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Beer Review #182 St. Bernardus Abt 12

This is the third beer that I have reviewed in the St. Bernardus “brand” of beers brewed by Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV of of Watou, Belgium. I have really enjoyed the other two beers from the brewery. They really strike a cord as being traditional Belgian beers that are made with a healthy respect for brewing tradition. I would love to visit the brewery whenever I get the chance to visit Belgium again.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 pours a flat brown color that has a thin off-white head. The liquid is a bit cloudy thanks to the yeast left in the beer to naturally carbonate it. The nose is highly yeasty and spicy. There is some heat present, as this beer comes in at 10%, but it isn’t overwhelming. In addition to the typical Belgian spices I found some of the malt odors very nice. I got some nice whiffs of bread and biscuit. I also got a slight sour smell in the beer, but nothing to really make a big note of.

On my first taste I again noticed a bit of sour flavor, but I found that it wasn’t as much of a sour flavor as it was dark fruits that share the same type of tart flavor. The heat is there, but all of the malt and dark fruits really cover it up nicely. For a beer that has such high alcohol, the heat is well restrained in the flavor realm. The Belgian yeast comes in to finish up the beer with a very “Abbey quality.”

This beer is very thin and highly carbonated for such a big beer. I find that “normal” American beers at this level of ABV tend to be thicker the higher the ABVs. This beer is supposed to be the standard for what a Belgian Quad should be and I can see why it is. It has a complex flavor malt and spices happening and the alcohol is clean. If you want something to keep you warm during the winter, I think this is a great option for you. (more…)

Beer Review #98 Grand Cru Winter Reserve

I have three winter beers to review before Spring hits and till the March Brewness starts. Today’s review comes from Flying Fish Brewing Company of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. This beer has one heck of a name with it, and the packaging offers little explanation. The bottle hints at what is sure to be inside, saying, “bottle conditioned Belgian style ale.” Sounds wonderful to me.

The ale pours a nice cloudy straw color and has a nice wispy white head sitting on top of it. The nose is full of the normal Belgian spices and also is pretty yeasty. There are some slightly sweet aromas coming from there as well, but nothing overpowering.

The taste is very yeasty. The spices are there but I was surprised but the yeast character to this beer. There is a slight sweetness to it along with some biscuit flavors, but neither are very strong. The mouthfeel is pretty creamy, which I found a bit surprising. Grand Cru Winter Reserve rocks in at 7.2% ABV, but you would never know it from the taste or smell. I found this beer to be very un-winter like. I would love to drink it on a warm spring day, but not the winter. It was a good beer, but another winter beer that lives in the wrong season. (more…)

Beer Review #59 Woody Creek White

Sorry for this post going up a day late. I start work in the late morning so I generally write up my posts after I get up in the mornings before I go to work. On this morning I found that my internet and TV service were down. When I got home from work they were both working, but I had the Philadelphia Flyers game on DRV so that took all attention away from beer blogging. My apologies.  Today in the week of Flying Dog we encounter Woody Creek White, which is their take on a Belgian Wit.

The beer ours a straw color and is cloudy. It also comes along with a nice fluffy white head. Everything about the look of this beer is spot on for what you would expect in a Belgian Wit. The nose is yeasty with slight hints of the Belgian yeast spice (clove, coriander, and some orange) along with a touch of malt sweetness. It almost has a musty feel to it, which is right up my alley.

On the first taste your taste buds are greeted with the clove and other parts of the Belgian yeast. It is pretty light on the malt but it is very sweet. I also got some slight bits of lemon in there as well. There are also some bready notes in there that stay on the aftertaste. In general the beer is nicely balanced and lets every part come though nicely. The mouthfeel is light and a bit watery, which should be expected.

I found this beer light and very drinkable. At 4.8% ABV and 18 IBUs it is very sessionable. I could see myself sitting on a deck drinking a few of these during a hot summers day. Speaking of which, it is supposed to be 106 F tomorrow, 106! So I may have the few of these that I have left and down them. If you enjoy Belgian Wit’s this is a great example of one. It is solid all the way around and would be a treat to anyone on a hot summer’s day. (more…)

Beer Review #53 Brooklyn Local 1

My little hiatus from posting has not stopped my love of Belgian beers in the slightest. Today’s Belgian beer comes all the way from Brooklyn, NY, home of the Brooklyn Brewery. Don’t you love it when the brewery’s name and location match? Anyway I don’t think that it any secret that I love most of the beers that I have ever had from the Brooklyn Brewery. On this site I have only reviewed their Pennant Ale ’55, but I have enjoyed a great number of their beers that we hastily drank before the appearance of this blog. I have also read their book, which is also wonderful if you were wondering.

Brooklyn Local 1 comes in as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, which essentially means it is a Belgian beer that has a high ABV and hops that are stronger than you would expect on a normal Belgian beer. It pours a straw color and is 100% cloudy. Lots of sediment to be found and a delicious fluffy white head to go along with it. This beer looks the part of a wonderful Belgian. On the nose the Belgian yeast stands out, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. There is a slight sweetness that is on there as well which I found refreshing.

On the tongue I first noticed the Belgian yeast and the spicy flavors that go along with it. As I dug more into the beer I noticed the malt more and more. It was very sweet. Perhaps that comes from the German malts that are used in making the beer instead of the typical Belgian malts. The hops also come from Germany. Local 1 is a very clean beer. The hops, Belgian yeast, and the malts balance each other out nicely and the hops really help clean your tongue from any left over flavors. The aftertaste was also a nice mix of lemon, grassy flavors, a slight hop bite, Belgian yeast, and some warming alcohol.

For a beer that comes in at 9.0% ABV this beer really did not feature much in the way of heat. It was very hidden and only noticeable on the aftertaste and a bit when the beer really warmed up. The body was in the medium range but it was highly carbonated, so it was tough to get a really sampling of what it would of been like had it had normal carbonation. The beer is something that I think any Belgian beer lover would love. It is clean but features everything a Belgian beer should. Perhaps the most surprising part is how well the ABV is hidden. If you are not careful this beer could easily sneak up on you. It also comes in a caged and corked bottle which added to the “must buy” factor for me.

The Brooklyn Brewery also makes Local 2 which I have had in the past and really enjoyed. It is another Belgian style beer, but much darker and much more bold. If you see anything with Brooklyn Local 1 or 2, get it and I don’t think that you would be disappointed. (more…)

Beer Review #51 Allagash White

About two weeks ago I was talking about how I was in an English ale mood. That phase has come and passed, unlike these guys who have a whole month devoted to English beers. Right now I am back where I was around this time last year, Belgian beers. I don’t know what is going on with my taste buds but it seems every two weeks I am in the mood for something totally different. It makes it tough as a homebrewer because I generally like to brew beer styles I like. At this rate I have no idea what I want. What does that have to do with a beer review? Well nothing, so let’s get to it.

As part of my Belgian beer kick I was lucky enough to find a four pack of Allagash White from the Allagash Brewing Comapny in Portland, Maine. Allagash White is classified as a Belgian White ale and totally delivers on the promise in every way. It pours a brilliant cloudy, golden color and has a nice fluffy white head to boot. The yeast that stays in the beer at the time of bottling can easily been seen in suspension. The nose is light, but full of aromas. The first thing I noticed was the Belgian yeast spices (clove, banana, etc). There was also a light malt sweetness thrown in there.

On the tongue there is a light lemon flavor up front. The Belgian yeast follows soon after with the banana coming first, then followed by the clove. It finishes with a wonderful aftertaste, that leaves you wanting more. It is very crisp and refreshing as well. A Belgian White is supposed to be a light, delicate beer that is full of flavor, but is also so well balanced that the smallest mistake could throw that balance off. Allagash White is light and watery in the mouthfeel department, as you would expect for the style. This is an unmistakably drinkable beer. Great for a hot day or a warm spring day. It goes down easily and has enough of everything to make you want more.

When I first had this I was on a run of Belgian Tripels, so this seemed a bit watered down and unappealing. The more I drank it the more I found that I liked it. It was very subtle in it’s approach to a Belgian style beer. I really enjoyed it and I think you would too. The bottle is also a fun read because they should you how to pour the beer to get everything you can out of it. I always enjoy when breweries do the small extra things in helping educate the drinker. Again, this is a wonderful beer, try it if you get the chance. (more…)