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What’s with Imperial Stouts?

If you haven’t noticed, I am a bit of a beer geek. Watching me shop for beer, writing/running this site, and a number of other things make this “news” very apparent. Because of my geekiness I tend to look at the two largest beer rating sites from time to time; Rate Beer and Beer Advocate. On these sites I don’t really tend to read the reviews because people tend to be really harsh on beers for no apparent reason or taste things that I can’t. Needless to say they are not helpful in that respect.

Even though I don’t read the reviews, I do look at the top beer lists. Rate Beer’s is simply titled the “Top 50 Beers” while Beer Advocates goes as far as to call it the “Top Beers on Planet Earth.” The two sites do largely agree on the good beers. What I find interesting is that most of the beers at Imperial Stouts. I don’t know why, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love for other styles. Sure you get the Belgian beers in there and the occasional Double IPA, but Imperial Stouts take the cake.

While they are wonderful, why is it that “experienced” craft beer drinkers gravitate to the big beers? I must be missing a good segment of website traffic because I tend to stay away from the big beers. It is not becasue I don’t like them but I like so many different styles that I rarely grab the big guys. I am just wondering why the Imperial Stouts have become the beer style of the beer rating sites. Anyone have any ideas?

Goodbye Texas

My wife and I are moving back to the east coast. It may not seem like a big deal, but if you haven’t gotten the vibe, I’m not a fan of Lubbock (or Texas for that matter). We leave tomorrow and it will take roughly three days and 1800 miles to get back east. We are both looking forward to the move. I will not be posting much until we get settled in back home.

I am looking forward to a bunch of new beers that I can’t get here and saying hello to a few favorites. On a sad note I will lose access to New Belgian beers which is a terrible loss. Anyway I’ll be back online soon, until then; eat, drink, and be merry.

Beer Review #54 Terrible

As I have said before I am a sucker for a good name and/or a good looking beer bottle. In this case, Terrible had both. When I saw this beer sitting on the shelf at the local beer store, I knew I had to get it. I mean how can you pass up a beer with the audacity to have the name Terrible. And the bottle wasn’t too shabby either; simple, clean, and attractive.It is also brewed by Unibroue Quebec, Canada.

On pouring the beer it comes out a nice dark brown. There is a tan, almost redish head, that quickly faded back into the beer. I was somewhat surprised that it went away so quickly as most Belgian beers have ample amounts of head. Maybe it was just the 10.5% ABV that thinned it so quickly. On the nose I fist noticed how sour it smelled. I believe that it came from the dark chocolate notes that I later tasted, but I was a bit surprised to smell them in there. Other aromas came out of some nice malty sweetness and the ever present Belgian yeast strain.

The taste was complex and pleasant. The sourness was there and so was the malt, but there is also a lot more to be found. Those chocolate notes that I talked about before are sure in there, but not over powering. Heat is there to be sure, but at 10.5% that should be expected. Terrible had a few peppery notes as well and judging by previous Unibroue ales that I have had, it is part of their signature yeast strain. I also got some almost bourbon notes in there as well that I didn’t expect, but rather enjoyed.

The mouthfeel is medium and lighter than what I would of expected for such a big beer. I really enjoyed it. I’ve had better Belgian Strong Ales, as this is what Terrible is classified as, but I was solid. From what I have read this beer is a limited or special release, so it might be tough to find, but if I can get it in Lubbock, Texas than I would imagine it can’t be to terrible to find. The biggest downside to this beer is that it comes in a 750 ml bottle, which at 10.5%, one bottle is more than enough. I sure enjoyed it and I think you will too if you get the chance. (more…)

Beer Review #53 Brooklyn Local 1

My little hiatus from posting has not stopped my love of Belgian beers in the slightest. Today’s Belgian beer comes all the way from Brooklyn, NY, home of the Brooklyn Brewery. Don’t you love it when the brewery’s name and location match? Anyway I don’t think that it any secret that I love most of the beers that I have ever had from the Brooklyn Brewery. On this site I have only reviewed their Pennant Ale ’55, but I have enjoyed a great number of their beers that we hastily drank before the appearance of this blog. I have also read their book, which is also wonderful if you were wondering.

