Friday, May 23, 2014

LOGSDON FARMHOUSE ALES' "FAR WEST VLAMING"

Hey folks, sorry it's been sporadic here on the blog. I have this idea that we'll be chatting in this forum every couple of days, and then life gets ahold of me and well, you know how it works. Beer bloggin' takes a backseat. That said, I thought it crucial to inform you about this Flanders red ale that I had way, way back like in March or something. It's from some brewing heroes of ours whom we've raved about before – the Oregon brewer LOGSDON FARMHOUSE ALES. Anything unique and Belgiany from these folks is probably going to rule. I saw "FAR WEST VLAMING" in a store once and once only, and I pounced.

"Far West Vlaming" is an oak-aged tart red ale, one that's actually blended with a younger version of the ale after the other half's been barrel-aged. It's only 6.5% alcohol, so unless you drink the whole enormo bottle like I did it won't get in the way of operating heavy machinery. It's a cloudy, yeasty brownish-orange colored ale, not "red" per se. It's definitely tart, but in a most refreshing manner. I taste apricot, leather and wheat. Leather and wheat! It's a great tongue coater, a very good tart red, and that oak barrel doesn't come through too strong, just the way I like it. 7.5/10.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

CHIMAY MAKES A "GOLD", AND IT'S JUST ALRIGHT

I had this faint inkling that CHIMAY had expanded their lineup by 25% with the introduction of a fourth beer to compliment les bleu, blanc et rouge, but I'd sorta forgotten about it. I'm currently residing in Oslo, Norway, and the first time I saw it was last night, when I lined up at the country-sanctioned liquor store Vinmonopolet to buy some treats for the weekend. Here in Norway you can buy beer over 4.5% ABV only at these stores - and get this, the new "CHIMAY GOLD" is a whopping 4.8%. As a lover of Chimay Blue, and an enthusiast of the other two, I thought a Friday night spent in the company of their new one might be OK. Let's find out.

I suppose you'd call this one a Belgian golden ale - or likely more accurate, given its hoppiness, a Belgian pale ale. It's totally innocuous. It's a bready ale with some herbal bitterness, and a light yellow/straw color. It's just as light in flavor, to be honest. You can imagine the Monks churning this one out for themselves to quaff at dinner, and that's probably where it sits best. I drank mine as a "stand-alone" treat, and it wasn't noteworthy enough to stand as such, though completely without fault as a basic, I'm-not-really-paying-attention beer.. Maybe just a Monk thing, and I wouldn't understand. 6/10.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

THE GREAT SOUR BEER EPIPHANY OF 2014

When I resurrected Beer Samizdat from the ranks of the dead blogs several months ago, I published a list of "New Ground Rules" for beer drinking that included "admit when you're been beaten". I highlighted the fact that while I've had sour ales that blew me away and that are among the most enjoyable beers I've ever had, by and large that's not the case. I've come to the conclusion that barrel-aged, wild-fermented, pucker-up beers are usually not worth the money for this careful beer raconteur. Much as I love many beers by Almanac Beer Co., for instance, their move to sour, barrel-aged ales leaves me perplexed as to whether I should buy 'em all. There's a 2 in 3 chance I just won't like it that much. Not for me. The Great Sour Beer Epiphany of 2014. The truth hurts.

Same for CROOKED STAVE beers - I couldn't handle them - and (gasp) same for CANTILLON. Dissing Cantillon on a beer blog is like spitting on the American flag in 1950s Missouri. It's just not done. So let it be said I'm not dissing Cantillon - I'm providing a fig leaf of cover for those of us who've said enough's enough, and that we're only going to spend our shekels on the beers that truly move us to the next astral plane - not on the ones that the proverbial beer cognoscenti says we should. For me, that'll likely be on Belgian abbey styles, highly-hopped IPAs and imperial reds, saisons, Flanders reds, and the odd imperial stout. Likely other experimental styles as taste, weather and money allows.

After drinking this Cantillon "Rose de Gambrinus", it's clear that this exactly the sort of beer I have in my mind when I'm tallying up the reward-to-expense ratio. Clearly, clearly not worth it. It's a blended lambic with a huge raspberry infusion. Sticky, chewy mouthfeel and sour as hell. It's soapy and tasted "aged", with some harshness and truly not a lot of pleasure. Straight up - it's not my thing, and I love weirdo, experimental and old-world beers. Just not this barrel/sour/wild varietal. So sue me! 5.5/10.

Friday, May 9, 2014

SANTA CLARA VALLEY BREWING's "NEW ALMADEN RED"

Oh what, an imperial red being reviewed on Beer Samizdat? Quell surprise! Yeah, I'm nothing if not predictable - and when I saw Ramblings of a Beer Runner giving effusive praise to this one, I had to leap into action and procure one at once. There's already been some love for SANTA CLARA VALLEY BREWING on this site - for the "Electric Tower IPA" that they kicked off the brewery with - and my hope was that this imperial red could stand up proud next to that one. Did it? Oh, it did.

"New Almaden Red" is actually brown (in color), and believe it or not, you can smell the booze right from the opening of the bottle. This is one of those "chewy" imperial reds where malts rule the day - not one of those hoppy reds like, say, Green Flash's "Hop Head Red". No, this is a real tongue-coater, with malty malty malts and a little bit of alcohol sweetness. Did I mention it's fantastic, and even a step better than that IPA? I didn't? Yes I did. 8/10.

Monday, May 5, 2014

EVERYONE WANTS TO COLLABORATE WITH SCANDINAVIA NOW

Well, just in time for me to move to Norway for the summer - next week! - it looks like the master brewers of Denmark, Sweden and Norway are finding all sorts of reasons to make beer with their crafty brothers across the pond. Scandinavia has a first-rate beer culture that's both been validated by its own citizens and by lovers of great beer the world over. I'll bet it feels good to be a resident of Oslo, or Stockholm, or Copenhagen right now. I know it's certainly great to visit these places and drink their local beer, cities that are now spoiled for choice as any great beer city should be.

Latest evidence for a new era is this collaboration beer I picked up in Oslo in March that matches Norway's Ægir Bryggeri with Kansas City, Missouri's kingpins Boulevard Brewing. I dig the name they came up with: Ævenue. A collaboration saison. Not bad, hunh? Well, let it be said that they did the saison family a nice turn this one, as the beer's pretty goshdarned excellent. It's what you might call "fruit-forward", with a distinct taste of white grapes and other things from the wine family. There's funk in there, but it's really distant. The body is light and the beer refreshes. They take the yeastiness down a big notch in favor of the sweet, yet there's nothing cloying nor annoying about it in the least. Now the big question - can this be found in the United States of America? If not, you're gonna have to get on a steamship to the North to drink it, amigo. 8/10.