Archive for the category “Belgian”

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”.

toasts-4    4 Toasts

Luciernaga

 toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

 

Grand Cru – Green Flash Brewing Company

GrandCru_bttl9.1% ABV

Purchased at Davis Bottle Shoppe ($7.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into Green Flash tulip glasses.

This “mysterious dark ale” from Green Flash pours a dark plum-y brown with a mid-sized, dust-colored head.  There are lots of dusky – and indeed, mysterious – farmhouse spices on the nose, along with herbs, some woodiness, fruit tree leaves, and brown sugar, while still suggesting very little sweetness.  Green Flash Grand Cru presents little sweetness on the tongue either, offering instead spices, wood, dust, and cracker-like notes, with the brown sugar complementing the savory flavor in the same way that it would pork chops.  It makes a very pleasurable impression on the taste buds (with the spices and wood lingering on the tongue), changing character a number of times while remaining balanced throughout.

 

toasts-4.5    4.5 Toasts

GrandCru

 

 toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

 

As Follows – Stillwater Artisanal Ales

stillwater_bttl9% ABV

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

This “eschatological ale” (no one told Baltimore-based Stillwater Artisanal Ales that the Mayans were full of it?) pours a bright but opaque pale gold with an extremely dense, shocking-white head.  As Follows offers a nose of barnyard funk, bread, peach, and a little bit of butterscotch, fairly Belgian-y in all with some subtle spice notes.  The taste is decidedly un-sweet and very rustic, with a taste and light mouthfeel reminiscent of seltzer water, along with an aftertaste of funk, rye, garden herbs, and some touches of spice and wood.  It’s a very subtle and drinkable beer that doesn’t quite live up to the price tag, although it could be a hit amongst beer geeks with sensitive palettes.

toasts-3.5    3.5 Toasts

Stillwater_AsFollows

toasts-3.5    3.5 Toasts

 

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

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

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

Bink Tripel – Brouwerij Kerkom

9% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea ($9/10 oz. serving) and poured into tulip glasses

This tripel from Belgium-based Brouwerij Kerkom (they also brew a Bink Blond and a Bink Bruin) pours a mostly opaque hay yellow with a tight white head and a faint nose of bananas and candy. Warm, butterscotch flavors welcome you on the first swallow, with some yeasty tropical backing notes along with soft bananas.  Bink Tripel contains none of the spice notes of the Westoek XX tripel, but the prominent banana candy and yeast flavors give it a distinctly dessert-like tone, and it ends up tasting a lot like Allagash Curieux without the barrel-aging process. More and more bananas and hard alcohol enter the frame upon subsequent swallows, but Bink Tripel is also amply hopped for a nice balance.

    4 Toasts

   4.5 Toasts

Westoek XX

8% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($4.99/11.2 oz. bottle) and poured into Orval glasses

This fantastic Belgian tripel from Brouwerij Deca Services (besides the lighter sister beer Westoek X, they also brew the Vleteren series) pours a murky copper with a light and marshmallow-y off-white head.  Westoek XX has an intriguing tropical nose of guava, berries, some grapes, and healthy doses of spice and funk.  There is a neat depth of fruity flavors on the first swallow, with kiwi the most prominent but strawberry and bananas also present, along with lots of chewy spice on the finish.  Upon subsequent swallows, the barnyard flavors become more and more dominant, along with warm apple and some more muted and textured tropical notes.

    4.5 Toasts

   4.5 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

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