Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flemish Red

Continuing the theme from Monday, is another fine beer from Belgium. This is a Flemish Sour Red Ale, named Monk's Cafe, from the Van Steenberg brewery. Its an oak aged young sour ale, which is a style that hasnt really caught on in the US, but should.
Its a lot like Monday's beer, which is a very good thing. It pours a bit darker, but with tons of carbonation from the cask and bottle conditioning. The aroma is heavenly, lots of fruit and a bit of sourness, like an apple cider. The taste is where these beers differ. Where the Ichtagems was more of an apple and pear flavor, this one is more sour cherries and oak. It goes down very smooth with lots of carbonation, a good dose of sour and sweetness from the malt in the aftertaste, and hardly any hop flavors at all. Highly drinkable, and leaves you wanting to open another.
Look: 5 - deep red with lots of foam
Aroma: 5 - fruity!
Taste: 4 - juicy sour cherry
Feel: 4 - smooth and carbonated
Total: 4.5

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Fruit and beer have been paired together for ages, but blueberry isnt one you see a lot. This is the Blueberry Oatmeal Stout from Buffalo Bill's Brewery in Hayward, CA.
Its a deep opaque black, just what you want in a stout, with a light amount of carbonation. Even the head is dark brown. The aroma is totally berry, you certainly know this is a fruit beer, while the malty stout and fuggle hop scents are relegated to the background. The flavor was a bit of a let down. The first thing that hits you is the sourness. While a stout might have a bit of a sour character to it, here it took over. The deep caramel and toasted nutty flavors of the stout are there, and the berry peeks in on the back of your throat. The hops are nice on the aftertaste, but the sour lingers on also, and didnt go over well.
Look: 4 - opaque black
Aroma: 4 - lots of berry!
Taste: 2 - too much sour
Feel: 3 - decent body
Total: 3.25

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monkey Beer!

Ive had a number of good beers from the Left Hand Brewery, and the label on this one caught my attention. Its the 400 Pound Monkey IPA.
As far as IPAs go, it really hits the mark. Deep gold color with a bit of cloudiness, and a moderate amount of carbonation. The aroma is nice and hoppy, with floral and grassy smelling bits, and a good deep bitterness underneath. The flavor is actually rather light for an IPA. They elected to go away from the "cram as many hops as you can into that thing" mentality and instead went for a nicely balanced malt and hop combo. You can taste the light sweetness of the malt, then the hops wash over with the sharp spicy flavors and a nice residual hop bitterness at the end. A very accessable IPA, that leaves you wanting more.
Look: 3 - cloudy gold
Aroma: 4 - plenty o hops
Taste: 3 - good balance of hop and malt
Feel: 3 - refreshing!
Total: 3.25

Monday, March 7, 2011


Its the end of winter, but not yet the end of winter beers. This one is from Norway, and the Nogne Ø brewery, where winters are long and beers are strong. Simply called "winter ale", it caught my attention.
It pours very dark, a near opaque deep brown, with a cocoa colored head. The aroma is both sweet and fruity, and dark and malty. Which turns out to be an excellend combination. The first taste lets you know that it means business. Like most winter ales, the alcohol content is a bit high, at 8.5%. This gives you a bit of alcohol burn as you sip. The flavors are smooth and soothing. You get a good deep malty caramel flavor, with some coffee bitterness, balanced by some fruity high notes of plum and fig. Then the hops take over and carry you into a mellow sour aftertaste that leaves you wanting more. Overall a great way to spend a cold day.
Look: 4 - deep and dark
Aroma: 3 - good mix of sweet and malty
Taste: 4 - layers of bitter, sweet, and nut
Feel: 3 - solid body
Total: 3.5