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Beer Review #229 Ovila Dubbel

For today’s review I have another beer of the Ovila series from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. This series of beer is brewed in conjunction with a group of monks in California. The Saison that I had from this series a few months was outstanding. I have actually picked up a few more bottles because I like it that much.

This Dubbel pours a nice brownish color with an off-white head. I couldn’t really tell if it was clear or not (not that it matters). This beer looks exactly like what a Dubbel should. The nose is fully of caramels and other sugars. There are some dark fruit odors in there as well. I didn’t get much in terms of spiciness, but I did find that it had an earthy quality to it.

The caramels follow all the way through to the taste and add a slight bit of toffee to the beer. The dark fruits also come back and really exhibit plums and cherries. The Belgian spices from the yeast come in at the end and add a nice peppery note that help clear out some of the sweetness of the malt.

I really liked this one as well. On my last visit to the beer store I saw two new beers (to me) in the Ovila series that I will be picking up. My tasting notes on this beer end with, “feels authentic.” I’ve had several Dubbel’s in Belgium and this one helped take me back there. (more…)

Beer Review #225 Skull Splitter

I meant to post this review before I left for my trip but life got in the way for a bit, but I’m ready to post it now. Skull Splitter was first introduced to my by my cousin who was introduced to it by a coworker. His coworker is from Scotland and highly recommended the beer to my cousin saying, “at beer festivals this beer always goes first because it packs a punch and tastes great.” Know that I am a beer guy, my cousin called me up and let me know to keep an eye out for it. And honestly, how can you not try a beer named Skull Splitter?

Skull Splitter is brewed by the Orkney Brewery of Stromness Orkney, Scotland. I had to Google Map that one. This beer comes in at a solid 8.5% but that’s all the bottle has to hint at what is inside. It pours a nice clear brown color that has a light tan head. The nose has a fair amount of heat (especially when warmed up a bit) and some peppery spices. If I had to guess a style without looking up anything I would guess that this one sits somewhere on the Belgian spectrum. Upon actual more investigation this beer doesn’t have a specific style. I saw everything from barleywine to Wee Heavy. I tend to agree with the Wee Heavy classification, but then again, beer styles don’t really matter all that much.

On the first taste I was surprised about the amount of malt flavor happening. I figured that this one was going to be a thin, high alcohol, peppery beer, but I was wrong. The malt is packed with some dark fruits and a nice plum and raisin flavor comes through. There is a spice in there towards the end which I associated with clove. I didn’t get much heat out of it except on the last few sips when it had warmed for a half hour or so. There is a really nice sweetness that carries through this beer that balances everything nicely.

I really, really liked this one. I need to get secondhand suggestions from Scotsmen more often. I really liked how tasty this on was while being balanced. This beer is on my buy again list. (more…)

Beer Review #187 Devil’s Milk

Devil’s Milk was on display at the front of the beer store the last time I stopped in so I obviously picked up a bottle. I’m such a sucker for product placement. Also, how could you not want to try a barelywine named Devil’s Milk? This beer is brewed by the DuClaw Brewing Company of Abingdon, MD. I can’t really tell what type of brewery DuClaw is. They have four different brewpub locations including on inside of BWI. I do not know if they own a production facility or if they contract brew with someone. Any help or information would be appreciated.

Anyway, Devil’s Milk is “barelywine style ale” according to the bottle and it comes in at a rocking 10.6% ABV. This ale pours a nice ruby color and it is crystal clear. I generally find barelywines to be a bit hazy, but not this one. There is a thin white head as well, but it quickly fades into the beer. The nose is loaded with tons of different aromas. I first smelled some deep malt with some dull hop bitterness in the background. There was a bit of heat, but it was pretty low for a beer of this percentage. Finally, there were some dark fruits buried in there behind all of the other activity.

The first thing that grabbed by attention in this beer is the nice piney hops that come in right after the malt. The malt has some nice burnt caramel flavors along with some grape. There are some dark and dried fruits mixed in as well which I can assume comes from the yeast esters. As with the nose there is some heat, but not a ton. As the beer warms, the flavors really intensify. About halfway through the beer the hops stopped being as prominent as they were at the beginning and the malt and fruits start to take over.

This is a pretty decent barleywine. There is a nice balance between the hops and the malt which I really enjoyed. I would describe the flavor as complete. This beer did not leave me wanting for anything other than something unique to set it apart from other barleywines. If you have the chance you might want to check this one out. (more…)

Beer Review #182 St. Bernardus Abt 12

This is the third beer that I have reviewed in the St. Bernardus “brand” of beers brewed by Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV of of Watou, Belgium. I have really enjoyed the other two beers from the brewery. They really strike a cord as being traditional Belgian beers that are made with a healthy respect for brewing tradition. I would love to visit the brewery whenever I get the chance to visit Belgium again.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 pours a flat brown color that has a thin off-white head. The liquid is a bit cloudy thanks to the yeast left in the beer to naturally carbonate it. The nose is highly yeasty and spicy. There is some heat present, as this beer comes in at 10%, but it isn’t overwhelming. In addition to the typical Belgian spices I found some of the malt odors very nice. I got some nice whiffs of bread and biscuit. I also got a slight sour smell in the beer, but nothing to really make a big note of.

On my first taste I again noticed a bit of sour flavor, but I found that it wasn’t as much of a sour flavor as it was dark fruits that share the same type of tart flavor. The heat is there, but all of the malt and dark fruits really cover it up nicely. For a beer that has such high alcohol, the heat is well restrained in the flavor realm. The Belgian yeast comes in to finish up the beer with a very “Abbey quality.”

This beer is very thin and highly carbonated for such a big beer. I find that “normal” American beers at this level of ABV tend to be thicker the higher the ABVs. This beer is supposed to be the standard for what a Belgian Quad should be and I can see why it is. It has a complex flavor malt and spices happening and the alcohol is clean. If you want something to keep you warm during the winter, I think this is a great option for you. (more…)