Wednesday, March 17, 2010

O'Hara's Irish Stout


O'Hara's Irish Stout


Brewed by:
Carlow Brewing Company
Ireland


Irish Dry Stout

4.30% ABV






Commercial Description:
Full bodied and luxuriously smooth it is the combination of traditional stout hops, an extra pinch of roast barley and crystal clear Irish water that make O’Hara’s Celtic Stout a delicious stout with just enough malt sweetness to balance that discernible roast bite. (ratebeer.com)



General Pricing:
11.2oz, 330ml bottle, ~ $9.00 4 pack, ~$49.00 Case


Background:
Here is another one that warrants full disclosure. This is an another favorite of mine. Like the O’Hara’s Irish Red I had this few years ago at an Irish Beer Tasting and really liked it. This was not as good as the Celebration stout but was a nice Irish Dry Stout. I have since bought it several times and loosely refer to it as my gold standard for a good Irish Dry Stout. So let’s give it a whirl on this St. Pattie’s Day.

Review:
The beer pours a dark brown completely opaque with no light showing through the glass. It also has a fairly rich tan head. The head started out very rich and creamy but as it set the bubbles grew larger and larger. It is still there but has diminished quite a bit.

The nose is full of those classic sweet dark roasted malts with a light hop aroma. This is a classic Irish Dry Stout aroma.


Wow, what a nice St. Patties treat. I started the night with the O’Hara’s Irish Red and now their Irish Dry Stout. So I guess I should describe the taste of this wonderful stout.

Of course it starts out with sweet rich dark roasted malts upfront then a fairly dry but smooth mouthfeel in the mid-sip. The back-end has a building malt bitterness and then fades to a nice clean dry hop stout finish. The final aftertaste is that of lingering classic roasted malt flavors. It is fairly dry so you don’t have that thick coating of a cream stout.

There is a good deal of hop bitterness to the back-end and finish of this beer. That is what gives a Dry Irish Stout it classic appeal. And this (in my humble opinion) is the best of the best for a dry stout.

If you like a dry stout like Guinness than you will love this stout. It is far superior to other dry stouts that I have had.

It is also warming nicely; it is really getting smoother as it warms.

Well, I guess its official this is my gold standard for an Irish Dry Stout, a solid A for this one.

O'Hara's Irish Red


O'Hara's Irish Red

Brewed by:
Carlow Brewing Company

Ireland

Irish Red Ale


4.30% ABV








Commercial Description:
A fruity and aromatic beer with a distinctive smokey like finish, Molings has a traditional hop flavour to balance the sweet malty caramel taste.
(ratebeer.com)

General Pricing:
11.2oz, 330ml bottle, ~ $9.00 4 pack, ~$49.00 Case

Background:
Well, I have to be upfront about this one. I first had this beer a few years ago at an Irish Beer Tasting and fell in love with it. This just knocked the socks off of any other Irish Red that I’ve had previously. It was a pleasant surprise to come home from work on St. Patties Day and find a bottle in the frig; a gift from my oldest daughter. It will be interesting to give it a full review.

Review:
The beer pours a deep amber with ruby hues and a fairly rich off white head.

Hmmm what at wonderful nose, rich caramel malts with an almost sweet fruit and a slight flowering hop aromas. There is nothing over the top just a great smelling beer.

Now that’s an Irish Red! Smooth, somewhat rich, and a very pleasant light hop finish with no real bitterness.  So let me try and detail this a little.

Sweet caramel malts upfront then a very pleasant effervescence over the tongue followed by a light, almost creamy mouthfeel in mid-sip then a very refreshing back-end and finish. The back-end has a building hoppiness to it but by the time the finish comes you are only left with refreshing dryness not a hop bitterness.  There is very little of a final aftertaste but you are left very refreshed with a slight lingering caramel malt flavor.

As the beer warms you start to pick up some dark fruit notes and a nutty almost smoky flavor.

This is a very smooth, extremely easy drinking beer and a true session beer at only 4.2% ABV.

The last few sips were at 64 degrees. The beer picked up no unpleasantness at all. In fact the malts were even richer and smoother. With the lack of carbonation even the mouthfeel was creamier.

This is hands down my favorite Irish Red. The is a solid A+ rating by style my gold standard in which I will judge all other Irish Reds.

