Billy's Beer Blog - A Layman's Guide to Great Beer


Posts Tagged ‘Tripel’

Bourbon County Brew

October 23rd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

The bourbon presence is very apparent in Bardstown

While in Asheville two months ago, we stopped by Bruisin’ Ales and purchased a highly recommended barley wine from one of the local breweries. So I decided to share it with the class at Mr. Beery’s Beer Nerd Show & Tell this past week.

Olde Hickory Bardstown Brand Ale (Olde Hickory Brewery; Hickory, NC; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0) is aged in oak bourbon barrels from the heart of Kentucky’s Bourbon County. For obvious reasons, there are considerable bourbon notes throughout this ruby colored barley wine, complimented by caramel malt and vanilla spices with a hint of grassy hops at the finish. Bardstown is mildly sweet and the alcohol is definitely noticeable, but not overpowering. The bourbon backbone is what truly makes this ale.

Bardstown is listed as retired by Beer Advocate, but I believe that Olde Hickory has started to brew this barley wine again. I strongly suggest giving it a try, especially if you have an appreciation for bourbon.

While at Show & Tell, I sampled a couple of other beers for the first time that caught my attention.

Anderson Valley Brother David’s Triple; Anderson Valley Brewing Co.; Boonville, CA; Tripel; ABV: 10.0. Presented by Josh, this Abbey style ale is amber in color with notes of dark fruit and brown sugar complimented by sweet caramel and cinnamon spices. Incredibly smooth and the alcohol content isn’t too noticeable.

Captain Lawrence Barrel Select; Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.; Pleasantville, NY; American Wild Ale; ABV: 6.0. Presented by Mark, this sour ale is barrel aged to capture the unique flavor. Murky amber in color, it has big notes of tart fruit, particularly dark cherries and green apples, complimented by caramel malt and vanilla spices with an oaky backbone from the aging process. Highly enjoyable from start to finish.

Good Men Drink Good Beer

July 24th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Brooklyner Weisse was among the 30 beers on tap at Growlers

The late Hunter S. Thompson coined the phase above, which is on the blackboard of a new pub that just opened in Sarasota called Growlers. Owned by Kevin and Sherry Kolyno, has 30 beers on tap and at least as many in bottles. From the easy drinking pale lager Jalehouse Light to the superb tripel Chimay Cinq Cents, there’s something for everyone here. Growlers is located on North Tamiami, not far from Ringling College of Art & Design and the University of South Florida. Like Mr. Beery’s and several of the newer pubs around town, the environment is non-smoking. I hung out and sampled several beers.

Brooklyner Weisse; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Hefeweizen; ABV: 5.0. This is a smooth, easy drinking Bavarian style wheat beer. It pours a golden straw color, and has notes of wheat and citrusy fruit such as bananas balanced by clove and vanilla spices with a sweet malty finish. An excellent Summer session beer from Brooklyn Brewery.

Ommegang Hennepin; Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.7. An exceptional saison from Ommegang and one of my all-time favorites. Hennepin is golden in color and has big notes of citrusy hops complimented by coriander and peppery spices, with a dry malt aftertaste. As this beer is crisp and refreshing, and the alcohol content of nearly 8% isn’t too noticeable, Hennepin is perfect for this time of year.

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier; Brauerei Weihenstephan; Freising, Germany; Hefewezen; ABV: 5.4. A wonderful full-bodied hefeweizen. Hazy golden in color, Hefe Weissbier has big notes of sweet malt and yeast complimenting the wheat, with a nice backbone of citrusy fruit. This beer rivals Schneider Wiesen Edel-Weisse as my favorite hefeweizen.

I congratulate Growlers on their opening, and welcome them to the ever expanding family of brewpubs in town.

Spaced Out

June 1st, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Merry Monks was a fitting ale for a fun filled weekend

Anne & I enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend by heading over to Melbourne to see our friends Brian and Janine. The Space Coast of Florida is one of the fastest growing areas of the country. Even with the looming cuts to NASA, there appears to be enough civilian and military technology firms to keep the boom going. And like most areas with strong growth, there’s a boom in leisure activity as well.

