Saturday, July 31, 2010

Buono Brew Righteous Root Beer



Righteous Root Beer

Brewed and Bottled by:
The Buono Brewery
 

Front Royal, Virginia







Commercial Description:A full bodied hand crafted old fashion root beer. Please Drink Righteously

General Pricing:12oz bottle, ~ $8.00 6pack

Background:John’s Bier Blog is one year old today. Yes that’s right my first beer review was posted on July 31, 2009. What a better way to celebrate my one year anniversary than to review a very special brew; Buono Brew Righteous Root Beer! Yes I said Root Beer.

A few weeks ago we were visiting family in Front Royal VA. As a summer project my nephews started a home brew root beer brew business. Their father helped design the labels and the business was off and running.

At our last visit a fresh batch of this delicious nectar had just been bottled. We purchased a 6pack and I have been storing it in my bier fridge. I have been waiting for this special occasion to give it a full review.

So lets’ see how the boys from Front Royal brew holds up.

Review:The beer pours a very dark brown almost stout dark with just a hint of ruby hues peeking through the glass. The beer generated a very fairly rich off white to tan head. This brew is highly carbonated and the bubbles of the rich head are growing larger before my eyes. I also may have been a little too aggressive on this pour.

The nose is extremely inviting with sweet dark roasted root beer aromas. There are also notes of caramel, toasted nuts, and I am also getting something sweet and spicy like vanilla and cinnamon. If I didn’t know better I would also say Belgian candi sugar and dark fruit esters are also present. This must be from the unique strain of yeast used at the Front Royal brewery.

Let’s dive into this.

There is a nice roasted malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue then a very pleasant effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. Before you get to the back-end there is the most wonderful creamy mouthfeel to this brew. I suspect that is from the rich head on this brew. The back-end is wonderfully smooth and easy to drink. There is also a good amount of carbonation in the back end that masks some of the flavors. The finish is exquisite; all of these wonderful flavors from the nose finally come out in the finish. There is of course a great old fashion root beer flavor along with notes and esters that you only find in the best Artisan brews. I’m picking up notes of toffee, dark fruit along with a toasted nutty flavor and that special ingredient that I detect as cinnamon. I really can’t put my finer on that unique taste but I can tell you it’s terrific.

What a nice treat. I’m really enjoying this brew.

The head has dissipated to a rich one finger head over the entire top of the beer. The lacing on the side of the glass has just been out astonishing. Usually you see lines where the previous level was left. Not on this glass. It is solid curtain of lace all the way down the back side of the glass.

That rich lasting head has added a unique creaminess to this brew that you don’t usually have in a soda.

I have been so excited about this tasting experience that I neglected to get a starting temperature. I’m assuming that we were about 43 degrees since my beer fridge is calibrated to 40 degrees. We are currently at 62 degrees and getting toward the bottom of the glass.

Boy I hate to see this one end but you know that expression that all good things must come to and end. So must this exquisite tasting experience.

Wow, now I really mean WOW! This brew is really getting better as it warms. It is even creamier than it was cold and there is a much richer malt flavor to it at this warm temperature.

The final sips were around 65 degrees and all I can say is that this was “Good to the last warm drop”.

What a phenomenal brew I’m so glad I got a chance to review such a splendid beer, even if it is a Root Beer.

I’m going for an A on this one. This truly is one Righteous Beer!

I highly recommend brew to anyone that like a good old fashion root beer

This was a wonderful treat. Thank you to all of the Righteous brewers in Front Royal for this wonderful creation. This is truly an Artisan Brew.

De Ranke Père Noël



De Ranke Père Noël

Brewed by:
Brouwerij De Ranke
Belgium

Belgian Strong Pale Ale
 

7.00% ABV






Commercial Description:A fantastic Christmas beer, but one that defies the universal custom of a stronger, spicier beer for the holiday season. At 7% alcohol by volume, this one is relatively lighter in alcohol than the Guldenberg, and does not pack the hop punch of the XX. It combines some of the best elements of those other two beers – with a fine balance of malt and hops, complex character, a refreshing dryness, and a gorgeous cellar aroma – but is distinguished by its festive copper color. The 1999 Père Noël was a bit of a departure, with a very appealing yeasty tartness that was not readily discernible in earlier years. (ratebeer.com)
   
General Pricing:330ml, 11.2oz bottle, ~ $5.00 each
750ml bottle, ~$14.00

Background:I just picked up a couple of Christmas leftovers for my Christmas in July reviews.

Review:The bier pours a hazy pale copper with orange hues and a fairly rich white head.

The nose is of light malts, floral hops and yeasty notes. This actually smells more like a refreshing pale ale not a Christmas bier.

Wow, this may be the hoppiest and most bitter Belgian that I have ever had. This almost rivals an American Pale Ale in bitterness maybe even an ESB.

