Category Archives: Tasting

Drekker Pillager Porter

Who can argue with a viking-themed brewery? Drekker Brewing are a cheeky bunch with a similar home-brew-in-garage-to-not-quite-riches story to so many other other craft breweries of the twenty-first century. They explicitly state that they don’t think their story is interesting and can’t be bothered telling it, which is reasonably refreshing, but also alludes to Grand Scandalous Deeds in their incorporation. They are based in Fargo, North Dakota and have four core staff, one of whom is titled “Chief of Hipster Relations”. Gotta keep them on-side I suppose.

The Pillager Porter is a 5.2% ABV beer aimed at being “approachable and drinkable”, unlike every other beer. I suppose Drekker’s marketing is as humble as their storytelling abilities. Anyway, it pours an oak-oil brown with a balsa cream head and smells of boiled sweets, caramel and fantale-gum, a reference that may not be appreciable for non-Australian readers. It’s something like burnt sugar. There’s no porter-characteristic coffee or chocolate in initial impressions.

After sipping a full, creamy mouthfeel allows clean, light flavours to play their notes. A touch on the bitter side, the beer exhibits a heavy crystal profile with little toasted or burned qualities and only the faintest touch of coffee. Nothing surfaces from the hops and the overwhelmingly flavour is bold, pounding muffin malts, erring on the charred side but not quite getting there.

Very nice; a restrained porter not crippled by its restraint but rather enabled by it, I could have a few of these, especially with something salty.

I bought a pint of this beer at Fargo Billiards & Gastropub, Fargo, North Dakota. It is a huge venue but was quite empty when I was there. One gets the sense it would feel empty even with 200 people inside, so with only 20 or so diners or pool players it seemed really barren. The upside of that is attentive staff who come to your pool table as soon as they see that you’ve finished your beer – I dig that.

Kona Big Wave Golden Ale

The Kona Brewing Company is a Hawaiian brewery, originally a family-run operation, and the beer in this post has pedigree, going all the way back to 1995. The fact that a Hawaiian beer is being served by keg in Minnesota does jar a little: they brew substantially on the mainland, though will always call “The Big Island” home. Operations go on in Portland, Oregon, Woodinville, Washington, Memphis, Tennessee, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

This Golden Ale rests peacefully in the glass, straw-gold yellow, completely sans head but quite carbonated. The aroma is characterised by hops, hops and more hops: equal parts pineapple slam, grapefruit crush and deliciously tart citrus. Underneath, the headless ale is dry, thin and spritzy, but this does nothing to help the flat, insipid flavours. Apple and malt shake coexist at low levels with an equally marginal bitterness.

It’s drinkable and fault-free but hardly a winner.

I had a pint of this uninspiring draught beer at Port 104 Bar-Grill and Bowling, Lake City, Minnesota. It was a fairly done-up family-style bar with bowling lanes, a pool table, lots of seating and early closing hours. Lake City is not exactly a drink-party town; more a wholesome-party town. But I am getting old so that’s fine with me.

Indeed Brewing Co. Dandy Pale Lager

Indeed Brewing Co. has been going since 2012 and brews out of Minneapolis. They pride themselves on being community-orientated, donating all profits from their taproom’s Wednesday trade to a different nonprofit each week. Let’s hope they survive The Dreaded Correction.

I would estimate this beer has an EBC of around 10, the colour of those palest of yellow fall leaves. Its head is slight but hangs around. After olfactory exploration sweet biscuit, butter and waffle malt character predominate; no yeast, no hops. On sampling the beer a dry, medium mouthfeel smoothly highlights a very pure, clean bread malt flavour. It’s very well done. Bitterness is an afterthought.

I bought this 5.4% ABV canned beer at Happy Harry’s Bottleshop and drank it at a house in West Fargo, North Dakota.

Bend Paddle Brewing Golden IPA

The Bent Paddle Brewing Co. is a Minnesota brewery owned by two married couples. They make fairly middle-of-the-road style beers, nothing too mad, and package them in very attractive cans. Their name is explained thus:

Bent Paddle Brewing Co.® is named for the bent shaft canoe paddle Bryon used to mix his brewing mash while at Rock Bottom Brewery as well as a shared passion for canoeing.

Of course, a mash paddle.

This thick, opaque beer is a solid bronze with a pockmarked, cheese-whip style big head. It pours very well and smells fresh: syrup sweet lollies, caramel malts, apple and jackfruit. This is the first beer that I’ve ever found jackfruit in – clearly an aroma hop contribution (at least four hops are in this). The beer is juicy, slick and undercarbonated in the mouth and carries a grand hit of crystal malt, smoothing over a light to medium bitterness.

There’s not too much hop flavour to be tasted here but this is still a solid, slightly Northeast U.S.A. style IPA with a great nose.

I bought this 6.2% ABV canned beer at Happy Harry’s Bottleshop and drank it at a house in West Fargo, North Dakota.