Chimay Cinq Cents

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I'm pretty sure I've covered all the Trappist beer tropes before, so I won't bore you with the general trivia again. Chimay is probably the most commonly found of the Trappist beers... Indeed, back in the day, they were probably one of the most common Belgian beers you could find (in particular, the Chimay Red was pretty popular). The name of the monastery is actually Scourmont Abbey, but they market all of their products (aside from beer, they also make a line of cheeses) using the name of the tiny town in which they're located: Chimay.

This particular beer is variously known as Chimay White, Chimay Tripel and Chimay Cinq Cents. The first refers to the white cap that was used in bottling, the second is a reference to the style, but the third is a mystery. It only appears on the 750 ml bottle... the smaller, 12 oz. bottles make no mention of the... catch phrase? What does it really represent? At first glance, I thought it perhaps translated to "Five Cents" and referred to, perhaps, some aspect of the pricing in the distant past. But it doesn't make any sense that a Trappist brewery in Belgium would name their beer after American monetary units. After some google-fu, I figured out that it really translates to "Five Hundred", but I was still a little unclear as to what that really meant. More googling ultimately lead to this post from 52 Brews (apparently their first post!) where the author heroically answers the question:

Michael Jackson's Great Beer Guide features interesting write-ups on some of the best beers in the world, and upon perusing its pages, the answer was right under my nose. Regarding Cinq Cents, the book makes note that while this beer was once identified only by its white cap, the "Champagne-style presentation" was introduced to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Chimay, the town.
Mystery solved. Not only does that explain the significance of the phrase, but it also explains why it's only on the 750 ml "champaign style" bottles.

I've probably had this beer a dozen times over the years. On tap, in small bottles, in large bottles. It's often one of the few good beers available, which I'm usually pretty happy with because these beers really are great (indeed, I had one of these along with a Blue during my recent Vegas Trip.)

Chimay Cinq Cents

Chimay Cinq Cents - Pours a cloudy golden color with lots of fluffy head. Smells strongly of sweet, fruity Belgian yeast. Taste is sweet and very spicy with a dry finish and a little lingering bitterness in the aftertaste. Chimay beers have a certain distinctive element that I can never place, but I think it's the way it's spiced - it's more peppery (?) than most other Belgian beers (this is probably entirely due to their yeast, not actual spice adjuncts). It's here in the Cinq Cents, but it's not as prominent here as it is in the Red, and I think this more subtle treatment works better here. It's got a full body and tons of carbonation. Overall, it's a great beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 7/17/11. Cork says 07/10, so I'm guessing it was about a year old when I drank it.

I think the Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue) is probably my favorite of their beers, but comparing that with the Cinq Cents is an apples and oranges type of thing. Strangely, despite the fact that I love dubbels, I'm not a huge fan of the Red. It's a really well crafted and unique beer, but something about it just doesn't jive well with me. Of course, I haven't had it in years, so perhaps my tastes have changed...

Dogfish Head Raison D'etre

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Reason for existence? Not quite, but it is one of Dogfish Head's year-round (and oldest) brews. It was supposedly brewed to match with "wood-grilled steak" but I think Sam just came into a few tons of bulk raisins and said, "Fuck it, we're making a brown ale with a shitload of raisins. Hey, does anyone know of a shitty raisin pun we can use for the beer name?"* In any case, by pure chance, I actually was having a steak (not a "wood-grilled" one though) whilst drinking this.

Dogfish Head Raison Detre

Raison D'etre - Pours a clearish dark amber color with a finger or two of light colored head. The smell is a bit strange to me. I think I can pick up some of the raisins that were used in brewing, and there's some Belgian yeast (though not as much as I'd expect), but there's a strange twang in the nose too. The taste is very sweet, lots of residual sugars here, and there's a distinct alcohol flavor as well. It's got some brown ale style flavors going on as well - just a hint of roastiness, maybe some caramel. It's got a medium body and rich flavors, but when you put everything together here, it seems a bit unbalanced. It's clearly complex, but I feel like there's something missing - maybe overpowered by the rest of the beer. It's certainly not bad, but perhaps my expectations from the Dogfish Head folks were too high. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank from a goblet on 7/16/11.

