Friday, May 20, 2011

Older Viscosity by Port Brewing

Older Viscosity. American Strong Ale. Port Brewing. San Marcos, California.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

4.4 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
AHTOH (66) - San Diego, USA - MAY 20, 2011

2011 vintage. 375 mL bottle. Lost Abbey tulip.

APPEARANCE: Black. Tinge of dark caramel brown. Head is 1-2 fingers, dark tan – like the foam on an espresso, and has lengthy retention.

AROMA: Cocoa, milk chocolate, bourbon, vanilla. Hints of whiskey dipped figs, oak, coffee, mocha, faint allspice.

TASTE: Massive bourbon notes. Chocolate malt, vanilla. Hints of oak, roasted barley, faint allspice, faint grassy hops. Light roasted barley contributes mild bitterness on finish.

MOUTH FEEL: Lively carbonation – more than expected for the style/viscosity – helps reduce the viscous perception. Plentiful alcohol warmth. Slick mouth feel.

OVERALL: Milk chocolate and bourbon extremely well balanced on nose – almost like a chocolate milk shake blended with a bit of bourbon. Bourbon is just a touch heavy on taste. Overall, amazing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sublimely Self Righteous Ale by Stone

Sublimely Self Righteous Ale. Black IPA. Stone Brewing Co. Escondido, California.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.6 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
AHTOH (65) - San Diego, California, USA - MAY 14, 2011

Bomber. Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pitch black. Hues of deep dark brown only barely discernible at the edges when held to light. Head is dark beige, creamy, has lengthy retention, minimal lace.

AROMA: Citrus (grapefruit) and grassy hops, lightly roasted malt, light coffee. Hops more prominent than malt. Hints of dark bitter chocolate.

TASTE: Citrusy and some grassy hop taste combined with hop and roasted malt bitterness. More roasted malts on taste than on nose, however hops still more prominent than malt. Hints of chocolate malt.

MOUTH FEEL: Medium bodied. Moderate carbonation. Alcohol well hidden behind bitterness and roasty characteristics.

OVERALL: Bitter finish a tad more bitter and longer lasting than would have preferred. Like drinking an Americano with grapefruit peel.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Harvest Ale (Calvados) by J.W. Lees

Harvest Ale (Calvados). Barley Wine (matured in Calvados casks). J.W. Lees. MIddleton, England.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
AHTOH (64) - San Diego, California, USA - MAY 11, 2011

Brewed in 2009. Ale matured in Calvados casks. 275 mL bottle. Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Orange gold and amber. Quite hazy. Sparse sediment. Head is 1 finger, cream colored, and has short duration.

AROMA: Brandy, barley, grain, cereal. Hints of green apple, caramel, vanilla, allspice, lightly toasted wood.

TASTE: Brandy, barley, grain, caramelized green raisin, burnt brown sugar. Charred wood much more noticeable and more charred on taste than on nose. Hints of vanilla, faint spice, extremely faint bitter orange.

MOUTH FEEL: Soft carbonation. Quite sweet. Full bodied. Light alcohol warmth.

OVERALL: Pleasant brandy barrel aged barley wine. Faint notes of charred wood on taste linger for quite some time and become a bit earthy towards the end of the lingering phase as the other tastes fade; charred wood notes are a bit more prominent than would have preferred.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Marrón Acidifié by The Bruery

Marrón Acidifié. Sour/Wild Ale. The Bruery. Placentia, California.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (63) - San Diego, California, USA - APR 18, 2011

750 mL. General release: April 2011. Poured into Bruery tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours deep amber with hues of copper, burnt orange, and milk chocolate. Opaque. Head is almost 1 finger, Baileys Irish Cream colored, has relatively large bubbles, and has fairly short retention duration. Head settles relatively quickly and leaves some foam around the edge of the glass as well as patches of thin film on surface that have quite a bit of sediment pieces.

AROMA: Oud bruin, tart cherry, wine barrel, milk chocolate, some dark chocolate as well (though this is more subtle), and cranberry. Able to discern a faint leather aroma, though unsure I would if never expected it. Roasty malts are only gently roasted and are pleasant when complimented by the chocolate malt. Faint oak. Strong swirl brings out an extremely faint hint of smokey character.

TASTE: Quite sour. Oud bruin. Tart cherry and some cranberry throughout. Mid palate has faint hint of leather taste. Back of palate has pleasant amount of subtle chocolate and more tart cherry. Finish is more tart red stone fruit. The woody tannins are discernible on back of palate and finish.

MOUTH FEEL: Medium bodied. Semi dry. Sharp bite. Alcohol fairly hidden for the abv.

OVERALL: Was hesitant to purchase this at first because, although I enjoy Oud Bruin, the “aged balsamic” notes (per the description on the bottle) made me a bit wary, as I generally avoid this condiment. Perhaps because I generally avoid balsamic vinegar and am somewhat unfamiliar with its characteristics, I am unable to pick out (nor able to reject the existence of) balsamic notes. My favorite aspect of this sour/wild ale is the subtle chocolate undertones. Second most enjoyed aspect is the tart cherry character. Overall, while this is an impressive ale, I am a bit unimpressed with the value.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mischief Gone Wild by The Bruery

Mischief Gone Wild. Hoppy Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale with Brettanomyces. The Bruery. Placentia, California.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (62) - San Diego, California, USA - APR 17, 2011


750 mL. Poured into Bruery tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours pure yellow gold. Slightly hazy. Big 3 finger head is white, rocky, has lengthy duration, and leaves some scattered patches of lace. Rocky head settles evenly, leaving some chunks of foam for some time.

AROMA: Almost equal parts Belgian yeast, hops, and brett. Malt character appears hay-like with a faint creamy sweetness. Hops are citrusy, with lime character appearing most prominent. Some subtle pine character to the hops as well. Mild spice notes smell of subtle coriander and a dash of black pepper. Brett adds a nice barnyard, horse blanket aroma. More malt sweetness comes through with strong swirl. Subtle earthy/wet hay element with an extremely faint hint of mild mushroom. Brett also seems to add an extremely faint hint of an aroma that is like band-aid flavored taffy – which some may find off-putting, however, because it is so mild I was neutral to it.

TASTE: Wet hay malt with barnyard character, Belgian yeast, light spice, and hops that appear to exhibit a lime character. Some light tartness that is lemony. Brett also seems to add a faint element of earthy dirt character. Finish has hop bitterness complimented by hint of mild brett tartness – quite an interesting interplay (ie, the contrast between the subtle tartness causing slight puckering on the front of the palate and the hops almost simultaneously causing bitterness on the back of the palate – really activates the tongue). Bitter finish extremely faintly resembles biting a dried lime peel.

MOUTH FEEL: Crisp – almost reminds me of Duvel Green (though Mischief Gone Wild is somewhat less quaffable due to the complexity as well as the higher abv). Lively carbonation. Medium bodied. Fairly dry finish. Extremely subtle alcohol.

