Archive for December, 2010
I’m obviously a bit out of practice, as can be derived from the complete lack of consistent reviews for the past several months. However, the combination of Dave’s comeback and a stellar beer are leading me to post a quick something regarding this exceptional lambic from Hanssens. I don’t drink a lot of lambics, simply due to the high price point of the good stuff. Even Lindeman’s, which is by many accounts a sellout amongst lambics, costs a pretty penny. So, to find an authentic and properly matured lambic from a brewery like Hanssens is, first of all, difficult to do. Secondly, it’ll probably be expensive. However, I was very pleased to see this bottle of the stuff down at Sam’s Blue Light for $8.95. Pretty expensive for a single beer. But, for a true Belgian Gueuze aged 3 years, it’s a pretty good bargain…
The beer pours a pretty dark golden color with just a hint of ruby red in the light. The head is rocky and stark white, bubbling up quickly, only to then settle to a thin film on the top of the beer. The aroma of this is quite sour, but certainly not overwhelming. The sourness is apparent in the nose, but doesn’t burn the nostrils, displaying a nice mellowness. In the mouth, the Hanssens is sharp, tart, and delicious. To some beer drinkers a gueuze like this is positively unappetizing. In fact, it took me several to begin to appreciate them. However, now that I’m over the hump, I find myself jonesing for the unique flavor of a gueuze every now and again. And, on a list of good examples of the variety, this would certainly be near the top. The tartness of this variety can be a bit overwhelming in a younger beer. However, here, the tartness makes you pucker a bit, but it is overall much mellower and flows along with some buttery hints. The evolution of the beer through the mouth is great, activating what seem to be very different portions of the tastebuds as it flows down the tongue, eventually leaving you with a lightly oily coating in the mouth and a SweeTart type flavor in the mouth.
The only bad thing about this beer is that there isn’t enough of it. Generally, I don’t wish to drink more than a glass of a gueuze lambic. However, this is so much more palatable and complex that I feel I could enjoy several of them. And, at 6% abv, that isn’t entirely out of the question. For even a novice trying to break into this variety, the Hanssens is highly recommended. Slightly expensive, but a great way to put a good face on the genre…
photo credit: walknboston
Here in New England the first winter storm has hit us, which provides an excellent excuse to tuck into a big and bold beer style. Barleywine certainly fits that bill, so I popped opened Pretty Things’ latest creation, Our Finest Regards. Pretty Things has made some great beers in the past so my expectations are rather high for this concoction.
In the snifter the beer was a dark reddish-brown, with a snow-white head. The head went thin after a couple of minutes, offering only a wispy covering. Plums and cherries dipped in caramelized sugar are what I envisioned when I took in the beer’s pronounced aroma. Toward the back of my nose there was the faintest hint of alcohol burn, as to warn me to not take too big a first sip.
The slightly viscous beer tingled the tip of my tongue with slight carbonation. Then came the plums I noticed in the beer’s aroma. This flavor lasted a short while and then moved to a strong malt profile. The malt was of caramel and grain that danced effortlessly in my mouth. As the beer warmed the fruit profile became more cherry in nature, thus both fruit aromas were present in the beer’s taste profile. The warmth also allowed the caramel to mingle with the plum and cherry taste, creating a diverse mix of flavors in my mouth. The beer’s finish had a slight bitterness, and a light hint of alcohol warmth. The aftertaste of dark fruits was short-lived, requiring the next sip to come quickly.
One thing about this beer that threw me was its lack of viscosity. I prepared myself for a rather oily viscous brew, and that was certainly not the case. Certainly not a negative in my book, but something of note. This was a great beer that showed a lot of complexity and went down easy. At 13.5%abv (!) it may be too easy to drink. Once the sidewalks are cleared I’ll probably go pick up a couple more, to get me through the winter.
PS The plum character of the beer reminded me of Pretty Things’ Baby Tree, another good beer by the way.
I never got into watching beer video blogs. They tended to consist of some guy(s), sitting around either a kitchen or a home office, with poor lighting, less than great sound, and camera work that was either a stationary webcam or done by someone who had a couple of the beers being discussed. With all of that, most times I could have read a written beer review a lot faster than most video reviews. In general, not a fan.
Then Pete Brown comes along with his video blog and blows all of my beer video blog qualms out of the water. First, the videos are filmed in pubs! If I had three choices of where to drink a beer and those three choices were a) a kitchen (like a shut-in), b) a home office (also like a shut-in) or c) a local pub/bar, I would choose c, hands down. The pub location is one of the pieces that gives Pete’s video blogs such great atmosphere. The other pieces would be proper lighting, sound, and video work. Pubs are not known for being bathed in brilliant light but Pete is never in shadow or poorly lit. The pubs are also in use at the time of filming but the background chatter of patrons never distracts from what Pete is saying, who speaks clearly and concisely. The last piece is the video work. Though Pete tends to stand/sit in one place through-out the episode, different aspects of pub life, the pouring of pints, patrons talking and drinking, random memorabilia that seems to adorn all pub’s walls, are all captured and interspersed throughout the video. Not only does this break up the monotony of staring at some guy drinking beer, it helps envelop the viewer in the pub’s atmosphere.
