|Kelley's Island Brewery 2011 - Brain Salad Surgery
You know, it's amazing how tall Oak trees can grow from such small acorns. There we were, Lord Shigley and myself, sitting in the outdoor patio at Doug &
Patti's splendid Kelley's Island Brewing Co, enjoying an early 2011 summer's day, when two songs from the piped 70's music caught my attention.
The first song had me thinking - I thought I recognized it, but only when the high pitched voice of Jon Anderson from Yes came in did I realize it was
And You & I from Close to the Edge. When I was a young teenager growing up in rural Gloucestershire, I thought Jon and his mates were cosmic gurus.
Theirs was a mantra which was surely linked to the meaning of life...or so I thought. Fast forward to 2008, and And You & I sounded hideously dated. And
that voice...ghastly - worse than a load of old tomcats screaming outside!
The second song turned my head; it was Greg Lake (with Emerson, Lake & Palmer) singing Still, you turn me On. What a voice! What a song! What
excellent lyrics! Gordon Bennett, I'm going retro!
That tune was in my head all the way home. I had a couple of ELP albums as a lad, but I was never really that fussed about them. It was all about Yes,
Genesis, Camel, Focus etc. But that night, I made the decision to purchase the album that features Still, you turn me On: Brain Salad Surgery. I didn't tell
anyone (not even Asia, my little hound) for fear of being laughed or woofed at.
The aforementioned disc arrived -- it was bloody brilliant. It sounded alive, exciting, daring, with loads of wild keyboard work from Keith Emerson.
I then re-bought the two ELP albums I used to own all those years ago: Trilogy, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Both bloody brilliant. Now I was inspired and
charged...but, to cut short this story, I have since added no less than 14 (yes, fourteen) more ELP CDs to the Roberts Manor collection. And I'm having a
whale of a time with them.
But, it doesn't stop there. I started re-listening to several of my classical discs, as a number of ELP compositions are based on classical themes. While
checking out some classical discs on the internet, I came across a review of the CD Durham Concerto, composed by Jon Lord (yes, the keyboard player from
Deep Purple). The review was stunning, and so was the disc, when it arrived in the mail a few days later.
Now, I found myself checking into Jon Lord's classical work, which dates back as far as 1969. Fourteen ELP and six Jon Lord discs on, and here I am, writing
about it all. This huge oak tree which stemmed from a chance listen at Kelley's Island Brewing Co.
Thank you, Doug & Patti for enriching my life!
But, let's talk beer. If Jon Anderson was once a cosmic guru, then Doug Muranyi is a 21st Century beer guru. Here's a bloke who wears his passion on his
sleeve and who will quite happily sit with you and discuss his beers. It doesn't get anymore "hands on" than this. Then, Patti will come and join in the
conversation as well. I mean, it's all so friendly and congenial -- are Shigley and I dreaming? Do people like this really exist? You get my point and from
previous reviews written by myself, Lord Shigley and Lord "Conference team" Ackery, I am really repeating the obvious: that Doug and Patti are super, super
On my previous visit to KIB in 2010, the tastings were marred by a rather acidic and skunky Gale Force IPA. Thus, I was somewhat unflattering when
reviewing this beer. Twelve months on, I was wondering if I was going to walk in the door to KIB, only to receive a kick up the royal arse from Patti. As it
turned out, I didn't get a kick up the arse; instead, I received a warm hug with an apology for last year's Gale Force IPA.
What had happened last year was a "bad" batch had temporally escaped and yours truly just happened to be on hand to suck one down. It was pretty rank to
be sure, but not indicative of the rest of the superb ales I tasted that day.
Patti insisted I make the Gale Force my first beer of the 2011 visit - how could I refuse?
Here then, is the Spring 2011 review:
1) Gale Force IPA (6.5%)
Dry hopped with the wonderful Cascade hops, with the equally wonderful Centennial hops used for bittering, Gale Force is (for its strength) a lovely mild IPA.
Very smooth, but not overbearing or too bitter. With a tangy citrusy hop finish, this IPA is one of the highlights of the year. More-ish? Oh yes, most definitely
2) Island Devil (8.5%)
Described as a "Classic Double Belgian Style Ale", the initial flavour brought forth peaches with a good tangyness to it. I also picked up Marmite-ish flavours
coupled with malt loaf. Doug uses 2-Row and Crystal malts, Haulertauer and Saaz hops, and a Trappist yeast, which well explains the malt flavours. Very
tasty, but not for anyone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 9/10
3) Angler's Ale (5.5%)
"And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy lamb of god
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariots of fire!
