Friday, August 22, 2014

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17 Bottle Fermented Ale Aged With French Oak. 10% alc./vol. 750 ml. Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec, Canada. Bottled in 2012.

There's a 4-page tiny pamphlet around the neck, held by gold rubber bands. It only tells us of awards it's won. In the past. No real reason for it, seems rather pointless. I don't feel bad saying this, since I generally heap tremendous praise upon everything they do. Really, though, how could a beer bottled in 2012 have won awards in 2009, 2010, 2011…etc? Must be a reason.
 Oh, well…

Let's drink it….off goes the cage, out goes the cork…

Appearance: Impenetrably dark , utterly opaque burgundy hue, small, negligible head.

Aroma: sweet, deep and dark. vast fruit, mingled with oak. Raisins, dates and prunes, mixed with spice. Ah…

Taste: Sweetness and darkness together. Sweet malt and yeast tempered by oak-aging. Tremendously complex and delicious. All those dark fruit flavors return on the tongue and it's nothing but yum from here on out. Alcohol isn't a threat, yet, but it's early, still.

"Dark Ale on Lees (yeast), Ale brewed with soirees, aged with French oak, and with natural flavors added."

Well, oops, I'm wrong. how did I know that the 17th Anniversary beer from 2007 has been re-brewed for so many years? Why not give it an new name? They did, the Grande Reserve, so there. And you know what? It really is quite amazing. Mmm.
It's up there. Way up there.

Here's what I wrote about Unibroue 17 when I first tried it in July, 2008: Unibroue 17

Into a Duvel glass, dark brown, enormous head, huge, pillowy, drifting down soon.

Dark fruit, cola, pepper, cinnamon, clove...

Taste: black pepper and spice above all else, lush malt, some whiskey tones, too. A big, delicious mess. A malty, boozy, complicated bruiser. Raisins and other dark fruit come through, too. Turns mellow, creamy, chocolatey after a time, but still with an alcohol sting lying below. 

I liked this, but didn't love it. Another nice one-off to celebrate another year of great beer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Toppling Goliath Rover Truck Oatmeal Stout

Toppling Goliath Rover Truck Oatmeal Stout. 6.6% ABV. 72 IBU. Yet another TG brew I enjoy from a growler purchased in Hudson, Wisconsin, from the taps at The Nova. One of these days, I'll make it out there, one of them…

Solid blackness, with a thick slice of roasted tan head.

Aroma: nicely roasted and toasty, silky smooth and lightly chocolatey.

Taste: This has got it going on. A stygian pool of rich, malty goodness. Little bit of sweetness, just enough bitterness. Cocoa and coffee, and other dark delights. Goes down ever so nice, just like it should. Medium-bodied, light oat malt finish. Super slick and delicious.

Schell's Goosetown Gose-style Ale

Schell's Goosetown, Ale Brewed with Coriander and Salt. August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm, MN.

I am not the world's authority on the gose style of ale. Here's an easy tutelage upon it. (I know, you could have done this yourself. Okay, I found a better one, check this out. ) I won't correct you if you say it wrong. I probably say it wrong all the time. The name suggests that we should be calling it "goose"…one would think.

Well, let's open up a can and find out what it's all about.

Clear, golden coloring, small, soon-gone head. Despite no foam on top, lots of bubblation coming up from below.

Aroma: a little citric, a little sour, lightly spicy, a bit of hops. Hmmm.

Taste: wet. clean. Light-ish in the body. Definitely refreshing and downable. A judicious amount of spice, and maybe I can taste the salt? Sure, I can.

Before I go further, I want to read the gobbledygook on the can. Time to get out the reading glasses: Schell's Goosetown- a loud and lively gose-style ale with a citrus bite. So, that's on top. What's on the bottom? "In the late 1800's, hearty German immigrants settled in a neighborhood near the Minnesota river in New Ulm, affectionately known as Goosetown, where they raised gaggles of rowdy geese who wandered around wherever their webbed feet pleased." Okay, that's telling me a lot. now I at least know where the name comes from…

So, about the beer. I still don't have a handle on the gose. Tried one from another brewery that tasted more like a geueze. I've tried real German ones, and they're probably closer to this. It doesn't quite give me what I am looking for, but this is a brewery that's always going to try to find a German slant on things, and why not? For a refreshing light ale, there's nothing wrong with it. It's quite tasty, if not too complex, but who cares? It does the trick. Probably won't return to this too often, but it did the trick.

