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Archive for the ‘Style: Quadrupel’ Category

Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad (BBQ)

March 10th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Boulevard, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Quadrupel

11.8% ABV from a 750 mL corked and caged (#5517/11248)

I’ve become a big enthusiast of Boulevard’s terrific Smokestack series over the last year or so, and being a completest in all I do, I of course have wanted to try them all and anxiously wait each new release (these boys at Boulevard seem to have a new one on the horizon every other month!).  The only problem is, there seems to be no place online to find a complete listing of the Smokestacks.  Boulevard’s website fucking sucks–no surprise, most brewery websites suck, they all for some reason so obsessed with bad Flash–and is woefully outdated, still only listing their first five releases.

And, since no one else so far as I can tell has taken up the task, I decided to create a helpful repository for other folks to consult.  With a little drunken research, as best I can do, here’s my in order listing of the Smokestacks. (* denotes I’ve never had before)

#1  The Sixth Glass
#2  Double Wide IPA
#3  Long Strange Tripel
#4  Saison (retired)
#5  Saison-Brett
#6  BBQ
#7  Imperial Stout*
#8  Two Jokers Double-Wit
#9  Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale*
#10 Seeyoulator Doppelbock*
#11 Harvest Dance
#12 Collaboration No. 1 Imperial Pilsner
*
#13 Rye-on-Rye*
#14 Dark Truth Stout*

Now BBQ is a beer I had long wanted to try and luckily my friend KH came through with a bottle for us to share just recently.  BBQ is The Sixth Glass quad fermented with cherries and bourbon which makes for a most unique effort and an initial taste I completely did not expect.  At first I thought it too boozy and sour but soon I was love.  This is like a suped up St. Bernardus with a nice underlying hint of vanillay bourbon and tart cherries.  Still, at this age, it was a tad rough around the edges and I wish I had another bottle to put a few years on.  Nevertheless, one of the most interesting and best quads I’ve had in awhile.

A

*Soooooooo, if any one can hook me up or help me out in getting these, I’d be your best friend.  Or, at least, you could be mine.

Pannepøt - Old Fisherman’s Ale & Black Albert

July 22nd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: De Struise, Country: Belgium, Grade: A plus, Grade: A-, Style: Quadrupel, Style: Stout

Never have I religiously continued to watch a show I so detest as I have continued to watch the deplorable “Entourage.”  For whatever reason, every Sunday night at 10:30 I’m back in front of the TV cringing through twentysomething hard-to-endure minutes of lame plots, boring cardboard characters, excruciatingly mundane and unoriginal ideas, and trite dialogue.

I don’t even think Doug Ellin and his cast and writing staff are still trying.  Take last Sunday’s episode which was supposed to end with a moment of great pathos, when, in the final scene, dunderheaded charismaless “A-list” movie star Vincent Chase returns to his house alone, confused, and saddened that he has to spend the wee hours of the night with just his brain to keep him company.  (”Entourage” viewers lament this fact on a weekly basis.)

Who hasn’t been crushed by an overwhelming sense of loneliness and despair?  Everyone has.  And we viewers might feel for Vinnie if not just an hour earlier in his night, in the episode’s penultimate scene, he got to fuck a 10-out-of-10-hot one-night-stand in his brand new Escalade.  Oh, not to mention, Vinnie has just attended the premiere of his new soon-to-be-both-critically-and-commercially-successful movie, Martin Scorsese’s “The Great Gatsby” retelling, in which he stars.  (Though it’s hard to imagine what role the effete and dull Vincent could possibly be fit to play.  My bet’s on Daisy Buchanan.)  And, have we mentioned that the house he’s alone in is a massive double-digit bedroomed mansion in the Hollywood Hills?!  Oh, whoa is me, Vinnie Chase!

And that demonstrates the exact problem with “Entourage.”  Its storytelling lacks any sort of tension, any sort of drama, any sort of human problems, which are the basis for truly good comedy.  Each week new-but-similar plot pivot points are brought up and within minutes they are solved and Vinnie and the boys go back to living a life of mind-numbing leisure.  Which would be perfectly fine if it was actually enjoyable to watch.  Which it’s not.

