Petrus Dubbel Bruin Ale

Petrus Double Brown Ale is a deep garnet, haze-free brew with lots of carbonation and a two-finger head that’s firm and long-lasting.  It leaves a good deal of Brussels lace as well.  It even leaves lace inside the bottle.  And going back to my opening sentence, once you pour the last ounce it is definitely not haze-free.  The bouquet is sharp caramel, yeasty and malty.  It’s sweet, it’s tart, and there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on.  Licorice?  It’s a bit like sour beer with a dose of fermented fruit.  Not my favorite style, but not a bad beer.  I don’t know if I’m qualified to rate Petrus Dubbel Bruin Ale as I have not a lot of comparisons to go back to, but I’d venture to say it’s a 61/100 Belgian Brown.


Maredsous 6 Blond Ale

God has blessed the Belgians with many things, but He has blessed us all with their brewing skills.  The Benedictine Brothers at Maredsous Abbey have licensed their name to Duvel, who in turn has given us Maredsous 6.  The 6 refers to 6%ABV, just enough to let you know it’s there.  Maredsous 6 pours with a HUGE head, it’s a hazy medium gold color and displays a medium amount of carbonation.  The bouquet is wonderfully yeasty, citrusy, a bit clovey and finally slightly earthy.  The firmness of the malt backbone continues to support the whipped cream-like head throughout the drinking experience.  There is a noticeable bitterness on the tongue upon the first drink, but that goes away to reveal sweetness and more citrus notes, and a fairly smooth aftertaste.  The subsiding bitterness remains a distant memory in the finish.  This beer is clean and crisp, and it’s good.  Not great, but very good, and worth a try.  78/100 Abbey Ales

Hop Czar Imperial IPA


Hop Czar - GET SOME!

Hop Czar by Bridgeport Brewing Company, Portland, OR, is an Imperial IPA to get excited about.  I’ve read some reviews that question the Imperial-ness of Hop Czar, but that is neither here nor there.  Hop Czar is GREAT!  Let’s start with the wonderful bouquet that is released as soon as the bottle ($3.99 / 22 oz., 7.5% ABV) is opened.  Hop Czar has a prominent hoppy presence as you would expect, but it is quickly buttressed by a solid, malty wall – absolutely perfect.  This IPA is deep gold with a touch of pink, floats a giant, creamy head and leaves more Brussels lace than a Belgian seamstress in the early stages of dementia.  The first sensation that hits your mouth is a dryness that the massive quantities of piney hops within produce, and is soon followed by a smooth mouthfeel and then WHAM – the hops explode on the palate.  Finally a substantial malt follow up brings the experience to a satisfying close.  Dry, bitter, sweet and delicious.  You want a kick-*ss IPA that is not so over the top that you don’t want a second one in the same session?  Hop Czar is the one!  94/100 IPA

Tryin’ the Rampant Lion

Arcadia Ales’ Amber Ale is a good unfiltered ale.  Very effervescent, orange with a big fluffy head.  I poured about 1″ and got 7″ of foam.  It retains a good 2″ head after all said and done.  It has a nice, sharp, citrusy bouquet, as well as a clean, not overpowering floral note, like freshly mown hay, but not in a abad way.  Make sense?  It’s also lively on the tongue, but not as much as you might expect from the results of the initial pour.  There’s a good balance of malt and hops, but the hoppy dryness lingers longer.  Good Stuff, and a lot of good stuff seems to be coming out of Michigan recently.

Good Old #34

America’s Brewing Company makes a number of good beers, but I need to tell you about this one.  Walter Payton Pilsner.  Forget the fact that it’s named after my favorite Bear of all time.  It’s a pretty picture.  Deep yellow, vigorous carbonation and a nice, fluffy, persistent head.  It leaves plenty of lacing as the level goes down, too.  There’s a sweet hoppiness in the bouquet, but at this point the bouquet is only eminating from the head, kind of favoring the hoppiness.  The bouquet reminds me of the first Moosehead I drank, on Mt. Tom near Pentwater, Michigan, with my brother, while camping out.  There’s almost a berry sweetness (I said Sweetness, how clever) to it once the head has been disturbed.  The texture is nice, not too thick, a bit sharp to hoppy to sweet to dry, in order of appearance.  There’s a hint of grain in the finish as well.  This stuff has a lot going for it, but I may be partial because of sentimental reasons.  None the less, it would be a welcome addition (and will probably become part of the permanent collection) to my well stocked beer fridge.

Dragon’s Milk

I had 2 beers from New Holland Brewing Company this weekend, and both were excellent.  I’ll start with Dragon’s Milk.  It’s a strong dark ale, aged in oak bourbon barrels, which imparts an interesting natural flavor.  The higher alcohol content also gives of more of a liquor vibe.  It’s a dark brown beer, but not opaque like a stout.  The head was a bit thin, but the lacing was consistent.  The texture was thin, but the taste was complex, and the finish was dry with a whoosh of alcohol.  Not my choice for a spring day, but it went well with the Tiroler Hackschnitzel and kraut at Chef Paul’s.  I look forward to enjoying it again, if it’s offered in the fall.

The other beer I tried was Mad Hatter IPA…

More to come on that one.

Stockyard: bad name, decent beer

The Chicago Stockyards stir up romantic visions of underpaid, overworked immigrants, noise, stench…so what better image to connect with a beer.  Maybe to an out-of-towner, it gives them a connection to Chicago history.  I don’t know.  Looking past Stockyard Oatmeal Stout’s bad name, this turns out to be a decent beer.  Made by Goose Island under the Stockyard Brewing Company monicker (kind of like Jagger-Richards songs being credited to Nanker-Phelge), the oatmeal stout pours black with a hint of red and produces a nice tan head.  I find a little chocolate, some coffee and some smokiness in the bouquet.  It has a nice taste, which starts a bit sharp, but the smoke and hops feel good in the mouth.  It’s a bit thin for my money, at least to be called stout, but it doesn’t detract from the experience.  Would that be more like a porter then?  The aftertaste is coffeelike, and I’m not sure if that’s so great for my taste, as I don’t drink but one or two cups of coffee a year, but it’s certainly a better beer than I expected, especially as a non-Biersch micro brew from Trader Joe’s.  (See my review of Trinity Red Ale)