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Author Topic: Beer Blog  (Read 35307 times)

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Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Beer Blog
« on: July 04, 2010, 01:48:13 PM »
Beer Index
-Troegenator Double Bock
-Samuel Adams Imperial Double Bock
-Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock

-Delirium Tremens
-Delirium Nocturnum

-Duvel Golden Belgian Ale
-Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

-Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre
-Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale

-Monty Python Holy Grail Ale
-Flying Dog Raging Bitch

-Natural Light
-Orval Trappist Ale
-Magic Hat's Blind Faith
-Terrapin's Gamma Ray
-Magic Hat's #9
-Magic Hat's Wacko

-Guinness Extra Stout
-Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout
-Victory Storm King Imperial Stout

-Brewery Ommegang's Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend
-Sapporo Premium Rice Lager
-Erdinger Hefeweizen
-Bohemia Clásica
-Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen

-Belhaven Scottish Ale
-La Fin Du Monde
-Bass Pale Ale
-Magic Hat Odd Notion (Summer 2010 Version)
-Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier
-He'Brew Messiah Bold
-Honey Moon

-Paulaner Hefeweizen
-St. George Brewing Company's India Pale Ale
-Loose Cannon IPA
-Yuengling Porter
-Bell's Kalamazoo Stout
-Samuel Adams Irish Red
-Samael's Ale
-McSorley's Black Irish Lager
-Weihenstephaner Festbier
-Smuttynose Winter Ale
-Hazelnut Brown Nectar
-Trappistes Rochefort 10
-Lagunitas Maximus
-Monk's Cafe Flanders Sour Red Ale
-Royal Virility Performance (News)

It won't come as a surprise to many of you that I enjoy drinking. I fully admit to being an inveterate imbiber; however, I have recently decided to start sharing my love of beer by sharing my thoughts on it in the form of reviews in this blog (and that's about all I'm sharing-- buy your own beer!); essentially, it allows me to drink and feel productive at the same time.

The reviews will be broken down according to five categories that roughly correspond to the natural order of drinking- Appearance, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel, and Drinkability.

Although I will probably cover quite a few that I've already had and explore styles of which I'm particularly fond (lagers, stouts, Belgian strong dark ales and strong pale ales, tripels, to name a few), I intend to seek out unusual, uncommon, and uncouth brews for this blog, not traditional macro-brews (though a few favorites may make an appearance), so feel free to join me as I journey to bottom of countless bottles!

First up, Bocks and Double Bocks! (Consumed and reviewed the night of July 3rd, 2010.)

 Bock beer is a very old style that originated in German monasteries as a way to circumvent the pains of fasting because of its calories; see, although it can sometime contain enough malt to make a meal in and of itself, beer isn't considered food and thus does not violate the Lenten fasting ritual. Many Bock beers have goats on the label (see above illustration). This hearkens back to the fact that Bocks were traditionally brewed in December to be ready in time for Lent. December's sign is Capricorn, which is represented by a goat, so many brewers and bottlers denote  that by illustrating goats in fanciful and outlandish poses on their labels (some typical but tame examples- 1, 2, 3).

Bocks are made with bottom-fermenting yeast and require a few months of lagering (which is cold storage) to tone down such a strong brew. During the cold storage, residual yeast settles and the flavor evens out. Bocks are typically ruddy brown in color and have between 6 - 7.5% alcohol by volume. Double Bocks, of which I've reviewed two for you, are fuller, stronger, and have between 7 to 10% alcohol by volume.

First up, Troegenator Double Bock-

Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States
Style: Dopplebock/ Double Bock
ABV- 8.2%

(Notice the goat horns!)

Poured from a 12oz bottle. The freshness date says it was bottled May 24th, 2010. Responsible brewers provide that kind of information! Then again, Bud Light has a Born On date as well, so I suppose there are exceptions to every rule.

Appearance- 4 out of 5. It pours with a decent one-finger  off-white head that fizzles away to leave a bit of lacing. The color itself is a somewhat transparent cherry-brown that is darker than the image shown above. Mahogany would be a good word for it. Honestly, with the initial release of bubbles, it's a spitting image of Coca Cola.

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. The smell is malty and slightly sweet, very reminiscent of chocolaty molasses. There are also hints of dark fruit and hops with just a slight hint of cherry. It smells good but not strong enough to do justice for a beer of this caliber.

Taste- 4.5 out of 5. An intriguing mixture that starts with sweet molasses malt on the front of the tongue, spreads into a sort of vanilla and raisin combination, and finishes with slightly spicy, bitter hops on the back of the tongue. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. It's medium-bodied with noticeable but not overpowering carbonation that provides a tingly feeling that spreads from the mouth down the throat.

Drinkability- 4 out of 5. Although it strays slightly from being a typical Bock, Troegenator's Double Bock is delicious enough to drink a few of. Just be careful if you make a session of it because of the 8.2% abv.

Next up, the Double Bock from Samuel Adams' Imperial Series.

Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Massachusetts, United States
Style: Dopplebock/Double Bock
ABV: 9.5%

Poured from a 12oz bottle. No freshness date provided, but I have faith. This used to be a seasonal beer, but Boston Beer Company recently started offering it year round. That fact makes me a very happy man, as I had previously looked forward to its release every year.

Appearance- 4.5 out of 5. This is how a Bock is supposed to look. It pours reddish-brown with off-white head that slowly fades to leave behind a good deal of lacing. The lacing is a little thin, but it still sticks to the side of the glass on the way down.

Smell- 4 out of 5. I just caught a strong whiff of sweet-smelling caramel malt and spicy hops. It makes me look forward to quaffing the brew.

Taste- 4.5 out of 5. The sweetness of the malt is counterbalanced by the slightly bitter spiciness of the hops. Toffee and dark fruit are present as well. The alcohol taste is evident but not at all overpowering. For a 9.5% abv, it does an admirable job of disguising it. There is a slightly smokey, dry finish.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. It's solid and medium-bodied with less carbonation than other Bocks I've had, even with a few swishes around the mouth. Feels good and finishes dry.

Drinkability- At 9.5%, it's delicious and drinkable, and the price is low enough to make a session out of it. This is a classic Bock-style beer that I highly recommend (and not just because of the alcohol content!).

Last on the list is Gordon Biersch's Blonde Bock.

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
Nevada, United States
Style- Bock
ABV- 7%

Gordon Biersch seems to have a love-hate relationship with most beer drinkers, which is unfortunate considering the fact that they put out some fairly good brews. The only one of which I'm not particularly fond is their Hefeweizen, but my hatred of Hefeweizens will probably become clear in later posts anyway, so I'll spare you for now.

Appearance- 3.5 out of 5. I should preface this by explaining that this isn't a typical Bock. As mentioned earlier, Bocks are usually reddish-brown in color. As the name suggests, this isn't a typical amber/brown Bock; rather, it is golden-yellow in color, slightly cloudy with lots of carbonation bubbles floating to the top. The white head is surprisingly small and leaves behind thin lacing.

Smell- 4 out of 5. Strong, pleasant scents of sweet caramel malt mixed with hop and a bit of corn. There is also an undertone of citrus floating around. It's not powerful, but it's noticeable.

Taste- 4 out of 5. Slightly sweet, but far from being sickeningly so. It strikes a good balance between the sweet malt at first and the bitter hop at the finish. The citrus from the smell also appears in the taste but does not dominate by any means. Nice, wet finish that leaves a pleasant aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. Medium-bodied, crisp, and somewhat carbonated. It's creamy enough to go down smooth and begs for another chug--er, sip. I said sip, I swear.

Drinkability- 4 out of 5. Although it is definitely not a typical Bock, this is a beer that can be consumed in a decent quantity that will leave you both inebriated and satisfied. It was one of my early favorites before I really started researching beer.

Unsolicited Tip of The Day: Drink when haven't had anything to eat for a few hours. Hunger heightens your olfactory and gustatory senses, so you can smell and taste the more subtle aspects of beer that you would otherwise miss.

You're probably going to see quite a few 4s and 4.5s in my scoring for the first few posts because my current drinking list involves sampling some of the world's best beers and some of my favorite styles of beers, so pardon the slight bias there. Everyone's tastes are unique, and you may not like what I like. But you should. Because it's delicious. No, seriously, it is.

Currently in my fridge (and soon to appear in this blog):
-Duvel Golden Belgian Ale
-Orval Belgian Trappist Ale
-Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

« Last Edit: April 20, 2011, 09:42:53 AM by Paradox »

Offline Marguerite

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2010, 01:02:09 AM »
I doubt Para needs a Chanel bag anytime soon.

Offline Neroon

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2010, 03:15:37 AM »
This is an excellent idea, Para.  I am really looking forward to your views on Duvel, which is one of my favourite Belgian beers.  It's great that you're posting some good American brews too, as the image we have of American brewing in the UK is fostered by the Budweiser publicity machine.  Previously, I've seen American beers in the supermarket and discarded them out of hand as "American's can't do decent beer, just look at that Budweiser crap".  I shall be reading to get ideas of what to try.

Offline Lithos

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2010, 05:20:57 AM »
I would recommend you to also check on Czechvar which is some really good Czech beer. There is funny story related to this too, see, the original name of the brew was Budweisser. It orignated from Ceske Budejovice city, that was known as Budweiss in Germany. Needless to say, a lawsuit with much wealthier and more popular brand made them to change the name. While probably not the very best light lager in the world, it is very good and very affordable at the same time.

Offline Ramster

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2010, 06:29:29 AM »
Given availability of Belgian and American beer at the same price, it's no contest, which is why you don't get American beer in the low countries I suppose.

Beers I very much enjoy, and suggest you imbibe, but not necessarily all at the same sitting:

Delirium Tremens (Belgium, with pink elephants on the bottle)
Kwak (Belgium)
Gulden Draak (Belgium)
Zatte (Holland)
Chimay (Belgium)
Hobgoblin (Britain)

I'm sure you'll have fun with the Duvel and Orval too. Good luck getting hold of them all!

Offline Lord Mayerling

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2010, 06:39:41 AM »

You might be my personal hero for this.

