Recently in Belgian Pale Ale Category

Russian River Defenestration

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Defenestration is literally the act of throwing someone or something out of a window. Sounds cathartic, especially since the best known objects of such treatment are unwanted politicians. The label sez it perfectly, so I'll just let it speak for itself:

Some of the most famous and notorious defenestrations occurred in Prague in the 15th and 17th centuries. These defenestrations were done in an effort to remove government officials by throwing them out a third story window. The result was either sudden death or serious bodily injury. Either way, mission accomplished!

In the spirit of this 2016 election year, we hope you enjoy our hoppy Belgian-inspired blonde ale named for the act of removing politicians by throwing them out the window - literally!

The picture on the label is also quite apropos, though the 2016 election probably deserves a more gruesome visual. Lots of people are struggling right now and while it might be fun for defenestration to make a comeback, that's probably not the answer. Probably. In the meantime, maybe beer can provide some small measure of comfort:

Russian River Defenestration

Russian River Defenestration - Pours a straw yellow color with a finger of fluffy white head and good retention. Smells quite nice, musty Belgian yeast, a little bit of spice, and a slight aroma of citrus hops. Taste mostly hits those Belgian yeast notes, spicy phenols, light on the fruity esters. Mouthfeel is light bodied, highly carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, quite dry too, goes down very easy. Overall, this is a very nice, pretty straightforward Belgian pale ale, with just a hint of hops for added fun. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a charente glass on 11/8/16. Bottled on: 091616.

Not Russian River's top tier, but a rock solid Belgian ale. Many thanks to fellow Beer Nerd Gary for securing the bottle and slinging it my way!

Kerkom Reuss

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So we continue our tour through the swanky realm of Belgian style ales blended with a small proportion of lambic. In this case, Brouwerij Kerkom takes a less bitter version of their standard Belgian Pale Ale and blends in about 20% lambic. Sourcing details are sketchy, but rumor has it that the initial batch was from Drie Fonteinen (perhaps another consequence of the infamous thermostat incident), while subsequent batches vary. Some say Girardin, some say Boon, others say they are sworn to secrecy. The beer is named after the first beer brewed at Kerkom, way back in 1878.

Kerkom Reuss

Brouwerij Kerkom Reuss - Pours a bright golden yellow color with several fingers of fluffy, big bubbled head and lots of visible carbonation. Bottle wasn't quite a gusher, but that cork came out with authority and if I didn't pour quickly, it would have overflowed. Smells quite nice, musty Belgian yeast, spicy and fruity with an earthy component and that lambic twang. Taste hits those fruity esters pretty hard, lightly tart, but it's brought into check by the spicy Belgian yeast and a bit of earthiness in the middle, finishing again on that tart note. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, but crisp and refreshing, light to medium bodied, very approachable. Overall, this is fantastic and strikes a good balance with the blended lambic. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/22/16. Bottled 07 04 15 (from the cork).

Kerkom actually makes a beer called Bink Grand Cru which is one of my favorite Belgian Beer Roulette discoveries, even if I haven't seen it around in a while. I should seek out another bottle of that stuff, and might as well try out some of their other offerings. They're two for two so far, s

Billy's Pale Ale

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This is the first in a series of what I'll call "Vermont Roulette", wherein I purchase some random Vermont beer that I've never heard of off the shelf and see what happens. In this case, it turns out that the beer is from Massachusetts, but I bought it in Vermont, and it appears to be a rather obscure beer. I didn't take a picture of it, but the bottle caps were clearly those Brewery's Best thingies that homebrewers use. I suspect this is a rather small operation. Only 2 reviews on BA, and this Howler Brewery doesn't even have a website. All the bottle sez is that it's a pale ale brewed with Nugget and Cascade hops, which, you know, sploosh. But then I opened this sucker and bam, Belgian yeast. Unexpected, but cromulent enough, I suppose:

Howler Billys Pale Ale

Howler Billy's Pale Ale - Pours a golden orange color with a finger of white head. Smells... like Belgian yeast, lots of spicy, musty, estery yeast, maybe a hint of those advertised hops. That Belgian yeast follows into the taste, which has a nice spicy character, cloves and the like, and some citrus hop notes melding with the yeast character, some hop bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, medium bodied, and relatively dry. Overall, it's an unexpected but pretty straightforward Belgian pale ale with just a hint of a hoppy kick. Worth trying, but don't let that label fool you - this ain't no straight pale ale. B-

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/18/14.

