Friday, January 30, 2009

Tasting Notes: Half Moon Hefe Weizen

Brewery: Charleston Brewing Company
Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: ?
Date Poured: January 2009

Pours a surprisingly clear gold with a bright white but thin head. Smells lemony, sweet wheat malt and a hint of bubblegum.

Crisp wheat malt, some lemon, even fainter hint of bubblegum with an astringent, CO2 finish. Finishes clean. The aroma offered some hope but in the end,it's just another lacking American wheat beer. Not much more to say.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Belgium Trip, Day 5 - Part 2 - Intro to Brugge

It's about an hour drive from Westvleteren to Brugge so we arrived at the campground (Camping Memling) around 2:30 and checked into the trekkershut that was to be our home for the next three nights. After a quick unpacking, we hoofed it just under a mile to the center of Brugge.

We had barely gotten inside the old wall it seemed when we spotted a bar that was on my list of places to visit. It was called Cambrinus. So we headed inside to get a sampling of the beers available in Brugge.

I started with a new beer from Brouwerij Straffe Hendrik, Brugse Bok. It's a Belgian take on a bock beer but for the most part it is remarkably, traditionally German. Outside of a breadiness and a slightly more pronounced hop profile, very traditional and very tasty. Dave started with Brugse Zot from the same brewery.

The bar is a bit more modern than most we had gone to at this point in the trip but with folksy murals on the wall including one of Cambrinus himself above the fireplace. The beer list is advertised at more than 400 and from the look of the menu, I believe it. It was early afternoon and our waitress' service was fairly good by Belgian standards.

Next I moved on to the Adrian Brouwer, a big brown ale at 8.5% ABV which is a stunning combination of the tartness and fruitiness of an oud bruin and the sweet maltiness of a dubbel. Lots of dark fruit and rich breadiness...amazing beer. Dave went with an Alvinne Podge Imperial Stout that was astonishingly good.

By now it was after 4:00 PM, so we headed out to look for some food and just generally see the sights. After wandering around the vicinity of the main square, we stumbled right onto Brugs Beertje. Score!

This cafe was at the top of my list for Brugge and was quite crowded when we entered. We grabbed two rickety chairs at a small table which may have been the last two seats in the house. Even though it was quite busy, our server arrived in no time and took our order. I ordered the Verhaeghe Echte Kriek and Dave took a chance on a mustard bier, Wostyntje from Brouwerij de Regenboog. The Echte Kriek was pretty unique, a mixture of a Flanders red and a kriek, but the combination is a natural that I'm surprised other breweries don't try.

The cafe walls are covered with old brewery signs and it's a cozy, if cramped, little space. The beer list is not as large as Cambrinus but it a very well chosen selection of more than 200. The list is so well-chosen, in fact, that it makes it hard to choose yourself.

For dinner, we ordered a bowl each of Spaghetti Bolognese which was pretty damn good I have to admit.


The lack of sleep (or poor quality thereof) of the past few nights was beginning to take its toll so we threw in the towel and headed back to the campground for an fairly early turn in. Clean showers and comfy beds (the best of the trip so far) were a welcome sight and we split a 750 ml bottle of 60th Anniversary St. Bernanrdus Abt 12 for a nightcap and headed to bed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tasting Notes - Mustard Beers: Alvinne Melchior

Brewery: Picobrouwerij Alvinne
Style: Mustard Beer
ABV: 11%
Date Poured: January 2009

It's a hazy orange with a billowy white head. Very sweet and fruity in the nose with some spiciness from the hops. I'm not picking up any mustard seed aroma.

Boozy and sweet but a strident spicy hoppiness (Challenger and East Kent Goldings according to the label) give it some balance. I'm not sure I would notice the mustard seed flavors if I didn't know they were there but underneath the hops is a distinct bitterness of the mustard seed. Sticky body with a strong lingering hoppiness with a hint of mustard in the finish. Strong hoppy aftertaste.

The mustard is not as pronounced but like Wostyntje, it makes it work.

Picobrouwerij Alvinne

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tasting Notes - Mustard Beers: t' Smisje Wostyntje

Brewery: Brouwerij De Regenboog
Style: Mustard Beer

ABV: 10.5%

Date Poured: November 2008

Part 1 of a mini-theme about "mustard beer". I may have heard of beers made with mustard peripherally but they really didn't come to my attention until my trip to Belgium. I was further surprised to find not one but two Belgian ales made with mustard as a prominent ingredient! This is the first one from Brouwerij De Regenboog.

Pours a hazy orangey copper with a dense sandy colored head. Chunky lace left on the sides of the glass. Fruity, yeasty and sweet malt, spicy in the nose. Is that the mustard? I think so. Spicy hops too.

There's a fair amount of bitterness in this ale. A fruity sweetness provides a nice backbone for the spicy hops and the spicy mustard seed. Spiced apple and an earthiness form the yeast. Well -balanced sweetness and herbal\mustard spiciness. The hop\mustard spiciness lingers through the finish and aftertaste.

Really nice. The mustard seed lends a unique flavor that is not heavy-handed and therefore works quite well. Delicious!

Brouwerij de Regenboog

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tasting Notes: Green Man ESB

Brewery: Green Man Ales
Style: ESB
ABV: 5.6%
Date Poured: January 2009

A couple a weeks ago, I took a hiking trip up near Asheville, NC so I drove into town to hunt for some beer. North Carolina has no annoying laws forbidding growlers so I picked up a growler of fresh ESB brewed by Green Man Ales.

It pours a deep orangey copper with a creamy but thin, light tan head. Sheeting lace on the glass. Very fruity and herbal in the nose

Taste is bready and fruity, a well balanced ale with herbal English hops, (Kent Goldings and Fuggles according to the website) offsetting a sweetish, fruity malt. Quite British in character but surprisingly sweet and that sweetness lingers long in the finish and aftertaste.

It's a well crafted ale and certainly enticing enough for me to want to try some more from Green Man the next time I find myself in Asheville.

Green Man Ales