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?):
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.
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.
Tonight we did not indulge in Belgium foods, Belgium beers on the other hand……
The focal point was on one brewery and four of the beers they produce. De Dolle Brouwers is based in Esen in the West Flanders area of Belgium. All of the beers are bottled conditioned and are highly carbonated.
Arabier is a particularly hoppy beer, dry-hopped with whole leaf Nugget hops grown in Poperinge. We picked up on white wine and champagne qualities with a distinct hop profile and woody undertones. Smells like apples and white cranberries, yes, white cranberries. The beer is mainly sweet, like honey and has a bitter dryness at the finish.
Next up, BosKeun, literally translated as “rabbit of the woods”, this strong blond Easter beer (Paasbier) is hopped with Goldings and takes its title from the nickname of one of the founding brothers of the brewery. Very sweet like Belgium candies and sugar. NO hop presence but strong fruit flavors- bananas, apples and even cucumbers. Smells strong with rum like qualities.
Oerbier means “original beer” and smells distinctly like strawberries and cotton candy which alludes to the high sugar content. Redish, copper in color and smells of Amarillo liquor. This beer has a nutty quality and is reminiscent of raisins.
Last, but not least, Special Extra Export Stout. This style is uncommon in Belgium, but welcomed by all. Smells fruity and chocolaty with a “slick mouth feel.” Presents a cola body, a coffee oiliness and a dry, chalky coco effect on the way down.
There was a lot of talk about beer tonight. De Dolle Brouwers produces a wide range of styles and is going to be a stop on our trip next month!