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Old 10-15-2011, 01:31 PM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Beer Thread!

We're in need of having more off-topic threads that can sustain themselves over the long haul, so what better subject to dedicate to one than beer? I'm not sure who the big beer drinkers are here, though most of our staff does appreciate a good brew. While I am bound to talk most about imports and beer that's not sold by the palette at the store, there are no limits to what can be discussed here.

Sad for me, I live in a small city and have a very limited selection of import beers at our local liquor store. It could be worse, but it's far from great. Still, there are enough options there to talk about, and because I travel enough to places where I get a greater number of options, I will be posting here fairly often.

Last night, I had two trappist beers I've not had before: Orval and La Trappe. In talking to our beer guru Brett about them, he said that they ranked pretty low on his trappist charts, but given that they are the only two my local store sells, beggers can't be choosers.

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As far as alcohol content in trappist beers go, Orval has got to be the lowest at 6.2%. The brewery also produces Petite Orval which almost halves the abv, but unless you plan to go to the Abbey where it's brewed, you're not going to be tasting it. Orval actually has a rich history, especially given that it was the first trappist beer to be sold nationally around Belgium.

But that doesn't mean it's the best. At $3.33 USD for 330ml, I wasn't expecting too much. Pricing like that puts the beer in-line with Red Speckled Hen, Kronenbourg, Innis & Gunn and so forth. Still, I expected a bit more. The smell and taste was a little harsh, a little tart, spicy with a lot of hops. None of this is a bad thing per se, but it was bitter enough where I couldn't find it refreshing or that enjoyable. If you like complexity, this is a great beer, but it's not one I'd jump on purchasing again.

La Trappe Tripel (8%) on the other hand impressed me. It smells great, a little nutty and citrousy (is that even a word?), and the taste was a bit sweet with a hint of brown sugar. The carbonation was mild, as is the taste, making it possible to drink it a lot faster than you probably mean to. Compared to the Orval, the La Trappe comes out ahead (for me).

Neither of these beers hold a candle to Chimay, however, which is the only other trappist beer I've ever had (red and blue varieties). But I'm thankful that at least La Trappe is an option for me at the local store, as I'd hate to be stuck with just Orval. At $8.65 USD for a 750ml bottle, though, La Trappe requires a little bit of a commitment.

Unfortunately, I didn't take notes when I drank these beers (given I was gaming at the time), so for future beers I talk about I'll do so at the time so I can create better descriptions. It's not that easy to recall beers precisely a day after you've had them
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Old 10-15-2011, 02:53 PM   #2
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Guinness Draught, 4.3% alcohol by volume, purportedly high in B vitamins & antioxidants ... it is health food!

And, obviously, references to related salacious contests are in order.

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Old 10-15-2011, 03:09 PM   #3
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Then there is Troeg's. I used to live just a few miles from this place good beer & they are credited with the best beer commercial ever.
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Old 10-15-2011, 03:19 PM   #4
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It should be mentioned that on the matter of imported beers, you should find some consolation on a few rare high quality local breweries.

Russian River (California) produces two worldwide recognized beers. The Pliny beers. You'll find Pliny The Younger and Pliny the Elder.

The Elder is a year long beer at 8%. It's a fruity beer, so may not be to the taste of everyone. But compensates with a slight pine taste that gives it some, not much, bitterness. Beautiful orange color (one of the most beautiful colors I've seen), murky with a huge head (wide glass recommended, or tall wet glass). It's an amazing creamy beer on the mouth with just enough bitterness and frankly very enjoyable. You'll rarely want to drink just one. It's a fast beer though. Not something that will last you long.

The Younger is a more elaborate beer. It's a seasonal beer. Dead of Winter beer on this case. So you should be seeing it sometime in late January through March, If I remember correctly. It's more bitter than the Elder and packs an impressive 11%. So you really need to take your time. This is actually possible, because the beer should be served cold but allowed to gain some temperature to better get the taste. Personally I like to get a shock treatment and take a generous gulp after filling the glass. But then let it sit for a couple minutes. When I go back to it, my taste buds are ready to really savour it. After which I take my time. Last time I drank the Young, I enjoyed it for a good 20 minutes. So it's a beer that keeps you company. Don't haste it. It's a fruity beer too, but with a more exotic taste. The bitterness comes from the recognizable pine.

