Archive for the ‘Archives of a Beer Nerd’ Category

Archives of a Beer Nerd – Sixth Installment

December 9, 2010 3 comments

Just keep cruisin'

Yup, we plod on. The journey continues, down the beautiful path of beerdom, through the expansive pages of Timperial’s beer journal.

Introduction: Just in case you are new to the blotter, here is the link to follow if you need an explanation of what in the hell this column is all about. In a nutshell, the archive is a time machine that takes us back a few years to the initial days of my beer journaling. I’ve drank a lot of good beers through the years, and I’d like to share my thoughts on how they tasted. Hopefully I’ll whet your appetite and you will give these beers a try for yourself. If I’m lucky enough to make that happen for you, please tell us about your experience and how it tasted in your words.

The last installment left us near the end of January, 2008.  I had just tried my first ever Abyss.  Let’s see what new and exciting things I tasted next.

Photo credit: Hallam

Do you still exist?


North Coast Brewing (Fort Bragg, CA) – Cru d’Or

8%.  Belgian style through and through.  There is not much head present (bottle cap fitted).  When cold, it is very bland, but as it warms…flavors burst forth!  It has a light brown color and great clarity.  The odor is of yeast, plums, an almost medicinal alcohol, but very pleasant.  Nice sweetness…the maltiness comes through, drying the palate.  I find this to be a nice Belgian, though it could use more carbonation.

Timperial Commentary: Does this beer still exist?  I completely forgot about it until I read this in my journal.  I do remember really liking this beer and getting it again in 2009.  It’s a seasonal, I remember that, but what season?  You got me.  I also remember someone telling me that this beer did very well cellared for a few years.  I clearly don’t have any down there.

I was able to find the beer on NCB’s website, but only by searching specifically for the beer by name.  If you scroll through all of their beers listed on the main “beers” page, it is not listed.  Maybe it has been retired.  That would be sad.

Photo credit: shyzaboy


Victory Brewing Co. (Downingtown, PA) – Golden Monkey

9.5%.  This beer pours with a clear, golden color and a minimal head.  It’s a tripel Belgian style ale brewed with spices, and that is exactly what it tastes like.  It smells like a white ale with nutmeg added.  It has a strong alcohol effervencence…very sweet and spicy, though a bit drying a few moments after the sip.  The flavors really linger.  This beer provides major memories of home.  What a great winter beer…warming and tasting of Christmas.

Timperial Commentary: Oh man…Golden Monkey really does remind me of home in PA.  It especially reminds me of For Whom The Beer Toales (our Chicago correspondent), who absolutely loves getting the “monkey on her back”.  I am reminded of having beers at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown, which was just a few blocks from where I lived once upon a time.  That’s a must visit in Philly if you ask me.  Great beer, food and live music.

I totally neglect this beer!  I think I’m going to have to race out to the bottle shop right now and get some, crack it open, inhale, and enjoy the roller coaster of emotion.

Check out for some amazing beer photos.


Kiuchi Brewery/Hitachino Nest (Ibaraki, Japan) – XH

7% Strong ale matured in oak casks used for Shocyu (distilled sake).  It pours a very cloudy, effervescent amber, brownish color.  There is a lot of sediment on the bottom of the glass.  The head is thin and wispy, with slight retention.  The nose is full of sour yeast, probably a result of the oak.  There is an odd, soapy aroma present as well.  Earth and sour in the flavor.  Maybe it’s power of suggestion, but I get a cherry cough drop after taste.  Kiuchi’s ingenuity and uniqueness continues to amaze me.

Timperial Commentary: Kiuchi is one of those breweries that can do no wrong in my mind.  The only beer that I have ever tried by them that I wasn’t highly impressed with was the Nipponia, but I can surely respect it for its historical nod.  Sorachi Ace hops are the big fad right now, and Nipponia surely plays a role in that.  In reading my review, XH sort of comes off as being spoiled or infected or just plain gross.  I mean, a sour, earthy, soapy, cough medicine beer…that sounds terrible.  Oddly though, I’ve had this beer several times since my initial review and I really like it.  It’s powerfully unique.  I’d love to see more breweries attempting to use sake barrels to age beer.

P.S. XH stands for Extra High.  Impress your friends.

