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Let’s Talk About The Belgian Quad!!!

Hey everyone.  I’m in the mood for a beer.  I want a big, strong, flavorful beer to match these cool nights we’ve been having as Winter begins to tighten its grip.  The one style that keeps popping in my head is the Belgian Quadruple. It’s been a while since I last had one and I don’t know why because it’s always been one of my favorites.  It’s an old world style that’s bold, complex, versatile and basically a meal in a bottle.

When I think of the Belgian Quad four brews come to mind immediately. The St. Bernardus Abt. 12, the Westvleteren XII, the Rochefort 10, and the De Struise Pannepot Reserva.  For me, I measure all of the other Strong Dark Ales produced against these.  Now, deciding which is the best is a matter of opinion for sure, however I don’t think a person could go wrong with any of ’em.  That may not be fair and I’m sure many craft beer aficionados can point to others that may even be better, but for my money these four are the cream of the crop.

With most breweries spinning their recipes off the Trappiste Monks original concoctions (although some Trappiste variations have been produced to satisfy current drinking trends) I find that these four remain the most consistent and true to style.

 I love the look of the Quad when sitting in a chalice.  The dark brown, burgundy color with the light tan, creamy, smooth and soft head evokes thoughts of a libation that needs to be respected, pondered over, and not rushed. I also like how sometimes a trace of clear alcohol can even be seen clinging to the glass of the vessel when tilted from side to side.  Truly a remarkable looking beverage in my opinion.

Customarily, when I shove my nose in a glass of this liquid I get those aromas of boozed soaked dark fruits. Tones of fig, dates and raisin matched with that unmistakable Belgian yeast.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Granted, with these four particular beers a substantial amount of alcohol is usually detected (depending on the age of course), but as the beer warms and some of the subtleties of spice and candied sugar arise I foolishly forget what lies ahead for me in terms of potency of intoxicants.

Turning up a glass and letting the liquid molest my lips and palate I’m immediately transported to some Belgian countryside.  The rich, sweet and sticky fruits matched with the yeasty, bready component is nothing less than nirvana.  I love sipping these brews and letting them develop over the course of an evening.  Furthermore, I have zero problem consuming at room temperature.  In fact, I believe they are at their best when a bit warmer.  It seems as though the “clovey” spice is more upfront in that regard.

The mouthfeel is nothing short of amazing either.  Usually they are very creamy and smooth with a bit of dryness on the back end.  Not only that, but in most cases enough flavor is left behind after each swallow for enjoyment until the next gulp is had.  I like that aspect because I don’t have to rush through it or hurry my next sip.

The only real downside that I see when having a beer of this caliber is the fact that I can usually only have one or two.  The combination of the high ABV and the prominent character doesn’t lead to a very high drinkability for me and because of that I don’t imbibe in Quads all that often.  Either way, they are thoroughly enjoyed, respected and pondered when I do get my hands on one.  Needless to say, I always have a bottle of a stashed away for that moment when the craving hits.

What about you guys?  Is the Belgian Quadruple a style that peaks your interest?  If so, what’s your favorite?

Leave a comment and tell me all about it.

Thanks for checking in everyone.  I really appreciate it.  Until next time.

Cheers.

Photos courtesy of:

Monk:  http://www.belgianbeerspecialist.blogspot.com

Westvleteren XII:  http://www.deredactie.be

Rochefort 10:  http:/www.frenchtoastsunday.com

Pannepot:  http://www.constructiveconsumption.wordpress.com

St. Bernardus:  http://www.protersteken.se

 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2015 in Styles

 

My interview with Chris “Mr. Liquid Bread” Phillips

Hello again everyone.  I hope the day finds you all well and in good spirits.

Today, I have a special treat for you.  I’m going to share my interview with the incomparable, unparalleled, and most genuine Mr. Liquid Bread (aka Chris Phillips).

