I've decided to go on a mini body cleanse, something I convince myself to try every few months, and am trying to stay away from beer and other chemicals this week. These breaks usually happen right before I know my body will be taking a toll; in this case, it's a throwback kegger with the boys on Saturday, followed by a massive Super Bowl bash the next Sunday. Not long after, I'll be aboard a Caribbean cruise ship for a week. It's not exactly the healthiest of schedules. This week, and potentially the weeks in between events, will be dedicated to purging and cleansing.
Luckily, I reserve the other 48 weeks of the year for complete body negligence, and have a decent reservoir of early '09 reviews I can tap into. I'll hit a few today (you can call them something more catchy than January Snackers if you'd like) and save a few for later. Since I'm only doing mini reviews, I'll link the beers to their corresponding RateBeer.com pages if you'd like more information or opinion.
Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne
Vichte, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
A Belgian sour ale, a traditional Flemish red ale--call it what you want, but this one's spunky. I'm beginning to think that I can not just tolerate, but love this wild yeast stuff. I sampled this one at The Bulldog Lowertown in St. Paul, which is an expansive, fresh spot to get some good beer. Not the longest list of beers in town, but it's roomy, and the option of getting a flight of beers is nice. The waitress couldn't tell us the order of the flight, but an astute nose could figure it out. If you don't think you have one of those, ask the bartender. Staff's beer knowledge is a bit lacking.
Anyway, the beer had the vinegar sourness, but was sneaky sweet. One person in the group described it as a liquid sweet tart. I wouldn't go that far--if you dove into a glass of this with on the condition that it tasted like candy, you'd be in trouble. Unless you coat your candy in vinegar I guess. A good beer nonetheless.
Coniston Bluebird Bitter
Part of the same sampler as the sour, this English bitter obviously didn't pack the same potency, but subtlety can be a huge strength in a beer. This one smelled of honey and sweet rum, and the honey was a huge component of the taste. Very nice thin texture. If you're looking for an approachable bitter, and one that you could drink a few pints of, this could be the one. The subtle sweetness balanced out the bitter component, and for a low-content beer (3.6%), the flavor was outstanding. Make sure you get the cask version, though, it looks from the reviews like the bottle doesn't go down quite as well.
Unibroue Blanche de Chambly
Unibroue sampler packs are beginning to pop up all over the place recently, and I received one as a Christmas gift from a co-worker (love co-workers who do their homework). It's not exactly the best time to dive into a Belgian White, but it's a beer-drinker's responsibility to be able to assess a beer objectively despite the circumstances.
Big froth on this one. I know it's called head, and I could use a finger measurement, but this really did remind me of cappuccino froth. Classic spicy witbier smell. I enjoyed the color spectrum especially on this one, from a dusty lemon peel to cloudy melon. Drinking this beer in the proper glass allows you to fully appreciate the multiple senses a beer can tickle.
There was definitely more fruit than spice as far as taste goes, and if you're not a fan of wheat beers, well, you know to stay away. But on the right day (maybe a Saturday), and in the right place (maybe on a boat) this beer could be perfect.
My first Brazilian beer, and one of the few smoked beers I've had. Right off the bat, I'll tell you that it's no Surly Smoke, nor is it close. But it's not bad. The smell was strangely sweet to me; I couldn't stop thinking about tangy barbeque sauce. Sweetness came through in the taste, with some caramel as well. It was good for a few sips, but I labored to get the whole bottle down. Eisenbahn is beginning to show up in Minnesota (I bought this one in South Dakota of all places) so maybe I'll give it another try.