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Notes on beers served in the format

bottle

Ayinger
Maibock

Third time I've had this in a year, having never previously seen it. A favorite style from a trusted brewery. What's not to like? Not sure if the 'BOCK COLLECTION' on the label is particularly significant or not, but I've never seen it before. It's a slightly lighter colored pour than some Maibocks around, with lightly hazed buttery orange hue. Nose gives away classic bread notes. The rich - oh so rich - malty goodness breaks over the tongue in waves. Plenty of doughy, light hoppy notes that...

Ridgeway
ESB

It's such a blessing that so much Ridgeway beer gets to the USA - still. Even in the era of import decimation, this beer still keeps on coming. I am quite literally so very grateful. Sourced from my online DC shop. Beautiful, light copper, crystal clear boby. Bone white head. Great retention, great lace. Perfect. Simple, sweet bread in the nose. Tastes are PERFECT. The balance of highly, highly gulpable and drinkable malts against the gentle kiss of that hop bitter finish, give an absolutely...

Ommegang
Tripel

Second bottle of this. L1 061022, 06/04/24 Not to be confused with the US brewery of the same name. Classic, golden Tripel pour with a lovely pillow-like head that hangs around nicely. All of the requisite attributes for the style are here, both present and correct. Sweet, white pepper notes up front with plenty of estery pineapple and such that fades to a nicely drying, lightly bitter alcohol finish. Clean as a whistle the style is nailed and beautifully presented. Those gentle spicy elements...

Black Note Stout
2023

Packaged 10/31/2023. I've never been a fan of barreled aged beers period, even from the very beginning. I remember tasting some of the earliest BCBS which I guess was around 2002 and thinking, "Why would I want a beer to taste like bourbon?" Nothing has changed for me since then, and of course a gazillon such beers have come and gone since too. As such, to me, Black Note is really an irrelevance. However, anytime that I can talk about a beer from a position of knowledge - meaning I've tried it...

Imperial Amber
35th Anniversary

Disclaimer: I don't generally care for bourbon barrel beers .. read on. Had this on draft a few months ago and didn't hate it (as I thought I might), so when I saw a single bottle I thought why not? Let's write some more formal notes. Pour is quite a pretty, garnet red. Head is pretty decent for 12.1% beer. No complaints on the appearance. Nose is all bourbon barrel, and given that I'm not a huge fan of such it doesn't necessary set me up well, but ... ... the tastes are simply an incredibly...

Rio
Reserva

330 mL bottle. 43 IBU. I'm not a huge fan of many Struise beers under any circumstances, and at this age, although the beer may have held up well I'm still not holding out a lot of hope. Grabbed this in the last couple of years as a straggler up at the fading Whitlock Package in Marietta, GA. That store brings back some memories as do Shelton Bros. imports! A slight whiff of gun smoke on opening with a mid-amber body and some bubbly head. Head settles to some broken lace on the surface of the...

Fantôme
Extra Cherry

Part of the "Extra Sour Collection". Lot 2 N 21, best bef end 2025. Capped and corked in the usual Fantôme fashion. You never know what you will get with Fantôme except the fact that you always know that you never know what to expect! Great looking clear golden pour with a lovely, well-retained white head and some nice lace. Looks sharp! Nose offers a clean and lightly bready aroma. Some very, very light citrus. Tastes are, well, ... clean. No cherry, no funk, just a slightly bitter, slightly...

Coucou
Puissant

Bottled 20SEP22, Best Before 20SEP24. "Dry-hopped quad"? For all intents and purposes this is a sweet, hoppy Tripel/BDSA, or at least something that resembles that particular description. Good looking, fluffy white head with a lightly hazed golden body. The nose offers a sweetish, hoppy nose. Tastes deliver some soapy notes, as the hop forward beer threatens a bit at the beginning. However, this gives way to a significant, sweeping sweetness. Paradoxically there is also a lot of bitter, orange...

Chocolate
Rain

2021 Vintage: 20.2% ABV. Pale gold waxed and capped. I have to be honest, I did not check the ABV before cracking this beer, and had I been paying attention I probably would not have opened it under the circumstances that I did. (I had assumed it was in the 10-15% range). Jet black pour which actually gives some kind of mocha head with a very aggressive pour. You can smell this beer from across the room. It's a soft, sweet alcohol and not really vanilla or cocoa based. For all intents and...

Fantôme Mayors
Unusual’s Meeow!

My second bottle of this. Great, lightly hazed, marmalade orange pour with a resplendent, ice-cream like head. Nose has some simple floral elements but not flowery per se. Not as bitter as i remember the first bottle being. There is a spicy finish to the beer, but overall the experience seems to have calmed down a little over the course of the last July (7 months). The beer gives an orange, marmalade pithy drying experience with some of the zest. Very tasty with plenty of light, brown bread....

DMB Target Bond Ale
Fantôme Version

I approached this with a lot of trepidation, expecting little hoping for the best. Firstly this is lot 2 c N 16 Best Before End of 2020. Of course, that's not necessarily an issue for Fantôme per se, since the whole thing is likely to be all over the place anyway, but nevertheless with it being over three years on, it certainly plants a seed. More importantly, I see lots of reviews - admittedly mostly from 3 years ago - that describe a phenolic, band-aid mess. But with Dany you just never know...

Duvel
6.66

Another Duvel variant that we don't need, but as you know I'll try all that I can. Here we go with 6.66. A pour that looks suspiciously Hefeweizen-like. Large, pitted, white head. Nose and tastes are surprisingly sweet with a light bitter overtone. It caught me a bit off-guard TBH, with the beer drinking very easily with a light, medium body, Nothing harsh here, but never to the point of being bland. It's pretty tasty if not my cup of tea. The hop bill is quite complicated and they blend well,...

Duvel
Jamaican Rum Edition

Batch 6. Bottle # 21421 out of 101325. 390 Barrels. Packaged in a box with an open face and comes with a small, highball type glass (pictured). If you've ever read any of my notes regarding barrel aged Belgians of any descriptions, you know I just don't see the point and I never believe that the base beer is improved or enhanced. You'll also know that I'll try anything once. So here we are. The rum barrel has imparted a light copper colored to the otherwise golden Duvel. Nose offers some...

Rodenbach
Alexander

330 mL bottle, reddish-purple foiled and capped. 30.06.24. Pour is a dark purplish, burgundy body with decent clarity, and a light pinkish foam. The head is not very well retained in general, but it does leave a thin film and a decent ring around the edges. Nose has a decent, ethanoic acid, sinus clearing note about it, but this doesn't manifest itself quite so aggressively in the tastes. Decent sourness up front, but the sour cherries really do have a big presence that dampen down the acidity...

Dead Man’s
Game

Described as an "Oak Aged Blended Ale", the 12.7oz corked & caged affair - I think from 2017, and found in a random Ohio bottle shop for $16.99 -  opens with an almost complete lack of carbonation and with a predictable if still disappointing pathetic pfftt rather than a pop on removing the cork. At this age, with this ABV and given the problems that Lost Abbey used to have with carbonation, I was expecting nothing else. Knew full well I was taking a chance, and was prepared to lose the...

Fantôme Light Spiritus
Spring Project

lot 19 02 22. Best Before End 2026. Golden, lightly hazed body underneath a broken, wispy head that has some light lace and a little retention. Floral hop bitterness in the nose. The tastes follow the tastes initially, and then breakout with some more elderflower or dandelion bitterness. Very clean. Grainy and light. Gentle bitterness is cumulative but manageable. This beer feels young and fresh even though at this stage I think it's almost two years old. As in warms the bitterness backs off a...

St. Louis Fond Tradition
Gueuze Lambic

375 mL bottle, black foiled and capped. Lovely color with a copper, clear bond underneath a foamy, wispy head. Obviously an aggressive pour was required, and it's gone quickly, No lace, no retention. Nose gives a light ethanoic acid whiff and a slightly phenolic, band-aid element that I'm not sure should be there! Tastes are not quite as acidic as the nose would suggest, but are also quite dry. The chlorophenol is replaced with a woodiness that again I was not anticipating. Tartness is as one...

Lambicus
Blanche

A curious beer to say the least. 375 mL corked & caged, Produced on 04/27/2022. Delightful, golden pour with a better than expected head and some pretty good lace. A thin film settles on the surface of the beer too. Very light in the mouth which of course does a couple of things. Firstly there isn't much depth here, but secondly it gives a lot of drinkability. There's a little apple/cider note in the nose, and a similar element in the tastes. Obviously it's massively sweeter than one might...

Bourbon County Brand
Sir Isaac’s Stout

I'm not a huge fan of BCBS beers in general. I enjoy, on average, less than one per year I guess, and that includes all of the regular releases and the variants. This year, for once reason or another, I've had probably 2 or 3, and in quite a short space of time. All of that is to say that my comments about this beer should be seen in that context. Picked this up entirely without purpose, just saw it gaining dust, in a store that I visit about once a year, and it was $19.99 (I think). I took...

Straffe Hendrik
Heritage 2022

Bottle number 11829. Full disclosure, and as I have said on many occasions prior, I have very little interest in barrel aged Belgians of any description. I'll happily drink anything once, and I'm always pleased to be able to try any such beers, but I'm not going to seek them out and I'm not interested in them in the manner that many seem to be. Having said that, Straffe are such interesting beers in general it's hard to ignore the opportunity to get stuck into this. Dark, dark chestnut brown...

BDB
(Blonde De Blaugies)

Corked and caged 375 mL bottle. A lot of visible yeast sediment in the bottle. The orange cap of the cage has U2-06:22 dot-matrixed on it. This seems to be a relatively new beer, maybe from the middle of 2023? A hazed orange pour -  as I said there is a LOT of yeast here, and even with a careful pour a decent amounts gets into the first pour. Head is sufficient, a thin film left, lace minimal. Nose is a lovely, fruity bread with some light funk. The mouthfeel is where this beer begins to come...

Surly
Darkness

This is a beer that was so, so hyped and persued 15-20 years ago, but that I had almost forgotten about completely until a couple of weeks ago when I made this impulse purchase at Horrocks, Battle Creek, MI, USA. God, the lengths people were going to 15-20 years ago to get ahold of Darkness. All kinds of money exchanged hands, and all kinds of trades took place. I first acquired the beer about 15 years ago but made no notes. That bottle was not screen-printed like this one, rather it featured...

Einbecker
WINTER-BOCK

I love this beer. I love everything about it. From the packaging through to the last drop, the whole package feels authentic and satisfying. Pour is an amazing, garnet color with absolute clarity. Copper notes hits when the light bounces off it beautifully. Head is well formed, but dissipates pretty quickly. Small ring of foam is retained on the edges, but little lace on the glass. Head and its retention might be the weakest part of the beer. Nose is all that you would expect with a rich, malt...

Maredsous
Kerst Noël

If I'm honest I had no idea that this beer even existed. It's pretty new, has flown under the radar of many folk, and I believe it may have originally been produced for a festival. I acquired by accident too, when it was used to replace a beer that was unavailable in an order from Belgian Happiness that I had placed previously. Almost black body on the pour. Great creamy head, and the lace and retention are both amazing for a 10.0% beer. Flawless appearance. Some delicious raisin and dark plum...

Bourbon County Brand
Bananas Foster Stout

2023 Release, drink by 27 AUG 28. $26.99. Jet black, oily pour with some very light (also oily) legs. An aggressive pour fails to yield any significant head. Even some light mocha splashes as a result of agitation are gone quickly. Nose isn't much more that a sweet, solventy mix. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light. No slick cloying nature or at least nowhere near as big as it might be. Banana? I dunno. Some report it, I get almost nothing. In fact it almost feels like a coconut oil mix.I get some...

Paix
Dieu

I first came across this beer back in April/May of 2020. I had seen it at an online retailer in Belgium and I didn't recognize it. I am assuming that it was relatively new at the time. In a style that I generally love, obviously it was a no-brainer for me to order it and try one. I happened to mention this in passing to an acquaintance of mine who lives in Belgium and he was very excited. He's not necessarily a beer guy per se, but he mentioned that the brewery is relatively local to him and...

Jambe
de Bois

If I'm brutally honest, not a beer for the purist. To be fair, the label does describe it as a 'Hoppy Tripel'. Again if I'm honest, this isn't a great start for me. I'm a big Tripel fan, but mostly for the reason that they offer a sweetness that is not related to hoppy beers, so this angle isn't necessarily where I would start or what I would look for. Having said all of that, De La Senne has sufficient equity with me that I'm very happy to press on. A cloudy orange body with some tremendous...

St. Feuillien
ELEVEN (QUAD)

Production date 09.03.21, Best Before 09/03/24. Goodness me, this is a beautiful beer. A tremendous head, with great retention and lace on a beer with such a huge ABV, all sitting atop a dark brown body. There's a real presence about the pour, not only in terms of the head and color, but also in terms of the "glugging" viscosity. Huge fruit, raisin and alcohol notes are there. Now, in and of itself there's nothing especially unusual about that for a beer of this type, and in many respects one...

Brugse
Zot

Orange-golden color on the pour with a decent head initially. The head does fade, but it leaves a good ring and thin film, and has some decent lace. Looks solid. Nose is incredibly bready - I mean by any standards. It's good. Tastes are a lovely, balanced malt forward beer, with some very light bitterness from the hops. Some people aren't very high on this beer, and it some quarters it gets a bad wrap. I think that's because it's so common in Belgium. There's a lovely, light acidity, in the...

Metal
Witch

My first review of a Tired Hands beer, although back in the summer of 2015 I did visit the taproom. Attractive golden body with a pleasing white head after the aggressive pour. The nose offers a peach note for me. Quite strong, and unusually if feels like I can identify it (even if it's not there!) After that we get into some grapefruit, and a refreshing and bracing acidity. The sour note is quite strong, but very zesty. It offers a bright, fruit note that carries it along. The acidity never...

Gulden Draak
Imperial Stout

Van Steenberge make some ferociously strong and aggressive beers, and at first glance you would expect this to be another in their well-established stable of beer. My guesses for GD Imperial Stout before tasting it would be an alcohol soaked, aggressively roasted, and/or perhaps syrupy sweet affair - it isn't really any of those things. The beer is surprisingly carbonated for this ABV, and as a result it produces a huge, pitted, mocha head in the GD glass. The aroma is of a sweet, lightly...

St. Bernardus
75th Anniversary

Bottle No: 1845 (out of 11,000) Never thought I would get a chance to try this, as very little probably made it to the USA and it sold out online pretty quickly too. This is not a gentle Tripel. It's aggressive, and has a drying, warming feel about it that makes it feel like a special beer. In that regard I think that St. Bernardus has achieved what they set out to do. Every bit of the 8.7% feels like it's there, which is another way of saying that it feels well over 8.7, and more like a...

Abbaye D’aulne
Winter Triple Ale

I *think* this is the former Abbaye D'aulne, Christmas Triple Ale rebranded, but I'm not 100% sure. The pour is fine, but the initially nice head fades to not much. No significant lace, although the color is pretty. A clear, garnet hue with a real eye-catching red in the right light. Tripel? I dunno, more like a WW or BDSA. The beer is a little thin in terms of body, but there's a decent winter spice about it, and some bitter, drying fruitiness in the back end. A few contradictions in there!...

De Glazen Toren
Jan de Lichte

Bottled 29th Jan 2022. I've had this beer maybe a dozen times before this review. It's hard for me to understand why I don't have any notes on it. I love it. Rather than describing the smell, tastes and individual aspects of the beer, I always feel that Jan de Lichte is best described as a whole. This is a beer that is truly more than a sum of its parts. It's a lightly acidic, full, pillowy experience that's soft in the mouth but delivers a great lemon/citrus/fruit alcohol punch. SO satisfying...

Duvel
Tripel Hop Cashmere

Second time I've had this, last time was the 2020 version that I did NOT take notes on, but did take a picture of. Very light, golden pour whose color has the look of a macro, adjunct lager! Thickish, ice-cream like head retention good, lacing good. I was expecting this to drink in a similar manner to the Citra that I drank and made notes on yesterday, of course with different attributes of each hop coming through, but I was taken aback by the level of sweetness that I got immediately here....

Duvel
Tripel Hop Citra

Belgian IPAs ... ... the best way for me to describe just about every one is, "I don't hate them, but even after all of their years of being around, I don't really understand why they exist." Over-hopped (or perhaps better put, highly hopped) beers are best left to the Americans, and even though this, and other such beers aren't bad per se, I see no point in devoting any production time that could be put to better use making regular Duvel. High, but very wispy and lightly sticky head sits...

Saison DUPONT Cuvée
Dry Hopping (2017)

2017 Styrian Eureka version. Purchased for $11.99, in a random store in Ohio along with a few other bottles of really old beer. Took a chance, and at that price I am prepared to lose the $12. Yes, I am fully aware of the age of this beer, and its intended purpose, and I completely understand what I am potentially getting into here. Relax, these are just notes for myself about an old beer that might not be any good. Corked and caged, 750 mL bottle. Great pop on opening, such a good sign. The...

Samuel Adams
Flannel Fest

A recent addition to the fall 12 pack. Always happy to see a new, Sam Adams beer in a traditional style. If there are beers that they do well, it's usually something like this. Besides, these days I'm just happy to find almost any traditional styles! Pour is an attractive one both in terms of the color and clarity. Dark red, copper hues on the pour. Add the fine looking head, and you've got yourself a smashing looking beer. Simple brown ale type notes (I always think of Munich Dunkel's in...

Chouffe
Soleil

A beer that I've never seen in the US before last week. $11.99 for the 4 pack of usual Chouffe, 330 mL bottles. Pour is a pale gold. Head is wispy and airy, and leaves some great lace. Retention better than average. More than anything else on the nose I get light hops. Very often, with all beers, that initial nose get carried through to the the first tastes but not here. Tastes are a great combo of Belgian yeastiness, light candy sugar, simple melon like fruits (which is another way of saying...

Kloster Andechs
Festbier

I'm not at all sure that this beer has been in the US before 2023. This is backed up by the fact that it was only added to the beeradvocate database in August of this year. L1433. If it has been here prior, then the distribution must have been very limited, but I'm pretty sure it hasn't. It's also a good example of why, even these days when I'm infinitely more detached from the beer scene that I ever was, that I still go into just about every beer store that I ever see and can do so in a...

Spencer
Trappist Ale

With the demise of the brewery, probably my last bottle of this. 11.2oz, 7/22/23 which is likely a BB date, so a little past its best. I think that I've always wished that this was a Belgian Strong Pale Ale rather than a simpler version, and not because I don't appreciate the lighter touch, but because the bottle and label have the look of a beer with more gravitas to me. Anyway, the pour is a good one with lace and retention that is better than average. Color is quite a dark golden, lightly...

Parabola
2022

I'm a long time over FWs blends, and barrel program, there's just too much sameness about a plethora of beers, and they generally aren't things that I care for a great deal anyway. That combo means that I'm not much interested or intrigued (with a few exceptions). Pour is black, and as expected in terms of the color, and the height and retention of the head are not great. Alcohol legs - of course.. Nose is also 'as expected', with bourbon notes and some solvent alcohol. Taste is, 'as expected'...

Spencer
Vienna Style Lager

Best before 03/03/23, so I appreciate where we are with this 5.5%, relatively delicate beer in early September 2023. Lovely, burnt orange colored pour with a decent head. Nose offers the requisite malty base. Tastes follow suit with some drying character in the back end. That might be a function of age. Simple sweet caramel malts and a bit of earthiness in the finish. If anything, quite fruity for the style, with a soft, peachy or pear like element. Not ester based, but soft and light....

Fantôme Blondinette
de Printemps

lot 04 02 23 Best Before end of 2027. Lightly hazed, orange creamsicle body with a high, rocky and broken head. Head retention above average, lacing the same. Thin film settles on the surface of the beer. Acidic, grainy, musty apples on the nose with some herbal notes. Typical Fantôme with a ton of grassy, medicinal bitterness and light funk. A ton of hoppy bitterness that is quite green, but the beer still showcases many citrus-based herbs. There's no doubt that the beer remains bitter, but...

Hacker Pschorr
Oktoberfest Märzen

I must have drunk this a million time before writing these notes in August of 2023. Classic copper colored amber body underneath a high white head, with great lace and some decent retention. Malt and bread nose as one would expect. Lovely rich sweetness sits against the faintest of light bitter backdrops. Absolutely 'gulpable' in huge gobs. Difficult to put down. There's almost a sweet and sour feel to beer that comes from the prefect balancing of the malt and hop elements. Never, ever...

Zinne
Des Flanders

It's a beautiful color. A fantastic golden hue. A lovely white head, some lace and decent retention. Nose is sweet, light and simple. Very, very refreshing. Clean as a whistle and simplicity itself. Light bitterness sits on top of the easy malts. A bit like a 'malty pilsner' if that makes any sense and is not an oxymoron. Lots of bready notes and some spice from the hops, Feels a little Noble. Mouthfeel is certainly clean, and also nicely carbonated to give a little creamy feel. Very...

Munsterfest Oktoberfest
Style Lager

Classic copper colored pour with a lovely head. Lace and retention aren't great, that's a shame, but overall the beer looks solid. The first gulps are little too bitter for my liking, but this quickly subsides into the richer, maltier part of the spectrum where the beer should reside. Nose offers the maltier side immediately. The beer has a simple mouthfeel, with decent carbonation and some sweetness. The light acidity falls in to a full and sweet finish, just right for the style, but ... just...

Fantôme 5 Monkeys
Somewhere

Opening the capped and corked bottle (the usual Fantôme presentation) fails to produce much pop or gun smoke which is a slight worry. However, a decently aggressive pour leads to a nice, 1 inch rocky white head, with some decent retention and lace. It settles to a thin film across the surface. Lightly hazed orange body. Nose has some clean grains, and some generic citrus. Controlled and steady. General bitterness throughout the beer, but again it's restrained. Some Fantôme beers exhibit a lot...

Zenne
Pils

A slightly hazed pour. Not a great head, not good retention or lace. Looks little NEIPAish - oh God ... Good aspirin bitterness up front, bites quite hard initially, and then backs off way too much.. Nose and mouthfeel are both too full and round for me. It's a bit flabby. A distinct lack of really clean lines, and that's a huge issue in a pilsner of any type for me. Soft, not well-defined. This way too yeasty, malty and rounded for the style, and although it sports some decent bitterness in...

120 Minute IPA
Utopias Barrel-Aged

Full disclosure, at the time of writing these note I had never had Utopias. Since then, I have. My mantra is that I will try anything once, and that's true, but I'ver never bothered to seek it out in 20+ years, and I won't do so in the future. If I come across it great, if not, no worries. Back to this beer. I'm a fan of 120 in as much as I drink about one bottle per 9-12 months. I really enjoy it when I drink it, but that's as far as it goes. Deep copper body - and admittedly after an...

Fantôme
d’Automne 2022

Best Before End of 2025 Lot 18 Nr 22 ABV is not noted on the bottle. BA has the 2019 bottles at 7.0%, Rate Beer has 8.0%. Very pretty golden body. Head average, retention not incredible (some spotty lace and some spotty film on the surface of the beer. The second pour with the yeast sediment brings the murky orange body. Nose is surprisingly fruity. I mean really fruity. Almost some estery-like pineapple. Wasn't expecting that! First tastes seem very bitter but with time and warmth that evens...

Zennegash
Wheat Beer w/Brett

11.2oz bottle, BB 24 NOV 25, Dry Hopped Wheat Beer with Brett. Difficult to resist a collaboration between these two, but it has to be send that collaborations very often fail to meet the (often unrealistic) raised expectations. Clouded, lemon colored body with a small, but quite persistent head. The thin film lingers and there is a little lace. Looks goos. Light acidity on the nose with some gentle funk. Cider-like. Smells cleanish, and pretty tight. Very soft mouthfeel opens up to light...

Fantôme
Lea’s Journey

750 mL bottle, corked and caged in the usual Fantôme fashion. Purchased on a recent trip to Portland, ME. Quite a gusher, but I didn't lose too much. With the carbonation comes a good looking, high head. It's wispy, but persistent. Doesn't leave a lot of lace. Mid-amber body with good clarity, and with strong light there is a bright orange color about the beer. Nose doesn't offer much more that some light bread at first. On warming, a touch more sweetness. Tastes are some bready malts and then...

Ommegang
25th Anniversary Ale

I've been complaining a lot about Ommegang lately, and here's an example of why. In a nutshell, the brewery has hopelessly lost their way in terms of moving away from focussing solely on the greatness of their past, and of late producing a bunch of beers that have nothing to do with their Belgian-styled roots, and everything to do with pandering to a dumb marketplace. Given the potential significance of such a milestone beer, you'd think that Ommegang would dip into the huge depth of great...

St. Feuillien
SEVEN

Described as an 'Unfiltered Amber Beer', in terms of the taste and the experience this is close to a fruity saison. The pour is far more golden in color than 'amber' might suggest. A nice head, retention average. The beer is lively and well-carbonated. Tastes offer a lovely malt balance with plenty of sweetness and some very light toffee and caramel notes. It finishes quite sweet as well. The beer is surprisingly fruity, and the sweetness and light bitter balance make the whole package very...

Fantôme
in Flowers

lot c10 oct 18 best before end 2022. Bottle purchased and consumed at Ebenezer's in Lovell, ME. First visit for me to this much lauded beer Mecca. Possibly the least Fantôme-like beer I have ever tasted. To keep it simple, there is a distinct lack of typical Fantôme yeast here, very little funk, and the trademark botanicals are really flowery, light and easy, and not as herbal as one usually encounters. Bitterness is also missing. Is it the name, or the label that creates an illusion, or is...

Samuel Smith’s
Organic Chocolate Stout

One of the relatively new, 12oz slender bottles. Ostensibly a black pour, but some red-garnet highlights at the edges. Head decent, but retention and lace not great. Nose is a cocoa powder extravaganza, quite extraordinary. Tastes are a bit more chocolate milk-like, but either way the chocolate element is quite pronounced. That's a good thing for a beer labeled this way. It does seem to get sweeter on warming, and with building volume. Despite the organic label, to me, the chocolate doesn't...

Ommegang
Belgian Essence

This must be a collaboration, right? But no mention of New Belgium being involved other than the obvious text across the front of the bottle. Best before 26 JAN 2024. Honey orange pour with a great head, nice retention and some lace. A little darker than I was expecting TBH. Nose is very Triple-like with plenty of spicy white-pepper on warming. Tastes are a little more bitter than I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, the triple character lives on, but it isn't as sweet as many in the style....

No Salvation
Brett Saison

375mL corked and caged bottle. $10.99 Tavour. Cork jammed in hard. Despite the cork, lack of pop on opening, but still carbonated OK. Golden, slightly clouded pour with a nice head that gives good retention and some decent lace. Looks good. Advertised as a 'Brett Saison', the nose gives up a little funk, but it's not large. That's OK because one would expect more of that element in the tastes but it too is somewhat muted. It's quite delicate in fact, which for me is a plus. Some drying...

Samuel Smith’s
Organic Pale Ale

I have to admit I'm not 100% sure that this beer is any different to this, but for now I'll add it as a separate beer and see if I can get some confirmation. I have a feeling that it might be the same, because I know for a fact I've drunk this many times before, and I would most likely have taken some notes. However, in the beer advocate db (yes I still look at that from time to time) they are listed as two different beers. I'm unconvinced. 355 mL bottle, part of a recent Half-Time purchase....

Samuel Smith’s Organic
Apricot Fruit Beer

550 mL bottle in the usual Sam Smith's fruit series presentation. This bottle came from Horrocks in Battle Creek, MI. Aggressive pour serves up a pitted white head that is not too well retained, on top of a pretty, bright orange body. Tiny amounts of lace. Nose offers a light, generic fruit note. I'll say one thing about the Sam Smith's fruit beers, they certainly bring a genuine fruit flavor to the party. Now, is that something that I want or care for in many instances, well no, but it's hard...

Waypost Bière
De Coupage 2023

2023 Vintage, 1 pint, 1 fl.oz. A very weird color with is a sort of pink gold, light rose body with a fizzy head that dissipates quickly. Thin rim of lace around the edge of the surface of the beer. Almost no lace, almost no retention. There are some funky notes on the nose without it being very strong. Quite thin and light acidity on the initial tastes. The beer is relatively dry with some white wine notes, but it seriously lacks much presence. This was the overall memory this beer, a bit...

De Ranke
XXX Bitter

750mL capped bottle. Cap has dot-matrixed B137(7 or 1)13 OKT22 and EX 13/10/24. Labeled as a "Hoppy Golden Ale" - yes, yes it is! Damn! De Rankę know how to make these highly hopped, beautifully balanced beers. I'm not remotely surprised, just simply stating a fact. Hazed orange body, magnificent head and unparalleled foamy head with amazing retention and lacing. Nose offers exactly what one would expect. It's absolutely NOT a overlapped nose with any astringency, in fact it is really rather...

Fantôme Rare
BarleyDark Project

The usual presentation, 750mL corked and capped. Chestnut brown pour - conker like. Thick, ice-cream, cream colored head. Well retained, some decent lace. Head nice, color less so. Nose has mainly a slightly cheesy, funky acidity. Nice horse-blanket notes. Tastes offer a little of the nose, plus some fruit that seems overripe and dark. Medium bitterness, some herbal medicinal notes in the finish. As it warms we get some more fruit elements that are hard to nail down, but a little, woody cherry...

Fantôme
Esprit Valdotèn

Pour is a butterscotch colored body with a nice, substantial white head. Decent retention and lace. Nose has a lot of banana and pineapple for me. Quite surprising. very topical that I was not expecting. Lively beer, good carbonation. Solid bitterness throughout the beer. The back-end is surprisingly fruity, that I first thought was a hop bitterness, then some kind of grapefruit note, and then finally a cross between some kind of tropical fruit and some pithy citrus. There is a distinct lack...

Logsdon Two Rivers
Violette

Much the same as its sister beer, Two Rivers Noir in many respects. After cracking the cap there is an intriguing foam that protrudes out of the top of the bottle, as if it is fermenting - it is bottle-conditioned. Poured head is that of a soda. Fizzy but disappeared entirely almost entirely. Slightly cloudy, rose or purple colored body. Label tells us this is 75% Malbec grape Saison and 25% Brettanomyces Table Saison. Nose offers generic fruit. Mouthfeel is lively and quite fizzy. Lots of...

Tsjeeses Reserva
(Porto Barrel Aged)

I don't understand this beer. Vintage 2020, bottled on 15/11/22 and good for 5 years out. Now branded as Blond Winter Ale matured on Port barrels. Not a great head - to be expected at 10% - but also a weird colored pour that is reddish brown, not exactly the advertised "Blond Winter Ale". I suppose that's because of the aging on Port barrels that would appear to have taken a couple of years IF I am reading the label correctly There's a thin film retained, and a little lace but not much. Nose...

La Moneuse
Triple X 30 Ans

750 mL corked and caged from Etre Gourmet. Red cap on the cage has dot-matrixed "U2 02:22 TRIPLE X". Presumably brewed for the 30th anniversary which seems to have been in 2019, so this is a four to five year old beer. Pop on opening is impressive, good gun smoke too. Pour is a hazed, honey-orange color body with a high white, tightly formed head. Fine sized bubbles, retention and lace good considering the ABV. Nose is quite estery, yeasty and fruity and doesn't give up the alcohol that I was...

St. Feuillien
NINE

11.2 oz bottle, 8/10/21. Bigger brother of FIVE and SEVEN, and smaller brother of ELEVEN. I suppose we can argue at what point something described as a Belgian Strong Blonde becomes a Belgian Strong Pale, or if it does at all, or if it matters at all, but at the end of the day it all boils down to much the same thing in the glass. Fairly standard alcohol solvent on the nose. As one would expect. Described as a Strong Blonde the beer pours as one would expect. Golden body, bone-white head with...

Oud Beersel
Bersalis Tripel

Apparently I've had this before today but I have no notes, and I was somewhat surprised to find out that Brouwerij Oud Beersel made a Tripel given their sour-laden portfolio. The pour is an astonishing color - deep, deep golden, great hues Head is great too (for the ABV), bone-white and has decent retention and some lovely lace. Absolutely perfectly presented beer. Nose has lovely, sharp, clean alcohol with a white pepper blast. Tastes are truly Tripel with the mild spice, the solvent alcohol,...

Guinness
Antwerpen Stout

Another offering from that 2017 mixed 12 pack. Again, I suppose this must be old, but to be honest there aren't any/many signs of age. Perhaps the head retention was poor, but outside of that, no oxidation and it drinks just fine. Jet black body with the head one would expect. Ruby red notes in strong light. Lace minimal, thin film on the surface. Carbonation is good, even a touch prickly. A lot of sweetness on the nose. This carries through to the up front tastes. Plenty of chocolatey,...

Fantôme
Garden Ghost

33 cL bottle. 2d batch. Etre Gourmet. Thickish looking, hazed orange body with a magnificent, ice-cream-like head. Body color is not particularly attractive (has a NEIPA look about it which I absolutely HATE). Head is resplendent. Retention and lace are great, not surprising given the colossal initial head. The first aromas that drift across on opening (and even before the beer is poured) are a tangerine, orange whiff. On closer inspection this turns out to have a lot of mango qualities. Quite...

200th Anniversary
Export Stout

11.2 oz bottle from a mixed 12 pack. I purchased this a few months ago (late 2022) and I know the beer was original brewed in 2017 for the 200th anniversary of exporting to the US, but TBH it didn't give an impression of being that old, either from the external packaging or the bottle contents. Lot number on the label is L9183GF002 (that may help in the future). The beer does not give any impression of age in term of oxidation or any other element. Pour is as one would expect. Lace minimal but...

Ridgeway
Imperial Red Ale 2017

Bottle number 4815. Kahn's, Indianapolis, sometime in the latter half of 2022. 330 mL bottle. I have zero expectations here, or at least I'm assuming that it's going to be a dud, and anything and everything above that will be a bonus. Deliberately aggressive pour to generate a head. Not too bad considering age and ABV (see picture). Thin film on the surface results, zero lace. The body is a murky, frankly unattractive brownish-red body. Nose offers a sweet, English Barleywine note, and this...

Straffe Hendrik
Triple WILD 2015

11.2 oz bottle, Best before end of 2019. Greens, Buford location, Atlanta, GA in late 2022. Pour is well-carbonated (considering the age) initially, that fades quickly to give no lace but a semi-decent film across the beer. A surprisingly rich copper color with good clarity. To be honest, in terms of appearance the beer exceeds expectations. After a few minutes of warming it goes relatively still. There’s a gentle syrupy note to this beer at this age. Obviously (or at least I guess) a ‘Wild...

