Smarch Beer Club

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Due to a calendar misprint, the Smarch edition of beer club came later than normals, but we had it all the same. For the uninitiated, beer club is where a bunch of booze-minded folks from my work get together and sample beers and usually other beverages of choice. We always hit up a local BYOB and tonight, we didn't even get banned! Good times had by all, and we got to drink some pretty good beer too:

Smarch Beer Club
(Click for bigger image)

In accordance with tradition, I will henceforth record some disgruntled, freakish opinions on each beer below. You know, for posterity. Of course none of these notes are reliable because I wasn't in a sensory deprivation chamber and didn't chemically cleanse my palate after every sip, so read them at your own risk. In order of drinking (not in order of picture, and due to some tardy attendees, some are not even pictured):

  • Kaedrin Fat Weekend IPA - My homebrewed IPA, one of the last bottles at this point, seemed to go over pretty well. Again, I hope to do a more detailed review at some point, but in short, it came out super dank, very piney and resinous hop character dominates the flavor. A little overcarbonated, but I should be able to correct that in future batches. I'll refrain from rating right now, but aside from the carbonation issues, I really like this.
  • Wagner Valley IPA - I've used this description before, but it's perfect for a beer like this: It reminds me of the sort of thing you'd get in a John Harvard's brewpub, circa 1998. Totally an improvement over most macro lagers, but not particularly accomplished either. C+
  • DuClaw Naked Fish - A beer we've had before (at beer club, even), and my thoughts haven't changed much at all. It's got a really nice raspberry and chocolate character mixed with a really low-octane stout base. Easy enough to drink, but it's not going to blow you away. B
  • Ken's Homebrewed Oktoberfest - New homebrewer Ken brought one of his first batches, an Octoberfest beer that probably still needs some conditioning time, but was drinkable as it was. It had some apple-like off flavors, but it was actually sorta pleasant anyway...
  • Magic Hat Pistil - Super light, flowery, herbal, crisp and refreshing, would make a great summer beer. Not something that will blow away jaded beer nerds or anything, but it was actually a nice palate cleanser and certainly a lot more pleasant than macro stuff. B
  • Flying Dog Lucky S.O.B. - A pretty straightforward Irish Red Ale. Not bad or anything, but not particularly distinguished either. Nice malt backbone, easy drinking stuff. B-
  • Kaedrin Stout - Another of my homebrews, this thing is about a year and a half old, and it's actually drinking really well! Complex malt character, caramel, roast, dark chocolate, still packs a whallop of flavor and hasn't really lost anything over the year and a half in my cellar. On the other hand, this has always been a beer that's worked well in small pours. Still, I think I may revisit the recipe next year, perhaps amp it up a bit more, give it some more hops, get a higher attenuating yeast. It's pretty good right now, but it could be great.
  • Boulevard Harvest Dance Wheatwine - It's like a hefeweizen, only moreso. In my limited experience with big wheat beers, I've always gotten cloying, sticky sweet notes that just made it unpalatable. But this drinks like a slightly boozy hefeweizen. Huge banana and clove weizen yeast character in the nose, and you really don't get that big boozy flavor until the finish, and even then, it doesn't quite feel like a 9.1% monster. Still not my favorite style, but this was among the best I've had. B+
  • DuClaw Bourbon Barrel Aged Devil's Milk - The regular Devil's Milk is a wonderful little barleywine, this bourbon-barrel aged version makes a nice complementary offering. It's a huge, bourbon forward beer, lots of caramel and vanila, much less in the way of hops than the base, but still an eminently drinkable brew. Would like to try again sometime, but I'll give it an tentative A-
  • Weyerbacher Riserva (2012) - Picked this up at the release at the brewery this past weekend (will have a more detailed post later, stay tuned), even briefly crossed paths with Rich on Beer and fam on my way to pick up some Riserva and the last NATO beer (Zulu, which, again, will be covered in a separate post at some point). Anyways, Riserva is an oak aged beer made with raspberries. It's going to be distributed, but as American Wild Ales go, it's pretty solid stuff. It's not a top tier Russian River killer or anything, but it's got a place at the table, and I'm continually surprised at how well sour beers go over with the beer club crowd. Even non-beer drinkers gave this a shot and really enjoyed it. For my part, I found it to be a bit hot, but otherwise a pretty solid beer. Funky, intensely sour, but with a nice oak character balancing things out. A little astringent and boozy, but still really enjoyable. Not sure about knocking back an entire 750 ml of this, but I'm sure it will happen someday. B+
And that about covers it. Good times had by all, and already planning next month's meetup, since this month happened so late.