We spent the weekend making the rounds to some excellent brew pubs, among them Charlie & Jake’s, The World of Beer, and Coasters. The former is a brewery, while the latter two have an extensive list of imported and domestic craft beer. Those familiar with other World of Beer locations would definitely appreciate the Melbourne establishment.

Among the beers that we enjoyed, there were several that really stood out:

Charlie and Jakes Brown Bottom Ale; Charlie & Jake’s Brewery & Grille; Melbourne, FL; English Brown Ale; ABV: 5.0. A nutty, easy drinking brown ale. Dark brown in color with notes of sweet chocolate and roasted malt in the nose and taste, with the latter backed by a really nutty finish.

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema; Anderson Valley Brewing Co.; Boonville, CA; Cream Ale; ABV: 5.6. Like drinking a cream soda! Copper in color with notes of caramel and floral hops in the nose. Both are present in the taste as well, complimented in the taste by toasted malt and an array of spices such as orange and vanilla.

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout; Kiuchi Brewery; Ibaraki, Japan; Imperial Stout; ABV: 7.5. An outstanding full-bodied imperial stout. Pours a deep black in color with a potent expresso presence in both the nose and taste. The latter is balanced by milk chocolate and roasted nuts, with a sweet malty finish.

Weyerbacher Merry Monks Ale; Weyerbacher Brewing Co.; Easton, PA; Tripel; ABV: 9.3. Another superb offering from the Easton brewery. This abbey pours a murky golden color, with notes of grassy hops and citrusy fruit in both the nose and taste. The taste is somewhat complex, with the grassy hops and citrusy fruit, particularly bananas, backed by sweet malt and spices. Merry Monks is very easy to drink considering its alcohol content, so it could sneak up on you.

I highly recommend each of these ales, and thank Brian and Janine for a wonderful holiday weekend.

Charlie & Jake's Brewery Grille on Urbanspoon

Coasters Pub on Urbanspoon

An Exit Worth Taking

April 16th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

You won't detour from Exit 4

I recently read an article in Men’s Journal magazine naming the Top 25 Beers in America for 2009. One of them, an ale from Flying Fish in New Jersey, was voted the Best Belgian Style beer. Being an former resident of the Garden State, and having friends who know the owners of this brewery, I was curious to give it a try.

Flying Fish Exit 4 (Flying Fish Brewing Co.; Cherry Hill, NJ; Tripel; ABV: 9.7), named for the NJ Turnpike exit, is an excellent abbey tripel. It pours a hazy golden amber color, and the nose is a blend of floral hops and citrusy fruit. They’re quite apparent in the taste as well, complimented by sweet malt, cloves, and spices with a slightly bitter finish. Although its ABV is nearly 10%, Exit 4 is nonetheless quite smooth and very easy to drink.

While I think that its #1 ranking among Belgian style beers is a bit of a stretch, Exit 4 is still highly recommend by me. Be sure to pick one up next time you’re heading down the ‘Pike!

Do The Wat(o)usi

February 22nd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Watou Tripel will leave you dancing for joy

St. Bernardus is truly one of the world’s greatest breweries. Every beer that I have had from them has been nothing less than excellent. It’s amazing to think that I haven’t even drank even just an average or good ale from them, let alone one that was mediocre! And the latest offering that I had from this brewery reinforced my beliefs.

I ordered a bottle of St. Bernardus Watou Tripel (St. Bernard Brouwerij NV; Watou, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 7.5) recently at World of Beer. Watou is a superb and well balanced abbey tripel. There’s a sweet malt taste up front, complimented by a hint of banana and other citrusy fruit, honey, and spices. The finish is crisp and clean, and this ale has a feeling to it that appears much lighter than its 7.5% ABV. Watou is very drinkable, and takes its place among other exceptional tripels such as Triple Karmeliet, La Caracole Saxo, and their standard St. Bernardus Tripel.

For fans of Belgian ales, and St. Bernardus in particular, this recommendation is a no brainer.

