I love pulling out a bottle of Chimay, because it makes using my Chimay glass feel so official The Chimays are Trappist ales, and I’ve previously reviewed Chimay’s Grande Reserve Ale, which is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Tonight I’m drinking Première, an Abbey Dubbel ale. It still has the fruity undertones of Belgian yeast, but this one isn’t primarily cherry like the Grande Reserve, but peach and apricot, more complex and not as sweet. The Grande Reserve is probably my favorite Chimay, but this is still an outstanding example of a Trappist ale, and not a beer to miss.
The theme for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Pangaea ale is that it’s a world beer. To that end, it’s brewed with ingredients taken from each of the seven continents. (Yes, even Antarctica which provides some, though I imagine certainly not all, of the water.) What that means to you and me, is that we have another spicy beer from Dogfish Head. The nose is heavy with Belgian yeast and ginger. There is cherry and orange in a malty middle, which fades to a slightly bitter but not particularly hoppy finish. It’s another interesting and unusual beer from Dogfish Head. Unfortunately, it’s also on hiatus, so it’s unlikely you’ll find it available in the near future.
Brew Free! Or Die IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery of San Francisco California is a canned beer that is worth buying just for the artwork on the cans, and on the cardboard box that a six-pack comes in. Now, I know that the beer needs to stand for itself, but the packaging is seriously cool. So now that we have that out of the way, how is the beer? Well, in a word, excellent. It’s a traditional IPA, with citrus and floral notes in the nose, orange and a bit of bread in the middle, and seriously biter hops in the grassy finish. It’s clean, well-executed, and the transitions are well balanced with nothing overwhelming or under-stated. My verdict is that this is a really good IPA.
My last experience with Chateau Jiahu was disappointing. A manufacturing flaw meant that the bottle hadn’t sealed properly, so by the time I got it home it was flat, spoiled, and undrinkable. Not this time however. I’ve finally found another bottle and to my delight, this one poured perfectly, fizzy and fresh. The nose on this beer isn’t strong, with just a hint of yeast and orange. The middle however, is a different story. The heavy carbonation makes the taste of the grapes explode on your tongue, the sweetness still accentuated by the addition of honey. It’s a heavy beer, sticky and lingering, fading away to a final note of alcohol. It’s a big beer too, at 10% ABV. This is the closest I’ve ever had to champagne in a beer. This is definitely a dessert beer, and a good one.
It’s that time of year. Spring is in the air, and the spring seasonals are starting to hit the retail shelves. Dig Pale Ale is a spring seasonal offering from New Belgium Brewing, who are most famous for an amber ale named Fat Tire. This is the first time I’ve had Dig, and it’s a little more subdued than the average pale ale, with less pronounced bitterness from the hops. The nose isn’t overwhelming, with hints of pine and lemon. The middle is strongly bready and chewy, and the finish is where the bitterness of the hops really shows up, with more pine and lemon zest. It’s a pleasant take on a pale ale, bitter but less bitter than some, and I quite like it.