OVERALL: Brett adds a pleasant rustic dimension, especially to the aroma. In a way, similar to some saisons. Aroma much more bretty than taste. Just a tad more bitter of a finish than preferred. Recently had Red Barn Ale (saison) by Lost Abbey on tap and for some reason this beer reminds me of it – except Mischief Gone Wild is much better and seems less sweet. Limey hops combined with the faint lemony tartness also somewhat reminds me of Bière De L’Amitié (Green Flash & Brasserie St. Feuillien), which has the most prominent lime character of any Belgian/Belgian-style GSA/Tripel I’ve tasted. To be honest, it is somewhat difficult to distinguish if the hop taste is lime-like or if the perceived lime character is, in part, coming from the mild citrusy tartness imparted upon the ale by the brett. Overall, complex and delicious.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Provisions Series: Salt of the Earth by The Bruery

Provisions Series: Salt of the Earth. Gose. The Bruery. Placentia, California.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (61) - San Diego, California, USA - APR 14, 2011
750 mL bottle. Released April 2011. Poured into Bruery tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours pale straw yellow with yellow gold hues. Big 2-3 finger head is white, pillowy, has lengthy duration, and leaves nice lacing.

AROMA: Musty funk, barnyard, lacto, mild mushroom-like aroma with an earthy character, light lemon tartness, coriander, subtle note of grassy/lemon grass character, hint of sea salt, and faint hint of chalky dryness. Strong swirl brings out the truffle quite a bit – this robust aroma smells of truffle frites topped with garlic butter escargot. Unique and amazing. As phenomenally close as the aroma is to an actual food dish after a strong swirl of the glass, I am glad that the aroma is much more delicately balanced without/post robust swirl. Shortly after swirling stops, the aroma is toned down and we get back to funk and lacto as well as milder truffle characteristics.

TASTE: Mild tartness with lemony character throughout. Lacto, musty funk, horse blanket, coriander, faint grassy/lemon grass taste behind the mild lemony tartness, and extremely faint sour green apple. Truffle character appears on the back of palate and finish and is somewhat mild as it displays earthy, buttery, mushroom-like notes. Faint hint of salt is discernible on back of palate and finish as well. Subtle notes of truffle character linger for quite some time.

MOUTH FEEL: Light bodied. Somewhat crisp. Lively carbonation. Somewhat less quaffable than a traditional gose (eg, Original Leipziger Gose by Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof) because of the gastro-inspired addition of the truffle. However, the mild lemon tartness of the base does give it some light thirst quenching ability. Fairly dry – gives extremely faint cotton mouth feeling.

OVERALL: Had a traditional gose (Original Leipziger Gose by Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof) a few days ago and am unable to say the two even compare. While the base beer is quite similar, the addition of truffle character sets this beer in a whole separate category. Noticeably more salt on the finish than the above referenced traditional gose, though far from overbearing. Much more truffle characteristics on nose than on palate. Palate is fairly balanced; however, the contrast between the tartness of the base and the robust nature of the truffle character lends the palate to appear slightly less refined and quaffable than a traditional gose. Final thoughts: One extremely interesting beer. A must try. Paired amazingly with Tartufo salami made with black truffles (by Creminelli) and Boschetto cheese made with white truffles (from Venissimo).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Truffle beer, truffle salami, and truffle cheese


Truffle trifecta:

Beer made with truffle salt (Salt of the Earth by The Bruery)

Tartufo salami made with black truffles (Creminelli)

Boschetto cheese made with white truffles (Venissimo).

4/8/11.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Provisions Series: Premiére by The Bruery

Provisions Series: Premiére. Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale. The Bruery. Placentia, California.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
AHTOH (60) - San Diego, USA - APR 8, 2011
750 mL bottle. Poured into Bruery tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours bright yellow gold. Somewhat hazy. Head is white, just over 1 finger high, has medium retention, and leaves hardly any lacing.

AROMA: Bourbon, Belgian yeast, vanilla, pleasant hint of oak. Sweet floral honey-like malt. Faint hint of a sour character behind the malt backbone, which is reminiscent of white grape juice. Plenty of bourbon on nose; though pleasant instead of over the top. Subtle element of sweet cherry and peach in the background – almost like cherry and peach pie when combined with the sweet bready malt notes. Strong swirl brings out extremely faint hint of moist hay aroma.

TASTE: Big bourbon taste. Belgian yeast. Hints of vanilla and oak. Sweet malt is floral honey-like. Some slightly tart white grape juice notes – more on palate than on nose. Moist hay from the nose is also discernible on palate, though only subtly towards back of palate/finish. Faint hop (and perhaps some tannin) bitterness on finish.

MOUTH FEEL: Lighter side of medium bodied (ie, a bit thin). Alcohol warmth on finish – greater amount than would have preferred. Pleasant carbonation. Semi-dry finish, presumably from the alcohol strength combined with the lively carbonation.

OVERALL: Strong bourbon characteristics on nose and especially on palate. Despite strength of bourbon notes, unable to state the bourbon is overwhelming (as long as one has a palate for whiskey). Has a somewhat sharp bite – like how I remember feeling about Delirium Tremens the first time I tried it many years ago. Largely clean, though palate is slightly unrefined due to the strength of the bourbon character. Solid for the style. Final thoughts: Though quite pleasant, must admit that enjoy Allagash Curieux (the closest beer I have had to this) more, despite the subtle Tripel/GSA differences.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Original Leipziger Gose by Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof

Original Leipziger Gose. Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof. Leipzig, Germany.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.6 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (59) - San Diego, USA - APR 7, 2011

11.2 ounce bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours bright pale straw yellow. A bit more color and hint of more haze than a Berliner Weisse. Big 2-3 finger head is plain white and has low to medium retention duration. Head settles to thin white film on surface. Inexistent lacing.

AROMA: Wet straw, light lemon tartness, somewhat pleasant musty aroma, coriander, chalk, faint lacto. Subtle sun screen lotion aroma. Hint of more tart citrus fruit beyond the prominent lemon up front. Salt aroma is extremely faint. Combination of the lemon and coriander seems to exhibit an extremely faint note of perfume that is somewhat reminiscent of lavender.

TASTE: Pleasant mild lemon tartness throughout. Coriander. Lacto. Hint of salt on finish.

MOUTH FEEL: Thirst quenching. Highly quaffable. Lively carbonation. Light body. Fairly dry finish; though less dry than lambic.

OVERALL: My first Gose. Enjoyed taste more than aroma. Quite similar to a Berliner Weisse; much closer to Berliner Weisse than Lambic. Coriander adds a nice touch. Salt is discernible on palate on the finish. Salt on finish is fairly subtle and serves as an interesting note of contrast to the overall tartness. Would be nice to see this style around more often in my area. Final thoughts: straightforward, yet highly enjoyable.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Old Chub by Oskar Blues

Old Chub. Scotch Ale. Oskar Blues. Lyons, Colorado.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.5 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (58) - San Diego, USA - APR 1, 2011

12 ounce can. Canned on 11/8/10. Drank 3/31/11. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours dark woody brown with ruby and burnt orange hues. 1+ finger head is off-white, light cream colored, and has somewhat short retention duration.

AROMA: Lightly roasted malts, smoked light-colored wood, hint of earthy element, dry dirt aroma that is pleasant, and touch of caramelized brown sugar. Some light malt sweetness, which seems somewhat like maple syrup that is running down the bark of a tree. Appears to exhibit an extremely faint off-aroma that is like moist vegetation. Extremely faint hints of roasted coffee, cocoa, and perhaps even date syrup – though these attributes are marginal and in the background.