A Festive Weekend

February 8th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Beer babes Miranda & Cathy...

and the Shock Top bug were among the highlights

Saturday’s 3rd Annual Bradenton Beer Festival - officially called The Bradenton Brewgrass Beer Festival 2010 – kicked off an exciting weekend that included of course the most watched program in television history, Super Bowl 44 between the Indianapolis Colts & New Orleans Saints. I met up with all of my friends early in the afternoon, and a great time was had by all. Still, there were some issues as well.

- The festival started late. They initially gave us plastic cups instead of the glass shot glasses from previous years, which can distract from the beer’s flavor.

– The breweries were condensed down to a handful of tents. In previous years, each brewery had their own tent with staff on hand. Things were able to run a lot smoother in that situation.

- Many of the beers were warm when the festival started. This cheated people out of trying some truly outstanding beers at their best. I had the Goose Island Burbon County Stout (Goose Island Beer Co.; Chicago, IL; Imperial Stout; ABV: 13.0) lukewarm. It had a nice bite of dark chocolate and roasted malt with a nice bourbon finish. Bourbon reminded me of a more subtle version of BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin, but I was still left wanting more. I look forward to trying this beer again once it’s on tap at World of Beer, The Long Kangaroo Pub, etc., so that I can truly appreciate its complexity.

Likewise for Southern Tier Unearthly. Many of my hophead friends who’d never tried it were cheated because the beer was served basically warm instead of chilled. Fortunately, they had Southern Tier Mokah (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0) on hand, and Southern Tier Choklat (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Stout; ABV: 9.1) on hand. Mokah has a rich chocolate presence complimented by sweet caramel, roasted malt, and coffee. Choklat is equally big in flavor with its milk chocolate taste backed up by roasted malt and coffee. Both tasted quite good even without being chilled.

I’ve kvetched for the good things!

- The most interesting beer of the festival was the Berliner Weisse brewed by the Homebrewers Association of Manatee & Sarasota (H.A.M.S.). It was available straightup, with raspberry added, or with woodruff herbs. All three versions were great, but the latter, which is green and very floral, added a nice kick to Berliner.

- All of the local Tampa Bay brewers turned out excellent beers – among them were:

Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0). A potent and truly outstanding imperial stout. An array of rich chocolate, dark fruit, and peppery spices. My friend Bret nearly cleaned this out singlehandedly at Brewfest!

Old Elephant Foot IPA (Tampa Bay Brewing Co.; Tampa Bay, FL; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7). An excellent IPA. Big bite of citrusy hops up front, with hints of sweet malt & a slightly bitter aftertaste. One of my favorites at TBBC.

Old Prague Pilsener (Sarasota Brewing Co.; Sarasota, FL; Czech Pilsener; ABV: 5.0). A clean refreshing pilsener. Crisp and smooth, with the buttery flavor well balanced by grassy hops and spices.

Dunedin Brewmasters Reserve Trippel (Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Tripel; ABV: 10.7). A superb Abbey tripel. Very smooth and drinkable for an ale that’s nearly 11% ABV. A nice array of citrusy fruit, hops, and spices. Their best offering along with the Dunedin Spatz BarkeyWine Barley Wine Style Ale (Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Barley Wine; ABV: 9.0).

- More breweries are attending the festival. In addition to Goose Island and Southern Tier, other excellent regionals such as Blue Point and Victory Brewing were on hand as well.

- The Lost Kangaroo Pub was a great place to hang before, during, and after the festival. Their tap lines were excellent as usual, and they had the amazing Bell’s HopSlam on tap for $6, and Brooklyn Monster Ale (Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.8) on tap as well for $3.

- Tony, Hack, Jenna, and the gang from World of Beer were there as well. I was wearing my ‘WOB 50′ t-shirt, which became a great conversation piece with some of the attendees. I’d like to think that I recruited a few more Loyalty Card members.

- And last, but not least, the bands were kicking and the crowd was great.

Oh yeah, there was that game on Sunday. Although I rooted for the Saints, I like many thought that the Colts would be too much for them. I’m glad to have been proven wrong. Who Dat indeed!

