Weyerbacher Merry Monks Ale

Since I skipped a review last night, I’m doubling up tonight. I’m not allowed to go to the beer store until I finish most of the beers in waiting, so I grabbed this one out of the crisper.

ABV: 9.3%

Style: Tripel

Trivia: Weyerbacher is celebrating their 15th year of production in 2010.

Random: Every time I watch the Food Network show, “Best Thing I Ever Ate”, I instantly get hungry. Maybe I should start a show called the “Best Things I Ever Drank.”

The only tripels I’ve had are Unibroue La Fin du Monde and Victory Golden Monkey.  I loved La Fin du Monde and Golden Monkey was good, but not nearly as good as La Fin. I still think that I spoiled myself by having what many consider the best in the style first, but no matter. I poured this one into the stemless wine glass and got a good three finger pure white head on a straw yellow, cloudy colored body. The head took about five minutes or so to dissipate. There is also some darker particles that are hanging out in the brew, and I’ve never seen that before. On the nose, I got some spice, some fruit (like lemon and apricot) and alcohol. On the first sip, I’m surprised that the alcohol is well hidden. I get a lot of fruit, like apricot and then some other sweetness, like maybe some pineapple? There is also A LOT of banana going on in this brew, which I didn’t get at all on the nose. The spice is also pretty muted on the taste, and was a lot more apparent on the nose. The finish is a little on the sweeter side. There is also liberal carbonation to this brew. Due to the ABV, not a session beer at all. This is definitely a solid brew. I would put this above Victory Golden Monkey, but still below La Fin du Monde. If you haven’t tried it, definitely grab a bottle. It’s a great example of the style.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Best Brews July 2010

I had so many good brews during the month of July. It’s going to be hard to pick only five. This was the first full month of the blog too, so I have way too many brews to choose from. Without further ado:

1. Stone Ruination IPA

This was the brew that got me into IPAs. Nicole liked this so much that she called me the next day at work to talk about it.

2. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

One of the best saisons that I’ve ever had. Lots of citrus and spice and goes down easy. Grab this if you can because it’s a limited release. Nic’s favorite brew of the month.

3. Unibroue La Fin du Monde

A wonderfully complex brew with so many intricacies. A true sipping brew.

4. Rogue Dead Guy Ale

Caramel, malt, hops, then some brown sugar. This was a great brew that I could easily have daily.

5. Founders Breakfast Stout

So much going on here: coffee, vanilla, oatmeal, chocolate. A must have!

Honorable Mention: Bell’s Two Hearted, Terrapin Hopsecutioner IPA

Flying Fish Exit 16 (Wild Rice IPA)

For the first time since I started this blog, I didn’t review a beer last night. I worked 13 hours and came home, ate, laid on the couch and passed out. I had this bottle of Flying Fish waiting for review yesterday, but since I was knocked out, I didn’t get to it. Since all I’ve been doing all day is homework, I figured a nice brew would make the reading go faster.

ABV: 8.2%

Style: American Double/Imperial IPA

Trivia: Each beer in the exit series has a story behind it (as it is named according to an exit on the New Jersey turnpike). According to exit series website, this beer was named after Secaucus and Hackensack, the wild rice idea comes in because: “Although usually identified with landfills and pipelines, the Hackensack Meadowlands is an amazingly diverse ecosystem providing vital animal and plant habitat. In a nod to a once common food plant here, we’ve brewed this beer with wild rice. We also added organic brown and white rice, as well as pils and pale malts.”

Random: I’ve only had one beer from the exit series and I thought it was pretty good.

