Monday, April 27, 2009

Bell's Two Hearted Ale

Here's an American IPA I had the chance to sample again this weekend at the Melbourne Arts Festival at Matt's Casbah, a pretty nice place to eat downtown. Fortunately, it's one of their draught selections, but unfortunately, it was served in a plastic cup (no doubt due to the high traffic expected for the day).
Bell's Two Hearted Ale (7% abv) is one of those love-it-or-hate-it beers. As an American IPA, there's not much balance here - it's all about hops.
It's a pleasing orangey-apricot color with a creamy head that sticks around. It smells beautiful, lots of floral, fruity hops - but the taste is even more powerful than the aroma...extremely overloaded hoppiness that leans more to the citrus/fruity side. Even with the tongue-melting flavors, it never becomes overly bitter, and finishes fairly dry.
It's not the best thing to pair with food, since its taste will overwhelm pretty much everything around it, but it's not a bad selection for a night of drinkin'.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ommegang Three Philosophers

Here's the third and final beer from the Ommegang 3-pack: Three Philosophers, a Belgian quadruple blend, 9.8%abv.

I think this has always been my favorite in the Ommegang lineup. It's kind of interesting - a blend of 98% ale (quadruple) and 2% Kriek (a cherry lambic)...a very subtle way of adding complexity.

It pours a hazy dark reddish-brown, with minimal head that dissipates quickly. The first sniff makes me recoil in surprise a little - it's overpoweringly fruity. Cherries, plum, fig, some sweet syrupy malt...amazing.

The promise of cherry on the label and in the nose has you searching for the fruit in the first sip - but instead you get powerful malt, some coffee, and some surprising chocolatey toastiness. It's crazy - it smells like jam but tastes like toast (in a good way). There's a little bit of cherry in there, but the alcohol presence burns it away.

It's delicious, spicy, sweet, complex... relaxing with a bottle of Three Philosophers is a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Frank's Mystery Beer

We got this beer in the mail from our good friend Frank - his first venture into homebrewing. No labels, no info - just a challenge to guess the style. I can already tell this is going to require a lot of research. I may need more samples.
The bottles were pretty shaken up by the time the mailman dropped them off, so I let them sit in the fridge for a while to let the yeast settle out. As I poured the first bottle, I couldn't believe the clarity - a beautiful sparkling amber-brown...which I then muddied by accidentally pouring a bit of yeast from the bottle. Oh's good for you!
The head is fantastic. Thick, creamy, and with good retention. The aroma is sweet and malty, but I'm getting some clove from the yeast, maybe.
The taste is a little nutty at first, followed by a light maltiness, then a pretty firm hop assertion, finishing with some clove and light toast? It's a pretty dry finish, leaving me reaching for the glass again.
It's amazing - especially for a first brew (or a 20th). Great job, Frank. If I had to nail it to a style, I'd guess...Pale Ale, maybe? Can't wait for the next batch!

Friday, April 10, 2009


With a name like Amadeus, it has to be good, right?
This witbier/white beer/biere blanche from Les Brasseurs de Gayant in Douai, France is 4.5% abv. Brewed with spices with natural flavor added...hmm...what spices & flavors, I wonder?
I uncorked this 750ml bottle and poured it into my Duvel glass (although a thick-walled tumbler is preferred for this style). Monster tight-bubbled head that quickly disappears over a hazy straw yellow body.
The first sniff is overpowering. WOW...smells like candy! All kinds of fruit, something I can't place my finger on. Ah yes, duh...LEMONS. Wait, lemons? Seriously? It smells delicious.
I take the first gulp and recoil in surprise. It tastes like a slightly alcoholic lemonade/beer mixture. Kind of reminds me of a radler or a shandy or something. There might be a bit of coriander and orange peeking through. The swallow seems almost too easy, it's incredibly thin. The aftertaste is all watery, sugary lemon. It's the perfect beer for the 85° weather that's returned...extremely refreshing.
I can't help but think my wife would love this. People who barely like beer would go crazy for this. I feel like I should be gulping this by the gallon on the back porch.
Now if only I can get that Falco song out of my head...

Stoudt's Pils

The second round at Mellow Mushroom is one of Stoudt's flagship beers, the Pils, a "German Style Pilsener" (5.4%)
I'd tried their very expensive Imperial Stout before, and was extremely underwhelmed, but I thought I'd give this one a shot.
It certainly looked refreshing - clean, clear & golden.
I took a deep whiff or 10 ...not much aroma at all. I passed it to Cari for confirmation. "Yeah, it smells like a Budweiser!"....really? I get nothin'...maybe a faint grassiness. Oh well.
The taste was pretty refreshing after my Human Blockhead...light, crisp grain with some grassy hops -smooth carbonation - just as expected.
A nice flavorful but easy drinking beer. It happens to go nicely with a buffalo chicken pizza, too.

Coney Island Human Blockhead

Another trip to the Mellow Mushroom in Winter Park yields a pair of beers to add to the list. First up: Coney Island Human Blockhead from Shmaltz Brewing Company, part of their Freak Beers series, and a new one for 2009. I'd just read a review of it in Beer Advocate, so I was anxious to try it out.
Shmaltz describes it as a "tough-as-nails lager", but BA describes it as a doppelbock. At 10%abv, it's a bit on the extreme side, with 7 different kinds of malt and 6 different hops.
As seen in the photo, it's a pretty deep amber-brown, but fairly clear. There wasn't much head on it when it was served to me, but there was a bit of lacing all the way down. Huge malty sweet aroma, with a little bit of alcohol aroma.
The first sip was pretty shocking - an all-out assault of heavy malt, hop bitterness, and heat from the alcohol. There's a little bit of sweetness if you search for it, big chewy mouthfeel, but the hops pound everything out with an almost numbing aftertaste.
It's not entirely unpleasant, I'm just not sure it's one I'd reorder. On the next round, I had to switch things up (see next review).

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ommegang Hennepin

Ommegang Hennepin - a 7.7% saison poured from a corked 25.4oz bottle.
This is the next beer from the Ommegang 3 pack I bought (featuring the glass shown here). I've had this one before, but it goes on record now.

Apparently, this beer was named for Father Hennepin, the Belgian missionary who discovered Niagara Falls...nice tie-in for a New York brewery that makes Belgian-style beers.

I'm not a fan of saisons, usually - they're either quite nice, or just undrinkable. This one falls in the former category.
The smell is a crazy mixture of fruity yeast, spices, and alcohol, with just a hint of wildness - maybe a little barnyard. This is a farmhouse style ale, afterall.
The aroma alone gets my mouth watering...can something smell tart?

The color is amazingly light and crystal clear, with huge mounds of foam that quickly dies down. It almost looks like a Bud, with a slight reddish tint.

The first sip is packed with lively carbonation. It's crisp, hoppy, but not bitter. This ale is SNAPPY. There's a good deal of peppery apple, and the alcohol isn't hiding at all.
The mouthfeel is very champagne-like. The aftertaste is a hint of spice, lots more apple...a little bit of earthy funk. Everything a rustic ale should be.