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Beer Review #51 Allagash White

About two weeks ago I was talking about how I was in an English ale mood. That phase has come and passed, unlike these guys who have a whole month devoted to English beers. Right now I am back where I was around this time last year, Belgian beers. I don’t know what is going on with my taste buds but it seems every two weeks I am in the mood for something totally different. It makes it tough as a homebrewer because I generally like to brew beer styles I like. At this rate I have no idea what I want. What does that have to do with a beer review? Well nothing, so let’s get to it.

As part of my Belgian beer kick I was lucky enough to find a four pack of Allagash White from the Allagash Brewing Comapny in Portland, Maine. Allagash White is classified as a Belgian White ale and totally delivers on the promise in every way. It pours a brilliant cloudy, golden color and has a nice fluffy white head to boot. The yeast that stays in the beer at the time of bottling can easily been seen in suspension. The nose is light, but full of aromas. The first thing I noticed was the Belgian yeast spices (clove, banana, etc). There was also a light malt sweetness thrown in there.

On the tongue there is a light lemon flavor up front. The Belgian yeast follows soon after with the banana coming first, then followed by the clove. It finishes with a wonderful aftertaste, that leaves you wanting more. It is very crisp and refreshing as well. A Belgian White is supposed to be a light, delicate beer that is full of flavor, but is also so well balanced that the smallest mistake could throw that balance off. Allagash White is light and watery in the mouthfeel department, as you would expect for the style. This is an unmistakably drinkable beer. Great for a hot day or a warm spring day. It goes down easily and has enough of everything to make you want more.

When I first had this I was on a run of Belgian Tripels, so this seemed a bit watered down and unappealing. The more I drank it the more I found that I liked it. It was very subtle in it’s approach to a Belgian style beer. I really enjoyed it and I think you would too. The bottle is also a fun read because they should you how to pour the beer to get everything you can out of it. I always enjoy when breweries do the small extra things in helping educate the drinker. Again, this is a wonderful beer, try it if you get the chance. (more…)

My homebrew, a year in review

I didn’t do as much homebrewing as I would of liked to do this year. In total I did40 gallons worth of homebrew. That’s eight five gallon batches. Below is a list of the beers that I brewed up this year.

  • Imperial Porter
  • SB Birthday Beer (Amber wheat)
  • Irish Red
  • Belgian Dubbel
  • Belgian Tripel
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Winter Warmer
  • Amber IPA

Some of those beers turned out better than others. I have to say that my darker beers are my better ones. That is probably I enjoy roasty flavors and it is easier to hide other flavors with them. My Irish Red and SB Birthday beer did not come out very well at all. The Irish Red was a victim of improper hopping. I switched the hops and the bittering component came out way to strong and dry. The SB Birthday beer was the victim of sitting in a fermenter for too long and also was in the sun for a bit of it. They were both drinkable, but not up to a decent standard.

My Belgian beer experiments went pretty good. The Dubbel needed a few more darker malts and I would change the yeast in it to something that would give off a bit more plum and dry fruit esters. Overall it tasted  fine, it just needed to be a bit richer tasting. The Tripel was darn good. The malts and the yeast worked perfectly. It was well balanced and a good representation of a Tripel. There were a few too many hot alcohols in it which was caused by a higher than wanted fermentation temperature.

The Pumpkin Ale was a complete disaster. The stuck sparge  left a ton of extra sugars and I didn’t think it out with extra water. With a lower than normal wort level and a high sugar level the beer ended up being 15% and too highly spiced. I can see it being a really good beer, it just needed to be brewed correctly. It is still drinkable, but edges on not being so.

My Winter Warmer is still bottle conditioning but it tastes wonderful. It is a bit more bitter than I wanted and next time I would take out some more Black Patent malt, as it gives off a ton of flavor. I called the beer a Winter Warmer, but in reality it is a stout. I left the option open to put spices in it, but I did not want to since the beer before it, the pumpkin ale, had more spice than I knew what to do it. All you need to do to make it a true Winter Warmer is add in a few spices and bam, you have it.

The Amber IPA is getting bottled this week, so we will see how that turns out. My real all star for this brew year was the Imperial Porter. It came in a 8% and had everything you could want in a porter. It was well balanced and you could not even detect an alcohol on the beer. I really like it, I wish I had more.