The taste starts out with a snappy bitterness up front on the tip of the tongue. This is very unusual; usually your first sensory experience up front is that of sweet malts. This is a first for me to have such sharpness up front like this. There is a nice effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. There is also a building hop bitterness during the middle of the sip. The back-end is very bitter (for a Belgian) but also fairly easy to swallow. The finish is very dry with a good bite to it. The final aftertaste is spicy with some lingering bitterness and a few yeasty notes.

All and all this is a good bier. It is however very hoppy for Belgian. Houblon Chouffe and Piraat
are not as hoppy as this bier and quite frankly much better ales. Now compared to an American style beer this is mild and the hop bitterness is not all that strong. This is just strong for a Belgian. In bitterness this is comparable to an American Pale or an ESB, although the hops in this brew are more pleasant than the typical American Cascades.

This is not a bad Belgian IPA, however I am not getting Christmas from this bier at all. There is a some spice and a very pleasant hoppy bite to this bier.

I’m going to give this a C+. Not a bad Belgian IPA but there are much better ones out there. I really cannot recommend this bier, although this will be very enjoyable to anyone that likes a strong Belgian IPA. This bier would be much better was maltier with a little more Christmas spice.

Friday, July 30, 2010

La Moneuse Spéciale Noël

 
La Moneuse Spéciale Noël

Brewed by:
Brasserie de Blaugies
Belgium

Belgian Strong Pale Ale


8.00% ABV








Commercial Description:A special edition of la Moneuse, extra rich for the winter season.
(ratebeer.com)
   
General Pricing:750ml bottle, ~ $12.00 each

Background:I stopped over at State Line Liquors on Friday to pick up a 1/6 Keg of Dales Pale ale for a party and picked up a couple of Christmas leftovers for my Christmas in July reviews.

Review:The bier pours a hazy copper with amber hues and an off white head. This bier obviously is not young but it still erupted as popped the cork. Once in the bottle you can really see how effervescent this bier is with a tremendous amount of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.

The nose is nice; classic Belgian with rich malt aromas, light hops and a nice yeasty background. It really smells more like a Double or Strong Dark rather than a Strong Pale. This is so inviting, I can’t wait to dive into it. So let’s see what it’s like.

Nice, not exceptional but still pretty good. The taste starts out with sweet malts up front on the tip of the tongue then a nice effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. There is another explosion of combination during the swallow that masks most of the flavors on the back end. The finish is sweet with dark malts and yeasty notes.

This bier is so carbonated I’m getting a bloated/full feeling and I have only had a few sips. Also at this point I’m not sure if the carbonation is masking the flavors or if there really isn’t a lot of flavors here to begin with. Another thought is that with all of this carbonation this may be a young ale and it may be better to age a year before consuming it. Sorry for the random thoughts lets get back to what is actually here in the glass.

Well, I’m not really sure about this. I’m not picking up the flavors that I think I should be here. Maybe to will open up a little as it warms.

There is also a good amount of sediment floating in the glass. I wonder if the initial eruption carried too much of the lees up into the bier. I’m going to let it set a little and see if it gets better.

It is interesting that only after the first glass I am feeling the warmth of this bier.

I’m going to rinse out the glass and see what the second ones like.

Ok this bottle sat for about a half hour or more. The second glass pours with no floaters. It is at 65 degrees now, so let’s see if this improved any.

Well, not really. Ok, this is not a bad bier, I’ve just been expecting more than what is here.

So it has not picked up any unpleasantness at these warmer temperatures. This bier is also a little smother now.

All and all this is not a bad bier. It’s OK, but it just seems to be lacking something. Especially since this is a Special Christmas Ale. Really I have had more flavorful Belgian blond/pale ales. I’m going to give this a C. It’s a nice drinkable bier but I would not buy it again, and I’m not feeling Christmas.

I really can’t recommend this bier to anyone. There are a lot better Belgian Pales out there and this may be the worst Belgian Christmas bier that I have had.

Tröegs Dream Weaver Wheat

Dream Weaver Wheat

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,

American Pale Wheat Ale
(beeradvocate.com)

German Hefeweizen
(ratebeer.com)

4.80% ABV


Commercial Description:Long toasty days, cool breezy nights and a splash of magic provide the inspiration for the Troegs brothers’ dreamiest Single Batch creation—Dreamweaver Wheat. Combining four wheat types with Munich and Pils malts, noble Saaz hops, and a yeast strain that imparts a spicy, peppery, clove taste with a slight hint of bananas, Dreamweaver Wheat is an unfiltered blast of spicy, mouthwatering joy.
(ratebeer.com)
   
General Pricing:12oz bottles, ~ $9.00 6pack, $33.00 case

Background:I actually picked this up for smoking pork ribs. Yes, I can put beer on just about anything. After hours of smoking I wrap them in foil and re-hydrate a little with a good wheat beer.  I had a few left over so I decided to review one.
   
