Breweries "Visited"

Monday, September 30, 2013

Day 660: Rogue Beard Beer

A couple of months ago, I heard that my local Whole Foods got in an order of Rogue Brewery's latest installment of their Voodoo Doughnut beer--the chocolate, peanut butter, banana ale. Having been on a chocolate and peanut butter beer kick this summer, I figured I might as well try it.

As I came dashing into the beer cooler at Whole Foods, my impatience and harried self could only spot the Rogue Beard Beer. Thanks to Whole Foods' lovely beer guy on duty that evening, he pointed me in the right direction. He also asked if I was going to try the Beard Beer.  Umm, no. It's made with critters living on some dude's face. Eww.

But it wasn't just some guy. The beard belongs to John Maier, brewmaster for Rogue Ales. And after declaring my love of Belgian beers for the past two years, which rely heavily on airborne critters to give beer character, I felt challenged and quite honestly couldn't not buy a bottle.

Fast forward to last week and I finally found myself at home and ready to open my very own Beard Beer.
I perused the label for ingredients:
Beard yeast

Yup. Right there in all it's cootie-fied glory was evidence of what I was about to drink. I thought to myself,  this is basically going up to Mr. Maier and licking his beard. Let's just file that away in the "Things I Will Never Think About Again" file. Sorry.

For the glory of Blog Named Brew, I pressed on. It poured a hazy, oranged-tinged light brown ale. It had a think white head. Based on looks, I was doing all right. It smelled fantastic. I may or may not have anticipated it smelling like hairy man. Again, sorry. I pressed on and took a big inhale and got orange and caramel and general beer hoppiness and maltiness.

After envisioning the boiling wort and telling myself that the critters were sterilized, I took a sip. It was light and refreshing. I wrote summery in my notes. There was light citrus fruit, grain and a nice mild hop finish. After some initial trepidation, I happily finished my beer!

Beer stats
Style: American wild ale
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 25
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Rogue
Another take on Beard Beer
Rogue's family include Eugene City Brewery and I reviewed the Honey Orange Wheat Ale
Juniper ale
Rogue sampler teaches me not to hold grudges

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Beards and Beers

Day #659 Beard Beer / Rogue Ales,  Newport, OR
Previously from this brewery: Juniper Ale, and a sampler.

It's Sunday.  Yay.  Feel the excitement.

Enough sarcasm; you get a quick beer review because it's sunny outside and you shouldn't be reading the internet anyway.  Today's beer is the Beard Beer from Rogue.  In your glass, you spot an amber color with a quickly dissipating white head.  There's a sweet, floral, malt aroma, and when you drink it down, you pick up a mix of honey sweetness and floral notes.  It's relatively light and refreshing, with some apple, some grass, and a touch of bitterness on the end.  It's good, but certainly not on par with some of the other delicious offerings from Rogue.

The story behind this beer is that it's made from yeast cultivated from the brewmaster's beard.  Harvesting and cultivating yeast that exist naturally in the world around us is nothing new in the beer community. Harvesting and cultivating it from beards, that might be new.

I'm too lazy to get the picture of this beard out of my phone, so instead here's a picture of ZZ Top. Just because.
Beards, no beers
Thing to Think About Today:
Not much.  Something quiet for a quiet day.  Vampire Weekend, Hannah Hunt.

"Count the seconds/watch the hours"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day 658: Wet Dog Cafe & Brewery

First Saturday in the past four weeks without a football game and how do I celebrate it? By sleeping past 10:00 a.m. because this is the first time in more than four weeks that I've been able to sleep past 7:00 a.m. And if you know me, you know that I am not a morning person. Suffice it to say, so far Saturday has been glorious.  Me and Mr. Blog Named Brew have some fun planned for this drinking some wine and listening to some music. The wine will be easy drinking and who knows about the music. All I know is that I'm with the one I love and the rest doesn't matter.

Now for the beer. It's the Raging Bitch imperial IPA from Wet Dog Cafe & Brewery (sorry, the website is down. No link for you!) in Astoria, Oregon.

It looked like iced tea in the glass with a thick bubbly tan head. It smelled of pine and grapefruit. The flavor is full of biscuits, citrus pith with undertones of caramel. It's somewhat dry and has lots of big, bold flavor. The one thing I didn't like is that it left a very bitter, almost medicinal flavor on my lips that lingered far longer than I wanted after finishing the beer.

Beer stats
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.2%
IBUs: 138
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Wet Dog
None! This is the first beer from Wet Dog Cafe & Brewery. From a little Internet sleuthing, it looks like a small cafe and brewery on the coast in Astoria. Unfortunately their website appears to be down so I can't give you much more information than that. And if you're wondering how I managed to get this beer all the way on the East Coast, the answer is beer mail. I highly recommend making some beer friends across the country and taking advantage of Priority Mail flat shipping rates. So thanks to my Portland friend Wolf, I get to experience a tasty imperial IPA.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bottle Service

Day #657 Dark White / Brasserie Fantome, Soy, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Printemps, Dark White, Saison, and more Saison

I'm tired.  A long week is finally over.  The end.

Well, the end of the complaining, not the post.  Today's beer is a Belgian, which was oddly completely impossible to find in Belgium.  Let me explain.  In every town I went to, there were beer bars and beer shops, all of which stocked some of the most wonderful beers the world has ever seen.  However, without fail, not a single one of them stocked any Brasserie Fantome.  The closest I came to finding it was a bar in Bruges that had empty bottles and glassware on display from every beer (or so they claim) made in Belgium. An empty bottle.... that's all.  No fair.  I mean, Kristof, the owner of Brouwerij Fort Lapin said that if he could only drink one beer from Belgium (besides his own), he'd drink Fantome.  And yet... empty handed.

