Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Category: Beer Reviews (Page 35 of 56)

Allagash – Curieux

I put this in my fridge with hopes of making it a review for tomorrow night. I twittered my regrets that I wouldn’t be able to try this tonight because of its temperature. I was immediately reminded that this beer tastes wonderful and should be enjoyed not cold, but allowed to warm slightly and let the complexities out. I took their advice to heart and retrieved the bottle from the fridge.

Curieux is described as an ale aged in oak bourbon barrels. I’m a fan of aged beer, and I’m a fan of Allagash, so this had very little potential to dissapoint me.
I poured it out and a fluffy head rose up due to its temperature. It was a light yellow and quite clear (for some reason I expected cloudiness?) The smell was of sweet alcohol and yeast, and in general very inviting. I don’t detect the woody smell that sometimes lingers when you age in barrels or throw wood into the mix. 
The taste is almost Belgian in its yeastiness, and there’s very little wood here. But there’s an undertone of sweetness and tartness, which gets more and more unwrapped as it warms. This one is another example of the level of sophistication that beer is capable of. There are layers of flavors that change with the temperature, and it is a delicious beverage, no doubt. It doesn’t have that residual sickening sweetness that some whiskey-barrel aged beers can have, and for me that’s a good thing, too.
It is also something I would love to pair with food, though I’m struggling to think what could complement this – maybe scallops? On Allgash’s site it suggests desserts or barbeque, but I’m not sure I agree.
The downside to Curieux is that it can be very expensive. At more than $15.00 a bottle, it is more something that you would bring as a gift to a dinner party than something you’d have around all the time. I think that Allagash can be understood for charging the higher price, though, because their quality is high – just be careful that you don’t assume it’s in the same price range as similarly sized bottles from other brewers, or you might end up with some sticker shock at your local beer store.
Curieux is one of several beers in the same series by Allagash. Curieux, Oddesy and Musette, and there are other limited edition series that come in the same size and package style. I hope one day to get up to Allgash to sample more of these – because they do a fine job with the ones I’ve tried. 

Brooklyn – Black Ops

I heard about the coming and going of this beer before I ever saw a bottle of it. A stout aged in bourbon barrels? Sign me up! Unfortunately, this one was released in such a limited quantity its even being listed on E-bay as “rare.”

This one was set aside for me, and I cracked a huge smile when I saw it. The black logo with dark silver lettering has a sophistication and element of mystery. 
The label copy says :
“Brooklyn Black Ops does not exist. However, if it did exist, it would be a robust stout concocted by the Brooklyn brewing team under cover of secrecy and hidden from everyone else at the brewery. Supposedly, “Black Ops” was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented with Champagne yeast, creating big chocolate and coffee flavors with a rich underpinning of vanilla-like oak notes. They say there are only 1000 cases. We have no idea what they’re talking about.”

I uncorked it and took a deep smell from the top of the bottle. What made it to my nose nearly knocked me over. Alcohol, raisins, malts – it smelled delicious, inviting, dark, and most of all strong. As I poured it out of the bottle, it dribbled and flowed like motor oil, but sprung up a big foamy chocolate milk head. As I sipped the head off a little to get down to the beer, I reveled in the chocolate, vanilla malts. 
The taste of this one is exquisite. Oaky and sweet from the refermentation and champagne yeast, strongly alcoholic yet… balanced. That sounds impossible, and I’m actually surprised that this didn’t knock me over as much as I thought it would. I assumed it would have a nasty bite, but again, I’m impressed by the smoothness of this stout. It has a very nice warming quality about it, too. It finishes with a beautiful bit of sediment from the refermentation, which is a tasty sweet note at the end. 
A win, if you can find it. (don’t forget to check e-bay…)

Allagsh – Four

“Four hops, four malts, fermented four times,” says the label. “Sounds delicious,” says the Beer Babe.

