Monday, February 25, 2013

15th Anniversary – Brewery Ommegang

                BreweryOmmegang continually amazes me with their interpretations of traditional Belgian and French styles.  In commemoration of their 15th Anniversary, Ommegang released XV, a Dark Belgian Strong Ale.  This ale is unlike any that they have released, and at $18 retail, I should hope not.  This bottle was unbelievably hard to find, but I did not even hesitate at the $18 sticker price and picked up multiple bottles due to its uber-rare status.  So, was it worth $18?  Should you pick it up if you find it?  Check below to find out.  On with the review!

                On Beeradvocate, XV has a score of 90.  Over at ratebeer it has a 97 overall and a 93 for style.

They Say:
On the Website -
Ommegang XV pays homage to the great Trappist ales brewed by monks in the Trappist monasteries of Belgium. Created with deep devotion to the brewing art, using the finest ingredients and made with infinite care, XV is unlike any ale we've ever brewed. Even by our exacting standards Ommegang XV stand alone.
Ommegang XV pours a deep walnut hue, with a ruby highlight, full head, and lively carbonation. The nose is malty and complex. Flavors of toffee and chocolate arise, mingling with molasses and caramel as the ale warms. Fruity esters and hints of raisin follow. The body is full and finishes with creamy smoothness.

9.6% ABV

Available for a limited time in 750ml bottles starting October 2012.
Extremely limited.

On the Bottle –
                Ommegang XV Reserve Ale is an extraordinary and uncommon ale even by our discerning and refined standards.
                One year in creation – and brewed but once – Ommegang XV Reserve celebrates 15 years of creating fine Belgian-style ales.
                This celebratory ale honors our ancestry, and pays homage to the world’s most desired ales – the legendary Trappist ales of Belgium.
                Like the revered Trappist ales, Ommegang XV Reserve is brewed with only the finest ingredients and with devotion and care – creating an ale with strikingly complex aromas and flavors.
                Deep, dark, and elegant, this ale will delight and satisfy today. And will age gracefully in the cellar.
On the Commemorative Tin
                Ommegang XV Reserve Ale is an extraordinary and uncommon ale, even by our discerning standards.
                A full year in creation - and brewed but once – Ommegang Reserve Celebrates 15 years of creating fine Belgian-style ales.
                This celebratory ale honors our ancestry and pays homage to the world’s most desired ales – the revered Trappist ales of Belgium.
                Like exquisite Trappists, Ommegang XV Reserve is brewed with only the finest ingredients, with devotion and patience, creating an ale with strikingly complex flavors and aromas.
                Deep, dark and elegant, this ale will delight and satisfy today, and will gracefully cellar.

I Say:
XV Reserve pours a very dark, translucent mahogany with subtle garnet highlights.  It has a thick, creamy light brown head that holds moderate retention (2 minutes before it fades into the glass to cling around the edges), and leaves exquisite lacing in the glass.  This is a gorgeous beer!  The aroma is full of plum, figs, raisins, brown sugar with pleasantly spicy black pepper phenols.  There are trace amounts of smoke, which might come from either dark malts or the yeast.

The flavor is full of toffee, milk chocolate, molasses, caramel and plums, with very slight peppery phenols (not as apparent as in the aroma).  It is sweet throughout with a very nice dry, crisp finish and a considerable chocolaty linger.  Poured into a tulip glass, rather than a snifter, the dark cocoa notes take center stage with slight alcohol notes on the back end.

XV Reserve is medium to full-bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.  The moderate carbonation helps to keep this beer from being overly sweet and greatly benefits the overall experience.  As with every beer that I have had from Ommegang, this one is perfectly primed for the style.

So, was XV Reserve worth the $18 that I spent on it?  Do I regret picking up the bottles that were in stock?  It most certainly was worth it!  I only wish that I could buy more than the three bottles that I picked up!  If you are lucky enough to find a bottle of Ommegang XV Reserve near you, then pick it up, don’t pay attention to the price they are asking, just do it.  You will not be disappointed.  I have had many wonderful beers from Ommegang, but this is the best yet!

It is hard to believe that each new release continues to top the previous, but over the course of their past 6 special releases the beers have continually gotten better (I can’t count “Iron Throne” or “Duvel Rustica in that list because they haven’t made it to Wisconsin yet).  Ommegang, much like the other breweries owned by Duvel Moortgat continues to produce brilliantly crafted ales that should be in high demand in any household that enjoys finely crafted beers.

While Ommegang cannot be referred to as an American craft brewery according to the Brewer’s Association, due to ownership by Duvel Moortgat, they are still one of the best “craft” breweries in the US!  Be sure to pick up and beer that you can find by them, whenever you can find it!
That’s all for today, be sure to check back soon for another post!

Happy Drinking!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Twelve Dog Imperial Stout – Black Husky Brewing

                I have had quite a few of Black Husky’s beers so far and have been impressed by them all.  In fact, Twelve Dog Stout was the first of brew master, Tim Eichinger’s beers that I had, well over a year ago.  It was Twelve Dog Stout that led me to try more of his beers and start going to the liquor store in the Milwaukee area that stocks bottles, Three Cellars.  Since that night I have enjoyed Black Husky’s wide range of beers with a twist, from Smoke Monster, to Sparkly Eyes, to Sproose Joose, to the more traditional Hefe Weiss Wheat Ale.  Twelve Dog Stout, one of the Beware of the Dog series of beers is a traditional Imperial Stout.

                As an Imperial stout it is considerably stronger than a traditional stout at 2.5 – 7% ABV.  At 8.8% this is a big beer.  Imperial Stouts are typically black in color with high alcohol content.  They are typically very robust, rich and malty, often having fruity esters.  Hop bitterness, flavor and aroma can range from low to high on whether it is a British-style or American-style Imperial Stout.  Optionally, an Imperial stout can have a slight astringency from the usage of dark malts, but it the astringency should not be excessive.

                With that said, on to the review.  Twelve Dog Imperial Stout does not have enough reviews at Beeradvocate to have a rating.  Over at ratebeer it has a score of 63 overall and a 7 for style. 

They Say:

                In the lower 48, 12-dog racing is king.  To honor that tradition, our Imperial Stout uses 12 malts.  In harness each dog brings a unique personality, providing an unpredictable & exciting ride!  A Lead dog guides the adventure and while Rosie is smallest in stature, she has the largest personality and is the natural representative for this intensely flavored, full-bodied beer – a bit over the top as is Rosie.  She wears her crown proudly.

8.8% ABV
31 IBUs
49 SRM

I Say:

                Twelve Dog Imperial Stout pours an opaque black with a thick creamy tan head that holds excellent retention from the first sip through almost the entire glass.  The aroma is dominated by roasted malts and baker’s chocolate with just a hint of coffee and plum.

                This is a very malty beer.  The flavor is full of dark malts, lending notes of baker’s chocolate and hits of caramel.  It has a dry finish with notes of baker’s chocolate and moderate hop bitterness.  Twelve Dog is a very creamy and smooth, full-bodied beer with a low level of carbonation and no noticeable astringency.

I usually prefer more alcohol presence in an Imperial stout, something that was lacking in Twelve Dog.  However, the presence of strong alcohol notes is not required in the style and is merely a personal preference.  Twelve Dog Imperial Stout is a good, robust, malty stout with excellent plum esters that blend well with the roasted malts in the aroma and flavor.  Twelve Dog is a good beer from a great brewery, if you can find any Black Husky beers near you either on tap or in a bottle then you should go out of your way to try it.

Be sure to drink it at the appropriate temperature (14-16C/57-61F) and in an appropriate glass (A British Pint or a Snifter).  Temperature and glassware have a tremendous impact on the perceived flavor and aroma of a beer.  Drink responsibly, by respecting the style of beer you are drinking.

That’s all for tonight!  Check back soon for another post

Happy Drinking!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Jewbelation Sweet 16 – Shmaltz Brewing

                Many breweries have interesting stories about their founding, yet some are remarkably striking.  Shmaltz Brewing, founded in 1996, brewed their first beer with pomegranates, pomegranates that founder Jeremy Cowan and his friends hand squeeze pomegranate in his flat in San Francisco.  The first batch of 100 cases was self-distributed out of the trunk of Cowan’s grandmother’s car.  In 1997, Shmaltz contracted brewing through the Anderson Valley Brewing Company, expanding distribution throughout California and to Chicago and New York.  In 2003, production was moved to the Mendocino Brewing Company’s brewery in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Since that first batch of 100 cases, Shmaltz has come a long way, expanding distribution and earning medals and accolades.  As of this past winter, Jeremy Cowan and everyone else at Shmaltz celebrated their 16th Anniversary.  In honor of their 16th Anniversary, Shmaltz released Jewbelation Sweet 16, a 16% American Strong Ale brewed with 16 malts and 16 hop varieties spread over 16 additions.  For those of you out there who brew, they were nice enough to include the recipe.

This is the second Shmaltz Brewing beer that I have posted on, the first being the Genesis Dry Hopped Session Ale.  On to the review:

At Beeradvocate, Sweet 16 has a score of 87.  Over at ratebeer it has a score of 93 overall and a 67 for style.

They say:

I Say:

                Jewbelation Sweet 16 pours opaque black with a thick, foamy, tan head that holds moderate retention, fading out to cling to the sides of the glass over the course of a few minutes and leaves intricate lacing behind.  The aroma is extremely complex with notes of roasted malts, vanilla, fresh baked bread, caramel, chocolate, and noticeable alcohol on the back end.  As it warms, the aromas blend more fully into an aroma similar to warm chocolate cake.

               It is a very silky, sweet and luxuriant beer with flavor notes of chocolate, caramel, herbal and citrus hops, and again reminded me of a chocolate cake with subtle alcohol notes in the flavor.  As it warms the flavor takes on licorice notes and the alcohol becomes more dominant.  The finish is slightly sweet, malty and well-rounded.  Sweet 16 is full bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

               Okay, now that that part is done all I can say is HOT DAMN!  Sweet 16 is an amazing beer!  It was very well brewed and drank like a fine desert.  If I could go out and pick up a case of it I certainly would.  Unfortunately though, I picked up the last bottle at my local liquor store and have been unable to find it at another location near me.
               If you see Sweet 16 on tap or in a bottle near you, pick it up!  It is an incredible bargain at the $5.00 that I paid for it and would certainly be a good deal even at the $10-15 price range.

                That’s all for today, be sure to check back soon for another post!

                Happy Drinking!