Friday, November 30, 2012

Bière de’ Hougmont – Brewery Ommegang

                This marks the third post on a beer from Brewery Ommegang, the first two being Art of Darkness and Seduction.  Biere de’ Hougmont is the most recent limited release from Ommegang, or at least the most recent that has made its way out to Wisconsin.  As with any Ommegang special release beer, my hopes were high with this one.  I don’t often drink a bottle of bière de garde, if for no other reason than that it is a hard beer style to find here in Wisconsin.

                Bière de Garde is a style traditionally brewed in northern France as regional farmhouse ale.  They were traditionally brewed during the winter and spring for year round consumption.  They are often earthy, with toasted, sweet malts and musty aromas.  They can be slightly acidic with fruity, barnyard, or leather notes.  The style can be remarkably complex and may contain too many funky flavors for some.  It is definitely not a beer style for everyone, but can be extremely enjoyable for those who are seeking a broader range of flavors and aromas in their beer.  On to the review.

                On Beeradvocate, Biere de’ Hougmont currently has a score of 85.  Over at ratebeer it has a score of 94 overall and 97 for style.

They Say:

                Our Limited Edition Biere d’ Hougoumont is brewed with traditional French ale yeast, eight malts, French Strisselspalt hops, and aged on white oak and hard maple wooden staves. A traditional Biere De Garde style, this malty French-style farmhouse ale is brewed to be aged. The name honors the Hougoumont farmstead at the pivotal center of the Waterloo battlefield. Napoleon repeatedly failed to take the fortification, he then lost the battle and “met his Waterloo.”

                7.3% ABV

                Available for a limited time in 750 ml bottles and 1/6 BBL keg starting July 2012.

Brewmaster Phil Leinhart adds

Four of the malts used are Munich, Vienna, Acidulated and wheat.

The Bottle adds

                Pour slowly so as to not disturb the yeast sediment, but with enough vigor to create a luxurious head and release the rich bouquet.

I Say:

                Biere d’ Hougoumont pours a gorgeous apricot in color with golden hues.  It has a thick, creamy off-white head that holds excellent retention through the entire glass, and leaves intricate lacing.  The aroma is extremely complex with sweet, caramel and biscuit malt notes, maple syrup and earthy hops, the complex toasted vanilla notes of a charred oak barrel, a slight musty (farmhouse) quality, and slight alcohol warmth on the back end.  This is a truly complex beer in the traditional farmhouse-style.

                The flavors are equally complex, with caramel and biscuit malts, dominating but not overwhelming, maple syrup notes, vanilla/toasted/oak barrel flavors in addition to slightly spicy hop/yeast notes.  It finishes crisp and slightly dry with a medium-light body and a moderately high level of carbonation.

                This is a wonderfully amazing beer!  If I can find another bottle of it will definitely have a place in my bottle cellar.  If you can find it near you, buy two bottles; one for immediate consumption and one for extended aging (6 months to a year).

                Thank you Mr. Leihart for the additional information! 

                That’s all for tonight, be sure to check back soon for another beer review.  There are also a few interviews in the works.

                Happy Drinking!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lukcy Basartd - Stone Brewing

                Earlier this year Stone released a 10th Anniversary tribute to Ruination, and a 16th Anniversary Lemon Verbena IPA that were both very good beers, with the Ruination 10th surpassing Ruination, so as soon as I picked up a bottle of Lukcy Basartd, I had I hopes.  Originally released for the 13th Anniversary of Arrogant Bastard, Stone re-released Lukcy Basartd for the 15th Anniversary as well.  The original press release from Stone hailed it as a “dry-hopped meeting-of-the-Bastards in an in-the-fermenter-blend of Arrogant Bastard Ale and Double Bastard Ale…with a perfect balance of the essence of OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale” (courtesy of BeerPulse)

                Blended beers often far surpass the flavor profiles of the component beers, creating something more than the sum of the parts, and Lukcy Basartd is a blend the main three Bastard Ales.  So, theoretically it should carry over the over the top hoppiness of Arrogant Bastard, the over the smooth, sweet maltiness of Double Bastard and the pleasant vanilla oak notes of Oaked Bastard; with the added complexity of the blending.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday I picked up three bottles (two to share with relatives/friends, and one for personal consumption).  My friends were blown away that a beer could have so much flavor and be so complex and enjoyable, needless to say Lukcy Basartd converted them to the ranks of Stone drinkers, the liquid Arrogance gained control and took over.  I could go on, but you are all here for the review, so let’s get on with it.