I will not cease from metal fight;
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land".
Oh, sorry - Doug's very British Angler's Ale just sent me on a flashback to my beloved England via the lyrics to Jerusalem, recognised as the Hymn of
England. And, folks, should you want the definitive ROCK version of Jerusalem, then look no further than the opening track on ELPs Brain Salad Surgery.
Have I said bloody brilliant? I think I have. ELPs version was bizarrely banned by the BBC for being "blasphemous"!!! Bizarre! Angler's Ale is beautifully
balanced with the malt and hops both vying for attention; the malt flavours taking the lead half way through the tasting. It was beginning to remind me of
Fuller's London Pride, before the hops came back to the forefront and finish. Using the English classic Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops, Angler's Ale is
the classic British Bitter. 11/10
4) Summer Haze (4%)
Right, let it be announced from the highest spires and sandy beaches, that I LOVE a good Hefeweizen (or Witbier, if you reside in Belgium). When you've
been slugging it out painting a fence, or weeding the garden in 90+ degree temperatures, there's nothing like a freshing wheat beer to quench the thirst and
sooth the aching brow. For your history lesson, Hefe (yeast) Weizen (wheat) is of German origin and traditionally means an unfiltered wheat beer with yeast in
it. Sadly, there are a lot of shite wheat beers on the market.
In bottles, Celis White and Allagash White reign supreme. It is, however, harder to find a decent Hefe/Wheat ontap. BJs, in Columbus, does an excellent
wheat beer, using banana yeast. Which brings me to Summer Haze. The first thing that hits your tastebuds is bananas. We are definitely on the right track.
Then, there's a hint of cloves - even better. There's a delicious citrusy mouthful in that wheat beer fashion and it looks good too; a blond, cloudy offering.
Coming in at a sensible 4% abv, Summer Haze is the last word on summer session beers. It really doesn't get any better for your summer drinking. 12/10
5) Dawg Bizkit Brown (5.5%)
Let it be announced from the highest spires and sandy beaches that I'm not a fan of English or American Brown ales, but like his Angler's Ale Bitter, Doug has
hit the nail right on the head with this one. Brown Ales are under appreciated in the western hemisphere, but if enough beer lovers taste Dawg Bizkit Brown,
then this issue can soon be remedied. This beer is described as "A full body taste, thick head and lightly hopped for a smooth semi-dry finish. A unique
combination of roasted barley, chocolate, and crystal malts. Our most requested ale. It ain't for poodles!!" Need I say more, except that unlike many brewers,
Doug resisted over-hopping this ale, which allows the malty character to shine through. A classic American ale. 9/10
6) Kelleys Gold (4.5%)
A summer refresher to be sure, Gold is made with white wheat and lightly roasted 2-Row Crystal malts which produces an intriguing cross between a Kolsch
and a wheat beer. Light bodied, there's a faint fruitiness in the aroma, with a crisp flowery, hoppy finish. Perfect for those 95-degree temperatures and a fine
cousin to Summer Haze. 9/10
7) Lake Erie Lager (4.5%)
Described by Doug as a "German classic", the Lake Erie Lager is based on the Munich Helles style. There's a noticeably malty sweetness with a delicate
balance of spicy hops, making this lager less bitter than a pilsner. Another tasty offering to fight off the Ohio heatwave. With a massive malt combination of
2-Row, Crystal Wheat, and Chocolate, the Lake Erie Lager is a bit malty for my tastes, but nonetheless a finely crafted lager of its Germanic type. 9/10
Our day at Kelley's Island Brewery was a lazy, hazy time of resting and tasting. Even though we had come up on our motorcycles, once we dropped anchor at
the brewery, there didn't seem any point of visiting anywhere else on the Island. It was a marvellous day, with a great ride, great weather, great food, great
beer and great company and conversation from Doug and Patti. When you're on the Island, seek them out - you won't be sorry. Cheers!
|Have bikes, will travel! - The Manor Kawasaki 750cc Vulcan on the right.
|A peek inside Doug's brewery 2.
|Harley Shigley & Kawasaki Roberts on a hot day at Kelley's Island Brewery.