Beer of the Week: Sound Brewery Mayan Cave Bear

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitledThere are some beers that are available once a year in a very limited window that are worth the wait. These generally tend to be really over the top hoppy IPA’s that have a huge following. For me, it is the obscure styles of dark beers, generally ones that have been sitting in a barrel aging. Sound Brewing Mayan Cave Bear has been a bit of a white whale for me – the last couple of releases I wasn’t able to get to try the beer and I have been wanting to for quite a while since their Imperial Stout – Ursus Spelaeus is one of my favorites. Fortunately for me I went to the cask festival and Mayan Cave Bear was available, so I figured what better time to try it.

The beer pours jet black with significant amounts of vanilla, chocolate and coffee with hints of malt and chilies on the nose. The beer starts off with huge notes of chocolate and coffee on the palate before throwing in a hint of green chili pepper that brings a touch of heat to the party, but not in an overpowering way, and some fruitiness from the pepper. The beer finishes long with chocolate, coffee, toffee, roast malt and a pleasant background heat that ties this beer altogether. The beer is big and complex and 10% ABV but well balanced and smooth making it easy to drink. This beer is one I probably couldn’t drink all day, but it would be a great one to have a snifter or 2 of on a cold winter day.

Sound Brewery Mayan Cave Beer staves off extinction with a spectacular 5 human sacrifices out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Belgian Tripel

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMIn the strictest sense of the word, this beer is technically not a Populuxe beer, it is something that one of their brewers brewed as a home-brew batch. It is getting put under the Populuxe category because of the connection the the brewery and I really don’t want to lose the notes that I took on the beer, especially since I love Belgian triples. The bottle was also a gift from the brewer for my birthday, so it was a one time deal.

The beer pours hazy orange in color with a nice white head. Very grain foreword on the nose with significant amounts of Belgian yeast and hints of spice and cloves on the nose. the beer stars out with just a hint of grain and boozy alcohol before moving very quickly into the realm of Belgian character – yeast and bread dominate at first before moving off into a nicely spiced middle and then bering joined with a pleasant sweetness and notes of yeast and bread that linger nicely on the finish with hints of nutmeg and cloves rounding out the beer. There is just a touch of warming alcohol at the end of the beer, reminding you that it is not a small beer to be drinking. The beer is well balanced and enjoyable throughout the experience and as the beer warms, deeper flavors of orange peel and banana come to the party making this a deep and complex beer to be enjoyed on a cool spring day.

Populuxe Belgian Tripel pulls into 3rd base standing up with 4 triples out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Laughing Dog De Achtste Hond

By Iron Chef Leftovers

It is easy to be an underrated brewery in the Northwest, since there are just so many great breweries. It is even easier to fly under the radar when you are located outside of the Seattle/Portland corridor, since that is where most of the beer drinkers tend to reside. Laughing Dog falls into the underrated category being located way out in Ponderay, Idaho. Fortunately for us, they do bottle and are readily available. I follow them on FB and I was bummed when they announced they were brewing a special sour beer for their 8th anniversary, which was only going to be in kegs. Unfortunately for us, kegs from Laughing Dog generally means we don’t get the beer in Seattle.  Fortunately, Chuck’s Hop Shop came to the rescue and managed to get their hands on De Achtste Hond – the 8th dog.

From the Laughing Dog Website:

…our anniversary beer De Achtste Hond” ( the eighth Dog) Belgian Sour Ale

Our first ever sour ale  7.2% abv  aged for 1 month in new oak   Crisp and Dry with a tartness to it.

untitl15edThe beer pours very orange in color with light floral notes and hints of citrus with just a hint of funk and Belgian yeast. The beer starts off more tangy than sour, almost like a tangerine chard candy, with just a hint of funkiness before moving into dry, crisp apples and just a note of sweetness and Belgian character. The finish is long and clean, mild tart sour flavors linger forever with hints of citrus, banana and apple. Very well balanced and sour enough to remind you that this is definitely a sour beer, but not so sour that it will make your lips pucker. Definitely not one to try if you don’t enjoy sour beers, but if you do, you might find yourself going back for a second without feeling like you won’t be able to drink it.

Laughing Dog De Achtste Hond grabs its leash and goes out for 5 long walks out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Elysian Trip XV Belgian Buckwheat Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

unstitledTrip number 15 in the Elysian/New Belgium series brings us a Buckwheat Belgian Ale. It seems like it would be a bit of a strange combination, but I figured what the heck, this is what beer drinking is all about. The beer was from a 22 oz. bottle and clocked in at a healthy 7.5% ABV.

The beer pours deep brown in color with lots of sediment in the glass, producing heavy notes of banana, Belgian yeast, buckwheat and grain on the nose, with subtle notes of dates and raisins. The beer starts out with a hearty and oat profile before moving into deep notes of roasted dates and plums with hints of bitter chocolate before finishing long with a strong sweetness from the Belgian yeast. The beer has some nice bold flavors but some of the more subtle flavors are lost in the mix, causing the beer to be out of balance, especially as it moved through its grain components. Buckwheat is a strong flavor and was complimented nicely with the roasted flavors, but it does produce an oat-like mouth feel and reminded me of a buckwheat pancake with jam.

Elysian Trip 15 Buckwheat Belgian step it up and throws back with 3 O’Tays out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Pike Harlot’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I have a few older pumpkin beers that I have been sitting in the cellar just to see how they age. In the case of Pike’s Harlot Pumpkin, this was one that was sitting in the cellar because I forgot it was there. I found the 2012 bottle when I was moving some stuff around and figured I would give it a shot. I am not a huge fan of this beer in the first place, so I had pretty low expectations about it when I opened it.

