Lindeman’s Faro Lambic

Brouwerij Lindemans – Vlezenbeek, Belgium

Faro Lambic

“Spontaneously fermented, this Lambic has Belgian candi sugar added to produce the traditional, classic Flemish beer found at cafes and bars in Brussels.”

Effervescence pours from the un-corked bottle.  There is a lot of carbonation.  The red-brown beer has a nice, tart-sour aroma.  There are some barnyard aromas, like a horse blanket.  I’m sure that doesn’t sound appetizing, but it’s quite awesome.  I also sense some oak notes on the aroma, as well as some vinegar tones from the sourness.

The flavor is surprisingly subtle.  There is an interesting sweet and sour combination that I haven’t tasted before.  It’s unique.  The flavor reminds me of browned sugar that hasn’t reached the caramel stage on the stove.  The tart flavors also mingle with the sugar, like a dance back and forth.  There is also some earthiness and spiciness.

The mouth feel is nice and light, with moderate carbonation.  The drinkability is great.

I would want to serve this with shrimp tempura.  Though, an easier pairing would be some grilled goat cheese with slices of Bosc pears.  Wegman’s has the Faro in stock frequently.  Stop by their awesome cheese monger and grab a higher quality goat cheese, then pass by the produce section and grab the pear.  One stop shop.  Easy appetizer and aperitif.  Worth seeking out.

Overall – B+

Published in: on May 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Voodoo Brewing – 4 Seasons IPA

Voodoo Brewing Co. – Meadville, PA

4 Seasons IPA – 22 oz.

Amber colored as it pours, creates a moderate head that lingers for a while.  There are hints of brown in the color.  There isn’t any visible carbonation, but lots of foam is created with just a quick swirl of the glass.

The aroma has lots of pineapple in the fruity hop profile.  There are light whiffs of pine underlying with a tiny bit of oily resin.  There is also a sweet malt base in the aroma suggesting a good balance of hops and malt.

Bitter and sweet flavors fight it out with this season.  I’m not sure who the winner would be…  The flavor begins with lots of floral notes and a bit of vegetation.  There is an earthiness which is a background idea that materializes slightly.  The first notes of each sip are bitter, then tempered by the sweet malt profile.  There are some hints of caramel sugars in there.  The finish hits with a lingering bitterness and a slight herbal flavor like tobacco.  Oh, and after the bitterness, there’s some more bitterness.  But, I don’t think it’s “too” bitter.  Though, you do have to like hops to be admitted to this party.

The mouth feel is refreshing with a touch of oiliness and a fair amount of carbonation that helps to cut the medium-body of the beer.

Voodoo doesn’t print an ABV on the bottle, so I’m going to peg it at 6.5%.  If it’s higher, it’s easy drinking.  So, drinkability…  Let’s say, “Yes”.

4 Seasons is a nice winter IPA that would have no trouble picking up periodically.  It would be perfect with a New York Strip steak.  It has a bit more caramel notes than average.  And the lingering sweetness would go well with the seared, crisp exterior of the steak.  Throw in some sautéed mushrooms and onions, and I’m golden.

Overall – B+

Published in: on March 26, 2012 at 6:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Great Goose Island Flight +1

A flight at the Blue Dog contains 4 choices.  Today, they tapped 5 Goose Island beers.  I ordered a flight plus 1 extra sampler size of the 5th beer.

Summertime German Kolsch – 4.7% ABV

Nut Brown – 5.3% ABV

IPA English Style – 5.9%

Matilda- Belgian Pale Ale – 7%

Pere Jacques- Belgian Abbey Ale – 8%

Summertime is crisp and clean with flavors of herbs, fresh cut grass and hops.  It’s very refreshing.  There is a peppery flavor present with a hint of spice.  It feels a bit watered down and it’s very light bodied.

Nut Brown has mild, roasty-toasty grain flavors with malt.  There are English hop notes, as well as slight chocolate and tobacco notes.  It has a balanced hop/malt profile.  It’s smooth and silky texture has a nice moderate carbonation with excellent head and lacing down the glass.  A very subtle brew.

IPA – 55 IBUs.  Styrian, Fuggle, Cascade and Centennial hops provide a fresh, fruity hop flavor with a malt middle.  There is a fine, bitter finish with fruity hoppiness and a piney bite.  It’s lower than average alcohol and IBU may make it easier drinking than a regular American IPA.

Matilda – The spicy, herbal aroma is slightly sour.  It’s yeasty with hints of spices like cinnamon and cloves.  It’s faint, but present.  The carbonation is aggressive with a bit of alcohol heat and great overall texture and drinkability.

