Wednesday, June 28, 2006

La Bière Du Démon

After two days of 100+ degree weather I need something to cool off. And speaking of hot…Anglia was nice enough to bring me a beer from her trip to Italy, but told me it was German. Turns out it’s really French. She is also the one that brought me the Blue Ice Beer that was, well, an experience I won’t soon forget.

Brewery – Les Brasseurs de Gayant in Douai, France
Style – Belgian Strong Pale Ale (not one of the recognized BJCP styles)
ABV – 12%
Serving Type – 33 cl bottle

“Beer of the Demon” is reputed to be the “strongest blond beer in the world” according to the brewery’s website. At 12% I wasn’t able to find anything stronger until the beers got darker, so I guess it’s true. This beer uses “special yeast” and ferments for about 2 weeks before being lagered for a month.

Other than finding out the brewery opened in 1919, I wasn’t able to find out much about the brewery, other than they are independently owned and all their press releases are in French. You would think that a company that has been around for nearly a century would have more information about it. I guess it’s part of that old word play-it-close-to-the-chest mentality that breweries have after being around for awhile.

Glass – “Beer” Pint Glass

Aroma – There is definitely alcohol in this beer. I can pickup almost vodka like grain alcohol and sweet malt aroma. The alcohol pretty much covered up any hop aroma.

Appearance – The beer pours with a very small white crown that dissipates very quickly. The color is a very pale yellow that reminds me of a Pabst. It is mostly clear, but there is some sediment that got kicked up in the glass.

Flavor – In the front it is very sweet like syrup. In the back it is alcoholic. In the aftertaste I get that hot alcohol burning sensation that you get when you’re drinking strait alcohol. It’s not as strong as a whisky, but may be similar to vodka. Unfortunately it has been years since I’ve had a shot of vodka so I may be remembering things differently. I also can’t pick out anything resembling hops.

Mouthfeel – Very light, almost like there is nothing in my mouth. However if I had to pick a sensation I guess it would be syrupy. Could be that it’s just evaporating, or because I’m just chugging it down so I can get it out of there as quickly as possible. There was little to no carbonation.

Final Thoughts – Think vodka with corn syrup. I’m not even sure this can be called a beer. It seems more of a light grain alcohol. Maybe I should have used a shot glass instead of a pint glass. It’s not as bad as the last one Anglia brought me, but it did renew my love of well crafted beers. Hey, if she keeps getting better I might actually be able to finish the next one. Seriously though, your thoughtfulness is very much appreciated. After all, it’s not Anglia’s fault the French can’t make good beer.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


I'm trying this one after already having a few beers in me, so I'm not sure how sensitive I'll be to the subtleties of this beer. On the other hand it is a fruit beer. I'm guessing that if I can pull raspberry out of the smell and taste that I'll be pretty close.

Stats: Brewery – Dogfish Head in Milton, Delaware
Style – Fruit Beer
ABV – 18%
IBUs – 45
Hops – Warrior
Malt – Pils and malted wheat.
Serving Type – Champagne-style 1 pint, 9.6 fluid ounce bottle

Leave to Sam Calagione to brew the World’s Strongest Fruit Beer. Of course DFH also brews the strongest Dark Beer (World Wide Stout), the strongest Bottle Conditioned Beer (Olde School Barely Wine) and the strongest Belgian Beer (Raison D’Extra), so I guess this isn’t out of character. And besides, what else would you expect from a beer whose name means “strong” in just about all the romantic languages.

There is more to this beer than just alcohol…there’s also the raspberries. During the courses of a two month primary fermentation, over a ton (20 pounds per barrel) of pureed Oregon and Delaware raspberries were slowly dosed out. They introduced the raspberries slowly in order to keep more fruit in the aroma and taste, also the natural sugars become extra food for the yeast and more alcohol is created.

The beer label artwork was created by Tara McPherson. She is better known for designing album covers and tour posters, but apparently fell in love with Fort at its premiere at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC in December of 2005 and decided to work with Sam to create her first beer label. If you like what you see, she is also designing the label for their Chateau Jiahu which will be coming out in August.