Archives of a Beer Nerd – Fifth Installment


Spiritual...I mean Beer Journey


Yup, we plod on.   The journey continues, down the beautiful path of beerdom, through the expansive pages of Timperial’s beer journal.

Introduction: Just in case you are new to the blotter, here is the link to follow if you need an explanation of what in the hell this column is all about. In a nutshell, the archive is a time machine that takes us back a few years to the initial days of my beer journaling. I’ve drank a lot of good beers through the years, and I’d like to share my thoughts on how they tasted. Hopefully I’ll whet your appetite and you will give these beers a try for yourself. If I’m lucky enough to make that happen for you, please tell us about your experience and how it tasted in your words.

The last installment left us in the waning days of 2007.  Let’s pick up with a beer that was enjoyed on the day after Christmas.


Photo credit: Bernt Rostad



Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales (Milton, DE) – Golden Era Imperial Pilsner

9%. The label says that it uses all continental pilsner malt and noble hops in a Czech brewing tradition, or in the Reinheitsgebot tradition?  Translucent yellow color and minimal head consistent with the style.  Nice carbonation though, when coupled with the alcohol and hop spicy, citrusy bitterness tingles the back of the tongue.  Hops are also present in the nose, as well as a cereal smell.  Malt is also present.  This is a really, really good beer.  I didn’t really expect greatness from a pilsner, though I should have known from the brewer.  It’s amazing what one of the best American brewers can do with classic ingredients.

Timperial Commentary: I remember this experience quite well actually, because it made a serious impression on me.  I was truly taken aback that I liked a pilsner.  From that moment on, I have tried each and every imperial pilsner that I have found, and have enjoyed almost all of them.  Who knows, had I not taken a crack at Golden Era back in ’07, maybe I would have never given the rest a chance and missed out on a lot of excellent beers.


Not at all terrible



Unibroue (Chambly, Quebec, Canada) – Terrible

10% abv limited dark ale.  Very dark indeed.  Black, tan head, light barely makes it through on the edges.  It smells fantastic…Belgian yeast, raspberries, nuts, candy.  It’s pretty cold and the flavors are still glorious.  No one thing is standing out, glorious like all Unibroue treats.  Candied or dried fruits most notable.  As it warms, a more defined date or fig flavor emerges.  The alcohol really comes out and burns in a wine-like way.  Very sweet, very, very good.

Timperial Commentary: This is another one of those situations where I am so thankful that I write this column, that I periodically sift through my archives.  This is precisely why I write notes about beers that I drink.  There is no doubt that I have a profound respect for what Unibroue does.  In fact, just this past Monday I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with three bottles of Quebec’s finest.  The thing is, I have totally glossed over Terrible lately, mostly because I couldn’t remember if it was good.  Next time I’m in the bottle shop, I’ll be sure to pick one up.


It's pretty deep in there.



Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR) – The Abyss

11%.  22oz wax dipped bottle.  2007 reserve.  A stout brewed with licorice and molasses with 33% aged in oak and oak bourbon barrels.  This is one of the blackest beers I have ever seen.  No light passed through.  The color of the head is amazing.  Burnt, bronzy, red color…dissipates fairly quickly leaving wispy in the center and bubbly near the glass.  It smells very meaty, coffee and licorice.  I see the reason for all of the hype.  This is the best stout I have ever had.  Slightly warming but no evident alcohol despite the abv.  Very smooth, coating aftertaste.  Perfect in every way.

Timperial Commentary:  Wow!  This was, apparently, a very big moment for me.  “This is the best stout I have ever had.”  That line is impossibly loaded with ways to be interpreted.  Nearly 3 years later, I can admit that I don’t remember writing that, so I can only make assumptions like anyone would.  Over the past year of Beer Blotter’s existence, I have always been known as Timperial Stout.  Why?  Because imperial stout is my favorite beer style, and it just works so well in conjunction with my real name.  I do know that that has not always been true (that impy stout was my favorite), and that it was actually a fairly recent realization for me, but now it seems that I can directly trace the ascension of my love for the style in my history to this experience with The Abyss in early ’08.  I still have a bottle of the ’07 in my cellar.  I always knew that it would have to be a very special occasion for me to crack that bottle open, but now…an occasion may not exist that it worthy enough.

