Rodenbach Grand Cru – Rich, Complex, Unique!

rodenbachcru

 

On tonight’s menu was one of the most unique beers I’ve ever had – Rodenbach Grand Cru. Typically the phrase “Grand Cru” is used to describe reputable wines, but there are a few breweries that adopt this terminology to label their best and most world-class beers. One of the most, if not the most famous Grand Cru’s of the beer world is brewed by Belgium’s Brouwerij Rodenbach.

Rodenbach Grand Cru is a very unique style of beer, a Flanders Red Ale or Flemish Red. This style of beer is fermented with an unconventional style of yeast which produces sour notes, specifically caused by lactic acid as a fermentation byproduct.

This specific Flander’s Red is a blend of 33% younger beer and 67% older beer which has fermented in oak vats, giving it a more complex and mature flavor. I really enjoyed this one. Here’s my full review:

Final Rating: 4.43/5

look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a snifter. Purchased at High Spirits in North Providence, RI.

Appearance- Pours a slightly hazy, auburn-cherry colored body with a thick, off-white 3″ head that reduces at a medium rate and leaves very little lacing.

Smell- Call me crazy but I get a very distinct aroma of chili peppers upfront, combined with a vinegary character that this beer’s high lactic acid content creates. Further evaluation reveal some fruit, raisin, cherry aromas. There’s some vanilla-caramel aromas in the background. Very unique and inviting.

Taste- Amazingly complex, I don’t even know where to start. Let’s start with the initial taste – it’s an interesting combination of sweet and sour, the sour coming first and the sweetness following. Tart grape and cherry skins combined with balsamic vinegar notes. The follow through reveals a fruity, estery, vanilla-molasses sweetness that really compliments the initial sourness. The finish is slightly roasty and the oak barrels come through.

M- Medium body, medium-light carbonation. Pretty easy to drink.

Such a unique style done to near perfection – you don’t get this combination of flavors in any other style. The complexity is outstanding and the balance of sour to sweetness is amazing. Whether you’re new to craft beer or a seasoned veteran, if you haven’t tried this beer you need to seek it out.

St. Bernardus Tripel – The Perfect Fix for your Belgian Cravings

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Split this bottle with my buddy Drew. It’s a Belgian Tripel style beer that I like to call the little cousin of St. Bernardus Abt 12, a heavier Quadrupel style beer brewed under the same roof. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Trappist styles, they increase in body and alcohol content in the order of Dubbel, Tripel, and Quadrupel. This one is in the middle of the spectrum. Here’s my review:

Final Rating: 4.26/5
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a goblet.

Appearance- Pours a hazy, honey colored body with a fluffy white head that reduces slowly to a white ring and leaves some patchy lacing.

Smell-  Initially I get some slightly acidic citrus notes. Cloves, bananas, Belgian spices, molasses, and  raisins show up too.

Taste- Initially it’s quite sweet but not overly – a light fruitiness is the first noticeable taste including banana and pears. A nice Spiciness, cloves and Belgian spice blend with the fruitiness for nice balance. On the follow through is a candied, almost burnt sugar flavor that really works well. Leaves a nice roastiness on the tongue.

Mlouthfeel- Medium body, medium carbonation

Very nice. A lighter version of Abt. 12. Classic example of the style.

Cantillon Vigneronne – Where Grain meets Vine

vigneroone

Tonight’s brew is a special one, a bottle of Cantillon Vigneronne from my recent haul of Cantillon beers.

It’s a Lambic style ale, spontaneously fermented with wild yeast in the bottle after being brewed with Italian Muscat grapes and aged in oak barrels.

The flavor profile is sour, fruity, woody, and dry. An excerpt straight from Cantillon’s website gives a good synopsis of this beer’s history and connection to a fine wine:

“In 1973, Jean-Pierre Van Roy, after having relaunched successfully the production of raspberry lambic, bought white grapes and soaked them in lambic. This experiment was successful too. The fructose, which abounds in these fruits, enables us to make a beer which is more mellow than the Gueuze or the other fruit beers.

