Freitag, 28. April 2017

Short of the day - One of the best beer labels I have ever seen


STEAMWORKS BREWING (Canada)

WHITE ANGEL IPA



It clearly is one of the best beer labels I have ever seen. I love the art it just fits my taste. Brilliant.

Therefore, it was a big disappointment for me to find out that the White Angel IPA is less than average, low aroma, light sweetness and mediocre bitterness beer. There are so many good IPAs on the market that I cannot suggest this one to anybody.

Do not judge the book by the cover

Donnerstag, 27. April 2017

Short of the day - a Golden Ale for (almost) everybody

HARVIESTOUN (UK)

BITTER & TWISTED

Golden Ale


I don’t know how about the others, but there are days where I do not search for a beer that would bring me to my knees, blow my mind and leave me breathless (sounds dangerous anyway). Sometimes I just want to drink a good, drinkable beer.
No, normally not a concern lager.
In exactly one of these moments, I have stumbled upon this golden ale. And was more than pleased with it. Hoppy, spicy aroma, with nice carbonation. Bit bitter in flavor, but well balanced with malt and citrus.

Probably one of the best everyday beers I have ever had. 




Donnerstag, 13. April 2017

Leffe Royale - ELLA - can Tasmanian hops bring some life in boring concern beer?






















LEFFE ROYALE ELLA
Belgian Ale
Brewed by: Leffe (In-Bev)

Bad side of my personality is that whenever I see new beer I am teased to try it. Reasonable part of my personality is telling me – what do you want from new Leffe? You know yourself that this the only thing they can do is boring reproduction of their own work. On top, you should know it better – anytime you have tried new Leffe (eg. Belgian IPA) it was disappointing.
But again, I couldn’t resist when I have spotted Leffe hopped with Tasmanian hops. Tasmanian hops gave very interesting results in the Irish craft beers I have recently tried, therefore the temptation was too big.
So was the disappointment – beer is malty and yeasty in both aroma and taste. Bitterness from hops is minimal and aromas of hops are clearly not there. Real waste of time and money.
But, don’t get me wrong – this beer also had its good side – I was recently looking for a new Leffe Caractere, just to see what they can obtain using whisky macerated oak chips. But after the Elle I have realized that whatever they get its simply not interesting for me anymore. I am getting excellent oak chips macerated beers on the regular basis (and nobody is setting their price as high as Leffe) and am simply fed up with another gigantic company trying to sell their products as they would be craft*.


·       This may be a bad surprise, but Leffe is not small, independent family brewer. It is owned by AB-Inbev. One of the biggest beer producers (I will not use brewers) in the world. Yes, same guys that are providing you with “great” drinks like Budweiser (USA), Bud Light, Corona and other water infused water.  


Freitag, 24. März 2017

St. Patrick Day Special in La Louviere

BEER MarketLa Louvière

Friday March 17

There are many ways you could celebrate St.Patrick’s day. You could wear a green hat, organize a street parade or just simply start a bar fight. Any form of craic is acceptable.
The problem is that I don’t wear hats, hate street parades and bar fights are boring after a while.
The main question before ST.Patrick was how to get beer and not get into a fight with an drunk Irishman. First part of the solution was that I currently live in Belgium and drunken Irish are a deficit ware here. Second part of the solution came with an invitation form the friendly Beer-Market from La Louvière:
Evening degustation of Irish Beer sounds good enough to convince me. And yea, I was hoping that they wouldn’t only pour Guinness and Kilkenny.

Short summary of the idea for the evening: 20 people meet 7-8 beers. And this is the blind date. People try, give their opinion and their suggestions about what are they drinking. Interesting concept, especially that the shop owner understands a lot about beer and, unlike a typical Belgian, is aware that good beer is not only restricted to Belgium. Usually his events are well organized and beer selection allows a surprise or two.

