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Will Gordon was too Poor to Review Zwanze 2015, So I Guess DDB has to.

Well we already had a tumultuous week watching Will Gordon commit P.R. suicide live in real time amongst several magnates in the beer industry, but in that dust up old ddb plum forgot to actually review 2015 Zwanze.

When I say review, I don’t mean pad out my word count with some irrelevant ultra-basic rambling and a hot two sentence tag line about the actual beer. Like as in, knowing what the fuck you are talking about and providing worthwhile commentary beyond myopic economic observations.
That kinda review.


So when Cantillon announced that they were making a sour stout of sorts, I can imagine many BMI ballers got PTSD nightmares of Zwet.be. I already saw the “TASTES LIKE TARTS OF DARKINESS!” Reviews forthcoming from the scholars on Untappd.

Thankfully, JVR’s cool hand held that black patent malt at bay and endeavored to put forth more of a blended oud bruin rather than some OOPS ALL CHOCOLATE BERRIES type of panache.


The trappings of the oud bruin style itself doesn’t get us out of the woods, Cantillon abilities notwithstanding. You still get that chocolate covered cherry cordial, a touch of balsamic and acetic, and a waft of dry Korean nail salon on the finish. It’s a very very nice salon, but present nonetheless. It’s like if Rodenbach released a full size luxury line, unbrellas in the doors, but still the same Rodenbachey execution. In truth, as far as the crippled oud bruin cum de sour stout style goes, I really couldn’t imagine it being better than this.


If Cantillon came to the masses with the design for a sherry cask aged Kvass, you would still have webs of precum spun from the tips of moleskin clutchers like intricate arachnid webs.

The taste is tart at the outset akin to black cherry, Dr. pepper and cola nut. The carb is spot on, silky like a Juicy tracksuit, JVR pressed across the ass. The chocolate and stout aspects are a bit chalky and mineral along the molars but thankfully there is a tannic Cabernet finish that chain combos another sip like Glacius[fn1]

[fn1- Google “Killer Instinct”if you were drinking Ranger IPA in undergrad up until last year]

So overall, was it “worth” the price of entry? Sure, if you aren’t some EBT-tier consumer who is paid $400 a week by an Internet conglomerate to generate unfounded opinions. In that instance, yes. Is it one of the worst cantillons of recent memory? I mean, I guess? But that speaks more to the quality of their stable lineup rather than the deficiency of this beer. Pitchfork Media assholes want the same album over and over, beer “experts” want the same major chord sour blonde stone fruit riffs so they can sing their tired melodies to uncaring friends and family in dulcet tones.


Sour stouts are metal AF.

It was different, but I enjoyed it. I am not gonna make some Hentai fan fiction over it, but it was mad deece.

Ddb can review Belgian beers however they fucking want because Google translate turns the page into even less comprehensible garbage.

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Cuvee Dry Hopping 2015 @brewerydupont : These dudes are gonna get sued by Crooked Stave for using the word Vielle

DDB putting up hot reviews back to back like we on the cover of Lethal Weapon:

rattattatatin on that like Nick Cannon with the snare drum

rattattatatin on that like Nick Cannon with the snare drum

Dupont enjoys one of the most intense disparity in fan bases. It is a perfect inverted bell curve of appreciation by people just getting into beer, and end game beer nerds who are too jaded to like anything but the staples with which they began. The allure of classic green glass, simple caged and corked majesty. These beers hold inherent appeal to grocery store ballers who are just separating their tether from the realm of Rogue and Lagunitas riffs.

I love this stage of beer discovery because it can largely shape and affect future palates if they choose to spec their character with a farmhouse load out in lieu of the old Rasputin tank or Chimay mages. Dupont offers fantastic accessible staples of the saison world that continue to shape consumers and tastes year after year.

Invariably beer nerds transfer their nascent palates from grocery store to bottle shop to brewery only to nano to fedex until they hate all beer. Like a tightly crafted screenplay, dupont always returns in the third act like the good guy in a romcom who was the perfect choice all along. If you want to take a litmus test of where a beer dork is at in the spectrum you can ask them about DuPont and tell immediately in what esteem they hold their unreproachable opinions.

