Monthly Archives: February 2012

Full Sail Sanctuary Dubbel

Beer:  Sanctuary Dubbel
Brewery: Full Sail Brewing Company
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 7.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Wine glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Opaque, deep red-tinged amber.  1/4-inch off-white head that dissolves quickly.

Scent: Really, it had no discernible scent.  Perhaps a very faint malt, but we’re grasping for anything here.

Flavor: Like a generic amber ale, with notes of wet wood chips, tart citrus (like grapefruit, or the zest of an orange), and some caramel.

Feel: On the thin side.  Low carbonation.

Concluding remarks: Oregon’s Full Sail introduced their Sanctuary Abbey-style Dubbel as part of the Brewmaster Reserve line, their rotating selection of creative brews meant to showcase the brewer’s art.  But, alas, this is a hackneyed imitation of the Real Thing. It wasn’t bad, per se, but we’ll fork over the extra dollar for authenticity.

(Granted, this was the third Belgian tried in a row on a very happy beer-filled night, so perhaps our tastebuds were a tad bit overloaded by then.  However, alcohol is supposed to taste better as the night goes on, yes?  That’s why everyone at that wedding was so shocked when Jesus served the good wine last?  Because everyone was already drunk and didn’t care?  Ally’s Catholic school education proves that this Full Sail Dubbel shouldn’t have tasted as dull as it did.)

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Gordon Biersch This Monk’s Gone to Heaven

Beer:  This Monk’s Gone to Heaven
Brewery: Gordon Biersch
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 6.2%


Serving Style: Draft (Cask)
Glassware: Snifter
Drinking Establishment: Churchkey, DC
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Consumption Companions: A DC resident

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark honey colored body with a very bright white head that disappears into nothingness instantly.

Scent: For a Dubbel, it’s oddly phenolic. Also, it smells like overripe red delicious apples and aging pears.

Flavor: Wait, is this a Tripel? I’m confused. This has the iconic banana clove taste that is ubiquitous in Tripels. But as I drink it, I do detect a little hazelnut in there, too.

Feel: Like all cask ales, this is flat and creamy.

Concluding remarks: This has the color of a Dubbel, but the taste of a Tripel. However, it’s local (Gordon Biersch is based in DC), served cask-style, AND REFERENCES A PIXIES ALBUM… so props, but I wouldn’t have it again.

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Iron Fist Dubbel Fisted

Beer:  Dubbel Fisted
Brewery: Iron Fist Brewing Company
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 8.1%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Snifter
Drinking Establishment: Churchkey, DC
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Consumption Companions: A DC resident

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark crimson with a white dissipating head that leaves a light coat of lacing on the edge.

Scent: Super roasted malt smell that almost covers the pronounced alcohol note.

Flavor: Slight tanginess from the yeast strain used. Ends with a ripe date and nut taste.

Feel: Low carbonation. Velvety body with a satin finish, using paint terms.

Concluding remarks: Pleasant enough in taste, but overall I find this Iron Fist’s attempt at a Dubbel lame. It’s lacking almost every quintessential aspect of a Dubbel, except for the name on the bottle. Not bad, but I wouldn’t pick it first for kickball.

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Kasteel Tripel Bier

And we start our blitzing with a visit to the Churchkey beer bar in Washinton, DC…

Beer:  Kasteel Tripel
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck
Style: Tripel
ABV: 11.0%


Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Snifter
Drinking Establishment: Churchkey, DC
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Consumption Companions: A DC resident

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Surprisingly clear, golden body with a small head that leaves a little froth around the edges.

Scent: Helloooooo phenols! This smells like a banana clove pie, also like New Skin. And licorice/a bowl of jelly beans.

Flavor: Quite sweet, with a little tang from the Belgian yeast. There’s a bunch of spice in here…predominantly coriander. There’s also a bit of citrus at the end.

Feel:Fine carbonation, unlike a soda or seltzer.

Concluding remarks: This tastes like a caricature of the banana, i.e., artificial banana flavor. So, like Banana Laffy Taffy or Banana Runts.

This is a pretty easy-to-find Belgian that’s also easy to drink. So yeah, go get some! Don’t expect the world, but expect it to go down easy. I’d categorize it as a Tripel-Lite.

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Happy Leap Day, or…KRIJGEN BLITZED DAG (get blitzed day!)

Alright, it’s that time of the month…the end of the month! And to commemorate our travel through the world of Dubbel, Tripel, and Quadrupel biers, we will be holding our second monthly GET BLITZED DAY!

Oh, and if you need help passing the 24 bonus hours in between reviews, NPR has kindly put a list together of how to spend your Leap Day. Or you could just watch 30 Rock’s Leap Day episode 65.5 times. But clearly, the only real solution is to try as many new beers as possible…so venture forth!

The Leap Day Leap Frog Enjoys a Beer

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St. Bernardus Abt 12

Beer:  St. Bernardus Abt 12 Abbey Ale
Brewery: Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Style: Quadrupel
ABV: 10.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Wine glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark garnet, near black body with a beige one-inch head that quickly wanes to a near nonexistent head that leaves a trace of lacing on the edge.

Scent: Rich roasted malts and overtones of tart cherries and plums.

Flavor: I know heaven isn’t technically a flavor. But. Wow. The flavor profile is that of heaven. The complexity is balanced with heaven. The first note is heaven, and the back is heaven. Heaven! (Okay, fine–molasses, caramel, raisins, and plums….from heaven.)

Feel: Medium, smooth mouthfeel with lively carbonation. And heaven.

The booze note in this is shockingly nonexistent for 10.0% (translation: drinking one of these beers is the equivalent of drinking 3 Amstel Lights or 2 Boston Lagers). I can’t explain it, but this is my perfect beer. Well, I’ll try to explain it. It tastes like all of the good beers I have ever had in my life in one beer. Not in the card game Kings kind of way (i.e. pouring a little bit of everyone’s drink into one glass, ahem, plastic cup, and making one unfortunate soul drink the warm elixir at the end of the game). Like, in the, this is the perfectly crafted beer kind of way…in the I never thought I could find everything I am looking for in one beer kind of way. With an ABV tag of 10%. I know I need to thank this guy:

Bernie.

Concluding remarks: St. Bernardus has been brewing perfection since 1946. They describe the Abt 12 as “the absolute top quality in the hierarchy of the St. Bernardus beers…the showpiece of the brewery.” I have no idea what malts St. Bernardus uses, but I want to swim in a pond, nay, ocean of them. For eternity. I could go on about the nuances, but I have to reiterate, this is one of the best beers I have had in my life. PLEASE TAKE MY WORD FOR IT AND GO GET ONE RIGHT NOW. OR TOMORROW. If you don’t put this in your Top 10, I will reimburse you for your purchase. Seriously, you can track me down and get your cash. OR you can track me down and give me the BIGGEST HIGH FIVE EVER because this will likely be one of the best beers you ever have. And, if not of all beers, then ABSOLUTELY the best Quadrupel on the face of this earth. Well, BeerAdvocate rates it number 3, after Westvletern 12 (which is nearly impossible to try outside of Belgium) and the Rochefort 10.

Categories: Belgian | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

GUEST POST: Gulden Draak Ale

Beer:  Gulden Draak Ale
Brewery: Brouwer Van Steenberge
Style: Dark Tripel
ABV: 10.5%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: None/Bottle
Drinking Establishment: NJ Transit: NJ Coastline Train
Primary Consumer: Jason**, polyinstrumental Washington Heights resident extraordinaire
Guest Reviewer Qualifications: An avid beer drinker (albeit, champion of the macro-lager)

**FOR THE RECORD THIS PHOTOGRAPH IS NOT OF JASON. IT IS, HOWEVER, A PHOTO OF A YOUNG SATYR ON NEW JERSEY TRANSIT DRINKING A BEER. (THANKS, GOOGLE IMAGES, YOU RULE.)

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Since I was drinking on the train, I opted for the straight-out-of-the-bottle approach. This bottle is dark brown with an all-over white label to shield it from the light. I tried to look down inside through the opening but then realized how strange I probably appeared to the other passengers and ceased my investigation. It is a dark beer in a very dark bottle.

Scent: Strong alcohol scent. Not good for inconspicuous train drinking. In my estimation I attracted more suspicious and/or disapproving glances than usual but there may have been other contributing factors.

Flavor: Compared to other Tripels that I have had, the Golden Dragon (named for the statue on the top of the Belfry of Ghent) has a strong and enjoyable flavor. I confess to having been unable to isolate any of the “notes” in this beer, or most other beers for that matter. I can vaguely attest to a “spicy” finish but that may just be the high ABV messing with me. I never really taste flowers or fruits or anything like that when I’m drinking. While this may be viewed as an admission of an unsophisticated taste and might conceivably be perceived as ignorance in terms of beer connoisseurship, I prefer to think that my own sensory experience is one that is completely integrated and exists on such a level that language proves to be inadequate to explain my own subjective taste experience (there is only one word for love cliché, etc.). If you think that I am trying to compensate for a lack of appropriate beer-snobbishness with philosophically pretentious rhetoric, you are probably correct. Guilty–and so what? I propose that if you drink one of these beers before continuing reading that you will hate my review far less.

Feel: Smooth and warm.

Concluding remarksSpeaking of love…my review can be summed up as follows: “I love this beer.”  This was my first experience with the Dragon, but it will certainly not be my last. My problem with a lot of these kinds of beers is that I like to drink one and then move on to something else.

When I finished this beer I wished that I had another with me. I could drink this instead of an ice tea or something, perhaps even out of a water bottle while jogging in the winter. This beer is going to get considerable rotation in the future playlist of my drinking.

Some practical considerations:  In the context of train drinking, this beer had some significant positive attributes. First, it made the kids screaming behind me way less annoying. I didn’t quite find their screams cute or anything, but
it became progressively more tolerable as the beer was consumed and I didn’t change seats. Secondly, although I don’t usually get hassled about drinking on the train, the white label and foreign language on it make me think that it could conceivably be passed off as an energy drink. Lastly, due to it’s higher alcohol percentage in less volume than my normal train ride companions (2 tall boys of Budweiser bought in Penn station), I did not have to make the precarious journey to the NJ transit restroom facility. For those of you who are unfamiliar with such a journey, it consists of airplane style toilets, nonfunctioning sinks, and lines that always seem to move at a pace of one passenger per stop.  Inside the bathroom while the train moves on past where I get off? Not today.

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THANK YOU, JASON! I’m sure our doting fan base welcomes a day without descriptions of sugarplums, fluffy clouds, tulips, or other trite beerspeak adjectives.

We are always looking for interested and interesting beer consumers to review a brew we might not have seen or had time to review in the month. Let us know if you’d like to contribute something, in exchange for internet fame, a line on your resume, an unpaid internship, a free ride, a huge tax rebate, a happy ending, and everything else everyone else has promised you in life. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.  Email us at wunderassn@gmail.com!

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Avery The Reverend

Beer:  The Reverend
Brewery: Avery Brewing Company
Style: Quadrupel
ABV: 10.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Wine glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Cloudy amber body with a small little beige head and tiny little carbonation bubbles.

Scent: Delightfully sweet aroma of caramel and candied cherries and raisins. Waft of maple at the end.

Flavor: TONS OF FLAVOR. There’s a truckload of chocolate, cherry, and clove in here. While delicious, it does not do a good job of disguising the 10.0% ABV. At the end, I just taste chocolate-flavored vodka. And at the very end, a slight trace of smoky-bacon (what?)

Feel: Prickly carbonation on a thin-to-medium body.

Concluding remarks: I enjoyed the first few sips…but The Reverend is just a tad too bold in his delivery and message. It’s not balanced by any hops or bitterness, which is its downfall.

Avery’s Quadruple almost exclusively comes in a 750ml, which is really just too much for one human being to drink in one sitting without feeling like they have been roughened up by an ocean of sugar and alcohol. Okay while that actually sounds pretty alright, it’s quite challenging to endure the whole bottle. I’m giving it a go as I write, but truthfully, I’m going to try to pawn some off on my roommates right now…..

All in all, this is a pretty good attempt at a Quadruple; congrats Avery. I bet having a 10 oz. on draft would be the most enjoyable way to experience The Reverend.

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Sierra Nevada Ovila Quad

Beer:  Ovila Quad
Brewery: Sierra Nevada
Style: American Quadruple
ABV: 10.4%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Tulip glass
Drinking Establishment: The Distillery, Savannah, GA
Primary Consumer: Ally
Consumption Companions: SCADinavians

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark, root-beer brown with reddish tinge.  No head by the time it was served.

Scent: Really, it had no discernible scent.  Perhaps some maltiness and the typical yeastiness one would expect, but the scent of our Pretzel Treasures appetizer overpowered the beer.

Flavor: Figs and yeast, with just a little bit of sweet maltiness and a hint of spice (cloves, to be exact).

Feel: Balanced and smooth.  Medium carbonation.

The Ovila Project is Sierra Nevada’s special collaboration with the Trappist monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux, located just a few miles down the road from the brewery in California.  In addition to a Dubbel and a Saison, the Ovila Quad is created in the centuries-old tradition of monastic brewing–which means you get a high ABV brew that doesn’t taste like it has a high ABV!  Yep, this is one smooth criminal here, but overall, the flavor this Quad has to offer falls short of spectacular.  It isn’t bad for an American take on the Quad, but in general, still kind of average.

Regardless, you can feel good knowing that a portion of the proceeds from sales go toward the restoration of the historic Ovila chapter house building on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux!

Concluding remarks: Better than most American Belgians, this sippable Quad is worth a try if nothing else strikes your fancy on the beer menu; or, if you have a hankering for a Heineken but happen to be at the Distillery.

The Distillery: no crap, only craft.

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Ommegang Abbey Ale

Beer:  Ommegang Abbey Ale
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 8.5%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Wine glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Opaque deep copper body. Tall tan head brimming with carbonation bubbles. Thick lacing on glass.

Scent: Caramelized brown sugar, raisins, and Belgian yeast.

Flavor: Layered flavors–raisins and nuts at front, citrus at back. Underlying taste of dark bread. Lingering flavor of anise and clove.

Feel: Thin-to-medium, slightly creamy mouthfeel with perfect carbonation.

Concluding remarks: Ommegang’s Abbey Ale is one of the best, if not the best, Dubbel I have had this month. While perhaps a little more intense than the traditional Belgian Dubbel style, the rich fruit and candy flavor profile is highly enjoyable. Try this; you’ll forget that this beer wasn’t brewed by the hands of the holy and was actually divined 3,264 miles from Belgium.

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