The Westmalle Trappist Dubbel Belgian Ale is made by Trappist Monks at the Westmalle Abbey Monastery in Belgium. An Abbey is a Catholic Monastery and Trappist is the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, a Roman Catholic Religious Order. According to Westmalle, out of all the beers in the world, only seven of them can use the name ‘Trappist’: Achel, Chimay, La Trappe, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren and Westmalle, all of which have an “Authentic Trappist Product” logo. A Trappist beer is only given this name if the beer is brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by the monks themselves or under their supervision. The brewery must be controlled by the monastery and be monastic in its business. The profit from the beer and cheese making is only for the modest livelihood of the Monks and the up keep of the abbey. Having brewed beer since 1837, there are three beers brewed at the Westmalle Trappist Abbey, the Westmalle Dubbel or double, the Westmalle Trippel, and the Westmalle Extra.
For a Belgian Ale the Westmalle Dubbel is actually pretty mild and balanced. Many Belgian Ales can be extremely strong in alcohol and yeast, but the Westmalle Dubbel is subtle in both. A dark, reddish-brown with a secondary fermentation in the bottle the Dubbel is subtle enough for the malts to shine through the yeast and 7% ABV. With flavors of fruit, toffee, chocolate and coffee, the Westmalle Dubbel is complex but not overbearing and could be considered a session beer when comparing it to other heavy Trappiste beers. The Westmalle Dubbel is simply one our favorite beers and absolutely recommend it.
By Pat Smith, Matt Goldstein & Sommelier Tom Pittakas
For Philly Beer Week, our staff hit eight events and about 30 different bars overall in celebration of craft beer in one of the best beer cities in the world, Philadelphia. From IPA’s to imperial Stouts, dopplebocks and fruit beers, Philly Beer Week had a profusion of many styles by the best breweries in the world. Below is our top 10 beers of the 2011 Philly Beer Week. Pick up a few these beautiful brews and let us know your thoughts.
1. Ballast Point Victory at Sea Barrel Aged Espresso Vanilla Imperial Porter:
An American Porter with 10.0% ABV, the Ballast Point Victory at Sea is a deep dark beer with notes of mocha, chocolate, vanilla and complex full bodied smooth porter. This is simply one of the best porters in the world and Ballast Point continues to prove it’s one of the best breweries in the world. This is an absolute must for dark beer lovers. Served at the Khyber Pass Pub.
2. Hitachino Espresso Imperial Stout
From the Kiuchi Brewery in Japan, the Hitachino Espresso Stout stands at 7.50% ABV with great malts and crisp finish. It’s rare finding a stout this flavorful and crisp at the same time. Dark black in color with dark head, the Hitachino is a classic imperial stout and proves that the Japanese can brew a hell of a beer. Served at the Side Car Bar.
3. Dogfish Head Festina PecheBerlinerWeisse
The Festina Peche is fermented with peaches that hints of a sour beer. Not made like traditional sour beers, this fruit beer is crafted with very ripe peaches to get it’s sour flavor. Very crisp and refreshing, the Dogfish Head Festina Peche is the perfect summer beer. Not too sour without many hops at all, the Festina Peche is about 4.5% ABV. Purchased at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting.
4. Fegley’s Hopsulutely Triple IPA
The Fegley’s Brewery is getting a lot of buzz in the Philadelphia area and proving to be one of the best brewers in the city area. Considering this is one of the best craft beer cities in the U.S., Fegley’s is of course creating some great crafts. The Hopsolutely Triple IPA is made with Cascade, CTZ, Summit, Amarillo and Chinook hops, then dry hopped with Chinook and Amarillo. At 100 IBU’s, this triple IPA is still balanced enough to challenge the best IPA’s in the country. We challenge you to try it out. Allentown and Bethlehem are making a real name for themselves and deservedly so. 11.0% ABV. Purchased at Whole Foods in Plymouth meeting.
5. Nebraska Samarican Brown Ale
At 5.3% ABV, this American Brown Ale is slightly sweet, slightly malty, crisp and well balanced. Overall one of the best brown ales you will find. The Nebraska Brewing “cornhusker juice” was in major demand throughout Philly Beer week, especially the oak aged Black Betty Imperial Stout. Colorado isn’t the only Midwest state making excellent craft beer. Served at the Sidecar Bar.
6. Russian River’s Pliney the Elder
8.0% ABV. American Double IPA. Purchased in a growler from the Hulmeville Inn.
