Allagash calls Hoppy Table Beer a “Dry hopped Belgian-style ale.” What it is not, first off, is an IPA. The head is very light foam, and long lasting. The nose is grassy and crisp. The middle is very hop heavy, but spicy, herbal and dry, not piney or citrusy. There is some prominent lemon in the finish. The body is light to medium and the alcohol is an easy drinking 4.8% ABV. A really unusual, and outstanding beer.
So it’s November, and Bière de Provence is a summer saison. Sue me. I try every Dogfish Head beer I can find, and this is when I happened to find this one, and I won’t pass up the opportunity to try it, whatever the season. This is a Belgian Saison, and the tagline is that it is brewed with lavender, marjoram, and bay leaves. The lavender is immediately apparent in the nose, which is predominately floral with a bit of fruity Belgian yeast adding some banana esters. The middle explodes with pepper, herbal notes and sweet malty undertones. The finish is yeasty, fruity and mellow. The body is medium and the for a summer saison the alcohol is a beastly 8.3% ABV, A delicious beer and a fine saison that I wish I’d discovered earlier.
Beer To Drink Music To is a Belgian style Tripel from our good friends at Dogfish Head in Delaware. Dogfish Head is known for their off-centered ales, but there really isn’t a lot weird about this beer…It’s a fairly straight-forward, really nice Belgian Tripel. The nose is yeasty and fruity, with banana and fig notes, the middle is fruity and spicy with some pepper and apricot, and there’s vanilla in the finish. This all makes for a really nice, solid example of the style. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a stout 9% ABV.
Scattered Sun is a Belgian-style Witbier from Southbound Brewing Co. of Savannah, Georgia. The head is foamy and voluminous, dissipating fairly quickly but leaving an inch or so that lasts for quite awhile. The nose is fruity and yeasty and definitely Belgian. The middle has tart lemon, sweet orange, and a bit of coriander. The orange strengthens in the finish along with a nice dry wheat flour and a bit of breadiness. A very pleasant and refreshing brew, and a relatively light 5.2% ABV makes this a perfect summer drink. I’m enjoying it quite a lot.
Victoria is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed with 500 lbs of crushed Chardonnay grapes, which are definitely the dominant influence. The nose has grapes, yeast, and a bit of butter. The middle is heavy with sweet grape, contrasted sharply by bitter herbal grassy notes, and some spicy heat in the background, all of which remain and fade in the finish. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a robust 9.0% ABV.
I’ve done several Allagash reviews lately, and there are more to come, but tonight’s brew is their Tripel ale. It’s a beautiful bottle-conditional standard Belgian Tripel, with yeast, honey, and fruit in the nose. The middle is fruity with pear and grape notes dominating. The finish is sweet and silky, with just a hint of pepper at the end. It’s an outstanding example, perfectly executed, one of the best of the style. The body is medium to heavy, and alcohol is stout at 9.0% ABV.
Allagash calls Black a Belgian-style stout, brewed with roasted and chocolate malt and caramelized candi sugar. The nose has a bit of coffee and dark fruit. The middle is silky smooth and bready. It’s brown sugary sweet, but only mildly so; not too sweet. Coffee and chocolate rise in the finish. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is high for a stout, but not for a Belgian at 7.5% ABV. A beautifully executed stout, in all, and lovely to drink.
Raftman is a Belgian Pale Ale from Unibroue, made with smoked whiskey malts. The nose is floral, yeasty and bready, with a bit of lemon. The middle is fruity and light. Banana, apple, and pear are here. I have to say, I’m not picking up any smokiness from the malt at all. The finish is more of the same. The body is medium, and the alcohol is a pleasant 5.5% ABV. A nice refreshing beer that would be great for summer.
Confluence is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, dry hopped and fermented with Brettanomyces. The fact that it is dry-hopped does not mean this is a “hoppy” beer, and in fact, in traditional Belgian style it is the malt and yeast on display here. Even though this is a “strong” pale ale, it’s certainly on the lighter side for a Belgian, and for Allagash. The head is foamy and quite pronounced. The nose is quite faint, and has some grape and pear notes. I didn’t catch much else. In the middle are strong pear flavors and a bit of lemon. This continues into the finish with the pear fading and the lemon rising, and some pepper entering the mix to spice things up. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a reasonable 7.1% ABV. A nice, clean, very well done beer.
On the bottle, Le Freak is described as a “Belgian Imperial IPA.” The Green Flash website expands a bit, explaining that it’s a hybrid of a Belgian Tripel and an American Imperial IPA. Interesting. The head is beautiful. Big and velvety, and it lasts for minutes. The nose is distinctively Belgian, with loads of fruit. The hybrid nature comes through in the middle with something I might describe as a battle between the sweet and complex Belgian, which is definitely here in full force, and the strong bitter west-coast style IPA that Green Flash is known for, which is just as present. There are spices, cherry, plum, pine, orange and grapefruit all mingling and alternately coming to the fore. The finish has some bitter citrus rind from the IPA, but is more Belgian in character with marmalade and a bit of licorice. The body is quite full and heavy, and the alcohol is 9.2% ABV, about what you’d expect for this style of ale. It’s probably not the next big thing, but it’s a fun mix, certainly enjoyable if you like the component styles, and well executed.