It’s always been hard to buy Vincent Chase as a huge movie star and the “best young actor of his generation” because, well, the actor that plays him, Adrien Grenier, is neither handsome enough, talented enough, or interesting enough to be anything more than a pay cable semi-star which ipso facto means he is not a “Vincent Chase.”  Most of the other acting, though, is admittedly passable.  Jerry Ferrara as Turtle is one-note but enjoyable enough, perhaps the only lovable character still on the show.  Kevin Dillon as Johnny Drama used to be a highlight of each episode with a good self-deprecatingly inward zinger or two toward his own lackluster career but now he’s become just a pathetic old manchild more concerned with making fun of who good buddy “E” is or is not fucking.  (In one of the lamest running plot gags in “Entourage” history, and that’s saying something, Drama has become obsessed with razzing E for maybe still having feelings for former flame Sloan as played by Emmanuelle Chriqui.  I don’t know about you, but I usually goof on my friends that are fucking one of the hottest women since the invention of breasts and vaginas.)  Speaking of E, Kevin Connelly seems to have developed some disease which is causing him to shrink at a rather alarming rate.  Always lilliputian, this season Connelly has become downright pocket-size, looking like some crows-feet-eyed ventriloquist dummy who gets to hang out with a movie star and fuck women that could tomahawk dunk on his wee head.  (Hmmm…that gives me an idea for a new pilot.)  I do actually like Connelly and think he is a skilled enough actor but Ellin does him no favors with the dialogue he places into his tiny mouth.  You can almost see Connelly cringing as he delivers feeble line after feeble line.  I feel bad for him.  Even Jeremy Piven as agent Ari Gold has become downright boring, though he’s such a good actor and such a better character than everyone else that by comparison he seems to be operating on an incredibly elevated comedic stratosphere.

Lame plots, boring cardboard characters, excruciatingly mundane and unoriginal ideas, and trite dialogue.  You might say, “Entourage” isn’t supposed to be good, it’s junk food for the brain.  Fair enough, but it’s not even good junk food.  It’s not Sour Patch Kids but Brand X Sour Gooeys.  I could stomach the show in its first few seasons when it was actually presenting a world anyone of us would want to be a part of:  lots of fast rides, hard parties, and bare breasts.  But these ennui-riddled characters don’t do any of these things any more and it’s actually alarming how few bare breasts now appear on the show per week.  You get as much out of the “On next week’s ‘Entourage’” thirty-second teaser as you do watching a full episode.

If you want some actually enjoyable comedy junk food for the brain to replace “Entourage,” might I suggest Showtime’s “Californication,” now through two seasons.  While no masterpiece and perhaps not even a great or even very good show, it is an incredibly enjoyable show and an eminently digestible one.  The story of a famous New York novelist turned Hollywood fuckup, “Californication” revels in presenting onscreen similiar Los Angeleno pleasures as “Entourage,” laziness, driving fast cars around all day with no purpose, drinking, drug use, partying, and promiscuous sex, but it is all shown in such a more interesting and realistic way.  Like “Entourage” the show isn’t much about “anything” but it has sharp dialogue, funny and original situations, three-dimensional characters, the effortless charm and comedic chops of David Duchovny who is truly a great actor, and a Warren Zevon-infused soundtrack.  If you start this show on DVD or OnDemand you will burn through it quickly.  You won’t be talking about it or obsessed with it by any means by the time it’s over, and aside from Duchovny’s work you will have probably forgotten it within weeks if not months, but while watching it you will be highly entertained.

Going back to the late great Warren Zevon, his best song is fittingly “The French Inhaler,” a scathing critique of Hollywood dreams gone awry.  An all-time favorite track of mine, listening to the lyrics I can’t help but think the crummy “Entourage” would do good to take its cues from the brilliant song to realize how truly worthless it is.  How soon it will be just another piece of shit in television history if it doesn’t have a little course correction.  Were he not dead Zevon could have easily been talking about “Entourage” when he wrote this great piece of poetry.

How’re you going to make your way in the world, woman
When you weren’t cut out for working
When your fingers are slender and frail
How’re you going to get around
In this sleazy bedroom town
If you don’t put yourself up for sale

Where will you go with your scarves and your miracles
Who’s gonna know who you are
Drugs and wine and flattering light
You must try it again till you get it right
Maybe you’ll end up with someone different every night

All these people with no home to go home to
They’d all like to spend the night with you
Maybe I would, too

But tell me
How’re you going to make your way in the world, woman
When you weren’t cut out for working
And you just can’t concentrate
And you always show up late

You said you were an actress
Yes, I believe you are
I thought you’d be a star
So I drank up all the money,
Yes, I drank up all the money,
With these phonies in this Hollywood bar,
These friends of mine in this Hollywood bar

Loneliness and frustration
We both came down with an acute case
And when the lights came up at two
I caught a glimpse of you
And your face looked like something
Death brought with him in his suitcase

Your pretty face
It looked so wasted
Another pretty face
Devastated
The French Inhaler
He stamped and mailed her
“So long, Norman”
She said, “So long, Norman”

I think I’m done with “Entourage.”  As the failed actress said to her pimp in “The French Inhaler”:

“So long, Norman.”