However, while you can't find this beer in Belgium (at least in Flanders), you can find beers from Fantome at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne, PA. Fairly odd, but apparently they ship most of their product overseas, where there's an eager audience just waiting for it.  Works for me.
Seriously, behind glass
In case of emergency, break glass
This bottle of Dark White poured with an amber color, and a good sized fluffy white head.  There's a sour, citrus aroma.  I wish I could just sit and inhale this aroma all day; make a cologne from it, perhaps.  When you take a sip, there's a delightful sour quality, with good floral flavors and a big peppery spice bite on the finish.  Refreshing and interesting.  Is it as good as the standard issue Saison?  Maybe not, but that might be my favorite beer in the world, so this one is still pretty amazing.

There's a "BBB" one the label to shout out the Burgundian Babble Belt, a group of beer connoisseurs in Belgium who have spread around the world.  This beer was a special project for BBB; first released in 2006 to raise funds for a sick child in France.

Thing to Think About Today:
Hard to find bottle?  John Mayer covering Message in a Bottle.  Good night, and sleep tight!

"I hope that someone gets my/message in a bottle...."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 656: Brouwerij Roman

When I bought this bottle of beer in March 2012, I had no idea that in about a year's time I would actually find myself in the little town of Oudnaarde in Belgium, where this beer is brewed. You really never know what life will bring you!

This is the Adriaen Brouwer from Brouwerij Roman. It poured a dark brown, sort of mahogany color with a loose tan head. It has a sweet and malty aroma. The flavor was surprisingly sweet...lots of dark fruit reminiscent of plums and maybe figs. Some caramel. And it was very bubbly in the glass. Not sure if that was due to its age or not.

Beer stats
Style: Belgian golden ale
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Roman
His and hers reviews of Ename Cuvee

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 655: Victory White Monkey

Victory Brewing Company's Golden Monkey has a reputation as a phenomenal beer that will kick your ass if you're not careful. It's delicious and smooth and you really have no idea that you're drinking a 9.5% beer.

White Monkey is what you get when Golden Monkey takes a three month sabbatical in white wine barrels. Knowing all that, I had high hopes for the White Monkey.
It poured a rich gold color ale with a thin white head. It has a very rich smell--lots of spices and wine. The taste is resinous and the booze is quite evident. It actually surprised me when I read that the ABV was 9.5%. I would have bet it was a lot higher. There was also a good amount of banana and clove in the flavor. You also really notice the effect of the barrel aging. You get some oak and white wine with each sip.

Beer stats
Style: Tripel
ABV: 9.5%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Victory
Headwaters Pale Ale, Summer Love, Golding Glow, Uncle Teddy's Bitter, Otto, more Otto, Swing, more Swing Saison, 100 Horse Ale, more 100 Horse Ale, NATO IPA, my sampler, and last but not least...the V-12

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Duck Goes Kwak

Day #654 Kwak / Brouwerij Bosteels, Buggenhout, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Deus, a Tripel Karmeliet and another Tripel Karmeliet

Today's beer du jour is a glass of Kwak from Brouwerij Bosteels, well known for the carriage glass you see in the picture below.  I had this one at a cafe in Ieper, waiting for the Last Post ceremony.  The Last Post honors the British and Allied soldiers who gave their life in the Belgian countryside during the First World War.  The ceremony is held every night at the Menin Gate Memorial, 8pm sharp, every single day of the year.  Hard to see all of the action in the large stone arch that spans the street, but it was clear the amount of respect the people had for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, from the soldier playing the bugle to the children laying wreaths of red poppies at the base of the stone panels etched with the names of the deceased. Didn't have a great picture of the ceremony, but did wander over to take in a nearby cemetery for the war dead.  Very serene spot overlooking a river, very peaceful.
On to the beer.  It pours with a dark amber color and lingering white head.  When you take a sip, you pick up notes of caramel and toffee, apple and pear, with hints of bread and spice.  A very enjoyable beer, and one that I frequently saw on the menu in the various restaurants and cafes.  No, you don't need to detach the glass from the wooden base each time you want a sip.  You just pick up the entire thing and go.
So the story behind the glass (and the beer) is that Pauwel Kwak was a brewer back in the early 1800s. He owned a tavern and realized that coachmen who drove passengers and mail into town weren't allowed to leave their horses and carriage.  Therefore, Kwak had a special glass blown that could be hung on the side of a carriage, so the drivers could enjoy a beer before heading off to their next stop.  Hence the name "carriage glass" and hence probably the first DUI, somewhere way back when.

Thing to Think About Today:
While the title of this post, "Duck Goes Kwak" suggests you might be getting the smash hit The Fox in this space, it was already used.  So instead I'll refer to the Last Post ceremony honoring the war dead, and drop in some Last Battle, a Scottish band who gave the world this awesome live cover of Regulate.  Yep, that Regulate.  Now, in an effort to contain the awesomeness, YouTube won't let me embed the video.  But I say we don't even need that, when you can just follow this link:

Please do.  I love this song, and love this cover.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day 653: The Bruery Sour in the Rye

I really need to start giving myself more to work with than the following helpful hints:
post goes here (JD Salinger)

After mulling it over, I think I may have wanted to draw a parallel between Sour in the Rye and Catcher in the Rye, but at this point...who the hell knows.

