Saturday, February 28, 2015

Devils Backbone Azrael



Azrael

Brewed by:
Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Roseland, Virginia, United States

Belgian Strong Pale Ale

7.80% ABV





Commercial Description:
Belgian-style strong golden. This Belgian inspired ale is pure evil! The result of an easy drinkability despite being nearly 8% in alcohol. Gargamel, cast a spell of delicious deception. 31 IBU.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz Bottles: ~$11.00 6 pack

Background:
My friend Brad from the Richmond VA area was up this way for some training and brought up some regional beers. A few of these were Belgian Pale/Blond in style and I really do not want them to age any more than I have already. So it looks like a Belgian Pale night with three beers of a similar Belgian Pale style.
The first up of these three beers was Soul Shine from Starr Hill Brewery, then we had Hardywood Singel and finishing the evening with Devils Backbone Azrael. So let’s see what Azrael has to offer. Before you take me as a lush tonight’s reviews are over a 4 hours in time.

Review:
Appearance
The beer pours a clear golden color with a fairly light bright white head.

Smell
There is not much on the nose just some light pale malt aromas with maybe a touch of a citrus note.

Taste and Mouthfeel
Not a bad first sip but I must say I’m a little disappointed after just reviewing Hardywood Singel.
The taste starts out with pale malt sweetness up front followed by very little of a mouthfeel as the ale moves over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is just a slight hesitation at the top of the swallow. The finish is actually pretty nice with richer pale malt flavors followed by a nice alcohol sweetness followed by a touch of yeast and citrus. There is not much of an aftertaste just a touch of malt sweetness.

This is a very easy drinking beer, especially since it’s close to 8% ABV.
This is such an easy drinking beer I have to let it sit for a while to open up. I’m not doing much righting but sure am drinking this down.

The malt flavors are more pronounced and sweeter as the beer warms and opens up. Still missing are any real noticeable Belgian yeasty flavors.


B- | A rating of a C really doesn’t seem fair but I was not overly impressed with Devils Backbone Azrael. It’s a very good beer just not a very good Belgian Strong Pale. Azrael is a very easy drinking ale with nice pale malt flavors finishing with some citrus notes.

Hardywood Singel


 
Singel

Brewed by:
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Richmond, Virginia, United States

Belgian Pale Ale

6.20% ABV





 
Commercial Description:
Unfiltered, unpasteurized, and uninhibited, Hardywood Singel is a feat in balance. Sunshine golden with a fluffy head and a veil of Belgian ale yeast, Singel’s tropical fruit esters complement its spicy hop aromatics. Delicate in body, Singel’s mellow, dry finish culminates a truly ethereal experience. Hardywood Singel’s stylistic inspiration originates with the Trappist brewers of western Europe, who are often celebrated for their gloriously complex dubbels and tripels, and whose devotion to crafting heavenly libations is second to none. Unknown to many, some of the Trappist brewers also brew a milder ale for daily consumption within the walls of the monastery. Hardywood Singel is our interpretation of this style.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz Bottles: ~$12.00 6 pack

Background:
My friend Brad from the Richmond VA area was up this way for some training and brought up some regional beers. A few of these were Belgian Pale/Blond in style and I really do not want them to age any more than I have already. So It looks like a Belgian Pale night with three beers of a similar Belgian Pale style.
The first up of these three beers was Soul Shine from Starr Hill Brewery. Now we have Hardywood Singel and then I plan on finishing the evening with Devils Backbone Azrael. So let’s see what Hardywood Singel has to offer.

Review:
Appearance
The beer pours a hazy straw yellow with golden hues and a rich bright white head.

Smell
The nose is nice and very inviting with pale malt aromas and wonderful notes of citrus along with a touch of floral hops.

Taste and Mouthfeel
Wow, what a great first sip; if I didn’t know where this was brewed I would have thought a Belgian Abbey for sure. The experience starts out with a touch of pale malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue followed by a smooth mouthfeel as the all rolls over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is just a hint of hesitation at the top of the swallow. The finish is fantastic with great pale malt flavors on a yeasty body with clear finishing notes of citrus. The final aftertaste is of lingering Belgian yeasty notes.
What a nice American version of this style.


The mouthfeel is very deceiving; if you were not looking at the ale you would have thought it was a richer beer than it is. This is another testimony to capturing the subtle complexity of the Belgian style. Hat’s off to Hardywood for producing such an exquisite representation of a Belgian Single.

A | Hardywood Singel is one the best American versions of a Belgian style that I have ever had with its pale malt flavors, subtle complexities, finishing with yeasty notes and citrus giving tribute to the Abbey Single, Pale Ale.






