Friday, January 26, 2007 

Pelforth Brune

69 / 100

Seeing it on the shelf and curious, I grabbed a can of this at the local convenience shop in the Bastille area of France. I poured it into a wine glass as it was the most appropriate glassware at the flat I was staying. Colorwise and aromawise - everything was fine, basic Belgian brune qualities. The taste was - I guess it tasted like a Heineken maker making a brune. So I wasn't surprised to see that they were the owners of the Marseille brewery. One was enough; Leffe, Affligem and Grimbergen were readily available and much better at this type of beer.

Thursday, January 25, 2007 

Weyerbacher Brewing Company

Based in Easton, Pennsylvania, Weyerbacher has been in the beer business for nearly 12 years. I picked up a few of their beers on a recnt jaunt back east to give them a try.

First thing you notice with Weyerbacher is that they desperately need a new graphic designer. Looking at these bottle designs and it's pretty clear.

Hops Infusion
68 / 100

From various places online, I have read that this has gone through some considerable changes in the recent past. I'm not sure which incarnation I had but this is the label. I hope this was an earlier version as it could use a lot of help.

It poured rather orange with tons of carbonation clinging to the pint glass. Aroma was somewhat hoppy but very subtle; definitely some wheat tones in there. The taste again was a lighter hoppiness than I am used to from an IPA. There was a also an unbecoming sourness it’s finish. With all the delicious IPAs out there, I think I’ll skip on this again, unless there are dramatic improvements.

72 / 100

Poured this into my Hoegaarden glass. A bit light on the color - almost looked like Sprite. The aroma was citrus and coriander with a slight bit of clove. Taste was much the same, except there was more coriander - almost too much. While drinking it seemed to grow on me, but it's not something I'd actively seek.

Old Heathen Imperial Russian Stout
79 / 100

Everytime I get an Russian Imperial Stout I make the mistake of pouring it into my Stone Imperial Russian Stout goblet. This gets me thinking about Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Ahh so good. How can I not compare now?

The color was dark as can be with a cappuccino head. Toffee, dark chocolate and expresso dominated the aroma. Flavor followed suite with a slick, resiny texture to it. Also a bit of Irish Whiskey in the flavor. I enjoyed this quite a bit more than the other Weyerbacher beers I've tried...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 

Surly Brewing Company

95 / 100

Surly Brewing from Minnesota, have an absolutely delicious thing going. IPA is my favorite style of beer and this IPA is in the top 5 IPAs for me.

This wonderful nectar comes in a 4 pack of pint cans. The ones I had were so fresh, it seemed like it came right off the line. The glorious hops were well pronounced - fruit filled with grapefruit and lemon. The floral pine element is there too, rounding out the flavor of the hops. The chewy malt character tries to balance the hops - but this is an IPA, so it stands lil chance. It provides a welcome almost Scotch ale flavor.

With so many IPAs punishing with the hops in the West Coast style, this has its own character. It is its own animal. With Bell's Two Hearted, Minnesota Town Hall's Mama Masala and now this - the Midwest is proving to be a IPA location to reckon with. Shame none are available on the West Coast.

The label reads “Beer for a Glass, from a Can" and to drink this straight from the can would be an injustice.

89 / 100

Like Furious, Bender comes in a can. This is their nut brown ale. This pours a dark deep brown from the pint can leaving a 2 finger robust cappucino head. Aromas of coffee, roasted malts and even some hops breathe through. The malts dominate the taste too with a strong crisp hop bite finish. Almost seems to taste like a cross between a dunkel and a brown ale smothered in hops. Admittedly, American Browns are not my favorite. This is easily the best of the style that I've encountered.

Between this and Furious it's easy to see how Surly is becoming a force to reckon with in the Midwest. I find myself coming around to the cans too. Go on Surly!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout

94 / 100

I made a point to drink a few of these on my recent trip to France. I should have brought as many as I could home with me. Not being able to get this style of Guinness in the United States is a crime.

Oh the lovely, sweet, thick black elixir. It kind of looks like motor oil. The coffee and toffee aromas hit first. Yum. It has a warming, familiar flavor. It's kind of like that hot chocolate your mother used to make for you. That sort of comfort comes through in the flavor. It's sweet, it's malty - it's delicious.

Night and day from the stuff you can get here - sadly.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 

Bière de France: Part 4 - Falstaff

Falstaff Bastille
10/12, Place De La Bastille
Paris, 75011

I was happy to see that Falstaff Bastille, a popular beer bar, was about a block away from where the missus and I were staying in Paris. Hungry and in dire need of a beer, we sauntered over after unpacking.

