Friday, May 19, 2006

Liefman's Kriek

I really like Liefman's. I've only had the Goudenband once before and I really liked it. I really like strong Flemish Sour Ales. The Panil Barriquee is one of my favorites. I think I've had Liefman's Framboise before, but never their Kriek. It's 5% abv.

I picked this bottle up at D's in Swissvale (Pittsburgh) along with a Stroudt's Triple and a Fantome. I like that store. My second time there. But it's expensive. And I should have got a sausage there. I should have known their chicken sandwich wouldn't be that good.

Very pungent nose. Vinegar, lactic acid, sharp, sour cherries. Pretty head with medium lacing. An almost red color. More brown than red.

Wow. A fabulous tasting beer. Maybe just a hair on the sweet side, but I think this beer is definately in the right range in terms of sweetness: fairly high. I think the sweetness brings out the cherry flavor, makes it much bolder and rounder and big shouldered. Lambic Krieks are so dry that the cherry isn't really cherry. But this beer nails the cherries.

This is an awesome beer. I am really in love with it. There is so much going on and it all coalesces in the beginning of the late-palate into one concentrated nucleus of flavor. There's the big, rich tart-dabbled cherry, the sharp lactic and acetic sour acid notes, the very fine prickly carbonation, the hint of nutty's awesome. It all coalesces during the swallow and expands delicately again as the flavor tapers off to a faint whisper of cheek puckering sourness and tightness in the mouth. Maybe just a touch cloying, but not a very bad thing at all.

Really love this beer. Can't wait to get it again.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Weyerbacher Merry Monks' Belgian Style Golden Ale

Click it for a bigger picture.

From Easton PA.

I've had this in my fridge since just before Christmas. My brother gave it to me. He said he thought they might have been infected though.

A disappointing head on this beer. It fades rapidly to weak drifts of spittle-esque bubbles. Beautiful color though. If I had to point to a beer that was golden, this might be it.

Big nose. Very nice nose. A touch hot with big, dry, white wine at first, underlayed by some big Belgian yeast character and maybe some cotton candy. A touch of green apple?

An interesting beer. I get more white wine on the palate but a bit sharper, kind of cidery. Definitely sour actually, but I'm not sure if it's bacterial. It might just be a kind of fermentation astringency. It definitely is refreshing though. It's almost like ginger ale, but less sweet. It's a ginger ale/white wine/cider spritzer. Maybe cranberry too. Definitely cranberry there. And more green apple. All these kind of sour, tart fruits. The beer has a distinctive but mellow fruitiness to it.

The carbonation is definitely high and there doesn't seem to be much residual sugar, but that might be balanced out by the sourness. Has a nice mouthfeel.

This bottle could very well be infected, or possibly something else has gone "wrong" here, but all in all I've quite enjoyed my experience with this beer. Interesting, refreshing, and generally pleasurable.

The first time I ever tried Corsendonk Abbey Brown I think I had a bad bottle. I lived in bumfuck North Carolina and had to drive to Knoxville TN to get beer over 6% abv. It was a decent drive though, through the Smokies. I came back with a 200$ haul and we drank strong ales for several weeks then. I actually still have a couple beers I bought on those runs. A Gulden Draak, a Celebrator, two Old Foghorns, a 1996 Gale's and maybe some others too. Anyway, the Corsendonk was probably infected as it was quite sour, but I really liked it. I thought maybe Corsendonk was a sour brown ale. I drank the whole 750ml bottle of it. Turns out that Corsendonk is not "supposed to be" sour.

But who cares.

It was a great experience.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

smoky...yeah it has warmed up, it's changed a bit

From Bell's Brewing in Kalamazoo, Michigan: Wheat 8 Ale (???%abv)

Ok...yeah...that makes sense. I get some Belgian Wit, maybe Saison...GODDAMMIT DUNN, ARE YOU QUOTING ME? Says Ryan, as Chris idly, wryly mentions that he doesn't have anything worth while to add to these notes. I say screw him. He agreed with me that this beer has a smoky nose. Ryan says earthy. Either way, it's something strange in the nose, maybe like Truffles even though I've never had a Truffle.

