One of my writers in crime here at Beer Blotter, Jess R., quite recently published a very well crafted article about glassware. It reminded us all of the overwhelming importance of presenting beer in its proper vessel.
In turn, we were reminded of the the one place in the world where bartenders actually feel the need to offer a heartfelt apology for momentarily being out of the proper glass for the beer ordered: where else but Belgium. Thoughts of Belgium take us down never ending roads of memory that we will most definitely not get into right now.
But for us three blotterers, a chance to get together, drink beer, and reminisce about our mighty Euro trip will never go unrealized. In the midst of that exciting undertaking, we figured why not clear out a small corner of the cellar that drastically needed to be cleared, all the while bringing it full circle with just the topic that spawned the meeting, glassware.
This night was epic. I guess we had a lot more cellar space to open up than we thought. Time will not allow me to copy all of my notes on all of the beer-glass pairings of the night in one sitting, so here I present part 1.
Pilsner Glass – Victory Brewing Summer Love Ale
Though dubbed an ale right there in the name, this was most likely brewed with California Common yeast, which would indeed make it an ale but would attribute many characteristics of a lager. Thus, the pairing with the pils glass, which allowed the head to stay compact and lively in the decreased circumference, where it would normally dwindle and lay dormant in short time. This beer was specially made for Philly Tourism, who recently contacted us due to Timperial’s roots there.
We took our popular With Love, Philadelphia XOXO tourism initiative from campaign to consumer experience by partnering with Victory Brewing Company to create Summer Love Ale. Brewed locally in Chester County, PA with pale malts, German hops and water from the Brandywine River, the golden brew began flowing at bars throughout the Philadelphia region during the annual Philly Beer Week in June.
Check out this quote from Victory Brewer Bill Covaleski:
Summer Love starts with an all German malt base upon which we overlaid crisp German hops for that familiar, import quality that some many beer drinkers find attractive and comfortable, then we put bright, lemony Citra hops, grown here in the US, into the mix for an exciting aroma to start and refreshing and enduring finish. Kinda like Philly. Mostly familiar but always surprising!
My notes of the beer read as follows: This pours, not surprisingly, light in color, hazy yellow with a white head of very large bubbles. The odor is very impressive in it’s hoppiness; floral and grassy. This is very easy drinking with excellent sweetness coming from mild caramel notes. From a light(er) beer perspective, this is really well balanced with a striking lemony, citrus hop profile. I could drink this for days!
Tulip Glass – Victory Brewing Saison Du Buff
This beer was originally released under Stone Brewing’s liscense as part of their collaboration series. Dogfish Head, Stone and Victory teamed up to create this one, but each brewery is now releasing it under their own license and with their own distinctive artwork.
I found this beer to be hazy golden in color with intense carbonation. To call it spicy and floral would be an understatement. Herbal to the nth degree. Some possible herbs at play are chamomile, ginger, coriander, citrus peel, rosemary, sage… It’s a cornucopia.
The head quickly subsided to nothing at all, which I found to be very odd with respect to the lively carbonation. Perhaps oils from the herbs had negative effects on the retention?
The aftertaste seemed to linger for days, and I also found it to be surprising that the finish was not super dry, which seems to be commonplace with saisons in general. Damn good beer!
Goblet – The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel
This is seriously no ordinary beer for no ordinary glass. For branding consistency sake, I turned the glass around to the non-logo side for the picture (left) but just take my word for it that it’s a Westvleteren glass. We got that shit straight from In De Vrede in West Flanders! And the beer…well, it’s made by The Bruery…’nuff said!
This puppy weighs in at 8.1% and is brewed with rice and Thai basil. It pours a soft amber hue with above average carbonation and pretty poor clarity. Arising on the pour, a luscious white head that sticks around. In the nose, that striking candy sweetness that accompanies nearly all true Belgian tripels. There is also a malty sweetness that lends credibility to the brewer’s art.
The basil manifested itself into a simple, neutral spicy characteristic, and I also found there to be a very pronounced green apple quality. The lacing on the glass is not to be scoffed at and all that sweetness lends to a fantastically smooth mouthfeel.
The aftertaste is mesmerizing as well. Booze and grains come out as it warms, but I don’t find either to be negative here.
Flute – Ommegang Zuur
This 6% Flemish Sour Ale was brewed in collaboration with the much heralded Belgian sour brewer Liefman’s. It fills the glass with a brownish ruby red color and possess respectable clarity.
Initially, as it makes contact with the glass, the carbonation is wild and it’s very difficult to pour anything but a glass full of foam. As quickly as the suds rise up they dissipate to not but a trace. I find dark fruit in the scent, mostly the cherries that it was brewed with, and a good dose of funky, sour tartness, spot on for the style.
On the tongue, it’s prickly with the carbonation and tensing with tartness. Puckering yes, but I’ve soireed with many Flemish ales with much more zing. There is a pleasant bread-like maltiness in behind all the pizazz, but the overall body and intensity is underwhelming in the end.
Many respects for Ommegang for taking a swing at this exciting style, and though it’s very drinkable, it’s no Rodenbach.