Showing posts with label Belgian Ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Belgian Ale. Show all posts

October 9, 2013

Beer Mail: Goose Island, Magic Hat, Kona Brewing Company

I've been remiss in sharing some of the brews that have arrived on my doorstep over the past couple months. Things have been pretty busy around here. For one, I've been writing quite a bit of content for the E. C. Kraus homebrewing blog. I've also started with an exciting new project, which I'll share very soon. For now, some beer reviews from Goose Island, Magic Hat, and Kona Brewing Co.:

Goose Island Brewing Co., Chicago, IL

I was genuinely pleased with Goose Island's beers, a few were pretty impressive. Some people give Goose Island a hard time for "selling out" to AB-Inbev, but based on the quality of the beer itself, I can't fault them...

  • Honker's Ale - An easy drinking English style bitter. Burnt orange in color with an off white rocky head. Pale malt and some ale yeast esters in the aroma, with low hop aroma. Crisp grain flavor with mild hop bitterness. Some wheat gives it a medium-light body and good head retention. Finished somewhat dry. (4.2% ABV)
  • IPA - Similar to the Honkers in that wheat is used for head retention and body -- it's there in the aroma, along with sweet caramel malts and moderate spicy hop aroma. Not especially bitter in the flavor, pretty well balanced. Medium bodied. (5.9% ABV)
  • Urban Wheat - Light yellow in color with a big rocky white head. Faint aroma of lemons in the aroma, but nothing like the banana/clove of a hefeweizen. An easy drinking wheat ale perfect for a hot day. (4.2% ABV)
  • Matilda - This is where Goose Island's portfolio really begins to impress. Matilda is a Belgian style pale ale featuring complex aromas of orange, spice, phenols, and some dark fruit. Medium and frothy body with a moderately sweet finish. Excellent. (7% ABV)


    Goose Island Matilda - there's a winner.
  • Sofie - Sofie is a farmhouse ale, pale yellow in color with a white head. Somewhat tart with a prominent lemon character, plus some mild farmhouse funk. Light, yet chewy mouthfeel. (6.5% ABV)
  • Bourbon County Stout - This highly coveted imperial stout pours black/brown and viscous with a big brown head on top. Sweet chocolate is balanced by bourbon spice. This one's definitely a sipper! (15% ABV)

A pretty impressive lineup from Goose Island.

August 27, 2013

Craft Beer is for Lovers: Top Picks from the VA Craft Brewers Festival

2013 VA Craft Brewers Fest 
Capping off Virginia Craft Beer Month and a successful "Love on Tap" campaign by the state of Virginia, brewers and craft beer fans gathered this past weekend for the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival and Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. The event was held at Devils Backbone Brewing Company's Nelson County brewpub and concert grounds.

The weather was incredible, surpassed only by the setting, with mountain views for 360 degrees. Devils Backbone Brewpub sits on a huge plot of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, with almost no other buildings in sight. There were a fair number of people in attendance, about 2,200, but there was plenty of space so it didn't seem crowded. A huge stage was set up on the property for music, but the main attraction was most definitely the beer.

August 13, 2013

A Rare Beer Club Tasting: Best Served Chilled with Cheese and Good People

Rare Beer Club Tasting
The Rare Beer Club offers some
hard-to-find libations.
The Rare Beer Club puts hard to find and limited release beers in the hands of craft beer fans. They were kind enough to send me a few bottles, so I invited some Asheville beer folks over to try the club's summer releases. Included in the lineup were collaborations from some of the United States' favorite brewers, as well as a saison from one of the world's most highly regarded producers of the style.

First, a little more about the club...

January 30, 2013

Top Beers and Beards from the Asheville Winter Warmer

Both the beers and the beards were on full display at the Asheville Winter Warmer this weekend. Thirty-one breweries, a cidery, and some moonshiners each brought their finest to the show, while every bit of facial hair in the house was perfectly groomed -- for the most part.