Very dark color. Surprised how dark it is. Head was not persistant at all. No lace.

I picture this beer as kind of a lot of layers all smooshed up into one another. Too much going on here. Lots of big malt flavors all smashed up into one beer. Some spicy yeasty notes also stand out.

Definately a unique, weird tasting beer. The biggest thing for me is how the spicy yeast and malts interact to be kind of bewildering.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Arcadia Hopmouth

From Arcadia Brewing in Battle Creek, Michigan: Hopmouth (8.1%abv)

A very traditional English ale brewery is trying to keep up with the Jones's and who can blame them? They make great beer and I'm sure this is going to be great too. A double IPA released in a 22oz bottle, the first in "The Brew Crew Big Beer Series...a tasty fix for your hop jones." It's kind of a shame actually that they've gone this direction with their image. Hop jones? What kind of traditional English brewer says that? Oh well.

My little fantasy, neatly partitioned enclaves of traditional brewerdom taking over the US, will have to remain a fantasy.

A fairly light colored beer that shines mostly russet red in the light. The head faded extremely quickly as the nice natural blobs of CO2 fled the rather warm beer in a hurry. They left a thin but persistant cap of off white foam covering the beer. But there is a bit of sticky lace clinging to the glass.

The nose is big. Big resinous hop juice wafts off this beer slowly, thickly, punctuated with lemon rind. I want to say East Kent Goldings in the nose. That kind of rustic, earthy character. Definately a hint of ethanol there too. A bit of prickly (?) fermentation character folded softly into malty caramel.

Big, nay huge, resinous, piney hop flavor dominates with a bit of medicinal edge to it, but not much distinction. High, tingly hop bitterness and perhaps fermentation character make this beer a touch prickly. But still enjoyable. The malt character here is quite nice. It's rich and substantial but the beer is fairly dry. This is not to say that the malt makes any headway against the hop torrent, but it's there.

Fairly nice, medium dry finish with a nice lingering hop flavor riding along on more than a whisper of malt sweetness. Just a touch of astringency in the finish.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gravity Head 2006

Read my new article about Gravity Head here.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

awesome brewery, bad name

From Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, Michigan: Luciernaga (6.5%abv)

God I love this brewery. I got to visit it last May on the World Class Beverage Michigan trip. Very small. Very artisinal. The owner/brewer sure knows how to make excellent Belgian beers. They are really just spot on. Unforunately, I just can't get over the damn branding. I bitch about it everytime I talk about this brewery. It's a pirate and Caribbean themed artisan Belgian Michigan.

Whatever. The labels are fucking awesome. And the beer...well the beer is just out of this world and that's what counts I suppose.

The first thing that you notice about this beer is the massive carbonation. Literally hundreds of gushing streams of carbonation erupt at the surface creating a massive frothy off-white head. And this beer has an awesome head. Just look at the picture. Very thick, rocky meringue-y head after a top off. Thick gobs of lace have stuck to the glass and retained their structure for 15 minutes now. And as even as the beer has warmed there's still a ton of carbonation coming out of solution. The beer is an appropriate deep hazy orange color.

The nose is potent. I want to say there is a good dose of Brettanomyces funk in the nose along side a very potent earthy hop aroma. Really spot on in the nose here. Maybe some spicing as well. A very complex aroma.

What a wonderful tasting beer. Tn interesting interplay between spicing and hopping. The spicing adds a nice extra dimension to the hop character of this beer which is really all about the bittering. A very bitter Belgian ale. Not much in the way of malt flavors here. The spicing and hops really seem to dominate this tasting for me. This is a fairly dry beer and the hefty carbonation amplifies that dryness. With the high hopping rate all of this leads to some astringency in the finish. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of Brett flavors here though.

