My dear beer loving comrades, the challenge has BEGUN! I tell you, it has boisterously sprung upon me like Daylight Savings Time always seems to appear from nowhere. I remember discussing this months ago, and thinking, "Oh, there is heaps of time to prepare!" Right.
As we all know to be a cardinal truth, the older you get, the faster time goes. It's like Father Time speeds up the clock when we have our heads turned...Thanks pal.
But never fear, despite this treason of time, your loyal beer girl is READY for this challenge and will joyfully lead you through the liquid pleasures of Belgian and Belgian-style beers. It is going to be a fun-filled intoxicating adventure, so buckle in, enjoy the ride, and to quote the movie Grease (I swear my life is one giant quote), "put your mittens around your kittens and away we go!" Whatever in the world that means Vince Fontaine.
After a beautiful, sunny San Diego morning of walking with other fantastic beer folks at the SPCA 2010 Walk for Animals (CLICK HERE to see the site and donate) and a photo shoot, I was ready to dive into my first beers of the challenge. Actually some of us joked at 9:30 am that it felt like time to have a beer. After all we had been up for hours already! Ah, the wonderfully smitten minds of beer lovers. I was especially anticipating my first beer, the deliciously sought-after Malheur Brut Reserve. Considering it WAS the weekend, and I am known to be a Champagne zealot on the weekends, it was the PERFECT first beer to uncork...
Malheur Brut Reserve (Bière Brut) 11.5% ABV: Ahhh, what a delectable delight! Rich, yeasty goodness. Pours a beautiful hazy straw color. On the nose, think proofing sourdough, raw yeast, ripe tree fruit with hints of banana, wax, and flour, with a wonderful dash of citrus vibrancy.
As it warms, its complexity deepens, and it drinks almost as beautifully as chilled. It reminds me of a grower champagne. Would be a wonderful Sunday brunch beer and paired with Eggs Benedict with a rich Hollandaise sauce, and homeade biscuits or sourdough toast. I sincerely hope to get to fulfill that imagining and drink this impressive Brut again.
The Bruery Mischief (Golden) 8.5% ABV: Mmm, we all liked this one alot. In fact, it got literally annihilated in record time. This is an unfiltered beer, so it pours out a rich, cloudy...you guessed it, golden color. Lots of citrus on the nose, with lemon and orange peel taking center stage. Also aromas of wild field grasses and herbs, with sage in particular coming to the forefront.
So my thought here as I am sniffing and swirling is "Ok, is this gonna have the hoppiness in the palate that the nose indicates?" How hoppy would this Belgian-style Golden be? Turns out the entry was smooth and mild, with the hoppy notes emerging in the mid-palate and a few seconds after the finish. Great job guys. Can't wait until my field trip up to The Bruery later this month!
Bacchus (Oud Bruin) 4.5% ABV: This beer is defined by some as an Oud Bruin, some as a Flanders Red. I believe it to be the former, and here's why: Most obviously, it pours out brown. (Taste the soup. Aha!) On the nose, lots of caramel, both the liquid I so nervously create on the stove, and the hardened version you find in brittles. Delicate notes of sour cherry, oak, and light brown sugar lace the edges of the caramel. Definite malt character in the palate, with a bit of sweet and sour dichotomy.
But the sour is minimal, and definitely overshadowed by the malt. (CLICK HERE to see the BJCP definition of Oud Bruin) Overall, I found the palate a bit shallow, particularly in comparison to the interesting complexity of the two former beers. A watery aspect hits about 2/3 through, and you are left with the desire to let exhale a "Hmph."
They can't ALL be winners right?