HaandBryggeriet Dark Force

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After sampling this tiny Scandanavian brewery's wares a few months ago, I immediately made plans to get my haands on some more of their stuff. Norwegian Wood was possibly the best straight-up smoked beer I've ever had, and this one, well this one is unique. They call this thing a "Double Extreme Imperial Wheat Stout", a style I can't imagine is very common. I'm sure some cuckoo-nutso homebrewer is out there right now doing the same thing, but then again, these HaandBryggeriet guys are basically homebrewers. They brew in their spare time on "an absurdly small scale", which allows them to embrace whatever quirky ideas they may have. In this case, the wheat malt and yeast mixes surprisingly well with the more traditional roasted malt character, and I got some really well balanced smoke out of it too. Truly, the force is with this one (even if it is the dark side):

HaandBryggeriet Dark Force

HaandBryggeriet Dark Force - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with half a finger of light brown head. Smells very sweet, caramel, toffee, some wheat, some roast, and maybe even some smoke. Actually, as it warms, that smoked character develops even more, giving off a sorta meaty character. This isn't one of those overpoweringly smoked beers, it's subtle, but distinct, and while I usually don't get meaty character out of smoked beers, I'm getting it here. Taste has some light, rich caramel tones, that touch of smoke is more prominent here too, and some wheat and roasted malt too. Again, smoked bacon character is emerging as it warms, and it's actually really well matched with the rest of the beer. This is not one of those unbalanced "who put their cigar out in my beer" affairs, it actually fits with the rest of the beer. Subtle and complex flavors. Mouthfeel has plenty of carbonation, a welcome depth and richness. It's not dry, but for such a big beer, it's not very sticky icky either. Overall, this is an excellent and well crafted stout. Delicious and complex, well worth seeking out. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 3/22/13. (No bottling/batch info on label, for some reason)

This pretty much exhausts my current supply of HaandBryggeriet treats, but I'm sure I'll revisit them soon enough. They're clearly in the upper tier of my Euro-brewer experience.

Cascade Kriek Ale

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I've heard a lot about Cascade Brewing out of Oregon, but I'd always figured them for one of those breweries I'd never actually see (except maybe in a trade, now that I've popped that cherry). They apparently do a brisk business selling beer online, but because PA has the dumbest beer laws ever, they do not ship here. Fortunately for me, bottles have started to show up in the Philly area through regular distribution channels, which is a very welcome development. I picked up this Kriek a few weeks ago and will now be keeping an eye out for their other "regular" beers... And at this point, I might need to orchestrate a shipment of Cascade beer to some readily accessible Delaware residence, cause this stuff is just great.

Cascade Kriek

Cascade Kriek Ale 2011 - Pours a clear dark red color, and yes, robey tones, with a finger of light colored head with the faintest whisper of pink (faint enough that I wondered if I was imagining it). Smells sweet with that sour twang, lactic, a little oak. Taste is sweet, lots of sour cherry flavors, and a moderate amount of oak character comes on in the finish. Very pleasant lactic tartness with those cherries, and maybe a bit of funk too. Mouthfeel is perfect. Well carbonated, medium bodied, with a certain richness afforded by that barrel aging, but extremely well balanced. A little sticky, the aftertaste lingers for a bit, which works well for this. Overall, above average Flanders Red stuff here. Perhaps not at the very tippy top of the heap, but a worthy competitor! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.62% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 3/22/13. Label sez: 2011 Project.

Alright, so riddle me this: the name of the beer is Kriek, but this isn't spotaneously fermented lambic. Cascade also calls it a Northwest Style Sour Ale, which to me means that it would fall under that American Wild Ale category... but then BA has it as a Flanders Red Ale (which, actually, works well enough I guess, as this fits well with that style). I know, whatever, who cares, this is just great beer and yes, I'll be getting more from them and am I still writing? I should stop now and start masterminding the great beer heist of 2013 (yeah, this is a grandiose description of ordering beer online, but work with me here).

Update: Ah crap, they don't ship to Delaware or even New Jersey, which pretty severely limits my options. I guess it's left to trades then.

