July 28, 2014

Lake Effect Brett Frambois

Brewed By: Lake Effect Brewing Company LLC in Chicago, Illinois
Purchased: 750ml bottle bought at Binny's in Naperville, IL; 2014 (Batch #150)
Style/ABV: American Wild Ale/Fruit Beer, 5.5% 
Reported IBUs: ?

After the not-so-impressive Pamplemousse, I wanted to give Lake Effect another shake. Here is to hoping for redemption. About Lake Effect Brewing: 
Lake Effect Brewing is a brewery based out of Chicago, Illinois. The brewery was founded by 
Clint Bautz and Lynn Ford back around 2012. 
Like the Pamplemousse, this has no website...this is a "beer brewed with spices and raspberries added." The bottle reads: "Fresh raspberries are added to our 100% Brettanomyces fermented base beer creating a secondary fermentation resulting in a brilliantly fragrant and deliciously tart beer. Savor its color and effervescence in a clear glass to maximize your drinking pleasure."
Lake Effect Brett Frambois

This one pours into a paper-light red body, with some pink highlights. This is all murky, and kicks up two fingers of pink/red-tinged head. Head retention here is surprisingly good, with a pinky hanging around. There is also a lot of carbonation at work here in the form of medium-small bubbles coming from various streams. The body has a gorgeous red body in bright light. There's nice lacing here too.

On the aroma: improvements. This already smells much, much more substantial than the Pamplemousse. I'm getting really nice, musty, attic funk here...and layers of raspberries. This goes from dusty, attic-funk raspberries, to wet rain and refreshing raspberries, to some currants and steeped tea raspberries, to raspberries on the vine. Unlike the Pamplemousse's flat aroma, this beer transports me to numerous places. There's some really nice Brett funk lurking beneath the aroma, with leathery and butcher shop seduction. Pretty excellent from the onset, let's see how it tastes. 

This is pretty good, actually. A big improvement over the muted and painfully dull Pamplemousse. This is still kind of light and mild...but at least the flavors advertised are present. Or at least some of them. This isn't really tart, but it definitely finds some funk. I'm getting a lot of wet rain, attic, and watery raspberries in the mix here. The raspberries go the jammy direction, and there are also a lot of raspberry tea and raspberry currant notes. There's actually some malts here, a wheat base? As a straight up fruit beer, this would be pretty solid. The raspberries stand out as a dominating flavor, with currants and raspberry tea. I don't know if I'd peg the Brett in a blind tasting, but if you pointed it out you could identify it.

This is light-bodied and refreshing, with a juicy and watery embrace. This drinks lighter than the 5.5%, which isn't a bad thing. Palate depth is solid here: this one excels as a fruit beer. Complexity is kind of average to below-average, I think, given the promise of raspberries gone wild. You know...I wonder if the Brett will funk up in the bottle here, but it's gonna be at the expense of the fruit. Up front: jammy and water raspberries; that rolls into raspberry tea, raspberry currants, a little wheat; the back end trails with raspberries, with some notes of Brett funk, and hints of raspberry fruit-roll-ups. The finish is actually really nice. I'm a little conflicted where I stand on this one.

Rating: Average (3.0/5.0 Untappd)

This is a Strong 
Average . This is a big improvement over the Pamplemousse, and something I would try again. I think this would be a fun one to age, and it makes me want to try more Lake Effect beers. As a Wild Ale/Brett Ale...this is average. As a fruit beer, it's still average. But it's a better fruit beer than a wild. Food pairings here: fruit salads, delicate fish, and angel food cake with strawberries.

Random Thought: Again, the onslaught of sour ales has elevated the bar, even in the Midwest. 

July 24, 2014

Crabbie's Spiced Orange Ginger Beer

Brewed By: John Crabbie & Company in Edinburgh, Scotland 
Purchased: Single 11.2oz bottle from a 4-pack bought at Jewel-Osco in Chicago, IL; 2014
Style/ABV: Ginger Beer, 4.8%
Reported IBUs: 45

I'm not gonna lie, I like Ginger Beer. About John Crabbie & Company:
John Crabbie & Company are based out of Edinburgh, Scotland, and were founded by the Scottish merchant, John Crabbie. Crabbie first imported ginger into the port of Leith, Edinburgh, in 1801, to make "the beverage from the Far East." The method that Crabbie used to make the ginger beer is still used today. 
The Crabbie's Spiced Orange Ginger Beer is a mix of zesty ginger and orange. How can this not taste delicious. This pours a clear, amber-orange, ginger ale-color, and kicks up a finger or two of ginger ale-tinted head. There's actually some sustaining head, and nice carbonation in here.

The aroma is a nice blend of alcohol, ginger ale, ginger soda, spiced ginger notes, spiced notes that remind me of rum (yum), and spicy ginger-orange. It smells and looks really refined, mature, and good. 

