Sunday, May 24, 2009

Aventinus Weizen Eisbock

Aventinus Weizen Eisbock, from G.Schneider & Sohn, approx. 12% abv.
I've read a lot about Eisbocks recently, and decided to pick one up. Apparently, back in the days before temperature-controlled shipping, beer would occasionaly freeze in transport. When separated from the layer of ice, the beer would become more concentrated and more complex in flavor. Today, modern brewers recreate this accidental style with controlled methods.
The Aventinus pours dark brown - almost cola-like in appearance, with zero head. The aroma is pretty interesting - some faint sweetness, then some fruitiness at the back end. (Is there such a thing as "after-smell"?) Some hints of molasses.
The taste is a little surprising - I think I was expecting something wheaty - but instead, it's almost like port wine...or a Belgian quad. Wading through the alcohol, there's some serious toffee and caramel flavors, with a little raisin in the finish...and some lingering maltiness.
It's really tasty stuff that sneaks up on you. I was really pleasantly surprised with this one.

Guinness 250th Anniversary Stout

A new Guinness! Released for the company's 250th anniversary, this 5% dry Irish stout hit the shelves for a limited time back in April.

Our local Irish bar, Meg O'Malley's has it on tap, so I had to try it (a few times).

First off, it arrives without the dramatic nitrogen cascading bubbles and virtually no head. It seems much lighter & less carbonated than the traditional pint.

Lots of coffee flavors...and cola? First impressions lead me to believe it's a new half stout-half cola concoction. It's much thinner and lighter than its sibling. There's a little bit of bitterness and slightly sour taste you'd expect, but it's a very pleasant beer.

I think I actually prefer this to the original.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nøgne Ø Brown Ale

The Nøgne Ø brewery from Norway has been getting a lot of attention in the craft beer world lately. I kind of figured this would be one brewer I'd have to hunt down online or something, but Downtown Produce came through for me again! Turns out, I'd been passing by the mysterious and unassuming "Ø" bottles for some time without realizing it.

Nøgne Ø (pronounced something like "NIRG-nuh IR") means "naked island" from a Henrik Ibsen line, by the way.

I selected the Brown Ale, 4.5% abv.

It pours with a minimal head, high carbonation, and a sweet, toasty coffee smell. Mmmm...

The tast is all that and more, with amazing coffee, chocolate, and toastier than most brown flavors. It has a looooong roasted finish.

Truly amazing. This is one of my favorite styles, brewed in my favorite way. Love it.

BJ's Pook's Pilsner

Second round from a trip to BJ's Restaurant and Brewery in Orlando yields a Pook's Pilsner.

BJ's brews (contract brewed by St. Arnold) are all pretty nice, so I thought I'd try the pilsner to wash down the rest of my buffalo chicken pizza.

Not much to say - super clear yellow, with pretty good carbonation, but lacking in any sort of head (maybe the glass isn't the cleanest).

Still, the taste is pleasant, with some nice grassy hops and a clean finish. Very refreshing - I'd order it again, but it's hard not to constantly rotate between all the brews on tap there.

Cari would love this one.

BJ's Nit Wit

Next up are a pair of beers from Bj's Restaurant and Brewery in Orlando (contract brewed by St. Arnold's).

First is Nit Wit, a Belgian Wit (or "white") beer, 4.5% abv, part of their 2009 seasonal beer series.

As you can see, it pours a nice hazy light yellow-orange, but without much head. There's a nice, fruity, yeasty nose.

The wheat taste comes through, along with orange peel and coriander, maybe some faint lemon. It's pretty tasty - light and refreshing but full of complex flavors.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout

Stone Imperial Russian Stout, 10.5%, Limited Release for Spring 2009.

I've really been enjoying the offerings from Stone Brewing Company since they made their Florida appearance this year, and I've been drinking a lot of Russian Imperial Stouts recently, so I was especially excited to try this beer.

It pours thick, like motor oil with a massive root beer float head. The smell of dark fruit, coffee, and malt makes my mouth water.

The taste is somewhat aggressive...heavy on the palate, but tapers to a smooth chocolate. It's incredibly thick.

I can't help but think this would taste much better in about a year. I think I sampled this way too young - it really needs to mellow and let the flavors blend a bit.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Moinette Blonde

Another tough day at work, another excuse for a world-class glass of Belgian beer. This time it's Brasserie Dupont's Moinette Blonde, a 8.5% abv ale in a 750ml corked bottle. Most people are pretty familiar with their Saison, but I thought I'd try the blonde, since it's definitely turning out to be one of my favorite styles.

This one fills up the glass with an enormous pillowy head that eventually punches down into nothing. The color is quite a bit lighter than in the picture- more hazy orange than brown.

The aroma is nothing short of wild. Lots of funky hay with some raisin and citrus. Sorta smells like it was made in a barn.

That untamed aroma makes the taste all the more surprising - there's some peppery hops up front, but that gives way to some alcohol phenols, coriander, pears...light sweetness underneath. The body is fairly light, and the finish is pretty dry. Going back to the glass, you're hit by that powerful nose again. This beer takes over your senses of smell and taste, and numbs the rest. Really top-notch and a must try.

Abita Purple Haze

We had a great time with the in-law's at Jensen Beach's Cajun restaurant Crawdaddy's. When eating Louisiana food, you've got to drink Louisiana beer, right?
Crawdaddy's didn't have a huge selection, but they had a couple of Abita selections, which gave me a chance to re-try Purple Haze, their 4.2% Raspberry Wheat beer.
Sadly, mine was served just like this - in the bottle. Color? Aroma? Oh well. I wasn't going to be a complete beer nerd and demand a glass.
I took a swig from the bottle to find...hmmm, not bad. But where's the raspberry I was promised? You can't really find it. There's some nice wheat character, and some faint orangey-ness, but that's about it.
Still, it's not a bad choice for washing down your food if you want a beer that doesn't get in your way. It's not too exciting, though. Next time I think I'd skip over this one.