These were some of the exceptional specimens from the event, in both the beer and the beard categories:

December 22, 2012

Asheville, NC: Wicked Weed Brewing Preview


Wicked Weed in Asheville, NC
Photo: Wicked Weed Brewing
"Community" was the word of the day when I visited Wicked Weed Brewing last week. Scheduled to open December 28th at 5pm, Wicked Weed is expected to make a big splash in Asheville with a number of adventurous beer styles, including a range of Belgian ales, sour beers, saisons, West Coast-style IPAs, and barrel-aged beers, all to be complemented with "enlightened pub fare." Having won the People’s Choice award at this summer’s Brewgrass festival, the Asheville community is sure to give Wicked Weed an enthusiastic welcome on opening day.

The brewing team at Wicked Weed includes brothers Walt and Luke Dickinson and their good friend Eric Leypoldt. Both Luke and Eric bring experience from Dogfish Head, but all three got their start in homebrewing. Walt began homebrewing in California in 2000, and his brother Luke caught the bug soon afterwards. Like many others in their profession, what started as a hobby turned into a dream, and now they're neck deep in it.

December 18, 2012

Southern Appalachian Brewery & Dupont State Forest

Triple Falls, Dupont State Forest
Despite rainy weather for most of the weekend, my girlfriend and I managed to avoid it on Saturday as we explored a bit of Western North Carolina with our new four-legged companion. We ventured first to Dupont State Forest, about 50 minutes south of Asheville and 15-20 from Brevard. The plan: do some hiking, see some waterfalls, then check out Southern Appalachian Brewery in nearby Hendersonville.

Dupont State Forest

After a nice drive through rural North Carolina, passing farms and horses and sheep along the way, we entered Dupont State Forest and parked at the Hooker Falls parking area.

I'm no Bill Bryson, but I do enjoy a walk in the woods from time to time. Even though this was mid-December and only the evergreen foliage remained, the beauty of the area was stunning. On a 2-3 hour hike along well-maintained trails, we saw multiple waterfalls, including Triple Falls and High Falls.

September 6, 2012

4 September Beer Festivals to Enjoy this Fall

Fall is a great time for beer festivals. (Then again, when is it not a great time for beer festivals?)

The original 1811 Oktoberfest in Munich celebrated the marriage of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Bavaria, but it also coincided with the harvest of the grain crop. What better way to ring in a new season of brewing by finishing off the previous spring's batch? While Munich's Oktoberfest has strict standards for the beers that can be served, these festivals below allow the modern beer-lover a wide variety styles to explore:

August 9, 2012

Nashville, TN: Flying Saucer Presents BeerFeast 2012

Tickets are on sale today for BeerFeast 2012, taking place September 22 at the Flying Saucer in Nashville.

Obsidian PR announces:
Flying Saucer will host its third annual beer festival, BeerFeast 2012, on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 1 to 6 p.m. in front of the Flying Saucer location in downtown Nashville at 111 Tenth Ave. South. BeerFeast 2012 will feature an unlimited beer tasting session highlighting more than 40 breweries and 60 beers carefully selected by Flying Saucer’s own resident beer guru, Keith Schlabs, and Nashville Flying Saucer general manager, Brandi Allen. 
 “This event allows us to showcase a large selection of rare and unique brews for Nashville craft brew lovers to enjoy,” Allen said. “With more than 60 different craft beers on hand for this event, we are more than doubling the amount of beers we have had at festivals in previous years, and it will be a great opportunity to sample and experience some really fantastic brews.”
Among the hard-to-find brews being served at this year's festival are Ommegang's Belgian Strong Ale Art of Darkness (98 points on RateBeer), Rogue's Dad's Little Helper Black IPA (90 points), and Left Hand's Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout. Plus, be on the lookout for a number of local Nashville beers.

Visit Beerfeast2012.com to take advantage of the early-bird discount or pick up your tickets at the Saucer.

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, please call 615-259-3039 or visit http://www.beerknurd.com/stores/nashville/.

August 7, 2012

Videos: The World of the Pink Elephant

On the blog today, a series of mini-documentaries from Delirium Brewery out of Belgium. They make the famous Delirium Troemens, a Belgian strong ale at 8.5%, labeled with the iconic pink elephant. Perhaps you've tried it.

The videos highlight urban culture, providing commentary on some of the ways we cope with the all-too-often oppressive urban environment. One of the big trade-offs of living in a city is the exposure we get to artists and creative types.

