Monday, August 31, 2009


I had to check the record, but for a California guy, I’ve done pretty well in tasting the Michigan-based beers of FOUNDERS BREWING over the past couple of years. These guys are nothing but rock-solid, with a couple of really big winners in the HBJ beer taste-off sweepstakes:

Dirty Bastard (Scotch Ale) – 8.5/10
Red’s Rye
(Rye Beer) – 8/10
Devil Dancer
(Triple IPA) – 7.5/10
Double Trouble
(Double IPA) – 6/10

All of these, as well as the one I’m about to yak at you about, arrived in my mailbox via beer trading. FOUNDERS CERISE came to us from Jez, the sole proprietor at FRESH BEER EVERY FRIDAY blog. I explicitly asked him for this one, as I’d heard it was something special. I have to say, it’s good. but it’s explicitly not worth calling in a beer-trading chit for. CERISE is a mildly sour, fizzy and tingling fruit beer, the sort that a Belgian brewer might make, not the kind that Anheuser-Busch might make. Light, crisp and clean. As it warms, it tastes sweeter and like a cherry cobbler and less like a non-ripened batch of cherries; interesting that the temperature could have such a profound impact on taste. In general, it is tart and not too sweet, but I didn’t care for that juicy juicy juice feel of the thing just the same. And I’m a guy who’ll defend fruit beers to the end of the earth. Solid again, if less than life-affirming. 6.5/10.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Solo contemplation, by which I mean solo or near-solo drinking, is key for a dork like me to carefully examine & capture the nuances of the beer he’s imbibing. Trying to take detailed notes or seriously think about the wherefores of a given beer is pretty tough when you’re sitting at a loud table in a loud bar with 3 other individuals, making merry and socializing. So it was last night at LA TRAPPE in San Francisco. Yes, I did enjoy three very good beers, but I didn’t exactly do my small HBJ readership any justice by taking immaculate notes, since I barely took any. Let me tell you about the unratables, then about the one I did get to peck a few short notes about into my phone.

First, a bottle of KEYTE DOBLENNEN TRIPEL was ordered for the table. This is from BROUWERIJ STRUBBE – that’s right baby, Browerij Strubbe!! I think we were intrigued by a “double tripel”, and much mirth was made over the idea of how cool it would be if some brewer just started labeling his beers past the point of ridiculousness – “Imperial Double”; “Double Dubbel”; that sort of thing. Anyway, this was a very earthy, caramel-laden Belgian beer of some sort. I didn’t get enough to give you a true score, but the number hovering in my head was 7/10. Good enough to explore again. We also ordered a big bottle of DE PROEF ZOETZUUR FLEMISH ALE, which you may recall is on the Hedonist Beer Jive 75, and which I totally loved again. It keeps its 9/10 score for sure.

Then there was the LA RULLES TRIPLE, which was on draught and which I didn’t have to share with anyone. Check this out, it’s from BRASSERIE ARTISANALE DE RULLES from the south of Belgium. One person at our table had actually been to the brewery and reported it to be a great place. They certainly make a great tripel. It’s really dry and thin, and has the fruit “profile” of a saison. This isn’t your glistening, yeast-heavy WESTMALLE-style tripel, at least not to me – far more easy-drinking than that, and a good one to use to open the doors of perception for your non-Belgian beer-drinking friends. Pale malts, floral hops and a real clean taste to it. I tapped out an 8/10 into my keyboard while the other guys were busy ogling the waitress. With that – we’ll see you next week. Got a lot more beer to tell you about.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


The first time I ever saw these STONE VERTICAL EPIC beers on the shelves was about three years ago, and I knew instantly that there was no way I was going to buy a bottle and hold it for several years. I’ve ignored them ever since, despite my strong respect for the brewer and its beers, until the other day when I read some comment that indicated that this beer can/should be consumed whenever the hell you want it to – and that it’s fantastic to boot. Turns out even STONE BREWING agrees that it doesn’t matter in the slightest – take a look at their FAQ on the series. Thusly given license to ingest, I proceeded to the liquor store and purchased a $5.99 bottle of the VERTICAL EPIC 08-08-08 version.