Pere Jacques – A big malt Belgian profile with yeast, candi sugar and dark fruit.  Raisin and date flavors present.  Big flavor with a bit of warming alcohol on the tongue.  Great Belgian Double.

My favorite is Matilda, but the flight is the way to go to get some impression of Goose Island’s profile and mission.

Great stuff to seek out  Highly recommended.

Published in: on March 8, 2012 at 10:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Voodoo Brewing – Love Child

Voodoo Brewing Co. – Meadville, PA

Love Child – 9.5% ABV.  22oz.

“…aged on cherries, raspberries and passion fruit.”

19.5 OG, 2 degrees Plato, 29 IBUs

Love Child poured with no head at all.  Its dark amber color was rather plain looking.  There are a few lines of bubbles rising in the glass.

The aroma is where this starts to get interesting.  The first aroma I sense is the yeast.  The bottle says they use a house triple yeast, so it’s clearly related to Belgian yeast is some way.  Even if it’s only distantly related.  Another light inhale reveals a ton of fruit aromas.  I get the cherries and the passion fruit is very present in the aroma, which surprises me.  I don’t smell the raspberries, yet.

The flavor is full of fruit and yeast and malt.  There’s a lot going on here.  The flavor has each of the 3 fruits vying for control.  One second the raspberries are center stage, and then they fade in favor of the cherries, which then make way for the faint, mild notes of the passion fruit.  There are hints of herbal citrus back there, too.  The bitterness is really low.  I think I taste some hops, but there is so much going on, it might be my imagination.  There is a light malt backbone which helps balance out the fruit.  The beer tastes sweet, but it also finishes quite dry.

One key point with Love Child: when you serve this, I would recommend taking it out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before serving.  Consider it like a bottle of wine.  Having it warm up a little really helps develop the flavors.  Human taste buds are less sensitive when something is colder, but that’s a conversation for another time.

The mouth feel is crisp, but not quite effervescent.  The dry finish with lots of carbonation leads to a pleasant result.  We are looking at a medium-bodied brew here.

Drinkability is surprisingly good for a brew of 9.5% ABV.  The alcohol is totally hidden.  I probably shouldn’t drink the whole bomber, bit I’m going to anyway.  Normally, I would share this with my wife because she would really enjoy it.  Sadly, she gave up alcohol this month.  More for me!

I really enjoyed my time with Love Child and I will be buying more.  Voodoo turned out one of my favorite fruit beers.  I know they were going for a fruit ale, and it was a success, BUT… I would LOVE to see them sour this out on oak.  They even mention it on the label!  Maybe in the future.

Overall – B+

Published in: on February 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Voodoo Brewing – Pilzilla

Voodoo Brewing Co. – Meadville, PA

Pilzilla – 22 oz.  6.7% ABV

“…a bastardized German, Czech and Polish Pilsner…”

Purchased at the Blue Dog Pub in Lansdale for their Voodoo Rare Keg Competition.

Pilzilla roars into the glass a burnished-gold verging on light amber color.  It’s surprisingly hazy for a pilsner.  The head was minimal during the pour.  There are a healthy number of bubbles rising inside the glass.

The aroma is full of spicy hops, but no noticeable bitterness on the nose.  Voodoo used 9 varieties of hops from Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland.  It certainly brings a good level of balance to the aroma.  There are some malt notes in the background, but the aroma is mostly grassy, herbal hops.

The flavor is really bold!  For a pilsner, it’s surprisingly hoppy and bitter.  Surprising, and quite good. It comes close to an IPA.  There is a hefty malt backbone which keeps the hops in check… at least a bit.  The grassy flavor is here, just as in the aroma.  The flavor goes off on a different direction than the aroma because there is tons of bitterness from the hops.  Pine flavors, resin and lots of fresh herbs.

The mouth feel is medium to full bodied with a pleasant carbonation.  Drinkability is OK, the ABV and the bitterness won’t make this a session beer, but it’s definitely enjoyable.

This beer truly is a monster.  I’m not sure the style designation is accurate because it has a LOT in common with an IPA, between the bitterness and the strength.  Good stuff, though.  Plus, it’s a steal at the current sale price at both Blue Dog locations.

Overall – B

Published in: on February 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Green’s Amber Ale – Gluten Free

DeProef Brouwerij – Belgium

Green’s Amber Ale – 6% ABV – 16.9 oz.

Gluten Free Beer.  “Green’s ales DO NOT contain any of the following: wheat and/or barley, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soya beans, milk, lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulphur dioxide and sulfites.”

Ingredients: water, millet, buckwheat, rice, sorghum, hops and yeast.

