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Archive for the ‘Style: Tripel’ Category

Boulevard Smokestacks

September 10th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Boulevard, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: A-/B+, Grade: B regular, Style: Belgian White, Style: IPA, Style: Tripel

In late-1800’s New York City, the top spectator sport at bars was dog versus rat fights.  This replaced the previously most popular sport, a man in heavy work boots trying to stomp out one-hundred rats as fast as he could.  Which, replaced the previously most enjoyed sport:  bear wrestling.  Yeah, the New York bar scene was pretty goddamn badass a way back when I have learned from reading Luc Sante’s essential compendium of New York vice “Low Life.”

Back then, many dive bars–known as “blind tigers” or “blind pigs”–didn’t even have glassware.  Men were issued a rubber tube which they then connected to a keg and from which they were allowed to drink as long as they could on one single breath of air for each beer purchase.  Predictably, always-savvy New Yorkers developed incredible lung capacities and devised ways to cheat the system.

But it wasn’t all days of wine and roses back then.  For one, most dives, usually located on the outskirts of Manhattan island, had actual trap doors in the floors in which deceased customers could be kicked into the East or Hudson Rivers.  Besides murder and suicide, frequent in-bar deaths might have been due to the fact that this rubber-tubed-sucked beer was abject swill, laced with all sorts of poisons that quickly got you drunk…and then killed you.  Or, at least blinded you.  Not exactly good for repeat business.

And the only women hanging at these dives were of the sporting kind.  Hookers who would, at best, fuck you full of STDs.  At worst, slip you a “Mickey Finn” when you weren’t looking and steal your wallet as you lay prone in an alley.  OK, so I guess I’ll quit complaining about the annoyingly shrill JAP habitues and hipster too-cool chicks so often surrounding me at the bar.

Suffice to say, craft beer was nowhere to be had, and, begrudgingly, I guess that means I have to admit that the 2009 New York City bar scene is better than the 1889.  Even if all we have to do at bars nowadays is play darts and “Big Buck Hunter.”  Not exactly a stomping-on-rats level of in-house excitement, but surely less messy and grizzly.

This past week I had the fortune to drink six beers that could of and would have never existed back in seedy 19th Century New York.  Six beers from Boulevard’s esteemed Smokestack line.  Three of which I’d had before and three of which added new notches to my brew bedpost.

Double-Wide India Pale Ale

8.5% ABV from a 750 mL  (1st in the series)

Double-Wide emits the always popular sack of weed aroma we’ve come to know and love in many West Coast IPAs.  A nice bitterness and packed with sour citrus.  Boozy yet drinkable, I was very impressed and if I was an east coast elitist man I would add that I was very impressed that this great IPA came out of Kansas City.  A part of me, though, wonders if this is an out of date bottle from when the initial Smokestack offerings were first released nearly a year ago.  That seems impossible because, damn, this beer was fresh and juicy.  Well worth locating.


Long Strange Tripel

9% ABV from a 750 mL (2nd in the series)

This is a very respectable, damn good American tripel.  And, tasting it side-by-side with maybe my favorite tripel in the world, La Fin du Monde, Long Strange was outshined (outshone?) sure, but by not that great of magnitude surprisingly.  It’s incredibly yeasty with just a hint of nice sweetness.  Bubbly, fluffy, and pillowy, I really enjoyed putting this back in the mid-day patio sun, and was shocked at how easily it went down.


Two Jokers Double-Wit

8% ABV from a 750 mL (8th in the series)

Dangerously, shockingly, drinkable for such a high ABV beer, but then again, witbiers are so fucking lame, maybe I was just trying to get it down, slurping it down like flat apple juice, so I could move onto something more interesting.  You know, Two Jokers ain’t terrible–and I love the label–but it’s just not that interesting.  Packed with cardamom, coriander, orange peel, lavender, and the always sexy grains of paradise, I will admit this was a great beer to begin a long day of college football watching with.


I have now had six of the nine Smokestack releases* and here are my current overall rankings:

1.  Saison-Brett (an absolutely epic beer well deserving of all its acclaim)
2.  Double-Wide
3.  The Sixth Glass
4.  Long Strange Tripel
5.  Saison
6.  Two Jokers

*I have still yet to locate bottles of the 5th and 6th Smokestack releases, their Imperial Stout and BBQ (Bourbon Barrel Quad), nor of the newest release, the 9th in the series, the Seeyoulator Doppelbock.  I would kill to try any and all of them, especially the BBQ.  Hit me up at theviceblog [at] gmail.com if you can make a little Jewish boy’s dreams come true.

