Archive for the tag “4-4.5 Toasts”

Cellar Series: Love Child #3 – Boulevard Brewing Company


9.5% ABV
Purchased at Final Gravity ($19.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This bourbon-barrel aged sour ale from Kansas City-based Boulevard pours a ruby-tinged rust color with a mid-sized beach sand head, and a fair amount of flotsam in the body. Sour fruit aromas sock you in the nose, including SweeTarts, pineapples, tart berries, and red wine.  A big tartness also asserts itself on the tongue, but the beer finishes pretty clean, with grapefruit, slightly immature strawberries, green apple, and even lime coming to the fore.  Some of the barrel makes its way onto the palette on subsequent swallows, but the most accurate analogue to the beer is a sour apple-flavored Jolly Rancher.  We cellared this beer for 14 months before uncorking, and I did not recall it being this fruit-driven and boldly tart in the spring of 2013, nor this distinct and nuanced.  My suspicions were seemingly confirmed by the bottle itself, which includes icons indicating low fruitiness and medium sour-ness, although many Beer Advocate reviewers from the time of release mention green apples, tart berries, and the like.  Either way, this beer is fantastic, and should hold up in the cellar for at least another year. 

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts




toasts-4   4 Toasts

Vieille Artisanal Saison – Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project


4.2% ABV
Purchased at Capitol Beer and Tap Room (12.7 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “artisanal saison aged in oak barrels” pours a clear, pale grapefruit juice yellow with a slight, bright white head.  It lovingly socks you with major farmhouse and tropical fruit aromas in front, and those are backed up in the nose by sour apple, hay, and earthy hops.  Well-rounded citrus dominates the first swallow, ending with a juicy finish of wet grass, mango, and lemon peel.  There is not much sourness here, just some citrus-y tartness, along with green apple, pineapple juice, dry crackers, and hops.  Vieille is one of the best beers I’ve had from Crooked Stave, a delicious and refreshing saison with a delicate touch on the palette.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts


toasts-4   4 Toasts

Barrel Roll No. 4: Hammerhead – Hangar 24 Brewing


12.4% ABV
Purchased at Capitol Beer and Tap Room ($16.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

This fourth edition from Redlands-based Hangar 24 Brewing’s Barrel Roll Series is an English-style barley wine aged in whiskey and bourbon barrels.  It pours a muddy date brown with a tight, French vanilla-colored head.  Big, boozy aromas stretch out of the glass, bourbon-centric but with notes of vanilla, oak, brown sugar, nuts, and caramel.  Hammerhead is absolutely delicious on the first swallow, balancing filigreed sweetness with flavors of oak, bitter walnuts, and alcohol-marinated barrel wood.  The alcohol warmth settles in on the long and decadent finish, with dark fruits patrolling the perimeter, and toasted oak and muted English-style hops providing backup.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts


toasts-4   4 Toasts

Page 24 Brune – Brasserie Saint-Germain

page-24-brune_bttl7.9% ABV
Purchased through Rare Beer Club and poured into oversize wine glasses.

This brown “biere de garde” – really an abbey-style dubbel – comes from Brasserie Saint-Germain, based in the north of France, near the border of Belgium.  Page 24 Brune pours a deep walnut brown with a sand-colored head that makes up in integrity what it lacks in volume.  The curious and enticing nose boasts raisins, chestnuts, berries, and a hint of the grape vine.  Delicious toffee, nuts, and dark fruits welcome on the first swallow, with a little bit of tartness entering the finish courtesy of the raisin and wine grape flavors.  More roasted nuts come in as the beer settles on the palette, along with a caramel-y yeastiness and a little farmhouse spice.  Brasserie Saint-Germain has brewed an exemplary dubbel with a balanced but complex blend of flavors.

toasts-4.5    4.5 Toasts


toasts-4   4 Toasts


Lower Dens – Stillwater Sensory Series, Vol.1 – Stillwater Artisanal Ales

stillwater_Bttl6% ABV
Purchased at Davis Beer Shoppe ($6.99?/12.7 oz. bottle) and poured into tasting glasses.

This “ale brewed with hibiscus” pours a clear, pale yellow with a bountiful bone-white head and a nose of citrus, grass, flowers, Sour Patch candy, and a subtle farmhouse funk.  It’s marvelously refreshing on the first swallow, with a just a prickle of sour citrus cutting through the balanced barnyard sweetness.  The hibiscus flowers enter the frame on the superbly dry finish, along with clove-heavy Belgian yeast, cracker-y notes, and a touch of honeydew melon.  This stellar “Vol. 1” of Stillwater’s Sensory Series (each bottle comes w/ a QR code that when scanned links to the “full sensory experience” – i.e., a 13-minute psychedelic jam by Baltimore indie rockers Lower Dens), is light and drinkable, but packed with complex flavors and spices.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts


toasts-4   4 Toasts

Coming Home Holiday Ale 2012 – Grand Teton Brewing Company

ComingHome2012_bttl10% ABV
Purchased at Davis Beer Shoppe ($10.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

This Grand Teton holiday seasonal pours a clear redwood brown with a nearly nonexistent light tan head, and a nose dominated by dark fruits (mostly plums and grapes), as well as apricots and wet wood.  It’s much woodier on the tongue, offering classic barley wine flavors like barrel oak, brown sugar, and caramel upfront, and culminating with peppery yeast in the aftertaste.  Coming Home 2012 combines American-style strength with some interesting Belgian textures and bottle-conditioning, resulting in a relatively light and un-sticky beer given the style and ABV.  It’s an excellent version of a classic style with some unique twists, as apple pie spices and an almost IPA-like abundance of piney hops complete the flavor profile.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts


toasts-4   4 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

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

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

Road to Helles – Port Brewing – SoCal Taster

5.19% ABV
Purchased at Lost Abbey/Port Tasting Room ($4/16 oz. serving) and poured into pint glasses

Road to Helles from Port Brewing pours a clear hay-yellow with a discreet white head, and has a lovely nose of wet grass, apricots, and other stone fruits. This brew is light in texture and appearance, but with plenty of flavor, including understated stone fruits and a touch of pilsner-y sweatsock, although not enough to perturb the palette. More honeycomb comes in on the nose and tongue upon subsequent swallows, in the vein of grilled peaches and apricots, but without any syrupy-sweet residue. It’s a very nice and session-able brew with relatively complex flavors, (it would pair beautifully with peach cobbler), and ultimately it’s like an unusually flavorful cross between an amber and pilsner. 

    4 Toasts

   4.5 Toasts

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