Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tart of Darkness

Whoo Boy! 

If you like your beers sour, I certainly have a beer for you here. Tart of Darkness is a release from The Bruery that blends the roasted flavors of a stout with the tartness of a sour beer. And they don't skimp on the sour. The first thing that you might notice about this beer is the hefty price tag (I bought it for ~$25). Originally, this was too much to consider. However, my local beer store had a pretty convincing way to make me buy it: As I was asking the cashier about it, he stopped me, walked to the back of the store, grabbed a bottle and cracked it open. A taste test was enough. 

The sour in this beer is overwhelming in the most wonderful sense of the word. It is like sticking a black cherry warhead in your mouth. You will immediately feel it behind your jaw, but then subtle hints of cherry roll onto your taste buds. There is only the slightest hint of stout in the flavor, noticeable alongside a hint of oak. It is a beer for the senses, jet black, wonderful off the nose, and full of complex flavors. I know that the cost might deter most, but maybe go in with a few people to at least try it. Trust me, it is worth a try.

Glassware: Tulip, snifter, saison

Synonym Beer: Russian River Supplication

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Notch TafelBier

Holy Damn. 

That was my initial reaction to tasting this beer. I picked it up while visiting Boston because:
A) I've had some Notch beer before that I enjoyed,
B) Notch does not distribute to NY,
C) Table Beers might be one of my favorite styles. 

Frankly, it's a bit of a travesty that I haven't posted about Notch yet, as they are rapidly climbing the ladder on my list of favorite American breweries. They specialize in Session beers, which I have talked about. To refresh your memory, Session beers are meant to be low in alcohol and light and refreshing in flavor. The BJCP defines session ales as beers with less than 5% ABV. Notch kind of takes this to a fantastic extreme, with their most alcoholic beer sitting at 4.5% ABV. I could go on and on about Notch, but I'll save some for other posts. For now I will just talk about the Tafelbier.

The Tafelbier (Table Beer) is a style that was very popular in Belgium for serving with dinner. The entire family would drink the beer, including children. Now, before you freak out about this, know that in Belgium (like many countries), the parents have the option of introducing their children to beer at a younger age. Table beers are also known for being extremely low in alcohol. Table beers are less common in Belgian homes now-a-days, getting replaced by sodas and the like, unfortunately. 

 Notch did the world (and the US beer industry) a favor by brewing their Tafelbier. The Tafelbier is Notch Brewing's lowest ABV beer, coming in at 2.8%. It is also delightfully refreshing and crisp. It has beautiful floral notes that are complemented well by the subtle hops. It is one of the more thirst-quenching beers that I have ever tried. I cannot wait for them to release it again (it is a summer seasonal) so that I can buy a case to slake my summer thirst. 

Honestly, I could keep saying wonderful things about this beer, but you won't really know until you try it. Some people might not even get what I am talking about after trying the beer. However, if you get it, then you will be in heaven. 

Glassware: Saison, tulip, or Notch suggest drinking out of the bottle

Synonym Beer: Dupont Avril (it isn't the same, but it is the closest beer that I have tasted)

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Geuze Boon!

Happy Spring! 

Now that Spring is here (although the NY weather disagrees), it is about time that I talk about another one of my favorite warm weather drinks: The Geuze. A Geuze is a type of lambic that is made by blending together young (1 year) and old lambics (2-3 years old), which then undergoes a second fermentation. The wild yeasts that perform the fermentation give the beer a sour, dry taste, with a fine, champagne-like carbonation.  

Oude Geuze Boon is one of the easier to find geuze beers. This by no means indicates that it is lesser in any way, shape, or form. The fun part about Geuze beers is that each brand has a small tweak that sets it apart from the others. Not that any are better than the others, they are just different. Geuze Boon happens to be pretty fruity, but not in the way you might think. It is full of sour apple notes and hints of sour citrus. Apart from these general flavors, everyone will pick up on different smells and flavors. It is kind of the nature of the geuze to be a little hard to pinpoint. Regardless, I love drinking a geuze when it gets warm out because they are light, refreshing and unbelievably addictive. Seriously, when I drink one, I pretty much only want to drink geuezes from then on.  

I would suggest that you drink your geuze first if you are planning a succession of drinks, as the flavors can be really altered by drinking other styles before, especially hoppy ones. Make your geuze experience pure and enjoy it! 

Glassware: Flute, Snifter, Tulip

Synonym Beer: Any geuze, but none will be close enough to call a synonym.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bam Noir

It has been far too long since I last mentioned Jolly Pumpkin (almost 2 months)! Bam Noire might just be the best dark saison that I have ever tried. I am tempted to say that it is my favorite Jolly Pumpkin beer, but please don't make me choose.  

Bam Noire, obviously part of Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Series (named after their dog), is a 4.3% ABV dark farmhouse ale. It has all of the funk that you would expect from a Jolly Pumpkin beer, but some added complexity from the darker malts. The taste has a hint of roast, but is dominated by dried and tart fruit. This is one of those beers that you will get different notes depending on outside factors, such as the temperature, as well as any beer that you might have had before. Generally when I drink Bam Noire, I like it to be one of my first couple beers, with the only prior beers being lighter funky beers. Another lovely thing about Jolly Pumpkin beers are that they are great for home brewers. The labels come off very easy and the bottles are a perfect size.  

Look, my friend Shannon likes it!

A quick note on the label: I love that they put bat wings on Bam. God, I love this beer.
As always, don't trust any of my opinions, just go out and buy this one and judge it for yourself.

Glassware: Saison, Tulip, Goblet

Synonym Beer: Tart of Darkness (less sour, more funk)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: