June 28, 2015

Une Année Xellensis

Brewed By: Une Année Brewery in Chicago, Illinois  
Purchased: 750ml (1 Pint 9.4 FL OZ) bottle bought at Bottles & Cans in Chicago, IL; 2015 (Batch #X151)
Style/ABV: American Wild Ale/Belgian Inspired Blond Ale, 8.8%
Reported IBUs: ?

More Midwest shelf turds. About Une Année:
Une Année Xellensis - unsexy photo FTW
Une Année is a brewery based out of Chicago, Illinois located near the intersection of Grand and Ashland in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor (three blocks from the Goose Island Fulton St. production brewery). The brewery was founded in early 2012 by Jerry Nelson, who is "an Architect, Marine, Siebel Institute Graduate, and Chicago native who started homebrewing in 1995 while stationed in California." Currently, Jerry is the head brewer along with Dustin Zimmerman, who also attended the Siebel Institute, and previously brewed at Hamburger Mary’s Andersonville and worked at Nøgne Ø. The name "Une Année" means "one year" in French, and was chosen to reinforce the two main ideas behind the brewery: a focus on Belgian and French style beer, and an emphasis on seasonal beers. For more info, check out the brewery's website.
The Xellensis is a Belgian Inspired Blond Ale brewed with Brett. The bottle reads, "A not sweet blond, brewed exclusively with brettanomyces bruxellensis. This ale will go the distance-provoking your senses and only growing tougher over time. Are you up for the challenge?"

This pours into a blonde-orange body, kicking up a lot of thick, foamy, white head. There is a storm of carbonation in my glass, like Duvel. Head retention is good.

The aroma here is funky, chalky, uniquely Belgian, and Brett. I'm getting a lot of apples and wheat, big yeast esters, pineapple, leather, some earthy funk, must/chalk, and some fruity and spicy phenol notes. Peaches.

Oh wow...this is really nice. I wasn't expecting this. This is a lot thicker than I was expecting. I'm also not getting as much Brett as I thought I would. The Brett comes out as mild and fruity, with apples and pineapple. This has tons of tropical fruit notes, with pineapple, peaches, pear, and apples. There's a bitter kiss of Brett at the back end, with some wheat. This is rich with tons of clove. It kind of reminds me of Pipework's Pineapple Bling. This takes the Belgian thing to an extreme, and reminds me of Duvel and various other Belgian beers. 
 Better photo...

I'm digging this. This is one of the better Une Année beers I have had to date. I don't know if it as good as their Tripel or Quad, but it is pretty close. It also hides the 8.8% very well. This is creamy, full-bodied, and moderately complex. While the complexity could ratchet up, the rest of the beer holds up for the style. I'm wondering if throwing this in your cellar for a year or two would result in some additional Brett complexity. That's my one caveat with many of Une Année's offerings...they all seem like they could benefit from aging a bit longer.

Rating: Above-Average (4.0/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Decent Above-Average on this. This is a solid beer, I'd love to revisit it with some age on it. Really, the base beer is a fantastic Belgian Strong Ale. It's approaching that top-shelf echelon. If the Brett was dialed up a bit, this would be an easy 4.5/5.0. 

Random Thought: I'm really looking forward to 
Une Année's sour program.

June 22, 2015

Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra

Brewed By: Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware 
Purchased: 12oz bottle single bought at Binny's in Chicago, IL; 2015 
Style/ABV: American Strong Ale, 15~18% 
Reported IBUs: ?

This was once a whale, and now is a shelf turd. It's not waxed or in limited supply. It's also brewed by Cam Salamia and Dogfin Head. They have a hotel. About Dogfish Head:

Dogfish Head is a craft brewery based out of Milton, Delaware. The brewery was founded by Sam Calagione back in 1995.The brewery began as a brewpub (the first in Delaware) called Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, and was originally located in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The initial brewing setup included three kegs and propane burners. They brewed 12-gallon batches of beer three times a day, five days a week. In 1996 the brewery began bottling their beer, and by 1999 they had distribution to around a dozen different states. In 2002 the company outgrew their Rehoboth location, and moved to Milton, Delaware. More info can be found HERE.
The Raison D'Extra is the amped up version of DFH's stellar Raison D'Etre. Brewed with an "obscene amount" of malt, brown sugar, and raisins, the Raison D'Extra puts the "D" in Belgian Ales.
Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra

This pours into a reddish body that is reminiscent of a Belgian Dubbel, with purple tones in lower light. You get that sea foam carb on the beer, also reminiscent of a Belgian, with lots of lacing. It's very Belgian-esque. 

The aroma features the trademark high-gravity yeast/sugar aroma you get on all of DFH's high-gravity beers. You get a pound of sugar, muscovado sugar, jammy raspberries, raisin, alcohol, yeast esters, and some phenolic goodness. 

