Archive for February, 2006
Oh lordy, this is good. The Arrogant Bastard has a beautiful dark, cloudy amber hue. The aroma is quite pungent and heavy with dark fruit. At first, the taste is very smooth but aggressive at the front of the mouth with the same dark fruit sweetness, but it finishes aggressively hoppy down the throat and sticks with you for a while. The description on the bottle is quite haughty and the general aire of the packaging is very braggadocious. But, surprisingly enough, it lives up to every claim. One of the best beers I have had in quite some time, although it requires a rather weathered palate to handle the barrage of flavors.
Established in 1909, the Spoetzl Brewery brings you this “bavarian-style dark wheat ale” that is as resfreshing as a spring morning, cool and fantastically crisp. If I had to describe this beer I would say it tastes similar to Concord’s grape jelly with a hint of alcohol. Historically it was only used as an adjunct to Bojangle’s famous buttermillk biscuits but recently persons such as the likes of Kevin Kriener have begun pouring it over sausage patties. I’m freaking hungry…
Kevin - February 25, 2006
The Bigfoot is a Barleywine Style Ale provided seasonally by our friends in the Northwest. The Bigfoot is an average barleywine ale, sweet and malty with rich caramel overtones. Nothing unique strikes the imbiber about this beer besides it heavy punch. Weighing in at a hefty 9.6% ABV, this ale is certain to ravage both mind and tongue. This beer is particularly smooth for such a brash style ale. For barelywine style fans, or for those that want to get drunktastic, the inhabitants of Sycamore Green give it two thumbs up.
Next in the line-up is the Aventinus Eisbock. There is a pretty interesting story behind the creation of this beer. Many years ago, the original Aventinus Wheat Doppelbock (see below) was brewed and exported over long distances by rail. During this time, it happened that a railcar packed with the beer was caught in freezing weather for a period of time, and thus the beer froze. Upon arriving at the destination, the consumers couldn’t wait for the ice to melt – instead, they poured the remaining liquid into a glass for consumption – thus was born Eisbock. Because water is the freezing element in the beer, the leftover liquid is basically a highly concentrated wheat doppelbock. Consequently, the Eisbock is essentially wheat doppelbock on steroids. Again, this is a fabulous beer, and even more rich and decadent than the wheat doppelbock. The flavors of coffee and dark chocolate are even more intense, as is the abv.
This is the darkest wheat beer I’ve yet found, and rings in at about 8% abv. The reasoning behind this is that this is actually a doppelbock, which means that it is lagered and heavily fermented, which should give a heightening of many of the flavor aspects of the beer. The aroma is rich and pungent, smelling of dark chocolate. The flavor is excellent, with traditional wheat characteristics and a hint of dark chocolate and coffee. Overall, this tastes much like the Franziskaner dunkelweiss (which I love), but the Aventinus is a bit richer. This is practically a desert in a bottle, but offers the alcohol kick to really please the senses – highly recommended.
This is yet another Abbey style ale. I know that I keep reviewing Abbey ales and Belgian Tripels over and over. But, these are my favorite varieties, so you have to bear with me. Once I drink every single Belgian Tripel out there, maybe I’ll journey into some other porters and pilsners – we’ll see.
But, back to the beer – This is a delicious representation of an abbey style ale. It is fairly dark, but not overbearing – quite light enough to be amenable to the less adventurous drinker. The aroma is very spicy and fruity with hints of plum and cherry – very nice. There is a slight taste of the licorice that I’m not always into. But, it is nicely off-set with heavier tastes of dark fruit. The mouthfeel is heavy and effervescent through the mouth, and the aftertaste sticks with you long after the beer is gone. An excellent brew, and one of the best American representations of an abbey ale that I have tasted.
This Belgian beer comes in the signature Delirium white bottle with the “sleepy elephant” which, in my opinion, makes it worth a try. It has a decent bouquet, heavy with anise and spice, and a dark purple appearance. The head dicipates fairly quickly and is a uniform light brown in color. It tastes like a typical dark Belgian abbey – hints of fig and anise – heavier on these particular flavors than many competitors. I am not a huge fan of the anise flavor in a beer, but I find that it is trademark in most good Abbey ales – So, while it isn’t my favorite, I certainly appreciate and respect the style – and, I drink it often. My impression is that this is a fabulous representation of the Abbey style, and so I have to give it a recommendation, even if it doesn’t suit my palate perfectly. Good beer.
If you think that’s an ambitious name for a beer, I’d say that you’re right. Actually, due to the name and the goofy label on this bottle of beer, I probably would never have bought it were it not for a young Scott C. that slipped it into my shopping basket whilst I wasn’t paying attention. But, being a good citizen, I WOULD drink it after accidentally buying it. This is a fair beer. Dark and fairly complex with lots of licorice in the taste. Obviously, this is in the style of an Abbey ale. But, for the Easter season, they throw in an interesting hint of sorghum. All this combines to create a unique flavor that I imagine certain drinkers would enjoy. Unfortunately, I’m not necessarily one of them. A good beer, but not a flavor I’m taken with. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to an adventurous drinker if he could find it – seems to be a difficult beer to procure.