The Abyss
Coconut

12 oz bottle. Packaged on 4/21/22. Confession up front. I love The Abyss, but I generally I dislike stouts that have been infused with unnecessary things such as coconut. Where that leaves us here I have no idea ... yet. Pour is exactly as I would expect. I deliberately go aggressive to yield the big mocha head on top of a jet black body. All light excluded. I get absolutely zero cocunut in the nose, this seems like a regular Abyss in terms of the smell. The first tastes are a bit like an...

Corsendonk
Dubbel Kriek

Well this might be interesting ... 33cl bottle. Pour gives a cherry-red, brownish body with a pink tinge to the effervescent head. Bubbles fade fairly fast to yield some lace and thin film on the surface of the beer. Nose has mainly an artificial cherry smell that obviously opens up and grows on warming. Tastes are a chocolate covered cherry note with dashes of cough syrup in the there too. I mean there's just no getting away from that. The initial shocking sweetness actually goes away...

Green Man
ESB

Odd that I've never reviewed this given that when I used to go to Asheville on a regular basis from Atlanta, Green Man was basically my favorite place to go, and ESB was a beer that I drank multiple pints of on each occasion. Oh well. 12 oz bottle from Blue Ridge Beer Hub, $2.20. Pour creates a mid-copper colored body with a white head. Great lace (which is always a good sign for the style), and a thin, but well-retained film. It's a little cloudy, could do better on that front. Nose is solid...

Delirium Barrel Aged
Black 2022

I'm not one for barrel-aged Belgians of any type, but I'll try anything once, so here goes with Black. $36.99 for the 750 mL corked and caged, Will it be three times as good as Nocturnum and/or Noel? I think I know the answer. Impressive pop once the thick black foil and cork and cage have been removed. Pour is great. Huge ice-cream head a top a body that looks basically like Nocturnum/Noel with a brown body and a touch of chill-haze. Color is a bit drab, dubbel-like brown. Not that...

St. Bernardus
EXTRA 4

Had this many times prior to today. Pale lemon body with some chill haze. Nice head, well retained and fluffy. Good lace. Nose offers a surprising citrus hoppy note. Tastes follow suit with a pleasing, rounded creaminess that I just wasn't expecting. It's lightly spicy and a little grassy which manifests itself as a persistent, light, hop note. Again not quite what I was expecting. It's really quite 'green' and has me reminiscing about a fresh hop beer - AGAIN, odd and not as anticipated....

Logsdon
Pruim ‘n Brett

Bottled 11.29.21. The usual Logsdon presentation. My second time having this beer. Light pop on opening, carbonated as expected. There's a light, pinkish hue to the mostly orange, hazed body. Head is appropriately wispy, leaves a better than expected thin film. No lace. Nose has some light cheesiness and a touch of funk. Tastes are not tart per se, but also lack sweetness. Nice and dry, a little champagne like on the tongue and the palate. Highly drinkable, helped by the creamy (not prickly)...

Bourbon County Brand
Classic Cola Stout

2021. Drink by 09 AUG 26. I've always been almost 100% indifferent to every Bourbon County variant since the beginning. Having said that, if I see a bottle that I haven't tried, AND its a reasonable (often meaning markdown) price, then I'll give it a whirl. This was 'discounted' to $14.99. Pour is as expected with a jet black body and a forced head, meaning that it has a lovely mocha depth but only results after I give it a ridiculously aggressive pour. It also fades badly and leaves no lace....

Unibroue
30 Anniversaire

My second bottle of this. I was a little disappointed when I saw that this special edition was a stout, since Belgian stouts aren't really a big draw for me, and Unibroue is just so great with BDSAs and BSPAs. Having said that, I soon got over it. On removing the cage and cork there is a good pop with a decent amount of gun smoke. Fairly standard, but what was absolutely astonishing about this beer is the aroma that greets he nose even before pouring. There's a huge, burned licorice whiff...

Biere de Noel
(for Amanita Muscaria)

What an interesting beer. Pour is good looking, with a black body and a head, retention and lace that one would expect for a 12.2% beer, that is to say it's relatively short lived and not spectacular but appropriate. No problems or issues here. Nose has some of the acid notes that signal what's to come (see below) and plenty of fruit. A little surprisingly, not much alcohol. The initial tastes - just for a moment - suggest a deep, alcohol laden fig and raisin experience. Of course, that would...

Fantôme
Santé-25!

750 mL, corked and capped, the usual presentation. Brewed 19-20 August 2022. Modest pop on removing the cork. Pour gives a lovely tangerine, marmalade color with some light haze and a nice, rocky, white head. Head is only moderately retained, and leaves little lace. Nose has some tangerine, orange based bitterness that is not particularly perceptible, but just about is. Tastes are mostly citrus bitterness initially, and they largely stay that way even as the beer warms. It's not really a hoppy...

Logsdon
Peche ‘n Brett

Batch no: 2021, Bottled on 2/23/22. Pale, clouded yellow body with a modest head. Head is light and bubbly. Light film is left, a very, very light touch of lace, hardly anything left on the glass. Great mouthfeel. Feels both lively and light. Light, fruity acidity on the nose, not necessarily discernible as peach for me. Nice, but somewhat generic. There's a lovely, gentle balance about this beer. Sour and sweet complement rather than compete. Gently vying with one another for the spotlight....

Rothaus Pils
Tannen Zäpfle

12.2 oz bottle, gold foil topped. If there was ever a beer that I would associate on pure looks and taste with the Reinheitsgebot, it would most probably be this one! The no nonsense appearance, clarity and tastes scream German efficiency, cleanliness and purity. This is about as far removed from a hazed, adjunct laden beer as one can get. The pale golden clarity on the pour looks almost fake. It couldn't be clearer or cleaner. The same is true of the nose and the tastes. The beer doesn't...

Fantôme
De Tous Les D’iâpes

Best Before End 2020. Healthy pop on opening, with an initially high, white, wispy head that dissipates quite quickly. Not a lot of lace, but a thin film left on the surface of the beer. Deep orange colored body. Nose is all marmalade with some grapefruit that then gives way to a lot of floral character. Tastes follow the nose with signature, Cinzano Bianco herbal notes. Quite bubbly and lively in the mouth that build to give a slightly carbonated taste amongst the herbal elements. Marmalade,...

House Saison
(for Fred Eckhardt)

When people make grandiose statements about beer I usually take it all with a pinch of salt. In most of those cases I know a lot more about beer than they do, and I have significantly more experience. There are of course plenty of people whose opinions I do value, and they are the ones who do have the experience and the know-how. So when Bob Sylvester (Saint Somewhere) said to me that Zebulon is perhaps his favorite American brewery, then my radar goes up. Why? Because I'm smart. To quote Bob,...

Chouffe
40

The Blonde 40th anniversary beer. The usual Chouffe presentation. Lemon colored, lightly clouded body with an initial high, white, bubbly head. Retention and lace are not great, but there is a thin film left on the surface of the beer. Light, hoppy nose but more sweet than anything else. Tastes reflect the nose with a lightly hoppy note surrounded by some sweeter cereal notes. It finishes dry and with a kind of light, orange juice. The zesty, orange peel/pith tastes come on stronger as the...

Wijnberg
2020

2020 Vintage, will keep for 5 years according to De Ranke. Tea colored pour with a bubbly head that fades quickly - as expected. No retention, no lace. Fair enough given the style. Nose is surprisingly non-descript. Perhaps a little funk (that I was NOT really expecting), and a little cheese. I was expecting some more acidity. Tastes are very light, dry tartness. In no way heavily ethanoic acid, and the oak is a real feature. No sweetness that can sometimes blend with any acid present. Almost...

Fantôme Straight West
Coast Ghostin’

Light, golden hazed pour with a white head that when forced out of the bottle, is good. Decent retention, some lace. There's a lot of raw cereal malt in the nose. Tastes are really clean with a strong lime undercurrent. Really light with some underlying funk but it's not strong. It's slightly light for a Fantôme beer in all respects. Mouthfeel is thinnish, and the beer exudes a serious cereal note with that persistent lime background. Definitely citrusy, zesty and sharp, but this is not a...

Saison van
de Bruwer

Lovely lemon colored, clouded pour with a dense head. Excellent retention and some lace. Looks classically well-made. Nose offers a dry funky note, as expected, simple and requisite with the style. That has the potential to sound trivial, but as we know, ids far from guaranteed. The initial tastes are surpringsly bitter. There's a nice does of floral hops too. I was expecting the bitterness to back off a bit as the funky notes cut in, but if I'm honest they didn't. The funk element lingers,...

Bruxellensis
Local Brett Beer

33cl bottle, imported from Belgium. Orange, hazed pour with a modest head. Nice retention but not a great deal of lace. Nose is immediately apparent with a serious dose of funk right off the bat. A touch of white pepper up front, but it's mainly a a funky cheese note. Big cheesy funk in the tastes too, but the beer is surprisingly light to drink. Very light on its feet in fact. The funk brings some lovely residual bitterness that turns into hoppy burps, and a dry, satisfying bitter aftertaste....

Bush Prestige
Cuvée Spéciale 2013

2013 Vintage, purchased late 2022 and opened in 2023. Bush Ambrée aged in oak for 6 months, and then re-fermented with sugar and yeast in the the bottle. This gets the ABV up to 13%. These used to be in gold foil adorned, Deus type bottles, but this is simply a regular 750 mL. Modest pop on opening but there is some carbonation present - always a relief. At ten years old, the beer is certainly past its best IMO with perhaps a tiny touch of oxidation present, BUT it's also still quite drinkable...

Ameriken
Pis

33cl bottle. Recently shipped in from Belgium. A complex collaboration between La Senne and Perennial, Yazoo, Little Animals, Keeping Together, Off Color and Somewhere Else Beer Project. Beautiful, deep orange golden color. Medium head, that has a bone-white color with tremendous lace. Light stickiness to it. Plenty of sweet hops on the nose. It immediately reminds me of an old style, DIPA from the West Coast (please note I'm not using the horrible, dumb term 'WCIPA'). Perfect balance in the...

Verhaeghe
Echte Kriekenbier

Reports suggest that this beer is now re-branded as Duchesse Cherry, coincidently recent reviewed. As such, these notes are essentially on an aged version of that beer. I've learned a LOT about old/cellared beer over the years. As a result, I've become exceptionally wary of old beer, so when I saw these 750 mL Best Before 09/2019 bottles I baulked a little, even at $12.99. So, I asked if the store would discount it, and they offered a 30% reduction to get me out the door at $9.73. Basically,...

Fantôme
Sante 24!

Label has (what I assume is) the original brewing date of Friday and Saturday 14-15 August 2020 changed to 13-14 August 21, and the 24 asterisked. My guess would be because of COVID changes to the production occurred. Having had a bad experience with Sante 23! I'm a little wary. Of course, these beers are so individual, that perhaps there's no point in even thinking about that, but I guess it's just natural to wonder. Opens with an encouraging pop, and the pour really is something special. A...

Jester
Zinne

Brewed May 18th 2016. Barrel-aged Saison, bottle-conditioned. Bottled on 7th, August 2017, Best Before 7th August 2019. Well, it is what it is. Brewed in 2016, this is likely a minimum of three, maybe more, years past its best. That didn't stop me buying it late in 2022 when I saw the last bottle, hanging out, lonely on a shelf. Happy to take a punt on a beer brewed by these two guys, full in the knowledge that this likely won't be good/great/drinkable. Pour is quite acceptable in terms of...

CAPTAIN of the
COAST

16.9 oz bottle, Tavour purchase. Decent clarity on the dark copper body with decent head, some lacing and retention. About expected at 9.5%. Nose gives up plenty of the whisky barrel and some decent alcohol. Mouthfeel is light, which I like since it adds to the drinkability. Nothing cloying or heavy in terms of the body. As it warms, things change. A bit deeper, a little heavier. Plenty of barrel in the tastes, but it's 'tangy' - quite sharp, a little citrusy and acidic. Not bad, but not quite...