Pannepot (2006)

10% ABV bottled

I had the great fortune to try my first ever De Struise beers over the weekend, not coincidentally their two most famed creations, both mainstays on Beer Advocate’s Top 100 list.  First up, the supposed #43 beer in the world, Pannepot.  There is so much going on with this beer, it is truly as complex as they come.  Like a mix between a quad and a stout, maybe even a strong ale, it’s really hard to even accurately categorize it.  A potent aroma you can smell across the room, packed with tastes of coffee, bourbon, and vanilla along with subtle hints of candi, molasses, cookies, caramel, sugar, and spice and everything nice.  I’m not sure if this beer is oaked or not, but it sure tastes like it.  I can’t believe how much flavor is packed into this thing.  It reminded me of a glorious Rochefort 10 with a whole buncha spices mixed in.  A true highlight of my beer-drinking year!  Seek out at all costs.

A+

Black Albert

13% ABV bottled

Next up I had De Struise’s stout Black Albert which teeters at the bottom of the BA Top 100.  I found Black Albert a little too burnt, bitter, and dull for my liking.  A muted coffee flavor, the smell was more enjoyable than the taste.  Somewhat thin and quite drinkable for the highfalutin ABV, I just didn’t love it, yet I still had to admit it was good and well-crafted.  It just made me wish I was still drinking Pannepot.

A-

Boulevard Saison-Brett

July 15th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Boulevard, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Grade: A-, Grade: B plus, Style: Quadrupel, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

8.5% ABV bottled (#08516 of 11925)

Boulevard hadn’t really impressed me in the past, especially on a last summer trip to Kansas City, but their highly acclaimed Smokestack Series would surely change all that.  My friend Taco Town Dave was visiting from Oklahoma and he asked if there was anything local I’d like.  “Any and every Smokestack possible,” I implored him.  I was most excited when he delivered the Saison-Brett, currently Beer Advocate’s #2 saison in the world with a remarkably meteoric rise to garner that lofty position.

Everything about this beer is just flawlessly crafted.  The taste is so balanced.  A blend of those classic saison flavors of orange peel, coriander, and spices, mixed with the wild yeast.  Earthy yeastiness, bitter yet still a touch sweet.  It’s not as funky as I expected but I suppose that’s because I’ve come to expect modern brewers to make Brett beers as stinky and tart as possibly.  Not this one.  This one uses the Brett to perfection.  Awesome and tasty to the extreme, I’m floored at the high ABV because I feel like I could, and I very much desired to, greedily throw down several of these magnums in a night. Truly top notch.

I’ve had many of the top saisons in the world this summer, fermented luminaries such as Saison Dupont, The Bruery’s splendid offerings, and Lost Abbey’s Carnavale to name a few, but I got to say that this one trumps them all.  I wish I had it in stock at all times, it is absolutely glorious.  One of my biggest drinking pleasures of this summer so far.

A

Let’s compare the above to Boulevard’s regular Smokestack Saison.  I’m not sure if this contains the exact same ingredients as the Saison-Brett–simply sans Brett–but it simply isn’t as good.  Coming in at a lower and yet more drinkable 6.2% ABV, this brew is yeasty as hell, spicy, fruity, but unfortunately not that complex, nor that tasty.  Still not a bad summer drink, but don’t trade the farm for it.

B+

And while we’re at it, Taco Town Dave provided me with one other Smokestack as well, The Sixth Glass, their attempt at a quadruple.

I knew my friend The Captain absolutely adored this beer, so I had lofty expectations, but unfortunately it didn’t quite deliver for me.  It’s tough for most quads to ever fully deliver when many of the best beers in the world are also quads, so like National League first basemen or Western Conference forwards, it’s a stacked playing field where even a great, great one can appear to be nothing more than an also-ran.

