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Archive for the ‘Country: Belgium’ Category

Trappistes Rochefort 10

February 11th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie de Rochefort, Cigars, Country: Belgium, Grade: A plus, Style: Quadrupel

11.3% ABV along with a Casa Magna Colorado Gran Toro cigar

I’d already celebrated my 30th birthday with a party at Blind Tiger, a decadent last weekend in Philadelphia, and with further plans this upcoming weekend in Syracuse, so I decided to spend my actual birth date in solitude, completely enjoying a deluge of some of my favorite vices all by my lonesome.  Kinda like Chris Farley’s final day but with no drugs, no hookers, and/or no chance of death.  OK, minimal chance of death.  And hookers.

In the early morning and afternoon, I overloaded with good coffee and some of my favorite movies (”Hoop Dreams,” “2001:  A Space Odyssey,” “Aguirre, the Wrath of God”) before switching to beer and cigars in the early afternoon.  The cigar of the day was Casa Magna’s Gran Toro, the same cigar that in the Robusto size was rated 2008’s #1 cigar of the year by Cigar Aficionado.  A stupendously economical stogey for around $5-$6 a stick, I’d had my first the previous weekend at the legendary Holt’s.   I was on an empty stomach then and found the cigar incredibly spicy and a bit of an asskicker and, thus, somewhat not deserving of its lofty status.  This time around though, with my innards settled and some stout to nicely pair with the smoke, I found it more smooth and palatable.  Quite good.  PASS

Interlude rant that proves I’m a dickhead: As communication becomes more and more ubiquitous and all people achieve more and more relationships (or, er, “relationships”) in their lives, birthdays start to, well…kinda suck.  No, they don’t suck, per se, I’m being overly dramatic, but lately, on my actual birthdays, I’ve started to feel like a motherfucking secretary.  For a guy who hates phone calls, looooooooathes phone calls, one’s birthday becomes a never-ending string of my cell vibrating more than a sexual toy owned by a lonely fat girl.  It was kinda impossible yesterday for me to completely relax and fall into a slumber of my vices when I was answering my phone like a switchboard operator every few minutes to have awkward don’t-know-what-to-say conversations with relatives, friends, and exes I never even think about on the other 364 days of the year.

Even worse, is when you miss a phone call on your birthday, and you of course know why the person just called you, but not wanting to be rude and ignore correspondence, you call the person back to essentially say, “Hi, it’s Aaron–uh, you wanted to wish me a happy birthday?”

Finally, my birthday taught me one very interesting thing.  I have a TON of Facebook friends who I not only don’t remember being “friends” with, not only don’t even know, but don’t even recognize their names!  And, oddly enough, my Facebook friends that I don’t really know were many of the first to wish me a Happy Birthday on my Wall.  I guess the kind of person that would Facebook friend a human being they absolutely don’t know are also the kind of lonely persons that would e-wish that same human being they don’t a Happy Birthday as fast as humanly possible.  Yeah, I should probably unfriend some people and thin out the waste.  Seriously, stop clogging my News Feed with lame status updates, John Rathmuller.

Yeah, I know I’m a dickhead.  I’m lucky to have any friends.  And how sad would I be if I truly got no calls, e-mails, texts, or Facebookings yesterday?!  OK, so ignore my rant I guess.

In the early evening I switched to more higher octane beers to couple with some rare steak.  The beer highlight of the entire day was my first foray into Rochefort 10, the #12 beer in the world according to Beer Advocate and the #1 widely distributed beer in the world according to Rate Beer.  In fact, it’s that very piece of cake accessibility that has led to me ignoring it for so long, but I’m so glad I finally grabbed it.  You should grab it too and, assuming you don’t live in the kind of city that gets excited when a new Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory opens in town, I’m certain your local beermonger will stock the Rochefort line, one of the seven trappist monasteries making frat sodas.  This quad has a very boozy smell.   The taste is rich and silky almost like a wine or port.  Banana, toffee maltiness, and a little spice.  This beer came with high expectations and met them as it is probably the best quad I’ve ever had–admittedly a style category with not a lot of contenders–a bit ahead of La Trappe’s and St. Bernardus 12.   One further note, I had this beer right off the shelf and thus not much aged at all.  I would love to try it not so young when the hot booziness would probably be a little smoother.

Finally, I saw another human nearing midnight and bday + 1 when a girl brought me several cakes she had made for me–coconut cream, carrot cake, and straight up yellow birthday cake.  I don’t much like cake in normal circumstances, but drunk I dove my hands in sans utensils and ate like a wolfboy.  I found crusty icing in bed this morning.  At least that’s what I think it was.  Gross.