Americans don't get enough credit for our microbrews, or our taste for beer. I look forward to reading this blog regularly, being a beer connosieur and occasional brewmeister myself. I brewed a chocolate raspberry stout that might just change your life. I also recommend trying some brews from the Shiner Brewery in Shiner, Texas. Also in Texas, there's an enclave of Germans in Fredericksburg. As is easily understandable, its brewery makes some nice brews. Also, if you're ever in the New York area, and you'd like to have a tastestravaganza, and can recommend both a pub and a grocery store for beer lovers. The grocery store's best features are its beer selection and deli. It carries several hundred brands from around the world.

Offline Ket

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2010, 10:25:15 AM »
Shiner puts out a most excellent beer. I want an O'Conners review (since I haven't had the chance to get out and try it yet)!

Offline Will

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2010, 02:22:48 PM »
It's always nice to see someone who can appreciate a good beer.  I really enjoyed this blog, Para.

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2010, 04:45:39 PM »
Neroon- I'll be sure to include some American brews, though I'm not sure what is available in your neck of the woods.

Ket- I saw Shiner Bock at Total Wine today. I'll have to pick one up to add to this blog's Bock reviews. You can come with me to Tap House Grill to share the O'Connors Red Nun Ale for the review! I already did one of their Norfolk Canyon Ale for BeerAdvocate.

Will and Ramster- The fact that you two are fellow beer-lovers is what made me think of doing this blog, so thanks for all the past PMs about brews.

Lithos (and everyone else)- Keep up the beer suggestions! I'm rather poor, but I'll do my best to obtain what I can.

Mayerling- I've done a bit of wine-making (just ask Ket; she's tried them) and dabbled in home-brewing. I intend to get into it more when I get a better place. I'll PM you when that happens.

Now then, onto today's beers. I did reviews for Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Duvel yesterday, but they're hand-written and need to be typed up; meanwhile, I have today's beers in front of me, so I'll give them to you forthwith.

Today is a delirious duo of Belgian ales: Delirium Tremens, thanks to Ramster's recommendation, and its darker counterpart, Delirium Nocturnum.

First up is Delirium Tremens.

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Huyghe
Melle, Belgium
Style- Belgian Strong Pale Ale
ABV- 8.5%

A beer named after hardcore alcohol withdrawal just begs to be imbibed, so imbibe it I did. Like the Duvel that will appear in tomorrow's post, it is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. I'm usually a darker-beer kind of guy, but the Belgians are masters at crafting complex, quality beers, so I figured this one was worth a shot. Belgian Pale Ales are rather hard to classify because each brewer has strong convictions about how to represent the type, and those convictions do not always correspond to one another. They range from subtle to strong to spicy depending on the brewer.

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle with pink elephants, green alligators, and red dragons dancing around yellow suns on the label, yet no freshness date.

Appearance- 3.5 out of 5. The head on this is monstrously huge; it literally takes up half of the glass, and that's from a relatively conservative pouring pace. I could only pour in 3/4ths of the bottle before the head threatened to spill over. The color is a light, mostly transparent yellow with significant carbonation bubbles. Thick lacing sticks to the sides even after the head subsides (which takes a few minutes).

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. The initial aroma almost reminds me of a Pilsner with its light malty scent, but there are also light, fruity yeast and something that can really only be described as bubblegum. It's inviting, yet a strange mineral undertone keeps it from being truly appealing.

Taste- 4 out of 5. The fruity malt from the scent shifts to more of a honey taste on the tongue, followed by the slightly spicy, bitter hops. There are fruity esters evident in the aftertaste, which is pleasant but not strong. The hints of bubblegum return in the taste; however, that strange mineral undertone from the smell does not reappear on the tongue. The overall taste lingers on the top of the back of your throat, subtly tempting you to take another sip as you savor it.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. It's definitely on the lighter end of the body spectrum but not in a bad way. The carbonation which caused that insane head isn't as noticeable in the body itself.

Drinkability- 4.5 out of 5. This is the best damned bubblegum I've ever had. If Delirium Tremens were less expensive, it would be near the top of my list of lighter beers with which to make a delicious drinking session. Especially considering that fact that it's Summer, this is a supremely drinkable beer.

Overall, a B+.

Second and last comes Delirium Nocturnum, the aforementioned beer's darker brother.

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Huyghe
Melle, Belgium
Style- Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV- 8.5%

Belgian Dark Ales are the darker relatives of Belgian Pale Ales; indeed, their stronger cousins, the Belgian Strong Dark Ales (of which this is one) are a favorite of mine. They retain the fruitiness of the pale ales yet add a richer and more complex darker variety of flavors. Delirium Nocturnum is a fairly iconic example against which future Belgian Ales in this blog will probably be compared.

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle. No freshness date provided. Unlike the Delirium Tremens bottle with its multitude of wildlife, this one simply has one huge pink elephant on the label.

Appearance- 4 out of 5. Pours a dark ruby-brown that appears translucently red when held up to the light. The tan head is not quite as large as the behemoth head on Delirium Tremens, but it is nevertheless substantial, easily taking up almost half of the glass at a slow pouring pace. Thick, creamy lace adheres to the sides of the glass on the way down.

Smell- 4 out of 5. The aroma is mysteriously inviting with sweet notes of caramel malt and tart apple with more elusive hints of dark fruit and an alcohol undertone.

