Recently in Netherlands Category

I've heard very good things about these Netherlanders and even had some good first hand experience with their stuff, so when I saw this Imperial Stout aged in Jack Daniels barrels sitting on the shelf (it was a bit of an oddity, as this bottle was right next to some more Imperial Stout, but with a slightly different label - it took me a few moments before I noticed the little "Jack Daniels Barrel Aged" sticker on the side of the label), I figured it was worth a stretch. Emelisse has actually done a series of IRS beers, all with different hop or barrel treatments under their "White Label" banner, but this one seems like its own thing. I'm actually surprised we don't see more Jack Daniels barrel treatments out there in the beer world, as it's the most popular American whiskey brand and I believe it has the same secondary market of bourbon barrels... On the other hand, I didn't love this beer. Its not bad at all, but when it comes to BA stouts, its got a lot of competition!

Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout - Jack Daniels Barrel Aged

Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout - Jack Daniels Barrel Aged - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a slow forming but relatively long lasting brown head. Smells very whiskey forward, though I'm getting some sweetness and maybe a hint of roast from that beer base too. Taste is very sweet, again also barrel forward stuff here, lots of whisky and oak char, not a ton in the way of roast or caramel, but tasty nonetheless. Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side for a BA stout, but it works well enough and it's still on the upper end of medium bodied. A little light on the carbonation though, and the boozy heat comes through pretty strongly. Overall, this is a decent BA stout, but there were a couple things holding it back from true greatness for me. B

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (11.2 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 12/27/13. Bottled 03/2013, Lot A.

I'd still be curious to try out some of their White Label versions of this beer, though perhaps expectations will be calibrated a bit lower. For whatever reason, I was expecting a lot more out of this than I actually got...

De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis

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Pop quiz, Don Quixote: You've got a 2 year old bottle of small batch imperial stout from the Netherlands... what do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?

Shoot the hostage, of course! Or you know, drink it. Yes, it's time to tilt at windmills again and take on another big stout from Brouwerij De Molen (a brewery that resides in a historic windmill, hence the references), so sharpen your jousting lances, we're going in for some Hel & Verdoemenis (Translation: Hell & Damnation):

De Molen Hel and Verdoemenis

De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis - Pours a pitch black color with an almost nonexistent head, just some brown bubbles. Smells of rich malts, caramel, vanilla, just a hint of roast. My kinda nose. Taste has lots of that rich malt and caramel, hints of roast - just what the nose promised. It's not bitter, but it clearly has enough hops to balance out all those malts. Mouthfeel is rich, thick, syrupy, and full bodied. Almost no carbonation at all - not quite still, but pretty close and the one big flaw that drags the beer down (for me, at least). Overall, it's really good and I did manage to enjoy it. Again, I wish there was more carbonation, but perhaps fresher bottles would be better. Still worth a look. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.2% ABV bottled (11.2 oz waxed cap). Drank out of a snifter on 7/13/13. Brewed on 07 March 2011. Bottled on 11 April 2011. Bottle Number 10 (of 2080).

I would say that maybe this is my fault for hanging on to the bottle for a while before opening it (in fairness I did purchase it about 6 months ago, so it's not like I've been holding on to it for the full 2 years), but on the other hand, the label sez "This Ale will be good for 25 years if kept cool and dark", so I was lowballing it. De Molen seems like a quality little Dutch brewery though, and if my wallet can handle the strain (and this is expensive beer), I'd like to try some more of their stuff.

De Molen Hemel & Aarde

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Tilting at windmills1 over here, dipping into my cellar to pull out this Dutch imperial stout made with peated barley malts from Bruichladdich (one of them Islay Scotch distilleries2). Not exactly the sort of thing that inflames passions, but appealing from a quixotic point of view, I guess:

De Molen Hemel and Aarde

Brouwerij De Molen Hemel & Aarde - Pours a deep black color with a light brown, big bubbled head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells of peated malts as well as the more traditional roasted malt character. Taste also features that smoky peat character, but it's well balanced with a more traditional roasted malt character. Some chocolate and coffee are apparent, but that light peat smoke character is the big differentiator. Mouthfeel is full bodied, well carbonated, and relatively easy on the palate, especially given the strength. No real sign of the high alcohol here at all, well hidden. Overall, a solid, well balanced stout with a twist. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 3/3/13.

