Monthly Archives: April 2014

Queen’s Day Belgian/Dutch Beer Tasting (Sat 4/26)

This is a story of how our trusty reviewer learned to take a note pad and pen with him to the tastings….

I had a Stone double IPA on Saturday called 4 20 2014, very good and compliments what it is named for… 


— Ed K

. . . or at minimum to make notes immediately upon returning home.  BTW, I emphatically deny that I had too much beer to remember what I tasted.  IIRC. 

I think I had the previous “vintage” in that series.  It’s an interesting idea, and is indeed very fresh.  OK, what is it named for, other than the date itself? 

My favorite among recent brews is Gulden Drakk, a powerful Dark Tripel, powerful in both richness of flavor and ABV (10.5%).  I’ve had that twice recently.  It’s a somewhat expensive vice.


OK, your trusty reviewer attempts to redeem himself by writing to the Growler & Gill, and receiving a prompt response:

The quad and bock are from La Trappe and the Saison from Urthel. Unfortunately the bock isn’t sold in bottles.

As it happens, I would have been able to give you the first because I just checked and I brought home a bottle of the quad, as well as the big bottle of the Karmelite.  So maybe I’ll expand my review of the quad, though tonight I’m in the IPA camp, sipping a Burton Baton, one of the best IPAs around.  It has as much flavor as the big Belgians accompanied by a good bolt of hops, not citrusy but rather more earthy and herbal.  Speaking of Stone, I have a Levitation from them waiting for me; maybe that will follow the Burton Baton.

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Queen’s Day Belgian/Dutch Beer Tasting (Sat 4/26)

First of all, we were shockingly deceived by the name of this event.  Yes, *last* year it was Queen’s Day, but Queen Beatrix abdicated almost a year ago, a year ago Wednesday, in fact. This was, in fact, King’s Day in honor of King Willem-Alexander.  Curiously, this was the first King’s Day ever due to a tradition of long-lived queens: 

The country marked its first-ever Kings Day since the occasion was first celebrated in 1890 when princess Wilhelmina became queen following the death of her father. Queen Juliana, Wilhelmina’s daughter, was crowned in 1948 and from 1949, the Queen’s Day celebrations honored her birthday on April 30. Queen Juliana’s daughter Beatrix became queen on April 30, 1980. Her birthday is on January 31, but Queen’s Day remained on April 30 – coinciding with Queen Beatrix’s own coronation day and her mother’s birthday. 

Moving on to the important thing: the beer! 

As a warm-up, I had a flight of 4.  Last Thursday was their tasting of the beers from Clown Shoes Brewery, and four of those were still on the board.  I had three of them.  I was not impressed by their Brown Ale. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, but nothing outstanding either.  Their IPA was quite good, hoppy and spicy, maybe a touch of citrus.  Their Black IPA was the most interesting of the three, somewhat sneaky: at first it didn’t appear to be that hoppy, but the bitterness came on strong late on the finish.  I must say that the best of the flight was a Double IPA, but I must confess that I forget whose it was. Mea Culpa! 

My sister-in-law had a Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat, a very interesting beer which tastes like <drum roll> pretzel, very much so.  I would happily drink that one.  Meanwhile, may wife had a Paulaner Salvator Dopplebock, an old favorite that is consistently good . . . but German, so not in the tasting.  

Speaking of which, five of our party of seven participated, and everyone found at least one to like.  That wouldn’t have been the case if this had been an IPA tasting. I might have been the only one of us who likes hops, with the possible exception of my nephew’s girlfriend.  The first one was a Saisonette, quite light and relatively close to a lager, not especially memorable to me.  The next was a Dopplebock, quite nice, and I see that I have grossly failed you by forgetting who brewed what . . . and none of these remain on the board, having been totally consumed since then.  However, the next entry was Kwak, a bottled Belgian Strong Ale, a very good one with a touch of caramel and a faint hint of smoke.  The next was my favorite of the batch, a Tripel Karmeleit from Brouwerij Bosteels (which I just looked up, apparently the recipe is older than Belgium).  This had significant caramel and spice and a very, very smooth finish.  All of us liked that one, and three of us bought some to bring home (the first two bought 12-oz bottles and the stock was cleared out, so I had to settle for a 750ml.  Pity.  The final one was a Quad, very good, and once again I have let you down by forgetting to record this immediately. 