Allagash is one of those breweries that started out brewing things that no one else in the area was brewing. Picking wit biers ad Belgians in a session-beer and ale-driven area was risky, but they came out of the gate producing quality brews which have spread due to their quality, taste and audacity. Not “extreme” like Dogfish Head, nor certifiably insane like Weyerbacher, Allgash seems to have distinguished itself by being refined.
This beer seems to be no exception. It is technically a quad (since it is fermented four times) and would be in the Belgian style since they’re using Belgian yeasts.
A gold trimmed black paper label, a real cork held on by gold wire give you the impression that this beer isn’t a casual backyard barbecue brew. I poured it into a tulip glass and admired its mahogany color and slight cloudiness. Its smell? The yeasty, wheaty smell of a great quad. It has a sweetness and a tiny bit of of that sour scent that comes from the yeast I think.
The taste is quite good, especially if you don’t drink it ice cold. It has this kind of warmth that comes from having so much in the brew. The malts and hops and yeast all just come together for a slightly sweet, slightly tart quad. If you like the taste  of Belgian beers, here’s one from Maine that is not something you should pass by.

Rogue – Captain Sig’s Deadliest Ale

I don’t watch a ton of television, but when I do, I linger on TLC, Food Network, Discovery and other channels that occasionally teach me things. (Though I’m a huge closet fan of Project Runway, don’t tell anyone!)

One of the shows I do enjoy is The Deadliest Catch about the crazy dangerous job of fishing for king crab in Alaska. So, when I saw one of the boat captains, Sig Hansen, on a label under the word Rogue I got pretty excited. The label features a picture of Sig himself, with his boat the Northwestern in the background. 

The beer pours a cloudy copper, which I should have expected but didn’t. I thought it might be lighter, more “common man” ale, but this seems to be something interesting pouring out of this bottle. I can smell a nice citrus hop make its way to my nose. It doesn’t quite have the level of hop aroma as a strong IPA, but its definitely not weak.

The taste could be characterized as a hoppy red ale. Just a little bit of malt comes out in the end, making this really pleasant to drink. The hops take center stage but finish up nicely. All in all this isn’t something that leaps out at me as being radically different than most other beers, but it does have a good hop flavor that people bored with American ales will dig a lot. According to Rogue it was also meant to be paired with seafood, specifically shellfish like crab (yummy). Not having the budget for king crab, I can’t verify that the pairing is as devine as promised, but it is worth trying.

Upon reading the label I was also delighted to discover that a portion of the proceeds from the brew will be given to the Fisherman’s Fund, a non-profit foundation established by the Hansen families that benefits various Northwest charities. So, if you’re planning a sea food dinner, need a beer to pair with your crab cakes, and want to do some good in the process, then this brew’s for you.

Dogfish Head – World Wide Stout

Though the availability of Dogfish Head beer is pretty good up in the northeast, I’ve always had trouble getting a hold of some of the rarer beers. I missed out on Theobroma, and I have been unable to get my hands on some World Wide Stout in the last two releases. I thought I was close this year, but the place I was hooked up with supposedly got shafted by their distributor and never got the cases of it they were supposed to. I was saddened that I’d be missing out on the beer once again. But on a recent visit to some friends in Chelmsford, MA, it was staring at me on a shelf at a local beer/liquor store. 

This one pours an opaque thick black with a thin chocolate milk colored head. It smells like molasses, vanilla, malt. It doesn’t have the stingy alcohol smell but instead a subtle bourbon-ish undertone. And honestly, if I didn’t smell alcohol at all, I’d be concerned, considering on average this beer comes in at more than 18%abv. (Not one to be chugged, for sure.)
The taste of this is heavy, but delicious. It is one of those fabulous things that is hard to describe as it dances around the tongue. The malts have done their job to make this thick and roasty, without any bitterness at all. Somewhat sweet, the malts work really well to make this as smooth as silk. There is no sting from the alcohol, just a bit of warmth to remind you its there. 
It also leaves kind of a sticky feeling in your mouth after you’ve swallowed, a thin coating of the wonderfulness of this beer left on the palate after every sip. Not a bad thing, but an interesting quality. (I have a feeling if you kissed someone after taking a sip of this, they’d be able to sample the goodness of it from your lips)
This has made its way on the list as being one of the more memorable things I’ve tried as of late. I only wish I could get my hands on it more often. I’ve been told, as well, that this is one that ages well, with lots of potential after a year or two. I have to other bottles of this, one I’ll most likely consume, and the other might find its way to my closet, which houses a few select beers to age (including my recently purchased Kate the Great from the Portsmouth Brewery). 
Get it if you can, and enjoy it thoroughly if you do. 

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