Welcome to the second part of my Beerstaycation. If you missed the first part about saying good bye to summer with Castle Cream Ale, click here. So for a recap, the family and I took a week of vacation at our cabin in Aitkin, MN. I took it upon myself to complete a certain number of beer challenges, mostly centered around a theme of Welcoming The Fall, my favorite time of the year. And what better way to get to know the fall then to take in the local seasonals from the nearby breweries in the area. Now up in Aitkin you have two directions to go. You can go head East to Duluth and hit up Fitger’s, Canal Park, and Canoe Paddle. Or you can head west to the Brainerd/Nissawa area where the formidable Jack Pine, Gull Dam, and Big Axe reside. We choose the former. We tried beer from all three, and plenty of them, but today I want to focus on a couple of really special beers from Jack Pine. While in the area I found some bombers (22oz bottles) of some of the rarer Jack Pine beers. So here is my review of Hornet’s Nest and Duck Pond.
First on tap is Jack Pine’s Hornet’s Nest Honey Lemon Wheat: This beer poured a very clear amber red. It had a light head, but that might have also been my glassware. It had a clean aroma, with a hint of white grapes. It had a very thin mouthfeel, and was low on carbonation. This is a very sweet beer, with little hoppiness. It finished dry like a great wine, with a twang of lemon in the end. It stands at 6.5% ABV. While I was limited in the types of glassware at the cabin, I would recommend drinking this in a mug or a pint glass. Make sure you let this one linger on our palette as you drink it to help soak in the subtle flavors. This beer will pair well with egg heavy dishes, as well as salads with a sweeter dressing. If you are a beer drinker who likes beers that are balanced, and perhaps a little off kilter, then you will enjoy this beer the most
Jack Pine Duck Pond Nut Brown: This 4.4% ABV pours a nice muddy brown. The toasted aromas, followed with caramel notes wafted to my nose before I could raise my glass. This beer drank smooth, with great toasty flavors. It does have a slightly hoppy notes. This beer is perfectly malty. This beer had a medium mouthfeel, and more carbonation then I was expecting. This beer was one of the most balanced beers I had the whole Beerstaycation. This beer really showed that Jack Pine has the staying power when going up against other Minnesota legendary brews. Like the wheat beer above, this beer is best served in a pint glass, or mug/stein. For food pairings, since this is the fall, try pairing this with fall squashes, baked with brown sugar. Dark beer fans will enjoy this beer the most, but this would be great on-boarding for those of you looking to expand beyond the Pilsner.
In conclusion, just because you can’t take an epic Beercation like some people…doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the neighborhood flavor, and explore the awesome world of your locally made craft beer. Until next time, PROST!