January 2011 Archives

Tröegs Nugget Nectar

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So the seasonal beers have shifted from holiday brews and now we end up on one of my most anticipated beers of the year, from semi-local Tröegs.

Troegs Nugget Nectar

Tröegs Nugget Nectar - Technically, this is classified as an "imperial amber", but you can tell from the label (a hand squeezing a giant hop "nugget" which rather resembles a grenade) that you're in for more of a hoppy experience. Pours a clear amber/orange color with about a finger of head and some patchy lacing. Smell is of floral, earthy hops. Taste starts off malty and sweet, but then you get hit with the hoppy bitterness. It's actually quite well balanced for a 93ish IBU beer. The hops are clearly the dominant flavor, but they're not overpowering either. Good carbonation, goes down very easy (especially considering the ABV). It's currently #28 on BA's Top 100, and it's certainly an extremely well crafted beer, but I don't think I'd rank it quite so high. Very strong effort, I want to try some more of this, but perhaps the strong BA reviews led me to elevate expectations too high. I'll give it a provisional B+, though perhaps an A- lies in its future.

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank from a tulip glass.

Elitism and Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René

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There's been some discussions in the beer blogosphere lately about Elitism and Approachability. The question posed by Zak Avery (in the first link) is what constitutes elitism in beer? Now, I'm relatively new to the whole beer blogging word, but I get the impression that Zak takes some gruff for seeking out, drinking, and writing about obscure or hard-to-find beers.

I see this sort of thing a lot. Many beer bloggers seem to write about things that are only available in limited quantities or in a certain region of the country or whatnot. This can be frustrating in that the beers sound great and yet are not easily available to me. However, I certainly don't find that sort of thing "elitist". Drink what you like. Even if it's something I don't care for, I won't hold it against you. And I think that's the rub. Elitism isn't about what you drink or write about, it's about how you perceive others. If ever get my hands on a bottle of, say, Westy 12, that might make me a big beer nerd, but it doesn't make me "better" than anyone, nor does it qualify me to make judgements on others based on their not having had such a rare beer.

Approachability is a different beast altogether. In his post, Tandleman shares his anecdotal experience at a pub that serves a low ABV pale ale and a higher ABV hop-bomb. Most "ordinary" drinkers aren't looking to have their mouth set on fire by a hop bomb, they just want something that tastes good. In my own anecdotal experience, I've found hoppy beers to be a hard sell most of the time. My brother, for instance, doesn't even like the standard Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Even among my beer loving friends, some aren't big fans of hoppy beers.

I can see how this could lead to some confusion about elitism though. If a beer geek like myself tells someone that they might not like HopDevil (or whatever) because it's quite bitter, they might think me a bit of an elitist, depending on how I worded it. I suppose the sensitive among us would feel a bit awkward about drinking what they like when I'm trying to find the most interesting beer on the menu. Does that make me a snob? Maybe, but so long as I'm not belittling you for drinking a Lager, I'm probably not elitist either.

I'd wager that the same confusion exists in other fields. Take, for instance, movies. Elitism certainly exists there, but only because there are a lot of high-falutin movie-nerds that think that anyone who likes Hollywood movies are sheep. And the more you dig into the world, the more obscure and weird things get. After a while, liking Kurosawa isn't good enough for some people, you have to be a full fledged Ozu addict if you want to be considered a movie lover. This isn't to say that Ozu is bad or anything - indeed most film lovers probably should check out some of his work - but the notion that you can't be a film lover if you haven't seen Tokyo Story or Floating Weeds is kinda silly.

Stan Hieronymus has an interesting post on the subject, where he references categories in the wine world. Stan notes that it's probably not a direct translation to beer, but there are some things to be learned about. The first four categories are pretty straightforward:

Overwhelmed, 23%, buy wine but don't know anything about it
Satisfied sippers, 14%, buy the same brand
Savvy shoppers, 15%, look for discounts
Traditionalists, 16%, like old wineries and are brand-loyal

That leaves two categories: Image seekers (20%), and Enthusiasts (12%). The former spend the most money on wine; the latter expend the most verbiage on it. These are the only two who care enough about wine to read articles or blog posts about it.

