Sunday, February 22, 2009

Belgian Beer: Duvel

Hey, We are back!

is produced by the Duvel Moortgat Brewery (Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat), which was founded in Belgium in 1871. The brewery's best and most renowned product is its Belgian strong golden pale ale: Duvel, which in Brabantian Dutch means Devil. This beer packs a punch at 8.5 ABV. The brewery also purchased the Brasserie d'Achouffe in 2006, which produces La Chouffe. Additionally the Duvel brewery produces a line of abbey beers: Maredsous

According to wikipedia this is how Duvel got its name:

To commemorate the end of World War I, the Moortgats named their main beer Victory Ale. But during the 1920s, an avid drinker described the beer as "nen echten duvel" (a real devil) - perhaps in reference to its formidable alcohol content (8.5% ABV) - and the name of the beer was changed to Duvel.
In any event it is a devilishly good beer and I love the bottle.

All hail to this dark prince of beers.

Presentation- Small brown 330 ml bottle with freshness date on back label.

Appearance- Golden with lively carbonation, a thick foamy white head, excellent retention and a lot of patches of lacing.

Smell- Malty, Grassy, yeast, citrusy.

Taste- Sweet at first balenced by a slightly bitter finish, yeast, malty, fruity with hints of citrus.

Mouth- Light, smooth, crisp and clean.

The bottom line: Duvel is an amazing beer, so enjoyable let it speak for itself. Outta this world.

***** (out of 5 *)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Noilly Prat to change its U.S. formula

I personally have never tried Noilly Prat, but, for any of our readers here who are fans of this renowned dry vermouth should be aware that its makers are planing on changing their formula in the U.S.. I don't know if this is a wise move by the company. But people always know how to ruin a good thing I guess.
"according to the company, the dry vermouth is merely a return to the "original recipe," which has been the version sold in Europe all along. Unfortunately, the version sold in Europe has never been produced with Martinis in mind...the new Noilly Prat is meant to be "served straight and chilled or on the rocks with a twist of lemon." The company claims to have enhanced "the bouquet, color, and flavor of the wine," producing a "sweet, floral blend." Uh-oh."
For more: Bad News for Martini Drinkers

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Belgian Beer: La Chouffe

The Brasserie d'Achouffe, founded in 1982, is a Belgian Brewery based in Achouffe. In September 2006 the producers of Duvel (which we will be reviewing soon), Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat purchased the Brasserie d'Achouffe.

Brasserie d'Achouffe produces a number of different styles of beers, amongst them
  • Belgian Dark Ale, 6.5% ABV: Chouffe-Bok
  • Belgian Strong Dark Ale, ranging from 8%-10% ABV: McChouffe, N'Ice Chouffe
  • Belgian Strong Pale Ale, 8%-8.5% ABV: La Chouffe, Kwelchouffe
This time we tried La Chouffe, Bière blonde D'Ardenne, 8% ABV. This beer is unfiltered, it is re-fermented in the Bottle or Keg.

Presentation: La Chouffe comes in a 750 ml green glass Champagne like bottle with freshness date on back label.

According to wikipedia:
"The beers have gnomes on their label, a play on the town name Achouffe, since Chouffe means gnome or dwarf in a Walloon dialect."

The company website explains why such a large bottle, as La Chouffe only comes in 750 ml and up:
"The size of the bottles encourages people to share the beer with friends and families, which is very sociable!"
and share we did.

Appearance: Cloudy gold with streams of small champagne-like bubbles. A Nice thick, coarse, bubbly white head which leaves a good amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Grain, fruity, spice/herbal, yeast, citrus.

Taste: Fruity sweetness which is balanced with the slightly bitter finish, honey, cloves, spicy, citrusy.

Mouth: Bubbly, live carbonation and light bodied, kind of like champagne.

The bottom line: An excellent beer, sweet but not overly-sweet, fruity yet balenced with hints of spice, very enjoyable. Although you may want it all for yourself, you will soon feel the effects of the 8% ABV considering how easilly La Chouffe goes down, so like they said, this one is nice to enjoy with friends and family.