The name Vigneronne Cantillon was given in 1987. This name reminds us that, while it belongs to the beer patrimony, the spontaneous fermentation, the ageing in the barrels for several years and the addition of grapes make it a distant cousin of certain white wines. ”

Because of it’s style, Vigneronne can age and mature for 10-20 years, so buy a couple if you can get your hands on this beer.

Here’s my full review:

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Cantillon tulip glass. Purchased in Wakefield, RI.

Appearance- Pours a hazy dull orange-hay colored body with a fast moving, fizzy white head that rises quickly and reduces just as quickly. Lots of fast moving carbonation. No lacing.

Smell- Smells pretty acidic, particularly citrusy with aromas of oranges, funky yeast, lemon peel, hay, and a musty, wet wood aroma in the background. Malt is definitely present. The last few sips produce a cheesy aroma.

Taste- The second it hits your tongue, Vigneronne’s wild yeast punches you in the taste buds with a sour burst of lemon juice, tart grapes, sour apple, and orange juice. The follow through is woody, musty, and full of citrus rind, but the sharp tart fruit notes really take center stage here. Very forward with the brett and quite tasty. Aftertaste is tart and very dry.

Moutfeel- Super crisp and refreshing. I downed the first glass in under a minute because it is that drinkable and thirst quenching.

This was my second Cantillon beer, and I have to say that it also lived up the the hype. The puckering tartness works perfectly here. Extremely balanced. Maybe a little less complex than other sours I’ve tried, but nonetheless world class.

Stone Farking Wheaton w00t Stout: The geekiest beer in the world

Stone Farking Wheaton w00t Stout!

Enjoyed this beer last night with my buddy Drew. It was brewed under an interesting collaboration between actor Wil Wheaton (yes, Sheldon’s enemy on Big Bang Theory), Fark.com creator Drew Curtis, and Stone CEO/Founder Greg Koch.

Coming in at 13% alcohol and 65 IBU, this intense imperial stout was brewed with rye, wheat, and pecans and 25% aged in bourbon barrels.

This beer was awesome drank fresh, and at 13% it’s a very good candidate for cellaring. I’d suggest buying at least 2 bottles and throwing one in a dark, cool place for a year or two.

Watch this video for more info, and to see how Wil Wheaton feels about beer geeks:

Here’s my review:

Appearance- Pours a dark brown, nearly black body with a 1″ mocha colored head that reduces fairly quickly and leaves little lacing. 4.25

Smell- You definitely have to let this one warm up to get some good aromas. Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and subtle bourbon aromas come through. 4.25

Taste- Upfront it’s roasty with bitter baker’s chocolate and coffee notes but at the same time has a sweetness that shows in the follow through. The bourbon is subtle but definitely present, adding vanilla and butterscotch notes. The finish is somewhat nutty and roasty.

Mouthfeel- Let it warm and it thickens up. Very rich. Very little alcohol detected, which is good considering it’s 13% alcohol.

Overall I was pretty impressed with w00t stout. The bourbon really gave this one an edge over Stone’s traditional Russian Imperial stout. Seek it out .

3F ZOMBIE DUST!

3F ZOMBIE DUST!

Onto another Citra hop forward brew – Three Floyd’s world class pale ale, Zombie Dust. Ranked #4 overall on BeerAdvocate, this is one of the most sought after beers around and may very well be the best pale ale on the planet.

I tried/reviewed my first Zombie Dust over half a year ago when I was a n00b at reviewing beers, so it’s pretty simple and to the point. After trying ZD again, I do have to say it’s pretty darn accurate though. Here it is:

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Three Floyds tulip. Acquired in a trade from Surge1311. Thanks bud!

Appearance- Pours a slightly hazy honey colored body with a generous off-white head that has some nice thick lacing.