I've got a couple of other bottles of Dogfish Head stuff laying around that I'll get to at some point, including their Squall IPA (which I think is basically just a bottle conditioned 90 Minute IPA) and the most excellent Palo Santo Marron.

* In case you can't tell from previous posts, I like to think of brewers as foul-mouthed maniacs. It's funnier that way, but no offense intended. I kid because I love.

Adventures in Brewing - Beer #5: Stout

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So the past three beers I've brewed have been pale in color, and I was looking to do something a bit darker this time around. For one thing, dark beers are apparently more suitable for extract homebrew as the extract process naturally makes the malt a bit darker, and the fact that I'm doing a partial boil (I only really boil about 3-3.5 gallons of liquid, then add water later to make up the difference) also leads to a darker color. And after a summer of drinking hefeweizens, saisons, tripels, and other pale ales, I'm getting to be in the mood for something darker anyway. Stouts have never been one of my favorite styles, but I have to admit that certain variations on the style have really grown on me. One of the big advantages of doing homebrew is that you can make whatever you want, so I started trying to figure out how to make a stout that emphasized the chocolate and caramel flavors, rather than the one--dimensional roastiness that overpowers a lot of stouts. I didn't want a really dry stout, nor did I want a super-strong imperial stout. Something in the middle, with a lot of body and caramel/chocolate sweetness, but not a ton of roastiness.

I toyed with the notion of a milk stout, but none of the homebrew kits I could find online were really doing it for me. So I started playing with some online recipe calculators, and came up with a (rather lame) recipe. I probably know a lot more about beer than your typical beer drinker, but when it comes to expert homebrewer stuff, I'm still somewhat of a newb. I was unsure of my recipe, so I figured I should just take it to the local homebrew shop and ask the friendly guys there what I should do. I'm not entirely convinced that the recipe we ended up creating is exactly what I want, but it feels like it will be good.

Brew #5 - Stout
August 13, 2011

0.5 lb. Roasted Barley (Specialty Grain)
0.75 lb. British Chocolate Malt (Specialty Grain)
0.25 lb. Belgian Special B (Specialty Grain)
0.5 lb American Crystal 120L (Specialty Grain)
7 lb. Light DME
1 oz. Target Hops (bittering @ 8.6% AA)
Wyeast 1284 - Irish Ale Yeast

If you're in the know, the first thing you'll notice is that the majority of the sugars in this beer consist of light dry malt extract. But stouts are supposed to be dark! Well, it turns out that you don't need much in the way of dark, roasted malts to get that nice, dark brown/black color, and since the specialty grains were fresh (and just crushed), you can get a much better flavor out of that than you can by just selecting dark malt extracts. As such, I think this is the most complex (and largest) specialty grain bill I've brewed. And according to our calculations, it will indeed be very dark. The way brewers measure beer color is called the Standard Reference Method (SRM), and this beer should have an SRM of around 45 (anything above 30 is usually referred to as black).

The other thing that stands out about the recipe is the single, relatively-small hop addition. Most brews have a hop schedule consisting of three additions: one for bittering, one for taste, and one for aroma. But since I was looking to highlight the caramel, chocolate, and roasty flavors of my malts, those taste and aroma hops would only detract from the experience. As such, the homebrew shop guy recommended I go with a single hop addition at the beginning of the boil. I'm not entirely convinced that there's enough bitterness in what I ended up with, but again, I'm looking to make something that is sweet, chocolately/caramelly, and a little roasty. This isnt' meant to be a hop bomb like some imperial stouts (or American Black Ales, or whatever you call that style), so it makes sense that the hop presence would be a bit muted.

I steeped the specialty grains in approximately 2.5 gallons of water at around 150° F - 160° F for about 20 minutes. Sparged with some 150° F water, bringing the total volume of the pot up to a little more than 3 gallons. Let the grains drain out (careful not to squeeze the grain bag), observed the black-as-night color of the wort and the various aromas it gave off. This may end up being a bit roastier than I expected, but nothing I could do about it at that point, so I punched up the stovetop to bring the mixture to a boil. Once at the boil, added the 7 pounds of DME and the hops and boy did it create a lot of bubbly head (Not sure exactly if you would call this head, but there was a bubbly head-like substance at the top of the pot, and it took some supervision to make sure it didn't boil over). Settled in for the 60 minute boil. Once complete, I moved the pot to the ice bath in my sink. Unlike previous attempts, I came prepared with lots of ice this time, and that certainly helped cool the word down quicker... until all the ice melted. Still, it got down to around 100° F quicker than any of my previous attempts. At this point, I strained the wort into my fermenter and topped it all off with cold water, bringing the temperature down to around 75° F. Just a hint too hot, so I let it sit for a while (once I hit the cooling phase, I cranked the air conditioner, hoping to help with the cooling process), took my hydrometer reading, and pitched the yeast.

