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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! Route des epices

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! Route des epices (Spice Route):

You may be thinking if this brewery really uses an exclamation point in their name?  They do!  You can check them out at their webpage: www.dieuduciel.com.  

You may also be thinking, "Pepper?  In beer?"  Yes!  And it is quite good.  This "trade route" beer is a rye beer and it comes in at a very drinkable 5.3% abv, which is great, because this is a quite flavorful beer for a relatively low abv.  
Here is my review as listed in my 33 Bottles of Beer book.
The nose is peppery and so is the taste and the finish.  It has a nice caramel color, and the spice of the beer lingers on the palette.
This is a spice-tasting beer, so it is not something you chug during the summer months as you lounge in the sun, but I think this is a great beer to stand up to bold flavors of food as well as jazz-up smooth buttery foods like mild cheeses.  This would be an interesting beer to pair up with a fabulous pepper chocolate I had at Iron Hill in West Chester with Eclat Chocolate (also from West Chester).

And to be honest, I enjoy the "warming" aspect of this beer much better than Winter Warmers distributed during the Winter and Holiday seasons.  While I conjure up visions of Marco Polo bringing back pepper from the East, I can see myself drinking this beer again in the future.
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Duchess de Bourgogne (Summer of Sours)

Here is another installment in the Summer of Sours series of reviews.  This Gold Medal Winner of the World Beer Cup is brewed in Belgium and weighs in at 6% abv.  I really like how this beer has that traditional sour nose and flavor.  And at a tolerable and nicely drinkable 6% abv, it has already won me over more so than some other sours.

This beer has a nice deep copper color and an "expansive" mouthfeel.  It seems to seek out and find every last nook and cranny of my tastebuds.  I find it to be crisp, and refreshing, with just enough sour flavor.  It is well-balanced and refreshing.  It scores a 91 on Beer Advocate, and I would definitely place it in one of my "top tier" lists of beers.  This is very nice.

Something about the bottle, its label, its shape, perhaps, and maybe the price, which in NJ was about $9 and change, give this beer a luxurious and classy style.  From SpecialtyBeer.com:

DUCHESSE DE BOURGOGNEfrom Brouwerij Verhaeghe is the traditional Flemish red ale. This refreshing ale is matured in oak casks; smooth with a rich texture and interplay of passion fruit, and chocolate, and a long, dry and acidic finish. After the first and secondary fermentation, the beer goes for maturation into the oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of younger 8 months old beer with 18 months old beer. The average age of the Duchesse de Bourgogne before being bottled is 12 months. [See their page]
Like Petrus, this beer is aged in oak barrels.  I see a trend here, a trend I like.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Maine Beer Company Zoe

It’s not everyday that you walk into the Whole Food’s Pub and find a beer from a brewery you have never heard of before.  Enter Maine Beer Company, and Zoe, self described as “Our Happy, Hoppy, Amber Ale.”  And they mean it.

I must admit, I was drawn in by the label.  The very simple, almost homemade look made me pick up the bottle.  Reading the brewery’s statement on the back of the bottle made me take it home with me.  Well, that and the name of the beer.

The beer poured with a nice deep, almost brown amber color, with not too much head.  It had an IPA-like nose, just how I like my amber ales.  Great refreshing flavor, similar in many ways to Tröegs Hopback, but still quite unique.  Very clean flavor, slightly lighter in the hops than Hopback (but still aggressively hopped), but also somewhat more roasted notes.  7.2% ABV, so right in that Goldilocks zone, not too low, not too high.  Also a great fresh flavor (bottled on May 31) - and the brewery itself encourages you not to age their beers, but to enjoy them fresh.
Only problem - I wish I had gotten two bottles so I could share one!  I would also love to get to try their IPA (Lunch) and stout (Mean Old Tom).
(Photos from this review were provided by Citizen Elizabeth)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

De Proef Reinaert Wild Ale (Summer of Sours)

De Proef Reinaert Wild Ale:

This wild ale is the first review of a series of "sour" beers I have enjoyed in 2012, primarily since this extremely hot summer.  I put the word "sour" in quotes, because although it is very recognizable style of beer, it is one that likes to hide from itself.  With the exception of a beer like Monk's Cafe Sour Ale, sours tend not to advertise the term "sour."  They tend to say "wild," meaning they use a wild yeast strain, or probably if the word "Flemish" is used (brewed in the Flanders region of Belgium), it is probably a sour, too.

Putting my nose to the bottle, Reinaert definitely has that sour nose to it, which is nice.  People who know me have heard me say that I like sours, because in some ways, they don't taste like beers at all.  This doesn't mean I dislike what I perceive to be a traditional "beer" smell.  In fact, I have also commented how much I like Stoudts Karnival Kolsch, because it has so much traditional beer flavor.  In fact, it reminds me of the beer of my youth, the first beer I ever had, Philadelphia's own Schmidt's.  But when I think of awesome sours like Russian River Supplication or Jolly Pumpkin's Madrugada (which they categorize as an imperial stout), it's like you are drinking some kind of otherworldly elixir.

This beer does not hit me like a Russian River beer, but what other beers do, right?  For being 9.0% abv, this wild ale is smooth.  If you taste the alcohol at all, it is on the tip of the tongue, and not unpleasant.  For me, this beer is yet another step of wrapping my head around the grand tradition of Belgian beers.  There are some Belgian dubbels and tripels that I just can't stand anymore because they are so cloying and syrupy.  This wild ale is crisp, with a nice off-white head, decent effervescence, and a nice balance of tart flavor with some hoppy bitterness.  "Finished with a surprising and pleasant bitterness" is what is says on the bottle, and they credit it to the dry hopping they employ, and I agree.  It is surprising and bitter, and I think in that finish is where you get a hint of the alcohol too, which as I said, isn't bad.

Again, I think this beer is at a disadvantage since I have a strong affection for Russian River sours.  I also had this year Iron Hill's Flemish Red, and that was really great.  Great sour flavor.  I will need to get another bottle.  Reinaert does not have that luxurious, decadent flavor that a Russian River beer provides, but it is nice and smooth, and has a nice overlap into the realm of hoppy beers.  I could see this becoming a gateway beer for drinkers unfamiliar or unwilling to drink sour beers.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Greetings, Citizens!

It is indeed July 4th.  Without a truly patriotic post yet this fine day, I'll invite you to check out some past Independence Day posts from the Ferment Nation:

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted anything worth reading.  My "other" life has been quite hectic, but I haven't stopped sipping the nectar of the gods...  Please bear with me and check out this Storified collection of brews I've been sampling lately.  Please feel free to share your experiences with us: simply mention @FermentNation in a tweet with a brief citizen review of a beer you're drinking.  Heck, make it any fermented beverage.  If you have a picture, even better.  Or a food pairing.... Just give our readers some ideas and inspiration for their next adventure.

By the way, for a truly patriotic toast (in an ancient Chinese black magic sort of way) check out what Jack Burton and Wang have to say: http://youtu.be/RR7q-qf3VSQ