Thursday, November 3, 2016

From the Cellar: Unibroue Terrible

It's been a while since we pulled one out of the cellar for this blog, but with the weather getting colder there is no better time to dive into the big monsters that tend to lurk in my stash o' beer than now.

A bottle of Unibroue Terrible has calling me for a few years now, so let's check it out.

Unibroue are out of Canada, and until the American craft beer explosion they were easily one of the best brewers in North America. Hell, they probably still are. Specializing in Belgian-styles, they are matched only by brethren like Allagash and Ommegang. Hard to go wrong with anything they make.

This three-year-old bottle of Terrible pours the color of mahogany, with a thin, fizzy head that disappears almost immediately. Smells of black bread, dark sugars, and a hint of plum and grape rise from the glass. There is a candy sweetness to the aroma. Medium body, dark sugars, and very little alcohol despite coming in at 10.5%.

Age has treated it well. There is a softness here not common to ales. Whether through aging or because it was fermented on lees I don’t know, but it makes this beer drink wonderfully. (Lees is the leftover sediment from wine making, mostly dead yeast. In beer making, this is known as the trub.)

I paired this with spicy Asian cuisine and it was fantastic. I suspect it will go well with any bold meal.

Terrible has a lot in common with Trappist ales, especially after spending some time in the cellar. It drinks wonderfully smooth. TOO smooth, maybe, because it's hard to tell that it's a whopping 10.5% ABV. Since this comes in 750ml bottles, that means you should either take a few hours to sip it down or split it with a friend, otherwise you’ll be in trouble.

Unibroue Terrible is a fantastic beer when fresh, and after about three years in the cupboard it remains a fantastic beer. A little less "hot," a little creamier, but still delicious from start to finish. Thumbs up to laying a bottle of this down.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Spotlight on Jersey: Flying Fish Exit 16 Wild Rice Double IPA

"What exit?” is a Jersey thing (for some damn reason), so it's fitting that New Jersey's largest craft brewery, Flying Fish, has a whole series of beers devoted to New Jersey Turnpike exits.

Previously one-time beers only available in 750ml bottles, many of those Exit beers are now making their way into six-packs -- and that's a welcome thing, because the Exit series has been Flying Fish's crowning achievement, filled with excellent examples of their underrated brewing expertise.

Exit 16 is one that sounds odd but tastes so right. This is a wild rice Double IPA -- and yes, it's actually brewed with rice. Seriously.

If that brings to mind tasteless macro lagers, though, set your fears aside. This is a complex yet utterly drinkable beer that gives off aromas of citrus and tangerine, and drinks far easier than an 8% IPA should drink. It has all the flavor of a great Double IPA, but with a softness on the palate that really makes it stand out. Superbly balanced, full of hop flavor but not overly bitter, and crazily smooth, this has earned a spot on my list of favorite beers.

This may be the second best thing to come out of Jersey after pork roll, egg and cheese.

NOTE: Portions of this post originally appeared in The Philly Weekly

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Quick Sips: Founders Porter

There are a few core styles that simply must be explored and appreciated by any self-respecting beer geek, and without question porter is one of them. The origins of stout lie in porter, and porter itself has a rich, impressive history that is sometimes ignored in today's rush for sour beers and hop bombs.

Thankfully there are lots of porters out there. Some are pretty mediocre, some are quite good -- and then there is Founders Porter, one of the very best on the market. It gets a perfect 100 at for a reason.

Pouring a brown so deep it might as well be black, the frothy tan head kicks up aromas of chocolate, toffee, and a hint of coffee, and the taste is pure bliss. You know that “ooooh” sound some people make when they bite into a rich chocolate cake? Yeah, it’s like that.

The label describes the beer as “Dark, Rich and Sexy,” and that’s about right. This is pure sex in a glass. Drinking it in public feels like an indecent act. But if indecency is wrong, I don’t want to be right

Honestly, if you even remotely like porters, GET THIS BEER NOW.

NOTE: Portions of this post originally appeared in The Philly Weekly

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Quick Sips: Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA

At this point, it’s hard to imagine California’s Firestone Walker doing any wrong. Founded by people with a background in the wine industry and incorporating many of the exacting standards of that industry into their beer philosophy, they have managed to produce some of the world’s very best beers in their respective categories.

Double Jack, Parabola, Sucaba, Wookey Jack, these are some of the best beers on the market, bar none.

Those are big, complex beers, though. A fairly standard American IPA, on the other hand ... the IPA market is a really really really crowded one, so standing out is pretty tough.

Yet they pull it off. A super bright hop aroma that just screams of mango and grapefruit with a dash of lemongrass and pine needles lays atop a nice bed of fresh baked biscuits. Bitter but not too bitter, strong but easily drinkable, this is an IPA that proves you don’t have to go all “double” and “imperial” on us in order to impress us. It's yet another winner from a brewery that just keeps churning them out. Highly recommended.

NOTE: Portions of this post originally appeared in The Philly Weekly

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Quick Sips: Terrapin Moo Hoo Chocolate

True Confession: When I was a teenager, I had a giant wall of yellow in my bedroom made up of nothing but Yoo-Hoo cans. Until beer came along, it was the greatest beverage known to man. I drank so much of it, my zits had zits. Seriously, all those cans covered a whole wall in my bedroom.

Also, I failed to rinse out the cans before I stacked them up, resulting in an awful spider problem best left for a horror novel.

A horror novel that features Terrapin’s Moo-Hoo, however, is one I’d read twice. Maybe three times. This to-die-for beer is a milk stout brewed with loads of chocolate, making it a creamy, delicious adult version of Yoo-Hoo. If this was around when I was 15, I would have died of liver failure by the age of 19.

As it stands, I’ll have to hold out for 59.

Moo-Hoo isn't quite as mind-blowing as it was a few years back, but it's still worth grabbing without hesitation and remains one of my favorite chocolate beers. Get it!

(NOTE: Yes, this story is, sadly, true. All of it.)

NOTE 2: Portions of this post originally appeared in The Philly Weekly