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Toad the Brett Rocket

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Rex Stardust, lead electric triangle with Toad the Wet Sprocket, has had to have an elbow removed following their recent successful worldwide tour of Finland. Flamboyant ambidextrous Rex apparently fell off the back of a motorcycle. "Fell off the back of a motorcyclist, most likely," quipped ace drummer Jumbo McClooney upon hearing of the accident. Plans are now afoot for a major tour of Iceland.

And thus did Monty Python birth the name of alt rock heroes, Toad the Wet Sprocket, in an old sketch called "Rock Notes". Apparently the band was a big fan of Python and couldn't settle on a name, so they just snagged this one. It was meant to be temporary, but it just stuck.

Fortunately, the multitude of differing and evolving beers that show up in brewpubs lends itself to eccentric names, obscure references, lame/awesome puns, and so on. Thus Toad the Brett Rocket, a dry hopped saison aged in wine barrels with Brettanomyces, was born. With an awesome label depicting a toad riding a barrel-shaped rocket. This is not quite the revelation that Hallowed Ground was, but these bottle releases are not to be slept on. Er, strike that. Let's keep these things manageable and not get out of hand. Nothing to see here, move it along:

McKenzie Toad the Brett Rocket

McKenzie Toad the Brett Rocket - Pours an almost clear golden yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells very nice, citrusy hops, vinous fruit, earthy Brett. Taste starts off sweet, hints of white wine, lemon peel, citrusy hops, a bit of tartness, then it moves on into more funky, earthy Brett territory, light but lasting through the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, and lightly acidic, very refreshing summer spritzer type of thing. Overall, this is another winner, though perhaps not quite as great as Hallowed Ground, it still earns an A- in my book. Er, blog. This is a blog.

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/8/16. Released: 6/28/16.

It's nice to see that older local breweries are still managing to do interesting things, and I will most definitely be snagging more McKenzie bottles whenever Nate puts them out.

McKenzie Hallowed Ground

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One of the things that emerged during the 1990s surge of microbreweries (and subsequent bubble burst) was an explosion of brewpubs. I mean, they weren't a new concept, but the infusion of capital that happened in the 90s lead to a particular style of brewpub that went through a rough patch before settling into a rythm. You know the type. John Harvard's (who used to be all over the place, but retreated back to their New England roots when times got rough), Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, and countless local chains. They're not necessarily bad, per say, but they tend to be generic. Bright, spacious, competent, but bland and lacking personality. Newfangled brewpubs like Tired Hands, Forest & Main, and Vault are more idiosyncratic, warmer, more homey, and their beer is an order of magnitude better. Even their expansions seem more organic and less cookie-cutter. The oldshchool brewpubs that survived the 90s have generally done so by expanding their offerings into new and interesting territory than your standard brewpub lineup (i.e. light lager, pale ale, porter, wheat, etc...), but they often still feel generic. Around here, Iron Hill seems to do well with a nice atmosphere and decent taplist. They even opened one a block over from Tired Hands and seem to be holding their own. Not all of these brewpubs are doing that well.

Enter McKenzie Brew House. They've been around a while and there are 3 or 4 locations in the area, but I've always been underwhelmed by their offerings. I can certainly make due, but I've never had anything from them that blew me away. Until, that is, I got the chance to sample some of their limited bottled offerings like this one: a barrel-aged, dry-hopped saison, my kinda crazy. Stuff like this has actually been around for a while, but very limited and kinda under the radar. I'd always written them off because of their normally underwhelming taplist, but now I've seen the light. Hallowed Ground, indeed:

McKenzie Hallowed Ground

McKenzie Hallowed Ground - Pours a radiant golden yellow color, cloudy with a chance of a moderately dense finger of head and some lacing. Smells fantastic, some farmhouse yeast character, spicy and fruity, hints of lemon and lots of tropical citrus hops. Taste starts sweet and spicy with a light tart fruit character that blooms into full blown lemony sourness towards the finish, which also brings out a little of that citrus hop character as well. Mouthfeel is fabulous, highly carbonated and effervescent, medium bodied, light acidity. Overall, this is surprisingly fantastic! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 1/8/15. Batch: 2. Bottled: October, 2015.

Great, even when I think I have a local brewery pegged, they go and do something like this. I will most certainly be seeking out these special releases in the future.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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