If I got one thing right with my initial recipe, it was the yeast choice (or at least, my yeast choice was exactly what the homebrew store guy said I should use). Apparently Irish Ale Yeast is really well matched with dark malts. So before I even started brewing, I had activated the wyeast smack-pack. It was dated 5/16/11, which is still somewhat recent, but unlike previous smack-packs, it didn't swell up right away and took some cajoling to get it to swell at all. About 4 hours after the initial smack, it seemed to be swelling a bit, but I'm not sure if this yeast was really ready. This represents my greatest fear in this batch - the yeast seems to be a bit old and tired. Now, the Wyeast package says that the swelling need not be extreme for the yeast to be ok, but I'm still a bit worried (note to self - learn how to make a yeast starter so that I can avoid such anxiety). I pitched it at around 70° F, so I guess we'll see how it does.

Original Gravity: 1.062 (approximate). Adjusting for temperature, maybe a tad higher. Either way, this is a little lower than my recipe implied (somewhere around 1.067), but still within the realm of what I wanted to make. Assuming solid attenuation, I'm looking at an ABV of around 6-6.5%, maybe higher.

My last batch turned out really well (I should probably review it at some point), so I've got high hopes for this. Even if it comes out a little roastier than expected, I'll be happy. I am a bit worried about the yeast, but I saw some activity in the airlock this morning, so that's promising. And besides, I worried a lot about the last batch, and it turned out great (first batch I've made that I really love).

Not sure what's up next. I think I'll want to get the Belgian Dubbel underway, so that I have it ready for the Holidays. After that, who knows? I was thinking about an IPA of some kind, but there are definite issues with hop utilization in extract boils, so maybe I'll hold off on that a bit. I probably won't be able to get to the next batch until October anyway, so I've got some time.

(Cross posted on Kaedrin Weblog)

Victory Perfect 10 Lager

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Wherein I succumb to that annoying beer-blogger tendency to talk about limited-edition beers that most readers are unlikely to ever taste. Over at his new digs, Jay H. has had the opportunity to try out an ultra-rare, one-time-brewed, sour ale from The Bruery called The Wanderer. Not only is it a rare beer, but Jay has awarded it a 10/10 rating, which is pretty rare in itself. Alas, I will probably never cross paths with this beer unless The Bruery upgrades it to a staple brew...

Victory Brewing Co. has a different, less trendy reputation, but they also put out a lot of different beers, ranging from simple, session brews to whopping 12% face melters. I arrived at a local bar recently, scanned their beer menu and saw this Victory Perfect 10 Lager listed... I asked about it and found out that it was brewed specially for the bar, which had just recently celebrated its 10th anniversary (hence the beer's title). Sign me up! Perhaps unsurprisingly, the beer isn't even listed on Beer Advocate. It's a relatively straightforward lager, so it's not going to be a "White Whale" beer the likes of which I discussed earlier, but I actually did enjoy it quite a bit:

Victory Perfect 10 Lager

Pours a clear golden color with a minimal white head. Not much going on in the nose, but the taste is sticky sweet. Despite the stickiness, it's a really clean feeling brew. Well carbonated and medium bodied but still smooth and easy to drink. It reminds me of Victory's St. Boisterous Maibock, which I've also had recently. I actually seemed to enjoy this a bit more, which is a shame, as I'm pretty sure this will be the last I ever see of this brew. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV (on tap). Drank out of a... whatever the heck you call the glass in the picture... on 8/9/11.

Victory continues to be my local hero and I'm extremely excited to get my hands on some of their upcoming smoked dubbel style beer, dubbed (pun intended!) Otto. It's not due to be released until mid-October though, so I've got a bit of a wait...

August Beer Club

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Today was beer club! Due to various factors, the variety of beer was somewhat limited this month, but there was still plenty of merriment to be had, and when we got to the BYOB restaurant, we saw this sign out front:

Free Beer!

