I actually had this at a beer club outing last year, and I loved it so much that I went out and bought a bottle. It was a big, rich imperial stout mixed with typical pumpkin pie flavors, but very well balanced. Or was it? This was a beer that really shined in the beer club setting, where I was only trying a few ounces, if that. And as pumpkin beers go, this was the first time I'd had a pumpkin stout, a combination of flavors that was surprisingly good. But maybe I've fallen prey to a classic market research problem. Fair warning, serious nerdery ahoy. Feel free to skip to the review below.

Remember the embarrassment that was New Coke? Longtime readers know I'm a huge fan of Coke and I really freakin hate Pepsi. Why did Coke reformulate their time-honored, classic formula? Well, Coke had been losing ground to Pepsi, and then this classic ad campaign came out: The Pepsi Challenge. Basically, Pepsi went out and asked a bunch of loyal Coke drinkers to take a sip from two glasses and pick which one was better. The participants preferred Pepsi by a rather large margin. Coke disputed the results until they started running their own internal sip tests... and got pretty much the same results. So they started fiddling with their fabled formula, making it sweeter and lighter (i.e. more like Pepsi). Eventually, they settled on a formula that consistently outperformed Pepsi in the challenge, and thus New Coke was born.

Of course, we all know what happened. New Coke was a disaster. Coke drinkers were outraged, the company's sales plunged, and Coke was forced to bring back the original formula as "Classic Coke" just a few months later (at which point New Coke practically disappeared). What's more, Pepsi's seemingly unstoppable ascendance never materialized. When it comes to the base cola brand, people still prefer Coke to Pepsi, sip tests be damned! So what's going on here? Why do people buy Coke when sip tests show that they like Pepsi better? Malcolm Gladwell wrote about why in his book Blink:

The difficulty with interpreting the Pepsi Challenge findings begins with the fact that they were based on what the industry calls a sip test or a CLT (central location test). Tasters don't drink the entire can. They take a sip from a cup of each of the brands being tested and then make their choice. Now suppose I were to ask you to test a soft drink a little differently. What if you were to take a case of the drink home and tell me what you think after a few weeks? Would that change your opinion? It turns out it would. Carol Dollard, who worked for Pepsi for many years in new-product development, says, "I've seen many times when the CLT will give you one result and the home-use test will give you the exact opposite. For example, in a CLT, consumers might taste three or four different products in a row, taking a sip or a couple sips of each. A sip is very different from sitting and drinking a whole beverage on your own. Sometimes a sip tastes good and a whole bottle doesn't. That's why home-use tests give you the best information. The user isn't in an artificial setting. They are at home, sitting in front of the TV, and the way they feel in that situation is the most reflective of how they will behave when the product hits the market."

Dollard says, for instance, that one of the biases in a sip test is toward sweetness: "If you only test in a sip test, consumers will like the sweeter product. But when they have to drink a whole bottle or can, that sweetness can get really overpowering or cloying." Pepsi is sweeter than Coke, so right away it had a big advantage in a sip test. Pepsi is also characterized by a citrusy flavor burst, unlike the more raisiny-vanilla taste of Coke. But that burst tends to dissipate over the course of an entire can, and that is another reason Coke suffered by comparison. Pepsi, in short, is a drink built to shine in a sip test. Does this mean that the Pepsi Challenge was a fraud? Not at all. It just means that we have two different reactions to colas. We have one reaction after taking a sip, and we have another reaction after drinking a whole can.


The parallel here is obvious. Drinking a small dose of a beer in the context of beer club (where I'm sampling a whole bunch of beers) can lead to some distortion in ratings. I usually mention this bias in my beer club posts, but despite my usual snark when bringing it up, I do think those ratings are a bit suspect.