A terrific 30th.  I may start spending them all alone until I die of a heart attack at age 35.

A+

Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel

January 26th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie d'Achouffe, Country: Belgium, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

9% ABV from a bomber

That Guy

“A co-worker of mine is coming out to meet us.”

“Oh, that’s cool.”

“No.  It isn’t.  He’s a huge tool.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

“I guarantee it won’t.  Just you wait.”

“Then why’d you invite him?”

“I didn’t.  Jimmy invited himself.”

Stanton and I were splitting a bomber of the glorious Houblon Chouffe before we headed out on the town.  A Belgian IPA somewhat similar to the best of the style our country has to offer.  Very hoppy with a nice bite, and a frothiness like an Orange Julius.  Smooth, creamy, and delicious.

Afterward, we headed to a no-frills midtown pub to further wet our whistles.  When it’s just us two, Stanton and I are pretty low-key bar flies, quietly tippling pint after pint while discussing the bullshit of the world.  Our peace was about to be destroyed by a force of nature the likes of which I had never seen before.

“Why don’t you pussies have a real drink?”

I turned to see a giant mouth of smiling horse teeth.  Jimmy’s.  His chompers looked like they may have been wooden or, at the least, synthetic.  Shiny, streamlined like the chrome of a ‘64 Olds, an almost ultraviolet tint like those cool lamps some bars have to see a hidden stamp on your hand.  He arrived dressed to the…well what’s the opposite of “the nines?”  A silk dress shirt adorned with a lot of purples and forest greens swirling together in a vomitous array.   The top rakishly unbuttoned down to his sternum displaying a ghostly pale bird chest paradoxically with flappy man boobs and curlicues of chest hair more befitting the pubis.  The shirt was tautly tucked into navy blue chinos from either Dockers or Haggar.  They were clearly “wrinkle-free” and “stain-free” if those advertisements are to be believed.  A braided belt, natch.  Cheap DSW shoe warehouse wingtips so scuffed they looked like he had played a full rugby season in them.  And his hair do, oh his hair do.  Coarse black wires “butt-parted” down the middle and Aquanetted firmly to his skull, the around-the-ears and neck area shaved to the follicle, making Jimmy look like a moron wearing a retard hair helmet.

“Hey Jimmy, this is Aaron.”

“Nice to meet you dude, man there are no bitches in this place at all!  Total sausage fest!  Total sausage, huh dude?”

As Jimmy hopped and bopped like a coked-out “Roxbury Guy,” checking out the scene, I askanced my eyes toward Stanton.  He was rolling his.

“Where’s the fucking bartender?  I need to get my drink on.”

Jimmy was one of those guys that can’t even be caricatured.  Their core, their mere existence, is one of satire.  Ever see a movie that has a douchebag tool stock character?  And you go, “Yeah, true, that character was funny, but he wasn’t real!  People like that don’t really exist.”  Oh yes they do, friend-o.  They are Jimmy, a one man cottage industry of “Did he really say that?” catch phrases you will be repeating the rest of your life.

The attractive and busty female bartender came over to serve Jimmy.  He did a histrionic eye-pop ogle at her cleavage before holding out his hand, taking her’s, and doing a cringe-worthy kiss on the back of it.

“Hey sweetheart, I’m Jimmy, good to meetcha.  My pussy friends are done drinking beer for the night.  We want some ‘real’ drinks.  Three rum and Cokes.  Easy on the Coke, ha ha, catch my drift?”

The bartender scooted away biting her tongue to try and not laugh. This was getting borderline embarrassing as you are nothing if not the company you keep, but Jimmy had barely scratched the surface.  As she returned with the $18 round Jimmy snapped a twenty on the bar, firmly looking her in the eyes as if he had given her a hyoooooge tip.

“And keep ‘em coming, toots.”

Jimmy turned to us.

“Let’s shoot some stick.”

“Stick?”

Jimmy rolled his eyes like “Who are these fucking hayseeds that don’t know this popular 21st century argot?”

“Pool?  Billiards?”

“Oh, I guess.  I don’t really like pool that much but whatev–”

“Great.”

Jimmy was already at the table furiously chalking his cue as if he knew what he was doing.  He obviously didn’t as upon finishing the chalking he “blew out” the point as if he was the Sundance Kid cooling down his six-shooter, a sure sign of an amateur pool shark.

“What should we play boys?  Eight ball?  Nine ball?  Straight?  One pocket?  Bank?  Three-rail?”

“I think eight ball will be fine.”