Sierra Nevada / New Glarus There And Back English-style Bitter (Beer Camp #9)

Beer Camp #9: Sierra Nevada/ New Glarus There and Back English-style Bitter. Alc. by Vol. 5.5%. 40 IBU.

Lightly hazed, bronze colored, slim white head.

Aroma: Malt notes hit the nose first, caramel and toffee and such. Low hops, sweet and pleasant.

Taste: In the mouth and on the palate: sweetness all the more. It's a malt-driven brew, no doubt about that. Some fruity notes appear, some nuttiness, gliding just under the hops. Very keenly balanced bitter. It's a sessioner for sure, and here's where I wish I knew more about Tolkien to make appropriate puns (for, I assume, that's where they got the name). It's a bit more malty/sweet than I think an ESB ought to be, but that's okay, they're doing their own thing.

Now, what does the label teach us? "This easy-drinking English-style bitter features nutty, toasted English malts balanced by a solid dose of zesty hops and a fruity, dry finish." I guess it is rather dry, after all. But ever-so sweet before. Wait, there's more!
"For beer folks, Chicio, CA and New Glarus, WI are bucket-list pins on the U.S. brewing map, but it's no simple feat seeing both. There and Back is named for the planes, trains, and zeal that connect them. This classic English-style bitter is a complex mix of toasty malt and fruity, herbal hops."

Okay, so no admitted connection to "The Hobbit"'s subtitle, "There And Back Again", but that doesn't mean it isn't hidden there somewhere.

Sierra Nevada / Firestone Walker Torpedo Pilsner Hoppy Pilsner (Beer Camp #8)

Beer Camp Across America #8: Sierra Nevada/Firestone Walker Torpedo Pilsner Hoppy Pilsner. Alc. by Vol. 5.2%. 45 IBU.

Hey, remember all my hand-wringing and tooth-gnashing over being unable to find a Sierra Nevada snifter? Well, look what I found. I'll spare you the story of wasting precious moments wailing over the loss of a Unibroue tulip. Because, if you looked at the past few entries, it was all for naught. Now, to stop myself for whining about glasses I don't have and never had...

Lightly hazed, bright golden hue, under milky white head.

Aroma: Beautiful floral notes, nice hoppiness. Ah…

Taste: Big hop attack right off the bat, pierces the palate pleasingly. Clean, lean-bodied. Bittersweet bite fades off after a while, but never quite quits. Fruitiness grows and grows, starting citric, turning tropical.
Hopheads, here's a lager to love.

What do they say on the label? This: "This hoppy lager features intense fruity and floral notes from fresh New Zealand hops balanced against a crisp and clean malt body." Also, this: "Torpedo Pilsner is a hop-forward take on the crisp, classic lager. We and the folks at Firestone Walker share a passion for New Zealand varietals, so we loaded our legendary Hop Torpedo with the southern hemisphere's finest hops or a fruity, floral twist on the pilsner style."

So, there you go.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly

Now we have the witbier of the Unibroue stable, Blanche de Chambly, the white of Chambly. 5% ABV on this spiced Belgian-style wheat ale. Looking back on notes from December, 2003:

Appearance: cloudy, light yellowish color, adorned with a large, thick, pillowy white head.

Aroma: ahhh!, soft, sweet, slightly spicy, citric-fruity, sublimity and sophistication.

Taste: Delightful tingle on the tongue starts it off, a blizzard of citric hop flavor, delivered a tart bite, that is kept in check with ample, smooth maltiness.
Light to medium body, excellent texture, with a warm, happy, flavorful finish.
A richly rewarding witbier, this should please anyone and could suit any occasion or meal.

Great tasting, vast drinkability, exquisite.

Unibroue Ephemere Apple

Hey, what do you know, there's a Unibroue sampler box, "the Sommelier Collection" (didn't they get the word that we say "cicerone" now?), featuring 1 each of 6 of their beers, 3 that I've already covered here, 3 that I haven't. Here's come the notes....

Looking back at some old Unibroue notes, this one the Ephemere, ale brewed with apple juice, 5.5% ABV, first jotted down on November 20, 2003:

Pungent green apple aroma wafts out from the instant the cork is released...

Color is clear, pale golden, and is topped with a lush, creamy white head.
Aroma has settled some from that initial sharp sensation, is slightly sweet, and distinctly apple-ish.

