Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Ballast Point – Sextant

6.4% ABV
Purchased at California State Fair ($9/16 oz. bottle) and poured into plastic cups.

His Notes:

This oatmeal stout brewed with copious amounts of Café Calabria coffee pours an impenetrable onyx with an almost nonexistent sand-colored head.  Silky coffee dominates the nose, but it also possesses notes of licorice, plum, and rich loam. Sextant’s strong taste follows suit – nuanced coffee flavors mingle with vanilla bean deserts, and those tastes are offset with earthiness and given depth and creaminess by the addition of oats.  The finish is long-lasting and fairly powerful, but also tasty and well-balanced – coffee is the predominant flavor, along with more vanilla and black licorice.   I imagine this brew would stand up very well to barrel-aging.

  4.5 Toasts

Her Notes:

  4 Toasts

Foret Blanche – Brasserie DuPont

5.5% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($12.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

His Notes:

In honor of Belgian Independence Day today, we sampled this Belgian Witbier from Leuze-en-Hainaut-based Brasserie Dupont, the same brewery that produces Moinette Blonde.  Foret Blanche pours an extremely pale gold with a champagne-style white head and a spring-summery nose of lemon zest, apricot, and various grasses.  The fresh, lemony flavor is thirst-quenching but not mouth-coating, with a clean finish and a dewy mouthfeel.  There are some tasty but unimposing citrus and tropical notes throughout, making this a perfect brunch beer in place of a peach mimosa, or a lawnmower beer in lieu of a lemon shandy.

  4.5 Toasts

Her Notes:

  4 Toasts

Orval Trappist Ale – Brasserie d’Orval S.A.

6.9% ABV
Purchased at Nugget Market ($5.99/11.2 oz. bottle) and poured into red wine glasses

His Notes:

 This product of the Trappist monastery Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval pours a murky burnt orange with a billowy off-white head.  It possesses an odd and invigorating nose of caramelized bananas, along with some highly unusual spice and burnt sugar notes.  The first swallow has the mouthfeel of seltzer water along with a root-based earthiness, although those banana and unusual spice flavors are ever-present in the aftertaste. Orval is a mysterious brew, and fairly uncommon for a Belgian Trappist ale – I got more mouth-coating hops and bready yeast than the usual candi sugar and estery fruit.  I can’t say that I loved it, but I’ve certainly never had anything quite like Orval.

  4 Toasts

Her Notes:

 

  4 Toasts

Mo’ Betta Bretta – The Lost Abbey/New Belgium

6.15% ABV
Purchased at Davis Beer Shoppe ($7.99/12.7 oz. bottle) and poured into flute glasses.

His Notes:

This collaboration between California’s The Lost Abbey and Colorado’s New Belgium pours an opaque lemony orange with a tight white head and plenty of bubbles in the body.  Mo’ Betta Bretta has a nose that is pleasant but lacks distinction, combining the expected smells of tropical yeast, fresh grains, and a little faint funk.  The first swallow is a little flat, and has a taste much like a standard blonde ale with some wild yeast added to the mix.  There is some semi-sweet melon on subsequent swallows, but I was not a big fan of the skunk-funk aftertaste.  Perhaps it would have fared better in a blind taste – this is a fairly refreshing, summery brew, but not the Collaboration of the Titans you would have hoped for.

  3 Toasts

Her Notes:

  3 Toasts

Tilted Smile Imperial Pilsner – Uinta Brewing

9% ABV
Purchased at Alley Katz ($16/25.4 oz. bottle) and served in tulip glasses.

His Notes:

This Imperial Pilsner from Uinta’s Crooked Line series pours a transparent gold with a frothy white head and an alternately sweet and pungent nose of guava and farmhouse funk.  Tilted Smile is crisp and biscuit-like on the first swallow, with some restrained citrus, sharp yeast, and tropical notes on the periphery.  There is a lot more mesmerizing and mysterious Belgian “good funk” here than American pilsner “bad funk”, adding muscle without sacrificing drinkability.  Complex for such a simple brew, Tilted Smile honors the pilsner style by including Saaz hops and real pilsner yeast, yet subverts and expands on it by pushing the flavor profile in the direction of a Belgian pale ale.

  4 Toasts

Her Notes:

  4 Toasts

His and Hers Mid-Year Top 5

As we enter the second half of 2012, we also enter the second half of His and Hers Beers Notes’ first year.  We’ve reviewed nearly sixty beers in our first six months, including over a dozen brews that we’ve both awarded 4.5 toasts or more (what can I say, we’re picky about what we drink).  That left us with a lot of worthy candidates when we set down to compile our list of the top 5 beers we’ve reviewed so far, but the top two stood out right away.

1. Jack N Jolly – Drake’s

We sampled this barrel-aged wonder during SF Beer Week at The Page, where He successfully Roshamboed for the last two seats at the bar.  We’ve both been cultists to Drake’s barrel-aged masterpieces for a while, and Jack N Jolly is one of their best.  It looks like sewage water and tastes like Heaven – He gushed, “all in one swallow, it’s bitter, woody, fruity, roasted, toasted, and sweet”; She swooned over the liqueur-filled chocolate and toasted coconut flavors.

2. Sweet and Sour – HaandBryggeriet

This was intended to be a special treat from one of our new favorite breweries to celebrate our 50threview, and instantly became one of our all-time favorites.  He loved how this Norwegian brew’s “Sour Patch pucker” was counterbalanced by “the ripe orange and sweet melon flavors”; She loved that the taste of liqueur-soaked sponge cake was wrapped in the shimmery mouthfeel of champagne.

3. Trappistes Rochefort 10 – Abbye St. Remy

Abbye St. Remy’s classic Belgian quad inspired our senses to no end – He found wood and freshly pulled taffy in the nose, with cooked berries, toffee, and licorice on the palette; She discovered apple caramel tart and cherry brandy tastes inside of the “mango chutney color”. Sent to us by Kyle T.

4. Pliny The Younger – Russian River

A tipoff e-mail from Pangaea Two Brews helped us to beat the crowds for a rare post-Beer Week pouring of Russian River’s legendary limited release Imperial IPA.  He fell for “the complex mix of bitter and sweet notes on the palette” and the “dry, cakelike texture”; She thought the “clarified butter coloration” matched perfectly with the taste of biscuits and herbed butter.

5. Ovila Quad – Sierra Nevada

Another great Belgian quad, only this one came from Northern California’s own Sierra Nevada.  He felt that it had “a flavor profile similar to a smoky scotch or a mild brandy”; She found complex flavors of bourbon and cherry. Sent to us by Tricia D.

Cheers to six more months of great beer in 2012!


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