Allagash Curieux (2008)

January 30th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Allagash, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Tripel

11% ABV (March 2008 release)


The night had begun so innocuously.  Freddie, Maz, and I sat around Maz’s Gramercy apartment having a few quality beers and catching up before heading to the Bowery area for some Thai food.  After dinner we walked the neighborhood looking for any interesting place to drink at, finding none.  Then, I recalled a nearby bar I had recently read about, the semi-iconic Remote Lounge.

Here’s the lounge’s concept:  every single table at Remote has a television monitor plus buttons that give the table’s drinkers the ability to personally control one of the sixty surveillance cameras set up throughout the space, panning and scanning them, zooming in and zooming out, and thus “spying” on other patrons in the bar.  See someone you like and you can buzz them, alert them, even try to get them to pick up the phone at their table and speak to you for some childish flirting.

We paid the $10 cover and entered to find a pretty dead bar.  Didn’t matter as we had a blast for about a half hour as we futzed around with the cameras and flirted with the only other group of people in the bar, some girls actually sitting at the table across from us–girls we could easily just talk to as opposed to using the overly complex camera and phone system.

By 11:00 we were getting a little irked.  We’d paid the cover and shit wasn’t happening.  Then, slowly but surely, women starting funneling in.  Lots of them.  Hot women, skanky women, semi-clad women.  What the hell was going on?  Soon, the entire upstairs of Remote was packed, several hundred women getting wasted and dancing lasciviously with each other, and us three perverts using the camera controls to zoom in on their sexiness.

“Sorry fellas, you can’t stay up here.”


The beefy bouncer informed us we had to go downstairs.  This was a private party.

“We can’t stay?”

“Not unless you guys are lesbians.  This is a lesbian singles mixer.  Downstairs, boys.”

And thus we were shuffled to the downstairs bar where we again found ourselves alone with our drinks.  But at least we had the camera controls to monitor the upstairs lesbian party which was getting quite randy, many of the girls going topless if not more, climbing on tables and the bar, bumping and grinding, pouring water all over themselves and the others.  It was a wild party and all we could do was watch it via grainy surveillance cameras.

Nevertheless, we tried our damnedest to flirt with the lesbians upstairs.  We zoomed in on them, encouraged them to use their cameras to look at us.  We scribbled notes on cocktail napkins and held them up to the downstair’s surveillance cameras, trying to communicate with the lesbians in any way possible.  Rude, drunken notes:

“We’re lesbians too.”

“Surely some of you guys are bi???”

“I can scissor-kiss just as well as any of you.”

Eventually, we’d angered the lesbians and they banded together, gathering like a mob posing for a picture, standing in front of the most prominent camera and giving the three of us the finger, before turning around and mooning us, before all the upstairs cameras went to static.  They had clearly told the manager to not let three heterosexual idiots ruin their fun.

“Now what?”

Again, we were alone and bored.

Maz, never much of a night-owl, wanted to leave.

I insisted he stay til at least midnight.  Why?  Because the downstair’s bar had huge sign plastered everywhere:


“What the fuck is a BBW party?”

“I have no clue, but we might as well find out.”

We continued tippling beers and soon enough some others started filtering into the downstairs bar.

I was drunk so my Sherlockian skills weren’t exactly at their strongest, but after a while I started noticing something:  “Say, am I crazy or is everyone but us black?”

Indeed, the entire downstairs bar had become African-American.  Sophisticated New York buppies.

Then, midnight struck, and a Lil John-looking pimp took the stage:

“Are you niggas ready for some BBW?!”


“I said, are you ready for some BBW stylee?!”


And then, a half dozen of the most obese, gigantic black women took the stage and began droppin’ it like it’s hot.  The women, clad in thongs and lingerie had moves, putting their palms on the floor and shaking their giant Jell-O asses in the air and toward the crowd.  The men were going absolutely apeshit.

I looked around the bar.  BBW.  BBW.   BBW.


I turned to Freddie and Maz.

“BBW?  Big.  Black.  Women!!!”

And the skinny men that fucking love them.

Lesbians upstairs, Big Black Women downstairs, buppies bumping around us, and three nerdy white guys sipping their beers.  Truly a night to remember.  We stayed and got steadily drunker as the surreal scene continued around us.

I wish this story had a splendid denouement that involved me getting on stage and tripping the lights fantastic with some 500 pound Nell Carter, but not all stories have great endings and we existed as nothing more than passive observers that night.