This tastes sublime...the beer rolls out massive raisins, dark fruits, jammy berries, jammy raisins, fruit preserves, muscovado sugar, intense phenolic notes, and lots of Belgian character typical of a Dubbel/Dark Strong. This is actually fantastic, and I would think that if you age this for a few years, it might start to take on some of that dusty/phenolic character you get in a good Belgian Dark Strong. There are some nice dark fruits in here as well, with shades of plums, blackberries, blueberries, and boysenberry. 

I'm a fan of DFH's high-gravity series, and this is no slouch. This brings the raisin along with a lot of other flavors, and it works out. At the variable 15~18% I'm not getting a ton of alcohol, but this definitely warms you up. Palate depth is good with nice duration -- making this a worthy sipping beer. This is also fairly complex, with lots of assertive raisin, muscovado sugar, and then more subtle dark fruit notes, Belgian character, and berries. Lots of berries. The finish is pretty clean too, and approaches drying. That in itself is commendable. 

Rating: Above-Average (4.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Strong Above-Average on this. At this time (I think this was bottled in late 2014? I couldn't tell, the date was smudged off my bottle) the beer is drinking just fine. BUT, I think with a little more age, this might settle into something really worthy. Since this is basically shelf turding these days, I will keep an eye out and try to snag a few more bottles to age. That actually shouldn't be a problem...I'd love to try this two or three years down the road.

Random Thought: It's hard to believe that there's basically just one more year of grad school left...

June 18, 2015

Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer

Brewed By: Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon  
Purchased: 750ml (1 pint, 9.4oz) bottle bought at Jewel-Oscoin Chicago, IL; 2015
Style/ABV: Spice/Herb/Vegetable American Stout, 5.7%
Reported IBUs: ?

In b4 this is the best beer I've had from Rogue in a long time. About Rogue:
Rogue has been around forever, and if their beer was more widely available, and not so damn expensive, I'd probably drink more of their stuff. The brewery was founded in 1988 in Ashland, Oregon by Jack Joyce, Bob Woodell, Rob Strasser, and home brewer Jeff Schultz. Due to increasing space and distribution limitations, Jack Joyce went searching in Newport for a location for the new Rogue pub. It was at this time that he met Mohave Niem, founder of Mo's Clam Chowder. She offered Jack space to brew in her building, and in 1989 the Bay Front Brew Pub was built. Rogue's headquarters currently reside in Newport to this day. In May 1989, current head brewmaster, John Maier, joined Rogue after a brief sting brewing with Alask Brewing. John was a former Senior Technician with Hughes Aircraft Co, and a graduate of the Seibel Institute. To learn more about Rogue, check out their website HERE.
The Sriracha Hot Stout is brewed with Huy Fong original hot chili sauce and sun ripened Rogue Farms ingredients. As you can guess, this pours into a dark, opaque body, kicking up a couple of fingers of tan head. There is good head retention, good lacing, and the beer looks the part of any solid American Stout/Porter.
Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer

The aroma on this is actually really good. You get tons of umami, Sriracha, spicy heat, chili, chocolate, cocoa, toast, that creamer/lactose note, and a fair amount of milk chocolate ala a Hershey's bar. And then there's just that hint of coffee from the darker malts. The aroma really starts to pop as things warm up as well.

I cannot fault this beer, it basically sets out what it intends to accomplish, and it does a really good job. This beer nails the umami flavor up front, and delivers a solid Sriracha punch with lots of tomato paste, and chili heat that punches the lower part of your throat. This is not a 2-D beer, and delivers a wave of chocolate, coffee, dark malts, and milk chocolate towards the back. The chocolate plays well with the chili heat that is kicking around in the back of the throat, and you get some cinnamon and chocolate-chili vibes. Overall, it's not bad. 

This is medium-bodied, has good depth, good complexity, and a good Porter/Stout base. The base to this is actually quite rich, especially at 5.7%. I'm getting a lot of that chocolate goodness, and the mouthfeel has substantial chew. Rogue's beers are hit and miss in this category, but they nailed the body on this one. The complexity unfolds through the umami-forward front, and then the chocolate-heavy middle, and the chili-chocolate back. It's like a toned down version of the many higher ABV chili Stouts out there. 

Rating: Above-Average (3.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Decent Above-Average here. This is a really good Porter/Stout masquerading as a really solid chili beer. The Sriracha comes through with some nice chili spice and umami character, and the base beer is big and bold. I would definitely consider pairing this beer with food. And as it stands, 750ml is a lot of this beer...maybe share this one with a friend. 

Random Thought: Overall, Rogue makes some solid beers...maybe even more hits than misses. It's too bad they price themselves out of the market.