Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Bier Dinner 2009

Okay, right up front you should know my now that if there was going to be a Thanksgiving Dinner in my house it’s going to involve beer and not just any beer but course selected special pairings. The following is the 2009 Thanksgiving Bier Menu.  Below that I’ll have some comments about each of the brews and how the pairing went.

I know, before we even start you are saying to yourself on of two things; this is a neat idea or I can’t believe Kathy puts up with him. Well, maybe you’re saying both, I did. As Robert Murray at State Line Liquors said as I was leaving on Wednesday night with two large boxes full of beer, “She’s got to love you”. 

One more thing before we get started. There was also a punch bowl of Eggnog. Not your store bought eggnog. This was made from scratch real eggnog that Pop Pop would be proud off. Oh yeah, this eggnog has more brandy and rum than eggs and cream and I served it with fresh ground nutmeg.

So here’s the lineup

Hors d’oeuvres/ Aperitif
Bornem Tripel
Brewed by: Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V., Belgium
Tripel |  9.00% ABV

Lindemans Framboise
Brewed by: Brouwerij Lindemans, Belgium
Lambic - Fruit |  4.00% ABV

Turkey Entrée
La Botteresse Brune
Brewed by: Brasserie la Botteresse de Sur-les-Bois, Belgium
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  9.50% ABV

Lindemans Kriek
Brewed by: Brouwerij Lindemans, Belgium
Lambic - Fruit |  4.00% ABV

Brewed by: Weyerbacher Brewing Co., Easton Pennsylvania
American Wild Ale |  11.40% ABV

Digestive/Final Snifter
World Wide Stout
Brewed by: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Delaware
American Double / Imperial Stout |  18.00% ABV

Here is what I thought about the Biers

Lindemans Framboise and Kriek
Served in Lindemas Flute Glasses
Before I talk about the other beers I did have a couple of selections for the ladies. In this case the Lindemans Framboise (Raspberry) to start of the evening and the Kriek (Black Cherry) for dessert.

OK now to the real stuff.

Bornem Tripel
Served in a Chimay Chalice Glass
This was a last minute substitute due to availability but it turned out to be a nice selection. I haven’t had this tripel in two years or more so it was a very pleasant reunion. It’s an excellent tripel with a little more bite to it. It’s not hoppy at all but there is a nice spicy bite and at 9% ABV it started off the evening on the right foot.

La Botteresse Brune

Served in a Belgian Tulip Glass
I only had this beer once before at a 12 Percent Imports rep tasting. At that time I knew it was going to be my Entrée beer pairing. This was the hit of the evening for me. It was Thanksgiving Dinner in a Glass. This is a unique Belgian import that is brewed with sage. It is a very complex brew that is just packed with flavor. Like most Belgians it is low in hops and this beer had a wonderful complexity of malt, yeast and spice flavors. It was surprising that at 9.5% you could not detect the alcohol in this beer at all. It was a very smooth and flavorful brew. It was the perfect pairing for the main turkey entrée. (in my humble opinion)

Served in a Flute Glass
This American Wild Ale was the wild card for dessert. Again, a brew I only had tasted once before at a tasting. I enjoyed it but it was a little too much for most of the guest. This beer was very tart and sour. It is a wild yeast ale with raspberry puree added and aged in oak barrels. It’s a very unique brew from Weyerbacher but it turned out to be a little too unique for most. I enjoyed the wild funkiness of the brew. I thought it went well with the dessert pies and I also liked the 11.4% ABV kick that it had.

World Wide Stout
Served in small Brandy Snifters
Well at 18.00% ABV this was a beer to slowly sip while digesting your meal. I have had this powerful little beer before so I knew what it was capable of. This is the most unique stout I’ve ever had. There are more flavorful stouts out there but I don’t think your find one with this much alcohol. This was the perfect final digestive beer; especially since I was already home and not driving. It is a full flavored stout but there is no mistaking the 18%. You can smell the alcohol as soon as you open the bottle. It is surprisingly very easy to drink but it is a slow sipping beer none the less. When served in a small snifter you are almost forced to sip slowly. It was odd how I ran out of small snifters used for my guest and I just had to use a larger snifter. LOL   

Yes, we did have a full meal to go with the beer selections. Kathy bought a fresh turkey from the farmers market (AKA the Sale). It was a large 27lb bird. She really outdid herself. The turkey was cooked to perfection (about 7 hours) and of course we had all the other fixings to go with it as well. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Well, that was Thanksgiving at the Remaley household. I do have a few of the beers left over so I will most likely do a full review of the Brune, Riserva and the World Wide Stout.