For those that don’t know, Mr. Liquid Bread has been a figure on the craft beer scene for over 20 years.  He got in on the “new” craft beer movement before it was fashionable and, to say the least, he was primed for it… or should I say his liver was primed for it.  Chris has never been one to shy away from a great beer or good times. He can regularly be found checking out the latest breweries in and around the great state of Michigan; he’s a bona fide veteran of the Michigan Winter Beer Festivals and he even has his own beer review show (check out MrLiquidBread.com), which is one of the most entertaining to be found anywhere on the Interwebz.  He’s also never afraid to tell it like it is.  He’ll openly call a brewery out if their product isn’t up to snuff.  He’s out there taking it on the chin for all of us politically correct beer drinkers.  And… just for that we all owe him a debt of gratitude.

So, without further ado.  Let’s meet Mr. Liquid Bread and get an insight on his view of the craft beer industry today, some of his favorite beers and why he thinks Michigan is a craft beer mecca.

What was your first experience with craft beer?  Tell me about the first style you ever tried?

Well, that was a long, long time ago…in a state far, far away.  Back in the early 1990’s I was living out in Washington state and got introduced to some of the Seattle/Portland heavyweights.  Breweries such as Pyramid, Widmer Bros. and Red Hook all dominated the bar scene back then.  I think Red Hook ESB was my “goto” beer back then, and even though it’s not a beer from the Pacific Northwest, Anchor Steam might have been floating in there as well.

How long have you been experimenting with craft beer?

Ever since that first experience back in late 1992 in the Pacific Northwest.  I don’t think there’s been a lull in my craft beer fetish over the last 23 or so years.

What prompted you to develop your own beer review show?

My brother (who works in the T.V. industry) and I were sitting around in the garage one night, sharing a few beers after helping our mom move into a new place.  I started describing flavor and aroma characteristics of the beers we were drinking and after a few beers worth of listening to me, my brother busted in and said “You need to start a beer review show.”  After a couple of drunken test runs of recording video on my Blackberry that night, I decided to go for it and build a show.

How did you come up with the name Mr. Liquid Bread?

That same night of drunken Crapberry video test runs, I decided I needed to come up with a name for the show. Since beer is basically “Liquid Bread” and since it’s composed of many of the same ingredients as bread (yeast, grain and water), I figured that was a great name that everyone could associate with beer.  And so “Mr. Liquid Bread” was born.

How do you feel about the state of craft beer today?  Positive and Negative.

I feel fairly good about the craft beer industry as a whole.  I think there are however, several negative aspects that loom on the horizon.  On the one hand you’ve got the many craft breweries looking over their competitor’s shoulder to see what they’re doing, or suing a non-competitor just because a name has a similar name or word within it’s name.  On the other hand you have this whole ABInbev/SAB/MillerCoors fiasco.  Superficially, it looks like a three headed monster that’s trying to dig in as it sees sales of their “macro-product” slowly get smaller as more people turn to craft beer.  But what is this super-corporation doing behind the scenes that we can’t see? We saw them influence the Florida politicians a year or so ago by trying to restrict beer sales and the filling of 64oz growlers by Floridian breweries.  Is this what’s happening with the new FDA regulations with nutritional information on beer sold in breweries?  Are they pushing the federal government to require breweries to place nutritional information on their beer labels?  That would require a lot of extra time and require lots more money for the small breweries that distribute to their local area restaurants.  Possibly so much time and money that those small breweries pull back on their distribution, leaving room and more sales to the 3 Headed Macro Beer Hydra.  Call me Mel Gibson and throw a “Conspiracy Theory” label on that one for now.

Where do you see craft beer heading in the future?  

I see larger breweries that are funded by shareholders continuing to get bought out by not just ABInbev et al, but also by other larger breweries and distributors.  Similar to what the distributor Constellation Brands just did with Ballast Point.  On the positive side, privately owned breweries and nano breweries are really going to flourish.  In another 10-15 years, I believe those same nano breweries will be your very own neighborhood brewery as it’s just a short walk from your house, just like the pre-prohibition era had.

What are some of your favorite craft beer styles?

A really good, well balanced Double India Pale Ale (DIPA) or Triple IPA can really tickle my liver.  There has to be that slightly sweet, caramel/butterscotch malt base that compliments the hop profile for me to really get excited about it.  Another style that I enjoy…a well crafted Bourbon or whiskey barrel aged dark style beer. What I mean by that it has to be a Stout, Porter, Brown or dark Lager that I prefer.  Those styles have the “backbone” to really grab hold of the spirits in the barrel and assimilate those great vanilla, dark fruit and boozie characteristics into a complex beer.  Lighter style beers just can’t do that and tend to fall short, in my opinion.  

