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Gastronomic Fight Club SM

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Friday, December 07, 2007

BEER REVIEW: Holiday Brews

posted by snekse
I love beer in the winter. A nice hearty beer with nutty malts goes perfect with a hot bowl of stew as you pack in to relax and let the snow outside do what it will. So this month's Beer Session, Winter Seasonal Releases, was a chance to find some new brews to hang in my refrigerator stocking.

I was really hoping to make it to Beertopia's Holiday Beer Tasting event, but inclement weather put the kabosh on that. Instead, I had to settle on what I already had in my fridge and a quick trip to the store to add something new to the mix. In all, we'll be reviewing 6 beers. For all of the beers I missed at Beertopia, be sure to check out Brent Udron's article, Holiday Beer, Holiday Cheer! : A guide to the season's 'winter warmers'.

Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic
Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)
Style: Lambic - Fruit
ABV: 5.90 %

Appearance: Peach-Apricot-Orange in color. Very pretty actually. A decent head that dissipated in a standard American craft brew amount of time.

Smell: Cranberry, honey, something toasty, almost a toasted oak.

Taste: Ginger ale mixed with sour, tart and bitter cranberries and a backing of wheat.

Mouthfeel: A light-medium body. At least the perception of being higher than average in carbonation.

Drinkability: Borderline doesn't taste like a beer. Think a Mike's hard Cranberry or something. Actually it tastes a little like that Budweiser energy drink that came out a year or two ago.

appearance: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | mouthfeel: 2.5 | drinkability: 2
Overall: 2.5

Samuel Adams Black Lager
Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)
Style: Schwarzbier
ABV: 4.90 %

Appearance: A nice dark brown appearance that borders on being black. Looks like a deep rich porter. The head is a nice pale caramel color. Decent lacing.

Smell: Nose of the typical dark malt blends. Coffee, chocolate, etc... There is a little hop or yeast that sets it apart from a porter.

Taste: Pretty much as one would expect, though the coffee profile seemed to grab for more attention than the other dark roasts. There is a nice spice from the hops to keep this from being overly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Body on the lighter side of medium or heavier side of light. Finishes pretty dry.

Drinkability: Not bad. I can't see myself drinking a lot of these at once, but I wouldn't turn one down.

appearance: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 3 | drinkability: 3.5
Overall: 3.75

Samuel Adams Holiday Porter
Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)
Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.90 %

Appearance: A really deep dark brown. Think coffee liqueur. There is some slight reddish-brown almost cherry wood color around the edges. A really nice thick khaki colored head.

Smell: Smells almost like a typical porter, though a little more chocolatey. Almost too much. You have to do a little digging to find the hops in the aroma.

Taste: Not a malt bomb, but lots of chocolate, roasted nuts on this. Sweeter and smoother than the Black Lager, but not overly sweet. Finishes slightly hoppy.

Mouthfeel: Medium-to-full bodied. A fairly smooth drink ability with just enough carbonation to not leave a syrupy coating on your tongue.

Drinkability: Though not my favorite porter, it's very respectable and even a bit unique I think for an American porter.

appearance: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | mouthfeel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Overall: 3.7

Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale
Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 5.60 %

Appearance: Like a copper nut brown ale. A thin tan head. Nothing much to really look at.

Smell: Christmas spices. The label says cinnamon, ginger and orange, though I'd never pick any of those out without reading the label first. Even the malt isn't very strong on the nose. Just smells like -- Christmas?

Taste: One of my favorites out of the winter sampler pack. A unique flavor simply because there aren't a lot of truly spiced beers mass marketed. Can definitely taste the orange and cinnamon, though the ginger is a bit harder to detect. The caramel malt is lightly roasted, so it has some additional vanilla character. Not cloying or over spiced.

Mouthfeel: Really not much to say. Good and matches expectations.

Drinkability: I could drink two, but probably not more. I would probably pick some up each year if I didn't have to buy a whole 6-pack or an entire winter sampler to get it.

appearance: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4
Overall: 3.9

Samuel Adams Winter Lager
Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)
Style: Bock
ABV: 5.80 %

Appearance: I'm not really sure what to call the color. Kind of a mix of Copper/Rust/Peach. A surprising head for something that bills itself as a lager.

Smell: Smells like a winter lager, whatever that means. Hops, burnt sugar, orange, maybe banana, with some winter spices.

Taste: Toasted malts, some grain and hop bitterness. Very well balanced as none of these dominate and they each take fore several times with each taste.

Mouthfeel: Rich-ich for a light bodied beer. Finishes clean and crisp.

Drinkability: A good beer. Nothing special, but very drinkable.

appearance: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Overall: 3.8

Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale
Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 6.00 %

Appearance: Pretty to look at. Amber and apricot with jewel tones. The head is weak.

Smell: Not as intense as I would expect from a cask conditioned ale. Was looking for more wood, char and bourbon notes. Even the vanilla scents were very strong until I allowed it to get up to almost room temperature.

Taste: I was just hoping for more from this beer. I wanted to give Anheuser the benefit of the doubt, but they just didn't pull through. You can tell it's a bud product. It has that rice beer taste that only a Bud product has. Not that it's a bad thing, just that it's there. Some basic winter spices, vanilla most prevalent on the finish. Missing that punch of a good winter beer.

Mouthfeel: Far too light to be a good "winter warmer".

Drinkability: Drinkable, but I wouldn't buy it again.

appearance: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | mouthfeel: 2.5 | drinkability: 3
Overall: 3.15

So there you have it. A selection of holiday brews to put in someone's stocking this winter. Hope you enjoyed. Oh, and don't forget to come back December 10th as we raffle off some Nebraska Wagyu Beef!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Local Brews: A Field Guide

posted by snekse

Session #4: Local Brews Round-Up

There are so many great local beers that it would be a shame to miss trying some when you are out traveling this summer. With that, we present to you a field guide to local beers.

This guide was compiled as part of a blogging event where bloggers from around the world were invited to participate. The response was amazing. Far more than I was expecting, so sorry for the delay on the round-up.

If we missed your post or you just want to add to this guide, please . To learn more about this event, read the announcement. Support your local breweries and brew pubs. Drink Local!



Bostonbeerman covered beer from the great city of...Portsmouth, NH! He covers one of his favorite beers, theSmuttynose IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Company. From the description it sounds like a Belgian IPA; Is there such a thing? Either way, it sounds pretty good, even to a malt fan like myself. He also gives some brief mentions to other great beers in the Boston area, as if you might be interested in that :-)

Smita has created a nice beer guide for Rochester, NY. He also features The Old Toad Nut Brown Ale brewed exclusively for The Old Toad Pub by Custom Brewcrafters' sounds like it follows the classic stylings.

Ron over at the popular Hop Talk has a nice review up for the C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station A.K.A. "the Pump Station" in Albany,NY. It sounds as if you can't go wrong with any of their beers, so just order your favorite style. He also details several other breweries worth checking out within driving distance of Albany.

Donavan Hall covers the Long Island, NY beer scene in the form of Podcasts. For this Session, he chose to review The Southampton Publick House's 10th Anniversary Old Ale which looks absolutely amazing in the picture posted. The taste description included something I've never heard before in a beer tasting - Port or Madeira profiles. That picture, port, a beer that's built for aging and they ship - that's a dangerous combination.

Al, one of the contributor over at Hop Talk gets better acquainted with his new home in Washington, DC. Since he's already covered several brew pubs in the area, he tackles Wild Goose Brewery which was recently purchased by Flying Dog Ales. Of the beers he tried, Oatmeal Stout and IPA seemed to be the top picks. He also makes a good point that drinking locally is both good for the local economy as well as the environment.

