Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Most of the wood aged beers I have encountered that work are stouts, barley wines and lambics. These styles of beer have enough backbone to hold up against the flavors imparted by the wood they are aged in. Other styles of beer generally get over powered by the barrel flavor. 

Kentucky Bourbon Ale takes a different approach. It is a pale, watered down bourbon colored ale that gets out of the way and lets the barrel flavors shine through. It is aged up to six weeks in bourbon barrels, leaving a subtle yet intense barrel imprint. 

Kentucky BBA's nose is burnt vanilla. The flavor is vanilla with some hints of oak. The long finish begins with burnt vanilla bean and lazily descends into a strong creme brulee note that lingers long after each sip.      

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Abita Abbey Ale

Abita Brewery recently released a big bottle series. The series consisted of bottling their previously draft-only beer, Andy Gator, and a new Abbey Ale in 22 oz. bottles. 22 oz. bottles are a great leap for a brewery that produces an IPA which is nothing more than a weak pale ale. But with their Abbey Ale, Abita managed to brew a good interpretation that is complex and interesting.  

Abita's Abbey Ale has an aroma of banana bread and soft fruit with hints of yeast and toast. The flavor has a slight hint of sour tempered by a stronger passion fruit flavor. There are also hints of banana, spices, bread, vanilla and possibly eggnog in the flavor. Now, all Abita needs to brew is an IPA with some hops.

Schneider Aventinus

Schneider Aventinus may have the best protected recipe in the entire beer brewing world. Created in 1907, the recipe currently seems to be protected by a two year-old's drawing of a caveman wielding two gigantic blunts. 

Schneider Aventinus has an aroma of spicy cloves and banana. It's flavor is sweetish with soft, subtle notes of raisin followed by a spicy clove finish. Spelling errors are always fun, but one can always get past it by doing the stanky leg

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NOLA Brewing Company

NOLA Brewing Company is the first brewery to set up in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. New Orleans isn't a terribly sophisticated beer town, so I didn't expect much from NOLA Brewing. They unleashed their beer upon this drunken city last weekend, and the beers turned out to be really good. 

NOLA has two offerings, a blonde ale and a brown ale. This isn't a full write up on either. NOLA blonde ale has a good hop punch. It's sweet, flowery and fruity. I don't think I could drink several in a row because the sweetness became a little cloying at the end of the first beer. It reminded me of a hoppy Triple. NOLA's brown ale was excellent. It's dark, malty and immensely drinkable witha brisk espresso kick. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus

Cantillion Rosé de Gambrinus is the rosé champagne of beers. The pink color is a dead ringer for rosé wine, while the mouth feel mimics champagne with a light, spritzy body and bone dry finish. 

Rosé de Gambrinus is a lambic lightly flavored with whole raspberries. The aroma and flavor of this beer never show the same face, they differ with each sniff and sip. The aroma is fruit forward with a strong note of fresh raspberries as well as hints of musky wild yeast, funk, iron and copper. The flavor predominantly consists of raspberry followed by a tart finish, but there is little sweetness to the raspberry flavor. It also has elements of raspberry seed and brettanomyces (wild yeast).  

Sunday, March 8, 2009

St. Bernardus Abt 12

St. Bernardus Abt 12 might best be described as a brown ale, though not exactly. It's one of those unique beers in a category all its own. At 10.5 % a.b.v., Abt 12 is the strongest ale offered by Brouwerij St. Bernardus. . The brewery's website calls it, "A dark ivory colored beer with a high fermentation." However, I have never seen an ivory colored beer. Dark reddish brown is more accurate. 

Abt 12's flavor hinges on a sweet-sour balance. An intense prune flavor is contrasted by an acidic, sour flavor. During the finish, the prune flavor intensifies and mingles with hints of chocolate and spice. 

Nøgne-Ø Doppel IPA

Nøgne-Ø Doppel IPA is a collaborative effort from Nøgne-Ø and Toshi Ishii of Japan's YoHo brewery. Ishii trained for three years at Stone and returned to Japan to brew west coast style ales there. 

Nøgne-Ø Doppel IPA uses five varieties of hops, has 100 IBUs and an 8% a.b.v. It is bottle conditioned and dry hopped with two types of hops. The beers body is light and fluffy without the hefty mouthfeel that might be expected from a double IPA. The aroma smells of spices and dough. The flavor has elements of caramel and lemon. The dry, acidic finish has plenty of pine and occasional hints of dark chocolate.

A word of warning about Nøgne-Ø beers: The bottle conditioning is a problem. There's a ton of yeast in their bottles and you ending losing the bottom fifth of each bottle to the cloudy chunks. I find that flavors come through clearer when the bottle conditioning yeast is not in the tasting glass. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mikkeller Warrior Single Hop IPA

As the name implies, Mikkeller Warrior Single Hop IPA is only hopped with Warrior hops. Warrior hops are primarily used for their bittering properties, though they are sometimes used for their aromatic characteristics. Mikkeller's website calls Warrior IPA, "An extremely fresh-hopped IPA." Sounds intriguing, however their website translations are not very trustworthy.