**** 1/4 (out of 5 *)

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Release: Jameson Signature Reserve

I missed this article, posted back in June '08. Apparently Jameson has released a new whiskey, Jameson Signature Reserve. As of now it is available at duty free shops in England and Ireland. Eventually it will be available across Europe as well. Another newcomer is Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve.

Here is a forum discussing Jameson Signature Reserve, and another article about the release at the "Moodie Report".

If any of you have tried either of these new editions to the Jameson Reserve Series, drop us a line by leaving a comment, let us know what you think about these whiskeys.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Guide to Belgian Beer

Over at Chowhound they have an interesting detailed article on Belgian beers:

Belgian Beer Primer: Decoding the world’s most acclaimed (and confusing) brews

Belgian beer has mystique: Some of it’s made by monks. Some of it tastes really, really weird. Some of its labels show elves and devils. People who know beer are sometimes unable to resist blowing huge chunks of cash on it.
It is, said famed beer writer Michael Jackson, the “Disneyland of beer.”...

There is more on "How it's served".

“Belgian beer is really about the bottles, not the draft beer,” says Chuck Stilphen, co-owner of the Trappist, a Belgian beer bar in Oakland, California. Nearly all Belgian craft beer is bottle-conditioned. Consequently, in the United States you’ll find most Belgian beers offered in 150 different bottles. bottles. “Belgians on draft tend to be flatter and more one-dimensional,” says the Spuyten Duyvil’s Joe Carroll. When sharing a big bottle, some beer-lovers fight over who gets that last, sludgy shot: The yeast contains lots of vitamin B, which is good for hangovers.

It's worth looking this article over if you like beers in general or are a fan of Belgian beer.

Any way... we will be reviewing some more Belgian beers over here at "Keep Your Spirits Up", including Duvel and La Chouffe. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cocktail: The Corpse Reviver

Well all this talk of Pastis has given me a hankering to discover some cocktails which put it to good use. One of my favorite ways to go about discovering new cocktails is by using the Cocktail data base's search engine. Their search engine allows you to enter either a cocktail's name and/or main ingredient, in my case pastis, and then it gives you all the relevant results.

After entering "pastis" in to the engine, I received 293 results. How do I go through all of these results you ask? well each cocktail has the ingredients listed next to it so I go down the list and picked out the ones which I had all of the ingredients for, or at least most of them, then I try to find an adequate substitute for missing ingredient.

Lets see...looking through the results I come across: A La Française, already tried it in the last review. Absinthe American, nah, almost the same as A La Française. I tend to stay away from cocktails with raw eggs, not my bag. Then I saw it, The Corpse Reviver #2. I remembered reading about this cocktail, people raved that it was their favorite, how it has the perfect balance of diverse ingredients. So I thought to my self why not give it a whirl.

I went to check if I had the ingredient for it: Pastis (Phénix), check. Cointreau, check. Gin (Bombay Sapphire), check. Fresh lemon juice, check. Lillet Blanc, nope, but I had Cinzano Extra Dry vermouth on hand. Now, I am sure Cinzano is not the best substitute, and I know someone will say "oh! how could you do that! substituting Cinzano for Lillet is a sacrilege." but hey, that's what I had on hand. I was also missing the cherry for garnish so I used a lemon zest instead.

Now onto some background about the Corpse Reviver:

According to a post by Robert Hess over at spirit world:
"The Corpse Reviver was in truth more of a "family" of cocktails, than an individual cocktail itself. The corpse reviver was no doubt intended as a morning after pick-me-up (aka. Hair of the dog), and besides that, there seems little to provide an indication of what specifically separated such a drink from one of the other well-known categories, such as a cocktail.

Of the various corpse revivers that were once floating about pre-prohibition, only two appeared to pop out the other side, and were listed in Harry Cradock's "The Savoy Cocktail Book", which is where we encounter what he simply listed as "Corpse Reviver #2".

This drink illustrates one of the important aspects of the craftsmanship of a well made drink. The balance of the ingredients listed here is so precarious that each one needs to be carefully measured to make this drink properly. The lemon juice also needs to be fresh, and you can't substitute common triple sec for the Cointreau." (I'm sure he'd disapprove of my substitution of Cinzano for Lillet, but hey, what can you do.)

Jay, over at "Oh Gosh" has more on the subject. His ratio's are the same as the other recipes I've seen so far, Plus he has the "Corpse Reviver #1" recipe.
Corpse Reviver #2
  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz Lillet Blanc (or in my case Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth)
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • According to Hess: 1 drop absinthe (or absinthe substitute, such as Pernod)
  • According to Cocktail DB: 2 drops (1 dash) Pastis (I made mine according to this version, next time I'll try it according to Hess.)

Shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

There are variations on this cocktail in terms of the ratios. If you scale back the lemon juice and cointreau it becomes the "Miracle Cocktail".

This cocktail is complex yet balanced. It is sweet, sour and Bitter. There are the sour notes from the lemon, a botanical and herbal flavor from the vermouth and gin and some sweetness from the cointreau. The finish is slightly bitter and you get that hint of the pastis anise/
réglisse goodness. The color can be described as a cloudy-white with a yellowish hue to it, similar to that of diluted pastis. Certain flavors came to mind, such as the "White Lady" and the "Dry Martini".

I see this as being a refreshing summertime cocktail. In fact after drinking it I must say I felt very refreshed. Now I know why they call this a "Corpse Reviver". I personally enjoyed this cocktail and recommend that you give it a go.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Israeli beers: Maccabee & Goldstar

Tempo (טמפו) is Israel's largest brewing company. Tempo produces Maccabee, Goldstar and Nesher Malt non-alcoholic beer.

Maccabee (מכבי), is a 4.9% abv Pilsner which began production in 1968 and is sold in Israel, Europe and the US.

Presentation 500 ml green glass bottle with freshness date stamped below the neck.

Appearance- Light gold with a thin bubbly head which leaves a little lacing on the glass. Big bubbles cling to the side of the glass along side streams of little bubbles

Smell- Malty, Grainy, hint of sweetness, Bitter, grassy.

Taste - Crisp, grainy, malty with a hint of sweetness balanced by a "hoppy" bitterness, a hint of smoke and a slightly metallic taste.

Mouth- thin-medium body, low-medium carbonation

Bottom line: a decent beer which can be consumed easily in quantities. I remember Maccabee being worse, very watery, I recently tasted it and it either has improved or I got a lucky with that specific bottle.

** (out of 5 *)

Goldstar (גולדסטאר), is a 4.9% abv Munich Dunkel Lager which has been in production since the 1950's. Each year Tempo sells 30 million bottles of Goldstar

Presentation- 500 ml brown glass bottle with freshness date marked on the glass just below the neck.

Appearance- Produces a nice thick white creamy head which lasts for a short while and then becomes close cropped and thin. There is some lacing. The color can be described as dark amber. Lots of tiny bubbles.

Smell- Malty, some hops, grassy and some bitterness.

Taste- Malty sweetness, some hops, bread, slightly bitter finish.

Mouth- Lively, lots carbonation, medium bodied with a nice creamy feel.

Bottom line: Not outstanding, but, it lives up to its expectations as a beer which was meant to be consumed in large quantities at Mangals (Israeli BBQ s). I cold have a few of these along with some kebabs and skewers of meat.

** 3/4 (out of 5 *)

These two beers were not outstanding but neither were they horrible by any means. They work well as an accompaniment to grilled meats and fish but would not be sipped on their own. I would like to try some other Israeli offerings such as Layla and Dancing Camel should I come across them.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pastis: Phénix

Over the weekend, after writing my last article, Pastis vs Anisette, I came across a bottle of pastis produced by the Phénix/M.G. Taieb company. Phénix is known for their Anisette, which was originally produced in Algeria by Moïse Taieb and is currently made in Roanne, France. Pastis is a new addition to the line of Phénix products, it has a 45% abv.