This time David has prepared us 7 beers from the Eight (8) degrees Brewing – Irish craft brewery located in Dublin. The traditional Irish brewery is founded and run by Australian and New Zealander. Which explains a lot about their beer.
Overall, I have just one point of criticism – it would be good to work on the order the beers are served. I know that it may sound boring to always serve beers from lighter (less hopped and less crazy) to more aromatic and heavy. But this makes sense. Serving single hop IPA after smoked brown ale is not the best way to present the second one.  

Information enough. Let’s try the good stuff.

Il y a plusieurs façons de célébrer la Saint-Patrick. Vous pouvez porter un chapeau vert, organiser un défilé de rue ou tout simplement commencer un combat de bar. Toute forme de « craic » est acceptable.
Le problème est que je ne porte pas de chapeaux, je n’aime pas déambuler en rue et les combats de bar sont ennuyeux après un certain temps.
La question principale avant la Saint-Patrick était comment obtenir la bière et ne pas se battre avec un irlandais ivre. La première partie de la solution vient du fait que je vive actuellement en Belgique et que les Irlandais ivres sont un produit déficitaire ici. La deuxième partie de la solution est venue avec une invitation du beer shop local de La Louvière, le Beer Market:
Une soirée dégustation de bière irlandaise est faite pour me convaincre. J'espérais qu'il ne se contenterait pas de servir de la Guinness et de la Kilkenny.

Bref résumé de l'idée de la soirée: 20 personnes rencontrent 7-8 bières. Et c'est à l’aveugle. Les gens essaient, donnent leur opinion et leurs suggestions sur ce qu'ils boivent. Intéressant concept, surtout que le propriétaire de la boutique est un amateur éclairé de bonne bière et, contrairement à un belge typique, il est conscient que la bonne bière n'est pas seulement limitée à la Belgique. Habituellement, ses événements sont bien organisés et la sélection de bière permet une surprise ou deux.

Cette fois, David nous a préparé 7 bières de la brasserie artisanale irlandaise de « Height Degrees » située non loin de Cork. La brasserie irlandaise traditionnelle est fondée et dirigée par des Australiens et des Néo-Zélandais. Ce qui explique beaucoup sur leur bière.
Dans l'ensemble, je n'ai qu'un point de critique - il serait bon de travailler sur l'ordre des bières sont servis. Je sais qu'il peut sembler ennuyeux de toujours servir des bières de plus léger (moins houblonné et moins fou) à plus aromatiques et lourds. Mais c'est logique. Servir single hop IPA après fumée brune ale n'est pas le meilleur moyen de présenter la seconde.

Voilà pour le portrait de la soirée, passons à la dégustation !

---

HOWLING GALE ALE

Pale Ale

Solid, robust American pale ale.  Golden in color and hopped with chinook and cascade. American hops are (almost) a guarantee that nothing can go wrong. Beers smells and tastes with bitter grapefruit and citrus. Some grass as well. Rather light body and not too bitter. Perfect entry and good beer for almost everybody.

Solide, robuste américain pale ale. De couleur dorée et houblonnée avec du chinook et du cascade. Le houblon américain est (presque) une garantie que rien ne peut aller mal. Odeurs et goûts avec des notes de pamplemousse amer et d’agrumes. Un peu d'herbe aussi. Corps léger et pas trop amère. Entrée parfaite et bonne bière pour presque tout le monde.





---
BIG RIVER
IPA

First surprise. This is clearly an IPA and rather good to very good one. But what hops were used? Nothing I knew matched this aroma. Very light tropical fruits, maybe redcurrant, some undefined floral notes. Rather moderate in bitterness. Interesting in a positive way but…WTF? And the secret were Australian hops Ella and Enigma. First beer I have ever tried with those and very interesting one. If a beer geek can open his/her mind to get beyond California style IPA this one can be a real fun.


