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We have fallen behind on the Super List, our series of each month’s favorite beers. But we have big plans to make up for it! Out of the 65 beers we tasted in March (mostly small pours), today’s post lists ten that particularly impressed. We’ll soon be doing an additional post on some rare BrewDog beers we tasted, as well as a special Super List from our booze cruise through Quebec.
This month is full of fruity IPAs and strong stouts, with a couple nice Belgian-style beers here and there. As always, if you’ve had any of these brews, let us know what you thought.
Smuttynose Barleywine Dry-Hopped with Nugget Hops (on draft at ChurchKey) – When you look back through your tasting notes and see things like “HEAVEN” and “deliciousness” you know the beer in question was a special one, even if it happened to be at the end of a long night of drinking. This 11%-ABV slightly hazy, copper, thick-headed treat tasted like orange candy slices basted with hop oil, which might not sound good but, oh, it was.
St. Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout (in bottle from Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor Deli) – This thick, motor oil-like substance smelled like bourbon, had pronounced roast and espresso flavors, and left a pleasant smoky aftertaste in our grateful mouths. This sipper stout is not your grandma’s creamy Guinness; it’s as complex as the fancy cannister it came in. Our pal Al pulled this 9.1%-ABV Canadian gem from his hidden stash especially for us. It is indeed good to get to know your local beer store folk.
Birra Del Borgo Re Ale Extra (on draft at ChurchKey) – This Italian beer poured a hazy caramel color with orange hues and had the aroma of flower-infused toffee and orange liqueur. It tasted like coriander, orange peel, and a balanced amount of fruity hops, and started buttery but finished dry. We found it to be quite complex for a 6.4%-ABV beer and are eager to try it from the bottle, which we hear is even better.
Bell’s Batch 9000 Imperial Stout (on draft at The Big Hunt) – This full-bodied, black, 12.5%-ABV bully of a beer smelled like brown sugar and vanilla with a hint of coffee, but tasted strong and sweet with some subtle cocoa flavors. It had a significant amount of alcoholic heat and char in the aftertaste. On a friend’s suggestion, we decided to buy a six-pack to age and plan to taste the bottles in four-month intervals. We’ll let you know how that experiment turns out.
Witches’ Brew Tripel (in bottle at Granville Moore’s) – We ordered this beer because we had never seen it before and it took awhile to figure out who brewed it. Turns out it’s Van Steenberge, makers of Piraat and Gulden Draak, who are responsible for this beauty. The 9.3%-ABV golden amber beer smelled like tropical fruit and canned peaches. It had a very sweet, fruity taste but also some funk and dryness at the end and a warm, boozey finish. Nice!
Southern Tier Iniquity Imperial Black Ale (on draft at Galaxy Hut) – This surprisingly sweet beer was dark brown, almost black, with red hues and smelled like pomegranate juice. It was malty, tasted like raisins and plums, and then gave way to roast and cocoa flavors and finally a smoky but slightly alcoholic finish. It was an interesting take on a Schwartzbier, if you could really call it one.
Mikkeller Single Hop Nelson Sauvin IPA (on draft at ChurchKey) – We tried this one for the first time during ChurchKey’s Mikkeller Single Hop IPA tasting. Out of the ten beer lineup, the Nelson Sauvin was a clear stand-out. It had a subtle nose with some kiwi and passion fruit, but it was the heavenly flavors of the hops that seemed to be meant to go with malted barley that knocked our socks off. We now declare Nelson Sauvin our favorite hop.
Mikkeller/BrewDog Divine Rebel (in bottle at Max’s) – What a beer! A new friend turned us on to this opaque, murky brown delight. Tammy’s notes on the smell say “Dark fruit, lots of fig, SO GOOD.” It was full of golden raisin flavors and had a hint of smoke in the finish with a nice dose of alcohol at the end. This “malt beverage” blended with one-fourth of the beer aged in Scottish whiskey barrels was dry for a sweet beer, and it worked very well.
Dieu du Ciel Équinoxe du Printemps (in bottle at Brasserie Beck) – We encountered this big gun doing research for our beer trip to Quebec, with guidance from Beck’s Thor Cheston. At 9.5% alcohol, the glowing brown, thick cream-headed beer had the aroma of maple syrup, toffee, and caramel. It was very sweet with some date flavors towards the end, a hint of wood, and a mild boozy finish. Balanced and delicious, this Canadian beer is one of our new favorites.
Captain Lawrence Nor’Easter Winter Warmer – A friend was kind enough to share this bottle with us at a tasting party. A dark beer with a thin tan head, this 11%-ABV bourbon barrel-aged winter beer smelled and tasted like ripe dark fruit, worcestershire sauce, and bourbon (of course). Thick and coating, it was a serious, savory stout with some ripe sour cherry flavors (probably the elderberries)—definitely brewed for enduring a harsh winter storm.
For fun and nostalgia, out of the 12 beers we logged in March 2007, these were the “Supers.”
Gouden Carolus Noel (in bottle from DeVinos) – We fell in love with Het Anker’s line of Gouden Carolus beers so deeply that visiting the brewery in Mechelen was one of the main reasons we took a trip to Belgium. A cloudy medium brown with amber hues and a tan creamy head, the beer had the smell of raisins, fig, smoke, and earth. It was sweet with caramel, raisin, grapes, and spice. Still one of our faves today.
Bell’s Consecrator Doppelbock (in bottle at the Brickskeller) – We enjoyed this 8%-ABV Doppelbock at a Bell’s tasting with Larry Bell at the Brick. It poured a translucent medium brown with orange hues and had a rimmed, creamy, tan head. We detected German malt and honey in the nose and tasted rich caramel, subtle hints of fruit and oak, and a nice alcohol kick at the end. It was smooth for a strong, flavorful beer and definitely well-balanced compared to some of the crazy Bell’s beers we tried that night.
Only one “yuck” noted this month—a cherry ale blend, Unibroue Quelque Chose. We really wanted to like this one but it reminded us of St. Joseph’s cough syrup. Bleh. Anyone had it and thought different?