All in all it reminds me a lot of a spiced Orval that's not quite as dry or funky. I'd age these bottles to let the spice level come down a bit. They really dominate the beer and I think I'd like it more if they were more of a background thing.

a diverse assortment

click for bigger version

Mr. Ryan Clarke and I sampled these beers and recorded these notes together a couple weeks ago while we were homebrewing. We made two English Special Bitters, a Rauch beer and a Double IPA.

From Heavyweight Brewing Company in Ocean Township, New Jersey: Perkuno's Hammer Baltic Porter

We didn't actually take notes for this one, but what I remember was HUGE malts. Huge nutty, caramelly chocolate flavors. Very bodied. A very big beer indeed.

From Barley Island Brewing Company in Noblesville, Indiana: Brass Knuckle's Oatmeal Stout (4.9%abv)

Black. Black as night. Brown head. Big roasted and chocolate (?) malts in the nose with a bit of a sharp hop presence. Maybe just a touch of fermentation character, but the roasty notes dominate. Fairly bitter oatmeal stout. Much more than I expect in this style. But it’s still very nice. Big roasted and chocolate malt flavors as well. Fairly hefty body, very smooth mouthfeel. The hop bitterness dominate the tail end of the palate with an almost tart astringency. Perhaps it’s the combination of high hop bitterness and all those dark grains that make it a bit astringent in the finish. All in all a pretty decent beer.

From New Holland Brewing in Holland, Michigan: Phi (9%abv)

Beautiful looking beer. Nice peach/orange color. Small, off white head. Really crazy nose. Big citrusy notes. Maybe some coriander? Very intense nose. Almost smells like Brett funk at first. Maybe some yeast character too. Very strange tasting beer. Big citrus like notes up front, mixed with the coriander-esque spicing. Very tart all the way through, but very very tart in the finish. Doesn’t seem like hop bitterness, but maybe it is? Medium-low body for a beer of this strength. Interesting, but I’m not sure how many of these I could drink.

From Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pennsylvania: Hop Wallop (8.5%abv)

After a blind tasting of DFH 90 minute and Ryan’s cloned version, I’m not in tip top form, but here we go anyway. Really light colored beer. Straw yellow. Ivory white head. Big spicy hops in the nose. Not your typical American IPA hops I don’t think. Smells like a big pilsner. Tastes like a big pilsner too. Huge, spicy, noble hops. Not much citrus, a little bit, but not much. More of that spicy, grassy deal. Very bitter. Very very bitter. Not much in the way of maltyness here. Just the ice for the hops to ice dance on. Very harsh bitterness in the finish. Just a wee bit of sweetness tries to poke its head out at the end, but the hops gang stomp it into the curb. Too much really. Interesting version of a DIPA.

From Bell's Brewery (Kalamazoo Brewing Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan: Wheat Love Ale (8%abv)

Nice orange color. White head. Minimal white head. Big Belgian-esque nose. Ryan says phenolic and clovey and I agree. Also some big esters. Big ripe fruit. Definitely a touch of ethanol in there as well. A hint of citrusy orange. Ryan says coriander. I don’t smell that though. Big palate. A little harsh, probably needs to sit for a while. I get more citrus. Not hop citrus, but yeast and maybe wheaty-like citrus notes. Fairly sweet, almost cloying towards the finish. Sticky lips. Kind of tart. Not much in the way of hops I don’t think. Maybe some other spicing like coriander. All in all a bit much. Age it a couple years.

two strong porters

From Arcadia Brewing Company in Battle Creek, Michigan: London Porter (7.2%abv)

I like Arcadia. They brew on a Peter Austin unit which is cool. I wrote a piece about them for Check it out here, and to learn what a Peter Austin system is.

The London Porter is cool. It's brewed with smoked malt, not peated malt, but the equivalent of German Rauchmalt, beechwood smoked malt. And at 7.2%, not a small beer.

You can almost see through this beer. Held up to the light you can definately just barely see through its deep mahogany redness. Minimal carbonation and a nice beige/brownish head that is small but persistant.