Cazeau Tournay Noire


Tournay Noire
 

Brewed by:
Brasserie
De Cazeau


Belgium





7.60% ABV




Foreign / Export Stout (beeradvocate.com)
Belgian Stout (12 percent Imports)
Foreign Stout (ratebeer.com)
Belgian Black (John)



Commercial Description:
Tournay Noire is a beer, refermented in the bottle, with an alcohol content of 7,6%. It contains only natural ingredients: water, four malts, two hops, yeast and sugar. We select special malts and very traditional hops to give it a powerful, long flavour in the mouth and a quite a strong hint of bitterness. This is a beer that will really appeal to Stout lovers!!
(ratebeer.com)

Commercial Description:
    * Style: Belgian Stout, refermentation in bottle
    * Abv: 7.6%
    * Format: 11.2 oz bottle, 750 ml bottle, 20l keg (limited)
    * Color: pitch black; creamy off-white head
    * Tasting Notes: roasted malt, coffee, bitter chocolate, earthy, cigar ash
    * Other: Originally brewed as a winter ale known as Tournay de Noel. The beer was so well received that brewmaster Laurent Agache decided to make it a year-round brew. We nudged him in this direction too, of course. At 7.6%, it's a bit lighter than the original of 8.2% - all the better to enjoy in warm weather as much as cold.
(12percentimports.com)

General Pricing:
11.2oz, 330ml bottle, ~ $6.00

Background:

This was my winner at the last stout tasting.
Since this was originally brewed as a Christmas bier “Tournay de Noel”, I thought I would use my Christmas Goblet one more time.

Review:
Pours a dark brown almost completely opaque; there is just a hint of amber an amber hue at the bottom edge of the goblet. This bier also produced a fairly rich tan head. the bubbles in the head seemed to keep growing larger until it collapsed to just a heavy film with a ring around the glass.

Ohhh what a nose! Dark roasted malts with dark fruit esters and that Belgian yeasty aroma. Wow this is my kind of a nose: Love Those Belgians!

Wow, no I mean WOW! Really this is just amazing! I know I will not do this bier justice in my feeble attempt in trying to explain its elegance. This may be the most exquisite Belgian I have had so far. Let me attempt this description.

Sweet dark roasted malts upfront with just a hint of some Belgian sour notes. The middle of the sip is incredibly malty with a delightfully creamy and smooth mouthfeel. There is no malt bitterness just a luscious malty goodness. The back-end and finish is exquisite.  There is great maltiness with dark fruit notes, a slight hop dryness, all on the most exquisite yeasty background. This bier is smooth and delectable from beginning to end.

I usually rant a little more, especially when I’m so infatuated with the bier but I’m left speechless on this one.

The final sips of this bier were at 67 degrees and were just as amazing as the first, maybe even more so. This bier warmed so nicely. The bier really just got richer and smoother at the warmer temperatures.

A+ until I decide if I’m going to do something like an O for outstanding.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale


Vertical Epic Ale
09.09.09

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Company
Escondido, California
 

Belgian Strong Dark Ale
 

8.60% ABV

 




Commercial Description:
This is quite a complex and layered beer. Bold and smooth chocolate malt flavors combine with a Belgian yeast lending tropical fruit/banana flavors and hints of spiciness, all complemented by citrus notes from an addition of tangerine peel. Rich vanilla beans add a nice counter to the chocolate malt - actually enhancing the chocolatiness. The finish is smooth, with additional traces of vanilla and toasted characters from French Oak. The goal for this edition of the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series is to be reminiscent of artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange.
(ratebeer.com)

General Pricing:

22oz, 750ml bottle, ~ $7.50

Background:
This is a very interesting series for Stone. I believe they started in 02-02-02 but sadly this is the first year that I discovered it. At least now I have something to look forward to the October when they release the 10-10-10.

This is a first of a two-parter, if you will. I have been aging or cellaring a bottle of this for a few months now. But in order to appreciate how it cellared I thought I needed to buy another bottle to review now. So when it comes time to review the aged one I will have a review to compare it to.

Review:

This beer pours a very dark brown pitch black completely opaque with no light showing through anywhere on the glass. The beer has a low but very rich looking dark tan head.

I could smell the wonderful nose of this beer as soon as I started pouring it. There are rich dark roasted malts on the nose. The malts are a combination of traditional stout like and Belgian like malt aromas. There is also some dark fruit, coffee and chocolate notes on the nose. This is an extremely inviting nose; I can’t wait to dive into it.

Wow, another very unusual beer. Very heavy roasted malts but more like a spice stout then a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Don’t get me wrong, this is good, very good but I was expecting more complexity from the Belgian yeast. At any rate let me give you the play by play on the taste.

It starts out with sweet roasted malts upfront, just behind or more like on top of that is some spicy notes all still in that initial upfront, first tip of the tongue taste. Then a very smooth middle of the sip with a back-end that is a building malt bitterness but still fairly smooth and not overpowering. The finish is just wonderful with roasted malts, spices, hop bitterness, malt bitterness and a very nice classic stout-like malt coating all over your mouth.

This is a good beer. However it is not a very smooth drinking beer. With all of these roasted malt flavors you would expect it to be a little smoother than it is.

As this beer warms it seems to be getting more bitter and less smooth. Again I would expect this beer to get smoother as it warms not more bitter.

Rating will be difficult simply because this beer does not taste like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. It is a very good malty ale but it does not have the dark fruit complexity and esters that you would expect in a Belgian Dark.

