36. Barley Island – Sheet Metal Blonde

This past weekend I went to the Oak Park Brew Review. It was AWESOME!

The event was outside in downtown Oak Park and it was beautiful outside.  About 50 breweries showed up and brought some great beer. For example:

Goose Island’s Gran Gas made an appearance, although very limited. This beer brewed with spruce tips and lingonberries only stuck around for about an hour (it was great, as can be attested to by all the people who ripped through it). Three Floyds brought their Mentol Brown, which was an English brown brewed in collaboration with Brodie’s in London. Destihl dropped off an incredible apricot sour, that forced me to circle back around in line and get it a second time. Finch’s offered up their Sanchez Stache (barrel aged coffee stout), which was absolutely incredible. It was a wonderful mix of coffee, vanilla, chocolate, and booze.

Also, my daughter was enjoying the outdoors. I got a great picture of her and my wife hanging out in front of a Goose Island truck. I like to think that big smile is because she already has an appreciation for good beer, even if she hasn’t tried any yet.

This week I gave the Barley Island Sheet Metal Blonde a try.

Sight: Pale yellow in color with a wispy white head that quickly disappeared.

Smell: Lots of wheat, which is to be expected. There was a little bit of cloves mixed in there, to let you know it’s a Belgian style wheat

Taste: Light with a malty middle and a bitter spicy finish. The Belgian portion kicks in a little late. The beer supposedly has “herbs and spices”, but I wasn’t getting any over the strong wheat flavor.

My overall grade:  C-

Nothing really going on with this beer. It was okay. Would I turn it down if someone handed me one? No. If it was in a cooler with other beer, would I consider the others first? Yes.

I’m off to put next year’s Oak Park Brew Review in my calendar.

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27. Barley Island – Dirty Helen

Have you ever looked at your upcoming calendar of events and said to yourself, “Man, I don’t want to be here for that.”?

Well, this weekend is one of those situations.

It’s already ramping up now and I’m currently looking for ways to avoid it, but the NATO Summit is rolling into town this weekend.  Everyone seems to have different views on NATO and its implications on the world, but I’m not here to discuss that.  And, in all honesty, I don’t really care.

What I do care about is how this event is going to ruin my day.

Already protesters are being arrested around the city and this thing hasn’t even started yet!  The protesters are out protesting something that isn’t currently happening.  It’s like protesting the air or the sunshine.  The only thing they currently seem to be doing is aggravating residents.  People who may even agree with the protesters’ message (whatever that happens to be, I still can’t really figure it out) are getting aggravated, and they’re not even the targets of the protest.

Local news and organizers for the Summit have suggested that people in Chicago dress down this weekend.  The idea is that if we’re out there in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, the protesters won’t think we’re involved with the Summit (because, obviously, if you wear a suit you’re a NATO delegate) and we won’t get insults or worse (bags of crap) thrown at us.

A nice weekend to wander the city is ruined.  Even the Shedd Aquarium will be closed this weekend.  50 of their staff will be locking themselves inside the aquarium (in case of emergency).  Doesn’t that seem ridiculous?

At this point we’re trying to decide if it’s better for us to stick it out at home or gather up and head out in the traffic to the suburbs.  We’ll see.

This week, I tried the Barley Island Dirty Helen.

Sight:  Brown with a slight reddish hue and a thin white head

Smell:  Lots of grassy hops with light malty sweetness lingering in

Taste:  Sweet malts and biscuits.  There was a light bitter finish that ended kind of watery.

My overall grade:  C+

I expected this brown to have a little more malty character, but it fell a little short.  Not terrible, but not great… hence the C+.  Dirty Helen is named after a tavern owner in Milwaukee.  She tended to curse people out, giving her the nickname for her dirty mouth.  Knowledge!

I wasn’t able to find the 4th beer from the Two Brothers Anniversary, so, I give you Half Acre’s Ginger Twin!

Sight:  Deep red in color and very opaque.  Under the lights it glowed like a hot ember.

Smell:  All hops.  Lots and lots of hops.

Taste:  Big grassy hop flavor.  It kind of punches you in the mouth with hops.  I expected it to immediately fade into a huge bitter finish, but it flowed into a light malty backbone and finished up light and clean.

My overall grade:  A-

Get this beer.  Now.

Well, I better pack my bags and get out of Dodge.