Friday March 13 – New Belgium Tasting
Friday March 20th – Backyard Soda Co. Tasting
I like Gulden Draak because it’s a classic Belgian. They call it a “Dark Trippel” which they can get away with because they’re Belgian. An American brewer might be seen as purposefully bucking convention for the hell of it. It is darker than your average Trippel, bready and with some nice dark fruit notes. Sort of a Trippel/Quad sort of a thing, it’s in its own unique world. Sweet though, your classic toffee/raisin/brown sugar profile. Reliable and easy but different enough to take you on a Belgian beer detour.
This beer is not for beginners. Hanssens has been doing this since 1896, and they’ve comfortably established themselves as one of the finer lambic blenders out there. Their Scarenbecca Kriek is becoming somewhat of a rarity these days, as supply declines along with the availability of the Scarenbecca cherry. A smaller example of the fruit, these are grown wild and harvested slowly by hand. The beer itself takes the training wheels off the moment the cork comes loose and the room fills with some serious funk. One of the funkiest beers by far, musty and old, like the dairy farm on which the brewery still resides. Complex and cloudy, this is one for the ages. Perfect size bottle for an intimate one-on-one share.
Scaldis Noel is a big beer in a small bottle with that shiny, shiny label grabbing your attention. It’s 12.5% doesn’t go unnoticed, and it ages beautifully. If that wasn’t enough for you, the brewers and Dubuisson decided to bring back from France a cask from Nuits Saint Georges, an AOC located within the Burgundy region. The result is wonderfully rich, complex beer with notes of tart, wine-like fruit up front. Just as you start to wonder what kind of Belgian Christmas beer experience you’ve gotten yourself into, it slides comfortably into the toasted malt bed you want and expect. This is one to share with family and friends. It just tastes like the holidays.
A second HTD beer, and a retired one at that? What kind if list is this? Anyway, this is for the real Saison lovers out there. The unique grain bill gives some weight to an otherwise very carbonated beer. Rustic in all the right ways, it’s the outcome you hope for in a collaboration beer. Rather than using it as an excuse to use some fruit/vegetable/dirt indigenous to an island you think you’ve heard of, it’s these two do what they do best. It’s like hearing B.B. King and Eric Clapton play the blues instead of teaming up to play some Lebanese folk music. I expected this beer to be good, and it thankfully exceeded those expectations.
This may come as a shock to a lof of you, but it’s not hard to find incredibly good vintage Gueuze on shelves in Denver right now. Beersel has been doing it right for a while, but all we seem to hear about is Cantillon, Cantillon, Tilquin, Cantillon. This underrated gem brings the oak and the funk, while keeping things more middle of the road for sourness. Lighter and more carbonated than some examples of the style, but it still drinks well. Classic preparation, execution, this one shouldn’t be missed, especially if you start to itch between Cantillon drops.
This one is just weird enough for me to get excited about. This recipe for a spiced Saison including ginger, curacao, roast chicory and most prominent, sweet orange peel, dates back to 1785. The complex, malty-yet-light approach to a Saison isn’t often attempted by American brewers and manages to carve out it’s own territory. Michael Jackson (obligatory pop star joke) included this in his Pocket Guide to Beers and rightly so. It’s a classic that goes its own way and is better for it.
By now you’ve heard the story of St Bernardus and Westvleteren, how the recipe for the Abt 12 and Westie XII are similar and by some tellings the same. However similar they may or may not be, this is a beer I’ve seen get passed over on shelves more times than I remember, and my memory isn’t great. It’s hard for this one to get out from under the shadow of The Best Beer Of All Time, the legend of the Westie XII, the beer you can only get at the brewery, bro. But the thing is, I’ve never waited in line for Abt 12. I’ve never paid $60 a six pack for Abt 12. I’ve never had to hear a thirty minute story about the time someone made the fabled journey to the promise land about Abt 12. It’s a great, consistent, easy to find Belgian without all the fuss.
A softer, more crisp fruit forward Saison, with some grassiness and a refreshing bite, I loved the chamomile in this one, well used for its bitterness. Plus, I love getting to snuggle up with this one and feel as though I’m relaxing myself while drinking a tulip or two of this one. I feel refreshed, comforted, dreamy. Perennial makes more beers in a year than your average brewery, and sometimes it’s easy for the more straight forward ones to slip through the cracks. Don’t let this one pass you by.
Grand Cru is a funny term. For Belgian brewers, it generally means a beer they’re more proud of than others. For American Brewers, nine times out of ten it means a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. This, from Abbaye Des Rocs, is more in line with what you’ve come to expect. Big, dark, complex and rewarding with age. Dried fruit, malty sweetness, more Belgian yeast than you can stick a shake at, I love this beer. Plus, the more I get to reference mid-2000’s Jay-Z, (It’s Da Roc!) the better.
This small bottle comes from one of the stranger breweries in Belgium. I’ve taken many a picture of snow-globe sediment in their pours, mangled display boxes, and some cages so poorly put on that it turns a fun night of drinking into the first scene from The Hurt Locker. Despite their package related woes, Hof ten Dormaal puts out wonderfully strange beers. This one is no exception. Strangely gain centric for a Belgian sour blond, this one sure is fun. Mild tartness, mild yeast flavors, super old world, awesome cereal grain flavors on the finish. If you like cheerios, get in here.
Monday–Wednesday 1:00 PM-8:00 PM
Thursday-Friday 1:00 PM-9:00 PM
Saturday 11:00 AM-9:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 AM- 8:00PM
4340 Tennyson St.