Saturday, 1 February 2014

TASTING NOTES: Founders Breakfast Stout

A legend in its own right, Founders Breakfast Stout uses a host of interesting malts to create a rich, big, full-bodied stout. Served slightly chilled.

This 8.3% imperial pours with the predictably opaque deep brown body. No light penetration and fairly viscous - although nothing like the unctuous chewy molasses of some of the bigger brews.

Tan head with a mixture of bubble sizes. Snake-like lacing up and down the inside of the glass.

A monster of dry cocoa on the nose - genuinely dry and smokey. Tobacco, tar, heaps of freshly brewed strong coffee. Crisp, charcoal fire, Turkish delight.

Initial whack of bitter coffee and dark, dry, cocoa powder. Fairly robust carbonation giving the style and strength of the brew. Lingering American hops, espresso bitterness, some purple violets and a touch of sweetness over the lasting bitterness.

Delicious and complicated - as seems to be the consensus here. Not as sweet as some of the 8%+ brews, but balanced, deep and rich all the same.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

TASTING NOTES: Founders Backwoods Bastard

From the creators of the industry and tasting standard IPA, Centennial, comes Backwoods Bastard.

A big, ballsy Scotch ale, with a 10.2% abv to match.

It pours with a reassuringly deep, rich amber, come mahogany hue with shades of maroon teasing where the brew meets the glass. Short a dense nicotine stained off-white head. Two or three millimetres with faint lacing clinging to the side of the glass.

Whether this is a Scotch ale or not is up for debate. The nose has all the characteristics of a malty traditional English barleywine. Prunes, dates and a waft of stinky cheese. Sticky toffee pudding, wave of thick esters and touch of plastic and resin. Slightly soapy.

An instant of dry dark cocoa powder, making up the initial fleeting seconds on the palate. Sweet, syrupy, molasses and honey - all backed up with heaps of dark Belgian-esque dried fruit, seeped in brandy. Esters and acetone. A touch of floury powder on the finish along with a a touch of booze - although very slight.

A lovely wintry, full-flavoured big ale. Served off room temperature as it warms the flavours and aromas develop further. A tasty drop.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

De la Senne Black in Japan


Another local Brussels brew in addition to the tranche of rarities I managed to smuggle back post EU economic forecast. I'll keep this one brief.

This lively little brew pours with a truly rich, deep, dark mahogany body - little penetration so in low light appears black, a black IPA nonetheless.

On the nose this inverted commas IPA is full of molasses and a touch of wet leather, alongside some traditional Belgian yeast character and a some citric hop notes.

Taste is a combination of a thick spattering of bittering hops, chalky texture and some lingering roasted malt alongside acetone and estery sugars.

The end leaves a bitterness akin to something typically modern and English in the IPA vain - twitchy and sticky lingering hop notes along with toast, roasted malts and a dry, slightly tannic character.

Worth a peak - Flavoursome porter meets hops in a slightly confuddled but nonetheless tasty mess.

Zuider Bierke - TASTING NOTES

8.2%, Belgian Dubbel/dark ale

Following yet another recent excursion to the flat country for business and financial journalistic purposes, the trip - on the few hours of free time - led me to Beer Planet once again to stock up on a few brews for the travel home.

Aside from the raft of rare De Struise beers I tend to weigh my luggage down with, a few randomly selected Belgians made their way into my luggage.

On the nose this subtle little dark ale has a less than subtle nose - initially I thought I was dealing with a rich and acerbic oud bruin - as the slightly hazy maroon body and off white head would lead you to believe.

Nose? Sticky background dark sugars backed up by candied sugar and a a sharp sherbet and acid backbone. Sour grapes and a hint of acetone, dark fruit and 'astrobelts'.

The palete much less complex, however. Surprisingly thin body but a beer of this heft with dry, yeasty dark fruit and a touch of sweetness - but brief on the tongue. Once the carbonation mellows, some slight buttery diacetyl, a touch vegetal.

Lasting dry and lingering blandness on the palete - little dull and lifeless.

A suitably drinkable dark ale, a worthy addition to anyone's 20kg check-in weight limit, but not worth jumping back on Aer Lingus for an immediate return.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Belgian Rare Beer Series - TASTING NOTES - Stille Nacht

De Dolle have mad me happy in so many ways. When travelling to the chocolate and beer laden flatlands I've had the pleasure of tasting practically all of this superb brewer's flock. Back in days of old I had the pleasure of tasting the De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva 2004. A fantastically rich, subtle and a cheeky 13% of sharp cherry drinkability.

This may be a reasonably short little tasting note but that does not simplify or belittle the rich dried fruit, alcohol laden booze fest that is Stille Nacht.