Beer Haiku Daily
Spotlight on Baltimore brews
With three Local Ales

Lew Bryson gets really local and presses people in the Philadelphia, PA area to start supporting their local brewers. To help squelch the Philly summer heat, he popped open a one-batch draft-only special brew called Sexy Sister by Yards Brewing Company. From the sound of it, this was one among many great breweries in the city.

Bryan & Adam at The Brew Lounge have put together a 3-part article about General Lafayette Inn & Brewery located in Lafayette Hill, PA (near Philadelphia). Though they seem to disagree on which beers they had were the best, you can read their tasting notes to decide for yourself what you think. General Lafayette has several interesting offerings including vintage cellar-aged beers!


The always fun to read Barley Blog picked up 3 beers from Williamsburg AleWerks in Williamsburg, VA to determine which side of the mixed reviews they agree with. They picked up the Chesapeake Pale Ale, the Colonial Wheat Ale and Washington's Porter. The verdict? BarleyBlog says "their beers, especially the porter, are just too much of a temptation not to make the detour and visit." I'm not sure I'd detour for the first two, but the porter sounds intriguing with a taste profile shared with cigars. I had a very similar beer recently and loved that aspect of it.

J. at brewvana covers two beers from Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh, NC. First he talks about their delicious sounding cask conditioned Double Tavern Ale, then also describes their fruity and spicy Hell's Belle Belgian Blond as being the perfect accompaniment with a slice of pumpkin pie. As an insider tip, he also recommends checking out the tour on the second Saturday of each month.

Rick Lyke of Lyke 2 Drink covers Charlotte, NC by trying a classic Summer Wheat from RockBottom Brewery.

Session first timer, Bottles of Barley represents Atlanta well by providing write-ups on two of the more intriguing beers of this Session. Both of these beers push the envelope and are along the lines of the "extreme beer" movement brews taking hold in some regions. The first of these beers is the Rye Pale Ale from Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, GA. Rye is added to provide a light grainy malt flavor to pair with the orange rind flavored hops. The second beer is Road Trip from SweetWater Brewing Company. The beer is made from a double pilsner recipe, but the lager yeast is replaced with ale yeast. The result is something Bottles of Barley describes as the world's first Imperial Cream Ale!

Dann Drinks Beer and is willing to share his insights with us by covering the Midnight Pass Porter from Sarasota Brewing Company, in Sarasota, FL. He admits the brewery doesn't have the best beer in the world, but believes the Porter is their best offering. Even at that, he only gives it a 3.5/5. Thanks for the honest review Dann.


KevBrews points out the startling fact that Dayton, OH has zero breweries and has to look towards Cincinnati, OH to find Mt. Carmel Brewing Company's Blonde Ale. KevBrew indicates that both the Blonde Ale and the Copper Ale from this increasingly popular brewery would make great session beers.

Beer aficionado Jack Farris from The Beer Tap provides coverage of an area with a rich brewing history - Milwaukee, WI. For this session he went with the award winning Wisconsin Belgian Red from New Glarus Brewing Company. With a dominant cheery presense, "you either love it or hate it". Also mentioned and previously posted about, is the Lakefront Brewery, who's Bock I recently sampled at the Beertopia Bockfest, which sounds to be like their other beers - good but not great.

Snekse at Gastronomic Fight Club covered Upstream Brewing Company and the Omaha brew pub scene. Besides the entire beer flight being sampled, the highly rated Grand Cru was also tasted.


What brew pub guide would be complete without at least one entry from Oregon? Brewerman of brewerman.com covers this region for us and gives us two award winning breweries. On his not-to-miss recommendations list, you'll find Inversion IPA, Cask Bachelor Bitter, Nitro Obsidian Stout and Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery and Elk Lake India Pale Ale and Outback Old Ale from Bend Brewing Company. Reading the descriptions, it's easy to understand why Oregon is one of the meccas of the craft brewing world. He also has good things to say about The Abyss and Mirror Mirror barley wine from Deschutes. Both breweries are in Bend, OR, about 3 hours Southeast of Portland.

