Monday, December 31, 2012

Brasserie Cantillon - Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio (2012)

Purchased From: Brasserie Cantillon, Brussels, Belgium
Serving Type: 750ml bottle, corked and capped, poured into a Champagne flute

Happy New Year 2013! In celebration I'm posting my review of the true Champagne of Beers, Gueuze, and specifically, the world-class Gueuze from Cantillon.

The signature beer from Cantillon, their Gueuze, pours a medium-straw body with a honey golden glow. A small stream of bubbles rise gently in the glass for the entire life of the beer. The natural carbonation from bottle refermentation creates a smallish off-white head of foam. After a short period of head retention, a thin layer of foam remains. No substantial lacing forms while drinking this Lambic beer.

This Gueuze's nose is supremely funky. The leading sour edge features heaps of grapes and tight tartness. Light barnyard aromatics bring in hints of earthiness and turf. A sweetness couples with dusty cellar aromas that show off both the aged Lambic and the young Lambic involved in this artisinal blend. A light metallic sheen hits on the end and a mineral water hardness rounds out the nose.

Cheek-pinching sourness enteres up front, but it does not overwhelm the palate. As the beer hits the back of the tongue it delivers a funky sour punch. Light grapes and moderate fruitiness are featured prominently on the mid-palate. Dry sweetness with a light sugary edge are pervasive, but the beer's seche character dominates. The tart, highly carbonated beer is reminiscent of a Champagne and delivers a refreshing balance that at once seems to quench thirst, but leaves the mouth dry, inviting another sip. This beer exudes both subtlty and refinement and bold outstanding flavor. A true craft worthy of highest praise.

Final Verdict: A

Friday, December 28, 2012

Brouwerij The Musketeers - Troubadour Obscura Mild Stout

Purchased From: Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a mug

Obscura, dubbed a mild stout, pours a lightly hazy, but seemingly opaque mahogany body with a lightly milky appearance. Streaks and flakes of yeast dance throughout the glass and speckle the large, creamy, tan head. The retention is excellent and layered swathes of lace adorn the glass. A mild cellary funk greets the nose, but subsides to sweet aromatics. Mild candy, plums, and a surprising fruitiness define the nose. Almost no real smoke or coffee aromas are to be found.

Sweet winter fruits meet the palate up front and sail in on a smooth, almost creamy mouthfeel, but a crisp carbonation breaks it up. Chocolaty toasted malts come through in the middle. The cocoa seems semi-sweet, not bitter, and there's almost no smokiness at all. The finish is almost winey with a mild Port character, a touch of earthiness, and the faintest hint of smoke in the aftertaste.

I'm not exactly sure what a 'mild stout' is, and I'm not sure how this beer really fits into the description of a stout, but it is a great beer and well worth trying!

Final Verdict: A-

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Brouwerij Sint Bernardus Watou - St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

Purchased From: Bierkraft
Serving Type: 750 ml bottle, corked and caged, poured into a wine glass

Yesterday I posted a Christmas review of Fantôme de Noël for the holiday. I was happy to realize I had the beer to drink because I thought I had lost my review of the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. Today I found my notes for the review and instead of waiting a year and reusing it in celebreation of Christmas 2013, I'm adding a second bonus Christmas beer.

This holiday special from Brouwerij Sint Bernardus in Watou Beligum pours a deep chestnut body with a mild amber glow that shines in light. The beer's foam produces a medium-sized light tan head that musters modest retention and leaves thin wisps of lace on the glass. Sweet candy adorns the nose, buttressed by spicy undertones of nutmeg and allspice. The beer seems very sweet with a light hint of astringency.

There's an interesting component of sweet leatheriness up front. The beer is initially smooth and slick but strong carbonation tumbles in on the mid-palate. Sweet and slightly sugary, the beer features figs and a mild touch of raisin. The dark fruits, light mustiness, and sugar give this Winter beer an edge like a Port wine. Carbonation dances on the tongue and evaporates the candied fruit leaving darker toffee notes and a full bodied creamy mouthfeel. Sweet breadiness and caramelized sugars define the finish that leaves a warming chest heat, perfect for cold Winter relaxing.

Final Verdict: A

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Brasserie Fantôme - Fantôme de Noël

Purchased From: Bierkraft
Serving Type: 750ml bottle, corked and capped, poured into a snifter

To celebrate Christmas and Winter Seasonal beer this year I enjoyed a bottle of Fantôme de Noël from Brasserie Frantôme in Soy, Belgium. Unfortunately I do not know the year on this bottle. It is at least from 2011, brewed ahead of last Christmas, but it could possibly be older. The drink by dates on the label were not notched.

