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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dogfish Head | Festina Pêche

Dogfish Head's Festina Pêche, a very popular, yet somewhat quirky summer seasonal offering from a brewery that likes to brew way outside the box. They call it a neo-Berliner Weisse, mainly because Festina Pêche has peaches in it. A traditional Berliner Weisse is fermented with lactobacillus yeast which imparts a sourness that on its own, would be off putting for most drinkers. So when drinking such a beer out at the pub, people will ask for a red (raspberry flavored) or green (woodruff flavored) syrup to be added to make the sourness more palatable. With Festina Pêche, Dogfish Head used peaches for the sugar in fermentation, and then infused more peach flavor and aroma into the finished product, so no syrups are needed.

Poured into a weizen glass, Festina Pêche has a cloudy, very pale golden color. The fizzy soda-like head stacks up high, but falls to a minimal ring. No lacing to speak of either.

The aroma is of light toasted wheat malt, somewhat floral, but with a nice hint of sugary canned peaches. There is a mild tart funk in the nose that doesn't necessarily sting the nostrils, but definitely makes its presence known.

WHAM! The first sip is like popping a peach flavored War-Head candy into your mouth. Intense carbonation, sweet peach flavor, and an unexpected sourness that throws your salivary glands into overdrive. The lactobacillus yeast really smacks you in the face upfront, but slowly blends into peach, green apple, and wheat malt towards the finish. Crisp, light and bubbly right to the end with a clean and dry finish.

Festina Pêche is really something else, it's not a typical German wheat beer, and it's not really like any Belgian flemish or lambic ales either. While I can't say I've had any other Berliner Weisse beers before, I am definitely a fan of the style. It's a shame that the style has fallen out of favor over the years. Anyway, I would recommend this as a great beer to drink on a hot summer day, and I have a feeling that if you're a fan of hard ciders, you might really enjoy Festina Pêche.

Personal 8/10
Style: ??

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat NV | Duvel

Duvel, the famous Belgian ale that has been known to spawn a beer geek with a single sip. What makes this beer so special is more about the process, and not the ingredients. Instead of the usual brewing and fermenting process, Duvel ferments with their own strain of yeast, then lagers the beer for 3 weeks. After lagering, they bottle it with extra sugars and yeast which sets off a secondary bottle fermentation. Lastly, the beer is matured for six weeks in cold cellars.

Luckily this four pack of stubby 330ml bottles I picked up comes with a free Duvel tulip glass, so I am once again in posession of a fine beer drinking glass! And doesn't it look great in the picture?

Poured into the aforementioned tulip glass, Duvel has a light golden color with a huge fluffy white head. Even with the tulip glass pinching the head at the top, it rises 3-4 inches. After a long wait the head does recede, and with it, sticky chunks of lacing are left behind. This is a good looking beer.

The aroma is a complex blend of lightly toasted pilsner and pale malts, mild spice, light lemongrass hops, and a unique dry, almost granny smith apple aroma. The flavor is similar to the aroma, with a sligtly sweeter fruity flavor throughout. The juicy fruit flavor gives way to some hop bitterness and a warming alcohol finish. There is an amazing crispness to each sip that begs you to come back for more. While there is a hint at some medicinal yeast flavors, they are very subdued.

Let's face it, this really is a phenomenal beer. Often overlooked due to its regular availability and plain label, but damn near the best Belgian beer ever made. Duvel is simple, yet complex, and with it's deceivingly high alcohol content, the Brabantians picked a great name for this great beer Duvel, or "Devil."

Personal 9.5/10
Style 10/10

Monday, May 7, 2012

Unibroue | La Fin du Monde

Unibroue's La Fin du Monde, or "the end of the world," is a Belgian style Tripel. Introduced in 1994, La Fin du Monde stands as the most highly regarded beer ever brewed in Canada. It has won a slew of medals over the years in various beer events; 5 platinum, 6 gold, and 1 silver from the Beverage Testing Institute. I guess this beer is supposed to be good or something.

Poured into a pint glass (don't shoot me for not using a tulip glass, it was broken last week. Moment of silence for my dead glass….) La Fin du Monde has a cloudy golden color with a big creamy and fizzy white head. The head recedes after a couple minutes, leaving just a fizzy ring of foam with limited lacing.

The aroma is complex and full of Belgian'esque characteristics. Sweet ripe fruit, pepper & clove spiciness, floral bouquet, sugary sweetness, powdery & medicinal yeast, and moderate alcohol all blend together quite nicely.

The flavor closely follows the nose, starting with a hit of the spice right up front. The powdery yeast fills in through the middle, with a sweet and warming, yet dry, grainy finish. Loads of malt and the sugary high alcohol lend themselves to a great medium-full bodied beer that really hits the spot.

What I really love about this beer is that it's a serious, high alcohol, Belgian style beer, but it's so smooth and easy to drink! La Fin du Monde does differ from many traditional Belgian Tripels in that it is a bit more spicy, and less bitter. Personally, I think this makes it a little easier to put down, since the finish is dry enough without added hop bitterness.

Another great aspect of this beer is the cost. For a truly world class beer, it is a steal! If you already drink Victory Golden Monkey or Flying Fish Exit 4, step up to the next level and give this one a shot.

Personal: 8.5/10
Style: 9.5/10