Russian River Brewer
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Old 10-16-2011, 04:09 AM   #5
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Old 10-16-2011, 10:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psi* View Post
Guinness Draught, 4.3% alcohol by volume, purportedly high in B vitamins & antioxidants ... it is health food!
Haha! I love Guinness, but I am not sure about it being a "health food". I did watch a documentary once about a guy who drank only Guinness for a week or so. Surprisingly, he managed to get by quite well... considering all he consumed was beer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Psi* View Post
Then there is Troeg's. I used to live just a few miles from this place good beer
Looks good to me! I hate the fact that we just don't have a lot of indie/micro-brew options around here. There is one called "Pumphouse" (overused name if there ever was one), but their beer is just "okay". If you go to one of their restaurants and order a blueberry beer, you get a beer that tastes like you'd expect, but it even has blueberries floating in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marfig View Post
Russian River (California) produces two worldwide recognized beers. The Pliny beers. You'll find Pliny The Younger and Pliny the Elder.

Russian River Brewer
I've not heard of them, but I do go out to the west coast enough so I should be able to get a taste of it soon. Are you actually able to get that beer in Portugal? It shits me that worldwide it's so easy to get good or interesting beer, while in my city you really have slim pickins.

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Oh, you tease
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Old 10-16-2011, 02:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Are you actually able to get that beer in Portugal?
There's only one place over here I've seen this beer. But where I had my first taste was in Adelaide, Australia. So, while probably not the type you get to see widely exported, it should be found on some select places that go to the trouble of getting it.
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Old 10-16-2011, 07:13 PM   #8
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It must be quite big to be all over like that. Good to know, though. I'll keep an eye out for it next time I am in a place better than my city.
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:10 AM   #9
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This thread sucks!
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:42 AM   #10
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Glider, that is just cruel. Deliciously cruel. My mouth is watering.
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Old 10-19-2011, 08:02 PM   #11
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I took a walk earlier this week to get some fresh air, and before I knew it, I was at the beer store. Impossible to resist, I went in and picked up a bottle of Czechvar (5.0%) and Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel (5.6%) - both about $4 for 500ml.

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Being a pilsner, I didn't expect to love the Czechvar too much, and that turned out to be the case. When poured into a normal wide beer glass, the white head dissipated too fast to even be admired, but at least the clear, dark golden body could be. The beer has a fine carbonation, and overall it's a clean, slightly-malty, light-tasting beer. That said, while it was rather refreshing, its taste didn't stand out to me in any real way. It's the kind of beer that's great for a hot day when you just want to relax or have over supper.

The history behind the beer is far more interesting than its taste. In Europe, the beer is known as Budweiser Budvar, but due to obvious copyright limitations, it had to be renamed on these shores. The city it's brewed in is České Budějovice in the Czech Republic, which in German reads "Budweis", hence the name. The most interesting fact here is that beer in České Budějovice has been brewed since the 13th century - so there's a lot of history here.

While the Czechvar didn't impress me too much, the Erdinger Weissbier (native: Weißbier) Dunkel did quite a bit. Its color is almost pitch black, similar to Guinness. While on that comparison, it has a similar texture and finish also - just a little more tart. The smell and taste reminds me of burnt or dried fruit, and it keeps a constant head straight through to the end.

It's awesome when a beer is so complex in taste and texture that it's hard to surmise. I'd never imagine that I'd like the taste of fruit in a beer, but here, it was great. It was a beer I really didn't want to end, and I definitely see myself picking another up in the near-future.
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:00 PM   #12
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definitely brews that are not around here ... but I'm looking anyway!
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:09 PM   #13
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I had to look up your town on Wikipedia to get an idea of it, and it surprised me that someone here lives in a smaller town than me (mine is about 100,000 people). I often get people who are surprised to learn that so few people live in my town, but they tend to live in cities where the population is in the 0.5 millions or much higher. How far do you have to go to get to a much more populated city - one with a better beer selection? I'd actually be interested in knowing what your beer selection down there is like. Probably quite a bit different than mine.

Drinking a Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock tonight. Should have waited a bit closer to bedtime given it clocks in at 12%
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:40 PM   #14
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Rob, assuming that you are talking to me, apparently you did not see my town on some mapping site, but I am less than an hour from Grand Central Terminal in NYC. Yale in New Haven, CT is 1/2 hour the other way.

Never the less, I am a newby to this locale & dread the few times I have to get to THE city & have no idea why I would ever go to Hew Haven unless, god forbid, I would need a really good hospital!

Given all that, I am betting that there are some of those beers around here someplace. I just lack the network to help find 'em.
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Old 10-19-2011, 10:46 PM   #15
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No, all I did was look the town up on Wikipedia, which gave me a figure of about 25K people. I didn't look at a mapping site because I was too slow on the draw to think of it ;-)

I hear you on the beer choices though. I don't often go to restaurants around here, so I am not sure what's on tap at those, but I might need to look around because sooner or later I will run out of the selection at our local liquor store.
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