Taste: big, brisk hoppiness, then all is mellow. Very light in body, with a crisp, dry finish. Apple flavor is never too strong, just subtle enough, and that's just fine with me.

For some reason, I imagined something bigger out of these guys, but all things considered, this is just right for what they're trying to do here. A nice, mild, bright, fruity ale, perfect for desserts, picnics, parties...but nothing I'd likely turn to often.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tallgrass Area 51 Russian Imperial Stout

Note to all: after writing the notes below, I found something fitting it's exact descriptions on Untappd going by the name given above. So that's what I'll call it, I guess. Here, come, the notes....

Tallgrass Russian Imperial Stout (sample can)

Hear, hear for friends in beer! If you read my report back in June about my visit to 11 of Minneapolis' breweries by bike in the course of a day, you may recall that I met Tallgrass rep Tim Olson on one of those stops. He was with another Tallgrass salesman, and talked up this new beer that I am about to try. I was not at the time a beer buyer, like I was at the Blue Nile, and even if I were doing such at the job I then held (I'm almost letting the cat out of the bag…just as well), I wouldn't have been buying any kegs or cans from Kansas.

And, yet…one day, I went to work at Northbound and there in the cooler was this can, labeled for me. Thanks, Tim! I can't tell you how much I appreciate it! I hope that someday soon I will return to the business of giving you some business. Someday, soon…

Let's drink it, already…

On the makeshift label it reads: "Tallgrass Big RICC"…no clue what that means. Russian Imperial Chocolate Coffee? 10.5% ABV. 60 IBU.

Solid blackness, with a slim, soon-gone dark brown head.

Aroma: deep, rich and chocolatey. Dense as fudge. Espresso notes right behind. Vast in flavor and expression.

Taste: bittersweet notes hit first, the coffee next, and then the cocoa. Full-bodied, starting fierce and cooling down. Big and bountiful, not thick and sludgy as some. Just a little bit hot and spicy, flavors of dark rum and molasses coming through.
I like this. It hits the spot.

Sierra Nevada/Oskar Blues CANfusion Rye Bock (Beer Camp #7)

Sierra Nevada/ Oskar Blue CANfusion Rye Bock, Beer Camp #7. 7.25 ABV. 45 IBU.

Can #2 from the Beer Camp box.

Appearance: clear, caramel/tan coloration, slim, white head.

Aroma: soft, lightly spicy, bread-y, malt-driven, and just on the sweet side.

Taste: all that from the nose is right here on the tongue. All that spicy rye malt character in a bock bier. Light-medium bodied, nice and clean. Sweetness prevails. Just enough, not too much…or is it? If I can tolerate it, it's probably too sweet for most other people.

CANfusion. It's in a can and it's a fusion. Of….? Rye and bock? SN and OB? Or is it CONfusing? No, it's not that…but, it's clearly not a CANtender for top entrant in the Best of Beer Camp.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sierra Nevada / Asheville Brewers Collective Tater Ridge Scottish Ale with Sweet Potatoes (Beer Camp #6)

Beer Camp #6: Tater Ridge. Scottish Ale brewed with Sweet Potatoes, Brewed in Collaboration with Asheville Brewers Alliance. Alc. by Volume 7%. 35 IBU.

Apperarance: Caramel Brown coloration, slim tanned head, leaving some lace. Ruby edges, looking fine.

Aroma: soft, slightly sweet and vegetal, but mostly missing. Not getting much yet. Yeah, nothing. That's what potatoes bring to beer. Nada.

Taste: caramel and toffee malt first, sweet like any Scotch ale should be (this is much dark than a "scottish ale"… they really mean Scotch?). Really tasty. full of malty flavors, moderate hopping, delicious. Can't say what the taters bring to the table, though. Nonetheless, it's a satisfying drink, and I'm I'm finding myself enjoying it.

What's the label say: "This rich and malty Scottish ale gets a kick from sweet potatoes, a North Carolina staple." Back label: "We're fortunate to call the passionate and talented folks in the Asheville Brewers Alliance our North Carolina neighbors. Tater Ridge is our nod to the area's Scottish Highland history, and we hope this ale accented by sweet potatoes will be the first of many collaborations to come."

I don't know why I don't get the sweet potatoes. Well, you don't get the taste of them, but they're adding something to the malt sweetness….wait, wait, there it is…just barely. Okay, I can dig it.