Certainly a good omen! Apparently the restaurant had some Lager, but since they had no liquor license, they were just giving it away for free. Score! There was no real theme for the month, but we did end up with about 7 different beers (not including the free Yuengling) as well as some wine, cider and homemade Limoncello (unpictured, but it was very sweet and incredibly alcoholic!) Here's a quick picture of what we had:

August Beer Club
(Click for bigger image)

As usual, tasting conditions were less than ideal, so take the following with a grain of salt (beers listed below are basically in order from left to right in the picture, not necessarily the order in which we drank them):

  • Victory Sunrise Weissbier - Hey, I've actually reviewed this before! A friend had been at the brewery lately, so they had picked up a growler of the stuff. It struck me as being somewhat better than the last time I had it, but I'll leave it at a B-. Solid hefeweizen style beer, but not particularly special either.
  • My Homebrewed Saison - I know I mentioned this last time, but this is definitely my best homebrew yet, and the first that I think is truly good. Sweet, spicy, well carbonated and easy to drink, it came out really well. Indeed, I'd probably give this a B+ or maybe even an A-. I should really review my other homebrews, which I'd probably rate much lower.
  • Lancaster Milk Stout - Yep, I just reviewed this one too. I think the coffee flavors were more prominent this time around, but otherwise it's pretty much the same. B+
  • Founders Dirty Bastard - Yet another beer I've reviewed before. Indeed, I've had a few of this since I originally reviewed it, and I do believe I like it better now than I did that first time. I had originally noted that there wasn't any fruitiness in the flavor, but in the recent tastings, I've definitely gotten a really nice fruity quality out of this. Tonight I could also really taste the alcohol as well. It certainly wasn't unpleasant, but I think it might have been a reflection of the other relatively low ABV beers of the night. B+
  • Samuel Adams Rustic Saison - A very light example of the style, though still very flavorful and smooth (looking at it now, I'm surprised it's only 4.35% ABV), featuring a nice twang in the nose and taste that I couldn't place, but which someone had mentioned might be honey. It's not a beer that will melt your face or anything, but it's definitely a quality brew and well worth a drink. At 4.35%, it would probably be a decent session beer as well. B
  • Samuel Adams East-West Kölsch - Not a style that typically fares well here at Kaedrin (or at beer club, for that matter), but this one was apparently brewed with Jasmine, and that addition really does make this a much more interesting beer than it would have otherwise been. Again, not setting the world on fire, but a quality brew that's worth trying. B-
  • Cave Creek Chili Beer - When I first saw Aaron's awesome video review of this beer, I thought he had to be exaggerating, but that first swig of this beer gave me that same, out-of-breath, it's so spicy feeling. It was a really weird experience too - the spiciness seems to really hit at the back of your throat and tongue, but the rest of my mouth/tongue didn't really pick anything up. And that spicy hot aftertaste didn't go away either (I'm glad we opened this last). It was really, truly horrible. When you open the beer, it almost smells like you've opened one of those pepper bottles with the brine in it - overpowering chili pepper aromas and not much else. I can't imagine drinking an entire bottle, and indeed, I could only really take a few sips of it. Unanimously the worst beer club beer ever. In some ways, I'm glad I got to try this, as it certainly is an experience. In another way, I really hope I don't burp this up later tonight. F
Despite the fact that I'd had/reviewed half these beers before, I think it was another successful outing for the beer club. It's looking like we might get a bonus beer club meet at The Whip in addition to our normal meetup next month. Score!

Lancaster Milk Stout

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Yes, "research" into milk stouts continues. It occurs to me that I kinda rushed into the whole thing yesterday, so just to back up a bit, I want to talk about what actually constitutes a milk stout. Given that phrase, one might expect the rather disgusting addition of actual milk somewhere in the brewing process, but fortunately, that is not the case (though the lactose intolerant might still want to steer clear of these beers). Without getting into too much detail about how beer is brewed, I'll say that beer basically starts out as sugar water. Then you add yeast, which eats the sugar and converts it into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and various flavor compounds. Now, yeast typically doesn't eat all the sugar - typically it only consumes around 65-85%. This is why beer is still sweet enough that you need to add hops (which cuts the sweetness with bitterness). One of the implications of this process is that the more sugar you put into the process, the more alcohol you get. You also end up with a lot of residual sugars. This is why a lot of imperialized beers end up being really sweet.