Presentation: It comes in a slender, brownish-green 700 ml bottle.

Color: Pale yellow-brown, after adding water it changes to a cloudy off-white color with a slightly yellowish hue.

Réglisse, anise, peppermint, slight sweetness.

Palate: at first mint which gives away to r
églisse and anise. Sweet but not cloying, bitter but not overly.

I Thoroughly enjoyed this new offering from Phénix/M.G. Taieb. I liked that it wasn't overly cloying and the taste was to my liking, Anise and réglisse with some minty notes.

*** 3/4 (out of 5 *)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pastis vs Anisette *Updated*

I am very familiar with the whole anise flavored liqueur family since my father-in-law was very fond of Anisette. I have tried the offerings from various countries including Absinthe, Arak, Ouzo, Pastis and Anisette.

For those who are unfamiliar, here is a little background on Pastis and Anisette.

Pastis is an anise flavored liqueur and aperitif from France. It is one of the most popular beverages in France. Pastis is especially popular in the south of France where it is associated with Provençal lifestyle along with Pétanque (a game similar to Bocce) and drinking rosé wine.

The story of pastis began when absinthe was banned in France. The producers of absinthe decided to create a drink that resembled absinthe, but with out the wormwood, which was the ingredient which got absinthe banned in the first place. It was to have a more robust anise flavor, using star anise, sugar and a lower alcohol content, between 40%-45% abv whereas absinthe is usually between 45%-75% abv. Voila, pastis was born.

Pastis has a transparent yellowish-brown color when undiluted. It is meant to be diluted with cold water before drinking. I learned this the hard way of coarse, I drank it straight... from what I have heard in general it is supposed to be a 5:1 ratio of water to pastis, but to each his own, so it is usually served along side a jug of cold water and ice cubes (optional), which if used should be added only after the water has been added to avoid crystallization.

I tried Pastis Juvanis (45% abv) with a 4:1 ratio of water to pastis, when the water is added to the pastis it goes from transparent yellow to an almost opaque milky white-yellow (see the first image in the post). The palate had notes of liquorice (réglisse), anise and fennel. It is not overly sweet or cloying, which I liked. The addition of water really helps bring out the flavors.

I remember vividly when I went to visit Southern France, we would go explore a small town each day. On our way in we would pass a small brasserie or a café and there would be some elderly gentlemen sitting around the table with a bottle of water and pastis sipping and chatting. Hours later when we finished sightseeing in that town we would see the same gentlemen sitting around the table with their cloudy coloured pastis in hand, still sipping and chatting.

Anisette (aka Anis) is anise flavored liqueur mainly consumed in the Mediterranean area including France, Spain and Italy but may be found in Portugal and Mexico as well. Anisette tends to have a lower alcohol content (well not with the anisette I tried for this post) and be sweeter than other anise flavored liqueurs, such as Pastis. Similarly, anisette was created as an alternative to absinthe. Anisette is made primarily with aniseed unlike pastis which is made primarily with star anise. Anisette can be drank straight or prepared in a similar way to pastis with water. I reccomend adding water.

The anisette I tried for this post was Phénix (45% abv), originally manufactured in Algeria by Moïse Taieb, it is now produced in Roanne, France.

According to Arabic Liqour:
"Anisette Phénix originally is an Algerian Jewish aperitif now produced in France. It is particularly associated with Jewish pieds-noirs, European colonists with French citizenship in Algeria. At some point in time in the twentieth century production moved from Algeria to France due to the unstable situation in Algeria, especially for Jews...According to the bottle it is made by macerating anise grains in a neutral grain spirit and subsequently distilling it. It is very sweet because of the added sugar (it is sweeter than pastis; arak is unsweetened) and it should be diluted with water."
I have also tried Anisette Marie Brizard but it was so long ago I can hardly remember how it tasted.