7. Port Ole Viscosity Whiskey Barrel Aged
12% ABV by Port Brewing. Served at the Resurrection Ale House.
8. Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel
5.0% ABV Ayinger Brewing from Germany. Served at Eulogy Belgian Tavern.
9. Ballast Point Navigator Dopplebock
8.9% ABV barrel aged by Ballast Point. Served at the Khyber Pass Pub.
The name CascaZilla is a play on both the name of a gorge in Ithaca called Cascadilla and the monster amounts of Cascade Hops we use to make the beer. The predominant flavor and aroma of this beer comes from fresh American hops. Made with 2-Row, Crystal, and Black malts, Cascade, Chinook and Crystal hops, then dry hopped with Cascade, Amarillo hops, the Ithaca Caskazilla has 50 IBU’s and 7.0% ABV.
Ithaca Caskazilla Tasting Notes: WOW! Deep thick Brown in color, thick and cloudy with sediment, a scent of fruit, scent of yeast, and sour taste. The Caskazilla flavor is heavy in hops, sour, dry and slightly bitter. With notes of fruit with a sweet taste, the dry crisp yeast and hops with slight malt give it a great balance. This is a great ale!
The Ithaca Ground Break American Style Saison
An Americanized hoppy Saison, the Ground Break is brewed with generous amounts of Amarillo, Crystal and Glacier hops and flaked rye. It’s fermented with a blend of Belgian and American yeasts.
Ithaca Ground Break Tasting Notes: The color is a brownish gold, slightly cloudy, with flavor full of the classic Belgian style yeast. Sweet with a thick mouth feel and slightly crisp, and a nice sour taste for a saison, the scent of fruit and Yeasty light malt finish is just a touch dry. An excellent and unique styled saison.
Green Flash Brewing Companies extravagantly hopped West Coast IPA has a pungent bitter taste at first sip but is complemented my many other flavors. With its sunset copper color, crisp taste, and floral hops it defines the qualifications of the West Coast IPA. The gangs of hops that impugn upon your pallet are Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial, and Cascade. These four different yet complementing varieties give the West Coast its pine, floral, citric and fruity flavors. This flagship IPA from San Diego County is the recipient of many awards and accolades for its American IPA Style. 7.3% ABV and 95 IBU’s.
Green Flash Summer Saison
To the untrained eye the Summer Saison has a fizzy yellow beer look to it, though if you had the slightest taste for craft beer you probably have a good idea of what’s going on in this beer. It is a light bodied beer with citrus, lemon, as well as hints of banana flavors which all can be tasted and smelt. I would compare it to many of good wheat beers. Hope I didn’t offend any Germans or Belgians by comparing styles. This Farmhouse ale by San Diego County’s Green Flash Brewery is a great choice on a nice hot summer day working the farm fields of Belgium or something of this nature . At 4.3% ABV Summer Saison is what I like to call a good duration beer, meaning that it can be consumed for long periods of time with less likely hood of falling over. Wheat or No Wheat its a great light and refreshing beer!
Sometime last week I drank my 1200th different beer. It’s an ale that won Gold at the 2010 World Beer Championships, and was described by the late beer connoisseur Michael Jackson as “More than a serious beer – it is outstanding….Dizzying, appetizing, refreshing.” North Coast Le Merle (North Coast Brewing Co.; Fort Bragg, CA; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.9) is indeed a dizzying, appetizing, and refreshing saison. Le Merle means blackbird in French, and this golden farmhouse ale really flies off the tongue.
Big notes of citrus fruit such as bananas, oranges, and white grapes are complimented by Belgian yeast, peppery spices, and grassy hops. Le Merle is a well balanced ale throughout, with a crisp clean finish.
Le Merle is one blackbird that will have you singing in the dead of night…or anytime for that matter!
So, Vertical Epic is new to me but it is a phenomenon I will gladly get behind. It is genius marketing with a kick. I’ll start by saying that the alcohol content is 9.5%.(the kick). So stone has been putting out these different versions of Vertical Epic since soon after the turn of the century. Each one is brewed a little differently and is meant to be opened on a specific date and is released one year, one month, and one day later from the previous. The next will be on November 11th 2011, 11-11-11. (the Marketing)
The 10-10-10 is a Belgian-style trippel brewed with dried chamomile flowers, triticale and Belgian amber candy sugar. The most present and unique flavors though are the locally grown Muscat, gewurraminer and sauvignon blanc grapes. This version of the V.E. is fruity, sweet, and packs a punch. We highly recommended to purchase and save till open date, 12-12-12. Till then also buy a couple to have now to help reduce the temptation of opening the others
Stone Double Bastard
This spin off of Stone Breweries Arrogant Bastard is another beer that you’re not worthy of drinking. At 11.2% you won’t know what hits you and its great taste you won’t appreciate. Double Bastards beautiful dark color will immediately intimidate you so take that first impression and buy the fizzy yellow beer that suits your mediocre personality.
