Logsdon Oak Aged Bretta

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Hey! I have an idea. Let's take Seizoen Bretta, a juicy funk machine that came out of nowhere and melted my face about a year ago, and age it on oak for a while. That sounds fun, right? Well it appears that David Logsdon had the same idea and went ahead and made some. Great minds think alike. And so do David and I! (Sorry David, but you walked into that one). Many thanks to Jay for sending this my way.

Logsdon Oak Aged Bretta

Logsdon Oak Aged Bretta - Pours a hazy golden orange color with a couple fingers of fluffy but dense head that has good retention and leaves some lacing as I drink. The aroma is pure funk, some earthy notes, some farmhouse yeast spice, but a beautiful juicy fruitiness as well, and maybe a faint hint of that oak, but I'm really looking for it in the nose. The taste is also quite funky, lots of spice, a little earth, maybe even some pie-like crust flavors, and a big juicy fruit component, tart pineapple, with that oak appearing in the middle and finish. Mouthfeel is dry, highly carbonated, effervescent, and crisp, maybe a hint of pleasant acidity too. Overall, this is a superb funky saison, complex and delicious. Easily the equal of regular Seizoen Bretta, though I don't know if it's better. But we're still talking about an A grade here, so that's just splitting hairs.

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and beeswax dipped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/10/13.

So I seem to have exhausted Logsdon's Seizoen program, but they've got a few others that sound promising (and some that will probably be a bear to acquire). And quite frankly, I'd hit up any of these Seizoens on a semi-regular basis if they distributed out here.

The Bruery Rueuze

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What beer to drink on New Years Eve? I've typically fallen on a big, effervescent saison for this task, but the true answer to this conundrum is the Champagne of Beer: Miller High Life. Unfortunately, I was fresh out, so I had to settle for an American imitation of a Gueuze (which is the actual Champagne of Beer, for the record). I've mentioned a few times recently that brewing is not an activity for the impatient, and these Bruery folks certainly seem to have a lot of foresight and patience in developing their Barrel Aging program.

They've got a 5 year old Solera series going with their Anniversary beers (like Coton or Bois), and this Rueuze beer calls to mind the great Belgian lambic aging traditions. This is a blend of three different vintages of oak aged sour blond ale. The traditional Gueuze is a blend of 1, 2, and 3 year old lambics, and The Bruery is conspicuously silent on the age of their three vintages, so I'm guessing it's not an exact parallel, but I'm not going to complain because this is pretty good, if a bit pricey:

The Bruery Rueuze

The Bruery Rueuze - Pours a golden yellow color with a finger of fizzy white head that quickly subsides to a cap that hangs out for a while. Smells funky, some musky, earthy aromas, but also a very nice fruity, vinous note, and that barrel character is definitely making itself known. Taste starts off with a bang of sourness, a little sweetness, tart vinous fruit, musky notes in the middle, and towards the end, a very nice oak character pitches in along with an intense sourness to pucker that finish, but in a balanced way. Good pucker factor. Mouthfeel is very well carbonated, effervescent really, a little pleasant acidity from that sourness, not super dry, but in that direction. Overall, this is a rock solid beer, complex, balanced stuff that doesn't quite hit the heights of the best lambics, but comes pretty close. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.6% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a flute glass on 12/31/13. 2013 Vintage.

Solid stuff. I'm a bit behind on my Bruery beers, so you'll probably see a few new ones pop up in the coming month or two, including one that appears to use the same oak aged sour blonde ale base (though this other one is fruited). The other is Mash, a bourbon barrel aged barleywine (truly a beer after my heart).

Victory Double Feature

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It has been far too long since I've written about our friends in Downingtown, PA. Victory's staple IPA, HopDevil, will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was probably the first beer that really got me to love hops. Sure, I'd had other pale ales before and thought they were fine, but HopDevil got me to love those citrus hops and bitter finish. Flash forward a decade later, and their line of IPAs was starting to feel a bit stale. HopDevil is still a staple beer and a sight for sore eyes at a lot of local non-craft focused establishments, and I really enjoy the occasional Hop Wallop, but I get the impression that Victory started to see their sales plateau despite the generally skyrocketing sales of IPAs overall.

