Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quick Sip 008. Unibroue La Terrible

When you look at the photo for this week's pour, you may wonder why I only went with half a glass. The answer is simple: La Terrible by Unibroue has an Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of 10.5%. Since I still have work to do tonight (for a peak of what I'm up to, take a look at the various projects over at my other blog,, I didn't think it wise to consume more than half a glass.

I have heard of this beer before. And, truthfully, it's been sitting in the beer fridge for a long time. Since it's such a big bottle, I was reluctant to open it. But, I've recently decided I need to drink some of my back-shelf stock before it sours, so I'm going through things I normally would drink in the winter, not the summer. That is to say, heavier fare, like this midnight-black concoction. Honestly, when I poured this into the glass, I wondered if I shouldn't call NASA and tell them that I've isolated dark matter right here on earth.

Yup, it's black.

I mean really black. It is as dark as Guinness from the bottom of the keg. I've only seen one or two other beers this dark, and one of those would include Storm King, which might be darker than this. I would have to put them side-by-side to be sure.

Anyway, the aroma didn't thrill me.  It was malty and fruity... sweet notes dominated the nose. The head was a generous, but slow-to-rise tan that left decent lacing. I drank it at about 50-55 degrees F, and found it to be much more pleasant than I had expected. In the past, most beers of that strength kick like a mule and taste like mule hooves that have been prancing in the field. In other words, they taste like rotgut that someone has cut with beer.

This wasn't bad, though. I actually enjoyed the fruitiness and it came off lighter than I expected (of course, my expectations were just this side of molasses, based as they were on its appearance). Not sure of the fruit: Cherries or plums? Slight hint of chocolate, and more than an aftertaste of yeast. But not in an entirely bad way.

If I'd been drinking this in the winter, I would be curled up under a blanket and marathon re-watching the last season of Community. As it is, I've had half a glass tonight and put a wine stopper in it for another night. I know someone who I think would like this, so I'll save it for the next time I see Josh B. I'll let you know what he thinks of it.

La Terrible is a dark brown beer on lees and is part of a collection of exotic and refined Unibroue beers brewed using 100% natural raw materials. It may be drunk as an aperitif or as an after dinner digestive. It is equally a perfect accompaniment to the above-mentioned dishes or a pleasant alternative to coffee.
-- From their Website: 

ABV: 10.5%
My Rating: 7 out of 10

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Quick Sip 007. Goose Island Sofie - Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale

With this Quick Sip having the number 007, I was tempted to find something with a spy theme, or perhaps to try to force some heavy-handed metaphor about something hiding beneath the surface. But after taking one sip of Goose Island Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale, I decided that wasn't going to work. You see, this is a good, nicely spiced farmhouse ale, but I don't think it has a lot of lurking nuance to report back to the home office.

This bottle was actually made in 2013 and has been sitting in my beer fridge -- nice and cold, only occasionally agitated by the opening and closing of the door -- since I bought it some time last year. When that was, I cannot say. I do know this is a large bottle (750 ml) and I don't buy them often, but I seldom pay more than $15 for a bottle this size ($10 being far more common).

This is a good farmhouse ale -- appropriately light and spiced for the summer. Opening it, I actually had to do an emergency suck at the mouth to catch the ample head as it foamed over. I didn't really agitate it much carrying it to my desk, so perhaps it was the extra time spent aging? Unless I find another (more recent) bottle, then there's no way for me to no. But as i was sucking suds from the neck, I was greeted by pleasant citrus notes with hints of pepper and perhaps some coriander. Pleasing, to say the least.

The pour was a light yellow color with a huge head (as to be expected). lacing was lighter than expected from such a glorious 3-finger head. Carbonation was medium but persistent. It's still got bubble after 10 minutes. Again, as to be expected, it's very cloudy.

"80% Belgian Style Ale Blended with 20% Belgian Style Ale Aged in wine barrels with orange peel."
-- From the label

I think fans of farmhouse ales (also known as Saisons) will like this, but it was a little too sour for me. In fact, this borders on a shandy and the sour notes give me the impression of drinking a tart lemonade, but without the lemon flavor. I will say this, though, it has a relatively dry mouthfeel that I expected to increase the bitterness, but that didn't happen. It didn't get more sour the longer I drank it (and since it was such a big bottle, there was a lot to drink). Another thing I expected was a strong presence of hops, but they were nicely in balance with the understated malt and managed to play nicely with the spices and aromatics.

This is a good summer beer and I might actually like to try a more recent vintage so I can decide whether the faint yeast taste and persistent carbonation are intended, or just by-products of staying on the shelf too long. The next time I try it, I would like to try it with some pork barbeque and a good, vinegary cole slaw to see how it pairs. If I get the chance, I'll post an update.

ABV: 6.5%
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Summer fun in the sun rating: 8