Belgium Comes to Cooperstown: Saturday, Part III

I'm finally getting around to posting my tasting notes for Belgium Comes to Cooperstown. This should be the last of my posts about the actual beer fest. I'll write one more post about Sunday, but that'll be about the Baseball Hall of Fame and won't mention beer at all.

The beer selection was outstanding. There were a lot of great importers in attendance. The selection at the Shelton Brothers booth alone was phenomenal. There were also a lot of good North American breweries including: Allagash, Brooklyn Brewery, Dogfish Head, and Unibroue just off the top of my head.

Just some general comments about my tasting notes: I tried to be as concise as possible to facilitate more sampling, I didn't assign numerical rankings because of the small sample sizes, and I decided to dispense with the drinkability category for the fest. I decided to eliminate drinkability because it's the hardest category to get a good feel for with a small sample of beer, and because at the Extreme Beer Fest it was the first category that my objectivity slipped on as I approached inebriation. David also took tasting notes, though I don't have those to post.

All beers were served in the 4 oz. sampling glass that was provided. They were served variously on tap and from bottles, though I didn't make a note of this when I was served, I'll note the ones I'm sure about (which may turn out to be most of them). Some breweries had some merchandise for sale at their booths. Brooklyn had bottle openers on lanyards, glassware and what appeared to be thongs. Unibroue was selling large cardboard versions of their bottle labels. I bought two when I was pretty drunk.

They were out of La Fin Du Monde

I have pictures of me with most of the beers, but I can't remember which beers are which. I'll only post a few that I'm sure of.

408. Rodenbach Grand Cru

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V.
Alcohol: 6.00%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Flanders Red Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a reddish-amber with good clarity, topped by a persistent brown/beige head.

Smell: Sweet, sour, cherries, and a sharp aroma I couldn't place.

Taste: Sour, but not overpowering, the aftertaste is sharp and tart.

Mouthfeel: Light, effervescent carbonation, finish is sour and dry.

409. Blanche De Brooklyn

I'd seen Garrett Oliver walking around the brewery building that morning when I took the tour. He was at the booth when I went by. I told him that I enjoyed his book. Perhaps I should have tried to get a picture with him.

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
Alcohol: 4.50%
Serving: Tap
Style: Witbier, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Very hazy, with a pale straw hue, the head is creamy and white, and fades to a persistent thin layer.

Smell: Fruity, bananas, pepper.

Taste: Banana fruitiness is evident, though not as strong as the aroma. The finish is spicy and peppery. Perhaps grains of paradise?

Mouthfeel: Strong carbonation, light-bodied, with a lightly dry finish.

410. Cantillon Iris

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon
Alcohol: 5.00%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Unblended Lambic, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a hazy bright golden, a thin ring of white bubbles is the only sign of a head.

Smell: Lambic sourness, funkiness emerges upon swirling. There's also a strong hoppiness, though the hop aromas themselves seem to have mellowed.

Taste: Sour lambic flavors upfront, with mellow but dominant hop flavors in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, with a dry finish.

411. Harpoon Belgian Pale Ale

The Harpoon Belgian Pale Ale was created for Belgium Comes to Cooperstown. I'd read that it was Harpoon IPA fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. I had to try this because I probably wouldn't get a chance to try it again, and because it had the potential to really showcase the differences in yeast strains. The guy at the Harpoon booth, who introduced himself as the brewery's microbiologist, said that he had pulled off a small amount of the wort from a batch of Harpoon IPA and pitched the Duvel yeast strain.

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Harpoon Brewery
Alcohol: ?
Serving: Tap
Style: Belgian Pale Ale/ American IPA

Appearance: Pours a clear golden-amber with a thick, fluffy, white head that leaves patchy lace.

Smell: Intensely fruity and floral.

Taste: Fruity upfront and through the center. The fruitiness fades into bitterness in the finish, but the bitterness is mellow compared to the IPA.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, moderate carbonation, medium-bodied with a creamy/silky feel.

412. Ommegang Bier De Mars

This is another one-off release from Ommegang, this time a Bière de Garde. I had this one right after a sample of Ommegeddon.

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
Alcohol: ?
Serving: Tap
Style: Bière de Garde, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a hazy golden amber, with a head that fades to nothing.