Sure, the videos are pretty blatant marketing, but at least it's cool marketing. I'll take these 2-minute videos over the mindless crap thrust upon us by the big guys any day.

August 4, 2012

In Chicago for Lollapalooza? Try These 7 Local Beers

Photo: Brett Gustafson

So you're in Chi-town for Lollapalooza Music Festival and wondering if there are any local craft beers worth a try. You're in luck  Chicago is a great craft beer city with plenty to choose from. Just don’t try to carry them into the festival – no outside food or drink. You've been warned... 

July 13, 2012

Decatur, GA: Girls Night Out at Brick Store Pub

Today's feature is a guest post by my partner-in-crime, Cristina Hall. She is a marketing consultant and holistic health coach-in-training. She writes about health, cooking, and wellness on her blog, La Solutionista.

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As a native of Atlanta, there are a lot of things that I miss about the city while I am away – buying fresh Georgia peaches from a local farmer, shopping at Trader Joe’s, The Wright Gourmet’s Signature Mustard Sauce, drinking SweetWater 420 on draught at Dagwood’s (my all-time favorite pizza place), and of course, my wonderful girlfriends. At the recommendation of a friend who used to work there, I recently visited the Brick Store Pub with three girlfriends for drinks and dinner. Now, I will also miss the amazing beer selection and atmosphere at this relaxed but lively restaurant in Decatur, GA.

Skimming their website beforehand, I was excited to learn that the pub was celebrating its 15th Anniversary with a week-long celebration. That evening they were featuring sour beers, a style recently introduced to me by a friend in Charleston.

July 9, 2012

Richmond, VA: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery has been on the Local Beer Blog radar for some time. They first caught my attention when I heard about the new brewery opening in Richmond, VA. I was then intrigued by the news that they were making a community-hopped IPA. When I read that Hardywood won a Bronze Medal at the World Beer Cup, it was clear that this was a place I needed to visit. I recently had the pleasure of meeting the co-founders at their production brewery in Richmond, VA to discuss their journey into the craft beer business and their various locally-flavored ales.

June 14, 2012

The Charleston Beer Exchange

The Charleston Beer Exchange ought to be a certified craft beer Mecca -- any beer fan passing through the area MUST make a stop here. From the top regional brews to the most obscure beers from around the world, CBX has just about every kind of craft beer you can think of, and then some. They've got hundreds of bottles and cans, more or less arranged by region, plus nine taps at the growler station that change on a regular basis. Stay up to date with what's on tap here.

June 6, 2012

Costa Rica: Treintaycinco - La Fábrica Artesanal de Cervezas

cerveceria treintaycinco costa rica
Some people say you must be insane to try to make craft beer in Costa Rica. Well, the guys at Treintaycinco may very well be crazy, but I think they're onto something.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Ignacio Castro Cortinas, one of the founding members of Treintaycinco, a small craft brewery soon to hit the market. Treintaycinco is a trio of Venezuelans made up of Ignacio, his best friend from college, and his brother-in-law. At first they were told they were nuts to try it, that Ticos would never get past drinking Imperial. OK, fine: they're doing it anyways, with attitude and a distinctive local flavor. Their venture is currently located just outside of San Jose in the town of Escazú, where Nathanael Montaño does most of the brewing, and Ignacio and Luis Alfredo "Frito" Araque focus on branding and recipe development.

My first question was, how did they come up with the name Treintaycinco?

May 27, 2012

Panama: La Rana Dorada

The craft beer scene in Panama remains small, but one of the major players right now is without a doubt La Rana Dorada. Run by the same people behind Colombia's hugely successful Bogota Beer Company, "The Golden Frog" has two locations that feature their four "cervezas artesanales con personalidad." That's "craft beer with personality" for all my gringo friends.

May 6, 2012

Announced: World Beer Cup 2012 Winners

This just in:

Winners of the 2012 World Beer Cup, a.k.a. "the Olympics of Beer Competition," have just been announced by the Brewers Association.  Brewers around the world are surely celebrating with a Sunday brew!

