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.
Victor is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale from Maine’s Allagash Brewing. The Belgian heritage is immediately apparent with a fruity, sour wild yeast nose that promises good things to come. The middle is tart, and bursts with fruit including cherry, banana, raisins and a bit of licorice. The finish is spicy and sweet with pepper, brown sugar and sweet cherry notes. It’s a medium to full bodied beer, and an appropriate 9% ABV, which is just right for the style and well hidden, only coming through with a bit of heat in the finish. Another astoundingly good beer from Allagash.
Fluxus is an anniversary beer for Allagash, and they brew it differently every year. For 2012, it was a Belgian golden ale brewed with barley and spelt malt, and then spiced with green and pink peppercorns. The Belgian yeast is immediately apparent in the nose, which has notes of peach and apricot. The middle is fruity, with plum and grapes added to the mix. There is a hint of spice from the pepper in the finish, but it’s very mild, and it offers a pleasing contrast to the sweet fruit. Beyond the pepper, the finish is best described as buttery. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a reasonable 7.7% ABV.
Stone has branched into experimental territory with its Stochasticity Project, and today’s review is a Belgian Quad in the Trappist style brewed with triticale grain called Quadrotriticale. The triticale is a hybrid grain that is added to give the beer the softness of wheat, and the spice of rye. To my palate the result is more wheat than rye, but there is a bit of rye bite in there and it’s nice in any case. The nose has honey and Belgian yeast. The middle is sweet, buttery, bready, with wheat and a hint of rye. The finish is rich, sweet with brown sugar, and there is a touch of astringency from a note of licorice right at the tail. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a stout 9.3% ABV, but it’s nicely masked. I’d say this is another home run for the Stochasticity Project.
Allagash Odyssey is a dark wheat beer in the Belgian Strong Dark Ale style, brewed with Belgian candi sugar and aged in oak. Another way to describe it would be “brilliant.” The nose holds promises of raisins, figs, and ginger. The middle is mellow and muted due to the wheat, with clear and refined flavors of raisins, plums, dates, and a bit of coffee. While the middle is sweet, the finish is dry and flavors that come forward are vanilla, cocoa and tobacco. The body is heavy and the alcohol is an age-able 10.4% ABV. The suggested drinking window is two years, and the example I’m drinking in February 2015 was bottled in January 2014, and it’s clearly still in its prime. My bottom line is that this beer is another long home run from Allagash.
For the third and last review of my short series on the Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection I have a Belgian Quad called Tetravis. The nose has honey and figs, and promises a distinctly Belgian brew. The middle is more of the same, with raisins and currants, mostly sweet, but just a little bit of tartness and some spiciness towards the finish. The finish itself is mellow with smooth vanilla and banana coming to the fore. Right at the end is a distinct note of raspberry. Again this is a big beer (10.2% ABV) that hides the alcohol very, very well. Another really nice beer, making this a fine collection from the Boston Beer Company.
For the second beer in my Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection series, I’m trying out Thirteenth Hour. It’s called “A Dark Belgian-Style Stout with Notes of Spice, Coffee, Chocolate, & Oak.” So, what does that actually mean? There’s a bit of oak in the nose, with some traditional Belgian fruit. The middle is mostly Belgian strong dark ale, with cherries, plums, prunes, and a bit of brown sugar, but then some stout flavors start to come through in the finish…Chocolate and coffee, and a big kick of vanilla from the oak. There’s still tart fruit all the way to the very end so you never forget this is predominately a Belgian, but the malty notes of a big English stout are a fun twist and they blend well; this is a nicely executed beer. The 9.0% ABV is more typical of a Belgian Strong Dark ale than a stout, and it hides nicely and is never boozy. This is another very nice beer.
To start a short series on Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection, tonight we have New World, a barrel aged, bottle conditioned golden Belgian Tripel. To give it additional earthiness, some Samuel Adams Kosmic Mother Funk is blended in during finishing. This is not a Belgian beer in name only, or some far out interpretation of the style. Belgian yeast and traditional Belgian barrel aging processes have been used to turn out an authentic and well executed beer. The nose is yeasty with sweet and sour fruit. The middle is packed with apricot, mango, pineapple with a spicy backdrop. It fades to a rich buttery finish, with some of the vanilla from the oak starting to come forward. The promised sourness never really takes the stage. It isn’t entirely absent, but the sweetness and spice definitely dominate this ale. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a robust 10% ABV, which is to be expected from an aged ale. I love the Belgian styles and while this isn’t one of my all time favorites, it’s a very nice beer.