Evolution Brewing, out of that craft beer mecca of Maryland, has been uniformly impressive when it comes to their series of IPAs. Lot 3 is a very solid single IPA, and Lot 6 doubles things up, a fantastic beer. But what about their other beer? They have a reasonable regular lineup, but I've been seeing a lot of interesting one-offs and barrel-aged stuff showing up in shops lately, so I decided to take the plunge. This is described as a Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale (or an American Strong Ale), but really it's pretty much a stout aged in bourbon barrels. It's part of their Migration Series, which are released in each season. Let's see how it fared:

Evolution Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale - Winter Migration 2012

Evolution Bourbon Barrel Dark Ale - Winter Migration 2012 - Pours a deep black color with a finger of light brown head. Smells of roasted malt, a little caramel, and just a faint hint of bourbon and oak. Taste is very sweet, less in the way of roast (though that's still there) and more in the way of dark chocolate and bourbon, especially in the finish. A little boozy, some caramel, vanilla and oak opening up as it warms. Mouthfeel is smooth, full bodied, a little boozy. Light carbonation, but not undercarbonated. Overall, this is a solid BBA beer, not mind-blowing or anything, but it's doing its job well enough. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a snifter on 3/17/13. Bottle 1102 of 1400.

Not blown away, but it's a good showing, for sure, and I'm curious to try out their Menagerie #8, a one-off Belgian Strong Dark aged in Red Wine barrels. And, of course, I'm sure I'll come back to Lot No6 at some point now that it's in bottles.

Stone Enjoy By 04.01.13 IPA

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As someone who's been rounding the corner into the sad sort of beer geekery where I cringe at the sight of unrefrigerated IPAs and bemoan the lack of clear bottling dates on bottles and other such pedantry, I have to say that the marketing that surrounds Stone's Enjoy By series of beers is superb. What's more, it's actually relevant! They're not resurrecting some foul ancient recipe and passing it off as something other than pure gimmickry, they're actually harping on something appropriate here. I joke about my growing pedantry on the subject, but freshness is actually important.

For the uninitiated, Stone's Enjoy By is a beer that is brewed not to last (oh shit, I just used a line directly from their marketing, I feel so unclean). Rather than etch a tiny little date on the bottle (that only pedants like myself would seek out), they slap the expiration date in big numbers right on the front of the bottle. In addition, the time window is extremely short - I believe it's only 35 days from bottling. The idea is that once the date passes, that beer won't be sold anymore. To do this, Stone appears to limit the size of the batches as well as the distribution area. By all accounts, this stuff sells out pretty quickly wherever it appears. However, they send new batches to a different area each time, so if you can't get it now (or you missed out the first time around), you will probably get a chance soon enough (there's a whole social media jamboree about how they choose the next market, but whatevers). My bottle was "Enjoy By 04.01.13", a gift from a friend (thanks Danur!) procured in the great state of Delaware (we missed out on the Philly batch due to general apathy and laziness).

So I love the concept of this beer, and groupthink indicates that everyone loves this stuff. Alas, I was not quite as taken with it. A fine beer, to be sure, but perhaps it wasn't fresh enough!

Stone Enjoy By 04.01.13 IPA

Stone Enjoy By 04.01.13 IPA - Pours a strikingly clear golden color with a finger of white head and plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells of pure hops, pine, lots of citrus, almost plasticky white grapes, a New Zealand hoppy feel - Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, and the like (Update: I was correct! Kinda! Those two hops are there, but also a crapton of other varieties, including some usual suspects and some more exotic stuff). Taste follows the nose and is almost purely driven by the hops. I would be surprised if there were any actual specialty grains used in this. It's very sweet, but otherwise the actual flavor comes from that piney, fruity citrus plastic from the hops, and the bitterness in the finish manages to counteract that high sweetness factor. I keep describing this as plasticky, which probably sounds worse than it really is, though I don't think it entirely works either. Mouthfeel is on the upper end of medium bodied, well carbonated but smooth enough. Overall, this is working out, I guess, but it's not really blowing me away. Not exactly the glowing experience I was hoping for. B

Beer Nerd Details: 9.4% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 3/14/13.

Would perhaps try this again sometime if the opportunity presents itself, just to make sure I'm not crazy about the plasticky character I was picking up. Still love the concept, and the way they exclusively distribute to other areas of the country on a rotating basis.