Pouring with a lighten hue than the atypical strong dark this little brew embodies a dark, rich almost syrupy tangerine body with a little touch of yeasty haze.

The nose is rich as expected. Lots and lots of silky alcohol laden estery sugars and a cacophony of dried fruit and ripe banana. Slightly smoky, lots of rich yeast and a little slight touch of buttery diacetyl on the finish.

As expected the body is rich and sticky. Taste is sweet, syrupy and superbly dry and rich. An oodle of the expected spicy fruit, dates as well as a healthy serving of home made bread and butter pudding.

Delicious as is the case with every other De Dolle brew. A little lighter and perhaps heading towards a rich Belgian barleywine over a dark ale, but drinkable for the strength and ultimately worth more than a little sip.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Belgian Rare Beer Series - TASTING NOTES - Drie Fonteinen Doesjel

Bottled 2006

I've found over the last few years drinking some of the finest hopped and malted beverages that it is possible and in fact easy to introduce a non beer-drinker to the ways of the Belgian. It's hard for anyone, regardless of how confusingly inept their palette may be to refuse a superbly rich dark ale. Boozy soaked raisins, a waft of spice and overly ripe banana all topped of with a whack of yeast and a warming finish of alcohol.

That being said introducing someone to a lambic or any true spontaneously fermented ale is a little like trying to get a child to stop drinking orange juice for breakfast and choose bleach instead.

In my opinion however once you get past the initial palette shocker of tartness and sharp citric character and delve deeper into the reams of levels and variances you are in for a treat, and will ever be a proponent of the ever so funky, Gueuze.

This was the final bottle to make my rather carefully selected case to bring back with me from my recent trip to Bruges. I bought this corked 375ml from The Bottle Shop, one of the better beer selections in the tourist riddled town however also unfortunately one of the pricier.

Short and sweet, Drie Fonteinen is perhaps my favourite lambic brewer. While I was in Bruges I sampled lots of gueuzes, comparing and contrasting all of the big names including Cantillon and Oud Beersel - it still reigns supreme.

The difference with Doesjel however is the sharp , champagne like carbonation has gone and what we're left with is a flat version of a normally lively little ale.

Smell and aroma is of course typically tart and pungent. Dry and dusty permeated by lots of fresh grapefruit and lemon along with metallic notes, iron rich and musty.

Taste, next to no fizz whatsoever means the flavours come through perhaps more sharply and subtly as is normal. Light on the palette with hoards of almost fermented lemon juice, barnyard funk with a very very slight hint of honey sweetness and a lingering touch of warming booze on the finish.

A different way to look at the style. Interesting and worth a tipple but certainly not on par with their standard and vintage oude gueuze.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Rare... well Belgian Beer Series - Reinaert Grand Cru

Text ColourReinaert Grand Cru, De Proefbrouwerij - 9.5%, Belgian Dark Ale

Ah there isn't anything better than a fantastic beer memory. A beer can tell a thousand pictures it's been said by myself, I opted for this little dark ale on my recent Bruges trip completely unaware of what was coming (to be perfectly honest it's a rarity even with the bar's fantastic ranges)

It was day one, De Dolle Oerbier as a starter along with a rich meaty platter in Ca
mbrinus it was time for something beefy and a little different. My palette had also been knocked into touch both flavour and quenched by the utterly divine Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze (in my opinion the daddy of all Flemish lambics)

The glass came, slightly chilled with a touch of haze and a dribble of yeast. I decided, among the ultra-rare Elliot Brew, Black Damnation and Embrasse Oak Aged I managed to sneak in this little beauty.

It pours with a dirty amber body, tinged with hints of marron and cloudy by a hint of yeast and a little bit chill haze. The head is off white, dense and fluffy, just the sort of thing you'd like to top off your rich Belgian wonder.

An atypical fresh, aromatic Belgian yeast character. Sweet, lemony and a touch of almost pancake like floury
character. Whiffs of brandy soaked raisins, not overly aggressive on the dried fruit front but a hint of overly ripe banana and peach too.

Warming, rich Christmas pudding soaked in a light Belgian ale (if that makes any sense) A little touch of sweet almost acidic alcohol through but very slight given the Belgian-esque abv. Lots of sweet fruit, rich candied apples and a hint of hop. There's something unmistakably characteristic of the dark style but with a lighter finish and a touch of grace and drinkability about it. Think Achel meets Chimay Tripel, the clash of the abbey. That could potentially make a reality television show with the same number of viewers as those who collect grains of sand.

A bit of an unknown in the grand scheme of things but certainly worth looking out for home or away. Delicate, balanced and obscenely drinkable for a beer of this strength.