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01-20-00

Beer Review #313 Chardonnay Barrel Belgian Style Ale

01-20-03Since I haven’t been posting too much in the past few months thanks to life, I have a solid backlog of beer reviews to get up. This beer goes back to the early fall, while the leaves were still on the trees and I remembered what warmth felt like. Seriously, this winter is brutal. Today’s beer review comes from my favorite up and coming (although they may have arrived at this point) brewery, Evolution Craft Brewing Company. They have a Migration Series of beers that are always interesting. When I saw a year old bottle of Chardonnay Barrel Belgian Style Ale at the beer store, I grabbed it up. I was lucky too, because before I left the store they were out. Such is the life and luck of a beer drinker.

This beer pours a nice burnt orange color with a slightly off-white head. Despite what my pictures show, this beer is clear. The nose is full of wine aromas. It is dry and “wine-grapy.” There is a slight heat to it which caught me off guard as this beer comes in at only 7.2%. I didn’t get a lot of barrel character on the nose nor did I get any bugs. The bottle says “a Belgian style ale aged in oak chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces.” I did get a few muted Belgian spices on the last whiff.

On the first taste I was hit by lots of Belgian flavors. There are some nice peppery notes along with the typical helping of Belgian spices. There is a great sweetness to this beer. It’s sweet, almost candy-like, in how it presents itself. As the sweetness comes in the wine character from the barrels comes in. It has a strong chardonnay flavor that dries out things nicely. The beer ends on a mix of Belgian spices and white wine.

This is a really interesting beer that I’m not sure if I dig or dislike. It reminds me a bit of my initial feelings on White Monkey. I only had one 750 ml of this beer and I feel that I would really begin to appreciate it after a second bottle. Looking back at my notes, it’s clear that I enjoyed this beer, but was caught off guard with it. I’m not a wine guy by any means and this beer strongly features something that I’m not familiar with. I’m a big fan of the Migration Series from Evo and I will continue to enjoy their experiments. (more…)

Beer Review #288 Brux

04-24-03I held off on buying this beer for some time. The local beer store had a number them sitting on the shelf for some time and I had a hunch that they would go on sale. Well they did (for $2 off) and I finally mustered the courage to buy one. Still cost $16 but that’s my limit for a 750 ml. Brux is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and, according to the bottle, this beer is “a dry and complex Belgian-style ale refermented in the bottle with Brettanomyces bruxellensis.” While the beer may have been brewed by Sierra Nevada, it’s actually a collaboration between them and Russian River. Sierra Nevada seems to be doing a lot of collaborating recently.

Brux pours a light orange color. It is hazy and has a slightly off-white head. The nose is sour/tart with a bit of a sharpness to it. There are some light bready malt notes but not much else to be found. It smells like the Lego candies that I used to get from the corner grocery store when I was a kid (Google it if you’re not sure what I’m talking about because you missed out).

On the first taste I was actually struck more by the carbonation than anything else. This beer is highly carbonated and the bubbles attack the front of your tongue. Once I got past the assault, I got into the sourness. UnlikeĀ  a lot of sour beers, this one is sour from start to finish, or what I wrote down as a “fill sourness.” There are some grassy notes mixed in there but the sourness dominates.A little funk is in there along with some peppery notes to boot.

This is an interesting beer. I would love to try it in a few years when the Brett has a chance to work its magic fully. One final note, this beer is a sneaky. It comes in at 8.3% but tastes nothing like that. I was shocked at how I felt after my first glass. I’ll get my hands on another bottle at some point in the future but for now, I have other beers that I want to try. (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 #40 2 Below Ale

Yet another New Belgium seasonal beer. I can’t help it, I generally like everything that comes out of that brewery. I was also super excited to find a seasonal brew in Lubbock, Tx. If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you should know my struggles with finding seasonal beer in Lubbock. And for those of you who are new, Lubbock, simply put, is a hole. There is a complete lack of beer culture, but oddly enough they enjoy expensive wine. Go figure.

Anyway, I grabbed up a sixer of 2 Below as soon as I saw it. As most New Belgium Brewing Company beers have, the label was interesting looking. A nice picture of some freezing pipes with icicles coming down off of the top. Now onto the important part, the beer. It pours a light amber in color with a nice white head. The aroma is nice and strong with tons of floral hops. There isn’t much else to be found on the smell, mostly just hops and maybe some malt if you are really looking hard.

The taste is an explosion of hops, in a good way. The malt and the hops are balanced perfectly. The hops are clean and crisp. On the back-end of the beer there is a slightly bready flavor. You can also expect to finds hints of pepper and other spice in there as well. Unlike some hoppy beers, the hops goes through the entire beer and not just at the back.

2 Below has a light to medium mouthfeel with great carbonation. It is very drinkable but I kind of wanted something darker and richer tasting for a winter beer. The beer comes in at 6.6% ABV so it is not a “weak” beer but I want some more alcohol in my winter beer. The whole warming idea of a winter beer doesn’t really happen at 6.6%. It really is a great beer and I would highly suggest it if you have the chance. Again it is not my favorite winter beer, but it is a solid beer for anytime of the year. (more…)