                On Beeradvocate Lukcy Basatrd currently has a score of 92.  Over at ratebeer it currently has a 99 overall and a 97 for style.

They say:
Oepn yuor mnid. Use a craobwr if you msut. Snice 1997, Arorgnat Basartd Ale has denemdad taht tyrnianacl micredioty rleax its girp of opprobrium on our ciollectve couniescosnss. Few pessoss the ruiereqd isinght or detph of piversceptve to crdiet the Liuqid Arorgnace for initatgsing the rlveoituon in tsate taht it has. Hevweor, taht’s pfecertly fnie, as our hlurecaen erffots in thirstung the larlegy unlliwing wolrd farorwd rquereis no exrtneal vaditilaon. We ralieze it’s hmaun nautre to bleeive taht pregorss trowads getreanss is one’s own ieda.

The mree fcat taht yuo’re hdoinlg tihs bttloe in yuor hnad ianidctes taht yuo’re pyiang antteiton, wihch ideitammley stes you arpat form the msseas. It aslo mkaes you one Lukcy Basartd. Hewover, lcuk faovrs the blod... and the arorgnat. The trmiraivute of Arorgnat Basartd Ale, OEKAD Arorgnat Basartd Ale and Dbolue Basartd Ale are all in paly in this cvueé de Basartd you now hlod, and wihle it is idneed a Lukcy Basartd, lcuk had ntohing to do wtih it. 

Taody, wihle nueomrus iendicrlby dinistcitve chcoies are now alavaible, msot popele sitll fucos tiehr attntieon uopn msas mdiea’s isscenatnly banal ehco cheambr, keenpig thier hdeas frimly buerid in the maross of mecridioty. To beark thurogh tihs cophocany, to gsarp enitghnelnemt anmog the mnid-nmubnig culettr, rerequis itnent. Coinscous itnent. For mnay, this aictve piticipataron in the wolrd is unomfacbtorle. Prerrifeng inasted for oethrs to mkae teihr chcoies for tehm — be it a shioutng pindut or a toelievisn ciommecral — sheeple apccet the cmmoitozdied nrom wioutht thoghut. And to thsoe we say: “Setp asdie, and get the hlel out of our way.” 

2012 RELEASE DATE: Otcobre 29ht, 2012
ABV: 8.5%
AVAILABILITY: 22oz botlels and dafrt
HOP VARIETY: Clasisfeid
IBUs: Clasisfeid

I say:

Lukcy Basartd pours brilliantly clear dark amber with subtle garnet highlights, not quite mahogany but close.  It has a gorgeous thick, creamy off-white head that lasts throughout the entire glass and leaves excellent lacing in the glass.  The aroma is extremely enjoyable with pine notes on the front end, backed up with a touch of grapefruity citrus, slight grassy notes and subtle, vanilla, oaky goodness in the background.

The flavor brought with it much of what was in the aroma, with dominant pine and grapefruit notes, bringing with them a moderate to high level of bitterness, tempered by a sweet caramel malts, a slight toastiness and vanilla/oak notes lingering in the background.  All the flavors melded wonderfully to create a very complex flavor.  Lukcy Basartd is medium to full-bodied with a moderate level of carbonation and a smooth finish.

The previous Stone Anniversary Ales this year have been excellent and this one was no exception, if you can find it near you be sure to pick up at least one bottle if not a case.  One bottle might just not be enough once you taste the greatness that is the most recent bottle of liquid arrogance from Stone.

For those of you who feel as though Lukcy Basartd may be a bit too much for you, I will leave you with some words from Stone Brewing:

“This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory–maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beverage will give you more sex appeal.”