I pull off the capsule of the bottle and I’m a little surprised to see a bottle cap. For some reason, I thought this would be corked and cage. But, that’s neither here nor there. The bottle has a nice description that is similar to the website. It says that there should be hints of mango, tangerine and pine. Interesting. The brew pours a cloudy golden color, almost like a hefeweizen, with a one finger white head that dissipates rapidly, leaving little lacing. Moderate carbonation is also visible through the haze. On the nose, I definitely get some citrus (more tangerine and clementine) and some pine. There is also a sour note on the nose, which is slightly unpleasant. I find the taste better than the nose. I get some pine, but it doesn’t hit you hard and upfront. It’s more of a mellow pine that works with the notes of tangerine that are a little more present in the taste than the nose. There is also a hint of tropical fruit, but more along the lines of pineapple than mango. The finish is slightly bitter and citrusy and lingers for a while. The carbonation is pretty active and apparent, but not overwhelming. The alcohol is well hidden in this brew. I expected this to be a lot heavier than it is (due to it being a double), but since it’s lighter, it goes down quicker. To be honest, I’m a little disappointed with this brew (although I start enjoying it more as it warms a bit). It goes down pretty easy and it drinks well, but something about it just isn’t flooring me the way other double IPAs have. Solid brew, no doubt, but not something that I’d rush back out to have. To be honest, I’m really surprised that it’s overall on BeerAdvocate is an A-. For me, this would be more of a B or B+, at best.

Note: After this beer warmed, the nose improved, although the sourness was slightly there. The taste also improved as well. The pine started to come out a lot more up front. As a result, I would give this a solid B+. It’s pretty amazing how much the profile of a brew can change (especially an IPA) when letting it warm for ten minutes or so.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

River Horse Lager

It’s almost Friday, although I’m going to have a crazy weekend. Nicole and I are watching the Yankees game, where the Yanks just had a killer 7th inning. I’m a Phillies fan, but I’ll root for the Yanks unless they’re playing the Phils. For tonight’s brew, I pulled out the twelve ouncer of River Horse lager.

ABV: 5%

Style: Euro Pale Lager

Trivia: Euro Pale Lager encompasses beers like Heineken, Harp, Sapporo, Peroni and Zywiec. I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed many of those that I’ve had. I may be in trouble.

Random:  I like the new River Horse labels much more than the old ones. Especially the Hop Hazard ones. For some reason, the brewery website still shows the old labels.

I’ve never heard of a Euro pale lager, so I’m not quite sure what to expect (as I said above, I looked up some examples and think this may have been a bad idea). I’m assuming something light and not incredibly complex, but refreshing. This brew poured a nice orange color with a one finger white head. There is visible and active carbonation in this brew. On the nose, I get some sweet grain and really not much else, but I think it’s intentional. Others have called the nose “flowery,” but I think that’s a bit much. Although, after I swirled the glass around, I did get a different smell, which could be what everyone is calling floral. On first sip, I get a decent amount of sweetness to it, but nothing notable that makes this sweet. It tastes pretty much just like the sweet grain that is on the nose. The other thing that is apparent is the carbonation, which makes this beer really crisp. After a few more sips, there is a very subtle hint of orange, but you have to look for it. The finish is mildly sweet and doesn’t linger for long. This is a lighter beer, which given the Belgians that I’ve had the past couple of days is a bit of a change. A brew like this goes down really easy and is easily session-able. I could see having this brew at a barbecue or a tailgate instead of a Bud Light. What I expected was pretty much what I got, which isn’t bad at all, it’s a wonderful simplicity. This is a beer that is accessible to pretty much everyone. And, from New Jersey no less. Another good brew from River Horse.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Ommegang Three Philosophers

Today, I had an oral project and a midterm for school. Work was crazy and a good day at the gym. I came home and my new work boots and a new Netflix were waiting for me. Nothing goes better with a History Channel series than a bomber of beer, well, at least in my opinion (for the record, it’s The History of Britain).

ABV: 9.8%

Style: Quadruple (Quad)

Trivia: According to the Brewery Ommegang website, “[The brewery itself is] based on traditional Belgian farmhouse architecture and set on a former hop farm in upstate New York”

Random: For my cardio, I walked in the park with my bodybuilder friend and got about 10 mosquito bites. Totally sucks.

