Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kyle's Belgian Warriors, Steeplechase Brewery

So I decided that a mere week and 3 days after bottling the Belgian Warriors, I was going to pop one open. I didn't expect any carbonation, but I heard a nice "chhhahh" sound when I opened the bottle and immediately got excited. The beer poured beautifully with a thick head that held for a while. I took about 20 pictures until I got one that I was happy with and the head didn't change throughout. Usually with my homebrews, I have to be a bit more efficient with the camera phone. By the way, it did not mesh well a shrimp cocktail, but I never claimed to be good at food and beer pairing.

The color you can't really see is a nice brown. It matches a lot of Belgian Dubbels well, but shows some red when held up to the light.

The smell is very complex. There is some maltiness, there is a toastiness, and then there are the hops. The hops are the main character here, but due to the other notes, the cascades and saaz mix doesn't come off as very familiar. There is a cleanness to the hop smell that I dare say might come from the bittering hop: the Warriors. The liquor smell that was there before bottling has faded into the background.

The taste greets with a good balance of bitterness and malt. It stings just a little, and I am surprised at how well it carbonated already. I wasn't patient enough after putting it in the fridge and it's kind of lukewarm. I think it should definitely be served a bit colder. But I am not disappointed. The middle is full and satisfying. This is a pretty big beer after all. The end is bitter, a bit too bitter. A tart Warrior hop finish is not what I was going for, but that only makes me look forward to the next s
ip. Overall I am very happy with the result and would definitely brew something similar again. I think it would be cool if it ended with more of a roasty note instead of the bitterness.

I drank it fast and I only had those 7 shrimp in my belly, but at 9%, I can really feel it.

I am aware that as a brewer, I tend to appreciate my own brews more than other people. Because of that, I will limit myself to a max rating of 8 out of 10. That being said, I give this a 7 out of 8 out of 10 SHRIMP CONFUSIONS!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kasteel: Belgian Tripel

Monday night. Stopped at the local homebrew store on the way home to get some supplies and even though I was not going out to experience any of the inaugural Syracuse Beer Week events, I thought I should experience a good beer tonight anyway.

So I broke into my "beer cellar" that I only started about a month ago. There are a couple beers in the cellar that are not meant to be aged so I don't mind breaking them out before the cellar is more than a couple months old. One of the styles that can be enjoyed fresh is a Belgian Tripel, so I went with the Kasteel Tripel. Of course it wasn't cold so I brought it up to to the fridge upstairs and let it cool while I proceeded to boil up some DME for a yeast starter for the someday legendary Old Ale that I am going to brew on Thursday. My Thursday brewing is not a sanctioned Syracuse Beer Week event, but it probably should be.

Anyways, while the malt was boiling (about 1.33 pounds and 4 cups of water), I started sterilizing the growler and other equipment. I wasn't paying adequate attention to my antique stove and a boil over ensued. Bran flakes? No thanks. You can imagine the anger this awakened in me as I moved the pot off of the heat. However, instead of letting the rage engulf me, I decided to pop open a giant bottle of Belgium Tripel. Feeling the pressure of the cork pushing up as I eased it out of the bottle and seeing the icy steam pour out of the bottle was more calming than a back massage after a long flight. I knew this couldn't go wrong.

The beer poured beautifully, Golden yellow and clear with a thin and quickly dissipating head. The shiny clearness of the beer is a surprise in a yeasty beer (believe me, the angelic reflections on the bottle and glass in the picture were not wasted on me). And yeasty it is. I am still sipping some as I type. The nose is all yeast with slight hints of malt. I opened it about 5 minutes after pouring a Wyeast smack pack into a starter. So the smell was either a 5 minute time machine, or it was very yeasty. The smell scared me off at first, since I wanted something more comforting and familiar. I am now realizing that Belgian Tripels are comforting and familiar to me. Who needs hops? Ok, I do, but not tonight. This beer was a bit much at first, a very full body and heavy yeasty taste and smell. It's not super refined, somewhat bready yeast character, but there are still some spicy, not fruity, yeasties. I was a bit overwhelmed by it at first, but it soon became enjoyable. Its a little different, a beer that is very focused on yeast, but not focused on the kind of yeast character that is usually spotlighted. I thought it was too heavy at first and it stood spectator as I engulfed a Korean barbecued pork chop with white rice, but I discovered a different beer after my meal. A very enjoyable mild tripel with a focus on yeast, but a mild yeast. A beautiful color and a perfect amount of carbonation. A nose that complemented the smell and didn't hide any surprises. Overall an extremely enjoyable beer that I could enjoy very often, but for the price, it's not something that makes me say "wow." It's a good time, but not a band that makes me go "how does he do that?"

7 Steve Martins playing bluegrass on Austin City Limits out of 10.