Friday, November 20, 2009

The Lost Abbey: Judgment Day

I really couldn't have found a more appropriate beer for this auspicious day.

Lost Abbey is a California brewery specializing in Belgian-style brews. As
with so many breweries, I've been meaning to try one of their brews for a while. Judgment Day is definitely one of the most taste-overloaded beers I've ever had. It's got a lot of dark fruit flavors as well as a lot of spiciness
to it too. It's a dark beer--so there's a certain amount of that smoky-sweetness you expect from dark beers, but it's got a pretty light body and a lot of carbonation, so it's not really a very heavy beer.

In sum, this is the kind of beer that is really interesting for a couple sips, but which is so overpowering that you kind of get sick of it by the end of your first glass. It's nothing to sneer at, but since I'm already pretty picky when it comes to belgian-style brews, I don't know that I'll be seeking it out in the future.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stoudts Brewing Co.: Double IPA

The double IPA is a dangerous beast. IPAs are already quite bold tasting. Try to double down on anything and you risk pushing the beer over the edge. A lot of double IPAs are just unadulterated hop monsters. Stoudt's take is a little different.

This unimaginatively titled brew does not seem to have any more hops
than a "regular" IPA. Instead, presumably in an effort to increase the ABV, Stoudts has put a lot more malt into this beer. The taste has an almost honey-like sweetness to it at first, and while you'd expect the hops to come in and wipe that out, the sweetness turns out to be quite persistent. Still, the flavors are overall pretty well balanced--the sweetness, while persistent, is not overdone and there are plenty of hops to give your tastebuds something else to focus on. It's sort of like a scaled-back version of Dogfish Head's 180 minute IPA.

This beer is a little bit too sugary for my tastes. It's not a "sweet" beer by any means, but I would definitely have preferred a little bit drier flavor. Definitely an interesting take on the genre, and probably a boon for those that really dig malted-up IPAs.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brouwerij Huyghe: Delerium Tremens

Happy Veterans' Day. Or rather, Happy Day Before Veterans' Day, which is why I'm delving into a beer that generally isn't consumed on weeknights.

Delerium Tremens is one of the Belgian brews we see in America with some frequency that is actually from Belgium. Whether its because of that little bit of authenticity, the somewhat foreboding name, or perhaps the pink elephants dancing accross the bottle, Delerium has earned a reputation as being a particularly devastating ale. Truth is though, that Delerium is actually a pretty manageable beer. The taste is downright comforting--it's got a certain honey-sweetness to it that is really rare in Belgian brews, and the hops have more of that bright and citrusy taste (think lemons) typical to American pales than they do the traditional earthy bitterness in most Belgian beers. The beer is quite bubbly, giving it an almost champagne-like texture on the tongue, and while the taste is quite bright and bold, the aftertaste is pretty mild. And finally, at 8.5% ABV, Delerium is really more of a middleweight when it comes to strong ales, which is a good thing, since given how tasty this stuff is, you'll probably want more than one.

So fear not the opaque bottle guarded by pink elephants and strutting crocodiles. Delerium Tremens is a beer that even the lightest of lightweights among us can afford to enjoy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Brewery Ommegang: Hennepin

As promised here is the second review of the Brewery Ommegang offerings I sampled. I started with the Rare Vos and then moved onto the Hennepin. If you read my review of Rare Vos you probably assumed that I have a American, and specifically, a West Coast bias when it comes to beer. And you know what? If you thought that, you're probably right. That being said, I feel like I can give any beer a fair taste. While the dark fruit flavors of Rare Vos didn't tantalize my pallate, I'll tell you that I really enjoyed this Belgian style Saison.

As expected, this Belgian style beer also exhibits prominent yeast flavors and smell. However, as a Saison, Hennepin is not as earthy or grainy as I expected. Rather it has a crisp hop taste to compliment the yeast flavors. The hops have a touch of citrus and also blend nicely with a light white spice floating around the beer.

I should also note that this brew tops out at 7.7% abv. And at no point in the drinking experience does it show. The crisp hop and citrus flavors nicely mask any alcohol taste and the Saison is quite refreshing despite its high alcohol content.

In sum, this is a fine beer. So while I generally prefer West Coast style brews, I'll give praise where praise is due and this East Coast Belgian style brew is good. Cheers.

Brewery Ommegang: Rare Vos

As mentioned in prior posts this summer, I was recently visiting Massachusetts and New York and had a blast trying east coast breweries. Fellow blogger Maxwell just made the trek out east for vacation and 801onTap featured writer Hofer is firmly planted on the right coast for a while. I started becoming nostalgic and then jealous of their opportunities to try East coast beers; so I went out to find some of my own.

While not that many New York breweries are out in California, I remember Hof use to get Brewery Ommegang beer out here. After a quick search, I had no trouble finding some of their brews. I went with Rare Vos Belgian Style Amber Ale and Hennepin Belgian Style Saison (second review to come later).

Rare Vos reminds me of some beers that I sampled in Brussels: Strong yeast flavors dominate even though its a darker brew. After the typical Belgian yeast tastes dwindle, strong fruit flavors quickly emerge. Mostly prune/plum flavors. The fruits really begin to dominate, and in my opinion are a far too prominent part of the beer's taste. There is a touch of pepper spice but it doesn't quite seem to fit with the yeast and heavy fruit.

As you can tell from my review, this isn't my favorite of beers. But that being said, I did enjoy trying a beer and brewery from NY, that I've never had before. Cheers.