This 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. Continue reading →
I 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. Continue reading →
As 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. Continue reading →
I 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 guess 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. Continue reading →
Last Saturday around the time of this post I had a chance to brew my Belgian Dubbel. The wife went to see the Time Travelers Wife, which gave me a few hours of time to brew. The whole idea behind the beer was to save some money on yeast and have another Belgian style beer on-hand since I’m really digging Belgian beers right now, so is the wife. I ordered from Austin Homebrew Supply again and followed the ingredients that I had originally set-out on using. I didn’t order a half pound of wheat malt from them becasue I already had a pound on hand. One problem, they shorted me a half pound of Belgian Pale malt. Crap.
I decided to go on with brewing anyway and get that half pound reimbursed at another time. I threw all of the grain into the mash tun and heated my strike water to 165ºF. Being that I roughly had 6.5 lbs of grain and wanted to keep a water to grain ratio of 1.25 quarts per pound the 2 gallons of water reached that temperature very quickly. I then let it all sit there for an hour and again, it only dropped 2ºF from 152ºF to 150ºF in that hour. I’m really happy with my new mash tun.
On my last brew, I had a terrible efficiency, so I wanted to fix that up a bit. I collected my first runnings and threw it back on top of the grain and collected it again. My thinking was that the water was still hot and I could grab some extra sugar. I heated up another two gallons of water to 180ºF for the second and third runnings. On both I let them sit in the mash tun for 10 minutes. By the end I had collected 3.5 gallons of wort for the boil.
I did my 60 minute boil using .5 oz of Styrian Goldings hops and 1 oz of Saaz hops for 15 minutes. I also threw in some Irish Moss to try and help clarity. Why I didn’t do this for the Tripel is still a good question. I cooled down the wort and pitched it on top of the yeast cake from the Tripel as that is now in a carboy.
I was shooting for a gravity of 1.062 but actually got 1.053. It was better than the Tripel but still pretty poor. Only 65% or so. I’m not sure if the problem is coming my mash, the water, or how Austin Homebrew Supply is crushing the grain. I’m inclined to lean towards the latter after talking to some people my the local homebrew club. Maybe new brew I will borrow on of their grain mills.
This brew marks my first experience with Belgian candy sugar as well. I used a dark variety of it. I was a bit concerned about scorching, but during the wait time with the second and third runnings I dumped all of it (1/2 lb) into the boil kettle and stirred like a madman. The kettle was sitting on the floor under the mash tun. The liquid was still hot and it dissolved pretty quickly. No scorching at all! I’ll have a few updates on both of my beers soon.