Special shout outs to some of the breweries from my travels:
  • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond, VA
    • Category 6: Herb and Spice Beer
      • Bronze Medal: Hardywood Gingerbread Stout
  • Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, VA
    • Category 17: American-Belgo-Style Ale
      • Silver Medal: Blue Reserve
  • Devils Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA
    • Category 35: Vienna-Style Lager
      • Gold Medal: Vienna Lager
  • Boscos Brewing Co., Memphis, TN
    • Category 52: German-Style Pale Wheat Ale
      • Gold Medal: Boscos Hefeweizen
  • Revolution Brewing, Chicago, IL
    • Category 66: English-Style Summer Ale
      • Gold Medal: Cross of Gold
    • Category 94: American-Style Stout,
      • Gold Medal: Rise American Stout
  • The Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
    • Category 79: British-Style Imperial Stout
      • Bronze Medal: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

It's a big world of beer out there!  Check out the full list of winners here.


April 26, 2012

Costa Rica: La Primera Festival Cerveza Artesanal

While craft beer is taking the US by storm, the movement in other parts of the world is just starting to gain momentum. This past Saturday was the first ever Festival Cerveza Artesanal in Costa Rica, organized by the small but growing community of craft breweries, homebrewers, retailers, and enthusiasts in this Latin American country known for its ecotourism and laid back, Pura Vida attitude. (Pura Vida translates to "the good life" or "the pure life" and can be used to say hello, goodbye, or in response to the question "how's it going?")

The festival was held outdoors on the swanky shopping strip Avenida Escazú, in a suburb of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. The weather was perfect, with a good mix of both Ticos and foreigners arriving for the event right on time.

April 8, 2012

Panama Brews Part 3: Una Noche de Cerveza

Last week, I teamed up with a couple other expats (Katie Garstin & Blayne Ladner) to present Una Noche de Cerveza. The mission: to jump-start craft beer culture in Panama City with an exclusive beer pairing dinner. Blayne generously opened up the Super Gourmet for the evening while Katie and I put together a menu consisting of four courses and five, 6-ounce beers to accompany each course:

March 6, 2012

Panama Brews Part 2: The Imports (or Are They?)

Panama City, located on the Southern access of the Panama Canal, is considered by many to be the economic hub of Latin America. Each year, roughly 14,000 ships pass through the Canal, which in 2011 generated some $1.7 billion in revenue for this developing country. These numbers will surely increase with the ongoing Canal Expansion Project. Not surprisingly, economic activity like this attracts international attention -- which translates directly to the selection on the beer aisle.

September 23, 2011

Holland, MI: New Holland's Farmhouse Hatter

What? The bottle says it's a Farmhouse IPA -- so is it a Saison or an India Pale Ale?

Well, it's both. On a recent trip up to Ann Arbor, Michigan, I stopped by Whole Foods to see what "the Wolverine State" had to offer. This 22 oz bottle from New Holland Brewing grabbed my attention -- the label is great, and the description was pretty intriguing:

"Fermentation character from Belgian-born yeast envelops bright hop character with a spicy, tart farmhouse funk. Pairings: seafood, fennel, mushrooms, pickled veggies."

Lacking any seafood, fennel, mushrooms, or pickled veggies, I had to try the Farmhouse Hatter straight up.

As you can see, the beer poured a huge head which continued bubbling up for several minutes. There was a big citrus and floral hop aroma -- Cascade, if I had to guess, but don't hold me to it. Also a caramel sweetness in the smell. My first reaction when I tasted the beer was that it was way out of sync with the smell -- a bit of a shock. The main taste was the tartness, the "farmhouse funk" that comes from the Belgian yeast they used.

As I went deeper into the bottle other characteristics started to come through. I found there to be more hop bitterness than hop flavor, but there was still some citrus action in there. Overall, I thought the beer was highly sessionable, despite all of the unusual flavors mixed together. Very similar to the Springhouse Ale I had a couple weeks ago, and for a beer with an identity crisis, it turned out to be very interesting and easy-drinking -- not an easy feat!

Cheers to New Holland for pushing the boundaries!

Here's a close-up of the character on the bottle:

Sorry Johnny Depp, this guy's way cooler.