The anisette had many of the same flavors as the pastis: liquorice (réglisse), anise, fennel and additional hints of coriander and mint, but it was much sweeter than the pastis. When water is added to the anisette it becomes cloudy white, but not as opaque as pastis.

Bottom line:
I personally liked the pastis better than the anisette, in the end it is a matter of taste. If you like anise and liquorice in general try sampling both pastis and anisette before going out to buy a bottle. This way you can see if you like anise flavored liqueur at all and if you do which one you prefer.

à la tienne!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Czech beer: Starobrno Černé (Dark)

Well, considering the fact that the Czechs are the worlds #1 consumers of beer they must have a number of very good beers. Starobrno was a welcome change after the last Czech beer I reviewed here on this blog.

The city of Brno, Czech Republic, claims to have over 750 years of brewing tradition. dating back to 1243 when king Wencesclas I granted the town the right to brew beer. in 1872 the "old Brno Brewery" was founded and they began producing what became known as "old Brno beer". After WWII Starobrno underwent some changes, including modernization and management. Starobrno is now owned by Heineken, the fourth largest brewery group in the world. StarobrnoČerné (dark),
produces various styles of beers including: Řezák – Mixed pale & dark beer, Ležák - Lager, Medium and Traditional.

Today I tried Starobrno's Černé (Dark) beer, which is a Munich Dunkel Lager style of beer containing 3.8% abv. Munich Dunkels are said to be smooth, rich and complex, with a ruby hue and a mild bitterness to balance any sweetness.

Now on to the review:

Presentation- Green 500 ml bottle with freshness date on the back label.

Appearance- Nice, thick, coarse tan head, leaves a little bit of lace. The color was dark deep brown. When held up to the light you see it is dark ruby red with a few streams of tiny bubbles.

Smell- Malty sweetness, Roasted nuts, fruity.

Taste- Sweet, rich, malty, dark chocolate, some hops, and a slightly bitter finish.

Mouth- Smooth, light-medium bodied, little carbonation.

The bottom line is that this is a pleasant and easy beer to enjoy.

*** (out of 5 *)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another good offering from Leffe: Leffe Blonde

Earlier this month I reviewed Leffe Brune which I liked, **** stars. This time I tried a bottle of Leffe Blonde, which is a Belgian pale ale with an abv of 6.6%.
Appearance- Light golden amber color with lots of tiny bubbles. Big, creamy, white head which slightly clings to the side of the glass.

Smell- Yeasty, grainy, honey, fruity, some hops and floral/grassy notes.

Taste- Sweet Honey/nectar, malt, some hops, grassy and a pleasant toffee sweetness.

Mouth- Smooth with lively carbonation.

Drinkability- I'd have another.

Bottom line:
This beer is sweet, creamy and easy to drink.

*** 1/2 (out of 5 *)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Economist: Amidst the gloom, single malts are flourishing

The Economist is running an interesting article about the success of single malts amidst all the financial turmoil. 

MOST recession-blighted manufacturers worry that their next order is likely to be for mothballs. Not so Scotland’s whisky makers: they are busy bringing old distilleries back to life and building new ones. The reason is not that the British are drowning their economic sorrows; it is that exports of single malts are booming...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

English Pale Ale: Fuller's London Pride

Fuller's is a brewing company founded in 1845 at the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, West London. "London Pride" is an English Pale Ale, uses hard water which helps bring out the hops' bitterness. This type of ale can range from golden to reddish amber in color. The flavors and aromas usually are a mix of fruity, hoppy, earthy, buttery and malty notes.

I really lucked out with this one. It was the last one on the shelf...little did I know it had a good reason to be.

On to the review:

Presentation: Brown glass 11.2 oz bottle.

Appearance- A half inch thick head which quickly reduces to a thin layer of foam. It is orange-brown, dark amber with little streams of tiny bubbles.

Smell- Hops, yeast, citrus, Fruity, malt, grain and a slight caramel sweetness. Sourdough bread.

