Thursday, June 05, 2008

Homebrews and the Holy Grail

Roman Sacristan raising a pint with friends

Last Memorial Day was fun. I'm only just now writing about it because I got sick last Wednesday and was down a few days with a bad fever and aches. (No, I don't think it was because of Monday either), and then yesterday I had a minor umbilical hernia repair surgery. (Now I really want some beer!)

A friend of mine is a home brewer. After helping him move some things, he took me over to one of his fellow homebrewer's house on Memorial Day. He was busy brewing and we helped him out. Although I am not a brewer, I am a beer enthusiast. This guy (as with all the homebrewers I have met) was kind enough to share some of the fruits of his labors, either with things he has brewed himself, or beers he has obtained which are not available locally (be it city, state, or country). All in all, it was a great tasting.

Please note: these were not full beers, but tastings, only two at the brew-pub were full pints. This was also stretched out over 8 hours.

1) Homebrew of a Kolsch style beer
Very good, clean, crisp, golden beer. Great for summer time.

2) Homebrew of an ESB-ish type beer
A bit difficult to categorize, but the consensus was it was closest to an ESB type beer. I tend to like bitters and this one was pretty good.

3) Homebrew of a porter
A simple, straightforward (and pretty darn good) porter.

4) Cantillion Sour Gueze
A lambic style from Belgium. Very sour, but strangely not too tart.

5) A sour kriek from Belgium which I cannot remember
This was one of the more tart kriek (cherry) beers I have had. It is much more sour than something like Timmermans kriek (which is very sweet).

6) Alaskan Smoked Porter
This one shocked me. It was really good. The smokey flavor was very pronounced, but it was not overpowering the porter.

7) Alaskan IPA
Excellent British style IPA. A very clean hoppy flavor.

8) Old Ale/American Barley Wine "homebrew"
Apparently the two friends I was with, "rescued" this keg before it was thrown out. The guy getting rid of it thought it had gone bad and let my friends take it off his hands. As it turned out, it aged well and is pretty good getting into a Barley-wine-ish flavor.

9) Gordon Biersch (brew-pub chain that recently opened locally) Schwartzbier
A pretty darn good black beer.

10) Gordon Biersch Marzen
I thought this one was simple, but my host felt this was much more complex. I guess I wasn't using the right tasting lingo. I most likely meant it was a straightforward marzen. Either way, it was pretty good.

11) Taste of Gordon Biersch Golden Export
This was pretty good, not as good as the previous two beers.

12) Taste of Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen
Objectively speaking, it was a pretty good Hefeweizen. It had strong banana and bubble gum flavors to it. I myself am not the biggest fan of Hefeweizens, but I would certainly drink it.

13) Taste of Gordon Biersch Czech Pilsner
This was the one beer I was disappointed with. It had a rather harsh kick to it. But this is most likely due to the fact that the brewpub is new and the brewmeister there is just getting used to the place. Overall, given how good the other beers are, he has done an amazing job at opening the place with good beers.

15) Rodenbach Sour
Pretty good. Not quite as good as the Cantillon Sour earlier, but nevertheless, it was pretty tasty.

14) Westvleteren Abt 12 (the real deal)
The bottle cap from the tasting

I skipped 14 because this was the highlight of the night. A real honest to goodness Westvleteren Abt 12! This is a holy grail of beer tasting. You can get the commercial version which is called Saint Bernardus Abbot 12 (and used to be called Saint Sixtus) here in Texas and it is pretty good. But the Westvleteren Abt 12 has been voted THE best beer in the world several times and does surpass the commercial version. And you can only get it it legitimately by going to the monastery itself and having a reservation to buy it. Our friend was able to pick up a whole case when he visited Belgium last year. It is a pretty good beer. My only wish was that I had more to try since we all three split a small bottle (which is understandable). I was happy enough with that. This now puts me at having tried 6 of the 7 authentic Trappist beers in the world. So far I have had:

La Trappe (aka Koningshoeven or Schaapskooi)

All I have yet to try now is:

vintage photo of a monk of Chimay sharing a beer




Ronny said...

Looks like a trip to the Netherlands is in order.

Woo-hoo! I can comment again!

Roman Sacristan said...

Belgium, dude, Belgium. Remember, Amsterdam even freaked out Marvin!

La Trappe would be the only Trappist beer in Holland.

Ronny said...

Hey, now, he's a reformed man who cuts people open for a living these days. Rumor has it that he even stitches them back up again! Also, he's father to two of my godchildren, so you better watch yourself, mister.

Seriously, you wouldn't go to the land of dikes even for a chance to try the only authentic Trappist beer in the world that you have not had?

Roman Sacristan said...

All the official Trappist beers in the world are in Belgium, except La Trappe.

Yes, Marvin is a reformed man, but he was still in his wild phase during Rome. You have to admit, we were all shocked when he got back a couple of days early from Holland commenting that "Amsterdam is full of freaks!"

And of course you remember Mike's "story" warning about the dangers of taking drugs in Amsterdam?

I'd rather go to Belgium than Holland for beer purposes (and Achel is in Belgium)