Dear brain,
     Write better notes for the blog.
                                  Love, Me

Tonight's beer is The Bruery's Sour in the Rye, which is a sour rye ale aged in oak. It pours a warm, chestnut color with a medium, quick to disappear ivory head. The smell has a wonderful sourness with sweet fruity esters. There's also lots of rye in the nose.

The flavor is dry and mouth-puckeringly sour. I wrote bracing in my notes, which isn't a word I often use but in this case, it was absolutely perfect. I can easily taste the oak. There's a good lemony sourness. Then I found this in my notes:  nTextP � n e ��} � T /p>

Aliens are trying to communicate with me through my draft posts. That's the only obvious answer, right?

Beer stats
Style: Sour ale
AGV: 7.8%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Excellent

Previously reviewed from The Bruery
Five Golden Rings, Oude Tart, Tart of Darkness, Hottenroth

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just Grand

Day #652 St. Stephanus Grand Cru / Brouwerij Van Steenberge, Ertvelde, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: A lot. Seriously. Just click this link, okay?

Back home after another weekend on the road, and I can say without a doubt that I'm glad to not be getting in the car to drive to State College again next weekend.  Four weekends on the road in a row is quite enough, thank you.  Particularly since yesterday's game was played in a downpour.  I think I'm still soggy.

Sundays are for napping, but I haven't managed to get a nap just yet.  Therefore, I may be going to bed at 8pm tonight, because that's how this old man rolls.  Before I fall asleep, let's get a beer review out there. Today's selection is St. Stephanus Grand Cru, from our old friends at Brouwerij van Steenberge.  It pours a hazy dark gold, and when you take a sip you get a good caramel malt, apple, some bread flavors, and a mild bitterness.  You notice the 9% ABV when you drink it, so beware.  I bought this bottle at the brewery, toted it around all of Belgium, and then decided to drink it in Luxembourg, as I was seriously paranoid that not all of the beer I brought home would make it back safely.  As this one is now available in the States, I decided to pop it open.

I don't have a picture of this beer on my phone (sorry), so instead you get a picture of Fort Thüngen in Luxembourg.  Luxembourg was frequently the center of some war or battle, due to their location in central Europe and everyone around them not liking each other. I walked around the fort on a bright, sunny morning and snapped this picture
Fight for your right to party!
This bottle was the one thing the brewery owner's father-in-law let us purchase during our visit.  Not because he was being mean; because everything else was on the house!  This beer cost me 3 Euro, or about $4. Sigh.... won't find one quite that inexpensive in America any time soon.

Thing to Think About Today:
Something quiet for a lazy Sunday.  Bell X1 and Light Catches Your Face.  Enjoy, I'm off to bed.... I kid. A bit.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day 651: Spring House Big Gruesome

Despite my general thinking that I don't like big stouts and porters during the warm summer months, that didn't stop me from trying a few of the new ones I found this summer (Tired Hands 5 out of 5, DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus). This one goes in the peanut butter beer category, which surprisingly is actually a category of beer for me now.
This is the Spring House Big Gruesome--a chocolate peanut butter stout. It poured nearly black as night with a chocolate milk color head.  It smells of fresh peanut butter and cocoa. The flavor is predominantly coffee, bitter chocolate with undertones of peanuts. It's creamy of full of dark roasted malt flavor and finishes with a nice bite.

Beer stats
Style: Stout
ABV: 8%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from Spring House
After visiting their tap room this spring, here are reviews of Goofy Foot (summer wheat), Cliff (saison), Little Gruesome (PB&J stout)
I've also had Cosmic Monster (quad)
More Goofy Foot,  more Cliff, Robot Surf Factory (IPA), Seven Gates (pale ale)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Celebrations, Bad Beers, and *Crap* I'm Old

Day #650 Gueuze Lambic / Brasserie Belle-Vue, Sint Pieters-Leeuw, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: n/a, this beer is the first out the limo!

It's Friday and I'm not dead.  Oh, and I just happened to pass a difficult certification exam!!  So, that's cause for celebration, right?
Your beer for the day is a bottle of Gueuze Lambic from Brasserie Belle-Vue. This gueuze poured a dark gold hue, and when you take a sip you get an extremely sweet taste.  Almost like a cough medicine, really. Not a very good example of the style, and not a beer I would drink again.  I also sampled their kriek while riding a seven person bar/bicycle.  That wasn't so hot either.
And after the party it's the hotel lobby....
This brewery started way back in 1913, and in more recent years was acquired by Belgian beer giant Interbrew, which is now part of the Anheuser-Busch InBev conglomerate.  I *think* I had tonight's beer in a hotel lobby while waiting for dinner.  That's how memorable it was....

Thing to Think About Today:
This has nothing to do with anything about this beer or brewery, but it was recently pointed out to me that the Counting Crows album August and Everything After was released 20 years ago.  Sigh, I'm getting old. We close out with an all time favorite of mine, Mr. Jones.  Night, friends.

"we all want something beautiful / Man, I wish I was beautiful"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day 649: Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA

Read this while I go drink this bottle of wine.
Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA is an IPA brewed with spices. The label reads, "What if wheat isn't the goal in itself, but a route to something awesomely new?" I say, "It's like a hefeweizen made a baby with an IPA!"