Like most places in Paris, everyone is smoking - it's just how they do. The selection of beer on draught was nothing stellar but the bottle menu was great. Tons of Belgians and a nice selection of quality French ales. One problem is that everything is crazy expensive. Most bottles were in the 8€ to 9€ range. With the going exchange rate, that is roughly $14. Crazy. I settled down on a Grain D'Orge Biere de Garde (750mL for 13€) and the missus on Hoegaarden Grand Cru.

We ordered up some food: me the mussels, her a croque madame. Neither were very good. The mussels came with fries which were like something you'd find in an American highschool's cafeteria.

The service was okay. Our server didn't know much about beer but was nice enough. After seeing such a high score here, I was disappointed - then I checked back and found there were only 4 previous reviews. It's worth stopping by if you're in the area. Great beer is hard to come by in this country, I found. Make no mistake, France is not a beer country.

Grain D'Orge Bière de Garde
79 / 100

Bière de Gardes had a big area in the Falstaff menu, many made in France - so I decided to go local and try a new one. It poured a lot blonder than I expected - basically the amber color the picture to the side shows. The aroma is fruity with a bit of woodiness (think cedar) to it. There is a good degree of hoppiness to the taste that helps warm the malt and fruitiness. I enjoyed it, I have it again.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 

Bière de France: Part 3 - Où ?

Affligem Noël
92 / 100

EVERYWHERE I went in Paris, I would see the Affligem Noël advertisements. Every Metro stop, every newstand, even almost every bloody building had the nice looking poster showing a proper goblet of this fine elixir surrounded by the spices within it. I've had this years version once prior to my trip. It was delicious, no 'bout a doubt it. These omnipresent ads took over my world while in France. I needed to have more. I just did. Only problem NOWHERE had the actual beer!

After looking in about a dozen shops and probably peering into two dozen bars (even many places listed I looked up online), I all but gave up. My travelmates were all enthralled. What was the delicious nectar that evaded us so? We can it be? Finally, one bar we sauntered by had it on draught, but we were lunchbound and no one else wanted to pop in for a glass.

When I got home to LA, I stopped in my local shop - a place I knew would have it. Sure enough, it was delicious as could be.

Pouring into my chalice, it looked exactly like Coca-Cola. Sniffing at it, I even get some of that Coke smell - not much mind you, most is filled with spices: clove, cinnamon, and star anise. A slight bready yeastiness seeps out as well. The spices and malt characters shined in the flavor – even more so than the nose. It was a subtle sweetness that rounded the balance. Delicious.

A fine Belgian holiday offering.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 

Bière de France: Part Deux - Flanders

On our final night in Paris, we had our best meal of the whole trip at a wonderful restaurant called L'Ourcine. Everything about the experience was great. Careful time and consideration went into all aspects of the meal, including the beer. They only had two beers available - both regional artisanals from Brasserie Thiriez in Flanders.

La Rouge Flamande
80 / 100

The bottle was poured into a chalice and yes, it was rouge.
It had a pleasant aroma: dark cherry with strong malt and caramel flavors. It's flavor was less sour than expected, which is traditional for a Flanders Red Ale. The malts were the most prevalent taste with hints of fruits and raisins. It paired well with my meat dish, so no surprise to see a cow's head on the bottle.

La Blonde D’Esquelbecq

82 / 100

My buddy ordered the bière blonde, which was admittedly better than my choice. Bastard. Same style chalice for the unfiltered fizzy yellow nectar. Aroma of cloves and yeast. The taste was quite refreshing - some lemon, lots of yeast which even lent to some breadiness. Lots of flavor and quite drinkable.

Monday, January 08, 2007 

Bière de France: Part 1

Many things of come to mind when thinking of the food and drink of Paris. The drink that is almost always conjured is wine. I like wine. Yes, I do. But this blog isn't about wine, is it? Drinking wine isn't the only thing I do well, is it? I beer. Do they beer there? I was determined to find out.

Kronenberg 1664
70 / 100
The most exported and most popular brewed beer in France is Kronenberg 1664 made in Strasbourg. It's an easy drinking lager akin to Stella Artois. A beer to not be actively sought out but neither one worth avoiding. Sometimes it can be the best there is, sometimes the worst. It's a pale lager with a slight sweetness to it. It's a mile better than the Bud / Coors / Miller staples here in the states. In France, it is everywhere and if you actively like drinking beer and are there - you will drink it.


Kronenberg 1664
71 / 100
The newest offering from Brasseries Kronenbourg is a witbier. It seemed to be popping up a bit over Paris and was the best beer offered at one particular nightclub that I ended up in a couple of times.
It comes in bright celyon bottle. "Ceylon" is fancy color printing for "blue". The aroma is very fruity: peach, cinnamon and clover dominate. It's light and whitish. Initially, it's quite refreshing. The yeast is balanced with the sweetness of the fruit flavors. This balance dissipates after a bit and the fruit really takes over. Have one, not many.