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
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.
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.
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.
With 5 days left until Christmas, Beer Blotter wants to dedicate the majority of the posts this week to Christmas and Winter beers. Since these styles are limited to production and distribution only during the winter season, take notes this week and stock up on your “Winter Warmers” and Christmas Ales!
Generally winter beers consist of old ales, strong ales, barleywines, stouts and strong lagers. Roubust in flavor and thick in body, these beers are guaranteed to ease the sting of the winter nights.
Review from 4/12/08 of the ’06 release:
An ale brewed with spices (coriander, orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon) and vanilla beans. Brownish, orange color with lots of sediment. Bright around the edges. A thin wisp of foam on top and pleasant, above average carbonation. A sour orange scent lies in the forefront, but the spices are evident. The nose is just sublime. A dryness is found on the palate after the swallow, but the fluid itself has a silky mouthfeel. A citrus smack will squeeze the corners of your mouth. Drying and sour seems like a strange combination, but it works here. Moments after the swallow a taste of unleavened bread comes to mind…yeasty. Extremely unique and delicious brew from a far off land.
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Review from 1/19/08 of the ’07 release:
An English style old ale brewed with Sitka spruce tips. Pours a bright amber hue with minimal head but serious stickage. If any scent of malts or spruce exists, it’s very faint, or masked by the cool temperature, but once the liquid interacts with the tongue it’s a completely different tale. Candy sugar infused with evergreen trees. The uniqueness of this beer makes it one that I couldn’t drink in quantity…maybe that’s why it’s a seasonal. Alaskan Brewing is one of those breweries that isn’t very glamorous. They have fairly bland label designs and rarely have special releases, but any time you grab one of their brews you know it will be solid, if not outstanding. Without a doubt, a stalwart member of the Northwest brewing community.
Goose Island Beer Co.
Review from 11/24/09:
Light brown in the glass with great clarity and a frothy white head that lingers. Though the brewery calls this a brown ale I immediately smell what I would determine to be Belgian yeast. A nice dose of malts; bready with a little dab of fruitiness. No hop profile to be found. A bit boozy when it warms despite the low ABV. The brewery recommends aging this one, again, despite the low abv. A curious holiday brew indeed…I’ll have another.
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Review from 12/04/09:
A holiday ale brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon, this beer’s flavors surface at first taste. There is no disguising the festive spices associated with the holiday season. The cinnamon is prevalent in the scent of this Christmas Ale. It is light in body and crisp in flavor. Surprisingly refreshing and balanced with no “alcohol” residue from taste to swallow. For some, this is the quintessential Christmas beer due to the spices used and the “drinability” aspect. We recommend drinking this beer at room tempurature. In other words, take it out of the fridge, let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes in a glass and drink away. Perfection!
Stay tuned this week as Beer Blotter reviews and recommends beers for the holiday season. What a wonderful time of the year! For all those who are traveling to see loved ones this week, have a safe trip. Flying Virgin Airlines? 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die IPA is available in cabin!