Starr Hill Soul Shine




Soul Shine

Brewed by:
Starr Hill Brewery
Crozet, Virginia, United States

Belgian Pale Ale

5.20% ABV







Commercial Description:
Soul Shine is a Belgian-style Pale Ale with an American twist. It is generously hopped with blend of American hops to give it a distinct aroma of citrus & tropical fruit. This light-bodied beer has a crisp palate & moderate bitterness, with a spicy finish of fruity esters from our Belgian yeast strain.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
Not Available

Background:
My friend Brad from the Richmond VA area was up this way for some training and brought up some regional beers. A few of these were Belgian Pale/Blond in style and I really do not want them to age any more than I have already. So It looks like a Belgian Pale night with three beers of a similar Belgian Pale style.
The first up of these three beers is Soul Shine from Starr Hill Brewery, then we have Hardywood Singel and then I plan on finishing the evening with Devils Backbone Azrael. So let’s see what Soul Shine has to offer.

Review:
Appearance
The beer pours a clear golden blond with a bright white fluffy head.

Smell
There is not much on the nose; subtle pale malt aromas with hints of citrus and yeast.

Taste and Mouthfeel
Not a bad first sip; clean crisp and refreshing.
The sip starts out with a light pale malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue followed by a cleansing effervescence as the ale washes over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is little to now hesitation at the top of the swallow in the back-end of the sip. The crisp clean feel of the beer carries into the finish with pale malt flavors with hints of citrus and light floral hop notes. There is little to no final aftertaste.

All and all this is a very enjoyable ale but I’m not picking up the Belgian yeasty notes and the smoother mouthfeel of the style. This is light and crisp with no complexity at all. Sorry that’s the Belgian snob in me coming out again.

What is here is a very nice easy drinking pale ale or Blond if you will.

This will be a great summer beer. Actually that may be how long I was holding onto this one. I only wish now that I could have this on draft next summer. It will go well with the Leffe Blond that I had on draft last summer.

As the beer warms a little I am starting to pick up more of those Belgian notes. It is also starting to pick up a little of that classic yeasty aftertaste.

B | Sole Shine is a very nice easy drinking ale, clean crisp and refreshing with light pale malt flavors finishing with subtle notes of citrus and light floral hops. It is somewhat lacking the Belgian characteristics of the style but all and all a very good experience.   

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dominion Candi




Candi

Brewed by:
Old Dominion Brewing Company
Dover, Delaware, United States

Tripel

9.50% ABV





Commercial Description:
Don’t be fooled by Candi’s golden appearance. This Belgian Tripel may taste of sugar and spice, but her beguiling introduction is far from nice, flirting with a covert 9.5% ABV. Saaz and Halltertau hops provide a clean, floral aroma with minimal hop bitterness and the soft sweetness of apricot and pear lingers nicely against a dry finish.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz bottles: ~$9.50 6 pack

Background:
This was given to me by my friend Gene. Looks like it’s a big beer night so I figured I would try this one. The last few Gene gave me I aged past there time. So this one I want to experience while it was fresh.

Review:
Appearance
The beer pours a clear golden color with copper hues and a white to bright white fluffy head. The head diminished rather quickly.

Smell
The nose is very pleasant with pale malt aromas with sweet notes of citrus and Belgian yeast. Some of that sweetness may be from the alcohol.

Taste and Mouthfeel
Honestly I was hesitant taking the first sip. I am such a Belgian Bier Snob I was mentally bracing myself for a not so Belgian experience. Boy, I could not be more wrong.
What a great first sip; crisp and clean with all those expected classic Belgian notes.

The taste starts out with a light pale malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue. That is followed by a cleansing effervescence as the ale washes over the tongue in the middle of the sip. There is little to no hesitation at the top of the swallow. There is another release of carbonation during the swallow that continues to mask any flavors. It all comes together in the finish with pale malt flavors followed by lingering Belgian yeasty notes and the sweet warming of alcohol.

This is not the best Belgian Tripel but it sure is one of the best American versions of one.

Like most of the American Tripels they have some of the Belgian notes and flavors but fall short in capturing the subtle complexities of the style.
Okay enough of what’s there let’s get back to what is there.

All and all this is a very good American interpretation of the classic Belgian style. This beer is full of nice pale malt flavors with notes of citrus and undeniable Belgian yeast.

Putting the Belgian Snob behind me this is a solid B in style and maybe an overall A. I really did enjoy this experience.

