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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Back to Beer Tastings

Well, I was a bit lazy in writing up last week's tastings, so it's a double-issue posting as I catch-up on this. World Wine and Spirits, also known as Generations, is doing weekly beer tastings. If you are curious as to the where: out in Mentor, on Mentor Avenue. They tell me they will be having a website up and running at some point.

I'll start with last week's batch. It was import day. Not necessarily a good thing. Most, sadly enough, weren't worth the prices.

Tinkov Russian Pilsner was the first of the group. It was a simple pilsner. Very clear but a bit bland. No bite to it at all. It's hard to get excited over Pilsners. They are not exactly spectacular beers under most circumstances.

Making the Tinkov seem like high end brew, however, was the "33" Export from Vietnam. Hard to imagine even Vietnam vets remembering this fondly. Proving that just because it is foreign, does not make it good. This beer would make most purists cringe just looking at the ingredients which includes "cereal." A completely bland beer. No one was even sure what style of beer it was. Turns out that it was a pilsner/lager. And not a particularly well liked one.

Well live and learn. Things took a bit of an uptick with the Anglo beers. From Australia, there was a sparkling ale from Coopers Brewery. A very crisp, golden beer. It had an almost effervescence feel on the tongue. A good beer in warm weather.

The next beer was Smithwicks Irish Ale. The bottle plays up the fact that it comes from Guinness. This is a fine Irish Ale with the reddish-amber hue. A good smooth taste from the start to the end. As expected, plenty of flavor but not particularly heavy.

The final beer of the session was the Abbot Ale. This English Pub Ale was an easy drinking brew. Not heavily carbonated, but with a nice heft in the taste. My favorite of the day. A nice light amber color, but as expected with the nitrous can, poured like a Guinness.

If the previous week was a bit of a miss with the choices, this time it was a solid selection. It didn't hurt that I ended up assisting in choosing some of the beers today. This was big bottle day.

I usually don't do fruity beers, but the Unibroue, Ephemere was something special. This wasn't the apple, but made with black currant juice. The beer is a wheat with the juice added during the brewing and it ages further in the bottle fermentation. Like a wheat it is light and crisp, but the black currant gives it a very sweet taste.

For a real treat and what can only be called a best buy at $3 for the 750 ml bottle of the Jenlain French Farmhouse Ale. Yeah, a French beer that is really good and affordable. The beer is dark tan in color and very complex. This beer starts crisp and finishes with the sweetness of its malts.

The next beer was, Trappistes Rochefort #8. A very strong traditional Belgian beer. A warm brown color, and over 9% ABV. The beer is wonderful with lots of malty sweetness and hints of its potency coming through.

The final selection comes as something of a surprise as it is technically not beer but barleywine. We didn't even know that in the tasting. The label from Weyerbacher for Insanity, simply identifies it as an ale aged in oak barrels. Further information discloses that this 11.1% ABV brew is aged in oak bourbon casks. As I am a fan of bourbon, this was a very tasty drink. There is a sweet smell, and the taste is very much like that of bourbon with hints of vanilla from the oak and even the slight burn. The oak flavors though are more subtle and not as complimentary as tasted in oak aged stouts. A very complex and enjoyable barleywine.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


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