Sunday, July 31, 2011

La Trappe Quadrupel

I have a new contender for best beer I've ever had: La Trappe Quadrupel. Pours an exquisite and hazy deep amber. Not much head, but a good amount of lacing. Smells of grapes, oak, and caramel. Then, there's the taste. Sweet malt, a nudge of bitter hops, then a familiar unctuous feel and flavor that reveals the oak aging. Full, creamy, round mouthfeel without being heavy. The 10% ABV warms on the way down, but doesn't overpower any of the magnificent flavors. Unsurprisingly, it becomes more complex and the flavors bolder as it warms.

This isn't hyperbole, it really is one of the finest beers I have ever had.

Grade: A+

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat

Here's another case of high expectations simply based on the name. With Tallgrass's Buffalo Sweat, I want something big, bold, and kinda nasty.

They've got the color right for sure with a black pour and some deep brown on the edges. Lots of roasted and smokey oatmeal in the nose. Surprisingly creamy with some delightful chocolate and strong coffee flavors. The coffee really lingers. Mouthfeel is a bit light for as dark as this is, but it's really tasty and goes down rather easily.

Overall, I think it's great. Smooth, not too big, bold and well balanced flavors. I'm a fan!

Grade: A

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Great Divide Rumble IPA

Oak? IPA? Great Divide? Yes, please! Lots of promise with Great Divide's Rumble Oak Aged IPA.

The color from the wood aging shows through and the nose is full of hops. A hint of sweet malt followed by very pungent hops and some lingering vanilla and caramel. This is no timid beer. The hops are more prevalent than the oak for sure, but this is great for hop heads looking for a bit of a change. Quite bitter, and a nice 7.1% ABV.

Grade: B

Sunday, July 24, 2011


One of the 6 Belgian Trappist breweries, Orval pours a hazy orange with a magnificent head that'll take some taming. Lots of sweet orange, spice, and lemon zest in the smell.

The taste is very unique. Lots of champagne qualities. Quite sour and a big bitter hop bite at the back end. There's quite a bit of lemon and pepper in here, too. Most of the flavor is coming from the hops and yeast, as I'm not getting much malt here. You won't find many beers with this much carbonation, either.

Exceptionally complex and interesting. I've never had anything quite like Orval.

Grade: A

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Holland Dragon's Milk

There are few, if any, brews like New Holland Dragon's Milk. Inky black, with the smell of vanilla, oak, bourbon, and an alcohol burn. Creamy, bitey, bitter. Of all the barrel aged stouts I have had, this one brings the most powerful bourbon punch. Lots of roasted malt and bitter chocolate. The finish is like dry cedar.

Tons of complex, full flavors, and at 10% ABV, tons of alcohol.

An absolute gem!

Grade: A+

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

Fantastic blend of a surprisingly light mouthfeel and tons of flavor for Anderson Valley Brewing Company's Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. The name is heavier than the beer! Great roasted oatmeal and dark chocolate flavor, good color, but unexpectedly light. There's a hint of spicy hops and a long, dry, roasted finish.

Very good example of the style. You won't be overwhelmed with oats, but they're certainly there. Delightful round, balanced flavor.

Grade: B

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Victory Hop Wallop

An IPA called Hop Wallop better bring it. Victory's IPA offers a gorgeous hazy gold color and sticky white head. Lots of citrus in the smell. Tons of fresh citrusy hops complemented by lots of piney hops. And so bitter don't be surprised if you pucker! Not much of a malt flavor here at all, but wow does that dry hop bite linger. Very subtle buttered toast, too. Interesting.

I'm actually surprised how quickly I got through this, especially at 8.5% ABV and with this much punch! It's certainly aptly named. Hop heads, enjoy! If you want a beer to slap you with hops, you've found it.

Grade: B

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bell's Porter

Bell's is consistently ranked as one of the best breweries in the country, so I am expecting them to do something unique with my favorite style, so here is Bell's Porter.

The start is promising with a rocky tan head, black body, and some ruby edges. Coffee and toffee in the nose. Lots of familiar porter flavors here with coffee, chocolate, dry wood. A lot more toffee than most porters. The dry bite really lingers. Body is maybe a little watery and there seems to be a ton of carbonation.

It's very good, but by no means the best porter I've had. I think I'm just getting too much roasted malt and I'd like some deeper flavors.

Grade: B

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

When you get something from Stone, you know it's never going to be common or tame. The Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout lives up to that expectation.

Big, bold, black, and very aggressive. You'll need a few pours to fit all this in one glass. The smell is nearly all anise, with some wood. It's quite creamy with a lot of that black licorice flavor, dry wood, roasted malt, spicy hops. Outstanding lacing lures you in to try to find more flavors, the ones more common in a Russian Imperial Stout. If you hunt, you will pick up some of the currants, chocolate, coffee, but the anise is the real star here. I could see where some say it's overpowering, but I love the flavor, so it's working for me. The 10.5% ABV warms through the finish, along with a fun bitter bite.

There are some people who say you shouldn't drink stouts, and especially Russian Imperial Stouts, in summer. I like to call those people "wrong".

Another unique, tasty brew from Stone. But you have to love anise to love this. If you don't, you will hate it.

Grade: A

Friday, July 1, 2011

Duvel Belgian Golden Ale

The Belgians are certainly known for unique beers, a great brewing history, and Duvel is high on that list. Crisp and golden white a very aggressive white head, don't let the appearance fool you into expecting something light and watery. The first thing I notice in the smell is apple and some hops bite. It's full and dry on the tongue, with sour fruit at the back end. Very well balanced between malt and spicy hops, and there is a lot of both. I'm also getting a late alcohol warmth, and at 8.5% ABV, that is expected, but you'd never guess it's that high.

Here is proof that a light colored, fizzy beer can have tons of flavor. This is one to seek out

Grade: A


I know it's been a while since I've written a review. Hopefully I can get to a couple this weekend! But I did want to say that I'm on Google+ now, so feel free to add me to your circle!

mcnealc31 at gmail