Saison Dupont, produced by the Dupont brewery in West-Hainaut, Belgium, was named best beer in the world by Men's Journal. It scores a 99 on Rate Beer and an A- on Beer Advocate. I had it for the first time tonight, which is strange for I am a disciple of the saison. There's no doubt that it is a tasty beer, but I feel that it is definitely over-hyped. For me it does not crack my top 20, and I would say that it is not even my favorite saison of all time. Full disclosure, I am a member of what BYO describes in it's July-August issue as the "cult of American saison". I feel that American brewer's have taken this style to new heights with the use of American hops and by drying out the beer especially on the finish. That being said, I would go with a Fantome over a Dupont any day of the week if I'm going for a Belgian saison.
Like I said the beer is tasty and full flavored, no doubt. It has some good spice and funk to compliment the fruitness of the the yeast and hops and the grainy pilsner back bone. All that is good, but the beer has this overtone of beeriness, or what I call "old man flavor". It's hard to really explain or even pinpoint what that flavor is. It basically tastes like someone poured out a case of miller lite into the 30 barrel batch right before it hit the fermenters. It might be that they used old or possibly too much pilsner malt in the grist. Not really sure, all I know is that I taste a flavor that I consider to be off.
As far as the ratings and accolades go, I'm not saying it deserves poor marks. But a 99 on Rate Beer? It's good, but not a 99. If we're doing Beer Advocate scoring, I would give it B-. If they cleaned up that one off flavor I'd push it to a B+ or maybe higher. For some good American Saison, check out McKenzie's brew house in Malvern PA, Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace, or Ommegang Hennepin. Cheers.
Back at it after an extended hiatus. Don't ask. Been drinking some great beers lately. Joe Canal's added a fine beer station at their Woodbridge location. They have some cool stuff in there including a Sam Adams Utopia (retail is $200+) and Brew Dog's Tactical Nuclear Penguin (abv is 32%). I didn't get either one of these beers as they are out of my price range. I did however pick up some pretty rad rare beers, which I will detail below. Canal's, like many other good beer retailers, used to hide their rare stuff in the back. I'm glad they decided to start displaying their rare inventory to the public. In order to get any of these beers you have to have an associate paged to come unlock the case (which I believe used to store house chivas regal scotch). Okay, without further adieu, here are some sweet beers I've picked up recently out of the fine beer case at Joe Canal's.
Ovila Saison: This is a colab brew between Sierra Nevada and the Abbey of New Clairvaux. It is a farmhouse style ale that is very true to style. It pours hazy with a big white foamy head. Flavor is that of spice, pepper, and citrus with a nice bready backbone. Another great offering from the fine folks at Sierra Nevada. ;) Get it while it is still available, because I believe this is a one off offering.
Firestone Walker Abacus: I believe this is their annual barrel aged barley wine. This one was intense, clocking in at 13%. This beer was equal parts sweet and bitter with some really complex flavors playing against one another. There was a slight alcohol heat on the end, but it was barely noticeable with everything else going on flavor-wise.
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace: I've had this one a few times previously. It is a really complex and flavorful saison. The most memorable part of this beer is the use of Japanese sorachi ace hops. They impart a big lemon citrus flavor that blends really well with the spicy Belgian yeast.
Firestone Walker Parabola: I believe this is another barrel aged annual release. It is an imperial stout that is dark as death with some intense flavors and aromas. Think dark malts, roasted, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, everything you would expect from a world class imperial stout and then some. Pretty smooth considering it clocks in at 12.5%, although it took me all night to drink it.
I haven't posted on this thing in awhile. Why is that. I've been drinking lots of good beers. I've started to write about some of them. I even made a video or two. But every time I finish writing or recording a beer review I think about how lame beer reviewing is. There are more than several beer reviewers out there on the blog circuit and on youtube. Some are better than others. Some are boring, some are insightful, some are charismatic, and some are goobers (which can be either good or bad). Almost all, however, are formulaic. They always give a run down of 1.appearance, 2. aroma, 3.flavor, and then some overall ranking. That shit is lame. I like reading about beer. I like watching beer related videos, but really, I don't care about your personal taste or opinion. I want to experience beer for myself and I really don't need to be told which beers are good or bad. I can figure that out for myself. If you are going to post something, make it at least somewhat original. I can't tell you how many beer bloggers are out there with the same post a million times in a row with just the beer switched out. A. no one cares what you think. B. you are boring. That's why I appreciate dudes like Don Osborn, who have more to say then just the obvious: AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20. So I'm gonna try to come up with some more original shit to put on here. But if you want straight up beer reviews, there are mad dudes out there doing that stuff. I can tell you what I like, but I doubt anyone really cares.
