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Beer Review #269 Duchesse De Bourgogne

02-12-03I’m going to warn you, I’m on a Belgian beer kick right now. The next several reviews are going to be Belgian or Belgian inspired beers. Today’s beer is fondly called “The Duchesse” by many. I was first introduced to it when I lived in Texas. The homebrew club would pay someone to make the long trek to cultured areas and get a case of this beer. At $20 bucks a 750 ml bottle, plus gas, it was an expensive treat. Duchesse De Bourgogne is brewed by Brouwerij Verhaeghe. Try to say that a few times. The bottle says, “Belgian top-fermented reddish-brown ale, a blend of 8 and 18 months old beer following the careful maturation in oak casks.”

The Duchesse pours a nice clean brown color. It has a slightly off-white head that quickly fades. Oddly, as the head fades, large bubble begin to cling to the glass where the beer is. I thought it was because of a dirty glass at first, but I tried a second glass that I had just cleaned and it did the same thing. Odd. The nose has some nice woody smells along with some slight sweetness. The largest aroma coming from the glass is a nice sour note.

On the front end you get a bit of sweetness which is quickly followed by a solid sour flavor. It tasted like sour grapes or sour candy. The woody notes from the nose also follow through to the flavor and add a great level of complexity to the beer. As the beer warms the oak flavors become a bit stronger but they do not throw anything out of balance. This beer is pretty light-handed when it comes to all of the flavors. The sweetness, sourness, and oakiness(?) are all there, but they don’t scream, but rather say mellow.

I can see why people enjoy this beer. The has a great level come complexity while remaining on the lighter end of flavor. I’ve had beers that are much more sour and it often throws them out of balance. I think the real magic of this beer is that it achieves a great complexity without overdoing it on any one particular thing. The balance is fantastic. And at 6% you can have a few of these if you have the cash. My local beer store sells the 750 ml and 11.2 oz bottles in four packs. I generally opt for the four pack. (more…)

The next trend in craft beer

Be it good or bad, craft beer has always had trends that a lot of breweries/drinkers like to follow. Once the initial novelty of craft beer wore off IPA’s seemed to the stage. The hoppier the better. And while that still may be true for some drinkers, I think that most have adjusted themselves to enjoy a balanced hoppy beer over a hop-bomb any day.

In my mind the next “big” thing has been oaked beers. While putting beer in oak casks has been around for hundreds of years, it was the thing to do. There were/are tons of beers that are now oak conditions. While I do like some of the characteristics that oak can add to a beer, it seems like moreover the oak barrel is there to put a “unique” spin on the beer. I am sure there have been plenty of other trends that I have missed, but I’ve only been in the craft beer world for three years now, so those trends may not of been as obvious to me.

In my mind the up and coming trend in craft beer is sour beers. I see more and more news/press releases about sour beers than ever before. It seems like everyone is starting to experiment in them. I really haven’t ever enjoyed the whole sour thing, but I can see why people enjoy it. Sour beers have also been around for hundreds of years, but it seems that a lot of craft brewers are just now taking their first steps into the style. I am all for experimentation in beer and I hope that American Craft Brewers keep turning out some of the finest beers in the world, but I want brewers to be themselves and make quality beers that don’t play towards trends.

Michelob Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale Beer Review

When I first saw a case of this beer sitting at my local beer store, I was intriguing. A bit excited to tell the truth. There was a snowman holding a bottle of beer and wearing some sweet shades, all of this to advertise a bourbon cask ale. Sounded wonderful!

When I got home, I threw a six-pack in the fridge and noticed that this beer was made by Michelob. There was no evidence of this on the box (or else I would not of gotten it), but I already opened it so it was too late. I don’t hate Michelob, I just don’t like that they are pretending to be a craft brewery when you are really an InBev product. The bottles read:

“Winter ale aged on bourbon oak casks and whole Madagascar vanilla beans. 6.0% ABV.”

I waited from them to get cold and two hours later, they were ready to drink. When I think of a winter beer, I generally think of something dark and heavy and full of alcohol. I think the same thing when I hear of bourbon and cask. I popped the top to a nice little pfff and poured it into my glass. This stuff was a copper colored!?! Nothing like what I was expecting. It had a thin head that disappeared within seconds.

A bit annoyed, I cleared my head and decided to give the beer a chance to say something. The first smells were sweet and strongly vanilla. There is a hint of malt and no hops at all. Upon first sip I didn’t really enjoy it at all. It tasted like cream soda. There was also a strange metalic taste that I did not enjoy at all. There was also very little carbonation and no flavor of bourbon.┬áSome beers get better as you drink through the glass, this is not one of them. I let about half of the glass sit for a bit to see if it being warmed helped at all; no change.

I was very, very disappointed by this beer. I expected something totally different, and the flavor of the beer completly ruined any positives I held on to. Don’t get fooled, don’t buy this beer, don’t look at this beer! (more…)