Review:The beer pours a hazy pale straw with orange hues and a white head.

The nose is all Hefeweizen; sweet light malts, clove, banana along with a nice yeasty aroma.

Now that’s a summer beer! The tasting experience starts out with sweet light malts up front on the tip of the tongue, then the most refreshing effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. The back-end is clean and crisp and very easy to swallow. This is one easy drinking refreshing beer. The finish is also very refreshing with some peppery notes, citrus, spice and banana notes as well. It sounds like a lot but these are all light flavors which make this beer very refreshing and easy drinking. There is not much of a final aftertaste just some lingering yeasty flavors along with some citrus notes.

This is a very refreshing beer. Actually maybe too refreshing, It’s gone already.

Oh Well, I guess I’ll just have to have another one while I work on my final thoughts.

I really like this beer. It’s funny that I always thought this was an American Wheat ale but it’s more like a light Hefeweizen. Actually this is classified as both. Ratebeer.com has it as a German style Hefeweizen and beeradvocate.com has it classified as an American Pale Wheat beer. I think this is definitely more a Hefe than an American Pale Wheat.

It is lighter than a typical German Hefeweizen but that may make it more refreshing. I’m really enjoying this second one. This is a great beer to have on a hot summer afternoon.

Even as this beer warms it remains refreshing. It also picked up nothing unpleasant as it warms.

I’m going for a B on this one. This is a very refreshing excellent summer ale. It may be a little too light for an authentic German Hefeweizen. But it is so refreshing I’m sticking with a B. This is just a overall great summer ale.

I highly recommend this beer to anyone looking for a lighter summer beer. This one has just about everything going for it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Piraat Ale

 
Piraat Ale

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
 

Belgium

Belgian IPA 


10.50% ABV






Commercial Description:Piraat is a wickedly rich and rounded brew that packs a mighty punch. The powerful glow builds up from inside. Deep golden with a subtle haze. Lots of hops and malt. Mild sweetness. Reminiscent of bread dough, spices and tropical fruits.
(ratebeer.com)
   
General Pricing:330 ml/11.2oz bottle, ~ $4.50 each, ~15.00 4pack, ~$86.00 case.
750ml bottle, ~ $12.00

Background:I have had this a few times and have recently decided to have this at my next Belgian Event. I saw a 4pack at the store and just decided to pick it up and give it a full review.
   
Review:Piraat Ale
The bier pours a slightly hazy copper color with a fairly rich and lasting white to off white head.

We are starting this one at 44 degrees.

The nose is of sweet fruit, floral hops, sweet alcohol all on a bed of Belgian yeasty notes. 

This is a very inviting and at 10.5 percent somewhat intimidating nose.

There is a light malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue, then a more robust mid-sip with a building hop and alcohol presence. There is also a nice effervescence over the tongue at mid-sip. The intensity builds to towards the back end. By the time you get to the top of the swallow you know this is no light weight bier, although it does remain fairly easy to drink for a 10.5 Belgian IPA. The finish is the most intense part of this experience, this is where it all comes together. The finish has sweet light malts, powerful hops (without the American bitterness) sweet alcohol and also some citrusy notes, all with that classic Belgian yeastiness. Even with all of that going on the finish is also fairly dry. I credit the hops and alcohol for that. The final aftertaste has some lingering hops (again without the bitterness), some citrus and yeasty notes.

There is no mistaking the alcohol in this bier. Some of the heavier, maltier biers mask there alcohol but this one is almost in you face. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s crafted in such a way that you know what you are getting, an upfront no bones about it imperial Belgian IPA.

This is an IPA that I can hang my hat on. Well, probably not the best expression to use. This is an excellent Belgian IPA. I’m not a hop head and I still cannot understand the American IPA’s that are overpowering in bitterness. This bier on the otherhand is just fantastic; everything that you would want in a high test bier.

The lacing has also been quite impressive.

We are now at 53 degrees.

There is a very interesting refreshing aspect to this bier. It is had to think of a 10.5% bier to be refreshing but this one really is. It has a fairly light body to it and a very pressing dry finish that is very refreshing. It is also very filling. I realize that there is some contradiction there but that’s how I see it.

It’s now around 57 degrees. There is not much left of this 330ml bottle, I’m down to just a few more sips.

The flavors are really coming out as this bier warms and opens up a little. There is a nicer maltier flavor now that I did not notice this as much before. The more I drink this, the more I’m enjoying it. That didn’t sound right. I have enjoyed this bier from the beginning it is just getting better as it warms.

The hops are almost playing a back seat to the light malts at this point.

The head on this bier will not quit; there has been a think protective layer over the top of this bier the whole time with excellent lacing.

Well, all good thinks must come to an end and such comes the end of this bier. I’m not sure what the final temperature was, probably around 60. I was enjoying this bier too much to let is sit and warm up.