Taste- 4.5 out of 5. Delirium Nocturnum starts off with a tart bite of apple, adds a little note of spice, runs its caramel malt over the tongue, and washes down a chocolaty aftertaste. Dark fruit and alcohol are noticeable but not strong. It leaves a lingering aftertaste of yeast, yet the hoppy bitterness I expected is conspicuously weak in the overall taste-- not unpleasantly so, however, since that is typical of Belgian Dark Ales in general.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. More medium-bodied than the lighter Delirium Tremens. It starts off wet, goes slightly dry with the taste of fruity alcohol esters, then finishes wet again.

Drinkability- 4.5 out of 5. Simply put, delicious. Delirium Nocturnum hides its alcohol under a complex array of flavors that build to a captivating crescendo on the tongue and leave a pleasant warmness in the throat and belly. Given the choice between the two, I would take Delirium Nocturnum for a session.

Overall, an A-.

Unsolicited Tip of The Day: A connoisseur of wines once told me to avoid wine bottles with animals on the label because they generally tend to be a marketing gimmick to attract younger, less-experienced drinkers; however, if the dancing pink elephants on the labels of these two beers (and the frolicking goats from the Bock beers mentioned before) are any indication, that rule of thumb does not apply to beers.

Speaking of animals on labels, I should probably pick up a bottle or two of Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster for this blog. I still have to add yesterday's reviews of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Duvel Golden Belgian Ale.

Currently in my fridge (and soon to appear in this blog):
-Arrogant Bastard Ale ("Hated By Many; Loved By Few" on the label)
-Dogfish Raison D'Etre (an American version of today's Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
-Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA
-Orval Trappist Ale
-Storm King Imperial Stout (to be reviewed in conjunction with Guinness Stout and a Russian Imperial Stout)
-Holy Grail English Ale (A Monty Python ale? Who could resist?)
« Last Edit: July 05, 2010, 04:52:30 PM by Paradox »

Offline Will

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2010, 04:54:40 PM »
Ah, Terrapin makes some delicious beers.  I like the Rye Pale Ale quite a bit.

Excellent reviews, again!  I don't believe I've ever seen any Delirium around here, but I'll keep a hopeful eye out.

Offline Ket

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2010, 04:57:31 PM »
Ket- I saw Shiner Bock at Total Wine today. I'll have to pick one up to add to this blog's Bock reviews. You can come with me to Tap House Grill to share the O'Connors Red Nun Ale for the review! I already did one of their Norfolk Canyon Ale for BeerAdvocate.

Hahahahha!  Oh wait - you were being serious? On a side note - MOAR WINE!

You uh, you should so drop me off a bottle of this Delirium Nocturnum. Yes, yes you should.

Offline Ramster

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2010, 10:36:49 PM »
Great to see the Deliriums (or should that be Deleria?) up there Para! I'm glad you enjoyed them, and I'm sure you felt extremely productive drinking them!  :D

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2010, 01:00:47 PM »
Will- I'm obtaining most of these from a specialty store called Total Wine. Keep an eye out for or Google specialty beer and wine places in your area. You can also order them online if you're particularly curious; if not, hopefully there will be a place that carries them after you move. Right now, I'm trying to balance between world-class brews from BeerAdvocate's Top 100 and American craft beers.

Ket- You live a few blocks away from two places that sells these! Still, I'll keep it in mind for an upcoming holiday or something.

Ramster- Thanks for the recommendation. I've already had the Gulden Draak as well, but I may pick up another just to add to this blog...and because it's delicious. Most of the others you've recommended are a bit expensive, so I'll have to wait until I get paid again to check out the Chimay Reserve Blue, which is high on my To-Try list.

These were consumed and reviewed two days ago; however, I haven't had a chance to type them up until now. Both of these beers are Pale Ales, though they differ in the specific national style (the first is Belgian; the second is American), and they were both bottle-conditioned, which simply means that a secondary phase of fermentation and maturation was allowed to take place after the beer was bottled. Bottle-conditioning creates fuller and more complex flavors and scents.

First up, Duvel Golden Belgian Ale.

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat NV
Breendonk, Belgium
Style- Belgian Strong Pale Ale
ABV- 8.5%

Duvel (which apparently means "devil" in Dutch) is, like the Delirium Tremens from the last review, a Belgian Strong Pale Ale; in fact, it is often considered to be the definitive version of that style. It has consistently appeared near the top of World Class beer lists. Many of the Belgian Pale Ales are brewed with Pilsner malt, Saaz hops (also traditionally used for Pilsners), and white sugar to give them that initial light quality before adding in more complex flavors.

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into a snifter. Best Before date of May 2012 printed on the label, which also has tips on how to pour the beer. Consumed on an empty stomach to ensure full appreciation of running with the Duvel (terrible pun, I know).

Appearance- 4 out of 5. Duvel pours with a wonderfully frothy, active two-finger head that lasts a long time. The snifter was a perfect choice for this, as I don't think a traditional beer glass would have activated and retained the head as much; still, it's not as huge as the Delirium Tremens that damn near overflowed out of the glass. Lots of bubbles rising to the top; small amount of yeast evident in the glass. Strong, clear golden color that is very reminiscent of white wine.