On the other side of the scale, when you don't put that much sugar into the process, you end up with a beer that has less alcohol, but also less residual sugars and thus less body. One way to make up for that is to add unfermentable sugars to the brew, thus increasing the body and the sweetness without increasing the alcohol. As it turns out, lactose (which is basically the sugar in milk) is unfermentable, so it's often used to add body to beer. Hence the phrase Milk Stout, though the style is also referred to as cream stout or just sweet stout (and to be fair, not all sweet stouts necessarily use lactose - other unfermentable sugars can be used as well). Yesterday's beer was probably a horrible example of the style, but today's example is much more typical:

Lancaster Milk Stout

Lancaster Milk Stout - A semi-local brew from Lancaster, PA, this one is probably the brewery's most popular beer. Pours a very dark brown color, with a finger of tightly beaded head. The smell is full of roastiness, and maybe some chocolate or coffee. That roastiness hits at the beginning of the taste, but it quickly yields to a well matched sweetness followed by the return of roastiness and maybe a little hop bitterness in the finish. There's maybe a hint of coffee in the roastiness as well, but probably a bit more chocolate, though neither flavor is dominant. Indeed, the flavors here are very well matched. Medium bodied and well carbonated, it still goes down smooth and is pretty easy to drink. Overall, a really nice beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.3% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a pint glass on 8/7/11.

Quite enjoyable, and I think I could probably safely order the Northern Brewer kit. On the other hand, it might be worth checking in with the local homebrew shop and seeing if maybe he has some recommendations for me... Plus, it might be time to upgrade my equipment as well. Perhaps invest in some glass carboys, and so on.

Farsons Lacto Stout

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So I did some "research" last night. By which I mean, I went out and bought a bunch of beer and drank some of it. I'm trying to figure out what to homebrew next, and one of the candidates is a milk stout. Basically, I wanted to make a beer that was sweet and chocolately, with some roastiness thrown in and maybe some other complementary flavors (caramel!) Definitely not coffee, as that's one flavor I just can't get into. So looking around, there are a number of imperial stouts that might match my criteria, but I didn't want to go for a really high O.G. beer, so I kinda settled on Northern Brewer's Milk Chocolate Stout. It sounds pretty great, but I wanted to try out some milk stouts before I really committed to brewing a full batch of this stuff.

A trip to Pinocchio's later, I have a few milk stouts to try out. First up is this beer, bought on a whim:

Farsons Lacto Stout

Farsons Lacto Traditional Stout Beer - I didn't initially realize it, but this beer is made in Malta. The label looked very European, maybe British, so I kinda assumed that's what I was getting. Apparently the brewery's origins come out of a desire to serve a British Garrison stationed in Malta, so I guess the marketing department did it's job. Then again, the beer is named "Lacto", which ain't exactly a pleasing name... The beer itself pours a deep black color with a couple fingers of big-bubbled, quickly-disappearing head. Smells unexpectedly of raisins and not much else, though there is a strange mustiness that I could sometimes pick up. The sweet raisins are in the taste as well, and something chalky or tinny (hard to describe - not a pleasant flavor though), but none of the usual stout flavors - no roastiness, no chocolate, no caramel, no forward bitterness, though something is clearly balancing out the initial sweetness, making the finish dry. The raisins show up again in the aftertaste. The moutfeel is kinda weird too - it's not very well carbonated and it's also a relatively light bodied, almost watery beer. Now, it is a very low ABV beer, but that's usually why lactose is used - to add body to a low ABV beer. This whole thing is very strange to me. Even throwing out my expectations of a stout, this doesn't really work well as its own beer either. D

Beer Nerd Details: 3.4% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a pint glass on 8/7/11

Well, this is certainly not a beer that I'm looking to emulate, I can tell you that. Fortunately, I don't think the recipes I'm looking at are this bizarre. I had another milk stout this weekend that was much better though, so I think there's still hope. Hopefully that review will be up tomorrow.

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

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So I've already mentioned that Oskar Blues is famous for using cans, but what I want to know is when we're going to start seeing specialty cans. It's pretty common to see fancy special editions of bottled beers, using expensive looking foil or wrapping it in paper or pouring wax over the top, sealing in the goodness. So how long until we see different treatments for cans*?