It poured a hazy gold color with a thin white head. It smells of orange, sweetness and hops. The flavor is best described as an orange-y IPA. It has a solid hop profile. It's spicy and citrusy, but in that full mouth hefeweizen sort of way.

Beer stats
Style: IPA, Wheat ale
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 55
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Deschutes
Twilight, more Twilight, Saison de Poivre, Sour Raz

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Creative Studying

Day #648 Grimbergen Dubbel / Brouwerij Alken-Maes, Alken, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: a Hapkin that I forgot about, Grimbergen Blonde, and another Grimbergen Blonde

Nearing the end of the list of beers drank in Belgium.  I know you're probably sick of reading about it, but I may never get back to Belgium in my life, so I'm unloading them all.

Today's offering was a bottle of Grimberen Dubbel from Brouwerij Alken-Maes.  Had this one at a lunch in Brugges, and in the glass it poured a mahogany color with virtually no head.  There's a malt sweetness with some nice stone fruit (say, plums?) flavor and bready notes.  Pretty mellow compared to what I drank on the rest of the trip, and definitely didn't have the same oomph that other beers had.  Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, just not terribly complex or unusual.
Good glass, for what it's worth
One of the really awesome things about Belgium is that virtually every single restaurant has outdoor seating. Who doesn't like to sit outside, enjoy some sunshine, do some people watching, and drink some beer? While this beer didn't blow me away, it gets tons of bonus points for being consumed at an outdoor table, overlooking a canal.  I greatly miss having the option to sit outside in every single restaurant- step up your game, Philly suburbs!

Thing to Think About Today:
I have a four and a half hour exam coming up Friday morning to certify me as a Six Sigma Black Belt.  I'm absurdly under-prepared and really freaking out about it, considering I finished the class back in January and have retained very little since then.  So, I could spend the evening studying... or... I could spend the evening developing elaborate cheating schemes!  Say for example, like this awesome scene from Spies Like Us, where Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd go above and beyond to pass their civil service test.  Enjoy your evening; I'm getting started working on my fake cast and eye patch.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Day 647: Fantome Dark White and Spooooooky

Somewhere along the road of blogging about all this craft beer, I noted my great fear and general hatred of clowns. I've always been a little creeped out by them and their ghostly pale faces, overly jovial smiles and the slightly murderous glint in their eyes, but I was pushed over the edge by Stephen King's best-seller It. Pennywise is pure evil. To this day I cannot walk across a sewer grate without fear of looking down into the devilish eyes of a homicidal clown.

Imagine my reaction when I read there's a lunatic in Northampton, England dressed as a clown just creeping around scaring adults and children alike. (Story here).
Terrifying clown pointing at a cameraman? Hell no. Photo courtesy of 9News
I'd be packed up and moved to a foreign country so fast, it would melt that awful paint right off his face. Clowns. Ugh.

Let's talk about something that doesn't want to make me scream and curl up in the fetal position.
This is the Fantome Dark White, a Belgian ale brewed with spices. It poured a hazy reddish brown ale iwth an off-white head. It smells of Belgian candi sugar, raisins and toast. The flavor is grainy, earthy, fruity. There's an underlying tartness with a nice dry finish. The spices are quite notable with white pepper being most dominant.

Beer stats
Style: Saison
ABV: 4%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Excellent

Previously reviewed from Fantome
Printemps, a saison, and more on that saison

Monday, September 16, 2013

No, No, No

Day #646 Diekirch Premium / Brasserie de Luxembourg Mousel-Diekirch, Diekirch, Luxembourg
Previously from this brewery: Grand Cru Ambrée

Allow me to diagram my day for you:
In this video, I am the child, excited to buy some sugary cereal.  My sanity is the box of cereal, and Dikembe Mutombo represents, well, everything that just isn't cooperating.  Do you guys know that I'm friends with Dikembe Mutombo on Facebook? That has nothing to do with anything, but it's a cool fact.  Don't hate.

While it's not the last beer from Belgium I'll review, the last beer I had on the Beercycling trip was a glass of Diekirch Premium, which I had at dinner in Luxembourg.  In the glass, it was crystal clear gold, with a big white head.  There's a light aroma of grain, and the taste is grass, grain, and some bread and light hops.  My notes from the beer sum it up:
1. Bud "Lux"
2. Last beer of vacation.... whew.

Was this beer great?  Not really; it was a somewhat macro produced lager.  Not terribly flavorful or anything I'd fly across the globe to find again.  And that's exactly why I liked it.  After so, so many complex, unusual, rare, strong, interesting, aged, hand crafted, and altogether delicious beers, it was nice to just kick back and relax, and not have to think about flavors or aromas or much of anything.  It was just a beer.  Just a beer, drank outside, overlooking Luxembourg City.  It was cold, and looked pretty, and washed down a day. It was good, because it just was.
Looks good!
I was fairly wiped out by the time I got to Luxembourg, so I don't have much in the way of great recommendations for bars, or restaurants, or much of anything else.  I can say this:  the hop on/hop off bus is a great way to see the city, learn some info, and get from place to place without much hassle.