Brooklyn Local 1 comes in as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, which essentially means it is a Belgian beer that has a high ABV and hops that are stronger than you would expect on a normal Belgian beer. It pours a straw color and is 100% cloudy. Lots of sediment to be found and a delicious fluffy white head to go along with it. This beer looks the part of a wonderful Belgian. On the nose the Belgian yeast stands out, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. There is a slight sweetness that is on there as well which I found refreshing.

On the tongue I first noticed the Belgian yeast and the spicy flavors that go along with it. As I dug more into the beer I noticed the malt more and more. It was very sweet. Perhaps that comes from the German malts that are used in making the beer instead of the typical Belgian malts. The hops also come from Germany. Local 1 is a very clean beer. The hops, Belgian yeast, and the malts balance each other out nicely and the hops really help clean your tongue from any left over flavors. The aftertaste was also a nice mix of lemon, grassy flavors, a slight hop bite, Belgian yeast, and some warming alcohol.

For a beer that comes in at 9.0% ABV this beer really did not feature much in the way of heat. It was very hidden and only noticeable on the aftertaste and a bit when the beer really warmed up. The body was in the medium range but it was highly carbonated, so it was tough to get a really sampling of what it would of been like had it had normal carbonation. The beer is something that I think any Belgian beer lover would love. It is clean but features everything a Belgian beer should. Perhaps the most surprising part is how well the ABV is hidden. If you are not careful this beer could easily sneak up on you. It also comes in a caged and corked bottle which added to the “must buy” factor for me.

The Brooklyn Brewery also makes Local 2 which I have had in the past and really enjoyed. It is another Belgian style beer, but much darker and much more bold. If you see anything with Brooklyn Local 1 or 2, get it and I don’t think that you would be disappointed. (more…)

Beer Review #52 Delirium Tremens

Delirium Tremens from Huyghe Brewery in Melle/Ghent, Belgium is a beer that I have wanted to try for a long time now. It is one of those classics that every beer drinker should try. It is also nice to have a Belgian beer that comes from Belgium, as most of the Belgian beers that I have had recently come out of the good old US of A. Not that I am complaining becasue the country of origin does not really play a super important role in beer and American Craft Brewers have done a wonderful job of replicating (and in some cases improving) Belgian style beer.

This beer comes classified as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale according to Beer Advocate. Rate Beer calls it a Belgian Strong Ale, but in any case it is a Belgian beer and the “strong” in both of the style names, says it is really high in ABV. Like 8.5% ABV high. Delirium Tremens pours with a fluffy white head. The beer is straw in color and is cloudy/hazy but you can still see through it. On the nose you get that ever present Belgian yeast spice with some malt sweetness. There are not any hops noticeable and you can surely smell some heat.

The taste of the beer is the Belgian spice mostly. There are a few hints of banana, which was a nice flavor to complement the other spices. The malt was pretty thin. In most Belgian beers the spice is the first thing you notice, and then the flavors start to show themselves more and get fairly complex. I found this beer to be rather one note and not highly complex. After a few sips I think you will find everything the beer has to offer. Not that it is a bad thing, becasue what is there is pretty wonderful.

The mouthfeel is watery. Much more watery than what I would of expected out of a beer that comes in at 8.5%. It is also highly carbonated, which is to be expected for the style. Overall I would consider this a decent Belgian Strong Ale. Not my favorite, but very good. If the body was punched up just a bit, I think it would take it into a whole new category.

As I said before, I am a sucker for neat bottles, and this beer was no exception. The bottle is actually painted, comes corked and caged, and has a foil wrapping. The cork is synthetic which doesn’t really bother me at all. As I said before I enjoyed this beer, but it fell a little flat for me. It is something every craft beer drinker should try, but I felt that it didn’t live up to the hipe, while still being a solid beer.