Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Weihenstephaner Vitus

Brewer: Weihenstephaner

Beer: Vitus

Style: Weizenbock

Tasting notes and comments: Vitus is a slightly sweeter thicker version of the Hefe Weizen by Weihenstephaner. The predominant flavors are sweet banana, a touch of cloves, and some citrousy, sour bite at end as it warms.

Rating: Recommended without reservation.

Ommegang Ommegeddon

Brewer: Ommegang

Beer: Ommegeddon

Style: Wild Ale

Tasting notes and comments: Ommegeddon uses Brettamyces in a second fermentation to impart some sour acidity and funk. It tastes something like Hennepin on steroids. The predominant flavors are lemony citrus and funk but nothing extreme.

Recommendation: With qualifications. A Wild Ale should have more funk.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Olde Richmond Batch #11 IPA

Olde Richmond Batch #11 is an unusual and enjoyable interpretation of IPA. The taste starts w/ sweet oranges, Belgian ale taste and smell up front followed by a mild but noticeable hop bite.

The brewer is ambiguous. The bottle claims to be from Olde Richmond Brewing Co. The address is the same as St. George Brewing. Perhaps it is a contract brew and Olde Richmond is a beer marketing company. The alternative is that St. George sells beers under two different labels.

Corsendonk Christmas Ale

Corsendonk Christmas Ale is nice Belgian Strong Dark Ale. The taste starts w/ candy and brown sugar w/ a tiche of apple and finishes with spices (nutmeg?). The alcohol clocks in @ 8.5% and is totally hidden.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Best Beer on the Planet?

Trappist Westvleteren 12 is Fantastic Quadruple. The reviewers at both and rate it as THE best beer on the planet. It has earned its reputation. The beer is a complex medley of subtle flavors: sweet caramel, prunes, apples, pears, chocolate, alcohol, and an earthy hop bite. The malt and hops are perfectly balanced. The beer is too easy to drink given that it is 10.2% alcohol by volume.

Westvleteren 12 is brewed by the monks at the St. Sixtus monastery in Westvleteren, Belgium. The monks view brewing good beer as a spiritual activity and sell beer to support the monastery. The beer is sold at the monastery and buyers must make advance reservations to purchase a maximum of two cases.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Victory Baltic Thunder

Victory Baltic Thunder is excellent Baltic Porter. The taste is dark malt with figs and prunes and a hint of toffee. It is delightful to sip.

My understanding is that Baltic Thunder is a collaboration between Victory and Heavyweight, a now extinct brewer. Heavyweight brewed Baltic Porter called Perkuno's Hammer. After the brewer's demise, the brewer gave the recipe to Victory. There, the brewer's tweaked the recipe and the result is Baltic Thunder.

Three Floyds Pride and Joy

Three Floyds Pride and Joy is delightful. Floral citrus hops are nicely balanced w/ a tiche of sweet malt. It is a wonderful "small" beer.

The classification for the beer is ambiguous. The brewer states that it is an interpretation of a Dark Mild Ale. BeerAdvocate classifies it as American Pale Ale. I think APA fits best.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stone Russian Imperial Stout

Stone Russian Imperial Stout is a massive, malty stout w/ lots of chocolate and coffee flavors, followed by a bitter finish. It is good and complex and flavorful. I like less than the reviewers at BeerAdvocate. They rated it as one of the top beers on the planet in 29 December 2005, 10 March 2007, and 10 December 2008.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Black and Tan

Black and Tan is 50% dark ale such as Porter or Stout and 50% light ale or lager. The classic Black and Tan is Guinness and Bass. A Black and Tan made w/ lager is sometimes called Half and Half, especially in Great Britain. The classic Half and Half is Guinness and Harp.

The dark ale floats over the light beer when it is poured carefully over the light beer, creating a nice visual effect. Reports indicate that this is an American affection. The alternative is to let the two beers blend together in the glass. Black and Tan sold commercially are simple blends.

Black and Tan derives its name from the colors of the two beers. The name may be related to the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, a paramilitary force sent into Ireland from England from 1920 to 1921 to suppress revolution in Ireland. The force wore mixtures of military and police uniforms and were called the "Black and Tans". That a "Black" Irish stout floats on top of a "Tan" British Pale Ale may be interpreted by some as an analogy for the success of the Irish over the British.


