Beer Review: De Proef/Hair of the Dog Flanders Fred

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Was thrilled to stumble across this in the international section at Binnys as Hair of the Dog is one of my favorite breweries and I don’t get to drink their beer nearly enough. Alan Sprints of Hair of the Dog collaborated with De Proef as part of their Brewmaster’s Collaboration series to make this beer, Flanders Fred. It is the first time the series has featured a blend, pairing Hair of the Dogs infamous Fred with a Flanders Lambic from De Proef. Flanders Fred comes in at 7.5% ABV,

Appearance: Cloudy deep golden orange color with a small head that dissipates quickly. Super sticky lacing as you drink.

Nose: Smells tart with some funky fruit and lambic yeast notes. Some nice dark fruit and spicy notes as well.

Taste/Mouth: Nice sparkling, clean and mineral feel to it. Some nice fruit notes, sour and tart but not overbearing. Wheat and salty brine flavors come through with a nice counterbalance of malt and vinegar. Cherry and raspberry flavors come through as well. Finishes clean.

Price/Availability: Re-release of a collaboration beer so not available everywhere but certainly found in places where Hair of the Dog normally is not. $12 for the bomber which is a solid price.

Overall: Really happy to have found this beer as I normally don’t frequent the imports and international aisle. Awesome beer all around and one I very much enjoyed drinking. Who knows if it will be released again at any point in the future but if it is I would certainly buy it again. Drinking this really made me want to get back out to Portland and drink some Fred!

Grade:A-

Beer Review: Bell’s Mercury (The Winged Messenger)

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Doing my best to grab all the Planet series beers from Bells. This is the third beer in the series I believe. Mercury the Winged Messenger comes in at 4.8% and doesn’t list its IBU.

Appearance: Small head, little to no lacing and a lot of floating debris in the beer. Straw yellow pale in color.

Nose: Yeasty, fruity, some banana and clove notes. White grape, spicy farmhouse notes as well. Smells a lot like a Czech Pils to me.

Taste/Mouth: Tastes like a bad Hefe honestly. Earthy and musty yeast flavors, spicy phenols, grape and kind of skunky like a Czech beer. Really weird and definitely not what I expected from this beer. Don’t like the finish either, leaves a very strange flavor in your mouth.

Price/Availability: One time only for the planet series and around $2.50 for a single 12oz bottle.

Overall: Another letdown from this series. This was more drinkable than Venus but that is not saying much as that beer was just an instant drain pour. This is a pretty big miss from Bells and another miss in a series I had high expectations for. I only drank about half of it before I poured this one as well.

Grade: C-

Beer Review: Goose Island Matilda Belgian Style Pale Ale

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Matilda, a beer I have had many times but am just getting around to reviewing now. My roommate gifted me a 4 pack of the Goose Island Belgian Pale Ale for my birthday this year. This is certainly a well known beer, an award winning beer and a pioneer in its category. I have 2 of the 4 beers from the pack in my cellar so I am definitely looking forward to see how well this beer develops over time. For now though I have for you a review of a less than a year old Matilda. Matilda comes in at 7% and 26 IBU.

Appearance: Light copper color with a 1/2 finger head and the slightest haze, caused primarily from yeast sediment due to the bottle conditioning. Very minimal lacing. Love the bottle artwork of all the GI Belgian beers, very simple but visually appealing.

Nose: Belgian yeast, farmhouse, Brettanomyces, clove, fruity, sour fruit, dried orange, dried citrus fruits, spicy and lemon. Very funky but pleasant. Quite a large spectrum of scents you get from this beer as expected from a Belgian beer.

Taste/Mouth: Follows the nose with some funky sour Brett notes followed by fruit, clove and dried citrus fruits. Some biscuit malt, lemon and tropical fruit notes as well. Has a light mouth-feel, light carbonation and just a slight bite of bitterness which may be caused in part from the sour notes. On that note though it is very easy to drink and none of those flavor notes are overwhelming.

Price/Availability: This is a very widely available beer both in bottle form and on draft as well. Wish the price point was a little better.

Overall: This isn’t a style I actively pursue very often, I just don’t go out of my way to buy Belgian or Belgian style beers really. I have to say I am a fan of Matilda though, it is an extremely drinkable yet complex and readily available beer. I think its a great starter beer for people looking to dive into the crazy complex world of Belgian style beers.

Grade: B+

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada/Allagash Myron’s Walk Belgian Style Pale Ale

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Final three beers from the Beer Camp Across America. Myron’s Walk a Belgian Style Pale Ale brewed in collaboration with Portland, Maine’s Allagash is up next. When they first released the list of collaborators and styles I was probably the least surprised to see that the collab with Allaghash was something Belgian. Little Belgian from Allagash paired with the king of Pale Ales? Seems like a winning recipes, not super innovative or anything but at least they seemed to choose something they know would work. Myron’s Walk comes in at 5.3% ABV and 38 IBUs.