TASTE: Front and mid palate has rich malt sweetness. Smoked light-colored wood on back of palate. Back of palate has faint date as well. Finish has pleasant hint of earthy/dry dirt character. Light hop attributes apparent on finish – though more flavor hop than bittering. The hop character seems herbal behind all other tastes. Extremely faint hint of caramel and chocolate malt. Moist vegetation from aroma is hardly discernible on palate.

MOUTH FEEL: Full-bodied. Malty. Pleasant, lively carbonation. Subtle dryness on finish. Light roast bitterness on finish. Faint alcohol warmth on finish.

OVERALL: Smokey element is fairly mild – just a hint of it. Expected a bit more smoke character. Pleasant for the mildness. Alcohol masked fairly well for the abv. Solid brew. Though enjoyable, unable to say it will be extremely memorable. Would have enjoyed a bit more smokiness.

Coton by The Bruery

Coton. Old Ale. The Bruery. Placentia, California.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.9 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
AHTOH (58) - San Diego, USA - APR 1, 2011

750 mL bottle. Released May 2010. Poured into Bruery tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours burnt orange/amber tone of caramel light brown. A bit hazy yet somewhat translucent. Head is 1 finger, Baileys Irish Cream colored, and settles fairly quickly. After head settles, it leaves small amount of foam on surface that has relatively large bubbles. Baileys colored settled foam and the large bubbles make the surface layer appear similar to injera (a somewhat common reference that I make about this characteristic; which I have noticed among some sour ales). Injera-like foam on surface dissipates to thin film atop the ale.

AROMA: Brandy-soaked, caramelized raisins. Rich toffee malt. Faint leather aroma. Dates and figs. Dark dried fruit. Hint of brandy-soaked cherry. Faint grainy barley aroma behind the rich toffee malt. Subtle vanilla as well as pleasant wood aroma from the barrel. Hints of maple syrup, tree bark, and crunchy Autumn leaves. Discernible amount of whiskey on nose. Extremely subtle soy sauce and light nutty character. Complex.

TASTE: Dominated by brandy-soaked, caramelized raisins. Rich toffee malt. Some graininess. Light leather is apparent. Figs. Dates. Mid palate has more cereal grain. Faint vanilla, wood, and light nuttiness. Despite discernible alcohol warmth, unable to get much characteristic whiskey (from the portion that is aged in Bourbon barrels) notes as the alcohol blends with the brandy-like notes. Back of palate has faint hop bitterness, which is pleasant, as it somewhat counters some of the generally sweet taste. Finish has faint brandy-soaked cherry. Noticeable alcohol warmth on finish; which was expected.

MOUTH FEEL: Velvety. Luscious. Smooth. Somewhat sweet, like a sherry. Full bodied. Pleasant amount of carbonation for such a thick ale. Alcohol warmth on finish. Finish is mildly dry.

OVERALL: First beer I have had that was created using the Solera method. Extremely complex. Outstanding. Like slowly sipping a brandy for dessert. Characteristics of brandy, barley, and barrel, as well as sherry and cherry. Final thoughts: A medley of complex aromas and tastes.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Baudelaire iO Saison by Jolly Pumpkin

Baudelaire iO Saison. Jolly Pumpkin. Dexter, Michigan.

Spring 2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.6 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
AHTOH (56) - San Diego, California, USA - MAR 26, 2011

750 mL bottle. Baudelaire iO: Blend 2, bottled 1/12/11. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours deep burnt orange tone of amber with ruby hues. Large head is 2+ fingers, off-white cream colored with pastel pink hues, medium retention duration, and leaves pleasant amount of lacing for some time.

AROMA: Sour. Rose petals definitely discernible. Strong hibiscus on nose. Rose hip aroma is a bit earthy, like moist dirt. Rose floral aroma is natural, rather than perfume-like. Lemony citrus acidity. Subtle strawberry-like aroma. Faint chalkiness. Extremely faint vinegar. Hint of malt backbone that has honey-like sweetness.

TASTE: Sour palate is characterized by concentrated hibiscus with lemony citrus notes. Hibiscus and rose hip dominate taste. Tangy. Subtle earthy (ie, branch/bark-like) character that is fairly bitter. Rose petal taste is quite faint on back of palate. Acidic finish is a combination of concentrated hibiscus as well as some sour lemony citrus taste. Light chalky dryness on finish as well. Extremely faint malt sweetness.

MOUTH FEEL: Quite dry. Lighter side of medium body. Plenty of carbonation. More alcohol perception than expected for this abv.

OVERALL: Extremely delightful aroma. However, palate is a bit harsh. Perhaps could use bit of age to mellow out. Possibly some light tannin harshness present - presumably from grain husks. Nonetheless, overall fairly pleasant taste. Quite sour for a saison; though this was expected given that it was brewed by Jolly Pumpkin. The branch-like earthiness and bitterness came as a surprise. Unique and interesting. Bit pricey for amount of enjoyment (irrespective of abv). Final thoughts: Sour, hibiscus, bitter, and tree branch. This much interplay between sour and bitter seems rare.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Salo covered in chocolate paired with Old Rasputin



Salo covered in chocolate.

Aka: Ukrainian Snickers.

Salo: From Ukraine. Pure pig fat without meat.

Chocolate: Dark, bitter 80% cocoa. Brand: "Krasniy Oktyabr." Made in Russia.

Chocolate melted with some Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.

Paired with Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.

3/20/11.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sculpin battered sculpin paired with Sculpin IPA


Sculpin battered sculpin.

Fresh sculpin caught near North Coronado island in Mexican waters, off San Diego coast. Caught by family member.

Battered in Sculpin IPA (right).

Unbattered, pan fried sculpin (left) for contrast.

Served with local, organic lemon I hand-picked from our yard.

Paired with Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA, which was purchased at the brewery's Linda Vista location.

Local fish, local beer, local lemon.

(Side note: batter by Krusteaz)

3/17/11.

John John Dead Guy Ale by Rogue

John John Dead Guy Ale. Heller Bock. Rogue. Newport, Oregon.

Winter 2010/2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.3 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
AHTOH (55) - San Diego, California, USA - MAR 20, 2011

Bomber. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours deep golden orange with amber hues. Hazy. Large 2 finger head is somewhat pillowy, off-white Baileys Irish cream colored, and has medium retention duration.

AROMA: Malty, some earthy/spicy hops, subtle wood aroma, some vanilla-like characteristics from the wood (though more like vanilla extract than vanilla bean), and faint spice. Good amount of wet cereal grain. Wood aroma is somewhat off – like some old cheap wood; hardly as pleasant as some other oak aromas that I have experienced. Unable to discern much whiskey notes on nose. Some light char aroma, which was somewhat pleasant. As it warms up, aroma exhibits much more old wood (unpleasant) as well as faint whiskey notes (pleasant).

TASTE: Malt, cereal, and some hops dominate. Light vanilla as well as some faint taste of old wood on mid palate. Back of palate has subtle whiskey note. Faint copper/metallic taste on finish. Some bitterness on finish. Hops on finish as well as back of palate seem somewhat spicy with light earthy notes. Finish also has a faint spice character that seems like a combination of spice tastes from the hops as well as the barrel.

MOUTH FEEL: On the lighter side of medium bodied. Crisp, nice carbonation. Semi-dry. Extremely faint alcohol warmth – likely it is this discernable at this abv because the body is quite thin.