“Ha.  Amateurs.  OK, that’s cool.  I usually play straight but this table looks a little…”

Jimmy put his stick on the table and rolled it, keeping his eye at table level like a jeweler examining a diamond.

“Yeah, this table’s a little crooked and certainly not tournament size, but, hey, play with what you got.  So, wanna make it interesting?”

“Sure.”‘

Stanton pulled out his wallet, “Dollar a ball, Five a game?”

Jimmy started uproariously laughing.  “I said ‘interesting.’  I was thinking more like…”

He did a Dr. Evil smirk.

“Five thousand dollars.”

Stanton and I started cracking up.

“Oh, you guys can’t afford that?  Pathetic.”

Stanton glared at Jimmy, “And you can?  You have the exact same job as me.  And actually, I know you make even less than me.”

“I invest well and I’m a good gambler, what can I say?  Shit, I just lost $100,000 last weekend playing darts with Bon Jovi in AC.  No big deal.  You win some you lose some.  I’m up like…”

He stared at the ceiling, “counting” in his head.

“…half a mill for the year.”

Stanton and I burst into even heartier laughter.  Jimmy didn’t know he was being mocked.  The game got under way at the dollar-a-ball bet and I won.  I’m not good at pool but Jimmy was terrible.  Buffoonishly bad.  After losing, Jimmy started acting like John McEnroe after a bad line call, throwing shit and raising a ruckus.  He even took his cue and snapped it over his knee, splitting it in two which I must admit was actually kinda impressive.  At the time though I was pissed because I like the bar we were in and if any one had saw it we were clearly going to get 86ed for life.

Jimmy wasn’t concerned though as he cavalierly opened the back door and threw the two cue pieces into the alley.  We headed back to the bar where amazingly no one had noticed the scene at the pool table.

“Let’s have some music.”

Jimmy fumbled in his pocket, coming up empty.

“Any one got some quarters?”

We were now openly mocking Jimmy.  “The man with ‘half a mil’ in the bank doesn’t have a measly quarter?”

“First of all, I don’t have ‘half a mil’ in net worth, it’s actually a ton more than that.  Most of my money is tied up in various investments.  What’s your guy’s portfolios look like?  I bet you don’t own any stock at all, do you?  Time to grow up, fellas.”

I handed Jimmy a few quarters and he headed to the juke box giving Stanton and I time to collude.

“Is that guy for fucking real?”

Stanton could only shake his head, so humiliated.

“Imagine working ten hours a day with him.”

“MMMMMMMMMMMMMYYY name is Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid Rock!”

We turned to see Jimmy furiously air-guitaring after having just ordered Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba.”  It was such an obvious order, such a predictable music selection, Jimmy was not only meeting all my expectations but he was exceeding them.  I was in awe at the mere magnitude of his magnificent foolishness.

He air-guitar boot-scooted around the bar, using moves akin to those of Marty McFly when he played the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.  By now, the whole bar was staring at Jimmy as he tried to get women to rise from their seats and dance with him.  None obliged.

Afterward, Jimmy returned to his seat between me and Stanton, the two of us too stupefied to even speak.

“We got to kick this party up a notch, boys.  I’m gonna buy a shot for every female in the bar.  Hey!”

Jimmy started snapping his fingers at the bartender like he was Frank Sinatra summoning his minions.

I looked at Stanton, our eyes both saying, “He’s not really gonna do this is he?”

The bartender arrived.  “I’d like to buy a drink for every lady in the bar.”

The bartender laughed.  “Seriously?”

“Absolutely.  ‘Ladies choice.’  Whatever they like.  Price is not an issue.”

“Ooooooookay, but it could get expensive.”

Jimmy reached in his back pocket and like a swashbuckler unsheaths his sword, he whipped out an American Express Blue.*

“I assume you take American Express…Blue?”

The bartender eyeballed a head count of the women in the bar.  Stanton and I did too.  We counted about fifty.  Average drink six bucks, this was gonna run Jimmy a lot.

As the bartender sucked it up and walked around the bar explaining to every woman in attendance–most of whom were with men of course–what was going on, Jimmy stood self-satisfied with his hands on his hips like Superman, smiling his big smile as he bobbed his head to the music, swiveling around to examine the scene around him.

“I’m gonna have to fight off the pussy with a stick after this!”

If only we could have heard the conversation the bartender was having with each woman.  I’d imagine it went something like this:

“See over my shoulder, that ugly goofball with the big teeth?  Yeah?  Well, this may sound weird but he wants to buy you a drink.  Oh, no, he’s not hitting on you, not exactly, he’s buying a drink for every female here from that old lady in the corner to even all the betrothed.”