Jon at The Brew Site is also located in Bend, OR and also has great things to say about Deschutes Brewery. His favorite beers list includes the Black Butte Porter, the Obsidian Stout, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and their seasonal offering, Jubelale. If you're making your way out to Portland, be sure to ask Jon for some other recommendations as well since we surprisingly didn't have any participants from the heart of mecca.

Jay Brooks via Brookston Beer Bulletin has an awesome writeup of several beers tried at Moylan's in Novato, CA. He had a chance to try the Pomegranate Wheat, Ryan O’Sullvan’s Imperial Stout and a side-by-side tasting of their ESB poured through 3 different delivery systems (Cask, Nitro, CO2)! Sounds like a cool place. Might have to check it out the next time I'm in the Bay Area.


Those visiting the Los Angeles, CA area, may want to seek out the Triple White Sage by Craftsman Brewing Company which is available only on tap in the LA area. This beer sounds insanely good with fragrances of sage complementing a Belgian style triple white. Thanks to Dave at HAIR OF THE DOG DAVE for sharing his notes.

Late to the party, Beer Sage visits Port Brewing Company in San Marcos, CA which is about 40 miles outside of San Diego. While there he samples the Lost Abbey ales which he describes as "Belgian-style ales with a California twist".

With the only true Southwestern entry, Stan at Appellation Beer, waxes about the beauty of an IPA on those first days for summer, contending that if New Mexico has a state beer adjective, it would be "hoppy". Though he was unable to get an IPA on the day in question, he did get a chance to try the Summer Farm Ale at Corrales Bistro Brewery. And for those of you who didn't already know, Stan was the one who first proposed a Beer Blogging Day.

Tedo from Barley Vine is a big fan of Saint Arnold's Brewery in Houston, TX. For this session, he reviewed the Saint Arnold's Elissa Cask ale, a version of their Elissa IPA. Reading about all these cask conditioned IPAs makes me want to rethink my hop aversion.


From Toronto, ON Canada, Greg Clow of Beer, Beats & Bites breaks out of his "gotta try something new" conditioning and goes back to an oldie, but goodie with Black Oak Pale Ale from Black Oak Brewery. And yes, beer is one of the many topics we cover here at GFC.
Alan at A Good Beer Blog seems a little touchy that I set guidelines for this event, but don't be mad at him. I'd be upset too if I couldn't find a decent beer brewed within 150 miles of me. He was kind enough to provide us with some insight to what he drinks at the Kingston Brewing Company which is about 200km from Ottawa. Just be thankful I didn't take the advice of others and demand a 50 mile radius!

Stephen Beaumont double fists it with two separate blogs. On thatsthespirit.com he focuses on the Steamwhistle Pilsner from Steamwhistle Brewing Company in Toronto which sounds like nice summer brew for those really hot days. For his other local brew, he took advantage of being on the Scottish island of Islay by reviewing the hoppy Single Malt Ale from Islay Ales for On The House. I wasn't aware that highly hopped ales were hard to find in Scottland. Hop heads out there will likely enjoy this beer, though the Angus Og Ale sounds more to my style.


Though boakandbailey is located in London, things prevented them from reviewing the places they had originally planned. Instead, they bring us a great review of Lion Stout by Ceylon Brewery from Sri Lanka. Described as "dessert and coffee in one sweet decadent glass", it sounds to be right up my alley.

The Beer Nut had things a little rough this month. Being based out of Dublin, Ireland, and living next to Guinness at St. James's Gate, he had to look a little harder for a brewery with a little less mass distribution. He took one for the team and tried the Porter and the Bock from Messrs Maguire brewpub. Neither were spectacular, though the Porter was good enough to order again.

Stephen Beaumont double fists it with two separate blogs. On thatsthespirit.com he focuses on the Steamwhistle Pilsner from Steamwhistle Brewing Company in Toronto which sounds like nice summer brew for those really hot days. For his other local brew, he took advantage of being on the Scottish island of Islay by reviewing the hoppy Single Malt Ale from Islay Ales for On The House. I wasn't aware that highly hopped ales were hard to find in Scottland. Hop heads out there will likely enjoy this beer, though the Angus Og Ale sounds more to my style.