In this particular case, the beer did not fare quite as well upon revisiting it in a more controlled environment (sheesh, I'm a nerd), though I suppose the fact that I aged this beer a year or so also has something to do with it. Yet more distortion! I suspect a fresh bottle would have more of that rich, chewy stout character and a more biting spice presence, whereas this aged bottle showed a lot more pumpkin and less in the way of stoutness. Spicing was clearly still strong, but not quite as bright as they seemed last year. Ok fine, I admit it, all of my tasting notes are unreliable. I hope your happy. Anywho, here's my notes:

Cape Ann Fishermans Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Cape Ann Fisherman's Imperial Pumpkin Stout (2011 Vintage) - Pours a black color with minimal, rather light colored head. Smells very sweet, with a huge pumpkin pie component, with both pumpkin and spice asserting themselves. Taste is again very sweet, with some caramel flavors, a little in the way of chocolate, and even a little roastiness, but those pumpkin pie notes are here too, and they get stronger the more I drink. This seems to have lost some of its punch from last year, though it's still big and flavorful stuff. Mouthfeel is rich and creamy, a little spicy, but this doesn't drink like an 11% beer. Definitely not as great as I remembered, but still very solid and overall, as pumpkin beers go, this is still one of my favorites. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 9/29/12. 2011 vintage.

Yeah, so maybe I'll try to find a fresh bottle of this stuff and see if it fares any better. I've actually never had any of Cape Ann's other Fisherman's beers, so I should probably get on that too...

Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire iO Saison

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I'd eyed this saison brewed with rose hips, rose petals, and hibiscus, at the beer store this past summer, but I guess I didn't look close enough, as the fact that it's brewed by Jolly Pumpkin wasn't readily apparent. Luckily for me, Jay had posted about this beer a while back and given it a glowing review, so the next time I saw it, I made sure to snatch it up. I've always enjoyed Jolly Pumpkin's beers, but I have to admit, I've never really been blown away by them. Until now! But first, pedantry:

Apparently this is the first in "a liquid narrative" being told by Jolly Pumpkin founder Ron Jeffries and label artist Adam Forman. As such, this new series of beers (named in honor of French poet Charles Baudelaire) has a different sort of aesthetic when it comes to label design, hence my not recognizing it for what it was (in all honesty, I rather like the label design more than the traditional Jolly Pumpkin style). Forman was also working on a graphic novel as a companion to the beers, but that's "on hold." No biggie, though, cause this is some wonderful beer:

Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire iO Saison

Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire iO - Pours a cloudy, dark reddish orange color with a couple fingers of pillowy head. Smells strongly of biscuity, spicy Belgian yeast with a healthy dose of Brett funk that almost, but not quite, hits a sour note. The taste starts sweet, with that bready, spicy Belgian yeast character yielding to earthy, funky Brettanomyces in the middle and finish. Maybe a little bit of fruitiness to the taste too (perhaps some floral notes from the rose and hibiscus), not quite sour, but in that wild direction. The mouthfeel is highly carbonated, effervescent, full bodied, and very dry all throughout. Overall, we've got a well balanced, complex, funky beer here that I might have rated even higher had I not just had Logsdon's wonderful Seizoen Bretta. Still, this is fantastic stuff. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/28/12. Batch 1019. Bottled 02-23-2012.

Apparently this was made in pretty limited quantities, but they say they will probably be making it again, so if you like funky saisons, this is a must try for you. I'll probably be seeking out some more Jolly Pumpkin in the meantime, and perhaps some additional entries in the Baudelaire series will make appearances. One can only hope...

Bourbon County Brand Stout

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After my trip to the homebrew shop last week, I popped down the road to one of my favorite little beer bars in the burbs, Station Taproom. It's a small place, but they've usually got some good stuff on tap, and what to my wondering eyes did appear? Bourbon County Brand Stout, we meet at last. I don't get the impression that this is a super rare beer, but Goose Island only started distributing out here a year or so ago (I think) and I've never actually seen a bottle of this around.

I suppose it should be acknowledged that Goose Island is now owned by the great Satan, AB-InBev, but I've always cared more about what's in the bottle than anything else. As a general principle, Goose Island doesn't get a ton of love from us Kaedrinians, but only because there's just such a massive variety of beer available out there that I don't feel particularly obligated to try their stuff. But by all accounts, this beer is a classic and I've kinda been drooling over the prospect of trying this for a few years now. Apparently Goose Island started making it way back in... 1992? That can't be right. Is it? Holy crap, apparently that's true. Anywho, Goose Island has one of the largest (if not the largest) barrel aging programs in the country, and if those devils at AB-InBev are able to expand that without impacting quality (hardly a sure thing), who am I to complain? Alright, so let's get to it:

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout - Pours pitch black color with a finger of light brown head. Very thick looking, like old motor oil. Smells strongly of bourbon and oak, with some vanilla and caramel coming out to play too... Taste has a ton of deep sweetness, lots of rich bourbon, caramel, dark chocolate, oak, vanilla, and just a hint of booziness (which is impressive for such a monster beer)... Mouthfeel is rich, creamy, thick and chewy, coating your mouth leaving those complex flavors to linger pleasantly on the palate. A little booziness and alcohol warming, but nothing overwhelming and actually pretty light for a 14.5% beer. It's reasonably well balanced for such a monster. Overall, superb. A

Beer Nerd Details: 14.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a goblet on 9/27/12.

I'd love to get my hands on some bottles of these, as it's certainly one of the better big barrel aged stouts I've had. I can't say as though I'm going to run out and try other Goose Island beers, but I'll definitely be seeking out anything from the Bourbon County Brand series.

Adventures in Brewing - Beer #9: Abbey Dubbel

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I think I've mentioned this style as a potential next batch after, well, most of my previous beers. Well, I've finally pulled the trigger. This one doesn't come from a kit or even a clone recipe, though I did look at clones for St. Bernardus 8 and Ommegang Abbey Ale (two of my favorite dubbels). The real key resource was Brew Like a Monk, by Stan Hieronymus. Abbey Dubbels are generally dark beers, though that color comes more from dark sugars (usually candi syrup or rocks) than from roasty malts, meaning that these beers usually surprise folks who think they "don't like dark beers." The dubbel has Trappist origins, and they generally keep things simple. As such, what I ended up with wasn't particularly complex from a recipe perspective. I don't think I'll be able to replicate Trappist attenuation rates (which reach into the mid or even high 80% range), but I'm better at temperature control than I used to be, so I guess we'll see what happens. Here's the recipe:

Beer #9: Abbey Dubbel
September 29, 2012

1 lb. Aromatic Malt (specialty grain)
0.5 lb. CaraMunich Malt (specialty grain)
0.5 lb. Special B (specialty grain)
7 lb. Briess Golden Light DME
1 lb. Dark Belgian Candi Syrup (90° L)
1.5 oz. Hallertauer (4.3% AA, bittering)
0.5 oz. Hallertauer (flavor)
1 oz. Saaz (aroma)
1 tsp. Irish Moss
Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity Yeast

Homebrew Ingredients

Again, nothing super complex here. Trappists apparently don't use quite as much in the way of specialty grains, but the ones I'm using are not uncommon (especially the Special B, which is a key component for a lot of commercial beers). I get the impression that they use more sugar as well, though they're careful about additions and temperature control, something I have little control over. But for the most part, this seems like a solid, middle of the road recipe.

I started by bringing 2 gallons of water to around 150°F - 155°F, then I steeped the specialty grains for about 25-30 minutes. Removed grains, sparged with another gaollon of warm water, bringing the amount in the pot to around 3 gallons. Added all of the malt extract and candi syrup. This is the first time I used candi syrup, and I have to say, it's much easier to work with than the typical candi "rocks". After that, I covered and settled in for the boil, which took about 40 minutes (stupid electric stovetop). Once at boiling, I added the bittering hops and started the timer. The Hallertauer hops I got came in at a lower alpha acid percentage than I had planned on, so I had to do a little audible here and add an extra half ounce. Hopefully this will be enough... According to my little calculator thingy, this beer will come out at around 23 IBU, which should be plenty...

With 15 minutes remaining, I add the flavor hops and Irish moss. I had originally planned a full 1 ounce addition of Hallertauer here, but I had repurposed some of that for bittering, and from what I can tell, a lot of recipes eschew flavor hop additions entirely, so this should be fine. With 5 minutes remaining, I hadd the Saaz aroma hops. When finished, I plop the pot in my little ice bath, and wait for the temperature to get down to the 80°-90° range. Strained the wort into the bucket, and topped off with about 2 gallons of cold water (bringing the temperature down to a more appropriate 70° or so).

For the yeast, I went with Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity Yeast (packaged 8/28/12), which is apparently derived from the Westmalle strain (and since they make some of my favorite Trappist beers, I think that'll work for me). This yeast also has a high attenuation range and is apparently more tolerant of higher temperatures (ideal range 64°-78°). Since it's fall, temperatures are dropping, but the ambient temperature inside my house is still around 70°-75°, so I wanted to make sure the yeast would tolerate that. I've managed to keep the ambient temperature on the lower end of that range for the start, so here's to hoping things go well.

Original Gravity: 1.079 (around 19°Bx). Yeah, so this came in a little higher than I was going for (which was 1.076), but I don't think it's a major cause for concern. The target ABV is now around 7.6% (assuming around 75% attenuation), though that could easily grow to be around 8% if I get more attenuation out of the yeast. My only real concern here is that I have enough bittering hops, though this is a malty style, so I think I should be fine.

I plan to bottle in 3 weeks time (could probably go shorter, but I want to make sure the attenuation maxes out here, and my previous experience with Belgian yeast makes me want to make sure I don't bottle too early). I'm not sure what will be next in my brewing adventures. I've been thinking about some sort of highly hopped imperial red ale, but I'm also considering a big ol' American Barleywine (perhaps finally getting myself a secondary fermenter and doing some bourbon oak aging). I'm also out of the IPA I made last year, and I'm definitely going to make more of that stuff at some point. And I'm not sure what I want to do about a Christmas beer this year either. Should I replicate last year's recipe (which was perfect)? Or try something new? So many beers, so little time! Stay tuned.

(Cross posted on Kaedrin Weblog)

Heretic Evil Twin

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Another beer from a tiny West Coast brewery, courtesy of Jay from the most excellent Beer Samizdat blog. I found out after drinking it that the guy behind the brewery is Jamil Zainasheff. Not exactly a household name, but definitely a big figure in the dorky world of homebrewing. He's got some well respected books on the subject and co-hosts the Brew Strong podcast. When listening to people give advice on homebrewing, there's always a part of my mind that's wondering whether or not I can trust what I'm hearing. I mean, these guys clearly have a lot of knowledge and brew a lot, but it's not like I've ever tasted their beer. So it's heartening to see someone like Jamil open his own brewery and put his stuff out there for all to consume. Good on him, and if this beer is any indication, I think Heresy will become acceptable:

Heretic Evil Twin

Heretic Evil Twin - Pours a dark amber ruby color with a finger of light head. Amazing nose on this thing. Tons of juicy citrus, pineapple, grapefruit, pine, the works. Unfortunately, I think that aroma may be writing checks the taste can't cash. Taste starts of with some big, sweet caramel and amber malts, coupled with a little citrus and pine hop character in the middle, and some hop bitterness finishing it off. This is in no way bad - it's actually really, really good, but it's a little more muted than the nose was leading me to believe. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, but easy to put down. Overall, a really nice hoppy red ale, certainly something I'd go out of my way for again. On the upper end of B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.8% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/22/12. Label sez: Bottled 05.14.12 X33

A nice first impression, and fortunately, Jay sent along another Heretical beer that I'm quite... Worried about (heh). Seriously though, super excited to try that other Heretic beer. In other news, I'm officially caught up on reviews (unless, uh, you consider the beer I drank tonight, which you'll be hearing about next week). Score. Also, it's getting cooler out, so that means homebrewing activities will resume en-force. First up: an Abbey Dubbel. Look for a recap on Sunday. After that... I'm thinking this imperial red ale style could be interesting. I'll have to start thinking up a recipe...

Green's Quest

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I admit, I've always been curious about these Green's beers. Never curious enough to pull the trigger, but one of the consequences of being a huge beer nerd is that when my birthday rolls around, people give me beer that I normally wouldn't buy (just to be clear, this is not something I'm complaining about). In this case, I got a rather awesome six-pack, picked out by my nieces and Brother (who had steered them towards the Belgian aisle, bless him). I got some Chimay and a Westmalle Tripel, and a few others, including this beer - a gluten free "Tripel Blonde Ale". Yep, no barley in this at all. In it's place, we've got Millet (whatever that is), Buckwheat (Ohhhh Tay!), Rice (I know what that is!), and Sorghum (does not sound like a foodstuff, but let's go with it). That doesn't sound too appetizing. On the other hand, it clocks in at 8.5% ABV, so maybe there's some hope? Ehh, not so much:

Greens Quest Tripel

Green's Quest Tripel Blonde Ale - Pours a golden yellow color with lots of fizzy, big bubbled head. Smells of sweet green apple and not a whole lot else. The taste kinda leans towards that green apple character too, with a light tartness and big, cloying sweetness. Mouthfeel is actually kinda heavy, highly carbonated (which does help cut the sweetness), but not quite what you want out of a tripel. Overall, it's not an outright abomination, but it's not really that good either. C-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a goblet on 9/22/12. Label sez: "Best Before 05/01/17"

Yeah, so I can't say as though I'm going to run out to try more gluten-free beer. I'm just going to be thankful that I don't have a gluten problem. Let's just chalk this up as a loss in the great game of Belgian Beer Roulette. And such loses only make the wins that much sweeter.

Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout

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North Carolina's Duck-Rabbit Brewery fancies themselves "Dark Beer Specialists", an interesting move in an industry that practically requires IPAs (they don't even do a Cascadian Dark Black IPA or whatever it's called). They're a small brewery with a horrible but somehow charming website and a growing distribution. My experience with them has been limited, but someone brought a couple of their staple brews to the last beer club. Their porter was, well, a porter. Well crafted, but not particularly my thing. We didn't get to the Milk Stout that night, but I managed to wrangle it on the way out, and it's been waiting patiently in my fridge ever since. So here goes nothin:

Duck Rabbit Milk Stout

Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of tight tan head. Actually smells pretty sweet, with a sorta chalky aroma I associate with milk stouts and it's a little light on the typical roasted malt character. Taste is again heavy on the sweetness, with the roast character emerging in the middle and intensifying through the finish, which has a surprisingly dry bitterness that doesn't quite fully balance out the initial sweetness. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated at the start, medium to full bodied, with a little sweet acidity. Overall, a solid entry in the style, but not something I'd go out of my way for... B

Beer Nerd Details: 5.7% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 9/21.

While neither beer particularly wowed me, I also haven't really had any of their bigger beers that would have been more interesting anyway. I'd love to try their Baltic Porter, Wee Heavy, or Rabid Duck (imperial stout). Heck, even their Schwarzbier or Duck-Rabbator (doppelbock) sound like they could be fun. All of which is to say, you'll probably see some more from these folks here on the blog someday.

St. Bernardus Tokyo

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Hey, that St. Bernardus bottle looks weird. Oh God, what have they photoshopped onto that poor monk now? Is that a... kimono? What the hell? Tokyo? Did St. Bernardus make a new beer? Why was I not informed!?

Yeah, so while American breweries are pluralistic and ephemeral, engaging in limited-release arms-races and resurrecting dead styles, a lot of older breweries like St. Bernardus have a stable, tried-and-true lineup that doesn't change much, if ever. This isn't to badmouth St. Bernardus, a brewery we have the utmost respect for, as our archives demonstrate. For those keeping score, that's 3 A ratings, 2 A- ratings, and one each of B+ and B. Truly a brewery to be reckoned with, which is why I jumped when I saw the poor monk photoshopped into a kimono. Apparently St. Bernardus is opening a branded Belgian beer pub in Tokyo, and brewed this one-time batch of beer to commemorate the occasion (most went to Tokyo, but some was reserved for normal distribution avenues in Europe and the US).

As it turns out, I grabbed the bottle so quickly that I didn't pay attention to the price tag, which came in at a hefty $20+ for a 750. Now, lord knows I've pretty much broken down that $20 barrier, especially for the barrel aged monsters I'm addicted to, but this thing's a 6% ABV Wit beer? Ooooookkkkaay, well, maybe there was a ridiculous markup at the bottle shop and most places that get this one-time brew are more reasonable. Apparently this brew uses malted wheat whereas a lot of traditional wit beers use unmalted wheat. Or something. I don't really grok it, but perhaps that explains why this didn't feel that much like a wheat beer (though I kinda loved it):

