February/March 2003
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February/March 2003 Cover

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CBN Blind Tasting Panel

     Jay R. Brooks, general manager, CBN

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Angela Wagner Coleman, reporter, CBN
Bob Coleman, reporter, CBN
Tom Dalldorf, editor/publisher, CBN
Vic Kralj, owner, The Bistro, Hayward, Calif.
Mike Long, BTP Head Steward

BELGIAN-STYLE BEERS AND STRONG ALES
This issue's tasting was our most broadly defined category to date. Belgium boasts more different beer styles than any other country, with many individual breweries making their own unique styles. This is especially impressive given that Belgium is roughly the size of Maryland.

     American brewers have, over the last few decades, been brewing beers that pay homage to the artistry and craftsmanship of Belgian beers while putting their own unique stamp on their beers. To classify as a strong ale for our tasting, a beer had to have a higher-than-average alcohol percentage. This allowed us to taste a raft of beers that might not otherwise fit into any category but that deserved to be tasted and have their praises sung. All beers were tasted blind. Results are listed alphabetically by score.


BELGIAN STYLE BEERS & STRONG ALES

5
Double Bale Quail Ale Imperial IPA
Deschutes Brewery, Oregon

A mouthful of a name and a mouthful of a beer with soft citrus aromas and amber-brown color. A wonderfully hoppy big beer with a big hop finish.

5
Double Bastard Ale
Stone Brewing Co., California

What's better than a bastard? How about two? Stone's Double Bastard has soft hop aromas and is amber-brown in color. Strong hops up front bite down and never let go, but ever-present malt character keeps the beer well balanced.

5
EKU 28
Kulmbacher Brauerei, Germany

Big, malty nose with roasty aromas. Rich and sweet yet very well balanced for such a huge beer. Has a long, lingering finish.

5
George Sawyer Brewing Co. American Barley Wine
Oakdale Brewing Co., California

Big herbal nose and maple brown color. A complex interplay of tart roasted malts and candy, nutmeg and pine, with good hop bittering.

5
HopTown DUI
HopTown Brewing Co., California

Soft malt aromas with citrus notes. A very big, chewy hoppy beer with a delightfully long, lingering bitter finish.

5
Maudite
Unibroue, Canada

Maybe being damned isn't so bad after all. Unibroue's Maudite begins with a complex nose of herbal, spicy notes and hints of fruit. A big, creamy bottle-conditioned beer with dry, malty flavors and a slight sweetness. A beer whose complexity only increases as it warms.

5
Redemption
Russian River Brewing Co., California

Almost makes you not want be a sinner. But how, then, can we appreciate goodness without knowing sin? Once you are tempted and damned, it's nice knowing that this beer is there waiting for you when you reach redemption. A cloudy golden color, this beer starts with a complex nose of malt and fruits, especially cherries. Very big and flavorful with fruity herbal character and a rich, long finish that's dry and tart.

5
Scotch Ale
Sacramento Brewing Co., California

Roasted coffee aromas and dark brown color. An excellent, full-bodied, rich, strong beer!

5
Sister Jen's Mission-Style Triple
Anderson Valley Brewing Co., California

Aromas of fruity citrus such as orange dominate an otherwise yeasty nose. Pleasant floral flavors with rich malt and undertones of citrus and yeast. A clean finish. A big, beautiful beer!

5
St. Bernardus Abt 12 Abbey Ale
St. Bernardus Brouwerij, Belgium

Huge aromas of fruits and nuts. Nut-brown color. Uncommonly rich flavors of malt and fruity complexity. Great balance and a big, lingering finish.

5
Stoudt's Abbey Triple
Stoudt Brewing Co., Pennsylvania

Light nose with hints of sweet fruit. Alcohol apparent with big lactic flavors, a sweet and sour character and a tart finish. A wow!

5
Unibroue 11
Unibroue, Canada

This one goes to 11! Given the sweet, rich nose of bananas, cloves and yeast, one might expect a Belgian white beer. But Unibroue would never be that obvious. Rich, lemony citrus flavors with herbal undertones. An excellent, big beer!

5
Witkap-Pater Abbey-Singel-Ale
Brouwerij Slaghmuylder, Belgium

Rich, subtle aromas of orange, grass, rich candy and sweet yeast. Light yellow-gold in color. A very clean, light ale, very flavorful with a lemony tartness. Refreshingly zesty.

4
Brown Shugga
Lagunitas Brewing Co., California

Sweet and citrusy aromas and deep amber-brown color. Gritty and chewy with big hop character. Complex herbal flavors and a nice, long finish.

4
Damnation
Russian River Brewing Co., California

Light, soft nose with hints of clove, candy and citrus. Malty, rich flavors and a very clean finish.

4
Fringante
Unibroue, Canada

An extra-strong golden ale with a nose of yeasty citrus. Not surprisingly, bright golden color. Smooth flavors with hints of citrus and good hop character. A well-balanced strong ale.

4
Hairy Eyeball
Lagunitas Brewing Co., California

Sweet aromas with hints of caramel, malt and floral scents. Big hop bite and hoppy throughout, yet remains well balanced. Ends with a long, lingering bitter finish. Keep your eye on this one!

4
Old Henry Scotch Ale
Kelley Bros. Brewing Co., California

Rich, roasted malt aromas and deep brown color with a thick, tan head. Tart and warming with a gritty, roasted malt mouthfeel and a clean finish.