Appearance: Golden yellow color, very bright and hazy beer. 1 finger head with some decent lacing. Nice color to this beer.

Nose: Belgian yeast with the coriander and orange hitting right up front of course. Pine, resin, citrus hop notes coming through as well. This beer was finished with Cascade, Citra and Mosaic, gotta love that. Lot of fruity notes coming from the yeast as well. Really soft and enjoyable nose on this beer.

Taste/Mouth: Earthy, orange peel, citrus fruit, coriander and a tang from the Belgian yeast. A little bite of pine from the hops as well. Medium body and medium carbonation gives a nice bite on the tongue as well. Very drinkable beer not too much Belgian flavors to overwhelm the nice subtle American twist on this beer.

Price/Availability: Just this once!

Overall: Upper middle class as far as rank in the pack is concerned here. Don’t normally seek out many Belgian beers but I definitely respect and usually enjoy anything from Allagash. What your getting here is just a by product of two breweries doing what each of them do best. Playing off their strong points they make a very nice drinkable beer.

Grade: B

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada/Russian River’s Yvan The Great Belgian Style Blonde

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The collaboration with one of craft beers most notorious breweries, Russian River, is up next. They chose to collaborate with Sierra Nevada on a Belgian Style Blonde, or more a Belgian Pale Ale really. This is another one I was a bit disappointed by the style choice, why not an American Wild or a even a Belgian Golden? Either way I was certainly glad to see Russian River was included in the Beer Camp festivities as they are certainly one of Americas greatest craft breweries and certainly always trying to push the envelope. Yvan The Great comes in at 6.3% ABV and 50 IBUs.

Appearance: Bright golden yellow, very hazy with a small 1/2 finger head as expected from the style. Not much lacing to report.

Nose: Lots of Belgian yeast up front, fruity esters, apple, clove, green apple. Some resin hop notes present as well as citrus and fruit juice. Mostly dominated by the Belgian yeast strain used.

Taste/Mouth: Fruity Belgian yeast flavors up front carrying over from the nose. Barnyard and apple flavors very present as well. Hops add some bitterness to the mouth and some citrusy and earthy notes to the flavor. Has a medium body and moderate carbonation. Finishes a little bitter and spicy.

Price/Availability: As with all of the Beer Camp Collabs this is a one time only deal. Price of 12 pack was around $28.

Overall: Wish these two breweries went with a different style still. This obviously a well crafted beer but it was nothing special for me and doesn’t feel like a huge collab between two of the best American breweries. As with many of the beers in the pack it was good just not anything mindblowing.

Grade: B

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada’s Snow Wit White IPA

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This is part 2/4 of my reviews of Sierra’s Box of Hops Variety 12 pack. Next up is their new White IPA so cleverly called Snow Wit. Like Nooner this is Snow Wit’s first release and as of now only scheduled release. White/Belgian IPAs have never really blown me away as I am not always terribly keen on Belgian beers and I feel like many times this style has seen poor execution from other breweries. I feel like breweries are often just throwing a Belgian yeast into a cookie cutter IPA recipe and expecting something amazing. Now I definitely don’t think Sierra would do something like that. This beer comes in at 5.7% ABV and 40 IBUs.

Appearance: Pours a very hazy, light copper color with a good sized white head. Appearance-wise this beer looks like a straight up Belgian Wit. Real nice lacing on this one as well.

Nose: Right off the bat you get that spiciness from the Belgian yeast mixed nicely with some spicy notes from the Summit and Experimental Dwarf Hops. I also saw on the brewing notes lemon peel and coriander were added and they give it some more Belgian-y notes. You can get a little citrus/grapefruit on the back end of the nose but it is definitely mostly dominated by the Belgian yeast and strong lemon peel.

Taste/Mouth: Good carbonation contributes to this beers light, crisp mouth. You get a little bite from the Summit hops and they give you some spicy hop notes. I gotta say I am happy the Belgian yeast isn’t crazy overpowering in the taste and it takes the backseat to some nice citrus notes up front in this beer. Definitely get the lemon peel and coriander too. The taste is a good balance between Belgian Wit and Sierra style American IPA.

Availability/Price: As always Sierra keeps the price reasonable, I think I paid about $18 for the variety 12 pack and I have seen it at a bunch of places. As far as how available this beer will be down the road, I am not entirely sure. Like Nooner I am not sure if this beer will see another release.

Overall: Definitely one of the better Belgian IPAs I have had because the Belgian notes were more subtle than I have experienced in some of the other beers. Still I find it hard to call this one an IPA. It definitely has some crossover appeal though. I gave one to my dad and he enjoyed it quite a bit as a Belgian beer guy and me being a hophead always making him try crazy double IPAs this was a nice somewhere around the middle of the road for the two of us.

Grade: B-