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!


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Hopping Along

I just tried an excellent ale last night at The Growler & Gill called Seeking Alpha Triple IPA, from Captain Lawrence.  I had it on draft but I brought a bottle home.  Very rich with the hops in balance with the malt, and quite strong (10% ABV).  You should be able to find that nearby, I would think.  I also tasted one Evil Twin and had another, the taste was of Ryan and the Beaster Bunny (god knows where they came up with that one!), and I had 12 oz of Evil Twin Falco IPA.  Started fairly small but grew as I drank more, quite satisfactory by the end.

Over the weekend, Janet and I visited The Little Pub in Ridgefield CT.  It’s very much worth a visit. Here is last summer’s beer menu:

In addition to their main menu they have daily/weekly specials and reserve beers.  Janet had an Ommegang Glimmerglass, which was really special.  I started off with Deviant Dale’s IPA (from Oskar Blues), and finished off with a bottle of Ommegang Take it Black Stout, one of the Game of Thrones series.  It’s quite good, though not as great as the Blood and Fire Red Ale that I had on draft.


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Heady Topper

From Campbell:

Just yesterday one of my buddies and I drove up to Vermont in pursuit of Heady Topper – which, if you frequent Beer Advocate, you’ll see is the #1 rated beer there. We drove about 3 hours up there only to find that the delivery was going to be late at Beverage Baron, the store he’d staked out online earlier that week. We decided to walk around the quaint little town and we saw a truck with the Heady Topper logo on it. We went into this little coop market and it turns out they’d just been delivered four cases of the stuff. We each got one and walked back to the car – the meter said we’d been gone for 13 minutes, rather than waiting the 3 hours until it was estimated it’d get delivered to the other place. If you haven’t had this stuff Ed, you HAVE to try and find some. It’s a super smooth (and super strong) double IPA and I can understand all the hype. I’m gonna give 4 cans to my buddy who just got married and another 4 to someone who asked me for some, but the remaining 16 (well, 15 now) are going to be jealously hoarded in my fridge. 

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A co-worker just got back from a vacation trip to Alaska. He went the “local beer” route.  Alaskan Brewery he found OK but nothing special.  On the other hand he was impressed by Denali Brewing Company, and would eagerly seek it out if it were available.  He says that it does make its way to the West Coast, but never out here.  If it comes your way give it a shot. 

His review: “Denali ( makes a phenomenal barrel-aged Saison and their Schwarzbier (German-styled black lager) and Chuli Stout are awesome too. “ 

Some unusual things make their way here. I just checked the Tap Cam at my favorite Growler & Gill, and they’re pouring Breckenridge Agave Wheat.  I looked it up and it sounds like a mild session brew that might be quite good on a hot day (which will be coming eventually!) or with light fare.  I also found a website with a fine name: Fermentedly Challenged. 

Some unusual things COME from here, too.  I wrote to you about Beyond Kombucha, and another local New York exotic is the Andean Brewing Company.  I had their Kuka Beer which is brewed from maca, the high-altitude Peruvian crop.  This was good stuff, very rich and flavorful, a little hard to describe (especially a couple of days after drinking it).  

Among non-local, last night I had a basic Harpoon IPA, which was truly ordinary after some of the ones I’ve had recently.  They’re from Vermont and from Boston, and a local tells me it’s “ubiquitous and it’s virtue is that it tastes better than Sam Adams.”  Much better was Victory Dirt Wolf IPA, and I’m glad I picked up a 4-pack. Incidentally, that’s on tap at Growler & Gill today.

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Weyerbacher Glasses

Weyerbacher Glasses

Glasses from my sister-in-law

Those are *great* glasses! Thank you very, very much!  Pint glasses are always great, but that “goblet” is even more special, perfect for the strong, nectar-like Belgian ales . . . of which I have one in the fridge right now, Gulden Draak.

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Old Peculier

I just met the beer geek at one of my favorite wine shops.  That’s right, I don’t think of them as much of a source of beer compared to a couple of the others, but Brian, their beer buyer is one of those who goes to every convention, reads everything published, visits every brewery he can reach . . . you get the idea.  I mentioned that Ramstein tasting last week and that they were excited to have a couple of barrels of Eisbock.  Brian led me over to an Aventius Eisbock which I may have tonight.