That’s all for today, check back later this week for another review.  There should be another interview in the works soon too, so even more to look forward to!

Happy Drinking!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Galaxy White IPA - Anchorage Brewing Company

Galaxy White IPA marks the second brew from Anchorage Brewing Company that I have had the privilege of drinking and reviewing.  Whiteout Wit set the bar pretty high for my expectations on all beers.  To check find out my thoughts on Whiteout Wit and to get some background information on the Anchorage Brewing Company, check out my earlier post.  Since my last Anchorage Brewing post there is one update, at least one that I know about.  Gabe Fletcher has hired on his first employee, which is a big milestone in itself.  Hopefully someone will correct me if my date is wrong, but around October 14, Jeremiah Boone, the former head brewer at Midnight Sun Brewery joined Gabe at Anchorage Brewing.

As with all of Gabe’s beers it is fermented in a French oak foudres before being given a healthy dose of brettanomyces to give it that signature, Anchorage Brewing Company, kick.  It is fermented with a Belgian Wit yeast and is dry hopped with Galaxy hops.  Along the way it is dry-hopped with Galaxy hops for an extra hop kick in the aroma and flavor.

On Beeradvocate Galaxy White IPA currently has a score of 90.  Over at ratebeer it has a 99 overall and a 99 for style.

They say:

Exploration and innovation have always been hallmarks of mankind. The same spirit that sent pathfinders, like Captain Cook, sailing from Britain to the shores of Australia and the rocky coastlines of Alaska animates today's trailblazers. Wherever you find a frontier, be it the Final Frontier of our Milky Way, the Last Frontier of the Great Land, or the frontiers of scientific knowledge, there you will also find dedicated men and women, taking risks to break trail for the rest of us.
One of the new trails being blazed on the frontier of beer is the style known as White India Pale Ales. Galaxy White IPA represents a significant new landmark on that trail. With its use of fresh kumquats, Indian coriander, and black peppercorns, Galaxy pays homage to the early explorers, who sailed unknown seas in search of rare spices and exotic fruits. Captain Cook travelled from Australia to Alaska, and so have the Galaxy hops used to create this adventurous brew. Just as a true explorer never stands still, the presence of brettanomyces guarantees that Galaxy White IPA will keep evolving in the bottle for years to come.

So take a step from the known into the unknown. Cross the frontier from the commonplace into the extraordinary. Be the first to gaze upon an undiscovered country and return to tell the tale to those timid souls you left behind. After all, there's an entire Galaxy waiting to be explored… 

7% ABV
50 IBUs

From Gabe Fletcher

Galaxy White IPA uses wheat and pilsner malt, 100% Galazy hops and is spiced with fresh kumquats, black peppercorn and Indian coriander. 

I Say:

Galaxy White IPA is a wonder to behold, it’s slightly hazy light golden straw color sparkles in the light and has a seemingly endless stream of champagne-like bubbles.  It is topped by a thick, rocky, brilliantly white Belgian head that held retention through the entire glass and left excellent lacing.  As beautiful as the pour is, the aroma is somehow even better.  On the front end there is a nice sweet orange aroma (kumquats) with a hint of pepper and coriander in a nod to the Belgian Wit style, followed by slight barnyard and bready sourdough notes on the back end.

The flavor is equally as complex with kumquat up front followed by pepper, coriander, a moderate level of bitterness as expected in an IPA with a very slight hint of barnyard and sourdough bread on the back end.  The brett at bottling definitely put this beer over the top, although I am sure that it would still have been an excellent White IPA without the addition of brett.

Galaxy White IPA is medium to light bodied with a moderate to high level of carbonation.  The flavor lingers between sips, but not too long and a combination of the aroma and flavor made me want to keep coming back for more.

This is another excellent beer from the Anchorage Brewing Company and I look forward to trying the rest of his lineup when I see them down here in Wisconsin.

That's all for today, check soon for an interview and another review!

Happy Drinking!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

16th Anniversary IPA – Stone Brewing Co.