Cant fool these tickers they know what's up, haters say DDB dont write enough, in the brewery getting shoulder rubs

Cant fool these tickers they know what’s up, haters say DDB dont write enough, in the brewery getting shoulder rubs

I would say the majority of DDB readers fall squarely in the middle to end game demographic so reviewing any DuPont offering seems like some low hanging fruit for which I will receive endless complaints from my fedex pimping contingency, I am ok with that.

So today we have the dry hopped cuvee of the standard DuPont saison. A slightly more rare spin on the old standby, let’s service both holes and poles in today’s review.

Here’s their commercial rubdown:

“Every year a special batch of Saison Dupont makes its way out into the world. Saison Dupont Cuvee Dry Hopping is a unique spring on a classic favorite. For 2015, Olivier chose the famous English hop Minstrel, a blend of the renowned Cascade and Sovereign varieties. Brewed only once, this is a chance to taste an exquisite and refreshing Saison with herbal tones and notes of fruity spice. The dry hopping creates accentuated floral, spice and citrus notes all on top of the classic base beer you’ve come to love. Being experimental, only a very limited supply is released just once per year, so you’ll have to be quick to find it”

The carb on this is somewhere between excessive to apeshit. Like seriously, no one needs this much effervescence, it looks like a malfunctioning clothes washer spewing foamy with no regard for your desires. I went and listened to a full Descendants album and 24 minutes later it was ready for drinking. The cling absolutely destroys the glass with residual malt, leaving it looking like some overdone haunted house with arachnid webbing strung akimbo.

The 2014 cuvee used challenger hops...for some reason. Not my favorite but IM NOT THE BOSS OF BELGIUM.

The 2014 cuvee used challenger hops…for some reason. Not my favorite but IM NOT THE BOSS OF BELGIUM.

The nose is dry and floral, more so than the standard riff. It has a leafy arugula and sappy aserose note that plays beautifully with the Anjou pear and biscuity goodness of the base saison.

The taste is even more dry than the nose if that is scene possible. It crackles with life like estery pop rocks leaving clove and banana in equal measure with lemongrass and unripe mango. For every ISO out there for Dorothy and Lattice, this just sits longingly awaiting the casual embrace. Yes I know this isn’t barrel aged but the simplicity in execution doesn’t seem to warrant it. It is more of a Buster Keaton performance that stands on its own classic laurels without wordplay or nuance.

If you backslide to noob territory or climb to the peak of being completely jaded by beer, this classic beer waits for you at restaurants and sitting in the Hyvee cooler. You can drink it and your life won’t be any worse for the wear, maybe you can spend all that saved money on orthopedic shoes for your kid or that Invisalign that your girlfriend keeps mentioning. The world is your economical oyster.

the carboard rave flyer is not for trade.  ULTER RAER

the carboard rave flyer is not for trade. ULTER RAER

EDITORS NOTE: In case it was unclear: Crooked Stave is not going to sue Dupont.

Trinity might sue Dupont though for using the word “provision”

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HAPPY H(ALE)OWEEN, Time for a Top Rated Quad: St. Bernardus 12, for the Pagan Ritual Haters

Here’s a top 100 beer that has gone unreviewed for far too long. On a larger point, I have neglected the shit out of quads lately, I usually view them as a halfway house between the sweet English Barleywines and the deep dark succor of Imperial stouts, but they are a beast all unto themselves, worthy of reverence and cool reflection. Even if you have disputes with the monastic roots and don’t see the point of pious reflection and fasting to honor whatever deity that you see fit for whatever ritual rooted in pagan fealty that you happen to believe or cast cool skepticism over, you at least have to respect parsing phrases and independent clauses. And beer.

Sure I could have dropped that $8.99 to show you the 33cl bottle, but is your fucking Google finger broken? Here is what it looks like in draft you lazy ingrates.

Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Watou, Belgium
Quadrupel (Quad) | 10.00% ABV

A: Nice deep almost milky caramel countenance, solid lacing, tiny tiny microscopic bubbles that linger long after you drink and a mirror shine to it without any middle carbonation to speak of.

Quads this big and delicious will put your palate in overrustle, use your limit break already.

S: You can hear the groans from the anticipationists a mile away, guess what it smells like? Yes, deep boozy figs, raisins, dates, and a nice malty back bone. If it didn’t, would it really be an exceptional Quad? Maybe but do rhetorical questions still perform well in a global economy? We shall see.

T: This has a nice syrupy quality that is abated by the tiny bubbles that pump up the palate mildly. I don’t want to take deep swallows of this by any means but, it is a great beer to sip on if only a 10oz pour were provided. I don’t want to say that you can’t opt for the old 3 Liter chestnut that we have all seen, however, I will opine that you have demons that you are chasing that the public remains aware of.

You can’t photoshop a quad, no matter how hard you try, it is a tough style to pass off, dating site or otherwise.

M: Again, this has a decent coating lying somewhere between the crazy OG of an imperial stout, that hates you, and a loving DIPA that lingers for a bit too long after dinner parties. This is perfect if you want to brandish a huge corked masterpiece and impress a “boss” languidly. “CORKS IN BEER WELL I NEVER!” the Applebees hostess exclaims as a cork rickochets against a picture of a a tube filled with ice cream.

D: This, somehow, is incredibly drinkable. On paper it seems like a swimming pool in the front yard: things all out of place, problems abound; however this just works. It seems like someone dropped off their idiot savant cousin who decided not to drop a duke in my sink and instead arranged everything amiably. As thick and alcoholic as this is, I still feel this is an everyman[sic woman] beer that is simply delicious.

When you get a trappist ale this drinkable with a solid 10% left hook, someone is gonna be getting some smooches and knuckle sandwiches.

Narrative: “GOD DAMNIT IT, EVERY holiday” “Hey Steve, lower your voice” “OK, every holiday party he does this” Their eyes surveyed the Christmas party and noted several women at the beckon call of a single aged man with a clear graying cul de sac. “HOW DOES HE DO IT!” Steve exclaimed in exasperation. “Come on man, he wears a bold orange robe to parties, talks to women like he’s been drinking 12% beer all day and all night, and performs mild miracles; how do you not love him?” The two watched from their sulking position as old Abby 12 pulled a bottle of Svedka from his robe sleeve. “OK COME ON THAT ISNT EVEN GOOD VODKA!” Both guffawed in disbelief as he chastely rebuffed a woman’s advances and deftly cited passages from the book of Ruth. “RUTH! COME ON WHO KNOWS RUTH!” Steven bemoaned.

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Reinaert Flemish Wild Ale, Almost As Wild As Oscar Wilde, But Not Nearly As Sassy

Time to start dredging the old reviews to see what the world used to be like when even a trip to the corner store was an exciting adventure before I was a Fedex dependent asshole. Anyway, let’s see what is shaking with today’s wild ale, a spicy lil belgian gem that is pretty widely available.

Wanna know what it looks like out of the bottle? Too bad, old me didn’t have that kinda foresight.

De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)
Belgium
Belgian Strong Pale Ale | 9.00% ABV

A: very light color, pilsner almost, golden to dark yellow, nice three finger head with moderate lacing, little crackling to it like when Johhny Five gets hit by lightning and is imbued with a sassy new life.

Hipster bunny approves of wild ales of all styles even HOPPY wild ales.

S: This has citrus, sour grapes, a lemon zest to it and a kiwi undertone. There’s a bit of fall and DMV musk to it, but overall, a pretty tame affair as far as “wild” ales go.

T: This wild is very mellow on the palate, imparts a sweetness similar to most belgian goldens with that biscuity maltiness, pillowy soft sweet finish, not exactly comparable to the American wild ale type, but still very well done, the sourness of the Bretanomyces is very restrained, the sour undertones come near the end and are almost hand in hand with the light hops. The untrained palate would almost mistake this for a more malty pilsner. I guess if you feel like a light challenge this is where to go. Then you don’t get the shit beat out of your mouth like playing Battletoads on single player.

