Oh, have you not Herd? It was my understanding that everyone had Herd!

Bolero_The_Herd_My_BlogOn the docket:  Bolero Snort’s IV Anniversay, The Herd 750mL

Poured into:  Dogfish Head craft goblet with enough vigor to produce a head, but as not to disturb the yeast from the bottom of the bottle.

Sight:  A deeply gingerbread body fills the glass with a quick-forming khaki head.  As dark as it is, there’s nice evidence of carbonation, tiny, delicate bubbles well up from the base.  A few seconds later, the head dissipates to a tightly hugging ring and a storm-front mass of suds on top.  Further insepction reveals a lovely reddish hue to the body.  No lacing, but hey, it’s a 10.5% abv drink.  Taking a look at the bottle, one can observe a ring of  yeast sediment on the bottom.

Aroma:  Intense, sweet malt.  Almost rootbeer-like spicy sweetness.  Just a fleeting sense of vanilla and gentle perfume of esters and alcohol.  Molasses.  Dark purple fruit note.  Yep, the plums are there.  No hop presence.

Taste:  Much of the aroma follows through to the palate.  Malt and sugar sweetness, on the fuller side of the style.  Pleasant warmth from alcohol which keeps it from becoming too sweet.  The plum note manifests as part of a “fruitcake” sort of fruitiness, along with the yeast.

Mouthfeel:  Highly carbonated, with very fine bubbles, not sharp and biting.  Finish is moderately dry with a slight bitterness, bringing another means of balance.  Medium-full body.

Overall:  More abbey-style than Trappist, a nice New-World interpretation.  This is not your father’s Chimay.  A great way to celebrate four years… at least that’s what I herd.

Suggested food pairing(s):Mongoian beef and broccoli, port-wine cheese, filet, raspberry chocolate cheesecake

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Cloudy with a Chance of Dry-Hopping: Omnipollo’s Fatamorgana

On the docket:  22 oz. bottle of Omnipollo’s Fatamorgana

poured into:  Innis & Gunn stemmed craft glass

S:  Hazy, lemon-gold body with a frothy white head.  Great retention, and thin, consistent rings of lacing.  It recedes to a gentle wash of suds on top, and though translucent and not transparent, carbonation activity is easily observed.  Also, there is a thin layer of yeast in the base of the bottle, so pour carefully.

A:  At first impression, one gets a  bright lemon citrus and pine front.  Added to this is just the slightest twinge of funk, barely there, hiding in the background.  Could it be the yeast or the wheat?  The malt aroma is very muted, but clean and water-cracker like.

T:  Up front, it’s a big dose of lemon and grapefruit bitterness.  A sweet malt note shows up briefly mid-palate, but the finish gives way to a roar of more hops.  Dry, bitter, clean, brisk… and a touch floral on the end.  This is a Double IPA through and through, with flavor squarely in the hop department.

F:  Medium-light, with fine carbonation and a rather long finish of pine and citrus.  A tad fluffy and creamy.

O:  Interesting take on the Double IPA style, with the addition of wheat and oats.  Easy to drink, dangerous at 8%, no perceived alcohol from either aroma or taste.

Suggested food pairing:  used as base in vinaigrette dressing over arugula and walnut salad, steamed lobster and shellfish, lemon tart, and mild, creamy cheese

Happy New Beer! Bière de Champagne

Happy 2016, subscribers, viewers, and newcomers.  I feel it only fitting that one of the first things I do this year is post a beer review.  The following was my experience with my much-heralded NYE beer, DeuS.  Enjoy, and try not to snort beer from your nose while reading, it gets a little out-there…

On the docket:  750 mL cork and cage bottle of Brewery Bosteels’ Deus 2012

Poured into: pilsner glass

S:  Holy bubbly, Batman!  I have never, in my short beer-drinking life, seen so much effervescence.  Bubbles, falling in reverse, constantly erupt from the bottom of my pilsner glass.  A stark white, highly porous head builds then recedes.  Its body is a very pale straw, golden, and remarkably clear.

A:  Apple, pear, a bit of barnyard, bright fruity esters… mint?  Yeah, I think there’s a mint note.  Halfway through enjoying the bottle, and periodically inhaling the aroma of the newly poured head, my nose did a double-take.  What is that I’m getting?  I turned to my wife and asked her to smell the beer, thinking I was crazy.  After she sniffed, I said, “It smells like a wet dog rolled in mint leaves and Aqua Velva.”  That observation got me the weirdest look in a long time.  But, though that was imaginative, and descriptive, it wasn’t quite accurate.  I continued to smell.  Then it hit me (almost literally).  What some people call “pineapple,” but my sense memory labeled as “cat box.”  The realization almost put me off my beer.  Whether from the yeast strain, the hop bill, or some other chemical process, I had never smelled anything quite like that in a beer.

T:  The pleasant parts of the nose follow through to the taste:  a medley of pear, apple, clove spice, citrus, and yes, mint again.  I don’t detect bitterness.  Instead, there’s a delicate tartness.  Added in is a sweet note in the beginning, but by the time you swallow, it’s quite dry.

F:  Light, creamy, and fluffy all at the same time.  Extremely tingly.  There’s a subtle whisper of booze on the finish, and grows more evident as the beer warms.  11.5%.  Yikes!

O:  I love to use the phrase “no words, just feelings” when describing incredible experiences.  However, this is a beer review, so words are not just required, but inadequate.  I’ve nothing to compare this beer to… if Saison Dupont, Chimay Cinq Cents, and Duvel got together in a room and starting drinking Dom, that just about scratches the surface of this intensely drinkable AND dangerous deity of a brew.  And, when have I ever added this to a review- there is a very noticeable auditory element to this beer… it’s like the Belgian brewers put an Alka-Seltzer tablet in with the second dose of yeast.