Taste- Grainy, Malty, citrusy. Sweet at first with a more than slightly bitter finish

Mouth- Medium feel with nice carbonation. Very Smooth.

Drinkability- Overall a very nice beer, at 4.7% abv its easy to enjoy, so sit back and relax. I have also discovered that the on-tap version comes in 4.1% abv. I highly recommend this beer!

***1/2 (out of 5*)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Whisky wedding

Tonight I was at a wedding and there were some nice single malt whiskies going around. I tasted the only three that I was able to get my hands on: Dalwhinnie 15 yr, Glenfiddich 15 yr Solera Reserve and Glenmorangie. There were other Single malts but the eluded me the rest of the evening

Both the Dalwhinnie and Glenfiddich I had tasted before, they are excellent whiskies. They have hints of chocolate and honey sweetness and are on the delicate, light side, while Dalwhinnie is slightly more smokey.

As for the Glenmorangie, I have tried their "Port Wood" and "Cote D'Or Burgundy wood" finishes in the past, both of which I deeply enjoyed. However, the Glenmorangie I tried this evening was one I am not familiar with. I was pleasantly surprised, it was very sweet, with predominantly citrus, honey, heather flavor. At first I thought it was a Glenmorangie Whisky Liqueur, but then after drinking a bit more I realized that it wasn't. I also noticed that this whiskey felt stronger than your average 40% abv stuff. Because the lighting was lousy and the fact that someone was doling it out I was unable to see the label clearly, except for the name "Glenmorangie". The bottle itself was strange for a Glenmorangie bottle, shaped like a short stubby Chivas or Dalwhinnie bottle in brown glass like Glenfiddich's 15 yr Solera Reserve.
If anyone out there can help me identify which Glenmorangie this was I'd be very grateful :)

Danish Beers on tap: Tuborg Green and Carlsberg

On a side note I also tried Tuborg Green (Lager) on tap at the same wedding. Very light yellow, clear with almost no head and a lot of large bubbles. Grainy smell, along with yeast and slightly grassy. Crisp, dry grainy taste with a slightly bitter finish. Nothing to go out of your way for, an easy to drink beer.
*1/2 (out of 5*)

A few days ago I ordered a Carlsberg (German Pilsner) on tap. Thin white head which quickly disappeared. Little bubbles with a bright pale yellow-golden color. Malt and some hops, yeast, grain on the nose. Crisp, grainy taste which seems to be balanced, with a light and thin feel to it. Another easy to drink beer.
** (out of 5*)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dutch Beer: Grolsch Premium Lager

Grolsch, is pronounced: Khrolsh or Chrolsh, in Dutch the "G" is pronounced similarly to The "kh" in Kharkov or "ch" Loch. The brewery was founded in 1615 Groenlo (Netherlands) and is currently located in Enschede (Netherlands). After Heineken, Grolsch is the second largest brewery in the Netherlands, and the 21st largest provider of beer worldwide.

Grolsch Premium Lager (aka Grolsch Premium Pilsner), has a 5% abv and comes in two types bottles (which I am aware of), I used a 330 ml bottle for this review. It is also available in a distinctive shaped bottle, known as the beugel or "the gurdle". These bottles have a swing-top cap with a rubber stopper, which eliminates the need for a bottle opener and allows you to re-close your beer. The export beugel bottles I purchased contain, I kid you not, 473 ml (47.3 cl or 15.99 oz), you can enlarge the thumb nail if you don't believe me!

Anyway... on to the review:

Appearance- Light yellow gold with a steady stream of tiny Champagne like bubbles. A nice white fluffy head with decent retention, It lasted for a bit, which shrinks down to a thinner layer of head.

Smell- Grain, hops, yeast, with a clean grassy and herbal scent. Maybe even a tiny drop skunky.

Taste- Smooth, crisp, grainy bitterness along with some sweetness and some herbal/medicinal notes.

Mouth- Nice carbonation and medium body.