                Many of the Anniversary beers from Stone Brewing have been hoppy IPAs, or Double IPAs.  That shouldn’t be too surprising since Stone has a long history of brewing excellent hoppy beers.  Their 16th Anniversary IPA, brewed with lemon verbena and lemon oil, is just the latest in creative hoppy beers to come from Greg Koch, Steve Wagner and Mitch Steele.

                Released in August 2012, with the note to enjoy fresh on the bottle, I was surprised to see bottles of Stone 16th Anniversary IPA in a liquor store a couple weeks ago.  I was surprised to see bottles available in mid-October and was curious to see how it was a few months after the release date given that strong IPAs have a tendency to fade over time.

                For more information on Stone Brewing Co, check out my earlier review on Ruination 10.  On to the review:

                On Beeradvocate, Stone 16th Anniversary currently has a score of 86 and a 76 from the Bros.  Over at ratebeer it has a score of 98 overall and 92 for style.

They say:

We've been loving creating Collaboration beers with great creative brewers from all over the world these last several years-unique beers that would never have existed without the free-flowing imagination and idea generation of the collaborative process. However, when it comes to the Stone Anniversary Ales, it's all us. Yet, it is indeed still a collaboration with great creative brewers (if we do say so ourselves). We're talking about our own brewing team, of course. And while some of our beers, anniversary and otherwise, have been designed by a single person, the Stone 16th Anniversary IPA was definitely a team effort.

This year our brewing team was inspired by some exotic-ish additions of the lemony persuasion. Yes, it's a Double IPA (can you really say you're surprised?), but as we strive to do with all our Stone Anniversary Ales of the let's-take-this-IPA-in-a-new-direction variety, we've brewed up a Stone-worthy divergence from tradition. The amount of rye malt we used isn't quite enough to warrant the appellation "Rye IPA," but it still adds hints of spiciness that contrast deliciously with the tropical fruit flavors and aromas of the Amarillo and Calypso hops. Add a few European specialty malts, some lemon verbena, and three more hop varieties to the mix, and you have a highly complex brew melding both bitter and fruity hop notes with rich toasted malt character punctuated by nuances of spicy rye and subtle lemon.

Mitch's Tasting Notes
Stone 16th Anniversary IPA
ABV: 10% IBUs: 85
Beautiful light amber with a thick creamy tan head of foam.

An incredible blend of fruits: citrus, lemon, and peaches, with hints of mint and dry-roasted nutty malt flavors.


A very clean maltiness, intense peachy/mango Amarillo hops, hints of apples and berries, finishing in a burst of fresh lemon, hop bitterness, and herbal spiciness.

Smooth and complex malt flavors, medium body, the very slightest hint of alcohol heat, with a refreshingly bitter and citrusy finish.

From the first time I smelled a broken leaf from a lemon verbena bush at Stone Farms, I thought its intense lemony character would be a great addition to an IPA. It truly is "more lemon than lemon." The lemon flavors combine wonderfully with the peach and tropical mango flavors from the Amarillo, and the apple and berry notes from the Calypso hops. The result is an intense, bitter and very refreshing take on a double IPA. Perfect for a Southern California summer.

I say:
                Stone 16th Anniversary pours deep gold with a thick, creamy white head that held excellent retention through the entire glass and left excellent lacing.  The aroma is very sweet and with distinct lemon and lemon verbena notes, noticeable alcohol, a hint of grapefruit hops, and subtle pear notes in the background.  Lemon verbena is one of my favorite flavors of tea, and it was refreshing to notice it in a well-brewed beer.

                The flavor was extremely complex with lemon, mango, lemon verbena, pineapple, sweet caramel malt and grapefruit with hints of booze.  16th Anniversary IPA was moderately bitter and well balanced with enough malt to round out the lemon and hop bitterness.  It has a sweet, yet dry finish a medium body and moderate carbonation.

                Stone 16th Anniversary IPA is a very good, extremely enjoyable IPA.  The addition of lemon and lemon verbena bring with them an added level of complexity that lets 16th Anniversary stand out.  I highly recommend that you pick up a bottle if you can still find it in stores because at 2 months after the release date it is still quite good and worth notice.

                That’s all for today, check back for another review yet this week.

                Happy Drinking!