Get mostly rich caramel notes in the nose mixed with warm, smokey undertones. Also just a hint of alcohol.

I swear to god I get red delicious apples when I drink this beer. It's really nice. You smell the smoke a bit just before you swallow then I get red apples. Not tart or too sweet, just the flavor is there. Also get some nice caramel flavors, but not too much. No roasty and minimal chocolate notes. I think this is cool actually as it's more to style for a traditional London Porter as they used to be made with all 'brown malt', no chocolate or roasted. Finished with a nice English-citrusy hop flavor and minimal to medium bitterness. Smoke is fairly minimal on the palate, but seems to add to the richness. Low to medium final gravity for such a big beer. Really quite drinkable.

From Flying Dog Brewery in Denver, Colorado: Gonzo Imperial Porter (9.5%abv)

Flying Dog makes a good to very good line of 'everyday beers'. Their brewmaster knows his shit, that's for sure, and he makes those smaller beers very tasty and very consistently, which is much harder than making a good big beer. Read an article I wrote about him for here. But not usually as exciting to drink. Who doesn't get a kick from sampling 9.5% porter? Anyway, luckily Flying Dog is now making some bigger, more adventurous beers including this homage to Hunter S. Thompson who was a cofounder of the brewery actually.

This brew is black black black black black. The head is a deep chocolate brown color and nicely persistant with a touch of lacing here and there.

It has a big nose. You can smell it as soon as you're pouring into the glass. Mostly chocolate malts, maybe some roasted or black patent and some just barely there sweetish-raisin notes maybe with a touch of what I take to be fermentation character, something just a little spicey. Also some hop notes too for sure. Nothing really super citrusy or anything distinct, but they're there. The 9.5%abv is really well masked or maybe just not a lot of higher alcohols.

This beer has a long to speak. I don't know if that's the way to put it, but it seems like a lot of different flavors develop over the course of a single drink-act. In the beginning, Flying Dog made this porter fucking awesome. So rich. So big. So velvety smooth. Huge, complex malt character ranging from subdued chocolatey notes to mildly sweet, warm caramel. Definately a substantial hop character up from too that really melds nicely with the malts. Wow. Incredible front palate. Unfortunately, things don't finish as well as they started, but they don't finish badly. During the swallow, the hop flavor seems to stand out more, still good, but the aftertaste is quite bitter and the malts flatten out into a flakey, cardboard, acrid, burnt, roasted kind of thing. It's not that bad, just in comparison to the monumental smoothness, mellowness and utter fucking ectasy that is the beginning of this beer, the end disapoints me a bit.

Quite drinkable, but watch that 9.5%abv, you can't tell it's there until after you're done.

Also, big hops in the burps. I think this beer might be a bit too hoppy for a Baltic Porter.


From Family Brewery Bosteels in Buggenhout, Belgium: Pauwel Kwak (8%abv)

I like Bosteels' brews. I know they also make the Tripel Karmeliet, a really wonderful Tripel. Both Kwak and the Tripel are very widely available. I think Bosteels is a fairly large, modern, business. And that's fine. I'm glad their beers are still really tasty. Can you imagine what Miller or Anheuser-Busch could do if they put their minds to it? Maybe win a ton of medals in the GABF? Oh, they already did that. I can't wait to try some of that stuff. Like a Michelob Marzen. Tasty I'm sure.

Anyway, the Kwak is a nice deep orange color. A bit cloudy, but chill haze, not yeast, though this beer is bottle conditioned. The head is a really nice off white/tan color. Very dense, persistant, very nice lacing.

Very nice nose. Warm, malty, sweet scents. I get some honey for sure, maybe biscuits and honey. Very appealing. Just a touch of alcohol.

Really just a very clean tasting beer. Very little to no astringency in the finish. Rich, sweet warm malty flavors and more of that biscuits and honey stuff on the palate. A good dose of banana-y esters here too. Warming.

