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


Posts Tagged ‘Witbier’

Christmas Bels

December 27th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Six Degrees was no apparition this Christmas Eve

Anne and I spent Christmas weekend in Savannah, which is becoming a tradition for us this time of year. As a local stated, “In Augusta, they ask you which church you belong to. In Charleston, they ask what your family name is. In Savannah, they ask what you drink.”

We arrived around dinner time on Christmas Eve, and were pleased to find that quite a few places remained open. We headed over to Moon River Brewing across from our hotel. This wonderfully eclectic brewery has been featured on Ghost Hunters, and is so laid back that you can show up one night, accidentally crash a wedding reception, and then be allowed to stay and drink from the open bar as long as you tip the bartender!

I started out with a pint of Moon River Six Degrees (Moon River Brewing Co.; Savannah, GA; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 5.1), a refreshing golden ale. Golden honey in color, Six Degrees has notes of citrusy fruit such as bananas balanced by honey and light grainy malt. The crisp clean taste of this Belgium complimented the spicy Bajou shrimp and ravioli appetizer that I ordered.

For round two, we joined everyone in a Christmas Eve toast. I had a pint of their winter seasonal, Moon River Nick’s Balls of Gold (Moon River Brewing Co.; Savannah, GA; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0), which is their Belgian Abbey/American IPA hybrid. Amber in color, it has notes of floral hops and cinnamon spices with a nice warming feel at the close. This Belgian IPA paired nicely with the blackened sea scallops that I had for the main course.

After dinner, we headed over to Rocks on the River for dessert. Anne and I shared the Mascarpone cheesecake with blueberry sauce, and struck up a conversation with Dave and Karen behind the bar. I finished up with a pint of Allagash White (Allagash Brewing Co.; Portland, ME; Witbier; ABV: 5.1). Golden in color, this superb witbier has notes of Belgian wheat and citrusy fruit such as oranges up front, followed by coriander spices and a hint of vanilla with a crisp clean finish. Allagash White was a fitting ale to wrap up the evening.

All in all, it was a great evening and start to the weekend.

Moon River Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Rocks on the River on Urbanspoon

Carolina In My Mind

August 31st, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

The natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains...

Was a nice backdrop to Asheville's great brewpubs like The Thirsty Monk

Anne and I had a great vacation in North Carolina last week, and savored the best that this wonderfully diverse state had to offer. The Tar Heel State also has a diverse list of breweries and brewpubs, from Raleigh-Durham to Asheville. I’ve already highlighted several excellent beers from Highland Brewing in my previous post. I will take the time in this post to review the best of the remaining beers that we sampled on our tour.

Triangle Belgian Golden Ale; Triangle Brewing Co.; Durham, NC; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. On tap at James Joyce Irish Pub in Durham. An outstanding golden amber ale, with notes of citrusy fruit and light malt complimented by honey and peppery spices. Silky smooth from start to finish with the 8% alcohol content very well hidden.

Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale; The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery; Farmville, NC; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.0. In bottles at The Carolina Ale House. Easy drinking amber ale with big notes of caramel malt and cinnamon spices balanced by sweet fruit, nuts, and a slight bitterness at the end.

Lonerider Chef’s Wit; Lonerider Brewing; Raleigh, NC; Witbier; ABV: 5.1. On tap at the Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh. This straw colored Belgian style wit is a collaboration between the brewery and the chef from the Busy Bee Cafe. The big peppercorn notes are complimented by hints of orange and coriander with a wheat backbone. It complimented the fried green tomatoes and Bee’s Nuts that we enjoyed from the cafe’s wonderfully eclectic menu.

Mother Earth Dark Cloud; Mother Earth Brewing; Kinston, NC; Munich Dunkel Lager; ABV: 5.1. On tap at The Raleigh Times in Raleigh. An exceptional full-bodied dunkel. Chocolate in color with notes of caramel and roasted malt.

Aviator Caveman Alt; Aviator Brewing Co.; Fuquay Varina, NC; Altbier; ABV: 7.2. On tap at the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh. A very smooth amber colored altbier. Notes of sweet caramel and roasted malt with a slightly bitter finish. The alcohol content of more than 7% isn’t too noticeable.