After each lengthy explanation you could see the look in the girls’ eyes, a look of confusion followed by a shrug and a “Well, I guess I have nothing to lose” nod of agreement.  Beers, vodka tonics, red wines, and shots started quickly being dispensed for all.

I was becoming curious.  “Jimmy, are you going to like stand on the bar and toast all the women simultaneously once they have their drinks?  Shouldn’t you at least make your presence known to all?”

Jimmy snorted at me with disdain.  “Get real.  Only a douchebag would do that.”

He gave an over the shoulder “Do you believe this guy” thumb point at me, thinking Stanton was clearly in his corner.

By now every woman had her drink and nothing had happened.  Nothing.  Jimmy was still bobbing his head, readying his stick to fight off the pussy with.  Finally after like ten minutes an average woman came over.

“Are you the guy that bought all the drinks?”

Jimmy smiled coyly and winked at her.

“Oh.  Well thanks.  That was nice.”

She left the bar with her boyfriend.

And that was it.  The only girl that even spoke to him.

The bartender tapped Jimmy on his shoulder and handed him the leatherbound bill folder.  He flapped it open:  $351.

For just a split second I saw Jimmy’s eyes bulge, his brow sweat, and his mandible fall to the floor.  But he quickly recouped and dismissively tacked on a $100 tip and celebrity scribble of an autograph.

“Big deal.  I spend that much in five minutes when I’m partying in Vegas.”

You could see that he clearly didn’t expect to spend that much money and probably didn’t even have it.

“This place fucking sucks any ways and the women are ugly bitches.  I’m calling my driver.”

He pulled out a business card for some livery service and punched some numbers into his cell.

“Takes me all the way home to Clifton for only ten bucks.”

And ten minutes later Jimmy was gone.  A hurricane of hilarity.  It had felt like only ten minutes but he had actually been in my life for about three hours.  I will never forget meeting him.  How many people can you say that about?

Stanton told me the next day that–en route to his mother’s house in Clifton where he still lives–Jimmy threw up in “his” driver’s car.  Oh, and was charged $75.

A

*No annual fee, not particularly hard to own if you are older than, say, 18 years of age.

Bachelor Tip:  Don’t be a tool, get bar stools that exude subtle confidence and simple modern design.

This helpful hint is provided by All Barstools.

St. Bernardus Abt 12

October 30th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 17 Comments | Filed in Brewer: St. Bernardus, Country: Belgium, Grade: A regular, Style: Quadrupel

10.5% ABV from a bomber

What’s your number?

No, not that number you sicko. That’s a number you should probably never tell any one. What I’m talking about is the number of beers you’ve had on Beer Advocate’s 100 Top Beers on Planet Earth.

Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way an end-all of beer drinking supremecy. Many of the brews probably don’t belong on the list, only there due to statistical fluke, while quite a few others are virtually unattainable for mere mortals. Not that I am mere.

But there are many great, great legitimate beers on the list. The one currently resting in the #20 slot, St. Bernardus Abt 12, being one such. I would dare say it may be the most “attainable” great beer on the list, certainly in the top 25, as pretty much all Whole Foods, gourmet supermarkets, and high-end liquors stores have this around and in stock at all times.

The fact that it is so attainable, the fact that it does have over 1150 Beer Advocate rankings, makes its place on the Top 100 list all the more impressive. This isn’t a case of a small sample size of beer nerds driving up the ranking of an impossible-to-find limited release brew that is perhaps only so-so. I mean really, should beers with only 20 total reviews be included in the rankings? I’m not sure they should.

This is people from all across the globe easily finding this beer, already knowing its greatness, yet continuing to score it remarkable well.

And indeed, it is a damn fine brew. Not quite as dark as most quads I’ve had, but very strong to the smell. Potent in taste as well. Smooth and creamy, somewhat buttery though not in a bad way, and sweet along with citrus esters. Not quite as complex as say, a Westmalle Dubbel, but brilliant nonetheless. Amazingly drinkable.

As for my number….

I currently have drank 24 of the top 100 beers, with 6 additional brews on tap. That is either currently sitting in my apartment, or en route to me via beer trade. 30 beers. 30%. Doesn’t seem like that great of number but when you consider how many brews on the list can only be found by hanging out with asocial, girlfriendless beer losers at brewery release “parties,” by visiting a Belgium monastery, or by trading with a stranger in some far off place you never plan on visiting, then you realize that I may be doing alright.

Or, at least I think I am.

So I want to know (in the comments), what’s your number? Make me envious.

A

(Also, please to join The Vice Blog FACEBOOK group. Link in the upper right hand corner of my page!)