Image Seekers are obsessed with quality and will pay through the nose to get even a minor increase in quality. Enthusiasts are all about "interesting" and experimental offerings. And apparently those two groups are at each others throats in the wine world. As Stan notes, things are a bit more relaxed in the beer world, which is a good thing (and perhaps the worries about elitism aren't as big a deal as everyone's saying).

I suppose, technically, I fall under the Enthusiast category, though I certainly have leanings towards the Image/Quality seeker as well. I suspect that is mostly because I'm relatively new to this whole thing and thus am a little comfortable spending a lot on beer. I still hesitate to spend more than $20 on a single bottle, but for now, I'm ok dropping some money on something as interesting as The Bruery's Coton, for instance. I suspect I will settle into a more strict Enthusiast in a couple of years. My guess is that if you graph quality versus cost, you'll get an asymptote. Assuming that my idea of quality could be quantified (which it probably can't), there'd be a limit to what is practically achievable from a cost standpoint. At a certain point, moving up the curve becomes so costly that the minute gains wouldn't be worth it.

Until then, I'm going to seek out and try new and novel beers. Of course, what is new and novel to me might be old hat to someone else, but that's ok. We're not elitists here, right? Anyway, last weekend I tried my first sour since starting the blog. I suppose I've had some others before (does Fantome count?), but I've never had a Gueuze before:

Lindemans Gueuze Cuvee Rene

Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René - Pours a golden orange color with a good sized, light colored head. Smell is kinda like a musty white wine. There's some typical belgian yeastiness in the nose, but it's overpowered by the white wine character. The taste starts off sweet, but that quickly yields to an intense sourness. The finish is dry and tart. As I drink, it strikes me as a more intense version of champagne. The carbonated mouthfeel is probably a big part of that. It's not something I'm particularly a huge fan of, but I would like to explore various sour styles as well. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank from a tulip glass.

Sometimes I worry about my beer tastes becoming too reliant on novelty. It's certainly fun trying something new all the time, but at some point, this has to run out right? That, or I'll end up playing with Lemerchand's Box and disappearing or something (hopefully not).

1. INT. CITY TAVERN, PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 1775

After a long day of Constitutional debate at Independence Hall, George Washinton, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson grab a table at the City Tavern, settling in for a long night of drunken Constitutional debate.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: I say, barmaid, fetch us some of my fresh-brewed Porter! My dear friends must try this new brew.

The BARMAID delivers three brimming pints of General Washington's Tavern Porter.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I say, George, you've outdone yourself with this brew.

BEN FRANKLIN: The barmaid is pretty fucking hot.

GEORGE WASHINGTON (ignoring Franklin): I say, thank you Thom. That is quite generous of you.

BEN FRANKLIN: Do you think she likes me?

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I say, you're quite welcome George.

BEN FRANKLIN: Why do you idiots preface everything you say with the phrase "I say".

THOMAS JEFFERSON (sighing): It's fucking gentlemanly, that's why. Anyway, I prefer my brews to be a bit stronger than this porter, but this is still quite enjoyable...

BEN FRANKLIN: Yes, well, I SAY, we're not all alcoholics like you Thom.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Oh SNAP!

BEN FRANKLIN: You're both capable brewers, but I prefer to use more unconventional, off-centered ingredients.

THOMAS JEFFERSON (loudly): Hey everyone, look at this guy! He uses some spruce in his beer and he thinks he's Sam fucking Calagione!

The door to the bar opens, and ALEXANDER HAMILTON walks in, scanning the room.

BEN FRANKLIN (attempting to hide his face): Oh shit, how'd he find us?

GEORGE WASHINGTON glares at THOMAS JEFFERSON

THOMAS JEFFERSON (hiding his iPhone): What?

GEORGE WASHINGTON: You checked in, didn't you?

