Monday, May 22, 2006 

Anchor Summer Beer

77 / 100

Anchor Brewing has long been one of favorite American breweries. Since 1896, this San Francisco landmark has been producing great beers. If ever in SF, make the brewery tour a part of your visit. Great fun. The tours fill up quick; so be sure to sign up a few weeks in advance.

This is their summer offering - a beer is something I could throw back quite easily during some summer bbq days. I got an early start and did so this past weekend.

It has a light yellow color with a medium white head. Aroma is slight: some wheat and a hint of citrus. The taste is refreshing, the wheat is the initial flavor. The malt brings it altogether. It's light and refreshing.

A decent summer wheat.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 

2006 Stone Imperial Russian Stout

91 / 100

This is one of those remarkably delicious things that everyone raves about, it is rank as the 2nd best beer in the world according to Beer Advocate. It's hype so much that you just know it's going to be a letdown. And then it isn't.

This pours dark as night, slightly syrupy with a chocolatey slight head. It looked real nice in my Stone Imperial Russian Stout tulip glass. Yeah I'm pretty fucking rad.

The aroma is slightly subdued: expresso, roasted malt and dark chocolate. The sip is smooth and full of body. The taste is complex: the coffee, the chocolate adding a slight sweetness. A lot is going on and it's all quite pleasant. The texture is brilliant.

While there's undenying the alcohol content (at 10.80% ABV), the warmth it provides is not overbearing and it's quite drinkable. I imagine having this aged a year or two will bring out some other characteristics. Pretty damn good now too.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006 

Westmalle Tripel

96 / 100

To continue my love for the Trappists, I recently hundered down with an old favorite: Westmalle's Tripel.

Pours beautifully into my chalice; a nice hazy golden color with a thin white head that retains quite well with some gorgeous lacing. It has a sweet aroma with citrus fruits evident and the slightest hint of coriander. It tastes remarkable - sweetness in the yeast, some cloves and bit tart. Nice medium body with a warming alcohol feel. The 9.5 is very well hidden. I could drink a few of these.

The best tripel I've ever had. Delicious.

Monks, what can't they do?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 


Much like sparkling wine can only be Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region of France and whiskey can only be Bourbon if it’s from Bourbon County, Kentucky; only beer made in by monks in Trappist Abbeys can truly be called – Trappist.

In today’s Belgium, there remain just 6 Abbeys of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, more commonly known the Trappist Order, that carry the official Trappist approval :

Bières de Chimay

Brasserie d'Orval

Brasserie de Rochefort (Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy)

Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse

Brouwerij Westmalle

Brouwerij Westvleteren (Abbey of of Saint Sixtus)

The most prevalently available is Chimay. Three varieties (Première, Grande Réserve and Cinqs Cents) of Chimay can be found quite easily with a bit of effort - even Trader Joe’s is now carrying them. If nothing else, do yourself a favor in sampling one of these delicious ales. The Cinq Cents is a great starting point if you’re not ready to jump full into heavy ales.

I’ve sampled most of the imported bottled versions of all of the other Trappists – all but one: Westvleteren. According the Beer Advocate Top 100 Westvleteren 12 is the best beer in the world, as reviewed by it's readers (Westvleteren 8 is the 4th best). Perhaps it's a bunch of beer geeks showing off that they were able to get this elusive beverage, or perhaps it really its that good. My bet is somewhere in between. There is only one place outside of the Abbey of Saint Sixtus where this can be purchased (and for a hefty shipping fee, also ordered online) and that is Belgian Shop. Before you hurry off to buy some, I will tell you that I've ordered a few, several months ago that I'm still waiting to be delivered.

If you scour the local beer shops you can find the others. Rochefort and Achel seem to have gained distribution over the last year. A trip to Cap N Cork can find you Rochefort, Achel, Chimay, Westmalle and Orval (thus far, my favorite). Worth any trip for these fine beers.

Friday, May 05, 2006 

Taj Mahal Premium Lager

43 / 100

Like many before me, I kicked it to this not terribly delicious beverage while enjoying some fine Indian food. It's light, bland and a bit sweet when it shouldn't be.

This rivals a bad American macro beer but without the crisp, refreshing qualities that a better one would have.

Go fo the mango lassi.

Thursday, May 04, 2006 

Brother Thelonious

68 / 100

North Coast Brewing declares:

With the developing interest in Belgian abbey ales and the monasteries that brew them, it’s time to remind the world that here in the U.S., we have a Monk of our own. Jazz icon Thelonious Monk is the inspiration for North Coast Brewing’s new Belgian-style abbey ale called, appropriately enough, Brother Thelonious. The beer is being released in conjunction with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (, and the brewery will make a contribution to the Institute for every case sold to support jazz education.

I was very excited to try this beer. As you can see the label is brilliant as was the manifesto.

It poured a muddy brown with virtually no head into my tulip glass. The aroma was somewhat sweet: dark cherry, some clove with some malt character. The taste waws subdued, far more than expected. The fruitiness was there, raisin and roasted malts came through. There was a hint of chardonnay too, which caught me off guard. I kept hoping more flavor would come through, the taste was pleasant but somewhat watery.

By the time I reached the bottom of the 750 mL, I was well ready to move on. I wasn't drinking it terrobly slowly, but it seemed to drastically lose carbonation.

Worth buying for a try and the beautiful label, but not much more than that.