Warrior IPA has a silky body. The aroma has notes of bubble gum, grass (hay or wheat), and tropical fruit. The flavor follows through on the aroma's foundation expressing tropical fruit and bubble gum flavors ending in a long, bitter finish that is aggressive but not uncomfortable. It can be reminiscent of a wheat beer due to the grass and bubble gum character. It is not an overtly fruity IPA. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nøgne Ø #100 Barley Wine

It is rare to find a barley wine in America that relies on finesse rather than muscle. Most American Barley wines that I've tried have a hefty mouthfeel and pack a malt wallop. Nogne O's Batch 100 is brewed in Norway and uses subtlety to express its flavors. It was originally brewed for the enjoyment of the brewers, but was later brewed for retail sale due to demand.  

The most interesting aspect of Batch 100 is the mouthfeel. It is extremely light and creamy for a barley wine, yet the malt still sticks to the inside of your cheeks. The carbonation is lively and it finishes very dry. The mouthfeel comes off like a Belgium beer. 

Batch 100 has 80 IBUs and 10% a.b.v. The robust aroma has a good hop-malt balance. There are notes of pine and cola, as well as hints of earth, fresh grapes and perhaps flower petals. The flavor has a cola character followed by a bitter pine needle finish. 

When pouring Batch 100, be careful towards the end of the pour. Like a Minuteman, the sludge comes out quick. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Duchesse de Bourgogne (Verhaeghe Vichte)

Verhaeghe Vichte's Duchess de Bourgogne is a Flemish Red Ale. Flemish Red Ales are sour in flavor, the most famous being Rodenbach's Grand Cru. The Duchess is another fine example of the style. It is a blend of eight and eighteen month old ales aged in oak casks. The coloring is dark ruby. Its aroma has hints of sourness, cherries and candy. The flavor begins with a sweetness that quickly melds into a dry, sour kick. Once you get over the sour flavor, the sweet flavor emerges with a candied cherry character. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cantillion Gueze

Cantillion Gueze is a blend of one, two and three year-old lambics. Lambics are beers fermented spontaneously by naturally occurring yeasts from the atmosphere. Gueze is an unflavored style of lambic. Generally, lambics are flavored with fruit to make them sweeter and more palatable. Gueze are not sweetened, leaving their sour, funky and tart flavors unfettered. 

Cantillion Gueze is complex, acidic, mouth-puckering, and very dry. The overwhelming flavor characteristic is tart, there are no sour notes. The coloring is muddy reddish brown. The aroma and flavor are similar. Both have a lemon zest character and are reminiscent of unsweetened lemon meringue pie. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2008 vs 2009

This marks the first time BK Beertasters goes vertical. I recently reviewed Bigfoot 2009. It's super hoppy (90 IBUs) and features an aggressive bitter finish. It's confusingly similar to a double IPA and so hoppy that the malt characteristics don't shine through at this point. 

Bigfoot 2008's body is leaner and longer. 2009's body is tight, which is a good thing in certain circumstances. 2008's aroma is brothy and appealing. It smells like lightly burnt caramel, and is candy-like. There isn't a touch of hops in the aroma or flavor aside from the bitter pine finish. 2008's flavor is predominately malty, with notes of bread and cookie. Bigfoot is more elegant and refined after a year of aging, but it quickly loses its heavy dose of hop flavor and aroma.  

The other difference between Bigfoot '08 and '09 is the labeling. Mike Krzyzewski still recruits jerks, and I hate Duke as much as stupid beer labels. The worst quality of Bigfoot 2008 from an aesthetic standpoint is the unexplained label change. The classic label is great (pictured on the right), but in 2008, Sierra Nevada departed from the classic label for a landscape scene (pictured left). 2009 compromises by reincorporating the beers name sake in an updated version of the classic label for the 25th anniversary (top left). 

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Torpedo Extra IPA is Sierra Nevada's newest addition to their year-round release line. It's the first addition to their year-round roster in over a decade. Torpedo refers to the new dry-hopping device created by the brewery. It's a pressurized cylindrical tube (shaped like a torpedo) containing hops. The Torpedo is inserted into a special pipe running out of the fermenter. Beer is forced down the pipe, through the Torpedo and back into the fermenter. The hops in the Torpedo impart the beer with hop aroma, oil and resin without extracting any bitter flavors the way traditional dry-hopping does. 

Torpedo IPA also uses a new hop varietal named Citra. It is said to impart pineapple, mango and papaya flavors. Citra was developed by Sierra Nevada in conjunction with two other breweries, and this is its first appearance in a bottled beer. 

