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Archive for the tag “belgian beer”

Leapbeer Reviews an Odin Trio

These next three beers were a gift from @JohnLimHing from our roadtrip to Tofino. As previously mentioned there was an Odin Brewery VCBW event at his restaurant in Steveston (www.hogshack.ca), so he brought me over some of their brews.

I started off with the Viking extra pale ale. It didn’t have a label, but I’m not here for labels. I’m here for the beer. It pours to a lovely unfiltered golden colour with a frothy white head on it. There’s a fair amount on the nose of it. It smells of mildly citric hops, a touch of earthiness and rich malts.
Tasting it is quite bitter up front. The thick bitters coat your mouth. I find it to be nicely carbonated. Despite the bold flavours this beer has a delicate mouth feel. It is a very good beer.

Leapbeer #193 Viking Extra Pale Ale

 

Next I moved on to the Odin’s Gift Ruby Ale. This beer is a transparent deeply ruby red beer with a thin creamy head on top. When you bring it to your nose it smells very sweet, rich and malty. It does taste nicely malty, but there’s also a nice bitterness as well. It is a tasty beer, and very easy drinking.

Leapbeer #194 Odin’s Gift Ruby Ale

Lastly I moved to the limited release, Thor’s Equinox – Belgian Dark Ale. It is hard to tell from the picture, but this beer is a chestnut brown colour with a thin head on top. It smells of rich molasses and malts. But when you drink it you really get hit of the belgian sour yeast. The tasting starts with the rich malts and molasses and then ends with the sour taste. As this beer warms up a bit it gets really easy to drink. It is a high test 9.0% 650ml bomber, so drink with caution.

Leapbeer #195 Thor’s Equinox Belgian Dark Ale

A big Thank You to John for providing me with these beers, and as always, thank you for reading.

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Leapbeer Review #187 Kriek Lambic by Brouwerij Lindemans of Belgium

If you recall back to my fruity beer tasting I did with my superfriend Jeff, the clear favorite of the night was the Cassis Lambic by Brouwerij Lindemans of Belgium. I knew that night that this beer, the Kriek or sour Morello cherry version  of this beer, would make its way to the leapbeer blog.

According to Wikipedia this brewery has been open for over 200 years, since 1811 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindemans_Brewery) Brouwerij Lindemans is a Belgian family brewery based in Vlezenbeek, a small town in the Flemish Brabant southwest of Brussels.

They really know how to encase their beer there, as the top of this beer is corked, then capped, then foil covered. After getting it open I poured it into a wine glass, and then someone behind me called me a beer snob. It pours to a deep magenta/red colour with no real discernible head to it.

Here’s a close up to show the deep red colour

 

I took a whiff of this beer and not surprisingly it smelled sour cherries. But it wasn’t a natural smell, it smelled like cherry cough syrup. When you sip it the cherry flavour is dull and muted. There’s almost no sour not to it. The beer is quite sweet, too sweet for my liking. Because I had such high expectations for this beer I find myself disappointed by it. They can’t all be winners, but I assumed this would at least have met a higher standard then it did.

Leapbeer #187 is Kriek Lambic by Brouwerij Lindemans of Belgium

When I did a bit more digging on the wikipedia page it shed some light on the nature of the cherry flavouring. Here’s what it had to say “Because of the limited availability of sour cherries from Schaerbeek, the traditional ingredient for kriek, Lindemans Kriek is made using unsweetened cherry juice which is added to a mixture of lambics of different ages. The resulting beer is described as less sour and more fruity. It contains 4.0% ABV.

How disappointingly illuminating. It explains all of my problems with this beer. The synthetic flavour, the overpowering sweetness and the lack of sour notes to this lambic. It appears to me that because they wanted to continue producing this beer, they sought out an alternative to quality natural ingredients, to the detriment of the finished product.

 

Thanks for Reading

Leapbeer Review #167 Saison Dupont by Brasserie Dupont in Belgium

How do you follow up a beer that won Canadian Beer of the Year 2 years in a row? With 2005’s Best beer in the world (according to Mens Health Magazine http://web.archive.org/web/20080705054825/http://www.mensjournal.com/feature/0507/bestBeer_world.html )

I know I kind of got into what is a Saison in my review of Driftwood’s Farmhand, but recently a fellow blogger, wunderassn, did an absolutely great piece on them. Please do yourself a favour and read their blog post here ( http://theyearinbeer.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/fit-for-a-farmer-the-history-of-the-saison/ ) and learn up on this style of beer.

A craft beer lover told me that this is the classic saison. I gleefully purchased this beer hoping for the best. This is a corked beer that is bottle conditioned, meaning that the final yeasting goes on inside the bottle. Not in a different vessel.

