January 25, 2010

Three Philosophers

From Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York, Three Philosophers is a Belgian strong ale, or quadruple, married with kriek (cherry) lambic. It is 9.8% ABV. It pours reddish brown with a light head. You can immediately smell the cherry. The body is light and slightly viscous, with prickly carbonation. Flavors are dark fruit, vanilla, molasses, and a little caramel. The finish is dry and tart, but not overwhelmingly so. The yeastiness and cherry flavor will remind you of cherry pie. Actually, it's probably a good pairing for a slice of hot cherry pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

January 23, 2010

Trip to the Perfect Pour

Robin and I spent a little under an hour at the Perfect Pour in Elkridge, MD. They have the largest selection of foreign and craft brews I've seen around the Baltimore-Annapolis area; more than The Wine Source, more than Dawson's, possibly more than both combined. Here's what we picked up:

Schlafly Reserve Barleywine 2008 (oak aged)
Goose Island Bourbon County stout 2009 (aged in bourbon barrels)
Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast
Oliver's Blakeney Red perry cider
Flying Dog Raging Bitch, 6-pack
Trappistes Rochefort 8
Harviestoun Ola Dubh 12
Brasserie D'Oc La Mouska
BrewDog / Stone Brewing BASHAH
Aktienbraurei Steingadener Dunkle Weizen
Uerige Doppelsticke
Maredsous Brune/Bruin, 4-pack
North Coast Brother Thelonious, 4-pack

January 21, 2010

Allagash Curieux

I've had two Allagash beers recently that I never had before; Three Philosophers and Curieux. I liked Three Philosophers so much that I never even thought about writing about it. I was too busy drinking it. Fortunately, I made sure I wrote some notes on Curieux when I tried it last night. Curieux (curious in French) is a Belgian Tripel that is aged in oak Jim Beam bourbon barrels for 8 weeks. This particular 750mL bottle is from November 2009. Curieux is 11% ABV.

Curieux pours a pale golden orange, very hazy. Its aroma is citrusy but with less strong as other Belgian Tripels as far as the hops go. There are hints of apple pie, pear, a little orange, and vanilla. The flavor imparted from the barrels is definitely present, in contrast to some other reviews I've seen. I'm not a huge bourbon fan, but the parts of it I do like, the sweetness and smokiness, and even a little alcohol bite, are pleasantly apparent in Curieux. The finish is dry, and a little earthy. There is thick and lively lacing that coats the opposite side of the glass each time you take a sip, or gulp. There is also a fleeting aroma and flavor of a bakery, I'm guessing from the yeast. The alcohol is more apparent as the beer warms. A superb brew!

January 5, 2010

Orval

Orval is one of the 7 authentic Trappist ales (yes, there are only 7, but more on that later). Unlike some of the other Trappist breweries such as Chimay, who makes 3 varieties, Orval makes only one for distribution. Orval pours a deep amber/orange color with a thick, bubbly head. It is very earthy, grassy, like hay in a stable, and has a fruity, light hop flavor, though not bitter. The aroma is of orange, cinnamon, and honey. The mouthfeel is what I'd call perfect, not too heavy, not too light, not syrupy or viscous, with a good amount of carbonation but not too much. This bottle was almost 9 months old. I'm not sure how age affects this beer but I may buy 2 more bottles and find out. I've had all 3 Chimay beers and now the Orval. I will try the Rochefort next as it seems to be the second most readily available (Chimay being first, Orval being third). Great beer!

Old Rasputin

A superb Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing in California. For many, it may be the best RIS out there. Picked some up at Dawson's, 4-pack of 12 oz bottles. 9% ABV. Pours black, with only a hint of brown at the edges where light hits the glass. Head is brown, thick, and creamy. Powerful presence of dark roasted malts. Flavors of coffee and chocolate. Light smokiness, light bitterness. Smooth, satiny feel. Full bodied, and warming. The flavors really come out as the beer warms up, which I really liked. As I posted on Twitter, this is the perfect nightcap. It is a very warming, relaxing, and delicious beer. My favorite of the few Russian Imperial Stouts I've had.

Malheur 12

A dark, Belgian strong ale. 12% ABV. 750 mL bottle with cork & cage. Brewed by DeLandtsheer Brewery in Buggenhout. Pours deep mahogany with a thin, off-white head. Sweet flavor, with notes of dried fruit, raisin, fig. Also brown sugar and molasses. Surprisingly smooth and easy to drink, with only a hint of alcohol in aroma and flavor. While it didn't blow my mind, I did enjoy having a strong beer that warmed me up but didn't take a while for me to finish, though I did share it with my girlfriend. Overall, a great beer, but I'll try others of the type before coming back to this one.

January 2, 2010

Allagash White

Allagash White is a regular in my refrigerator. It is an excellent Witbier brewed by Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. It is a staple of almost every craft beer bar or store. Pours golden amber, with low carbonation until you get to the yeast. It has a mild, earthy flavor with a touch of spice. Crisp, dry finish, slightly tart, with a lingering taste of honey. Low on bitterness, only 5% ABV, and very well balanced. Great for any time of year.