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Hey man, I'm the fucking Mayor of City Tavern. If I don't check in, I'll lose my discount!

BEN FRANKLIN: You asshole! We could have been free of Hamilton's nincompoopery for an entire night, but NOOOOO, you have to check in to FourSquare to maintain your lame Mayoral status.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: HI GUYS!

GEORGE WASHINGTON (in an unenthusiastic tone, accompanied by a sigh): Hello Alexander.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: HAVE YOU TRIED MY FEDERALIST ALE!?

BEN FRANKLIN (whispering to Jefferson): What the fuck is he going on about? I don't see this beer on the menu.

THOMAS JEFFERSON (whispering to Franklin): I think the brewery is just humoring him. They don't even list that beer on their website.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Um, Thom, I challenge thee to a DUEL!

WASHINGTON takes a glove and slaps JEFFERSON in the face.

THOMAS JEFFERSON (surprised, but catching on): Hey! Uh, oh, OH, yes, I accept!

WASHINGTON and JEFFERSON down the remainder of their pints and exit.

2. EXT. MARKET STREET, PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 1775

WASHINGTON and JEFFERSON run down the street, stealing furtive glances behind them.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: I think we lost him.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Thank God! Franklin's gonna be pissed that we left him alone with Hamilton.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Nah, he's probably fucking the shit out of the barmaid by now.

3. INT. COMPUTER DESK - PRESENT DAY

MARK: So this is my third of Yards' Ales of the Revolution series. I quite enjoyed the first two, based on recipes from Franklin and Jefferson, and picked up Washington's entry on a recent trip to the local bottle store. I'm not sure why, but Alexander Hamilton's entry into the Ales of the Revolution series seems to be disappearing. I've seen it referred to as Federalist Ale and Treasury Ale, but as Jefferson notes in the above dialogue, Yards doesn't even mention it on their website anymore. I'm pretty sure you can still buy a variety pack with Hamilton's contribution, and judging from BA and RateBeer, it's some sort of pale ale (I think I saw something once about Yards' Philadelphia Pale Ale being basically the same beer, so perhaps Yards just rebranded Hamilton's beer? That's just blind speculation though.) Anyway, this post was supposed to be about General Washington's Tavern Porter:

Yards General Washington Tavern Porter

Pours a dark brown color (perhaps a hint of dark red in there) with a medium sized, light colored head. Roasted malts in the nose, maybe a little bitter chocolate. That chocolate hits pretty well at the start of the taste, followed by some bitterness in the middle and finishing with a bit of a roasty taste. There's a bit of a sticky alcohol flavor in the finish as well, something I was not expecting, but which suits the beer well. At 7% ABV, it's not a monster, but it's got enough zing to give it a distinctive character, which I can appreciate. The boozy tastes that were more overwhelming in Jefferson's beer are more balanced here (perhaps due to the sightly lower ABV, or maybe just the different malt backbone, or probably both). Mouthfeel is a bit lighter than expected. Plenty of carbonation and a medium body, which again helps offset the booziness. Not exactly a session beer, but quite drinkable. I'm not particularly an expert on Stouts or Porters, nor are they really my style of beer, but I rather enjoyed this. Also, like Jefferson's beer, there are rumors of a Bourbon Barrel Aged version of this porter, which could really impart some really nice additional notes to this beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.0% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank from a pint glass.

So overall, I'm pretty happy with these Ales of the Revolution. Maybe I will pick up the variety pack and get me some Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Ale. In the meantime, I suppose I should include the standard disclaimers: No, I don't think that Jefferson was an alcoholic and as far as I knew, no one hated Alexander Hamilton (nor was he considered a nincompoop by his peers) and I'm pretty sure Jefferson and Washington never participated in a duel with one another. However, Franklin was a noted poon-hound and Jefferson was a total Apple fanboy and angel investor in FourSquare.

Update: The mystery of Alexander Hamilton's Ale of the Revolution... solved! Sorta.

Again Update: More on Franklin and the ladies...