Archives of a Beer Nerd – Forth Installment

Fourth installment already? My oh my how time flies. Just in case you are new to the blotter, here is the link to follow if you need an explanation of what in the hell this column is all about. In a nutshell, the archive is a time machine that takes us back a few years to the initial days of my beer journaling. I’ve drank a lot of good beers through the years, and I’d like to share my thoughts on how they tasted. Hopefully I’ll whet your appetite and you will give these beers a try for yourself. If I’m lucky enough to make that happen for you, please tell us about your experience and how it tasted in your words.

The last installment found us nearing the middle of December, 2007. Let’s pick up where we left off.

Photo by Phil Hirlehey


Unibroue (Chambly, Quebec, Canada) – Ephemere

5.5% ale brewed with granny smith apple juice, coriander, and curacoa.  Golden color, decent head – telling of its potent bubbly.  Apple sour and sweetness relevant in smell and taste.  Yeast also pronounced in the nose.  Spices come out on the back of the tongue.  Very pleasant aftertaste lingers for a while after each sip.  I probably should be drinking this outside in the sun, but it’s December and we are in Seattle.  A little bit too fruity, but for a fruit beer it’s classy and sophisticated.

Timperial Commentary: I must admit, I’m a huge fan of Unibroue’s work, Ephemere notwithstanding.  This beer is very unique and refreshing.  I buy a bottle of this on a pretty regular basis.  I do agree with my 2007 self that it is a great summer, outdoor kind of beer, but the apples and spice also have a holiday season feel to them.  About as many happy feelings rush into my mind when I drink this beer as flavors I find on the palate.   If you like the saisons, fruit or spiced beers, and Belgian beers with high effervescence, this beer is for you.


Stone Brewing Co. (San Diego, CA) – Double Bastard

10%.  Seasonal release to much acclaim that honestly, I don’t fully understand.  Very dark brown, not much sustaining head at all.  The nose is, in my opinion, by far the best quality of this brew.  It has a hoppiness, sweetness, smokiness… Hops come out in the flavor, a dryness and…barley…something.  Hard to explain.  I have had this before and didn’t like it very much, and with the flood of excitement and positive press, I felt I must be mistaken.  I even let it age a few months.  I couldn’t drink too much of this.

Timperial Commentary: Yeah, I’m dead serious when I tell you that I don’t like Double Bastard.  I find it to be so odd that a large percentage of the beer nerds out there go ga-ga for it.  This type of stark polarity is incredibly rare for me when it comes to highly respected beers.  I do have a very high respect for Stone.  I like almost all of their beers, and love a decent amount of them.  DB just doesn’t do it for me.  Oh well.

Photo by shyzaboy


Avery Brewing Co. (Boulder, CO) – Collaboration not Litigation

8.99%.  Avery and Russian River both have a beer called Salvation, and to get around potential legal action they collaborated.  This is the mix of the two, both of which are Belgian golden ales.  Dark brown color, smells of yeast and caramel.  Doesn’t leave much lace on the glass but the head sustains throughout.  Alcohol present in smell and taste.  Maybe if I didn’t know it was a blend… but I feel like I can tell.  There is a contrast on the tongue.

Timperial Commentary:  I must admit that I didn’t read this review before I stated typing it.  This beer is so damn good that I figured my review would express more elation.  That is a piss poor review 2007 self.  You’ll just have to take the word of 2010 self when I say, this beer is awesome!  The blend works really well.  For a long time this was the only way that most people could taste Russian River in any way.  As always, their work does not disappoint.  And Avery…well, theirs never does either.  Without a doubt, two of the country’s best breweries.  Drink this beer!

Archives of a Beer Nerd – Third Installment

It all starts with a little beer, and pen to paper.

If this is your first time reading the Archives, take a look at the story behind it all here.  The last time we left off, we completed the epic day of drinking that was 10/4/07, and then moved on to a day about a month later.  The following entries were very brief, but the brews stand quite notable, so I’ve chosen to include them here.  Happy reading.

I hope that, if nothing else, my words whet your appetite to get out and acquire these special treats yourself and expand on our thoughts via comments or emails to


Victory Brewing Co. (Downingtown, PA) – V Twelve

The “Twelve” stands for the ABV.  “Liquid Luxury” indeed.  Copper, almost red rusty color.  The head dissipates fairly quickly, surprisingly, due to the corked, Belgian style bottle conditioning.  Smells kind of yeasty.  Dried fruits barely make it through.  Surprisingly drinkable for the strength.  A tad of an alcohol bite… a little warmth but by no means overpowering.  Amazing balance!  Very rich and sweet.  The alcohol becomes more and more relevant as it warms.

