In “Other Brewery’s Brews” I will present tasting notes and/or thoughts about beers that creatively inspire me.

Fair warning to my brewer friends. Do not give me a beer to review unless you want my bald faced honest impression. I'm not going to publish it if I have a bad impression (unless you insist), but I'll tell you what I think. And I dump a good many beers that other people will finish. So full disclosure, my friend Easton, whom I have known since his first few homebrews, makes this beer. He's the pro-brewer at Iron Fist Brewing Company. Which means he should know how to make good beer and he'll get no gentleness - he asked for my honest feedback.

Appearance: Golden yellow, slightly hazy. Soft white head. Falls leaving fine lace.

Aroma: Clean and slightly sweet saltine like malt aromas. Character of savory herbs and chrysanthemum tea. Mustard and white pepper spiciness. Wulong tea sweet/fruitiness haunts the background.

Taste: Clean and restrained malt character. Bracing peppery and astringent bitterness, finishing long and dry like pomelo pith. Notes of a unifying savory herbal marker from beginning to end like Bay.

Mouthfeel: Light body begins fresh and slightly slick, moves quick to dry and spicy. Followed by a long crisply astringent finish.

Overall Impression: First let me say that Nelson Sauvin is one of my least favorite hops. It usually reminds me of French Onion Soup. So when my friend Easton - who brews this beer - told me I should try it, I warned him. He said, "I get the onion/garlic thing, but it's not in this beer."

You're right Easton, no onion soup characters at all. It's a helluva good IPA tilted "extra pale ale". On top of that, it's bottle conditioned. Clean and crisp, loaded with herbal and peppery notes, and a hop sticky astringent finish. Feels like a ridiculously simple grain bill and probably a single hop. Very well done and very easily drinkable.

In fact, I'll have another - just to confirm my high opinion.

Cheers!
=BCT=

Nelson The Impaler, Iron Fist Brewing Company
Nelson The Impaler, Iron Fist Brewing Company.
Pretty lace
Pretty lace.

 

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In “Other Brewery’s Brews” I will present tasting notes and/or thoughts about beers that creatively inspire me.

Appearance 3/5: Warm amber color. Slightly cloudy. Firm white head that lasts well.

Aroma 3.5/5: Honey and hay. Peaches and rye crackers. Forest floor moist leaf tannic. Slightly piney.

Flavor 4/5: Pilsner saltine cracker sweetness. Boozy sweetness like invert beet sugar syrup. Pepper and pine in the astringent bitterness.

Mouthfeel 4/5: Medium bodied and slippery to start. Astringency develops around the edge of the tongue, the creeps to envelop the palate. Finishes dry with a long lasting resiny sticky bitterness.

Overall Impression 4/5: This very complex beer sits strongly on a tripod of Belgian Golden Strong, aggressive Czech Pilsner, and American Double IPA. It confidently expresses the stronger characters of all three of these styles while remaining balanced on three sturdy legs – clean malts, complex DIPA style hops, and warming alcohol. The yeast characters are in the honey/fruit background and peppery mouthfeel.

Very good beer, but why “Boo!”? Maybe because it’s scary delicious?

Santé!
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Fantôme Boo!
Fantôme Boo!

 

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In "Other Brewery's Brews" I will present tasting notes and/or thoughts about beers that creatively inspire me.

Tonight I review Fantôme Saison from Brasserie Fantôme.

Appearance 3/5: Light gold with a touch of warmth. Big fluffy white head.

Aroma 4.5/5: Earth and spices. Tart apples crushed right from the tree. King trumpet mushroom umami. Sweetly floral. Damp old timbers.

Flavor 4.5/5: Malts provide a clean and slightly sweet canvas for the circus of flavors. Tartness and herbs. Throughout an earthy funk. Touched by spices. Slightly tannic like green apple skins.

Mouthfeel 3.5/5: Light and astringent to start. Crisply effervescent. Finishes dry with a lingering herbal and slightly savory quality.

Overall Impression 4.5/5: Wow! Fantastic. Clean and crisp malt canvas splashed with spice, tartness, funk, sweetness, and blossoming herbs. An extraordinary beer. The restrained tartness and earthy complexity remind me of a natural and wild Asturian Sidra from Spain.

In my dreams I would wish to collaborate on a concept and recipe, and brew a beer with Dany Prignon of Brasserie Fantôme.

Santé!
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Fantôme Saison, Brasserie Fantôme
Fantôme Saison, Brasserie Fantôme

 

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In "Other Brewery's Brews" I will present tasting notes and/or thoughts about beers that creatively inspire me.

I am drinking Ballast Point's Victory at Sea tonight - an excellent huge Porter with coffee - and thinking about Café Solo in Spain. Café Solo is very similar to espresso except some of the beans are usually café torrefacto. Sugar is added to the roasting process so the beans have a deeply caramelized glaze - like the crust on a crème brûlée. It's a wonderfully rich tiny cup of coffee with a restrained bitterness.

I think I've got a new concept for a coffee beer brewing in my head.

Ballast Point Victory at Sea
Ballast Point Victory at Sea

 

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In “Other Brewery’s Brews” I will present tasting notes and/or thoughts about beers that creatively inspire me.

Appearance 3.5/5: Crystal clear golden yellow. Nice fluffy white head that falls quickly and leaves a creamy top and nice lace.

Aroma 3.5/5: Very clean malt aromas, toasty saltine crackers, a little sweetness, and zero diacetyl (which I was fearing with a 100% pilsner malt bill). Hop characters are all herbal and floral as expected for all German hops; chamomile and chrysanthemum tea, echoes of sage and thyme.