I hope you all had a Very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Heavy Seas Prosit!

Heavy Seas Prosit!

Brewed by:
Clipper City Brewery
Baltimore, Maryland

Märzen / Oktoberfest

9.00% ABV

Pours a nice amber with a white head. It did not generate much of a head. That may be because this beer was very cold when I poured it.

Sweet toasted malts on the nose along with just a hint of flowing hops.

This is a very nice Oktoberfest; full with toasted malt flavor. It is also hard to believe that this is 9% ABV, you really can not detect the alcohol at all.

The taste starts with nice sweet toasted malts then a nice cleansing in mid sip and then an impressive dry finish but with no real hop bitterness. The final aftertaste if any is of sweet toasted malt.

As this beer warms it just gets even better. It is very rich and smooth, well, more so then it was when it was colder. You can also start to detect the alcohol as it warms and opens up a little.

This is an impressive beer. I don’t have my temperature probe handy but this beer has to be close to room temperature now and it’s the best it’s been throughout this review. This has turned into one of those bees that you just want to keep nursing and never finish.

Well all good things must come to an end and so to with his beer. I have to give this a B+. That may be a little low but I’ve had a few of the German Oktoberfest that were solid A’s and this beer falls short of that mark.

All and all this is a very good Oktoberfest. I highly recommend this to anyone that like the traditional toasted malt taste of an Oktoberfest.

Otter Creek Imperial IPA

Otter Creek Imperial India Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Otter Creek Brewing 
Middlebury, Vermont

American Double / Imperial IPA

11.00% ABV

Pours a pale copper color with a rich white head.

Nice blend of caramel malts and hops on the nose. Just a good smelling beer, can’t wait to dive into it.

That is one intense beer. This beer if full of hops, malts and alcohol and it seems to hit you all at the same time. I may have to let this warm a little to dissect the flavors I’m experiencing in the first sip.

The head has somewhat diminished to just a protective layer over the top of the beer and it is leaving unbelievable lacing on the glass.

The taste does start with fairly rich caramel malts but it is quickly replaced in mid-sip with high carbonation and a rich earthy hop flavor then the back end dries a bit from the alcohol and a different finishing hop bitterness. You are left with a very rich lingering hoppy aftertaste much an American IPA.

As this beer warms a little it is much smoother. Or perhaps I’m getting use to the hoppiness of the brew. At any rate I am starting to enjoy this beer a little more now that it has warmed and opening up a little. At 61 degrees it is getting better and better, you can really appreciate the malts now. They were getting lost in the hops earlier. The end of that first glass was at 65 degrees and it was still pretty good.

I did not but the 22oz bomber back in the frig so this second glass should start off pretty much where I left off in the fist glass.

Well close, the second glass starts at 62 degrees but still pretty good.

I am really enjoying the second glass and I can start to feel the alcohol. All and all it’s not a bad beer. It is not a nicely balanced as other imperial IPAs  but it’s not bad either.

The end of this second glass is now at 70 degrees. At this temperature you would expect either real unpleasantness or a richer malt flavor but I’m not getting either. There is nothing offensive about this beer but it is a very bitter beer; even for an imperial/double IPA. This beer does not have the extra malt character that I like in an imperial/double. This is more like a high alcohol IPA with out the richer malt flavors.

I am also noticing some sediment in the bottom of the glass so it appears that this was also a bottle conditioned 22oz bomber.

This beer is not very high on the rating scale for me. I have had several imperial IPAs that a far superior to this one. Not that this was bad or that there was anything wrong with it; it just did not capture me. To me an Imperial IPA should have a much richer malty flavor then this beer has.