Première surprise. Il s'agit manifestement d'un IPA et plutôt bonne à très bonne. Mais quel houblon a été utilisé? Rien de ce que je connaissais ne correspondait à cet arôme. Très légers fruits tropicaux, peut-être des groseilles, quelques notes florales indéfinies. Plutôt modérée en amertume. Intéressant de façon positive mais ... WTF? Et le secret était australien : les houblons Ella et Enigma. La première bière que je teste avec ces houbloins, et c’est très intéressant. Si un geek de la bière peut ouvrir son esprit pour aller au-delà de la Californian style IPA, celle-ci peut être un véritable plaisir.


























---

TRANS PACIFIC
IPA

The situation was similar as above. An IPA with aromas of spices and grassy hops and resin. Again, rather moderate in bitterness and very drinkable. Some similarities with the Big River, but resin and grass was clearly different and defined. Indeed 8 Degree has put both hops from the previous beer + Citra and Vic Secret (another Australian hop). Very good IPA. Worth trying.


La situation était semblable à celle qui précède. Un IPA avec des arômes d'épices et de houblon herbeux et de résine. Encore une fois, plutôt modérée en amertume et très potable. Certaines ressemblances avec le Big River, mais la résine et l'herbe était clairement différents. En effet, 8 Degree a mis les deux houblons de la bière précédente + Citra et Vic Secret (un autre houblon australien). Très bonne IPA. Ça vaut le coup d'essayer.


---

KNOCK MELTDOWN
Irish Porter

No surprise, very nice dry stout as Irish like it. Delicate aromas of roasted malts and coffee. No sweet, not too bitter. Drinkable and worth trying.

Pas de surprise, très bon ‘dry stout’ comme les irlandais l’aiment. Arômes délicats de malt rôti et café. Pas sucré, pas trop amer. A découvrir!




---
BANDIT
Smoked Brown Ale

I know some people like it. They really do. I kind of am unable to understand why would you destroy a good beer by smoking (OK, there are some exceptions, like goose, but overall I don’t like it). Try on your own responsibility.

Je sais que certaines personnes l'aime. Mais je suis incapable de comprendre pourquoi détruire une bonne bière avec ce goût fumé. Essayez, à vos risques et périls ! 



































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Polar Vortex
IPA

West Coast IPA as I like it. Hopped with citra, cascade and simcoe has all the tropical fruits/grass aromas beer lovers like. Overall mouthfeel is a bit light and it is surprising that by using so many different hops one can get beer that is not really bitter. OK.


West Coast IPA comme je les aime. Houblonnée avec citra, cascade et simcoe comme tous les amateurs de bières aux saveurs fruitées et tropicales les aime. En bouche c’ est un peu léger et il est surprenant que, en utilisant tant de houblons différents, on peut obtenir de la bière qui n'est pas vraiment amère. Ok !

























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CITRA
IPA

Nice single hop IPA. As the name says hopped with Citra. Properly done and well balanced. Typical everybody’s beer – will not harm, but also not bring you to your knees.


Bonne IPA single hop (un seul houblon). Comme son nom l'indique, bière houblonnée au Citra. Bien faite et bien équilibrée. Bière typique et consensuelle – na va pas vous déplaire, mais ne vous mettra pas non plus à vos genoux.





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MOYLAN’S RYAN SULLIVAN’S IMPERIAL STOUT (whisky barrel aged ed. 2015)

If all beer tastings would end that way world would be so beautiful. Yes, is as good as you expect it. Heavy espresso and chocolate in aroma and taste. Vanilla and bitter whisky finish. Not shy to stand against any world class beer. Good example that a beer can be an experience not only a drink. 

Si toutes les dégustations de bière finissaient ainsi, le monde serait si beau. Oui, c'est aussi bon que vous l’attendiez. Espresso lourd et chocolat dans l'arôme et le goût. Vanille en finition, amertume du whisky. N’a pas à rougir face à des bières de classe mondiale. Bon exemple qu'une bière peut être une expérience, et pas simplement un verre à boire.



