Perhaps as a result, Victory slowly started fiddling with hops at their brewpub. In 2009 or 2010, they did a line of single hop pale ales called the Pursuit series. I had one of these by chance and wasn't a huge fan, but clearly the experimental aspect of the series was a success, because it culminated in Headwaters Pale Ale, which is a fantastic yet simple take on the lowly pale ale style (it's also a huge seller and may even have surpassed HopDevil to become Victory's flagship).

In 2011, they started playing with Double IPAs and worked with their contacts at hop farms to create the Ranch series (a name which seems to inspire visions of ranch dressing in all who hear it, but it's actually a reference to the hop ranches that victory sources from). This kicked off with Ranch S, which was Cascade single hopped (and which I quite enjoyed), then Ranch R, which was Centennial single hopped (and which I didn't like as much). Things proceeded from there, with other single hop beers (Chinook, Simcoe, Citra, etc... most of which I did not have) and then some hop combos (Philly Beer Week saw a Simcoe and Amarillo combination that was really quite nice). The Ranch series eventually culminated in Dirt Wolf, which uses Citra, Chinook, Simcoe and Mosaic hops. It's also one of the beers I'll review later in this post (sorry for taking so long to get to the point).

Now, to make matters more confusing, in the summer of 2013, there was a short offshoot of the Ranch series that had a lighter bodied malt bill and utilized a cleaner yeast strain. The first of these was called K-Bomb and it used an experimental hop known as ADHA 483 (it has since been named Azacca). It was quite nice! For Philly Beer Week, Victory evolved that recipe to include Mosaic hops as well, and called it Liberty Bell Ringer and that was a very well received beer. So Victory took that recipe, made some minor tweaks, and just released it in December as Hop Ranch (even though it doesn't really taste like any of the Ranch beers).

I suppose this could be confusing to local beer wonks like myself, but who cares about us? Especially since these beers are really very good. I really have to admire a brewery the size of Victory taking the time and effort to revamp their DIPA line into something worth talking about. I've had both on tap at the brewery and even got a growler of Hop Ranch, but I wanted to do a head-to-head comparison, so after I took in Wolf of Wall Street (a little overlong and vulgar, but also vibrant and energetic), I headed home, popped in The Place Beyond the Pines (very ambitious but also overlong, with an oddly structured story) to complete the double feature that would complement my dueling Victory IPAs:

Victory Hop Ranch DIPA

Victory Hop Ranch - Pours a clear, light golden yellow color with a finger of dense white head. Smells beautiful, mango, juicy citrus hops, very "new" IPA feeling. That's not a real thing, but it could be. You with me? No? Fine then, the taste is very sweet, juicy citrus hops (dat mango), nice balancing bitterness toward the finish. Mouthfeel is very light, crisp, clean, and tightly carbonated, smooth and dangerously drinkable. Maybe a hint of belly warming if you drink quickly. Overall, this is fantastic! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/4/13. Enjoy by May 19, 2014.


Victory Dirt Wolf DIPA

Victory Dirt Wolf - Pours a clear golden color, a little darker than the hop ranch, with a finger of white head and some lacing. Smells dank and resinous, some citrus notes, maybe even some malt and or yeast aromas. Taste definitely has that dank pine and citrus character, maybe even some kolsch yeast or something. Some malt too, more bitterness, and even a little booze (which is funny, because this is slightly less ABV). Mouthfeel is bigger and heavier, but not a monster. Pleasant boozy feel too. Overall, its very good, definitely better than most (if not all) of the Ranch series that I've tried, though I think I like Hop Ranch is better! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.7% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass 1/4/13. Enjoy by May 18, 2014.

It appears that 2014 has started out Victorious. I got a several Victory beers as gifts over the holidays and it's been fun. Old Horizontal will be making an appearance at the next beer club, and I'm sure I'll be hitting up some interesting stuff this year as well (now that the new brewery is up and running, we don't have to worry about capacity anymore, so I'm hoping for the return of stuff like Wild Devil, or more adventurous BA stuff)...