It is very unusual for a bier of 10.5% to be so drinkable. Usually these higher alcohol biers are sipping biers. You really have to be careful with this one. The “drinkability” (I hate that term) is so high that you could easily get in trouble with this one. This is a bier that you sense is high in alcohol but it is also so refreshing that you want to have another and maybe another.

For a Belgian IPA I going for an A. that may be low, if fact this may be my new gold standard for this style ale. Previously I held Houblon Choulfe as my gold standard but this may take its place. The imperial aspect of this and the craftsmanship to still be refreshing is just astonishing.

I highly recommend this bier to anyone that like a Belgian IPA. Actually I would like to challenge American Hop Heads to try this and see how hoppy a bier can be without being overpoweringly bitter.

Tournay de Noël



Tournay de Noël
 

Brewed by:
Brasserie De Cazeau
 

Belgium

Belgian Dark Ale
 

8.20% ABV






Commecerial Discription:Tournay de Noël
"Tournay de noel" is a dark red beer brewed with 5 malts and 3 hops that give
a range of complex aromas. Its alcohol rate reaches 8,2%: your best friend for the winter!
(brasseriedecazeau.be)
   
General Pricing:330 ml bottle, ~ $6.00

Background:I’m continuing my quest for anything imported by 12 percent imports. When I saw this one at State Line I figured I would do a Christmas in July review.       

Review:The bier pours dark brown completely opaque with a tan head

There are rich roasted malts on the nose, along with some spice and pleasant floral hop aromas.

We are starting this one at 43 degrees.

There are sweet rich malts up front then a nice creamy mouthfeel in the middle of the sip. There is not much going on in the back end, it is very smooth and easy to swallow. There is a slight malt bitterness developing on the back-end. Everything comes together in the finish. Rich malts, some spicy notes and a very pleasant hop dryness. There is a definite hop presence but there is no hop bitterness.

This is one delicious bier.

However I’m afraid I may have poured some of the lees into the glass. I was a little aggressive on that pour.

The bier is now at 63 degrees. The flavors are really coming out now that the bier has warmed and opened up. It’s a shame that it was so delicious I only have a few sips left.

I am really enjoying this brew.

I like this Christmas is July stuff, I’ll have to see about doing some more Christmas beers this month.

I’m going to give this one a B+. This is an excellent Christmas Ale full of rich malt flavors and some spice as well. There is also a noticeable hop presence in this ale.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

La Botteresse Ambree


La Botteresse Ambree
 

Brewed by:
Brasserie la Botteresse de Sur-les-Bois
Belgium

Belgian Pale Ale


8.50% ABV





Commercial Description:La Botteresse Ambree
    * Style: Spiced Amber Ale, refermentation in bottle
    * Abv: 8.5%
    * Format: 11.2 oz bottle
    * Color: cloudy amber, off-white head
    * Tasting Notes: sweet, spicy nose – pepper & caramel; sharp mouthfeel – caramel apple, sour cherries, black pepper
(12percentimports.com)
   
General Pricing:330 ml bottle, ~ $5:00

Background:Continuing my quest to sample anything and possibly everything 12 Percent Imports, Imports.   

Review:The bier pours a hazy dark amber with a fairly rich and lasting off white to tan head.

The nose is wonderful; sweet almost toasted caramel malt aromas with interesting spicy notes and also some yeasty notes. Roast Beef Dinner, sorry that’s what just popped into my head. This nose reminds me of a Roast Beef dinner.

We are starting this one at 48 degrees.

Wow, that was unexpected, not bad at all just unexpected. This beer definitely has a sour aspect to it that caught me a little off guard, especially since I was thinking of Roast Beef.

I’m trying to give you a play by play but I am being floored by each sip. This is a very unique bier with a lot going on. Let me try this again.

There is a sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue that is immediate replaced by a slight sourness. As you think the sourness is going to overwhelm it fades into a creaminess over the tongue in mid-sip. The back-end is sharp and crisp throughout the swallow. The finish is exceptional with spice, tartness and caramel malt sweetness all on that classic Belgian yeasty backbone. The final aftertaste is a lingering caramel malt tartness, very unusual. There is also an interesting creamy coating that is left throughout your mouth.

Man O Man this is a good Belgian Ale.
Yes, I am still thinking Roast Beef Dinner. I will have to pair this with a beef dinner and update the post. I’m thinking a chuck roast with carrots and potatoes. OK, now I’m getting hungry lets get back to the review.

This unique bier is just amazing. It has warmed almost to room temperature and it is even better than it was when cold. It has lost some of that sharpness but has gain a smoothness that was not there earlier.

Boy what a treat. This has been a great experience.

I’m going for a B+ or maybe an A- on this one. This has just been a great experience with one of the most unique biers. The bier has a little bit of everything going for it; it’s a little sweet, malty, tart, smooth and creamy, just a great experience.