A fairly sweet beer with a medium to medium-high carbonation. Very easy to drink for an 8%abv beer, but I think it gets a little too sweet for more than a glass or two.

Thank god for big Belgian Breweries.

some beers

I plan to start reviewing beers here. I have a decent stock of reviews on, but I haven't reviewed much there recently. I'm a bit sick of it really, but I do enjoy reviewing beers and it help me to develop my palate etc. So here's the first installment. CLICK THE PICTURE FOR A LARGER VIEW. Reviews are after the pic.

From De Dolle Brouwers in Esen, Belgium: oerbier (7.5%abv)

I've been waiting a long time to try this brew since De Dolle has returned to using a blend of yeasts that I've heard are used at Rodenbach, the famous brewer of Flemish sour ales.

The beer is a deep red, mahogany almost brown color. Medium to high carbonation with a large, persistant beige, off white head that leaves a medium bit of lacing in spots. A bit cloudy even after a careful pour; the yeast is really quite powdery. A very nice nose; sharp, pungent, maybe sour or tart but not overwhelmingly so, with a good bit of alcohol. Definately get some raisin and plum as well.

Little less stellar than I expected in the flavor department. Still very big and complex, but a bit astringent in the finish and not as sour as I would like. It's quite nice up front with medium yeast character and big adjunct and grain sweetness. A very nice breadyness is there as well and maybe a bit of coffee? But all this is swept up and away by the rather acidic, dry and rather astringent finish. There is a bit of a burnt sugar or raisin aftertaste that lingers. There is a big alcohol whoosh in the finish as well which is slightly disappointing considering the relatively low abv. The medium-high carbonation contributes to the perceived dryness of this beer and makes for a rather thin mouthfeel which is appropriate for the style.

All in all I'd let new bottles age for a year or so in the hopes that they develop some sourness and also that the alcohol hotness would mellow out a bit.

From Oaken Barrel Brewing in Greenwood, IN: Saison.

Well, I hope the beer was worth the hassle with the cork. Definately the wrong sized champagne cork. It took vise-grips to break the top of the cork off then it took Brian's rabbit cork screw to poke several holes in it until it finally decided to give up the ghost and pop out.

Beautiful looking beer. Huge carbonation. Massive, frothy white head of large bubbles that leaves absolutely beautiful sticky lacing on the glass. Huge, massive fruity nose. Big fruity esters, bubble gum, maybe some tropical fruit like candy scents. A touch musty at first. Actually a bit floral and perfume-y. Spices? Just an awesome nose.

Huge tropical fruit flavors up front. Maybe pineapple, banana, coconut even?? But unfortunately it quickly finishes rather astringent with a good bit of cotton candy like flavors. Really quite astringent actually. I wonder what that is?? A rather tart, harsh citrus in the finish too. It's a fairly dry beer and the massive carbonation doesn't exactly help with the astringency. It pricks your tongue around and tenderizes it for the assault.

Really promising, but unfortunately it's really just too astringent in the finish to be very drinkable. Very nice finishing gravity and appropriate carbonation and the nose was so tempting and perfect. Hopefully they'll make it again and it will be better then.

From Ska Brewing in Durango, CO: True Blonde Ale.

Got this in a beer trade from Colorado. Nice looking beer. Good blonde color. Medium carbonation, small but persistant head. Very minimal lacing. Fairly nondescript nose. Little bit of plastic-y fermentation character with subtle hop notes. Very uneventful tasting beer. Very very plain. A bit of a nice, subtle grainy sweetness. It says it's brewed with honey, maybe that contributes a bit to the kind of off smelling nose and semi-interesting sweetness. Also get a bit of that plastic fermentation character on the palate, but nothing overwhelming or unpleasant. Nice clean finish with a touch of hop bitterness. All in all a very easy drinking beer whose faults don't stand out much. And this beer is quite light thus making every little thing stand out. I'd drink a couple more of these if I had them.

And check out the post below. I went to Indy!