I've heard very good things about these Netherlanders and even had some good first hand experience with their stuff, so when I saw this Imperial Stout aged in Jack Daniels barrels sitting on the shelf (it was a bit of an oddity, as this bottle was right next to some more Imperial Stout, but with a slightly different label - it took me a few moments before I noticed the little "Jack Daniels Barrel Aged" sticker on the side of the label), I figured it was worth a stretch. Emelisse has actually done a series of IRS beers, all with different hop or barrel treatments under their "White Label" banner, but this one seems like its own thing. I'm actually surprised we don't see more Jack Daniels barrel treatments out there in the beer world, as it's the most popular American whiskey brand and I believe it has the same secondary market of bourbon barrels... On the other hand, I didn't love this beer. Its not bad at all, but when it comes to BA stouts, its got a lot of competition!

Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout - Jack Daniels Barrel Aged

Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout - Jack Daniels Barrel Aged - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a slow forming but relatively long lasting brown head. Smells very whiskey forward, though I'm getting some sweetness and maybe a hint of roast from that beer base too. Taste is very sweet, again also barrel forward stuff here, lots of whisky and oak char, not a ton in the way of roast or caramel, but tasty nonetheless. Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side for a BA stout, but it works well enough and it's still on the upper end of medium bodied. A little light on the carbonation though, and the boozy heat comes through pretty strongly. Overall, this is a decent BA stout, but there were a couple things holding it back from true greatness for me. B

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (11.2 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 12/27/13. Bottled 03/2013, Lot A.

I'd still be curious to try out some of their White Label versions of this beer, though perhaps expectations will be calibrated a bit lower. For whatever reason, I was expecting a lot more out of this than I actually got...

2013 Year End Musings

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Another orbital period has passed, which I guess means I need to reflect on the year that was or some such thing. Since I'm terrible at choosing favorites and because it's a totally arbitrary exercise, I'll be posting my top 40 beers of the year. That might seem like a lot, but then, I could probably do a top 40 Tired Hands beer list and still have 60 of their brews that didn't make the cut (I'm pretty sure this is not an exaggeration; they put up at least 1-2 new beers a week on average and I've kept up pretty well). I drink too much is what I'm saying.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Various musings on my year in beer:

  • Trading - It continues, and a fair amount of beers on the list below came from trades, LIFs, and BIFs, but not nearly as much as you might think. It turns out that Philly is a pretty great beer town, asinine PLCB rules notwithstanding, and even the suburbs are getting in on the action these days. I doubt I'll ever reach the crazy 5 trades per month tempo that some beer dorks engage in, but I'm pretty happy with the 5-6 trades I engage in per year, and I got to try some great stuff this year because of that.
  • Wales, bro - White Whale beers are a sorta moving target. When you start to dip your toes into beer nerdery, anything popular that is rare and/or isn't distributed near you is a whale. Stuff like KBS. Then you start ticking those top 100 beers that are hard to find, but the goalposts move to obscure vintages of absurdly limited beers (I've had approximately 1 beer on that list) and people start creatively misspelling whales as walez or wales and at that point, who cares? The hunt can be fun, but some of that stuff seems like a fool's errand. I'll probably stick with local wales and trade for some khaki wales if the mood strikes me. With stuff like Operation Cheddar an finally procuring some Cantillon, I've gotten pretty good at scoring some great stuff, and that's all I can really ask for.
  • The year the ratings died, sorta - I've been doing this for three years now, and I'm experiencing some serious ratings shifting here. Stuff I'd have rated an A a few years ago might be a B level beer nowadays. Is this changing tastes? Or was I just plain wrong? Or maybe I'm just drinking such a higher caliber of beer now that it puts that older stuff in a different perspective? Probably all of the above. So take my ratings with a grain of salt. I'm a moron.
  • Snobby Palate - I'll never claim to have a great palate, but I'm starting to get super snobby about fresh IPAs in particular. And bars that don't clean their tap lines are starting to annoy me. And I'm pretty sensitive to carbonation issues. I don't know how great this development really is, but I try not to annoy other people with my snobby palate and pedantry.
  • Sessionable Beer and Redrinking Beer - I used to basically never drink the same beer twice. And I used to review nearly every beer I drank. But that's lame. I've definitely drank a bunch of beers I've already sampled this year. Some are massive face melters that have a limited annual release (oh, hello there Parabola!), but I've also found a desire for "regular" beer or even a session beer. Sure, I still drink an unhealthy amount of high ABV stuff and the list below certainly contains ample Imperial Stouts and Barleywines, but sometimes I want to sit down with something normal, like a 4% pale ale. Not everything has to melt my face, all the time.
  • Home Brewing - A slow start to the year, but I've been on a tear of late. I've also been tackling "slow" beers, stuff that takes a while to actually finish off (like, for example, the Brett dosed saison or bourbon oak aged imperial stout), but in about a month, I should have about 3 batches hitting their prime. Poor timing, perhaps, but still. I've also finally procured a kegerator and have kegged my first beer (Red Heady), so we'll see what that does (I'm actually planning to keep a relatively sessionable beer on at all times, but we'll see). As per usual, I've got lots of plans and ideas, so it should be a fun year.
  • Aging/Cellaring Beer - I spent a pretty big portion of the year trying to drink down my cellar rather than going out and procuring the next big thing. Of course, I still buy way too much beer, but most of it is not really for aging, even if, uh, it takes me a while to get to it. There are definitely some beers that have really worked for me after a couple years in the cellar, but most are better fresh. This tends to be the general accepted wisdom in the beer nerd world, but it's interesting to discover it for yourself.

