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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 #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…)

Pumpkin Ale update #1

The Pumpkin Ale has been fermenting for the last two weeks now and my measurements show that everything has ended with the process. I will probably be bottling the beer this afternoon but before I do that, I wanted to give a quick update. My mini-fermenter  has fully cleared and the beer looks beautiful. The color is exactly what I was hoping it would be. There is a lot of sediment on the bottom. I am not sure if it is due to the two different yeasts used, the extra amount of sugar in the wort, or if the yeast just multiplied like crazy. There is also the big chance that the bottom is a lot of pumpkin puree that clogged my mash tun. In any case, there is a lot of it.

10-11-01

10-11-02I took my gravity readings and it comes in at 1.010. If you remember correctly this beer had a starting gravity of 1.082, so it finished out in the 10% ABV range for my quantity of wort. I pretty surprised it went that high as both of my yeasts are not known for having a high tolerance. I also took a test taste from the extra drops left over from my refractometer reading. The upfront taste is distinctly pumpkin. Score. The back is all spiciness. I is a bit harsher than I wanted and I think it would of been totally dead on if there was a full 5 gallons. The cinnamon and nutmeg come through the most with some all-spice hints. Overall I am pretty happy with how it has turned out thus far (minus the over spicy) I can’t wait to get it carbonated and have it ready to drink in a few weeks.

As a side note, sorry for the lack of posting this week. I started a new job and I’m getting used to the whole work/life balance again.

Belgian Tripel bottling

09-25-05I finally got around to bottling the Belgian Tripel that I brewed back in the first week in August. It was a pretty standard bottling day and I got it all done in just under an hour. The Belgian Dubbel that I bottled a few weeks ago still has yet to fully carbonate. I blame the carbonation tabs that I used. I decided to give them another shot (mainly because I didn’t have any other options).

The carbonation tabs say to use five for high carbonation, four for normal, and three for low. On the Dubbel I used four to try and stretch it so that I could use it on this batch as well. I went with five this time and I thought about even going six. Tripel’s are supposed to be highly carbonated and I am worried that five was just not enough. I 09-25-01guess we will see in a few weeks when they should be ready.

I tasted a bit of the beer just to see if the correct flavors were in it. Man was it good. As a homebrewer you learn to love room temperature, zero carbonation beer. It had the Belgian spice with a good malty backbone and just the right amount of heat. If this carbonates correctly I think it will be a winner. Judging from my past experiences with tasting beforehand, this could be my most favorite homebrew to date. That is certainly excited but I’m hoping the pumpkin ale blows it out of the water. I did buy all of the ingredients and made sure I got some dried malt extract (DME) as well so that I can carbonate it correctly.¬† I will give a tasting of the Tripel once it fully carbonates (hopefully) and I need to give a review of the Dubbel. (more…)

09-06-04-05

River Horse Brewing Company Tripel Horse Beer Review

09-06-04-06I have recently been getting into Belgians and River Horse Brewing Company’s Tripel Horse called to me at the six pack store. First off, I love the packaging. River Horse has funky packaging that mixes some old images with new graphic design, and I just love it. All of there beer labels have something in common but are also very distinct. That aside, lets get onto the beer.

09-06-04-05This is what the brewery has to say about their beer:

Notice a unique aromatic nose with a hint of vanilla esters, which comes from the Belgian ale yeast. Tripel Horse has a big body and rich mouth feel and finishes mostly dry with only a touch of sweetness. If you shy from some of the sweeter Belgian ales, we think you will enjoy this one. The palate improves with age, so keep some on hand and you can ride Tripel Horse down a new path with each opened bottle.

This beer rocking in at 10% which is not surprising for a Tripel. Right on the nose of the beer you get the yeast spicyness and alcohol. It pours an orangy color with a little brown. My camera does not acurarlty replicate the color. The beer is hazy when help up to the light, as expected, and you can see little particles floating throughout the beer, also as expected. It pours with a minimal amount of head that lingers around the side of the glass for the whole drink.

09-06-04-04On first taste there is an explosion of flavor. The yeast spice is obvious, but there is a ton of malt and a hint of sweetness. The back end of the drink is alcohol, but it isn’t super noticeable if you aren’t looking for it. It finishes dry in your mouth and leaves you wanting more. This beer is exactly what I wanted from a Tripel, it was high in alcohol, big in flavor, and had that Belgian wonderfulness that I have been craving. A few years ago I would of hated this beer, but my pallet has grown and gotten much better.

They say to age this beer as it will change a lot over time. I bought a six pack and drank the six pack within a week or so. It was just that good.

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