And this actually tastes quite nice. I rolled through three of these with ease last Friday afternoon while working around the apartment, and I eventually paired this with some slow-cooked barbecued pork chops. The pairing was fantastic, and this shit is legit. You get lots of big ginger on the palate, with big orange notes as the supporting character. There's nice tingly ginger spice that burns down the back of your mouth into the depths of your throat. It's got a pretty good ginger soda kick. My only hesitation with this one is that it's kind of sweet. Again, I drank three of these in one afternoon with no problem, so maybe it tastes sweeter than it actually is.

This is a light and refreshing, and simple in terms of palate and complexity. It's basically a malt liquor. It's a good one though. There's a nice balance between ginger heat and sweet orange in here, and subtle notes of orange, vanilla, spiced rum, star anise, and curry show up in the taste. It's not something I'd buy on the regular, but this is a foodie drink that would work well in the right time at the right place. Recommended. 

Rating: Above-Average (4.0/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Light 
here. This is a solid ginger beer, and the addition of orange adds a fun twist. It could use a little more ginger heat and a little less sweetness, but whatever. I think Stone should make a ginger beer...that is right up their alley. Food pairings here include Thai or Indian food, but I recommend pairing this with sweet barbecued pork chops. The orange and ginger provide balance that compliments the gamy pork and the sweet barbecue sauce.

Random Thought: And if you were wondering, I was on vacation! That's my excuse. RIP, liver. 

July 23, 2014

Allagash Saison

Brewed By: Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine  
Purchased: 12oz bottle from a 4-pack bought at Binny's in Plainfield, IL; 2014
Style/ABV: American Saison, 6.1%
Reported IBUs: ?

Tonight's beer has been on my radar for a while...not because it's anything special, but because it is considered to be a classic Saison. The bottle even says: "A traditional Saison with herbal highlights and a rustic, dry finish. Belgian Style. Bottle Conditioned." You can't go wrong with that. About Allagash:
Allagash is a brewery based out of Portland, Maine. The company was founded in 1995 by Rob Tod, who designed a 15-barrel brewhouse, and began brewing some of the first American Belgian-style ales. Rob found success with the Allagash White, and expanded his operation. In 2001, Allagash began caging, corking, and bottle conditioning their beers. Since then, they have continued to celebrate Belgian-style beer.
The Allagash Saison is a year-round offering, and is Allagash's interpretation of a classic Belgian farmhouse style ale. This one is brewed with 2-Row blend, malted rye, oats, and Dark Belgian candi sugar. The beer is hopped with Tettnang, Bravo, and Cascade hops. Let's get this into a glass and see how she stacks up.
Allagash Saison

This one pours out like the poster-child for Saisons. You get a vibrant, hazy, well-carbonated, lemon-yellow body, and three fingers worth of tall, foamy, white head. The carbonation streams in here are active, and feature tiny, microscopic bubbles. Bright light confirms the same damn thing. It's a good looking beer, no doubt. Head retention is great, and there be lacing ahead. 

On the aroma: a really nice blend of earthy funk, hay, straw, Belgian yeast, creamy wheat, herbal notes, lemon, coriander, white sugar, and bananas. There are a ton of fruity, banana-sugar-clove esters popping on the aroma, with gentle floral hops backing things up, and faint spice in the back. The earthy notes on the aroma are more up front. You won't find overly aggressive black pepper or American hop notes here. This is laid back, classic stuff.

This is really nice...there's constrained dryness and a peppery, doughy character. I'm getting a lot of earthy character, floral hops, lemon, mild citrus, coriander spice, black pepper, and wheat. There's some nice wheat and straw notes in here. You do get some of the clove and white sugar, with some creamy wheat. It shows up a bit up front, and then trailing on the back. 

This is standard but somehow stands out as a classic example of the style...I'd almost preference this over a Tank 7, but I'd reach for my Sofie before either. I should probably get a review of the real classic, Saision Dupont, on my blog. This is medium-light bodied, with tons of effervescent and creamy carbonation moving things along. Palate depth is blissful, and the complexity isn't bad either. At 6.1%, this is in a range where you can drink a lot of it, but you want to show some restraint. Really, it's a good place to be, as this functions great as a beer you can take big gulps at a moderate pace. It's also a functional food beer, but more on that in a minute. The progression from front to back goes something like this: up front clove, wheat, lemon, herbal spiciness, biscuit/doughy dryness, hints of pepper; the mids give way to sweeter hops, big lemon and citrus, floral fruitiness, straw and wheat; the back end drops more earthy notes, clove, barnyard, funk, and trailing earthy spice. The finish is dry and good.

Rating: Above-Average (3.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Strong Above-Average on this. It's a bit standard, but the execution is top notch. It's Allagash, after all. This is a blissful, well-executed beer, and should pair wonderfully with a wide variety of foods. I'm talking about baked potatoes, peppery fish or chicken, grilled lamb, pizza, shell fish in white wine sauce, white pasta, a panini, and any soup or stew that has lots of herbal notes (like thyme). Good stuff, and priced well at around $10 a 6er. Get on it now.  

Random Thought: You can't go wrong with a Saison.