Timperial Commentary: This beer is huge!  As you may know, my Eastern PA roots and Victory’s penchant for making exciting beers made for quite an amiable match in the early days of my beer drinking coming-of-age.  This was, most likely, the highest ABV beer I’d ever had up until senior year of college when I forced down the extremely brandy-like Triple Bock from Sam Adams (17.5%).  I haven’t had this beer since the date above and if this doesn’t make you want some, well it has done the trick on me.


Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, DE) – Red and White

Brewed with coriander and orange peel with pinot noir juice concentrate added with 11% aged in pinot noir barrels and 89% aged in oak barrel staves.  Brown and reddish color, glows around the edges when put to the light.  Nice, pleasant thin head.  Clean and crisp with a pleasurable carbonation.  10% ABV… and you can taste it, though not overpowering.  It is not very obvious that this beer was oaked, but the wine is present.  There is a sweet grape juiciness present for sure.  Very unique and very good!

Timperial Commentary: This is half of the Red and White / Black and Blue series.  The only real similarity between the two is the naming convention and the yeast strain… oh and the fact that they are both amazing… but you probably knew that when you read the name of the brewery.


Unibroue (Chambly, Quebec, Canada) – Don De Dieu

9% Belgian ale made with wheat.  Golden color with a thin head that remains.  Amazing nose of wheat and yeast.  Not overly carbonated.  Very sweet with some slight notes of nuttiness.  Alcohol is present as it warms.  I love this beer!  I have a new-found respect for wheat!

Timperial Commentary: I’m so glad that this came up in the archive because I was just talking about this beer with a friend.  I don’t remember exactly how it came up in conversation… it may have had something to do with the fact that wheat beers are on my mind this time of year.  It also could have stemmed out of conversations about breweries that have been bought out my big money corporations but have continued to make stellar beers in the same fashion that they did prior to the buy out.  This concept was mentioned in my most recent Notes of a Beer Nerd.  Amidst the conversation, I came to the conclusion that Don De Dieu is one of my favorite wheat based beers, at least from North American brewers.  I want this beer in my mouth right now!  It is such a brilliant take on Belgian beers, with a bit of a twist that yields fantastic results.  If you have never had this beer before, you must get it ASAP!

Archives of a Beer Nerd, Take Two

Yup, it's that big.

The time has arrived for another dip into the mighty archive.  We pick up, oddly enough, on the same day that we left off last time, the 4th of October, 2007.  It was a hell of a day for beer drinking.  Let’s see what was had and how they tasted shall we…


One of the original black IPAs

Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA) – 11th Anniversary

Stone is king.  Anniversary beers are prince.  Black as death, hoppy as heaven.  Boggled?  Yes!  When comparing the smell with the color, well…it’s confusing.  The hop flavor is perfect throughout the sip.  Maltiness is present, but quite.  Drinks hearty but doesn’t feel overpowering.  I really don’t understand this beer.  Genius!

The above paragraph is the complete original review.  I feel inclined to offer further commentary, in retrospect…so I will.  11th Anniversary may or may not be the original black IPA, I can’t say with much certainty, but I do know that it was one of the first on the market in the U.S. with any prominence.  I can still recall how perplexed I was when I tried it.  Jumping back a little further, of course, I had to purchase the sequel to 10th Anniversary, which was the first Stone Anniversary beer I ever had, and still the best to date (it was a double IPA and it was increadable).  This beer (11th) was so good and unique that it not only spawned a permanent member of the Stone lineup (Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale), but has inspired countless craft breweries around the country to make their own version.  Call it what you will, black ale of various names and prefixes, it was based on this one.  Stone, like always, proves the game changer.


Love the Beard Clad Snail Man!

Brasserie Caracole (Falmignoul, Belgium) – Ambree

8%.  Gorgeous amber, maybe a bit richer color, and lively carbonated head.  Smell and taste coincide, kind of nutty.  Coats the mouth in sugary goodness, taste lasts so long after the sip.  I just want to bow respectful to the yeast.  Many tastes, most hard to explain.