Divine Teufelweizen

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Beer brewing in wine country? Zuh? Alright, so it's not exactly a new thing, but Sonoma county's Divine Brewing has its foot in both worlds. Brewer Kevin Robinson has a background in both disciplines and currently splits his time by working at Russian River Brewing during the day (speaking of beer and wine combos) and building his own label at night and on weekends (more info on this story at the linked article). As such, Divine Brewing is a tiny contract-brewing operation, making small batches and packaging only in bottles.

Teufelweizen (thankful that I don't have to pronounce that and can just write it) is ostensibly a Weizenbock style beer, but Robinson has added a few twists. Primarily fermented with the classic Weihenstephan weizen yeast (which should yield that traditional banana and clove character), Robinson then adds in some wine yeast about halfway through the process (which will help with attenuation and contribute notes of its own). It's then bottle conditioned with a different strain of yeast, specifically chosen for its ability to age well. The bottles-only packaging was an intentional thing, as Robinson says he "wanted to make beers that can age", and Teufelweizen, a strong, dark, yeast and malt-focused beer, seems like a promising candidate for cellaring. Rounding out the overlap with wine, the whole thing is packaged in a black wine bottle, caged and corked for good measure.

Jay of Beer Samizdat was kind enough to send me the 2011 vintage in our last trade, so we'll see how that aging thing works out.

Divine Teufelweizen

Divine Brewing Teufelweizen (2011) - Pours a dark brown color, very subtle robey tones when pouring, and a couple fingers of tan head. Smells really nice, big malty aromas, wheat, maybe some caramel, and a pronounced fruity character that's really quite pleasant. Taste starts off very sweet, with a spicy pepper kick and dark chocolate (almost roast, but not quite) notes emerging in the middle, only to fade out into that fruity malt note in the finish. The effect winds up being a chocolate covered fruit (currants?) kinda feel, perhaps sprinkled with some cayenne pepper or something (according to the bottle, perhaps it's actually Sichuan pepper). Quite unique and interesting. Mouthfeel is smooth and velvety, well carbonated but soft and tight bubbles. Well attenuated, but not super-dry either, which just makes it easier to drink. I wasn't super surprised that it was 9.2%, but I don't think I'd have it pegged quite so high either. Overall, really nice beer, complex, unique, and interesting. Oh, and delicious. That too. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.2% ABV bottled (750 ml wine bottle, caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 3/14/13. Vintage: Fall 2011.

Quite a nice discovery, would love to try more from this operation sometime... In the meantime, I'll have to deal with a couple other CA pleasantries sent my way recently, including a Logsdon saison and some fancy looking barleywine.

Fat Weekend and Pliny Release

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So this past weekend was what we call Fat Weekend, a gathering of portly gentlemen from all over the Northeast (we're actually not that chubby, but as we like to say, fat is a state of mind). I don't get to see these guys that often, so it was a fantastic time, but you know, not much in the way of note-taking went on this weekend. I'm not a monster. Although I did unleash my Fat Weekend IPA homebrew on my friends, and it seemed to go over smashingly well (as evidenced by the fact that they drank it all and were asking for more). Again, no notes, so I'll try to do a more detailed tasting at some point (short story: super dank, piney, resinous, a little on the overcarbonated side, but very good). I did have a ton of different Sam Adams beers throughout the weekend (was pretty happy with the IPL, not so much with Maple Pecan Porter, and there were a bunch of others that I don't remember), but also some more beer nerdistic stuff like Rye Rebellion (not as whiskey forward as I remember, but still good) and Insanity (still very nice). Victory's Swing Session Saison was also a solid way to pace myself, considering the weekend-long session...

Another big highlight was the Apple Pie Moonshine, distilled by my buddy up in the boonies of CT. Clocking in at 70 proof, this stuff was dangerously drinkable and tasted just like apple pie. Fortunately/unfortunately (depending on your perspective), we only had one mason jar of the stuff, so I am still alive.

Apple Pie Moonshine

Imitation Solo cups: pure class. Once that was done, we hit up the uncut 'shine, which was 140 proof and... yeah, not quite as drinkable, though it made a nice additive in mixed drinkland. Speaking of which, this being Fat Weekend, someone also brought a bottle of Bakon... yep, bacon flavored vodka ("Pure. Refreshing. Bacon.") It was heinous. You're apparently not supposed to drink it straight up. We speculate that it might work in a Bloody Mary, but were too drunk to go out and buy necessary components. And quite frankly, we didn't care. It was the thought that counted, you know? Yeah, so a fantastic weekend full of booze and food and laughter (and somewhere in the middle there, a fantasy baseball draft), already looking forward to next year.

