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My New Blog: Week of Beer!

November 13, 2012

While I still have a lot of catching up to do (I drank 365 beers in 2010, and have lots of handwritten notes on them, but only 150 posts so far…), I’ve started a new weekly craft beer blog “Week of Beer” – please check it out:


Beer #136: Gouden Carolus Classic

August 5, 2011

Beer: Gouden Carolus Classic

Brewery: Het Anker Brewery, Mechelen, Belgium

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Serving Type: 330 ml bottle

Price: $4.99 / bottle

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Goblet

Strength: 8.5% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Outstanding!  This is a beer not to be taken lightly… a complex brew to sip, savor and enjoy!  For the fullest flavor, serve at cellar temperature (50-55 F degrees)

Tasting Notes

Appearance:  Deep chestnut brown with a thin, fizzy, cream-colored head

Aroma: Rich fruity fig, chianti, and balsamic

Mouthfeel: Creamy, velvety and smooth

Taste: Initial chewy fig-newton sweetness into a lucious, juicy middle of plum, tart bing cherry, caramel and toffee.  A sweet, thick, tart and slighlty sour finish reminiscent of balsamic with a touch of earthy chestnut, slightly buttery, with a hint of bitter chicory.

Pairing: Simply enjoy on its own, or pair with one of my favorite dishes, pork tenderloin with carmelized onions and blueberries in a balsamic reduction.

Trivia: Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, was brought up in Mechelen, Belgium and was known to favor the ales from the local Het Anker brewery.

Beer #135: Kapittel Prior Ale

August 2, 2010

Beer: Kapittel Prior Ale

Brewery: Van Eecke Brewery, Watou, Belgium

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Serving Type: 11.2 oz bottle

Price: Unknown – part of a mixed gift pack.

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Goblet

Strength: 9.0% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: While a big beer (both in alcohol and style), this particular brew is easy drinking and flavorful, with the whole glass gone before I knew it

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Hazy, medium nut-brown hue with a thin, fizzy, white head

Aroma: Raisins, chocolate and Port

Mouthfeel: Medium body with tiny, fizzy bubbles

Taste: Initially slightly buttery with dark fruit (plums and raisins), melding into a big, chewy, malty middle, followed by a slightly toasty, effervescent and smooth finish.  The relatively high alcohol content is well-hidden.   Overall, a big, rich brew that is extremely smooth and really delicious.

Pairing: Pairs nicely with caramelized crispy-skin dark-meat chicken

Trivia: According to a recent CNBC article, Belgium ranks #7 in the world in average beer consumption at 93 liters per person per year.  Who is #1?  The Czech Republic at 156.9 liters per person… about a 12 oz bottle for every day of the year!

Beer #134 – May 16, 2010: Corsendonk Abbey Pale Ale

August 1, 2010

Beer: Corsendonk Abbey Pale Ale

Brewery: Corsendonk Brewery, Oud-Turnhout, Belgium

Style: Tripel

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: $3.99 / bottle

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Brandy Snifter

Strength: 7.5% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Light but strong; Complex but highly drinkable.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Hazy, golden-orange hue with big, foamy, white head

Aroma: Zesty citrus and spicy yeast

Mouthfeel: Full mouthfeel with prominent creamy and fizzy carbonation

Taste: Overall very dry, but with a touch of honey sweetness in the middle and notes of tart green apple.  Crisp, light and refreshing, with a mildly bitter and spicy finish of green peppercorn, coriander and lemon balm.

Pairing: If you are lucky enough to find it, Corsendonk cheese would be an ideal pairing.

Trivia: Corsendonk beers are bottle-conditioned, meaning that rather than being force-carbonated, the carbonation in the bottle is a result of a little yeast added to each bottle that naturally creates the carbon dioxide that forms the bubbles.  It takes three weeks for the bottles to carbonate prior to leaving the brewery, but the yeast continue to develop and change the beer over time, a true “living” beverage.  The brewery says that their beers are at their peak six months after bottling.

Beer #133 – May 15, 2010: Winterkoninkske

July 28, 2010

Beer: Winterkoninkske

Brewery: Kerkom Brewery, Kerkom-Sint Truiden, Belgium

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Serving Type: 11.2 oz bottle, consume by 04/2012

Price: $3.99 / bottle

Availability: Winter Seasonal

Glassware: Goblet

Strength: 8.3% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Tasty, dark Belgian ale that is fruity, not overly complex, and easy to drink

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Dark, opaque, mahogany-black hue with a thin, fizzy, tan head

Aroma: Sweet, dark cherry, raisin and dark malt aroma

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Taste: Initial black cherry, raisin and touch of bourbon, followed by notes of chocolate-covered almonds and hint of bitter hops on the finish.  Sweet, savory and tart all at the same time, making for a delicious and interesting brew.

Pairing: Goes great with Belgian dark chocolate

Trivia: From the brewery website: “We brew it here, we drink it here, and we sell what’s left”

Beer # 132 – May 14, 2010: Westmalle Dubbel

July 28, 2010

Beer: Westmalle Dubbel

Brewery: Westmalle Brewery, Malle, Belgium

Style: Trappist Dubbel

Serving Type: 11.2 oz bottle – best before end of 07/14/11

Price: $4.99 / bottle

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Goblet

Strength: 7.0% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Dry and light bodied for a dubbel, reminiscent of champagne

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Nearly opaque, hazy, chestnut hue with a thin, frothy, cream-colored head

Aroma: Slightly musty, like the cellar of a winery, with notes of raisin

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a fizzy, slightly creamy mouthfeel

Taste: Slightly tangy, slightly tart, with a light green grape sweetness, hints of clover, notes of earthy and sweet cocoa-laden Bosco syrup, all with a drying finish.  Deceptively light and dry for a dark beer, but those darker malts do come through eventually.

