Review #6: If I Only Had a Brain(less) Belgian Golden Ale

On the docket:  22 oz.  Brainless Belgian-Style Golden Ale (Elevated Series) Epic Brewing

Poured into:  River Horse snifter with enough force to produce a good head.

S:  Bright shiny gold, crystal clear.  One might use the word “dandelion” or “school bus” to describe the yellow hue to this blond beauty.  And you know what they say- “blondes” have more fun.  A stark, creamy white cap forms, then recedes quickly to a ring around the outside and a small island in the middle.  Tiny bubbles zip their way to the top to join their foamy brethren.

A:  Spicy, peppery, clove-y phenols.  Bright orangey citrus and spicy, noble hops.  The grain yields a delicate cracker-like pale malt aroma.  A bit of fruity (banana and bubblegum) esters from the Belgian yeast- not strong like a hefeweizen, mind you- just a touch.  There seems to be a whiff of grain husk, or hay.

T: An initial Belgian spice base of coriander, citrus rind, cloves, grains of paradise, maybe even anise greets the senses. Sweetness from candy sugar shows up in the middle. There’s a warming (but smooth), boozy finish, plus a dry, bitterness and spiciness that keeps you coming back for more.  But be warned, this golden goddess garnishes your sobriety if consumed too quickly.  It touts an 8.9% abv, concealed well by the light, effervescent body.

F:  Prickly, light, but not watery.  Long dry, bitter finish.

O:  Dry, bright, multi-faceted.  It’s not Duvel, but hey, there’s only one of those.  This is an enjoyable, solid offering from a non-Belgian brewery taking on this devilishly drinkable style.  In a pinch, this is a no-brainer.

S:  4  A:  4.25  T:  3.75  F:  4  O:  4

Suggested food pairing:  Lobster, baked salmon with lemon and butter, duck breast.  I’ll be so bold as to theorize lamb-pops with rosemary and Dijon mustard.  Try this on its own as an after-dinner drink, or before the meal to cleanse the senses- just don’t forget to drink some water at some point.

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A Quick Session on Session Beer

I read an enlightening article via a forum post on BeerAdvocate.com.  You can find the article here.

What I appreciate about the article, besides being well-written and informative, is the visual representation (drawn on a beer coaster).  We all learn in each of the recognized ways, but I prefer visual learning.  This put abv and consumption into perspective.  No wonder someone can have three 16 oz pints of an IPA at 7% and really “feel it.”

What are your thoughts?

My Recently Discovered, Favorite Beer Blogs

I’m pretty new to this WordPress thing, but I’ve been able to get my bearings.  I thought it was helpful to see what others are doing in the world of good beer.  Here are some of my recently discovered favorites.  Feel free to subscribe to them, as well as me.  In no particular order:

Perfect Pour Podcast

Marie @ Four Peaks

Brülosophy

The Ask-O-Matic

Beer of the Day

Man Drinks Beer

If you’re not on this list, send me your link.  You might be a new favorite.

Review #5: Strawberry Fields for a Limited Time

On the docket:  22 oz.  bottle of Abita’s Strawgator (Strawberry Doppelbock)

Poured into:  German style wheat glass, etched with the logo of NNPTC (Naval Nuclear Power Training Command).  Three of these were given to me as a gift from my now-honorably discharged brother.

S: A burnished gold body gives support to a spongy but thick off-white head.  The lacing it leaves on the glass as it recedes reminds one of aboveground pool-lining vinyl, in a rounded but grid-like pattern.  Good head retention, about a thumb’s width.  Bubbles well up from the bottom leisurely, as if on a Sunday stroll down the main street of a Southern village on a hot day.

A:  A waft of strawberry and banana, much like a smoothie, greets the nose.  Doughy malt and sweetness is a close second.  Sniff gently, and one can also detect fruity esters and just a faint hint of alcohol.  No discernable hop presence in the aroma.