Ed profiles Emerald Hill Brewery in South Melbourne, Vic, Australia clears the air about Fosters.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

BEER REVIEW: Upstream Brewing Co.

posted by snekse

Session #4: Local Brews

As the host of this month's Session, I thought pretty long about which brew pub I wanted to feature for our Drink Local theme. A quick search shows at least 5 qualified candidates that I could have chosen from here in Omaha.

Omaha Breweries and Brew Pubs

For me, the first one that jumped into my head was Upstream Brewing Company. It's probably the biggest and most well known in the city with two locations, one in the historic Old Market downtown and the other on the complete opposite side of the city in West Omaha. But was this really the best choice?

Well, after weighing my options it seems so. Granite City Food & Brewery is based out of St. Louis Park, MN; That disqualified it as did the fact that they mix the wort off site. Jaipur Brewing Company makes a jalapeño beer that I've always wanted to try, but they're really more known for their food than their beer. The Nebraska Brewing Co. just plain isn't open yet and Aksarben Brewing Co. is no longer open. Then there's Jobber's Canyon Restaurant & Brewery. To be honest I really don't know much about them, but I've heard from others that it seems as if the owners just decided to open a brew pub because they're trendy and attract tourists (which is perfect given their Old Market location). And since they are no where near my house, I didn't feel bad for not picking them.

And finally we have Lazlo's Brewery and Grill, which is actually the closest to my house, but since they are really out of Lincoln, that's strike one. Strike two is that they don't brew the beer on the premises and strike three is that they don't even brew their own beer! How do you not brew your own beer and get to use the word "brewery" in your name? They used to brew their own beer, but split the brewing part off into a separate company - Empyrean Brewing Company. Sadly, it is also the oldest brewery currently in operation in the state of Nebraska, founded all the way back in 1990. Yes, you read that right. That's not to say Empyrean doesn't make a decent beer, just that Lazlo's is disqualified from being a "brewery" in my book.

The Beers of Upstream Brewing Co.

So now we have our brew pub - now what beer should we have? Well, I've recently discovered that I don't have the vocabulary and/or palate and/or knowledge to describe a beer beyond it's standard style profile. To accurately describe the differences between two Nut Brown Ales that I'm not tasting side-by-side is something I've not yet worked up to. So I decided to try them all and just take some basic quick notes. The larger take away will be just what I thought in general of the beers. In addition to the flight I ordered at their Legacy location, I also picked up a special 750ml bottling of their August 2005 Belgian Style Grand Cru which is being distributed by the local Whole Foods.

To preface my notes, you should be aware that I have a bias towards darker beers. I tend to enjoy porters, bocks and stouts. I do drink almost any style, though I shy away from bitter beers such as IPA's and ESB's. Also, the flight was tasted with Upstream's Fish & Chips, while the Grand Cru was drank at home with (leftover) Blonde Pizza. Now on with the notes (or just check out my cheat sheet).

O! Gold Light Beer - Basic Bud Light, just a little creamier.

Honey Raspberry Ale - I've never understood why people mix fruit flavorings in beer. I have yet to have one I liked. This tasted like raspberry soda mixed with beer. Like a Mike's Hard Raspberry or something.

Gold Coast Blonde - Heavier in style. Reminds me of Michelob. Would rather have a Budweiser than this. Maybe I just need a bratwurst to go with this.

American Wheat - Initially hard to taste beyond the lemon in the glass. Very easy to drink and better than most wheat beers I've had. Great summer beer.

Capitol Premium Pale Ale - Very nice. Interesting spice blend. Very distinctive taste. And for some reason I had a note about fish water. Why, I don't know.

Firehouse ESB - Didn't mind it, but it's still not something I'd order.