If you’re looking or a nice treat try this bier. This is another Artisan experience found by 12 percent imports. I can’t wait to continue my 12 percent quest.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye


He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye
 

Brewed by:
Shmaltz Brewing Company (He'Brew) 

San Francisco, California,

American Double / Imperial IPA

10.00% ABV
 


Commercial Description:
Savor the provocative spirit of R.I.P.A on RYE, our HE’BREW monument to the richness, the bitterness and the sacred sweetness that is life...

Malts: Specialty 2-Row, Rye Ale, Torrified Rye, Rye Flakes, Crystal Rye 75, Crystal Malt 80, Wheat, Kiln Amber, CaraMunich 60

Hops: Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Crystal, Chinook, Amarillo, Centennial

Dry Hopped with Simcoe, Amarillo and Crystal
(ratebeer.com)
   
General Pricing:
22oz bottle, ~ $6.00

Background:

There really is no background for this beer. I just saw it and thought I would pick it up and review it. However I am a big fan of this brewery. Ever since I found their anniversary beers, Jubilation 12 sold me and then the He'Brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah (13) through me for a loop, what an outstanding beer.        

Review:

The beer pours a clear dark amber with copper hues and a fairly rich off white head.

Rich caramel malts on the nose along with a fairly strong hop aroma. This almost smells like a typical American IPA but with a much maltier background.

This is a pretty intense beer. That first sip did not floor me but it was an eye opener. I really did not know what to expect. This has all the characteristics of an imperial/double IPA along with a unique twist. I assume that twist is the Rye.

It starts off with a caramel malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That only last a split second and it is immediately followed by a creaminess then a building malt and hop bitterness through the middle of the sip. The back-end is a little intense and not very easy to swallow. Not bad at all but it is not a very easy dirking  beer. There are natural reflexes that trigger on the back-end that tell you that this is no lightweight. The finish is fairly dry with a robust hop finish.

There are some nice hop flavors in the beer but it is also pretty well balanced. The hop aromas on the nose, the middle of the sip hops and the finishing hops are all different hop flavors, very nice hop complexity.

Now I’m no hop head. But when a large amount of hops are balanced with a larger amount of malts you have a nice imperial/double and that’s what this is. This is good, very good.

It has warmed to about 60 degrees and it is really starting to open up. It is getting smoother as it warms as well as more flavorful.

I’m really not picking up the rye. I have not had too many rye beers so I’m really not sure what I’m looking for. This beer is so intense with hop and malt flavors it’s hard for me to pick up any rye malt flavors.

BTW, the lacing has been outstanding.

After pouring a second glass I know understand the creaminess that I experience in the first sips at mid-sip. It is definitely from the rich head. This first sip of the second glass had that creaminess back only because the rich head was also present from the fresh pour.

I’m still not sure about the rye but I am sure that I like this beer. This is a very good imperial/double IPA. I may hold this up against any imperial/double out there.

The longer I drink this the more I like it.

This is excellent!

I am just about to the end of the bomber and I am starting to feel the effects of the alcohol.

This head has never quit. There has been a nice protective layer over the top of the beer and the lacing has been amazing.

The final sips were around 70 degrees and till very good. Even at this temperature the beer picked up nothing unpleasant whatsoever. This is a good to the last warm drop beer.

I really did not know what to expect from this beer. I was pleasantly surprised, this is a great imperial/double IPA. Like I have said I’m no hop head and American IPA’s are some of my least favorite beer styles. But this is no typical IPA.  This is an excellent Imperial/Double IPA. As intense as this beer is there is also a unique smoothness to it.

I’m going for an A on this one. This is just an excellent beer.

I highly recommend this beer to anyone that likes the more intense beers; imperial/doubles, barleywines etc. If you like Dogfish Head Squall or Southern Tier Unearthly you will love this one.  It’s all of that with a unique smoothness to it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Het Alternatief, Hik Blond


Hik Blond

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Het Alternatief
 

Izegem. West Flanders, Belgium

Belgian Pale Ale (Blond)


6.6% ABV



Commercial Description:
Hik Blond
    *  Style: Blond Ale, refermentation in bottle
    * Abv: 6.6%
    * Format: 11.2 oz bottle
    * Color: hazy gold, medium white head
    * Tasting Notes: funky, yeasty aroma; mouth full of unexpected surprises – citrusy, orange peel, full-bodied, dry finish
    * Other: we’re enamored with the originality of Piet’s beers. they’re not for everyone to be sure, but that’s kind of the point. in each of his beers, you’ll also find a bit of humor. "hik," means hiccups in Flemish. the drawing on the label is his 12-year old daughter’s – a bit dumbed-down for the U.S., where it’s not appropriate to depict a character under the influence of alcohol.
(12percentimports.com)


General Pricing:
330 ml bottle, ~ $5.50

Background:
This is another 12 percent import that I have been waiting to review. So far every thing that I have had from 12 percent imports has been exceptional. This is the first tasting of this bier. I can’t want to see what it’s like. Although I have seen this one at State Line for some time now, Frances my 8 year old daughter suggested it because of the smiley face.

Review:The bier pours a hazy straw/blond color with almost orange hues and a bright white head. This bier is extremely carbonated. The head rose out of the bottle before I could start to pour it. (hence the wet label on the picture) Even after pouring there are a tremendous amount of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass. The initial rich head dissipated fairly quickly but there is a nice thick protective layer over the top of the bier that is not going away.

We are starting this one out around 50 degrees.

The nose is very nice. Sweet almost caramel malt notes with a light flowing hop aroma and a touch of that Belgian yeastiness. This is very inviting and it’s a nice warm summer day, I can’t wait to dive into it.

Very refreshing. I’ll take this over an American style summer ale any day. This is nice, really nice. It is clean crisp and refreshing with some natural citrus and light spice notes. This is just a good ole Belgian Blond.

The taste starts out sweet and almost citrusy up front then a very pleasant and refreshing effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. There is also a slight sourness building up toward the back end. This sourness is held at bay and is just a hint of the Flemish style. The back end is very easy to swallow; crisp and clean along with another release of the carbonation while going down. The combination also masks some of the flavors in the back-end. Not to worry, all the flavors a present on the finish. The finish is once again, clean crisp and refreshing. The is still that hint of a Flemish sour but just a hint, along with a very pleasant citrus note and a light hop dry finish. There is not much of a final aftertaste; some of the light hops are still there but with out any bitterness. There also continues to be some citrus and a touch of yeastiness. These final aftertaste flavors are very subtle; this bier has a very clean dry finish.

This is extremely refreshing. If this was more easily available and the cost of Leffe I would make this my go to everyday Belgian Blond.

In this case I am drinking faster than I’m typing so this may be a fairly short review. This bier is so refreshing I’m not wasting any time putting it away.

The head has not quit and the lacing is pretty impressive for a blond.

I gingerly poured the remainder into the glass as not to upset or pour in the lees. And there is still a great deal of sediment/floaters in the glass.

The last bit of the glass is at 64 degrees. The effervescence has calmed down now and since it has warmed a little I’m picking up some more flavors. Well, they are not new flavors just more of them. The yeastiness and sourness are both more predominate now at this higher temperature. Don’t get me wrong this is still a very refreshing bier; it is just a little more yeasty now. This also could be from taking in more of the sediment/floaters toward the bottom of the glass. That also makes me want to try the lees on this one.

Lees:Wow I got to get a picture of that.

Look at the difference in color between the original bier and the lees.

Now that is a little intimidating; I’m not a psyched as I was to tackle the lees on this one. I have never seen the lees change the color so much, these are really dark.

OK, I’m going for it. Just don’t tell my better half, she does not appreciate the flatulence that comes with the lees.  

I started out with just a tiny sip and its bark is worse then its bite. These lees are actually pretty good. Let me get a better sip.

Not bad but this still would have changed my original experience. These lees are not overpowering but still bitter and sourer enough to diminish the refreshing characteristics of this bier.

Wow that final hit was a little much. I’m glad waited to try the lees separately.

Final Thoughts:This is an excellent Blond. There is nothing unique or extreme about it. This bier is just exceptionally good. And for a blond that may be as good as it gets. I’m going or an A- on this one. I really don’t think you'll find a better representation of a straight up Belgian Blond.

I highly recommend this bier to anyone that likes Belgian Blonds or anyone that is interested in the style. Like I said I you may not find a better representation of a good straight up Belgian Blond than this one. If I lived in Izegem, West Flanders, Belgium, this may very well be by everyday bier.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

La Botteresse Blonde


La Botteresse Blonde
 

Brewed by:
Brasserie la Botteresse de Sur-les-Bois
Belgium

Belgian Strong Pale Ale

8.50% ABV






Commercial Description:La Botteresse Blond
    * Style: Blond Ale, refermentation in bottle
    * Abv: 7.5%
    * Format: 11.2 oz bottle
    * Color: hazy blond, creamy, lacy white head
    * Tasting Notes: spicy, citrusy aroma of sweet fruit; sparkling, vibrant mouthfeel, sweet & crisp citrus, herbal, butterscotch
(12percentimports.com)

General Pricing:330 ml bottle, ~ $5.00

Background:This is another 12 percent import that I have been waiting to review. So far every thing that I have had from 12 percent imports has been exceptional. This is the first tasting of this bier. I can’t want to see what it’s like.

Review:The bier pours a hazy golden blond color with almost orange hues and a bright white head. It seems to be so carbonated that the head is imploding from within. The creamy bubbles are growing larger and larger and the head is collapsing before my eyes.

What an interesting aroma on the nose. It’s a little yeasty but full of sweet fruit and zesty citrus aromas. The citrus is more of an orange note then a lemon. This smells incredibly refreshing; I can’t wait to dive into it.

We are starting this one at 55 degrees. It obviously took me a little while to get set up. The bier fridge is calibrated to 40 degrees so I must have taken a while to set up the laptop before starting this review.

Wow, no really WOW! That is the most unique Belgian Blonde that I have had. It is very clean crisp and refreshing with wonderful light fruits and citrus notes. This is good, really good.

It starts out with sweet light pilsner like malts on the tip of the tongue, then a very nice effervescence over the tongue in mid-sip. The back-end is very easy drinking, refreshing and also full of light fruit and citrus flavors. The finish is clean, crisp and refreshing and that is where you really get hit with all the flavors. There is a slight final aftertaste; sweet orange citrus notes along with a hint of yeast.

Man I wish this was mass produced I would love to have a keg of this for a summer party.
This is an interesting Blonde. It has more similarities of a Belgian Wit then most of the other Belgian Blondes that I have had. What a perfect summer ale. 

I guess it’s hard for most people to get excited about a Blonde but I am really digging this one. This is another one of these beers that has “Simple Elegance”. There is nothing outstanding about this bier it is just perfectly crafted. I’m not sure I have a “Gold Standard” for a Belgian Blonde so this may be it.

The head has diminished to just a patchy island but there is still a decent ring around the top edge of the glass. It is also leaving some lacing.

This is very impressive. It is so easy to drink; as soon as you put the glass down the sweet citrus finish and aftertaste are craving you to go back for more.

As it warms it is picking up some more earthy almost spicy notes. That may be what they referred to as herbal in the 12percent description. The bier is now at 70 degrees. Which only means that I’m slow at typing since this is so refreshing I’m not nursing it at all.

In Style this is a solid A maybe even an A+. I really don’t think I have ever had such a nice Belgian Blonde before. 

I highly recommend this bier to any fan of Belgian Blondes. Actually anyone that likes the lighter summer wheat ales will love this one as a special treat. It is a little high at over $5.00 a bottle but is would be a nice treat, if you were so inclined.

This is a wonderfully delicious and refreshing summer ale for any season.

Westvleteren 12

I am so psyched. This is real “bucket list” stuff for me. I never thought that I would be able to have this. Oh I’ve dreamed about it but never thought it would come true. So what is it that I’m so worked up about? It’s nothing other that the best and rarest beer in the world. Westvleteren 12!


Thanks to my friend Kirk that just took a trip to Belgium I have two bottles of the rare gems in my beer cabinet.

So, what makes this beer all that? I’m not sure if it’s hype because it’s that hard to get or if it truly is the best beer in the world. I guess we will find out when I give this a full review. I’m not sure when that will be but I have decided that it will be my 200th review. Although they have not all been posted yet I am around 177 reviews so it will not be too much longer until I get to 200.

Let me give you a little background.

This beer is brewed by one of the Trappist monasteries in Belgium, The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren. Just the fact that it is on of the 6 Trappist in Belgium, Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren, doesn’t make it rare. It’s the fact that this particular monastery has decided not to commercially distribute their beer, that is what makes it rare. As I understand it the head Abbot decided that they brew beer to support the monastery only. The Monastery is not there to brew beer. The only way to get this beer is to call the beer phone and make and appointment to pick up your beer at the monastery. Even then you are limited to only one case of this beer at a time.

Okay, so it’s rare but how good is it really. Well, for that we’ll just have to wait and see when I do the full review in a few weeks.

Here are some links.
The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren

Ratebeer Top 50

I’ll be back in a few weeks with a full review.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace




Sorachi Ace

Brewed by:
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn,  New York

Saison / Farmhouse Ale


7.60% ABV





Commercial Description:
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is a saison (or farmhouse ale) featuring a new hop from Japan, developed just a few years ago, from which the beer takes its name.
(ratebeer.com)

General Pricing:
750ml bottle, ~ $10.00

Background:
This was a total impulse buy. I actually went into beer store looking to buy a bag of ice and auto-pilot took me down the craft beer isle. (Funny how that happens) So I picked up a couple of bottles. We opened one that night at a dinner party and I saved one to review. I thought it was fantastic at dinner. Although it is hard to judge a beer while it is paired with food. At any rate I am looking forward to giving this a full review.

Review:The beer pours a hazy pale straw with gold or almost orange hues with a bright white head.

A unique floral hop aroma hits you as soon as you start pouring. This is the most unique nose on a beer that I’ve had is quite some time. Along with the flowering hop aroma there are also some classic Belgian Saison aromas of yeast and spice. This is extremely inviting. Let’s dive in.

We are starting this around 51 degrees. It was colder than that but it has been setting out for a little while I do the picture thing and set up the laptop.