OVERALL: Expected more whiskey notes on aroma and taste. Plenty of cereal taste. Overall, like slightly bitter cereal. Unable to say am biggest fan of the style, though found it ok. At the least, the complexities from light barrel aging can be appreciated. Wanted to like it more than I did. Brilliant concept; less than spectacular execution. Perhaps if both the whiskey as well as the beer (at their separate stages) were aged in the barrel longer, this would be a more interesting beer. According to Rogue: the whiskey only sits in the barrel 30 days, and the beer only sits in the used whiskey barrel 2+ months – each stage could have been longer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Six by Upright


Six. Saison. Upright Brewing. Portland, Oregon.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
AHTOH (54) - San Diego, USA - MAR 15, 2011

750 mL bottle. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours deep amber copper with a ruby hue. Hazy. Huge creamy head is 3+ fingers, light beige, and has lengthy retention. Head settles in a rocky fashion and leaves some patches of lacing. Noticeably rapid carbonation trail rising from center of bottom of glass.

AROMA: Tart red fruit (pomegranate, raspberry, and cherry). Sour. Saison yeast. Wet dead leaves (ie, rainy Fall day). Tree-like earthiness; similar to a woody aroma. Faint peppery spice. Some light chalkiness. Extremely faint vanilla bean/white chocolate. The chocolate and caramel aromas described on bottle do come out as it warms up a bit, though only subtly - even then, they are largely masked by the overall tartness.

TASTE: Tart with some tart bitterness. Tangy. Quite puckering. Subtle stone-like earthiness. Tart red fruit, primarily pomegranate; as well as some subtle cherry. Taste is like eating pomegranate and then once the fruit is eaten off the seed, chewing the seed to get a lengthy bitter finish. Some faint vanilla as well as even more subtle wood on back of palate. Faint metallic taste on finish. Finish is more tart bitterness. Have to work quite hard to discern chocolate and caramel notes on palate – they appear on back of palate when it warms up a bit; even then, are largely masked by overall tartness and bitterness.

MOUTH FEEL: Nice carbonation. Medium bodied. Quite smooth for such a puckering beer. Fairly dry.

OVERALL: Primarily tart and bitter. Much more tart than expected. Ok, though expected more from this beer; in particular, expected more saison-like qualities. Unable to pick out much of the rye characteristics in the taste behind all the tartness. Rustic. Would pair well with hard cheeses, though unlikely that would want to pair this with charcuterie or cooked red meat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rodenbach Vintage (2008)

Rodenbach Vintage (2008). Flemish Sour. Brouwerij Rodenbach (Palm). Roeselare, Belgium.

Winter 2010/2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
AHTOH (53) - San Diego, California, USA - MAR 13, 2011

750 mL bottle. 2008 Vintage. Barrel No. 96. Poured into Duvel tulip. Best before: 10/08/13 (on bottom of bottle).

APPEARANCE: Pours light copper with burnt orange and light caramel brown hues. Hazy. Head is 2 fingers, pillowy, light tan/khaki colored, and has relatively large bubbles. In fact, color of head and size of bubbles is like injera. Head retention mid length.

AROMA: Vinous. Sour. Dark red fruit (pomegranate, cranberry, and some cherry). Subtle oak and vanilla bean. Apple cider. Faint sea aroma (ie, salty ocean and seaweed, etc.). Extremely faint chalkiness – much more subtle than most sours.

TASTE: Tart. Dark red fruit (pomegranate, cranberry, and some cherry). Sour apples. Extremely faint oak. Light graininess on finish. Subtle dark grape juice characteristic in background. As warms up, element of vanilla (that also has faint taste of white chocolate) as well as faint wet stone-like earthiness emerges on palate.

MOUTH FEEL: Lively carbonation. Only slightly dry - less than expected, which I found to be positive.

OVERALL: Predominantly sour taste is nicely balanced with some light sweetness. Elegant. Perfect for a hot summer night. Drinks like a sparkling pomegranate juice with light alcohol; feels healthy to drink. Highly quaffable. Unsure that the Vintage is worth the price premium over the readily available Grand Cru.

Russian Imperial Stout jello topped with shaved white chocolate and black caviar & paired with Old Rasputin


Russian Imperial Stout jello topped with shaved white chocolate and black caviar.

With side of white chocolate pieces topped with black caviar.

Made with organic white chocolate. Black caviar: Bowfin from USA. Organic mint garnish.

Paired with Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing Co. (same beer used to make jello).

3/12/11.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fred by Hair of the Dog

Fred. Barely Wine. Hair of the Dog. Portland, Oregon.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
AHTOH (52) - San Diego, California, USA - MAR 12, 2011

12 once bottle poured into Duvel tulip. Batch Number 79.

APPEARANCE: Pours hazy, burnt orange gold. Some sparse cinnamon powder-like sediment. Off-white, cream-colored head is 1 finger and settles fairly quickly, leaving a thin film of foam on surface as well as some medium size bubbles around edge of glass.

AROMA: Tangy aroma that has some subtle vinous character – almost like smelling a WarHeads (sour hard candy). Strong rye aroma. Spices – allspice as well as light cinnamon and nutmeg. Hops, which seem citrusy and grassy. Belgian candi. Some honey. Grape bubblegum. Wet grain. Extremely faint band-aid. Slightly musty character to the aroma as well – though this seems to fade as the beer warms up. As it warms up, displays some oak notes. Subtle orange creamsicle aroma as well.

TASTE: Belgian candi. Rye. Tang from the rye. Hops are citrusy and grassy. Spices such as allspice, as well as some light cinnamon and nutmeg. Some honey. Faint orange creamsicle. Back of palate has slight grainy taste. Finish has hop bitterness, including light resinous characteristics. Light alcohol warmth on finish.

MOUTH FEEL: Thick; almost a bit syrupy. Full-bodied. Definitely quite sweet, though unable to say it is cloying - as long as it is drunk as a dessert beer. Mid to low carbonation.

OVERALL: Sweet – definitely a dessert beer. Despite being primarily sweet, there is slight bitterness on the finish. Seems like plenty of residual Belgian candi – whether this is good or bad will depend on the mood/environment of the drinker. Let it warm up a bit and take your time with this slow-sipper. Despite some faint off notes among the complexities on the nose, the positive attributes of the overall experience with this beer far outweigh any marginally undesirable notes on the aroma. Complex interplay of sweet and slightly tangy with a bit of a bitter finish. Interesting and quite unique.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Old Rasputin by North Coast

Old Rasputin. Russian Imperial Stout. North Coast Brewing Co. Fort Bragg, California.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (51) - San Diego, USA - MAR 11, 2011

12 ounce bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours an opaque, deep dark brown with burnt orange hues. Large 2-3 finger head is dark tan/khaki with lengthy retention. Head eventually begins to settle unevenly, leaving plethora of great lacing. After most of the head settles, nice amount of residual foam remains and continues to float on surface for a lengthy period of time.

AROMA: Coffee, mild roasty aroma, bitter chocolate, hearty dark bread, subtle chocolate mousse and even more subtle fig aroma. Extremely faint hint of hops seems discernible, which appears earthy behind all the other aromas. After a strong swirl, a faint earthy branch-like aroma is discernible. Extremely faint black licorice. As it warms up, it brings out light hint of vinous aroma.