Not an entirely encouraging start to Vermont Roulette, but then, when your points of comparison are Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist, and Lawson's Finest Liquids, there's a pretty tough bar to clear. Stay tuned for some more obscure Vermont brews...

Going A Little Crazy

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Another day, another revolutionary (pun intended!) brewery that's only opened their doors in the past few years. This is going to come up again this week (a couple of times, actually), but let's stay in Chicago for the moment and check out Revolution brewing. They opened a small brewpub in 2010, quickly garnering a fair amount of praise (including a top 5 slot in RateBeer's Top New Brewers in the World list), expanded in 2011, and opened a full production brewery in 2012. I'm never sure what to make of the whole socialist fist iconography when it comes to breweries (maybe they just like the act of fistin... you know what, I'm just going to stop myself right there and pretend like I didn't even bring this up).

So I was particularly interested in their barrel aged brews, but this is exactly the wrong time of year for that sort of thing (I'm penciling in a Winter trade for some of that excellence), so I had to settle for a few standard brews. This one is actually a Spring seasonal, so it's a bit long in the tooth (especially for a well hopped beer), but the Belgian side of things kept it in check I think. So let's get a little crazy:

Revolution A Little Crazy

Revolution A Little Crazy - Pours a bright, slightly hazy golden color with a finger of fluffy, eggshell white head. Smells lightly of Belgian yeast, with a heavy hop component. Lots of citrus rind and floral notes, maybe even a bit of tart twang. Taste starts off spicy and hoppy, but then a huge, juicy, tart citrus note pops out, with just a hint of balancing bitterness in the finish. It's a really strange sensation, perhaps belying its age, but it works well enough. Mouthfeel is well carbonated and spicy, but that citrus note has a bright juicy tartness to it that follows through the finish. To make the most obscure comparison possible, this reminds me of Boxcar Brewing's IPA, which doesn't quite have that pop of citrus and tartness, but the Belgian yeast and hops give it a similar feel. Overall, this is a really strange brew. Not bad at all, I rather like it, but strange nonetheless. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/21/13.

I also had their Oktoberfest, which was a really solid take on the style, but then, I'm not that big into that style, so I didn't write up any detailed notes. I've got their standard IPA in the fridge, but I'm not expecting a ton from that either. I'm still really curious to see how their barrel aged brews fare, as I've heard really good things about them.

Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded folk from my work who get together every month at a local BYOB for drinkening and fun. Minor error in tonight's choice of establishment in that it's summertime, so it's super hot, and this place isn't air conditioned. Great pizza and sandwiches though. It actually wasn't that bad, but it's off the list for summer events from nows on... Anywho, solid turnout and lots of great beer. I event remembered to take a picture (unlike last month):

Beer Club - July 2013

One of my friends was all scared about what she should bring and so she was trying to downplay her contribution, but then was all "So my friend from Vermont thought you might like this," and pulled out two cans of Heady Topper. She wins beer club.

For the sake of posterity, random thoughts on each beer below. Standard disclaimers regarding small samples and less than ideal conditions, but don't worry, next month we're renting out sensory deprivation chambers and using industrial grade palate cleansers between each sip. But for now, you'll have to settle for imperfection:

  • Kona Wailua Wheat - A pretty straightforward take on a wheat beer, unremarkable, but a nice first taste for the night. B-
  • The Alchemist Heady Topper - Hard to believe, but I actually scored a 4 pack of this stuff last week, so there will be a more detailed review in the next couple days. In short, it's superb. Stay tuned for more (review probably posted on Thursday). A
  • San Miguel Pale Pilsen - From the best beer of the night to the worst. This was actually a can of beer from 2007. Vintage! A friend at work visited the Philippines and brought a couple of us back a can of this stuff. It's pretty generic, bland pilsner stuff, but let's just say there's a reason you don't age pilseners. It's actually not undrinkable, but it's definitely started to get that apple-like off flavor and not something I'd ever want to drink except in small quantities as a joke, like it was tonight. D
  • Professor Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse - From unintentionally sour and bad to intentionally sour and pretty damn good. One of my contributions! Berliner Weisse (translates to "Jelly Donut Wheat") is a style that's hit or miss for me, but this one is a definite hit, and it was perfect for the hot summer night. Super light, crisp, refreshing tartness, really nice. Definitely worth trying. B+ or A-
  • Horny Goat Watermelon Wheat - Watermelon can work in beer, but it did not work at all for me here. It had this weird artificial twang to it coupled with a sorta almost spicy note? Really weird and unpleasant. Lots of strange faces made around the group, though one person liked it enough. Me, I give it a D
  • Ommegang Fleur De Houblon - One of the recent Ommegang releases that I've been slacking on, this one is a pretty straightforward Belgian Pale Ale, with a nice floral hop character, maybe some herbalness, but it all matches well with Ommegang's standard Belgian yeast flavors (spicy and banana). I wouldn't describe it as super hoppy, and there isn't a lot of bitterness, but there are some hop flavors here. Not an amazing beer, but definitely worth drinking. B
  • Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire IO - One of my contributions and a beer I've reviewed before. Yep, still a great beer, more fruity and less funky than I remember, but that may be a function of drinking a bunch of other beers and eating food and whatnot. Still fantastic, no matter what, and everyone seemed to enjoy it and would come back to this after some of the next beers (though one person noted that the label artist was stealing the style of another artist!) Still an A- in my book, and I've got another one in the cellar just in case I want another taste.
  • Heavy Seas Holy Sheet (Brandy Barrel) - I like it. It's got a typical Belgian dubbel sorta vibe, but nice rich, boozy Brandy notes hit at the front of the taste before those raisins and molasses kick in during the middle to finish. It was a little too warm when we opened it, but I'll give it a solid B+ for now.
  • New Holland Envious - I got a very cough syrupy vibe off this thing, which wasn't the grossest beer evar, but not particularly great either. The fruit comes through a bit, but there's that syrupy feel that sorta drags it down, and I didn't get much oak at all. Actually very disappointing. I suppose my palate could have potentially been shot by this point, but it still was not very good. D
  • Victory Otto in Oak - My last contribution, I was a little worried about this because I hadn't tried it since it first came out (when I loved it) and I'd traded a few of them out recently, so I was curious to see how it's held up. Apparently pretty well! Indeed, the smoke has faded even more than it had when I first tried it, and the rich bourbon and oak character was really nice. It's not something that beer nerds will go completely wild over, but I really enjoy it and think it retains the A- rating I initially gave it.
At this point I got a phone call telling my that my neighbors (the folks who live under me) had water dripping into their condo, so I had to leave (fortunately, I think we were mostly finished at this point). It turns out that the water leak was not coming from my condo, so all is well at Kaedrin HQ. Stay tuned, some exciting beer on its way, including that Heady Topper review (so good). So all in all, a successful night and naturally, already looking forward to the next meeting.

Lost Abbey Saint's Devotion

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The Lost Abbey: Inspired Beer for Sinners and Saints Alike... and also for: the Antichrist! Tomme Arthur's middle name? Damien! Does he have the number of the beast birthmark? Of course he does! Number of days since the last freak accident at the brewery? Two. Somehow a lose pane of glass was launched horizontally through the brewery, hitting a mild mannered bottling line worker right in the neck, popping his head off like a cork (well, a cork in a well carbonated beer, so, like, not a Lost Abbey cork). The disembodied head tumbled through the air, carromed off a couple of bottles of Cable Car and landed directly in the trash can. The tragedy was mostly averted, though, because the bottles of Cable Car were unharmed.

Well, Antichrist or not, Tomme "Damien" Arthur sure seems to know what he's doing on the beer front. This beer is a variant of one of their old standbys, a dry-hopped but relatively straightforward Belgian Pale Ale called Devotion. It's solid but not exactly lighting the world on fire. So they dosed it with Brettanomyces, which jacked the ABV up to (wait for it) 6.66%. Does the beginning of this post make sense now? No? Well fine then, here, look at the pretty picture:

The Lost Abbey Saints Devotion

The Lost Abbey Saint's Devotion - Pours a cloudy golden yellow color with a ton of fluffy head. Smells utterly fantastic, spicy Belgian yeast and a beautiful fruity Brett character not unlike Logsdon Seizoen Bretta or Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire iO (which is high praise). The taste starts with a sweet and spicy Belgian pale note, with that fruity, earthy Brett popping in towards the finish. Nice balance of flavor here, with no element getting too uppity. All cracks about poor carbonation aside, the mouthfeel for this one is highly carbonated, effervescent, and very dry. Crisp and refreshing, this could pull food pairing duty or perhaps a nice daydrinking deal, or just by itself. Overall, this is a fantastic brew! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.66% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 6/1/13. Vintage 2013 A (I think, date on the bottle kinda got smudged)

I will say, this was a bit pricey. I generally expect that from Lost Abbey, but I've heard it can be found for sub-$10 in some places, which would be a bargain. Not sure if it was just a bottle shop markup or what... Legit beer though, especially if you like those Bretty saisons/pales.

April Beer Club

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In the Beer Justice System the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The drinkers who investigate crime and the District Attorneys who prosecute the offenders. They meet once a month at a local BYOB to sample beers. These are their stories:

beerclub-april13.jpg

The following notes, compiled by our resident stenographer, should be taken with a grain of salt as I'm pretty sure the stenographer was also drunk (as evidence, well, the stenographer was me). In order of drinking (not in order of picture, and sadly, we didn't get to all beers in the picture either):

  • Starr Hill The Love - A pretty straightforward but enjoyable hefeweizen. Super carbonated, overwhelming head, but a nice banana/clove weizen yeast character, highly drinkable stuff. B
  • The Captain's Brew House All American - This is actually a buddy's homebrew, and I arrived a bit late, so I only really got to try the yeasty dregs of the bottle, but it seemed pretty darn good - easily the equal of the previous beer. Would like to try it fresh sometime. Still, truly a beer worthy of Captain America (i.e. the namesake of my buddy's home brewery).
  • Ommegang Hennepin - You know, I've mentioned this beer numerous times on the blog, but I've never actually reviewed it. It's a really nice beer, one of my favorites, the beer that introduced me to the world of good beer. Nice Belgian yeast character, light, crisp, refreshing, quaffable stuff. I might be into chasing more funky varieties of saison these days, but it's always fun to revisit this beer and it holds a special place in my heart. A
  • Ommegang Rare Vos - The slightly maltier sibling of Hennepin, I also love this beer (which, yes, I've actually reviewed before), one of those beers that is also probably impacted by nostalgia for me, but it's just as good as ever. A
  • The Captain's Brew House Shameless IPA - Another homebrew, this one is actually a Northern Brewer Dead Ringer. It was very good, with a big malt backbone, but also a nice hop character. I'm not a huge fan of centennial single hopped IPAs, but this one was solid.
  • Kaedrin Dubbel - My homebrewed dubbel continues to evolve, with an almost coffee-like character emerging right now (but not straight coffee, and not really a roast either, somewhere perhaps between those flavors). It's actually quite interesting. I'll be interested in trying this again in isolation, as beer club isn't exactly the best setting for my palate!
  • Trappistes Rochefort 8 - Truly a classic beer, one of my favorites of all time. Previously reviewed.
  • Boulevard Collaboration No. 3 - Stingo - A collaboration with Kaedrin favorite Pretty Things, this one goes a more English route, though it's souped up a bit more than that might lead you to believe. Nice subtle hints of breadiness and toffee with maybe a hint of dark chocolate. Didn't really strike a big chord with me, but it was certainly a well made beer. B
  • Starr Hill Double Platinum - A solid, if a bit boozy DIPA. Nice hop character, but the booze was more prominent than I expected for an 8.5% ABV beer. It was probably a little warmer than it should have been, but I'll leave it at a B for now.
  • Lost Abbey Red Poppy - Another of my contributions for the night, this is still a spectacular beer, and made a lot of waves with the attendees, even folks who don't normally go in for "beer". Previously reviewed, and still an A in my book.
  • Firestone Walker §ucaba - Very generously contributed by Kaedrin friend Dana (she's not a huge bourbon fan, but knows that some of us other beer club members are), this sucker is as good as ever. Previously rated and still an A in my book.
And that just about wraps up this episode of Law & Order & Beer. Fortunately, all As and Bs, so no District Attorneys needed. See you next month.

January Beer Club

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I've more or less run out of beer puns for beer clubs, so you'll just have to deal with it. I know, you all love puns, so you're all broken up about it, but you'll just have to deal. Beer club is a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together for a meal and lots-o-beer once a month. As per usual, this gathering is anchored by a core group of stalwarts, along with assorted return guest stars. So it was a solid turnout, lots of beer, good BBQ and just an all around good time.

January Beer Club 2013
(Click for bigger image)

In accordance with tradition, my thoughts on each beer we sampled are recorded below for posterity. Standard disclaimers regarding non-ideal tasting isolation conditions apply, so all you pedants better stay frosty, as nearly all of this will be untrustworthy/awesome. Roughly in order of tasting (not necessarily the order in the above picture):

  • Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer - Things started off on a bizarre note. It's basically alcoholic ginger ale, which is fine for what it is, I guess, and definitely attracts the non-beer folk due to it's high sweetness and ginger spicing, but I found it kinda poopy. It's actually good that we had it in this sort of setting where I only had to try a tiny sample, but I'll give it a D, because fuck ginger beer. Seriously guiz.
  • Belhaven Scottish Ale - Belhaven is supposed to be one of the top Scottish ale styles out there, but man, we must have gotten a bad bottle. It has that gross diacetyl buttery flavor that I get out of a lot of British pale ales and have grown to hate. I'm not sure if that's just the beer, or if it's the clear bottle, or what, but it felt kinda skunky too. Not totally undrinkable, but I was again glad that I only took a very small sample of the stuff. D
  • Abita Jockamo IPA - While a big improvement over my first two tastes of the night, this strikes me as being a fairly unremarkable IPA. It reminds me of the sort of thing you'd get in a John Harvard's brewpub, circa 1998. Totally an improvement over BMC (or, since we're talking about my college years, Natty/Beast), but nothing special at all. A nice hop aroma, but a taste that fell a little flat and bland. B-
  • Old Forge Overbite IPA - Ahhh, now that's more like it. A really nice semi-local IPA, lots of that citrusy, floral hop goodness, maybe a little pine too, was a real breath of fresh air after the first three beers of the evening. It's not a world beater, to be sure, but these guys are totally making a name for themselves in the Philly area, and this makes for a pleasant enough IPA. B+
  • Birrificio Del Ducato Nuova Mattina - Guest star Steve contributed this very nice Italian beer to the proceedings, a Belgian style pale with lots of sharp carbonation, sweet and spicy (lots of spices used in making this, and they contribute, but not overwhelmingly so), bready, with a touch of light fruit. Overall, it's got a really nice rustic quality, an almost quaffable beer, really enjoyable. B+
  • Widmer Brrr - A totally solid winter warmer, pretty light on the spices actually, though it works well enough. It's not the sort of thing that stands out in a tasting like this, but it's totally serviceable and would probably get the job done if needed. B
  • Kaedrin Christmas Ale (2011) - A vintage bottle of my very own homebrew? It's still doing pretty well, actually, though I do believe it has peaked and is now on a bit of a downward swing. It's still retained that sorta creamy vanilla caramel base, and the spices are still there, particularly clove with a hint of cinnamon, though those are diminished from last year. It's held up about as well as I could have hoped, though it's not quite as fantastic as it once was. B+
  • Allagash Fluxus 2012 - Another of my contributions for the night, it's a totally solid Belgian pale ale, actually quite similar to that Nuova Mattina beer, though with less carbonation. Still, a very nice Belgian yeast character, spicy and biscuity. Not especially a standout, especially amongst Allagash's lineup, but a solid beer nonetheless. This could be tasting fatigue setting in, but I'll go with min instinctual rating of a B
  • Traquair House Jacobite - Ah, now this is a Scottish brewery I can get behind. Of course, this is a slightly stronger style, but I like me some Wee Heavy/Scotch Ales, and this is a pretty superb example of the style. Big rich malt character, brown sugar, some fruitiness, a light booziness, and all of this is very well balanced against each other. Truly a solid beer, and widely available too, well worth checking out for the Scotch Ale fan and a contender for best of the night. A-
  • Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale - Once again, this might be tasting fatigue setting in, but I was expecting more out of this. Don't get me wrong, it's a totally good beer. Not very red in appearance, but it certainly smells/tastes like an imperial red, big, well integrated citrus and pine hops mixed with those crystal and red malts. Very nice, would like to try again in better conditions. For now, we'll give it a provisional B+
  • DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus - Perhaps the strangest beer of the night, but it worked surprisingly well. You could say it's gimmicky, it being a "Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter", but this is quite possibly the perfect beer for a tasting like this. Exclamations of "Whoa" and "It smells like peanut butter" all around the table. It tasted like peanut butter brownies that were perhaps a bit overcookied so that you got that roastiness. Kinda like the edge/corner piece (which, you know, I love). It worked surprisingly well in this setting. I have no idea how I'd react if I were to drink an entire bottle, but I'm feeling generous enough to hand it a B+ (though it's probably more of a B)
  • Victory Oak Horizontal - Another of my contributions for the night, it's just as good as I remembered it. The bourbon, while prominent, was not overpowering at all, which endeared it to some folks who don't tend to like bourbon. Still an A- and a fitting end to the evening.
So there you have it. After a shaky start, things livened up quickly, and this sort of ratings distribution is actually quite nice. I mean, this isn't the most exclusive of beer clubs, after all, and only a few of us a really huge beer nerds, but it's a lot of fun and I always look forward to beer club. February's meeting will come soon enough!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Belgian Pale Ale category.

Belgian IPA is the previous category.

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