Sunday, 18 August 2013

Born in Belgium

Generic heading with a beer pun or possibly a double entendre
I'm still new to this blogging lark, and I'm wary of my reviews sounding a bit too... pretentious. I mean at the end of the day, beer, is beer, is beer. It tends to smell like beer and taste like beer. But there are subtle differences that I’m keen to highlight without verging into total wine snob territory – i.e. “it smells of Christmas and bouncy balls” when actually it smells of wine (and in some case vinegar). I know at times I probably do head down that road (and please feel free to pull me up on it). It's a bad habit and one I'm fighting, as beer shouldn't be elitist. The best thing about beer is that everyone can find, buy, and enjoy good beer without spending a fortune or talking too much bollocks about it.

And now more pretentious beer bollocks from me...

Going though “1001 Beers...” has really made me see how brilliant many Belgian beers are. No one does it quite like the Belgian's, well almost no-one...

Beer 91
  • Goose Island Matilda. Style: Belgian Strong Ale, ABV: 7%.

    Description: Amber with a small white head that disappeared quickly. Lovely sour aroma from the brett yeast. Great sweet/sour taste with some spice and fruit banana like fruits – more fruit came though as it warmed up. Mid mouth feel, with a little fizz.
    Thoughts: I had this one ages ago (thus number 91) in the states, but thought it was worth revisiting. This is the yanks showing they can do a Belgian ale, and it's brilliant. Complex, yet refreshing and drinkable. Available at Light House Wines – go get some!
    Score: 8.5 (Apparently it ages well, though who could keep it in their fridge long enough to find out?)

An actual Belgian this time and Beer 67 not from “1001 Beers...”
  • Staffe Hendrik Quad. Style: Belgian Quad, ABV: 11%.
    Description: Pours dark brown with a small tan head. Smells like rocket fuel and I'm pretty sure it is. Very syrupy with a slightly sour finish. A little dark fruit, sort of fig roll like (man, I haven't had a fig roll in years...). A little fizz.
    Thoughts: This beer rates very highly on a number of tasting websites. I kinda see why. It's big, it's complex, and it's got an ABV that could fuel your car. However, while most Belgian beers tend to disguise their ABV, I can taste every bit of this. For me, its just a wee bit too much and I didn't actually finish it as I didn’t want to be blocked for the next week...
    Score: 6.5

Now a move to England and beer 66 not from “1001 Beers”
  • Partizan Brewing Foreign Export Stout. Style: Stout/Foreign Stout, ABV: 8.7%.
    Description: Jet black with a decent tan head. Toasted malt and chocolate aromas. Lots of coffee, dark chocolate, and almost burnt malt flavours. Thick with a little fizz.
    Thoughts: Jesus, you couldn't accuse this beer of being bland, weak or tasteless. A really nice stout. You can taste the ABV but it makes it a warming experience. First I’ve had to challenge Brooklyn's Chocolate Stout and Ola Dubh – its not quite that good but it gives it a real go. Looking forward to trying more Partizan Brewing beers
    Score: 8.

I also had a Menabrea Biere. I'm not a fan of Pale lagers generally, and this did nothing further to convince me. Not a bad pale lager if you’re into them, finishes with some hops and a wee bit of bitterness, but overall its just meh. Score: 5

Hilden Beer Festival
Just one more thing, the 2013 Hilden Beer and Music Festival takes place this coming weekend from 23rd to 25th August. I've never been before (to my shame), but I heard great things and I really hope to get up there this weekend. Come support a local brewer!


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