TASTE: Huge coffee taste. Plenty of roasted malts. Lots of bitter chocolate. Subtle figs. Extremely faint vanilla bean. Back of palate is less viscous than front/mid and it exhibits the alcohol warmth. As it warms up, back of palate seems to show a bit of a subtle hop character - almost citrus and pine-like; though slightly difficult to discern due to the large amount of roasted and chocolate bitterness. Back of palate also has some light grape and dark berries hidden behind the layers of bitterness. Finish is big roasty bitterness with some bitter chocolate characteristics, as well as an element of subtle earthiness.

MOUTH FEEL: Smooth and velvety. Lengthy retention of some foam on surface helps give a similar perception as drinking an espresso. Slightly viscous – though pleasant and somewhat thinner than expected. More carbonation than expected for such a strong and complex RIS – perhaps more than average for the style. Some noticeable, yet pleasant alcohol warmth on the finish.

OVERALL: Finish is quite bitter – mostly in the roasty sense. Less viscous than expected. Complex. Pleasant. Solid.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reserve Wheat Ale by Telegraph

Reserve Wheat Ale. Berliner Weisse. Telegraph. Santa Barbara, California.

Winter 2010/2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.5 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
AHTOH (50) - San Diego, California, USA - MAR 7, 2011

750 mL bottle. Batch No. 67. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours translucent pale straw yellow. White head is about 1 finger, has short duration, and exhibits some relatively large bubbles.

AROMA: Sour, lemon, lemon drop candy, perfume, dry hay, kitchen herbs, allspice, and faint barnyard.

TASTE: A Berliner Weisse with a bit more body than traditional for the style. Mildly sour. Lemon is prominent. Slightly less sour (ie, puckering) than expected. Notes of hay. Some light kitchen herbs on finish. Seems that some of the oils from the lemon verbena are discernible.

MOUTH FEEL: Slightly less carbonated than traditional Berliners. Slick (ie, slightly oily) texture throughout, with semi-dry finish that appears even drier due to the light herb character on the finish.

OVERALL: Found the lemon verbena usage slightly undesirable as it leaves a bit of an off, faint herby character on the otherwise pleasant dry finish, and that this characteristic seems to linger for quite a bit. Interesting interpretation of the style. Quaffable.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bière De L’Amitié by St Feuillien and Green Flash

Bière De L’Amitié. Collaboration between St Feuillien and Green Flash. Belgian Golden Strong Ale. Le Roeulx, Belgium.

Winter 2010/2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
AHTOH (49) - San Diego, USA - MAR 5, 2011

750 mL bottle. Date on back of bottle: 22/4/12 – assuming this is best buy date and it has a two year shelf life. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours pale straw yellow; slightly hazy with a small amount of visible sediment. Large white head settles unevenly; moderately rocky when settling and leaves some patches of Belgian lace.

AROMA: Citrus (ie, lime) hops, Belgian yeast, spices, subtle barnyard, some dry chalkiness, and hint of light grain. Slight perfumey characteristic to portion of the aroma. Citrus notes quite prominent for the style – almost as if dried lime peel was used.

TASTE: Citrus hops (lime and some grapefruit), Belgian yeast, and spices on front of palate. Mid palate is floral sweetness. Back of palate bit too grainy. Mild hop bitterness on finish. Some perceived tang from the rye; though may be difficult to discern without prior knowledge of rye use, especially due to the citric nature of the ale.

MOUTH FEEL: Full bodied. Crisp. Moderate mouth feel. Nice carbonation. Finish bit on the dry side for the style.

OVERALL: Possibly the most prominent lime notes on palate, as well as aroma, of any triple I recall tasting to date. Would be more ideal during the summer. Pleasantly refreshing for the abv. Almost like hybrid between a Belgian golden strong ale and a higher abv saison.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cuvée Brut by Liefmans


Cuvée Brut. Sour Ale/Wild Ale. Liefmans (Moortgat). Oudenaarde, Belgium.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
AHTOH (48) - San Diego, California, USA - MAR 3, 2011

750 mL bottle. Cork has the year 2010 on it. Best before: 8/2020 (per top of cork cage). Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours hazy deep amber with burnt orange and pinkish ruby hues. Off-white head has pale pinkish-purple hue, about 1 finger high, and decent duration. Surface foam quite bubbly (eg, looks similar to injera). Some brief lacing.

AROMA: Robust aromas of oud bruin and tart cherry. Personally greatly enjoy this straight-forward aroma because of my fondness for tart cherries. Seems that small portion of the cherry aroma has a perfume-like cherry scent to it. Faint hints of floral sweetness, chalk, vanilla, and earthiness; though aroma is largely just sour brown ale with tart cherries – exactly what it is meant to be.

TASTE: Moderately sour with plenty of tart cherry. Faint hints of vinegar, copper, and light grain on back of palate/finish; though almost entirely masked by the sour brown and tart cherry flavor. Well-balanced between sweet and sour.

MOUTH FEEL: Crisp. Lively carbonation that is champagne-like. Highly quaffable. Semi-dry finish.

OVERALL: Given my keen enjoyment of tart cherries, greatly appreciated this mildly sour ale. Excellent aperitif. Although unable to discern many pronounced characteristics beyond the oud bruin and tart cherry, this was an extremely enjoyable, straight-forward beer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Highway 78 Scotch Ale by Stone/Green Flash/Pizza Port Carlsbad

Highway 78 Scotch Ale. Collaboration by Stone/Green Flash/Pizza Port Carlsbad. Brewed at Stone. Escondido, San Diego County, California.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
AHTOH (47) - San Diego, USA - MAR 1, 2011

12 ounce bottle. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours deep copper with an amber/ruby hue. Head is beige, about 1 finger, short to medium duration, and settles to thin film on surface.

AROMA: Most prominent aroma is chicory coffee. Light roast. Some cardboard. Subtle hops in background, which seem like earthy hops. Hint of caramelized sugar.

TASTE: Charred wood, like beech wood, which lends hint of smoke. Nutty. Wet dirt (ie, earthy notes). Light caramel with yeasty notes. Subtle peppercorn-like spice character, though without heat. Hop flavor, which seems grassy, is faint. Hint of bitterness on finish, though more of a roasted barley type of bitterness than hop bitterness.

MOUTH FEEL: Quite quaffable for the abv; alcohol well masked. Nice carbonation. Grainy, dry finish.

OVERALL: Drinks like an imperial nut brown ale that has notes of chicory, very light smoke, and earthy character. Expected bit more caramel malt. Less body than expected.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Old Richland by The Bruery

Provisions Series: Old Richland. American-style Barley Wine. The Bruery. Placentia, California.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (46) - San Diego, California, USA - FEB 25, 2011
UPDATED: FEB 28, 2011

750 mL bottle. Provisions Series release: January 2010. Poured into Bruery tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours light caramel brown with ruby amber hue. Large khaki head has long duration. Head settles unevenly and leaves a bit of lacing.

AROMA: Huge caramel candy aroma that is outstanding. Hop aroma, particularly piney hops, is quite pronounced. Faint herbal hops. Some Fall-time dry, crunchy leaves. Subtle earthy mud scent. Faint vegetable aroma is only detrimental characteristic.

