Recently I joined a couple friends for a dinner and mostly beer tasting at the Free State Brewery in Lawrence, Kansas. We all remember this place when it was a bus terminal.
Tasting notes are in order of lightness of the brew...
WHEAT STATE GOLDEN. A wheat beer. Nothing not to like. Pleasant if unremarkable. And that's saying something because a Kansas brewery should have GREAT wheat beer. This was not nearly as impressive as Boulevard's wheat or the two wheat offerings at the Blind Tiger in Topeka, for that matter. Score: 6.5 out of 10.00
AD ASTRA ALE. I just don't get this. Slightly bitter with no distinctive flavor. Score: 3.00
JOHN BROWN ALE: Fair but with "porter-like" backnotes that detract. Score: 4.5 to 5.0
COPERHEAD PALE ALE: Mostly a bitter style of pale ale. Score 6.00 Unremarkable.
KINGS CROSS EXTRA SPECIAL BITTERS. My favorite to this point in the tasting Very nice not oppressive bitters style. Score 7.5 to 8.0 Everyone at the table liked this.
OATMEAL STOUT: Not unpleasant. A thinish texture detracts somewhat. Score: 6.0 to 6.5
BLACK JACK PORTER: Nice and smooth. Thicker texture than the stout. Mild creaminess and good if understated aftertaste. Probably the 2nd favorite of the evening. Score 7.0
OLD BACKUS BARLEYWINE. Beautiful nose promised a great drink. Nice initial taste and then... this just fades. In the end that that interesting. Lacking the "evolution" of complex flavors you want from a breat barleywine. Score 5.5
Overall I was not that impressed with the Free State although everyone will likely enjoy the bitters and the porter. Boulevard remains my favorite area micro-brewer at this point with a great wheat, stout, and good pale ale offering.
After the FreeState we "rolled the tasting" over to a friends place where we tried 3 Great Divide beers from the bottle, all quite remarkable:
HERCULES DOUBLE INDIA PALE ALE. A huge beer, very sweet and complex. Nothing not to like. Probably would score around 9.0 in the category, if not higher.
OLD RUFFIAN BARLEYWINE. Very complex and port-like. ANother big winner scoring in the 9's.
OAK AGED YETI IMPERIAL STOUT. I liked this, but not sure I'd prefer it over their "regular" Yeti Imperial. Probably would score it around 8.0 or so.
Overall the Great Divide offerings were tremendous examples of their styles.