St. Bernardus Witbier

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A little while ago, I mentioned the St. Berndardus variety pack that I got my hands on, but until now, I hadn't actually cracked it open. I'm not an expert of beer and food pairings, but I was having some Sushi the other night and I had recently run across this Beer Sommelier, which matches meals with beer styles. When I looked up Sushi (just FYI, it's under seafood, not fish), it recommended various kinds of wheat beers and in consulting my cellar (i.e. my fridge), I saw that the St. Bernardus variety pack indeed included a Belgian style witbier. I would not call myself a huge fan of wheat beers, but I've had a few good ones in my time, and I was hoping for a lot from St. Bernardus.

St. Bernardus Wit

St. Bernardus Witbier - Pours a cloudy yellow color, with lots of head and lacing as I drank. Smell features wheat and a prominent Belgian yeast character, with a little citrus apparent as well. Taste is clean and crisp, a little thin compared to the monsters I've been drinking lately, but refreshing. Lots of wheaty flavors, with less citrus or yeasty spiciness/fruitiness present than I would like, but it is there if you look for it. As Wheat beers go, this one is probably near the top of my experience, but it's not the best (a distinction that still belongs Unibroue's excellent Blanche De Chambly). It's got a delicate complexity that's a good match for the sushi though, and it's certainly something I'd love to drink in summer (I probably should have waited!) B

Not an overwhelming start to the variety pack, but it's an enjoyable brew and I can guarantee that some of the others in the pack will wow me.

Double Feature: Animated Stouts

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Does TRON: Legacy count as an animated film? There is certainly a ton of animation in the film. Even some of the supposedly "human" characters are animated (notably the pre-disappearance Flynn and CLU), albeit sometimes poorly (you can see that uncanny valley effect quite clearly on a couple of occasions). Well anyway, I went in with very low expectations that were thus met. It was entertaining and pretty to look at, and the music was awesome, which is about all I could ask of it. This iRi post gets at one of the things I really like about TRON (the way the grid seems so alien), but I have to say that the effects described in that post are probably less pronounced in the sequel (in particular, I was disappointed by the light-bikes). The other film of my double-feature (and the only one I was actually drinking during) was Despicable Me, which had a few really funny moments (and I love the minions), but which is ultimately nothing too special. As kids animation goes, it's no Pixar, but it's probably a step above average.

I've never really been a fan of Stouts and when I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to do was better familiarize myself with the style. I took a bit of a detour into Belgian Strong Darks during the holidays, so I have a bunch of Stouts that I've been buying that have been sitting in my fridge or on my shelf waiting. They're certainly good winter beers, though I wouldn't recommend drinking a stout while watching an animated kids movie. Kinda weird, actually, but that's what I did:

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout - Pours an opaque black color with a small, relatively light colored head that leaves lots of lacing as I drink. Smells a bit on the roasty side with some nice maltiness coming through, maybe even some caramel. There's only a very light roastiness in the taste though, which is instead dominated by rich chocolaty flavors, some of that caramel, and a solid malty sweetness. There's some bitterness there too, but it's dry, like dark chocolate. Indeed, this is almost like drinking a good dark chocolate. It's a full bodied brew with surprisingly good carbonation given the small head and high alcohol, which makes one heck of a smooth, drinkable beer (a bit dangerous when it comes in at 10% alcohol!) I get the feeling that lesser breweries would totally screw something like this up. All of the complex elements here are very well balanced. As I said, I'm not much of a stout drinker, but this one is probably the best I've ever had. I don't think that will last, but it's still an impressive effort from Brooklyn (and my new favorite beer from that brewery). A

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank from a pint glass.

Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Breakfast Stout - Before I get into this one, a disclaimer: I don't drink coffee. I wouldn't say that I hate coffee, but I don't particularly like it either. So while this beer is currently ranked on BA as the 7th best beer on the planet, I am not likely to enjoy it quite so much. So if one of my three readers happens to be a beer nerd, be forewarned, I'm gonna rate this one relatively low. Like the Brooklyn, it pours an opaque black color, with a bigger, darker colored but still light brown head. Some lacing apparent, but not as much as the Brooklyn. Smells much more roasty with some coffee thrown in for good measure. Now, I do usually like the smell of coffee, but this beer isn't really doing much for me on that front, which I find odd. The taste is also dominated by roasty coffee flavors. There's some malt sweetness there too, maybe chocolate, but it's overpowered by the coffee. There's a complexity in the taste, but I just can't get past the coffee. As far as mouthfeel goes, it's got good carbonation and a nice full body. A little less smooth than the Brooklyn stout, but still quite drinkable (assuming you like coffee). Really, this just ain't my style of beer. I'm glad I tried it and it's certainly not a poorly crafted beer, I just don't like coffee... If you do, you'll probably love it. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.3% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank from a pint glass.

So there you have it. I loved one and didn't care for the other. I'm looking forward to some of the other stouts I have waiting in the wings though, including one from Stone and, given my taste it should not be surprising that I have some Belgian-style darks that are kinda pretending to be stouts, like Allagash Black and Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence (which says it's a stout on the bottle, but is classified as a Belgian Dark on BA).

La Trappe Quadrupel

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Trappist monks know how to live. At least, the ones that brew beer do. Of course, there are only 7 Trappist breweries (there are many other abbeys that put their name on beers brewed externally, but the Trappists are strict - their beer is brewed on the premises and lead by monks), but their beers are among the best in the world. So these guys spend all their time brewing and drinking world-class beer. On the other hand, I wonder if they ever drink beer from other breweries? Or do they only drink their own? Interestingly, most Trappist breweries have their own internal "House" beer that isn't normally released publicly (and is usually toned down in terms of alcohol), so I get the impression that they don't really seek out the novelty of other beers. Well, I'm certainly not bound by any restrictions, so I've had beers from 4 of the 7 Trappist breweries. They're all fantastic, without exception (ironically, my least favorite might be the most popular - the Chimay Red - but then, even the worst Trappist beer is wonderful), so when I saw a bottle of the La Trappe Quadrupel at the store, I figured it was time to up that to 5 out of 7. I should be able to find some Achel around somewhere, but the real challenge will be Westvleteren, which is only officially sold at the brewery itself (i.e. in Belgium). Westvleteren 12 is currently the top rated beer in the world according to both Beer Advocate and Rate Beer, though I have to wonder if the hoops you have to go through to get your hands on the bottle have anything to do with the high ratings. But I digress.

La Trappe is interesting in that they're the only non-Belgian Trappist brewery in the world. The brewery is offically called Koningshoeven and is located in the Netherlands, and along with Chimay, their beers seem to be among the most widely available of the Trappists. The particular beer I picked up is a Quadrupel. The numeric Belgian beer system is mildly mystifying in that there doesn't seem to be any real rules for what constitutes a Dubbel, a Tripel, or a Quadrupel, except that in terms of alcohol content, each style tends to be stronger than the next (though it's not an exact multiplier - Dubbels tend to be around 8%, Tripels 9% and Quads 10-11+%, with lots of variation inbetween). Interestingly while Dubbels and Quads tend to be dark styles, the Tripel is light colored. I've had a few Quads before, starting with (of course) Ommegang's excellent Three Philosophers (I haven't reviewed this yet, but I have one waiting in the wings) several years ago. In the past year, I've tried a few others (including another Trappist Quad, the Rochefort 10) and I even have a few waiting in my fridge (including St. Bernardus Abt 12, which I'm also greatly looking forward to). For now, we'll have to settle for this one though (and quite frankly, don't expect any double features with Quadrupels, though I suppose the subsequent shenanigans could be amusing to you, if not particularly enjoyable for me).