B | Candi is a very enjoyable American interpretation of the classic Belgian Tripel with clean pale malt flavors with citrus and Belgian yeasty notes on the finish. All and all a very nice experience maybe an A for an overall rating.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock


Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock

Brewed by:
Weisses Bräuhaus G. Schneider & Sohn GmbH
Kelheim, Germany


Eisbock

12.00% ABV





Commercial Description:
Aventinus, the Wheat Doppelbock of Bavaria, has always been known to be the most intense and complex wheat beer in the world. This was the case for the past sixty years, but not anymore...
Up until the 1940’s, Aventinus was shipped all over Bavaria in containers lacking temperature control. Consequently, the precious drink partially froze during transportation. Unaware that the brew was concentrated by the separation of water from the liquid. People were baffled by this unique version of Aventinus. By chance, the first Aventinus Eisbock was created.
Well aware of this story, Hans Peter Drexler, brewmaster of the Schneider brewery, decided to recreate this classic "mistake" in a modern controlled facility. Thus, the Aventinus Eisbock is reborn sixty years later ... Prost!
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
330ml, 11.2oz Bottles: ~$5.50 each

Background:
Well, we just got around 7 inches of snow. It’s 8:00 at night and I just got in from shoveling the driveway and sidewalk. This is a perfect night for a fire and an Eisbock. I bought this several months back but I’m not worried about aging this one. Actually this should get better with age.

Review:
The ale pours a hazy brown with ruby hues and an off white to tan head. The beer is almost opaque with very little light getting through the bottom of the glass.

The nose is amazing with rich caramel malt aromas with toasted malt notes of toffee.

Wow, What a fantastic first sip; silky smooth, rich and warming.
The experience starts out with a rich caramel malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue, followed by the most exquisite silky smooth mouthfeel as the ale rolls over the tongue in the middle of the sip. For such a rich beer there is not much of a hesitation at the top of the swallow. Due to the low carbonation the smooth rich creaminess continues through the swallow into the finish. The finish is exquisite with rich caramel malt flavors with notes of toasted toffee and hints of chocolate. These rich malt flavors continue in the final aftertaste. The mouth is left with a malt coating similar to that of a rich stout but much sweeter.

There is also a very noticeable warming feeling in the chest. However what is not noticeable is the alcohol. There may be some added sweetness from the alcohol but there is no harness or up front alcohol notes. It’s always impressive to me when high alcohol can be masked in the beer.

As the beer warms in just gets richer and smoother.

This is an A+ for sure. What a delicious smooth rich and warming experience.

A+ | Aventinus Eisbock is an exquisite beer with rich caramel and toasted malt flavors with a silky smooth mouthfeel and finishing notes of toffee and a touch of chocolate leaving a you satisfied and warmed from the impressively masked 12% AVB.

Mispillion River Beach Bum Joe


Beach Bum Joe


Brewed by:
Mispillion River Brewing

Milford, Delaware, United States


Belgian Pale Ale
6.40% ABV


Commercial Description:
A combination between an American pale ale and a Belgian golden ale. Light crisp and refreshing, with a fruity characteristic from the Belgian yeast, and fully attenuated to provide a medium body and extremely drinkable beer.
(RateBeer.com)

General Pricing:
12oz Cans: ~$10.00 6 pack

Background:
This is a fairly recent one given to me by my friend Joe. Recently I have been reviewing older beers that have been sitting around. I thought I would try something more fresh. I know nothing about this beer or the brewery so this will be a nice fresh experience all around.

Review:
The beer pours a hazy golden color with copper hues and a bright white head.

The nose is nice with clean pale malt aromas with notes of citrus.

What a great first sip, clean and refreshing with just the right about of bite on the finish.

The taste starts out with a touch of malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue following by a cleansing effervescence over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back end is very easy drinking with an almost effortless swallow. The finish is very nice with clean crisp pale malt flavors ending in a touch of earthiness and a slight hop bite. This finishes clean with very little aftertaste.

This is such an enjoyable and drinkable beer I’m afraid it’s going down to fast. I’m going to have to put it down for minute to let it warm up.

I’m sure glad I let this warm a little. The Belgian notes are really starting to come out now as it warms and opens up. The finish is much better now with earthy Belgian yeasty notes making their presence known on the finish.

Again I am turn by my overall experience and the Belgian Snob style rating. Overall this is a B+ to an A but strictly by the Belgian Pale Ale style it’s more like a C+ to a B.

B | Beach Bum Joe is a very nice clean and refreshing Belgian Pale Ale with nice light malt flavors finishing with notes of citrus and Belgian yeast.

