Prague Daily Monitor: Czech Beer: Extra Speciál

There's an article in the Prague Daily Monitor about a Czech beer style called Speciál, which I hadn't heard of before.
Although speciál is just a single term, it actually signifies a vast category that includes a variety of golden, half-dark and dark beers of various strengths. According to Czech regulations, anything brewed with a percentage of initial sugar greater than 13 — denoted 13° — is considered a speciál.
It's an interesting read, and definitely something to keep in mind for the trip to the Czech Republic that my friends and I have been talking about taking.


I'm not dead...

...just really busy. I have an Extreme Beer Fest post that I hope to get up sometime over the weekend. Other than the fest I haven't been having many new beers since I'm busy with lab and TAing.

610. Chocolate Thunder Porter

610. Chocolate Thunder Porter

I had a pint of this with dinner at Grendel's Den in Harvard Square on Tuesday night. It was served in a standard pint glass.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Watch City Brewing Co.
Alcohol: 6.10%
Serving: Tap, 16 oz.
Style: Baltic Porter, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (3.5): Pours a dark brown with ruby tints. The head is a thin, wispy brown film.

Smell (3.5): Chocolate, roasted coffee, light fruitiness and a hint of sourness.

Taste (4.0): Mildly sweet upfront with a bit of sourness that reminds me of extra-dark chocolate (Scharffen Berger 82% Cacao) coming through in the center, followed by a mild roasted bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Light to medium-bodied with high carbonation.

Drinkability (4.0): Very tasty, and light enough to have a few.

Overall (3.85)

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609. Southern Tier IPA

609. Southern Tier IPA

This is the last of the three beers in the Southern Tier mixed six-pack that I picked up a few weeks ago. I let this warm to around 40º F and served it in my Harpoon IPA glass.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Alcohol: 6.50%
Serving: Bottle, 12 oz.
Style: American IPA, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): This is the best aspect of this beer. It pours a lightly hazy amber-copper with a thick, sudsy head that fades to a bubbly layer leaving lace coating the inside of the glass.

Smell (4.0): Upon opening the bottle I noticed a strong caramel maltiness, but once poured into the glass hops dominate. They're floral, herbal and lightly citric with a sweet underlying raw maltiness.

Taste (3.0): Sweet caramel malts upfront, toasty through the center with a lightly peppery finish with a light bitterness that grows in intensity in the aftertaste. The flavors are nice, but the hoppiness could be stronger and integrated into the beer better.

Mouthfeel (2.0): Light-bodied and watery with low-carbonation. Higher carbonation would have helped prevent the beer from feeling thin and watery.

Drinkability (3.0): Pretty easy to drink, but needs more body and integrated flavor.

Overall (3.3): An okay IPA. Nice flavors, but watery and a little dull.

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608. Oude Beersel Framboise

608. Oude Beersel Framboise

I purchased this at Downtown Wine & Spirits on Wednesday, and had it the same night. It was served at around 45º F in my New Belgium glass.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Oud Beersel
Alcohol: 6.00%
Serving: Bottle, 375 mL
Style: Fruit Lambic, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a slightly hazy burgundy with a thick, pinkish head that fades to a sparse ring.

Smell (3.5): Upon standing sweet raspberries are dominant with a noticeable, but light funkiness in the background. Swirling brings out a nice sharp acidic aroma and accentuates the musty funkiness.

Taste (3.5): Sweet raspberries greet the palate and remain present throughout. A mild acidic sourness appears in the center and remains through to the finish, becoming more pronounced as the beer warms. The sweet raspberry flavors move towards tartness in the finish. The grassy and medicinal funkiness is relatively mild, which I have noticed is the case with most Beersel lambics.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Medium-bodied, with low carbonation and mild dryness.

Drinkability (3.5): Sweet, but has the sourness and funkiness to prevent it from being cloying.

Overall (3.6): I've enjoyed the other Oud Beersel lambics that I've tried. They've all been sour with a mild funky character. This one was good, for a sweeter lambic, but disappointing to me because it was a sweet lambic.

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607. Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale

607. Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale

I had this a few days ago, but haven't had the time or energy to blog about it. I have some downtime in lab while I'm ethanol precipitating some DNA, so I'll blog about it now. I'd heard good things about Port Brewing Company/The Lost Abbey through various internet sources, so I picked up a bottle of their Red Barn Ale when they popped up at Downtown Wine & Spirits a few weeks ago. I let this warm to around 45º F and served it in one of my Duvel tulip glasses.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Port Brewing Compant/The Lost Abbey
Alcohol: 6.70%
Serving: Bottle, 750 mL
Style: Saison, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a hazy golden with a thick, rocky, off-white head that fades to a persistent film and leaves thick patches of lace.

Smell (4.0): The nose is sharp with lots of pepper and spiciness. There's also some alcohol evident. Below the spiciness is a sweet malty aroma with notes of honey and fruit. There's also some yeast and grain notes to round things out.

Taste (4.0): This beer is initially lightly sweet with some honey flavors. The center becomes tart and citric before moving into the the finish, which is a mix of peppery spice and grassy bitterness. The spiciness and bitterness provide a nice balance to the malty sweetness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Medium-bodied and smooth with a tingly, prickly carbonation.

Drinkability (3.5): The spiciness is nice, but limits the drinkability on this one a bit.

Overall (4.05): Definitely a tasty saison. I like them with a bit more funkiness, but this one is solid.

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