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Evolution Nouveau Rouge

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Maryland's Evolution Craft Brewing Co. joins the ranks of the few, the proud, the patient: practitioners of the Solera method in the beer world. The base beer is a rather straightforward American Amber Ale called Prelude Red, but it's placed in barrels (along with some bacterial beasties), soured, and blended with younger batches in the style of a Flanders Red. Evolution has added their Solera'd wrinkle, blending each new batch with all previous batches (and only bottling a small portion of the result, thus leaving enough liquid for future blending). Each cycle increases the average age of the bottled liquid, adding maturity and depth while retaining a certain level of freshness. Some Sherry producers have been known to do this for over 50 years, with each release theoretically containing traces of each and every batch. Evolution is only in their third year, so while this still feels very much like a standard Flanders Red, I'm really curious to see what it's like in a few years (and onward).

Evolution Nouveau Rouge

Evolution Nouveau Rouge No. 2 - Pours a mostly clear amber orange brown color, nice highlights when held up to light, and a finger or so of off white, fluffy head. Smells of vinous fruits, cherry, plums, oak, vanilla, vinegary sour twang. Taste follows the nose: vinous fruit, cherry, plums, oak, and vanilla notes are certainly there, perhaps not as intense as the nose suggests, but really good. Mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium bodied, a little acidic, pleasant vinegar. Starts with a nice richness, though it doesn't quite last through the finish - something I imagine solidifying over time with future iterations. Overall, this is already a pretty good Flanders Red, but I'm really excited to see the evolution of future batches (pun intended!) B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.3% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a copita glass on 2/15/14.

Evolution continues to be a solid semi-local contributer that I need to explore more thoroughly. I expect to snag some of their Migration series soon enough, so keep an eye out. And, of course, Lot 3 and Lot 6 are nice IPAs that are in the rotation somewhere (come to think of it, I haven't had one of either in a while).

Dock Street Flemish Red

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Finally ticking the last of five beers I bought at the Dock Street bottle release way back when. A flanders red aged for 2.5 years in old Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, then (unintentionally) further aged in the bottle for another year and a half or so. Color me interested:

Dock Street Flemish Red

Dock Street Flemish Red Sour Ale - Pours a dark amber brown color with minimal, slow forming, big bubbled, white head. Smells of oak and cherries, with a very sharp twang that indicates sourness, quite nice. Taste is very sweet and extremely sour, with that sourness hitting almost immediately, lots of fruitiness, sour cherries, vinegar, jolly ranchers, and some oak making itself known in the middle to finish. Mouthfeel is a little low on carbonation, but nothing excessively low (like some of Dock Street's other barrel aged brews). It works well enough at the start, but it feels a little flat towards the end of the bottle. Medium bodied, an acidic vinegary feel, very slight slickness. Overall, this is a good example of the style, but not quite world beater status. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.75% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a Tired Hands glass on 6/8/13. Bottled November 2011.

It seems like every one of Dock Street's barrel aged brews has just one minor flaw that holds in back from true greatness. They've all been pretty good as they are, but tended to be a little low on carbonation, or in this case, a little high on the acidity. Part of it could always be the age of the bottle, but then, they claimed the low carbonation was intentional, so there is that. I'll probably continue to check out their annual barrel aged brew, and some of the staple beers are pretty great too. One of these days they'll really knock one out of the park...

Tired Hands Anniversary

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Today was Tired Hands' one year anniversary, and they had a big shindig featuring lots of fantastic beers. As per usual, their events are a bit of a madhouse, but they did a good job keeping up with the demand, and it helps that the new and special beers they were serving were nothing short of spectacular. Big congratulations to Tired Hands for living up to lofty expectations and establishing themselves as the best brewer in the area.

Lunch of Champions: Only Void and an Everything Pretzel
Yummy Everything Pretzel paired with Hophands mustard and Only Void

I had quite a few things today, and for shits and giggles, I'll include stuff I've had from the past few months as well, because why not? Yeah, I suppose the fact that most of them are already gone forever is a pretty good reason not to dwell on them, but how else am I to make my readers jealous?