I popped the top on this brew and got to pouring. Immediately I noticed an overabundance of carbonation. I poured it into my tulip glass and barely got a 1/2 pour before the head was to the top. It smelled great, like good Belgian yeast. One other thing I noticed was a lot of sediment in the bottle. When I went to drink this I had to sip it slowly due to all the carbonation. I fear that it was over-bottle conditioned making it a difficult to drink brew. Saisons were designed to be quaffed and quench the thirst of parched farmhands or Saisoners in the French countryside. Unless the farm owners wanted bloated stable boys belching in the hayloft I don’t think this is what they would serve them this particular beer. I had high hopes for this beer so I reached out to one of my craft beer wise men via twitter asking about this beer. We deduced that it must be the bottle conditioning so perhaps if I let it settle and flatten out a bit.

“Flatten out your beer, are you nuts?” you may say, but it worked. I went back the 2nd day of the bottle being open in the fridge. I gave it a quick swirl before pouring to get all that sour yeasty goodness from the bottom, and poured it into my glass. It was perfect. Refreshing and light. Peppery and sour. Extremely complex and completely delicious. I am absolutely going to have one of these in the fridge on the regular after this year is done (because right now its kind of prime real estate). If you’re at all curious I encourage you to go read wunderassn’s blog post about the history of this style of beer. I’m planning to do a couple more in the next while, if I get my hands on them that is.

Leapbeer #166 is Saison Dupont by Brasserie Dupont in Belgium

Thanks for reading. As well a special thanks to John Lim Hing of Hog Shack Cookhouse and Wunderassn. In fact, they (the team that does the year in beer blog) just posted their review of the Saison Dupont Vielle Provision yesterday. Here’s the link, check it out. http://theyearinbeer.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/saison-dupont-vielle-provision/

Leapbeer Reviews #161-163 Lighthouse Belgian White, Black & Killswitch IPA

Earlier in the year Lighthouse brewery in Victoria released their Belgian Black. A deep coloured Belgian strong dark ale made using a Belgian Ardennes yeast strain. Their release notes on it are here ( http://www.lighthousebrewing.com/products/big-flavour-series/belgian-black )
On January 16, 2012 Lighthouse Brewing released the newest addition to our 650mL Big Flavour Series. The Belgian Black is a beer like no other before it. You will not want to miss out on this one. Belgian Black was fermented with a Belgian Ardennes yeast strain. Enjoy the rich malty features of plum and dark cherries backed with subtle spicy notes. Lighthouse Brewing Co. is a premium craft brewery dedicated to producing unique, high quality, unpasteurized beers. Label artwork for Belgian Black was created by Victoria artist Michelle Landry.

Shortly after they released that beer they released their now quite well received Switchback IPA, an Pacific northwest inspired uber hopped IPA I reviewed previously. This beer is inclued again here because it was part of a featured cask night on April 9th at the beagle where they introduced Killswitch IPA. Killswitch IPA was a 66/33 mix of Switchback and Belgian BlackThis mixture of these two brews was the brainchild of Dave Mitchell (aka @eskimodave or disco dave) that yielded a surprisingly delicious hoppy brown ale.

Add to that most recently the Belgian white. Similar to the black in its yeast strain this beer is an Imperial Witbier making it the albino cousin of the black. Here’s what Lighthouse has about Belgian White from their website. ( http://www.lighthousebrewing.com/events/product-releases-2/belgian-white )
Lighthouse Brewing is excited to announce that we will soon be releasing Belgian White for your enjoyment this summer! Belgian White is an Imperial Witbier (Belgian White Ale) made from wheat, oats and malted barley. Galaxy and Citra hops lend subtle citrus flavours that are woven with a thread of clove from a classic Witbier yeast strain, and finished with a dusting of ground coriander seed. Label artwork for Belgian White was created by Victoria artist Michelle Landry.

For this tasting I intended to consume them from light to dark with the idea that perhaps the delicate accents of the lighter beer wouldn’t get overpowered by the heavy malts of the black. For this reason I drank these beers in the reverse order from how they were released.

First up is Belgian white. This beer pours to a golden colour with a frothy white head on top. There is a large scent of hops from it as well as yeast. When you taste it you understand why they have this in their ‘Big Flavour’ series. It indeed is a big flavour beer, both yeasty and bitter. It has a lovely hoppiness to it, but not citric. It is smooth, well carbonated and leaves some lacing in the glass. The bitterness really sits with you, its quite resonant. It echoes in your mouth and throat like a chamber choir.

Leapbeer #161 is Belgian White by Lighthouse

Next I move to the amalgum/frankenbrew cask project Killswitch IPA.
As you mix these two beers it becomes really similar in appearance to a Nut Brown ale. There is a really great citric hoppy smell to it. It literally tastes like an ipa stout if there were such a thing. Perhaps a Imperial brown stout ipa? I’m just spitballing there, but I love it. It is a very tasty and easy drinking blend of these beers. Kudos to its creator, It’s delicious.