When asked if Sam had any recommendations on how Fort should be served, he said "Cool to cold, from a champagne glass, or white wine glass, or belly button."

Glass – Dogfish head pint glass

Aroma – Even before I pored this beer into a glass, the sent of raspberries began to enter my nose. Once I could really get a nostril full I was able to pickup some spices and the faint aroma of alcohol.

Appearance – It poured with a big fluffy white crown, like a soft and delicious cloud. The body is a bright amber with hints of light ruby highlights.

Flavor – Can you say "raspberry?" Believe it or not, 1000 pounds of raspberries makes them the dominant flavor throughout the mouth. Not that it is overwhelming, I'm still getting some caramel, vanilla and some spiciness, but its presence is known. The alcohol is surprisingly well hidden until the very end where there is a hint of it lingering around with the raspberries after the beer is swallowed.

Mouthfeel – A very smooth beer to drink. It seemed almost oily with little carbonation. It had a medium to full body.

Final Thoughts – If I only had one word to describe this beer, well it would obviously be "raspberries", but if I had a second it would be "balanced." Even with all the alcohol and raspberries, there was no one thing that was truly overpowering. I'm normally not a fan of fruit beers but I really liked this one. Good thing LK and Angela were around to help me with this one. I would have slurped down the whole bottle, and with the alcohol so well hidden I never would have seen it sneaking up to knock me on my butt.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Stone 9th Anniversary Ale

I picked up a couple of these when they first came out. The first one I drank right away, but found it somehow lacking. So I stuck the second one in my “cellar” hoping that it would get better with age. Months later I realized it was a wheat beer, a style that does not age very well. Let’s hope it is still palatable.

Stats:Brewery – Stone Brewing Co. in San Diego, CA
Style – This one doesn’t really have a defined style. Let’s just call it an American Strong Wheat Ale.
ABV – 7.8%
IBUs – 50
OG – 19º plato
Serving Type – 22 oz. (bomber) bottle

For the past nine years Stone Brewing has taken a perfectly nice and respectable beer style and stretched it to the limits. I covered much of the Stone philosophy bloging about their Double Bastard Ale. For the first several years they were content with celebrating their birthday with well crafted double IPAs. Then they took on the Baltic Porter. The flowing year was an APA. Last year they did the nearly impossible and brought us a Brown Ale that actually had body and flavor. Released on August 29th, 2005 this is an “Anniversary-ized” version of their Heat Seeking Wheat that was distributed a couple of years ago.

Glass – Glass Mug

Aroma – The first thing I senses is that wonderfully floral hop aroma. It’s funny how a bouquet of flowers does nothing for me, but a hand full of hops will send me to heaven. I get some breadiness from the wheat. I can pick out some pear like fruitiness. There is also more than just a hint of alcohol.

Appearance – When I poured this I got a huge fluffy white crown that left behind big sticky lace. It has a pale straw color and at first seemed very clear. However, when I finished off the bottle I found a little yeast in my glass hazing things up.

Flavor – Initially I got a hoppy floral flavor. In the middle the hops impart a fruitier flavor similar to pears and apples. There is also some spiciness and what seems to be bubblegum. It’s at this point things seem to go wrong. Alcohol overtakes the flavor destroying everything else. On the bright side, even though the alcohol lingers it fades away quickly.

Mouthfeel – This beer has a medium body and medium carbonation. It leaves an almost chalky feel in my mouth, especially on the front of my tongue.

Final Thoughts – Let this be a lesson to all of you; some beers, such as wheat beers, are best imbibed as fresh as possible. In this case alcoholic flavor and feel of the beer was probably caused by a mild form of autolysis. This is when the yeast runs out of “food” in the beer and starters to eat itself. I’m kicking my self right now for letting this beer go near-bad on me, but at least I only have to wait a couple of months for the next anniversary ale (which is actually coming out on my birthday this year).