And finally big thanks to David 
for correcting my French. 

Samstag, 4. März 2017

Alvine Craft Beer Ferstival 2017



This time we have visited the far west of Belgium for another beer festival. Honestly, I was quite excited to see that one, not because of the location, but because most of the invited breweries are not Belgian.
Yes.
Somebody here did realize that craft beer exists outside of Belgium.
Some facts: 130 beers, 19 breweries form around the world. On top festival is organized by a brewery (Alvinne) in a magical place called Bierhalle Deconinck.

Why magical?
Because for a beer geek, entering the gigantic shop with thousands of beers from all the world is better than finding the Alladin’s treasure. The festival venue itself is rather average, modern building with stands and places to eat. All advantages of being inside (no smokers) and enough space to have fun.

What I also noticed were groups of people not only drinking beers but also taking notes and rating the stuff. Yes, I have seen that before, but I have never seen so many. This again tells you that people coming to this festival are interested in craft. Neat, clean but nothing more.

There is a compulsory beer glass and tokens for a start. Price €1.50 for a beer is absolutely OK.

One very important information for the next year! Buy your ticket online! The festival tickets were sold out already on Friday around 7 pm. 







Something fancy, a wash station. Wash your glass in between the beers. Nice idea.



How about the beer? Here are today's candidates.





6oN Magic Six

(Scottland), Pale Ale


Good start of the festival. Very nice pale ale. Nice aroma of grass and tropical fruits, mostly mango. Bitter enough to satisfy geeks. Just don’t expect the power of IPA and you will enjoy this one. For everybody.

















Guineu.’t Verzet Super Yeah!

(Spain), APA

Rather solid thank great. On one hand, it has all aromas of hops and malts that a good APA needs, on the other, the overall feeling is rather diluted and watery.





Landlocked

England, IPA

Another solid example of IPA. It is going more in the direction of classical British IPA with a small modern aromatic twist. I am not a fan of classical British IPAs but if somebody is, can probably enjoy it.














Laugar Random 80

Spain, Rye IPA

All the time I believe, that, in this case I was given a wrong beer. Some stout or so. Therefore, no rating for this one.
















La Pirata Tremenda Revival

Spain, IPA

Yep, I was revived after trying this beer. Great IPA with overwhelming hoppy aroma and more than solid bitterness. Medium body, medium carbonation. Close to perfection.















Het Uiltje Old Enough To Drink

Netherlands, Icedistilled IPA

This is a perfect example of what craft can be. Take a very good IPA and freeze it. What happens is that the beer essence will to some extend separate from water. Remove the water and thaw the whole thing. What is left is the IPA essence, a pure pleasure. Brutal heavy aromas of hops, perfect balance with malt. 21% alcohol, but balanced in a way that the beer does not feel alcoholic at all. We are talking here about one of the best beers I had in my life. Thick, hoppy, aromatic. It kicked my ass. World Class.
Moreover, the festival price of 2 tokens (€3 for a glass) is more than OK. These guys will start bottling the beer on Monday. I want 10 bottled for a start please.

One comment – is the name and the amount of alcohol a kind of a joke from the USA? Legal age to start drinking in US is 21…



Beavertown Uptown Monk

England, Rye Triple aged in White Wine Barrels

Another proof that you need a lot of aroma to age a beer in a barrel. Belgian Triples are rather malty and yeasty and its clearly not enough to cope with aggressive white wine flavors. At the end its more a wine than a beer. You may like it, you may not. Overall it is interesting.













Kees Caramel Fudge Stout

Netherlands, Imperial Stout

I was expecting much more seeing the word Fudge in the name. My saliva was coming out in the expectation of thick rich aromatic wonder. Sadly, this stout is too watery to deserve the name Fudge. Caramel enough, but not enough overall.













