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Posts Tagged ‘Russian River Temptation’

The Cellar: Beer Lineup Includes Cigar City, Great Lakes, Three Floyds & More

April 22, 2010 2 comments

Wowsers. This Great Lakes Imperial Stout takes the cake.

Here are some sexy shots of recent interesting pulls from the cellar. We are going to be brief, but wanted to let you all know what we liked, and what some bottles are tasting like right now.

Great Lakes Blackout Stout (Imperial Stout): Cleveland, OH

ABV – 9%

Vintage – 2010

RateBeer – 100

Commercial Description -

A Russian Imperial Stout with a hearty malt body and bold hop flavor. Named after the infamous “Blackout of 2003″ that left the northeastern United States in complete darkness, but resulted in old-fashioned neighborhood porch parties and fun.
Available in February & March.

One Sentence Note -

This high octane moster has a lot of mocha, coffee, and cinnamon flavor at a smoothness that you expect in your 5% stout, but at 9% you get so much more bang for your buck.

Jai Alai - A welcome gift during our trip to Florida

Cigar City Jai Alai IPA: Tampa, FL

ABV – 7.5%

Vintage – 2010

RateBeer – 99

Commercial Description:

Jai Alai India Pale Ale pays tribute to the original extreme sport. Jai Alai, a game native to the Basque region of Spain, is played on a court called a fronton. Jai Alai players attempt to catch a ball using a curved mitt, whilst the ball travels at speeds of up to 188 miles per hour! Proving they have a sense of humor the Spanish dub this game, with its ball traveling at race car speeds, “the merry game.” Tampa was once home to a busy Jai Alai fronton but sadly all that remains of Jai Alai in the Tampa Bay area is this India Pale Ale that we brew in tribute to the merry game. The India Pale Ale style of beer has its roots in the strong ales sent from England to thirsty British troops in India during the 18th century. To survive the journey the beers needed more alcohol and more hops (which act as a natural preservative). This “big” brewing practice made India Pale Ale one of the first “extreme beers” and a favorite among the Queens military men in India. Eventually it became a favorite style of the new crop of American brewers seeking more flavor and complexity than mass-market brewers were willing to offer.

One Sentence Note:

Sweet sugary hop monsoon batman – this malt goddess has a syrupy complexity with intense hop aromas, while remaining incredibly smooth drinking.

Three Floyd's 2009 Dreadnaught is hitting its bitterness decline - Drink Up!

Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught Imperial IPA: Chicago, IL

ABV – 9.5%

Vintage – 2009

RateBeer – 100

Commercial Description:

A hophead’s dream beer. This Imperial India Pale Ale has an opening salvo of mango, peach and citrus hop aromas that sit atop a pronounced caramel malt backbone. Although Dreadnaught is a strong and intensely hoppy ale, its complex flavors is both smooth and memorable. 9.5% ABV, 100 IBUs.

One Sentence Notes:

In October we bought two, consumed one immediately much to our hop-fiendish delight, and saved the other for 6 months to let the malts develop – a decent idea but its beginning to reach its bitterness decline, so drink up on this incredible beer! (we pushed that sentence a bit)

We previously discussed this one, but drank another. Lucky us.

Russian River Temptation Oak-Aged Sour Blonde: Santa Rosa, CA

ABV – 7.25%

Vintage2009 (1st batch of year)

RateBeer – 100

Commercial Description:

Is it beer, or is it wine? “Aged in French oak wine barrels for twelve months with distinct characteristics of fruit and subtle oak” sounds more like a description of wine than beer. But, of course, Temptation is indeed beer. Actually, Temptation is a Blonde Ale Fermented with a special strain of yeast, then aged in French oak chardonnay barrels. Flavors of wine and oak absorb into the brew throughout twelve months of aging. During this aging process, a secondary fermentation occurs using a yeast strain disliked by most brewers and winemakers called Brettanomyces. The “Bret” gives Temptation intriguing characteristics and a pleasant sourness. Temptation is re-fermented in the bottle to create its carbonation–a process commonly used to make fine champagne and sparkling wine. Spent yeast forms a thin layer of sediment to remain in the bottle.

One Sentence Notes:

We touched on it before, then re-sampled this champagne of beers (seriously, not High Life) whose sourness is not overpowered with intense malt flavors, making it perfect for the purist.

A pleasant surprise from your green brewers of oregon, Hopworks.

Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic Survival 7-Grain Stout: Portland, OR

ABV – 5.3%

Vintage2009

RateBeer – 98

Commercial Description:

Beer of the Ancients! Barley (Egyptian), Wheat (Mesopotamian), Oats (Egyptian), Amaranth (Aztec), Quinoa (Incan), Spelt (Mesopotamian), and Kamut (Egyptian) sustain the soul with a nutrients cultivated through the millennia. Finished with 15 pounds of cold-pressed Stumptown Hairbender espresso. Unlock the mystery entombed in darkness.

