5 Beers of the Moment – Tasting Notes

Samuel Smith’s Organically Produced Lager Beer- The organic moniker has made it’s way in the beer scene and this is one of many you can find at your local Whole Foods. Pretty big fan of Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and Tadcaster Ale, so this seemed a good opportunity to see how they handled a strait forward lager. On the pour, it has a pleasing light straw color and a head that was a bit too aggressive as it dissipated before my first sip. Smell was nonexistent and seemed no different then a domestic beer. Drinking it down, I came to the same conclusion. Sure, it’s a good, easy-to-drink, lager, but not worth the asking price. Save the dough, if you’re after a lager like this.

Cháu Tiên Pale Ale
This caught my eye because of the Chinese looking bottle that came from Boonville, CA. I had the expectation that is would mimic the flavors of dry beers like Tsing Tao or Asahi, when in fact it is actually a California Pale Ale. The bottle says it was originally brewed by Sierra Nevada in the eighties, then sold to the Anderson Brewing company. The brewer is actually a Vietnamese man who moved to CA, and is looking to have his own brewery one day. This had a nice amber pour with a lingering head. Mouthfeel was carbonated and quite fruity. The best part, no lingering bitterness of your typical hoppy pale ale micro. This actually stands with Lost Coast’s Great White, as being the most one of the most drinkable CA. micros I have tried. It’s a clean, smooth ale that has virtually nothing “Asian” about it, save for the label. I’ll be picking this up again, if I see it.

Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary – Fritz And Ken’s Ale
This corked celebration ale is one of four released collaborations or homages to other craft brewery founders. The Fritz and Ken Ale is a beer, guest brewed with Anchor Brewing owner Fritz Maytag. This beer weighs in at 9.2% and pours a deep dark black with a dense tan head of foam. The taste is quite complex: burnt roasty malts with hints of chocolate, nutmeg and lots of other things. The beer IS rich, syrupy, slightly bitter and lingers too long on the palette. This is best as a sipping beer with dessert or ice cream. It’s booziness tricks you into liking it. I think they just threw in the kitchen sink when making this one. I probably should have let this sit, like the bottle suggested. Maybe the overbearing roastiness, would have calmed down some.

Duchesse De Bourgogne
Picked this on a recommendation from my friend Joe. This is a Belgian beer I somehow missed on my trip there. I do remember having a tasting of this once at Hopmonk Tavern, but declined a glass due to it’s tartness. Did a little reading and found that is not made with hops, but tannins and aged 18 months in a oak barrel. On the pour I expected a red color, but is amber brown like a Quadrupel. It looked quite carbonated with a light head. Very big nose and surprising! On first impressions it smells like a sherry or sweet wine. Caught notes of raspberries and vinegar. Taste: predominant flavor was sour cherries, unripened grapes, and very sour. Mouthfeel: is intense, with good tingle. This is quite an unusual flavor that I enjoyed more, as I became accustomed to it. I like that is is less sweet and more tart then a typical lambec. Truly unique – would try again, if only to comes to terms with my feelings about it.

Tripel Karmeliet
Another Belgian tried stateside at Taps in Petaluma. This was a truly appealing beer on tap, that I had to find the cask bottle to try at home. This is a absolute gorgeous pour in a tulip glass, with a huge head, plenty of carbonation and fruity smell with hint of clove. The taste is slightly sweet, boozy but very crisp with little aftertaste, not unlike a Duvel. Although I have a few I would put before this, Karmeliet rivals the very best in terms of Belgian beer aesthetics. A great beer to start a love affair!

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