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Beer Review #284 Grand Cru Dark Ale

04-14-03One of the most random style categories out there is Grand Cru. Most beer categories have a set range of numbers, color, and other things that are pretty specific, but Grand Cru is wide open. I’ve have everything from sour to peppery. Green Flash Brewing Company makes a Grand Cru and that’s what we are looking at today. Let’s see what direction they decided to go with this open style.

Grand Cru Dark Ale pours a dark ruby color. You can’t see through it as first glance, but when held up to the light you can see that it is clear and changes the source of the light beautifully as it travels through the liquid. The head is a light tan color and soon fades into the beer below.The nose starts with a good malty, caramel base. It then morphs into a nice helping of dark fruits, most notably fig and plum. It ends on a slightly spicy note.

On the first taste the first thing I noticed was the drop of heat. This beer comes in an at a massive 9.1% ABV so it’s not surprising that alcohol shows up. The caramel smells follow through to the flavor and add a nice splash of sticky sweetness. A nice raisin flavor develops in the caramel and carries through until the end of the sip. Grand Cru Dark Ale has a spicy Belgian finish that has a bit of clove on the end.

This is yet another Grand Cru that is different from what I have had in the past. It is nice and smooth. It’s a little sweet but overall it’s pretty well balanced. This is a style that I want to explore more as I love the variety and combinations of flavors that different breweries put into it. (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 #175 Breckenridge Christmas Ale

I know that it is after Christmas, but it is never too late to review a Christmas Ale (hey it’s still winter). I actually picked up this beers, along with the next two beers to review, after Christmas. The nicest part about getting a beer specifically labeled for a period of time is that after that time period has passed, they usually get discounted. Christmas Ale, as it is labeled, is brewed by the Breckenridge Brewery of Denver, Colorado. They are a pretty big player in the crowded Colorado beer market and I have generally found that I enjoy their beers.

Christmas Ale pours a nice burnt amber color and a nice thin white head compliments the color of the beer well. The nose isn’t intense in any way, but has some slight toffee and caramel. There are some dried fruity esters from the yeast present along with a slight biscuit flavor. The mix of odors was really nice and expected.

On my first taste a lot of what was in the nose came through on the flavor end. The toffee flavor outshines any caramel but they both provide a good solid sweetness and base for the beer. Some slight plum and biscuity goodness come in to add a bit of complexity. The hops, which were not present in the nose, come through nicely and help to dry out the beer. One thing that I liked was that the carbonation of this beer helped clear out most of the flavors at the end, leaving a crisp feel to the ale.

I liked this one a good deal. As a winter beer it was exactly what I was looking for. It had a wonderful balance and a good malt profile that clinches the win for this beer. The fruity esters also add a nice touch without becoming overpowering. I’ll make sure to get this one before Christmas next year. (more…)