356. Trappist Westvleteren Blonde

356. Trappist Westvleteren Blonde

As mentioned in my previous post I ordered a bottle of Trappist Westvleteren Blonde, a bottle of Trappist Westvleteren 8 and a Westvleteren chalice from Belgian Shop. I let this chill briefly and served in my new Westvleteren chalice. Westvleteren Blonde is a Belgian Pale Ale. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (4.5): Pours a cloudy golden-straw color with a foamy white head that fades to a persistent thin layer. Lace clings to the glass relentlessly.

Smell (4.0): Notes of peppery spice, sweet fruitiness, light earthy yeast and maltiness.

Taste (4.0): Lightly sweet and fruity notes appear up front. These fade into drier toasty malts in the center. Finished with a tart spiciness and warmth, with a pronounced but balanced firm bitterness.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Mildly carbonated, smooth, medium bodied with a dry finish.

Drinkability (5.0): Probably one of the most drinkable beers that I've had. It's refreshing and crisp with flavors that don't overpower.

Overall (4.25): If this beer wasn't so hard to get I could see myself drinking it fairly regularly.

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Beer Delivery!

About a month ago I found out about Belgian Shop, an online shop specializing in Belgian products. They sell beer from all Trappist breweries, including Brouwerij Westvleteren, the brewery associated with the Abbey of Saint Sixtus. The Westvleteren beers are the hardest Trappist beers to obtain since they are only sold at the Abbey. Individual buyers must promise not to resell the beer. It seems that Belgian Shop violates this agreement and these beers are grey market.

Westvleteren produces three beers: Trappist Westvleteren Blonde (Green Cap), Trappist Westvleteren 8 (Blue Cap) and Trappist Westvleteren 12 (Yellow Cap). Of the three, 12 is the hardest to obtain. This is reflected by the fact that Belgian Shop was out of stock when I ordered, and has been every time I've checked since.

I ordered a bottle of Blonde, a bottle of 8 and a Westvleteren chalice on March 25th. They arrived today. I'm looking forward to giving them a try.

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Pierre Celis Returning to Texas

Travis Poling at the San Antonio Express-News reports on his Brew Notes Blog that Pierre Celis will be returning to Texas to brew at Real Ale Brewing. Great news for Texas brewing and for Real Ale.

For those of you unfamiliar, Celis revived the Witbier style in the 1960s with Hoegaarden. In the 1990s he moved to Austin Texas and began brewing beer under the Celis name. The Celis Brewery in Austin was fully acquired by Miller in 2000, and was promptly closed. Michigan Brewing Company bought the rights to the name and produces several "Celis" beers.

Real Ale makes some great beers. Whenever I'm back in Texas I try to have a pint or two of Fireman's #4 or Full Moon Pale Rye Ale. If I'm really lucky their Shade Grown Coffee Porter is in season.


355. Unibroue 15

355. Unibroue 15

It's been awhile since my last update. I've been busy in lab attaching radioactive phosphate groups to Histone H1, and thus haven't had as much time for beer. I picked up two 750 mL bottles of Unibroue 15 at Downtown Wine and Spirits a couple weeks ago. I decided to have one tonight and save the other for cellaring. I should pick up another bottle or two of Edition 2005, so I can do a vertical tasting that includes 11, Editions 2004 & 2005 and 15. I let this warm up to around 45ºF and served in one of my Duvel Tulips. Unibroue 15 is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (5.0): The pressure inside the bottle shot the cork across my room. Pours a hazy amber-golden, with a thick fluffy head, and large champagne-like bubbles that stream from the etching at the bottom of my tulip. Good head retention, with patchy lace clinging to the side of the glass. The head eventually fades to a thin layer, but reemerges readily upon swirling.

Smell (4.5): Upon opening and pouring I noticed a strong earthy yeasty smell. In the nose there's a light sweetness, an orange-cream aroma, bananas, peppery spice, and a light graininess.

Taste (4.5): When the carbonation dies down sweet malts are evident upfront. These are eclipsed by a citric tartness that becomes evident in the center. I also get fruity notes of sour apple and banana. Finishes with a nice bitterness, with notes of spice and alcoholic warmth.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Vigorous carbonation, medium-bodied, smooth, with a slightly oily feel. The finish is mildly dry.

Drinkability (4.5): Despite being 10% alcohol by volume, this beer is delicious and easy to drink. I'll have to go back to DW&S and buy them out of this one.

Overall (4.6): A great example of the style. It's hard to compare to the other beers in this series since I haven't had them in so long, but overall very enjoyable.

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354. Rogue Chipotle Ale

354. Rogue Chipotle Ale

I picked up a bottle of Rogue Chipotle Ale at Downtown Wine & Spirits a month or so ago. In the meantime Ward asked me about Chile Beers, and at his request I FedExed three bottles to him. I let this warm slightly and served it in my San Francisco Brewing Company pint glass.

This is a Chile Beer. The style can be fairly broad, but the common theme is the use of some form of hot pepper for spicing. The underlying beer can vary significantly, as can the type of pepper used.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a lightly hazy red-orange with a beige head that dissipates to a persistent ring. Fizzy carbonation sounds almost soda-like.

Smell (3.0): Some very light sweet malts, maybe caramel or toffee. I'm not really sure because the light smokiness masks them. Overall the aromas were fairly subtle. I was expecting more spiciness or smokiness.

Taste (3.5): There's a nice underlying beer here. A solid sweet and bready malt backbone runs throughout, with bitter hops that provide a nice balance. The smokiness comes through in the center and lingers into the finish. The smokiness becomes more evident as the beer warms. The spiciness isn't really something you taste; rather it builds and becomes more evident as you drink.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Light to moderate carbonation. Light-bodied and a bit thin. Spicy heat warms the throat.

Drinkability (3.0): The smokiness of this beer is too much.

Overall (3.45): I liked this beer better than the Jalapeño Sunsplash that I had at the Extreme Beer Fest. The base beer was nicer, though in the end the smokiness was too much, and the spiciness could have been raised.

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353. L' Amour Du Jour

353. L' Amour Du Jour

I had this on tap at Cabridge Brewing Company on Saturday. The chalkboard behind the bar described this as "Biere Artisanal", and listed the alcohol content as 4.85%. It was served in a glass most similar to a wine glass. L' Amour Du Jour is a Belgian Pale Ale. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (3.5): Poured a hazy golden with a very thin head.

Smell (4.0): Very earthy, herbal and spicy. I caught a peppery spiciness, a honey sweetness, and an herbal aroma that I couldn't place. David suggested this was rosemary.

Taste (4.0): Predominantly herbal and peppery up front. The finish is grainy with a tartness that might have been citrusy (David insists it wasn't citrus).

Mouthfeel (3.5): Moderate to high carbonation comes in fairly late. Light-bodied with a slight oiliness.

Drinkability (4.0): The herbal flavors and peppery spice might be too much for some, but I found this beer to be tasty and refreshing.

Overall (3.85): A pretty good beer. The herbal flavors threw me a bit. I'd like to know what, if anything, the beer was spiced with.

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352. Aventinus

352. Aventinus

I purchased a 500 mL bottle at Downtown Wine & Spirits, partly due to things I've heard/read, partly because of the cool paper wrapper. Accordind to the label this bottle was brewed in 2001. I let this warm to around 45º F and served in my UFO Weizen glass.

This is a Wheat-Dopplebock, or a Weizenbock. These beers are stronger versions of Dunkel Weizens. They have many of the characteristics of Hefe Weizens with darker malt characteristics. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a hazy brown with thick beige head that thins at a moderate pace and eventually disappears completely. Large chucks of yeast settle at the bottom.

Smell (4.5): I detect a malty, caramel sweetness, with notes of dark fruit (raisins, upon thinking back). I get very light banana, something I could have missed had I not been looking for it, and light alcohol.

Taste (4.5): I get spicy clove flavors upfront, as well as fruity and caramel flavors in the center. The finish is lightly bitter, with warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel (5.0): This beer is moderately carbonated, and pleasantly tingly. It's medium-bodied and silky smooth.

Drinkability (4.5): Delicious, and easy to drink. Much more so than I expected based on the rich malt flavors.

Overall (4.4): I liked this beer a lot. It combined some of the characters that I like in Hefe Weizens with nice rich malt flavors.

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351. De Dolle Ara Bier

351. De Dolle Ara Bier

I picked this up at Downtown Wine & Spirits. It came in an 11.2 oz. brown bottle with a picture of a yellow bird holding a glass of beer. I let it warm and served it in a Duvel tulip.

This is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Belgian Strong Pale Ales are typically high in alcohol, with fruity and spicy notes. This is one of my favorite styles. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (3.5): Pours a cloudy brownish amber, that borders on golden. A massive beige head tops the beer. The head sticks around well into the beer and leaves good lacing. A bit darker than I expected and a little too cloudy.

Smell (4.0): Nutty and sour apple aromas dominate, with a light yeastiness evident. As the beer warms the aroma really opens up.

Taste (4.0): Lightly sweet upfront with spicy, fruity and nutty flavors emerging in the center. The spiciness mellows as the beer warms. The finish is lightly bitter, with warming alcohol. The bitterness lingers quite a while and reminds me citrus zest. I initially had this as a 3.5, but once the beer warms and some of the carbonation dissipates the beer really improves.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Tingly carbonation seems to mask some of the better aspects of this beer. It's light bodied and smooth.

Drinkability (3.5): Drinkable enough, high alcohol makes it dangerous (especially on an empty stomach).

Overall (3.8): This is a decent Belgian Strong Pale Ale, not one of my favorites though.

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