I recently spent an enjoyable evening at one of the best pubs in San Diego, O'Briens, "The hoppiest place on Earth!" Keeping me company were Tom, O'Briens own resident beer genius, and regulars Mike, Tom, Clark, and "Too Tall Steve." They had me laughing and entertained and suddenly, it was closing time. Only knowing I was craving a sour (or two), and characteristically unable to make a decision, I left my drinking fate in Tom's hands. He did not let me down....
Cantillon Cuvee des Champions (Unblended Lambic) 5% ABV: An absolutely divine treat. Beautifully delicate notes of citrus, honey, ginger, lemon mint, and grass. This is why I love beer. This beer spends 2 years in oak, and was brewed to celebrate a local soccer team's victory and upgrade to a higher division. Now folks, get this. It was produced ONLY for the team members and their fans, but Shelton Brothers got a mere 35 cases for the United States. And I got to drink one. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Tom!
2003 Boon Geuze Mariage Parfait 8% ABV: Mmm what a deliciously different style gueuze from the Cuvee! Aromas of kerosene, citrus, hay, wet earth, and a pleasant mustiness. We all loved this one too. More forward in profile, with a substantially dry finish.
Onto a few other beers at other locales!
St. Bernardus Tripel 8% ABV: This is what I would call a refreshing, yet easy-going, easy-drinking Tripel. Not overly dominant or bubble-gummy as some Tripels can be, the St. Bernardus has balanced notes of tree fruit, spice, candy, and freshly baked bread. Enjoyed this a bit too quickly at Neighborhood in San Diego, one of my favorite downtown San Diego beer spots. Check out their bottle list. Would definitely drink this beer again.
St. Bernardus Wit 5.5% ABV: I wanted to like this beer, just as I have the other Wits in my 100 beers. I am a longtime fan of St. Bernardus beers, so the hope was substantial. But most unfortunately, I was disappointed. The aromas were barely there, and I waited until it warmed, I promise. I wanted/needed more hay, more spice, more fruit. Combined with an almost gummy yeastiness, it just didn't measure up to the others. It was drinkable enough, but lacked the aroma and flavor complexity that other St. Bernardus beers have. I will remain a fan of the brewery, just not this beer.
Tripel Karmeliet, 8.4% ABV: A Tripel Classic. I have enjoyed this recently on tap at 3rd Corner in Encinitas and at TapRoom the night of my Food Drive. Sweet tree fruit (peach in particular), spice, honey, tropical fruit, hay, grass, candy, bread dough. Smooth, balanced, and delicious. A beer by which other Tripels are often judged.
Brasserie d'Achouffe La Chouffe (Strong Pale) 8% ABV: A classic Belgian you might often find on tap at quality beer locales. Vibrant, yet rounded nose of tree fruit. Complex nose of apricot, peach, fresh cut grass, spice herb, hay, and wet earth. Notes of sweetened meringue puffs on the nose. It has been several years since I have had this brew. I thoroughly enjoyed it this time, and will happily drink this again.
Alesmith Horny Devil (Belgian Strong Pale) 11% ABV: A well-known and loved beer by a San Diego favorite. I LIKE this beer. Alot. Unfortunately it packs a whallop with that 11% ABV. As one of my friends recently discovered. As a certified Coors Light drinker (I know, I'm working on it!), he was NOT used to this style of beer....
Funky hay, bubblegum, banana, tropical fruit, and citrus. The array of aromas follows through on the palate. A delicious offering from the fantastic Alesmith Brewing Company. Check these guys out if you haven't already.