Double India Pale Ale - Actually really nice! Smells (and kind of tastes) like bug spray, but I guess for some reason that's okay to me... It has an almost floral character to it. Some minor honey notes as well. This has convinced me that I need to try a dry-hopped beer. If I can get the same aromas and tastes without as much bitterness, I'm all on board.

Dundee Export Scotch Ale - This has always been one of my favorite beers. It's like candy. The scotch flavor is subtle, but definitely there. It didn't quite appeal to me the same way after drinking through 70% of the flight, but I know this beer well enough to recommend it.

Blackstone Stout - Weak in body, but lots of coffee upfront, chocolate on the finish. Very drinkable. You could tell just from the mouth feel that this was a very low alcohol beer. Just 4.4% ABV. A session stout.

Sunshine Lager (Seasonal Brew) - Opps, I drank this last. Probably a mistake. My only note is "Blah. Better with food. Basic."

Cask Conditioned Ales - No cask conditioned ale for me. It's only served in their downtown location. BOOOOOOOO.

Upstream Grand Cru (Brewed Aug 2005)This beer is nothing like I expected. It's far better. The color was much different than I was expecting. I was told this is the same as their Belgian-Style Tripel with some additional yeasts, so I was expecting something a little darker. The brewers notes ("Earth, Honey, Citrus, Oak") are almost dead on, though I'd say the fruit is more of a stone fruit, like peach or apricot. What's so unusual is the fact that the fruit is obviously there, but it's so subdued that it doesn't get in the way of the other complexities playing tag with your taste buds. The thing that struck me most was the oak. Just the aromas of this beer immediately made me think of a wine tasting we did at a where the tasting itself was done next to mountains of oak barrels filled with wine. It was the exact same smell. This easily makes my top 25 list. (For more information about this beer, see the update below)

So there you have it, one beer fan's opinion of 11 beers from Omaha's Upstream Brewing Company. If you'd like a second opinion, feel free to peruse the notes on beeradvocate.com. Also be sure to check out brewmaster Zac Triemert's tasting notes, the origins of some of the names and the cool logos for each beer on the Upstream website. Hopefully all these will help you decide if Upstream needs to go on your "to drink" list or not.

Oh, and if there's a spirits blogging event, Upstream will be starting to make their own distilled spirits in the very near future. How cool is that?

I got the following information from brewmaster Zac regarding the Grand Cru.
The Grand Cru is essentially the same beer as the Belgian Specialty Ale (BSA). In 2004 we brewed the BSA, oak aged it for one year, bottled it and it was a good beer. In 2005 we did the same thing and used the same barrels. However, when we bottled it in 2006, I noticed that the beer was amazing; the best we had ever produced. So I decided that the beer was worthy of the wine nomenclature, Grand Cru – meaning the best of the best. The reason it was better than the year before is due to the yeast that have taken up residence in the oak barrel from the first year. I am very excited to see how this year’s vintage turns out. It will be bottled in July 2007 and available no later than November 2007.

Session #4: Local Brews Round-up (A Field Guide)
Omaha Brunch Bunch: Part 1
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Upstream Brewing Company (Coming soon)

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Local Brews Event

posted by snekse
Hops. Malt. Water. Yeast.

So simple, yet so complex.

As I mentioned in March, beer is coming to Gastronomic Fight Club. And in June it will be here in a big way. I'll be hosting Session #4: Local Brews.

Since I have this bizarre need to be different, I decided this month's Session theme would not focus on a particular style, region or time of year. Instead, I'd like to create a guide book of tasting notes to drinking local.

The idea here is to be as helpful as possible for visitors to your area. What is the beer/brewery/brewpub that you feel is quintessential to your city? What do the locals drink? What could a tourist drink that would make them feel like they've found something special; something that they're going to miss when they go home?