Delirium Nocturnum

September 12th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brouwerij Huyghe, Country: Belgium, Grade: A-/B+, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

8.5% ABV from a bomber

Today brought the news that a wealthy and apparently eccentric man from Alabama is offering to pay $50,000 per for Jewish families to move down to his shitty unpopulated mega-Christian town. I guess he needs some like-minded buddies. The relocated Jews will have to agree to a five-year stint in the Heart of Dixie during which they have to actually act as committed Hebrews, attending shul, wearing yarmulkes, hanging mezuzahs, and…I guess eating corned beef sandwiches and quoting Woody Allen movies. Who knows?

$50,000?! Shit, I wouldn’t move to the Upper East Side for a lowly $50K. And to shlep to middle-of-nowhere-Alabama I’d have to be paid a least $10 million lump up-front. Probably more.

You think I’m kidding? I have certain needs. People often wonder why a human would put up with all the bullshit, all the chaos, all the dismay, stress, crampedness, filth, and overwhelming expenses to live in New York. They oddly think, “Does he like museums and Broadway theater and Lincoln Center ballets and operas that much?!” Of course not. Actually, I’m not even that big on culture. “Culture” meaning stuff that hasn’t been truly relevant and exciting since “A Tale of Two Cities” was on the new release rack at Ye Olde Barnes & Noble.

My reasons for living in the Moneymaker are far more pedestrian and mundane. Here are all of them, in decreasing importance though they are all crucial factors to me.

1. Public transportation — I fucking hate driving. I like to walk wherever I can and in fact do so for any journey under thirty blocks north/south or any distance cross-town. Above that, I love to use public transportation. I abhor sitting in traffic jams listening to shitty classic rock stations while wasting my life away. With public transportation, while some high school drop-out on potent union wages does the “driving,” I’m able to read, write, do crosswords, sleep, or just ogle hot women, which brings us to…

2. Hot single women and plenty of ‘em — Self-explanatory. Besides the fact that most cities have ugly women, most of them are married-by-24 with several-kids-by-28. No thank you. I could handle dealing with having to try and pick up potentially cuckolding wives due to a lack of sexy singles, but not when they’re all so fat and ugly.

3. Terrific food — We all know New York is the best dining city in the world, but it’s not like I can afford to eat at per se, Gordon Ramsey at The London, and Alain Ducasse every night. Or ever. No, in my opinion, New York is also the best city for cheap eats. From $4 Halal “street meat” platters to of course pizza and bagels to mind-blowing cuisines from more countries than are even in the worthless U.N. You can eat better for cheap here than you can eat for a gorgeous penny in most other American cities.

4. Bars open all hours of the night — I hate to temper the hero worship, but you may be surprised to know that the Vice Blogger doesn’t stay out til dawn four times a week like he used to when he was a young lad. In fact, he’s lucky to do that once a month these days. But he still likes to have the option. Nothing worse than being in a subpar city drinking subpar beers at a subpar bar when at 1:30 the lights go high and the bouncers start yelling, “Get the fuck outta here! LEAVE!!!” It’s ridiculous. The difference between cities that stay open til 2:00 and ones that stay open til 3:00 are immense. That is such a crucial hour. And New York stays open many hours more. Plenty of time to get in trouble.

5. Movies — Being a film buff, if not a full-fledged cinema geek, I need to know that every single movie that is made and put into theaters will screen in my city. And, not only that, screen in my city on the absolute first day of its release. It was murder when I lived in places such as Oklahoma and Syracuse and had to wait months upon months for more obscure pictures to make it to my city — if ever.

6. Pro sports — I couldn’t live in a town that doesn’t have an MLB, NFL, and NBA team. It doesn’t hurt if there’s easy access to college football and basketball watching too.

7. Access to obscure beers

With the exception of just a few American breweries (Russian River, Lost Abbey, Three Floyds, Founders, etc), pretty much every other breweries’ beers are stocked in full in New York. I hear about a great beer and I basically just need to leave my house and walk five blocks to find it.

And my supermarket across the street, which isn’t even particularly great, sells stuff such as Delirium Nocturnum. You think the fucking supermarket in Dothan, Alabama has Delirium? You think they even have Bud Light Lime?! Doubtful.

Delirium has a great, borderline offensive name to the PC crowd–delirium tremens of course referring to the severe manifestation of alcohol withdrawal which causes symptoms such as tremors, insomnia, nausea, hallucinations, confusion, and “the shakes”–and absolutely iconic bottle labels, the pink elephant logo a harbinger that you’re about to get done fucked up good.