St.Oner - No picture! Sorry about that! One of Tired Hands' typically fantastic IPAs. It's getting very hard to judge these against one another, as they're all so damn good. The big twist with this one is a very juicy citrus character, presumably from the hops but also maybe some fresh fruit. Pleasant bitterness, and at 6.5% ABV it was downright quaffable and refreshing on a hot day. A-

Romulon

Romulon - Wow, this is a beautiful gueuze-like sour blend (wine barrel fermented Saison and fresh Saison). Very nice oak character, a bright but not overwhelming sourness, tart fruits, just fantastic! While technically a saison, I'd put it right up there with some of the fantastic gueuzes I've been having lately. Indeed, this is probably a contender for my favorite Tired Hands beer ever (even though that's a sorta impossible choice!) A

Only Void

Only Void - Tired Hands has a little fermentation chalkboard and I feel like this beer has been sitting on there since last year. A massive 12% imperial stout conditioned on stainless steel (there are some barrel aged variants coming), pours black with tan head. Nice roasty nose, dark chocolate is there too (and becomes more pronounced as I drink), maybe a hint of coffee in the nose too. Taste has that well balanced roast and coffe note, some earthiness, but also lots of chocolate and some rich caramel and maybe even some hop bitterness in the finish. Really well balanced flavors for such a monster beer. Mouthfeel is rich, full bodied, and smooth. It's not quaffable or anything, and it would work as a dessert sipper, but it's pretty easy going for something this big. Only a slight alcohol warming in the belly... Because I drank too quickly! Overall, it's a fantastic imperial stout. A

Our Berry Vest

Our Berry Vest - A blend of the aforementioned Only Void and a strong brown ale called "So It Goes" (which I've never seen or had before) conditioned on fresh strawberries. At 11.5% ABV, this is no fru-fru beer, and it actually has some sour notes to go along with the fruity strawberry. Really interesting beer, it's got the Only Void notes of roast and dark chocolate softened considerably by a sour fruity character, strawberries coming through clearly, much lighter body than Only Void, but still a big beer. An almost chocolate covered strawberry feel (ok, perhaps not quite like that, but still really good). Great variation on the theme. Glad I sprung for this one. A-

And that covers what I managed to greedily gulp down today. In order to fan the flames of jealousy, here's some more stuff that I've had over the past couple months...

The Light That Spills Out of the Whole in Your Head - In the running for weirdest/awesomest beer name. A 6% citrus pale ale, great juicy hop character full of citrus, really easy drinking and refreshing. One of the few beers Tired Hands has brewed more than once (I think! I know I had this before, but for some reason, never recapped it). A-

Tralfamadorian - They called this a 6.8% barrel fermented biere de garde, but it basically feels like a lighter bodied Flanders Red. Whoa, robey tones, dense tan head, pretty. Taste is reminiscent of Domo, sorta a Flemish red, but with slightly less body. Light on the oak, some sharp sourness, but not overwhelming. Nice sour cherry notes, really well done. A-

Station - A 5.8% Simcoe IPA? Sign me up! Cloudy straw yellow, beautiful grapefruit citrus nose, ditto in taste, with some light herbal notes too. Light and quaffable, very nice! Grading on a curve: B+

Wiggle Wurm - 9.2% DIPA, clear golden yellow, citrus & pine hop aroma, very sweet on the palate, sticky but not cloying. Solid! B+

Wisdom Teeth - Darwin Solera series number 4, a 6% Brett pale ale. This series is seriously mellowing out with each new installment. It's still got that funky salinity, but it's more well rounded and integrated. It's a fun series of beers, highly drinkable stuff and getting better with each iteration. B+

My Briefcase Says "Time Is Money" - Another fantastic name. It's a 5.7% Black IPA, nice drinkable beer, not as hoppy as you'd expect, but not super roasty either, striking an interesting balance. B+

Eye 4A Face - A 4.5% dry hopped farmhouse mild conditioned on oak. Dark golden hues, nice citrus hops in the nose, taste more malt focused, maybe a hint of oak, plenty of bitterness, easy drinking. B+

CuzCuz - Southern Hemisphere IPA filled with New Zealand hops, etc - Super cloudy straw yellow, bright citrus and herbal hops, floral too, really nice, easy drinking stuff... B+

Tabula Rasa - Classic modern saison at 6.2% ABV. I got a super yeasty pour, almost milky looking, Jean said that happens sometimes and it's really annoying because he has to sacrifice a bunch of beer to get past the yeast plug. It was drinkable, but he gave me another glass after he cleared the line some. Once I got a proper glass, it was still super cloudy, but at least it was yellow! Nice peppery yeast in the nose, a lot like Farmhands. Taste has that big saison yeast character, spicy sweet, similar to Farmhands but a bit more body. Medium bodied, smooth, spicy, very nice. Overall, really nice. B+

Pineal - Mosaic Amarillo Simcoe IPA at 6%, this may be my first real Mosaic hopped beer? Can that be? Well if this is any indication, I'm going to have to seek out some more! Bright cloudy yellow, beautiful nose, citrus, pine, nice floral aspect, great nose. Taste has nice sweetness, big juicy citrus notes, pine and floral notes too. Great beer. A-