Leapbeer #162 is Killswitch  IPA by Lighthouse

Lastly I move to the Belgian black. I’ve been sitting on this one for a while. When they announced its albino twin coming out I knew what to do with it, this combined tasting. This beer pours jet black. It smells of licorice and a hint of yeast. When you sip it it has a real similarity to a Russian Imperial Stout, if RIS’s were fruity. It has all the strength I expected, but it is smoother as well. There is a real plumby taste at the back of the tasting. Later I tried a second tasting but with the beer served at room temperature. This really jacks up the licorice smell. The malts and sweetness is excentuated, giving it almost a pungent flavour. The Alcohol in it is more prevalent, so it loses that smoothness it had when chilled. It may be hard to drink warm, but I enjoyed it.

Leapbeer #163 is Belgian Black by Lighthouse

Well I appreciate the time and craftsmanship it took to make these delicious beers. Thanks again to Lighthouse for their work. And Thank you for reading it.

Leapbeer Tasting – Fruity Beers

Having had a large collection of beers in the Leapbeer fridge I’ve started organizing some tasting events in an effort to enlist help in my weighty goal. It’ll also help me clear out some space in the fridge for all the new releases as they come out. I had my superfriend Jeff join me for this tasting event.

The beers I chose for this tasting were the Longwood Brewpub Frambois, the Phillips Brewing Raspberry Wheat Ale, the Howe Sound 4-way Fruit Ale, the Cannery Brewing Blackberry Porter and a Cassis Lambic by Brouwerij Lindemans of Belgium. That’s the order we drank them in. I was trying to go for a profile of lighter to stronger tastes, but I didn’t have any experience with most of these beers so it was a bit of guess work as well.

First up, Frambois from Longwood Brewpub in Nanaimo.

Here are our notes.
Chris; First thing you get from this beer is a big time hit of raspberry smell. Taste wise, you get a nice bitterness and sourness from the raspberries in this ale. It is also very easy drinking
Jeff noted that it was sweet smelling. And you taste a definite sourness from this beer
2nd is Raspberry Wheat Ale by Phillips Brewery.


Chris; I don’t get a big whiff of raspberry with this one, but I do get a yeasty smell from it. It has lots of raspberry flavour with some great sourness from that. It also has that distinctly crisp wheat beer finish.
Jeff got that this beer doesn’t smell as fruity as the previous, but you can smell the sourness in it. It also tastes more wheaty.

3rd up is the 4-way fruit ale by Howe Sound Brewing

Jeff; Hoppy smell, but has a strange aftertaste. It tastes almost nutty. Not my (jeffs) favorite of the night.
Chris; Definitely smells of passion fruit and raspberry, as well as citric and hoppy. I got the nuttiness as well, its likely from the passion fruit seeds. Very complex fruitiness to it, a great beer.

4th is Blackberry Porter by Cannery Brewing

I know this pic was taken with the flash therefore darkening the beer in the glasses, but this is a jet black beer. Only when it’s very thin in the glass is it not uberblack. We both remarked that when it was poured. I didn’t taste the blackberry as much as I had thought I would, but you really smell it. It is a nice bitter porter still. Jeff agreed.

5th was the Cassis Lambic by Brouwerij Lindemans of Belgium.

Jeff; It really smells like the fruit (currants). When you drink it quickly it seems almost overwelmingly bitter. If you hold it in your mouth for a second it is extremely sweet. Almost cider-ish. Liked it so much it was the first he went back for 2nds on.
Chris; Incredibly fragrant. For a low percentage beer (according to untappd its 4.0% making it the lowest of the night) it is not a really great quaffer. More suited for sipping and savouring. After the initial confusion (it was my first lambic) I quite enjoyed it, slowly.

And that was our notes on the night. We enjoyed the beer and talking about them. We both agreed that while they were all great, our favorite was the Cassis Lambic. I’m intrigued to try more sour beers now, when I find some more. These 5 are now #’s 152-156 in the Leapbeer master list. Thanks to Jeff for helping me drink and contributing to the cause here. There are more tastings planned for the future, and he’ll be involved for sure.

Next time you are about to crack a bomber of craft beer, why not share it with a friend?

Thanks again for reading.

Leapbeer Week In Review

Todays post is going to be a review of some of the new beers I’ve drank and a few thoughts I had on them. It isn’t so much a full fledged review of the beers. That is why I am putting them together in this post instead of giving them all their own post.

