Monday, July 20, 2009

Vote for Jordan!

I don't usually do this but I'm going to campaign for a local brewer. Please go to this link at Atlanta Cuisine and cast a vote for Jordan Fleetwood as your favorite Atlanta brewpub brewer. Now, I know most of you have never been to Twain's to sample Jordan's wares but if you like this blog and trust my tastes, go give him a vote of confidence. Thanks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tasting Notes: Terra-Rye'zd Black Rye Lager

Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Company/Terrapin Beer Company
Style: Black Rye Lager
ABV: 6.6%
Date Poured: July 2009

This black lager is the result of a collaboration between Georgia's Terrapin Beer Company and Colorado's Left Hand Brewing Company. It was released at the end of last year and the experiment continues with a new beer this year. This "tweet" from Terrapin:

"Left Hand & Terrapin brewers stepping up to the brew house today at 2:00 to cook up Midnight Project number two...Depth Charge!"

Pours black with hints of red around the edges topped by a creamy head the color of dirty sand. Lots of rye in the nose, sweet with just a touch of herbal hops evident.

Malty schwarzbier character intertwined with a persistent rye graininess. Underlying citrusy hop profile keeps the beer malty but not overly sweet. Roasty, milk chocolate, bready, grainy spicy rye and big citrusy/floral hops. An odd combination of flavors. The rye is so pronounced, I would avoid this beer if you don't care for rye beers. As it is, it's a malty, velvet smooth and perilously drinkable.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Out of the Cellar: Bell's Java Stout

Brewery: Bell's Brewery
Style: Coffee Stout

ABV: 8.1%

Date Poured: July 2009

When I had this beer fresh, it was good but I found the coffee flavors to be a bit overpowering and, at times, even astringent. I wondered if some cellaring would help mute the coffee bitterness and bit and make the beer a bit more balanced. So here is this bottle, picked up on a trip through the American Midwest two summers ago, with two years in the cellar to see if it worked.

Still pours the color of dirty motor oil, still topped by a frothy brown head that retreats to a wisp within minutes. The mocha aromas still dominate but they seem sweeter. A good sign?

Lots of bitter chocolate in the mouth and the sweet mocha flavor comes through as well. It's a little hot still, you can taste some alcohol and get the warming from this ale as it slides down the gullet. Wee bit sticky in the finish, sweet roasted malt in the aftertaste.

The proof here is at the end of the glass because the coffee flavors were not overpowering right away but became evident as the beer warmed and more was consumed.

The verdict? It actually did help quite a bit. This beer is much more balanced now and the big coffee flavors, while very present, are nicely muted. Successful experiment!

Bell's Brewery

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tasting Notes: Clipper City Marz-Hon

Brewery: Clipper City
Style: Marzen
ABV: 5.25%
Date Poured: May 2009

Clipper City brews its take of the traditional German springtime beer and uses a play on words incorporating Baltimore's most famous colloquialism.

Pours a bright, crystal clear copper with a thinnish snow white head. Some fine lacing making spiderwebs on the glass. A bright maltiness, hints of caramel and sweetness in the nose.

Beauteous caramel malt and noble hops in the mouth. There's a nice balance, not too sweet either. Very smooth. Lots of flavor but easy to drink, malt lingers in the finish, very clean aftertaste.

I'm not sure a marzen can get much better than this one. It's my new favorite. Gotta get back to Baltimore...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Brussells Slideshow


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Belgium Trip: Day 8, Part 2: More Brussels, Lots of Lambic

Poechenellekelder is a two-tiered cafe located within spitting distance of the most overrated tourist attraction in the world. Still giddy from the Cantillon tour, we ordered up a 750 ml bottle of Rose de Gambrinus to split. Poechenellekelder is a classic Belgian bar, full of Mannekin Pis replicas dressed in little outfits created for the real one over the years. Marionettes hung from the ceiling and walls and the requisite beer signs were plastered over a glassed in square. Service was good. We snacked on the little crisps they made available and leisurely enjoyed our lambic. After we were done, we grabbed a waffle from the place across the street and started making our way to the Grand Place.

From the Grand Place, a series of narrow alleys take you to Toone, a combination cafe and marionette theatre. Toone is sizable, three distinct rooms and far more seating than you would expect from the outside. We took a seat in the second room that housed the marionette stage itself. The place looks well worn and cozy. It's near the Grand Place and there were plenty of tourists in there ordering tables full of Kwak in the coachman's glass. The beer list...was not that impressive to me. Outside of Cantillon, there wasn't a lot that was going to rock your world...lots of Inbev brews. I went with a Hoegaarden Grad Cru, an old favorite. Dave got a Leffe Radieusse. The Grand Cru was as good as ever. The Leffe Radieusse was a bit hot in my opinion.

After a dinner at a Greek cafe, we headed out to look for a bar called Becasse. There is one main reason to seek out La Becasse; their house beer, Lambic Doux produced by Timmerman's. Becasse is located at the end of a narrow alley keeping foot traffic to a minimum which is a shame because it is a beautiful little cafe. Lots of wood and brass and ceramic jugs which carry the Lambic Doux. Lambic Doux is a straight lambic, lightly sweetened and very still. It hits you more like cider than ale but the balance of the tart funky flavors and the candy sugar sweetness is delicate and perfect. This makes Becasse a must visit for fans of lambic. Served in ceramic pitchers, it is a throwback to a time when all beer in Brussels was served this way.

La Becasse would be our last beery experience in Belgium. It was time to head back to the station, jump the train to the airport a fly home. Great trip overall!

Some recap notes:

Top 5 Cafes Visited

5. t' Oud Arsenaal - a 1920's bar that remains unchanged. Well chosen beer menu with some nice treats.
4. t' Beertje Bruge - Outstanding beer list but cramped and limited hours.
3. De Dulle Griet - Not a great list but classic "brown bar" atmosphere and a lot of fun.
2. Het Waterhuis - Charming cafe on the canal with an incredible beer lsit including some good house brews.
1. Kulminator - Great atmosphere, outstanding beer list and cellared beer for sale. Fantastic.

Gent was overall my favorite city to drink in.

Top 5 Beers Tasted

5. Boon Faro Pertotale - tart and cidery, a rare chance to try traditional faro
4. St. Bernardus Tripel (draft) - spicy and warming, perfect in draft form in my opinion
3. 2000 Boon Oude Gueze Marriage Parfait - aged to perfection, velvety smooth
2. Rodenbach Foederbier - wickedly sour, Rodenbach Grand Cru x 2
1. Westvleteren 12 - perhaps not worth the crazy hype but stellar just the same

Top 5 Surprise Beers

5. Martins Scotch - Malty treat that was quite tasty
4. Brugse Bok - Very traditional bok beer brewed in Belgium
3. Adrian Brouwer - Strong brown ale, fruity and malty
2. Timmerman's Lambic Doux\Lambicus Blanche - Had not heard good things about Timmermans but these two beers were tasty and complex
1. Westvleteren 6 - the forgotten baby brother of 12 and 8, fresh 6 at the abbey cafe was hoppy and crisp and so very tasty.