Caskette - Hoppy golden mild at 4%. Yellow color, fantastic juicy hop nose, biscuity malts make a nice platform for those hops, compulsively drinkable. Would have loved to tried the one they actually put on cask! B+

Jittery Tiger - An oatmeal stout brewed with espresso at 6.6%. Black with tan head, big roast coffee nose, strong coffee in taste, roasty, bitter. Coffee beers are not normally my thing... but I like this. Not my favorite evar or anything, but good, and goes down easy... B+

Yellow & Green - A 4.5% all Cascade Keller pils. Nice yellow color, some herbal hops, plenty if citrus too, classic Cascade hop character. Feels more like a pale ale than a pils, but it's really quite nice... B+

Carpathian Kitten Loss - An 8.8% DIPA brewed with rye. Citra & Simcoe hopped, this has an amazing aroma, bright oranges up in my noseballs, citrus hops all they way... Taste is fantastic too, lots of citrus hops, bright, nice spicy rye or caramel note, a hint of booze but well balanced, way too easy to drink for the ABV, smooth. Delicious, better than the last couple DIPAs that they've made... A-

Phew. That's a lot of beer (spread out over the past few months, I assure you!). I feel very lucky to have Tired Hands out here in my backyard (ok, a half hour away, but still). Really looking forward to the Only Void bottle release (coming soonish, I think), especially those bottle conditioned variants.

Rodenbach Caractère Rouge

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Rodenbach Grand Cru has very quickly established itself as a go-to Flanders Red (especially when I want to introduce someone to the rough and tumble, gum-rubbing world of sour beers). Widely available, affordable, and absolutely delicious. It's hard to believe that my first was less than a year ago, but here we are today, taking on next-level Rodenbach world beaters like Caractère Rouge. Life is good.

Made from the same base as Grand Cru, this sucker is 100% aged in oak foeders for 2 years, then steeped in macerated cherries, cranberries and raspberries for an additional six months. The result manages to retain that distinct Rodenbach character, even while it's softened by candy-like fruit notes. It's a worthy variation on Rodenbach's theme...

Rodenbach Caractere Rouge

Rodenbach Caractère Rouge - Pours a deep, bright, darkish red color, serious robey tones, with a finger of light, almost pink head. Smell is pure fruit, rasberries, cherry, maybe even strawberry, sugary candy treats, fruit rollups, jolly ranchers, that sort of thing, with some nice funky twang. Taste is very sweet, again with the cherry, raspberries, and strawberry followed by a funky, assertive, sour kick in the middle, that fruit rollup character hitting in the middle too, finishing with an acetic sour note. As it warms, a subtle oak element emerges and livens things up, adding complexity and richness to the party. Mouthfeel is very well carbonated, medium bodied, bright, sticky sweet in the finish, though once it warms, that stickiness seems to yield to the oak, making it seem a little drier and actually, more palatable too (not that this was ever hard to drink). Easy going beer, complex, but accessible. Overall, it's a fruity delight. I'm perhaps more taken with the more oaky Rodenbach expressions, but this is still delicious and complex stuff. And as fruit beers go, it blows something like Serendipity out of the water. It keeps getting better as I drink, too, which is just another element of it's complexity that I really appreciate. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a Tired Hands glass on 5/24/13.

The bottle had no markings on it at all (totally badass), but it does have that little label thingy attached by string. No real batch identification, but I'm guessing this was the 2012 batch. No other Rodenwales are incoming at this time, but I'm obviously going to be keeping an eye out for any new releases from these fellas. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for some Loonz, Ghosts, and the like. I'll be ok. For now.

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.

Rodenbach 2009 Vintage

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The two main Rodenbach beers are blends of oak-aged beer and "young" beer. The Grand Cru is mostly 2 year old oak aged beer, while the Classic leans more heavily on the young beer. Well, a few years ago, Rodenbach started putting out these Vintage beers, which are unblended and comprised solely of 2 year old oak aged beer from a single foeder (the giant oak vats they use to age their beer). This particular bottle was released back in 2011 and came into my possession by a fortuitous turn of events. By which I mean that it was sitting on the shelf and I happened to pick this over the 2010 edition... I'm a huge fan of the Grand Cru, so my hopes were high for this one:

Rodenbach Vintage 2009

Rodenbach 2009 Vintage Oak Aged Ale (Barrel No. 145) - Pours a relatively clear, dark amber brown color (robey tones, so much clarity) with half a finger of bubbly white head. Smells of vinous fruit, cherries, oak, and vanilla, with that sour twang. Taste starts off very sweet and fruity, tons of sour cherry flavor, maybe some jolly rancher, all of which is more prominent than the Grand Cru. The sweet and sour vinegar character is more prominent than the Grand Cru, but then the oak and vanilla kicks in, tempering that sweetness a bit, evening out the brew. Sourness is present and assertive, but not overpowering. Mouthfeel is a little brighter and more acidic than the Grand Cru, but it's well carbonated, rich, and full bodied. The sourness keeps it from feeling heavy though, and it goes down pretty easy. Overall, this is fantastic stuff, a little more vinegar and less oak than the Grand Cru (odd, considering the unblended nature of this one), but certainly worthy. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/28/12.

Rodenbach Grand Cru is one of those beers that turned me into a lover of sour beer, so perhaps it's hard for these other vintages to stack up. They clearly share a similar character, and I'll probably continue to seek out any of Rodenbach's specialty batches, but the Grand Cru just hit my tastes perfectly.

The Bruery Oude Tart

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The Bruery's Coton recently became just the fourth beer to earn the coveted Kaedrin A+ rating. Next up in my Bruery-fueled, liver-destroying, wallet-lightening, amazing-beer-filled winter is Oude Tart, a Flemish Red Ale aged in oak barrels. This is a descendant of Bruery brewer Tyler King's first homebrewed sour beer (which he attempted at the ripe age of 17 or 18), though obviously that recipe has been tweaked and honed through the years (I'm guessing they didn't age their original batch in giant oak barrels for a year), to the point where this was also the Bruery's first major award-winning beer.

So I'm continuing my orbit around sour beers, though at this point, I should probably just land this crazy spaceship and partake in all the sour beer I can find. But enough babbling, let's drink this stuff:

The Bruery Oude Tart

The Bruery Oude Tart - Pours a dark brown color with half a finger of bubbly off-white head that quickly subsides to a ring that shows pretty good retention. Smells of slightly twangy funk, some earthiness, a nice oak character, and plenty of fruity aromas, maybe cherry. Taste starts with a slap of sourness, with sweet, bright sour cherry notes quickly emerging along with some subtle oak notes, a little earthiness, with that sourness reasserting itself in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, lightly carbonated and smooth, a little acidic. A little mouth coating goodness here, but nothing overwhelming. Overall, a top tier sour beer! A

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/10/12. Label sez: 060712 LOT39 (presumably bottling date)

This winter is shaping up to be pretty awesome. I've got a couple more Bruery beers lined up, including one absolute monster that just arrived in the mail, not to mention a couple of upcoming bottle releases by local breweries and, uh, some other trades (no jinxing, but some other whales will be had in the next few months).

Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale

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The Lost Abbey distributes here, but as near as I can tell, rarities like this oak-aged, sour-cherry-soaked wild ale aren't readily available (I've certainly never seen it around here). This was first released a few years ago to rapturous reviews, and by all accounts, the hype is well deserved (or maybe not, there's always a dissenter). I got a hold of this bottle via that trade with Jay from Beer Samizdat that I've been lording over all my readers about for a month or so (don't worry, only a couple beers left in that haul). My flirtation with the sick world of sour beers has slowly been solidifying into a more, uh, solid enthusiasm, and it's beers like this that have fanned the flames:

Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale

The Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale - Pours a clear brown color with beautiful amber hues when held up to light, along with a finger of light colored head. Smells of earthy funk and a fruity, tangy sweetness. Maybe a little oak too. One of those beers that I was sniffing a lot, which would be really weird if I were in mixed company, but fortunately I felt free to explore the nose on this. Taste starts with a rich sweetness, some tart cherries and the lightest of sour twangs emerging in the middle, with some very well incorporated oak character rounding things out. Complex, but perfectly balanced flavor profile here. Mouthfeel is wonderful. Full, rich body tempered by ample carbonation, making this thing quite drinkable. Overall, this is among my favorite sours ever. A

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (375 ml, caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/30/12. Vintage 2012 C (I think that's what the label sez, it's a little smudged).

You know what this reminded me of? It seems like a more intense version of Rodenbach Grand Cru, which ain't no slouch either (it's got a Kaedrin A rating as well). This makes me want to beg, borrow, or steal some of those other rare Lost Abbey sours, like the Veritas beers, or Cable Car, or any of a handful of other rarities. Who knows what kind of success I'll find on that quest, but in the meantime, I can always track down a Serpent's Stout or other "regular" Lost Abbey ales...

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

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Flanders Red Ale category.

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