NOTE:  Remote Lounge is now, unfortunately, out of business for good, replaced by some rock joint.  Shame really.

Allagash Curieux

Just recently I had the newest release of Curieux, Allagash’s Jim Beam-barreled tripel.  I’d had this ages ago and since then had hailed it as one of my all-time favorite beers, though this batch wasn’t quite as great as I recalled.  A bit less bourbony and flavorful, the vanilla and coconut characteristics not shining through quite as much.  Perhaps this one is best drank a little more aged.  I think it’s slightly below Interlude in the Allagash family, but, whatever the case, it is still another outstanding brew from the boys up in Portland, Maine.


Victory Variety

November 22nd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 11 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Victory, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: B plus, Grade: C plus, Grade: C regular, Style: IPA, Style: Lager, Style: Pilsner, Style: Tripel

I don’t sleep well after a night of boozing which is fine because I like to get up fairly early on Saturdays and/or Sundays and hit the movies.  I’m a huge film buff and see several back-to-back-to-back every single weekend, starting early so I’m done with my double or triple feature in time to get home for sports.  I typically go alone because I both see oddball movies that no one else wants to see and because I like the solitude.  Sitting in the dark gorging on soda and candy, feeling my hangover dissipate as I drift away into a hopefully good film.  I also go to very early shows because I hate today’s cinema crowds.  Loud boobs that seem to enjoy spending $12 so that they can have a dark room to text in and gab with their friends.

I always sit in the same seat, the absolute back row, right underneath the projector.  I hate having any people behind me and I like hearing the whirl of the film reels, the flickering of light catching the dust in the air.  Today I went to see a double feature and upon getting to my theater I found a women sitting in “my” seat.  Though this doesn’t happen often as most people reject sitting in the back row it was still unusual for another reason:  it was another solo film goer, and one who appeared to be a smoking hot women too.  Flowing Playboy blonde locks and nicely dressed in a turtleneck sweater, a bubble skirt, and with black tights.   An undoubtedly fetching yet classy look.  Though I was surprised that she was never joined by a boyfriend or husband fetching the popcorn, I paid her no mind.

After the first film I headed across the hall to see my second movie of the day “Slumdog Millionaire.”  This time, I was first in the theater and got my coveted back row seat.  Then, not two minutes later, who should enter the theater and head straight for the backrow but the fetching blonde!  With me in “her” seat she was forced to sit two seats over.  With such kismet I wanted to talk to her and the gods quickly conspired in my favor.  With “Slumdog” being one of the hottest flicks in town right now the theater quickly filled and after several “Is that seat taken?” and “Could you scoot over?” negotiations, the blonde was forced to hop one over and was soon sitting right beside.

I made light of the rudeness of people, arriving seconds before the film and then expecting us early-arrivers to move for their every whim.  She agreed that it was indeed rude.  I goofed on all the old people at the screening, loudly chomping on food and talking about their bone density depletion.  We began chatting.  It was quite dark so I could barely see her, just the glamor lighting corona of light surrounding her mass of blonde hair.  She was so sweet and had a tender accent.

I wondered if she was a tourist.

“Not exactly.  But I just moved here last year.”

“Yet you already hate tourists, correct?” I remarked.

She embarrassingly admitted that she did.  Once you’re a Manhattanite it’s impossible not to.

And where was she originally from I wondered.


My heart melted.  I love blonde Kentucky women with an ever-so-slight accent.  Neil Diamond was surely right and I made her know this fact.

She explained that she had gotten her undergrad degree at the University of Kentucky and her doctorate at Northwestern.  She was a child psychologist and helped orphans with coping.  On weekends, always alone, she liked to spend either the whole day watching movies or at Barnes & Noble reading historical biographies.

I was fucking smitten.

As the lights dimmed, I had no choice but to go for it:

“My name is Aaron Goldfarb.  After this movie, would you like to join me for coffee?  Or, if you’re in the mood, perhaps something stronger.”

She smiled at me.  “We’ll see.”

You would think it would be hard to focus for the next two hours, wondering about my future, but “Slumdog Millionaire” was so goddamn good that I was instantly drawn in.  You know how blurb whores–lackluster film critics that LOVE ever movie just so they can get their name on the advertising–will sometimes say, “People were cheering in the aisles!” in order to note how great a movie was?  Well, I certainly had never seen that literally happen until today.  “Slumdog” is so life-affirming, so touching, that, yes, I saw several people actually pump their fists, actually stand up and celebrate in the aisles.

Once the credits began to roll she turned toward me.