Smell: Tart, hoppy, with a hint of musty funkiness. I wouldn't be surprised if this beer was fermented with Brettanomyces.

Taste: Hint of citric sweetness and tartness. The finish is musty and funky with mellow hops.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied, moderate to high carbonation, with a dry finish.

413. De Ranke XX Bitter

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Brouwerij De Ranke
Alcohol: 6.20%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Belgian Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Lightly hazy yellow straw color, my pour had no head.

Smell: Aroma reminded me of the Harpoon BPA. Juicy fruity aromas, with a mellowed but strong hop presence.

Taste: Sweet fruitiness, notes of bananas, followed by mellowed but bitter hops.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium-bodied, smooth, moderate to low carbonation.

414. St. Bernardus Tripel

I'm typically a fan of St. Bernardus beers. I haven't seen this one at Downtown Wine & Spirits, so I decided to give it a try.

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Alcohol: 8.00%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Tripel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a lightly hazy golden with a thick white head.

Smell: Typical Belgian fruitiness. Bananas, yeast and light alcohol.

Taste: Fruity with nutty and buttery notes, spicy alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium-bodied, low carbonation.

415. Dogfish Head Fort

Neither of the Daves were enthusiastic about trying a raspberry beer, but I wanted to give it a try since I missed it at the Extreme Beer Fest and haven't seen it for sale in Boston.

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Alcohol: 18.00%
Style: Fruit Beer, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a beige head that leaves patchy lace.

Smell: Raspberries and alcohol.

Taste: Tart raspberries and very spicy high alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, medium to full-bodied.

416. Barrel Aged Four

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Allagash Brewing Company
Alcohol: 10.00%
Style: Quadrupel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a hazy brown with amber tints, no head on my pour.

Smell: Fruity. Notes of cherry, alcohol and vanilla.

Taste: More fruitiness in the taste, with notes of bourbon and an herbal flavor.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, medium-bodied, smooth and almost silky.

417. Palm

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Brouwerij Palm NV
Alcohol: 5.10%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Belgian Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a fluffy white head that thins to a patchy layer.

Smell: Belgian yeast fruitiness, with a bit of malt.

Taste: Toasty malts, yeast, fruit, with a light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Tingly carbonation, medium bodied.

418. Obbie's Grand Cru

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Appalachian Brewing Company
Alcohol: ?
Serving: Tap
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a very cloudy light brown with a white head.

Smell: Belgian yeast fruitiness.

Taste: Fruity upfront. The finish is spicy, with a light bitterness detectable in an otherwise sweet finish.

Mouthfeel: High carbonation that conceals most other characters, light-bodied.

419. Zinnebir

Beer Stats:

Brewery: Brouwerij Sint-Pieters
Alcohol: 5.50%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Belgian Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a very cloudy golden with a foamy head that leaves thick lace on the glass.

Smell: Light fruitiness with hints of orange.

Taste: Fruity, peppery. The finish is grainy and spicy with a hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, light-bodied and smooth.

420. The Shed Substance D

This beer was advertised as a Saison with Brett.

Beer Stats:

Brewery: The Shed Restaurant and Brewery
Alcohol: ?
Style: Saison, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a hazy light golden with a creamy bubbly white head.

Smell: A tart, hoppy Brettanomyces aroma. Funky and lightly fruity.

Taste: Citric tartness, fruitiness, mellow hop flavors with a bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation, smooth, medium-bodied.

421. The Shed Double Hoppy Illumination

Beer Stats:

Brewery: The Shed Restaurant and Brewery
Alcohol: ?
Style: Saison, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a persistent beige head.

Smell: Fruity with resiny hops.

Taste: Hoppy with a nice sweet fruity and malty notes.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy with low to medium carbonation.

In addition to the new beers I had several samples of Ommegeddon, another sample of Ommegang's Bier De Mars, Cambridge Brewing Company's Tripel Threat and some others I can't remember. There were a lot of beers that I wanted to try but wasn't able to due to a limited supply, limited time or limited sobriety.

Overall Belgium Comes to Cooperstown was an excellent beer fest. The brewery grounds during summer are an ideal place (weather permitting) for an event like this. Perhaps there could have been more seating, but maybe it wouldn't have been needed without the rain. I definitely want to go again next year, and maybe even camp out.

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