Monthly Archives: February 2012

Review of Solstice d’hiver

For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be sipping on a Solstice d’hiver brewed by the Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

I’ve never even heard of this beer or this brewery before, so who knows what we are going to find.

From the website,, we find this description of the Solstice d’hiver.

This noble winter beer is brown in colour with flaming red highlights. Its taste is delicately sweet and liquor-like with a hint of burnt caramel coming from the malt and a prolonged boiling time. It is a very bitter beer with aromas of hops and alcohol, and flavours reminiscent of red fruit brought by the English-type yeast we use to ferment it. The aftertaste is accentuated by the wonderful flavour of hops. Solstice d’Hiver is brewed only once a year, and is then aged for 4 to 5 months before being sold. This aging process is necessary to achieve an ideal equilibrium between the sharp bitterness and the other flavours in the beer.

Let’s give it a try, shall we???

This brew has an ABV of 10.2% and it comes in an 11.5 oz. bottle.
It poured a very, very dark burgundy to brown color with a very light tan head.  The cap had great girth plus it was creamy, soft, fluffy and semi-rocky.  The retention time was very gratifying and the lacing seemed quite good too, although after a little while, no lace was left on the glass, but it did leave a thin ring around the edge of the snifter.  A fine showing of alcohol feet were left clinging to the sides as it was tilted also. 

The nose had a wonderful presence of caramel malt along with a well blended waft of booze.  Dark fruit hints of raisins and dates were infused with some light woody and leathery tones.  A relish of toasted dark breads and mild earthy hops helped to create and round out a nicely balanced aroma.  This fragrance was not extremely robust or “loud”, but it did smell rather sweet and proper. 

The taste beget nice savors of caramel sweetness.  A prevalent “booze” stabbed the taste buds at first, however the entire alcohol tone subsided as the palate adjusted.  The dark fruits of dried raisins and dates were a bit more relaxed as well, but I still got enough flavoring from them to satisfy me.  An earthy, herbal hop bite and bitterness were discovered, but it seemed as though the “woodiness” and “leathery” flavors were a tad more reposed than they were in the aroma.  Again, pretty well balanced and tasty, but just a bit mild in comparison to some other Barleywines out there.  

The mouthfeel was a sturdy medium to medium/full.  Smooth, slick and chewy all around.  It had some very nice carbonation and a nice little burn at the back end that gave way to a very pleasant warmth after a few sips.  Plenty of flavor was left behind on the palate after the swallow too.  

Well, we have another very good beer here.  Not “world class” in my opinion, but still pretty darn agreeable.  Even though it may be a touch complacent, it still had plenty of aroma and flavor to suit most anyone I would think.  It seemed to have a similarity to an English Barleywine instead of an American Barleywine (more malt forward and with a feeble hop presence).  It’s a sipper for sure, but still an easy drink I thought.  If you favor Barleywine styled beers, I’d definitely say to give this a shot if you see it.  I know I wouldn’t mind having it again if given the opportunity.  With that being said, let me know what you think of the Solstice d’hiver once you try it.  

Thanks for reading and commenting guys.  I’m thankful.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  3.95 out of 5 
Grade:  B+   


Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Country: Canada, Dieu Du Ciel


Review of Trappist Achel 8 Bruin

Hello guys.  For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be trying the Trappist Achel 8 Bruin produced by the Brouwerij der St. Benedictusabdij de Achelse located in Hamot-Achel, Belgium.

Nothing like an authentic Trappist brew to set the night off right.

I couldn’t find any type of commercial description on the website, nor could I find any information anywhere else on the web, so we are just going to have to try this out and decide for ourselves what this beer is all about.

Let’s pour.

This Achel 8 Bruin comes in an 11.2 oz. bottle and has an ABV of 8.0%.

The beer poured a murky brown to burgundy color.  The cap was off white, decently sized, mostly creamy, soft and smooth.  The retention time was quite alright and the lacing was more than ok too.  Once the head settled it left a thin skim behind on top of the liquid.