According to the German Purity Law, beer can only contain water, barley, hops and yeast.  So, according to the Germans, this is not beer.  None-the-less, let’s go through this gluten free beer and see how close it comes to the real thing…

The pour is certainly amber with red highlights.  There is some visible carbonation in the glass, but I would say it’s below the amount of a regular beer.  That leaves a description of the head.  Here is the first interesting thing about a this gluten free beer.

The head in barley beer is created by proteins from the barley that clump together from the agitation from the pour.  Similar to foam in the ocean waves.  The ingredients in gluten free beer have different proteins than barley beer.  The head is not creamy and inviting.  It’s chunky, aggressive and much stickier.  The head is ½ inch thick and as it fades, it leaves very thick froth on the sides of the glass.

The aroma is another diversion from the normal beer.  There is lots of yeast in the aroma.  Bread dough yeast; old bread dough yeast.  There are also some hop aromas.  A powerful acidic aroma is present, and I’m not sure if it’s pleasant.  It verges on sour.

So, the taste…  Well, it’s not too bad!  Interestingly, there are so many unique flavors, it’s difficult to describe.  The flavor is subtle.  It has more characteristics in common with a lager than with an ale.

The sip starts with a sweet flavor and a fresh grass flavor.  It develops into some hay-like notes and finishes with a very clear reminder of apple cider?!?  Others might taste other things, but that’s what I taste here.  The finish is dry.  There is a very mild taste of alcohol.  It most resembles something like a common lager.

The mouth feel is very light and a bit watery.  There is mild carbonation.

Drinkability is surprisingly good!  I could drink a couple of these in an evening.  It’s currently available at Wegman’s.

Would it replace normal beer?  Nope.  But for anyone with a gluten allergy… Have at it!!

Overall – C+

Published in: on February 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Left Hand Brewing – Fade to Black Volume 2 – Smoked Baltic Porter

Left Hand Brewing Co. – Longmont, CO

Fade to Black – Volume 2, Smoked Baltic Porter

12 oz., 7.8% ABV.  bottled on 1/14/2011.

A lot of people wonder what makes a smoked beer.  Brewers create the smoked flavors by drying the malted grains in a smoker.  So the grain is smoked before brewing.  Simple and wonderful.  Many are surprised when tasting one for the first time.

Bottle artwork.  Sometimes it’s enough to pick up a bottle without hearing anything about the beer, as was the case with this bottle.  I just thought the label was cool.

Pouring the beer revealed some interesting facts.  First, there was very little head.  What was present vanished so quickly, I hardly had time to describe it.  The fading head left the thinnest film of bubbles on one edge of the surface.  There are a few bubbles rising up within this very dark brown porter.  It’s dark to the point of almost black.  It has a slight hint of red tinge around the edges of the glass.

The aroma is full of roasted malt, but surprisingly light on smoke.  I sense some espresso aromas, with even a hint of black licorice.  Also present are some dark chocolate notes.  Along the lines of 80% or 90% dark chocolate.  The smoke aroma is subtle, reminding me of burning leaves in the fall or a fireplace on a cold winter night.  Appropriate for January.

The first sip is sweet, but also bitter, but also smoky…  The flavor progresses nicely from the beginning through the finish with lots of flavors to experience.  First, are those sweet malty flavors.  Lots of molasses, roasted grains and some coffee and chocolate.  Dark chocolate, like 80% or 90% dark.  Bitter and delicious.  Midway through the sip, the hops start to make themselves known with an herbal note and a bit of wet leaves.  I think I like it.  There is also a nice bitterness from both the hops and the roasted malts.  The finish is midway between sweet and dry with a hint of smoke on the tongue.  This beer aged surprisingly well with very little oxidation.

Mouth feel is medium to full-bodied with a nice tongue coating texture.  It’s almost silky.  The carbonation is a bit light, but I think it suits this porter.  Drinkability is great.  I could enjoy a couple of these over the course of an evening.  A nice porter that’s not overpowering on smoke.

Fade to Black would be even better served with any smoked meat; particularly barbecue, but pork and ham would also be enhanced because the strong flavors of the food wouldn’t be overpowered by the beer and vice-versa.  I’m feeling a burger with smoked apple-wood bacon, Gouda cheese and caramelized onions with a side of horseradish potatoes.  It also goes quite well with a square of Lindt 90% dark chocolate.

Overall – B+

Published in: on January 12, 2012 at 9:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Tales From The Cellar #1 – Unibroue La Fin Du Monde

Unibroue – Chambly, Canada

La Fin Du Monde – 9% ABV – 25.4 oz.

Purchased March 2010.  Enjoyed May 31, 2011.

La Fin Du Monde pours a hazy golden yellow with very little head and aggressive carbonation.