This next brew year I’m not sure what I want to make. I think next on my list is a simple American Amber. After that I have not idea. I am still looking into the colonial beer, but that is a ways off. We will see what this year brings, but I am excited as I am really honing in on my efficiency and turning out beer very close to what I want them to taste like.

Beer Review #38 Full Moon

I can honestly say that I don’t do “macro” brews on here very often. That is do to a number of factors, but the main two are that I like to support smaller breweries and that I think the smaller breweries turn out a better product. Full Moon is brewed by the Blue Moon Brewing Company, which is a spin-off of Coors. Blue Moon actually got its start at the test brewery for Coors located at Coors Field. As Dane Cook would say, “there’s a fun fact for you (an FF).” Is that still relevant, I mean really when is the last time you heard a Dane Cook joke?

And back to topic we go. My wife used to love this beer, and being that seasonal beers are tough to find in Lubbock, I’m willing to buy almost any seasonal, from wherever, and made by whomever. So we grabbed it. Full Moon pours a ruby color with an off-white head that quickly diminishes. It is crystal clear, if that matters to you. The bottle says the following, “this full-bodied ale is brewed with roasted malts and a hint of Dark Belgian sugar for a perfectly balanced taste.” OK then.

The nose on the beer is a malty sweetness, with a small bit of Belgian sugar. There is an ever so slight hint of the Belgian yeast, but you could easily miss it. The taste starts with a slightly malty tone, followed by some slight Belgian yeast. The candy sugar in the beer is the most apparent taste with some bready notes also buried in there. I’m surprised a Belgian beer could be toned down so much on the yeast ends of things. The taste is not super strong, but it does give a nice ending to the beer. There isn’t any hop flavor in there either, not that it should always be expected with a Belgian beer.

The body of the beer comes in light-medium and it is rather watery. Blue Moon puts this under an Abbey Ale while I have also seen it classified as a Belgian Dubbel. Which ever the case, it is a watered down version of a true representative of this style. It is drinkable, but for most craft beer drinkers I think this one misses the mark. It is a great introduction to craft beer though for a newcomer. While it is made by a macro, it is balanced enough to not turn someone off. This isn’t going to be for a Belgian beer lover, but as an introduction to the style, it isn’t bad. (more…)

Beer Review #36 La Fin Du Monde

12-04-02We have yet another brew from Unibroue up for review today. The last beer I had from their brewery was excellent, and I’m not going to hold my opinion of La Fin Du Monde till the end; this one is also excellent. La Fin Du Monde stands for “The end of the World” and was launched in 1994. This beer took 18 months to develop before it was ever released. It falls under the Belgian Triple classification and with good reason.

La Fin Du Monde pours a dirty straw color with a slightly off-white head. The head is large and fluffy as this is a highly carbonated beer (as most Belgians are). The aroma coming from this beer was apparent from just pouring it into the glass. With most beers I generally stick my face into the glass to get a full helping of what is all in there. This beer however gave lots of hints right off of the bat. The first thing is the spicy yeast, with odors of cloves and coriander. Some bready smells can also be found mixed in with a touch of malt sweetness. The final thing that stands out is the alcohol present on the nose.

12-04-04The taste is wonderful. There is a good bit of sweet malt upfront, which is quickly followed by the  Belgian spice. The ever present alcohol is also in the flavor profile. The Belgian spice, that comes from the yeast, is more peppery then most. There are a few fruity notes in there as well, but those also come from the Belgian yeast.  La Fin Du Monde is a medium bodied beer that has tons of carbonation.

As I said at the beginning, I love this beer. You will have to enjoy Belgian beers and Belgian beer flavors to enjoy this beer though. It comes in at 9% ABV and comes in 4 packs or 750 ml corked bottles. I opted to go for the 4 pack since you get more beer for the same price. It cost be about $12.99 for the four pack. There is a thin head that lasts all the way through the beer and I noticed that the beer is lighter in color until the end of the bottle when the yeast sediment gets dumped in. Some people don’t put it into their beer, I enjoy the flavor that it adds. The bottle also says that the beer is triple fermented, what that tells me is that it is a bottle conditioned beer. Unibroue hits a home run with this beer! (more…)