Belgian Pale Ale

North Coast – Grand Cru

Good evening fellow beer lovers. It’s a lovely Thursday night, I just finished a great meal, and now it’s time to review a brew. Tonight the brew is a Grand Cru from the likes of North Coast, the wonderful brewery who brings you Old Rasputin. I was surprised to see this beer from them, so I made sure to grab it. I’ve had a couple Grand Cru beers before, they are as different as snowflakes. Rodenbach Grand Cru, man what a beer! It was my first sour beer and I didn’t even know sours existed. I don’t think anything could have prepared me from that shock, like expecting a glass of water and getting vodka instead. Only now I’m looking for more…well I guess I did that with vodka too. I’m very interested to see how North Coast’s entry holds up against the others I’ve had. Well let’s get to it then…
Now this, this is beauty! The head is pretty heavy, but it disappears faster than a jack-rabbit on payday. Ok, I know that comparison doesn’t really add up, but I think it sounds funny so it’s staying. Anyway, she’s lovely golden color and very clear. Definitely clearer than the majority of beers I consume. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a different style of brew. That doesn’t mean she’s a fragile girl. At 12.9%, this beer makes Old Rasputin her bitch. Good thing this isn’t a 750ml bottle! I bet we can smell that alcohol, as innocent as she looks.

Well, as expected her aroma is extremely alcoholic. It’s not a bad thing however, it smells a lot like a white wine, maybe a bit floral with a very boozy quality to the scent. She definitely promises to pack a punch, there’s no gettin’ around that alcoholic aroma. Well no sense in letting it go to waste, let’s give her a taste.

Ok, this is a fairly balanced beer… but in a somewhat unorthodox way. First of all, the balance is between sweetness, and the immense flavor of alcohol. I’m gonna talk through it step by step…ready? Ok!

First and foremost you get the sweetness. I want to say it’s pineapple flavor, but I hate pineapples and I like this taste so it’s not quite that. Maybe more like a kiwi or something. It’s a very crisp sweetness that’s fruity, but hard to nail down to one fruit. I know there’s a gay joke in that somewhere…please e-mail them to me post-haste. The sweet flavor loses power very quickly however, and an almost tart taste takes over. It’s not mouth-puckering tart, but it’s enough to squash the sweetness. What truly contrasts the sweetness however, is the swallow. It’s a tidal wave of alcohol blasting away any remnants of sweetness or tartness, but as the wave recedes, a tiny bit of sweetness is found. They lay side by side for a while, until they both are taken back into the sea by the gentle waves. This whole scene is perfectly supported by a very crisp body. It allows the flavors to truly take center stage. The whole experience, albeit a bit sweet, is very enjoyable.

Overall, this is a great beer to write an ocean metaphor for. It’s also a great brew to enjoy, and seems well suited for the upcoming holiday season. An innocent looking Belgian pale ale that’s insanely strong and pretty damn good.

Until next beer, this is Brian G. signing out.

Categories: Beer, Belgian Pale Ale | Leave a comment

Russian River – Damnation


Greetings once again faithful readers! Today we have an extra special brew. It’s my last beer from my California trade, and I write that with a heavy heart. I’m very happy to have experienced these brews, I haven’t had this one yet but the other two (Pliny and Simtra) were phenomenal IPAs. But I am a man of many tastes, so we have a Belgian Strong Pale Ale here today. I’m an advocate of Belgian styles and am excited to be reviewing one again. I’ve been leaning towards IPAs and Stouts lately and it’s nice to get back to the roots of my beer appreciation. Well the label looks cool, what about the wonderful liquid inside?

My word, what a beautiful golden pour we have here. It was like beams of golden light entering my glass as I poured this gorgeous beer out. The head was a bit lacking IMAO, especially for a Belgian style, but there is a thin rim left. Ah…I suppose we’ll let it slide this time, but next time I want some extra head from my Belgian…beer. It’s fairly opaque and a bit cloudy, but there was a healthy amount of yeast sediment in this bottle as any good Belgian beer should have. I probably let a little too much sediment slip past my watchful eye. Well enough looking, lets take a whiff!

Mmmm… there’s that spicy Belgian smell. It’s got a spice and sickly sweet smell, kind of like a farmyard. This is pretty common in the lighter Belgian styles. When I say light I mean in body, not in alcohol! This baby weighs in at deceiving 7.75%, my bet is that you can’t even taste it. You come to really enjoy this aroma, even though it does smell a bit like the sweetness of rotting garbage. Usually it leads to a very complex and balanced brew. The trick with Belgian style brews is to let the yeast flavor come out rather than subduing it like in lagers….but I didn’t come here to bore (that word still looks violent to me) you so lets raise this golden goddess to my lips.

Excellent beer right here, that’s the first thought in my mind. It’s incredibly light considering the alcoholic content. These beers can really creep up on you if you don’t check the alochol percentage. It’s kind of like the ninja of beer, you think everything is fine and then BAM your drunk and in the bushes. You must show discipline when imbibing these crafty beauties and so I shall! Let me take my time to thoroughly describe this taste.

First you get the sweetness from the barnyard like taste. Now keep in mind barnyard taste might sound horrible, but its lacking the disgusting parts, believe me! The swallow is a bit spicy with nice carbonation complemented by a wave of sweetness in the middle. Then this lovely lady finishes with an ever-so-slight bitterness to balance her light sweetness. Somehow this beer has a light yet rich body… I think my mind may be tricking me into thinking it’s lighter than it truly is due to the color. It’s definitely got this velvety smooth body to it, like some kind of sleek golden panther in the jungle stalking your taste buds.

Overall this beer is a class act. It’s not trying to be fancy, just a solid pale Belgian with a little extra kick. And that’s hows I likes em!
Until next beer this is Brian G signing out!

Categories: Beer, Belgian Pale Ale | 4 Comments

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