Smell- Very juicy and tropical. In particular, grapefruit and pineapple.

Taste- Mango, citrus, caramel malt, and a subtle bitter hoppyness on the finish. Good balance. Finishes smooth.

Moutfeel- Light, crisp, smooth, refreshing. Medium carbonation.

I can see why this brew ranks as the #1 APA. A very impressive Pale Ale.

A Pungent DIPA That Will Turn Your World Upside-Down

Founder’s Double Trouble

doubletrouble

Had a fun night playing with my new digital camera, here’s my first blog picture taken with it. Still need to perfect it. Tonight’s beer was a double IPA brewed by a familiar name on this blog, Founders Brewing Company.

IPAs and DIPAs seem to fall somewhere on the taste spectrum between “tropical, citrus, grapefruit” and “pine, resin, floral”. This one falls far to the right of that spectrum. Enjoy my review:

Rating:3.91/5
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip. Purchased in Warwick, RI.

A- Pours a hazy, dull honey-mustard colored body with a 2 finger white head that reduces to some frothy foam and leaves some spotty lacing.

S- Smells like it has a heavy malt backbone – sweet caramel and bread. The hops are more on the piney, resinous, floral side with some citrus hiding in there.

T- Pretty much matches the nose.. big pine and resin notes sitting on a heavy malt backbone. Some soapy notes in there. Aftertaste is hugely bitter and somewhat off balance. Some booze.

M- Medium body, medium high carbonation.

This is a mini version of Founder’s Devil dancer, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. Pretty drinkable but the hops were a little off balance in my opinion. I could put down two before becoming sick of it.

Session Time with Founders!

allday

Quiz: Which seasonal Founders beer has around the same alcohol content as Bud Light but packs 100x the flavor?

Hint: You probably just scrolled past a photograph of it.

Still haven’t figured it out? Then you should probably get your vision checked. The correct answer is Founders All Day IPA of course! Coming in at a modest 4.7% alcohol, this tasty brew packs the flavor of a great IPA but won’t get you trashed while you’re shootin’ the back 9, or laying on the beach, or giving your dog a bath,  or.. whatever you like to do when the sun’s a-shining.

All Day IPA is considered to be a “Session Beer”, which can be loosely defined as a beer with a lower alcohol content (typically <5%) and a high level of drinkibility, while still maintaining a good amount of flavor and balance. They’re perfect summer beers, which is why I polished a 6-pack of this stuff over the weekend without thinking twice. Here’s my review:

Overall Rating: 4.04/5

look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. $9.99/6 pack

A- Pours a crystal clear golden orange body with a medium white head that reduces quickly and leaves little lacing.

S- Pretty fruity, smells like citra hops – citrus, mango, pineapple, some pine.

T- The notes here are subtle but tasty – the hop character reveals some tropical, grassy, and citrus zest notes. Not very bitter, nicely balanced.

M- Thinnish body with medium carbonation. Definitely refreshing and sessionable.

I like everything about this beer but the price. It’s definitely a great brew to drink on a summer afternoon, but at 4.7% alcohol, a 6 pack isn’t going to last you nearly as long as a higher abv 6-pack of the same price range. Price aside, recommendable.

It’s Pronounced “Goo-za”

Cantillon Gueuze – Class in a GlassCantillon Gueuze.. class in a glass

Happy Friday! So, I finally acquired a few beers from Belgium’s one and only Cantillon brewery, famous for their world-class Lambic style beers. Highly sought after and hard to find (unless you want to pay in the triple digits to have some shipped), these limited release brews only show up on the shelves once in a blue moon.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the style, lambics come in a variety of forms that all share the same characteristics – they are spontaneously fermented in the bottle for at least a year with wild yeast (80+ different types of yeast have been identified in Lambics, but the predominant type is brettanomyces for all you biology geeks). The resulting flavor is unlike any other style- funky, tart, earthy, and even mouth-puckeringly sour. You really have to try one to know what I’m talking about.