I am going to settle for a B on this one. It is a very good beer and I probably would give it a higher rating if were classified as something other then a Belgian Strong Dark.

It will be interesting to see with happens to this beer after cellaring for a year or more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dieu Du Ciel Péché Mortel

 
Péché Mortel
(Imperial Stout
Au Cafe)

Brewed by:
Brasserie
Dieu Du Ciel

Quebec, Canada
 

American Double / Imperial Stout

9.50% ABV






Commercial Description:
Péché Mortel (French for "Mortal Sin") is an intensely black and dense beer with very pronounced roasted flavours. Fair trade coffee is infused during the brewing process, intensifying the bitterness of the beer and giving it a powerful coffee taste. Péché mortel is brewed to be savored; we invite you to drink it in moderation.

This stout style, high in alcohol and bitterness in order to favour preservation, was historically brewed to support the long and arduous voyage necessary to export the beer from England to Russia. The word Imperial comes from the fact that the beer was specially brewed for the Russian tsar’s court.
(ratebeer.com)

General Pricing:
11.5oz, 341ml bottle, ~ $6.00

Review:
The beer pours a dark brown, completely opaque with a fairly rich tan head.

This is a wonderful nose. Dark roasted malts along with rich coffee aromas and some chocolate notes. This in one, very appealing nose.

The taste starts with sweet dark malts up front then a nice smooth middle followed by a very rich back-end. The back-end is a building malt bitterness that turns into a creamy coffee flavor by the time you get to the swallow. The finish is rich with coffee and roasted malt flavors along with some hop bitterness and that classic lingering robust malt aftertaste.

The beer is one of those that just get better as it warms. It is now at 66 degrees and it is richer than it was when it was colder.

This is an impressive stout. It is also pretty intense. This is not the smoothest or easiest imperial stout to drink. It is smooth but it maintains a bitter robustness throughout.

I’m not a huge fan of coffee bitterness in a beer. It seems just a little out of place for me. I do like the natural coffee and chocolate notes that come from the roasted malts but not so much the forced adjunct coffee flavors that are added to some beers.

The overall craftsmanship of this superior brew however overrides somewhat  the negative of the coffee bitterness. So overall I still have to give this one an A-. It truly is an excellent coffee stout.

Southern Tier Creme Brulee


Creme Brulee
(Imperial Milk Stout)

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
Lakewood, New York,

American Double / Imperial Stout


9.20% ABV







Commercial Description:
A Stout of Great Contention

We are not the harbingers of truth as some may suggest but it may indeed be argued that our brewing philosophy is tantamount to a dessert with a bellicose past. How, you may ask, would a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple; it’s all in the power of history, and of course, the extra finesse needed to top off a contentious treat with definition.

By comprehending the labyrinthine movement of time, one would not think it strange to trace the errant path of an ordinary object such as a cream dessert only to discover that it has been the cause of cultural disputes since the middle ages. The British founders of burnt cream and from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality and we respect that, but it was the French Crème Brûlée, amid the strife of contention, that survived to represent our deliciously creamy brew.
9.2% abv • 195º L • 25º plato • 22 oz / 1/6 keg
2-row pale malt / dark caramel malt / vanilla bean / lactose sugar / kettle hops: columbus / aroma hops: horizon

General Pricing:
22oz Bottle, ~$9.00

Review:
The beer pours a dark brown completely opaque with a rich dark tan head.

Wow, what an interesting nose. As expected sweet roasted malts on the nose but unexpected is the most unusual aromas of vanilla, cream and chocolate. This smells more like rich chocolate ice cream dessert.

Oh my, it taste even better then it smells. This isn’t a stout it’s a liquefied creamy chocolate vanilla dessert.

The taste starts out with sweet roasted malts up front then a very smooth and creamy mouthfeel in mid-sip. The back-end builds to the point that you expect a heavy roasted malt bitterness but you get the opposite. Just before the swallow you start to experience that most exquisite sweet and creamy roasted malt flavors. This just when think you’re done and couldn’t experience any more the finish hits your senses with the most exquisite velvety vanilla chocolate cream. Finally you are left with this exquisite coating throughout your entire mouth.

It’s hard to believe but this beer is actually getting better as it warms.

This has got to be the sweetest and creamiest stout ever. It’s not something I could drink every day; it is extremely rich.

The alcohol is excellently masked. You are really hard pressed to detect the alcohol in the delightful liquid dessert.

There really isn’t much more I can say about this beer. It’s almost a class of its own. This is not only an imperial stout it’s an imperial cream stout.

The last few sips were at 66 degrees and still exquisite.

This is one of those beers that you need to try even if it’s just once. Like I mentioned earlier it is very rich and a small snifter is plenty. In fact I don’t think I could handle much more than that. It’s not the alcohol it is just too rich for me to have much more than that.

Well, I’m going to give this an A for my final grade. It is really an exquisite brew that needs to be tried. This is an excellent dessert beer.