I’ve heard this referred to as the most controversial of the Trappist ales. It seems that you either love it or hate it. If I had to choose, I’d say hate is a more apt word for my opinion. It’s not a terrible beer, and I can see the appeal for a certain taste, but this is not a beer I will likely drink again. It has a dark, cloudy complexion, with a dry and bitter flavor – there are hints of fruit in the bouquet, but they are sadly absent in the taste. Basically, this beer makes me think of angry middle-aged monks – I’ll bet they love this beer. Hopefully, they’re wealthy angry middle-aged monks, too, ’cause this beer ain’t cheap. The bottle is pretty sweet, though.
First of all, I apologize for the picture – it is actually a photo of the Allagash Dubbel Reserve, which is a more uppity beer than the standard Dubbel that I tested. Now that we are past this discrepancy, let’s get on with the review. This is an entirely different experience when compared to the tripels that I have been so smitten with lately. The Allagash dubbel is dark and malty, and exhibits flavors of dark chocolate and coffee. The head is a tinge fruity, which is unexpected, and which I didn’t notice until far into the beer. Quite sweet, for this variety. All in all, a very enjoyable drink. With my previous review of Chimay, I intimated that the dubbels bear similarities to a good stout, but exhibit a sweetness and complexity that sets them apart. The Allagash is no different in this respect, although I find a more fruity tinge to the Allagash version of the variety.
This is a Belgian quadrupel ale, and the first quadruple I’ve had. It is dark and appears to be filtered, because it isn’t terribly cloudy. It has a malty/fruity taste, and is more aggressive than the tripels I have had, probably due to the 10% abv. However, it doesn’t have the complexity on the tongue of some of the better tripels. Really, this is almost a mix between a barleywine style ale and a Belgian tripel, and the color would fit such a blend. Although lacking much complexity, it is an intriguing blend of flavors. Quite good, and worth a try.
The Unibroue brewery is based out of Canada and puts out, undoubtedly, the best beers from our Northern neighbors. This beer, as expected, is also excellent. The La Fin du Monde is a triple-fermented ale with a light citrusy aroma, a very light golden color, and a bright white head. The taste of the ale has a bit less bite than most other tripels – it seems more like a mix between a tripel and a Belgian white. In fact, you can almost taste some of the wheatiness of a good white beer, even though there is no wheat whatsoever used in the composition of this beer. The sweetness and lack of bite makes this a good beer for someone just beginning with the tripel-style ales. I have seen this beer called the “best beer in North America” – I doubt that’s true. It is certainly an excellent beer – I would even consider it a standout in its class – but there are better beers available on our great continent. But that’s just my humble opinion
The Optimator is my first ever doppel-bock. First, a little history. Bock beers, oddly enough, are a variety of lager – meaning they they bottom-ferment at a considerably lower temperature than the more common top-fermenting ales. Secondly, bock is a German type of beer, and was originally brewed by monks to maintain sustenance during fasts – the dark ‘beefy’ nature of a bock, coupled with its high alcohol content, was both filling and pleasing to the senses. Finally, it is custom that any bock beer’s name end with the suffix of “-ator” – so anytime you see a beer with this suffix (like celebrator, alligator, etc) it is most likely a bock.
Okay, enough history – on to the beer. The Optimator pours very dark and viscous with a malty rocky head. The aroma borrows from a good Stout with hints of coffee and malt. The taste is rich and decadent – similar to a good stout, there are hints of chocolate and coffee. The differentiating factor here is the warming malt flavor, giving the beer extra body and an additional sweetness. Altogether this is an excellent beer, and fairly intoxicating at 7.2% abv.
This beer is a delectable-taste-explosion headache-in-a-bottle. The Golden Monkey is a delight to drink – fruity, crisp, and sweet – you’d never know that it chimes in at 9.5% abv. The color is a cloudy neon yellow, and the aroma is akin to a Belgian tripel – spicy and pungent. The taste, again, is fruity, crisp and the slightest bit spicy. After about 3 of these, you’ll be about 2 sheets to the wind. But, beware – go much beyond the 3 bottle mark and the Golden Monkey will be playing drums on your head the next morning. It’s a time-tested fact that the Golden Monkey is a fickle friend – amiable at night, but a bitch in the bed the next morning. Nevertheless, this is one of the top 3 incarnations of a tripel to be found this side of the Atlantic.
This Chimay offering belongs to the Belgian dubbel category. Also a Trappist offering, as are all of Chimay’s beers, the beer has a very dark brown hue with a cream-colored rocky head. The aroma and taste are quite strong, in terms of alcohol content. However, the alcohol is well offset by a strong floral flavor with some fruit and a bit of caramel. Overall, a rather complex beer, but well characteristic of the style. I would recommend this for someone who has a liking for a typical English brown ale, but is beginning to find them mundane. The extra complexity of the Chimay gives this beer an edginess in comparison.