Yesterday Adam and I brewed an American amber ale. The previous time we brewed we had come up short on volume due to boil off (evaporation during the boil) and with too high of a gravity (basically too thick with sugars). We ended up topping off the fermentor with water to 5 gallons which corrected the gravity. The beer came out quite nice in the end. Too avoid this scenario we decided to collect a larger volume of sweet wort while lautering. We were shooting for seven and a half gallons of pre-boil wort as we normally collect seven gallons. We did not take in to account the fact that we would be distracted by the Rangers game on television. We ended up with eight gallons of sweet wort. It was all good though. We hit our target gravity just fine and we have a nice five gallon batch bubbling away in the brew closet.
This is, I'm sure, very exciting to my readership. Or probably not. But the story doesn't end there. We had some extra wort at the end of the boil. I decided to set some of it aside for a small experimental batch. I collected just under a half gallon in a JJ Bittings growler. I didn't have a specific plan for the brew, and actually nearly forgot about it as I was cleaning up after brew day. Plus there was this international friendly on between Argentina and the US which grabbed my attention after cleaning was complete. Eventually I remembered I had the growler chilling in the closet. I tried to come up with a quick plan for the beer. I remembered that we had some dried orange peel left over from a Belgian single we did some time ago. I dropped some of the orange peel into the growler. As I was searching for ingredients to add to the brew I found some Munton's dry yeast. It was over a year past it's best by date, but I said what the hell. I pitched a packet directly into the growler. I was just going to settle with this, but then I started to think about adding spices to ambers. The first brew that came to mind was Anchor's Christmas Ale. It is a seasonal favorite of mine. I headed over to the spice rack and grabbed some nutmeg and coriander. I scooped some of each into the beer and topped it off with an airlock. I probably should have done some research about the amount of spice to add to the beer, but I was kind of in a hurry. I probably over-spiced the hell out of it, but honestly I wasn't sure if the thing would even ferment given that the yeast was a year expired. Though,when I checked it this morning it was bubbling away. I'm excited to see how my little experiment comes out. I'm not sure how I'm going to bottle it, given it is such a small batch. Another experiment for another day.
Several in fact. First a note on the lack of activity on this blog. My PC was recently hacked by eastern European hackers. A lot of my personal info got out and I had to close all my bank and credit card accounts and open new ones. The hackers actually took quite a bit of money from my savings account, which investigators are still trying to get back. I ended up scrapping that PC and dropping more money then I wanted on an Imac. I'm still working on getting my finances back on track. But at least I still have some nice brews in the fridge. Like the ones pictured above.
Before Christmas I happened upon an '08 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine at Shop Rite liquors in Westfield. I still had several '10 Bigfoots chilling in the beer cabinet so I decided to drink them back to back. I'm not the hugest fan of barleywine, but if it is done right they can be quite delish. Bigfoot is definitely my favorite of the style, but admittedly I have not had that many. Maybe 2011 can be my year of barleywines. The '10 Bigfoot had been aging for something like ten months. When I poured it, the beer still had a nice one finger off white head. The foam dissipated rather quickly but left behind some lacing. The aroma was sweet and piney, with some dark fruits and spice in there. Flavor is that of malt, spice, and fruit, with a big hop bite throughout and a dry finish. It is a medium bodied beer with light carbonation. The characteristics that define the beer are the sweet malt and the big hop bite that compliments and subdues the sweetness. The next night I drank the '08 Bigfoot. It was very similar to the '10. The first and most visual difference was that it lacked a foamy head. Beyond the difference in carbonation, the '08 was more subdued and perhaps more focused in both aroma and flavor. The hops were not as jarring in the '08. There was more malt and dark fruit flavors which is more typical of the style. Overall it was a bit smoother. I enjoyed both beers. They brought different nuances of the style to the table. The '10 had malt, but was big on hops. Hops are what distinguish the style from the olde ale style that came out of England. The '08 was smooth and malty, which are characteristics that define the style. Check out Bigfoot Barleywine if you want a big beer that has some really in your face flavors. Right now I am drinking an '11 and really enjoying it. Cheers.