I did a quick spin around google looking at reviews for Ten Fidy, Oskar Blues' 10.5% ABV (get it? Ten FIDY! It's very hip.) imperial stout, and the general consensus seems to be that people are absolutely amazed that someone would put an imperial stout in a can. ZOMG! Lots of people mention the viscous, deep black, almost used-motor-oil appearance, which just makes me think that someday, we're going to see old-timey oil-can style packaging (complete with an independent spout that you have to jam into the can to open it) for a beer like this. There are tons of other creative cans that could be made as well. Of course, many of them negate some of the advantages of cans, but it would still be interesting.

But enough about packaging, let's look at what's in the can:

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy - The can says "One-eyed, Cyclopean, Concupiscent" and I don't really have any idea what that means except that perhaps it's, like, really big and powerful and that people really want it. Or something. Pours a deep black color with a finger of brown head. I know a lot of beers appear black, but this one is amazing - it absorbs all light, no highlights, full stop. It's like drinking a black hole. Smells of chocolate, caramel and just a little roasted malts. Tastes very sweet with rich flavors of chocolate and caramel present. The roastiness is more prominent in the taste than the nose, but not overpowering. Not super strongly carbonated, but still full bodied. It's actually pretty smooth. The alcohol is present, but pretty well hidden given the 10.5% ABV. Overall, a pretty great imperial stout. The bold flavors seem to hold up well with food and can even compete with a cigar... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% canned (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/23/11. 98 IBUs

Apparently Oskar Blues makes hot sauces of their beers, and the one they make for Ten Fidy has some ridiculous amount of scovilles (like, in the millions) Not sure if I actually want to try that, though I do really like hot sauces, so if I ever see some, I might check it out...

* Ungh, it seems that the macros have experimented with this sort of thing already (the miller aluminum pint is nice looking, actually), though nothing quite as out-there as what I was suggesting...

(Not So) Recent Beer Recap

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As you may have noticed in my last review, I've got a number of reviews that have been sitting in the queue for a long time. I've been pretty good about keeping up with recent drinking, but I just haven't gotten around to some of those older reviews, so I figured I'd just do a quick recap now...

  • Leffe Blonde - I was surprised to see the relatively craptacular reviews on beer advocate (though apparently it's gone up to a more respectable and appropriate B rating since I've last looked at it... the Bros still have it at a C). I wasn't sure why the hate existed for this, then I found out that Leffe is owned by Inbev, the Belgian beer conglomerate that owns Anheuser-Busch and is famous for changing recipes for their acquired beers to save costs; even including long-standing Abbey breweries like Leffe which apparently now uses cheap adjuncts in their recipe (for all the beer nerd fury, I can't really find much detail around this - though the brewery does say that it uses rice, which is not typically a favored ingredient in beer). In any case, it certainly looks, smells, and tastes fine. Sweet and bready, typical Belgian yeast aromas and taste. It's not complex or subtle, but as a simple and straightforward brew, it's pretty good. B (Beer Nerd Details: 6.6% ABV bottled (11.2 oz bottle) Drank from a goblet on 4/16/11.)
  • Stone Double Bastard - It's like Arrogant Bastard, only moreso. Very hoppy in the nose which follows through in the taste along with that unique blend of hoppy flavors that Stone uses for this brew. A nice bitterness and slick alcohol character are also present. It's very good, but I don't get the high praise heaped on it, though it does seem to have fallen off the BA top 100 at this point. B+ (Beer Nerd Details: 11.2% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank from a goblet on 4/23/11.)
  • Trappist Achel 8° Bruin - This is the sixth of the seven Trappist breweries that I've sampled, though unfortunately, I was not particularly impressed with this brew (at least, compared with other dubbels). That's not to say it was bad - definitely a nice appearance, with typical dark fruits and spiciness in the nose and taste. Relatively dry finish, drinkable, but not particularly complex either. I typically expect richer flavors out of a dubbel, though perhaps I should have this again just to make sure. Even considering that, it's quite good. B+ (Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (11.2 oz bottle) Drank from a goblet on 5/7/11.)
  • Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout - Another imperial stout that used to be in the BA top 100 but has since fallen out (no wonder I can never get a high percentage of completion on that list!) This one reminds me a lot of Victory's Storm King Stout - very roasty, giving way to a hoppy bitterness as it warms up. Very well crafted, but not especially my style. B (Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (12 oz bottle) Drank from a tulip on 5/7/11.)
  • Ommegang Rare Vos - An old favorite of mine, I always worry about beers like this. Will it continue to live up to the expectations I've built up in my mind? I've spent the past year or two trying as many different, new beers as I could. Would this beer live up to memory? As it turns out, yes, it does. One of my first discoveries after Hennepin about a decade ago, I always come back to this one, a sweet and spicy Belgian amber. It is delicious and matches well with most meals. I daresay it's a candidate for the vaunted A+, though I'll just stick with an A for now. (Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked bottle) Drank from a tulip glass on 5/13/11.)
  • Tröegs Pale Ale - Ok, so this is a relatively recent drink, but I don't have a ton to say about it. It's a decent, straightforward pale ale. It actually made a really nice first impression (nice hoppy presense of pine and grapefruit), but it loses some of its punch as it warms. Certainly not among the best pale ales, but well worth a try... B- (Beer Nerd Details: 5.4% ABV bottled (12 oz bottle) Drank from a tulip on 7/16/11.)
Well, that just about covers it. I have more details about these tucked away somewhere, but for now, this will have to do. Of course, this doesn't completely catch me up on reviews, but now the unwritten ones are from the past couple weeks, which is certainly more manageable.