Pete does review beers in the episodes, but the reviews are quick and to the point. He normally says something about the area’s beer history (the four video’s, linked below, have been filmed in four different areas of the UK), states a little bit about the brewery, gives a sentence or two history about the beer style, and then lists a few different aromas and/or tastes of the beer (while taking a sip of course). Honestly that is all I need. If I want to know more, there is Google, and I can read about it.
Every time I watch one of Pete’s video blogs I wish I could be right there, drinking a pint with him. To me that is a sign of a well done video blog. With that written, are there other video blogs that fit the above criteria but I have missed out on? Let me know about it in the comments.
Below are links to the first four episodes (with the Christmas Special embedded) of “Pete Brown’s British Beer Blog”:
Pete Brown’s British Beer Blog – September
Pete Brown’s British Beer Blog – October
Pete Brown’s British Beer Blog – November
Pete Brown’s British Beer Video Blog – Christmas Special
(All videos are from Ian Hudson Films on Vimeo.)
Recently I realized something was missing here at sevenpack (minus consistent posting of beer reviews), reviews of Black IPA. The Black IPA would certainly qualify as one of* the biggest beer style fads of 2010. It felt like every other day beernews.org was posting about a new Black IPA being brewed by some brewery; at least one brewery (there could be more) had a Black IPA as its initial beer release; the style was Imperialized, of course; to top it all off, there was a controversy over the style’s name. All of this, and we have one Black IPA review… and that dates all the way back to 2007 with my review of Stone 11th Anniversary Ale (which is one of the beers credited with starting the fad, and later became Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale). Well its time to change that one to a two my dear reader, with a review of Blue Hills Brewery Black Hops!
The beer poured black (which is good considering this is a Black IPA) with a light tan head that possessed a physical characteristic of custard. The nose of the beer was quite malty. This was significantly different from other Black IPAs I have had (I have had a few, they just haven’t been reviewed, sorry), which were more hop forward in the nose. Pumpernickel bread, almonds, and an inkling of molasses played together in my nose, and memories of German dark Lagers from drinks past danced through my head. There was a faint fruit punch aroma in the background, as if it were shy and did not want any notoriety. I had plenty of time to enjoy the beer’s aromas, because the head lasted through out the session.
The taste was… not what I expected (this beer is just full of surprises). With such a malty nose, I was expecting a malty beer (seems a reasonable conclusion), but that was not the case. Sure there was malt, but the hops hit me first. The aromatically shy fruit punch came out of its shell in the mouth with a good dosing of apple, orange and grapefruit hitting the tongue right off the bat. This progressed to the beer’s malt profile that surprisingly (again) was chocolate in character. Chocolate with a trace of roast seemed to envelope my mouth but did not fully overwhelm the original fruit flavor, which only faded into the background. This chocolate-fruitiness played so very well together. The light on the tongue beer then finished dry with a tinge of hop bitterness.
This was a great beer that showcased the two sides of the Black IPA style very well, and better then most Black IPAs I have had. At 6.75% the beer is not an alcohol bomb but considering how easily and enjoyably it goes down, that abv could sneak up on you. The subtle nature of all the aromas and flavors of this beer made this a delectable drink, and one I will pick up again.
*The other fad would be barrel aging. It seemed every brewer was putting some type of beer into some type of barrel and aging it for some length of time.
With 2010 quickly coming to a close I thought this would be the ideal time to clean out some posts that have been languishing in the “drafts” bin for quite some time (one since 2009!). The DFH review is closest to being finalized so is most like a typical Sevenpack review, but is also the oldest and the train of thought for the post is lost to time. As for the other two “reviews”, they are merely notes I took while drinking the beers and that is how they will be posted. Certainly not the typical Sevenpack style of review, but at least the info is out there.
Dogfish Head Squall IPA (September 18, 2009)
*This was for the beer’s first release. It has since been released again.
A thick, creme colored head sits atop the beer’s clear, copper body as it awaited my first sip. Pungent, sticky aromas of pine and citrus hops mix with a heavy caramel sweetness. Lots of big aromas in this beer.
In the mouth this “big” aspect continues. On the front of the tongue is a slight carbonation burn. This quickly moves mid-tongue to an enjoyable mixture of pine hops and maple syrup-ish sweetness. The beer ends with a strong bitter finale of grapefruit hops. This sweetness continues to the back of the mouth, where it encounters a bitter blast of grapefruit hops. This finale of hops, though bitter, is kept in check by the previously mentioned sweetness.
Overall a very enjoyable beer by Dogfish Head. If you can find a bottle (it was of limited release, in limited areas) you would not go wrong picking one up.
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (June 6, 2010)
very slightly cloudy, big puff white head, golden
lemon, fresh crushed black pepper, herb (lightly minty)
lemon and pepper – combination has notes of lemon cough drops, dry, crisp, light on the tongue, finish has a bad orange juice taste, finish is lemon pith bitter,
Stone 14th AnniversaryEmperial IPA (August 3, 2010)
yellow golden, white, fluffy head, small little carbonation bubbles
very fresh hop smell, light lemon, intermingled with earth of equal value to lemon,
lemon-citrus, fresh, lively, clean, bitter hit for a finish, light in the mouth, light malt sweetness in the finish, spice notes in the mid section, definitely need to pick up another bottle.