La Trappe Quadrupel

La Trappe Quadrupel - Pours a gorgeous cloudy orange/brown color with a sizable head. Smells fantastic. It has a spicy belgian yeast character with some sweet, dark fruits and maltiness apparent. Taste is very malty and sweet with some dark fruits and spiciness present. A relatively clean finish. The booziness comes out a bit more as it warms up, but the sweetness seems to hide it well. It's got plenty of carbonation and maybe a bit of a harsh mouthfeel, but that's just about right for this beer. It's not quite as full as other Quads I've had, but on the other hand, it's exceptionally good! I had no problem putting down a 750 ml bottle, though I was obviously a bit tipsy by the end. Still, with beers like this, it's not hard to see why Trappists have a great reputation for beer brewing. A

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked bottle). Drank from a Goblet.

I don't believe I've ever seen an Achel beer in any of the stores I frequent, but I'm going to keep my eye out. Westvleteren will be more of a challenge. But I will eventually try both, thus completing my sampling of Trappist brews. Oh yes.

Double Feature: Hoppyness is Happiness

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I'm still catching up on 2010 movies, and this weekend's double feature was the relatively interesting duo of Valhalla Rising and Triangle. Now, I have no idea what Valhalla Rising is supposed to be about, but it's a beautiful, if surprisingly violent film featuring a one-eyed, mute Mads Mikkelsen. I'm not sure what to make of Nicolas Winding Refn, but the dude knows how to photograph stuff and and is always interesting, if perhaps a bit too artsy-fartsy (then again, this is a movie where someone armed only with an old arrowhead kills 5 people, in one case using the weapon to graphically disembowel an enemy that's tied up - hardly the usual artsy-fartsy style). Triangle is more conventionally filmed, but in the end, it's also pretty damn messed up. I will leave it at that for now, though I will say that fans of Nacho Vigalondo's (second best director name ever) Timecrimes would probably enjoy this movie (it's not quite a time-travel story, but there's a sorta recursion going on that will be familiar to time-travel fans). I'm on the fence as to whether Triangle will make the top 10 (i.e. it might be nice to have a film on my top 10 that's a little more obscure than the usual suspects), but I did enjoy it quite a bit.

Speaking of enjoyment, I took the opportunity to check out two recent IPA purchases. Interestingly, this marks the third occasion that I've done an IPA double feature, which is interesting. I seem to like IPAs better when drinking different varieties together. Go figure.

Dogfish Head Burton Baton

Dogfish Head Burton Baton: There's always a story behind the Dognfish Head beers, and this one is no exception, though the story isn't on their website (at least, not in the obvious place for it). I had to resort to an interview with Sam Calagione to find the origins of this beer. It's an homage to an old IPA beer brewed in the 1950s and 1960s by an east coast brewery called Ballantine which was called Burton Ale, itself a tribute to the English town of Burton (apparently a big brewing town - home of Bass ale, among others). The original Burton ale was a blend of different batches that was aged in wood for complexity, and thus so is Dogfish Head's beer. The "baton" part of it's name is not directly explained, but then, it probably doesn't need to be - there are several meanings that fit here, so I'll leave it at that.

It pours a nice amber orange color with about a finger of head and some lacing as I drank. Smells fantastic. Clean and crisp, with some floral hops, maybe some pine, and a little bit of citrus. Taste starts of smooth and sweet, followed by a bite in the bready middle as the bitter hops and alcohol hit, and the finish is surprisingly sweet and sticky. There is some booziness here, which is to be expected from such a high ABV beer, but it's not overpowering or cloying. The sticky finish makes this a good sipping beer, something you need to let linger a bit. Interestingly, some of that hoppy bitterness returns. As it warms, things seem to mellow a bit, which makes it even more drinkable. It reminds me a bit of Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA, but it's a little looser and wilder than that (exceptional) beer. I'm rating it slightly lower than the 90 Minute, but perhaps another double feature is in order to really determine the winner... In any case, it's another excellent brew from Dogfish Head. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass.

Palate cleansed with some Buffalo wings. Yeah, I know, not exactly great for the palate, but wings and IPAs go together well.

