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05-14-05

Beer Review #292 White Monkey

05-14-03I didn’t mean to do this, but today’s review also comes from Victory Brewing Company. White Monkey is a “malt beverage aged in wine barrels.” A little more detail is that White Monkey is Victory’s Golden Monkey, aged in white wine barrels, hence the name, White Monkey. This bad boy rocks in at 9.5%. Once quick side note, I plan on doing a side-by-side with this beer and its base beer in a bit to see how it changes fully.

White Monkey pours a cloudy light orange color. It has a thin white head that isn’t much to look at. The nose is has a bunch of oak in it with some white wine in the background. I’m no wine guru so my descriptors for white wine are going to be very general. Sorry. There are some Belgian spices in there as well which is what really makes Golden Monkey a winner.

This beer starts with a nice touch of light sweetness that eases you into the beer. As the beer malt flavors fade the wine really comes out. It has a slight acidity and dryness that really changes how the beer drinks. As the beer moves through the flavor profiles, some of the Belgian spices come through, but they are much more reserved compared to the mother beer. The wine dryness comes in at the end and gives a nice sharp ending to the beer.

This is one interesting beer. I’m not sure if I totally dig it but I am glad that I tried it. I’m really interested to try a side-by-side and see if my thoughts on this iteration change. I think that this beer will do well with some aged and develop really nicely. (more…)

05-12-03

Beer Review #291 Victory Swing

05-12-03We had our first set of warm days and it’s been pretty beautiful out for the last week or so. When it gets nice out like this saisons call my name. Swing brewing by Victory Brewing Company, is the first “session saison” that I have ever seen. It comes in at 4.5% and I believe that it is new to their line-up this year (though I’ve been known to be wrong before0.

Swing pours a cloudy golden color. It starts clear, but as the yeast get distributed, it becomes milky. A fluffy white head comes along with the pour and makes the beer look very presentable. The nose is really interesting as it has Belgian spices, sweetness, and some grassy hop odors. In addition, it has a touch of saison funk with some wet hay aromas. Really an interesting nose that draws you into the beer.

Upfront, this beer is super spicy with lots of Belgian spices, mainly clove, going on. Soon after a citrus hop flavor kicks in and adds a new dimension to the beer. The beer then transitions to include all three components of the nose to end out. I wrote in my notes that it has a “spicy/grassy/hoppy finish.”

This is by no means a traditional saison. It is much hoppier than you would normally expect out of a saison and doesn’t have a delicate body. It’s an interesting combination that works but it’s not something that I totally dig. Victory likes to hop everything and I think this beer would have been more enjoyable had it had less hops and more balance. (more…)

Beer Review #284 Grand Cru Dark Ale

04-14-03One of the most random style categories out there is Grand Cru. Most beer categories have a set range of numbers, color, and other things that are pretty specific, but Grand Cru is wide open. I’ve have everything from sour to peppery. Green Flash Brewing Company makes a Grand Cru and that’s what we are looking at today. Let’s see what direction they decided to go with this open style.

Grand Cru Dark Ale pours a dark ruby color. You can’t see through it as first glance, but when held up to the light you can see that it is clear and changes the source of the light beautifully as it travels through the liquid. The head is a light tan color and soon fades into the beer below.The nose starts with a good malty, caramel base. It then morphs into a nice helping of dark fruits, most notably fig and plum. It ends on a slightly spicy note.

On the first taste the first thing I noticed was the drop of heat. This beer comes in an at a massive 9.1% ABV so it’s not surprising that alcohol shows up. The caramel smells follow through to the flavor and add a nice splash of sticky sweetness. A nice raisin flavor develops in the caramel and carries through until the end of the sip. Grand Cru Dark Ale has a spicy Belgian finish that has a bit of clove on the end.

This is yet another Grand Cru that is different from what I have had in the past. It is nice and smooth. It’s a little sweet but overall it’s pretty well balanced. This is a style that I want to explore more as I love the variety and combinations of flavors that different breweries put into it. (more…)

Beer Review #269 Duchesse De Bourgogne

02-12-03I’m going to warn you, I’m on a Belgian beer kick right now. The next several reviews are going to be Belgian or Belgian inspired beers. Today’s beer is fondly called “The Duchesse” by many. I was first introduced to it when I lived in Texas. The homebrew club would pay someone to make the long trek to cultured areas and get a case of this beer. At $20 bucks a 750 ml bottle, plus gas, it was an expensive treat. Duchesse De Bourgogne is brewed by Brouwerij Verhaeghe. Try to say that a few times. The bottle says, “Belgian top-fermented reddish-brown ale, a blend of 8 and 18 months old beer following the careful maturation in oak casks.”

The Duchesse pours a nice clean brown color. It has a slightly off-white head that quickly fades. Oddly, as the head fades, large bubble begin to cling to the glass where the beer is. I thought it was because of a dirty glass at first, but I tried a second glass that I had just cleaned and it did the same thing. Odd. The nose has some nice woody smells along with some slight sweetness. The largest aroma coming from the glass is a nice sour note.

On the front end you get a bit of sweetness which is quickly followed by a solid sour flavor. It tasted like sour grapes or sour candy. The woody notes from the nose also follow through to the flavor and add a great level of complexity to the beer. As the beer warms the oak flavors become a bit stronger but they do not throw anything out of balance. This beer is pretty light-handed when it comes to all of the flavors. The sweetness, sourness, and oakiness(?) are all there, but they don’t scream, but rather say mellow.

I can see why people enjoy this beer. The has a great level come complexity while remaining on the lighter end of flavor. I’ve had beers that are much more sour and it often throws them out of balance. I think the real magic of this beer is that it achieves a great complexity without overdoing it on any one particular thing. The balance is fantastic. And at 6% you can have a few of these if you have the cash. My local beer store sells the 750 ml and 11.2 oz bottles in four packs. I generally opt for the four pack. (more…)

Belgian IPA Tasting Notes

I posted my recipe for the first version of my Belgian IPA not to long ago and I wanted to update you on how it actually tastes. The idea behind this beer was to blend an American IPA along with a Belgian Tripel. At the end of the day this beer came out to be 9% ABV and 75 IBUs.

The beer poured out of the tap a nice clear orange color. The image makes it look a bit darker than it actually is. The head is plentiful, a little too much so, and doesn’t fade until well into the drink. It leaves a nice lacing. I’m going to attribute the head to the hops and wheat malt. I did carbonate this one a bit higher than normal as well. The nose has a slight hop aroma but is overwhelmed by heat and Belgian spices.

The heat hits you quickly and then fades away. There is a decent malt body and it is very clean. I didn’t get any bready or toasty notes when drinking this ale. The Belgian spice notes are strong and a bit peppery. I think the yeast was a bit muddled and the true yeast flavor got lost. I’m going to try a different approach with the yeast next time out. This beer was built off of the yeast cake from two previous batches. I think the previous flavors and different fermenting temps gave the yeast a few characteristics that I would rather not have.

The hops were present, but they need to be there much more. I tried to cheap out a bit and go with higher alpha acid hops to get more bang for my buck and I don’t think it worked very well. The hops tasted a bit old. The next time I make this beer I want to add more bitter and aroma hops to help balance out the heat and malt.

I’m about halfway there on this beer. I like it a lot for a first run but it needs some help. In addition to the hop and yeast changes I wouldn’t add as much sugar and sub in more base malt. With a yeast cake the size of what this beer had to work with, I think the simple sugars produced a bit too much heat. I would also ferment this one a bit colder. All good things in time I suppose.