Nocturnum has a great dark chocolate pour with a nice slightly medicinal alcohol smell. Tastes of cranberry and fig, perhaps some apple and caramels. Nice spiciness with some balanced yeast. Goes down easy. Not mind-blowing or exactly sui generis, but a good beer that’s well-crafted and incredibly drinkable.

A great way to spend an evening in the greatest city in the world.

Thanks for the offer Mr. Blumberg, but I’m staying put in my beloved Manhattan.  Your state’s beer laws are retarded.

Don’t you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here. –Alvy Singer “Annie Hall”

A-/B+

Westmalle Trappist Dubbel

July 31st, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Adbij der Trappisten van Westmalle, Country: Belgium, Grade: A plus, Style: Dubbel

7% ABV from a bottle

I’ll spoil this review right off the bat and tell you I’m giving this beer an A+.

After giving only two A pluses in my first 100 reviews, this will now be my second A+ in my last nine. I’m starting to feel like a grade-inflating Harvard professor, doling out A pluses to every single student because we all know that every one that goes to an Ivy League institution is a brilliant, exceptional, and hard-working child that deserves nothing but the highest marks. Or, rather, they have rich parents that will make blackmailing claims of withdrawing their monetary contributions should their kid get (gasp!) a B.

Perhaps, I’m being unfair to myself. Look at my grade categories in the right column. Four A pluses, fourteen As, and fourteen A minuses compared to only eleven total Ds and three total Fs. If you plotted my grades out on some graph paper, it certainly wouldn’t be a bell curve, in fact, its “bell” would be very far to the extreme right, more so than even Jim DeMint. It would look like I’m a classic grade inflater. But I’m not. It is just that on a daily basis I am relentlessly searching out what are considered the best beers on the planet. Intentionally avoiding macro shit that I know would get Ds and Fs from me in order to drink quality. I see no reason to tipple Miller High Lives and Natural Lights and Milwaukee’s Bests* with the same frequency I drink quality stuff, just to get an accurate-looking bell curve. That’s life. That’s science. And those are my findings. And you can’t argue with scientific findings. Just like the findings have found men to be smarter than women and Jews to be the best lovers on the planet**.

So fear not, dear reader, that I will ever intentionally overrate or underrate a beer, simply because I “need” a grade. I will always honestly score them and if I keep finding myself drinking A pluses I shouldn’t be upset, I shouldn’t think it “bad” for me and my blog, but of course I should be exuberant–I’m drinking another fucking masterpiece!

Thus, after last week’s brilliant Westmalle Trippel tasting I knew I’d have to try their Dubbel.

I expected it to be great but slightly “worse” than the Tripel, a solid A brew. If you don’t know a lot about beer, you probably think what I used to think, that a dubbel is essentially just a less-alcoholic version of a tripel. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Both smell and taste amazing, no question.

But while tripels are pale in color, dubbels such as Westmalle pour an almost stoutish dark black, with hints of ruby red appearing. While tripels have light, sweet, and citrusy flavors, this dubbel had some serious bite. Dominant tastes of malt, burnt sweetness like coffee, darker rich fruits such as plums and cherries, and caramelized sugar as if full of toffee.

And, most interesting to me, while the Westmalle Tripel was light, almost refreshingly light, on the palate, the dubbel was far more potent, despite it being 2.5% less alcoholic. A paradox!  Being a fan of bold barley wines and strong ales, though, this is just how I like my beer.

The Westmalle Dubbel is imminently drinkable, it tickles your tongue all the way down to your throat. I wish this beer wasn’t so expensive ($5.99 for a 12 ouncer is what I paid at the store) because I could drink these all night, every night. It’s so hard to savor because it is just so delicious and near perfect in every way.

I would even dare say that the Dubbel is better than the Westmalle Tripel.  It is, at least, as good.

I enjoyed this with a friend, a girl who absolutely does not drink beer–ever–and who even hates the smell of it to be near her. I urged my friend, whose drinking standards run the gamut from pear vodkas to peach vodkas with an occasional raspberry vodka when she feels like branching out, to give the Dubbel a try.  I was so impressed with the beer I needed to share it with someone else.

She refused at first, but I urged her on.

Trepidatiously, she took a small sniff. Then a little sip. The look in her eyes showed that even she was shocked she wasn’t revolted.

“This is the first beer that I actually understand how people could like it. I get it!”

What better praise then that? A beer so good even non-beer-drinkers understand its brilliance.

Now I’m only mad that Westmalle doesn’t have any more beers for me to try and award A pluses to!

A+

*Other than the fact that the worst beers seem to produce some of my funniest essays.

