When you create an account with Ratebeer they ask you your favorite style of beer. In the beginning, I was a barley wine girl then a fruit lambic lady and now I feel like I might be delving into the world of sours. Barley wines were appealing, and still are, because of the high abv and they tend to have interesting sweetnesses going on. Fruit lambics were of particular interest because they produced flavors reminiscent of those found in our family orchard and the lambic style is so varied and surprising. Sour ales also fall into this category of surprise and a variety of flavors that can vastly differ from one to the next. My recent excursion to Lola had the added bonus of Jolly Pumpkin’s sour ale, La Roja. I hadn’t had one since July and it was such a pleasant reminder of the greatness of sour ales. Off to expand the horizons once again.
The Line Up
Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne:
I wrote about this weird yet great sour earlier in “Salty Bitches” but here’s a run-down again of my notes on it. Straight from the bottle enjoyed on a summit over Lago Lugano, Switzerland. This was recommended to me by the wife/owner of A Tutta Birra in Milano as her favorite. Most interesting beer I’ve had so far in Italy. The aroma reminded me of rotting trash and at first sip so did the flavor. Further sips revealed sour cherries, dark fruits, apricot and vanilla. Incredibly smooth on the palate, absolutely no kick at the end. Much too sweet for me, almost could be considered a dessert beer in the same vein as dessert wines.
De Ranke Kriek:
Pours a muddy purple/red with no head. On the nose: same white grape tartness as lambic gueuzes but the flavor is really watered down. Flat but crisp. Don’t get the cherry taste but more lemon and white grape. Love the crisp cool character and the slightly boozier aroma of this as compared to the guezes. Very drinkable but not very complex.
Jolly Pumpkin Perseguidor (Batch 4):
On draft at Beer Engine Sour Ale tasting. Pours a dark brown/black with ruby tinges on the side. No head. Nose: cognac as is the flavor with that white grape/almost smokey aftertaste. Flat, slightly tart and crisp. Yum. The tartness is really present in the corners of the mouth which inspires you to keep sipping away.
Rodenbach Grand Cru:
Bottle at The Beer Engine: Color: same as Rochefort 8 with no head. Aroma is funky bleu cheese and sour white grapes. Smooth slightly tart but boozier flavor at the beginning of the sip then tart bite at the back of the palate. Very refreshing and completely different than the last Flemish Red I had, Duchesse de Bourgogne. Love the diversity of this style – it felt like a borderline lambic.
Jolly Pumpkin La Roja:
750 at Lola into white wine glass. I love the label as I love all the Jolly Pumpkin label but this one is just great. The color is simply beautiful like a cross between a hoppy IPA and a mead. Fluffy orangey/tan head with a nice fruity aroma almost a kin to red wine sangria. Flavor is similar with some dark wood background notes and again that really nice fermented fruit sweet/sour combination. Such a delight.
I have the best brother in the whole world. Christmas started off with the proper glassware I needed for different styles of beer, since I’d been roughing it at school with a shaker, a double-handled mug and a sampling glass. Without even remembering to ask for it, my wonderful brother had slipped an equally wonderful surprise into my stocking: my very own triple beer hydrometer. This giant thermometer allows me to measure the weight of a liquid in relation to water (the gravity) and calculate the abv — essential to any homebrewer.
I woke up accidently way too early on Christmas day, which is never the case in my house, and so half way through presents I was melting down the armchair and pinned under wrapping paper and an assortment of gifts…all because I was too tired to move them to the floor.
By the time my brother gave me his last present to me, it was so heavy and situated directly under my chin I not only had trouble breathing but I couldn’t unwrap it. This was the present, in more ways than one, that made me sit up and take notice. The insides: Delirium Noël, Dogfish Head Burton Baton, Dogfish Head Theobroma, Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, my all time favorite Rochefort Trappistes 10, St. Bernardus Tripel and Southern Tier UnEarthly IPA. Oh, and just for funsies and to share, he brought home a 750 of Dupont Avec les Bons Vouex, a Belgian saison to die for: pours a really beautiful hazy orange/amber with an enormous super-fluff off-white head. Laces a teeny bit at the beginning. Seems like a saison/geuze hybrid because of the nice yeastiness and white grapes but is balanced with a sweetness.
A treasure trove of craft beer! What more could a girl ask for?! Well, about a week later a dear friend brought me a beer I’ve been waiting to get my hands on for a long time. Back from Chicago, he came armed with Three Floyds Behemoth Barleywine. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this brewery, start doing your homework because they have been giving the Midwest something of which to be truly proud and for the rest of the world to salivate over.
Got a new haul today from Grapes of Mirth at North Market where I was also picking up veal shanks from Bluescreek Farm Meats. Very happy with my finds and the service at Grapes of Mirth. The selection is starting to get slim for me so I’m looking for new spots since I’ve had almost everything there at this point. Also, after a quick stop at home for fall break I ran up to the Beer Engine and grabbed some Viking’s Blod!!! Gahhh, can’t wait to crack all these babies but for now it’s nose to the grindstone for school work and beer dinner fundraiser preparations.
Pictured above from left to right: Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw/Blue, New Holland Charkoota Rye, Fantome Pissenlit, Bell’s Java Stout and Bell’s Double Cream Stout.
The hilarious part about the Fantome is that this saison is brewed using diuretic dandelions found in the region: “The yellow flowers are removed and dried in the sun, then soaked in water for a few days. The thick, dark dandelion “tea” that results is the basis for the Pissenlit, which is made also from traditional barley malt and hops. It resembles a classic saison beer – golden spritzy brew, strong and very flavorful, with a good hop bite. You may have to strain to taste the dandelions, but you know they’re in there.
It should be noted that uncooked, the dandelion has a diuretic effect and is known in France as Pissenlit (literally, “wet the bed” – this also happens to be the British folk-name) for precisely this reason” (http://ratebeer.com/beer/fantome-pissenlit/10959/).
I stumbled upon this great little snack while packing for a hiking trip and wanted something to celebrate, imbibe and munch on at the summit. Thus, the beautiful pairing of the sour ale Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne and salty cashews.
The aroma reminded me of rotting trash and at first sip so did the flavor. Further sips revealed sour cherries, dark fruits, apricot and vanilla. Incredibly smooth on the palate, absolutely no kick at the end. Much too sweet for me, almost could be considered a dessert beer in the same vein as dessert wines. However, the slightly sweet/nutty and super salty character of the cashews really made this a refreshing snack after a long sweaty hike.
Ok so the other night I had the orgasmically delicious Rochefort Trappistes 10 and I just happened to be nibbling on candied orange peels covered in dark chocolate. May I venture this to be the best combination especially for that time of the month. The aroma is boozy dried apricots/juicy prune and the mouthfeel is so smooth on the palate that the 11.35 abv is dangerously well-hidden. The dark fruity notes of this beer play exquisitely well off the sweet, bitter and citrusy nature of the candy. I would also recommend a sour ale, perhaps the Flemish Red Duchess de Bourgogne as an alternative.