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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 Reivew #213 Rayon Vert

Today’s beer review is our first from the Green Flashing Brewing Company based out of San Diego, Ca. They have really opened up their distribution recently as I have seen their stuff all over the MD, and PA beer markets. One of my coworkers loves their IPA and constantly encourages me to brew something similar to it. It’s a damn good beer, and when I saw that my local beer store was carrying something other then just the Green Flash IPA I quickly picked it up. According to the bottle Rayon Vert is a Belgian-style pale ale. Green Flash’s website has this to say about the beer,

If Green Flash were founded in historical Belgium, Rayon Vert would have been our flagship brew. A bold layering of hops finds balance from traditional malts. Bottle conditioning with fresh ale yeast and Brettanomyces finishes the beer, adding a delightful effervescence, dryness and continuously evolving character. Rayon Vert is Green Flash.

Rayon Vert pours a hazy orange with an incredibly fluffy white head. I actually had to stop halfway though my pour, and let the head settle for a few minutes before I could finalize the remainder of the pour. The nose has lots of citrus hops that hit you right off the bat. I was surprised by how tangy this beer smells and there is even some orange mixed in there. One odor that I wasn’t sure of was a slight plastic smell towards the end. I’m not sure if that was the Brett, or something else, but it was the only thing that took away from the nose on this beer.

Upfront, Rayon Vert as a really nice sweetness which is followed by a weak hop component. The hops don’t bit the way that I expected from the nose, but just fade in and slightly dry the beer out. Towards the end this beer was a bit grassy, which wasn’t a bad thing. There was also a tangy flavor to this beer, which I am going to attribute to the Brett. There is not a ton happening in this beer, but there are some bold flavors that lead to a well balanced beer.

There are a ton of good flavors in this beer. While the tangy flavor might not be for everyone, I enjoyed it. I want to go back and try this beer again at some point so that I can get another chance to experience it. I feel like this might be a beer that you have to experience multiple times to fully understand. (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 #126 St. Bernardus Prior 8

Since returning from Europe I have been on a Belgian and German beer kick. When in those countries I made sure not to purchase any beer that I knew that I could easily get here in the States. I mainly did this just so that I could try as many new beers as possible. I did have a few repeats, but for the most part I tired all new beers (to me) on my trip.

One of the beers that I made sure to avoid was today’s subject, St. Bernardus Prior 8. Prior 8 is brewed by Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV of Watou, Belgium. This Belgian ale is an Abbey style ale that comes in at a respectable 8% ABV. It pours a nice brown color and is accompanied by a two finger tan head. This beer is also nice and cloudy as a result of natural carbonation from the yeas that is purposefully left in the beer.

The nose on Prior 8 is wonderfully complex, as an Abbey Ale should be. I found some plum, Belgian spices, and some slight heat. Along with the other odors is the smell of some nice malty sweetness that cuts between the rest of the activity.

On the first taste, all of the flavors that were promised in the nose made a reappearance in my mouth. The plum and Belgian spices mixed wonderfully. The heat was present, but complimented everything else as did the malt sweetness. There were also flavors of raisin and fig mixed in which really added something special to this beer.

I really dig this beer. It might be the fact that I am craving these beers right now, but I think this is something special. I highly suggest this beer if you have never tried it and, if you have already had it, try it again. (more…)