The 10.5% ABV Sixth Glass is somewhat muted in its typical quad tastes of dark fruits, biscuits, and malts, but it’s pretty solid.  I mean, what can I say?  It’s not Westy 12, Rochefort 10, or St. Bernardus 12.  But, then again, what is?  Still worth trying.

A-

Westvleteren 12

July 7th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 9 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brouwerij Westvleteren, Country: Belgium, Grade: A plus, Style: Quadrupel

10.2% ABV bottled

Guys like me don’t have “best moments of our lives.”  At least not the kind of ones stereotyped by Hallmark commercials and romantic comedies.

We’re fuckups hedonistically drifting through life, bypassing and neglecting all the so-called status quo achievements that are supposed to make up an existence.

We don’t get engaged, or god forbid, married because we can’t keep a nice girl on the hook that long.  Naw, we’d rather hubristically keep rolling the dice, trying to get better and better and more and more women, which ultimately just leads to us squandering everything and being drunk and lonely.

We won’t ever buy a nice first house in the suburbs because we’re still renting an urban shoebox at age 30.  How could we possibly afford anything better?  Anything we’d actually own?  We don’t save money.  Good lord no.  We futz it away.  Spend it on stuff that is only tangible from the time it takes to enter our mouth, filter through our system, and come out the other end.  Good food and drink.  And smokes, maybe narcotics.  Wine, women, and song.  And stupid bets.  Always stupid bets.

Raises schmaises.  You got to be kidding me.  How ’bout just having health care for once in your life?  Isn’t it ironic that the people that live the most risky, transgressive, daredevilish lives are also the ones least likely to have health care?  The guy that puts on Haggar wrinkle-free dress slacks and a golf shirt every day to go to his beancounter job, who never over-indulges in anything, never does anything not by the book, yeah, of course he has health care, and a great plan too, but what’s the worst thing that’s gonna happen to him?  Stub his toe at night?  Get a cold from his sneezy secretary?

And let’s not talk about offspring.  Isn’t it funny how for a married, or at least in love, man, impregnating someone (er, his partner), is the absolute greatest moment of his life, never to be topped.  While for a financially unstable single man, that would be far and away the worst moment of his life?

Great moments in life deserve a great beer.  (Did I just make up a new slogan for Coors?!)  And the greatest beer of all is most often considered to be the immortal Westvleteren 12.  (I’ll allow you to do the Google research yourself.) And it is the phenomenally reviewed, very rarest of finds Westvleteren 12, a beer you may only be lucky enough to have a single bottle of in your entire life, that most people tend to save to augment one of the aforementioned great moments of their life.

Kid pops out of your wife’s twat?  Hey, let’s pop the Westy 12.  Just signed the mortage on your first house?  Why open the Westy 12 friendo.  I’m getting a promotion (in name only)?!  Nice.  It’s Westy time!

But I don’t get those great moments.  Perhaps I never will.  How sad.  So what does that leave me with?  What are gonna be the great moments of my life?  When do I get to drink my Westy 12?

Discovering masturbation was an awesome and seminal (rim shot!) moment of my life but I wasn’t exactly into craft beer back around Bar Mitzvah age.  Making a little love to a hot chick is always swell, but most girls want you to talk to them post-coitally, not go, “Uh…could you excuse me while I pay a visit to my beer cellar?  I want to drink a glorious beer to celebrate just having intercourse with the…let’s say 9 out of 10 that you are.”  My favorite sports team wins a title?  I celebrate another birthday having not been killed by gang violence?  A new season of “Mad Men” premieres?  Another STD free year?!  YES!  It’s Westy time!

Eh, I don’t know.  The devil may care, but I ultimately just picked an unassuming Wednesday afternoon and decided to split my sole eleven ounces of Westvleteren 12 with a good beer friend*.  The anticipation was palpable and the beer of course delivered, but first I lost about a solid ounce upon opening as this one was a gusher (something I’m told is typical).  Every dark fruit in the book, raisins, plums, banana esters, caramel, gingerbread, a touch of yeast, and some smooth dry booziness.  Very drinkable, goes down with ease and pleasure.  A true privilege to drink.

There’s not much else to say about it that hasn’t been said before.  Is it the best beer of all-time?  That’s the question that everyone who has never had it always wants to know.  And, the answer is…maybe.  You tell me you think it’s the greatest beer of all-time and I won’t debate that.  It’s one of the best I’ve ever had in fact.  But, surprisingly, in the trappist quad category, I think I like Rochefort 10 a tad better due to its slightly more flavorful sweetness.  Whatever the case, Westvleteren 12 is magnificent, and you need not worry about saving it for a “great” life moment.  Then again, don’t be so cavalier to just chug one straight from the bottle (with a koozie!) while mowing your lawn.  Although that would actually make you pretty awesome in my book.