TASTE: Hops, particularly piney hops, is most prominent. Malt backbone, though largely hidden behind hop flavor and bitterness, seems toffee-like. Bit of a roasted barely (ie, stout-like) taste seems evident throughout. This apparent roasted barely adds an additional layer of bitterness. Subtle notes of dried tobacco leaves. Faint hint of herbal hops. Finish is quite bitter with plenty resinous character; though, overall, palatable rather than excessively bitter.

MOUTH FEEL: Smooth and velvety, yet with lively carbonation and a slight bite on the finish. Touch of alcohol warmth.

OVERALL: Pine and caramel are most prominent, especially on the nose. Taste is more hop-forward with the caramel malt in the background. Knew this would be hoppy; however, generally prefer barley wines with slightly milder bitterness.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winter Ale by Telegraph

Winter Ale. Spice/Herb/Vegetable. Telegraph Brewing Co. Santa Barbara, California.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
AHTOH (45) - San Diego, USA - FEB 23, 2011

750 mL bottle. Bottled on 10/30/09. Drank 2/22/11. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours a very dark brown color that is opaque. When held to light, is deep caramel brown with slight hues of ruby, as well as pink and amber. Thick tan head is 2-3 fingers and has long duration. Head eventually settles in a pillowy fashion.

AROMA: Sour – like an oud bruin – is the most prominent aroma. Chocolate (like powdered light milk chocolate) and caramel. Subtle notes of spices – allspice and nutmeg appear most discernible. Faint hint of chili on nose.

TASTE: Tart and acidic – similar to an oud bruin. Front of palate is acidic. Mid palate is some light malt sweetness with notes of chocolate and light caramel. Spices on mid palate as well. Back of palate has a nice amount of chocolate come through (behind the tart/acidic character). Finish has pleasant touch of heat from the chili – discernible, though hardly overbearing.

MOUTH FEEL: Lighter body than expected. Somewhat crisp. Lively carbonation.

OVERALL: Oud Bruin (Flanders brown [a sour]) with Mexican hot chocolate notes. Given its classification as Spice/Herb/Vegetable instead of a stout (eg, Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence is grouped as a stout), was unsure what to expect. Hardly expected something this tart. At first thought it was infected. Still unsure if Telegraph was going for a sour with this. Wanted to like this, though must admit: better in theory than in practice. Aroma much more pleasant than taste. Although oud bruin has its time and place, this would have been much better if it had a different style as a base. Furthermore, it seems the sour character mixed with notes of Mexican hot chocolate hardly work well together.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Collaboration Not Litigation by Avery


Collaboration Not Litigation. Batch 4 (February 2010) - 8.91% ABV. Blend of 2 Belgian strong ales - both named Salvation - 1 by Russian River and 1 by Avery. Brewed at Avery. Boulder, Colorado.

Winter 2010/2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
AHTOH (44) - San Diego, USA - FEB 21, 2011

Bomber. Batch #4. Bottled in February 2010. Drank February 20, 2011. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours a deep burnt orange with a slight ruby hue. Nice head is about 2 fingers, light tan/khaki colored, and has medium duration. Head settles, leaving some lacing as well as layer of foam film and bubbles on surface.

AROMA: Belgian yeast, currants, spices, cereal. Some clove-honey malt backbone. Some sour grape. Faint hint of smokiness as well as lactic character. Cereal in the aroma combined with the subtle hint of smoke imparts a scent that is like lightly roasted cereal. Aroma has some similarities to a higher abv equivalent of Bavarian hefe - with its notes of clove and banana.

TASTE: Front of palate has a sour character to it; though something about it is less pleasant than other sours (and I do enjoy sours). Faint hint of sour dark berries on front of palate. Mid palate is Belgian yeast as well as spice. Back of palate is cereal and slight cardboard taste. Some spice on back of palate as well. Finish is very Bavarian-hefe-like with notes of clove and banana. Some faint bitterness on finish as well.

MOUTH FEEL: Much more syrupy than expected for the style. Above average carbonation.

OVERALL: Has some similarities to a Bavarian hefe; in addition to a handful of other aroma/flavor notes, being higher in abv, and having a slight lactic character. Wanted to like it because I have enjoyed plenty of Belgian-style/sour beer from Russian River, however, it is lacking. Cereal becomes increasingly discernable in the taste as it warms up. Most prominent characteristics: cereal, syrup, and sour.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Double Jack by Firestone Walker

Double Jack. Imperial/Double IPA. Firestone Walker. Paso Robles, California.

Winter 2010/2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (43) - San Diego, USA - FEB 19, 2011

650 mL bottle. Bottle dated 12/15/10. Drank 2/18/11. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours orange gold. Quite translucent/filtered. Off-white, cream colored head is about 2 fingers, has lengthy duration, and fair amount of lacing.

AROMA: Citrus, floral, cantaloupe, pine. Very clean, balanced, robust, and delightful. Faint hint of resinous hops and wet hay on nose as well.

TASTE: More hop-forward (ie, less balanced) than aroma. Pine, citrus, resinous hops. Some floral/honey-like malt sweetness. Finish is more flavor-hop focused than excessively bitter. Bitterness and its duration are on the lighter side for the style - which I prefer. Subtle graininess on finish as well.

MOUTH FEEL: Medium bodied. Some minimal amount of syrupiness.

OVERALL: A solid imperial/double IPA. Aroma is particularly impressive. However, little in the way of extremely unique characteristics. Appearance could have been slightly better if the beer was less filtered.

Gordon by Oskar Blues


Gordon. Imperial/Double IPA//Imperial/Double Red Ale. Oskar Blues. Lyons, Colorado.

Winter 2010/2011.

My review on RateBeer:

3.4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
AHTOH (42) - San Diego, California, USA - FEB 19, 2011

12 ounce can. Canned on 9/30/10. Drank 2/17/11. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours deep burnt orange with a slight ruby hue. Cream/light khaki colored head is 1 finger and has medium duration. Once head settles, thin layer of cream colored film is left on surface.

AROMA: Piney hops and plentiful caramel malt. Some earthy character. Faint skunk and cereal notes. Hint of alcohol and green raisin.

TASTE: Hops and caramel malt nicely balanced; with hop bitterness a bit more pronounced. Front of palate is toffee; plentiful amount of it makes it seem almost syrupy. Citrus and grassy hops on front of palate as well. Piney and slight grainy taste on mid palate. Back of palate and finish is bitterness. Bitter finish is a bit lengthy.

MOUTH FEEL: Medium bodied. Slight prickly feeling on finish.

OVERALL: Aroma has nice balance between hops and caramel malt. More bitter (and with a longer bitter finish) than I prefer. Straight-forward; rather than complex. A bit syrupy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Maredsous 10 Tripel by Duvel Moortgat

Maredsous 10 Tripel. Duvel Moortgat. Breendonk-Puurs, Belgium.

Winter 2010/2011.

My review on RateBeer:

2.9 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 4/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
AHTOH (41) - San Diego, USA - FEB 16, 2011

33 cL bottle poured into Maredsous chalice. Drank 2/15/11. Best before: 02/2013.

APPEARANCE: Pours a very beautiful deep orange gold with a hint of burnt orange hue to it. Off-white cream colored head is about 2 fingers with some chunky foam rising above the rim. Head duration is medium length. Most of head eventually settles, though leaves nice amount of foam on surface – much more than simply a thin layer of film like some other Belgian ales. Plentiful Belgian lace. Champagne-like effervescence – with carbonation trails all throughout the beer, instead of just at center or around the edge of the glass like most ales.