So it's been a great year in beer. As previously mentioned, I'm posting my top 40 beers, mostly because I feel like it. The list is limited to beers I had and reviewed this year. Stuff I've had before but loved is also not eligible (so no Parabola or Supplication, etc...) so don't get too cuckoo nutso if your favorite beer isn't on the list. Or whatever, yell at me in the comments, what do I care? Everything on the list has been rated at least an A- on my grading scale and the ordering is generally from best to worst. This is, of course, an entirely arbitrary exercise, but I always have fun with lists, so whatevers. One other rule: I tried to limit some breweries to a handful of entries, because otherwise this would be a list of my favorite Tired Hands, Cantillon, and Hill Farmstead beers, and while that's probably accurate, it's also probably very boring. Alright, enough whining about disclaimers, let's demonstrate how crappy my taste is:

  1. Tired Hands Romulon (Saison)
  2. The Bruery Black Tuesday (Imperial Stout)
  3. Hill Farmstead Susan (IPA)
  4. The Alchemist Heady Topper (Double IPA)
  5. Cantillon Kriek (Lambic)
  6. Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine (Barleywine)
  7. Russian River Framboise For A Cure (American Wild Ale)
  8. Voodoo Pappy Van Winkle Black Magick (Imperial Stout)
  9. The Bruery Bois (Old Ale)
  10. Cigar City Nielsbohrium (Imperial Stout)
  11. Fantôme Magic Ghost (Saison)
  12. Cantillon Fou' Foune (Lambic)
  13. Hill Farmstead and The Alchemist Walden (American Pale Ale)
  14. Lawson's Finest Liquids Double Sunshine IPA (Double IPA)
  15. FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Rittenhouse Rye (Imperial Stout)
  16. Oude Quetsche Tilquin (Lambic)
  17. Sante Adairius Love's Armor (American Wild Ale)
  18. Firestone Walker PNC (Imperial Stout)
  19. Half Acre Beer Hates Astronauts (IPA)
  20. Tired Hands Phantom With Three Different Colored Eyes (Double IPA)
  21. Tröegs Scratch Beer 83 - 2012 (¿Impending Descent?) (Imperial Stout)
  22. Arcadia Bourbon Barrel Aged Cereal Killer (Barleywine)
  23. Cantillon Saint Lamvinus (Lambic)
  24. Tired Hands Only Void (Imperial Stout)
  25. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout (Imperial Stout)
  26. Cisco Brewers Lady Of The Woods (American Wild Ale)
  27. La Cabra Brettophile (American Wild Ale)
  28. Crooked Stave St. Bretta Summer (Wit/Wheat Beer)
  29. Three Floyds & Mikkeller Risgoop (Barleywine)
  30. Cascade Kriek Ale (American Wild Ale)
  31. FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Elijah Craig (12 Year) (Imperial Stout)
  32. Divine Teufelweizen (2011) (Weizenbock)
  33. Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude (Smoked Beer)
  34. Clown Shoes & Three Heads Brewing Third Party Candidate (Imperial Red Ale)
  35. Forest & Main Oubliant (Tripel)
  36. Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Bigfoot (Barleywine)
  37. Voodoo Laird's Apple Brandy Gran Met (Tripel)
  38. Firestone Walker XVI - Anniversary Ale (American Strong Ale)
  39. Caldera Mogli (Imperial Stout)
  40. Logsdon Seizoen (Saison)

Damn, that was more difficult than I thought. There are at least, like, 5 other Tired Hands IPAs that could easily replace the one I put in there, not to mention stuff like Guillemot Nebula or even the Rye Barrel Only void. I had a great year in beer. Here's to a great 2014!