Fantôme de Noël pours a medium auburn body with a lightly reddish undertone. The body is very hazy with both fine yeast suspension and large pieces of sediment floating idly. The light tan foamy head is fairly small from a moderately vigorous pour. Mild retention leaves nearly absent lacing. The nose is spicy with a huge candied sugar aroma. Dusty and lightly boozy the beer is reminiscent of the cellar with a dash of apple cider and wafting Belgian yeast.

Light Belgian ale on the foretaste introduces the distinctive earthiness of the underlying saison. A tiny hint of sourness sneaks in on the mid-palate with a well received Belgian funk. The earthiness becomes an undertone that carries pronounced cinnamon and the resurgence of apple cider. A hint of woodiness leads into the mildly bitter finish that leaves a warming heat on the Chest, perfect for sipping by a Christmas tree on a cold Winter night.

Final Verdict: A-

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hof ten Dormaal - Amber

Purchased From:
Serving Type: 12.7 oz. bottle, corked and caged, poured into a plastic cup

This amber saison from Hof ten Dormaal has a clouded unfiltered amber hue with a brilliant inner glow. Rapidly rising carbonation fuels the huge yellowed-tan head which features distinctive and chunky peaks and valleys of foam. The beer's head features superb retention and leaves massive swathes of lace behind. The nose is malty with a minor lagery aroma and a sweet honey-like character. The nose is vaguely like a German bock, or perhaps more closely, a mäibock.

The body features prominently complex earthy tones and a broken down graininess that brings the character of this amber saison more in line with the flavor profile of a Belgium dubbel. Caramel and a dank woodiness hold up the lower end of flavors, which are matched by the sweetness of dark fruits like figs and dates. Spiciness comes in late with a minor dustiness. The beer doesn't seem much like a saison, but it is delicious.

Final Verdict: B+

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hof ten Dormaal - Blond

Serving Type: 12.7 oz. bottle, corked and caged, poured into a plastic cup

This blonde saison ale from Belgium-based Hof ten Dormaal pours a hazy unfiltered yellowy amber body with a straw-colored inner glow. The large head is a thick yellowed foam with sticky consistency that slowly fades leaving stiff standing peaks and deep craters. The had leaves thick chunky lacing. The nose is spicy and almost lightly meaty with moderate earthy barnyard twang. Minor cellar notes and a slight dustiness lead to a vague lagery aroma of clean malts.

The beer seems incredibly spicy on the front end and almost hints of a smoked or cured meat, with a lean toward prosciutto. Massive malt notes enter in on the mid-palate and line up a profile that is at once sweet and powdery dry. A dash of ginger accents a moderate grassiness on the bank end. The carbonation is pointed from the mid-palate through until the end. The finish is dry, lightly earthy and organic, with a persistent freshness.

Final Verdict: B+

Monday, December 10, 2012

Smuttynose Brewing Company - Smuttynose Winter Ale

Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a plastic cup

This Winter seasonal from New Hampshire-based Smuttynose pours a rich mahogany body with a tawny, warming glow. The moderately-sized tan head is made of a frothy foam and features medium retention and solid lacing. Chocolately aroma matches earthy hops and a very mild smoke. Moderate spiciness rounds out the nose and builds further on the Wintery theme.

The beer is spicy up front with velvety carbonation. Roasted malts are impressive and despite the carbonation the beer seems silky smooth. Earthy and nicely smoky, the beer is no smoke bomb, but satisfyingly complex. The finish is dry and layered with dark flavors and a lingering smoke and light sweetness.

Final Verdict: B+

Monday, December 3, 2012

Magic Hat Brewing Company - Circus Boy - The Hefeweizen

Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle, poured into a plastic cup

This wheat ale from Magic Hat pours a hazy, unfiltered yellowy-orange body. A thin white head of slick foam adorns the top of the beer. The nose is extremely feint and almost lagery. Wheat malts are not overly apparent and only a hint of minor banana phenols can be detected.

The beer is very lagery up front with a crisp, biting carbonation. Wheat malts come through fairly spicy on the mid-palate and drop definite banana flavors. The beer is very sweet with almost no hops perceptible. Spice seems to add the only contrast to the highly sweet malt base. The finish is feint with a light grassiness, mild spice, and a lingering sweetness.

Final Verdict: C+