“I loved it!”

I remarked that I did too.  Perhaps the best film I’d seen in ‘08 in fact.

“I think I will take you up on that drink offer.  Let’s go have some bourbon,” she said as she anxiously grabbed my forearm.

We headed across the dark aisle and down the dark stairs to exit the theater.  Once we got into the light we turned to each other and our giddy smiles instantly became shock.  She was tons older than I thought she was and I was tons younger than she thought I was.  Damn the darkness!

“What are you?!  Like 30?”

“Close.  29.  You?!”

“Remember those ‘old people’ you were making fun of earlier?  I’m one of them.  Just turned 50 last week!”

I have to say, she was twenty to twenty-five years older than I thought she was in the dark, but she was a fantastic-looking 50-year-old.  Glowing and lustrous blonde hair, minimal wrinkles, a damn good-looking gal.  Why…she could easily convince people she was…43.

“You still want that drink?,” she chuckled, clearly expecting me to say no.

Well, you’d certainly be my record, I most certainly DID NOT say.  But I did surprise her by saying, what the heck, and accepting the date.  Variety is definitely the spice of life.

We headed to a nearby hotel bar and each had a $15 Blanton’s Old-Fashioned.  I wish I had a funny, surprising, unexpected ending to this story, but when you write about true life, you sometimes don’t get those endings.  After our drinks we laughed about the weird events of the day and parted ways.

“Maybe I’ll run into you again on the back row,” she said as she sweetly kissed me on the cheek.

As I said earlier, variety is the spice of life, so I was quite excited when I arrived at my friend’s house in Philadelphia last weekend and his wife had picked up a variety case of Victory brews for me to drink.  What a sweetheart she is.  Almost enough to make me consider marriage.

Victory HopDevil Ale

6.7% ABV

In this author’s opinion one of the most underrated IPAs around.  Why does this beer get so little credit?  It’s damn good.  Nice balance of hops and malts and very drinkable.  I plowed through the six in the variety pack.


Victory Golden Monkey

9.5% ABV

A very respectable American version of a Belgian tripel.  Creamy and sweet with some great yeastiness.  The spices tingle as they go down your throat.  Pretty drinkable too for the ABV.  I finished all six of these too.


Victory Lager

5.2% ABV

Lagers are a most lackluster style of beer, so you can’t expect much better than a C or so.  And that’s about what this is.  More interesting than a macro lager but nothing special.  I only handled these after 2:00 AM when the Philadelphia bars closed and I was already loaded.


Victory Prima Pils

5.3% ABV

One of Victory’s most highly-regarded beers which is weird because next-to-nobody regards pilseners as anything special.  They’re the dumb twin brother of the lager.  I don’t see what the fuss is about, I found this to be just a typically boring pilsener.  Far too skunky and bitter.  I certainly wasn’t dancing in the aisles drinking it.


River Horse Tripel Horse

August 27th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: River Horse, Country: America, Grade: B regular, Style: Tripel

10% ABV from a sixer

Everyone knows if you want to make a long road trip bearable you’ll need to drink en route. But if you want to make it highly entertaining, you’ll need to bring some non-twist-off beer bottles and accidentally forget an opener. This happened to me, Gary, and Dan on our recent trip up north. And before I go any further, I just want to prevent MADD from protesting my blog–though that would help my traffic numbers soar!–by noting that our sole driver Gary never drank once nor even planned to. So, please, only MADP (Mother Against Drunk Passengers) is allowed to give me shit.

Our journey to Canada started off at my friends’ house in Jersey City where after beating both of them in a combined 19 out of 19 games of ping pong we headed to the liquor store to stock up for the car ride. In the parking lot, I pondered whether New Jersey has any breweries. Shit, I couldn’t think of any. How weird, one of the biggest, richest states in the union with no notable breweries*. And, indeed, BA only lists the Garden State as having a pathetically paltry seven, none of them acclaimed. I mean, seriously, New Jersey! There must be no need for beer, what with all those Jersey guidos only drinking gay shots and “Goose” on ice when they hit da club.

Surprisingly, though, this Jersey City liquor store had an actual line of beer from New Jersey — River Horse. Never heard of it, but I’ll give it a whirl. We opted for a six pack of their tripel. Any brewery brash enough to attempt a Belgian style tripel must be at least halfway decent.

We waited to begin drinking til we were well outside of the metro area and nightfall had hit. We aren’t so cavalier as to overtly drink beer in daylight while going up the Westside highway or something. Once it became dark, however, we quickly realized the shit we were in — no opener and these we some well-sealed bottles. And, unfortunately–in this one case only–none of us three are the kind of repressed former frat boys that still carry a Heineken ring bottle opener on our key chains.

