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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…)

Beer Review #262 Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale

01-20-02Dogfish Head recently rolled out a new beer in their Ancient Ale series of beers; Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale. I usually have a hard time saying no to a new beer from Dogfish Head. They do such a great job of making you want their beer. The results are usually pretty good but there have been a few clunkers in there. According to the bottle this beer is “an ancient ale brewed with honey, hazelnut flour, heirloom wheat, myrrh, gentian root, raisins, pomegranate juice, and pomegranates.” It also comes in at 8.5% ABV. I have no idea what the majority of those things taste like, but it does sound interesting.

Birra Etrusca Bronze Ale pours a copper color with a reddish hue. It has a giant off-white head on the initial pour that quickly fades down to just a thin layer. The nose is very sweet. There isn’t an heat to be found but there are lots of fruits. The raisins and pomegranates that are listed in the ingredient list come out big time in the nose. I find that a lot of these ancient ales tend to have similar noses as grapes/raisins are a typical ingredient.

The sweetness found in the nose continues through to the taste. This beer is very sweet upfront. It is then followed by a slight spicy flavor that fades into the fruit flavors found in the nose. There is a wheaty characteristic that flows through the whole beer. This ale ends on a bready, earthy note. I was really surprised that I didn’t get any heat in this beer. Usually at 8.5% you start to get a hint that the beer is high alcohol when it warms, but not in this beer.

This is one of the beer beers that Dogfish Head has put out in awhile. It has solid flavors and is very balanced. I really thought that it was going to be over the top sweet, but it came down and ended up being very nice. I really like beers that capture an earthy quality and this beer has it. I’m not going to be grabbing another one of these as the price tag ($15) is a bit too high for me, but it is a super enjoyable beer. (more…)

Beer Review #261 The Gift

01-18-03I have a seasonal beer (gasp!) up for review today. If you remember, I went a full year without purposely seeking out seasonable beers, and I’m ready to stop limiting my choices. I saw The Gift a few weeks ago and picked up a few bottles. The Gift is brewed by Starr Hill Brewery of Crozet, Va. The bottle says that it is a Bock, but their website narrows it down a bit more and calls it a Hellerbock. I honestly have no idea what the difference is.

The Gift pours a nice clear orange color and has a quickly fading, thin white head. The nose is very lager. It has some bready notes followed by some slight sulfur. Other than that, there really isn’t a lot going on in the nose department.

On the first taste I really noticed the malt flavors. It has a nice honey-like sweetness that is mixed with a toasty flavor. The combination is time tested and works wonderfully. There are some hops that come in towards the end but they are not crisp. The hops do not remove the sweetness entirely, but instead just help cut it down a bit to better balance the beer. The sweetness is a bit much for me personally.

I enjoyed this beer. I would like this beer to be a little less The Cranberries and linger a less then it does. It’s a solid example of a Bock and I assume a Hellerbock. I’m kind of a beer nerd if you haven’t noticed (post #584 on this site) but I am not familiar with the Hellerbock style. This beer makes me want to do some more research and I thank Starr Hill for alerting me to something that I didn’t know existed. (more…)

Beer Review #259 The Beast

01-10-02I’m a bit of a roller coaster nerd and when I saw the name of this beer, my mind immediately went the Beast at Kings Island, the World’s longest wooden roller coaster. Much like the roller coaster, this beer takes a long time to go through as it comes in at 16%! The Beast is brewed by Avery Brewing Company and is an “ale with raisins, dates, molasses and honey.” Holy balls. And yes, that is Ticket to Ride in the picture. If you haven’t played it, you should.

The Beast pours a reddish copper color and it is perfectly clear. It has a light tan head that fades away very quickly thanks to the high alcohol. The nose is packed with dark fruits and a surprising amount of sweetness. There are not any hops to make note of. You can tell this beer is strong after a quick whiff, but there isn’t any heat on the nose. It’s a truly amazing feat as alcohol at this percentage begs to have its presence known.

As the nose promised, there are lots of dark fruits on the first sip. The use of dates and raisins are evident when sampling. There is a little bit of sweetness upfront. It never really goes away, but it becomes less of a key player as the drink progresses. On the back end you get some aged hop flavors that balance the beer out. The beer really warms you up all the way down. It’s very nice.

I’m shocked at how smooth a big beer like this is. Unlike a lot of big beers, this one isn’t chewy. It has real beer characteristics and it makes for a really enjoyable drink. If you can find it, grab it. I’m generally not a huge fan of big, big beers, but this one is good. Really good. (more…)