One Sentence Notes:

Holy smokes (literally) we were surprised by how incredibly well-crafted this NW stout could be with SEVEN ancient grains in the mash and a dump load of special Stumptown espresso – top NW single stout in my book, gets you your breakfast HOTD and pick me up.

Any new beers you have been drinking? Pulled something from the cellar that has been there a while and want to share how its doing these days? Please add a comment below.

The Belgian Perspective: Drinking North American “Belgians”

March 24, 2010 1 comment

Oh how we miss these wonderful Belgians - but we hope to find some gems around the US of A.

Well we just got back two days ago. We are in the process of writing a full gamut of articles about our Belgium experience. The time table is incomplete, but please expect some Top Places lists and Beer Tour Maps in the next week.

For the time being, we are having a hard time walking away from our magical beer experience abroad. I think that we are having a bit of Belgium withdrawal.

To cure this problematic dilemma, we have selected a few Belgium styled North American beers to try and water our burning desire for more Belgium! After drowning our livers in Belgium beer for 11 days straight, we think we finally have the refined flavors down – bruin, blonde, trippel, gueuze, and lambic.

There are good ones and there are not so good ones. For instance, our good bruins finished full of fruit and cocoa, while our bad ones finished with a metallic aftertaste.

So, we are turning to a few wondrous beers from the Western Hemisphere.

  • Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA

First, Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA (i know, i know – they don’t make IPAs in Belgium). Raging Bitch is a 8.3% ABV brewed with a Belgian yeast called “Diablo” and dry-hopped with Amarillo hops.

I have no problem drinking this beer – its damn good. But, its not a Belgian beer. In fact, I am kind of bothered by the American trend of adding Belgian yeast to an American beer and calling it “Belgian.” But, I know that this is a harmless trend – a melding of the best of America (its hops) and the best of Belgium (its yeast).

With that all being said, the beer is very good. But the Belgium flavoring only survives the first few sips. After that – its all Amarillo hops. I would drink this beer any day – but not after 11 days of Belgians. It just cannot cut the mustard.

  • Unibruoe Trois Pistoles

Next up – Unibroue’s Trois Pistoles. UTP (as I affectionately call it) is one of the greatest Belgian styled beers to ever be brewed on the continent. I have no problem saying that because no one knows how to match the classic Belgian taste like Unibroue. After enjoying countless exceptional Belgian brown ales, I now better understand and appreciate UTP.

Unibroue masterfully blends the body of a cola, the scent of overly ripe fruit and the bursting tart boozy flavor of a wonderfully concocted Belgian bruin ale. The color is dark, the pour is soft and the aftertaste is pleasant and diverse, changing with each swish. When you leave the booze in the glass it becomes sour, just another surprise for the drinker.

This one is a can’t miss for any beer drinker. Luckily – its easy to find.

  • Russian River Temptation

Last up is our attempt to find a Belgian styled sour ale. Russian River typically takes the cake for the best sour ales in the Western Hemisphere. The Santa Rosa, CA brewer is only met by US brewers Avery and Jolly Pumpkin when it comes to sours. But in the end, Russian River reins supreme.

For our evening we selected Russian River’s Temptation, which we thought might best match the Belgian gueuze styling. The gueuze is a blend of old and young lambics. This type of beer is seriously unmatched in the USA. There simply are no lambic producers of note. But, Temptation is a blonde styled ale, light in color, body and maltiness – allowing us to best mimic the lambic styling.

Russian River Temptation is a RateBeer Top 50 and a 100 overall. People like this beer. It has all the makings of a highly regarded beer – unique, complex, aged in wood, and a cult-like following.

We have enjoyed Temptation on many different occasions, on tap and from the bottle. This particular bottle comes from the first batch of 2009, which we obtained from Full Throttle bottleshop in Georgetown, Seattle this past summer. The beer has been resting well down in our cellar, where the active yeasts have now settled to the bottom of the bottle.

Temptation is brewed during a complex process. First, the beer is brewed and fermented in French Oak Chardonnay barrels over a period of 12 months. During that time, Brettanomyces (a wild strain of Belgian yeast) is added and allowed to do its worst to the beer. Finally, the beer is refermented in the bottle – allowing it to attain its soft carbonation.

This beer is the most wine-like of the series of sour ales that Russian River produces. In fact, the beer is almost that of a champagne bitterness, with a very sharp finish. The sour flavor does not dissipate quickly, leaving the drinker with much to savor over the life of the bottle.

We love Temptation – we do. But, we still prefer the red and brown ales of Consecration and Deviation much more. The heavy fruity and malty beers do very well with the sour Brett flavor. Blonde and lambics tend to be entirely one-sided.

Well, its a great experiment. In some instances it bettered our appreciation of North American beer – in some cases it worsened it. We hope to find some better Belgian lookalikes soon.

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