A solid pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a three-finger thick, nicely browned, dark tan colored head. The beer is a dark brown color that shows a deep, brilliantly clear, richly ruby hued color when held up to the light. The aroma is quite fruity smelling; it is mostly hop derived but some malt seems to accentuate the fruit character too. There is a distinct currant aroma here that mixes with notes of candied orange zest, concentrated tangerine, and a bright (almost blindingly so at times) berry character. All of this is anchored by a toasted malt character that contributes notes of caramelized grain sugars (which definitely boosts the fruit notes), browned whole-grain cracker aromatics, deeply browned & sharp smelling bread crust notes and biscuit driven malt. The nose of this beer has a nice mix of dominant hop character with a quite noticeable, yet supporting rich malt character.
The rich berry notes continue in the flavor; dark, caramelized grain notes really seem to accentuate this side of the hops. The hops are still dominant in the flavor, but there is a lot of malt here that is just tailing by a fraction of a second. The beer is rich bodied, though not thick, there is enough heft to cling to the palate though. The toasted malt and caramel notes linger on the palate along with a rich berry / citrus note. The fruit notes bring out notes of bergamot, infused blackberry, ruby-red grapefruit, currant and even some notes of lychee. There is a solid bitterness here that can be a touch biting and it does provide a solid anchor in the finish to the fruit and malt that is found up front. The hop character really contributes to the perceived sweetness here, while the malt character provides a richness to the overall palate effect despite the omnipresent hop character.
This is perhaps not the most complex beer, but it is very enjoyable; almost a marriage of an IPA and a big, malty Brown Ale. This works quite well as there is not enough roast malt to get in the way of the ample hop character, but it still has a rich maltiness to it. I would be quite happy to drink quite a few pints of this.
This beer is a slowish gusher. A careful pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a two finger thick, pale amber / tan colored head. The beer is a dark red to amber color that shows a chunky (lots of floaties), red hue when held up to the light. The aroma smells fruity with notes of a sweet varietal cherry, plum, fresh figs, a berry note as well as some Brandy like notes and something that definitely reminds me of a red-wine grape. There is a sweet spiciness in the nsoe as well with notes of tannic mahleb, a hint of sweet clove, some earthy / light musty notes plus there is lots of toasted malt charcer in the finish. This last contributes a nice bread crust character, some musty caramelized brown bread notes as well as something like biscuits with some berry jam. The aroma is pretty nice, it could perhaps use a touch more balance, but it is pretty complex and interesting.
The beer tastes pretty dry considering the rich fruity aroma; there is just enough sweetness here to make fruit flavors significant, even the dominant note in the flavor. This has an ample carbonation, but it is not too much; the prickly effervescence offsets the creamy texture quite nicely. Flavors of cherry, dark berries and a red-wine jam-berry note round out the fruit flavors in this beer. There is lots of malt / grain character here too though, especially in the finish; I get a distinct biscuit notes, a toasted lightly browned grain character and a touch of malt bitterness and astringency in the finish. This has a low hop presence all around as I only notice a touch of hop bitterness in the finish.
While the carbonation adds a nice texture offset, the beer seems to not be able to stand up to the accompanying carbonic acid at times. This is a nice beer, even if all the flavors doen’t seem to come together perfectly all the time. This is quite complex all around, if perhaps a touch too. The nose works a bit better than the flavor and it is definitely a beer that gets one in the holiday frame of mind.
Bottled May 2009; Sampled September 2009
This 750ml bottle has a ridiculously difficult cork to remove. The beer is quite well carbonated as an extremely careful / soft pour still yields a four finger thick, light tan, off-white colored head. The head leaves a lot of lacing on the sides of the glass and subsides with an interesting, deeply pockmarked surface. The beer is a murky amber color that shows a hazed, though not opaque, copper-amber hue when held up to the light as well as a ton of streaming bubbles. The aroma smells first an foremost of fruit (ripe pear, ripe-aromatic apples, floral plums, tart white wine grapes), there is a backdrop of oak that provides a touch of spice , an earthiness and some pepper as well as some woody tannic character and the finish has a grassy, touch of cracker-like grain to it. The nose is really quite floral and quite fruity, it is really pretty distinct; as it warms notes of sour-apple jolly rancher start to become noticeable, as does a green, unripe fruit note, a touch of mustiness and a light, musky Brettanomyces character if you dig for it. It only smells lightly tart though, and from the aroma I wouldn’t necessarily guess it was a sour beer.
Lightly tart tasting, certainly not anything near aggressive; in fact I wouldn’t really characterize this as a sour beer, though it does have a light tartness to it. Fruity tasting, as the aroma suggested, with notes of floral pear, ripe apple and some lightly tart / sweet plum notes being the most noticeable. This actually has a certain quality that reminds me of Apple Cider (I think some oxidized malt might be accentuating this). A touch of earthy spiciness in the finish shows the coriander note. Despite being quite dry, the fruitiness and floral aspects contribute a perceived sweetness. There is a touch of grassiness, and a floral note that makes me think of wildflowers, perhaps a touch of honeysuckle and some orange blossom notes (possibly brought out by the orange peel). The oak is very subtle in the flavor, it starts to come out a bit more as the beer warms; it lends to the spiciness of the finish and contributes a hint of tannic structure to the body. This is not nearly as funky as something influenced by Hanssens; there is some very soft mustiness, as well as a touch of Brettanomyces butyric character in the finish. The body of this beer is on the light side, but there is still some residual malt body as well as a touch of oak-driven fullness.