Hey, this is excellent! This version is a light, frothy Belgian tripel, with a higher dose of hops that normal. You might call it a “Belgian IPA” – Beer Advocate does. It’s a very yeast-dominant beer, with an effervescent quality and a sweet, citrus taste. Probably a lot easy to consume & enjoy that I'd have ever expected - somehow I thought this might be some wood-aged monster that would make my eyes water, but it's nothing like that. Mildly bitter and tingling, just the way we like it. Really worth the wait, those two days from my garage to my fridge to my lips. Thanks to the Drunken Polack for letting me steal his photo - I forgot to take one. 8.5/10.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


We don’t veer “off topic” too often here at Hedonist Beer Jive. Normally this blog digs somewhat self-referentially and often obsessively into the beers I’ve been drinking, and leaves it pretty much there. So I say with a caveat and an apology that this post, which has been boiling up inside of me the past couple of weeks, has little to do with beer. Oh sure, it does to the extent that beer, among many other foods & beverages, can make one fat when taken in at excess, and is demonized beyond its alcohol content by segments of society bent on ensuring that American caloric intake meets their inane, subjective standards. Yet this is actually a story of American individual freedoms on a collision course with the nanny state, under the guise of “improving health care” and “fairness”.

Let me just cut to the chase. Fifteen years ago, when we were all debating government involvement in suing tobacco companies out of existence & using the demonization of cigarette smokers as a way of confiscating more taxes, there was a common joke in play. It went something like this, “Pretty soon they’re going to be taxing Coca-Cola and Big Macs”. Many variations of the joke went around, and it all seemed so preposterous, except to those of us who saw the direction the nanny state was turning, See, they had this powerful argument that’s won over a ton of otherwise smart people. This argument is starting to be stated forthrightly and without apology (most recently in an article in the NY Times Magazine from 2 Sundays ago), and it terrifies me (most accurately, it pisses me off like you wouldn’t believe). This argument, which I’m sure you know by heart now, says that

1. Fat people, because of their slothful ways, have higher health care costs; therefore,
2. All of us must pay higher health care premiums, due to the costs of taking care of fat people; therefore,
3. Fat people need to be taxed at higher rates as punishment, either directly, or indirectly by taxing soda, fast food, and other contributors to their lazy, slovenly, fattie ways

A few words to those of you who see logic in this argument – an argument which, I’m sure you’ve figured out, I totally abhor. First of all, we all make choices and do things in our daily lives that, in the long run, impose indirect costs upon others. In the course of a given month, I myself might, for example, trample upon the grounds of a public park; file for disability; file for unemployment; go to the hospital to have my appendix taken out; inadvertently litter; get pulled over for speeding; forget to recycle or compost; etc etc and on and on. That’s just the way life is. Each of those examples, all of which are very real and/or possible for every single one of us, will either impose a public cost (the government picks up the tab for those activities with publicly-paid tax dollars) or social costs (general costs increase for everyone because of something I did or didn’t do). An obese person’s decision to eat a Big Mac, a basket of chili cheese fries or a trans-fat loaded tray of Oreos will generally, when spread equally among the millions of us within the populace, be balanced out over time by things I myself did.

Much more importantly, this new attitude of smug do-gooders is about as un-American as it gets. Without standing on a soapbox and calling up the ghosts of our founding fathers (I’m tempted!), let me just say that this country was founded on the notion of individual choice and responsibility, and the freedom to determine the limits of responsibility for yourself. In other words, your freedoms can go as far as possible, as long as they don’t infringe upon mine. Your freedom to punch at the air ends at the microns of air between your fist and my face, but until you get to that point, please, punch away. Your decision to eat a carton of ice cream in one sitting – or to drink two bombers of IPA in one night (both of which I’ve happily done) – imposes zero direct costs on my freedoms, and therefore I wholly and without qualification support your right to do so.

Finally - and man I could go on ranting for days on this topic – I posit that the demonization of fat people has even more to do with revulsion and fear than it does with wanting to raise taxes to pay for boondoggle health care programs (though both figure strongly in the argument, only one is articulated). The obese suffer from lower wages, social ostracization, sexual ostracization, angry stares, lack of mobility, and yes – shorter lives. You think we could cut them a break and let them figure out how to combat that (or not) themselves? Isn’t it more important to protect our freedom to put whatever we want into our bodies, no matter the dubious nutritional value, than to point the finger at the fat guy and call him the one who made your health care premium higher this year?

I’m happily willing to pay a higher premium so that the slippery slope from cigarettes to soda doesn’t then envelop my Belgian beers, high-fat Italian pasta dinners and slices of cheesecake a few years from now. I’ve mitigated the obesity concern my own way – by taking up running, by eating healthy foods most of the time, and by limiting my alcohol consumption, daily Hedonist Beer Jive reviews to the contrary. That’s my personal choice, and believe me, there are times when I’d rather not run, eat whatever the hell I want and drink myself into oblivion. I’m glad we live in a country where I can go down either path and dozens of others, but I admit, I am increasingly fearful for the future. I leave you with a poem, which I believe is from the 1940s:

First they came for the cigarettes, and I did not speak up because I didn’t smoke
Then they came for the donuts, and I did not speak up because I don’t like sweets
Then they came for the Gatorade, and I did not speak up because I'm kinda allergic to it and I hate that green flavor (gross!)
Then they came for the Imperial Belgian-style IPAs, and by that time there was no one to speak for me

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


OK, here I am in the friggin' Las Vegas airport on the way to another trip to Atlanta, and I want to tell you about a great Belgian saison I had a few weeks back. I have 5 minutes until boarding, so I need to write this thing and scare up a photo from the Interweb before that time. It's from an until-now unknown-to-me Belgian brewer called BRASSERIE LEFEBVRE; the beer itself is called SAISON 1900, and comes in your basic twelve-ounce bottle. I liberated it from the shelves of Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, just because I wanted to play a little Belgian roulette to see if it'd pay off.

SAISON 1900 pours cloudy and orange. Strong lemon taste off the bat, along with rich, spicy yeasts. I swear this tastes like a tripel. Dense, and not thin-bodied. Quite hoppy, too; tastes of that fruity verbana soap my wife buys (though I've never ingested that despite very much wanting to). Very floral and lemony in both taste and smell. Excellent beer! I did not empty the chamber into my temple during this round of Belgian roulette. Score. 8/10.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Well I’ll be hornswoggled – a black saison. I’ve taken some issue with JOLLY PUMPKIN in the past, not really thinking that their beers quite matched the hype that’s swelled up around them. One of the beer blogs I cling to my bosom (VICE BLOG? CAPTAIN’S CHAIR? BEER ROVER? Can’t remember) said that BAM NOIRE was their best, so I figured I’d get over myself and give it a try. This time I’m happy to report that they deliver.

BAM NOIRE is pretty neat – a low (4.3%) alcohol dark saison ale that’s about as earthy and musty as they come. As my houseguest said, “now that’s an interesting beer”. Interesting in this case equates to a drinkable but still mildly funky, thin-bodied ale. I don’t want to overplay the fruits present in this one, because they’re barely shouting distance from the surface, and are lingering way off in the distance. But what’s there is tart and plum-like, maybe blackcurrant as well. It’s that yeasty, earthy, dry taste that you’ll remember the most, and then you’ll understand why the farmers used to drink this style by the slop-bucketful. 7.5/10.

Friday, August 21, 2009


DESCHUTES BREWING earned a ton of beer dork street cred last year & the year before when they unleashed what may be the finest imperial stout ever put before man, THE ABYSS. That beer made bean-counters like me want to add Deschutes into the rotation every time they came out with any limited-edition, caged-n-corked, high-ABV somethingorother. Sure, they were already in rotation with their quote-unquote “normal” stuff; I was drinking Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter by the bucketful as a late 90s grad student. I missed THE DISSIDENT, the most recent of their big boy beers, when it was around (like I said, these are limited edition), but thankfully BLACK BUTTE XXI and MIRROR MIRROR are pretty easy to find where I come from. I decided to buy a bottle of the latter, said to be “an inspired version of Mirror Pond Pale ale” (which is BS, but we’ll get into that).

DESCHUTES MIRROR MIRROR is a no-doubt-about-it barleywine, strong in the alcohol (11%) and way amped up in the thick, sweet malts. Actually I’ll give thanks & praise that the syrups and the body on this are actually quite a bit muted compared to some of the sickly-sweet barleywines I’m used to, but it’s a strong one nonetheless. It’s a beautiful tanned brown in color, and MIRROR MIRROR has a distinct hoppiness dancing around the edges of those big bad malts. The beer was aged in oak barrels and tastes it. It tastes nothing like MIRROR POND PALE ALE, and if you go into it expecting anything even faintly reminiscient of that fine beer, I promise you won't find it. No wait - they do both use water as a base.

