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042715_00

Schlafly Golden Ale Beer Review

042715_01I came across a Schlafly special release beer at the beer store yesterday and I grabbed a six pack to try it out. Schlafly Golden Ale, brewed by the Saint Louis Brewery, is a Belgian Style golden ale that hits at a surprisingly high 7% ABV. This is their spring/early summer release beer and this style of beer ties in nicely with the changing of the season. I’ve been a big fan of Schlafly beers in the past which is by I purchased this beer over several other worthy competitors.

Schlafly Golden Ale pours a beautiful golden color. It is perfectly clear and has about one finger of white head that collapses relatively quickly. You really can’t get a nicer looking Belgian golden ale than this beer. It’s very photogenic and I may have spent too much time grabbing pictures of this one. The nose is full of Belgian esters, mainly banana and fruit. There is a little malt in there and some heat but the main thing that shines though are the esters. This beer smells like a Belgian ale in all of the best ways. It’s clean, round, and full.

The beer is nicely carbonated. I noticed a tickle on my tongue on when taking my first sip. The Belgian esters flow right from the aroma to the taste. They give the beer a great flavor that is fruity and estery at the same time. The beer gains a nice peppery flavor as well which really adds some complexity.  There are some light biscuit and wheat flavors that the malt offers up to help add to the beer. This golden ale ends on a grassy, spicy hop note that cleans out the beer and makes it finish with all of the right things. The aftertaste left behind is wonderful. It’s fruit, spicy, and slightly sweet.

I enjoyed this beer a great deal. My only complaint would be that I would like to have just a bit more body. It seemed slightly watery to me, but that could just be my preference in a golden ale coming through. I really liked this beer from start to finish. It’s super drinkable and would be easy drinking in the late spring, early summer timeframe.

04-03-00

Beer Review #324 Spring Blonde

04-03-03As I said last week, New Belgium Brewing Company always has something new on the shelves when I visit the beer store. This go around they had a new beer to me, Spring Blonde. The bottle says that it is a “Belgian Style Ale… Inspired by our anniversary bike trips through Belgium, Spring Blonde is a bright golden ale with a sweet, lemony start, oedaling to a pleasantly bitter finish.” It comes in at 6% ABV.

Spring Blonde, true to it’s labeling, pours a nice golden color. It has a thin white head and it is perfectly clear. The nose is sweet and slightly bready. There isn’t a lot else going on but I would consider the aroma grassy.

On the first taste I got a slight bit of sweetness upfront but there isn’t a ton of malt flavor to be found. After the sweetness fades, a bitterness kicks in and follows through the rest of the beer. I didn’t get much, if any, Belgian yeast notes but more of a lager, sulfur flavor. The bitterness doesn’t sit totally right for me. It seems a bit out of balance with the beer and doesn’t taste like other blondes that I’ve had.

I didn’t really get this beer. It shows promise but it is a bit out of balance in my eyes and it just doesn’t drink nicely. It’s a light beer on the tongue and drinks fairly easily, but it’s not for me. (more…)

01-27-00

Beer Review #314 Holy Sheet

01-27-04Maybe it’s the cold, but I’ve really been in the mood for big beers that have some barrel age to them recently. My father-in-law got me a bottle of Clipper City Brewing Company’s Holy Sheet for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist drinking it. This bad boy rocks in at 9% and is part of their Heavy Seas line of beers. The bottle says a “Belgian style Abbey Ale aged in Brandy Barrels.” Wonderful!

Holy Sheet (great name BTW) pours a nice brown color with some hints of red mixed in there. It has a thin head that edges on dirty white to tan. The nose is complex but distinct at the same time. The first aroma that hit my nose was a slight heat. It’s not overly surprising for a beer aged in brandy barrels and coming in at 9% to have an alcohol smell. A lot of malt smells then hit my nose and packed in odors of raisin, dark fruit, and a slight Belgian spice. The nose was sweet with some good doses of caramel as well. I really dug the aromas wafting off of this beer.

While it was the last aroma to make its appearance, caramel was what hit me on the first taste of this beer. The beer stays sweet and some raisin components come in. The barrel aging is very apparent in this beer. There is a big dose of oak that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms. A slight toast flavor mixes in for good measure. There is no real ending to this beer, everything just mixes together and leaves. I would describe this beer as earthy in flavor with a lot of woody undertones.

This is a complex beer all of the way around. The nose was a joy to smell and the beer was great to drink. This is  a great sipper for a cold day. I need to find a few more of these as I think they would age great, though they might not make it that long. (more…)

01-25-10

Make your own Belgian Candi Sugar

I’m a big fan of drinking and brewing Belgian beers. Many Belgian beers require the addition of Belgian Candi Sugar. Brewers use the sugar for many reasons as it will help boost the ABV, increase fermentability, and thin the mouthfeel of the beer. As a homebrewer, I’m always looking for ways to save a buck and Belgian Candi Sugar is one of those ingredients that is super expensive. Luckily, you can easily make your own sugar without much effort. I’ve done this several times and I’ve been very happy with the results. In the steps below I will explain the process of making Belgian Candi Sugar and hopefully show you how easy it is.

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

You will need the following items in order to create your own Belgian Candi Sugar:

  • Table sugar (I use five pound bags of sugar)
  • Water (I use 2.5 cups of water)
  • Food grade acid (lemon juice or cream of tartar are my go to’s)
  • Boiling pot
  • An accurate thermometer that can sit in boiling mixtures for extended times (candy, fryer, or digital thermometer with a long probe will work fine)
  • Tin foil
  • Tray

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01-20-00

Beer Review #313 Chardonnay Barrel Belgian Style Ale

01-20-03Since I haven’t been posting too much in the past few months thanks to life, I have a solid backlog of beer reviews to get up. This beer goes back to the early fall, while the leaves were still on the trees and I remembered what warmth felt like. Seriously, this winter is brutal. Today’s beer review comes from my favorite up and coming (although they may have arrived at this point) brewery, Evolution Craft Brewing Company. They have a Migration Series of beers that are always interesting. When I saw a year old bottle of Chardonnay Barrel Belgian Style Ale at the beer store, I grabbed it up. I was lucky too, because before I left the store they were out. Such is the life and luck of a beer drinker.

This beer pours a nice burnt orange color with a slightly off-white head. Despite what my pictures show, this beer is clear. The nose is full of wine aromas. It is dry and “wine-grapy.” There is a slight heat to it which caught me off guard as this beer comes in at only 7.2%. I didn’t get a lot of barrel character on the nose nor did I get any bugs. The bottle says “a Belgian style ale aged in oak chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces.” I did get a few muted Belgian spices on the last whiff.

On the first taste I was hit by lots of Belgian flavors. There are some nice peppery notes along with the typical helping of Belgian spices. There is a great sweetness to this beer. It’s sweet, almost candy-like, in how it presents itself. As the sweetness comes in the wine character from the barrels comes in. It has a strong chardonnay flavor that dries out things nicely. The beer ends on a mix of Belgian spices and white wine.

This is a really interesting beer that I’m not sure if I dig or dislike. It reminds me a bit of my initial feelings on White Monkey. I only had one 750 ml of this beer and I feel that I would really begin to appreciate it after a second bottle. Looking back at my notes, it’s clear that I enjoyed this beer, but was caught off guard with it. I’m not a wine guy by any means and this beer strongly features something that I’m not familiar with. I’m a big fan of the Migration Series from Evo and I will continue to enjoy their experiments. (more…)