Not quite the revelation of the peat dominated Rex Attitude, but a more interesting take on a smoked stout than Vampire Slayer. A nice opening gambit from De Molen, and I'm planning on tilting at their Hel & Verdoemenis next... looking forward to that one.

1 - "De Molen" means "The Mill" and is located inside a historic windmill called De Arkduif, and I'm sharpening my lances so that I may tilt at them (also tilting at my cellar, 'cause it needs some pruning).

2 - Bruichladdich was mothballed back in 1994, but reopened here in the 21st century. This superb New Yorker article, courtesy of the Beer Rover's little Twitter Feed, covers the whole ordeal in glorious detail and is well worth a read, no matter if you're a Scotch fan or not!

La Trappe Double Feature

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La Trappe always seems like a lesser Trappist due to the fact that they're the only one not located in Belgium. On the other hand, they seem to be the only Trappist that does much in the way of creative new beers. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Breweries like Chimay and Westmalle trace their recipes back to the 19th and early 20th century, originating and codifying some of the styles we know and love today, like dubbels and tripels. La Trappe, on the other hand, coined the nebulous style Quadrupel way back... in the 1990s. And they're still going. Both of today's beers were first released within the past couple years (though one is simply an old beer that was barrel aged).

Alas, since I have no pre-bankruptcy Hostess snacks to pair these with, I had to settle for my normal pairing of beers with movies. In this case, since we have two very different beers, one relatively light (but not super pale), one relatively big and dark, I went with the cinematic whiplash pairing of ParaNorman and A Separation. I can't say as though I recommend the pairing, but each movie was pretty good in its own right, especially A Separation, which I found a little languid at the start, but slowly and deceptively turned into a captivating movie. I felt sorta like the frog placed in cold water that was slowly heated to boiling, cooking me alive in the process. Or something. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, beer:

La Trappe Isidor

Koningshoeven La Trappe Isid'or - When I first saw this, I thought it was a Lord of the Rings tie-in (Yeah, yeah, not the same spelling, so sue me in nerd court. I'll totally go free because of the Irony defense.) But no, this was brewed to celebrate the 125th anniversary of La Trappe, and is named after their first brewer, Brother Isidorus. It pours a hazy light brownish orange amber color with tons of fluffy white head. Smells of fruity, spicy Belgian yeast, one of them bananas and clove affairs. Taste is sweet and spicy, again with the lighter fruits and lots of Belgian yeast spice, more malt character than you typically get out of a Belgian pale, but it's not a dubbel or anything. It's actually a hard beer to classify, which isn't to surprising whenever you're talking about Belgian beers, but it's very fruity and doesn't really fit in with the usual pales, nor is it particularly dark. Somewhere inbetween. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, spicy, relatively dry, all in good proportions. Overall, a very well crafted Belgian ale. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV bottled (11.2 oz) Drank out of a goblet on 12/30/12.

La Trappe Quadrupel oak aged batch 7

Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel Barrique (Oak Aged) - Batch #7 - I previously had batch #3 of the oak aged Quadrupel and really enjoyed it. That one was aged in a mixture of new oak, old Port wine barrels, and previously used quadrupel barrels, and it was all a pretty great match with the beer style. This time around, we've got a batch that was aged in old Scotch barrels. The distilleries in question (Bowmore, Tamdhu, Strathspey and Laphroaig) seem to be a mix of Speyside and Islay, which can be troubling. In particular, I've found that beers aged in old Islay Scotch barrels are a bit challenging in that the peaty, smoky flavors really tend to overpower the beer. Now don't get me wrong, I love me some Islay Scotch (Ardbeg 10 is a standard at my house, and their Uigeadail is a recent acquisition that I'm sure will find a place in the rotation), but mixing those strong flavors with a beer that is as highly attenuated as this seems to be a lot trickier than, say, mixing stouts with bourbon. I thought perhaps the Speysides would calm things down a bit, and indeed, this isn't the worst attempt at an Islay barrel aged beer, but it's not particularly special either.

