DAVE & HARV :: Two Belgians (the beers, that is) – A Mixed Bag

by Harvey Gold - Dave Daugherty on September 6, 2013

monkey_drunkIt’s been a bit since our last post.  First, my computer crashed, then the pump on our well died (still going to a friend’s to fill jugs and shower. Beer has been useful beyond the norm during this period), and finally caught up with a quick minute to offer up a couple recent tasting experiences:

Dave and I got together for the first time in a long time to smoke cigars and taste beer.

We started out pouring tasters from a growler of Nighty Night,  a Belgian Strong created by our pals, the Wrights, at Buckeye Brewing in Cleveland , Ohio. Both Bob and Garin Wright, father and son, are characters. Very different, but vivid personalities each in his own… right. And this brew is equally huge, pouring a deep coppery color, the nose definitely of a high octain (11.5%ABV) Belgian, with a touch of sour.

Dave : “Tastes like one of the first beers I made, a nut brown ale. Back in the day, we used a corn sugar to get carbonation going, so no matter what we made, a lager, an ale, there was this sweet flavor component that was in everything you used it with.”

To be sure, sweet was the first impression, as well as the second and third impressions. A fairly simple, but pronounced spice element, striking right away as Root Beeresque (what?), with alcohol yapping at the back of the roof of the mouth from the get go. I observed a persistent warmth on the tongue.

Dave: “… and, in the belly.”

nighty-night-2011-final-out-10Originally a winter release, we were fortunate to be tasting it outside in Northern Ohio on an unseasonably cool day, because, as Dave observed, this is a good Fall beer.

At the end of the taster, I was detecting just the slightest continuation of the sour  that was the subtle scent I had picked up from the nose.

An hour warmer: Dave declared “Now I get some citrus, and ooh is this sweet!”

What’d I tell ya?.

I found that just as the Cleveland Browns finally have a defensive line that soldly runs from sideline to sideline (cool metaphor, yes?), this brew covers, from front to back on the tongue, side to side. Super sweet with a hint of sour, warm as it comes, and bigger than life.

This is a brew so big, and so sweet, I would not drink it often, nor would I drink much of it when doing so. I did, however, based on all that spice, use it the next day, with some success, in the process of smoking a corned beef, using it as a component of the liquid used to maintain the moisture in the smoker and as a baster, with a delightful sip here and there to keep the whole process interesting.

pere_jacques_2010Next up, celebrating our reunion, we opened a bottle I’d been saving,  a 2010 Pere Jacques Belgian Style Ale from Goose Island.

A Dubbel, weighing in at 8.7% ABV, it poured a cloudy, unfiltered copper color (clouds from storage/age?) with a nice cream colored head that diminished pretty quickly. There was no lacing on the tiny walls of the 4 oz taster.

There was a yeasty nose. Dave wasn’t sure if it would be seen as a complement or not when he observed the nose was that of “real beer,” what he described as the smell in a brewery when you walk into the room with the fermenters. Dave, by the way, LOVES that smell.

Lightly carbonated, the first sip left a a sweetness on the back of the tongue, with a present but mild bitter (26IBU).

indexDave lit up a Papas Frita and I a little Avo Evezian Maduro Purito.

We found the Pere Jacques to carry enough character to complement these nice smokes.

As it warmed just a bit, it ALSO got very sweet. We detected Molasses and Vanilla. They call it an Abbey Ale, which makes sense as it didn’t have that obvious corriander and/or clove presence that we normally associate with so many Dubbels. Dave tasted what he characterized as a little bitter banana peel.

There was a lot of sediment (read nutrients and vitamins) at the bottom of the bottle. Some say in such cases to swirl the bottle before opening, then pour it all out and drink. It generally tastes fine, all good stuff. Looks weird, but still…

The last flavor to delightfully reveal itself was BIG CARAMEL

Nice beer.

Soap Box Moment:  Whether size and ownership makes Goose Island to some now NOT a craft brewer, or a turncoat, or whatever, these fellows here have NO hatin’ for the brews we’re tasting, to this day, from these folks. They continue to do good and often interesting work, period.

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