Browse Tag


Maredsous, single Sue

[label]Maredsous “8” Dubbel Abbey Ale (Belgium) – Strident and disappointing, with spiced apple winding up for a big pitch, and then simply falling flat on its face. An alcohol-delivery mechanism (and a lot of it), but little more. (1/08)

Have you any wool?

[beer]Black Sheep Ale (England) – Stiff but sophisticated, showing burnished hops and a amber-waves-of-grain character. Very good, if exactly the life of the party. (12/07)

Black Sheep “Riggwelter” Yorkshire Ale (England) – A little less restrained than its basic ale counterpart, with a somewhat more exuberant suggestion of spice and stone…though it eventually gets around to a certain embarrassment at its outburst, and retreats to a more refined comfort zone. Beer that wears a suit, but can still be enticed to tell the occasional off-color joke. (12/07)

Peter principle

[bottle]St. Peter’s Winter Ale (England) – Bitter, strong, and yet somehow watery, with a tremendous amount of classicism and intensity undone by a fundamental lack of conviction. Every sip is the same: “I really like this…oh, wait…no, I’m not sure,” so I guess the key is just to keep drinking it, without pause. (12/07)

Chouffe off

[rotating chouffes]La Chouffe Golden Ale (Belgium) – Classic Belgian spice, wheat and old golden apples, with a powdery undercurrent and a fine, aggressive finish. Terrific. (12/07)

La Chouffe “Mc Chouffe” Brown Ale (Belgium) – Bronzed wheat, spice, froth and texture with a bitter, coffee-like sheen…not too much, though. However, the finish is a little bit on the watery side. (12/07)

La Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel “Houblan” (Belgium) – Intense and heavy creamed spice, molten iron, and caramelized apple. Very dense, but despite all that weight it finishes slightly short. Still quite good, nonetheless. (12/07)

Schell game

[beer]Schell Brewery (Minnesota) – I tasted, albeit somewhat uncritically, a mixed six-pack of brews from this New Ulm brewery. The class of the lot is the FireBrick, with its suggestions of reddish sweetness, some wintry spice, and fine balance. Otherwise, I find the beers to lack definition…it’s possible to tell them apart, certainly, but the differences don’t leap forth from the glass. Of the rest of the lineup, the Pilsner is probably the best and most complete, though this is far from my favorite style. I have more expectations for the Caramel Bock than it can satisfy, and the Octoberfest and Zommerfest are barely distinguishable, which seems a shame…both are good, but there’s just not the difference one wants. As for the Pale Ale, it’s fine, but I’m rarely enthralled by this style either. I’m just too much of a Belgian-style proponent, I guess. (11/07)

TN: Grim & brown

[logo]Grimbergen “Optimo Bruno” (Belgium) – Dark, roasted and heavily spiced, with an espresso cream backbone that almost edges towards root beer. Brewed and blackened complexity. (5/07)

TN: Ale, ale, the gang’s all here

[label]de Block “Satan” Red Ale (Belgium) – Deep brick-dried spice, fresh clay, a pleasant layer of hoppy dryness, and the memory of red cherries and apple seed. A complete, sophisticated brew. Delicious. (5/07)

de Block “Special Block 6” Blonde Ale (Belgium) – Spicy/fruity and suggestive of fat, but the actual experience is lively and fun. Perhaps even a bit goofy. This brew shouldn’t be over-intellectualized, but it should most definitely be enjoyed. (5/07)

de Block “Dendermonde” Abbey Ale (Belgium) – Weighty and cream-textured, with spice and lees dominating, yet surprisingly light on the finish. Balanced and fresh, which is not necessarily typical for an abbey ale. I’m not even sure it’s desirable, to be honest, but it’s a good beer, no matter what. (5/07)

Port “Lost & Found” Abbey Ale “The Lost Abbey” (California) – Sprightly for an abbey, but with all the spicy/leesy complexity one would want, here dominated by banana skins and strong yeastiness. It’s just the faintest bit watery, especially on the finish, but otherwise a very solid exemplar of the style. (5/07)

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly (Québec) – This is the worst example of this I’ve ever tasted…thin, insufficiently aromatic, and insufficiently interesting. Maybe it’s corked, though I don’t get the telltale aroma. (5/07)

Chimay “Première” Ale (Belgium) – Solid and dependable, but getting a bit boring, with frothy background to a featureless foreground. There’s spice, there’s texture, there’s weight, but – as the beer-swilling kids say – there’s not a lot of “there” there. What’s going on with this stuff? Or is it just impossible to rely on the lower-tier bottlings? (5/07)

TN: Drunk Monk

[bottle & glass]North Coast Brewing “Brother Thelonious” Abbey Ale (California) – Strong and insistent, with caramelized apples and nuts, but the insistence eventually becomes harassment, and then everything just leaves. Someone forgot to finish this. (4/07)

TN: Harold & Maudite

[label]Unibroue “Maudite” (Québec) – Dark, raisined and slightly smoky, with good weight and balance, plus a peppery complexity and a long, smooth finish. (4/07)

TN: Beer me

[bottle]Avery “The Reverend” Belgian-Style Quadrupel Ale (Colorado) – This is outstanding. Weight and intensity married, with enough thick, bracing, spiced stone fruit to carry the alcohol. It’s a powerful brew, but it’s complete and polished in every respect…a terrific exemplar of the style, and most likely the best I’ve ever had from a domestic brewery. (3/07)

Avery “Hog Heaven” Barleywine-Style Ale (Colorado) – Dark, thick and Scotch-like, with toasted old wood, French press coffee, baked plum and cherry stems leading to a malty, but round and mouth-filling finish. Nicely executed, and very polished. (3/07)

Rock Art “Ridge Runner” Barley Wine Ale (Vermont) – The aroma keeps sending me back to the label to make sure this isn’t a lager. Strange. There’s palate-deadening weight, bringing with it dried espresso residue and an old maple-syrup wash, but everything’s a bit hollow. (3/07)

d’Achouffe “La Chouffe” Belgian Golden Ale with Spices (Belgium) – Light in every respect, as if pushed through a filter, except one: the alcohol, which sticks out to an unpleasant degree. There needs to be more intensity if it’s going to carry that much burn. (3/07)

Dupont “Foret” Organic Saison Ale (Belgium) – Bright and summery, showing a good weight and pleasantly abrading hops. It finishes a little flat, though, like stale pre-ground white pepper. (3/07)

Le Baladin “Wayan” Saison Style Ale with Spices (Italy) – Hoppy and crisp, with unintegrated spice notes and a firm, monotone core that feels more like a Trappist than a saison. Despite being a little odd, it’s reasonably tasty. (3/07)