One thing I saw on this one that you rarely see on any beer is a “Best After” date – mine was April 2010. Oh come on now, in April 2010 we might all be dead, right? I drank mine quickly and with extreme relish. If I can find one 7 months from now I just might buy it and see if this “age my beer” phenomenon has any legs at all. This one’s just fine, not at the hallowed levels I kinda expected but definitely worth a buy. 7.5/10.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Some confusing signals being sent across the beer world on this Dutch beer. Yeah, Dutch beer, you heard me. CHRISTOFFEL NOBEL is either a Czech-style pilsner or a “bottom-fermented tripel”, depending upon whom you ask. I asked for a glass of it at LA TRAPPE in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, and that very glass is pictured here. What’s that look like to you? Sort of like a bottom-fermented Czech pilsner/tripel hybrid? Yeah, me too. CHRISTOFFEL NOBEL is “fruit-forward”, as they say, a little tangy, and with more hops than you’d expect out of most lagers. The fruit taste is sweet, balanced by something of a dry, grassy taste after that. It does, however, get a little boring a little too quickly. I think it’s the first beer from the Netherlands I’ve had since GROLSCH, and lemme tell ya, it’s a far sight better than that atrocity – just nothing I’ll go out of my way to sample again. 6.5/10.

Monday, August 17, 2009


It’s rare that you head into a chain brewpub for dinner & a beer and walk out having tried a house specialty that instantly vaults into your all-time top 40 beers – isn’t it? Folks, that’s what happened a couple weeks back in Atlanta to me. I’d just finished my work endeavors, which (seriously) consisted of attending the San Francisco Giants/Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field. This, you may recall, was the day Barry Zito put an end to the Giants’ losing streak by finally stopping Atlanta’s murderer’s row lineup, thank god. Mark Burhle also threw a perfect game that afternoon for the Chicago White Sox. Remember that day? Well, as you were probably still at work yourself, I was heading over to 5 SEASONS BREWING in Atlanta’s “Westside” neighborhood for a quick dinner on my way to the airport and a trip back home. Not only was my food fantastic (this place has the food of a white-tablecloth restaurant while retaining the ambiance of your typical exposed-pipe, high-ceilinged brewpub), but I drank the aforementioned beer. Twice, in fact.

It’s called VENUS BELGIAN WIT, and it looks like it’s brewed on the premises, only at this particular location. It may be the best witbier I’ve ever had, and the quintessential summer beer. 5 SEASONS VENUS pours a cloudy orange, and somehow packs and incredible amount flavor into a fairly simple beer. Lightly spicy, but then there’s this great lingering lemon, wheat and orange zest kick to it that’s just an incredible combination of flavors. Sweet, sure. Your girlfriend’s gonna love it. You are too – it’s this unique, softly carbonated wheat/wit beer that’s on top of my witbier world right about now. I drank up to the legal limit and got going on my journeys, with a vow to return if and only if this is still on tap. 9.5/10.

Friday, August 14, 2009


It seems somewhat disingenuous to only be celebrating the third anniversary of PORT BREWING; after all, this outfit (also tangentially responsible for the incredible LOST ABBEY series of beers) was well-known to Southern California beer lovers as PIZZA PORT for many years before that. One of their stocks-in-trade has been the India Pale Ale, or what some people down there call “San Diego-style” IPAs. I reckon this style of IPA is characterized by loads of hops, a general freshness, and a big citrus taste – yeah, exactly like any other good IPA, whether it’s from Encinitas, La Jolla, King of Prussia or Burton-on-Trent.

PORT BREWING 3RD ANNIVERSARY ALE is a nice correction after my experience with the last two highly-touted IPAs these guys came up with. I didn’t dig the 2ND ANNIVERSARY ALE; I thought HOP 15 was pretty foul as well. I’ve been waiting for a PORT BREWING India Pale Ale that could hit the lofty heights established by a beer I got to try twice three years ago called HOP SUEY. This, my friends, is very nearly that beer. This is creamy, delicious IPA, clocking in at 10% alcohol and therefore a "double". Fantastic mouthfeel, and very, very loaded with hops, which tend to be on the piney side of the equation. Wonderful aroma all around, and the overarching theme of this excellent beer is “fresh”. This is the sort of taste I’m after when I blindly grab IPAs from the shelf, and I love it when it delivers this well. 8/10.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