Victory Hop Wallop

Victory Hop Wallop: Interestingly, the label on this one also features a story about the legend of Horace "hop" Wallop.

Horace 'Hop' Wallop headed west a broken man. For in the city of Blues a Miss LuLu Bell Lager had left him thirsting for more. Drawn by wild tales of riches to be had in the gold mines, Hop pressed on westward. His last nickel spent on a prospecting pan, Hop's hunger got the best of him. Two fistfuls of barely and three of some wild and wayward hops tossed in a pan with some clear water was to be his meal. But sleep overcame him and he later awoke to a bubbling cacophonous concoction. Overjoyed with the beautiful ale he had made, Hop realized the secret of the green gold he had discovered in those fresh hops. Celebrated far and wide, Hop Wallop lives on this vivid ale with his words, "Hoppyness is Happiness". Enjoy!
I have no idea if there really was a gold-prospector named Horace Wallop, nor do I know if he accidentally made some IPA wort with his prospecting pan (nor if he looks like the cartoon on the typically well designed label), but it's a wonderful story nonetheless. It pours a lighter, hazy yellow/gold color. Not a lot of head on it. Smells very different. Some sweet malty smells with the floral hops almost buried, but a lot of citrus coming through (I initially got the impression of oranges). Very smooth mouthfeel, with a much smaller bite and a dry, bitter finish. Not as much carbonation as the Burton Baton, but I wouldn't say it's bad. A very different taste, maybe a bit less complex, but still very good. There's something distinctive about it that I can't quite place, but it's enjoyable. Graprefruit, maybe? There is a tartness to it, and when combined with the citrus, I guess that does mean Grapefruit. (Looking at BA, it seems that my Grapefruit hypothesis is probably correct and is probably what I was smelling as well). It's a really fantastic beer. Very different from the Burton Baton, but I think I enjoyed it just as much. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass.

Another week, another IPA double feature. I expect another one soon as Nugget Nectar and some other hoppy seasonals hit the shelves.

Last week, I mentioned that I had lucked into a New Years themed beer, and this is the one. The name Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont translates to "With the best wishes of the Dupont Brewery" and was originally brewed in very small batches and given to select clients as a New Years gift. It has since become a regular Winter seasonal for Dupont, but it's apparently still somewhat rare to find. Lucky for me, Wegmans (of all places) had a few of these available, and while I recognized the brewery, I didn't realize at the time that it was somewhat rare - once I realized what it was, they were sold out.

This brewery is known mostly for Saison Dupont and this New Years brew is along similar lines, only stronger. The saison style of beer isn't exactly winteriffic, but then, I suppose there's a champagne-like quality to the beer that makes it appropriate for New Years (that might be a bit of a stretch, but it's nowhere near the stretch of, say, Sierra Nevada Celebration).

Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont

For what it's worth, the label has a big roman numeral "III" on it, but I don't know what that means. I thought maybe it was a batch number or something, but apparently lots of people have seen that in years past, so either this is an old bottle (doubtful) or it signifies something else. Also, the cork had "2.010" on it, which I take to mean it was brewed in 2010. Anyway, it pours a light, yellowish brown, almost orange color, with a few fingers of light, fluffy head and plenty of lacing as I drink. An unfiltered beer, it's very hazy, with lots of sediment and visible carbonation. The smell is musty and sweet, with some citrus and Belgian yeasty spiciness apparent. Taste is spicy (pepper and clove) and quite sweet, with a tiny bit of a dry, tart finish. The carbonation and spiciness lends an almost harsh mouthfeel, but I like that sort of thing. I was surprised to see how high the ABV was on this... there's no real booziness apparent in the nose or taste - it's quite well hidden by the powerful flavor profile. Actually, it gets smoother and almost velvety as it warms up, which is probably the alcohol's doing and the chief difference between the traditional Saison Dupoint and this one. Saison Dupoint is one of my favorites and this is essentially a stronger version of that, so it gets the same grade. A

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked bottle). Drank from a goblet.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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