Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Craft beer from New Belgium/The Lost Abbey, Victory, and Schlenkerla!

Craft beer is all can now be found in just about every mainstream grocery store, as well as specialty shops, and even fine restaurants. Here are some of my more recent findings, with reviews ranging from 1(awful) to 5 (awesome). Anything rated a 3 or better is a solid, worthy brew that should be tried by anyone with a passing interest in the craft brewing scene. You never know when you just might find your new favorite taste!


Brett is short for Brettanomyces, a type of yeast that's cherished in some European-styled ales, and tends to create odd and fruity (sometimes sour) characteristics in beer. This collaboration between craft beer innovators New Belgium and San Marcos specialty microbrewers The Lost Abbey is (not surprisingly), a Belgian-inspired saison ale.

It appears cloudy yellow-opaque upon pouring, with a thick and attractive head of fine, white carbonation. Lovely loopy chain-link style lacing. Nose is fruity and funky. I get both wild berries and citrus tones. Quite enticing! Taste is nicely fruity up front, even hinting at some pineapple. Body is heavy, though, and the Soriachi hops add to the tangy quality. I quite liked this one.

Always been a big fan of Victory (of Downington, PA)'s beers, and this Oktoberfest-styled ale is another good one.

Pours a nice, rich amber, with a thick and attractive off-white head. I didn't get any lace, though... Nose is grainy and malty. I get caramel/toffee, with a tinge of fruitiness. Points for complexity with aroma! Flavor is rich and malty, with a hint of toasty grain malts and a light, fruity hop finish. This is a subtle, well-crafted, and complex, but easy-drinking beer. Impressive!

Ah, these special little bottles from Bamberg, Germany are a treat, and have no peers, from either side of the Atlantic. There are American-made "smoke beers", but nothing compares to this brewery's legendary works. I see bottles of Schlenkerla for anywhere from $4.29 to $5.29 in shops in my Midwestern area, but they're distributed into most states, so look around, ya dingus!

Dark caramel-brown in color, with a thick head of off-white bubbles. Alas, the only lace is a thin line above the ring. Nose is spectacular! Deeply woody, like a campfire embers and cured meat. Some say bacon, and that's not too far off. Taste is definitely woody-smoky, with a tinge of sweet malts underneath, just enough around the edges to add some balance. This is a tasty, drinkable, and positively a unique experience that any serious beer advocate needs to try.

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