Pours a dark brown color with some orangey amber highlights and almost no head, just a ring of bubbly stuff around the edge of the glass. The smell is mostly Scotch, lots of peat, some smoke, and some of that base Quadrupel spiciness and fruitiness, though the Scotch character is clearly the star here. Taste is all Scotch, lots of peat, but that smokey, medicinal character comes out a lot more here and overpowers things. Mouthfeel is much less carbonated than the usual quad, making this feel a little gloopy. Overall, this is a lot less balanced than the regular Quadrupel or even Batch #3, and the flavors just aren't meshing well. As it warms up, things even out a bit, and like I said, I like me some Islay Scotch, but it's still not working that well. C+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 12/30/12.

It looks like Batch #7 is the odd man out, a misfire in a series of otherwise pretty well received oak aged beers. Batch #8 is supposed to also use Scotch barrels, but they blended that with new oak, which I think could really help tone down some of that peaty, smokey flavor (the reviews on RateBeer and Beer Advocate seem to bear that out). Batches 9 through 11 were aged in old Malbec barrels, and batch 12 used old Bourbon and Cognac barrels. So yeah, pretty much every batch of this sounds great, but avoid #7.

Holiday Beer Roundup

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Holiday beer season is my favorites, but I've been slacking a bit this year, so let's catch up with a few of these suckers that I had in the leadup to Christmas. It turns out that most of these beers were shelf turds (meaning, they've clearly been sitting on the shelf, unsold, for a while), but I'm a big tent kinda guy, so I liberated these beer from their boring shelfish lives and put them to work, fulfilling their intended purpose. Things are also looking pretty international here, but again - big tent. We're like that here at Kaedrin. Let's get this holiday party started:

Baladin Noel

Birrificio Le Baladin Noël Baladin 2010 - I keep hearing things about these fancy new Italian craft breweries, so I figured I'd give them a shot. Fancy bottle, hefty price tag that was fortunately marked down, how could I pass this up? Pours a dark amber, almost brown color with visible sediment and half a finger of bubbly head. Smells of dark fruits - raisins in particular, with some light spiciness and maybe a hint of darker malts. Taste is also quite fruity, again with the raisins, plus a very light spiciness. Mouthfeel is surprisingly well carbonated considering how little head I got out of it, but it's got a medium-ish body, thinner than I'd expect, with a relatively dry component. Overall, this is a solid Belgian style beer, but nothing to really write home about. B

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a goblet on 12/22/12.

Hoppin' Frog Frosted Frog Christmas Ale - The only non-foreign beer in the post, I suppose I could make an insensitive crack about Ohio, but I'm not a jerk (remember, big tent guy here). Pours a very dark amber color, almost brown, with half a finger of bubbly head. Smells strongly of traditional mulling spices, ginger, cinnamon, clove, etc... Actually smells a lot like a snickerdoodle. Taste has a nice, sweet malt backbone to match that spicy flavor profile, leaning more on the cinnamon here than in the nose. Mouthfeel is quite nice actually, medium bodied, well carbonated, but with a hint of stickiness. No real booze in here, which is nice for a reasonably strong beer. Overall, it's a really solid winter warmer style beer, one of the better I've had this year. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.6% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a tulip on 12/22/12.

Dieu du Ciel Solstice d hiver

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Solstice d'hiver - These wacky French Canadians threw me a wicked curveball the last time I tried them, an utterly fantastic take on a Scotch ale, so I made preparations to try more. This Winter Solstice beer pours a cloudy dark brown color with just a thin layer of quickly disappearing head on top. Smells of caramel malts and fruit, with some hops peeking through as well. Taste is sweet, filled with that rich caramel flavor with the fruits showing up in the middle and finish. Some hop presence as well, but nothing overboard like a lot of American barleywines. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and smooth, almost creamy. There's just enough carbonation to make it palatable, so it's smooth without being still, if you know what I mean. Overall, this is a very well crafted, balanced brew. Not as eye opening as with my previous Dieu Du Ciel experience, but a pleasant one nonetheless. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.2% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 12/23/12.