He told me that if there was a beer that I wanted to try, he would try to get it.  I smiled and said I was looking for Old Peculier.  He smiled and pointed at the nearest cooler, so now I have a 6-pack of Old Peculier and I will *definitely* have some of that tonight.  My wife is excited too, as it’s one of the few beers that she really likes.

p.s. We both still really like it!


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Dogfish Head 60/90

My scientific heritage emerged tonight. 
In the past I’ve had Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA, and I’ve had their 90-Minute IPA (and for that matter I’ve had their 75-Minute IPA), but I couldn’t tell you which I preferred. 
Tonight I poured one into one glass, and the other into another glass, identical glasses, identical temperature (a bit above refrigerator temperature).  The 60-Minute is good, refreshing, nicely hoppy, neutral mouthfeel, nothing very complex about the flavor.  The 90-Minute is better, richer, hoppier, with a silky creaminess and a caramel note that lingers on the finish. 
However, it might depend on what you’re eating.  The 60-Minute is more crisp and might go better with something light like a non-tomato pasta.  The 90-Minute has more clout and would stand up to spicy food . . . and yet, the lighter brew might be a foil for a heavier meal.  YMMV, but generally I’ll go with the 90-Minute.  Memo: the 90-Minute has 50% more ABV, 9% vs 6% . . . is it coincidental that’s the same ratio as the hopping period? 😉

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Lagunitas Sucks

Truly a harsh thing to say about one of my favorite breweries, but hey, they said it first.  Very good beer, though, big mouth feel, significant hops…an Imperial/Double IPA, after all.  Caramel hints, a hint of bread, almost rye bread, a gentle spiciness, a lingering finish.  I’ll want to try this again.

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  7.85% ABV


Notes/Commercial Description:

This sad holiday season we didn’t have the brewing capacity to make our favorite seasonal brew, the widely feared BrownShugga’ Ale. You see we had a couple of really good years (thank you very much) and so heading into this season while we are awaiting the January delivery of a new brewhouse we are jammin’ along brewing 80 barrels of IPA and PILS and such every 3 hours. A couple of months back we realized that since we can only brew a mere 60 barrels of Shugga’ every 5 hours, that we were seriously screwed. For every case of Shugga’ brewed, we’d short 3 cases of our favorite daily beers. It’s a drag. This year, we brewed something that we think is also cool and brews more like our daily brews. The new brewhouse will help insure this kind of failure never happens again. It’s a mess that we can not brew our BrownShugga’ this year and we suck for not doing it. There is nothing cool about screwing this up this badly and we know it. Maybe we can sue our own sorry selves. There is no joy in our hearts this holiday and the best we can hope for is a quick and merciful end. F*@& us. This totally blows. Whatever. We freaking munch moldy donkey butt and we just want it to be all over…
So this substitute beer is a ‘Cereal Medley’ of Barley, Rye, Wheat, and Oats…. Full of complexishness from the 4 grains, and weighing in at 7.85% abv, Then joyously dry-hopped for that big aroma and resinous hop flavor.

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Re: New Jersey…

Re: New Jersey Tasting — from Campbell

I’m happy with anything called Rammstein! That Imperial Pilsner sounds like something I’d really like to try, as would both Cricket Hill beers. I heard the first Game of Thrones beer wasn’t so great, but that the brewer had a lot more freedom with this second one. 

I have friends of friends at the Night Shift brewery, and I’ve gotten to try a bunch of beers there, some of them pretty wild! Some highlights:

Viva Habanera: a rye ale brewed on habanero peppers. That Imperial Pilsner may go well with spicy food, but what about when the beer IS spicy? It has a pleasant burn to it and a little harshness from the rye, but the burn doesn’t last long and it’s an exciting flavor. I don’t think I’d order a pint, but a tasting glass is a great amount.

Art #20: El Lechedor: This is a milk stout, brewed with vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. This tastes JUST like cinnamon buns. It’s fantastic. I want a root beer float with this instead of root beer.

Jojo: A pink IPA. It has more fruity flavors than your typical IPA, and the sweetness mellows out the hoppiness a bit. I enjoyed it, but I tend to like hoppier beers with my IPAs. 

Next up, a friend of mine has a few growlers of their Crusader IPA, which I just have to try based on the name!

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