Archive for the category “Belgian”

Brotherly Love – The Commons Brewery

BroLove-commons-bttl10% ABV
Purchased at Final Gravity ($11.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into goblet glasses.

This “bourbon barrel aged Belgian dark strong with sour cherries and cocoa nibs” pours a dark and brackish espresso brown with a marshmallow-like, sawdust-colored head.  Hard alcohol and barrel wood aromas assert themselves on the nose, with dark cherries, dark chocolate, and some citrus peel on the periphery.  Wood and alcohol take the lead on the tongue as well, although here those flavors are given depth by the cocoa nibs, as well as a little bit of tartness from the cherries.  Still, the most robust flavors (freshly cut wood and bourbon neat) seem to come straight from the barrel, and the fact that the Portland-based brewery The Commons used a Belgian dark as a base may have given the alcohol-soaked staves more to latch on to. Brotherly Love has a powerful firewater character, but there is also some nuance and craft, and despite being a little overwhelming, the flavors of this beer are still quite good.

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BrotherlyLove

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Fire and Blood – Ommegang

GoTbeer_bttl6.8% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($9.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This third Game of Thrones-themed beer from Cooperstown, New York-based Ommegang pours a rusty red with a massive, persistent, off-white head.  Through the thick froth, you can make out an interesting nose of dark fruits (especially plums) and chili peppers, along with some notes of Belgian spice.  Although this hoppy Belgian red ale has been spiced up with the addition of Ancho chiles (as well as spelt and rye), there is no major heat on the tongue or in the throat, just a consistent chile flavor accenting the base taste of apple, plum, and berry.  Fire and Blood is far more drinkable than you would expect from the description, offering delicious but relatively restrained Belgian-style flavors with a lot of depth and nuance.

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GOT

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Groupe G Belgian RyePA – Headlands Brewing Co.

headlands37.6% ABV, 65 IBUs
Purchased at City Beer Store ($xx /16 oz. can) and poured into tulip glasses.

Groupe G pours a dirty orange with a mid-sized, pillow-y, off-white head.  Belgian aromas jump out of the can on the crack; in the glass, you get bubblegum, tropical fruit esters, banana, peach, a sharp spice bite, and hint of farmhouse funk.  The first swallow is beautiful – sweet tropical flavors of guava and berry play off the spice snap of the rye, and the hop bitterness is fairly restrained.  It gets more flower-y on subsequent swallows, almost like a Belgian hibiscus IPA with rye, while kumquat and bubblegum flavors come to dominate the finish.  This beer goes in a lot of different directions at once, but it’s all pretty cohesive and original, not to mention delicious.

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Headlands

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Hellion – Gigantic Brewing Company

gigantic_hellion_bttl

8.5% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($9.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “dry-hopped Belgian-style golden ale” from the exciting Portland, Oregon brewers Gigantic pours a straw-like gold with a tight, bright white head.  It has the expected Belgian golden nose of strong grains, a little bit of barnyard floor, and some vague tropical notes.  The first swallow is rich with de-sweetened pineapple and papaya, building in candied flavor until subsiding into a wave of bitterness.  A nice, rum-like burn settles in on the long finish, along with some honeyed fruit, ginger root, and dry crackers.  Hellion is a very good beer, bringing a welcome earthy quality to this often overwhelmingly sweet style.

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Gigantic_Hellion

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Tropical Tripel – Cigar City/de Proef Collaboration

de-proef-tropical-tripel-bttl

9.5% ABV
Purchased through Rare Beer Club and poured into goblet glasses.

This limited release collaboration between Belgian brewers De Proef and Tampa-based Cigar City pours a clear mandarin orange with a minimal bright white head.  Tropical Tripel was “aged on oak chips with coconuts and peaches”, and the nose offers a pina colada-style aroma of tropical fruits, including oranges, guavas, pineapples, and coconuts, with hints of Belgian farmhouse yeast.  It is strong and sweet on the palette as well, dominated by distinctly overripe fruit flavors like oranges, tangerines, guavas, and bananas, along with a touch of hop bitterness on the aftertaste.  The fruit adjuncts definitely heighten the candied fruit and hay taste of a Belgian tripel, but while this brew is thirst-quenching and flavorful, the overwhelming sweetness quickly becomes stomach-turning.