St. Bernardus Tokyo

St. Bernardus Tokyo - Pours a very cloudy, darkish yellow color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head. Smells of pure Belgian yeast, lots of spice (clove, coriander), bready aromas, and even a little light fruitiness. It seems like the nose of a Belgian Pale rather than a Wit (indeed, I get very little wheat character from this at all). Taste is again mostly defined by that bready, biscuity Belgian yeast which imparts lots of spicy flavors, along with some very light fruitiness and maybe even a hint of grassy, herbal hops (but maybe that's just my imagination). As it warms up, some complexity in the form of that trademark wheat character starts to emerge, though this still feels like a Belgian pale... Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, with a nice spicy feel. Finishes pretty dry too, making this a good beer to match with food. Overall, this is an excellent beer, much better than I was expecting... though I'm still not sure it justified the price tag. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 9/21/12. Label sez: "It is a unique, single batch brewed on February 3rd and 4th 2012". Hops: Golding and Magnum.

So all's well that ends well, and I'm really glad I got to try this thing, but I find it hard to recommend due to the price. If you've got the cash or hey, if you find a cheap bottle, go for it. Otherwise, I'd say hit up the Watau Tripel, which is probably about 3 times cheaper and probably better...

Hoppin' Frog Barrel Aged Naked Evil

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I'm guessing that Hoppin' Frog's graphic artist was on vacation when they were bottling this stuff. Every single other label that Hoppin' Frog makes features that weirdly proportioned cartoon frog, so scrolling down their list of beers, this thing definitely stands out. Maybe that's the point. It certainly caught my eye in the store. I was a little wary of the odd description "Belgian-style Barley Wine-style Ale". I mean, huh? Maybe their copy writer was on vacation too. Reading the full description, it becomes a little more clear. This is a barleywine that's fermented with Belgian and English yeasts, then aged in whiskey barrels. Color me excited:

Hoppin Frog Barrel Aged Naked Evil

Hoppin' Frog Barrel Aged Naked Evil - Pours a bright, slightly hazy amber color with almost no head at all, just barely a little ring of light colored stuff around the edge of the glass. Smells strongly of fruity malts and booze, some caramel, vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Taste starts with rich caramel, those fruity malts, and tons of boozy bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is beautiful, surprisingly well carbonated (perhaps that Belgian yeast asserting itself), but still rich and creamy. As it warms, that tight carbonation winds down a bit into more traditional barleywine territory. Indeed, the fruity flavors and depth call to mind a port wine kinda character. Overall, a fantastic take on the style. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.3% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber) Drank out of a snifter on 9/8/12. Batch 2 (black cap).

So at this point, I've had three beers from Hoppin' Frog, and they've all been pretty fantastic. B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher is a fantastic imperial stout, and some sort of IPA that I don't remember the name of (which was very good, though I wasn't really in a position to take notes or pay much attention - sue me). So I guess what I'm saying is, I need to try more stuff from these folks in Akron, Ohio. They might not have a great graphic artist team (though they're far from bad), but they seem to get the stuff inside the bottle right, which is the important part.

Ommegang Biere D'Hougoumont: A Screenplay

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1. INT. FRENCH BIVOUAC NEAR WATERLOO, DAY (CIRCA 1815)

EMPEROR NAPOLEON stands over a map of Waterloo, discussing strategy and tactics with three of his TRUSTED GENERALS. TRUSTED GENERAL 1 slices a block of cheese and sips wine.

TRUSTED GENERAL 1: This has gone on for far too long. We must surrender!

An embarrassed silence descends upon the tent, though the mood lightens when everyone realizes that TRUSTED GENERAL 1 will be chosen to lead the attack and thus almost surely die a horrifying death.

TRUSTED GENERAL 2 (rolling his eyes): We must take Château d'Hougoumont! It's... strategically important.

NAPOLEON: Non! We will use Hougoumont to draw Wellington's reserve to our left flank, then attack through the center right!

TRUSTED GENERAL 2: But sir, our troops need wine! We will surely find ample stores at the Hougoumont farmhouse. We must secure it immediately.

NAPOLEON: This is Belgium, you fool, that farmhouse makes beer, not wine!

TRUSTED GENERAL 3: That's good enough for me.

