Duvel

Name: Duvel
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
ABV (%): 8.50
Brewery: Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat NV

The famous Duvel!  I have high expectations for this guy!  If it doesn’t rank an 8+, it will be underperforming!  I grabbed this guy on sale at Trader Joe’s.  It’s one I’ve been meaning to try for quite some time.  This was poured from a 1 pt. 9.4 oz. (750 mL) bottle into a freezer-chilled pint glass.  Best before date is 07/08/13.  Instructions say “POUR UNHURRIEDLY.”  I chuckled at that.

I don’t spend a whole lot of time with pilsners, because…well…they’re terrible.  And this is colored like a pilsner.  Scary!  But I do love watching the insane carbonation fly up the glass in this beer.  And holy cow, what a head!  On the pour, it didn’t go out of control and start to climb out of the glass, but it was quite formidable in size.  When it died down, the foam was clinging to the sides of the glass the way it does when you take a swig out of a root beer float.  The foam sits on top of this beer like it’s a cappuccino.  Yum.

The smell almost reminds me of chardonnay.  Distinctly citrus.  I smell apples, with some faint yeast.  This is clean and crisp.  It smells fresh, even though it’s been bottle conditioned.

I apologize for comparing this to a pilsner.  Yes, it has pilsner malts, but other than that, it was an insult.  This is delicious.  Mild yeast, not too overwhelming.  A perfect combination of citrus, hops, and carbonation to give this beer a gentle bite.  It has a great flavor and a shockingly mild aftertaste.  It doesn’t linger in the mouth.  It’s not incredibly complex, but there is a perfect marriage of ingredients.  You can definitely tell they’ve been brewing this beer forever.

It dances on the tongue, for lack of a more concrete description.  This beer is crisp, clean, and perfect for spring.  It doesn’t linger on the tongue any more than it should, it doesn’t leave your throat feeling sticky, and it’s not dry.  It is incredibly refreshing.

This beer has some solid drinkability.  It’s not particularly heavy, and the second I put down my glass, I want another taste.  That may all be by design.  This beer certainly did not disappoint.

Look: 9
Smell: 8
Taste: 8
Feel: 9
Drink: 9
Overall: 8.4

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Wee Heavy

Name: Wee Heavy
Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
ABV (%): 6.50
Brewery: Belhaven Brewery Company Ltd.

Another BevMo grab.  I love the texture of Belhaven Scottish Ale, and something about it is just very satisfying.  I also haven’t found a Scotch Ale I didn’t like, so this was a logical choice!  This was poured from a 1 pt. 6 oz. bottle into a freezer-chilled pint glass.

This guy definitely doesn’t share the head of the Scottish Ale.  That guy maintains its head forever!  This one was gone in 30 seconds.  I had high expectations for the head.  Even the Beeradvocate guys carried on about it.  They were wrong!  Also, nothing special about the color.  Thick caramel, but not as lacey as I was expecting.

Doesn’t smell like much.  A little yeasty.  Similar to Samuel Adams Scotch Ale, but weaker.  A bit of wood.

But oh, the taste!  I’ll admit, standards dropped when I stared and sniffed, but it’s still quite tasty.  Yeasty, like I said, but the scotch malt notes are definitely there.  It’s an odd clash of flavors, really.  I’m conflicted.  The malt is delicious.  Not too sweet, definitely not overwhelming.  The bitterness is a perfect balance, which I’ll admit, I find unusual for some Scotch Ales.  The yeast is what throws me off, and I must admit, it sullies the rest of the flavors.

The mouthfeel on this is almost as good as the Scottish Ale.  I know I shouldn’t compare the two, but that’s what I really love about this brewery.  It’s quite smooth and creamy.

I’m not against yeasty beers, but this just doesn’t do it for me.  How do I rate this on drinkability?  On the one hand, this isn’t a beer I would ask for a refill on.  On the other hand, I definitely could use a Belhaven Scottish Ale!  This beer set me up!

This scored almost 2 points lower overall.  My recommendation is, if you want a Belhaven, grab their flagship beer.  If you want a Scotch Ale, grab a Moylan’s Kilt Lifter.

Look: 5
Smell: 4
Taste: 6
Feel: 6
Drink: 3
Overall: 5.1

The Reverend

Name: The Reverend
Style: Quadrupel (Quad)
ABV (%): 10.00
Brewery: Avery Brewing Company

This one arose from a trip to BevMo.  Which arose from a craving for a new microbrew.  I’ve tried and reviewed three Avery beers before (the Beast Grand Cru, Samael’s Ale, and Mephistopheles’ Stout), but it’s been a good 5 or 6 months, and quadrupels were calling my name!  This was poured from a 1 pt. 6 oz. bottle into a freezer-chilled pint glass.