Pairing: I best some Westmalle cheese would pair nicely… if you are lucky enough to find it (see “Trivia”)!

Trivia: Westmalle is one of only seven Trappist breweries in the world.  In addition to brewing, the monks of the Westmalle abbey also make Trappist cheese on a very small scale, sold directly at the gates of the abbey.

Beer #131 – May 13, 2010: Coopers Best Extra Stout

July 28, 2010

Beer: Coopers Best Extra Stout

Brewery: Coopers Brewery, Leabrook, Australia

Style: Foreign Export Stout

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: $9.99 / six-pack

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Glass Mug

Strength: 6.3% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: A tasty, slightly sweet stout that is a little rich on a warm and sunny Spring day, but still quite enjoyable

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Deep, dark, almost black with a big, frothy, tan head

Aroma: Mild roasted notes with a hint of chocolate syrup

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation

Taste: Initial mildly creamy sweetness reminiscent of chocolate milk into a roasted, caramel, and peanut middle with a slightly bitter, charred, over-roasted coffee bean finish.

Pairing: While this big stout would overpower “shrimp on the barbie”, it would pair nicely with a marinated flank steak on the barbie!

Trivia: While Foster’s, founded in the 1970’s, calls itself “Australian for Beer”, Coopers would have a much better claim at this title, having started this still family-owned brewery in the 1860’s.

Beer #130 – May 12, 2010: Blue Fin Stout

July 28, 2010

Beer: Blue Fin Stout

Brewery: Shipyard Brewing Company, Portland, Maine

Style: Irish Dry Stout

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: $8.99 / six-pack

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Glass Mug

Strength: 4.7% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Overall, a subtle and mild, but clean and crisp classic stout

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Deep walnut-black with a big, frothy, tan head

Aroma: Sweet roasted aroma with a hint of coffee beans

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light fizzy bubbles of carbonation

Taste: Starts with a brown sugar and touch of almost burnt caramel sweetness into a middle of roasted earthy coffee beans and bitter peanut skins.  The finish is drying, slightly bitter, with a hint of butterscotch.

Pairing: A real Maine Lobster roll in a New England style split-top bun, toasted, and served hot with a little drawn butter (no mayo!).  Dark beer and light seafood sounds like a strange pairing, but trust me, it works wonderfully!

Trivia: Maine is truly the lobster capital: with around 40 million pounds of lobster caught yearly, it supplies 90% of lobster sold in the U.S.

Beer #129 – May 11, 2010: Lost Coast Eight Ball Stout

July 5, 2010

Beer: Lost Coast Eight Ball Stout

Brewery: Lost Coast Brewery, Eureka, California

Style: American Stout

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: $8.99 / six-pack

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Glass Mug

Strength: 6.3% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: A flavorful, though not heavy or overly rich, take on a stout.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Deep walnut, though not quite “eight-ball black” with a big, creamy, tan head

Aroma: Malty, roasted, with a hint of hops

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a slightly creamy moderate carbonation

Taste: Initial caramelized, almost burnt, sugar with a hint of cinnamon leads into a roasted middle with mild notes of cappuccino dusted with cocoa powder, finishing with slightly bitter notes of peanut skin.

Pairing: Buttery, creamy cheeses such as Brie or Gouda contrast nicely with the roasted, bitter flavors of a relatively bitter American Stout like Eight Ball.

Trivia: What makes a stout an “American Stout”?  The invention and creativity of American brewers!  A broad category of stouts, many may think this means a stronger and hoppier take on a British or Irish Stout (which is often the case), but really covers anything from a stout brewed with smoked malt or real chocolate, to a stout aged in whiskey barrels.

Beer #128 – May 10, 2010: Bourbon County Stout

July 5, 2010

Beer: Bourbon County Stout

Brewery: Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, Illinois

Style: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: Unknown

Availability: Cool/Cold-Weather Seasonal (i.e. not brewed in Summer)

Glassware: Brandy Snifter

Strength: 13.0% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Rich, warming, strong and enjoyable  as a slow-sipper.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Deep walnut-black with a tan head

Aroma: Bourbon and butterscotch

Mouthfeel: Slightly syrupy thick with a creamy carbonation

Taste: Whoa!  Is this beer or bourbon I’m drinking?!?  An initial sweet bourbon flavor melds into a middle of earthy and sweet milk chocolate, tangy raisin, and buttery butterscotch. It finishes with a warming alcohol note and mild bitterness like unsweetened chocolate.

Pairing: Just pour into a brandy snifter and enjoy all on its own, or from what I understand, a good cigar if you do indulge.

Trivia: Barrel-aging may seem like a new craze in the beer world, but is actually among the oldest methods of storing and preserving beer (think of the annual tapping of the wooden keg at Oktoberfest in Munich).  What is new these days is the intentional use of barrels previously used for other beverages, whether hard liquor like bourbon or whiskey, or wines such as Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.