What an incredible time we all had at Saturday’s Mr. Beery’s Bell’s Beer Circus. Lots of fun and games, from mechanical shark riding to the HopSlam toss (yours truly won a Bell’s gift basket in the latter). Bell’s rep Cindi Curtis and her merry band of clowns were on hand to keep everyone entertained, as well as lending a hand to ringmaster Mark & the gang. And of course there was beer…21 Bell’s brews on tap, including several not normally available in the Sunshine State.
There was even a Bell’s Firkin Cask Conditioned HopSlam (Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0) that was out of this world. The non carbonated version of this hop bomb really brings out the big notes of citrusy hops, especially the grapefruit, along with the sweet malt and honey.
Additionally, I had a chance to sample a few offerings for the first time, with several of them truly standing out.
Bell’s Batch 9000; Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial Stout; ABV: 12.5. A full bodied imperial stout. Jet black in color with subtle notes of caramel malt and dark fruit giving way to a huge bourbon presence on the back end. Wow!
Bell’s Batch 10000; Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; American Strong Ale; ABV: 9.2. Along with the cask conditioned HopSlam, this was my favorite beer of the day. This chocolate colored ale has big notes of black cherry and caramel malt with a nice bite of dry citrus hops at the finish.
Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury; Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; Dubbel; ABV: 7.5. This dark abbey ale has rich notes of Belgian yeast and dark fruit complimented by spicy cloves and a roasted malt backbone. A very smooth and well balanced beer.
Bell’s Henry McGill’s Spiced Stout; Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; Spiced Stout; ABV: 7.5. This wonderfully eclectic stout is dark chocolate in color with appreciable notes of ginger and nutmeg balanced by roasted malt at the end.
Many thanks to Mark and Cindi for hosting The Mr. Beery’s Bell’s Beer Circus. It was truly The Greatest Show on Tap!
There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, major upsets in the NCAA Basketball tournament, and a lot of beer drinking at the Whiskey Goldmine. In the March Madness Beer Championship Tournament at Whiskey Goldmine, we have painstakingly drank beer after beer after beer to get down to the Elite 8 beers of the world. It was very difficult to consume this insane amount of beer but we’ve done it just for you; just so you can listen to us tell you what the best beers in the world are. We would write a longer article and tell you the Sweet 16 results but we’re pretty hungover from the utter debauchery running amuck in Atlantic City right now; fight weigh ins, deep stacked poker tables, throwing hot rocks at the craps table and open bar and free buffets with Macallan 12, prime rib, shrimp cocktail, Heinekens and pecan pie. It’s completely out of control and we’re just getting started. Click the link below to download the March Madness Bracket to see the Sweet 16 results and Elite 8 matchups. This is the road to the final four.
Click the link below for the March Madness Bracket!
There were some major upsets in round 2 of the March Madness Beer Championships as there is only two #1 seeds, two #2 seeds, two #3 seeds and two #4 seeds remaining in the tournament. Much like the NCAA Basketball tournament, there are Cinderella teams and major upsets in every round. Click the link below to see the March Madness round 2 results and the sweet 16 matchups! Check back for the Sweet 16 results, Elite 8 matchups, the Final Four and the eventual Beer champions. Results will roll out and coincide with the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.
Round 2 March Madness Matchups: 32 Beers Advance in the Bracket
By Matt Goldstein, Tim Rodgers, Pat Smith, Don Corino & Mike Magowan
In our first annual March Madness Beer Championship, the first round results are in. 32 Beers have advanced to round 2 and 32 beers were sent home with their bags packing. All styles of Ales, Lagers, Crafts, IPA’s, Stouts, Belgians and Pilsners are banging it out one taste test at a time. The round 2 matchups pit some big dogs against each other in an all out March Madness Bracket beer battle royal. Click the link below to see if your favorite beer made it through to the next round! Stay tuned for round 2 results to see out Sweet 16.