Wow, that is a unique saison and I really mean WOW! This is nice; there is some sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue but then that immediately changes to a yeasty and earthy taste followed by a highly effervescent mid-sip. The back-end is smooth and easy to swallow. There is not much flavor on the back end since this is so highly carbonated the effervescence during the swallow masks some of the flavors. The finish is exquisite. There is an exceptional subtle complexity to this masterpiece that comes out in the finish. Nice yeasty notes with some spice, that unique hop note and that wonderful Belgian earthy saison-ness? Sorry I don’t know how else to describe that earthy flavor of a Belgian Saison.  The final aftertaste is subtle but lingering with some peppery spice and that wonderful hop flavor. There is also a slight yeastiness to the final aftertaste as well. It sounds like a lot of aftertaste but it’s really not. These flavors are very subtle. And the unique hop flavor even in the aftertaste is not bitter at all, Just a nice unique flavor.

This is another great masterpiece by Garrett Oliver.

As it warms I’m starting to pick up more spice and hops; still, nothing overpowering, just an extremely easy drinking and enjoyable saison. The end of this first glass is now at 65 degrees. Again, picking up more spice and hop notes but nothing bitter or offensive whatsoever. This is one great beer. I can’t wait to pour another glass.

The second glass was much like the first with that wonderful hop aroma tickling your nose right from the pour. This nose is the most unique; zesty citrus, floral and yeasty.

This is just fantastic. I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying this beer.

Well, the second glass quickly turned into the third. The citrus notes are really becoming more pronounced as this beer warms.

I just love that hoppy flavor without the hop bitterness.

The only concern I have about this beer it that it is going to get overlooked. This will sadly get lost between all the extreme brews and those fruity summer beers. This may actually be the best beer in America right now and most people will not even know it exist. 

I didn’t check it but the end of that glass had to be a room temperature and it was delicious to the last warm drop.

I’m going to have a hard time rating this one. It is a little too unique for the Saison/Farmhouse Ale style. It deviates from the style but at the some time accentuates all that is good about the style and brings it all up to a whole new level. Although I have not reviewed it I would have the same conflict with their Hopfen-Weisse.
 
This beer is unique even to the style. It is also clearly an Artisan beer that is heads and shoulders above anything else in that style. So I am going to give this an A+, That is until I decide to come up with another rating like an “O” Outstanding.

This is a fantastic beer, a true masterpiece. I highly recommend this beer to anyone that appreciates the subtle complexities of a Belgian. This is one exquisite beer. If you are a hop head or extreme beer lover this may slip by and not be appreciated.

So if like Saisons and you are interested in a great summer beer, then treat yourself to this one you will not be disappointed.

In my humble opinion, this may be the best beer in American right now. It certainly is the best Summer Beer that I’ve had this year, a real artisan masterpiece.

Thank you Garrett Oliver for another exquisite beer.

Moosehead Light Lime


Moosehead Light Lime

Brewed by:
Moosehead Breweries Ltd.
New Brunswick, Canada

Light Lager


4.00% ABV






General Pricing:
12oz bottle, ~ $13.00 12 pack, ~ $23.00 case.

Background:

This is another one from my buddy Gene. I think he is giving me these beers so I’ll feel sorry for him and give him some good Belgians.

To set the stage on this one it is a hot June day and I’m outside grilling. What a better time then to bring the laptop into the yard and review a light lime beer. Literally the sweat is dripping down my face, it is that hot today.

Review::
The beer pours a clear very pale straw with just a hint of gold hues and a diminishing right white head.

The nose is all lime; I really can’t detect anything else.

Wow, that actually tasted somewhat like a beer. I am really surprised, I assumed it would taste like it smells, all lime.

There is not enough of a tasting experience to give you any type of play by play but I’ll have to tell you something.

This has a fresh lager flavor with a pleasant citrus lime finish. It is very refreshing on this hot day. There is not a whole lot going on in the beer but I have to admit it is refreshing.

I have had Bud Light Lime before. Yes, I can admit that. And this is much better than that was.

Well, that’s about it for this review. Mainly because I just drank that like it was limeade and it’s GONE!

I can’t really recommend this beer to anyone. I would suggest a good straight up Blonde Ale, Pilsner, Wit or Saison for a summer beer. But if this style of beer is your thing then I would recommend this over the Bud Light Lime any day.

Birthday Fridge and Fathers Day Biers

New Birthday Bier Fridge and Fathers Day Biers

This is a little old but I just realized that I only posted this on Facebook and not here on my blog.

Bierthday Bier Fridge
I had a bierthday a while back and some dear friends bought me a new Bier Fridge.


After two day’s of precision temperature calibration. I started using it.











Most of these beers are for review. Actually I think I’ve already done several of them.


Fathers Day Brews
Then not to long ago I got a few beers and had a wonderful Fathers Day.





No, I did not drink them all on the same day but there is only one bottle of the Hommel Bier left that I am planning on reviewing. All the rest were thoroughly enjoyed.