For those of you not in on the ‘lil secret, the grocery chain TRADER JOE’S puts out a 22-ounce bottle of robust, high-alcohol “vintage” ale every year, and sells it alongside their six-packs of contract-brewed pale ales, ambers, cans of Guinness, etc. These vintage ales happen to be made up Quebec way by UNIBROUE, who just happen to be one of Hedonist Beer Jive’s favorite brewers. They generally retail at an exceptionally low $4.99 per bottle, and based on the two that I’ve had so far, they’re worth it in spades. The beer is meant to be aged, but I’ll be honest with you, not only am I not patient enough to age my beer, nor am I much of a believer in “aging”, I also know that there are certain “inventory costs” that come from leaving a beer sitting on the shelf of the garage, a.k.a. my beer cellar. The beer sitting there that’s dubiously “aging to perfection” could instead be a beer that I could put into my refrigerator this afternoon, and consume tonight. Since I’ve never wanted to wait 2-3 years to see how an aging beer turned out, to say nothing of the fact that I wouldn’t know what to compare it to anyway, I just drink ‘em when I feel like it. Hey, the fact that this 2008 beer made it until August 2009 to be consumed is a world record for me. I’m sure it was just awful nine months ago.

Since UNIBROUE can do little wrong, I knew this would be excellent, and it was. It runs a deep, dark brown, and right off the bat it’s spicy and yeasty, tasting of dark fruits like plums, figs and dates. The beer is exceptionally effervescent, with lots of fizz in the mouthfeel. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re going for the classic Belgian dubbel with this one. It doesn’t quite have the sweetness of some of these, and though I’ve read that people feel this is “chocolatey”, I’m not getting it. TRADER JOE’S VINTAGE ALE 2008 tastes as good as anything you’ll find playing Belgian roulette at your local bottle shop. I’m giving it an 8/10. (Thanks to Allesgut for the photo).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


....and believe it or not, it's not that pizza beer or the chili beer or the beer for dogs. It's from Belgium, and it's called KAPITTEL BLONDE. It is made by a brouwerij called VAN EECKE - as in "eecke!". (Sorry, that's a joke my 90-something grandma would've made). What made it so bad, you ask? Well, let's start with the taste - usually a good place to start when reviewing beer. Boozy, astringent - trying WAY too hard to be flavorful, and just totally off. Not skunked/spoiled off - just awful-tasting. Like cough medicine. Like liquid glass mixed with funky, leftover yeast strains. Like a brouwerij going for the gusto, finishing up with a totally gross beer, and then trying to cover it up by dumping more "stuff" in the mix. Beautiful pour - a golden, light, lazy, hazy orange - but we all know that only gets ya so far. Horrible beer! Worst of 2009! 1.5/10.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The family & I had planned this escape-the-fog getaway down to Big Sur and Santa Barbara this summer before realizing, holy christ, unless we camp, that’s a really reeeally expensive trip. We just bought a house this year, Jay’s got those very important ongoing beer expenses, blah blah blah. So we quickly re-crafted the plan, and instead vowed to head north – up the 101 to Arcata, California, a mellow hippie town in the middle of the Redwoods, about five hours from San Francisco. There we would find uncrowded beaches, strange fauna/flora-filled hikes (you gotta check out Fern Canyon, a total mindblower hike that was the setting for portions of “The Lost World”), good food, and yeah, a bunch of fog.

And let me tell you, when they say that Arcata’s a hippie town, they’re not kidding. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve got no real quarrel with the hippies – after all, I live in San Francisco (which actually has no hippies) and work just outside of Berkeley (which absolutely does). You walk around the town square and it’s one dreadlocked, tattooed, bath-challenged individual after another, staggering around with their dogs and fellow travelers. Rather than the cartoonish, Woodstock, “Cheech & Chong”-ish brand of hippie, Arcata seems to bring in multitudes of the more derelict, stoned, rough-edged, pseudo-punk sort of hippie. The kind that always has four dogs hooked together on a leash, a bottle of something-or-other in a bag, and whose favorite three words are “Spare any change?” We really liked the place, but were surprised that the age-old Humboldt County stereotype rang so true.

Now one thing I knew was going to be a highlight up here was the beer. They drink the good stuff in Humboldt. Granted, there aren’t any popularly-recognized “world class” breweries in Humboldt County, but a gaggle of respected ones: LOST COAST, MAD RIVER, SIX RIVERS, and EEL RIVER. I figured I’d grab something from each of them on this trip, but as it turned out, the establishments we dined at didn’t always carry the locals, and/or it wasn’t “drinking hours” (I’m not one for beer before 5pm unless I’m at a festival or something). I was able to taste an incredible pint of DESCHUTES’ MIRROR POND PALE ALEso good on draft – and an even more amazing full pint (not a Belgian-style glass) of RUSSIAN RIVER DAMNATION, so good it is going to move that beer up in my rankings to the 10/10 it richly deserves. But as of the locals, I supped but two in the three days of our travels. They were:

MAD RIVER BREWING SCOTCH PORTER – A huge surprise here. I ordered this at a vegetarian restaurant that was like central casting for your preconceptions of Humboldt County. An easy-drinking yet still complex amber-colored scotch ale, with a porter/coffee taste. The malts are very rich and there’s a lingering smokiness to it. It has all the taste and characteristics of the best scotch/Scottish ales, with a little bit of smooth English porter sneaking in behind it. Totally worth seeking out in a big way. 8.5/10.

SIX RIVERS MOONSTONE PORTER – I imbibed this at a nice beer bar called HUMBOLDT BREWS right there in Arcata. We’d just been to Moonstone Beach earlier in the day, and another porter sounded like the right idea. Not this time. Thin-bodied and malty as hell, MOONSTONE PORTER just wasn’t that impressive. 6% ABV and roasty-tasting, but with everything sort of muted to the point of mundanity. Is mundanity even a word? It should be. 5.5/10.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Last year I enthusiastically downed a can (a can!) of SIAMESE TWIN ALE from Santa Cruz, CA’s UNCOMMON BREWERS, a new alemaker dedicated to breakin’ the brewing rules with a bunch of unorthodox ingredients & brewing techniques. While I wasn’t bowled over by that particular Belgian/Thai, lemongrass/lime beer, I admired their panache and the general cut of their jib. So now they’re back with a couple of new tall boy cans, and this time I got to try their new GOLDEN STATE ALE on draft at San Francisco’s MONK’S KETTLE bar a couple of weeks ago. Here’s how it went down.

GOLDEN STATE ALE is a Belgian-style, spicy ale, brewed with poppy seeds. It has a tangy, thick mouthfeel, but is still square in the Belgian pale playpen. It tastes toasted and grassy, with a little bit of sweet honey to go with the spice. Cream-puff white head and lots of lacing for you lacing freaks. Honestly, it’s like they throttled back a bit on the experimentation a bit here in order to move some product, and I’m happy with the results. Definitely one I’ll be happy to grab at the Circle K or the Quik Stop should it ever arrive there. 7/10.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Ever since I've been reading about Longmont, Colorado's LEFT HAND BREWING I've seen glowing references to their MILK STOUT. It's a counter-intuitive "flagship" beer, but apparently it's among their biggest sellers. I once even read that it was "the best stout in America". Well well well. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. On a night in Atlanta two weeks ago when I quite frankly did not feel like drinking a beer, but did so anyway because I found myself at a restaurant with a fantastic beer selection, I figured whatever I chose was going to have to be at that exalted level to overcome my general ennui.

LEFT HAND MILK STOUT has no head at all, zero. As still as Walden Pond, baby. But wow - it is just loaded with flavor. Roasty for sure, but not throat-scraping like some stouts can be, especially the big boys. I'm tasting chestnuts - and coffee. It's medium-bodied and pretty easy to drink, given how creamy it is. Hey, I think the pundits were right about this one. Now if we could just get some of this black elixir in California all would be right and just in the world. 8/10.

Friday, August 07, 2009


I understand that a bottle of this dark, strong Belgian ale typically comes wrapped up in some fancy paper, likely to justify a $3-4 markup that would otherwise not be charged. Good thing that the beer, which I enjoyed on "draught" at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur, GA, may very well justify the extra coin. I've only ever had one other beer from DE RANKE before, and it was an Xmas ale that I found very soapy called PERE NOEL. You can read my scintillating review of that one here.

NOIR DE DOTTIGNIES is crisp and spciy, pouring a rich dark brown and giving off an herbal smell. Hops are about medium, I'd say. Creamy, dark malts, and a little bit of dark fruit - nothing too overwhelming, but it's a solid Belgian ale through and through. If I had a complaint to throw out there - I always try to find at least one - it's that it's a little chalky in the aftertaste. Wish I could entertain you a little more with this review but we're gonna have to close it out with a consumer guide-like 7/10.