Mikkeler It’s Alive!

mikkeler_itsaliveBrewer: Mikkeler Brewing, Copenhagen, Denmark
Style: Sour/Amber Ale
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs:
Unspecified

Description: This beer is part of Mikkeler’s Sour/Wild lineup, and a tribute to Orval and Trappist brewing. Employing an amber malt base, the beer is also heavily hopped and bottle-fermented using wild stbrettanomyces yeast.

Tasting Notes: While this is a fitting tribute to Orval (they managed to imitate the taste and appearance quite closely) this brew is a bit heavy on the bitterness. However, it manages to grow on you, it packs the usual punch of a sour ale with notes of sour cherry and oak, and has the strong malt base and effervescence of a Trappist-style ale.

Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Coarse malt, strong notes of oak and brettanomyces
Taste: Crisp malt, oak, sour cherry, yeasty effervescence, hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, bitter yeast, oak flavor
Overall: 7.8/10

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Muskoka Legendary Oddity

muskoka_oddityBrewer: Muskoka Brewery, Bracebridge ON
Style: Vintage Ale
Alc/Vol: 8%

Description: This limited release Spring-seasonal ale pays homage to the legends of the lumberjacks and furtraders who experienced the mysterious culture and wildlife of the North during the 1800’s. Brewed in the Belgian style, it brings together a combination of North American malts, Noble hops, heather tips, juniper berries and sweet orange peel shavings, before being fermented with Belgian yeast and fortified with Candi sugar. The end results is then bottled and cellar aged to bring the flavors together to maturity.

Tasting Notes: This beer brought to mind many drinking experiences, all of them pleasant. First, there are the distinctive Belgian-style elements, which are similar to a good Tripel; a barley-wine in terms of the sweet and sugary notes; and a juniper pale ale with the infusion of gin-like flavor and a crisp finish. I am always happy when I get to reconnect with breweries from back east that I don’t always have access to. And this beer was definitely a lovely and worthy addition to Muskoka’s lineup.

Appearance: Gold/orange, clear with sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, sugary nose, barley wine-like, floral, citrus, Belgian yeasts
Taste: Strong malts, sugars, Belgian yeast, citrus rind, crisp finish, hint of juniper
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt and yeast bitterness, juniper berry, citrus rind
Overall: 9.5/10

Goose Island Sofie Farmhouse Ale

GooseIsland_SofieBrewer: Goose Island Brewery, Chicago IL
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.5%
IBUs: 20

Description: Crafted in the Belgian/French Farmhouse fashion, this beer is fashioned using 2 Row, Pilsen, and Wheat malts and is then bittered and flavored with Amarillo hops and hand-zested orange peel. The brew is then bottle-conditioned for up to five years to create a well-balanced, yeast, effervescent ale.

Tasting Notes: This is my second installment in the Goose Island Brewery tour, and after the first, I was expecting something less impressive. Surprisingly, this beer was equally amazing. A champagne-like effervescence accompanies the farmhouse-style flavor of sharp malt and spicy yeast, and fruity esters mix with citrus to create an all-around complex and refreshing profile that is slightly sweet, tangy, bubbly and refreshing.

Appearance: Light golden, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malts, slightly sour, fruity esters, yeasty, hint of citrus and tropical fruit
Taste: Sharp malt, yeasty, good tang, fruity esters, pineapple, orange
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness, yeast, and tart fruity notes
Overall: 9.5/10

Goose Island Matilda Belgian Style Pale Ale

GooseIsland_MatildaBrewer: Goose Island Brewery, Chicago IL
Style: Belgian-style Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%
IBUs: 26

Description: Inspired by the legend of the grateful Countess Matilda who founded a monastery where, over centuries, monks have been brewing ale unique in character. In the character of a Trappist Ale, the Matilda is crafted using 2-Row and Caramel malts, bittered with Styrian, Pilgrim, Golding Celeia, and Saaz hops, and fortified with Candy Sugar. It is then fermented using the wild Brettanomyces yeast and bottle-conditioned for up to five years.

Tasting Notes: The inspirations were certainly clear in this bottle. Immediately, I got flavors that reminded me of a Flemish Red and a Trappist beer, combining the telltale sourness of the former with the solid malt and oaky undertones of the latter. I was not surprised at all to learn that this beer has brought home two silver medals and a gold from the World Beer Cup Awards.

Appearance: Amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Smooth malt, peach, yeasts, hint of sourness, oaky overtones
Taste: Strong malt, yeasty tang, burst of lactic acid, peach, sour cherries, oaky finish
Aftertaste: Lingering oak, fruity esters, yeast and bitterness
Overall: 10/10

New Belgium Trippel

trippel_lBrewer: New Belgium Brewery, CO
Style: Trippel
Alc/Vol: 7.8%

Description: Brewed in the Belgian style of extra strong ales, this Trippel is bottle conditioned and fermented for an extended period of time and spiced with coriander. The end result is a yeasty pale ale that contains notes of pear, apple, and ginger spice alongside a subtle hint of spice.

Tasting Notes: I will admit that I was expecting a bit more in the way of malt and oaky flavor. By comparison, this beer was lighter and more subtle, but no less pleasing or appealing. The notes of apple, pear and ginger were a nice surprise, and played quite well to the smooth malty flavor and mild spice notes. Yet another winner from this venerable brewery!

Appearance: Deep golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, yeast, hint of oak, notes of coriander and ginger
Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, yeast, pear and apple esters, hint of coriander spice
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, spice, yeast
Overall: 9/10

Corsendonk Pater Dubbel

corsendonk_paterA familiar name popped for me at the liquor store during my most recent visit. It goes by the name of Corsendonk, a Belgian brewery that I first encountered during my extensive time in the fine bistros of Vineyards and Pub Italia back in my hometown of Ottawa. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a beer by this brewery, or even which kind it was. So naturally, I snatched up one of their fine, 750ml corked bottles as soon as I could and set down to (re)sample it. In this case, it was the Corsendonk Pater, a double-fermented ale done in the traditional Belgian style of top-fermented, bottle conditioned beer.

I’ve had my share of Belgian dubbels in the past, but rarely have they been light, refreshing, and an fine example of clean drinking. But that’s the world of Belgian brewing, where a country with centuries of brewing traditions which boasts more breweries per square kilometer produces can still find ways to surprise you. So here’s what I thought of this traditional, yet surprising Belgian brew:

Appearance: Orange-brown, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Light, sugary malts, bouquet of raisins, apricots and yeast
Taste: Light, sweet malts, notes of raisins, plum fruit, champagne-like effervescence
Aftertaste: Very clean, mild taste of yeast and lingering malt
Overall: 8.5/10

Initially, I was hoping for something a little more sugary, and with stronger traces of raisins, plum fruits, and even spice. Basically, the stuff one expects from a strong Belgian ale. And yet, I couldn’t complain. Not only was it was refreshing and clean, the subtle nature of the taste was also quite pleasing. Moreover, it reminded of several other Belgian beers, such as Belle-Vue Gueze and others that incorporate champagne yeast into the fermentation process. At once bubbly, fruity, clean and mellow, this dubbel was quite the addition to my list of Belgian beers to sample!