Archive for the month “November, 2012”

Jessenhofke Belgian Triple

8% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($14.00/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into goblet glasses.

This “malt beverage brewed with garlic” pours an iced tea brown with a slight white head and a curious nose that mixes champagne grapes, Belgian earthiness, and yes, garlic.  Although billed as a “Belgian Triple”, it is hardly triple-like on the tongue, instead offering a plum-like fruitiness on the front end that fades into a backyard garden mouthful on the finish (with not just garlic present, but a variety of herbs and vegetables).  Upon subsequent swallows, the flavors coalesce into a burnt caramel sweetness with a grape and pressed apple tang around the margins.  Jessenhofke is a surprisingly tasty and decidedly non-garlic-forward brew with a number of welcome surprises.

    4 Toasts

    4 Toasts

Love Buzz Saison – Anchorage Brewing Company

9% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($13.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This barrel-aged saison from Anchorage Brewing Company pours a shiny peach with a decent-sized ivory head, and a nose that comes on strong straight out of the bottle.  Green grass, candied citrus, grapefruit zest, and sour grape smells come to the fore, and the aroma seems to promise a mouth-puckering sour.  However, it’s more citrus-y tart on the first swallow, although those flavors change shape multiple times on the finish.  Love Buzz Saison was aged in pinot noir oak barrels with brettanomyces, but the effect on the palette is closer to white wine.  Overall, my first impression of the beer was not particularly favorable, as an unpleasant raw grapefruit taste came to dominate the palette.  However, when I distributed the yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle between our two glasses, those flavors rounded out into more palatable peach and tangerine tastes.

 

    3 Toasts

 

   3.5 Toasts

Biere de L’Amitie – Brasserie St. Feuillien/Green Flash Collaboration

9.5% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($13.49/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This Belgian Strong Pale Ale is a collaboration of San Diego’s Green Flash and Belgium’s Brasserie St. Feuillien, the opposite number of their more recent partnership Friendship Brew, a black saison.  It pours a pale orange with an expansive bone-white head, and a gorgeous array of farmhouse aromas in the nose – citrus, hay, and funk are there, along with some banana-coconut tropical notes.   Biere de L’Amitie is unbelievably light and effervescent on the first swallow, with some champagne and funk flavors entering on the finish.  There is some citrus present, but nothing juicy or cloying, just a perfect accent to the crisp mouthfeel and floral, tea-like spices.  In the spirit of cross-cultural collaboration, the resulting tasty brew is both old-world understated and brimming with new-world personality.

    4.5 Toasts

    4.5 Toasts

Smoked Porter – Stone Brewing Company

5.9% ABV
Purchased at Nugget Market ($4.19/22 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

Stone Smoked Porter pours a murky black with a frothy, light brown head, and a pleasing and subtle nose of hickory smoke and cured meat, very similar to jerky.  Wood-smoked malt dominates the palette, but the taste is surprisingly subtle and velvety, with a light and pleasing mouthfeel.  There are some black pepper notes on the retreat, along with roasted peanuts and enough hops to make their presence known.  The smoky flavor of Stone Smoked Porter is charred and bracing, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome on the tongue, and would probably pair perfectly with BBQ-ed meat and even smoked fish.  There is enough caramel-nut sweetness on the aftertaste to make this a palatable dessert beer as well. (4 ½ toasts

    4.5 Toasts

   3.5 Toasts

Rugbrød – The Bruery

8% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe and poured into tulip glasses.

A “Julebryg-style Dark Rye Ale” from The Bruery, Rugbrod pours a pumpernickel-brown with a vaporous, sand-colored head.  The savory and intriguing nose contains sharp rye and bread-like malts, while peppery rye also plays off of bread notes on the tongue.  Rugbrod offers much of the same flavor and texture as dark rye bread, while remaining a rich and drinkable cold-weather brew.  Even more complex flavors – molasses, nuts, and subtle spice-rack herbs among them – begin to come through as the pour warms.  This year’s vintage has more palette-splitting rye and less molasses than previous versions, but a year or two of cellaring should tame the beer.

    4 Toasts

   3.5 Toasts

Russian Imperial Stout Faceoff – Narwhal vs. Old Rasputin

Narwhal – Sierra Nevada

10.2% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market and poured into taster glasses.

Narwhal pours an opaque mahogany with a slight, soda-style head, and offers a complex and inviting nose rich with roasted coffee beans, alongside some dark chocolate and sarsaparilla root notes.  This beer is aggressive out of the box, with all of the wonderful dark and roast-y flavors of a classic Russian Imperial Stout.  Sierra Nevada’s twist is to add a much more pronounced hop presence to the coffee, muted dark chocolate, and blackstrap molasses tastes.  The result is a long-lingering and absolutely delicious slow sipper, and a definite triumph for Sierra Nevada.  (4 ½ toasts)

    4.5 Toasts

    4.5 Toasts

 

Old Rasputin – North Coast

9% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market and poured into taster glasses.

 

North Coast’s Old Rasputin is the beer that re-ignited the Russian Imperial Stout craze for the modern era, and it pours an espresso black with a decently sized, light brown head.  It has a subtle aroma of doctored espresso and some black licorice, along with a slightly sweeter, almost cola-like smell.  Old Rasputin is much more subtle and insinuating on the tongue than Narwhal, combining coffee, very bitter chocolate, and licorice.  The big difference between these two Russian Imperial Stouts is that North Coast’s take leans on British-style malts and watery texture, as opposed to Sierra Nevada’s West Coast super-hopping.

    4 Toasts

    3.5 Toasts

To Øl – Sans Frontiére

7% ABV
Purchased at The Trappist in Oakland ($8.75/33 centiliter pour) and served in wine glasses.

This Belgian gold aged in white wine barrels with wild yeast from the excellent Danish brewers To Øl pours a burnt orange with a substantial and marshmallow-y off-white head.  Sans Frontiére offers a delicious nose of fresh grains, white wine grapes, fruit candy, and a little honeydew melon rind.  The taste is simultaneously dry and fruit-juicy, a neat mélange of unique tropical and citrus tastes (especially melons and tangerines) and a more delicate champagne sherbet-style flavor.   There is a distinctive but subtle development of flavors here, and the ultimate effect is a sort of Italian soda vibe, both in mouthfeel and aftertaste.

    4 Toasts

   4 Toasts

Baby Tree – Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project

9.0 % ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($9.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This quadrupel from Massachusetts-based Pretty Things pours an opaque, blackish-brown with a slight hickory head.  Baby Tree has a deep, rich nose of raisins, plums, and toffee, very promising for a quad, and offers many of the same delicious qualities on the tongue.  The first flavor impression is raisins and plums, followed by a nutty toffee finish that lingers pleasurably, and balanced out by an influx of hops on the finish.  It has a lot of the prototypical fruitcake and dark fruit tastes and the heavy mouthfeel of a classic quad, but it’s measured by an abundant sweetness (especially butterscotch) and American-ized with a more pronounced hop character.

    4 Toasts

   4.5 Toasts

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