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TropicalTripel

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Oud Bruin – Grand Teton Brewing Company

OudBruin_bttl

6% ABV
Purchased at Final Gravity ($10.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This anniversary-related re-brew from Victor, Idaho-based Grand Teton pours a ruby-tinged copper with a minute, off-white head.  Oud Bruin has an interesting and fairly inscrutable nose of wood, caramel, mixed berries, and pie crust.  The taste is richer than the aroma suggests, emphasizing bread and toffee flavors, and without any significant tart or fruity notes.   Some Belgian esters and a touch of hoppiness come in on the finish, but the most dominant flavor here is the caramel/toffee malt overtones, balanced out by buttery yeast.  I’m usually an enthusiastic fan of the Grand Teton Cellar Reserve series, but Oud Bruin is more curious than satisfying, and needed more carbonation to prevent its fairly neutral flavor profile.

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OudBruin

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Fantomé Saison D’erizee – Printemps Edition

fantome_printemps_bttl8% ABV
Purchased at Trappist Provisions ($18/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This spring saison from legendary Belgian brewers Fantomé pours lemon drop yellow with a gorgeous, strobe-light white champagne head.  Bright countryside scents dominate the nose – wild flowers, sun-kissed hay, fresh citrus, and a little bit of barnyard swelter.  The first swallow is revelatory – light lemon bitterness, some honey, an incredibly crisp and pleasing mouthfeel, and then a sudden and unexpected assault of farmhouse spices.  Brewing spice flavors like coriander and spruce tips are augmented by unusual, cooking spice flavors like tarragon and parsley.  It’s a real dual-personality beer – part springtime refresher, part contemplative spice bomb – and remarkably successful on both fronts.

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Fantome

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Black Albert – De Struise Brouwers

lBlackAlbertBottle13% ABV
Purchased at Davis Beer Shoppe ($9.99/11.2 oz. bottle) and poured into tasting glasses.

Oosvleteren-based Belgian brewers De Struise produce this masterful 100 IBU “Royal Stout”, which pours a deep-space black with a tight, brown sugar head and a body that looks as thick as molasses.  Black Albert’s beckoning nose offers heavy aromas like licorice, bark, and red wine barrels, but with some surprisingly bright floral and citrus notes, almost like African coffee.  The taste is absolutely delicious – dark chocolate and citrus, as well some caramel and licorice – while the body is remarkably light and the aftertaste lingers pleasurably on the palette like great coffee.  This beer is not particularly boozy considering the 13% ABV, instead offering a whirlwind of complexity, including touches of milk chocolate, orange, and red wine, in an utterly drinkable package.

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BlackAlbert

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Hoppy Daze – Coronado Brewing Company

hoppydaze_bttl7.5% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($7.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “Belgian-style IPA” from San Diego-based Coronado pours a cloudy gold with a lovely white head and a curious nose of citrus, green tea, and roots.  Very flowery up front – fresh grass and dandelions – with a very obvious hop presence, although it fades out with some of those green tea and root flavors suggested in the nose.  I don’t quite understand what is especially “Belgian” about this beer – it has more herbal tones than the quasi-tropical nature I associate with the pale beers of the region.  But don’t be discouraged by this case of mistaken identity – Hoppy Daze is still an original and pretty damn good to boot, offering an oddly satisfying mix of pink bubblegum, sasparilla root, and grass.

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HoppyDaze_Coronado

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Luciernaga – Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Luciernaga_bttl6.5% ABV

Purchased at Davis Beer Shoppe ($13.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This Belgian-style ale from Michigan-based Jolly Pumpkin pours a sunny orange with a tight, off-white head, and a nose that gives off sour citrus, ginger, and white wine, with a distinctly puckering scent.  It is milder than expected on the palette, with a light and juicy body that offers muted grapefruit rind, subtle spice, some lemon, and indistinct spices.  Luciernaga goes down quite easily, with just a prickle of sour and some spices (coriander and grains of paradise, according to the bottle) piercing the tongue throughout the aftertaste.  Subtlety is the keyword for this brew – it’s as light and effervescent as its namesake, the “firefly”.

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Luciernaga

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