Alvinne & Friends Mano Negra Cognac BA

Belgium, Imperial Stout

And this is an example of what barrel aging can do to a strong beer. Marvelous aroma of cognac, dried plum and roasted malts. Heavy, thick structure. Flavor of roast and plums, no clear alcohol. Almost no carbonation. This is not everybody’s beer. But if you dare to try it is worth it. Brilliant.










Alvinne & Friends Cuvee d’Erpigny Pedro Ximenez


Blond beer aged in Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels. Apparently this one was aged for one year. OK, it may need more. Or it may never come to the point where it would be a worthy beer. Too watery, too average. Overally disappointing.















Donnerstag, 2. März 2017

Sea Dog Brewing - Orlando branch



Visit at the

Sea Dog Brewing Company Orlando Florida

8496 Palm Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32836, USA



Sea Dog Brewing Company is all American network of brewpubs. With 8 locations, all over the USA it at least gets a chance that a visitor may stumble upon on of their brewpubs. The one I have visited in Orlando is located a bit far from the downtown. Depending on the traffic 30-40 minutes. This is a bad side. On the good side, it’s just 10 minutes’ drive from the biggest congress center of Orlando and very close to some of the Disney attractions. So, if you go to Orlando for a congress or visit one of the theme parks, there is a good chance that Sea Dog is within your reach.


And it is worth to.

Located in a touristy strip mall, Sea Dog Orlando offers you a variety of food including burgers, but also salads and seafood, placing it above the usual pub grub. We went there in a small company, and the only point of criticism were fries. People from all around the world enjoyed the food, which is a 
                                                                          good sign.

Service was good, professional, fast and not disturbing the conversation. The place seems to be family friendly, and many folks were there with their kids.

The moment I went there they have offered 18 beers on Tap. All their made. One could complain about a lack of other beers, but then, on the other hand, when I go to visit a brewing company, I don’t really care to try visitor’s beer.
Professional enough they offer sampler sizes of their beers (always in sets of four).
One thing that I have noted looking up their beers ratebeer - for me it seems that they are vastly underrated. It is not like they brew the best beer in the world, but with an average score of approx. 3 (from all their beers) they are a bit behind of what they are worth. Maybe a general point of criticism is that most of the beers were a bit over the top - when they say maple stout they mean it. Still, I strongly believe that even if you are a beer geek and have tried some of the best beers in the world, you will be pleasantly surprised by going to Sea Dog Orlando.


Sampler #1







Sea Dog Blueberry Ale

Aroma and flavor of sweet blueberries and pie, lemongrass on top. Almost sweet, no hops at all. Bit sweet overall. Medium carbonated. Quite original, I like it.

Mango IPA

There is a clear mango in both aroma and flavor. It is also bitter on top, not too bitter but clear. It is still missing something in between. Would profit from some aroma hops, or heavier malt. It is not bad, but a bit one-sided.

Island Time IPA

Nice IPA for everybody, bitter enough to convince IBU-freaks and aromatic enough to make almost everybody happy. Bit too much CO2. Very drinkable one.


Hazelnut porter


This one rules. Roasted malt and hazelnut aroma, bit dark fruits and coffee in taste. Body is light and enough earthy hops to make my day. Not too sweet, not too bitter, very aromatic. Both thumbs up.






Sampler #2









Deep blue

Another light IPA, this time more malty than hoppy. Not great, but will do no harm to anybody.

Equator

IPA with habaneros? I am in. Maybe I would add more hops, so that its getting more spicy-aromatic-bitter. Instead its only spicy-bitter. Very interesting beer, but one of the hottest beers I have ever tried.


Maple Bacon Stout

Weakest one I have tried here. Maple is clearly present, but where is the smoked bacon. There are some aromas of roasted malt. But bacon? Sorry, no.


Gilbert’s Chocolate Milk Stout


It should be called Chocolate-Strawberries milk stout. And it should be called a good one. Some people may not like it because of its strong fruity nature, but I just loved it.