S:  4.5  A:  3.75  T: 4.25  F:  4.5  O:  4.0

Suggested food pairing:  poach salmon, citrusy salads, on its own as an aperitif, fruit salad

Beer for New Year’s Eve?!

This is a special post, as it’s not often I associate a specific beer with a specific holiday.  For many, ringing in the new year will be filled with toasts, and downing delicate, bubbly, pale wine from demure flutes.  Those of you who feel bound by tradition, but very much want to toast 2016 with beer, worry no more– I have your answer.  I give you, Bière de Champagne:

deus_story

The above beauty is brewed by Brouwerij (Brewery) Bosteels of Buggenhout, Belgium.  Touting 200 years of history, and multi-generational ownership, this brewery offers the logical and splendid alternative to fine champagne.  This is a relatively new style of beer which undergoes a similar process as champange, including the use of champagne yeast.  Mon Dieu!

What should you expect?  Taken from Bosteels site, a “light blonde to pale
golden beer, brightly scintillating, saturated and with extremely tiny
bubbles. DeuS is crowned by a fine linen white, meringue-like head.”

Notes in the aroma include fresh apples backed by mint, thyme, citrus, ginger, malt, pears, hops, allspice and cloves.

Ah, but what of the taste?  Bosteels provides an alluring description, “DeuS is delicate and complex. It glides over the tongue as smoothly as
silk and then blossoms into a creamy, tingling sparkle. DeuS is light and
vivacious and seduces you with the sweetness of a grape and the fruitiness
of a dessert apple. The finish is beautifully dry with a bare hint of tannin.”

I’ve been sitting on a bottle of this for about a year, waiting for just the right time to unwind the wire cage and pop the cork on this exotic brew.  I’ll be drinking this from a pilsner glass.  Anyone else going to join me on 12/31/15?

Additionally, if you’re celebrating with a different beer, I’d love to know what you’ve picked out.  Drop me a line, you just might invoke beer-envy in me.

I’ll be doing a review at about 12:02 am, 1/1/16, let’s see if I get the same qualities from the beer during my experience.

Sources:

Bosteels pdf

Bosteels website

and as always, BeerAdvocate

Big. Beer. Barleywine.

On the docket:  Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (part of the BIG BEER Series).  Bottle conditioned, and brewed in 2013.  Excellent- pre-aged.  No waiting needed.

Poured into:  Jester King Snörkel snifter.

S:  An opaque tawny, brown body sits below a quick-rising khaki head.  After a minute or so, the head dies down, sitting tight and sudsy.  I’ve not even had a sip, and there’s lacing on the glass, medium bands of beauty.

A:  This big beer boasts fig, caramel and pine in the initial aroma.  Further inhalation provides sweet malt and certain fusel booziness.  It smells characteristic of an American Barleywine.

T:  The taste mimics much of the aroma, adding a bit of earthy, spicy hop signature.  The malt sired toasted brown bread and caramel.  When on the cold side, the alcohol is masked.  When warm, it’s easier to detect.  Bitterness helps balance out the sweetness.

F:  Some carbonation present, enough to keep the sweetness from dominating and creating fatigue.  Medium body, dry bitter finish that lasts and lasts.  Woo!

O:  In addition to being a favorite style, I also appreciate that this example produced by a respected American brewer bridges the gap between treacle-sweet English BWs and hop-bomb, abrasive US versions (fresh Bigfoot comes to mind).  Thus one hits all the marks- hoppy, boozy (in a good way- not hot and solventy), nice initial sweetness.  A fine example of the style.

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

Suggested food pairing:  Creamy goat cheese, braised beef, spicy Thai or Indian curry (if you’re the masochistic type)

Go “down cellar” and bring this up: Allagash Tripel Ale

On the docket:  750ml cork & cage Allagash Tripel Ale, bottle date:  8/6/15.

Poured into:  Chimay etched chalice

S:  A quickly rising, stark-white whip of head formed on the surface of a nearly Ticonderoga #2 pencil-colored body.  The head will settle down, clinging to the top in a ¾ thumb-width.  Tiny bubbles zip to the surface.  There is a visible cloudiness in the body, but this treat was bottle conditioned, so that’s just fine by me.

A:  Light, malty sweetness works in partnership with a dry, spicy note of clove.  Gentle banana and bubblegum (and I mean really gentle) yeast esters also emanate from the head.  A mild fruitiness (Allagash says passionfruit).  Spicy, earthy hops probably feel overlooked, but I waved at them, made them feel appreciated.

T:  Dry clove spice and an earthy, husky/straw flavor meet your senses immediately.  One will also detect some sweetness from the malt and the candi sugar.  There’s certainly a little fruitiness in the mouth, too.  Peach?  Apricot?  Mango?  I’ll chalk that up to the yeast.  Honey wends its way into the flavor.  The hops and the higher alcohols show up in the finish.  It’s a slight warming tingle, but by no means unpleasant. Tripels are dangerous– light body, great flavor, and well-integrated alcohol.  This one comes in at 9% abv.  Take your time with this cork and cage beauty.

F:  Light, fluffy, tingly, and like they said on the bottle, a long finish.  A great sipper.

O:  An excellent interpretation of a cherished Belgian style by an American brewery.  High marks to Allagash.  If you think this one is good, try their barrel-aged releases.

Suggested food pairing:  Rich creamy Blue cheese, Italian or clove seasoned pork-loin, fruit tart or maybe even a slice of apple pie a la mode

S:  4.25  A:  4.5  T:  4.75  F:  4.5  O:  4.5