4
Olde School Barley Wine-Style Ale
Dogfish Head Brewery, Delaware

Inviting nose of malt and oranges. Amber-brown color. Sweet, rich and malty up front with a gritty mouthfeel. Hop character makes a point of arriving fashionably late but then stays all night in a long, lingering finish. A delightful barley wine-style ale.

4
Raison D'Štre
Dogfish Head Brewery, Delaware

Thick nose of tar, coffee and currants and deep brown color. Strong coffee flavors with tart caramel and toffee hints. A hedonistic pleasure beer with creamy malt character and a long finish that ends not with a whimper but a bang.

4
Stoudt's Scotch Style Ale
Stoudt Brewing Co., Pennsylvania

Complex, roasted malt nose and dark opaque brown/black color. Soft flavors of rich malt and subtle smoky characteristics. Finishes clean.

4
#10 Ale (fka #9 Ale)
Lagunitas Brewing Co., California

Complex cidery nose with hints of good sour apples and sharp cloves. Refreshing crisp apple flavors with great balance and a long, bitter finish.

4
Tripel Dipsea Belgian Style Ale
Marin Brewing Co., California

Sweet nose with aromas of cloves and fruit. Golden straw color. Chewy, gritty mouthfeel with herbal undertones. Rich, tart flavors and a terrific lingering finish.

3
Kelley's Belgian Red
Kelley Bros. Brewing Co., California

Roasted coffee nose with hints of cookie dough and rum. Complex and tart with roast coffee flavors and dry fruit flavors hiding underneath. Finishes long with big hop character.

3
Monkey Head Arboreal Ale
Triple Rock Brewing Co., California

Soft, subtle nose and amber-brown color with a thick, rich head. A warming, malty beer with a slight hop bite and clean finish.

3
Old Stock Ale 2001
North Coast Brewing Co., California

Soft, sweet aromas with hints of malt. Deep brown color. Sweet, malty rich flavors and hints of tartness.

3
Trappistes Rochfort Biere 6
Abbaye St. Remy, Belgium

Straw/hay nose with hints of roasted malts. Tart and sweet with herbal hints and a long finish.

3
Salvation
Russian River Brewing Co., California

Malty, sweet aromas with herbal notes and hints of yeast. Complex, rich, malty flavors and an almost dormant sweetness underneath. Smooth, with a long, wonderful finish.

3
Stoudt's Abbey Double
Stoudt Brewing Co., Pennsylvania

Smoky, nutty aromas and orange-brown color with a rich, tan head. Plum jam flavors with hints of pecan nuts along with some tart undertones. A clean finish.

3
Temptation
Russian River Brewing Co., California

Slightly sweet aromas with hints of apple and wood. Strong and sweet flavors with hints of orange peel and herbs. Terrific tartness and a warming finish.

2
La Bolduc Old-Style Beer
Unibroue, Canada

Produced by Unibroue only for its local market in Quebec, La Bolduc is a clean, pilsner-like lager that is very easy-drinking.


GUEUZE LAMBICS
Lambic beers generally are a style brewed only in Belgium, primarily in the River Zenne valley. They probably originated in the town Lambeek in that region. Their most distinctive qualities are a second fermentation and the use of wild, spontaneous yeast -- an absolute rarity in modern brewing. The true Champagne of bottled beers, gueuze may well be the most challenging beer in the lambic family of beers. It is certainly an acquired taste, and its distinctive tart and sour flavors even vex many avowed beer connoisseurs.

     Like all lambics, gueuze beers are fermented a second time to add complexity and depth of flavors, but unlike Champagne, no additional sugars are added. Instead, a young lambic brimming with residual sugars is blended with an older, aged lambic. It is, as Michael Jackson so aptly puts it, "a marriage between youth and experience." Blending the lambics to create a finished product is an art unto itself, and there is in Belgium the unique profession of gueuzesteker, or gueuze blender. As many as 50 casks of young and old lambic are used to blend the gueuze, and usually the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. The bottles are then laid down for six to 18 months before being sold. From there, these beers may be cellared for several more years and will continue to improve with age. All beers were tasted blind.


5
Gueuze 100% Lambic
Brasserie Cantillon, Belgium

A magically complex nose with aromas of lemons and delightful sourness. Bright golden in color with amazing, complex flavors that dance on the tongue. With tart sourness and a very long, lingering finish, this beer is simply a wow!

4
Mort Subite Gueuze Lambic Ale
Brewery de Keersmaeker, Belgium

A light, sour nose and golden color. With citrus and apple notes, sweet and sour flavors predominate in this complex beer. Finishes clean.

4
3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze
Brouwerij Ambachtelijke Geuzestekerij/Brasserie Artisans-assembleurs de lambics, Belgium

Fruity citrus aromas and orange-gold color with a clean white head. Chewy mouthfeel with soft, lactic characteristics and strong, tart flavors.



In the next issue, we'll report on our tasting of India pale ales. If you'd like your brewery's IPA to be included, please send at least two bottles, a flat label and information about the beer to:

Blind Tasting Panel
Celebrator Beer News
1500 Washington Avenue
San Leandro, CA 94577

Samples must arrive no later than March╩3, 2003.

Copyright 2003, Celebrator No material herein may be reprinted without permission of the Celebrator Distributed On the W3 For personal, non-commercial enjoyment and use only. Cheers!

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