Smell- 3 out of 5. Again, very reminiscent of white wine. There are traces of crisp apple, mild spice, and a bit of a bite of yeast. It's interesting but not particularly enticing.

Taste- 4 out of 5. Starts off with a hit of yeast, followed by a slightly juicy apple taste and fruity malt, and finishes with a wonderfully bitter bit of hops. Although most Belgian Pale Ales including Duvel use Pilsner malt, I cannot detect much of it in this beer. The alcohol is definitely evident but not unpleasant. The hint of white wine similarity is in the taste as well. In the midst of all its complex flavors, it straddles the line between being a pale ale and being a dry champagne.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. So crisp and creamy that it practically begs to not be put down. Trust me, it's hard putting down long enough to write this. After the initial swallow, bubbly carbonation tingles the back of the throat.

Drinkability- 3.5 out of 5. I have to admit that it is indeed delicious, and I feel honored to have tried one of the best beers in the world; however, it's not something I'd make a session out of. One or two would be enough before switching to something else.

Overall, a B.

Now, onto an American beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
Style- American Pale Ale
ABV- 5.6%

Sierra Nevada consistently puts out a number of good beers, so I was excited to try this one out. It was recommended to me by an Indian friend (slightly ironic that he enjoys APAs more than IPAs, isn't it?). American Pale Ales differ from the previously-reviewed Belgian Pale Ales in that they generally contain more fruity esters and diacetyl (a volatile compound that is very reminiscent of butterscotch).

Poured from a 24oz bottle into a traditional glass.

Appearance- 4 out of 5. Pours primarily yellow-orange with a fluffy white head that isn't as large as I expected, considering the heads on most pale ales; still, there are a lot of bubbles and a good deal of sticky lacing all over the glass, along with a thin sedimentary layer that probably resulted from the bottle-conditioning. There are even more bubbles in the second glass; in fact, I'd go so far as to say there's a veritable shitload of bubbles.

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. The nose is a bit floral and very citric, with a strong scent of bitter hops on the back end. There is also a slight undertone of grain, but the citrus overpowers it for the most part. Not bad.

Taste- 3.5 out of 5. Christ almighty, who shoved an entire orange into this bottle?! The most noticeable aspect of the taste is the almost overpowering acidity. It soon fades to a citrus sweetness with notes of orange peel and spice. Bitter hops linger on the back of the tongue long after swallowing. The diacetyl butterscotch that is typical of this sort of beer is very weak. The second glass was not so acidic, so this beer may simply need a bit of time to breathe before being poured, or it could be a matter of your mouth and throat needing to adapt to the acidity.

Mouthfeel- 3 out of 5. This Pale Ale is thin but not watery, with a pleasant tingling sensation from the abundant carbonation and acidity.

Drinkability- 3 out of 5. This is supposedly a classic example of the American Pale Ale, but it's a tad too acidic compared to others I've had. It's pretty good, but it's not something I would drink on a regular basis.

Overall, a B-.

Unsolicited Tip of The Day: Do a bit of research before you buy a beer, lest you be fooled into thinking you're buying something you aren't; for instance, people often think beers like Killians Irish Red and Blue Moon are made by a small micro-brewing operation, when in fact they're both brewed by Coors. Of course, being brewed by a macro-brewer doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be a bad beer, but craft brewers generally tend to do a better job-- and they need more support than the huge commercial corporations!

I'm trying to keep at least a semblance of a theme to these reviews, but the beers in my fridge right now don't have much in common, so the two I'm probably going to have to make some compromises. It'll either be two ales-- Arrogant Bastard and Holy Grail, or a Belgian Strong Dark and an IPA. Again, keep the suggestions coming!
« Last Edit: July 06, 2010, 01:51:07 PM by Paradox »

Offline Blitzy

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2010, 01:44:39 PM »
Para... I don't even -drink- beer and you have me wanting to taste these. I know that odds are against me liking the taste, even when you describe them so deliciously, yet I can't help the faint urge to just... try them.

Damn you.

But a very good blog. You have a way with the words and describing every enticing bit of the beer and making it sound more like a delicacy than just a simple drink. Very awesome.

Offline Lord Mayerling

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2010, 02:10:06 PM »

Any thoughts on adding potential food pairings to your beers?

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2010, 07:04:16 PM »
Blitzy-- I highly recommend trying some of the beers I've listed. Wait for the review of Gulden Draak-- it's 10.5% (essentially, wine), yet you can't even taste the alcohol. For a more comprehensive list of what you might like, PM me.

Lord Mayerling- I had indeed considered adding food recommendations, but for now I'm focusing on tasting the beer alone. Adding food to the equation can significantly alter the taste of the beer by muting some flavors and augmenting others. I want to establish a baseline estimate of the beer itself before adding other flavors to the mix; still, if you have any suggestions, feel free to add them after I post (or if you see some in the Soon-To-Be-Reviewed lists at the bottom of each post, send me a PM with suggestions and I'll incorporate's just not something I intend to do on my own, though I may occasionally throw one in if it seems particularly fitting; for instance, that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale would have gone wonderfully with a fresh, juicy piece of cantaloupe)

Tonight's two beers don't have much in common aside from being Strong Ales. Taste-wise, they don't have much in common at all, which is why I thoroughly cleansed my palette before consuming the second. Since a number of my readers seem to be from overseas, I decided to sample two well-renowned American brewers (not to spite them, but to give them an idea of what we have over here). Both of tonight's brews are cheaper than those previously-reviewed, so pick them up if you're on a budget!

