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01-27-00

Beer Review #314 Holy Sheet

01-27-04Maybe it’s the cold, but I’ve really been in the mood for big beers that have some barrel age to them recently. My father-in-law got me a bottle of Clipper City Brewing Company’s Holy Sheet for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist drinking it. This bad boy rocks in at 9% and is part of their Heavy Seas line of beers. The bottle says a “Belgian style Abbey Ale aged in Brandy Barrels.” Wonderful!

Holy Sheet (great name BTW) pours a nice brown color with some hints of red mixed in there. It has a thin head that edges on dirty white to tan. The nose is complex but distinct at the same time. The first aroma that hit my nose was a slight heat. It’s not overly surprising for a beer aged in brandy barrels and coming in at 9% to have an alcohol smell. A lot of malt smells then hit my nose and packed in odors of raisin, dark fruit, and a slight Belgian spice. The nose was sweet with some good doses of caramel as well. I really dug the aromas wafting off of this beer.

While it was the last aroma to make its appearance, caramel was what hit me on the first taste of this beer. The beer stays sweet and some raisin components come in. The barrel aging is very apparent in this beer. There is a big dose of oak that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms. A slight toast flavor mixes in for good measure. There is no real ending to this beer, everything just mixes together and leaves. I would describe this beer as earthy in flavor with a lot of woody undertones.

This is a complex beer all of the way around. The nose was a joy to smell and the beer was great to drink. This is  a great sipper for a cold day. I need to find a few more of these as I think they would age great, though they might not make it that long. (more…)

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…)

Beer Review #254 Angel’s Share Ale

12-18-03I figured that the end of the World is just a few days away so I might want to drink a beer that has some special properties. Angel’s Share Ale by The Lost Abbey, also known as Port Brewing Company, fits the bill. It’s a “malt beverage aged in oak barrels” and comes in at 12.5% ABV. It get’s its name from the fact that distillers call the loss of liquor during barrel conditioning the “angle’s share.” I call it evaporation as the liquid soaks into the wood, but long ago, they didn’t totally get that whole concept. In the end it makes for a nice story, and a good name for a beer that is barrel aged.

Angle’s Share pours a nice ruby/brown color and has a light tan head. The nose has a slight caramel at the start that then goes into a good bit of oak. There is plenty of heat in the mix to let you know this beer has a high alcohol percentage if you didn’t read the bottle. I also got a slight twang in the nose that I couldn’t fully identify. It wasn’t sour, but it kind of was at the same time.

On the first taste the heat just smacks you in the mouth. As you get used to the heat the oak and woody flavors that oak brings with it really start to come out. There are some dark caramel flavors that come out along with some dark fruits. They don’t show up much as the oak and heat are strong in this beer but they are there. It almost doesn’t taste like beer, but an old watered down liquor.

This is a very different beer but it is tasty. I would classify this one as a big boy beer. This is not for the casual craft beer drinker. The flavors are bold and distinct. It’s unlike most beers that I have ever had and puts a new level to barrel aged, high alcohol beers for me. (more…)

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA Beer Review

I told you the beers would get better, and this review, steps it up to an unhealthy level. Unhealthy only because Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA clocks in at an amazing 20% ABV. Before I go any further, let me post what the brewery has to say about their beer:

“Too extreme to be called beer? Brewed to a colossal 45-degree plato, boiled for a full 2 hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month & aged for another month on whole-leaf hops!!! Our 120 Minute I.P.A. is by far the biggest I.P.A. ever brewed! At 20% ABV and 120 IBUs you can see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads!”

I’ve only ever had one bottle of this stuff, partly because it is tough to find and partly because it cost me $8.99 for a single bottle. I did recently see it at my local distributer for $160.00 a case ($6.66 a bottle). But when you think about it, the price really isn’t that bad. 20% ABV is equivalent to 4-5 “normal” beers. Aside from the price, this beer is special for other reasons.

It pours an amber/orange color and, not surprisingly, it has a strong hop aroma. The beer is very thick, and seems to pour slower than other beers (just like how an oatmeal stout pours differently from a shitty macro).

Before I tasted this I was expecting to be blown away with hop flavors. 120 IBU’s is insane. The smell was there, and with with IPAs, I was expecting the taste to be there was well.

Surprisingly, the hop flavor was smooth and not overpowering. Overall, all of the flavors were very smooth. Shocker. The first thing that hits your tongue is a bit of alcohol. This flavor quickly dissipates to a fruity, woody, slightly hoppy feel. Later in the beer the hop flavors become more noticeable. It takes you by surprise, but not in a bad way.

This beer is very well balanced. There is not a single element that overshadows another. For the new craft beer drinker this would probably not be a great beer, but I really enjoyed it. One thing you need to remember is to drink this beer slowly. I had this over the period of an hour and a half (and it doesn’t taste bad warm). If you drink this like a normal beer, you are not going to get very far. This is a great cold day beer that I will be having again very soon.