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Monday, June 3rd 2013

Stupid Sexy Flanders
(Sun King Brewery)

Stupid Sexy Flanders. If you're trying to figure out the story behind the name, here you go. This is one of five special releases the brewery has put out so far in their King's Reserve Series. The packaging for these beers is in Ball Corporation's 16 oz. AlumiTek™ resealable aluminum bottles. The design, similiar to the way the brewery designed their multi-style 16 oz. cans, provides a space on the reverse for a sticker signifying the beer inside. Sun King continues to be a leader, and an innovator, when it comes to canned craft beer.

From the Sun King site: 

"Our traditional Belgian-Style Flanders Oud Bruin is fermented with wild yeasts, Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces, which impart tart cherry flavors to glance the malt sweetness."

 


Here we go...

Pour – dark auburn in appearance with some reddish hues and a thin stark white head on top. 

Aroma – sour with tart cherry and some funk. Hints of vanilla and cream. Complex aromas for sure. The sourness really stands out, sort of like a cherry vinegar.

Taste – tart and sour right away on the tongue. On the puckering side, followed by some complex vanilla notes. Very smooth on the palate with some noticeable funkiness coming into play as this warms.  Prolongued sweetness in the finish with a tart and tangy sour cherry flavor that is slightly acidic and leaves the tongue just a tad bit dry. Lots to experience with a beer like this. Drink it slow and take it all in!

Overall – Stupid Sexy Flanders is a great example of the Flanders Oud Bruin style. For the uninitiated this will be a test of your palate and your appreciation for unique styles of beer. For those already familiar with the flavors this style has to offer, you're in for a treat. The tartness and the sweet and sour combination of this complex Belgian-style beer is both refreshing, as well as a true testament to the versatility of today's American craft brewers.

Notes - Oud Bruin translates from the Dutch/Flemish to Old Brown. The name itself is a reference to the prolongued aging the beer tradtiionally goes through, sometimes for up to a year.  This is traditionally followed by a secondary fermenation and more aging. This aging is what allows for the characteristically sour notes to develop - from residual yeast and bacterias.  Oud Bruins are closely related to the Flemish (of Flanders) Red Ales, with a key difference being the use of oak when aging the red ales. 

 




Monk Scale:
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Stupid Sexy Flanders
Style: Flanders Oud Bruin
Brewery: Sun King Brewing Company
City: 
Indianapolis, Indiana  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. Alumi-TekŪ bottle
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 23
Date: June 3rd, 2013

Posted by Russ


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Tuesday, May 28th 2013

Hubris Quadrupel Anniversary Ale
(Brewery Vivant)

Our friends at Brewery Vivant continue to crank out Belgian-inspired goodness in cans. The February 2013 release of this monster anniversary ale brings their total count of craft cans to a baker’s dozen. At 11.5% ABV, it currently shares the title of “Biggest Beer in a Craft Can” with 21st Amendment’s Lower De Boom. We’ve been anxiously awaiting this one’s arrival in cans since our visit to the brewery last year, so let’s get at it!  

Here we go...

 

Pour - deep copper brown.  Very little light gets through. Head dissipated quickly and left some thin, spotty lacing in its wake.


Aroma - green raisins, ripe sweet fruit, brown sugar, apples, a hint of green peppercorns, and bread. Nice!


Taste - rich, sweet ripe fruit start that dries out in the middle and ends with sour notes for a moment before a dry, crisp, and very clean finish. As it warms the breadiness and yeast spice become more pronounced.  A beer this big should take more than a couple minutes to finish (and therefore warm up), but its clean finish makes that a challenge. By the time I reached the bottom of the glass I was actually considering opening another.

 

Overall - Our review is the combination of two separate tastings – one very fresh and a second with three months of aging.  Based on our tasting notes, when young the grain stands out and the bready qualities play a more prominent role in the flavor and aroma. With some age the fruit comes out and the body thins out. We like it better with some age on it, though young or old its drinkability is dangerous. To my palate, this is one of the more enjoyable quads brewed in the States.

Note - The first canned release of Hubris saw very limited distribution beyond of the brewpub. Look for Hubris to return to cans again on December 3, 2013 with a couple more new ones between now and then.



Monk Scale:
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Hubris Quadrupel Anniversary Ale
Style: Quadrupel
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
City: 
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 11.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: May 28th, 2013

Posted by Trent


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Friday, May 10th 2013

Tart Side of the Moon
(Brewery Vivant)


Brewery Vivant continues to produce some absolutely amazing beers and push the boundaries of brewing creativity. Tart Side of the Moon is another example of both, a "dark farmhouse ale" that clocks in at almost 10% and is packing both heat and pucker power. To say it mildly, we're very excited to crack this open and let the ride begin. Cheers!