I am not saying that wild ales should destroy your mouth but… aliens.


M: This has good coating for its light appearance, it takes a few seconds to absolve the taste, but then there’s some good coating and lingering aftertaste of mellow hops. I can polish my monocle and enjoy this lazily by the Seine river, or in Alabama, either way.

D: Overall, very drinkable, not exceptionally noteworthy, and rather cost prohibitive for the average wild ale consumer. For the same price you could drink damnations all day which I feel is superior in almost every category, alas that is comparing different classes of beers. One thing I will note is the exceptional covering of the 9% alcohol, it is imperceptibly hidden in a sweetness and the floury maltiness. Perfect for entry level beer drinkers with ABV interests. ABV-curious if you will.

My face when wild ales don’t bring the sour rage.

Narrative: “nah nah, just a couple days” he lazily smiled, “just until I get my things together.” How could you say no? He was such a close friend in high school, sweet, cloying, palpable, but now he’s dominating 2/3rds of your living room as his capricious abode. “See the plan is, I am getting my pilots licens-” you start to dreamily daze off while looking into his eyes, there’s something empty to him, yet intoxicating at the same time, “yeah so basically after I fought that guy I was out of Cici’s pizza and it was a shithole anyway” he continues. Why are you letting him stay here? there’s nothing exceptional about him but you just incurred signifcant expenses making him a nice dinner, it, wow his eyes look like poolwater, just a sweet discountenance that lures you in. “OH SHIT NETFLIX! ABOUT TO ADD SOME TITES! Thats what I call titles” ok at this point he’s getting a bit irritating, but the way his bicuspids fortuitously lean against his incisors, that smile, he could leave his ASICS gym bag on your Z Gallerie coffee table all week. “Sure..sure..” you meekly reply, knowing that this short stay will be fulfilling, yet deceptive.

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Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale, An Old Review for Old Souls

Hot damn, I wrote this review so long ago, I think I enjoyed this beer while watching the L.A. Rams crush the Los Angeles Raiders while listening to Spin Doctors on cas- you get the jist. A while ago. How my sour tastes have migrated, but this old gem is still a solid standby that deserves some mild affection, get you some.

Expert beer photos. Hire me for your wedding, bris, whatever.

Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Belgium
Flanders Oud Bruin | 5.50% ABV

A: Pours from the bottle with a mild head, no lacing, white with fast dissipation, thin and offwhite, eggshell even, the beer itself is a deep ruby brown, I enjoy it in the way that you want an Airhead when you haven’t had one in a while. It’s not like you pick up Airheads at the grocery store on the reg. but you know, a once in a while treat.

Ah a sweet nostalgic treat to remind you of days passed, a dead era of satisfaction with normal, readily accessible sours, back when you were cool but rude.

S: The smell makes you aware that fruit tannins and dark grapes and or currants and awaiting, and they are angry, they storm up your nostril not unlike an Al-Jazeera mob, giving your palate a warning shot for the tartness that they seek to impart

T: The front has a mild candy apple taste, not granny smith, sweet cherry flavor which mellows out to a sweeter candy finish, not tart, a bit like a lukewarm sour patch kid, only not in a disparaging way, like a high class sour patch kid with a monocle and a aplomb for references to Marcel Proust.

I am sure if you had enough of these, you could get into some crazy shit, look at me, i started with these gentle sours, now I huff paint down by the overpass.

M: the carbonation doesnt distract from the sweetness, the sour patch kid lets the bubbles pass like an elevator with unsavory folks exiting, then it is all sweet business. The sour is a secondary effect, the sweet is much more pronounced, it is more “bake sale mom” than “competitive track home housewife.”

D: Well what do you want from your beer? you want to be classy? pull out 11 oz bottles and show people your refined tastes? Ok well, this will do that but I cant seriously see anyone drinking a solid 4 pack of these. It’s kinda like a Lambic’s older brother who got a crew cut and a bomber jacket. You know deep down he’s still sweet, but that Tears for Fears patch just shows you he has more bite than he lets on.

This beer gives me so many feels of old times.

Narrative: These internet dating mixers are so lame, I am above this, but, if they only would give me a chance. I know on the outside I look like a beer, same old amber bottle they are used to, but inside i have so much character and personality, I am downright sweet. Oh great, look, they go for a strong DIRTY martini, I am here for them, my Jdate account get no hits…I TASTE LIKE CHERRY AND GIVE SWEET KISSES. Nice beers finish last, even my outside just says SOUR SOUR SOUR, great, now my belgium mom is gonna be all on my case about this, first my Kriek brother, now I just will sit around reading about all these other lowbrow Belgium strong ales who pull all the chicks. I dont need this, I need a girl who likes ME FOR ME, not because I look like Leona- OH HEY I DO WATCH DEXTER! No, don’t pick up that ZIMA fuuuu-

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Drie Fonteinen Hommage, Paying Hommage to all my broken bottles lost in shipment, RIP

So this beast took quite the fucking effort to land. As far as I know, not many bottles of this made it stateside and the jump across the pond involved quite a few amazing bottles and, in classic form, this bottle came in a lamp box all the way from Ireland. It didn’t speak the language, just a drain on the system, but I married it, so it’s chill. Well let’s see if all the hype is worth this sour unicorn.

This beer should pay Hommage to my Fedex account, so many damn boxes and an international trade to land this ruby bastard.

Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen
Belgium
Lambic – Fruit | 6.00% ABV

I remember some nay sayer once told me “Don’t try for that beer, it’s too hard to lock down and it’s basically 3F Sch. Kriek but with raspberries.” Let me be the first to say, no fucking way. This beer is incredible in a waay even beyond the way that Sch. Kriek is amazing. I drank this side by side with Blabaer and I think this one carried the day. Just look at it, it has a radiant glow like fairy afterbirth. The lacing settles down and lets the berries and complex base beer shine like a telecaster sustained note. It doesn’t need lacing, no parlor tricks like a huge head, just balls out acid and musky complexity. You don’t like raspberries? Well too bad, this is like pink interior in a Murcielago, you fucking deal with it.

When this box arrived from Europe, I was all like this, shit was so cash.

Ok so, maybe there are some similarities to this and Sch. (cant spell it, too lazy, TL;DR) Kriek, but it is similar in the way that the way that a base v6 mustang is similar to a GT500 in that women can maybe tell the difference. Those of us who aren’t sexist generalizers will have something to say. There is a musky mossy cardboard finish to the nose of this beer. The raspberry notes do not fuck arond, even with age they are like sage old wise berries and smell delicious and almost too archetypical to be real, like this is a type of lambic bubble bath. The smell makes me think that this will melt my face like Christopher Lloyd in who Framed Roger Rabbit. Toontown up in this bitch.

This beer is mesmerizing and plays with your mind, in a sage wise old way.

There is an super drying tart raspberry taste to it that just tears the enamel off of your teeth. Your taste buds run for cover, but there will be no shelter provided under this oppressive regime. You get the tannins but then a sweetness comes in to stop the dental abuse, a halfway house. The drying nature combined with the raspberry gentleness makes this a bit more refined than Scharsbeer (I tried). It is delicious and caustic at the same time, like a well balanced Taylor Swift album. AND JUST AS BITTERING.

Despite the transatlantic voyage, violent yet classy mouthfeel, and incredible tartness, I love this lil pumpkin. My taste buds are like when Scarlett comes back to Antebellum south after Sherman’s march but, in death there is rebirth. Maybe my sour zones wont be such pussies next time. It is incredibly delicious and I am sure another vintage of this would be amazing. I just don’t know any average person that you could pop this open with at a ski lodge or, on a Grayhound bus to meet your baby’s momma. No pedestrian endeavors here, just raspberry violence and infidelity.

You taste a sip of this Belgium gem and want to embrace its European nature, kinda.