A+

*Yarmulke-tip to The Captain for hooking me up with this bottle.

SAVOR

June 2nd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Odell, Brewer: Russian River, Brewer: Smuttynose, Country: America, Grade: A plus, Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale, Style: Quadrupel, Style: Wild Ale

Though I’ve had a slight compunction in the past in hanging out with the geekiest of beer geeks, this weekend I found myself at Washington, DC’s Savor beer and food “experience.”  Said experience was held in the lovely National Building Museum, a phenomenal space where smartly dressed people, and your’s truly, enjoyed fine beer and soggy finger foods.  A crowd seemingly consisting more of foodies, cultural scenesters, and folks that enjoy wearing blazers just for the heck of it, the beer geeks were easily spotted as those hirsute men taking copious notes in their Moleskines, spending far too many seconds with their noses inside the rims of their tasting glass before taking a sip, too scared to look any of the many attractive women in the eye, and those lads treating Tomme Arthur and the godfather of craft Jim Koch as if they were Dino and Frank (uh…guilty as charged*).

According to my count, I sampled 36 of the 118 available frat sodas, so take the following for what it’s worth.  My highlights from the “experience” include, in alphabetical order:

Avery’s aromatic and white-winey wild Brabant, Boulevard’s silky funky Saison-Brett, The Bruery’s bready and creamy Saison Rue, Foothills’s slightly overrated but still spectacular Sexual Chocolate (on tap!) and vastly underrated Hoppyum IPA, Great Divide’s decadent Espresso Oak Aged Yeti imperial stout, The Lost Abbey’s deserves-all-the-praise-it-gets Angel’s Share bourbon-barreled as well as their tart/sour/boozy Cuvee de Tomme, New Holland’s refreshingly zesty Golden Cap saison, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder which I had misjudged the first and only previous time I’d had it as this is an A+ worldbeater no question, and Two Brothers’s caramelly Cane & Ebel red rye.

Now the above “honorable mentions” are a smattering of A-’s and A’s and perhaps even an A+ or two, but my three Best in Shows in ascending order were:

3.  Smuttynose Gravitation (Big Beer Series) — By far my biggest surprise of the evening.  I knew the boys up in Portsmouth made good if not great stuff and I’d seen this one on shelves plenty of times, but who knew this 8.5% ABV quadruple was so goddamned spectacular?!  Actually, apparently no one knows that or even thinks that as it gets a pedestrian B user grade on Beer Advocate, but let me just state that this is one beauty.  A dominating explosion of sweet Belgian candi and sugary dark fruits, this beer still remains incredibly smooth and drinkable with absolutely no cloyingness.  Honestly, I really can’t think of a better Americanized quad out there, and lest you think I was already in the can and am thus overrating this one compared to seemingly everyone else…it was my first beer of the evening and next to nothing else came close to it for the next four hours.  In fact, periodically throughout the night I would revisit the Smuttynose booth to selfishly have a second and third and fourth pour.

A+

2.  Russian River Consecration — Already quite “famous” in its short period of existence, it deserves all its hosannas as this brew instantly replaces Allagash Interlude as both my favorite wild ale and red wine-barreled beer.  A rust red pour full of acidic tartness, oaky Carbenet flavors, green apple sourness, and some funky vinegar sensations this brew was shockingly refreshing and I could not get enough of its glory.  I’m also glad I didn’t have to pay the bloated costs for this one–reportedly around $25 a bottle–which perhaps led me to enjoy it at maximum capacity.

A+

1.  Odell Woodcut #2 Oak Aged Golden Ale — I’m embarrassed to admit I knew next to nothing about this Fort Collins, Colorado based brewery, had never had one of their beers before, and didn’t even have this brew on my fairly lengthy “to drink” crib sheet I was carrying around in my ass pocket.  Luckily, about halfway through the evening, I serendipitously ran into a beer geek friend and a seemingly innocuous question of “So…whadaya enjoying here?” let to him all but grabbing me by the scruff of my neck and dragging me over to the Odell booth where he claimed that easily the best beer in the house resided.  Quite skeptical, I took his word for it and, wow!, he was 100% right.  A handsomely champagned bottled with a slick label befitting the beer’s name, this is truly one of the most flavorful beers I’ve ever had in my life.  A creamy malt backbone with tastes of buttery toffee and caramel, clean oak, vanilla, and candi this beer is phenomenal and I feel lucky to have tried it.  Now I’m sorry I missed out on Woodcut #1 which my minimal research shows me was released last year in a stingy small case number.  I’d love to get my hands on a full bottle of Woodcut #2 but it doesn’t even appear to have been officially released yet and doesn’t even have a placeholder entry on BA yet.