Thing to Think About Today:
If life pulled a Dikembe Mutombo and rejected everything I threw towards the rim today (or, in this video, the shopping cart), then we let the All-American Rejects (see what I did there?) close things out with Move Along.  Nothing to see here, Dikembe.  Move along, indeed.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Day 645: DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus

After doing a little blog housekeeping this weekend, I found a bunch of reviews from this summer that went unused thanks to the gazillion reviews that resulted from my trip to Belgium. So today's post is a trip down memory lane to TJ's Independence Party where I had a chance to try DuClaw Brewing Company's Sweet Baby Jesus.
Sweet Baby Jesus is a peanut butter chocolate porter. It poured deep brown, almost black in the glass with a think off-white head. It smelled deeply of peanut butter. The flavor is full of chocolate and peanut butter with some roasted, smoky coffee notes. I also noted a little more hop flavor in this one compared to other chocolate peanut butter beers that I've had recently (Tired Hand's Five out of Five or Spring House's Big Gruesome, for example).

Beer stats
Style: Stout
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 53
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from DuClaw
Venom (American pale ale), more Venom

Saturday, September 14, 2013

C'Mon Ride the Train

Day #644 Saison / Oersoep Brouwerij, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Previously from this brewery: n/a, this beer is the first out the limo!

Today is another football day, so that means you get a short review and I get to drink beer in a parking lot for nine hours.  We all win.

Glad this one is a short review, because I don't have many notes on it.  Why?  Because I drank a glass of this saison from Oersoep Brouwerj out of a plastic cup while riding the train from Menen back to Brussels after we dropped our bikes off at the end of the tour.  This beer is a dry saison, with some solid peppery spice.  I think it had a gold color, but seeing how it was in a plastic cup it's hard to say!  There are notes of grass and grain, and any beer tastes delicious when you're on a warm train.  Thanks to our tour guide Henk for bringing this one along and sharing!
Thanks, Henk!
This brewery name translates from Dutch to English as "Primordial Soup," which is a really unusual brewery name.

Thing to Think About Today:
Today is shaping up to be a gorgeous September day.  Nothing says gorgeous September day quite like Neil Diamond's September Morn does, right?  What, because of the title of this post you thought I was dropping C'mon Ride the Train by Quad City DJ's?  Not this early in the morning, I'm afraid.  So here we go!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

She Mad

Day #643 Dulle Teve / De Dolle Brouwers, Esen, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Plenty! A Dulle Teve, Boskeun, Oerbier, Oerbier, some Arabier, and more Arabier

It's Friday, which means I'm not working and am enjoying a day off getting ready for football. Except.... I am working, even though it's my day off.  Hey, gotta pay the rent.

While I wait for someone to call, let's get into another De Dolle offering, this time a draft pour of Dulle Teve, which translates to "Mad Bitch" in English.  Maybe the best named beer ever, in my book. This tripel shows off a hazy gold color and (no surprise here) a huge fluffy white head. There's a welcoming aroma of fruit and malt sweetness, and the taste is slightly sweet with plenty of apple, honey, bread, and just a few random hints of spice. I fell in love with this beer from the first sip, although you should be careful - at 10% ABV this beer means business.  Last line on my notes for this beer? "Delicious." That about sums it up!
Just beautiful....
Few more quick snaps from the visit, including their super duper awesome koelschip, which is used for cooling the wort in the open air. I think they're awesome and a throw back to an older way of making beer, as very few breweries still use them - and yet I saw many of them in Belgium, because Belgian beer is an old school thing.
That's soon-to-be beer cooling in there!
And lastly, the phrase "Nat en Straf" means "Wet and Strong" in English. Two very, very accurate adjectives for their beers!
Cheers, De Dolle!
Thing to Think About Today:
What else can we use here but the Rolling Stones and Bitch?  Nothing that is anywhere near as appropriate as Mick, Keith, and the boys.  Have a good Friday, friends.  I miss you.

"Yeah when you lay me out / my heart starts beating like a big bass drum, alright!"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Oer the River and Through the Woods

Day #642 Oerbier / De Dolle Brouwers, Esen, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Dulle Teve, Boskeun, Oerbier, Arabier, and more Arabier

One of my favorite brewery stops was De Dolle, which came at the end of what was one of my favorite days on the bike - we started in Brugges, rode to the coast to visit Oostende, then rode along their version of the boardwalk (tiles, not wood) for several glorious, sun drenched miles.  Nothing like riding with the North Sea as your side view!  Did have to pay attention, though, otherwise kids were going to get run over while I was staring off at the water.
I see you, North Sea.
Once we got to the brewery, we learned that Kris, the owner, wasn't really into socializing, but was however cool enough to let us wander around unsupervised.  Did I mention, De Dolle Brouwers means "the crazy brewers"?  Bad idea!
Free reign of the bottling line!
Let's talk about the beer here, as the beers were delicious.  It poured a dark ruby color with a very typical monstrous foamy head.  There's a wonderful, enjoyable tartness with flavors of green apple, bread, yeast, and some caramel malt sweetness.  There are locally grown hops from Poperinge in there, but you really don't notice them.  Oerbier was the first beer brewed by Kris at De Dolle, and is still fantastic 30+ years later. Just a sensational, world class beer, and perfect after a long, hot bike ride.
Wish I had that glass! Wait, I do :)
This is your incredibly odd fact for the day:  Motown star Marvin Gaye once decided he needed to drop out of society and get away from it all to put his life back together.  Where did he go?  The Belgian beach town of Oostende; home of my seaside bicycle ride.  True story.

Thing to Think About Today:
In the spirit of a crazy brewer and getting away from all the craziness in your life by going to Belgium, let's wrap up with some Marvin Gaye and Mercy, Mercy Me.  Good night, all....