Appalachian Craft IPA; Appalachian Craft Brewery; Fletcher, NC; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7. On tap at the Bier Garden in Asheville. Copper red IPA with a huge hoppy presence complimented by sweet malt with a nice dry finish.

Craggie Battery Hill Bitter; Craggie Brewing Co.; Asheville, NC; English Bitter; ABV: 4.2. On tap at the Bier Garden in Asheville. Brewed from a century old family recipe. A perfectly balanced ESB, brown in color with notes of sweet malt, brown sugar, light floral hops, and cinnamon spices.

Pisgah Reserve (AVL); Pisgah Brewing Co.; Black Mountain, NC; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 5.0. On tap at The Thirsty Monk in Asheville. Previously retired, this superb Belgian blonde is back in a limited offering. Notes of breaded yeast, coriander, and roasted malt. Exceptionally smooth from start to finish.

Oyster House IPA; Oyster House Brewing Co.; Asheville, NC: India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.0. On tap at Oyster House Brewing, which is located in the outstanding Lobster Trap restaurant in Asheville, NC. Amber colored IPA, with intense notes of floral hops backed by a rich malty backbone. This IPA was a perfect compliment to the Maine Lobster Roll that I had for the main course, in addition to the oysters that we enjoyed for an appetizer.

Asheville Red Light IPA; Asheville Brewing Co.; Asheville, NC; India Pale Ale; ABV: 5.2. On tap at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. in Asheville. Brought out of retirement, this IPA is an absolute hop bomb, copper red in color with the big notes of citrusy hops balanced by sweet malt. Red Light is a hop head’s dream, and has the feel of a more potent IPA. Asheville Brewing also crafts another excellent IPA, Asheville Shiva, that’s a smooth hoppy IPA, with a malty backbone, at 6% ABV. Each paired well with the excellent Mad Mushroom pizza that we had for dinner.

All in all, we had a great trip and it was great to sample a wide variety of craft beers from the Tar Heel State.

Asheville Pizza & Brewing CO on Urbanspoon

Busy Bee Cafe on Urbanspoon

Lobster Trap on Urbanspoon

Independence Day

March 29th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Edel-Weisse is a refreshing hefeweizen

Anne & I were in St. Pete the other day, and stopped by The Independent after an excellent sushi dinner. We shot the breeze with bartender and beer aficionado Neal, and had a couple of rounds. This is a really great pub, with a large selection of Belgians and other European beers. All in all, it was the perfect ending to a really nice day.

Beer Review:

Schneider Wiesen Edel-Weisse; Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn; Kelheim, Germany; Hefeweizen; ABV: 6.2. Edel-Weisse is a classic and organic hefeweizen. The color is an blondish orange with a citrusy nose. Edel-Weisse’s smooth wheat taste is complimented by citrusy fruit such as banana and lemon, caramel malt, and grassy hops. There’s even a hint of corn in the flavor. This beer is quite refreshing and quite drinkable at 6.2% ABV.

Westmalle Trappist Dubbel; Abdij Der Trappisten van Westmalle; Malle, Belgium; Dubbel; ABV: 7.0. This is a truly outstanding Belgian ale. The color is dark brown with a hint of amber, and the nose hints of dark fruit and roasted malt. Westmalle is a very complex dubbel, with the sweet malt flavor balanced by chocolate, dark fruit, and citrusy hops with a nice clean finish.

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly; Unibroue; Chambly, Canada; Witbier; ABV: 5.0. Blanche is a refreshing witbier. The color is deep golden and the nose is both fruity and spicy. Blanche starts out with a big citrusy bite, followed by an array of toasted malt, vanilla, and spices with a hint of light hops. An excellent session beer from Unibroue.

St. Louis Kriek; Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.; Ingelmunster, Belgium; Lambic / Fruit Beer; ABV: 4.5. This is an excellent lambic ale. The color is a deep ruby red, with the cherry presence very apparent in the nose. While there’s a hint of sweet malt, it’s the tart cherry taste that dominates here. Kriek mixes well with other beers such as sweet stouts.