Backyard Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout

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Yet another Bourbon County variant, this one is new this year, though it appears to share a certain kinship with variants of years past (for example, last year's Cherry Rye). It looks to be the same base stout, but instead of Bourbon barrels, they use Templeton Rye barrels, and then they add in a 50 pound dose of puréed mulberries, marionberries, and boysenberries to each barrel. According to the Chicago Reader, 200 barrels were filled (which, while still a lot of beer, is significantly less than the 1400+ barrels used for regular BCBS). So what I'm saying here is that this should not only have berry notes, but it will also taste more rare than regular BCBS (and maybe slightly more rare than BCBCS). And we all know how good "rare" tastes, right?

To be honest, I've never had a mulberry, marionberry, or boysenberry (though I get the impression that there is some relation to blackberries and raspberries for some of these, which I have certainly had), but while I do like me some berries, I can't say as though I really love them in my stouts. Sour beers? Sign me up. Fruited stouts? I can't say as though I've had many, but they haven't exactly inspired me either. However, if one beer could turn me around on this, I suspect it would be this one. After a long Christmas Day, I plopped down on the couch and cracked this sucker open (berries are holidayee, right?) to find out:

Backyard Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout

Goose Island Backyard Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color, with a thin cap of bubbly light brown head that quickly resolves into a ring around the edge of the glass. Smells of rich caramel, vanilla, whisky, with a very prominent syrupy fruit aroma. Taste is very sweet up front, some rich caramel, whisky, vanilla, and oak, but nowhere near as much as regular BCBS, and that syrupy berry character comes on strong late in the taste and lasts though the finish and aftertaste. That syrupy fruit is kinda hard to describe. It's not quite cough syrup (something I've seen in other fruited stouts) and it's not bad, per say, but I'm not sure I'm entirely on board with it either. Mouthfeel is full bodied, well carbonated, with some boozy heat. Not quite the monster of regular BCBS (or even BCBBW or BCBCS), and while it has a nice richness to it, it's decidedly less substantial than other variants. None of which is inherently bad, but these tend to be my favorite aspects of a barrel aged stout. Overall, what we have here is a fantastic fruited stout, probably the best I've ever had. That being said, I still greatly prefer straight up BCBS. In truth this is my least favorite variant. That doesn't make it bad, it's just that BCBS is so spectacular that this isn't really working for me. This is probably a personal preference thing though, as everyone else seems to love it. Go figure. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 12/25/13. Bottled 20NOV13 0757.

So my favorite Bourbon County beer remains the original, straight up BCBS. Of the variants, my favorite was the Barleywine, but only because I'm not a big coffee guy - if I were, that explosive coffee character in this year's fresh BCBCS would knock my socks off. Backyard Rye is certainly a fine beer and I'd never in a million years turn it down, but expectations were perhaps too high here. There are some other variants floating around this year, but they're Chicago-only brews that I'm unlikely to try (which is a shame, as Coconut Rye sounds like it could be up my alley, and it seems to be pretty popular). So I've got a nice stash of Bourbon County beers that will hopefully last me the rest of the year, though at this point, I believe I've reviewed them all.

Posting will continue to be light this week, again for obvious reasons. Have a great (and safe) New Years everyone!

'tis the season for beer gifts. I arrived at work the other day to literally, like, 5 bottles of beer on my desk. Gotta love my coworkers (and of course I reciprocated said gifts)! Later in the day, I participated in the office White Elephant and ended up with another six pack (I didn't steal it and swear I didn't pick it thinking it was beer). Incidentally, my contribution to the white elephant was a 40 of Olde English (with a gift card tucked into the bag). It got stolen once, and the guy who stole it didn't even know about the gift card. Score.