Lost Kangaroo Pub on Urbanspoon

Who’d Thunk It

February 1st, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

And she's buying the stairway (or elevator) to Belgium

Sarasota a craft beer mecca? Say it ain’t so! I can remember when The Cock & Bull and Shakespeare’s were the only games in town, but what has transpired over the last year or so, in what has traditionally been a wine town, has been amazing. From the revamped Shamrock’s Pub and restaurants like Lan, to the recent openings of The Box Social and World of Beer, microbrews are everywhere. And now two more beer pubs have popped up in town recently – Stairway to Belgium and Mr. Beery’s. Kudos to our friends, and fellow beer connoisseurs, Virginia and Jack for giving me the heads up.

Stairway to Belgium opened up this past week on lower Main St., where O’Malley’s used to be. Owned by Jim and Michele Keaveney, this gastropub has great food, a full bar, and more than 180 beers from around the world. Anne and I stopped by yesterday to try it out. In keeping with the Belgium theme, I ordered a Gouden Carolus Ambrio (Brouwerij Het Anker; Mechelen, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.0). This Belgian strong ale is amber in color, and very refreshing. The dark fruit taste up front is complimented by caramel, honey, roasted malt, and spices with a crisp clean finish. The 8% alcohol content isn’t noticeable at all, so Ambrio can sneak up on you.

I was curious about the smoked beers on the menu, so at Jim’s suggestion I ordered a Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen (Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla; Bamberg, Germany; Rauchbier; ABV: 5.4). Brewed in the classic rauchbier tradition, this marzen has an incredible smoky nose and taste to match. The big hickory smoke bite reminds me of smoked bacon, sausage, etc., and there’s a hint of malt and light hops as well. This beer would pair favorably with smoked meat or salmon, in addition to really sharp cheese.

Mr. Berry’s opened last month on Mall Drive in the Gulf Gate area. Owned by Mark Tuchman, this pub has 24 craft beers on tap and 30+ in bottles. I plan on making a pilgrimage there in the near future.

I highly recommend Stairway to Belgium for its beer, food, and ambiance, and will report back on Mr. Beery’s in a future post.

Bowled Over

January 4th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

St. Feuillien Triple  scored points with me

St. Feuillien Triple scored points with me

There were plenty of bowl games this past holiday weekend, and I stopped by World of Beer on New Year’s Day. Penn State was playing LSU in the Capital One Bowl, and the Nittany Lions (11-2) beat the Tigers (9-4) 19-17 on a field goal in the final minute of play. It was a very entertaining game, and I enjoyed a trio of abbey ales while watching it on the big screen.

The first beer that I ordered, per Al’s recommendation, was Tripel Karmeliet (Brouwerij Bosteels; Buggenhout, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.4), an absolutely outstanding abbey ale. The taste is quite smooth, with a nice array of citrus fruit up front complimented by sweet malt. flowery hops, and spices. Karmeliet easily rivals St. Bernardus Tripel as my favorite abbey ale, and is very easy to drink as the 8.4% ABV isn’t noticeable.

For round two, I ordered St. Feuillien Triple (Brasserie St. Feuillien; Le Roeulx, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.5), which was similar to Karmeliet. Like the former, it’s a very drinkable ale as the alcohol content is well concealed. The citrus fruit taste is well balanced by honey, sweet malt, and peppery spices. Needless to say, this beer scored points with me as well.

On another screen, the Boston Bruins were hosting the Philadelphia Flyers in the Winter Classic from Fenway Park. The Bruins won 2-1 on an overtime goal, pleasing the faithful who’d braved the elements to cheer them on. In keeping with the hockey theme, I decided to complete the hat trick and ordered Pater Lieven Tripel (Brouwerij Van den Bossche; Sines-Lievens-Esse, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.0). A tad lighter than the previous two, this beer is nevertheless another excellent tripel. Citrus fruit on the front end, followed by sweet caramel and spices with a nice dry finish. In keeping with the style of these ales, the taste is quite smooth and the alcohol content is well hidden.

