RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: February 2012

Identity Crisis

February 23, 2012
Schneider Aventinus Doppelbock Wheat
Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn-Kelheim, Germany
Weizen Bock
8.2% ABV

Now that you’ve gotten through and survived – komplette & überlebt – the German portion of this post…

This beer has a very dark copper hue, with amber tinges when held to the light, with a light creamy head that dissipates (again, a higher alcohol content than many beers.) A raisiny aroma hits you immediately, with hints of dusty smokiness, and a pale leathery quality…masculine.

Identity crisis?

The first sip yields a slightly yeasty flavor, rich in banana notes. The unique notes of a hefeweissen shine through in light whispers of bubblegum.

It is a delicious beer, yet difficult to understand, and not what you expected but exactly what you wanted. (Just like the perfect woman.)

Prost! Auf Wiedersehen!

20120226-165830.jpg

What Dwells in the Sixth Glass

The Sixth Glass
Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
Belgian Dark Strong Ale
10.5% ABV

This is not our first Sixth Glass. We are both loyal fans of Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co.
Quadrupel Ale – a great example of Belgian Quadrupel ale. There are four classifications within Belgian ales; Quadrupels have four times the malt of a regular ale. Malt goes up, sugar goes up, so alcohol goes up. (Yay!) We learned that Boulevard’s Master Brewer, Steven Pauwels, is from Belgium and has a masters degree in brewing, which made us rethink grad school.

We were lucky enough to have Marc Bayes, our certified beer server at Euclid Hall, help navigate the complexities of Quadrupel-style ale. Marc also authors notyourdadsbeer.com, so do yourself a favor and go take a peek.

The Sixth Glass pours with a massive head, which quickly recedes (the head doesn’t linger for long, due to the high alcohol content in the beer). As the head recedes, a minor lacing is left clinging to the glass. And yes, do use the appropriate glassware, a tulip glass opens the flavor and allows the raisin notes to come through. While there are sweet and fruity notes, you should never taste alcohol in a quad. If you do, the beer is “off”.

Unapologetic “cool label” seekers, the story behind The Sixth Glass speaks to our mutual appreciation of literature. The Sixth Glass refers to Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of Olé in “The Watchman of the Tower”.

There is an old legend about a saint who was to choose one of the seven mortal sins, and he chose, as he thought, the least-drunkenness; but in that state he perpetrated all the other six sins. The human nature and the devilish nature mingle. This is the sixth glass…

Every time we’ve tasted this beer it’s been the same: consistent, complex, and drinkable. Despite the increased malts, we’d never describe this beer as malty. It’s smooth, palatable, and definitely worth finding.

When you do find it, we urge you to appreciate the comingling of both human nature and devilish nature.

20120226-165521.jpg

The Lion. King.

February 17, 2012
Lion Stout
Lion Brewing Limited-Biyagama, Sri Lanka
Foreign Stout
8.0% ABV

As with the Bristol Laughing Lab, the Lion Stout brought two immediate observations to the foreground. While these observations were not among our most insightful, they were amusing. The first: “Holy stout! This is good.” and upon reading the bottle, ‘fresh and delicious…an extraordinary…mocha character.’ (nodding to Lia) So it’s just like you.”

All joking was set aside as we tasted, (because we are serious about our beer!) At first sip, IPA/hop lover and the Stout/malt lover came together to sing the praises of Lion Stout. While we have paired up on this beer journey, and yes it has become exactly that, we have very different tastes in beer. As mentioned in our “About Us”, Lia has an affinity for the bright, hoppy, bitter IPA; Stephanie likes her beers dark, malty, balanced but not too hop-infused. As you may imagine, we rarely end up enthused about the same beer.

But this stout…Incredibly well-balanced; the bitter bite of the hops complements the darkly malted flavors. It pours thick and black with a creamy head that dissipates into a toffee colored ring around the glass. The warm, dark malt coats your mouth with a sweetness but the hops dance across your taste buds. It’s quite a glass.

20120226-165133.jpg

You Can Dance If You Want To

February 23, 2012
Harvest Dance Wheat Wine
Boulevard Brewing Co.-Kansas City, MO
Wheat Wine, Winter Seasonal
9.1% ABV

As much as we both enjoy beer, we are by no means alcoholists. We do not discriminate against other kinds of booze. In fact, we both thoroughly enjoy wine. When we heard that Boulevard had a beer that incorporated both…well, we were intrigued.

According to Boulevard, the impetus for the beer is from the English folk tradition about John Barleycorn. Barleycorn is the personification of barley, sacrificed and reborn as ale. The Harvest Dance is an homage to this fable, with a change in malts. This beer pays tribute, naturally, to wheat.

Pouring a golden hue, the first notes are bright and almost acidic on the palate (with a similar effect as biting into a perfect piece of pineapple.) The wine notes lighten the often heavy wheat beer qualities. The beer certainly mellows, as it begins warming to room temperature, but manages not to lose the tropical fruit notes. There are times in which you must defer to the experts; the beer can’t be better described than by Boulevard:

The result is a big, warming burst of tropical fruit favors, highlighted by subtle wine-like notes, and rounding slowly to a long, dry, oaky finish.

We feel that this bridges the gap between wheat beers and others, more crisp, styles. Wheat beer and non-wheat beer lovers will appreciate this “wheat wine” beer.

Scottish, Scotch

February 17, 2012

Bristol Laughing Lab

Bristol Brewing Company-Colorado Springs, CO

Scottish Ale

5.3% ABV

When you start drinking beer, really drinking beer, you find that styles are only the most basic overview of the characteristics of a beer. Scottish Ale can range from medium bodied to high alcohol, heavy, rich, strong beer. The latter, more characteristically Scotch Ale (versus Scottish Ale-such as the Laughing Lab being consumed here) is the malty beer Americans tend to think of interchangeably with Scottish Ale. Don’t be fooled by your misconceptions!

Once we wrapped our minds around this very important distinction, we started to appreciate the subtle toasty malted flavors. The beer poured dark, with mahogany tones, but not black or thick. The flavored was toasted, but not overly so. The browning of the malts came through as a natural flavor, more sun roasted than oven-roasted. It’s very drinkable but it is a light Scottish Ale.

An Apple A Day

February 17, 2012

Pomme Lambic

Brouwerij Lindemans-Vlezenbeek, Belgium

Belgian Apple Lambic

3.5% ABV

Let’s be honest, when we started this project we believed two things. First, we believed we knew a lot about beer. Second: we believed that Lambics were beginner beers, nothing more than alcoholic sparkling cider. Wrong on both counts.

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Since we clearly couldn’t provide a satisfactory definition for Lambic, that seemed a logical starting point. Behold, the iPad app “BJCP Styles” (Beer Judge Certification Program) to the rescue. For those of us who are not beer experts, well-versed in styles and beer nuances, it is an invaluable tool.

Lambics are spontaneously fermented sour ales, from the the area in and around Brussels. They stem from a farmhouse brewing tradition several centuries old. Hops are used for a preservative effect rather than to provide bitterness. While lambics tend to be tart (think about the bite that a green apple has) they shouldn’t be vinegary or particularly acidic.

Before we aquired this knowledge about Lambics, we were biased. We imagined a smooth apple juice flavor with no depth. Considering our mutual, mostly negative, feelings going into the Lambic tasting, we were pleasantly surprised. The scent of apples was like a swift kick in the face. Despite a sweet start, it finishes bright, crisp, and clean. It certainly isn’t one note; the taste changes on your palate as you sip it. We can imagine serving this for Easter dinner with smoky glazed ham. It would also be a great brunch beverage, replacing the traditional mimosa.

20120217-182925.jpg

A Little Birthday Salvation

February 3, 2012
Russian River Salvation
Russian River Brewing Company-Santa Rosa, CA
Belgian strong dark ale

9% ABV

20120205-140838.jpg

Sal.va.tion, n 1. Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption

2. The agent or means that brings about such deliverance

For most, beer may not be synonymous with “salvation”. But in our opinion, Russian River Brewing Company got it right. When you are about to get blitzed by a snowstorm of epic proportion (at least, that was the forecast) there is only one way to wait it out. Clothed in layers, armed with cameras, and wearing loads of eye makeup, we braved the snow. We were ready to celebrate the birthday of 1/2 of the Denver Darlings team and neither snow nor sleet nor blustereing winds would keep us from a glass of something delicious. Our reward was a strong dark ale, Salvation. It was strong, yes, but not heavy. It poured a cloudy dark amber with a very slight head. The aroma was all of the sweet nuances of honey and stone fruits, very “plummy”. The first sip was clean with the same notes of plums, apricots, and honey. There was a lingering bitterness, but not overwhelmingly so.
We paired it with a snack of salty cured meats and crisp chips, the sweetness of the beer balanced the saltiness of the food. It was a great snack but we could just as easily see this beer paired with a stone fruit salad or a fantastic cheese course.