Taste 4/5: Old world hop bittering brought to the right level to balance the Pilsen malt sweetness and residual sugars, then leave a crisp bitter aftertaste reminiscent of wormwood. Malts are sweet/slick/rich; but cleaner than most DIPAs this big. Sweetness fades pretty fast in the finish, leaving a long herbal/floral bitterness as you might expect in a bitter carminative herb digestif.

Mouthfeel 3.5/5:Medium body, slightly slick with an astringency in the finish that slowly develops as the residual sugars drop off.

Overall Impression 4.5/5: Yes I do love American craft beer, but I cut my “craft” teeth over 20 years ago before Stone existed. I had to go to specialty liquor stores and buy the best stuff being imported from Germany, the UK, Ireland, Belgium, and so forth. I even begged a business associate going to Belgium to close a deal, to bring me back a true Lambic – which he appropriately stuffed in multiple socks (clean or dirty I don’t know) to bring back in his luggage.

German hops, yes. I mean yes like “YES!”. Over the top carminative herbal and field flower floral aromas and bitterness. Perhaps the cleanest all pilsner malt fermentation I’ve tasted at this ABV level (no diacetyl is not easy to achieve all pilsner at this gravity).

Seriously good – and seriously impressive. And if you don’t get it, you need to immerse yourself in some of the best beers from the Old World for a while.

Cheers!
=BCT=

Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA
Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA

 

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In “Other Brewery’s Brews” I will present tasting notes and/or thoughts about beers that creatively inspire me.

Commentary: So I have a couple homebrewing friends who talk about Cismontane Brewing Company’s Black’s Nocturne as if they’d give their left testicle for a bottle. If they were regular bottle geeks (rare beer fans who don’t brew) I’d find it quaint, but these guys are both good brewers in their own right. That means labels don’t mean squat – it’s the beer that counts. With that in mind, I bought a bottle when I found it. It’s a barrel aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout.

Appearance 4.0: Black, impenetrable, a liquid eclipse – and not a FiftyFifty Eclipse (Nocturne is better) – in a bottle. Head like the froth on a hot chocolate, dissipates quickly, laces gently.

Aroma 4.5: Bourbon vanilla, Coca Cola syrup, cocoa liquor (pure chocolate in its liquid form), and a touch of maple. A delicate roast like an angel fell in a campfire.

Flavor 4.75: Chocolate ganache, crème brulee caramelized crust, campfire burnt marshmallows.

Mouthfeel 4.75: Full and creamy, slight astringency around the edges from roast in the long (luxurious) finish.

Overall Impression 5.00: An interesting note; my second pour from the bottle had a small pellicle. Like a brown, boogery, loogie, foamy, phlegm, floater. What did I do? I am a brewer and fermentor. I make cheese, spontaneous fermented pickles, eat “stinky” fermented tofu. I fear no floater – it’s from a barrel ferchrisakes, it happens. I found a fork, flung the floater in the sink, and finished the bottle.

So, regarding my aforementioned friends and their testicles. Left, right, whatever – I’d be tempted to trade my own for a bottle. Someone stole the chocolate left on God’s pillow after they turn down his bed, liquefied it, beerified it, bourbon barrelified it, and bottled it. I will take as many of these as you can find – please.

Cheers!
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Cismontane’s Black’s Nocturne
Cismontane’s Black’s Nocturne.

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Reposting from an old blog...

So there’s the hype about Westvleteren 12 (aka Westy 12) like; best beer in the world, hardest to get, most amazing Quad, ad nauseum.

But what about the Blonde, and Westy 8?

Westvleteren Family Photo
Westvleteren Family Photo

Now all the hype about Westy 12 is deserved to a large extent. I’ve had Westy 12 I had shipped from Belgium and cellared, also procured and shared by my good friend Scott Bennett of SNB Brewing, and from the special gift pack release to the US earlier this year.

Every time I’ve tried the 12, it’s been both remarkably good, and a little different from the previous time. The best bottle I had was shipped from Belgium, from before the XII emblazoned bottles, and I cellared it 8 months before opening. Altogether – including the months of cellaring the Monks of Saint Sixtus do before releasing – it was probably near 2 years in the bottle. Delicious, complex, rich, and smooth – there’s only one Quad I enjoy nearly as much.

But, again, what about the Blonde, and Westy 8? Scott Bennett was once again the source of my opportunity to try the Westy non-12 beers.

Belgian Blonde (aka pale) beers are a little appreciated style – overshadowed by the bigger bolder styles like the golden or dark strong, dubbel, tripel, and Quad – but really have the capacity to showcase the subtle character of the malts, yeast, and fermentation schedule of the brewer. And you have to get them right – because there’s no big punchy flavors to hide a mistake. The Westy Blonde is a perfect example of a good Belgian Blonde – beautiful golden color, wonderful floral and sweet aromas, beautifully nuanced balance of malt and yeast esters in the flavors, and both light and lightly rich on the palate. Simply and easily, the best Belgian Blonde I have ever had. Wonderful!

And Westy 8? Do you imagine you’ve had a seriously good Belgian Dubbel? Well, yes, you have imagined – unless you’ve had Westy 8. If you’ve had it, you’d know (not imagine) you’ve had a seriously good Belgian Dubbel. Warm and slightly amber color, sweetness and plumy/figgy aroma, complex and well balanced sweet/savory flavors, and slippery delicious on the palate. Like the Blond, this is the best Belgian Dubbel I’ve ever had.

Just in case the conclusion isn’t glaringly obvious, let me sum it up. If you have an opportunity to acquire and/or try any Westvleteren beer, don’t let it pass. If you have an opportunity to have all three at the same time, and don’t jump on it, you are an uber-knucklehead.

Cheers!
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