I hope that everyone had a festive New Year’s, and wish you peace, health, and prosperity in 2010.

With A Little Help From My Friends

October 6th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

My friend Kristine Nickel is a woman of many accomplishments. Among them is an expertise for all things culinary. She has maintained a freelance writing career since the early 1980s, wrote a wire-distributed weekly column for the Chicago Tribune for 7 years, and has covered food, wine, and travel for publications such as Sarasota Herald-Tribune, a New York Times regional newspaper, Zagat, Wine Spectator, Sarasota Magazine, and others.

So I was flattered when she asked me to sit down for an interview recently to discuss beer. The theme was Tailgating, with an emphasis on partying at home. The surge in craft beer, and experimentation by traditional breweries looking to keep their edge, came into play as well. Kristine and I sampled beers that would traditionally be on hand at a tailgate party, as well as some excellent alternatives for the more adventurous fans.

The article appeared in last Wednesday’s Sarasota Herald Tribune, and is posted below.

Bill Zavorskas

Bill Zavorskas


Bill Zavorskas estimates he has sampled close to 700 different beers since his great beer passion began. Earlier this year, Zavors­kas decided to put his passion to pen, or more accurately, keyboard, and started Billys-BeerBlog.We sat down with Zavorskas to taste a series of beers that would typically show up at a tailgate party, and some that might just get you out of your ordinary buying pattern.

Michelob Ultra Light Pomegranate/Raspberry: This is an offering that Zavorskas says was created “to compete with microbreweries.” It has a wonder­ful raspberry nose and fruity flavors.
Budlight Lime: “Trying to do Corona one better,” is how Zavorskas described this citrusy brew. At 116 calories, this is a beer you could consume several of, and its fresh character would work with many different foods.
Sam Adams Light: Known to its aficionados as “Sammy,” this light beer was the first one from a microbrewery. It’s a beauti­ful amber color with a distinctive lager nose, but I found it thin and a bit short in flavor.
Heineken Light: I’m not sure how this storied Dutch brewery came up with so much taste for just 99 calories, but this was my favorite light beer by far.
Red Stripe Lager: This is a very popular beer, which used to be produced in Jamaica but which since has been swept into a behemoth beer company. That doesn’t change the refreshing, sweetish tastes.
Rogue “Dead Guy” Ale: Rogue is an Oregon-based brewery that really delivers. This beer is a lovely amber color,’ and a molasses nose that I noted I could, “sit and smell all night.”
Smutty Nose Pumpkin Ale: Fruit and vegetable compo­nents are popular in microbrews, and this is ideal for fall.
Bell’s “Sparkling Ale”: “Caramel nose, molasses taste, smooth, long finish” is how I described this ale, which was my favorite of the tasting.
Kristine Nickel

Red White & Brew

July 8th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas 1 comment

The fireworks welcomed in America's 233rd birthday

The fireworks welcomed in America's 233rd birthday

Anne & I had a blast this past 4th of July weekend. We got together with family & friends throughout the holiday weekend. Our highlights included attending a cookout, singing karaoke, having dinner at the beach, & watching a spectacular fireworks display. And of course there was plenty of beer to help usher in America’s 233rd birthday.

Bell’s Oberon Ale (Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; American Pale Wheat Ale; ABV: 5.8) was a big hit with everyone. An easy drinking pale ale, the smooth wheat taste is complimented by citrusy hops, light malt, & spices. This is an excellent session beer for summer.

Scrimshaw Pilsner (North Coast Brewing Co.; Fort Bragg, CA; German Pilsener; ABV: 4.4) is another very drinkable brew. The sweet malt taste up front is balanced by Tettnang hops & a crisp, clean finish. Like Bell’s Oberon Ale, I highly recommend this pils as a session beer.

Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel (Flying Dog Brewery; Frederick, MD; Tripel; ABV: 8.5) is a very enjoyable Belgian tripel. The taste is a wonderful array of sweet malt, citrusy hops, & spices. This beer is so drinkable that it’s easy to forget the 8.5% ABV.

I hope that your 4th was as memorable & fun filled as ours.