TRUSTED GENERAL 1: I concur. Once we have an ample supply of booze, we can surrender in style. I do not think any of you are considering the merits of a good, old fashioned surrender...

NAPOLEON: Non! Non! Non! Non! Who is the military genius here? Who amongst you has been summoned to the future for historical study, eh?!

TRUSTED GENERAL 2 (looking pained): Sir, with all due respect to Messieurs Bill and Ted, I do not think you can rely on your limited time with them. For all we know, you're famous for losing this battle!

NAPOLEON: Nonsense! I will take Waterloo and build an eighth wonder of the world based on my visions of the future, a water-park to inspire awe in all who witness its glory. Waterloo? Water park! This is no coincidence, it is fate!

TRUSTED GENERAL 1: You make a good point. I have been quite impressed by the visions you brought back from the future. I quite liked that... la glacé... what did you call it?

NAPOLEON: Ziggy Piggy.

TRUSTED GENERAL 1: Yes, magnifique! Let us make a Ziggy Piggy and surrender!

NAPOLEON: Non! Non! Non! We are not taking Hougoumont, and that is final. Beer is not worth taking.

2. INT. ENGLISH BIVOUAC NEAR WATERLOO, DAY (CIRCA 1815)

FIELD MARSHAL WELLINGTON stands over a map of Waterloo as a FIELD SCOUT returns from his mission.

SCOUT: Château d'Hougoumont is filled with beer. Apparently something called a Bière de Garde.

WELLINGTON (perking up): Beer? We must commit all our troops to taking Hougoumont! It is... strategically important.

3. EXT. BATTLE OF WATERLOO

The camera slowly PANS across the famous painting Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler.

Battle of Waterloo 1815 by William Sadler

KEN BURNS: And thus the fate of Battle of Waterloo was decided. By beer.

4. INT. COMPUTER DESK, EVENING

MARK: What? I'm pretty sure this is how it really happened. I realize this is too late for instruction, but if you read the above with horribly stereotyped French accents, it's much funnier.

HYPOTHETICAL READER: Isn't this supposed to be a beer blog?

MARK: Yeah, yeah, I'm getting to that. This is Ommegang's take on a Bière de Garde, brewed with a rather complex malt bill (apparently eight different varieties), French Ale Yeast, French Strisselspalt hops, and aged on a combo of oak and maple staves. As Ommegang specialty brews go, it's actually rather expensive, but I'm a sucker for these guys (who were my first real introduction to the world of good beer), so let's get this party started:

Ommegang Biere d Hougoumont

Ommegang Biere D'Hougoumont - Pours a slightly hazy, burnt orange color with a finger of loosely bubbled off-white head. Smells of sweet fruits, maybe a little caramel, and musty Belgian yeast, with perhaps a hint of something else (maybe that's the wood coming through). Taste starts off with some rich caramel, followed by some spicy mustiness from the yeast, finishing surprisingly sweet and fruity. Mouthfeel is on the higher end of medium bodied, very well carbonated, dry at the start by yielding to sweetness in the finish (an unusual but pleasant reversal of the norm, which starts sweet and finishes dry). While very sweet, it never gets sticky or cloying, perhaps because of the strong (but not at all overwhelming) carbonation. This beer drinks big, but it goes down easy too. Not quite a summer thirst quencher, but a very nice fall beer. Overall, straightforward but very well crafted and balanced. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.3% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 9/7/12.

Ommegang claims that this "malty French-style Farmhouse Ale is brewed to be aged" and that makes a certain sort of sense to me (and I'm not alone). I only bought the one bottle, but I may get another of these to add to the growing list of beers I'd like to cellar for a few years. Or not. I've established that I'm a weak, weak man when it comes to buying (er, hoarding) beer, but I'm also pretty lazy, so we'll see what wins out.

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

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Recent Comments

  • 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
  • Mark: I shouldn't complain, as I suspect my homebrewed barleywine will read more
  • rich.on.beer: Carbonation issues are pretty common with Hair of the Dog. read more
  • Mark: Good to know that I was not alone in my read more
  • beerbecue: I don't know what batch I had, but it had read more
  • Mark: I really enjoyed this one, just as much if not read more