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Beer Review #182 St. Bernardus Abt 12

This is the third beer that I have reviewed in the St. Bernardus “brand” of beers brewed by Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV of of Watou, Belgium. I have really enjoyed the other two beers from the brewery. They really strike a cord as being traditional Belgian beers that are made with a healthy respect for brewing tradition. I would love to visit the brewery whenever I get the chance to visit Belgium again.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 pours a flat brown color that has a thin off-white head. The liquid is a bit cloudy thanks to the yeast left in the beer to naturally carbonate it. The nose is highly yeasty and spicy. There is some heat present, as this beer comes in at 10%, but it isn’t overwhelming. In addition to the typical Belgian spices I found some of the malt odors very nice. I got some nice whiffs of bread and biscuit. I also got a slight sour smell in the beer, but nothing to really make a big note of.

On my first taste I again noticed a bit of sour flavor, but I found that it wasn’t as much of a sour flavor as it was dark fruits that share the same type of tart flavor. The heat is there, but all of the malt and dark fruits really cover it up nicely. For a beer that has such high alcohol, the heat is well restrained in the flavor realm. The Belgian yeast comes in to finish up the beer with a very “Abbey quality.”

This beer is very thin and highly carbonated for such a big beer. I find that “normal” American beers at this level of ABV tend to be thicker the higher the ABVs. This beer is supposed to be the standard for what a Belgian Quad should be and I can see why it is. It has a complex flavor malt and spices happening and the alcohol is clean. If you want something to keep you warm during the winter, I think this is a great option for you. (more…)

Beer Review #168 St. Bernardus Tripel

It doesn’t feel like that long ago when I reviewed St. Bernardus Prior 8, but it was, that was back in the summer. I had a few of the St. Bernardus beers when I was in Belgium over the summer and my taste for Belgian beers still remains. This ale is brewed by Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV of Watou, Belgium (next trip to Europe Nate, next trip). One of my favorite parts of Tripels is that my wife doesn’t particularly care for them, so I get them all to myself. I also love the taste.

This Tripel pours a nice cloudy blond color and has a fluffy white head. The nose is distinctly yeasty, with some slight Belgian spice in there. As a homebrewer, you quickly learn the smell of yeast, and this beer has lots of yeast smell. I also found some really nice banana in there as well. One notable thing that I didn’t get was heat. For a Tripel and for being an 8% beer, I expected a little heat.

My first taste was packed with a really good malt flavor. There was a wheaty flavor as well which isn’t something I’ve noticed in a lot of Tripels. The banana from the nose also carried through to the taste along with the slight bits of Belgian spice. What I really liked about this beer is how delicate the flavors are composed. The flavors are really balanced but this one is much more malt forward than other Tripels that I’ve had. I still have yet to be disappointed by the St . Bernardus beers. (more…)

Beer Review #131 Rodenbach Grand Cru

Even since my return from Belgium I have had a taste for authentic Belgian beer. St. Bernardus Prior 8 was one such beer and I have been craving more. On my last trip to the beer store I spotted a beer that I had in Belgium and loved, Rodenbach Grand Cru. Rodenbach Grand Cru is brewed by Brewery Rodenback, or more properly Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V., of Roeselare, Belgium. I didn’t have the chance to make it out to this town, but if I will make sure to if I ever make it to Belgium again.

Rodenbach Grand Cru is a Flemish Red Brown Ale, which is more commonly known as a Flanders Red Ale. The bottle mentions that it is, “33% ‘young’ Ale and 67% Ale matured for two years.” This process is much like what they do at the Cantillon Brewery.Unlike what we think of Belgian beers, this one is relatively low alcohol, striking only 6% ABVs on the scale.

This Belgian ale pours a redish brown, hence the Flemish Red Brown Ale designation. It has a thin light tan head to partner with its redish brown color. On the nose you get the first hints of why this beer has a Flemish or Flanders designation. Flemish or Flanders implies that it is a sour beer made in Belgium. If you have ever heard the term, “bugs in the beer,” they usually are referring to this style of beer. The “bugs” are often a type of bacteria that will sour a beer with time. Rodenbach Grand Cru smells very sour and has some grape qualities to it.

I’m generally not a fan of very sour things and Rodenbach Grand Cru is sour, but not overall sour. It has some strong wine translations with the grape-like flavor and dryness that developed in the flavor profile of this beer. Other than complex sourness, the beer is pretty clean. There are no hops to speak of, but some plum notes can also be found. I also got some cherries in there.

This is a really, really nice beer. It has a good clean flavor that gives a good sour experience without going overboard. It is well balanced and not overpowering in any respect. If you have never had a sour beer this is a great way to get your foot in the door. I can’t wait till I get more! (more…)

Beer Review #112 Pater Lieven Tripel

I am a sucker for a good Tripel. I simply love the beer style. I just over a week I will be traveling to Belgium to enjoy some wonderful beer, and I guess the sights. I will also be visiting Germany, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. I hope to enjoy some good beers, and if this beer is any indication of what to expect, I am going to have a great time.

Pater Lieven Tripel is brewed by Brouwerij Van Den Bossche out of Herzek, Belgium (say that sentence five time fast). This tripel comes in at a nice 8% ABV and the bottle indicates that it has been brewed since 1897. Impressive. This beer pours an orange color and  has a fluffy white head. There are some small particles suspended in the beer which is common in Belgian ales.

The nose is a bit tart and has no heat. The typical Belgian spices are there and that’s really all there is the the aroma. The taste is full of flavor. It has a good honey-like sweetness. It is followed by a slightly sour twang on the end. The Belgian spices are mixed into the flavors but they are very light. Some Belgian beers really showcase the yeast strains, this beer shows a more reserved hand. I really enjoyed this one and I recommend it to you.

I can’t wait for Europe.

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Beer Review #93 Belgian Freeze Belgian Style Winter Ale

One of the best parts about living on the east coast again is that I get to enjoy River Horse Brewing Company beers. I reviewed their Tripel when I was just starting this site and a few months ago I tasted their fall beer. When I saw their winter ale, Belgian Freeze, I grabbed it right up. I’ve had a few of their other beers that I enjoyed before starting this site and I have two of their current beers in the fridge, so needless to say, I enjoy the majority of their products.

River Horse is brewed in Lambertville, New Jersey and I really need to get up there for a tour. Anyway, onto the beer. Belgian Freeze is a Belgian style ale (shocker) that falls into the dark ale sect of Belgian beers. It pours a wonderful deep ruby color that has a thin, whiteish head floating on top. The nose is pretty sweet, with the classic Belgian spices in there as well. There is a slight roast, which is mostlikely where the color comes from and some heat.

On the first sip I was surprised how nicely the roasted malt flavor mixed with the Belgian spices. It was sweet, as the nose suggested, but it was not cloyingly sweet. There was some heat on the back-end for good measure. I really liked this one. For an 8% beer it goes down pretty easy. The highlight of this beer is the way that the roasted malt and Belgian spices mix. It was unique and interesting, which made me want to enjoy more of this beer. Too bad it is so high in the ABV department because I would love to drink this beer all winter long. (more…)