Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cage Beer Match @ Mekong's

An Mekong organized what he called a Cage Match between Belgian and American beers. He paired a Belgian beer with an American beer of the same or similar style. Tasters chose a winner in each of eleven pairings and the country with the most winners was the overall winner for the taster. The country with the most overall winners won the cage match – or something like that.

It was a fantastic event. Mekong’s restaurant supplied appetizers to accompany the food. The beer was good and plentiful. The crowd was large and enthusiastic. An said that 100 plus people registered.

I recommend Mekong Restaurant, http://www.mekong-restaurant.com/. It carries a wide assortment of Belgian beers and a large number of beers from other countries. The food is good and the prices are reasonable.

My scorecard: Belgium = 6, USA = 5. (My choices are in bold.)

Match #1, Saison, Saison Dupont v. North coast Le Merle

This was a close call. Saison Dupont had funk and sass. Le Merle was smoother and apple-fruitier. My preference was Saison Dupont but I could not disagree with someone who chose Le Merle.

Match #2, Belgian IPA Style, Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor v. Green Flash Le Freak

Le Freak was an easy choice. The hops were bolder and complemented nicely the other components of the beer. It was a surprisingly good beer.

Match #3, Strong Golden Ale, Delirium Tremens v. North Coast Spranqster

Tremens was an easy choice. It was fuller, richer, and more complex.

Match #4, Dubbel, Maredsous 8 v. Anderson Valley Brother David Double

This was a close call. I thought that Maredsous had a little more complexity and liked a sweet apple flavor that flashed through up front.

Match #5, Triple, La Rulles Triple v. Allagash Triple

La Rulles was an easy choice. Allagash was thick and too sweet.

Match #6, Strong Dark Ale, Nostradamus v. Brooklyn Local 2

This was a close call but I thought the Local 2 tasted better.

Match #7, Belgian Style Stout, Van den Bossche Buffalo v. Allagash Black

Black was an easy choice. It had more smoke and lies between the English and Belgian versions of Stout. The Belgian version is a Strong Dark Ale in my book. I like smoke.

Match #8, Grand Cru, Abbaye de Rocs Grand Cru v. Southampton Grand Cru

Southampton was the easy winner. It was one of the highlights.

Match #9, Quad ( Monster Ale), St. Bernardus ABT 12 v. Smuttynose Gravitation
Gravitation is really good. I think that St. Bernardus is a little bit better.

Match #10, Holly Ale, Rochefort 10 Holly Trappist Ale v. Avery-Russian Collaboration Salvation

Rochefort was an easy choice. Collaboration is really good. Rochefort 10 is really, really, good.

Match #11, Wild ass ale, Duchess de Bourgogne Flemish Sour Red Ale v. Avery Brabant Limited Edition weird ass ale aged in Zinfandel barrel

Brabant was an easy choice. It is a wild ride. Lots of tastes and complexity and the flavors all form a nice and unique whole. I think it was the biggest highlight of the night.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Update on Torpedo

Beer: Torpedo Extra IPA

Brewer: Sierra Nevada

Style: IPA

Tasting notes: 2 more of the 6-pack. Flavorful. Too piney for my preference. I think that I prefer Harpoon and downgraded the rating. Click here for previous review.

Rating: Good


Beer: Maharaja

Brewer: Avery

Style: Double IPA

Tasting notes: (2) Good beer. Hop forward and lots of them with enough malt to balance. (1) Bitter hops (IBU=102) is king here. Malt backbone for balance.

Rating: Recommended without reservation

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Biere de Garde

Biere de Garde is malty farmhouse ale. The 2008 Beer Judge Certification Program Guidelines describe the overall impression of Biere de Garde as "A fairly strong, malt-accentuated, lagered artisanal farmhouse beer." BeerAdvocate.com states that, "[t]his style of beer is characterized by a toasted malt aroma, slight malt sweetness in flavor, and medium hop bitterness."

Biere de Garde resembles Saison. Brewers often describe both styles as farmhouse ales. A sales representative told me that the difference is that Saison is Belgian while Biere de Garde is French. I think that both originated in the Flemish regions of the two countries. The biggest difference in the tastes of the two beers is that Biere de Garde is maltier and sweeter while Saison is dryer, spicier, and generally fruitier and funkier.

Biere de Garde means beer for storing. It ages well.

I have sampled only two examples of the style. I highly recommend Southampton Biere de Garde.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Southampton Biere de Garde

Beer: Biere de Garde

Brewer: Southampton

Style: Biere de Garde

Tasting notes: Butter and sour oranges. Very nice.