Emelisse Winterbier 2011 - I've heard good things about these brewers in the Netherlands and have had some pleasant experiences with their brews first hand, so let's try some more. Pours an amber brown color with minimal head. I inadvertently poured a big slug of yeast into mine glass, so this thing was cloudy as can be, with chunks o' yeast floating all around. Fortunately, that didn't adversely affect the beer, at least by my count. Nose is quite nice, fruity sweet with what could have been spice, but I couldn't quite place it. I may be imagining things. Taste follows the nose, nice sweetness with ripe fruits and a note of brown sugar, finishing with a balancing bitterness. Booziness is apparent, but not overpowering. Mouthfeel has a low carbonation, perhaps too low, bit it comes together well enough. Medium bodied, a little booze. Overall, a solid wintery ale, but I think I'd rather have had a fresh bottle. Still, these crafty Netherlanders intrigue me enough that I'll seek out more of their stuff... B

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/26/12.

A thousand pardons for the lack of pictures on two of these. I'd fire up MS Paint, but I'm no artist (read: I'm too lazy at the moment). You'll just have to use your imagination. This, more or less, wraps up the holiday beers for this year, but don't you worry, I've got plenty of facemelting stouts and barleywines on the way, wintery to their core, and perhaps a few IPAs and sours as well, just to keep things interesting. Stay tuned.

Stillwater Holland Oats

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I see what they did there, and that label is pretty awesome. I don't know who the two guys are, though they certainly have nice mustaches akin to Mr. Oates in his heydey. But the real genius part of the label is the tiger, which I can only assume is a maneater.

Stillwater Holland Oats

Stillwater/Emelisse Holland Oats - Pours a dark amber color with a finger of light head and some lacing as I drink. Smells strongly of floral hops, with some citrus and resiny pine also evident. It's also got some rich caramel malt character too. The taste starts sweet, then comes some caramel/toffee notes, followed by those floral, resiny hop flavors, finishing with a light hoppy bitterness. Mouthfeel is great, medium bodied, lightly carbonated, very smooth and almost quaffable. Overall, a very well crafted beer! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.6% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/18/12.

This was actually one of them gypsy collaborations with Dutch brewers Emelisse, who seem to have a pretty good reputation amongst the beer dorks. I've seen them on tap occasionally around town, but haven't partook in any of their libations. I shall have to remedy that. Also worthy of note, this alternative label design. Heh. Stillwater is emerging as a go to brewer for me, and I have at least one more review in the pipeline for them...

La Trappe Quadrupel Barrique (Oak Aged)

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I don't typically think of the Trappists as being trendy, but here they are, barrel aging their beer. Of course, barrel aging beer isn't a new thing at all, and the Trappists over at Koningshoeven were using barrels back in the late 19th century. Well, they recently decided to restore that tradition and since I'm a total sucker for this sort of treatment, here we are.

The base beer they used was their most excellent Quadrupel, and they've used a variety of different barrels throughout several batches. The bottle I got my hands on was from Batch 3, which featured a blend of beer aged in 3 different barrels:

  • New Oak Medium Toast - 18% of the beer in this batch
  • Port Medium Toast (French Oak) - 55%
  • La Trappe Q. Medium Toast (French Oak) - 27%
At their website, they even list out the common flavors attributed to each type of barrel (at the bottom of the linked page). Ok, so let's get this party started:

La Trappe Quadrupel Oak Aged Batch 3

La Trappe Quadrupel Barrique (Oak Aged) - Batch 3 - Pours a cloudy (visible sediment), deep brown color with a finger of puffy head. The aroma is full of sweet, dark fruit (raisins are clear), bready Belgian yeast, and a sorta red wine-like character (which I suspect is from the port barrels). The taste starts sweet and spicy, complexity emerging in the middle with more pronounced fruit and some of that oak aged quality (vanilla and leather), and a boozy finish (again, wine-like flavors here, probably from the port). Mouthfeel is a little lighter on the carbonation than the regular Quad (less effervescent), but still rich and full bodied. Overall, a wonderful and complex take on an already great beer. A

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked mini-mag). Drank out of a goblet on 2/10/12.

These early batches seemed to favor port barrels and new barrels, but they apparently went through a phase of aging in white wine barrels and have since moved on to old scotch barrels with their latest batches. I'd love to catch up with some of those varieties as well. In fact, it seems like each batch is unique, so if I ever see these again, I'll probably pick up another bottle...

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

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