Weihenstephaner
1516 Kellerbier

When a certain type of beer is called for (or craved), you just can't substitute it with anything else. This is one such beer. 11.2 oz bottle. Golden body with a light haze and a modest head that has some lingering retention and a little lace. I'd love to try this draft, at the source. Big German malts are present right from the moment that the bottle is opened, and they continue to pour out of the stein. A beer in two parts. The malt cascade that meets the first sips, then gives way to a hop...

Fantôme DMD
Cascadian Dark Ale

750 mL corked and capped, lot D-1-4-15 best before end 2019. I approach with a fair degree of trepidation. Labeled as a Cascadian Dark Ale (Black IPA) that I don't much care for, coupled with the Best Before date of "end of 2019", and the relatively low ABV, I am wondering what's likely to await me. Add Dany on the top of all of that, and well, you get the idea! Corked jammed in hard, and comes up with a good pop. First problem alleviated, this IS carbonated. Pour is great. Beautiful jet black...

Westbrook
12th Anniversary (2022)

I have a pretty complicated relationship with Westbrook. Having met Ed Westbrook via a mutual acquaintance in a garage in Charleston, SC just prior to him opening Westbrook Brewing Co. back in 2010 (ish), As such, I have a soft spot. I also love a couple of their beers (White Thai and Mexican Cake), but I also feel they have lost their way somewhat (pandering to bullshit recent trends, and for example, a really underwhelming experience with the 11th anniversary). Long story with more to add,...

Shegöat
Weizenbock Ale

Dark chestnut pour. A few red highlights, but overall the beer is darker than most I’ve had in the style. Modest head, small ring of foam and no lace. Rich, light alcohol nose, very malty. Reflected in the initial tastes as one might expect. Plenty of malts flow over the tongue and offer a very rich experience, despite the mouthfeel being a little thin (possible contradiction here). This is largely as expected and stylistically correct. At times it tends toward a brown ale, but stays rich...

Gnoel de Abbey
Holiday Brown Ale

Dark brown pour. Decent thin film, some lace. Nice and malty with a real good dose of spice. The spice is difficult to decipher specifically, but it’s reminiscent of some mace and some cinnamon. With the spice comes some good sweetness, but there’s also a nice hop note in the backend that reminds you that this is not simply a fancy brown ale. The warmer it gets the sweeter it comes and the beer starts to open up a bit. The spice backs off a bit, and the beer seems less bitter. More sweetness...

Cuvée Prestige Tripel De
Garre Barrel Aged

Lot: n°1 - 2022. Dot-matrixed on top of cage 24/11/24 GBO, 24KU13:36 I got really lucky in acquiring this beer, so rather than dwelling upon that too much I'm determined to enjoy it and savor it. One thing that a lifetime of buying, sampling, drinking and being immersed in great beer has taught me, is that no matter how great any one beer might be, you owe it to the brewer and to yourself to open it, drink it and enjoy it. Head is smaller, and much less pillow-like than regular De Garre....

Westmalle Trappist
Extra

Into the Westmalle chalice she goes, bottled April 7th 2022, Best Before 2 years from that date. Had this beer several times since May of 2021 when I used it to christen the re-launch of this blog. Honey colored, clouded pour with a great head out of the bottle. Thin, persistent folio on the surface, and some thinnish, clinging lace. Nose gives up some simple malts, maybe a little honey or banana, but it's pretty muted. Opens a little on warming of course. Mouthfeel is extraordinary...

De La Senne
Taras Boulba

Hazed, honey colored pour. Fantastic head, white, high and sticky with lace and persistent. Looks great. The light balance of this beer is second to none. Bitterness is there, but it is so very tempered with a fantastic, creamy body and the light Belgian malts that hold the whole beer together. Tempered alcohol, and then the dry, quite astringent bitterness, that could feel American In its aggression, BUT because the beer is so balanced you just don't view it in the same way. Mouthfeel and...

De Ranke
2022 Hop Harvest

750 mL capped bottle. Delightful pour into the 25 cl De Ranke stem. Clouded orange body with a small, perfectly formed dense white head that lingers and offers ice-cream level lace. The bitterness that greets the palate on the initial sip is something whose depth is hard to achieve without bruising hop presence. The same is true of the accompanying sweetness, but of course here each are executed perfectly. Smooth in the mouth, the beer dances so gently along the soapy grapefruit line, whilst...

Duchesse
Cherry

Reports suggest that this beer is just a re-branded version of Echt Krienenbier coincidently recently reviewed. As such, these notes are on essentially a fresh version of that beer. 11.2 oz single from Gays, Angola, IN. Odd find in a weird place. Pour as expected with some fizzy carbonation that dissipates immediately. Classic, dirty burgundy, clouded pour. I know what this is, but no matter how you look at it the beer isn't exactly a looker. Nose gives not much more than some generic, fruity...

Arcobräu Coronator
Doppelbock

Lovely, clear deep chestnut brown pour as hoped for. Off-white head is good, but retention not great with only a little lace. Nose and tastes offer requisite, sweet malts with again plenty of depth. Brown sugar and toasted malt. There's nothing unexpected here, and just about everything that you would want. Pretty light in the mouth with easy drinking, but in turn I like a bit more oomph in the mouth in the style. Finish and aftertaste are sweet, but there's an unusual thread running through...

Mont de Cats
Bière trappiste

330 mL bottle, BB 08/2024. Dark, copper colored body with a light, high, white and fluffy head. Good lace; nice retention. Body color doesn't really match the style. Nose offers little TBH. Only very, very simple bread malts are detectable. No problem per se, but in terms of the style I'm not in love with it. A surprising, malty bitterness for the style, and also rather dry to start. Lacks significant depth of flavor (again in terms of the style), and maybe the *slightly* lower ABV than...

Tripel
De Garre

Tripel De Garre is an astonishing beer in many respects. That amazement goes way beyond the contents of the bottle and extends to reasons that aren't necessarily obvious. As anyone who has been drinking for any length of time knows, there are several external factors that can influence how one views any given beer. One of the the strongest influencers is nostalgia. Remembering a great visit to a bar or brewery, or a wonderful vacation, or even a particularly fabulous time in one's life, each...

Straffe Hendrik
Xmas Blend ’21

Had no idea the this beer was available in the US until I stumbled across it in Atlanta recently. I bought this 2021 750 mL, and a 33 cL 2022. Great pop on opening, with a little gun-smoke. Superb pour with a high mocha head that turns into a creamy film, and some lovely, dense, creamy lace. The nose offers a boozy, caramel and cheery note. Dark copper body. Tastes start with more of the boozy cherries. Light, fruity acidity and more cherries. I'm not generally a fan of any Belgian styles...

Father Christmas
Holiday Ale 2022

750 mL, capped bottle from Tavour. Categorize this beer as you will, hence my three designations. Pour is a pretty, dark-red brown affair with some good tan head. Some decent lace. Nose is not the greatest, and gives a slightly artificial smell. Difficult to describe Tastes are some alcoholic chocolate up front, and then even more alcohol. It seems hot, and a bit muddled and messy. There's no definition here, and while there are some Belgian notes (yeast, dark fruit, sugary solvent), it comes...

Arcobräu Mooser
Liesl Helles

Not a classic Helles perhaps, although that's a matter for debate of course, but given it's a Bavarian beer, then maybe it can't be anything but a classic in the style. Pour offers a lovely color, but a touch of chill-haze on the body. The taste are good, but not as clean as some Helles can be. I know a Helles is not necessarily, a dry, astringent pils with big Saaz bite, but this one is really quite malty. Noticeably so. I'd even give a nod to the fact that it feels a little Märzen like....

Saison D’Hiver

2022 Vintage. 750 mL, Tavour purchase, the usual Bruery presentation. The Bruery's marketing re: labels and 750 mLs still pulls me in - at least I recognize that fact! Hazy, appropriately enough, orange body with a short-lived, initially decent but soon fading head. Nose has a TON of orange juice. I mean it actually smells like artificial orange juice. Because of that, it's a mild surprise when the beer isn't quite as sweet as the nose might suggest. It still replicates the orange nose, and...

Dame Jeanne
Brut Sur Lie

750 mL, corked & caged, part of a recent Belgian Happiness shipment. Unfamiliar with this beer and this brewery. Looks like the beer has been around since at least 2016. Moderately aggressive pop on opening (I was expecting more). Poured into some tall, thin pilsner glasses in the absence of champagne flutes. Pour is obviously highly carbonated and takes time to settle down. Subsequent pours are easier, as the carbonation seems to dissipate and leave the beer quite quickly. This is an...

Gauloise
Christmas

Dark brown pour with some sumptuous, cherry red, garnet highlights. Head is decent, and fades to give nice, sticky lace and some thin, creamy foam on the surface of the beer. Looks good. Nose has some sweet raisins in the typical, BSDA tradition. It is sweet, and it offers very little in the way of spice. I really don't find this beer especially 'spiced', and certainly not compared to similar Christmas beers. In fact, there really isn't a huge amount of flavor beyond the sweetness here. It's a...

Gulden Draak
9000 Quadruple

Beautiful, deep orange-golden color. Rocky head, lace is fantastic. Obviously a ridiculous color for a "Quad" but that doesn't make it unattractive. Nose offers sweetness, and some bready malt, but it doesn't give away what's to follow. At 10.7%, to me, this drinks less aggressively than the original Gulden Draak at 10.5%. Go figure. This seems smoother to me than the original. Carbonation may play a part in this which seems light. Some caramel, but the alcohol remains relatively in check....

Fantôme Refreshing
Summer Spiritus Project

Well, here we are, back to utter insanity with this Fantôme offering. A darkish, lime green pour with a decent head, some thin film lingering, and an acceptable, if not incredibly well-retained head. The green color doesn't bother me (it's Dany), and the beer looks pretty solid out of the bottle. Nose has some lemon, and then a healthy dose of green herbs, that may or may not be recognizable as single entities. In the tastes there are some menthol notes, a bit of mint and eucalyptus, some...

Tre Fontane
Tripel

I'm a bit curious about the age of this bottle. Difficult to know, and other than "L17 40" printed on the label there's nothing else to go by. I'm hoping this is not a reference to 2017, but TBH with no other information to hand, who knows? Various shades of gold out of the bottle, dependent upon the addition of the bottle conditions yeast or not. Smell and tastes give up quite a lot of the herbal fruit that ultimately turns out to be the eucalyptus. Not sure that I could identify it...

Fantôme
Fantôsma Patagonia

At the very best of times Fantôme beers can be tricky to pin down, to categorize, and to understand. That's their beauty and indeed their point in many ways. Then from time to time you get one that defies even that 'logic'. This is one of those. Golden body with a nice, relatively finely bubbled white head. Some lace, and a thin film across the surface of the beer. Looks strong. The nose offers some light, lemonade shandy notes, with a very slight hint of something else in the back end. That...

Ommegang
Bigger and Bretter

Old bottle (obviously) Oh how the mighty have fallen. Ommegang in 2022 is a shadow of its former self (another conversation altogether), and this beer takes us back to a different time when the brewery was truly a great force in the USA. Tremendous pop on opening which delays my fears of the beer losing its carbonation after this amount of time which is a great thing, BUT if I am totally honest. even though the pour, head, retention and lace are all excellent, it doesn't drink very highly...

Zundert
10 Trappist

The context here is that this beer was consumed as part of a quadruple, Quad tasting with Westvletern 12, St. Bernardus Abt 12 and Rochefort 10, and also in the wake of a separate tasting of Zundert 8 which was rather unimpressive. Surprisingly dark pour, close to black if the highlights are ignored - some dark garnet if they are not. Head is great, retention is excellent. Looks fantastic. Nose and tastes have a decent amount of licorice and slight bitterness. Smooth. Finishes dry. The alcohol...