Name your top 5 craft breweries.

In no order….

Shorts Brewing Co.

Three Floyds

Founders Brewing Co.

Bare Hands Brewing Co.

Odd Side Brewing Co.

Name your top 5 beers.  

In no order….

DC Brau – On the Wings of Armageddon

Arcadia Brewing – Shipwreck Porter

Wolverine Brewing – Gulo Cubed

Anchorage Brewing – Galaxy White IPA

Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Stout

What’s the one beer you had that made you say, “Wow, now that…. is a great beer!!!”?

DC Brau – On the Wings of Armageddon.  This DIPA is so perfectly balanced, it’s like the hops and malts are making a porno in your mouth.  

What’s the one beer that you “secretly” enjoy that may surprise us?

Milwaukee’s Best Light.  Yes…the “BEAST!”  Lay out all the macro beers and I’ll pick this one every time. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had one in a few years.  Back when I started homebrewing, a case of the Beast was sold in extra heavy duty cardboard boxes.  So I got 24 bottles and this awesome, almost wooden box to carry them in.  To me, this was the most easy drinking, non-flavorful beer that was the closest resemblance to water.

What’s the one beer style that you can’t stand or just can’t get into?

Gose.  It’s like a sweaty armpit.  If you add some sweet fruitiness to it, it’s a lot more tolerable.  But a true Gose all by itself…ah, no way.

What’s it like living in Michigan where craft beer is such a dominant force?

It’s crazy popular here in Michigan.  With close to 200 breweries, you can quickly pick up some bad habits with all this beer readily available.  You can become a little beer snobbish when you go to a local establishment and their beer selection isn’t up to par.  I’m still hoping the Michigan beer industry blows up laterally rather than vertically.  Just like with the auto industry, Michigan needs to grow its supporting or ancillary beer companies. Hop and barley production have grown, but not nearly as fast as the craft beer industry as a whole.  On a climate perspective, Michigan should be able to go toe to toe with the Pacific Northwest in terms of hop production.  But it’s not even close.

Do you have a particular brewery that you’d like to visit someday?  Whether in the U.S. or abroad.

I don’t think I have a desire to visit any breweries specifically, but I do have a desire to explore an old world brewery overseas.  Seeing the history and nostalgia of a brewery lifestyle from a different culture’s perspective really excites me.  

You mentioned that you homebrew.  When did you start and what are you brewing at the moment.  

I started homebrewing in 1996, but I am a lazy homebrewer.  I brew once or twice a year, mostly because I don’t drink my homebrews fast enough (I keg.)  The last beer I brewed was a DIPA where I tried to mimic that marriage of hops and sweet malts that I mentioned earlier.  It turned out well, but I was low on my ABV.

What does Mr. Liquid Bread have in store for the future?

Hopefully more beer reviews.  This summer I started mixing it up with some 120 second beer reviews.  This allows me to get more reviews out without spending hours in from of the video editor.

I am also planning on starting a podcast.  I’ll probably release an episode every other week.  The podcast will be a recap and discussion of beer news, beer releases and events.  Stay tuned for the inaugural episode to air sometime during the first quarter of 2016.

How can we get in touch with Mr. Liquid Bread?  

The easiest way to get in touch with me is via email.  You can reach me at beer@MrLiquidBread.com or stop by my site.  However, if you prefer social media, then hit me up at:

Twitter:  @MrLiquidBread;

Untappd:  MrLiquidBread;  

Google+:  Chris “Mr. Liquid Bread” Phillips

Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/MrLiquidBread/

There you have it folks.  A quick glimpse inside the mind of the one and only Mr. Liquid Bread.  I hope you all enjoyed it.  I know I did.  I want to thank Chris for taking the time to chat with me.  It’s always nice to get another craft beer enthusiasts interpretation of beer and the industry.