Beautiful golden ale.  Almost amber in color.  Fairly creamy head.  Looks like a belgian ale.

The nose on this thing will dilate your pupils.  It’s like candy!  I feel guilty having this before dinner!  Malt, caramel, I smell some butterscotch somewhere in there, too.  If you’ve ever had an Avery beer, they all smell like someone melted down a bunch of brown sugar and/or caramels and stirred them into the brew.

Smells like candy, tastes like candy.  Super rich, but a bit of crisp bitterness that I’m not used to in an Avery beer.  It’s a better balance of hops and malt than you would get from the Beast, Samael’s Ale, or Mephistopheles’ Stout.

This thing is pretty easy to drink for a 10% beer.  But I fancy quadrupel ales, so that could just be me.  Like I said before, it’s very rich.  It’s very nice on the tongue, but I would venture to guess this will upset an empty or weak stomach, due to the sugar content.

I like it.  Despite the quick buzz, the flavor is solid, and it has an amazing mouthfeel for such a high ABV.  In fact, were it not for the ABV, I might give this a 9 in drinkability.  I recommend sharing this with a friend, because this beer may very well get you drunk.

Look: 8
Smell: 8
Taste: 7
Feel: 8
Drink: 8
Overall: 7.6

Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale

Name: Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale
Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
ABV (%): 8.00
Brewery: Moylan’s Brewery

One of my employees got me this bottle.  I poured it from a 1 pt. 6 oz. bottle into a freezer-chilled pint glass.  It pours smooth, with the perfect amount of head.

Excellent color for a scotch ale.  Brownish with a red tint.  Like a strong ale, but darker and a bit murky.

Sniffing this thing is like walking through a brewery.  I don’t just smell Scotch Ale.  Or if I do, it’s an incredibly complex one.  Smells of rich malt, caramel and candy, as all scotch ales do.  I also smell something a little unrefined.  Maybe tobacco?  Almost like a cigar.

I definitely taste tobacco.  I would love this guy with a cigar.  I expected a rich malt from the nose, but I didn’t taste that at all.  The malt is shockingly subtle.  The tobacco is at the wheel in this beer.  Tobacco is driving a little recklessly, though.  The more I drink, the more I think tobacco should slow down.  The hops are right where they need to be.  Smoky and mellow.  This does not taste like an 8% beer.  Don’t be fooled!

The hops are sharp on the tongue as they should be, but not harsh.  The tobacco is heavy enough on the tongue that I recommend sipping this beer.  It goes down beautifully when sipped.  Take a gulp and you’ll see what I mean.

I definitely enjoyed this beer.  I just don’t know that I would have another.  I just can’t stress enough how powerful the tobacco is.  It gives a great flavor, but it doesn’t give a lot of drinkability.  At the end, I feel the way I do when I have a good cigar.  That was delicious, but I won’t be having another for quite some time.

Look: 8
Smell: 9
Taste: 8
Feel: 7
Drink: 4
Overall: 7.7

New Beginnings

I have redesigned my blog.  As of today, I will be using this for beer reviews.

I didn’t really enjoy beer until I was about 23 years old.  Even assuming it’s an acquired taste, I never really saw the appeal.  One day, I had a beer that changed my mind.  It was Newcastle Brown Ale.  That day, I realized that maybe it wasn’t that I didn’t like beer, but rather that I had been drinking the wrong beer.  Since then, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed trying a large range of different styles of beer.  Recently, I’ve also began experimenting with beer and food pairings.  It is my hope that I will be able share what I’ve learned and experienced to help others that may have previously disliked beer to change their minds the way I did.

I started reviewing beers in October 2010, using a weighted average scale, based loosely on the scale from BeerAdvocate.  Since then, I have made a solid effort to rate and catalog every beer I’ve tried, and to organize them into a database.  Eventually, I hope to streamline this database and upload it to the internet, in order to share my experiences.

The ultimate goal of this blog is to encourage people to try new things.  You may see a beer and food pairing that sounds interesting.  Or you may see a beer you like categorized with another unfamiliar beer.  Either way, I have learned new things about what I enjoy about beer just from the experienced of rating and cataloging what I’ve tried.