Silly
Saison

330 mL bottle. Chestnut brown color with lovely, red highlights on the pour. Nose is malty as one might expect from a Brasserie de Silly beer, but not at all consistent with a (contemporary) beer that has "saison" on the label. Tastes are very malty as one would expect for the brewery, but for a saison? I don't know what the history of saisons is (at least not in all of its glory), but this beer is clearly not in-line with anything contemporary within the style. Plenty of toffee and caramel,...

Gold Rider
2022

Mmmm ... I thought I might like this, but to be honest that I was against my better judgment, and I think this is probably the Firestone Walker that breaks the camel's back for me. All of the these blends and barrels rarely pull up anything of note, and this is honestly a sweet mess. It's an ugly, dishwater brown Dubbel-like pour, very unattractive. Head is small and has terrible retention. No lace. Fair enough in one regard (ABV), but the utter lack of it seems unnecessary. Nose has sweet...

Premium XB
Bluebird Bitter

It's hard to describe the literal euphoria of an Englishman who is a legacy drinker, and who hasn't been home for too long, when a beer like this comes into view. I picked it up via a west coast bottle shop, unexpectedly, when I was buying some other beers, and what a thrill (and a treat) that is. Lightly chill-hazed, golden straw color, with a modest head, but decent retention and lace above average. Nice, and as expected. Nose is where things start to change. The label says "English Pale Ale...

Fantôme
d’OR

lot 08 07 22 best before à consommer avant fin 2026 14° Plato. Mid-range orange pour after an encouraging pop on removing the cork. Beautiful, beautiful pitted head, Stunning retention and lace on the second and the third pour. Oh my gosh. Initial impressions are that of a great mellow bitterness, smooth and easy drinking, some light spice and oddly reminiscent of a Rochefort 6. Eventually the spicy notes and bitter bite do build, but it takes a while and prior to that the beer feels very...

Asam Bock
Dunkler Doppelbock

Purchased on a whim from Kahn's in Indianapolis. Wasn't seeking bocks or even Germans at the time, but didn't recognize this so gave it a whirl. Standard 16.9 oz presentation. Pour is as expected. Dark chocolate body, mocha head. Pitted head, lace is average. Nose gives up some sweetness, as do the initial tastes. The beer seems above average in terms of the sweetness, even considering the style. The sweet nature overpowers some of the underlying malts a little  There's a LOT of brown sugar...

Angel’s Paw
(French Oak Edition)

Well, the French oak spirals certainly changed the original beer! First out, the original beer has taken on a much darker hue here. In the mouth this is much rounder, and the oak is surprisingly rich. It really changes the beer from the clean edges of the original BSPA, into a much flabbier offering. For me, even though this is quite drinkable and has all of the characteristics that one might expect, the treatment doesn't make the original beer any better. Different? Sure. Better? Not really....

Labrassbanda
Love Beer

500 mL bottle. Incredibly attractive color on the pour, a real, deep golden. Not necessarily all that typical of many a Hefewieizen, which often come with a somewhat lighter, yellow hue rather than the deep golden color we get here. Head is solid with some lace and retention, and perhaps more in line with something that is typical for the style. Light banana in the nose and tastes. A little hop bite in the back end to complement the usual banana, clove, bubblegum and light phenols. This is...

Monk’s Cafe Grand Cru
(Flemish Sour Ale)

11.2 oz "stubby" bottle as part of the Van Steenberge mixed, six pack. Beautiful, dark garnet pour, especially as the light catches it. Head is great, nice retention and lace. The nose and initial tastes are that of intense ethanoic acid, BUT after those first bursts the beers falls into that classic, beautiful, sweet and sour mode. Great balsamic, rich dark cherry, especially as it warms. The sweet and sour complement one another. Some oak, not a great deal of fruit for me, just that gently...

Hofbräu
Hefe Weizen

11.2 oz (330 mL) single. Straw colored pour with a head that fades quickly. A little chill-haze, a few floaties. Limited lace, not a great deal of retention. Grainy nose, a little bubblegum -not much. Medium body with a light yeasty, bubblegum and banana tastes. It's quite sweet and soft. The sweetness builds a little, and becomes a feature of the beer. Although a classic (I suppose), the sweetness is surprising to me. Light banana in the finish, and the sweetness finishes the beer too. I have...

St. Feuillien
FIVE

Here we go with a new beer, and one that has obviously been specifically marketed as a lower ABV, "refreshing" thirst-quencher. They are NOT shying away from the marketing on this one! Pretty, bright, light lemon yellow color and a good head on pouring. Decent retention, some lace and a nice thin film. Nose offers a little grassy bread. Upfront tastes ARE indeed "refreshing" - LOL. Very gentle hops are balanced well with simple grains. There's a decent whack of Belgian yeast which is great in...

Scotch Silly
(Pinot Noir Barrel ’19)

It's impossible not to make a comparison between this beer and the 2018 Chardonnay version of this beer, especially when the other one was consumed and reviewed just a few days ago. The same base beer, and also in wine-barrels, I'd expect similar things, and indeed that's what we get. Notable changes here are the fact that the beer is a year younger (2019 versus 2018), and Pinot Noir is the grape. Given that I think that the Pinot Noir is going to mesh more with the underlying Scotch Ale...

Scotch Silly
(Chardonnay Barrel ’18)

Corked and caged. Moderate pop on opening. Pour has the requisite chestnut brown and is pretty. Head is moderate, not especially well retained, doesn't give much lace, but at least gives a nice film on the surface of the beer. At 10.0 % and at this age, I'm OK with that. There is some oxidation in the nose at this point. Shame, I'd liked to have gotten to this earlier, but that wasn't to be. Tastes have the base Scotch Ale well rounded, and a barrel note that is less discernible specifically...

Zundert
Trappist 8

For something that is categorized as a BDSA, this beer is a very strange color. There is a light brown, chestnut appearance, not a typical, blackish, darker body. It looks like a, "slightly-better-than-usual" Dubbel. Head is initially good, but lace doesn't form and the retention isn't great, however the thin film across the surface of the beer that lingers, is pleasing. Light fruits greet the nose and tastes. There's a touch of bitterness up front, but I get very little spice that others have...

Uerige Altbier

The Doppelsticke I’ve had several times before, but never this in the US until now. The usual, Grolsch style, “pop-top” presentation, with good gun-smoke on opening. Head is beautifully formed, excellent lace, nice retention. Brown body. Nose gives up intense, bready malts. Really very strong. Tastes are more reserved, but follow-on with simple malts and very light bitterness in the back end. Not sweet, but with some light spice among the hops. Excellent mouthfeel, and this beer feels like a...

Rye on Rye Maple (2020)

Courtesy of Brian, cheers mate! 12 oz bottle, best before 16 March 2021, 2020 vintage. 16 IBUs, limited release with maple syrup and aged in Templeton rye barrels. Mid-brown pour with a decent head considering the ABV. Of course this fades, but it leaves a thin film on the surface of the beer, and a few tiny pieces of lace on the glass. Nose has the whiskey notes that one would expect, but no real trace of maple. Initial tastes are reversed. Nose also gives up much more alcohol than the tastes...

Fantôme Desert Ghost Sonoran Saison

Capped and corked, the usual Fantôme 750 mL presentation. Clouded, deep orange body with a fizzy initial head that disapates immediately to leave no film and no lace. Light carbonation remains in the mouth. Not great looking, but no panic, it’s Dany! Nose offers not much more than a sweet, light citrus tone; little else. No bad, just not complex. Tastes start with a herbal note up front that fades pretty quickly. This is then replaced by the citrus elements. There’s a floral note about the...

Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue) Whisky Barrel Aged

As is the case every time I make notes about a beer and then publish them on the site, they are no more than my thoughts, for my own records, and for my own reference. They really aren't for any other purpose, but if others enjoy reading them or even find them useful, then great! If not, so be it. I say that here because I think that these notes are likely to run counter to many others thoughts about this beer, and that's just fine! Right off the top I'll admit that I'm just not a huge fan of...

Weissbier Hell

Orange, honey-colored, hazed body and a wispy head. The head is gone quickly, little to no lace. Nose offers little, likely too cold. Sweetish taste profile that at the beginning and lacks the classic banana and bubble gum notes out of the blocks. Likely to do with temperature once more. However, even with warming, this doesn't change a great deal, and we don't really get much past the (controlled) sweetness. Smooth, easy drinking with no edges, and that includes sweetness, bitterness, any hop...

Weissbier Dunkel

Put simply, the best Dunkleweizen available in the USA. Now, if I'm honest one can apply that to the full range of Andechs beers that we get here in the US in their respective styles, so am I saying anything out of the ordinary? No, not really, but it bears saying. Darkish amber body with a beautiful tan head. Head is not very well retained and offers scant lace, but still looks good initially. Color is perfect. The nose is extraordinarily rich, and to me resembles even the bigger, bolder...

Ginger Gueuze

$28.95 for the 750 mL bottle. I might like this in the end, but I don't think that it will be very good value. Anyway, I'm invested to this point, so here we go. Capped and corked, the beer opens with a really healthy pop. Good gun-smoke. Carbonation is HIGH - not exactly a gusher, but this beer is extremely carbonated. Orange body. Lace is very good as well. Pretty. The carbonation makes for a lively mouthfeel. I'd heard rumor that this was really tart, but it isn't, at least not on my palate...

Grand Cru 2022

OK, OK, I'm biased! Certain styles speak to me, and a great Tripel/Belgian Strong Pale is one of those things. 750 mL capped and foiled, dimple-bottomed brown bottle from Tavour. Label has a strong Bruery vibe about it, which I have absolutely no issue with. High, very light, fizzy head that recedes to nothing pretty quickly and leaves almost no lace. In that regard not great, but carbonation levels are obviously good. The head is a the only weak point for this beer. Light golden body. Nose...

The Abyss (Old World)

As far as I can ascertain this is just The Abyss in sherry barrels - or at least that's what's advertised. Should be right up my alley. Let's see. Capped and black waxed as usual, but the bottled on date is not decipherable. "2019 Reserve" adorns the label. Pour is as expected, resplendent. Jet black, impenetrable body, magnificent mocha head. Nothing better in the genre. Not much evidence of any sherry in the nose, it may be a little cold. Let's allow this to open up. As that happens the...

Strong Dark and Belgian

22 oz bottle, courtesy of Mark, and directly from the brewery. The color of this beer is very attractive. A deep, garnet red hue in certain light, and clear as a bell. I saw bunch of pictures on Untappd which had me worried in relation to the carbonation, because almost every one of them appeared flat. The carbonation here is better than those pictures would suggest, but not great, and if there's one criticism in terms of the pour and appearance is that personally, I would like a more...

Elder Brett

22oz bomber (a relative rarity these days shamefully), $11.00 from Brew Ridge Beer Hub Waynesville, NC. Label somewhat confusingly adds the moniker Season-Brett Golden Ale. Release #2 (or maybe 3), the text is smudged, and that seems confusing in terms of dates as well. Anyway, maybe DEN#3275 has some meaning. Pour is a straw golden body with a fizzy head that dissipates to nothing immediately. Nose and tastes follow a single, sour, tart formula, with clean green apple edges and not much else....

Chimay Dorée (Gold)

In general, Dorée is a deeply misunderstood beer, but this is especially so in the USA. Firstly there is the issue with it being an infinitely more subtle beer that anything else that they make. Subtlety is not a trait that is appreciated a great deal in the USA, and that's true of all beers, but Dorée has another problem that compounds things. Relatively, very little of it gets to the USA and people don't know what it is. As a result it often sits on shelves or in warehouses for long periods...