Consecration

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One of the frustrating things about reading beer blogs is that people often talk about rare or hard-to-find beers. This isn't really a slight against anyone - as I've grown in my beer nerdery, I've certainly been guilty of this from time to time, and it really is nice when you finally find a beer you've been looking for. So I'm used to seeing this from the beer bloggers out there, but when the brewery itself starts taunting you, well, that's a whole other story.

On the label for Russian River's Consecration, they mention a beer they made for the Toronado's 20th Anniversary (the Toronado is apparently a famous San Diego beer bar):

When we made the Toronado's 20th Anniversary Ale, we had no idea that it would turn out to be one of our favorite barrel aged beers we would ever make. With that said, we have always wanted to make a dark barrel aged beer using 100% cabernet sauvignon barrels, but we never were inspired. That is, until we blended five different beers to make the Tornado beer, the tobacco flavor from the dark malts blended nicely with the fruit character that developed in blending. So, with Consecration we set out to make a barrel aged beer using all Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Now, we are not saying this is a replica of the T-rooms anniversary beer, after all, a beer like that can never be duplicated, and, there was no fruit added to that beer as there is with this one. All we are saying is that it gave us great inspiration to brew Consecration.
Fortunately, Russian River knows what it's doing, so while I'll probably never get to try that Toronado beer, I do get to have some of the beer it inspired. Consecration is a wild ale brewed with Brettanomyces, then aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with currants added. Sounds pretty spectacular, no?

Russian River Consecration

Russian River Consecration - Pours a dark brown color with some hints of amber shining through in the light. Small head that subsided quickly and cleanly. The smell was full of red wine and sweet malts. Tastes starts sweet with an almost immediate sourness that continues through the entire taste and dominates the finish. That quick, puckering escalation in the finish makes for a kinda neat punctuation. The sourness is the most prominent element of the taste, but it's also reasonably well balanced. Unfortunately, I'm not getting a lot of that red wine character in the taste. Carbonation is a little lower than usual, and the body was in a medium-low range (I was kinda hoping for something a little richer in flavor, but that's clearly not what RR is going for here). I don't think this was quite as well executed as Russian River's Temptation, but it's certainly a worthy beer if you're looking for a sour... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml mini-magnum, caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 4/23/11*. According to the label, this bottle was from batch 004X1, brewed on 3/29/2009 and bottled on 2/2/10.

I think Brett beers are supposed to age reasonably well, but I have to wonder how this would have tasted if I got it fresh. In any case, sours still aren't my favorite style, but I'm beginning to come around a bit. I have a bottle of Russian River's famed Supplication in my fridge right now... something I'm hoping to pop open in the near future. I'm expecting a little more out of that beer than the Consecration.

* Yeah, I'm really, really behind on some of my reviews. Wanna fight about it? Expect some more old reviews in the near future as well.

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

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