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07-16-03

Beer Review #301 Imperial French Style Ale

07-16-02I’m always on the lookout for new beers and beer styles to sample and try. When I came across the Lavery Brewing Company’s Imperial French Style Ale, I just had to purchase it. It comes from Erie, PA and Lavery has a bit of a history of making some different styles of beer that you normally don’t find. I’m also a bit partial being from Pennsylvania.

Lavery’s Imperial French Style Ale pours a hazy straw color. This beer comes packed with carbonation which results in a thick white head. This nose has a slight hop around that was nondescript. A wet hay aroma cane be found along with some Belgian-like spice. A grassy note can also be found. It has a Belgian IPAness to it.

On the first taste I was really struck by how bright the hops were. The nose didn’t really let on that bright hops were to be found in this beer, but upon tasting, there they were. The hops are packed with citrus and have notes on lemon. There is a slight Belgian yeast note that comes out the more the beer warms. There is also a slight sourness mixed into the flavor that I rather enjoyed. All tolled, the malt wasn’t very powerful, but the hops and yeast notes make this an interesting tasting beer.

In my notes I wrote, “a very nice, confused beer.” It’s like a Belgian IPA with a funkier yeast than what you normally find. The hops are on par with other beers in the style by the yeast is more unique than others that I have tried. If you like IPAs, and more specifically Belgian IPAs, this will be an enjoyable, drinkable beer for you. I’m excited to try more of their stuff in the future. (more…)

Beer Review #272 Verboten

02-20-03This will be my last Belgian beer review for a bit. I’ve done four over the last week and a half and I think that it is probably time to change it up a bit. Today, we have Verboten by the Weyerbacher Brewing Company. The bottle says that this is a bottle conditioned, Belgian-style pale ale. It comes in at a nice 5.9%. Belgian pale ales are one of my favorite types of beer. They often have a nice mix of complexity, hops, and Belgian yeast ester to make them interesting and drinkable. There are a lot of examples, both good and bad, out there. Oddly, I could not find a single Belgian pale ale when I was in Brussels two summers ago.

Verboten (German word, but a small part of Belgium does speak German) pours a nice orange color. It has a white head and has a good bit of haze to it. The nose is packed with Belgian yeast esters. There are some spice hops at the end along with a little sliver of sweetness.

The flavor on this beer is complex and balanced. It starts out with an array of Belgian esters. The malt comes in there and provides a nice dose of sweetness that helps mitigate the spiciness. Soon after a good hop flavor comes in and, you guessed it, mitigates the malt. The ending on this beer is very spicy with contributions from both the yeast esters and the hops. The two really play nicely off of each other and provides a nice shot of complexity.

I really liked this one. It actually might be my favorite Belgian pale ale to date. The balance is just right and I really like how spicy this beer is. It makes me want to drink more while being flavorful and refreshing. This one is a winner. (more…)

Beer Review #271 Table for Two

02-18-03I have yet another beer that I originally had a few months ago, but knocked off the last bottle today. Table for Two is a “Belgian-style table beer” brewed by the Flying Dog Brewery. I’ve reviewed 12 of their beers in the past, so this makes lucky number 13. I’m really not sure if I have ever had a Belgian-style table beer before. This one comes in at a very sessionable 5.0% ABV. The bottle also indicates that it is a “beer brewed with honey.”

Table for Two pours a beautiful golden orange. It is perfectly clear and has a fluffy white head that sits atop the liquid below. The nose is mostly sweet but nondescript. There was no honey to be smelled which shouldn’t be surprising as honey added to beer usually ferments out and leaves nothing but alcohol and a lighter body. There is a slight bit of Belgian yeast spice in there but the sweetness wins out.

On the first line of my “taste” area of my notes I have, “not a whole lot happening.” It has a sweet front that is a bit honey-like in its flavor but isn’t complex in the slightest. The Belgian spices come through on the end but they are not very assertive and really play as a mellow flavor contributor to this beer. It’s not to say that this is a bad beer, it is just very simple and reserved.

As far as Belgian beers go this one is very tame. I can’t remember having a Belgian-style table beer before so this one could be right on the money as far as styles goes. It is still a very drinkable beer which is what I think it is supposed to be. It isn’t packed with flavor, but what it does have is nice. I would like to see the Belgian yeast flavors become a bit stronger in this beer, but overall it’s a drinkable, sessionable beer. (more…)

Beer Review #270 Bluegrass Saison

02-14-03As you can tell from the leaves on the tree in the background of the photo, I first had this beer a little while ago. I just finished my last bottle so it’s review time. Bluegrass Saison, or just Saison is brewed by the Bluegrass Brewing Company of Louisville, KY. A friend who lives in the area brought a six pack of this beer back for me after a visit. I’m also out to try a new Saison so I happily took the sixer.

Bluegrass Saison pours a clear orange color. It has a fluffy white head that deflates to half of its original size and then stops. The nose has a nice sweet caramel malt odor along with some honey. There is also a slight sour note along with a bit of funk. I tasted this on the first through last bottles that I tried on this beer and the flavor didn’t change, so I’m assuming that means it is there by design. Nothing wrong with a little funk but this wasn’t your typically “wet hay” smell.

This beer is surprisingly grassy for a Saison. It’s nothing compared to some other beers that I have had, but it’s the most grassy Saison that I have ever had. The malt flavor is really nondescript as the high carbonation level really washes it out. There is a slight sour note through this beer and it ends with a hint of bread. I didn’t get a lot of Belgian yeast characteristics from this beer. Bluegrass Saison stays light in the mouth while staying balanced, but not very flavorful.

This beer is good but not great. There are lots of other Saisons that I prefer to this one. The funk either needs to be a bit more forceful or it needs to get out of the way. Perhaps a different yeast strain or fermenting temperature would benefit this beer. Again, it’s not a bad beer, but it just doesn’t measure up to others that I have had. (more…)

Belgian Tripel bottling

09-25-05I finally got around to bottling the Belgian Tripel that I brewed back in the first week in August. It was a pretty standard bottling day and I got it all done in just under an hour. The Belgian Dubbel that I bottled a few weeks ago still has yet to fully carbonate. I blame the carbonation tabs that I used. I decided to give them another shot (mainly because I didn’t have any other options).

The carbonation tabs say to use five for high carbonation, four for normal, and three for low. On the Dubbel I used four to try and stretch it so that I could use it on this batch as well. I went with five this time and I thought about even going six. Tripel’s are supposed to be highly carbonated and I am worried that five was just not enough. I 09-25-01guess we will see in a few weeks when they should be ready.

I tasted a bit of the beer just to see if the correct flavors were in it. Man was it good. As a homebrewer you learn to love room temperature, zero carbonation beer. It had the Belgian spice with a good malty backbone and just the right amount of heat. If this carbonates correctly I think it will be a winner. Judging from my past experiences with tasting beforehand, this could be my most favorite homebrew to date. That is certainly excited but I’m hoping the pumpkin ale blows it out of the water. I did buy all of the ingredients and made sure I got some dried malt extract (DME) as well so that I can carbonate it correctly.  I will give a tasting of the Tripel once it fully carbonates (hopefully) and I need to give a review of the Dubbel. (more…)