Hofbräu Dunkel

330 mL single. Blue Ridge Brew Hub, Waynesville, NC. Beautiful, red bronze pour with clarity and cleanliness that is striking. White head. some lace. Nose offers a ton of predictable caramel notes. Caramel up front immediately in the tastes too. A very, very light roast note, but this is muted appropriately. Malts of course, are all over the beer, and they meld perfectly. Sweet, medium bodied example, with even a touch of chocolate in there too. Refreshing, but it is a sweet example of the...

Hofbräu Original

Pure, golden, clear pour with a resplendent white head. Quintessential Helles in the glass. Deep bread in the nose with a touch of hop character being barely perceptible. Easy drinking, mouthfeel is lightly prickly, simple and perfect. Sweet breads mingle amongst the noble hop bitterness. Beautifully balanced, as the elements meld perfectly together. Lots of sweet grains, a medium body and that leads to an incredibly easy to consume beer - in many ways, that's its purpose. Crisp, light and...

Thiriez EXTRA (dry-hopped French farmhouse ale)

750 mL bottle purchased at Knightly Spirits in Orlando, FL, USA. Capped. This beer was distributed in Atlanta for years and years during the mid 00s, and I am pretty sure that I've had it before, but apparently never took any notes so here we are. This is likely an older bottle, but there is no way to tell. As such I was concerned because this is a low ABV beer as well, so the expectations were low. Opens with an encouraging pop. Good. Pour is dull, light brown/straw/gold, not particularly...

Saison de Pipaix

Wow, an old, old friend. Very surprised I had not reviewed this, but also I haven’t seen it for years and years. Probably haven't drunk it since the mid-00s back in Atlanta when and where it was pretty widely available. 750 mL, capped from Belgian-Style Ales online. Lively pour, slight gusher. Mid-orange color with a very generous head. Lacing excellent. Nose has a high level of farmhouse funk. Some of this is reflected in those first tastes, but at the outset there is a fairly distinguishable...

Tripel Golden Ale

Purchased in Columbus, OH at Perfect Pour. 750 mL, corked and caged affair. Reserved pop on opening, no drama. Pour is a yellowish-golden rather than a distinctly golden-golden. A little chill-haze. Head is bone-white and above average. Decent lace, quite "coating" on the glass, and somewhat in the mouth. I'll start by saying that I like this - I like it a lot - but, this is a VERY dry Tripel, if a (typical) Tripel at all. The requisite sweetness is largely absent. The website describes the...

Waypost Bière
De Coupage 2022

1 pint bottle directly from the Brewery last month. 2022 Vintage. Orange golden pour. Almost a pinkish hue at the edges. Head is average, drops off quickly and little lace. Nose has plenty of farmyard horse manure, not funk as such, but some oak barrel notes. Quite dry with the barrel-aged part of the blend definitely coming through most strongly. The younger beer doesn't bring a lot in terms of life, and the beer takes on plenty of apple, and other cider-like notes. Carbnation is low, but the...

Saison Du Bois

1 pint bottle from the brewery last month. Pale golden color with a simple, white head. Nice lace. Lovely, wine-based nose.The nose also has a surprising level of sweet, bready malts. This is carried through to the tastes which initially feel very sweet indeed. This backs off pretty quickly to reveal a vinous, oaky note (as expected). Light and quick in the mouth, with some fruit elements. Quite floral. There's almost an artificial ester note too, which sounds like it might not be good, but at...

Fantôme Cocoa Ambreé

Fantôme & Fermentery Form adorns the label. Capped and corked, the usual Fantome presentation. Lively pour with a light, high, fine-bubbled head that is good effervescence but that fades pretty quickly. Body is a lightish brown, dark butterscotch heading toward orange affair. Cloudy. The body of the beer is not particularly attractive TBH. Nose is mainly a relatively non-descript, yeasty bread note with a touch of something fruity. Light tartness (very light), with similar almost...

Saison tremist

750 mL, corked and caged, a recent purchase from Belgian-Style Ales. A new beer to me. Looks like it has had some distribution in the US for about 3 or 4 years at least. Excellent pop on opening, good head, decent film retention, and some nice lace. Lemon colored, clouded body, all is in order. Yeasty acidity in the nose, and off the top in the tastes. Smooths out evenly with a little citrus funkiness. Mild funk, but all in order. Pretty dry from start to finish. A touch of candied fruits...

Tynt Meadow

Additional notes 05/31/23 pictured You can see from the note below that I didn't particularly care for this a year ago, and I got plenty of pelters for that. Not to worry, I'm used to that! Anyway, as is usually the case I'm prepared to give most beers a second try and here we go again. This pour seemed to look a bit better than that first bottle, but it's hardly art in glass. I still get what for me seems like an over-hopped, more bitter beer than I should be experiencing. This second bottle...

Spencer
Monks’ Reserve Ale

I’ve had this a few times before these notes, so this is a collective narrative from more than one sitting. It pours with a lovely look. Dark brown, a better than average head and lace when one considers the ABV, and a retention that is also better than I was expecting. Nose offers little other than a slightly surprising acidity. This is not really reflected in any tastes. Some bakers chocolate in the initial tastes. This is followed by some dry alcohol, some raisin based fruit, and a touch of...

25th Anniversary

I think that I've simply lost what little love that I ever had for beers such as the Firestone Walker Anniversary Series. I mean I am glad that they are making them - it shows a solid commitment to a craft - but when ones looks at the blend that has gone into 25, the only thing that comes to mind is, "would it really matter what was blended at this point?" There's such a colossal number of incredibly potent flavors and barrels in the mix, isn't this just a hodge-podge that would most likely...

Bière Du Boucanier Dark

Poured from the iconic, ceramic stubby bottle, on first look this appears like an ugly Dubbel brown - my favorite color complaint - but in better light there are a ton of red hues and the beer is significantly less dull than it first appears. Head is decent, and consummate with a 9% beer. Retention and lace follow a similar pattern. Fruity yeast on the nose, that is carried into the tastes a bit, but in those tastes we find a drier beer than the aroma might first suggest. Still plenty of...

Trader Joe’s
Vintage Spiced Ale 2021

Here we are at the beginning of June with the final bottle of the 2021 vintage. I usually get a case plus a few. I'm in the habit of saying that this beer is annually one of the best value beers available in North America, and the 2021 vintage is no exception. A high quality BSDA, brewed by a brewer with a great pedigree for the style, and that used to come in at $4.99 a 750. Even at the $6.99 price tag of these days, it’s still great value. Pour is close to black with a highly carbonated...

Cherry Chouffe

Well … it is what it is. Various shades of red in the body that range between dark burgandy to alarmingly red, depending on the way that the light hits the beer. The moderate head is slightly pink - again dependent upon the light source - and it leaves some decent lace. Nose has plenty of cherry notes, not too strong. It’s sweet, but honestly not too sweet. It threatens, but then backs off. As long as you want that strong cherry taste, and you don’t mind the sweetness, then this is a ‘beer’...

Fantôme Dark Spiritus Winter Project

I’m pretty experienced with Fantôme, so I know what to expect (i.e., the unexpected), but lately I’ve had a couple of less than stellar experiences. This beer gets me back to more familiar territory of the brilliant madness. Pour is a slightly reddish, brown pour, with a creamy, light tan colored head. Nose offers a lovely, deep bready, yeasty note, with a little herbal element. Mouthfeel is lively. Nice. The tastes are a mid-sweet, very lightly herbal bitterness with a paradoxically dry...

Trappistes Rochefort Triple Extra

I first got this shipped to me in June 2021 directly from Belgium and before it was available in the US, but have had probably about 6-10 bottles of it since. Let’s get this out of the way immediately. This doesn’t drink like a typical Triple; at least not for me. A mid-golden, slightly hazed pour with an above average creaminess on the head. There’s a lot of depth to the mouthfeel, and it drinks more like a wheat beer in terms of its body. It drinks like a cloud. Yes it is orangey (likely as...

9 Ladies Dancing

Turbid brown pour with a level of carbonation that was better than I thought it might be after this length of time. Somewhat surprisingly, it does meet the taste parameters that one might expect. Not only that, it doesn't deliver any cardboard either. That seems unlikely at this age, but it manages to do that. What it doesn't do (unsurprisingly) is bring a lively, fresh feel! It looks, and drinks its age. There's a little coffee, some vanilla, the cocoa nibs are there, and a mingling of dark...

Saison du Rosier

375 mL bottle, corked & caged. Tavour purchase. Lemon colored, lightly hazed body with a decent white head. The fades quickly, and is fizzy rather than anything else. Nose offers plenty of acidity, and not much else. Yeah, this isn’t really a saison. It’s way too sour to fit snuggly into that category, and it isn’t even that tart. However, it IS the acidic and the tart that overrides any type of funk. When I say ‘override the funk’, I mean there is none. Anyway, some light citrus fruit, a...

Parabola Autumn Edition 2021

Dark chestnut approaching black pour, with a great looking mocha head. Surprisingly rich looking head (and good lace and retention) for such a massive ABV. Also surprisingly, the beer gives up mostly chocolate on the nose. As it opens up with temperature, the bourbon notes come through a little more, but still … Tastes are heavily laden with tobacco bitterness, tannins, and leather as the initial impressions. As it warms, the complexity increases with all of those still hanging on, and then...

Fantôme Rock The Farmhouse

750 mL, corked and capped, the usual Fantôme presentation. Big gusher, with a ton of very light, wispy foam cascading from the bottle. Needs a very quick inversion toward a glass to save the good stuff. Mmm … pour is frankly, ugly. It has a butterscotch haze and resembles the thing I most hate in my (beer) life right now, a NEIPA. Ugly, ugly, ugly appearance, that looks like a glass of orange juice. I can’t tell you how much I hate the appearance of this. Looks like the wort, or perhaps more...

Firestone Eleven

Another cellar-dweller. Murky dark brown pour, no head to speak of at this age, but all the nose you can handle. Barrel aged alcohol still hanging on, even now. Some black flecks of sediment. Same can be said of the taste profile. Is it distinguishable in any meaningful way? No really. is it pretty thin? Yes, of course. Does it still give a mild burn and do you know what you are drinking? Yes, you bet you do. Obviously I should have drunk this x+ years ago, I understand, but it’s not horrible...

Fantôme Sante 23!

750 mL, capped and corked bottle. Pour offers a frankly unattractive, murky, reddish-brown body with little to no head. Some acidic fruit on the nose, and a bit of malty bread. The first couple of gulps are full of ethanoic acid and it burns a little. As the beer warms and the palate adjusts, there is a slight backing off of that initial assault, but to be honest it does linger down the whole glass. The finish is dry, but the acidity hangs around, and in the end this basically drinks like a...

Fantôme Red Spiritus Automn’ Project

750 mL, corked and caged. There’s very little information about this beer, I’ll have to ask Dany. Lot 03 b 21 best before a consommé avant fin 2025 A pinkish head that is huge sits a top a reddish-brown body after a tremendous pop on opening. This looks special. There’s some mild fruit in the nose, but not much. As it warms, that increases. This is lovely. It drinks like a fruit beer, with lots of strawberry notes, and almost no sweetness up front. It’s balanced, has a light herbal note, and...

Abbaye des Rocs’s Saison

33cl bottle, yellow cap. Lovely mid-golden pour with a half-inch head. Average retention, some nice lace. Nose offers simple grains, a touch of hops. Plenty of fruit in those initial tastes with a lot of citrus. However, it’s not sharp or tart, but has a lemon sweetness about it. Dry start, and the beer is highly drinkable at 5.4%. The dry element continues and builds, and it’s then that the hops truly kick in. Ultimately, a decent hop note, and one that I wasn’t expecting. Some yeasty tastes,...