Here are the rules:
  • You can pick anything commercially made within 150 miles of your house, but try to pick the brewery or brewpub closest to your house (NOTE: the average American lives within 10 miles of a craft brewery).
  • You can select any beer or even a sampler if you want.
  • If you select a single beer, let us know why you choose this beer (e.g. favorite,seasonal,limited edition, best seller).
  • Preferably you'll shy away from beers with wide distribution outside your immediate area.
So if you'd like to join us, post your tasting notes on Friday, June 1st, 2007. After your post is up, shoot me an with the words "Session #4" in the subject line. Include your name, the name of your blog, the URL to your post, the name of the brewery or brew pub that made the beer(s) you drank, where the place is located, the name and style of the beer(s) you drank and lastly, a general description of the availability of the beer(s). If you don't have a blog, email me your notes and I'll include them in the round up.

To help find ideas close to you, try Google Maps. Here are the breweries and brew pubs in Omaha. Just change the zip code and you might be surprised at what comes up. Or let someone else do the work for you:
Beer Mapping Project


Session #4: Local Brews Round-up (A Field Guide)
BEER REVIEW: Upstream Brewing Company (Omaha, NE)
BYOB: Dubbels
American Craft Beer Week (May 14-20, 2007)

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Friday, April 06, 2007

BYOB: Dubbels

posted by snekse
It's interesting how the same great idea can form at the same time from two different people who have no contact with each other. Back in about mid-January I was wondering why there wasn't a blogging event for beer that was similar to Wine Blogging Wednesday. I was not the only one.

Granted I think I had with a better name in mind and could have promoted the event a little better, but never the less, it's easier to join and help, than compete. So with that, I throw my hat into The Session.

Unfortunately I missed the first Session (Stouts), but I'll make up for it by covering double the Dubbels. A Dubbel is a style of beer popularized in Belgium that is characterized by a balance of malt and hops with a spiciness, mild fruit aromas and a slightly higher alcohol level. You can read more about this style on BeerAdvocate.com

The first beer I reviewed was a dubbel I just happened to pick up from Beertopia a couple of weeks earlier knowing nothing about the theme for this month's Session. The second beer I chose because it's very popular and available at most well stocked stores. It turns out picking blind was the way to go.

On with the beer!

Abbey Belgian Style Ale

From: New Belgium Brewing Inc.
Location: Colorado, United States
Style: Dubbel

appearance: 4
A nice range of colors starting from a deep golden honey running to a dark amber of goldish-red. Slightly cloudy from the remaining yeast. The head consisted of a nice layer of dense foam that had respectable retention and lacing.

smell: 3.5
Mostly just a blend of spice, malt and yeast with underpinnings of hops and a bit of an apple cider fruitiness. I have to agree with others that there is a faint smell of fermented bananas in here.

taste: 3.5
Good balance between malts and hops. Complexity brought with clove like spice. Fruit wasn't as present as it was on the nose.

mouthfeel: 4
Definitely drink out of a wide mouth glass at the recommended temperature. Doing so accentuates the creaminess. Otherwise the mouthfeel is closer to a Bud Light. I thought the carbonation was completely inline with the dubbel style.

drinkability: 3.5
Not something I'd want to drink more than 2 of. Would probably go quite well with food, especially beef stew or some goulash.

overall: 3.65
Not a bad beer at all, but not an outstanding beer either. In general, I'd say I'm just not a dubbel person, but I could drink this occasionally.

Chimay Première (Red)

From: Bières de Chimay (Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont)
Location: Belgium
Style: Dubbel

Okay, I'm copping out on this one a bit, but only because I want to be fair. I think I got a bad bottle or something. This beer smelled and tasted skunky like a bad home brew. Maybe it was because I stored the bottle on it's side which the back label expressly dissuades. My theory is storing it up right allows the remaining yeast to settle to the bottom which would allow you to pour carefully and prevent basically decant your beer. If anyone knows the reason for not storing on it's side, please let me know.

*** UPDATE ***
You can read the round up on Alan McLeod's site.
Session 2: The Day Of The Dubbels Is Here!

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