Lacking an opener is usually not a problem when you’re at an apartment or someplace indoors as there are two opener-less tricks that typically work quite splendidly. The easiest is to just put the edge of the cap flush with a table–one you don’t mind possibly nicking up a bit–and then slamming your open palm down on it. Of course, cars don’t have coffee tables so this was out. The second easy trick which I’m fairly accomplished at is putting two bottles parallel to each other yet a foot or so apart, then briskly moving the bottom one up and the top one down toward each other with a great force, ultimately colliding the cap of the bottom bottle with the underside of the cap of the top to create a blunt influence which usually pops the top bottle’s cap right off.

This move was risky in the car as often some foaming occurs out of the bottle. And the last thing you want is your car to smell like a potent Belgian tripel if you get pulled over. Alas, that move did not work either and our concerns were rendered moot.

I took Gary’s Blackberry and googled “opening bottle without opener” and got an onslaught of tips. I looked at several sites and here following are some of what Dan and I tried next:

1. Seatbelt clasp — I suspect this would work on most cars, but the clasp of Gary’s Audi was incredibly small and atypical of what most cars have. The neck of the bottle couldn’t enter the clasp’s square opening and thus no attempts could even be made.

2. Belt — We all removed our belts from our waists to see if we could use the buckles to pop the tops, but this didn’t work either. Not even close. And I think I’d rather a copper pull us over and find tons of beer in the car than find three men with belt off their waists. He’d think he’d found some S&M auto(mobile)-erotic weirdos.

3. Dollar bill — Hard to believe, but according to numerous websites one can:

  • Take a dollar bill and roll it tightly like a joint, then fold it up several times over until you’re left with a tightly-compressed V-shaped piece (two folded bits that meet in one sharp, tight corner).
  • Take the “V” and wedge the corner of its fold into the bottle cap.
  • Jerk the bill up as hard as you can, which will result in the cap popping off.

This came nowhere close to working and caused the first open wound of the evening to form on my hand. And it also ruined a single.

4. Golf tee and keys — There was some tees in the car from a recent golf outing and we jammed these under the cap’s ridges to try and pry it off but that did not work. Likewise, the same attempts with keys of all shapes and size also failed.

5. Car’s bumper and other edges — Too much rubber and plastic, not enough hard surfaces. You quickly learn how cheaply cars are made when you try to use them as two-ton bottle openers. At one point, Dan tried to use the window shade latch to pop the top and it seemed to work as a loud explosion took place. He confidently handed me back the bottle, “Your beer, sir.” I was stunned when I looked down to see the cap still on. All he’d done was break the latch off the ceiling of the Audi.

6. Soda machine coin return — This is another one I think would work at a typical soda or candy machine, but the ones we encountered all had odd coin return slots that were far too big to fit the bottleneck into.

All these left me and Dan with were scraped up and heavily jostled bottles and bloodied (seriously) and battered hands.

Oh, have I neglected to mention that we were both wasted too? Yeah, by this point we were halfway through a bottle of Stoli we’d been passing back and forth the hole time. What, you didn’t think six beers would last two grown boys a six-hour car ride didja?

Now in hour three of trying to open these damn–and now warm–beers, we finally stopped at a shitty reststop where we were certain to find a souvenir bottle opener amongst all the trinkets and knick-knacks. There were Aaron, Gary, and Dan miniature license plates, porcelain spoons, and even collectible snow globes, but alas no fucking bottle openers to buy.

However, we did find a pickle in a bag.

God did I want to buy that filth and review it for you dear loyal readers, however Gary and Dan were too scared to have that thing floating in the car with them for the rest of the weekend.

Finally, after five hours of trying we were forced to call mercy. The bottle had defeated us. I’m not sure if they are the best sealed bottles ever crafted or if we are just retarded or were drunk. One hour outside of our final destination, we stopped to pick up one of Gary’s childhood friends who had with him an opener.

Ahhhhhhhh! We could finally drink the beer. And we needed to drink the beer now that our vodka was killed.

My god was the River Horse tasty. Hit the fucking spot. No masterpiece but a solid tripel. Nice malt and banana taste with a spicy sweetness. Vanilla esters and a lot of yeast. Not too complex but some good bite. A bit too unbalanced of alcoholic finish and some biting carbonation are its demerits.