More commentary:  I’ve now had this beer about 5 times, though the above review was written during my initial sampling.  This beer is amazing.  The brewery as a whole is amazing.  Saxo, Nostradamus, Troublette, all great beers.  The self-titled (if you will) amber ale, reviewed above, is my favorite.  It’s not “kind of nutty”, it’s really nutty, in the best way possible.  Like in almost all Belgian ales of any quality, the yeast really is the work horse, and this strain is best in class.  Best enjoyed in the colder weather, bring this one as a gift to your next Thanksgiving party.  You will impress.


Pretty wild.

De Proef Brouwerij (Lochristi, Belgium) – Reinaert Flemish Wild Ale

Triple fermented using 2 yeast strains (saccharomyces and brettanomyces).  9% abv.  Golden color, nice crisp head, moderate carbonation.  Nose of, you guessed it, wild yeast.  Much different from all other wild yeast beers I’ve had, much lighter, no fruitiness at all.  It’s a true homage to the yeast.  I like this beer almost solely out of respect for the yeast.  Needs something else to really make it sing.

Weekend Column: Introducing….Archives of a Beer Nerd

The mighty archive.

By: Timperial Stout

On August 31, 2007 I started a beer review journal.  It’s a college ruled, 100 sheet marble composition book.  I figured that, since I was more often than not drinking a lot of really exciting beers, I should document some of the flavors (or lack thereof) and my enjoyment of them (or lack thereof).

Having a really bad memory is one thing, but when there are nearly infinite amounts of beers out there to be tried (when you consider seasonals, new releases, etc.), there’s no way that anyone could keep their opinions on all of them in their accessible brain bank.  Thus, the beer journal, and it has indeed proved valuable on many occasions, and continues to do so.

In fact, I often will write my tasting notes in the journal for beers that I end up turning into Notes of a Beer Nerd.  It not only serves as a rough draft, but it remains my hand written archive.

How many reviews are contained in this archive so far?  I chose to only estimate.  I’ve only written on one side of the sheet, so 100 pages total, and I’ve completed roughly 2/3 of the notebook.  Some of the earlier entries have brevity.  The same goes for entries on days where I was tasting many beers back to back and had limited time to deliberate.  I’ll estimate 2.5 entries peer sheet.  That’s approximately 165 reviews.

I’ve found that the journal is actually quite fun to read, not solely for historical sake, but for pleasure as well.  I often find it interesting to observe how my palate has matured.  It’s also quite exciting to read some of the reviews that were entered after a few to many drinks, especially when I knew that no one else was reading.

Like I said, there have definitely been a number of brief reviews, as well as some that are…well… quite boring.  I’ll spare you those.  The rest, if I deem them worthy, will be periodically published in this column for your reading pleasure.

A few notes before we begin – Right from the start I decided that every entry would have the date the sample was enjoyed, the name of the brewery, the name of the beer, the location of the brewery, and tasting notes.  As the journal evolved I added bottle size and abv.  I have chosen to not make any changes to the wording, so expect fragments and the like, after all, I wasn’t expecting anyone other than myself to ever see these.  Lastly, since this was all hand written in a notebook, I do not have pictures, so I’ll try to find labels online for the visuals.

First ever entry (why not?):

Goes down like a Katana to the abdomen.


Great Divide Brewing Co. (Denver, CO) – Samurai Ale

Brewed with rice.  Very light yellow color, light drinking.  Supposedly unfiltered.  I can taste the rice but much more subtle than Hitachino.  Less bite, very east to drink.  I have never seen this beer before, must be new or a seasonal.  Very little carbonation.  Half way through, the rice taste begins to be lost, and the beer becomes a bit boring.  I respect Great Divide for making a rice beer, don’t know any other American brewer that does, but not the quality I have come to expect from them.

What a gem!

De Dolle Brouwers (Esen, Belgium) – Special Reserva


Brewed in 2006.  13% abv.  Apparently very rare, only 20 cases in Washington.  The epitome of complex.  Dark, reddish color, above average, though not really consuming carbonation.  Smells and tastes much like Three Philosopher, though with a Flemish red edge, more than a lambic one.  Sour initially and more dark depths at the end of the sip.  Dried fruit caramel maltiness.  So much going on and so good.  Don’t get any alcohol burn at all which is surprising with the high abv.  Would like another though I couldn’t drink a bunch.  Definitely worth the $9 for 12oz.

That’s all for now, but many, many more to come.  Feel free to post a comment and let us know what you think about the new column idea.