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What The Fox?

Day #641 Grand Cru Ambrée / Brasserie de Luxembourg Mousel-Diekirch, Diekirch, Luxembourg
Previously from this brewery: n/a, this beer is the first out the limo!!!

Today has been hectic, and it's getting late, so you get some quick & dirty (shut yo mouth!) today.  While I'm not done with the Belgians, I'm taking a slight detour and writing about one of the last beers on the trip, a bottle of Diekirch.  Did I know the brewery was a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev at the time I ordered it?  No, but it was the only beer from Luxembourg (Luxembourgian?) on the menu at the cafe.  While not excited (in retrospect) to try a macro brew owned by InBev, this truly might have been the only chance I had in my life to try a beer made in Luxembourg, so I went for it.

So, the beer.  In the glass, it pours a dark amber color.  There's a nice malt sweetness, with just enough hops to make you pay attention.  Some floral notes, maybe some honey, but in all fairly mellow.  That being said, it was refreshing after walking around the very hilly yet beautiful Luxembourg City.  Will I ever get to drink another one?  Probably not, which is what makes this beer very interesting in my book.
Had this in a cafe where they only spoke French.
And I made it work!  I am an international wonder.
Luxembourg is a relatively small country, but there are a number of cities.  I only visited Luxembourg City, the capital and largest town, but there are others, such as Diekirch, where this beer is from.  From what I gather, the brewery originally dates back to 1871, and is a merger of two local breweries that came together in 2000. The corporate overlords took over in 2002, and there you have it.  Progress.

Thing to Think About Today:
Luxembourg is a small country nestled between Germany, Belgium, and France.  It's really not anywhere near Norway, where the random guys who sing this wonderfully odd and awesome song, The Fox, are from.  I present Ylvis, just because I can.  I'm European like that.  Come find out what the fox says....

"Ducks say quack, and fish go blub"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 640: North Coast Brother Thelonious

I would really like to ask the people involved in the three separate accidents I saw on a quarter mile stretch of my commute what happened. The accidents appeared to be completely unrelated to each other. The weather was perfectly fine. Did someone forget how to drive? Were they caused by one of the dicks I encounter on a pretty regular basis who can't be bothered with speed limits, turn signals, ability to read traffic signs and common courtesy? I suppose I'll never know.

Instead of ruminating on how it took me 90 minutes to travel 17 miles, let's talk beer.
This is North Coast Brewing Company's Brother Thelonious Belgian style abbey ale from the American Artisan Series. For every bottle sold, North Coast makes a donation to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in support of jazz education. I'm drinking beer. I'm doing good. My day is totally turned around!

It poured a ruby-tinged deep brown ale with a medium tan head. It smells of molasses and roasted, dark fruit. The flavor is interesting...cinnamon, plums, bitter chocolate. Every few sips the dark plummy part tasted a bit more on the unripe side. There's lots of complexity to this beer. And despite all that flavor, it had a thin mouthfeel and was easy to drink.

Beer Stats
Style: Belgian style abbey ale
ABV: 9.4%
IBUs: 32
Rating: Good

Previously from North Coast
Scrimshaw review from me, a Scrimshaw from the Mr. and his take on Brother Thelonious

Monday, September 9, 2013

Japalgium, or Belgipan. Either One.

Day #639 Tokyo / Brouwerij Saint Bernardus, Watou, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Tripel and more Tripel

Today was an unmitigated f'ing disaster.  I won't go into it here, but let's say the best thing about today is that it will eventually end, and I probably won't be dead.  Beyond that... not a great day.

Beer won't fix it, but I need to write about something on this stupid blog, so here goes.  Today's offering is a glass of Tokyo, a St. Bernardus beer that was launched to commemorate them opening a true Belgian beer bar in (wait for it....) Tokyo.  The Beercycling tour took us to this brewery on our next to last day, after spending the night before in a gorgeous bed & breakfast right next door.  Conveniently, it used to be owned by the brewery owner, who interestingly originally started his business by making cheese, not beer. While there were many great parts, the best part of the B&B was the honor bar stocked with every tasty St. Bernardus beer.
A smile; clearly not a photo from today!!
As part of the tour, we got to sample beers from their tasting room, so I made a beeline for a bottle of this new beer.  It poured a hazy gold color with a thin head - a relative rarity in Belgium.  There are really nice flavors of bread and grain, along with a spicy quality of coriander and pepper.  Good citrus flavors coming through, but definitely not overpowering.  In my notes I wrote, "very summery", as it was very light and refreshing, with a great flavor profile.  Great find!
I like how the monk donned a more appropriate robe
This might be available in limited quantities in America, but I've never seen it, so kudos to me for finding a rare beer to sample.  Yay, me.  Also, kudos to Beercycling for being their first tour of the day, at the beer friendly hour of 10am.

Thing to Think About Today:
Going to relax, perhaps with beer, perhaps with bourbon, perhaps with both.  Reaching into my collection of quiet music to unwind and remind myself that everything will be fine.  I'm going deep into the mix for some Sea Wolf and Middle Distance Runner.  It's not really a song about running, but I like it anyway when I want to slow things down.

"So won't you run to me tonight?"

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day 638: Hopped Up 'n Horny

Today's beer is from Horny Goat Brewing Company. Against my better judgment, I opted to give my hard earned money to a brewery that advertises via over-sexualized goats. But I'll let that go and tell you about the Hopped Up 'n Horny IPA.