**Masters, William H. & Virginia E. Johnson & Robert E. Kolodny, “Human Sexuality,” 2nd edition, 1984, page 784

Westmalle Trappist Tripel

July 22nd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Adbij der Trappisten van Westmalle, Country: Belgium, Grade: A plus, Style: Tripel

9.5% ABV from a bottle

You ever see a beautiful girl for just a fleeting second, maybe you don’t even formally meet her, or get her name, or even catch her eye in return, but nevertheless for the next few days, or weeks even, you can’t get her off your fucking mind. Her beautiful, smiling face seared into your brain, her supple body in all your thoughts as you dream of one day kissing her, fucking her, and living happily ever after with her.

Yeah, that’s never happened to me either. I’m not some psycho pervert with limited female options.

However, nearly a month ago, for reasons still unclear, I had just a small sip of my first ever Westmalle Tripel and I’ve been dying to revisit it since, knowing that a masterpiece was looming out there, waiting my approval. However, oddly enough, though it usually is easily found, for some reason Manhattan has been in short supply of it recently. I’ve seen countless Westmalle Dubels on the shelves, but the Tripel is what I really wanted to lay down with. Finally, last Friday I located a single bottle of the magical elixir at the Columbus Circle Whole Foods, the bottle so abused that it was missing its front label and only had a tattered back label to even announce what majesty lay inside. Fine by me, I wouldn’t be drinking labels, just glorious Belgian Trappist beer.

I’m not sure if your typical Joe Sixpack realizes that the finest beer in the world is not made by giant corporate machines in St. Louis or Milwaukee tended to by high school drop-outs missing digits who load the canned swill onto Clydesdales which then deliver the goods to our nation’s scuzziest Laz-E-Boys. But rather, the world’s finest beer is made by Trappist monks. Real, honest-to-God monks who simply make the beer not for profit, but rather so that they can continue affording to live as poverty-stricken monks. You know, kinda like how hookers only give $1000 blowjobs to politicians so that they can continue dressing in gauche Gucci clothes and sleeping til noon every day.

Aside from having to be completely devoted to God, having to remain at a monastery around the clock, having to live strict lives of personal poverty and with a major lack of possessions or access to pop cultural awesomeness, forced to take vows of silence and celibacy, ordered to abstain from meat, fowl, and most fishes, and not ever getting to do anything impure or Vice Blog-worthy, those monks surely live the life! Everyday awaking at sunrise to pray, pray, pray, and pray some more. And don’t knock the vow of silence, I don’t want to hear most of the diarrheal bullshit spewing out of most people’s mouths any how. Not like a monk has anything cool to talk about. They don’t watch college basketball or “From G’s to Gents.” A life of quiet contemplation is where it’s at. Especially when you’re making some of the world’s finest beer, which you of course get to drink every single day. Gratis. That’s one of the monastic perks yo.

Yeah, when I retire I’m either going to move to a giant compound in Louisville with my 24-year-old trophy wife where I’ll golf all day and drink bourbon, smoke cigars, and eat fatty southern foods drenched in gravies all night (don’t worry, I’ll still blog it) or to Belgium where I will renounce my Judaism, eliminate my Atheism, put on a comfy brown hooded robe cinched with a rope and begin peacefully making–and secretly get loaded on, shhh–beer all day long.

Eh, I doubt they’d have this loud and frequently-yakking Jew on the premises. It would kinda be like when Whoopi got “Back in the habit.”

There are actually only 7 Trappist monasteries that make beer. One in the Netherlands, Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven, and the big six in Belgium: Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Achelse Kluis, the mythical Westvleteren, and of course Westmalle.

If it’s taking me a bit long to get to the review, it is exactly how I felt as I was about to drink the beer. I was literally nervous that it wouldn’t be as good as I’d built it up to be and I procrastinated. Yes, I literally procrastinated over drinking a beer. When I finally got to it, it came out in an incredibly rich and smooth foam pour. It looked beautiful and I had to wait for quite a tortuous while for it to thin down. Incredibly bubbly like a fine champagne.

The smell is fantastic, as good as it gets. It fucking smells like Belgium. There’s no way any beer expert could sniff this one and not know immediately that it was a Belgian Trappist brew.

The absolute first taste was great but fairly normal and I got a bit concerned, but by the time the gulp hit the back of my throat I could see how goddamn special it is. Nice bite, good warmth. Very alcoholic. In fact, Trappist beers are always going to be quite strong as they were originally crafted to sustain the monks through Lent, acting as “liquid bread.” Right up my alley.