Anywho, this here was one of said gifts, and it certainly has a very nice presentation. Waxed cap, bomber sized with a classy and beautiful label that nevertheless retains Terrapin's branding feel (which is tough, because I generally hate their labels), but as per usual, it's what's inside that packaging that counts, right? In this case, we've got a variant of Terrapin's normal winter seasonal, a milk stout called Moo-Hoo. Like the base, this one has fancy schmancy cocoa nibs and shells and is dosed with lactose. This variant also incorporates white chocolate into the mix in some way. Color me interested:

Terrapin White Chocolate Moo-Hoo

Terrapin White Chocolate Moo-Hoo Milk Stout - Pours a very dark brown color with half a finger of quickly dissipating light brown head. Smells great, lots of sweet, rich milk chocolate (maybe white chocolate, though I probably wouldn't guess that blind), some caramel, hint of vanilla, light roast. Taste definitely has that lactose sweetness, very light roast, not quite as complex as the nose implied, but still tasty. Mouthfeel is a little too thin for what it is, but its very smooth and velvety. Overall, its a fine beer, not quite as thick as it should be, but very tasty. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6.1% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 12/21/13.

I've actually not had the base beer, so I can't say how it compares, but some seem to think it's basically the same. Terrapin has never particularly floated my boat, but I can't say as though I've had a really terrible experience either...

Posting will probably be light this week, for obvious reasons. Merry Christmas to those of you who are celebrating this week!

Evil Twin Aún Más Café Jesús

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Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø is the Evil Twin of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (of Mikkeller fame)... I don't know if they're actually twins, but I'm going to go one step further and say that they're identical twins, because they both seem to have this beer brewing thing down pat. I haven't delved that deeply into Evil Twin's (rather sizeable) catalog, but I'm beginning to think that might be a good idea. If I can afford it, that is.

This beer began as something called Even More Jesus, a big, chewy imperial stout brewed in Denmark. But like his brother, Jeppe is one of them new-fangled "gypsy" brewers who walks the earth, soaking up excess brewing capacity wherever he can. So he took his recipe on the road, ended up at Cervesera del Montseny in Spain of all places, and rebrewed the beer. This time around, he also made a variant with coffee, which is what I have right here. As befitting its origins, he translated the name to Spanish, leaving us with this rather great beer:

Evil Twin Even More Coffee Jesus, but translated into Spanish with a bunch of accents and whatnot.

Evil Twin Aún Más Café Jesús - Pours a thick, gloopy, very dark brown color, almost black, with a beautiful finger of brown head. Smells deeply of coffee, some roast and plenty of dark chocolate. Taste starts off sweet, rich caramel and fudgy chocolate, with the roast and coffee peeking out later in the taste, though less prominently than in the nose. Mouthfeel is thick, full bodied, rich, and chewy. Medium carbonation, but tight enough to retain a creamy, fudgy feeling, well suited to the style. Overall, this is an excellent stout, and coffee lovers would go crazy over it. Even I'm having an excellent time here, and I'm not a big coffee guy... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (11.2 oz) Drank out of a snifter on 12/14/13.

This stuff seems just as good as Evil Twin's much more famous Imperial Biscotti Break, though perhaps this warrants further, uh, "research" if you know what I mean. And actually, given my lack of interest in coffee, maybe the regular ol' Aún Más Jesús (sans the Café) would be something to try. If I can find/afford it. Anywho, I bought this because I thought it kinda/sorta might be a Christmas beer (it sez Jesús on the bottle), but apparently that's not the case. Well I'll just have to see if I can get a little more festive this weekend.

Oude Quetsche Tilquin

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Once upon a time, Gueuzerie Tilquin made a believer out of me when it came to sour beers. Before Tilquin Oude Gueuze, I was like those scared apes at the beginning of 2001, cautiously approaching the sour beer monolith and giving it a tap every now and again. Throw a bottle in the air, smash cut to the space age, and now I'm rubbing vinegar on my gums in between sour beers just to keep things interesting.

Given the near impossibility of finding Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen on the shelf these days, it's amazing to me that Tilquin is out there for the taking. I almost don't want to speak so highly of them for fear that these wonderful beers will disappear forever. The thrill of the hunt is all well and good, but it can get old after a while. It's nice to pop over to State Line Liquors every now and again and see a "new" (I believe this came out last year) Tilquin beer like this one and just pick it up. But this is legit lambic, and I'd actually hold the Gueuze up above the standard Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen offerings (the non-standard ones, on the other hand, are another story, but that's still saying a lot). I originally graded the Gueuze an A-, but I've had it a couple times since then and I'd give it a firm upgrade to straight A territory.