It pours a slightly hazy golden color ale with a thin white head. It smells of hops and kind of just like beer in general. The flavor is nice. There's a good floral hop with a slightly hoppy, bitter finish. It is exactly what I'd expect for an every day IPA.

Beer stats
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 41
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Horny Goat
Mr. Blog Named Brew's review of the Hopped Up 'n Horny

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Game Day

Day #637 Jambe-de-Bois / Brasserie De La Senne
Previously from this brewery: Zinnebir way back when

Today is Penn State's home opener against Eastern Michigan.  Therefore, prepare to be astounded by how quick & dirty this post is.  Well, more quick than dirty, but let's face it - we all would rather be watching football right now.

Up today is a glass of Jambe-de-Bois, from De La Senne.  This tripel has a gold hue and gives off a big aroma of fresh fruit (mostly banana).  The taste has a malt sweetness, and some hops for balance, but the big floral and fruit notes steal the show.  Plenty of banana and apple, with some spice in there as well.  It's a touch boozy; you notice the 8% ABV more than I anticipated.  Nice beer, well worth your time.
The name of the beer translates from French to English as "Wooden Leg."  Sounds about right, as there's a peg-legged character on their website.  This beer may have something to do with the Belgian revolution, but I have neither the time nor the ability to speak French to find out for sure.  So... there you have it.

Thing to Think About Today:
Maybe I need a pump up video.  Beaver Stadium, see you soon.

Friday, September 6, 2013


Day #636 Ypres / De Struise Brouwers, Oostvleteren, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Elliot Brew

Day before the PSU home opener.  Not sure if it's the fact that the season is already underway or what, but just not yet in the groove for a home opener.  Hope that changes a little between now and noon tomorrow.

Back to the recaps.  One of the best meals of Belgium came from 't Hommelhof in the town of Watou.  The group was treated to a special dinner, where the chef paired unique beers with each course.  One of the beers was a bottle of Ypres, from De Struise Brouwers.  This oud bruin was paired with a gazpacho served with a piece of fried mullet.  The gazpacho was simple yet delicious, which is probably how I could describe the entire meal.  I will say that with a few tiny exceptions the food on the trip was outstanding. However, almost every menu I saw had the same items on; croque sandwiches, lasagna, goat cheese & bacon salads, frites, etc.  Nothing wrong with that, but 't Hommelhof was the first inventive and unique - and therefore most memorable - restaurant of the trip.

And the beer?  It poured a dark brown hue, and gave off aromas of tart fruit with earthy notes.  The taste is a heavenly mix of tart cherries, sour apple, and an earthy, oaky taste that grounds some of the tart and sour flavors.  This beer was aged in two different barrels - Bourgogne wine and Wild Turkey whiskey.  This was a bottle from 2009, and the internet seems to suggest it was only brewed once.  Shame, as it was magnificent.  Speaking of the bottle, the artwork was very cool - it depicted a scene from World War I. Another beer from De Struise that people tried was Black Albert, which was widely regarded as one of the best beers of the trip.  I only had a sip, but I would agree.  We technically "visited" this brewery, which means we drove our bikes by and looked in the windows.  They were closed... perhaps it was a Sunday? De Struise wasn't on my radar before this trip, but after having this beer and trying the Black Albert, I'm a committed fan.
Ypres, Ieper, Wipers.  Just call this beer 'delicious'
Two items you may find interesting.  As with most everywhere in Belgium, there is the Flanders spelling/pronunciation and the French spelling/pronunciation.  In French, the town is known as Ypres, and in Flemish, Ieper.  British forces stationed there during World War I apparently couldn't pronounce either, and instead referred to the town as "Wipers."  The second odd fact for you is that this brewery was started by owners of an ostrich farm.  I kid you not - an ostrich is still featured on their logo.

Thing to Think About Today:
A beer brewed to honor those who fought and died in the First World War means we close things out with Edwin Starr and his protest song, War.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 635: Russian River Consecration

One of the things that I love about living within a clear evening's earshot of a high school is those magical moments when I can hear the marching band practicing. This experience is mostly reserved for late August evenings or the rare Friday night that I'm not on my very own football sojourn to Penn  State. There's something inherently small town about it. It's calming. It makes me feel part of something real. And, man, do I need that right now.
Tonight's beer is Russian River's Consecration ale--a sour ale aged in cabernet barrels. It pours a warm, hazy brown color with a thin off-white head. It smells of dark fruits, very ripe cherries and fruity esters. The flavor is woody and chocolate with sour cherries and dark currants floating in it. There's lots of red wine tannins in there as well. Consecration is just the right level of tart and drinks with a great smoothness ending with a solid sour bite. 

Beer stats
Style: Sour ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Excellent.

Previously reviewed from Russian River
Prepare yourself, it's a long list!
My sampler reviewhorizontal tasting of Supplication
Mr. Blog's sampler reviewConsecration and Damnation; followed by a Captain Ahab-esque search for Pliny the Younger but not Pliny the Elder

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Redheads and...Well, That's About It

Day #634 Rookop / Brouwerij De Plukker, Poperinge, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Keikoppenbier and more Keikoppenbier

Fantasy Football draft night, which means I've been spending hours pouring over data and draft magazines and figuring out what the 3rd string fullback had for lunch I'll probably just draft whoever.