So, the next time you are bellied up to some obscure bar in Michigan or perhaps you are drunkingly wandering around one of their many beer festivals and you see a guy still going strong and shouting about Notre Dame football as closing time approaches… don’t be surprised if it’s Mr. Liquid Bread.  If so, stop him, say “Hello” and buy the guy a beer.  You’ll never forget it and you’ll be better off for doing so and having met the man.

Thanks for checking in on the blog everyone.  Until next time.

Cheers.

 

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Interview

 

Hefeweizen/Weissbier: An Often Overlooked Style

The very first “craft beer” that I ever tried was a wheat beer brewed in the Hefeweizen style.  After that single experience my eyes were opened to a world of better beer and I haven’t been the same since.  So, by default I’ve always had a soft spot for them.  I never realized that beer could be so flavorful, intense, and beautiful to look at.  After I began to explore different types of brews I kind of let the Hefeweizen/Weissbier go by the wayside.  Whether it was because I didn’t find them adventurous enough, I became bored with them or because I began to see more popular macro brewers delving into the realm I sort of turned up my nose at them for a while.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really began to appreciate the drink for what it is….  a really great beer!!!

It seems that every brewery under the sun brews some type of India Pale Ale and for good reason because who doesn’t love a great, hoppy IPA?  Just as well, most also produce some kind of Hefeweizen or Weissbier. However, the IPA gets all the limelight.  The “Hefe” almost always gets overlooked by beer enthusiasts (me included).  I find that somewhat puzzling considering that this style is among the oldest, most popular, delicious and recognizable in the history of beer.  Taking into account the ease at which this beverage can be quaffed, the refreshing qualities and the lack of strain that is put on ones palate when drunk I would think that it would be at the top of most any beer drinkers list.

It’s no wonder the brew pairs so well with the warm days of Spring and Summer either.  The pleasing fruity notes of banana and citrus combined with the clean, smooth and bright flavors make for a satisfying concoction and easy drink for beginners who are learning to gravitate toward better beer and enthusiasts alike.  As the days lengthen and begin to warm this brew goes down as gentle as mother’s milk.

One of my lifelong goals is to be able to travel to Germany and visit an authentic beer garden and enjoy a tall glass of this fine beverage.  The Germans really need no introduction when it comes to brewing a Weissbier. After all, they practically invented the thing!!!  Breweries like Weinhenstephaner, Schneider Weisse, Franziskaner and Ayinger have seemed to be the guys from which most try to copy.  Weinhenstephaner has been well documented as being the worlds oldest brewery dating back to 1040 A.D. and it has been said that they were brewing a type of Weissbier since the very beginning.  Either way, they have had a great deal of practice in perfecting the style.  For me, when I think of a Hefeweizen or Weissbier…  I’m thinking of Germany and more specifically, Weinhenstephaner.  Now, the Belgians know how to do it up right too.  Although, from my experience, the “Wit” beer seems to be a bit more spicy, yet no less delicious.  On the other hand, don’t overlook the American brewers either.  I’ve had several American versions that totally delighted my liver.

Why do we tend to overlook the Hefeweizen/Weissbier?  Could it be that it’s not as sexy as say, a Lambic that has been stored and aged like wine for many years?  Could it be that it’s not as bold and “manly” as a barrel aged Stout?  Either way, when evaluated at great depth, the wheat beer has as many characteristics and nuances as any and I strongly urge anyone to order up a fresh pour from a tap if they haven’t done so in a while and just ponder all that this wheat beer has to offer.  I’d be willing to bet that you won’t walk away disappointed. Heck, throw an orange slice on the rim if you want.  Now, is a wheat beer my favorite style?  No, but there are times when it fits the mood as well as any other and in some ways I become nostalgic and hark back to a time when my virgin taste buds were awakened and no longer blinded by the ways of stale, mass produced beer and for that I am forever grateful.

Thanks for reading everyone.  Is the Hefeweizen/Weissbier one of your favorites?  Feel free to comment and let me know what you think of the post.  I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers.

 

Photos courtesy of:

3 beers:  http://www.bayern.by

wheat:  http://www.thedrinkingpartners.com

beer garden:  http://www.oktoberfissa.nl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in Beer Styles

 
 
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