I had taken today off to recuperate, but a friend cajoled me into this year's local Pliny the Younger tapping... It was at the same place I had it last year (and my thoughts on the beer haven't changed much), but it was a much more annoying event. Last year, they opened at 10 and tapped Pliny at 12. If you got there early, they gave you a ticket and you could grab a seat and a bite to eat. It got crowded a little before they tapped it, but it was otherwise a pretty calm and enjoyable event. This year, they didn't open early and there was a line outside and once we got in there was basically a clusterfuck of crowds at the bar trying to get their allocation. No one was throwing elbows or anything, and everyone was actually pretty cool, but still. If I wasn't accompanying someone, I probably wouldn't have made the effort. On the other hand, I do really enjoy this stuff:

Russian River Pliny the Younger (2013)

Also got myself some more Angel's Share and Sour in the Rye, which was nice. So a long, good weekend here. Hope yours was too.

The Bruery Black Tuesday

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The notion of a white wale in the beer dorkosphere is a sorta moving target. When you're a newb or even an intermediate beer nerd, stuff like KBS or just about anything remotely desirable that's outisde your normal distribution chain can feel like a whale. Then you discover the swanky world of beer trading and realize that true .rar wales are a whole other level. Fortunately, I'm fine with regular ol' shelf-wales or stuff like Black Tuesday, a limited (if you consider 3-5 thousand bottles limited - shit sold out in 10 minutes, though, so there is that), brewery-only release that is nevertheless available to those of us fortunate enough to find a mule willing to pick your beer up for you. Big ups to DDB for muling my bottles (and, apparently, lots of others).

So, what's the big deal here? Well, this is a 19.2% ABV imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels for over a year, and the opinions of a bunch of strangers on the internet seems to indicate that it's really fucking awesome. Indeed, this might very well be the strongest beer I've ever actually tried, and for crying out loud, it only comes in 750 ml bottles. It's either something you need to share with a bunch of people, or something you greedily keep to yourself so that you achieve your goal of contracting diabetes. I opted for the latter option, clearing out my Saturday to slowly take this sucker down. I started drinking this bottle at 5, ended at 10. Now, "strong" does not always translate to "awesome", but in this case, spiking the blood sugar levels was totally worth it, and it was a worthy finale to my Bruery fueled, wallet lightening winter:

The Bruery Black Tuesday

The Bruery Black Tuesday (2012) - Pours a deep, dark brown color, almost but not quite a black hole from which no light can escape, with a thin cap of light brown head. Smells incredible, tons of bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, booze, and a very light touch on roast. Taste follows suit. Rich, chewy caramel, bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate, maybe even some coconut, a heaping helping of booze, finishing with that hint of roast. Amazingly complex, picking up new subtleties with each sip. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, thick, and chewy, with some definite alcohol heat on the backend, but nothing unpleasant at all. Even after a small sip, my mouth is coated, leaving the aftertaste to linger for a while. A sipping beer, for sure, but in the best possible way. I wish it was colder and that I could sit in front of a fireplace or some shit. It's approachable, but astoundingly complex. It's hard to call something this intense well balanced, but there's no really dominant aspect either, and like I said, I keep discovering new bits with each sip. Overall, this beer is fill with a richness and complexity that few others can approach. Amazing, face-melting stuff. A

Beer Nerd Details: 19.2% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and waxed). Drank out of a tulip on 3/9/13. Label sez: "Contains Alcohol" which I think is right.

Potential A+ stuff here, though I have a semi-rule that I won't hand one of those out unless I try something on at least two separate occasions. Fortunately, I have another bottle of this stuff in the cellar, so this is an actual possibility. Plus, I will most likely try for this again next year, perhaps even trying my hand at the next level variants like Chocolate Rain or Grey Monday. Or not. Maybe by that point I'll be swimming in Blaeber and the actual walez like 2009 Black Tuesday. Time will tell (but, uh, I wouldn't count on that).

Double Feature: Victorious Monkeys

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So just what the hell is being depicted on the Golden Monkey label? Let's take a closer look:

Victory Golden Monkey Logo

This label never made sense to me until someone told me that it was referencing the Three Wise Monkeys, a famous Japanese pictorial maxim that embodies the proverb "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". And yeah, I can kinda see that. There's clearly a finger being jabbed into an ear (only one ear, but I'll go with it) and a hand over the eyes and mouth too. But then, why does this monkey have four arms and a gigantic eyeball protruding from it's belly?

Anywho, Golden Monkey is one of my old favorites, one of the brews that got me into "good" beer back in the day (near as I can tell, it remains a draw to "non-beer drinkers"). I haven't had one of these in, oh, say 2 or 3 years. Will it hold up to scrutiny, or have I grown beyond it? And will sticking it in old white wine barrels make it even better? There's only one way to find out, so I picked up a bottle of each, and drank them both last Friday. First up, the regular ol' Monkey:

Victory Golden Monkey

Victory Golden Monkey - Pours a bright, mostly clear golden color with a couple fingers of bubbly white head. Smells of bready Belgian yeast and lots of spice, particularly coriander and maybe some clove too. The taste starts of sweet and bready, with spice (coriander and clove) hitting in the middle, and a well matched bitterness lingers in the finish. Not bitter like an IPA or anything, but enough balance that this doesn't quite feel like a 9.5% beer... Mouthfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated, a slight slickness in the finish. No real booze notes, but it's easy to drink this fast enough that you get that warming sensation in your belly. Overall, this is a really solid, spiced take on the style. I probably would have rated this higher a couple years ago, but it's still a really nice beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a goblet on 3/8/13. Bottle sez: Enjoy by Jan 9 2016

Victory White Monkey

Victory White Monkey - Pours a slightly darker, clear golden color with a finger of bubbly white head. Smells similar, bread and spice, but with a nice white wine aspect. That wine character doesn't come through quite as strongly in the taste, but it's still there, and it's got a light buttery, vinous character to it. Mouthfeel is still medium bodied, but less carbonated, lending a more sticky mouthfeel to the brew than the base beer. Overall, a nice variant of a nice beer, though I don't know that it's any better than its base. After drinking the bottle, I found myself a little disappointed in this, but I guess it's an interesting change of pace and I'm glad I got to try some. I suspect it's just that I'm not much of a white wine guy, unless we start talking about sours... B

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 3/8/13. Bottled on Feb 13 2013.

Well, I was hoping the Monkey would hold up to my original notions, and to be sure, it's a fine beer, but I'm just not as taken with it these days. And I'm just not that big a fan of white wine either, so perhaps the deck just wasn't stacked that well for me on Friday. Again, both fine beers, a gazillion times better than macro stuff, but a little underwhelming. Probably shouldn't have bought an extra, but hey, maybe some white wine fanatics would love this. This just about wraps up Victory's announced barrel aging efforts, of which the clear winner is Oak Horizontal. However, their new brewery comes on line soon, so I'm looking forward to some more experimentation, perhaps even the return of the most excellent Wild Devil (Hop Devil with Brett)...

De Molen Hemel & Aarde

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Tilting at windmills1 over here, dipping into my cellar to pull out this Dutch imperial stout made with peated barley malts from Bruichladdich (one of them Islay Scotch distilleries2). Not exactly the sort of thing that inflames passions, but appealing from a quixotic point of view, I guess:

De Molen Hemel and Aarde

Brouwerij De Molen Hemel & Aarde - Pours a deep black color with a light brown, big bubbled head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells of peated malts as well as the more traditional roasted malt character. Taste also features that smoky peat character, but it's well balanced with a more traditional roasted malt character. Some chocolate and coffee are apparent, but that light peat smoke character is the big differentiator. Mouthfeel is full bodied, well carbonated, and relatively easy on the palate, especially given the strength. No real sign of the high alcohol here at all, well hidden. Overall, a solid, well balanced stout with a twist. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 3/3/13.

Not quite the revelation of the peat dominated Rex Attitude, but a more interesting take on a smoked stout than Vampire Slayer. A nice opening gambit from De Molen, and I'm planning on tilting at their Hel & Verdoemenis next... looking forward to that one.

1 - "De Molen" means "The Mill" and is located inside a historic windmill called De Arkduif, and I'm sharpening my lances so that I may tilt at them (also tilting at my cellar, 'cause it needs some pruning).

2 - Bruichladdich was mothballed back in 1994, but reopened here in the 21st century. This superb New Yorker article, courtesy of the Beer Rover's little Twitter Feed, covers the whole ordeal in glorious detail and is well worth a read, no matter if you're a Scotch fan or not!

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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.

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