This is definitely a bit dark to be classified as a Blonde of any sort, but that is certainly a minor point and not really even a quibble. This is quite drinkable, even quite tasty, but I can’t quite help but feel a little disappointed. The description had me thinking this was going to be a sour beer, but it really isn’t. Even the funkiness is on the soft side, in fact if one had to pigeon hole this into a style, I would say it fits quite well as a rustic, farmhouse Saison; the soft tartness and funkiness seem characteristic of what can happen in this style over time. I think I would have enjoyed this beer more if my expectations had been led in that direction. The mix of fruity, earthy, spicy, musty, grassy and subtly oaky play quite well together in this beer. I find myself enjoying this beer after my expectations have been given some time to shift.
A solid pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet Tulip produces an almost three-finger thick, lightly amber tinged, off-white colored head that leaves some layered lacing patterns on the sides of the glass as it slowly subsides. The beer is a nicely red-tinged, full copper color that shows a brilliantly clear, burnished, bright, red-copper color when held up to the light. The aroma smells of citrus hops that are not quite polished; perhaps tempered a bit by a cracker-like pale malt aroma that plays a distant secondary role in the nose. Specifically notes of Meyer lemon, ruby-red grapefruit zest, a touch of lychee, and some kumquat notes all contribute a clean citrus hoppiness. The herbal hop notes are really not here at first, but after a bit of time a tempered overlay of hemp oil herbal character becomes noticeable; it provides just enough hop-stench to balance out the otherwise too smooth hop fruitiness. Deep, focused ruminations of the nose bring out more of an herbal, dank character as well as a touch of supporting, clean, pale malt toastiness that would be missed in a cursory pass at the aroma. The nose will be quite enjoyable to any hop lover, I know I am definitely enjoying it.
A nice bitting bitterness gets bigger as the beer rolls across the tongue, it seems to get tempered in the finish by a touch of palate cleaving, smooth malt character. While the beer was pretty dry as the first sip hit my tongue, the middle picks up a light malt sweetness which accentuates ample hop fruit character; this sweetness, though it does fade some, sticks around into the lingering finish. The flavors of this beer are clean and bright; there isn’t much of a rustic malt or hop edge here and I would guess this is somewhat filtered. There is a nice herbal hop edge here that is a bit more noticeable than in the aroma. Notes of pine play a significant role here but still play second fiddle to the fruity hop notes of lychee, tangerine zest, kumquat and ruby-red grapefruit notes. This is definitely quite quaffable; there is just enough body to carry the hops, but it is still dangerously quaffable.
This is certainly not a unique take on the style (but it is an IPA, I am not sure one really wants unique), it is entirely enjoyable. It is perhaps a touch too refined in its bright, clean interpretation of loud hops and supporting malt, but that doesn’t keep it from being a great example of the style.
This appears to not be bottle conditioned at all as there is not sediment noticeable. A stiff pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet Tulip produces a three-finger thick, pale, just barely tanned, off-white colored head. The beer is a light amber, almost honey color that shows a lightly hazed, yellow gold color when held up to the light. The aroma smells of a sweet herbal honey, lemon zest, a sort of musty fermented grain note, a spicy grain note, some definite grassy notes, a touch of crushed pale grain towards the finish and some dry cracker like malt character. This has a nice rustic grain character to it, though I could wish for a bit more yeast character, but it is still quite interesting and I am definitely enjoying the aroma on this beer.
The beer is quite dry tasting all around; I am glad the honey note in the nose was purely aromatic. The beer finishes with a touch of astringent, cracker like grain and a softly biting hop bitterness. There is a persistent, medium carbonation that provides some structure and effervescence; even though I think it could use a touch more, it is quite sufficient. Grassy hop and grain notes combine with a light herbal hop character a touch of musty fermentation character and a solid spiciness in the finish. The spicy notes seem to be purely fermentation derived with some biting phenolics that are a bit like clove, but not like one typically finds (more subtle than in some beers I think), there is also a nice peppery spiciness, perhaps a touch of young ginger and even some notes that remind me quite a bit of muted frankincense (I made the mistake of chewing some of this once, but at the softer levels found in this beer it works quite well). After a bit of time some fruitiness is noticed and brought out by a very slight sweetness that seems a touch like an herbal honey; this beer is still pretty dry overall though. This is quite quaffable, while I wouldn’t characterize this as a bone dry example of the style, it is still nice and light and perfect for a hot Summer day.
Honestly I wasn’t really expecting much of this beer, luckily it has turned out to be quite enjoyable. I would love to see a bottle conditioned version that was excessively carbonated, but this is a more than serviceable Saison that I would happily consume a couple bottles of.