Posts Tagged ‘geuze’

imperial stout tasting, beer bargains

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

 

after being sidelined with a nasty head cold last week, I celebrated getting back on my feet by cracking open a bottle of my imperial stout for a tasting.

  • after experiencing some carbonation issues, I hit the bottles with some wine yeast and set them down for a couple of weeks.  the new yeast did the trick, eating up the residual bottling sugar I had added earlier and carbonating up the bottles in a heartbeat.  my latest gravity reading indicates that the beer’s FG didn’t shift (it stayed at 1.02), so hopefully I won’t have to worry about the wine yeast eating some unfermented sugars and overcarbing the bottles (I’m still planning on testing a bottle every week for the next month though).
    • appearance: pitch black, even when held to the light.  1″ tan head fades to 1/4″ after a few minutes but sticks around.  a great looking beer.
    • aroma: intense roastiness with a bit of booze on the back end, slight hint of sweetness
    • taste: creamy mouthfeel with a sharp, dry finish and carbonic bite.  great roasted malt flavors but not a ton of complexity.
    • overall: this beer still isn’t my favorite, but the champagne yeast worked great and really transformed this beer.  it’s amazing how strong carbonation can completely change a beer’s profile.  hopefully the finishing bite created by the wine yeast carbonation will mellow over time.  I’m looking forward to comparing this to the version I finished with brett in the keg.

 

while kicking back with the aforementioned brew, I got to thinking about the frenzy surrounding “elite” beers here on the west coast – beers that are either exceedingly hard to find locally or costly when they do come around.  I know I’m not alone in feeling envious of locals of prominent foreign breweries who can cruise by their neighborhood watering hole at their leisure and pick up some extraordinary beverages for a song.  however, I have also come across consistent beer “bargains” on a weekly basis that (in my opinion) match the quality and complexity of their elusive style counterparts, often for a fraction of the price.

 

 

  • for example, anyone even remotely interested in craft beer has at one time lusted after a bottle of westvleteren 12, a limited-availability belgian quad that is admittedly delicious.  however, instead of shelling out $20+/bottle online or booking a flight to belgium, I recommend heading down to your local and grabbing a bottle or two of st bernardus abt 12, an equally tasty quad that goes for $4.99/bottle around here.  the similarities between the two beers are striking, which makes sense when you consider their shared history.
  • additionally, it seems that everyone and their cousin has a hard-on for anything cantillon these days.  it doesn’t help that the van roy’s creations are nowhere to be found in the state.  I have to admit, they might be my favorite foreign brewery and put out some incredible beers, but instead of chasing down cantillon’s geuze and paying a mint for it, I recommend nabbing some bottles of drie fonteinen’s oude geuze instead.  in fact, although cantillon’s kriek is safely in my top five beer list, I have to admit that I prefer drie fonteinen’s geuze to its cantillon competitor (and I’m not the only one). plus, I can easily get 375s of it (seasonally) for just $9.99, which in my opinion might be the best beer deal out there these days.
  • further, I know of a ton of guys who love orval with a passion.  however, it’s kind of hard to get behind spending $5-6 a bottle for a session beer during a barbecue.  plus, I’m never too sure how long my bottles have been sitting in some hot truck or warehouse on their way over.  as an inexpensive local alternative I recommend checking out green flash’s rayon vert, which is less than half the cost and tastes to me what I would imagine orval would be like from the source.  I reviewed both earlier HERE. 
  • other beers I could generally label as “bargains” when considering quality, price, and accessibility would have to be rodenbach grand cru ($9.99/750mL), old rasputin imperial stout ($8.50/4 12 oz.), and bigfoot barleywine ($14/6 12 oz.).  again, this is only on the west coast, so your results may vary.
  • as much as I like hitting the road to hunt down an elusive regional favorite, it’s reassuring to know that many world-class beers from around the globe are readily accessible from my own back yard.  enjoy!

imperial stout bottling, big bear lake

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

last week I finally managed to find some time to bottle/keg the imperial stout I has put together a while back.

  • primary fermentation appeared active for a month after pitching the WLP001 starter, and after visible fermentation tapered off I left the beer in primary for another six weeks.  the beer had an FG of 1.02 for an abv of 9.1%, and the sample I tasted was rich and malty, with a great roasted malt finish.  it will be interesting to see if the carbonation brings out any of the homegrown hops I tossed in there…

also, last weekend I accompanied the APs, the MLs, and HL up to big bear lake for a long weekend of (man-made) snow and relaxation.

