Beer and pizza? Yes please! One of the final days of my challenge I spent at the always enjoyable Pizza Port in Carlsbad, CA. Hanging with fellow beer lovers Joe and Tim from Portland, eating tasty beer-crust pizza and drinking delicious beers in the California sunshine made for a lovely afternoon. And afterwards? Curling up with a few classics, my evening was set...
Cuvee de Ranke (Wild Card) 7% ABV: So why I am I calling this one a Wild Card? Well, here goes. The beer bottle itself is unlabeled, except for the paper in which it is wrapped. Below the title reads "Belgian Sour Ale with Lambic Added."
On the Shelton Brothers website, they let us know that the beer is a blend of 70 % Rodenbach yeast with 30 % aged Giradin Lambic. Soooo..."according to the Belgian government, this beer could actually be called "lambic", and, although it isn't an extremely sour beer, it actually contains about 5 times as much authentic lambic as some of the more popular products that call themselves "lambics"." But guys Nino and Guido have decided NOT to use the term.
Okie dokie, then. And for added confusion, Beer Advocate classifies it as a Belgian Pale Ale, so there it is. I'm calling it a Wild Card, at least for now.
This was a perfect beer for a beautiful Carlsbad day at Pizza Port. Nice, refreshing aromas of lemon, citrus fruits, and apple cider vinegar mingled with clean farm aromas of hay, grass, and earth. Not overly sour on the palate, but enough to get your tongue tickled. I could drink this over and over. On sunny California afternoons, outside, grilling seafood and sharing this beer with friends. Ahhhhh....
Westmalle Dubbel, 7% ABV: Once again with Westmalle, you know this is a classic from your first sniff. Much like the Tripel, it has a balanced, and almost understated nose, as compared to many of the more forward New World counterparts.
Dark dried fruits (raisin, fig, date, cherry), baking spice (cinnamon, clove, allspice), dark brown sugar. While I prefer and would be more likely to select the Tripel, I enjoyed this timeless example of a Dubbel.
Ommegang Abbey Ale (Dubbel) 8.5% ABV: A fantastic pair to the Westmalle. Truly highlights the similarities and differences between a classic and a newer Belgian-American version. Now remember, Ommegang is owned by Duvel, so their ties with Belgium are strong, and the influence is great.
This is a delicious Dubbel, and is one of my favorites of the month. Classic notes of caramel, brown sugar, dried date and fig. Lovely. But add to that a wonderful nuttiness and roasty toastiness, and it adds a whole new layer of complexity and sensory enjoyment.
While I ordinarily reach my limit with a Dubbel fairly quickly, I had no problem with the Ommegang. Great drinkability, with the right level of carbonation to keep it welcoming and not weighted down with the sweeter notes.
Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue) 9% ABV: Talk about a classic. How many times have we all had this beer? From our first virginal steps into craft beer to our now expanded love of incredible brews? But despite its popularity and public renown, and perhaps because of it, I knew it must be included within the 100.
As we all know, this beer ages quite beautifully. While this particular one I am drinking is young, I have decided much like I will with Orval (coming in next post!) to conduct follow-up tastings in the future. So stay tuned!
This beer goes down WAY too easy. Perhaps because like an old blanket, it is comfortable. The number of times I have had Chimay Grande Reserve is without number. It's nostalgic. It's memory in liquid form. Caramel, brown sugar, freshly baked dates, fig newtons, and roasted nuts. The palate is smooth and perfectly balanced. A nice bitter dryness on the finish encourages you to take another sip. And you do, and before you know it, you see the bottom of your Chimay chalice....