Rating: Highly recommended

Two new reviews: Torpedo and Siberian Night

Beer: Torpedo Extra IPA
Brewer: Sierra Nevada
Style: IPA
Tasting notes: 1st of a 6-pack. Nice piney bite. Good but no Smuttynose and ESB is better.
Rating: Recommended with qualifications

Beer: Siberian Night
Brewer: Thirsty Dog
Style: Imperial Stout
Tasting notes: (4) A bottle aging in my cellar for approximately 11 months. Wonderful blend of coffee, bitter chocolate, prunes, with a nice sourish bite at end. Alcohol in nose but not noticeable in taste. Upgraded rating after drinking it and then again the next morning: another beer I could not get out of my mind. Would like to compare with Yeti. (3) Downgraded rating slightly. A close call. (2) Ditto. (1) Wonderful. Coffee and burnt dark chocolate when cold. As it warms to room temp, the coffee fades and it adds some sweet milk and a touch of sour at the end.
Top 100: 29 December 2005 and 10 March 2007. (Not 10 April 2009.)
Rating: Top 10ish. This is a new addition, the 14th, to my Top 10ish list.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Allagash Dubbel Reserve

Beer: Dubbel Reserve

Brewer: Allagash

Style: Dubbel

Tasting notes: (2) Improves w/ age. Quaffable mix of complex malt and hop bite. May rate a 5. (1) A bottle from a 4-pack. Caramel and malt w/ some bite at end. Good, pleasant and quaffable.

Rating: Recommended with qualifications


Brewery (alpha list): beers (alpha list)

Speedway Stout
Allagash: Dubbel, White
Anderson Valley: Winter Solstice
Anheuser-Busch: Budweiser
Avery: Anniversary Ale - Sixeen, Maharaja
Pale Ale
Petrus Aged Pale Ale
Bear Republic: Racer 5
Belhaven: Twisted Thistle IPA
Bells: Batch 9000, Expedition Stout, Oarsman, Oberon, Sparkling Ale, Third Coast Old Ale
Bitburger: Premium Pils
Bockor: Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge
Blue and Gray: Elwood Thompson Fresh Farmhouse Ale
Bluegrass: Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout
Blue Mountain: Full Nelson, Rockfish Wheat
Mariage Parfait
Bostells: Karmeliet
Boulevard: Saison - Brett
Brasserie Dieu du Ciel: Peche Mortel
Brooklyn: Black Chocolate Stout, Monster Ale
Bruery: Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, Saison Rue
Cantillon: Gueuze, Rose de Gambrinus, Vigneronne
Chimay: Grand Reserve (Blue), Tripel
Clipper City:
Heavy Seas Loose Canon
d'Achouffe: N'Ice Chouffe
de Dolle: Ara Bier, Dulle Teve, Oerbier Reserva, Stille Nacht
De Proef: Les Deux Brasseurs, Pinhead
Dogfish Head: 60 Minute IPA, 120 Minute IPA, World Wide Stout
Duck-Rabbit: Porter
Avec Les Bons Voeux, Saison
Duvel: Duvel
Floreffe: Prima Melior
Flying Dog: In Heat Wheat, Raging Bitch, Snake Dog IPA
Founders: Breakfast Stout, Imperial Stout, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Porter, Red's Rye PA
Fullers: Vintage Ale
Gueuze 1882 Black Label
Goose Island: 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Bourbon County Stout, Stockyard Oatmeal Stout
Great Divide: Hibernation Ale, Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Titan IPA, Yeti Imperial Stout
Green Flash: Imperial IPA
Hanssens: Oude Gueuze, Oude Kriek
Hoegaarden: Original White Ale
Delirium Nocturum
Koningshoeven: Tripel
Lagunitas: Brown Sugga' (cask), Cappuccino Stout, IPA, Undercover Investigator Shut-Down Ale
Legend: Brown Ale, Golden Ale
J.W. Lees:
Harvest Ale aged in Calvados casks
Magic Hat: Vinyl
Modelo: Negra Modelo
New Belgium: Mothership Wit
New Holland: Golden Cap
North Coast: ACME California IPA, Blue Star Wheat Ale, Old Rasputin, Red Seal Ale
Old Dominion: Millennium, Oak Barrel Stout
Oskar Blues: Dale's Pale Ale, Gordon, TEN FIDY
Ommegang: Abbey Ale, Biere de Mars, Hennepin, Ommegeddon, Rare Vos, Three Philosophers
Orval: Orval
Oud Beersel: Oude Geuze Vieille
Pabst: Blue Ribbon
Hefe-Weissbier Naturtrub
Nastro Azzurro
Pilsner: Urquell
Port: Old Viscosity
Rogue: Chocolate Stout, Shakespeare Stout
Russian River:
Santification, Temptation
Samuel Adams: Boston Lager, Noble Pils, Octoberfest
Samuel Smith:
Oatmeal Stout, Pure Brewed Lager
Schneider: Aventinus, Aventinus Weizen Eisbock, Weisse
Sierra Nevada: Bigfoot, Celebration, ESB, Kellerweis, Pale Ale, Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, Stout, Summerfest, Torpedo Extra IPA
Smisje: Calva Reserva
Smuttynose: Baltic Porter, "Finest Kind" IPA, Robust Porter
Biere de Garde, Saison Deluxe
Southern Tier: IPA
St. Bernardus: Abt 12, Prior 8, Tripel, Witbier
St. George:
Starr Hill: Dark Starr Stout, (The) Gift, Jumo Lager, (The) Love, Northern Lights
Steenberge: Gulden Draak, Maerfant Damse
Stone: 13th Anniversary, Arrogant Bastard, Double Bastard, Imperial Russian Stout, Levitation Ale, Old Ruffian
Stoudts: Scarlette Lady
Strubbe: Ichtegem's Grand Cru
Terrapin: Sunray Wheat Ale
Thirsty Dog: Old Leghumper, Siberian Night
Three Floyds: Gumballhead, Pride and Joy
Trader Joe's:
2009 Vintage Ale, Mission St. Hefeweizen
Trappistes Rochefort: 6, 8, 10
Nugget Nectar
La Fin du Monde, Maudite, Trois Pistoles
Urthel: Hop-It
Victory: Baltic Thunder, Old Horizontal, Prima Pils
Weihenstephaner: 1809, Hefeweissbier, Vitus
Westmalle: Tripel
Weyerbacher: Twelve
Widmer: Hefeweizen
Yuengling: Black and Tan, Traditional Lager