I can truly say I have never really tasted a beer like this before. It is unbelievable and glorious. Bottle-fermented it is absurdly creamy, just a little bitter, very fruity with prominent tastes of banana, and a whole lotta hops and malts.

I drank it as slow as possible, savoring ever sip, not wanting it to be over. I was sad when I was through, knowing my next drink would pale in comparison. I’ll need to always have this in stock and I look forward to cellaring some.

Simply one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

A+

Hoegaarden Original White Ale

June 25th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brouwerij van Hoegaarden, Country: Belgium, Grade: B plus, Style: Belgian White

4.9% ABV from a scalding hot glass fresh from the dishwater, garnished with a lemon even though I explicitly did not ask for fruit in my beer. AKA: Ideal drinking conditions.

My friend was besmirching Hoegaarden at the bar the other day, saying real nasty things like, “I don’t even think it’s better than Blue Moon,” so I had to defend its honor and give it a Vice Blog-approved tasting to prove that it is indeed a superior Belgian white. I haven’t had Hoegaarden in ages, perhaps years (is a year longer than an “age”?), but it still holds a special place it my corroded heart. It was the first Belgian beer I ever had and it immediately made me sit up and realize WOW, they are doing things with fermented beverages in that country that I have never experienced before. In my Leffe Blonde entry I discuss first falling in love with Belgian beers and Hoegaarden (along with Leffe and Duvel) are the one that started that romance, making me into the brew-guzzling snob I am today.

The more I got into beer, though, stuff like Hoegaarden just seemed too “mainstream,” too low in ABV for me to still order at bars. But having just had it again, I must admit that Hoegaarden is still delicious. In fact, it’s perhaps the best Belgian white in the world with only Allagash, Ommegang, and St. Bernardus’s releases as worthy competitors.

Hoegaarden–God I’m sick of spelling that name, I can never remember which vowel to double! It’s worse than Haagen-Dazs but at least it has no umlauts–has a perfect spice blend like in any great witbier, giving it a terrific smell and taste. This is a beer that is truly great in the summer, fuck those other beers that have to put “summer” on their label to make you think they are refreshing. I don’t need to know what season I’m supposed to drink your beer, fella. Hoegaarden is citrusy with just a hint of wheat and creaminess, a nice easy finish. In retrospect, there’s nothing mind-blowing about this beer, but is there anything mind-blowing about any Belgian whites? It’s not exactly a style that lends itself to going out on a limb and creating something to blow your testicles off. They’re simply beers that are light and taste good. Hoegaarden nails it.

B+

(And it’s always cool to drink a beer in its own brand-labeled, specially-designed glassware!)

Nostradamus

June 18th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Caracole, Country: Belgium, Grade: A-/B+, Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

9.5% ABV on draught

Another Valhalla selection from my recent trip there.

The bartender told me this was a brown ale and indeed it kinda tastes like one, but one on steroids. It’s actually a Belgian strong dark ale, technically, and thus is slightly different. Nevertheless, if you like brown ales and are not a pussy, you’ll probably like this one. Most brown ales are solid, and there really aren’t any bad ones out there that I have tasted. Perhaps because it wouldn’t be very lucrative to mass-produce a watered-down brown. Best to just produce a crappy lager if you want to attract the masses.

Not the best brown ale, or strong dark ale, I’ve ever had, but it’s still good. Tastes too alcoholy, but at 9.5% what should I expect? I wish they had done a hair better job of masking the potency. Could use a sweet component or two. Just a hint. Nothing more. Just enough to make it a tad more quaffable as they say.

A-/B+

Birrificio Del Ducato Nuova Mattina (New Morning)

June 4th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Birrificio Del Ducato, Country: Belgium, Grade: B-, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

5.9% from a bottle

Another Tria selection.

One of the oddest beers I’ve ever had, which is a statement you might notice I seem to say a lot after visiting Tria.

This beer has ingredients in it such as coriander, ginger, green pepper, chamomile, and licorice. It smells like it does when you mow the lawn. But the taste is actually less unique than you might think. It’s a little weak and far too bubbly for my liking.

I’m not gonna act like I loved this brew, but I’m sure glad I experienced it. Kinda the same way I felt after my first furries orgy.

B-

Dupont Foret Blonde

June 4th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Dupont, Country: Belgium, Grade: B regular, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

7.5% ABV on draught.

Another Tria selection.

What can I say, I didn’t love this beer. It’s good, but when you’re in a place like Tria, this beer is nothing to write home about. Or, as my friend Derek would say, thinking that famous maxim should be adapted by now the year 2008: “It’s nothing to blog about.”

And, thus I won’t. Like a weaker Leffe Blonde.

B