhouse IPA? Sounds wild, right? What is it? It starts out as a farmhouse ale (aka saison), and then it’s dry-hopped to perfection. One extra cool thing about this beer is that it uses all local ingredients. It uses Cascade and Wye Challenger hops grown in Connecticut, as well as Centennial hops grown in Vermont. The Typecast also includes Vermont white cedar and CT balsam fir tips in the boil. Overall, this brew wasn’t really for me, but it’s definitely an eclectic style, with some pretty good flavors that you might like. Cheers!

Check this one out on Instagram, now. Make sure to like this post and follow my page!