Old Rasputin

Beer: Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Brewer: North Coast

Style: Imperial Stout

Tasting notes: (2) A bottle @ Joe's. A hint of sweet malt, followed by coffee, chocolate and charcoal. Complex and big. (1) A fine stout.

Top 100: 29 December 2005, 10 March 2007, and 04 April 2009.

Rating: Recommended without reservation

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mariage Parfait

Beer: Oude Gueze Boon Mariage Parfait

Brewer: Boon

Style: Gueuze

Tasting notes: A bottle best before 26 01 2005. Consumed 04 04 2009. Gulpably smooth and complex. Woodsy, orange zest at end, dry but not super tart like Girardin. I wanted to keep tasting to figure out the flavors. Went well w/ apples but not well w/ clementines or Fontina cheese.

Rating: Highly recommended


A great gueuze is a taste sensation. Common descriptors include: acidic, barnyard, dry, funky, lemony, sour, tart, vinegar, and vinous. It refreshes and wonderfully cleanses the palate.

Gueuze is a blend of young and old lambic beers. Lambic beers are spontaneously brewed in large open air vessels. This means that any critters in the air can affect the brewing process.The old lambic is often aged in wooden barrels. The aging takes some of the "edge" off of the beer. The brewmaster creates a consistent flavor by blending old and young lambics.

Gueuze has no hop bitterness. The hops used are aged to remove their bitterness. They are added as a preservative.

I highly recommend that everyone try a good gueuze. It blends the boundaries between beer and wine and is a unique taste experience. I recommend Cantillon, Girardin, and Boon.


American Pale Wheat Ale / Barleywine / Biere de Garde / Black and Tan / Dubbel / Gueuze / IPA / Saison / Stout (Imperial) / Strong Ale / Tripel


Sierra Nevada

Friday, April 3, 2009

Four recent beers: Clipper City Loose Cannon, SNPA, SN ESB, and Ommegang Rare Vos

Beer: Heavy Seas Loose Cannon
Brewer: Clipper City
Style: Double IPA

Tasting notes: A malty brew balanced with a nice dose of floral and orange hops. Previous review.
Rating: Recommended without reservation
Beer: Pale Ale
Brewer: Sierra Nevada
Style: Pale Ale

Tasting notes: (7) Some bottles from a 6-pack purchased in Mathews. Good beer. Easy to drink with enough flavor to be interesting and sippable. (6) My appreciation of the beer continues to grow. Simpler than downgrading several 4's and 3's. (5) Sweet caramel malt up front nicely balanced w/ hop bit at end. (4) "Ummm, beer!" The perfect beer when you want a "beer"? (3) 1st of a 12-pack. Good beer. Easy to drink with enough flavor to be interesting and sippable. Nice balance of sweet and bitter. (2) A draft and a bottle @ 2 different restaurants. The draft was quite tasty. A solid choice. (1) A good beer with a relatively wide distribution in restaurants.
Rating: Recommended with qualifications

Beer: Rare Vos
Brewer: Ommegang
Style: Belgian Dark Ale
Tasting notes: The notes on the label are spot on: mellow, fruity, and elusively spicy. Light fruits up front with a pineapple/ginger tanginess that lingers on the tongue. Went well with pork tenderloin w/ chutneyand pineapple and apples w/ fontina cheese.
Rating: Recommended without reservation

Beer: ESB
Sierra Nevada
Style: Extra Special Bitters/Beer
Tasting notes: (3) Easy drinking and flavorful w/ a nice bitters finish. (2) Noticed a roasty malt. (1) Great w/ food; great in gulps.
Previous review.
Rating: Recommended without reservation.