Devils Backbone Catty Wompus


 
Catty Wompus


Brewed by:

Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Roseland, Virginia, United States


Belgian IPA

 7.50% ABV



COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
This Belgian-inspired IPA is a blend of Old World traditions. Brewed like a Belgian Ale but hopped like an IPA. Pine and citrus notes blend with flavors of apple and pear.
(RateBeer.com)


Background:
I’m not sure what to expect mainly because I can’t remember how long I have had this beer. I know it was given to me by my friend Gene it could have been a year or more ago. We’ll just have to see if this in another interesting aging experiment or a lesson in what not to do with a gift from a friend.

Review:
The beer pours a clear deep golden straw with copper hues and a bright white head.

The nose is very inviting with those classic Belgian yeasty aromas with notes of citrus.

Not a bad first sip but I can’t help feeling that I’m missing something. The taste starts out with a very light malt sweetness up front followed by effervescence as the ale washes over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back end is very easy drinking with effortless swallow. There is also another release of carbonation on the swallow that masks any flavors. The finish is pretty none eventful, this is where I expected some hop flavors but received no more bite than a simple pale ale. This was not a bad taste or flavor just lacking such.

There is a bit of citrus and maybe grapefruit on the finish but these flavors are much diminished. Or at least I suspect that they are diminished from what they were when this bottle was fresh. Also missing from the taste of this beer are those classic Belgian yeasty notes on the finish.

Maybe I should re-group and tell you want I am tasting instead of what I’m not.

The beer is clean and refreshing with nice light malt flavors and a touch of citrus and grapefruit notes on the finish.

All and all this is a very good pale ale. It however is not a very good Belgian IPA. It could be that it’s age caused it to lose its identity.  Or perhaps this is another clear case that the “Overall” rating of the beer is drastically different than the “In Style/Class” rating. In this case the overall would be a B+ to and A- but more like a C in class.

I’m not going to grade this review. I will wait until I find another one of these in season and give it another review.

Catty Wompus is a very interesting Pale Ale. The Belgian IPA characteristics may have been aged out of this particular one but all and all it was a very good experience. I will have to review again when in season.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Dominion Millennium Ale


Dominion Millennium Ale 

Brewed by:

Old Dominion Brewing Company 

Dover, Delaware, United States

English Barleywine

10.50% ABV 



Commercial Description:
Dominion Millennium is a very strong ale brewed in the English Barley Wine style. Often called the "sherry of the beer world", barley wine is best sipped at warmer temperatures, and should be enjoyed in moderation, as it contains twice the alcohol of regular beers.
(RateBeer.com)


Background:
Looks like this is going to be another accidental aged beer review. This beer was probably given to me more than a year ago by my friend Gene. As I look at the label it was bottled in October 2013. So let’s see how this beer held up a year and a half later.


Review:
The beer pours a clear copper with amber hues and a modest off white head.

The nose is very interesting with sweet toasted and caramel malt aromas with an underlining sweetness that I assume is from the alcohol.

What a very nice first sip; very smooth and warming. The taste starts out with a touch of malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue followed by a silky smooth mouthfeel as the beer rolls over the tongue in the middle of the sip. The back end is very easy drinking for such a big beer; there is very little hesitation on the top of the swallow. Following an almost effortless swallow there is a very rich and warming finish and aftertaste. The finish has rich caramel malt flavors along with a touch of hops that give just a slight bite. There is also a comforting warming sensation in the chest. The final aftertaste is of those lingering caramel and toasted malt flavors.

What is noticeably missing is that classic harshness and intensity of the Barleywine style. I assume that is because of the age of this beer. Most of beers that I have aged have a reduction in the hop flavors and an increase in the malt flavors. I tried to get a fresh one but this beer is currently inactive and not available at my local store.

I forgot to take a starting temperature reading but we are now at 53 degrees.

The beer is getting smoother and easier to drink as it warms. Along with the warming of the alcohol it’s been a very pleasurable experience; especially since it’s cold with freezing rain and snow tonight.

We have warmed to 66 degrees.

This beer is amazingly smooth for a Barleywine.

Another interesting thing to note is a lot of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. I know this is not a bottle conditioned beer so all of the sediment must be from the aging. I’m not sure what falls out of suspension when aging but all most all of the beers that I have aged for a year or more have a good amount of sediment.

All and all this was a very pleasant experience. I’m always impressed when a beer ages well.

I’m not sure what to rate this experience at. It’s B+ to an A- for sure but lacking that wow factor. My only hesitation is whether or not it’s fair to rate this as a Barleywine. It certainly has matured into a whole different kind of a beer.

B+ | This was an impressively aged Barleywine with smooth rich caramel and toasted malt flavors followed by a very pleasant warming finish. Aged away were all the normally distinctive harshness and hop bite of the style leaving a smooth comfort warming ale.