Apples & Oranges

February 15th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Éphémère & Wit are each a citrusy indulgence

Anne and I stopped by World of Beer this past Saturday, and she wanted to try a refreshing farmhouse type ale like the Ommegeddon we enjoyed last week. Angela recommended Unibroue Éphémère Apple (Unibroue; Chambly, Quebec, Canada; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 5.5) to Anne, while I ordered the St. Bernardus Wit (Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Witbier; ABV: 5.0).

I’ve had Éphémère in the past, and knew that Anne would like it. It has a big apple nose, and the tart apple burst is complimented by roasted malt, grassy hops, and coriander spices. Éphémère has a crisp clean finish, and is quite an easy drinking beer.

I had my Wit with a slice of orange, but it could have very easily stood alone. You’re not going to mistake this beer for Hoegaarden (Brouwerij van Hoegaarden / InBev; Hoegaarden, Belgium; Witbier; ABV: 4.9)! Wit has a nice citrusy bite of coriander and banana, balanced by sweet malt and spices with a smooth finish. It’s another outstanding brew from St. Bernardus.

I highly recommend both of these offerings as session beers, as they’re each modest in alcohol content and highly drinkable.

Arigato Godzilla

November 5th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Hideki Matsui's 6 RBIs in Game 6 and .615 World Series BA...

Matsui's 6 RBIs in Game 6 and .615 BA...

spell World Series MVP in any language

spell World Series MVP in any language

The best World Series since 2002 had plenty of outstanding players, but one truly stood out in the Game 6 clincher. Hideki Matsui, best known as Godzilla to fans and foes alike, went 3-for-4 with a home run and record tying 6 RBIs as the New York Yankees rode the pitching tandem of Andy Petitte (MLB record 18th career postseason win), Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, and Mariano Rivera to a 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies and their 27th World Series title. For the series, Matsui batted .615 with 3 HRs, 8 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of 1.385 to become the first Asian born player to capture the World Series MVP award. The Yankees had several other candidates worthy of the award, such as Petite, Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Johnny Damon, while Alex Rodriguez broke out in the final 4 games. Regarding the Phillies, Chase Utley (5 HRs in one series to tie Reggie Jackson’s 1977 mark), Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth, and Carlos Ruiz put in stellar efforts for the defending World Series champions.

In tribute to Godzilla and the Yankees’ victory, I had a bottle of the Hitachino Nest White Ale (Kiuchi Brewery; Ibaraki, Japan; Witbier; ABV: 5.0). A witbier from Japan, it’s actually brewed in the traditional Belgium style. This ale is very refreshing, with the citrusy taste up front complimented by peppery spices, ginger, crisp wheat, and light hops with a very smooth finish.

There’s speculation that this could be Matsui’s last game in a Yankee uniform (he’s now a free agent), while other sources report that the Yankees are taking a second look after his outstanding series. I hope for the latter, as there’s no need to say sayonara when Godzilla can still reign fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers.

Sober (Not) in Seattle

August 3rd, 2009 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

The Tap House Grill is a beer lover's shrine of 160 brews on tap

The Tap House Grill is a beer lover's shrine of 160 brews on tap

Pike Place Market was a great place to explore & walk off the beers

Pike Place Market was a great place to explore & walk off the beers

Anne & I arrived in Seattle yesterday, and after settling in, decided to do a little exploring. One of my goals is to try as many new beers as possible, especially those not readily available back East. The last beer with an Eastern slant that I had was the Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier (Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Witbier; ABV: 5.5) at the Marriott Hotel’s Skyye Bar at Tampa Airport. It was a very crisp & clean tasting witbier. You can really taste the blackberry influence, and it’s well balanced among the wheat & dry hops.

Our first stop in the Emerald City was the Tap House Grill, which is located below street level & several blocks away from our hotel. It’s a trendy brewpub & restaurant, with an excellent & diverse food menu, from pizza to sushi, to go along with the staggering amount of beers – 160 in all – on tap.