  • after a surprisingly great day on the slopes, we cruised by big bear mountain brewery. the only thing that had changed since our last visit was their beer lineup – a decent pils and dopplebock had transformed into a honey blonde and chocolate porter (the latter of which I believe is contract brewed).  despite the mediocre beer and service, the atmosphere was comfortable and very local, and was a great setting in which to pour some pitchers and eat a tray full of miscellaneous fried veggies.
  • the next night things picked up a little at nottingham’s tavern, where pitchers of mission’s shipwrecked DIPA accompanied decent food, a passionate cover band experience, and some shuffleboard.
  • I also managed to stow away some choice beers for the trip, and cracked open specialties like an ’08 drie fonteinen oude geuze, an ’08 brown shugga, an ’08 bourbon county stout, and an ’05 pannepot grand reserva while relaxing back at the cabin.  it’s a rough life!

              

             

              

              

SF vs. LA: a week in review

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

last week I managed to spend a good amount of time at popular beer spots in both SF and LA.

  • while up in SF for business, my first stop after work was (surprise!) giordano bros, where CB and I knocked down some coppa with egg and enjoyed some proving ground IPAs from magnolia.  afterwards, we headed to rogue, where curiosity got the better of me and I tried a pint of mead that they had on draft, which was clean and floral (and must have been on  the lighter side since I polished off the entire pint and could still stand up afterwards).
  • then it was back to CB’s where the ball really got rolling.  more specifically, CB popped a 750 of Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L’Ancienne, a bottle which I had sought unsuccessfully for quite some time.  the newest geuze blender to pop up in belgium in quite some time, tilquin piqued my curiosity, and their first release didn’t disappoint.  the aroma right after the pour was full of fresh citrus fruit, but evolved into a complex, earthy funk reminiscent of some of the finer geuzes I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.  to top it off, CB served up some fresh wild-starter sourdough he’s been perfecting.  it was a great pairing, and made for a killer start to my trip.  now I just have to find some more tilquin bottles!
  • the next day CB, UD, JC, and I pulled the classic memphis minnie’s/toronado pairing, and finished the night up with a bottle of oud beersel’s Oude Kriek Vieille, which was tasty, but a little tamer than I had hoped.  the night ended back at CB’s with a bottle of cascade’s vlad the imp aler, which was more drinkable than I remembered, and had a great balance of smooth sourness and sweet vanilla malt/oak.  thanks again for the unbelievable hospitality CB!
  • a few days later I was in the LA valley, suited up for a good buddy’s wedding.  there was an interim between the wedding and reception, so AP and I took advantage of the situation and let the wedding crew over to tony’s darts away, a somewhat inconveniently-located spot I had been meaning to visit for a while.
  • we got there at a good time (around 4 – evidently, the place gets crowded later at night), and ordered up some specialty sausages, sweet potato fries, and some great beers, including bear republic’s mach 10 and lagunitas’ lucky 13.  specializing in CA IPAs, tony’s had great service and food, and everyone in our party left satisfied.  it’s a shame this place is in burbank…
  • after experiencing a taste of what both the north and south have to offer in CA, it’s hard to pick a favorite.  I’m just glad I have access to both!


         

    

      

  

stuffed sandwich

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

last weekend AP and I found ourselves in san gabriel to meet up with EH and CH for our first stuffed sandwich experience.

  • in the same vein as toronado, stuffed sandwich has been around for decades and has achieved an almost legendary status.  like bars such as toronado and zeitgeist, stuffed sandwich is not for wimps, but those that stick to their guns, do their research, and follow the prescribed routine are greatly rewarded.
  • as we walked in the door, I got a text from EH reminding me of rule #1: order food first.  there are two lines (one for beer, one for food); if you get in the beer line first you are in for a rude awakening.
  • AP and I handled rule #1 without breaking a sweat, but got stuck at rule #2: bring your own glass.  luckily, EH brought enough glassware for the whole group, so I was only paper cupping it for a minute or two.  alternatively, we could have bought a glass from the wall of glassware inside.
  • aside from a minute or two of staring dumbfounded at the diverse and deep cooler selection, everything else went smoothly, and soon I was digging in to a tasty italian sub on the back patio and chasing it with an exceptionally killer bottle of fantome saison.
  • an hour or so later I was talking homebrew with marlene, one of the proprietors, and nabbing a bottle of cantillon geuze to finish up the afternoon.  I could have spent all day there grabbing unique bottles and knocking down sandwiches.
  • with the best bottle selection in the area, great deli selections, and very reasonable beer and food prices, stuffed sandwich is near the top of my list of go-to spots in socal.  did  I mention any of their beers can be purchased to go? now I just need another excuse to get up to san gabriel…