Not to worry though, there are many less-than-limited lambics that you can find on the shelves of any liquor store with a good craft beer selection – look for the lambic section which should have styles such as Kreik (lambic with cherries), Gueze (blended lambic), and Framboise (lambic with raspberries).
I was very impressed with this Gueze, which is probably why it’s regarded to as one of the best in the world. Here’s my review:

Overall rating: 4.66/5

look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 25 oz bottle into a Cantillon tulip. Purchased in Wakefield, Rhode Island.

A- Pours a golden-orange, slightly hazy body with 2″ fizzy white head that reduces quickly and leaves no lacing.

S- The first aroma upon popping the cork was a musty, bready, leathery, earthy funk sitting on an acidic, lemony, tart backbone. Smells like other sours I’ve had but more pungent and balanced.

T- Oh my god that’s amazing. The first sip of my first Cantillon beer literally put a smile on my face. The second it hits your tongue you get a mouth puckering tartness that has lemon, green apple, and white vinegar notes. The follow through reveals some funky notes, including fermented fruit, leather, and a nice earthyness. Oak is present throughout the whole experience, really balancing everything and creating a super complex beer.

M- Light and crisp, medium carbonation. Really sip-demanding.

I’m glad that I tried the Classic Geueze as my first Cantillon beer. It’s complexity, balance, drinkibility, and magnificent flavors really make for a world class brew. Definitely the best sour that I’ve ever tasted. Seek it out.

Wake n’ Bake – How about some malt to go with your midnight munchies?

Terrapin’s Wake n’ Bake SAM_1027b

Too lazy to write an intro to this review, but I promise I’ll get to it. I guess that’s what Wakin’ and Bakin’ will do to you. Here’s my review for Terrapin’s Wake n’ Bake, an 8.1% imperial oatmeal stout brewed with Jittery Joe’s coffee:

Overall rating: 4.34/5

look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Thanks gwdavis for hooking me up with this one. Allowed to warm as I drank it, definitely tastes best after sitting out for around 20 min.

A- Pours a dark chocolate colored, thick, opaque body with a one finger khaki head that reduces fairly quickly to a ring. Leaves blotchy lacing.

S- I get some freshly ground coffee, toffee, and an interesting grassy, earthy aroma. Faint aromas, really needed to strain. Some booze.

T- First to hit the tongue are really nice coffee notes – almost like sipping on a freshly brewed cream. This develops into a charred, roasted malt flavor that really defines this beer. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and toasty.

M- Thickens as it warms with medium carbonation. Very easy to drink for the style and abv.

Overall this beer was very nicely done. The coffee really works here, even though it’s upfront and in your face. If you’re looking for a good coffee/cappuccino stout, I’d call this one of the benchmarks for the style. Highly recommendable.

Oak Aged YETI! “Massive, Complex”

On the menu tonight was a imperial stout aged on French and American oak chips brewed by Great Divide brewing company – Oak Aged Yeti.
More like a dessert than a beer, you could substitute your ice cream sundae for one of these and probably consume more calories, but who’s counting? Here’s my review:

Overall rating: 4.24/5
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a Sam Adams utopia glass. Purchased in Attleboro, MA.

A- Pours a jet black, oil-like opaque body with a thick deep mocha colored head that reduces slowly and leaves some sticky lacing.

S- Sweet milk chocolate, espresso, dark fruits, vanilla, and butterscotch. The dark fruit aroma is particularly strong in this one.

T- Upfront dark chocolate covered fruit dominates, followed by a faint vanilla note. This develops to a deep roasty, charred, nearly burnt malt flavor that sticks on the tongue for a while.

M- Really thick and rich with low carbonation.

This was quite an impressive imperial stout, it was complex, rich, and balanced. I just wish the oak aging added more dimension to it, I only got faint aromas and tastes of vanilla from the oak. Maybe I’m just used to the robust oak bourbon barrel aged stouts that are popular nowadays.