Friday, January 8, 2010

12 Beers of Christmas, Day 12: Trader Joe's Vintage 2009

Brewery: Trader Joe's Brewing Company/Unibroue
Style: Strong Belgian Ale
ABV: 9.0%

Date Poured: January 2009

Sure, this is sold at Trader Joe's and marketed under the Trader Joe's Brewing moniker but the cork cage features the familiar purple "U" that signifies that this beer comes from the great Unibroue brewery. So let's pop the cork and enjoy some Quebecois "ale sur lees".

Pours a deep opaque brown, damn near black, with the signature Unibroue "voluminous head of froth". Lots of yeasty and dark fruity aromas. Raisins, black currant and a breadiness in the nose.

In the mouth, rich dark fruit, really big and deep, dark fruity flavors. So fruity and so luscious and vinous. Raspberry, black currant, ripe plum...bready too. Thick but smooth with just a hint of warming alcohol. Not too sticky in the finish though, the alcohol cleans the palate just enough to keep it from being overly cloying.

If this is not just a rebottled version of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles, it's a variation on the theme. And at $4.99 a bottle, that's a great value for a very cellarable beer. My other bottle joins my cellar collection today and I need to get out to TJ's to grab another couple bottles.

Friday, January 1, 2010

12 Beers of Christmas, Day 11: Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza Special Ale

Brewery: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI
Style: Belgian Kerstbier (?)
ABV: 9.0%
Date Poured: December 2009

Popping the cork on this bottle reveals a foamer. Foam pours steadily out for many minutes in the sink. Pours a dark opaque brown with a enormous lacy froth on top. I have to wait a few minutes before I can even dip my nose in it. Yeasty and fruity in the nose, some vanilla and sweet spice...clove?

Ooof! In the mouth, it's an explosion of spice, yeast, ripe grapes, alcohol, baked apples, spiced pears and vanilla. Some wine-y flavors, sweet spice, maybe clove, some caramel and toffee flavors way back there too. There's a cidery character and easy to drink considering the complexity and ABV. As it warms, there a rum flavor...or maybe whiskey. No, it's a rummy flavor for sure. Like rum soaked raisins. Long fruity finish and aftertaste.

It's a Belgian-styled wonder of a Christmas ale. Exquisite and highly recommended.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales