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Beer Review #248 Sixth Glass Quadrupel Ale

I previously posted about Boulevard Brewing Company’s Smokestack Series coming to my local beer store. I’ve enjoyed most of their beers but until I had a Smokestack Series beer, I wouldn’t have gone back to them for much. That all changed when I had a chance to try some of their “special” beers. Sixth Glass Quadrupel Ale comes in at a wonderful 10.5% ABV and I hoped that it would fill my need to find a quality go-to quad.

This Belgian inspired beer pours a nice caramel brown with hints of orange coming through when held up to the light. The off-white head quickly dissolves back into the beer as expected of a beer with this amount of alcohol. The first thing I got off of the nose is heat. There is some light caramels in there along with a slight Belgian spice with fruit and melon. I was expected a bit more out of the nose but I also poured this one colder than it should have been, so some of the odors might have been masked.

The taste is really nice on this one. Smooth and dangerously drinkable. There is a fair amount of heat, but if you can get around it the Belgian spices sing and are wonderfully balanced. There is a lot of complexity to this beer. I went on a progression of heat and raisin to bready, yeasty notes.

I enjoyed this one a good bit. I’m not sure if I can call it a go-to quad, but it is pretty close. The flavor progression is very nice but the beer needs to be a little warmer for you to get the full offering of flavors. The balance was dead on. I can see myself getting this one again.

Beer Review #242 Long Strange Tripel

When I lived in Texas I had access to the typical Boulevard Brewing Company beers. Their Unfiltered Wheat was a staple in on of my friend’s beer machines (converted Pepsi machine… awesome). I was never a giant fan of that particular wheat beer but I did enjoy a number of their other beers. The only real problem that we had was in getting fresh beer. Lubbock, Texas isn’t exactly a craft beer haven and thus any craft beer that there was to be had was often mistreated.

They recently started distributing beer to my favorite beer store and I jumped at the chance to grab a few beers from their famed Smokestack Series. I grabbed three or four different brews, reviews coming, but today’s beer is Long Strange Tripel. This was my summer of Belgian beers so it made sense to try this on out first.

Long Strange Tripel comes in at an impressive 9.0% ABV. It pours a brilliant gold with a fluffy white head. There is not haze in this tripel. The nose is a great balance of Belgian yeast spice and sweetness. There are some really nice hints of dried fruits in there that I normally don’t notice in a tripel.

This beer begins with a nice soft malt flavor that quickly leads into a peppery spice. There are all types of Belgian spice and I genuinely enjoy most of them, but pepper by itself is not one that I care much for. I like when the pepper mixes with the other normal Belgian notes but by when it has to stand on its own, I find it to be a bit of a strange flavor to go with a beer. The aftertaste is very earthy, almost dirt-like. Love it.

This is an excellent tripel but not one of my favorites. The spice notes are a bit to strong for my liking and take away from the rest of the beer. Don’t get me wrong, this is an above average tripel, it’s juts not my cup of tea. (more…)

Beer Review #229 Ovila Dubbel

For today’s review I have another beer of the Ovila series from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. This series of beer is brewed in conjunction with a group of monks in California. The Saison that I had from this series a few months was outstanding. I have actually picked up a few more bottles because I like it that much.

This Dubbel pours a nice brownish color with an off-white head. I couldn’t really tell if it was clear or not (not that it matters). This beer looks exactly like what a Dubbel should. The nose is fully of caramels and other sugars. There are some dark fruit odors in there as well. I didn’t get much in terms of spiciness, but I did find that it had an earthy quality to it.

The caramels follow all the way through to the taste and add a slight bit of toffee to the beer. The dark fruits also come back and really exhibit plums and cherries. The Belgian spices from the yeast come in at the end and add a nice peppery note that help clear out some of the sweetness of the malt.

I really liked this one as well. On my last visit to the beer store I saw two new beers (to me) in the Ovila series that I will be picking up. My tasting notes on this beer end with, “feels authentic.” I’ve had several Dubbel’s in Belgium and this one helped take me back there. (more…)

Beer Review #218 Ovila Saison

I hear a bit of press when this beer came out so I decided to pick myself up a bottle. I’ve been waiting for a time to try it and I could think of no better then a day off in the middle of the week (score). Ovila Saison is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and comes corked and caged, a first for a beer that I have had from them. This beer comes in a 7.0% and it is actually a series of beers that Sierra Nevada is undertaking. You can read all about the series here, but basically they are brewing traditional Belgian beers with monks in California. I had no idea monks really existed in the U.S., but cool.

Ovila Saison pours a light orange color with a slight cloud in the middle. There is a generous white head that floats atop the liquid below. On my first smell I was surprised at how flat the nose was. There were some dull Belgian spices in there, but no malt, heat, or anything else to really make note of. Generally I expect a bit more out of the nose of a Saison but there is always room for me to learn more.

A nice smooth malt is the first thing to shine on the first sip of this beer. There are some really good Belgian spices that come in and help finish out the beer. I really have nothing bad to say about how this one tastes. It is super balanced and the spices come in at just the right time. Not only are the spices timed correctly, but they are just strong enough to fully balance out this beer.

I wouldn’t call this one super complex but I might look to it for inspiration when brewing a similar style of beer. I really enjoyed this one. It is everything that I hoped it would be and it is presented in such a nice, clean way. If you see this one around, try it out. This is a poster child for what a Saison should be. (more…)

Beer Review #210 Flying Dog Garde Dog

The Flying Dog Brewery of Fredrick, Maryland makes a ton of different beers. I have found the vast majority of their beers to be very solid and drinkable. Their most famous beer is probably Raging Bitch, and for good reason, it is delicious. I haven’t had a Flying Dog beer is a few months, but Garde Dog caught my eye. I really like the name of this beer as it is a play on the style of beer it represents; Biere De Garde. Generally beers of the Biere De Garde style tend to be gold to orange in color, have some bread and sweetness along with some hops, and they can have a farmhouse quality. I think the best way to describe the style is delicate but complex.

Garde Dog pours a cloudy orange color with a fluffy white head. The nose is super earthy with some strong wet straw odors. The farmhouse really comes out in this beer along with a slight Belgian spice. I was really impressed with the nose on this beer. It is complicated, but each piece is easy to distinguish and the aromas are not muddled like a lot of beers tend to have.

Right of the bat this beer has a very nice light touch of malt with is quickly followed by some farmhouse flavors. There is a slight Belgian spice along with some respectable hops that cancel out everything else that is happening. There is a very slight sour note to this beer, but not enough to consider this beer anywhere near sour. I really dig the malt in this beer. It is very clean tasting and has enough to stand out from the other flavors, but fades when necessary to let other flavors come through. I want to try to find a better way to do this with my homebrew.

I really liked this beer. It was very, very nice and well balanced. There is a lot of going on but they all sing together, not apart. This beer might get into my regular purchase rotation. I highly suggest this one. It’s not quite a farmhouse, but more of a “farmhouse light.” (more…)