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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 #163 Otto Ale

I briefly mentioned Otto Ale in my last post and today I am going to review it. Otto Ale comes from Victory Brewing Company out of Downingtown, PA and it is a mix of a rauchbier and a Belgian dubbel.  I honestly don’t remember by last dubbel review, but I do remember my last rauchbier review. Smokey beers are slowly growing on me, but we still have a ways to go before we can be considered friends. The idea of this beer came from a trip to Germany in 1987 by the owners of Victory Ron and Bill. I guess they thought that the two types of beer would make a good blend and decided to produce this beer.

Otto Ale pours a deep ruby color with a full off-white head. The nose is very smoky and roasty. It has a BBQ quality to it, but it isn’t overwhelming. I did get a slight bit of malt along with some Belgian yeast “twinge” but the smoke washed out most of what was there.

The taste is, not surprisingly, smoky and roasty. This beer is very light up front with bits of Belgian spices in there. I also found some deep, rich caramels as well. While this beer looks like it would be dark and heavy, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It sits very lightly in your mouth and has bold, but not overpowering flavors.

This beer is smoky, but not to the point where it is totally dominant. I really liked the balance struck in this beer between the smoky, Belgian spices, and the malt. Coming in at 8.1% ABV this is a great sipping beer that gets better with some warmth.

Back in action… and I need a bit of help

Sorry for the brief delay, but I am back from my vacation back on the east coast. I had a great time catching up with my wife and I’s friends and family. Also happened to enjoy many a good beer thanks to the Drafting Room. I also brought some homebrew back with me which everyone seemed to enjoy, except for the Dubbel. But I knew that it sucked, so I wasn’t bothered by that. Anyway the posting will be back to normal this week and will continue.

As for the help part of that title; this blog runs on WordPress, but I am not what you would call a “web guru.” I know enough to get by and setup what you see, but there are some things that I would love to change with this site. If you have any skills in digital graphics or with the WordPress/coding world, please comment on this post or send me something via the contact form. I would really appreciate it and I’ll even send you out a copy of the Beer Tasting Notes. Get in contact with me and I will fill you in on the details, but I don’t think that it would be anything that would be a big deal to change up.

My homebrew, a year in review

I didn’t do as much homebrewing as I would of liked to do this year. In total I did40 gallons worth of homebrew. That’s eight five gallon batches. Below is a list of the beers that I brewed up this year.

  • Imperial Porter
  • SB Birthday Beer (Amber wheat)
  • Irish Red
  • Belgian Dubbel
  • Belgian Tripel
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Winter Warmer
  • Amber IPA

Some of those beers turned out better than others. I have to say that my darker beers are my better ones. That is probably I enjoy roasty flavors and it is easier to hide other flavors with them. My Irish Red and SB Birthday beer did not come out very well at all. The Irish Red was a victim of improper hopping. I switched the hops and the bittering component came out way to strong and dry. The SB Birthday beer was the victim of sitting in a fermenter for too long and also was in the sun for a bit of it. They were both drinkable, but not up to a decent standard.

My Belgian beer experiments went pretty good. The Dubbel needed a few more darker malts and I would change the yeast in it to something that would give off a bit more plum and dry fruit esters. Overall it tasted  fine, it just needed to be a bit richer tasting. The Tripel was darn good. The malts and the yeast worked perfectly. It was well balanced and a good representation of a Tripel. There were a few too many hot alcohols in it which was caused by a higher than wanted fermentation temperature.

The Pumpkin Ale was a complete disaster. The stuck sparge  left a ton of extra sugars and I didn’t think it out with extra water. With a lower than normal wort level and a high sugar level the beer ended up being 15% and too highly spiced. I can see it being a really good beer, it just needed to be brewed correctly. It is still drinkable, but edges on not being so.

My Winter Warmer is still bottle conditioning but it tastes wonderful. It is a bit more bitter than I wanted and next time I would take out some more Black Patent malt, as it gives off a ton of flavor. I called the beer a Winter Warmer, but in reality it is a stout. I left the option open to put spices in it, but I did not want to since the beer before it, the pumpkin ale, had more spice than I knew what to do it. All you need to do to make it a true Winter Warmer is add in a few spices and bam, you have it.

The Amber IPA is getting bottled this week, so we will see how that turns out. My real all star for this brew year was the Imperial Porter. It came in a 8% and had everything you could want in a porter. It was well balanced and you could not even detect an alcohol on the beer. I really like it, I wish I had more.

This next brew year I’m not sure what I want to make. I think next on my list is a simple American Amber. After that I have not idea. I am still looking into the colonial beer, but that is a ways off. We will see what this year brings, but I am excited as I am really honing in on my efficiency and turning out beer very close to what I want them to taste like.

Beer Review #33 Ommegang Abbey Ale

11-08-02I thought I was out of my Belgian kick that I was on over the summer, but I found another reason to continue. Ommegang Abbey Ale is a Belgian Dubbel from Brewery Ommegang out of Cooperstown, NY. I saw two options of bottling for this beer, a four-pack or a 750 ml corked bottle. I opted to go for the four-pack as it was a better buy and I didn’t have to drink it all at once.

I allowed the beer to warm up at cellar temperatures as it takes on a different feel when it is colder. The cold attempt I made I didn’t get much aroma, but a lot of sourness. Once I allowed it to warm on my next beer, I had a much better tasting beer. It pours a deep ruby color with a thick light brown head. The head on the beer is made entirely of tiny bubble (high carbonation) and a thin layer of head lasted through the entire drink. The Abbey Ale is pretty clear with some haze from the yeast and a few groups of things in suspension, as common with most Belgian beers.

11-08-03The nose was very fruity. I think the smell that stood out the most was a grape to sour grape smell. The yeast was also heavy on the nose with some hints of malt. No hops were detectable. On my first sip I was hit with the malt on the front, followed by a sourness, and then the Belgian yeast bite. There was a grapy aftertaste. As I kept drinking some bitter chocolate notes came though as well. The Belgian yeast had a slightly different twang than a normal Belgian yeast strain, it was much more sour. Most of the time you get a spiciness from Belgian yeast, there was some, but not as pronounced as other Belgian beers I have had.

The mouthfeel was medium and the high carbonation was wonderful. I really enjoyed drinking this beer. It is a perfect beer to drink slowly during a long period of time. As the beer warms to room temperature a host of new notes come out and make it more and more interesting. Ommegang Abbey Ale comes in a 8.5% which is on the higher end of ABV for Belgain Dubbels.

There were a few interesting notes on the back of the bottle as well. It says, “Part of the Duvel family of fine ales.” Brewery Ommegang was named after Belgium’s oldest medieval festival. This beer is also cellared at the brewery. If you like Belgian beers give this one a try, you will not be disappointed. It is wonderfully flavorful and complex. It really was a treat of a beer to drink. (more…)