Without further ado, the first of the two- Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre:

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, United States
Style- Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV- 8%

I've heard good things about Dogfish Head, so I decided to give this one a shot. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle with no freshness date. The label says "A deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beer sugars, green raisins, & a sense of purpose".

Appearance- 2.5 out of 5. Pours with hardly any head. I kept waiting for it to bubble up, but it never did. That was rather disappointing, as is the lacing on the sides. It looks a lot like a dark soda when held up to the light.

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. This beer smells better than it looks. I catch hints of rum, caramel malt, and raisins; oddly enough, my nose also detects that artificial kind of purple grape scent often seen in candy and gum.

Taste- 3.5 out of 5. A slightly syrupy taste of caramel malt initially hits the tongue (I suspect a sucrose-based syrup was used as part of the malting process), followed by a buttery kind of malt and a bit of fruity ester sweetness. There is an aftertaste of brown sugar and those green raisins mentioned on the label. Hardly any bitterness from the hops at all. The alcohol is only an undertone, not at all an 8% ABV sort of taste. I've heard a few people say that this beer has some phenolic (e.g. reminiscent of sanitizer residue, band-aids, plastic, etc.) taste, but luckily I cannot detect it. Not bad, but the taste isn't balanced. Belgian beers are usually experimental and unorthodox, but this one seems rather chaotic and unbalanced-- a result of trying to imitate the style without being an expert in it, I suppose.

Mouthfeel- 3.5 out of 5. Light at first, then fills out to medium. It's surprisingly smooth and light in texture for an 8% ABV beer. Wet and carbonated, not crisp, but not unpleasant.

Drinkability- 4 out of 5. It's far from being a great Belgian beer, but it's definitely drinkable-- almost dangerously so, considering its 8% ABV. Its drinkability is its saving grace. If you find this on tap, and there's not much else in your taste/price range, I'd recommend it, but take it slow. This is the kind of beer that sneaks up on you at the end of the night, when you lurch off your bar stool to stumble to the bathroom and realize you suddenly have four feet.

Overall, a B-.
Although it isn't an iconic example of the Belgian Strong Dark Ale, it's about half as expensive as the other examples given in this blog so far, so if you're looking for a cheap way to introduce yourself to the style, give this one a shot. If you have money to burn or a taste for the best, go for the Delirium Nocturnum instead.

Next and last, Arrogant Bastard Ale:

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido, California, United States
Style- American Strong Ale
ABV- 7.2%

I have to admit, I'm simultaneously nervous and excited about this one. Stone Brewing Co. has always put out pretty amazing beers, and when the label says "You're not worthy" with a bombastic-looking demon holding an overflowing mug, and the bottle cap says "Hated by many; Loved by few", I take that as a challenge, and I never back down from a challenge (unless it involves decapitation or rabid farm animals). The back of the bottle even says "This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory --- maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it's made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better. Perhaps you're mouthing your words as you read this." Alright, no beer is going to tease me and get away with it. It's on.

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a traditional glass. No freshness date provided.

Appearance- 4 out of 5. Well, with its almost opaque-brown darkness and ruby hue when held up to the light, it definitely looks demonic. The head is brownish-tan and strong but not overly large. A few swirls around the glass leave nice lacing on the side, and the carbonation bubbles erupt from the bottom with an unnatural vigor that soon subsides, as does the head.

Smell- 5 out of 5. As soon as I cracked open the bottle, before even pouring it, the smell of this beer intrigued me immensely. The bitter hops are coarse but strong, as are the toasted grains from the malt. It's hard to tell exactly what the malt reminds me of, but I'd have to venture caramel as my guess. There is a strong smell of citrus, which is surprising considering how dark the beer is. I also detect green apple and pine. This beer wasn't lying about being aggressive. It smells incredible.

Taste- 4.5 out of 5. It tastes incredible as well. Those "many" who the bottle cap claims hate this beer must have had their tongues cut out (or must have been incorrigible drinkers of Bud Light with no taste for quality beer). The initial taste is toasted caramel malt sweetness and tart citrus on the tongue, followed almost instantaneously by tart apple and smooth chocolate. The finishing note is full of powerfully bitter hops, yet all of the tastes continue to mingle on the tongue long after swallowing. I lost track of the alcohol in the cacophonous wave of flavors. It's one hell of a strange combination, but by god, it works.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. Solidly medium, crisp upon entering, wet upon swallowing.

Drinkability- 4.5 out of 5. This stuff is amazing. It has every right to be arrogant. With its complexity and wild flavor, I'm honestly surprised they pulled this off-- surprised and pleased. At $4.49 for a 22oz bottle, it's a damned good deal for a beer of this caliber. It's good enough to make a session out of, but take it slow; a beer like this needs to be enjoyed.

Overall, an A.

Neroon- This is the beer you need to try to break free of those misunderstandings about the quality of American beers.

Unsolicited Tip of The Day (#2)- If you and some friends are out drinking, and everyone orders a common, tasteless beer, don't be afraid to be different. It's mighty tempting to just follow the crowd and drink what everyone else is drinking, but if you want to really be respected as a beer drinker-- and if you want to stand out in the crowd-- order something better than a Budweiser. It may be more expensive, but it's worth it. It tastes better; it generally has a higher alcohol content; people will notice your more-refined tastes, and their inquiries may even help you convert one or two of them; either way, it often leads to conversations about your tastes, and who doesn't like free attention?

I need a day at the gym to work off all these liquid calories, so the next review will probably be on Thursday of Raging Bitch Belgian-Style India Pale Ale and Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale. In the mean time, have a good time.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 11:12:15 AM by Paradox »

Offline Saerrael

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2010, 07:59:26 PM »
I very much enjoyed reading this, Para. I'm not much of a beer person, and you have allready had my own favorite on your tongue, which would be Duvel. (which is old Dutch for Devil, damn it >.> Get your facts straight *muttermutters*)

Anyway, will be keeping an eye on this and inform at my local provider if Arrogant Bastard Ale is something he can get a hold on.

Offline Will

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2010, 09:38:33 PM »
Heh, I've never really liked anything from Sierra Nevada.  You probably gave the pale ale a higher score than I would have. :-X  That Dogfish Head sounds much too sweet for my tastes, too.

Excellent job on the reviews!

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Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2010, 10:03:01 PM »
I don't really know if I would enjoy any beer, Para, though you make it sound delicious.

I've tried beer but, honestly, I'm just not much of an 'alcohol' person. No mixed drinks, wine, or beer really tastes good to me. I wish it did, though, sometimes.

Offline Will

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2010, 10:04:43 PM »
He has a way with words, no doubt.

Offline ParadoxTopic starter

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2010, 05:28:37 PM »
Note to everyone- Please pardon the inundation of Pale Ales and other rather light styles of beer. It's Summer, and my tastes seem to run to the lighter side of things considering the 90+ degree weather. Rest assured that I have some Stouts in the fridge to balance it out next week. Also, I intend to add a list of Beers Reviewed and a Beer Vocabulary Guide to the first post of this blog in the near future, so don't fret if things like diacetyl and ester go over your head. I'll have an explanatory little guide up soon.

Saerra- I'm just going by what it said on the bottle! Blame your brewery, not me :P

Will- I suppose a C would have been better, to be honest, but the second glass appealed to me a wee bit more than the first. I may re-review it in a month or so once a new shipment of bottles comes in.

Will and Blitzy- I'm glad y'all enjoy the reviews. I kind of have to use such descriptive words in order to at least attempt to convey the tastes and smells of these beers; besides, YUM GOOD BUY NOW or YUCK BAD DUMP SINK would hardly be fitting.

Today's brews are from both sides of the Atlantic. The first is Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale , an English Pale Ale from England (go figure); the second is Flying Dog's Raging Bitch Belgian-Style India Pale Ale (that's a mouthful; hopefully, they put as much effort into brewing it as they put into naming it). The last blog had Dogfish Head. Today's blog has Flying Dog; apparently, American craft brewers are captivated by canines.

First up is Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale:

Brewed by:
Black Sheep Brewery PLC
Ripon, England, United Kingdom
Style- English Pale Ale
ABV- 4.7%

Being a huge fan of Monty Python, I couldn't resist picking this one up. English Pale Ales differ from the other styles presented thus far (Belgian, American, and the Indian below) in that they are typically more bitter and earthy, yet they still retain the fruity overtones (and a bit of buttery flavor , depending on the brewer). They are somewhat similar to English Bitters, but they tend to be more hop-heavy and have slightly higher amounts of alcohol. Ostensibly, the style originated in the city of Burton-upon-Trent in the Victorian era. That city's source of hard, rich water enhanced the bitter nature of the hops. English folk enjoyed that enhanced taste, and it led to the development of the style itself. English Pale Ales are also typically darker than most other Pale Ales, being more golden and sometimes almost amber thanks to the abundance of hops. Alcohol content is generally on the lower end of the scale, between 4% to 6%.

Appearance- 3.5 out of 5. Pours light brown, gold around the edges, with a decent one-finger head. Medium lacing sticks to the sides. For something that's supposedly "tempered over burning witches", it's rather light.

Smell- 3 out of 5. Weak but pleasant. Grass, bread, and a bit of apple stand out. Slight alcoholic esters waft out of the glass as well.

Taste- 4 out of 5. Considering its low alcohol content, it holds up surprisingly well. Like the nose, the malt is rather light, as is the bitter taste of hops on the finish, but the overall effect is good. The apple from the scent is back, but stronger. Background tastes of rum, butterscotch from the diacetyl, and an aftertaste of sweet malt and moist bread crust.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. Wet and wonderful. It starts off slightly sharp, yet it's very smooth overall. The carbonation isn't noticeable.

Drinkability- 4 out of 5. I didn't expect a marketing gimmick like this to be so delicious. Considering its overall lightness and low ABV, it would be a victory for beer drinkers everywhere if Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale replaced the trashy light beers on tap around America. One could definitely make a session with this beer, as it's hard not to quaff.

