Posts Tagged With: Quadrupel

St. Bernadus Christmas Ale

Beer: Christmas Ale
Brewery:
 Brouwerij St. Bernadus
Style: Belgian Quadrupel
ABV: 10.0%

bern

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Opaque, dark brown body with a seriously massive beige head that looks like meringue. There are huge bubbles trapped inside this dense head, and I swear, the head twinkles with sparkles.

Smell: It smells slightly ester and apple-y. There’s also an underlying metallic note.

Flavor: This is one malty Belgian. We have some of the usual Belgian flavors–raisins, molasses, figs–spiked with a melange of holiday spices

Feel: Medium, creamy body with awesome carbonation.

Concluding Remark: St. Bernadus offers a Christmas Ale that is malty, sweet, and just a little bit spicy. This is one of those beers that stick to your ribs, and to your lips. St. Bernadus takes their near perfect Quadrupel, and adds some some additional ingredients (mint?). As the beer sits, more and more different delectable dessert flavors come forth. All in one sip, I get some sticky toffee pudding, stewed fruits, tres leches cake, banana bread, licorice candy, and molasses cookies. While it is the holiday season, and sharing is an appropriate gesture this time of year, I recommend sneaking off with this for 20 minutes mid-holiday party. Even for the most un-spirited, you’ll come back with a little pep/drunken stupor in your step.

Categories: Belgian, Holiday | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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.

Categories: Belgian | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Belgian | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Weyerbacher Quad

Beer:  Quad
Brewery: Weyerbacher
Style: Quadrupel
ABV: 11.8%

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

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Murky, near opaque, ruby-amber body with one-inch beige head upon pour that simmers to a thin velvety head with myriad carbonation bubbles. Lacing lingers on the glass.

Scent: A melange of strong fruit aromas: figs, raisins, bananas, sweet cherries.

Flavor: Intense sweetness upon first few seconds, which quickly transforms into a sharp boozy bitterness. Tastes of malted caramel, walnut, candied apple, raisins, and brown sugar. A little hint of peppery spice at the end.

Feel: Medium mouthfeel with prickly carbonation. Booze lingers at the back of the throat, like downing a Scotch quickly.

Concluding remarks: Given that this boasts as much alcohol as a terrible White Zinfandel, the alcohol note is, surprisingly, not overpowering. While absolutely noticeable, the flavor of sweet fruits and nuts balances what could have otherwise been something akin to drinking rum-spiked beer. I have not been entirely impressed with American brewers’ attempts at Belgian-styled ales yet, and this does not help their plight. However, the flavor profile is just complex enough to challenge the mouth. And for that, go ahead and give this guy a try. At the very worst, you’ll leave the bar (or your kitchen, in my case) just a bit warmer.

Categories: Belgian | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Sly Fox Ichor (Quad)

Beer:  Ichor
Brewery: Sly Fox Brewing Company
Style: Quad
ABV: 10.0%

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

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Very dark amber, almost like a Porter, or root beer, or good quality maple syrup.  Perhaps even a tinge of purple?  Almost nonexistent head.

Scent: Like that of bread pudding–sweet, baked raisins and apple-cinnamon.  A note of wet wood, and a hint of hops/metallic aroma.

Flavor: Like Manischewitz–no, Mad Dog 20/20 Red Grape Wine.  Okay, so obviously it tastes like grapes.  Fermented grapes.  Dried grapes.  All kinds of grapes.  And figs!  And perhaps even a bit of licorice, but not in an off-putting way.  Yeah, there’s a lot going on in the flavor department.

Feel: Thin, watery body; super light carbonation.

This Abbey-style Quad from Pennsylvania brewers Sly Fox packs a punch of flavor.  It’s brewed with German Pils, roast malts, and Belgian candi sugar, and it’s hopped with German Tradition hops.  Despite this flavor bonanza, however, nothing really stood out for us to say about it; so it came down to the simple question of would we buy it again.  The answer?  No.  Was it awful?  No, it wasn’t; but based on our research thus far, the American Belgian-knock-offs have left us unimpressed, and Ichor unfortunately perpetuates our unimpressedness.  It did leave us feeling tipsy, though–that much we’ll say.

Something to note: Sly Fox does mention that Ichor will improve with careful aging, so if you’re willing to figure out what “careful aging” means, you might have a better-tasting beer on your hands.

Concluding remarks: Kerensa says it’s a 2 1/2 Pint Glass Beer; Ally says it’s a 3 1/2.  So, we’re calling it average and giving it a 3.

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

Belgian Ales: the 1, 2, 3s of the 2, 3, 4s

And so…onto the next month! And what better way to celebrate the month of February than with the sweet, sweet ales of the small but mighty country of Belgium?  (We’ll let the whole government-falling-apart thing slide because of their contributions to the beer world).  Surely we could write a dissertation on the history of all beer in Belgium (and surely it has been done by some genius and/or ambitious fool). But, instead of trying to tackle all of the outstanding libations Belgium has to offer, we are going to explore the 1, 2, 3s of the 2 (Dubbels), 3 (Tripels), 4s (Quads). And while we acknowledge that even this is a fool’s mission, we will do our best to paint a picture of the style, nuances, and best (and possibly worst) of these Belgian–and wannabe Belgian–ales.

But first! A brief explanation about the (non) separation of church and beer unique to Belgium. (And the Netherlands, in one instance.)

Some of the most popular and delicious Belgian beers are produced by Trappist monks (god bless their souls). The modern day Trappists (or Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance) are a Roman Catholic order of “cloistered contemplative monks” that was founded in the 1660s as a reaction to the relaxation of monastic practices. Trappist monks follow the Rules of St. Benedict, one of which states, “for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands.” Thus, Trappist monks make a number of sellable goods, including cheese, coffins, and yes, BEER!

There are 174 Trappist monasteries in the world; seven of them brew beer (six of which are in Belgium!). Trappist ales are recognized to be some of the most delicious in the world. Thus, many other monasteries and secular breweries have imitated the various Trappist styles. The International Trappist Association was founded in 1997 in order to distinguish authentic Trappist beers from the poseurs–look out for their official “Authentic Trappist Product” insignia.

As the Trappists separated their beer production from other monasteries and breweries, the other monasteries wanted to separate themselves from their secular counterparts. Thus, the Union of Belgian Breweries introduced the “Certified Belgian Abbey Ale” label, qualifications for which are that the beer must either be produced in a monastery, or the brewery must donate some percent of proceeds to a monastery.  Who knew beer could be so holy and righteous?

(Credit: The Guardian.)

 

The History of the 2

The Dubbel was brought to us for mass consumption by the kind Belgian Trappist Monks of Westmalle Abbey in 1856, allegedly. While the Abbey had been brewing beer twenty years prior, it was just a weak ol’ witbier.  (Think Hoegarden, but better.) These Monks decided that this low-alcohol-by-volume brew was not getting them toasted fast enough (it’s cold in those old Medieval monasteries, from what we hear), and thus, they decided to brew a stronger version; and it became progressively stronger as the years went on–because, really, why not?

The popularity of the Dubbel was undeniable. It was so popular, in fact, that other monasteries copied the recipe in order for their monks to also enjoy the strong brew also. Even further, the secular community was intrigued: by the late 1800s, this style was being imitated by brewers all across the Western world. The style became increasingly popular after World War II, and was dubbed the “Dubbel” by a number of breweries, part as marketing strategy, part as a way to indicate its strength.

The History of the 3

The history of Tripel also has it roots at the Westmalle Abbey. (Someone was doing something right over there!) While the style has been around for quite some time–Westmalle had released a strong blonde ale in the 1930s–it wasn’t until 1956 that the Abbey named this strong pale ale the “Tripel.” And much like the history of the Dubbel, the style and name caught on: In 1987, Koningshoeven in the Netherlands (another Trappist brewery) released  La Trappe Tripel. The style has took the secular Western world by storm post-war, and an imitation style can be found at many non-Trappist, non-Belgian breweries.

The History of the 4

Remember Koningshoeven Brewery? They are the only Trappist abbey that brews beer outside of Belgium. And they also were the only abbey that had the balls to produce La Trappe Quadrupel, a much stronger Tripel, which appeared on the market in 1991.  So even though Netherlands lost in the last World Cup, they still have a pretty kick-ass claim to fame: being the originators of the Quad.

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What to expect from the sight, scent, flavor, and feel of a 2:

As mentioned, the name “Dubbel” is derived from the fact that these brews require twice the grain as a “regular” beer, thus making them a stronger beer. Beneath a large, dense, creamy off-white head you’ll find the Dubbel’s ruby-tinged dark amber coloration, which comes from the use of dark candi sugar rather than dark roasted malts. The candi sugar, which is a Belgian sugar commonly used in brewing because it boosts the alcohol content of the beer without adding extra body, provides the sweet aromas and flavors of raisins, chocolate, or caramel. Notes of earthy qualities, such as herbs, plums, bananas, apples, spices, and black pepper, can also be found in a Dubbel. Because a relatively low amount of hops is used, the Dubbel usually has a malty sweetness, but tends to have a dry finish.  The best Dubbels are bottle-conditioned (which means the beer is unfiltered to allow for final conditioning to occur in the bottle), and this gives them a strong amount of carbonation to complement their medium-to-full body. Although you might not know it from the taste, the alcohol by volume of the mighty Dubbel is on the higher side, typically ranging from 6% to 7.5%.  Like all three of the Belgians we’ll be exploring, the Dubbel is best served at around 45-55°F in a chalice, tulip, snifter, or goblet.

USE THIS!

What to expect from the sight, scent, flavor, and feel of a 3:

If a Dubbel derives its name from using twice the grain as a typical beer, we can presume (and be correct in our presumption) that the Tripel gets its name from requiring three times the amount of grain.  The Tripel is deep yellow to golden in color–a shade or two darker than your average Pilsner–with a dense, creamy white head that usually leaves lacing on the glass. The aroma can be spicy, floral, and fruity (like an orange, or a banana), and the flavor can be lightly sweet and lightly malty, with a low-to-moderate hop bitterness that comes through mostly as a spicy or herbal quality–so all in all, pretty darn complex. Despite having an alcohol by volume of 7% to 10%, a good Tripel should not taste like one glass of it is going to get you tipsy, even though it probably will.  Despite its get-you-drunk quality, however, the Tripel should be medium-to-light-bodied, which is achieved at the brewery by adding that lovely Belgian candi sugar to the brew kettle.

What to expect from the sight, scent, flavor, and feel of a 4:

The Quadrupel, which we can correctly assume is stronger and bolder than the Dubbel and Tripel, is typically a dark brown-garnet red brew with a thick, fluffy, tan-colored head that you’d want to curl up in on a cold winter’s night.  The aroma is that of lightly roasted malts and fruitiness, with a tinge of caramel.  Again, candi sugar is added to increase the alcohol content, and as a result, the Quad is a medium- to full-bodied brew.  Its complex flavor is that of rich malty sweetness and dried fruits (like raisins and plums), with the occasional slight spiciness; no hoppy bitterness here.  Typically, traditional Trappist versions of the Quad are on the drier side, while Abbey styles tend to be sweeter.  Either way, the all-powered Quad is going to run you into the 8% to 11% alcohol-by-volume range.

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And with that…time for a four-week trip to Belgium via our beer-traveling machine.

Categories: Belgian | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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