T: Strawberry again in the beginning, plus a tiny taste of spice from the yeast.  Like the aroma, doughy sweet malt follows joined a trace of bubblegum.  It ends tangy, sweet, and just the smallest bit of dryness and bitterness.  The German Perle hops get lost in the bayou until the beer warms up a bit.  This is certainly of the dessert side of the beer scale.

F:  Slick, full and creamy.  There’s enough carbonation present not to make it a chore to drink, but on the flatter side.

O:  An interesting take on the style, certainly not traditional.  There are no real roasty, chocolate notes here- more like strawberry shortcake.  Between all the aspects, you have the smell, sight (almost), and taste.  Think of this as a heavier version of Abita’s Strawberry Harvest Lager.  It’s better consumed (I say) a little cooler, as it’s a bit more crisp.  As it warms up, the sugar is a bit more apparent.

S:  4.25 A:  4  T:  4.25 F:  3.75  O:  4

Suggested food pairing:  Summer salad with strawberries and almonds, strawberries and cream, strawberry shortcake a la mode… you see where this is heading

Review #4: A Double IPA that causes shaking at the knees

On the docket:  Stone’s  22 oz. XIX Anniversary Beer, Thunderstruck (bottled 7/23/15)

Poured into:  Stone pint glass, with some force to produce a nice head.

S:  Clear, bright straw-gold colored body with a stark, thick white head.  After a while, the head reside into a small but dense half-thumbnail cap.  It leaves lots of lacing, evident of fresh beer and a clean glass.  Bubbles rise from the bottom, lazily as if on vacation… in Australia.

A:  Citrusbottle_glow-182, peachy, piney hops leap off the head along with the subtle cracker-like hint of pale malt.  A bit of flowers and licorice from Ella hops.  This is a wonderful, complex blend of hop aromas due to the use of many Australian varietals.

T:  It tastes quite similar to its aroma.  Light malt, plus lots of hop flavors show off here.  While there is significant bitterness, most notably on the end, there are lots of fruity, piney, floral, and even spicy flavors.  Those wondering- this beer clocks in at 8.7% alcohol by volume, and 95 IBUs (international bitterness units).  It is a Double IPA (or DIPA).  The dryness helps keep the beer drinkable, causing the drinker to go back for more and more.

F:  Medium bodied, well attenuated (dry, little remaining sugar after fermentation).  There’s a nice amount of scrubbing bubbles present, it makes you go back for more.  The bitterness sticks around.

O:  I appreciate the fact that they change the details of this beer every year.  This is one Double IPA I can get behind.  Drink it fresh.  Good example of the style, while providing something unique.  I wonder what Stone will do next year?

Suggested food pairing:  salmon, saucy barbecue, rich bleu cheese

S:  4  A:  4.5  T:  4.25  F:  4  O:  4

Beer Tasting & Reviewing Basics

I’ve posted a total of three reviews so far.  One of the regulars on my favorite sub-community of  BeerAdvocate.com, New Beer Sunday (or NBS for short) left me feedback.  They explained that veterans to beer reviews might gloss over my rating system, but other newcomers to the craft scene might wonder what all those numbers and letters mean at the bottom of my reviews.  So, my system:

I’ve adopted the “out of 5” (with increments of .25) system from BeerAdvocate.com, and re-read their section on reviewing beer.  I’ve taken to using the word “aroma” over “smell,” as I think of good beer having a pleasing olfactory experience.  I regard the “look” of a beer as “sight,” what I experience with the beer in my mouth as “taste,” though the “feel” of a beer does add complexity to the “taste” factor.  “Feel” is shortened from “mouthfeel,” the amount of carbonation, perceived body (i.e.- thin and watery or thick and creamy), and if I notice an aspect of the beer lingering after I swallow, I might mention a long finish, much like it wine or fine spirits.  The “overall” section is summed up, with an impression of the style compared to its adherence (or lack of) to traditional style expectations, other beer by the same brewer, and any other comments I feel help describe the beer.

There’s a heavier emphasis on taste and smell over the other parts of a review, it makes up a large portion of experiencing a beer.

So,

A: aroma, S:  sight, T:  taste, F:  feel, O:  overall.

I hope this helps.