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…
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.
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.
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.