Bornem Dubbel

bornem-dubbelBrewer: Brasserie Van Steerberge, Ertvelde, Belgium
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This abbey ale is made in the traditional Belgian double-style, employing a rich, darkly roasted malt base that undergoes primary fermented in the barrel. It undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle (or the barrel) with active yeast culture.

Tasting Notes: This beer is rather mild and easy drinking as dubbels go. It has all the expected elements, like a rich, sweet malt base, notes of dark fruits, brown sugar, some minerals and and some yeastiness. But it finishes quite mild and does a pretty good job of concealing its alcohol. Glad I found it!

Appearance: Deep brown, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Smooth, rich malts, dark fruit, brown sugars, minerals
Taste: Smooth malt, mineral tang, mild brown sugar, raisins, dates, yeast, mild hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, fruit and sugars, minerals
Overall: 8/10

Le Terroir Wet Hopped Sour Ale

LeTerroir_lNew Belgium Brewing has been on my radar ever since my brother-in-law introduced me to their Fat Tire Amber Ale. Years later, I find myself struggling to get my hands on the many, many beers in both their regular lineup and their seasonal releases. Lucky for me, their Le Terroir just happened to be available in my locality, and just in time for my birthday beer collection! And since I’m becoming such a fan of sours, it seemed like the perfect thing to mark the occasion!

The term Terroir means “of the territory”, a French term that is often used to describe wines by region. However, this term is just as applicable to beer, seeing as how Belgium is so renowned for regional styles. Consistent with a sour, this beer is made using wild yeast strains that cause lactic acid to accumulate, and then age it in oak barrels for three years. The end result of all this is a beer that is delightfully tart, fruity, and quite earthy. It is also wet-hopped using Amarillo and Citra varieties, resulting in a nice herbal infusion on top of the general sourness.

Appearance: Golden orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Notes of peach, passion fruit, sour cherry, oak, apricots
Taste: Burst of sour cherry and dried fruits, oaky, earthy undertones, hint of bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness giving way to dry herbs
Overall: 10/10

Another brilliant sour! It’s really too bad I didn’t get to try this beer last year, as it would be the perfect addition to my Best Beers of 2013 list. Oh well, there’s always next year I guess 😉

Salt Spring Island Heather Ale

saltspring_heatherAs the beer class I am hoping to teach nears, I have found myself feeling a little hard pressed to secure all the styles of beer I would need to make an effective presentation. After all, how can one accurately represent the history of beer when it’s so long, diverse and varied? Sure, there’s no shortage of British-style ales, German lagers, and Belgian ales here on the west coast. But what of beers that predate the Belgian Purity Law?

Lucky for me that Salt Spring Island specializing in creating beers of this kind. For awhile, I was hoarding bottles of Salt Spring Island’s Spring Fever Gruit, but as expected, they ran out. And while their Saturnalia Gruit is an equally fitting example of an ancient brew, it too suffers from seasonal availability. Lucky for me, their Heather Ale is year-round and I was able to grab a few, knowing that I could drink them and not fear that the supply would run dry.

And I thought that while I was doing that, I might finally give it a review. It goes without saying that Heather Ale is a renowned style of beer, one that is very popular in Scotland and abroad. It dates back to 4000 BC when it was introduced to Scotland by the Picts, and is therefore one of the most dated styles in existence. And Salt Spring Brewery, in tune with their commitment to organic brewing that’s faithful to its roots, produce a very nice and easy-drinking beer that has a subtle array of herbal notes and flavors that is very appealing, especially to people who are looking for a break from the hoppy beers the Pacific Northwest is famous for.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, hints of flowers and honey
Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, hint of vanilla, notes of honey
Aftertaste: Clean finish, lingering tang and minerality
Overall: 8.5/10

Though I am a big fan of the hops, I have to give high credit to this beer for its clean taste, mineral-like tang, vanilla and honey like flavor and gentle aroma. I naturally couldn’t help but compare it to Fraoch, the famous heather ale by the Williams Brothers Brewery. And honestly, I feel this one gives it a good run for its money. I hope those who attend my beer class can appreciate it too!