Overall, a B.
It's damned good for a novelty item, and I recommend picking it up to at least try once.

Second is Flying Dog's Raging Bitch Belgian-Style India Pale Ale:

Brewed by:
Flying Dog Brewery
Frederick, Maryland, United States
Style- Belgian IPA
ABV- 8.3%

This is an American beer imitating a Belgian style of beer that imitates an Indian style of brewing a Pale Ale. Take a second to wrap your head around that while I wrap my mouth around it. The opening page on Flying Dog Brewery's website has a quote from Hunter S. Thompson saying that "Good people drink good beer", so it's safe to assume that these aren't stodgy old brewers with traditionalist views to match their imperial mustaches. That makes sense since Belgian-style IPAs are a fairly new style. They tend to be very hoppy and rather dry. Even the American versions like this one use Belgian yeast, which results in the typical Belgian fruitiness, and secondary bottle conditioning, which results in a cloudy appearance with fluffy heads that last a long time. The alcohol content tends to be on the high side, usually ranging from 7.5% to 10.5%. It is a recent style that is still in development, so it's rather to difficult to review it against any sort of iconic example; with that in mind, I'll review it based on the merits of the beer alone.

Appearance- 3.5 out of 5. Foggy but not completely cloudy like many Belgian IPAs. It pours a nice golden-orange color, like a coppery tea, with a good slow-receding head and solid, sticky lacing all down the sides of the glass. The label art is like a psychedelic nightmare, which may explain the Hunter S. Thompson quote. It looks like the Taco Bell dog after a week of PCP while reading Dante's Inferno.

Smell- 4.5 out of 5. The smell is strong and is reminiscent of citrus and pine. I can also detect a bit of spicy clove and the typically-fruity Belgian yeast. This beer uses Amarillo hops (in addition to Columbus and Warrior), but they are only faintly detectable in the scent.

Taste- 4.5 out of 5. This beer is definitely raging, but it's no bitch. It starts off with that fruity ester from the Belgian yeast, then cascades into a citrus taste, which is soon followed the bitter bite of the Warrior hops on the back of the tongue. It's not nearly as sweet as the smell would lead you to believe, and the spiciness is pleasantly potent. It is moderately acidic, and the alcohol is rather hard to detect in the wash of other flavors.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. Medium, crisp body that starts and finishes wet, unlike a lot of beers of this style. It leaves a tingly sensation on the top of the back of your throat and a bubbly sensation in your mouth from the carbonation.

Drinkability- 4 out of 5. Other beers of this style are either too acidic or too weak. Raging Bitch strikes the perfect balance. It's solid enough for the serious beer drinker yet light enough to still be enjoyed by people of more petite palettes. At 8.3% percent, it's definitely smooth enough to have a few and be happy. This is everything that the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale should have been.

Overall, an A-.

The girlfriend and I stopped by the beer store today, and there was a tasting from Magic Hat happening there, so I ended up with a Summer Sampler pack; furthermore, I picked up a few new brews to sample as well, so my fridge is currently packed with beer.

Currently in my fridge (and soon to appear in this blog):
-Magic Hat #9 (the "not-quite-pale ale")
-Magic Hat Wacko (An English Ale similar to the Monty Python Holy Grail Ale but brewed with beet sugar, so it's somewhat pink.)
-Magic Hat Blind Faith (A recently re-released English India Pale Ale. It's wonderfully hoppy.)
-Magic Hat Odd Notion (Odd Notion changes styles every couple of months; right now, it's a Belgian Golden Ale)
-Victory Imperial Stout
-Guinness Extra Stout
-Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend (A very expensive Quadrupel)
-Terrapin Gamma Ray (An 11% ABV Wheatwine-Ale. I'm looking forward to that one).
-Orval Trappist Ale
-Another beer whose name I cannot currently remember but had better be damned delicious.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 05:32:03 PM by Paradox »

Offline Lithos

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2010, 08:37:58 AM »
I have to get my hands on some of that Holy Grail Ale... anything made in something called Black Sheep Brewery must be awesome x.x

Offline auroraChloe

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2010, 09:04:24 AM »
Unsolicited Tip of The Day (#2)- If you and some friends are out drinking, and everyone orders a common, tasteless beer, don't be afraid to be different. It's mighty tempting to just follow the crowd and drink what everyone else is drinking, but if you want to really be respected as a beer drinker-- and if you want to stand out in the crowd-- order something better than a Budweiser. It may be more expensive, but it's worth it. It tastes better; it generally has a higher alcohol content; people will notice your more-refined tastes, and their inquiries may even help you convert one or two of them; either way, it often leads to conversations about your tastes, and who doesn't like free attention?

the bf started drinking different beers so his loser friends wouldn't steal from his cooler.  it's not easy to get away stealing a bottle (or can) that looks so different from the 'norm'.  he got hooked on the flavors and the obvious effects.  i like some of the stuff but not all of it.   

Offline Will

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2010, 05:13:01 PM »
I have never had a bad Flying Dog.  The Holy Grail Ale sounds interesting too, haha.

While I'm thinking about English brews, I've always loved Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout. 

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Beer Blog
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2010, 10:13:53 PM »
Beck's is one of my favorites which im currently drinking. Bass Ale is up there as well.