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04-03-00

Beer Review #324 Spring Blonde

04-03-03As I said last week, New Belgium Brewing Company always has something new on the shelves when I visit the beer store. This go around they had a new beer to me, Spring Blonde. The bottle says that it is a “Belgian Style Ale… Inspired by our anniversary bike trips through Belgium, Spring Blonde is a bright golden ale with a sweet, lemony start, oedaling to a pleasantly bitter finish.” It comes in at 6% ABV.

Spring Blonde, true to it’s labeling, pours a nice golden color. It has a thin white head and it is perfectly clear. The nose is sweet and slightly bready. There isn’t a lot else going on but I would consider the aroma grassy.

On the first taste I got a slight bit of sweetness upfront but there isn’t a ton of malt flavor to be found. After the sweetness fades, a bitterness kicks in and follows through the rest of the beer. I didn’t get much, if any, Belgian yeast notes but more of a lager, sulfur flavor. The bitterness doesn’t sit totally right for me. It seems a bit out of balance with the beer and doesn’t taste like other blondes that I’ve had.

I didn’t really get this beer. It shows promise but it is a bit out of balance in my eyes and it just doesn’t drink nicely. It’s a light beer on the tongue and drinks fairly easily, but it’s not for me. (more…)

01-27-00

Beer Review #314 Holy Sheet

01-27-04Maybe it’s the cold, but I’ve really been in the mood for big beers that have some barrel age to them recently. My father-in-law got me a bottle of Clipper City Brewing Company’s Holy Sheet for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist drinking it. This bad boy rocks in at 9% and is part of their Heavy Seas line of beers. The bottle says a “Belgian style Abbey Ale aged in Brandy Barrels.” Wonderful!

Holy Sheet (great name BTW) pours a nice brown color with some hints of red mixed in there. It has a thin head that edges on dirty white to tan. The nose is complex but distinct at the same time. The first aroma that hit my nose was a slight heat. It’s not overly surprising for a beer aged in brandy barrels and coming in at 9% to have an alcohol smell. A lot of malt smells then hit my nose and packed in odors of raisin, dark fruit, and a slight Belgian spice. The nose was sweet with some good doses of caramel as well. I really dug the aromas wafting off of this beer.

While it was the last aroma to make its appearance, caramel was what hit me on the first taste of this beer. The beer stays sweet and some raisin components come in. The barrel aging is very apparent in this beer. There is a big dose of oak that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms. A slight toast flavor mixes in for good measure. There is no real ending to this beer, everything just mixes together and leaves. I would describe this beer as earthy in flavor with a lot of woody undertones.

This is a complex beer all of the way around. The nose was a joy to smell and the beer was great to drink. This is  a great sipper for a cold day. I need to find a few more of these as I think they would age great, though they might not make it that long. (more…)

01-20-00

Beer Review #313 Chardonnay Barrel Belgian Style Ale

01-20-03Since I haven’t been posting too much in the past few months thanks to life, I have a solid backlog of beer reviews to get up. This beer goes back to the early fall, while the leaves were still on the trees and I remembered what warmth felt like. Seriously, this winter is brutal. Today’s beer review comes from my favorite up and coming (although they may have arrived at this point) brewery, Evolution Craft Brewing Company. They have a Migration Series of beers that are always interesting. When I saw a year old bottle of Chardonnay Barrel Belgian Style Ale at the beer store, I grabbed it up. I was lucky too, because before I left the store they were out. Such is the life and luck of a beer drinker.

This beer pours a nice burnt orange color with a slightly off-white head. Despite what my pictures show, this beer is clear. The nose is full of wine aromas. It is dry and “wine-grapy.” There is a slight heat to it which caught me off guard as this beer comes in at only 7.2%. I didn’t get a lot of barrel character on the nose nor did I get any bugs. The bottle says “a Belgian style ale aged in oak chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces.” I did get a few muted Belgian spices on the last whiff.

On the first taste I was hit by lots of Belgian flavors. There are some nice peppery notes along with the typical helping of Belgian spices. There is a great sweetness to this beer. It’s sweet, almost candy-like, in how it presents itself. As the sweetness comes in the wine character from the barrels comes in. It has a strong chardonnay flavor that dries out things nicely. The beer ends on a mix of Belgian spices and white wine.

This is a really interesting beer that I’m not sure if I dig or dislike. It reminds me a bit of my initial feelings on White Monkey. I only had one 750 ml of this beer and I feel that I would really begin to appreciate it after a second bottle. Looking back at my notes, it’s clear that I enjoyed this beer, but was caught off guard with it. I’m not a wine guy by any means and this beer strongly features something that I’m not familiar with. I’m a big fan of the Migration Series from Evo and I will continue to enjoy their experiments. (more…)

Beer Review #160 Raging Bitch

Since I moved back east nearly two years ago I have become well reacquainted with the Flying Dog Brewery of Fredrick, Maryland. I have always enjoyed their beer and most recently enjoyed their Secret Stash Harvest Ale. Today’s beer has reached almost mythical status in the beer community. They had a naming dispute with Michigan because,

the name “Raging Bitch” and accompanying label imagery and text by renowned artist Ralph Steadman – endangered public safety and was harmful to any adult who might read the beer’s name on a restaurant menu.

You can read the whole thing here, but if you want the short version of it, they won claiming that their First Amendment rights were violated. Aside from the name, this is a damn good beer.

Raging Bitch pours a nice orange amber color with a fluffy white head. This beer is labeled as a “Belgian-style India Pale Ale” and rocks in at 60 IBUs and 8.3% ABV. The 60 IBUs and IPA classification make their presence known right way. This beer has nice grapefruit hops on the nose. There is some heat as well along with the Belgian spices. The hops really take front and center for this beer in the smell category.

On my first taste I was expected some major hops and I was right. The hops really kick in on the ending and wash out anything else that was there. Just before the hops crash in the Belgian spices kick in and add a nice pre-show to the hops. I honestly didn’t get a lot in the way of malt for this beer. The showcase is the spices and hops.

I really liked this one. I have been on a small IPA kick recently and the Belgian aspect to this IPA added some nice complexity and variation. If you haven’t gotten this one yet, try it out. (more…)

Beer Review #116 Cup O Kyndnes

I’ve only reviewed one other Brewery Ommegang beer on this site before and I enjoyed it very much. I’ve had several other of their beers and I really dig what they do. This beer is part of the Ommegang’s Specialty Beer Release series. The idea is basically to give the brewers freedom to create new and interesting beer. Cup O Kyndnes is no different as the bottle says it is a “traditional Belgian-style Scotch Ale.” When I first read over that I thought they were lying. I never heard of a Belgian0style Scotch Ale, let alone a traditional one. After some research, I found that they were not fibbing.

This Cooperstown, New York creation pours a nice brown to ruby color and has a light tan head. The head of this beer is quite fluffy as well, which seems to be common for 750 ml corked bottles. The nose has a nice, rich malt character to it, which is pretty complex. There is no heat but there is some herbal notes, I picked up a heather odor.

On the first taste I was surprised by the smokey character to this beer. It has a wonderful malty body and a very earthy character. I don’t know if some of the malt was smoked in peat moss like an Scottish whiskey, but it had that type of flavor. It was also account for some of the earthy feel to this beer. I did not get any heat, but at 6.6% ABV I’m not surprised by that at all.

I was very happy with this beer overall. It is very well balanced and subtle with its flavors. Unlike a lot of beers which try to showcase one particular ingredient, this one was not aggressive on any front, but everything mixed well. If you like Scottish style beers, this one should be right up your alley. (more…)