Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beer Review: Unibroue 4 Pack

Long overdue, I guess I am making up for some lost time by doing a 4 pack review.  This 4 pack was given as a gift from a friend of mine (bought at Trader Joe's) that is from Quebec and loves Unibroue, obviously.  This pack was stuck in my fridge since moving to Seattle and over the past few weeks, I have been chipping away at it and was excited to try some beer that I have never had before. These reviews are in no particular order and having tasted them over the past couple weeks. Because of the time between tastings the reviews are a little week, but I do remember what I would drink again and what I wouldn't drink, yes there are a couple beers I wasn't too fond of. 

Chambly Noire is a Belgian Dark Ale.  Unibroue brews a version of this for Trader Joe's as a seasonal release called the Trader Joe's Vintage Ale.  I like the TJ's version much better than this one.  Knowing how TJ's keeps their beer I can only assume the off flavors I found in this beer were from poor storage, actually most the beers seemed to be "off" a little.  This beer is a flavorful beer.  Hints of molasses and some nice peppery spices.  However it just didn't excite me in any way.

Ephemere is a White Ale brewed with apple must.  The color is amazing in this beer, it had a light crisp taste with high carbonation, very cider like.  It had a good sweetness and a good apple flavor.  It was a tasty beer, but not a style that I like, I actually gave up on this beer after a few tastes and gave it to my girlfriend.  But if you like ciders or fruity white ales, this a beer for you.

Craftman is a Peat-smoked whisky malt ale.  The reason I received this 4 pack was the Raftman, my friend loves this beer and I would have to say it was a good beer, but not a great beer.  It had a great light brown/amber color.  Nice sweet malt flavor with a little apple and some spicy notes.  I didn't get much of the smoked malt, which is great because I am not a fan of smokey beers.  I have to think this beer would be better if it were stored correctly.  I would try it again from a proper beer store or taphouse.  
Blanche De Chambly is a Witbier it has a great hazy golden color.  Flavors of  yeast, bread, cloves, and a little citrus.  Nice dry mouthfeel and dry finish, this is a very drinkable beer.  One of my least sought after styles ended up being the best of the pack. 

Overall a little disappointment in the 4 pack after having tried La Fin Du Monde, Maudite, Trois Pistoles all great beers.  I am not going to give up on these beers, I believe they have great potential.  I really do enjoy Unibroue beers and will still try them as I see them. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine 2010

Every year Sierra Nevada releases Bigfoot Ale, a Barleywine that they ferment in traditional open fermenters.  Here is a link to a video showing the fermentation of Bigfoot in those open fermenters from the 2009 batch.
Like most beer drinkers in and around California, Sierra Nevada gave me a lot of my firsts.  My first brewery tour, my first beer sampler, and of course my first Barleywine.  Thinking about my initial experience with the Bigfoot, I start to shutter.  When I was young my beer experience was mostly Coors and Bud and the occasional Sierra Nevada Pale Ale if I could afford it.   The first time I drank a bottle was when my friend picked up a six pack and thought it would be fun to split, WRONG. Going from Coors to this was a really bad idea, and I never really worked to hard to relive this horrible moment. 

Well many years and many beers later I am back on the Bigfoot wagon and can happily say that now I can appreciate a Barleywine.  I have had a number of Bigfoot Ale's since my first experience and it's fun to see how much things have changed over the years.

Bigfoot pours out hazy dark amber and I don't usually notice lacing, but this this beer had quite a bit (served in my Burger King Return of the Jedi glass.)
Aroma: toffee, caramel, good hoppy nose, and a hint of alcohol.
Taste:  good malt sweetness, toffee, surprisingly a lot of fruity esters with hints of raspberry, great grassy hop bitterness that lingers on the back of your tongue and finishes a little hot.
Mouthfeel:  medium to High carbonation with a nice medium body, very drinkable considering the ABV.

Overall:  Superb beer.  I guess they have had a couple years to perfect it and it shows.  I know a lot of beer drinkers may be a little hesitant in trying a barlywine because they aren't for everyone, but Bigfoot is a great intro to this amazing style.  So I suggest you grab a six pack at BevMo and keep a couple to cellar for a couple years and see how it matures. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beer Review: Stone Brewing Old Guardian Barleywine


I have been a fan of Stone Brewing ever since I had Arrogant Bastard Ale about 10 years ago.  I found a bottle at the local liquor store and saw the name and had to buy it.  You kind of become a hit at the party when you walk around with a 22oz bottle that says "Arrogant Bastard" on it.  So over the years I have tried my best to try Stone beers as much as possible, but I focus on the seasonal brews more so than their regular rotation.  I find their IPA's to be a bit out of balance, a little more on the harsh resiny side, but people love it so I can be wrong.  

I was saving this beer to share with a buddy of mine that is in love with everything Stone, unfortunately for him he didn't come over before I moved to Seattle and therefore missed out on this gem.  I don't usually drink many barleywines because, they are usually palate crushers and you can usually drink only one.  Old Guardian was served in a 22oz bottle and coming in at a wopping 11% it was definitely a one and done.

Old Guardian pours out hazy golden copper.
Aroma:  hints of toffee, caramel, and of course the Stone trademark huge resiny hops that hide the acohol.
Taste:  nice sweet malt flavor, brown sugar and toffee.  Huge resiny/grassy hop bite and smooth hot finish
Mouthfeel:  medium to high carbonation, nice crisp flavor, with a medium body and a nice dry finish.
Overall:  I really enjoyed this beer, I don't know how many I could have drank, but I would definitely buy it again.  Thanks Stone for another great beer.  

For those of you that are Stone fans, coming up in about a month Stone Vertical Epic 10 release coming out on 10/10/10.  Grab one and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Charlie, Fred and Ken's Bock

Let me start by saying congratulations to Sierra Nevada.  When I heard about this idea I was extremely excited to try all these exciting beers.  This is my second of the series, I previously drank the Fritz and Ken's Stout, which was great.  Living in Seattle I have the privilege of shopping at one of the best Whole Foods in the world, probably an exaggeration, but it still has a great selection of Washington, Californian and Belgian brews. 

Sierra Nevada Bock pours out a hazy copper.
Aroma: nice sweet malt aroma, caramel and a little alcohol.
Taste:  fantastic balance of sweet malt, caramel, toffee flavors and alcohol.  Alcohol starts off nice, and it has a very distinct bitter finish that lingers for a few moments.  
Mouthfeel: Nice light body with medium to high carbonation,  tingles right on the tongue as soon as you take a sip, but finishes pretty dry.
Overall:   I enjoyed this beer, it is a bit more hoppy than most helles/bocks I am used to.  I assumed it would be a battle of the malt vs. the alcohol, but the hops really put a good showing.  Sierra Nevada is known for hop forward beers and overall I thought this was a successful beer.  I would definitely buy another one of these to cellar for a couple months.