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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Review of Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz & Ken’s Ale

Hi guys.  For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be opening a bottle of the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz & Ken’s Ale made by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (sierranevada.com) situated in Chico, California.

These brews were released in 2010 and I’ve had the opportunity to try all of the 30th Anniversary beers in the past.  This one in particular was released first.  Three more followed as the year went along and I was able to set several of each aside for aging.  I figured it was about time to give the Fritz & Ken’s Ale a proper review.

These special brews were given their own website, sierra30.com, so let’s journey over there and see what the commercial description has to say about this one.

Fritz Maytag, owner of San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company, is regarded as the godfather of the craft brewing movement.  Fritz agreed to guest brew this very special ale with us in honor of our 30th anniversary.  As a nod to the robust black ales that seduced both Fritz and Ken in the early years, we bring you this Pioneers Stout, a rich and roasted ale, perfect for aging, and worthy of your finest snifter.  Enjoy!

Time for a sip.

This beer came in a 25.4 oz. bottle and it contained an ABV of 9.2%.

It poured to a beautiful, shimmering black color.  No highlights at all shown through. The crown was khaki in color and it was exceptionally well sized.  The texture was very smooth, soft and creamy.  The retention time was incredible.  The head hung around forever it seemed like.  The lacing was thick and sticky.  It left thin “sip” rings for nearly the entire drink.  Simply, a gorgeous looking liquid.

The bouquet was awesome.  A ton of roasted malts.  Hints of tobacco and “baseball glove” leather.  Tones of licorice along with accents of dark chocolate and roasted coffee bean.  It revealed a tiny bit of wood and it was also a wee bit charred smelling. Only a minor waft of alcohol was discovered.  It wasn’t as strong as I remember, but I’m sure the age had something to do with that.  The nose was complex, balanced and very well harmonized.  

The taste followed suit with well blended flavors of roasted and toasted malts.  The bittering chocolate seemed to be a bit more prevailing than it was in the aroma.  Savors of burnt toast, deep roasted coffee and semi-sweet licorice were accounted for also. Only a very minor relish of vanilla and wood were brought into being as the brew warmed and was allowed to breathe.  Like the fragrance, the alcohol had really mellowed and become more congruent with the overall profile.  Magnificent.

The mouthfeel was full bodied.  Smooth, creamy, slick, viscous, dry and chewy.  The carbonation swayed toward the lower side and a suitable amount of warmth was welcomed and enjoyed.  A desirable expanse of flavor was left coating the palate after each sip.

Of the four 30th Anniversary beers produced, I’d say that this one was my favorite. It’s such an outstanding drink.  Like I mentioned, I had a few of these when fresh, but they have really matured with time and become better in my opinion.  It has gotten rid of the rough edges and evolved into a way more drinker friendly beverage.  It’s dang near quaffable for such a big beer, however I’d advise that it be sipped.  The 9.2% ABV could really get on top of a person quickly if they were not careful. Unfortunately, this was my last one.  It’s all good though because I may still be able to run across another bottle somewhere.  On a side note, I happened to email Sierra Nevada and asked how long this beer would keep before it started to loose some of its luster and the reply I received said that they would start to diminish after about three years.  So, I’m guessing it’s probably peaking at the moment.  If you guys have a bottle of the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz & Ken’s Ale that’s put aside you may want to break it out and give it a try.  I think that you will really enjoy it. Be sure to tell me about your experience if you so wish.

Thanks for reading and commenting everyone.  I really appreciate it.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  4.75 out of 5
Grade:  A+

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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Country: USA, Sierra Nevada

 

Review of Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien (2007)

Hi guys.  Welcome back.  For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be trying the Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien (2007) produced by the Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes located in Saignelegier, Switzerland.

I’m super excited about trying this beer.  I had a 2008 Grand Cru several months back and I absolutely loved it.  I have no reason to believe that this beer will not be spectacular.

The website, brasseriebfm.ch, gave this mouthwatering description of the Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien.

L’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien, Strong sour ale, 11% vol. is a real UFO is a beer brewed in honor of the former brewery cat, sanctified when he disappeared. This vintage amber-red reflections is matured for several months in oak barrels having already contained wine or distilled spirits. These barrels will give complex aromas that beer. In the mouth, it recalls the plot of a fruity red wine with marked acidity.

This bottle was #00276.  Let’s pour.

This brew came in a 25.4 oz. bottle and it had an ABV of 11.0%.

It poured a deep ruby red to almost burgundy color.  It was hazy with a light tan head. The crown was sized fairly well, quite smooth and even a bit creamy.  The retention time was rather good considering the age of the beer.  The lacing was thin, but it was nice and even around the snifter.  I saw a thin skim of clear alcohol sticking to sides of the glass as I tilted it from side to side.  On a side note… as I poured the second half of the bottle, the cap was a lot more fizzy and it seemed to dissipated more rapidly.

The nose was…. PHENOMENAL!!!  Extremely sour with wonderful fruits of tart black cherries, dark grapes and green apple.  A slight vinegar waft was discovered and as it warmed I began to pick up notes of subtle funk and beautifully blended woody tones.  Only a minor amount of booze was found.  It kind of smelled like sherry.  Very, very wine like in the bouquet.  The complexity and balance of this thing was unbelievable.

The taste was just as fascinating   The sourness wasn’t as “puckering” as some of the other Sours I’ve tried in the past.  It was relaxed, smooth, calm, harmonious and enjoyable.  More relishes of dark grape and the black cherry flavoring seemed to punch a bit more.  It was somewhat sweet in that regard.  A slight vinegar savor and acidity was there, but an awesome woody finish combined with a minute funkiness helped polish and soothe the overall profile.  Incredible…. just incredible in my opinion.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied.  Dry and snappy, but not quite as sharp as I had anticipated it being…. and that was a good thing.  The carbonation was on the lower side and a little bit of warmth was felt after the swallow.  An outstanding amount of flavor was left drenching the palate after each sip.  It had one of the longest finishes that I’ve ever experienced.

You know, this has to be one of the greatest brews that I’ve ever had and it totally reminds me of why I fell in love with craft beer.  It was so complex, balanced and delightful.  Every sip brought a smile to my face and each swallow uncovered little nuances that only added to the satisfaction of the session.  The drinkability was superb as well.  I could have killed this thing rather quickly, but I tried to take my time because I didn’t want it to end.  If you guys love Sours and ever have the opportunity to try an Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien…. don’t pass it up.  They are a touch expensive, but totally worth it in my opinion.  I have no doubt that I will judge all Biere de Garde/Sours that I try by this one.  I send my greatest thanks to Jerome Rebetez for creating this true work of art.  Have you guys ever had one?  What were your thoughts?  I’d love to hear another opinion.  Feel free to leave a comment if you’d like.

Thanks for reading everyone.  I appreciate it.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  4.9 out of 5
Grade:  A+  

 

Review of Surly Bender

Hey guys.  What’s up?  I hope all is well in your neck of the woods.  Well, it’s about time for another craft beer review, so today I’m going to be trying the Surly Bender produced by the Surly Brewing Company located in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.This will be my first time ever trying a Surly brew.  I’ve heard and read a lot of great things about them, so it’s fairly obvious that I’m excited about trying the Bender.

Let’s check the website, surlybrewing.com, and see what kind of info we can find.

Here’s what happens when substance meets smooth. This oatmeal brown ale defies traditional categories. Bender begins crisp and lightly hoppy, complemented by the velvety sleekness oats deliver. Belgian and British malts usher in cascades of cocoa, coffee, caramel and hints of vanilla and cream. An easy-drinking ale with many layers of satisfaction.

Time for a pour.
This beer came in a 16 oz. can and it had an ABV of 5.1%.
It poured a very nice brown color with some burnt orange hues around the edges and the bottom of the nonic glass.  The head was tan in color.  It was also very soft, creamy and smooth.  The size was not particularly large, but the retention time was solid and it left behind some very nice lacing as I sipped.
The nose was pleasantly roasted.  Hints of roasted coffee bean, toasted breads and toasted nuttiness.  Primarily along the lines of hickory nuts and walnuts I thought.  A nice combinations of earthy, leafy and floral tones added some complexity while a minor touch of chocolate and just a bit of toffee completed the well balanced and rather enjoyable aroma.
The taste presented a more robust coffee aspect than did the fragrance.  More of a discernible amount of chocolate was found as well.  Flavors of burnt bread crusts, grains and a chalky nuttiness smoothed the bitter taste a bit from the chocolate, coffee and earthy hops.  I detected a very light touch of caramel sweetness too.  It wasn’t much, yet it was pronounced enough for a slight aspect.  Like the nose, the taste was fairly well balanced and agreeable.
The mouthfeel was medium bodied.  Smooth, crisp, chewy and dry.  The carbonation was of medium strength and a nice bit of flavor was left covering the tongue and roof of the mouth in between sips and for the duration of the drink.
Overall, this is a very solid Brown Ale.  It’s sturdy all the way around.  The drinkability was great and it would really suit the Fall or early Spring season to a “t”.  The ABV is low enough to be able to enjoy a few of these during one sitting without too much trouble at all.  I’d really like to try it again sometime.  Actually, I just like to try another Surly brew period.  So, if you guys are lucky enough to have the Surly Bender distributed in your area, but you’ve yet to give it a try…. pick up a can and pour it on a cool afternoon.  I think you may really enjoy it.  I know I did.
Thanks for reading and commenting everyone.  I really appreciate it.
Until next time.  Cheers.
Score:  3.9 out of 5
Grade:  B+
 
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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Country: USA, Surly

 
 
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