IPA, or India Pale Ale, is Pale Ale with an extra dose of alcohol and hops. It was first brewed for British troops stationed in India. "Regular" Pale Ale would spoil during the long, hot trip from England to India. The brewers discovered that the extra alcohol and hops helped preserve the beer and IPA was born. The style experienced a rebirth in the US in the late 20th Century. The American brewers amped up the alcohol and hops and used more aggressive versions of hops than the original. Americans think that if a little is good, then more must be better. Today the English IPA tend to be tamer, with less alcohol and hops, than the American versions.

IPA is one of my favorite styles. The extra dose of hops guarantees that the beer will be flavorful. To drink good IPA is a wonderful experience. A good test of whether or not you are a "hophead", someone who likes hoppy beers, is whether or not you like IPA.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two More Favorite Beers

De Dolle Still Nacht and Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA have crept into my top 10 list based on recent tastings. The top 10 now contains 12 beers. I count like the Big 10 does.

Still Nacht is Belgian Strong Ale. The flavor is a delightful medley of candy sugar, orange zest, spices, funk, alcohol and subtle hop bite. The beer is a seasonal release and usually arrives early in the calendar year. It ages wonderfully. I recently consumed a 2-year old bottle and it was FANTASTIC.

120 Minute IPA is at least a double IPA and may be a triple IPA. It tastes like a BIG English Barleywine. Bitter hops fight to emerge from a sweet raisin mash, followed by big alcohol blast. It is a 2+ hr. sipper. It is an occasional purchase due to its price. A 12 oz. bottle goes for $9 or $10 dollars.

Chimay Tripel has earned an honorable mention. A recent glass on draft was FANTASTIC.


I purchased Unibroue Trois Pistoles, Unibroue La Fin du Monde, Weihenstephaner Vitus, Schneider Aventinus Weizen Eisbock, and Chimay Tripel today. Trois Pistoles is strong Belgian Dark Ale. La Fin Du Monde and Chimay are Tripel. Vitus is Weizenbock. Aventinus Weizen Eisbock is Eisbock. Chimay is also Tripel.

All are wonderful beers. The Unibroue beers are great values.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dinner w/ Book Club

I enjoyed three beers while having dinner at ML's with my wife's book club: Harpoon Winter Warmer,
De Dolle Stille Nacht, and Bell's Expedition Stout. They demonstrate the variety of styles available to beer geeks.

Harpoon Wi
nter Warmer is spiced mild ale. Cinnamon and nutmeg tastes stand out without being overbearing. This is a fine beer for the holidays and a good example of Winter Warmer that feature spices.

De Dolle Stille Nacht was FANTASTIC: a complex medley of orange zest, candy sugar, spices, alcohol and funk. It is Belgian Strong Dark Ale and the alcohol is 12% by volume. The brewer bottled the beer in 2006 and it had been sitting in my cellar for almost two years. I want to buy more and age some longer.

The Expedition Stout, while good, was a disappointment. An unsalted soy flavor diminished the beers flavor and bursts of alcohol made the beer "hot". Perhaps this is a result of oxidation? The brewer bottled the beer almost two years ago. A similar vintage a week earlier was a fantastic chocolaty treat.

The two different experiences with Expedition Stout indicate the difficulty of reproducing consistently craft beer. The brewing process is complex and the result is alive. The ability of the large brewers to produce products that are consistent across time and location is amazing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Tonight's year-old Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale was a welcome oasis of hops in a malty winter. Celebration Ale is a highly rated IPA. However, I tend to find it to be too piney. Drinking one at room temperature felt like drinking Pine Sol. I cellared a bottle last year to see if time would smooth out the hops would. It did and the piney taste was greatly diminished. I noticed a sweeter malt beginning than what I remembered and it was balanced by a nice hoppy finish. However, the hops did not have "zing" and a slight piney aftertaste persisted.

Celebration Ale is a seasonal release from Sierra Nevada. The brewer consistently makes good beer and sells it for good value. I recommend that new beer geeks sample the brewery's products to learn about good beer and beer styles. The brewery tends to put an American twist on styles by using bitter Northwest hops.