First off, Merry Xmas Eve, everyone. Sitting here on the last day, the final bottle in the fridge. I contemplated saving this entry until I had opened it, but have decided instead to follow the lead of Hollywood blockbuster movie makers these days and split my finale into two parts – making you wait for that final climactic beer. So below are the last week’s beer, and later today/tonight I will do up a second post with my thoughts on the 24th beer.
As for last week, it was a peaks and valley kind of thing. Some wonderful beer and – for the first time – a real stinker. Plus I think I was victim to a second packaging error as I had another repeat. So onto the capsule reviews:
17. Rieder helle Weisse
Looking back at this day, I think this was a mispack, as other people seem to have received Hirter 1270, a Vienna Red (too bad, I would have liked to try that one). However, I got this Austrian hefeweizen, so I might as well review it on the day I drank it. As weizens aren’t known for traveling well, I wonder about the wisdom of including so many hefes in the pack. This one is a very hazy light straw offering a moderately thick blanket of white head – the classic hefe look. The aroma is light banana and lighter clove. Some wheat graininess. A bit subdued overall. The flavour balance edges toward banana and a sweeter character and less so clove. The base beer seems a bit watery and not quite sharp enough. Finishes a bit flabby. Overall there is nothing particularly wrong with the beer, but it is just not a precise example. Seems loose and scattered in its profile and a bit boring.
18. Bergquell Kirsch Porter
Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. What to say about this German cherry “porter” (which seems to have a second identity in Czech Republic)? It pours a light brown with a moderate off-white head. Looks more like a brown ale (alarm bell #1). The aroma has huge cherry, then some more cherry finished off with a bit of cherry. Not much else (alarm bell #2). And the taste? Cloying sweet cherry syrup-like (alarm bells #3 thru #10). Some carbonic sugariness accented by more cherry and touch of medicinal cough syrup. It reminds me of that awful Cherry Coke introduced back in the 1980s (which I though had mercifully died, but apparently they still make it). This is an embarrassment of a beer – easily the worst beer in the calendar. It has no business calling itself a porter, as there is not even an inkling of porter quality to it. Give it to a friend who loves sweet cherry drinks, or – as I did – pour it down the sink.
19. Gusswerk Horny Betty
And back to Austria we go with a so-called Triple Bock, with horny goat weed added. It has the heft for it – 9.2%. Pours muddy dark brown forming a wisp of a tan head and a little lacing. I pick up dark raisin, plum, dark spices, some rum like character, brown sugar in the aroma. Not as big of an aroma as I had anticipated. The sip provides a rich, malty character upfront – molasses, some breadiness, rich raisin and plum. The middle gets earthy and oddly spicy – hard to discern what it is. The finish is dry, prickly and offering some alcohol heat. This is an odd beer. It feels like a hybrid between a bock and a Tripel, with an odd earthiness to it. It had me paying attention through the glass. I would like to know what the horny goat weed offers in terms of flavour. One of those “glad I had it, not sure I would get a second” kind of beer.
This one beer may make the entire calendar for me. I love getting my hands on this beer. Since I wrote about it a few months back here, I won’t repeat my impressions. I will just say this bottle tasted just as good as the one in the spring. Sure wish someone would ship it here full time.
21. Rieder Helle Weisse Redux
A repeat of Day 17 for me. Didn’t bother to open this one. However, it seems this is the day it was supposed to be opened.
22. De Molen Xmas Hop
Third De Molen offering in the calendar, this time an IPA with bergamot fruit added (which is a yellow orange – gotta love that oxymoron). The beer is light orange (HA!) and has a huge bubbly white head. A hint of haziness is noted. The aroma is sharp pine, citrus, resiny hop. Very American in its presentation. There is also some light crystal and biscuit malt base. A slight sugary note as well. Upfront the flavour is light toffee syrup and then a resiny, piney hop flavour. Some fruity notes are pronounced as well. The hop becomes quite big in the finish – citrus, pine, resin, and a slick, sharp character. A tropical fruit character which is likely both hops and the bergamot. A bit of a carbonic bite slips in there as well. Wow! Powerful hop character. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more malt base to give it a touch more balance, but a no-holds-barred IPA.
23. Del Ducato Chimera
And a quick dip back to Italy’s Del Ducato, with their Belgian Dark Strong. It is a hazy reddish brown with a moderate off-white head with a thick layer of lacing. It looks kind of muddy. The smell is earthy with caramel, toffee, brown sugar, raisin, plum. Not getting a ton of Belgian yeast character from it. I sip and upfront get a sugary sweet malt, with rich burnt toffee, brown sugar, dark fruit, plum, raisin, cherry and pomegranate. The Belgian spicing is earthy and phenolic, but not overly spicy. Finish is yeasty and sharp, with some residual sweetness. At first I didn’t like the beer – it seemed too contrasted, the flavours didn’t blend. But as as it warmed up, I found it to be quite appealing. The Belgian character starts a bit subdued but builds as you drink it. Still looking for a bit more smoothness in a Dark Strong, but this presents well overall. Appropo for the penultimate beer in the calendar.
I will post later today with the 24th and final beer.