Monday, March 30, 2009

Red Brick Ale - A1A Aleworks

We enjoyed a nice lunch with our friend Jeff in St. Augustine this weekend at the A1A Aleworks, where they serve this house amber.

The color is a nice reddish brown with a tan head- it appears a little darker in the picture.

The aroma is a little sweet, with some citrus - but POW! Not much sweetness in the taste, just some fairly assertive hops. Still, the result is not overpowering, making this a mighty refreshing choice to go with my sandwich. It's easy to see why this is their most popular house brand selection.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Okocim Palone

Okocim Palone - a "fire-brewed dark beer" from Poland, 5.5% abv, 500 ml bottle.
This beer is one of the reasons I love to go to our local Polish restaurant, Salt & Sweet. How can you not order a beer with a label like that? Plus, Okocim Palone is fun to say...once you get the waiter to help you pronounce it. I still think I say it wrong.
This beer pours a dark, black-brown with ruby highlights - completely opaque. There's virtually no head, even with a hard pour.
The aroma has sweet cherries? Maybe some licorice?
The first sip slams you with malty sweetness, a slight fruitiness - kind of unexpected from such a dark beverage - but then it finishes with a slight toastiness. Any hops are pushed way to the back. Even though there's some lingering toasty sweetness, the overall impression is that it's clean, not cloying. It's almost like a half & half blend of a lager and a porter. Very delicious, and compliments a big plate of kielbasa and cabbage nicely.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chocolate Indulgence

Chocolate Indulgence by Ommegange brewery (7% abv)..."Belgian-Style Chocolate Stout"

This is a beer I've been wanting to try for a long time. Well, it first came out in 2007 as a 10th anniversary special brew, so it hasn't been that long. Ommegang is an interesting brewery. Based in Cooperstown, NY, it brews Belgian-style ales exclusively. This beer was part of a gift pack that included 2 of their other beers, as well as a spiffy glass (not pictured). Speaking of glasses, this should probably be poured into a chalice, but mine are in storage, I think - so forgive my pint glass.

On to the beer: It's black. Deep black. Yet somehow it still looks brown to me. The head on this thing is huge, pillowy. It's subsided quite a bit, now that I'm halfway through the glass, but the lacing is impressive.

I took a big whiff..."this smells like something...but what?" "Dark beer," was Cari's answer. There's a little bit of cocoa, roasted malt, some fruity Belgian yeast. The taste is a punch of melanoidins (burnt toast?), but velvety texture. Where's the chocolate? Oh, there it is - hiding in the back, a nice cocoa aftertaste. Taking a sip is like riding a wave of toasty to sweet, bitter to chocolate.

While completely enjoyable, this beer didn't really deliver on the promise of a chocolate "indulgence". I can't help but compare it to something like Young's Double Chocolate Stout ("holy crap, this is liquid dessert!") - and it comes up short. Maybe it's just the marketing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rufus and the Giant Peach Wheat

This is a very exclusive limited-production beer from the Hammer & Key Brewery in Palm Bay, FL (ok, so I made it).
It's approximately 6% abv, is a reddish golden color (lighter than the picture) with a nice frothy head.

The aroma has some nice yeast notes, faint peachiness - hinting of the sweetness to come.

The carbonation is pretty lively, and there's some wheat character, but very little peach flavor - just a little bit of initial sweetness, but a fairly dry finish.

It's pretty refreshing - not as much fruit character as I was expecting, but not bad as a wheat beer. It's not my finest creation, but pretty enjoyable.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Goliath, a 9% offering from Brasserie des Geants in Ath, Belgium is brewed in the castle of Irchonwelz...according to the label. It also describes itself as a blonde, but I think it's actually considered a tripel.

It pours a nice hazy golden color with a pretty enormous head that dissipated slightly soon after. Inhaling deeply, I get lots of apple aroma - a bit of sweet cotton candy? The taste is crisp, initially sweet like honey, with a bit of spiciness...followed by a distinct grassiness that's quite pleasant. The finish is bone dry.

It's pretty nice, nothing too overpowering - very easy drinking, but not incredibly memorable.

I'm really trying to explore some blondes -but I don't think this is exactly what I was looking for.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Black Albert

Why not start at the top? Black Albert was last year's #1 Beer On Planet Earth as rated by Beer Advocate members. It's a strange beer - a Russian Imperial Stout brewed by Belgians for a small pub in Lovell, Maine? And it's really hard to find...but a few weeks ago, we paid a visit to our local beer haven, Coasters of Melbourne - and behind the glass case, lo and behold: BLACK ALBERT. I almost peed my pants. I took a bottle to go (at $25 for 11.2oz, this may be the most expensive beer I've purchased), and have been waiting for the dust to settle on our move to crack it open.
The brewers call it a "Belgian Royal Stout" - 13% abv (whoa).
It pours a deep brown/black with a cappuccino head. I wasn't quite sure if there'd be a bunch of yeast in the bottom (there was), since I couldn't quite see through the bottle - so I flubbed the pour a bit, and chucked a bunch of floating yeast globules into the mix. No matter - it's good for you, right?
The taste is out of this world. Velvety, chocolate milkshake, with a bit of alcohol warming at the swallow, followed by a big hit of roastiness...maybe some licorice, slight coffee. It's amazing, but pretty light mouthfeel, which lends itself to the drinkability. This beer is incredibly drinkable. There's almost no hint of its strength. It's chocolatey and delicious. It's a shame this beer is so expensive, and difficult to find (only 500 cases imported to the US, allegedly).
It would be interesting to put this beer up against a few other Russian Imperials in a blind taste test (I admit I'm obsessed with blind taste tests, even though I've only participated in one) it the hype or the beer? It's not as complex as some other strong stouts, but it is flat-out tasty, and my curiousity is satisfied, so I consider this one money well spent.

And so it begins...about 15 years too late.

My wife Cari convinced me to start an online journal (that's not the same thing as a blog!) chronicling all the beers I drink. I try to order or buy something new every time - but I can't keep track of what I've tried, what I like, and so on. So today I start taking pictures, writing notes, maybe going back and tasting some old favorites with a fresh perspective.