Beer always sounds good, and today's beer is the second offering from De Plukker, a bottle of Rookop. This dubbel has a brown hue with an off white head.  There's an earthy aroma with plenty of malt, and the taste has nice notes of caramel and lightly toasted malt.  Not as much malt sweetness as some of the other bruins I drank, but certainly has a nice even flavor.  Well worth a sample if you ever find yourself in Poperinge.  I believe the name of this beer loosely translates to "redhead", if my notes and rudimentary understanding of Flemish are on target.
Smiley beer label = happy beer
From their website, a beer named Rookop "s to be brewed in the St-Joris brewery in Reningelst, Belgium until 1963 when the brewing activities stopped. The brewery was restored back to its original condition in 2012 and now functions as a meeting centre for families with children."  

De Plukker brought this beer back to life, albeit with a new recipe.  I love that an old brewery is now a community center for kids.  De Plukker is for the children!!

Thing to Think About Today:
Beer named after a redhead means... I have no idea.  I guess maybe this means I can drop in some famous redhead Florence Welch and let Dog Days are Over take us home.  Night, folks!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 633: Fantome Printemps

Throughout the entire vacation in Belgium, Mr. Blog Named Brew was on the lookout for any offerings from Fantome. Fantome is a one-man operation in Soy, Belgium that specializes in saison style beers. Much to our surprise, it is easier to get Fantome beer in the States than it is in Belgium. Go figure! 

So mere days after arriving home this summer, I hit up Teresa's Next Door (an excellent Belgian beer bar in Wayne, Pennsylvania) and bought up one of each of whatever Fantome bottles they had in stock. 
This was the first bottle I broke into--Fantome Printemps saison. It's a Belgian ale brewed with spices and from what I could gather the recipe changes with the seasons each year. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't discern what year I had. 

It poured a hazy, medium golden color with a sticky white head. It smells spicy...lots of black pepper. The flavor is smoky and kind of bacony. Sadly this beer doesn't do it for me. As it warmed up the smokiness turned into more of a wood ash flavor and really overpowered any nuanced saison flavors. 

Beer stats
Style: Saison
ABV: 8% 
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Average

Previously reviewed from Fantome 
Mr. Blog Named Brew's review of a saison that drives a great deal of traffic to our site thanks to King Boo!
My review of the same saison

Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 632: Perennial and Half Acre Make a Beer Baby

I'm just going to borrow what's already been written about this collaboration between Perennial Brewing and Half Acre Brewing from the Beer Street Journal (obviously correcting for typos because typos! Seriously?): One of St. Louis, Missouri’s newest breweries Perennial is collaborating with Half Acre Beer Company (Chicago). The beer is dubbed Plan B and is the first collaboration by Perennial. Plan B is a sour mash Belgian dark ale brewed with black currants. Currants are perennial berries with a sweet taste.
I found my Plan B at TJ's--my go to beer bar. It poured a deep, dark brown color ale with a tan head. It smells like wet wood and light smoke. The flavor is mild with just a hint of sour. The currants were very understated and I'm not sure I would have noticed them if I didn't already know they were in there.

Beer stats
Style: Belgian dark ale
ABV: 8%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Half Acre
My review of Daisy Cutter with a warning on the dangers of string cheese
Mr. Blog's review of Daisy Cutter and some excellent breakfast recommendations in Chicago (mine has a far greater entertainment value!)

Previously reviewed from Perennial
First one!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Agriculture and Old School Rap; Perfect Together

Day #631  Keikoppenbier / Brouwerij De Plukker, Poperinge, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: Keikoppen

Back home after a  road trip to New Jersey to watch football yesterday.  Not a perfect day by any stretch of the imagination, but it did include a PSU win, which is always welcome.

I mentioned yesterday that part of the Beercycling tour took us through the region of Belgium famous for growing hops, and right in the middle of this was Brouwerij De Plukker, notable for being the first organic brewery as well as for growing their own hops on the farms next door.  We had a chance to meet the owners, Joris and Kris, who were nice enough to take time out of their day to give a Masters class in hop farming and brewing, share some of their beers, and let us wander around and take pictures.  In case you didn't know (and I didn't):
1. Hops grow on vines that are staked and supported by wires, and the vines grow at least 20 feet high or so
2. There are male and female versions of the plant
3. Having male versions of the plant in your hop field can get you in hot water, as only unpollinated plants have lupulin, the oil that helps preserve and flavor beer (or something like that)
4. Hops enjoy the same soil qualities as potatoes; hence, you often see them in places like Belgium and the Pacific Northwest
5. Hop cones smell DELICIOUS
6. De Plukker uses no pesticides on their farm, instead relying on natural methods to control pests
Grow up delicious!
Enough about agriculture, you're here for the beer.  We sampled a glass of Keikoppenbier, a blonde ale with a huge head and a dark gold hue.  There are light aromas of citrus and pine, and the taste pleasantly reminded me of an American Pale Ale in hoppiness and flavor.  It was dry and earthy, with a touch of bitterness on the finish.  Very enjoyable beer, and I greatly enjoyed meeting the brewers/farmers and hearing their story.
so pretty.....
Per the owner, the name of this beer is derived from a nickname of someone who lives in Poperinge, and describes someone who is stubborn and hard headed.

Thing to Think About Today:
All that learning about hops today means more hops are still needed.  If I need more hops, then I'm taking you back in time to 1993 to let Naughty By Nature drop some Hip Hop Hooray on us all.  Hooray for hops!

"cause I'm naughty by nature, not 'cause I hate ya"