Drinkablity- I enjoy this beer, I like its smooth-bitter-herbal/medicinal taste and I'd gladly have another one. I'd take this over Tuborg, Carlsberg ect...

*** (out of 5 *)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The top 20 Beer drinking countries

Here is a slide show count down of the top 20 beer drinking nations in the world. Although there were a few surprises I knew who would be in the #1 spot. I'll give you a hint from an earlier post:

"___ _____ ________ is know for its heavy beer consumption and I guess putting beer in large plastic cola bottles helps facilitate this. I remember when visting ______ seeing advertisements for breakfast, brunch and lunch specials which included a beer, Gotta love 'em."


My favorite "beer facts were from Australia, the #4 spot:

  • Apparently the first European settlers in Australia drank more alcohol per person than any other community in the history of mankind.
  • In 1954 Bob Hawke made it into the Guinness Record Book for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. He then went on to become the Prime Minister of Australia.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Belgian beer: Leffe Brune

Leffe Brune is a Belgian dark ale that was originally brewed in the abbey Notre Dame de Leffe which was founded in 1152 on the Meuse River. It is now brewed at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven. Leffe Brune has a 6.5% Abv.

The Belgians, especially the Dutch/Flemish really know their beer. In addition to Leffe they produce some other really high quality tasty beers including: Chimay, Duvel, Hoegaarden, La Chouffe etc... Don't worry we will get to those but first we must return to cocktails and Spirits. All in due time.

With my beer chalice shattered, broken, I decided to try this beer in a wine glass so that I could enjoy its wonderful smell and take deep sips.

Appearance- Dark Brown, Caramel, almost black. Good head retention.

Smell- Malty, roasted, toasted, sweet, Chocolate, nutty, caramel, yeast and a hint of spice.

Taste- Sweet, bittersweet chocolate, roasted/toasted almonds.

Mouth- Creamy, Chewy, good carbonation.

Drinkability- I would definitely have another...dozen or so.

Serving type: bottle

The bottom line:

In general along with Czech and stout beers, Belgian beers are amongst my favorites!
I loved this beer. It has a very dark and heavy appearance, akin to Guinness, but is much lighter in the mouth, its smell and its taste. It has a nice bittersweet smell and flavor which I really enjoy and makes for a pleasant drink. Plus it gives a nice "buzz". I highly recommend this beer. Give it a whirl, you won't be disappointed nursing this baby.

**** (out of 5 *)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Czech Beer: Paka Pramen

Paka Paramen is a výčepní light beer brewed in the NovoPacké Pivo Brewery located in Nová Paka, Czech Republic. The ABV was only 3.7% and it came in a 1/2 liter brown glass bottle. Why do I stress glass? well if you go to their website you will see that they also sell some of their beers in a 1.5 liter plastic bottle. This struck me as strange, but hey, the Czech Republic is know for its heavy beer consumption and I guess putting beer in large plastic cola bottles helps facilitate this. I remember when visting Prague seeing advertisements for breakfast, brunch and lunch specials which included a beer, Gotta love 'em.

Appearance: yellow, golden, with lots o small bubbles. This beers retains its head only for a matter of seconds and then it quickly disappears.

Smell: very weak, sweet, hops, yeast, citrus.

Taste: It took a while until I could distinguish the flavors. The flavor was pretty weak, dominant bitterness, over ripeness and yeast.

Mouth: Over carbonated and watery.

The bottom line:

Although some of my favorite beers are Czech beers unfortunatly I did not enjoy this beer as much as Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen Premium Lager and Velkopopovický Kozel Pilsner. The smell and taste were dull/weak and there was a lot of yeasty bitterness as is expected from a Pilsner, but, not the kind which I enjoy. I don't believe that I will be trying this specific beer again anytime soon but I would like to try some of the different styles available from the NovoPacké Pivo Brewery.

* (out of 5 *)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sorry I was out for a while...

I'll be back ASAP with some more updates, reviews and posts... In the meantime enjoy the beginning of 2009 :)