This brew is the first quad that I’ve ever had. This beer poured a nice, cloudy mahogany brown color with a barely one finger head. This label said to pour this slowly, as to not disturb the yeast, but with enough vigor to create a head. Yeah, definitely didn’t happen, which surprised me, as I usually have to exact opposite problem. On the nose, I got cherries and a bit of alcohol. There’s also some sweetness to this as well. The cherries make a lot of sense given that the label says that this is a blend of a Belgian-style ale with a Kriek or cherry ale. There is also a mild hint of sourness going on in the background. On first taste, the sourness and the cherry takes center stage with a bit of a smooth, sweet taste for the finish. There is also a bit of alcohol on the taste, but not overwhelming, given the almost ten percent ABV. On the subsequent tastes, I get some other fruits, like maybe fig? There is also a little more carbonation to this beer than I would expect. The cherries definitely create a certain complexity to it. I wish that this wasn’t my first quad so I could make an appropriate comparison. This is a great beer, but definitely not something that I could drink everyday. You definitely have to sip this beer. There is enough complexity to this to keep your interest, but the ABV can sneak up quickly on you and knock you on your ass. I would definitely recommend picking up a bottle if you’ve never had it.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Val-Dieu Brune

Today was a little crazy. I went to class, then work, then the gym (and did homework while doing cardio), came home and ate, studied for a midterm tomorrow and prepped for an oral presentation and did some yoga. After all that, I am ready for a brew.

(I really need some new glassware…)

ABV: 8%

Style: Dubbel

Trivia: According to the brewery website: “The abbey of Val-Dieu was built 1216 by Cistercian monks. They were looking for a lone valley with a stream for agricultural and brewing activities, a haven of peace full of nature.”

Random: Before I really got into beer, I was not a fan of Belgians. Although I haven’t tried a lot of them, I’m really getting into them.

This brew pours a rich, dark brown with a two finger off white head that dissipates rather quickly. There is a decent amount of lacing left on the interior glass. On the nose, I get some malt and coffee. On the next sniff, I get some chocolate on it and a hint of smoke. This is one of the more complex noses that I’ve had on a beer. On first sip, there’s a decent amount of sweetness to this brew with a very subtle hint of bitterness. I get dates, some coffee notes and chocolate. I also get a bit of brown sugar. There is a lot going on with this beer. The alcohol, despite being pretty high for 8%, is completely hidden. There is also moderate carbonation on this brew. I also thought that this was going to a heavy beer due to the color, but this is a lot lighter than I thought it would be. The finish on the brew is mildly bitter and lingers. This is an awesome beer that is full of complexities and nuances. I will definitely be trying more Belgians if they’re at all like this.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Southern Tier Imperial Cherry Saison

Another good day at the gym. I did back, triceps and calves and hit a personal best. I sat down and started to watch Drag U (which is hilarious, by the way), and decided to split a bottle with Nic.

ABV: 8%

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Trivia: This beer is now retired. This is either a bad thing (meaning it wasn’t popular, so they retired it) or a good thing (because I got it and probably won’t be able to get it again).

Random: I kinda love Raven from Drag U. She totally makes the show. She actually came out dressed exactly like Liza Minelli. Totally fabulous! If you haven’t seen this show, DVR it or something because it is HILARIOUS.

I am a huge fan of saisons, especially when it’s hot out, but I’m a little suspicious of a fruit saison. I’m a bit worried that the cherry will overwhelm the normal flavors of a saison, like the banana and the spice. But, I guess we will see. I take a look at the bottle and it says that it’s aged with French oak. This should add to the complexity of the brew. This brew poured a cloudy orange color with a one finger head. I expected this brew to be a bit more pink or reddish due to the cherries. I get some mild cherries and spice on the nose. Nicole says that she gets sour fruit. On the first sip, I get mild cherry notes and some spice, but it’s a little different from the normal saison. Banana is present, but a little muted. I still get the coriander and some clove, but there is another spice hanging around like cinnamon or nutmeg. Perhaps that is because of the oak aging? A lot of tart fruit is present and Nic really likes this. There is also some carbonation on it, which makes this a nice, refreshing beer. The booze is definitely present and becomes apparent on the finish, and that’s almost the only thing that I get on the finish. Honestly, I’d like if there if there was a little more from the cherries, maybe a little more fruit flavor? Nicole likes the beer overall, but I think it’s good, but not outstanding. For a “unique” saison, there’s not enough cherry to it to make it unique, and it’s just a mediocre saison, if you discount the cherries.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Terrapin Hopsecutioner India Pale Ale

I picked up a six-pack of this a few weeks ago and kept one to do a review on. I feel like all of a sudden, Terrapin brews came into NJ. So far, they’ve all been great, so keep them coming. I mean that, and they have an endearing little turtle on the bottle. This label is exceptionally cool, I mean, who can really resist a turtle in an executioner’s costume? I know I can’t.

ABV: 7.3%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: On the label, it shows a guillotine “beheading” the hops. According to wikipedia, “The first execution-by-guillotine was performed on highwayman Nicolas Jacques Pelletier on April 25, 1792.”

Random: I heart beers with cool labels.

This beer poured a one finger head into my Victory Hop Devil pint glass. The color is a burnt orange with visible moderate carbonation. On the nose, there is a lot of crisp pine and the grapefruit, while there seems to take a back seat. On the first sip, you get hit with hops. There’s some pine going on, and some grapefruit. But, the focus here is definitely on the pine. A hint of sweetness comes through in the middle, but is very mild. There’s also some earthiness to it. The carbonation makes this dance on the tongue. Finish is bitter and lingers for a bit. There are 78 IBUs on this bad boy, but this is one well-balanced IPA. All of the flavors flow well together and the booze here is well hidden. You could down a few of these without any problems and they’d hit you like a ton of bricks later. I kinda love this brew (and by “kinda,” I mean “really”). According to BeerAdvocate, one of the best representations of this style is Russian River Registration Ale. I enjoyed Hopsecutioner much more than the Russian River. If you haven’t tried this yet, go out and grab a six, you won’t be sorry.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Victory Golden Monkey

After spending about 10 hours straight doing homework, I think it’s a good time to do a tasting. This will probably be beer 1 of 2 tonight, given the tedious day that I had.

ABV: 9.5%

Style: Tripel

Trivia: According to wikipedia, “The golden monkey is a species of Old-world monkey found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa…the golden monkey is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.”

Random: The only other tripel that I’ve had is Unibroue La Fin du Monde, which I loved, so this will have some big shoes to fill.

This brew poured a one finger head that dissipated quickly into the stemless wine glass. The color of this is a cloudy “golden” color (thus the name?) with some visible carbonation. On the nose, I get a bit of alcohol and then some sweetness that manifests and has hints of banana and apples and some spices. Nicole just gets alcohol from it and a generalized sweetness. As the beer warms, I start getting sweeter fruits like pineapple. On the taste, I get some more fruit (banana again) and ample carbonation. After having a few more sips, some spices come out like coriander (albeit a bit muted), but the banana hangs out up front. The finish is definitely boozy, but not overwhelming. It doesn’t linger for long though. This brew starts with some sweetness due to the fruit, but ends with some bitterness and a bit of booze. La Fin du Monde hid its alcohol better than this does. Either way, you’re not having more than a few of these due to the high ABV. All in all, this is a good beer, but I think I would have liked it more if I didn’t have La Fin du Monde to compare it to. The brew has a decent amount of complexity to it, and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t outstanding.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont

After coming home from dinner with my parents and hanging a mirror in the living room for Nic. It’s oppressively hot, so I decide to go with the Saison Dupont I’ve been chilling in the fridge since this morning, and hopefully it will cool me off.

ABV: 6.5%

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Trivia: Men’s Journal called Saison Dupont the “Best Beer in the World” in 2005.

Random: This is a very classic looking bottle. The label is pretty simple and there’s just not much to the packaging. Interesting.

I poured these into the stemless wine glasses and the pour on Nicole’s produced a crazy amount of fluffy white head, almost like whipped egg whites. It takes awhile to dissipate. On my pour, I got a two finger head. The color is a light, cloudy orange, which makes it hard to see the carbonation. On the nose, I got some bitter citrus. There are also hints of spice and grass going on. There is also some lemon peel scents going on. On the first sip, I get a lot of carbonation and then some fruit, like lemon peel and spices, like coriander and clove. It’s less sweet than the nose would have indicated. Nicole says that it’s really cold and bitter. She said that it’s getting better as she drinks it. She also asked how much alcohol is in it, because it’s heavier than it looks. It definitely a heavier saison than the others that we’ve tried. The finish is a little on the bitter side and lingers for a bit. Other reviews have said that there is some funk in this brew, but I don’t get that at all. The longer the brew warms, the more lemon I get. I did expect a little more sweetness to it. All in all, a very good beer, but I think calling it the best beer is a bit of an exaggeration. If you haven’t tried this, definitely get a bottle.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0