Whatever the case, Odell hits a moon shot home run in their first at bat against me.  That’s a 1.000 OBP and a 4.000 slugging.  As good as it gets.

A+

*

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+

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

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Allagash FOUR

July 3rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Allagash, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Quadrupel

10% ABV from a bomber

The late, great George Carlin famously once joked, referring to picking up women: “I’ve never had a ten, but one night, I had five twos,” thinking his was the greater accomplishment. Well, I’m the kinda guy that would rather have one 10% beer than two 5%. And this beer is right on the money. Sadly, most guys are the opposite. What can I say, I like my big, bold, potent beers: barley wines, strong ales, and the sexiest of all, the quadrupel. It just sounds insanely powerful. That’s why I was so excited to one day try Allagash FOUR*. Heck, I even had it in the “honorable mention” category on my Top 10 Most Wanted Beer list.

I’m shocked that it’s taken me some 80 posts to review my first Allagash as it is maybe my favorite America brewery, a brewery notable for pretty much ONLY making potent and expensive beers that come in a bomber. No wussy six-packs filled with “Lite” brews. The FOUR is so called because besides being a quadrupel it consists of four malts, four hops, and is fermented four times. Sounds brilliant, huh? Sadly, it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. And, by that, I mean it wasn’t an A+. I adore Allagash so much that, just like Stone, I expect every one of their beers to be masterpieces.

FOUR is dark and rich, almost like a Russian Imperial Stout but not quite.  Dried fruits like raisins, cherries, and brown sugar with next-to-no carbonation.  Nice taste and goes down pretty easy.  Not as rich, potent, and complex as I’d expect from a Belgian quad though.

It’s very good, just not extraordinary.

A-

*The FOUR is seemingly always capitalized when in print. That’s kinda awesome.

Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel

June 9th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven, Country: Netherlands, Grade: A regular, Style: Quadrupel

10% ABV on both draught and from a bomber

Wow, what a glorious beer. Another choice selection from Tria, maybe the best thing I’ve ever had there on tap. I can’t recall every having a quadrupel in my life and quite frankly I’m not even sure what they are. I told some beer nerd I ran into that I had just drank a quadrupel and his eyes bulged. And the Tria menu claims this is the only Trappist “Quad” that even makes it to America. But what is it quadrupel of? I think it simply means it’s a potent motherfucking beer. And, to my knowledge since there are no quintuples or sextuples, this is about as good as it gets. Especially for me as I am a huge fan of incredibly high ABV beers.

When I tried this beer I was absolutely floored. Firstly, because I had never even heard of it. A tiny, squat Lilliputian-like female waitress recommended it to me and my friend and for some reason we trusted her. Thank god we did. We have now spent the past 10 days discussing how mind blowing this brew is. It has somewhat consumed our lives. Upon returning to New York from Philly, I immediately went to my Whole Foods to see if they had any bottles of this stuff. I looked everywhere and finally located it. It was no shock to see it sporting one of drabbest labels I had ever seen. There was a reason I had never noticed it. (I am now starting to think I should have a tasting session of beers with drab, boring, and/or ugly labels.) Whole Foods had one bomber left and even though it was a pricey $13 I had no compunction in snatching it up. I had to validate my feelings about this beer.

After trying the bottled version I am definitely willing to call this a great one. It’s potent, almost wine (or barley wine) or even bourbon like. I think if you gave this to a beer neophyte they might not be able to even ID it as beer. Next to no carbonation (only 25 IBUs too) but very sweet. The smell is intoxicating. Fruity, sugary, almost candy-like. It almost overwhelms your nose and mouth and tastebuds. But that’s a good thing. You are forced to take minuscule sips, savoring it the whole time.

This is a beer I will definitely begin listing among my all-time favorites, one I will continually seek out. I also look forward to trying other bottlings from Koningshoeven as I have located a store stocked with their Dubbel and Tripel. Can’t wait to get my hands on those.

A