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 them..it'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
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
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
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.