The smell revealed wonderful hints of dark fruit.  Figs, dates and raisins.  Some spicy cloves were infiltrated by a delightful sour dough bread and that all too familiar Belgian yeast.  It had an almost “tea like” quality to the nose I thought.  As the brew warmed I began to detect hints of caramel sugar and touches of booze.  This nose was very, very well balanced and harmonized.  Really nice.

The taste was more of the same except that the alcohol was a bit more established.  Awesome dark fruit tones.  Figs, dates and raisins mixed with a pleasant bready goodness.  More of that smooth, silky and creamy Belgian yeast also.  The cloves sat right in the middle and only added to the overall complexity.  The caramel sweetness was more of an undertone that never got in the way.  One thing I noticed about this brew was the fact that it never became sharp or medicinal like some of the “American” Dubbels can be.  This beer tasted wonderful and was super well coordinated to say the least.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied.  Very smooth, dry, mostly creamy and chewy.  The carbonation was spot on and a good bit of warmth was felt for the entire drink.  The palate was convincingly drenched with flavor after each and every sip.

Man.  This is a beautiful and brilliant beer in my opinion.  It was so easy to drink too.  It had all of the proper goodness that one would expect from a Belgian Dubbel without ever becoming obtrusive or overbearing.  There’s really not a whole lot else to say except pick one of these up if you happen across a bottle.  I don’t think that you will be disappointed.  The Achel 8 Bruin may very well be the best Dubbel that I’ve tried up to this point.  I would love to pick up another bottle or two to sip on while I play guitar.  It seems like the right kind of beer for that sort of thing.  Could just be me though.

Thanks for reading and commenting folks.  I appreciate it.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  4.5 out of 5
Grade:  A   

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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Achel, Country: Belgium


Review of Bell’s Amber Ale

For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be having a Bell’s Amber Ale produced by Bell’s Brewing, Inc. located in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

I’ve had this beer many times before, but have never given it a proper review, so let’s just go ahead and jump to the website,, and look for the description of the Amber Ale.

Amber Ale deftly balances a mixture of toasted grain & light caramel notes with a range of floral, citrus and herbal hop notes, capped by a clean bitterness. This balance of flavors makes Amber Ale quite versatile as a food pairing option, not to mention being rather tasty in its own right. Whether serving as a jumping point to other styles or as a familiar standby, Amber Ale is central to the Bell’s portfolio.

Let’s do this.

(Sorry about the quality of the picture.  I took it with my phone, so the color is off.)

This brew comes in a 12 oz. bottle and it has an ABV of 5.8%.

The beer poured a hazy, nice amber to brown shade with some burnt orange and yellow highlights around the edges.  The head was off white in color, of decent size, mostly creamy and soft.  The retention time was decent and the lacing looked alright also.

The nose on the Amber Ale was kind of a mediocre aroma of caramel malt, light walnuts and toasted wheat bread mixed with a subtle fruity pear or something.  Some earthy hops gave a little more complexity, and all in all, it was decently well balanced, but just a tad meek and underscored.  Not too complicated either.

The taste let the hops come forth a touch more.  It actually had a commendable little bite.  Mostly grassy and grainy notes I thought.  A good dollop of caramel sweetness was noticed and the fruity pear seemed to be a little more pronounced as well.  More of the toasted wheat bread was found, but none of the nuttiness that was hinted upon in the aroma was accounted for.  Again, fairly well balanced, but not very elaborate.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied.  Very smooth, dry, creamy and chewy.  The carbonation was very lively and good and an ok amount of flavor was left covering the palate after each sip.

Well…  this is a pretty agreeable beer.  It’s not a world class brew I don’t think, but rather more of an easy going, fun to drink, no-nonsense kind of beer that could be enjoyed with friends.  It was super easy to drink and kind of an introductory brew for the style in my opinion.  It’s worth a try I guess.  I wouldn’t turn it down if it were offered, but I probably wouldn’t go looking for it either.  With that being said, if you guys try the Bell’s Amber Ale, be sure to let me know what you thought of it.

Thanks for reading and commenting everyone.  I really appreciate it.  It means the world to me.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  3.65 out of 5
Grade:  B 


Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Bell's, Country: USA

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