The hops used in this brew sound like a couple of strippers and their preferred choice of protection. Everyone welcome Crystal, Citra and their Magnum to the party! Torpedo's coloring is apricot. The aroma is fruity with occasional hints of green bananas. It is also slightly herbal. I did not find any pineapple or mango in the aroma and can't recall eating papaya. I hate to say it, but the aroma reminds me of tropical fruit Starburst. The hop flavoring is flowery with notes of pine in the dry finish. Like Mikkeller's Simcoe Single Hop,  Torpedo's flavor has a strong yet smooth bitterness that doesn't cripple your tongue.  

Mikkeller Simcoe Single Hop IPA

Mikkeller is a Danish Brewery started by two home brewers, Mikkel and Keller. They caught the American bug of making inventive beers and ran with it. One of the brewers has since left to pursue a career in journalism, but Mikkel is still brewing. The beers they make are of extremely high quality and their website is good fun because of the language stumbles. Here's a sample:

"At present, the Mikkeller alone, Mikkel Borg Bjergso, which since the summer of 2007 has run Mikkeller one man. Mikkel is gypsy-brewer, he rents into breweries, and brews both in Denmark, around Europe and the United States."

Errors all around! Not that I should talk. Mikkeller either missed Borat or loved it so much they decided to base their web translation on his English. 

Mikkeller Simcoe uses only Simcoe hops. The aroma reminded me of tropical fruit, either Lychee or Jackfruit. I'm leaning towards Jackfruit. The flavor is sweet and broadly fruity with vague hints of pineapple. It finishes with a late bitter pop which is strong but not harsh. A characteristic of Simcoe hops is strong bitterness that remains pleasant while avoiding paralyzing or astringent sensations. The beer is crammed with hops, the best way to describe it is hop juice. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2009

I am currently in love with cameras that take backward pictures. At first it confused me. I checked the bottle to make sure the label wasn't on backwards. It wasn't. Then I took some more backward pictures and fell in love with my camera. I've always been adept at writing upside down and backwards so the accompanying photo doesn't bother me.

Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot 2009 is finally here. It tastes hoppier this year but that could be because it's fresh (the beer was bottled three weeks ago). The coloring is deep red, like watered down maple syrup. The aroma is fresh, sharp and flowery with hints of citrus and pine, spice. The flavor is dripping with hops from start to finish. The malt flavoring is there but it's pushed aside by the aggressive hops.  The flavor begins with a sweet, intense fruit character that melds into a strong, bitter finish.   

I have heard the argument that Bigfoot is a double IPA masquerading as a barley wine. I have previously discussed and dismissed the claim in this forum, but after considering this year's release I feel the argument has weight. If I sampled this beer in a blind taste test, I would swear it's an IPA. The hops are too heavy (90 IBUs) while the malt body and flavor isn't where it should be for a barley wine. It's still an awesome beer, but it might also be cross dressing.   


Monday, August 18, 2008

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine

I love me some Barley Wines, but this one's getting no love from me. The aroma is nice. It's very malty, reminiscent of buttery pie crust. The body is syrupy, and nearly cloying. The flavor isn't terribly complex for a barley wine and is too sugary. The packaging and marketing is slick though. There's practically a novel printed on the back label but it's not worth reading. All I see is hype.

Blue Point Hoptical Illusion IPA

Blue Point Hoptical Illusion comes from Long Island. Malt strikes first in the rich, inviting aroma. This ale smells like Cake and Biscuits. The aroma isn't terribly hoppy. The flavor is bright and hoppy, but lacks a bitter bite. There is also a strong English Breakfast tea character to the flavor. It drinks best on the colder side. Hoptical Illusion sticks with the British style of IPA, but at least it doesn't emulate the French.

Friday, August 15, 2008


When you have bad facial hair, people have no qualms about suggesting more egregious styles to sport. People casually toss around words like Pork Chops, Fu Manchu, Handlebars and other suggestions I've never heard of like Dirty Sanchez. I might rock a Giambi, but I'm not dumb enough to twist it into a Rollie Fingers simply because someone suggests it. I would gladly grow dreadlocks and a Hasidic Beard topped with a Sam Elliot if I could manage it.

What most folks don't know about is the mustachioed one's connection to charity. The dudes over at Monday Night Brewery are attempting to cure ulcers through alternative methods. You can find the details of our involvement here, and details the overall cause here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Smuttynose IPA

When I first got into IPAs, I was drawn to unbalanced, hoppy ales. I have since come to appreciate malt-hop balance in my IPAs. Some breweries, notably Dogfish Head, changed course to strive for more balance in their ales. Smuttynose was not as hoppy as I remembered in aroma and flavor, but it is very well balanced. 

Smuttynose has a strong malt backbone. It's balance is evident in the nose which smelled of earth, spice, and orange rind. The flavor followed through on the aroma's foundation and, like an orange rind, was slightly sweet followed by a bitter resin flavor. Smuttynose has always been very bitter, and that hasn't changed. The bitterness is the only unmuted aspect of the flavor, which is otherwise balanced and subtle.