Yes, this is a cellphone pic, and yes, that’s my girlfriend hiding behind a pillow. Moving on…
This month was all about Witbiers, those spiced Belgian wheats so popular these days.
You can’t talk about Wits, unless you talk about Hoegaarden. It’s a nice, light beer, but has more complexity and finesse than many of the others after it. Still a classic.
Blue Moon was next in line. I think it’s an important beer because it really helped to popularize the style being from a big brewery. Everyone has had this beer and it was certainly a “gateway” beer for me. I still think it’s a solid beer.
Might as well try the other big brand version, Shock Top. Blue Moon is considerably better.
Another mass market beer was after that with the R.J. King WingWalker. Some liked this beer, but I personally think it’s garbage.
The Lost Coast Great White is the first American craft beer for us to try. It was also bad.
Luckily, the Alaskan White was pretty damn good. It was my favorite of the night with the possible exception of Hoegaarden, and was liked all around.
Unibroue Blanche De Chambly had great flavor, but for some reason this bottle wasn’t very carbonated. Not sure what the deal was there.
For something a little different, I threw in the Chainbreaker from Deschutes. They call it a White IPA. Basically, it’s a hopped up Wit. I’m not a huge fan of this beer, and others didn’t enjoy the added hops.
The tasting ended with a non-Witbier. The Snoqualmie Spring Fever was a darker Belgian beer with coriander added. It was a nice way to finish the tasting with another look at how coriander comes through in a different style.
This was one of the most unimpressive Beer Clubs we’ve had. It’s a bit unfortunate as it doesn’t do the style justice. But I do think it’s important to taste what the rest of America is drinking. Hybrid Styles next month!
I don’t think I’ve ever had this beer before. I’ve had the Red and Blue multiple times, but I don’t see this one nearly as often. Let’s give it a try.
Tripel. 8.0% ABV. Belgium.
Burnt orange color with a big, fluffy head.
Lots of spices coming through on the nose with a malt character. Bit of apples, cloves, and cinnamon.
Mouthfeel is excellent. Not as highly carbonated as I was expecting. Good body, but not as drinkable as some tripels come across.
Much more Belgian malt character on the palate with a slight sweetness and a bit of an alcoholic heat, but it doesn’t distract. Plenty of bitterness to counteract the sweetness and sticks on your palate with a malty, nearly cracker flavor.
Lovely beer. Not my favorite of the style, but absolutely worth buying. 91 points.
This month is Belgian Dubbels. We already did Tripels, which was a huge hit. The Dubbels didn’t fair as well.
We started this tasting a little bit different. First beer was my homebrew which most everyone seemed to like. Following that, we did a vertical of Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale. These were given to me as a gift from a friend and I wanted to share the wealth with others. I was trying to find information about these beers, but there’s not much to be had. They were considered Dubbels in previous vintages, but now are considered a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. I’m not sure how the recipe has changed. The ABV has been consistent, so I thought what the hell, I’ll just throw them in. The 2009 was definitely past it’s prime. The 2010 was perfect for me and was much more mellow than the 2011.
The Chimay was up next and may be the most popular Dubbel in the world. This one was a big hit.
Maredsous 8 followed and was one of my favorites of the night. It had an amazing chocolate malt note that wasn’t present in the other beers.
The first domestic example was the Ommegang Abbey and was generally disliked. I’m not really sure why. It did seem a little more phenolic than some of the other examples, but it just didn’t go over well.
Goose Island Pere Jacques and the Sound Dubbel Entendre were both hits. Definitely an American approach with a drier, more hopped version. Seemed to be a bit less yeast influence in the beer as well.
The final beer was the Pelican Le Pelican Brun. This wasn’t exactly a Dubbel either. “With a deep reddish-brown color that suggests an Abbey-Style Dubbel, but a rich yeast-driven aroma reminiscent of a Saison.” Whatever it is, it was good, but forgettable.
Next month we are doing Imperial/Double IPAs, but before then we are having a Halloween party. I’m planning on doing a blind competition of pumpkin beers, so stay tuned for that.
This was a lot of fun. Most everyone really enjoyed these beers and there were some clear winners. Our taste order was from left to right in the photo.
First up was Full Sail’s new limited release Berliner Weiss. People LOVED this beer and was one of the most liked of the night. Professor Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weiss was after, but wasn’t as well liked as the Full Sail, though I enjoyed it more.
The only red of the night was Rodenbach. This was the most liked beer of the night. This beer blew everyone away.
Three Oud Bruins were up after, starting with the Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale and the Petrus Aged Pale, both good beers, but relatively forgettable in comparison. The Liefmans Goudenband that we had after was one of my favorites. One of the most refreshing beers I’ve ever had. It was nearly a perfect beer in my opinion.
I believe I switched the order and opened the Supplication after. This was another of the biggest hits of the night, and truly one of the World’s greatest beverages.