AROMA: Belgian yeast, some spice, and vinous aroma – much more vinous/sour grape scent than most Belgian triples. Faint hop scent hidden behind other aromas, though difficult to determine more specific hop characteristics. Extremely faint grape bubblegum. Some alcohol on nose as well.

TASTE: Belgian yeast and spice on front of palate. Subtle citrus and floral notes on front of palate as well. Mid palate is some vegetable and subtle grainy caramel malt. Back of palate and finish is alcohol.

MOUTH FEEL: Highly carbonated. Quite dry. Drinks like champagne.

OVERALL: Alcohol dominates over body. Difficult to drink. Far from quaffable. Others may enjoy, though, personally doubt will buy this beer again. Too champagne-like.

Faro by Lindemans

Faro. Lambic - Faro. Brouwerij Lindemans. St Pieters Leeuw-Vlezenbeek, Belgium.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.3 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (41) - San Diego, USA - FEB 16, 2011

355 mL bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours deep orange amber. White head is about 1 finger with medium duration. When head settles, it leaves nice layer of film on surface.

AROMA: Lambic, molasses, tart fruit, grain, hay. Faint hint of chalk on nose as well.

TASTE: Brown sugar throughout. Front of palate is brown sugar, molasses, some candy-like apple. Mid palate is abundance of tart taste. In particular, notes of tart green apple and tart cherry. Back of palate is tart with faint grainy dryness. Finish is complex interplay of sweet, somewhat dry, and tart; with most emphasis on the tart character.

MOUTH FEEL: Lively carbonation. Crisp. Semi-dry. Highly quaffable.

OVERALL: My first faro. Interesting. Complex interplay of sweet and tart. Starts sweet and progresses towards tart. Better suited as a session ale sipped during the daytime, ideally at a cafe. Molasses notes would allow this faro to pair well with bacon (i.e., during brunch, etc.). Another reason this beer would be suitable for brunch is that it could substitute for a mimosa during the meal because of its slightly acidic yet sweet nature. In fact, if I were to exaggerate, would say this faro is like a mimosa with a little maple syrup mixed throughout - though in a very delightful way.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Duvel Tripel Hop by Duvel Moortgat

Duvel Tripel Hop. Belgian Triple. Duvel Moortgat. Breendonk-Puurs, Belgium.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.9 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (39) - San Diego, California, USA - FEB 14, 2011

750 mL bottle. Brewed May 18, 2010. Opened February 11, 2011. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Massive white head: 4+ fingers, rocky foam above the rim, long duration. Head eventually settles in an extremely uneven fashion; with the chunks of foam taking on various shapes and sizes. Abundance of Belgian lace that sticks to glass as if stuck on with glue. Body pours pale straw yellow; almost like a pilsner. Lighter color body than most triples. Carbonation trail is extremely rapid, thick, and rises predominately from bottom of center of glass.

AROMA: Belgian yeast is predominant; this characteristic is like a combination of sweet aroma and a slightly vinegary scent – it is very pleasant. Plenty of noble hops. Floral sweet malt that is perfume-like. Some cereal-like grain. Subtle earthiness that is pleasant.

TASTE: Front of palate is grassy hops, some citrus hops, and Belgian yeast. Slight sweet and tangy taste on front of palate as well. Mid palate is slightly dry grain, cereal, and wet hay. Back of palate is malt sweetness and more Belgian yeast. Finish is characterized by some light bitterness and some alcohol warmth.

MOUTH FEEL: Extremely crisp; appears much more crisp than regular Duvel. Plenty of carbonation. Some alcohol warmth.

OVERALL: Clean, crisp, and smooth. Delightful taste and aroma. Drinks like a stronger and more hopped Duvel Green than a stronger and more hopped regular Duvel. As outstanding as it is, I can see why many people find regular Duvel slightly more preferable, especially given the price point. Although mouth feel is clean and smooth, the degree of alcohol warmth hinders the overall palate from being even better. Alcohol warmth could have been masked better by a slightly more robust body.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dernière Volonté by Dieu du Ciel

Dernière Volonté (French for "Last Will"). Abbey-style Blond. Dieu du Ciel. Montreal, Canada.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
AHTOH (38) - San Diego, California, USA - FEB 11, 2011

11.5 ounce bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours deep gold; more orange hued gold than yellow. Sediment is sparsely scattered throughout and is black and dust-like. Massive off-white head is rocky with long duration. Head eventually settles in uneven fashion. Plethora of Belgian lace. Dense, chunky, and thick head is like a huge slab of butter slowly melting on a warm pan.

AROMA: Belgian yeast, floral honey-like sweetness, light spice, subtle green apple, and a faint hop scent hidden behind the other aromas. Aroma also has a subtle sour-ish basement funk character, which was unexpected.

TASTE: Front of palate is floral honey malt with slightly vinous/sour character. Belgian yeast and pleasant amount of spice on mid palate. Back of palate is green apple. Finish has some hop bitterness.

MOUTH FEEL: Medium body. Lively carbonation. Semi-dry. Faint tangy character is present on the finish.

OVERALL: Quite pleasant. Seemed to really get a discernable amount of green apple in aroma and taste. Subtle vinous barnyard taste; with similar notes on the nose as well, though to a lesser degree. Almost saison-like; or perhaps like a combination of a higher ABV saison, a wit, and a small portion of lambic.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Route des Épices by Dieu du Ciel

Route des Épices (French for "Spice Route"). Rye beer brewed with peppercorns. Dieu du Ciel. Montreal, Canada.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 14/20
AHTOH (37) - San Diego, California, USA - FEB 10, 2011

11.5 ounce bottle. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours dark amber tone of caramel brown. Sediment suspended sparsely throughout looks like black dust. Very slightly off-white head is about 1 finger high with average duration length. Once head settles, thin layer of foam covers most of the surface with some clusters of bubbles in the center as well. Minimal lace.

AROMA: Burnt caramel (ie, crème brulee), prune juice, rum-soaked cherries, very noticeable peppercorn spice. Some soy sauce. Faint piney hop aroma. The subtle grainy scent smells of rye bread. Although complex, the medley of aromas lack a degree of compatibility with each other.

TASTE: Front of palate is citrus and peppercorn. Mid palate is slightly toasted grain, and is somewhat cardboard like. Mid palate also has faint vinous character. Back of palate has abundant pepper spice, as well as faint hint of bitter chocolate. Peppercorn spice finish has extremely long duration.

MOUTH FEEL: Light body (lighter than expected). Drinks like a somewhat watered-down stout.

OVERALL: Interesting and unique. However, aromas hardly mesh well together. After first sip, palate is dominated by peppercorn spice that lingers, making it difficult to taste some of subtleties going forward. Although I enjoy spicy foods and spice character in beer, the pepper seemed excessive.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blue Dot (Winter 2011 release) by Hair of the Dog

Blue Dot (Winter 2011 release). Double IPA. Hair of the Dog. Portland, Oregon.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.9 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
AHTOH (36) - San Diego, USA - FEB 3, 2011

22 ounce bottle. Winter 2011 release (drank about 1 week after it first arrived at Olive Tree Market). Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours gold; more straw yellow shade of gold than orange gold. Very hazy. Head is just slightly off-white and about 1 finger high. Head duration is relatively short. Once head settles, only a bit of bubbles and thin foam are left atop the ale.