I think I’ll now become one of those detestable ex-frat boys that always has his Zeta Beta Tau bottle opener holstered and ready for action. Would have saved us all a lot of pain and misery.

What tricks do you use when you don’t have an opener handy?


*I guess in retrospect that shouldn’t be surprising. They have no good college sports programs either.

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.


La Fin Du Monde

June 24th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Unibroue, Country: Canada, Grade: A regular, Style: Tripel

9% ABV from a bomber

When most people think of beer drinking in Canada, they probably imagine two hosers like the McKenzie Brothers pouring can after can of Labatt or Molson down their faces while ice fishing, eating poutine, butchering the English language, and rooting on the Mapleleafs. And, admittedly, Labatt and Molson are solid enough beers. For getting wasted while ice fishing, eating poutine, butchering the English language, and rooting on the Mapleleafs. But, surprisingly enough, there are some world class brews coming from America, Jr. And, it all begins with Montreal’s Unibroue brewery which produces what might be the country’s best single beer in La Fin Du Monde (which my Francophile friend tells me means “End of the World”–nice!).

Not just that, but La Fin Du Monde is extraordinarily accessible in the Northeast U.S. That’s partly due to the fact that La Fin is “bottle conditioned.” This means that the beer isn’t fully fermented and contains yeast sediment (”on the lees” it’s called) which allows for further fermentation after bottling. This allows for several things. First, it lets the beer be cheaply shipped and stocked, making it very accessible in outside markets. I pick up bombers of La Fin and several of Unibroue’s other quality beers for around $6 a bomber at my local supermarket. In fact, La Fin is quite possibly the “high-brow” beer I drink the most. And, at that cheap of price and with that high of ABV, you can make your night end nicely for an amazing cost.

Bottle conditioning also produces beer that is perfect for cellaring. Filtered beers have a short shelf life and necessitate tacky “born on” dating because once their compounds begin breaking down the beer becomes unpleasant tasting. Most folks would counter that most of your filtered macro beers already are unpleasant tasting. Remember kids, filtering something does not always make it better, despite what Brita may have us believe. The live yeast inside an unfiltered bottle-conditioned beer acts against these processes, giving the brew a longer, if not infinite, shelf life in which the flavor will continue to get better and better and the taste more and more complex as it ages.

These points are all moot for me, however, as my career record for the longest I’ve ever gone without drinking an amazing beer I’ve purchased is some ten days. And that was only because I was ill during that time and only able to consume egg drop soup. Plus, living in a fifth floor Manhattan walk-up, I don’t exactly have room to stow countless beers while they age. And, I certainly don’t have a cellar. Rather, I do have a cellar but it’s a communal building one where we deposit our trash and recyclables, maintain a menagerie of vermin, and provide a creepy, dank place for our perverted building super Chet to bring hookers home to. I can just imagine what would happen were I to start “cellaring” my La Fins and top-fermented trappist ales down there. Let’s just say, I know one bum that would greatly appreciate going from drinking Boone’s Farm to aged Orval.

As mentioned, bottled-conditioned beers have yeast sediment in them. So, if you open the beer early you will literally see chunks, for lack of a better word, of products floating in the beer. It’s like the fresh-squeezed pulp of the industry. You unadventurous people that exclusively drink macros will probably be freaked out and think you have a rotten, tainted beer, calling the company to file a complaint, but it is in fact nothing to worry about.

Pouring the goldenrod La Fin out, the head of the beer is like a primordial soup, with so much activity occurring in the foam. It’s like a lab experiment. You could probably look at it under a microscope and see organisms interacting and fucking each other! But not to worry–the yeast sediment is incredibly tasty with very earthy flavors, and, best of all, it’s packed with Vitamin B! Did someone say health beer?! In fact, in some countries, it’s a ritual to separate the sediment from the beer and drink it as a shot.

Sweating my balls off in my bedroom as a busy weekend comes to an end this was a perfect beer to wet my whistle. Technically a tripel, La Fin smells great, one of the best and most odoriferous beers I’ve ever encountered. It’s incredibly tasty, incredibly malty, incredibly yeasty of course, incredibly everything. It’s creamy, buttery, full of fruit hints like apple and pear. And it has a spicy and peppery finish. Near perfect. Got to be about the most drinkable 9% beer on the planet. I really can’t imagine someone disliking this beer.

If the world was truly coming to an end, you would certainly go out in style with a La Fin Du Monde as your last tipple. The French name reminds me of my favorite Latin saying: Bibamus, moriendum est. Death is inevitable, let’s get drunk.