Saison du Meyboom

33 cl bottle, imported from Belgium. 2021 Vintage. Dare I say it? It looks a little like a NEIPA. Hazed, light orange body with a fluffy, large head that creates decent lace and retention. Nose offers some light hops, and a grassy freshness that feels lightly rustic. Very slight soapy bitterness, and a little light citrus, but not much. Finish is pleasingly, lightly bitter. It’s very soft, light, and airy. The beer opens up on warming with further orange experiences, including a touch of zest...

Fantôme Silos and Summits

750 mL capped and corked green bottle. Pour is a clouded orange, with a medium head that fades quickly. No lace. Nose offers a kind of diluted orange notes, and little more. This is odd, and not great. Some orange notes up front, with a bitter, drying, finish. The spices seem bitter, and obviously the hops are old. I believe that this was brewed in 2019, and it’s showing every inch of its age. Touches of oxidation, plenty of cardboard, and not much else. I hate the fact that I’ve come to this...

Blaugies Saison D’Epeautre

750 mL, corked and caged green bottle. Pops with pleasing vigor. Hazed, light butterscotch body. Huge head, but lacing and retention only slightly above average when considering the initial foam; likely because the foam was so wispy and light. Nose offers light bread, not a great deal else. Any funk and spice comes in upfront, and to be honest there is not a lot of it. The beer backs away pretty quickly, and becomes an easy drinking, smooth, sweetish, light fruit experience. Oddly, in contrast...

De Ranke Franc Belge

Expiry 23/12/2022. 330 mL bottle. Pour offers a mid-orange, amber, slightly hazed pour. White head, some nice retention and lace, with a significant film that settles across the beer in the chalice. Nose offers some malt, but until it warms and opens it’s hard to distinguish much. When it does I get a little orange, but mostly solid, bready, relatively neutral notes. The beer drinks a little like a very dry, English bitter, with some very mild hop character juxtapositioned against balanced...

Blaugies la Vermontoise

375 mL, corked and caged green bottle. Imported form Belgium. Light golden, hazed lemon colored body with a very nice, aggressive fizz on the pour. Not surprising, as it opened with a delightful, fierce pop. Nose has light acidity and some wheat notes. Perhaps a touch of lemon, but that may be just a trick that the color and the appearance are playing on the senses. The tastes start by carrying through those initial citrus notes, and there is plenty of bitterness here as well. The bitter...

Practise What You Preach

I have no interest in getting into a pissing match about James Watt's antics - I mean that I literally don't care about Brewdog or their attitudes at all - BUT what I will say is simply this. About 15 years ago when Brewdog started, I had some brief dealings with him, and he was a dick. That's it, no more, no less, but that's the truth. Now back to this beer. This review is based upon a 33 cl bottle that was imported from Belgium. A couple of weeks later I saw 750s of it here in Fort Wayne,...

Straffe Hendrik Tripel 9°

Arguments abound over which beers constitute the quintessential examples of many styles, but perhaps Tripels attract the largest amount of such attention. Westmalle is of course the first beer out of people’s mouths when Tripels are the subject of that particular conversation, but Straffe Hendrik Tripel seems to be a beer that I’ve heard in these exchanges more and more. Those comparisons seem fair as soon as the beer is opened. Highly carbonated, with a huge, light head that fades to give...

Vicaris Winter (2018)

33cl bottle. Best before 19/09/23, so plenty of life left in this yet. Belgian Strong Dark? Maybe not. It has some Winter Warmer character too, and no, I’m not being fooled by the name, but in the end this seems almost largely brown ale-like. ‘Imperial’ of course. Pour is a dark brown, chocolate colored body. Looks like a better version of a dirty dubbel. Head and lace do a good job. A ton of bread in the nose, with a touch of oxidation. The beer feels older than it might be right off the bat....

Straffe Hendrik
Quadrupel 11°

33 cl bottle, best before 18-05-2024. The color of this beer is truly beautiful. An incredibly deep garnet red, with great clarity. Head is light coffee-colored with tremendous depth and pitting. Lace is perfect. Even at a relatively cool temperatures the nose is apparent. As it warms, the yeasty aroma becomes stronger, and the sugary alcohol comes through beautifully. Tastes start with a gentle introduction of red cherries with plenty of drying bakers chocolate or cocoa. The beer is nowhere...

Shoreline Brewery Sum Nug

I suppose that this is what the kids would, these days, call “a West Coast IPA”*. Of course, that’s UTTER bullshit, because what it really is is no more than just a simple, American IPA that isn’t a hazed New England mess of a juice. *East Coast doesn’t mean ‘hazy’, and West Coast doesn’t mean ‘not hazy’ - WTF is wrong with beer these days? Anyway, $5.99 from Service Liquors East, Warsaw, IN. A 22 oz bomber, an unusual sight these days amongst the cans. BTW, I (generally) hate cans too....

Hoegaarden De Verboden Vrucht

Just like Hoegaarden Grand Cru, I like this beer. Shoot me. Pour is a dark burgundy body, with a resplendent head, that takes on a light tan hue, and a lovely, “noisy”, pitted, dense look. This looks great. Right out the bottle there is plenty of banana sweetness in the nose. The tastes continue to bring the same, and we get some really nice dry alcohol soaked dried fruits. More banana based yeast, and then some more vinous notes. There’s a fruity, jammy, red wine based element in there, and a...

MOTHER of all STORMS

2021 vintage. This is a complicated beer, that is actually very different than first impressions on opening might otherwise suggest. At the outset the appearance seems to be basically black, and the nose very strongly bourbon based. Neither are anything like the final experiences of appearance or smell that I am left with at the conclusion of the bottle. The initial bourbon smell drops off pretty quickly. The (apparently) black body very quickly takes on a dramatic reddish-brown hue that was...

La Moneuse

375 mL, corked and caged affair. The classic heavy, green, dimpled bottom glass. Pour gives an excellent head that becomes more modest quite quickly on standing. Not much lace. Mid to darkish orange, lightly hazed pour. It looks like a beer with real depth. Nose takes a while to open up with temperature. When it does it give a generic bread note, but also toasted malt that’s although similar to the bread, is quite distinct. Almost a wheat, cereal note. Weetabix anyone? Mouthfeel is lively....

11th Anniversary

If the truth be known, I’ve been influenced by Westbrook’s Mexican Cake - a lot. I really love that beer, and as a result, a special release of something (probably) not dissimilar is likely to get my attention. 11th Anniversary did. Whenever I see a Westbrook Anniversary beer I am reminded of meeting Ed Westbrook in a suburban garage, with a few other Charleston, SC beer geeks just a little bit before he opened the brewery. I suppose that must be about 12 years ago now. On that day he brought...

St. Fuellien
Grand Cru

Additional notes 07/15/22 33 cl bottle. It's a beautiful beer to behold. A massive white head that forms fantastically and perfectly, leaving behind rich lace that sits splendidly atop a classically golden body. Nose offers clean bread notes and a little yeasty sweetness. The beer starts with banana esters and a light hop touch, but soon enough the ending becomes much more bitter. There's pineapple, and the hop element builds a little with time. The dry hopping definitely has a distinct...

Brewers’ Bridge

If the truth be known, I didn’t even know that this beer had been brewed back in 2019. That was a period in my life when my finger was OFF the pulse of the beer scene - so it’s not that surprising - BUT the consequence is that when I came across it in a random, Fort Wayne, IN store, I was pretty shocked and pretty delighted! $5.49 for the 11.2 oz bottle. As someone commented in the Belgian Beer Board Facebook group, “Allagash & Brasserie DuPont, what could possibly go wrong?”. Well, sure,...

Bourbon County Brand
Double Barrel Toasted Barrel

2021 Vintage. Approx. $55 for the bottle. Ouch. Jet black pour - of course - head can be created with an aggressive pour. It’s tan. Nose is pretty solvent like. The legs on the beer are great, and obviously a function of the ABV but they are wine like. To its credit this is extraordinarily smooth, it hides the alcohol very well, and does not burn. The bourbon is definitely smoothed out very well, and there is no aggression at all. In a year or so, I’d imagine it will even out a lot more, and...

Fantôme Blanche

In the absence of any other information I am going to assume that this is the same (or at least a similar) beer to the De Hotton Witbier that was last seen about 5 years. I’ll try to get the word from Dany on this. Pour is a hazy orange body with a HUGE head with pleasing lace, and decent retention. The color I’m not mad about, but the beer as an entity in the glass looks magnificent. Nose offers a lot of dry lemon notes. There’s some promise of some white pepper too. The initial tastes offer...

Saison

Second time I’ve had this, from a brewery that’s just a few miles away from where I used to live. 500 mL capped bottle, purchased from Total Wine, Atlanta (Akers Mill). Pour is a well carbonated affair, but it’s a little fizzy (as opposed to something with any depth) for my liking. White head, poorly retained, some lace. Everything sits on top of a honey-orange body. Mouthfeel is prickly, and a touch thin. Nose has some acidity, and some mildly funky cheese. Light soapiness starts the beer...

Pattinson Porter

Batch #2, brewed Jan 2021. Purchased at Little Five Bottle Shop, Athens, GA in November 2021. Pour is aggressively carbonated, but after the initial pour, the carbonation is less annoying and settles into a lovely, highly carbonated beer that behaves a little better than at first. Depending on the light, the beer is either jet black or has some reddish, brown lighter highlights at the edges. Tan head is a “fizzy” affair, but has decent retention and creates a nice, thin, mocha, creamy layer...

Bourbon County Brand
Stout

So I looked to see how many notes that I had for BCBS over the years and I see only these from 2006. Has it really been that long? Was this close to the first year of BCBS? I suspect the answers are, "Well, yes", and "Almost". Full disclosure. I'm not a pant-wetting fan boy for hyped beer - never have been - and I'm not much of a fan of booze-aged/infused/barrel beers (with the exception of a good wine barrel) if I'm honest, so that odds are stacked against BCBS from the outset with me. That...

11 Pipers Piping

2020 re-release. This is an odd one for me. The idea of coriander being added to cut the sweetness of a typical Scotch Ale I suppose makes sense (if indeed that’s its purpose), but at the same time it seems to work against what the beer might be trying to achieve. I don’t know, it seems a little bit of fractured combination of flavors to me. Black-brown body on the pour, with a somewhat disappointingly poorly retained tan head. Even when cold, the nose starts to give away a lot of the Scotch...

Fantôme Macaquincoing

Occasionally one will come across a beer where there is a single, overriding experience that dominates just about all other aspects of it. It doesn’t necessarily make the beer one-dimensional, because at the time the subtleties may be possible to discern, but the further removed you become from the beer, the more singular the experience becomes. This was one of those beers. Bitterness. That’s it. Now that bitterness was not an American, IBU, hoppy assault, but rather the far more predictable...

Fantôme Strange Ghost

A special beer. Label declares, ‘1 brew Dark Triple Version’, lot 02 f a 21, best before end of 2024. Pour offers a chestnut brown body with a deeply impressive, mocha/tan colored head. It’s rich looking in every aspect of its appearance. Nose almost seems like a lightly spiced Christmas beer. The aromas are not especially strong, but they are easy to pick up. A bit of cinnamon, some mace, maybe a touch of nutmeg? Then the taste … WOW! Essentially it’s a herbal explosion of many elements...

Ommegang
Collaboration 2016

One of those absolutely random bottle store finds that keeps me going into just about every beer store that I ever see. I think that I’ve had this before, but I find no notes. A dirty, dubbel-like pour, but the pop on opening is encouraging. The first concern of a beer of any age is always carbonation. We can move on to all of the other problems, but that’s the first port of call and a test that this beer passes. After a little time in the glass it clears to give a much more attractive, dark...