First up is the Coney Island Lager by Shmaltz Brewing Company of New York, New York. (New York CITAY!). While Lager beer’s are mostly recognized for their malty notes, this one has a excellent initial bitterness to it as well. Then the malts really start to shine through. It tastes as tho the malts are roasted to a near licorice flavour.

Leapbeer #147 is Coney Island Lager by Shmaltz Brewing Company

Next up was the Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel by Brasserie d’Achouffe (Duvel Moortgat). It is a Belgian India Pale ale. As you might guess it has a sour yeast taste to it. Then there is a generous dose of floral hops in the nose as well as in the bitterness of this beer. I found it surprisingly easy to drink despite the beers strength. 9.0% ABV

Leapbeer #148 is Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel

Thirdly we get to a local product, the Phillips Double Barrel Scotch Ale. I did not read the bottle before I cracked this one. I placed it in my fridge immediately after purchase and grabbed it out quickly for consumption. I poured the chilled brew into my glass and went in for a sniff. Nothing. I took a taste, bland. I thought why would they do something so forgettable? Then I turned my attention to the label. Here’s what it has on it.
Dangerously good. This scotch ale has been aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels and then loaded into Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from the Okanagan. This unique beer has a gentle peat note, complemented by rich vanilla flavours picked up in the Barrels. Don’t go off half cocked, enjoy this beer in a snifter and at CELLAR TEMPERATURES.

Let my mistake be the lesson for you. Always read your labels with regards to specially made craft beers. If it is something that they took the time to put information on the side, take a second to read it.

2nd glass (when the beer was rested up to room temperature) was a completely different story. The notes of the wine are readily apparent in the nose, and in the taste. If you let it linger on your palate you get the peat taste as well as a hint of the whiskey barrels. At first I didn’t like it, but after a proper tasting it was really good. This is a higher test scotch ale (7.7% ABV) and it goes down easy. Be warned, be careful.

Leapbeer #149 is Double Barrel Scotch Ale by Phillips Brewing Company in Victoria BC

Next up is Salvator by Paulaner Brauerei. This German beer is a very malty doppelbock. To say this beer is malty and sweet is an understatement. Its super malty. It also is quite thick. It’s a nice beer for the doppelbock style, but one I’d only have 1 of. You really need to sip this beer.  Nice, but definitely not a session beer.

Leapbeer #179 is Salvator by Paulaner Brauerei in Germany (Had to be renumbered due to mistakes)

Lastly I wanted to make a note about a trip to a local establishment. I had avoided this trip long enough and I finally caved and went to Merecroft Village Pub, the local “brew pub” in Campbell River. Below is a picture of their Maple Leaf on the left, and their Railway IPA on the right. The Maple leaf is a carbon copy of Molson Canadian. And by carbon copy I should have said carbon crappy. I realize this is me harnessing my inner beer snob, BUT this stuff is crap. It isn’t even worth your time. Their IPA doesn’t fair too much better, although it is at least somewhat hoppy. I drank through one pint of it and we went on for the night. This is what I expected from the quality of the beers brewed here. Campbell River really isn’t a craft beer town, and the local brew pub here reflects that. I wish them well and hope that someday they’ll make something that could be considered ‘craft’. But until that day I plan to avoid the place.

This isn’t how all the posts are going to be. I do plan to spend some time delving into different aspects of beer.

As always I thank you all for reading and hope you drink well, drink what you like and always drink responsibly.

Leapbeer Review #133 Urthel Hop-It Special Blonde

This next review is of one I shared with a Leapbeer contributor, Frank. He’s helped me out by buying me beers and today he helped me review this different beer.

As a well established hop head I was quite curious to taste this Belgian beer with a hoppy name. It comes in a grand sized 750ml bottle with a cork, similar to the Unibroue bombers, and it is a veritable heavyweight at 9.5% ABV.

I popped it open and released the beast. I released a beast that smelled of yeast. (Sorry I had to rhyme there)
This beer is a cloudy golden beer in the style of a Belgian Strong Ale. This Belgian beer does indeed smell of the hops. But there’s something more to it. To me this is strangely reminiscent of the Unibroue Fin Du Monde, with the addition of a wheat beerlike smell. Spice and citrus are in the scent, like other wheat beers. To me the putting hops on front street like that is a bit of a misnomer. The hops are more used for the scent, not taste. There really isn’t a huge bitter note to the beer. This beer has a very heavy mouthfeel to it, and it is definitely a sipper of a beer.  Frank felt that this beer would be well paired with a sharp cheese. We both noticed that while initially it was too sweet for our liking, as the tasting continued and the beer warmed. The scent too started to release its fragrant notes. All in all this isn’t a beer I see myself seeking out, but if you find you’re a fan of beers like Fin Du Monde or that style give it a try.

Leapbeer #133 is Urthel Hop-It from Belgium

 

Thanks for Reading.

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