The aroma is a cross between Belgian yeast and lemons and citrus. It has a refreshing, crisp, clean fragrance.

The flavors lean toward the yeast, but it has a bit of the lemons, as well.  There is a slight aftertaste that shows up every few sips.  It’s not offensive, or a deal-breaker, but it’s there in the back ground.

Mouth feel is extremely carbonated, but light.  It’s just barely OK, leaning toward too carbonated.  Let’s call it ‘tolerable’.

Our drinkability is very high, even at a high ABV.  I could enjoy a few glasses of this over the course of a hot summer evening.  Given the age of this bottle, I would like to try it against a fresh bottle.  It might not be worth the time to age, but it’s a great Belgian beer!

Overall – B+

Published in: on June 3, 2011 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Firestone Walker Double Jack Double IPA

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. – Paso Robles, CA

Double Jack Double IPA – 9.5% ABV

$9.99 for 22 oz.

This was purchased yesterday at The Blue Dog Pub, Lansdale, PA.

Double Jack poured a dark amber with an ample, foamy head one inch high.  The head faded to a lattice of bubbles on the surface of the beer.  There were a few bubbles rising inside the glass.

While looking at the beer, the aroma continued to waft in my direction and it was all hops.  Consequently, I didn’t need to consider the aroma any further.  It contains tons of hops: fruity hops, piney hops, fresh hops… you get the idea.  It smells really hoppy.  The aroma is also fresh and clean.  There is a sizeable malt aroma, but it does take a back seat to those hops.

The first sip almost knocked my socks off.  The flavors of the hops, malt and a nice alcohol bite made for a pretty powerful taste.  You’ll taste the hop flavors first and they range from a nice fruitiness all the way to the mouth-tightening bitter type all within the first sip.  After the initial hops flavors, the maltiness comes into play.  The malt has more of the bread-like qualities, so it’s not sweet, but it’s certainly present.  The finish comes back to the bitterness of the hops with a nice alcohol bite that warms the tongue.  A resinous aftertaste permeates the mouth afterward, along with some residual heat from the alcohol.

At first, the flavors are a bit harsh, but it mellows to a pleasant smoothness around the middle of each sip.  This beer is not at all for the faint-hearted.  A wonderful bite and bitterness are very prominent here.

The mouth feel is full bodied for a double IPA, with an appropriate amount of carbonation.  The drinkability is surprisingly good.  Even though the ABV is 9.5%, I could easily have a couple of these.  And I would definitely purchase it again.

I’m very happy that Firestone Walker has been able to bring their product to Pennsylvania.  This was my first brew from them and it’s a great way to start.  I look forward to trying more of their beer.

Overall – A-

Published in: on May 7, 2011 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

Sierra Nevada- Chico, CA

Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2011- 9.6% ABV.  $2.99 for 12 oz.

This was purchased on April 1st at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting.  Before pouring, I noticed some sediment at the bottom, presumably from the bottle conditioning.  A careful pour kept the sediment in the bottle and not in my glass.  I was rewarded with a reddish color that brought along a sizeable cream-colored head 1 ½ inches high.  It faded quickly, but didn’t disappear.

The aroma is a fine balance between malt and hops.  It reminds me of a double IPA; hoppy, but heavy on the malt.  The aroma is very piney… (Is that a word?  Piney?)

The flavor is complex.  First up are the bitter hops.  Like a pine tree.  Next is the alcohol.  Definitely not unpleasant, but present none-the-less.  After that is the extreme malt profile.  It’s sweet with sugary notes- brown sugar, slight molasses flavors.  It’s a very spicy beer.  I don’t think there are any spices in the recipe, but it seems like there could be.  Some faint flavors resembling ginger, cloves, nutmeg, etc.  There are also some herbal notes.

Bigfoot definitely tastes “young”.  It’s delicious, and I bet it would improve greatly with age.  I’ve heard that Bigfoot is a perfect candidate for aging, and having tasted it, I would certainly agree.  How appropriate that the bottles have the bottling year right on the label?  2011 baby… let it ride!

The mouth feel is medium –heavy and has a nice texture, almost silky.  The carbonation is a tiny bit too aggressive.  Drinkability is moderate.  It’s too easy going down, but the high ABV is a little prohibitive.  One bottle would be fine.

Bigfoot needs to be aged.  Buy one to drink now, plus one or more to age for any number of years.  Put them in a cool, dark place like a basement or “cellar”.  Do not store it anywhere near your furnace, hot water heater or washer/dryer.  Then forget about it for a few years, possibly 1 to 3 years, but preferably 5 years, and you will be rewarded.

Overall – A-

Published in: on May 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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