My first selection was the Fat Tire Amber Ale (New Belgium Brewing Inc.; Fort Collins, CO; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.2). This beer is legendary among my friends who’ve been out West, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I am happy to report that it was as food as advertised. This is a smooth, refreshing amber ale in the tradition of St. Rogue Red & Newcastle John Courage Amber. The toasted malt taste up front is complimented by hints of buttery biscuit, spices, and a grassy hops finish. I can’t wait until this ale is finally available back East.

I wanted to try some of the local IPAs next, and Tap House Grill offers four 6-ounce samplers of whichever beers that you’d like to try. I asked the bartender to pick me out a sampler of Seattle’s finest, and she didn’t disappoint. Each ale was unique in its own way.

The Boundary Bay Imperial IPA (Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro; Bellingham, WA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.5) was the first, and favorite, of the samplers that I tried. This is an absolute hop bomb, with the big Cascade hops taste well balanced by roasted malt & a piny finish. This compares to some of the finer IPAs that I’ve had.

The Diamond Knot Industrial IPA (Diamond Knot Brewery; Mukilteo, WA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.5) was enjoyable as well. The ale was an interesting array of citrusy hops, sweet malt, & a more bitter aftertaste than the Boundary Bay Imperial IPA.

Elysian The Immortal IPA (Elysian Brewing Co.; Seattle, WA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.2) was similar in style to the Boundary Bay Imperial IPA, but a lighter version. The Cascade hops are balanced nicely by sweet malt and a piney aftertaste.

My final sampler was the Skagit River Scullers IPA (Skagit River Brewery; Mount Vernon, WA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8). My second favorite, this IPA had the big Cascade hop taste up front, balanced by roasted malt & a piny finish that is reminiscent of the local IPAs.

The sushi that we had was excellent and fully complimented the beers. It should also be noted that for non beer lovers, the Tap House Grill has an extensive selection of wine, martinis, etc.

After the Tap House Grill, it was off to the Pine Place Market to explore the sights and work off those extra calories. Seattle is very much a walker’s city, with an excellent public transportation system to boot. The natural beauty surrounding the city is exquisite. Anne & I are looking forward to many more adventures.

Tap House Grill on Urbanspoon

Bailiffs, Bailouts, & Belgiums

May 11th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Hennepin hit the spot after a long week

Hennepin really hits the spot after a long week

Last week was a long one indeed, with 2 days of jury duty, the bank stress tests, and my own stress test at work. So after we reached the verdict on Friday and were dismissed by the judge, it was time for a beer or two.

I met Anne and our friend Gray at Cafe Epicure in downtown Sarasota. Great pizza and several Belgiums on the menu. I went with the Hennepin Farmhouse Saison from Ommegang. This is quite simply my favorite saison; I even prefer it over such heavy hitters as Fantome Saison & Saison Dupont. Crisp, smooth taste well balanced by citrusy hops, coriander & peppery spices, and a dry malt aftertaste. The funghi pizza we ordered complimented this beer nicely.

The next night Anne & I went to Lan, a wonderful restaurant that’s modern American & Asian fusion. In addition to great food, the menu includes an excellent selection of imports and craft beers. I started with the Troublette Wheat Ale, a refreshing witbier from Braisserie Caracole. Clean, wheat taste is balanced by bold, citrusy spices thorughout. I finished with the Chapeau Framboise Lambic, a tart, fruity lambic. Big berry burst of strawberry & raspberry, with a slight malty aftertaste.

All in all an interesting week, and the Hennepin is shaping up as my session beer this summer.

Beer Review:

Hennepin (Farmhouse Saison); Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.7. Crisp, smooth taste well balanced by citrusy hops, coriander & peppery spices, and a dry malt aftertaste.

Troublette Wheat Ale; Brasserie Caracole; Falmignoul, Belgium; Witbier; ABV: 5.0. A refreshing witbier from Braisserie Caracole. Clean, wheat taste is balanced by bold, citrusy spices thorughout.

Chapeau Framboise Lambic; Brouwerij De Troch; Wambeek, Belgium; Lambic / Fruit Beer; ABV: 3.5. A tart, fruity lambic. Big berry burst of strawberry & raspberry, with a slight malty aftertaste.

Cafe Epicure on Urbanspoon

LAN on Urbanspoon