The only Lambic of the night was the Timmermans Oude Gueuze. I glossed over the Lambics as we will have a tasting dedicated to them in the future. I was very excited about this beer and was hoping it would be a giant stink bomb. It wasn’t as funky as I was expecting. Definitely some funk on the nose, but the palate was light, lemony, and extremely refreshing. Another great beer.
New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Brett Beer was next, but really didn’t need to be in this tasting as it wasn’t sour at all. It did showcase the Brett which was nice and it was actually pretty well liked.
Flanders Fred is a collaboration between Hair of the Dog and De Proefbrouwerij. Basically, it’s a blend of Fred and a Lambic. Quite good, but was one of the biggest beers of the night.
The Bruery’s Tart of Darkness was up next. A sour stout and it was amazing. There wasn’t anything terribly stout-like about it other than the color. Very light mouthfeel and again, another refreshing beer. It was also the most sour out of any of the beers, which was interesting. This one will pucker you up.
Finishing up the tasting was Silver City’s Le Fat. It’s a sour Belgian Scotch ale aged in oak. You heard me. Wasn’t terribly sour, and at 10% it wasn’t refreshing in the least. Some liked this. I thought it was okay.
That’s a $150 worth of beer that we went through, but it turned out to be a perfect amount with the crowd we had at this Beer Club. It was a lot of fun to host and I think it was a lot of fun for everyone else, too. Dubbels next month!
This marks the 12th Beer Club. A whole year has already gone by already. I want to get into some Belgian styles, and I think they will be a big hit at Beer Club. Tripel is a good place to start, with it’s low bitterness and often fruity ester yeast profile. Our first beer was my home brewed tripel. I’m going to start having a home brew at every beer club for the style we are doing as my friends seem to get a kick out of trying my own creations.
My pictures aren’t in order of the tasting. We started with the St. Bernardus, as the Westmalle was chilling. Tripel Karmeliet was after, followed by the Maredsous to show the more traditional beers of the style. After that, the La Fin Du Monde, and Canadian tripel with spices added. I wanted to also show some domestic examples, this being Seattle, I picked up three Washington beers. The Sound Tripel Entendre was first, followed by the Elysian Bete Blanche, and finally Pike’s Monk’s Uncle. Last beer was the New Belgian Trippel, also flavored with spices.
I think the Tripels were a big hit all around, particularly the Belgian examples. There were definitely some interesting takes on the style. Tripel Karmeliet in particular, had this spice component that the other beers lacked. The Westmalle, even being the original, actually came across as the most boozy one, which I found surprising. The 10% Maredsous tasted more like a 7% beer. I would say the other standout was the Elysian Bete Blanche, which was clearly the most “American” of the American beers with a fairly clean yeast profile and a heavier malty-ness.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had a Belgian beer, and I’ve never had this one. It’s a very attractive 750ml bottle, and like many imported brews, there’s practically no information about it.
Belgian Strong Ale. 8.4% ABV. Belgium.
Dark copper to red color. Lots of carbonated head when you pour, but the large bubbles meant the head wasn’t going to stay around too long.
Very sweet nose with malty brown sugar aroma. It smells of caramel with just a hint of black pepper. And just the slightest hint of mint.
Medium to full bodied with a medium to low carbonation. Definitely not the easiest drinking beer that I’ve had.
Sweet caramel, black pepper, brown sugar, with a little hint of apples and dark cherries. It’s even got a little paper-y thing too, but I don’t actually think it’s oxidized. I also get a hint of peach and tobacco on the long finish, that I’m really loving.
It’s a tasty brew and one that I think many will enjoy, but honestly, if you know me, it’s not my kinda beer. It’s thick, sweet, and malty. That doesn’t make it bad, just not a favorite for me. 89 points.
I picked up 2 new Fantome beers from 99 Bottles. They were in the back room, but I was lucky enough to get my hands on them. They aren’t cheap, but the original Fantome that I had blew me away. I had to have them. This is a beer that’s actually brewed with dandelions. They dry the flowers in the sun, then soak them in water for a few days. That “tea” is then used as the base for the beer. The description does say that you may not detect the dandelions. Another fun fact: Pissenlit means “wet the bed”, and is named for the diuretic effect of uncooked dandelions. You learn something new everyday.
Saison. 8.0% ABV. Belgium. Spring Seasonal.
Amber to brown in color. The bottom of the bottle makes for a very hazy beer.
Well…this smells amazing. It’s got a tartness mixed with a heavy yeast aroma, bordering on Champagne. Baked apples and pears mix with a brown sugar component.
Spritzy carbonation but backed by a nice medium body mouthfeel.
Baked apples and Champagne is what comes to mind when I initially drink this beer. It’s not just tart, it’s sour, and it’s amazing. There’s so much tart fruit and yeasty-ness in here. The length is tremendous with a tart apple and cranberry play. I love the little bit of funk on this beer.
I’m not sure I can actually write how I feel about this beer. It might be up there with some of the best that I’ve ever had. Saying that, keep in mind that this is my kind of beer. It’s the perfect saison. It’s a bit funky, a bit sour, crisp, and complex. If I had to choose one beer to drink in my life, this would be on the short list. 95 points.