Looking for an excellent Belgian-style beer for this week I was drawn to Anderson Valley Brewing’s Brother David’s Double. Anderson Valley’s current brewmaster is Fal Allen, a well-known and accomplished brewer and beer writer. His credits include “Barley Wine: History,Brewing Techniques, Recipes” from the Classic Beer Styles series, co-authorship of the Brewers Association’s Style Guidelines, as well as over 40 articles in professional brewing journals. He has worked with breweries around the world, including a period an earlier position as the general manager at Anderson Valley Brewing before re-joining Anderson Valley Brewing as their brewmaster in 2010 after brewing in Singapore. I highly recommend both of his blogs by the way: The Goat Rodeo and Brewing in Singapore. It has been a while since either has been updated, but they both make for a good read.
However, Anderson Valley Brewing was founded long before Fal joined them. Back in 1987, David Norfleet, Kim Allen and Ken Allen founded Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville, CA. Ken Allen and David Norfleet began brewing on a 10-barrel brewhouse. In their first year, David Norfleet and Ken Allen produced 600 barrels of beer. By 1996, their 10-barrel system was unable to keep up demand so they upgraded to a 30-barrel brewhouse and installed a 12-ounce bottling line. The explosive growth continued and in 1998 Anderson Valley installed two vintage copper brewhouses rescued by Ken Allen from defunct German breweries during a trip to Europe in 1995 breweries, a 100-barrel system and an 85-barrel system.
Fast forward to 2010 when Ken Allen decided to retire and sold his brewery to Trey White, the former executive vice president of United States Beverage. Mr. White brought Fal Allen back to Anderson Valley Brewing and expanded the barrel aging and sour beer programs. As of 2011, Anderson Valley Brewing produced over 36,000 barrels of beer.
They currently produce six year round beers: Boont Amber Ale, Ho Ottin’ India Pale Ale, Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, Poleeko Gold Pale Ale, and Boont Extra Special Bitter; two beers in the Brother David’s series: Brother David’s Double and Brother David’s Triple. They also have the Mendonesia Series which includes seven traditional beers: Mendo Mello, Wee Geech, El Steinber, Dark Side of the Boon, Imperial Boont Amber, Horn of the Beer and Deep Enders Porter; two non-sour barrel aged beers: Huge Arker and Bourbon Stout; as well as five sour beers: Horse Tongue Wheat, Featherleggy Bulrusher, Grand Cru and Gatlin Damnosus. Damn, that was a long list of beers; it made me thirsty.
And oh by the way, did I mention thier commitment to Environmentally responsible brewing? No? Well click the link for more info, its really pretty cool. On to the review.
As you will notice below, the commercial description for Brother David’s Double give a cursory overview of the ingredients used without actually offering any specifics. Fortunately both Steinber Kimmie and Fal Allen of Anderson Brewing were quick to reply to my inquiries and extremely helpful. A big thank you goes out to the both of you!
On Beeradvocate, Brother David’s Double has a score of 81 with a 78 from the Bros. Over at ratebeer it has a 93 overall and a 94 for style. This is one of those rare occasions where I am more inclined to agree with ratebeer.
To match Anderson Valley’s dazzling variety of foods, the Anderson Valley brewing company diversified its lineup to include two Belgian Abbey styles: Brother David’s Double and Brother David’s Triple.
Winner of the 2011 Great American Beer Festival ® Gold Medal, Brother David’s Double is rich, dark brown ode to maltiness, with rich dark-chocolate creaminess, and the scent of banana and tropical fruit esters. Faint hop notes linger in the background against classic belgian carbonation.
As with all of our products, Brother David’s Double is never sterile filtered nor heat pasteurized.
The bottle adds:
Brewed in a cloistered nook of remote Anderson Valley, this Belgian-style strong ale may be the closest you’ll ever get to heaven on earth. Made in very limited quantity, it is nutty, tangy and a little wild, it is sure to raise your spirits. We suffered to brew this enormously complex beer so that you can enjoy it completely guild free.
Never pasteurized nor sterile filtered. For maximum flavor, enjoy at between 40 °F and 55 °F. Brewed with Malted barley, hops, water, demera sugar and special Trappist yeast.
Steinber Kimmie and Fal Allen provided information about the grain bill, hops and gravity:
Malts: Pale 2 row malt, CaraAroma, Munich (20L), Chocolate malt (415L), Special B malt
Hops: Vanguard, Sterling, Goldings
OG: 19.5 Plato, FG: 3.5 Plato, ABV: 9%
Brother David’s Double is a remarkable beer. It pours dark mahogany with a nice thick, rocky, light tan head that had good retention. The aroma had definite alcohol notes backed up by dark fruits (plum and cherry), toffee and dark caramel. This beer smelled heavenly and extremely complex, which is to be expected in a well-brewed Belgian-style ale.
For as enjoyable as the aroma was, the flavor was even better. It began smooth, sweet and creamy with definite caramel, a hint of molasses, plum and dark cherry notes before finishing with a slight alcohol bite that betrays its hefty 9% ABV. It is full-bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.
Brother David’s Double is a pleasure to savor, and this is truly a sipping beer that should be contemplated. It is not to be taken lightly due to both its high ABV, as well as its full-bodied nature. If anyone ever had reason to question Fal Allen’s brewing greatness this beer should put those doubts to rest.
Thank you Mr. Allen for an excellent beer that lies somewhere between a Belgian Dubbel and a Strong Belgian Dark Ale, this truly is a beer worthy of being labeled an Abbey Style Ale!
That’s all for this week, be sure to check back on Monday for a review of Turbo Shandy from Hoppin’ Frog Brewery. Enjoy your weekend; I hope that you are fortunate enough to not be experiencing the sweltering heat that we are out here in Wisconsin.