August/September 2008

Belgian Beers

Ahh, summertime. How about that Global Warming? Hot enough for you yet? One of the greatest pleasures of getting overheated and mad thirsty in this sultry climate is the incredible selection of craft-brewed witbiers. If you've not yet hooked by Belgian style beers, the vast variety of tastes and sensual mouth-feels resolve you to try another. Eventually everyone deserves a Belgian to love.

I can't say too much about the venue. It was strange and intimate, fun and exciting. Not our typical kind of place, but we're brave and adventurous. That makes us better beer tasters. What more can I say? What happens at the Rainbow, stays at the Rainbow, right guys?

The Tasters:
The Core Three - Vinny, Hop Jack and The Magistrate; and the inspirational Beer Diva.

The Method:
Tasters are served each beer without knowing what the beer is. They are told
what style the brewery is emulating, if there is a style.

Thank you to the loyal Beacon Beer Tasters for sticking with me and going
out on limb this time. We most gratefully appreciate the breweries that sent in
samples for the tasting. The next Beer Beacon tasting will be fall seasonal beers.
Please send your new or tried and true autumn colored beers and Octoberfests to
the Beer Beacon, 571 South Park, Buffalo, NY 14204 by Tuesday, September 2, 2008.

The Beers:

Atwater Block Brewery ~ Dirty Blonde Ale
237 Jos Campau, Detroit, Michigan 48207

“Oh, that is perfectly refreshing way to start a summer night!” exclaimed Vinny. The Magistrate noted a subtle spice flavor and a sweet Mandarin orange body. Hop Jack thought it was light and clean, a really nice drinking beer. Nothing offensive nor particularly edgy. The Beer Diva wants a few Dirty Blondes on the boat or at a picnic. We all agreed that this would be the beer we would go for after mowing the lawn or jogging a few miles on a hot afternoon.

Otter Creek Brewery ~ Wolaver's Organic Wit Bier
793 Exchange Street, Middlebury, Vermont 05753

The Magistrate commented on the nice, citrus nose. He also was enticed by the aroma, but thought the flavor fell short. Hop Jack agreed “it doesn't taste quite as good as it smells”. The Beer Diva appreciates the challenge of organic beers and wants to see them become more available. This beer was rather musky and the taste almost a bit too harsh, but it had great potential. It's a more traditional example of the American-style witbier, less spicy for those that like a more toned down flavor, commented Vinny. On a thirsty day, we would all finish it.

Long Trail Brewery ~ Belgian White
Route 4 & 100A, Bridgewater Corners, Vermont 05035

“Lovely fragrance and flavorful” said Vinny. Hop Jack commented on the subtle orange aroma and the smooth mouth feel. The Magistrate thought it was clear, not overly wheaty. We all thought this witbier would appeal to the new craft beer enthusiasts. The Beer Diva, thinking of her few remaining only wine drinking friends, thought the Long Trail Belgian Wit would be a persuasive transition beer. It's quite drinkable, yeah, we would drink another.

Victory Brewing Company ~ Whirlwind Witbier
420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, Pennsylvania 19335

“Oh yeah! Yummy, tingly flavor, this one's brilliant!” enthused the Beer Diva. Hop Jack commented on the dominant spicy coriander and the orange tartness of the flavor and thought it was more traditional to the witbier style. Vinny liked the wheat body and the citrus, yeasty flavor. The Magistrate found it pleasantly full bodied on the front and thought the spicy aromas and bready flavors accentuated the style nicely. This is one to savor and bask in like the warmth of sunshine after a wet spell.

Goose Island Brewery ~ Matilda
1800 West Fulton Street, Chicago, Illinois 60612

“Sweet!” exclaimed Vinny, with an expression of passion.“ So unique.” “Is that almonds or cherries?” he pondered aloud. The Beer Diva was wary - “too big for me to have often, but delightfully seductive”. The Magistrate commented on the big rich, malty nose and thought it was almost like a Barleywine, but the alcohol taste is not huge, He found it very well balanced and liked the way “it doesn't attack you.” “ It sets you down, gently,” said Hop Jack. He enjoyed the complexity of the sweet berry, estery flavors and soft finish.

Goose Island Brewery ~ Pere Jacques
1800 West Fulton Street, Chicago, Illinois 60612

The Magistrate immediately commented that this beer smelled like it had been in a barrel. He liked the sour Flemish and oaky taste combination. Vinny thought it was very unique flavor, almost like a lambic style. Hop Jack thought it was interesting, clean and neat. He said it would not be one he'd drink all night, but would be a great after dinner beer. The Beer Diva thought it was a pretty cool combination of sour and fresh oak, nicely hopped and an exceptionally fine complex Belgian beer. A most appropriate finish to a strange and enchanting evening of Belgian Beer Tasting.

--- by The Beer Diva, Beer Beacon columnist

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