From the Pike Website:

It’s big bold and voluptuous! Pike Harlot”s Harvest reminds us that Pike Brewing was founded in a former brothel. Nellie’s girls who worked at The LaSalle Hotel were sometimes called harlots, though their best customers often affectionately called them “pumpkin”.

Pike head brewer, Dean Mochizuki, created this extraordinary beer using a complex blend of rich and flavorful malts that include: organic pils, organic pale, special b, Vienna, organic caramel, and crystal. To take full advantage of the bounty of the season, Harlot’s Harvest is brewed with the finest Yakima Valley hops, including Nugget for both bitterness and aroma, and Mt. Hood for aroma; and organic pumpkin puree from Stahlbush Island Farms, Corvalis, Oregon and organic brown sugar. It is sensuously seasoned with cassia bark, allspice, vanilla bean, nutmeg, ginger and clove.

 

STATS: O.G: 1.080

ABV: 8.50%

IBU: 30

COLOR: Dark caramel and molasses

On the palate Harlot’s Harvest is round and rich with a burst of caramel and molasses yielding a smooth sweetness reminiscent of pumpkin pie, and the boldness of a Belgian, monastic-style, strong dark ale. Savor it naked or clothed in the bounty of the season! To dress it appropriately, Charles Finkel designed the seductive label.

616The beer pours dark brown with just a hint of opaqueness and shows mild cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose with additions of light caramel and just a touch of pumpkin in the background. The beer is surprisingly light on the palate for a dark beer, starting out with a pleasant sweetness on the front and then moves over to a light toffee with subtle notes of pumpkin and dried fruit before finishing with very mild cinnamon that lingers pliantly and brings just a hint of heat to the tongue after a few seconds. It was pretty well balanced without any harsh notes that I have noticed in the beer when it is fresh – I guess a year of aging the beer really rounds it out.

Pike 2012 Harlots Pumpkin comes in an lobs 4 airborne salmon out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe American Blonde

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMPopuluxe in its short lifespan has produced several distinct versions of their blonde – the Euro Blond was followed by the British Blonde and those two have now been joined by the American Blonde (they also have a Belgian Blond which I haven’t yet reviewed). Their blondes are a great exercise in what a slight change to the beer recipe, for example, yeast, can do to the beer, producing a completely different character. Each beer has its own distinct character and, while they share the style name, it should not be assumed that these beers are similar to each other

The American Blonde pours golden yellow in color with just a hint of orange tinge. The beer is really light on the nose with just the smallest hint of yeast and grain. On the palate, it does a complete 180, starting out slowly and building from a pleasant grain to a slightly spicy and malty sweet middle before finally finishing with a tease of hop bitterness at the very end that lingers in a good way in the background with notes of pineapple, complimenting and playing hide and seek with the yeast and the malt. The beer is pleasant to drink with a nice clean and refreshing balance to appeal to lighter beer drinkers (it clocks in at 4.8% ABV) but has enough character and depth to please a hard core beer nerd.

Populuxe American Blonde sails its way across the pond a drops anchor with a solid 4 Mayflowers out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben's Brews Belgian Imperial Rye IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I have said it before in this space, Reuben’s Brews really knows what they are doing with rye beer. Back at the beginning of the year, they debuted a Belgian version of their Imperial Rye IPA; it has since made a couple of appearances in the tap room, most recently at the Rye Fest they hosted for Seattle Beer Week.

The beer pours hazy orange in color with very little head. There are tons of citrus on the nose with some green hops and hits of sugar and rye. The first sip is a huge hit of hopes that lingers for a long time before moving into a long rye finish that is intertwined with the classic flavors associated with a Belgian beer – banana and cloves. The hop character is slightly more subdued and the rye finish is shorter and less intense that its regular Rye brother, but the Belgian yeast makes for an interesting and complex flavor and finish, making this beer a fine product in its own right. The bold flavors also go a long way in hiding the 8.4% ABV on this monster. It is a heavy beer in terms of flavor, texture and alcohol, but it is well balanced and smooth and you can easily forget how big this beer really is.

Next time the Belgian Rye IPA makes an appearance, get yourself down to Reuben’s and try one of the more interesting beers out on the market – even if you are not a fan of Belgian style beers.

Reuben’s Brews Belgian Rye IPA rings in with a clear 4 calls to prayer out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews Belgian Imperial Rye IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I have said it before in this space, Reuben’s Brews really knows what they are doing with rye beer. Back at the beginning of the year, they debuted a Belgian version of their Imperial Rye IPA; it has since made a couple of appearances in the tap room, most recently at the Rye Fest they hosted for Seattle Beer Week.

The beer pours hazy orange in color with very little head. There are tons of citrus on the nose with some green hops and hits of sugar and rye. The first sip is a huge hit of hopes that lingers for a long time before moving into a long rye finish that is intertwined with the classic flavors associated with a Belgian beer – banana and cloves. The hop character is slightly more subdued and the rye finish is shorter and less intense that its regular Rye brother, but the Belgian yeast makes for an interesting and complex flavor and finish, making this beer a fine product in its own right. The bold flavors also go a long way in hiding the 8.4% ABV on this monster. It is a heavy beer in terms of flavor, texture and alcohol, but it is well balanced and smooth and you can easily forget how big this beer really is.

Next time the Belgian Rye IPA makes an appearance, get yourself down to Reuben’s and try one of the more interesting beers out on the market – even if you are not a fan of Belgian style beers.

Reuben’s Brews Belgian Rye IPA rings in with a clear 4 calls to prayer out of 5.