So if you’re a hop head and you like over the top IPAs then this is the beer for you. For me it’s lacking that critical malt balance so it’s just another American IPA. Far more intense in alcohol but in flavor it’s just another American IPA.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Weyerbacher, Fireside Ale

Fireside Ale

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Easton, Pennsylvania

Smoked Beer

7.5% ABV

Pours a slightly cloudy dark brown with rich amber hues and an off white head.

Very nice aromas on the nose of this beer; very rich sweet toasted malts and a little flowering hops all with a very pleasant light smoky aroma. I can’t wait to dive into this one.

Wow, that’s a nice smoky brew. It’s just the right amount of smoke. The taste starts off with a nice toasted malt sweetness then a nice effervescence over the tongue and the back end has a very nice hop drying effect with the perfect amount of smokiness. Neither one has a long lasting aftertaste.

The head has diminished to just a light film and ring around the glass and it is leaving some pretty nice lacing.

I really like this beer. Even as it warms up a little it stays smooth and does not pick up any unpleasantness.

All and all this is a very nice beer. I don’t think it’s going to replace Stone Smoked Porter as my favorite picnic beer but this is pretty good. It’s a good amber ale with just the right amount of smokiness and at 7.5 % ABV it’s a nice fall warmer. This is a nice beer to take off the early fall chill.

So as far as smoked beers go this one is a solid B for me. I do recommend this beer to anyone that likes smoked beers. It's a nice fall amber ale with just the right amount of smokiness.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weyerbacher, Harvest Ale

Harvest Ale

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Easton, Pennsylvania

American IPA

6.20% ABV

Pours a dark copper with a rich off white head and a lot of carbonation; lots of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

Sweet caramel malts and very rich hop aromas on the nose.

Wow, why can’t all American IPAs taste like this? Sweet caramel malts upfront then a wonderful effervescence over the tongue and then a great fresh hop finish. But the hop bitterness is not overpowering, yes it gives you a good bite but not a long lingering bitterness.

The head has diminished to just an island in the middle of the glass, a nice ring around the glass and excellent lacing.

I had this beer at a tasting and the Weyerbacher rep said that the hops were picked on their property and sent to the brew house within hours. There may be more information on their website but I can tell you this is the freshest hop beer I’ve ever had.  I just wish more American brewers would grow out of this adolescent hophead phase and brew more beers like this. Sorry for the rant let’s get back to the review.

This is a clean, refreshing beer. I just love the fresh hop taste of this beer and I’m no hophead. I hope this is a trend of fresh harvest hop ales. It more then likely is I just don’t follow hophead trends.

This beer is opening up a little as it warms up. It is much smoother in that the malts are making there presence known. Well this was good till the end and the end was close to room temperature.

So as far as American IPAs go this is on the tops on the list for me. An excellent American IPA, one of only two or three that I would buy again. Kudos to Weyerbacher a solid A for their Harvest Ale, fresh hop IPA

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Heavy Seas Peg Leg (Imperial Stout)

Heavy Seas
Peg Leg (Imperial Stout)

Brewed by:
Clipper City Brewery
Baltimore, Maryland

Russian Imperial Stout

8.00% ABV

Pours a very dark brown with no light showing through the glass. It poured with an small tan head and the head diminished fairly quickly. I probably could have gotten a larger head with a more aggressive pour.

Rich roasted malts on the nose with some chocolate and coffee notes.

There is a malty sweetness up front then a drying or bittering effect toward the back end and you are left with that classic roasted malts that just coat you mouth, very rich and creamy. The final after taste is rich in coffee and dark chocolate.

All and all I’m pretty surprised how good this beer is. I did have it at a tasting almost 2 years ago and liked it but I didn’t realize till now how good it really is. This beer does also have a very pleasant warming effect from the alcohol. You can’t really taste it but you can feel it in the chest. Well, lets see what happens as it warms a little.

Well, we are at 62 degrees now. It is still a pretty smooth beer but it is picking up some more unpleasantness. There is definitely a harshness that was not there when it was colder. If I let this beer warm up any more I won’t want to finish it. Sad to say but this stout just fell apart as it warmed up.

So, not a bad stout; I was actually impressed at the beginning. But it just didn’t hold up like other well crafted stouts do. I don’t know what to do for a final grade since it was a very good tasting stout until it warmed up. I do know that I can not recommend this stout there are too many more superior Imperial Russian stouts out there to try.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heavy Seas - Loose Cannon

Heavy Seas - Loose Cannon (Hop3 Ale)

Brewed by:
Clipper City Brewery
Baltimore, Maryland

American IPA

7.25% ABV

Pours a pale copper with a white head. The head diminished fairly quickly but it looks like it will leave some lacing.

Hops, Hops, and more Hops on the nose. There may also be a slight sweet malt aroma but it’s having a hard time getting though all the hops.

Another typical American IPA. It seems like the whole taste in this beer from the beginning to the end of the sip is all hops. Any real malt flavors are being washed out by the hops. This beer is all hops with little to no malt character at all.

Sorry this is going to be a short review. There is not much to say about this beer since I don’t really care for the typical all hops American IPAs.

As predicted this is leaving some pretty impressive lacing.

So If you like a hoppy American IPA then this is a good beer for you. Hop bitterness from beginning to end.

Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning

Heavy Seas
Small Craft Warning (Über Pils)

Brewed by:
Clipper City Brewery
Baltimore, Maryland

American Double / Imperial Pilsner
7.25% ABV

Pours a light copper color with a white head.

Sweet aromas on the nose of light malts and flowering hops.

Not much going on in the taste of this beer.
The taste starts with a light malt sweetness then a somewhat hop drying in mid taste and just when you think you are building up to a big finish you are let down with just a blah but dry finish.

Well this beer has definitely picked up some unpleasantness after it warmed up.

I’m not really caring for this beer. It’s okay but it’s just that, okay. It’s a drinkable beer but pretty boring. If I had to give it a letter grade it would be C-.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Heavy Seas - Winter Storm

Heavy Seas - Winter Storm
("Category 5" Ale)

Brewed by:
Clipper City Brewery
Baltimore, Maryland

Extra Special

Strong Bitter (ESB)

7.50% ABV

Pours a nice looking reddish amber color with a fairly rich off white head.

Nice ESB; hop bitterness with a rich malt balance.

Sweet caramel upfront but not for long, it is quickly replaced with light hoppiness in mid taste then a more intense finishing hop bitterness but also with richer malt sweetness giving it a nicely balanced finish. Don’t get me wrong this is a hoppy beer but it’s not all hop bitterness there is a nice malt background to this beer also.

The head has diminished down to a nice protective layer over the top of the beer with a ring around the edge of the glass and it is leaving some nice lacing.

The beer is opening up nicely as it warms up. It is much smoother with in increase in the malt flavors. The hop bitterness is still there but somewhat diminished.

This is a very good ESB. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a little bite in their beer but not an overwhelming hop bitterness.

Mendocino Autumn Lager

Mendocino Autumn Lager

Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company
Hopland, California

Märzen / Oktoberfest

6.10% ABV

This beer pours a nice rich amber color with a fairly rich looking off white head and an impressive about of carbonation with lots of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the class.

Nice toasted malt aroma with a pleasant hoppiness on the nose. There was a nice off white head but it didn’t last too long.

Nice, very nice Oktoberfest lager. There is a pleasant malt sweetness up front then an impressive effervescence over the tongue and a very good malt sweetness and hop balanced finish that is very refreshing on the end.

Even as this beer warms a little it maintains a nice malt sweetness with just the right amount of hop balance.

We are now at 62 degrees and this beer still has a lot to give. Since this is a lager I really didn’t expect this beer to still taste this good at these temperatures.

Well the last few sips where pretty much at room temperature and this was still a very enjoyable beer. There was very little carbonation left and the taste was a little maltier but still very smooth with no unpleasantness whatsoever. 

This is a very good Oktoberfest, one of the best that I’ve had this season and quite possibly the last. We are into November and I’m seeing the winter warmers and Christmas beers starting to show up in the stores.