This particular expression is a blend of 1 and 2 year old oak aged lambics that are then put in a stainless steel tank with "destoned fresh purple plums" for an additional 4 months (the sugars from the plums are fermented and mixed with the standard lambic). Color me intrigued:

Oude Quetsche Tilquin

Oude Quetsche Tilquin à L'Ancienne - Pours a golden orange color with a sorta pinkish hue and a finger of white head. Smells deeply of funk and oak, earthy, fruity, with the sour twang tickling in the nose. Taste starts out sweet with tart fruit, some earthy character picking up in the middle along with a dollop of oak, followed by an intense sourness that charges through the finish. I don't know that I'd pick out plums here, but it's clearly fruited, and it's a very well balanced melding of the standard Tilquin with a more fruity character. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and crisp, with some tannic oak, plenty of acidity and some puckering, especially towards the finish. Overall, this is fantastic. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 12/14/13. Best before: 29/01/2023.

So very good. The only Tilquin I've not yet had is the draft version, which is a slightly younger lambic with a lower ABV. I'll have to jump on that the next time I see it...

Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine

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Back before Goose Island sold out to the great satan, AB Inbev, they took their already wonderful Bourbon County Brand Stout and started making some variants. Some, like the one incorporating coffee, appear every year. Others were one-offs that will probably never happen again. One such one-off was Bourbon County Rare, which used the same base as plain old BCBS, but aged it in 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels (which are indeed quite rare) for 2 years. It seems that Pappy mania has extended from the bourbon world to also infect the beer world, as this beer initially sat on shelves (due to a high price tag) but is now a highly sought after rarity in the secondary market or trading boards.

After BCBS Rare, Goose Island took those barrels and deployed them for a third use, this time with a rather large barleywine. The result, dubbed King Henry, was also quite a hit amongst beer dorks. So much of a hit, that a couple years later, Goose Island has revisited the general concept of a barleywine aged in third use barrels (first use was bourbon, second use the straight up BCBS) and rebranded the package as Bourbon County Brand Barleywine. It's only been a few weeks and it's always wise to give people some time to work through the hype, but the general consensus seems to be that it's pretty great. DDB sez it's not as good as King Henry was, but it's better than King Henry is now. I've not had King Henry (either fresh or aged), but this seems like an intuitive result. So let's take a drip down Bourbon County way, shall we?

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine - Pours a very dark brown color, maybe a hint of dark amber or crimson here, with just a cap of light head that quickly resolves to a ring around the edge of the glass. Smells heavily of bourbon and vanilla, oak, fruity malt and booze, maybe even something like brown sugar. Taste hits up front with a wallop of rich caramel, turning to fruity malts in the middle, along with a heaping helping of bourbon, oak, and vanilla. The finish has a pleasant note of booze to it, along with the return of that fruity malt. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, full bodied, rich, and chewy. Some booze, but nothing hot or unapproachable. Overall, this is exceptional. My face melted. A

Beer Nerd Details: 12.1% ABV bottled (12 oz. capped). Drank out of a snifter on 12/7/13. Bottled on: 17SEP13 0934.

I'm very happy that I have a fair amount of BCBS and variants left, as this stuff is truly spectacular. I even managed to get ahold of this year's Backyard Rye variant (aged in Rye Barrels with a bunch of berries), so be on the lookout for that at some point in the near future.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

Recent Comments

  • Mark: It is pretty darn sweet and quite good, though not read more
  • beerbecue: This blows my mind. Why have we never seen this read more
  • beerbecue: They ran out of BA Everett right before the mule read more
  • Mark: I'm certainly pleased with it! I'm pretty sure I was read more
  • beerbecue: A nice haul indeed. It seems you and my mule read more
  • Mark: That's what I figured after the last release (which was read more
  • rich.on.beer: Also, freaking Lansdale is only kind of sort of a read more
  • rich.on.beer: I wouldn't expect a Philly release of bottles this time. read more
  • Mark: Yeah, that's a big leap in ABV, but it's still read more
  • beerbecue: Nice. I was shocked when I saw the ABV. It's read more