AROMA: Aroma is beautifully balanced between hops and malt. Hops only slightly more prominent than malt. Plethora of citrus hops. Some grassy hops. Delightful candy-like floral/honey malt sweetness with a faint hint of spice (ie, cinnamon) (hint of spice presumably from the rye malt) – malt aroma is almost like a snickerdoodle cookie. Hint of tangy dried lemon peel. Touch of dry grainy scent.

TASTE: Taste is much more hoppy than aroma. Lots of flavor hops; more flavor hops than bittering hops (a positive attribute in my opinion). Grassy hops seem prominent, with a healthy dose of resinous hops as well. Front of palate seems to have a citrusy hop character that appears more orange flavored, which when combined with the subtle malt sweetness, has a faint orange creamsicle-like taste. Mid palate is grassy hops. Back of palate is graininess. Finish is bitter, dry, and slightly tangy – quite a complex combination in the finish. Judging by the aroma, expected bit more balance between hops and malt on palate.

MOUTH FEEL: Lively carbonation. Slightly tangy. Semi-dry finish. Medium body.

OVERALL: Phenomenal aroma. Definitely makes me want to seek out and try more craft beers that use rye as a decent portion of the grain bill; perhaps even a Rye IPA for comparison. Taste is mostly hops. Hoped for a bit more balance on the palate. Finish was pleasantly bitter without being overbearingly so.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale by Rogue


Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale. India Red Ale. Rogue. Newport, Oregon.

Winter 2010/11.

My review on RateBeer:

3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
AHTOH (35) - San Diego, California, USA - FEB 2, 2011

Bomber. Poured into Duvel tulip.

APPEARANCE: Pours a ruby-ish, burnt orange hue of amber. Hazy. Big, frothy 2+ finger head that is off-white/light tan. Head duration is quite lengthy and leaves nice lacing.

AROMA: Caramel malt sweetness seems more prominent than the hops. Hops are citrus and pine. A bit of a cardboard aroma. More than expected bready scent – like fresh oven-baked bread. Faint hint of tart red seeded fruit (ie, pomegranate or cherry concentrate), as well as light smoke. Overall, aroma is very grainy rather than hoppy or even malty sweet. Expected a bit stronger hop presence in the aroma.

TASTE: Resinous hops and grainy bread throughout palate. Unfortunately, seems like hardly much more than that. Strong bitterness appears to mask any potential subtle notes. Some citrus and pine on front of palate. Mid palate is grain. Back of palate is heavy resinous hops.

MOUTH FEEL: Medium bodied. Lively carbonation, crisp. Bitter finish has long duration.

OVERALL: Expected more balance and complexity. Resinous hop bitterness without balance.

Festive holiday red and green meal with Imperial Red Ale


Festive holiday red and green meal with Imperial Red Ale.

Organic grass fed, grain finished sirloin steak. Spiced with red chili pepper powder and ground organic green peppercorn.

Served with red and green vegetable medley of pan-fried organic red potatoes, caramelized organic red onion, and sautéed red and organic green peppers.

Meat and medley toped with organic parsley.

With a side of toasted organic baby asparagus and organic tomato.

Beer pairing: YuleSmith (Winter). Imperial Red Ale. AleSmith. San Diego, CA.

Selected this beer because thought IPA would pair well with hearty steak and the sharp hops would help balance the robustness of the meat. Furthermore, to balance out any potential excessive hoppiness of a pure IPA, selected an Imperial Red Ale (which in terms of this particular beer is like a hybrid red IPA [ie, delicately balanced hoppiness with caramel maltyness]). The hoppiness of this beer paired well with the steak, with the red aspect of the ale making the beer much darker than a typically golden color IPA and the pairing even better. The caramel malt flavor also went fantastically with the caramelized organic red onion flavor notes in the vegetable medley.

The red and green colors on the logo of the beer bottle provided inspiration for the red and green theme, despite my agnosticism.

Happy holidays.

12/18/10.

Red quinoa, red bean medley, and red veggies with Imperial Red ale


Red quinoa, red bean medley, and red veggies (vegan). Served with Imperial Red ale.

Organic red quinoa cooked with sauteed red bell pepper and caramelized organic red onions.

Red bean medley (organic red chili beans, organic red kidney beans, and organic red lentils) cooked with diced organic Roma tomatoes, caramelized organic red onions, sauteed red bell peppers, organic ground peppercorns, and chili pepper powder.

Beans finish boiled with Imperial Red ale at an attempt for an additional layer of complexity.

Beer pairing: Lucky 13. Imperial Red Ale (which they call "Mondo Large Red Ale"). Lagunitas Brewing Company. Petaluma, CA.

Logic behind beer pairing: Truthfully, hardly any gastronomical reasoning behind this selection. Just that I've been on a bit of an Imperial Red kick lately. Also, just felt like having a vegan meal at the time.

11/26/10.

Green eggs and ham & Green Flash Le Freak

Green eggs and ham & Green Flash Le Freak.

Organic eggs and rosemary ham covered in home made pesto (organic basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, sea salt, and ground pepper corn - all pulsed together).

Rosemary ham cooked in Green Flash Le Freak beer and dash of olive oil.

Logic:
In Michael Jackson's "Great Beers of Belgium" he states the following in his chapter on "Abbey Beers:"
“In its short season, asparagus is celebrated in beer gardens, inns and restaurants across Europe, from Antwerp to Zurich. It is often served with ham and sometimes scrambled eggs, but only in Belgium can you be sure of the perfect beer: a spicy, herbal, hoppy, Tripel.”
As the above plate of greens (ie, asparagus), eggs, and ham seemed a bit simplistic, I thought I'd give it an American touch and instead create a green eggs and ham dish (Dr. Seuss reference).
However, since I would now pair the beer with pesto (ie, instead of asparagus) in the dish, I thought it appropriate to substitute an Abbey/Abbey-style tripel (or any other tripel) for a Belgian Tripel-Imperial IPA hybrid - or in short, Belgian IPA. Thought this best so the IPA characteristics of the Belgian IPA could balance the sharpness of the pesto in addition to the Belgian tripel aspect balancing the robustness of the ham (with the latter being recommended by Michael Jackson).

11/23/10.

Brussels sprouts & Blanche De Bruxelles wit


Brussels sprouts & Blanche De Bruxelles.

Browned fresh Brussels sprouts, caramelized shallots, and steamed carrots sauteed together in olive oil then seasoned with ground organic green peppercorns and dusted with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Beer pairing: Blanche de Bruxelles. Belgian White (Witbier). Brasserie Lefebvre. Rebecq-Quenast, Belgium.

Paired sauteed veggies with witbier because both are rather light. This specific Belgian wit chosen because has "Brussels" in the name like the Brussels sprouts.

11/17/10.

Potato pancakes and Pomme lambic


Potato pancakes (also know as deruny [Ukrainian: деруни] or latke [in Jewish cuisine]). Made with organic potatoes, organic onion, conventional garlic, organic unbleached flour, and a splash of Pomme. Served with freshly pureed organic applesauce blended with a bit of Pomme.

Beer pairing: Pomme (lambic ale matured with apples). Brouwerij Lindemans. St Pieters Leeuw-Vlezenbeek, Belgium.

Pomme served in beer-specific glass.

8/7/10.