From the Brewery Vivant site:

"This hearty dark ale is fermented with a blend of two Belgian yeast strains which gives this beer an upfront tartness followed by hints of coffee, dark chocolate, and black cherries. Decadent and delightful, this beer is not for the faint of heart."

Here we go...

 

Pour - pitch black coming out of the can with a fizzy head that quickly dissipates and leaves a very calm dark sea on top with only small remants of head ringing the glass.


Aroma - vinous, black cherries, dark roast coffee grounds, and notes of alcohol that sting the nose and eyes just a bit. Very aromatic with lots of notes of dark fruits, red wine, and dark chocolate. 


Taste - one sip and the tartness is apparent. It's almost sour but immediately followed by creamy espresso, cocoa, vanilla, and blackberry flavors. Each concurrent sip brings about more red wine-like dryness and puckering sourness which is then followed and smoothed out by the flavors of coffee and dark chocolate. At close to 10% ABV this has some notes of alcohol and certainly warms you up. So many flavors, especially as this approached room temperature. Amazing stuff...

 

Overall - they're not kidding when they say "tart", and just like the can describes, the tartness is followed up by the flavors of coffee and chocolate. This is a unique beer that has some amazing red wine like qualities and a multitude of flavors. Tart-Sweet-Dry. Repeat. Get some if you can. 

Note - Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon was an immediate success, topping the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart for one week. It subsequently remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. With an estimated 50 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd's most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. It has twice been remastered and re-released, and has been covered in its entirety by several other acts. It spawned two singles, "Money" and "Time". In addition to its commercial success, The Dark Side of the Moon is one of Pink Floyd's most popular albums among fans and critics, and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time. - Wikipedia



Can Scale:
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Tart Side of the Moon
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
City: 
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 9.8%
IBUs: ???
Date: May 10th, 2013

Posted by Russ


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Thursday, March 14th 2013

Belgorado
(Wynkoop Brewing Company)

At first glance this can might look like any other can of craft beer. But, inside is something a little more unique, something a little more special. Belgorago is not your ordinary Belgian-style IPA. This is a beer brewed with malt and hops from Colorado for a true Colorado craft beer experience. 

From the Wynkoop site:

"Lusciously hopped but artfully balanced, Belgorado is a gloriously golden beer rich with pale malt flavors, layers of hops from start to finish, and spice notes. It is 6.7% ABV, has about 45 IBUs and 95 OMGs. And Colorado terroir in every sip."

Here we go...

Pour - bright golden, not far off from the color of the can, with about a half inch of white head on top. Clean in appearance with nice carbonation levels.


Aroma - when Belgorado was first brewed in 2010 it was wet-hopped, but this version is dry-hopped. A bit of a pronounced hop aroma is present along with some spiciness from the yeast and some aromas of tropical fruits. Quite aromatic and an easy beer to stick your face into multiple times.


Taste - the first sip floods the mouth with the softness of silk. This is like butter on the palate! Tangy sweet with a great semi-funky spicy flavor from the yeast both combine with the strong earthy/grassy hop presence to create something altogether delicious. The combination of aroma and flavor is really a treat with this beer. So much of the experience depends on both of those things and Belgorado is a treat for both senses. The finish is bready with some hints of pineapple. 

 

Overall - smooth, spicy, hoppy and delicioius. A great Belgian-style IPA that hits all the marks and is extremely enjoyable. We're wishing we had a lot more cans in our fridge. 

 

Note - Belgorado is "hopped with whole leaf hops from Misty Mountain Hop Farm, a pioneering little hop farm in Olathe, CO" and brewed with "a Belgian-style malted barley from Colorado Malting Company, a small, family owned farm and specialty maltster in Alamosa, CO."

 



Hops Scale:
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Belgorado
Style: Belgian IPA
Brewery: Wynkoop Brewing Company
City: 
Denver, Colorado  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: 45
Date: March 14th, 2013

Posted by Russ


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Sunday, September 30th 2012

Big Red Coq
(Brewery Vivant)

We have a confession to make: we’ve been drinking this beer for several months now - grabbing one from the fridge whenever our palates were hollering for a super hoppy red ale. Apparently we were so busy enjoying it that we never got around to writing up a formal review for the CraftCans Nation. We’re sorry, and any allegation that we followed the suggestion on the side of the can – “If you really like it, don’t tell your friends about it and just buy it all yourself” – is strenuously denied. At least that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

From the Brewery Vivant site:

"We make four batches of this beer each year, once a quarter. When it is gone, it is gone. What started as a test batch specialty beer at our pub has grown into one of our most sought after beers. Plus there is so much fun to be had with the name. Coq means rooster in French.

Citrus with mango & pineapple notes give way to a big malty character.  Made with our house Belgian yeast to give it that Vivant-ness you would expect.

Our staff's favorite beer"

Here we go...

Pour – dark copper with a thick, fluffy tan head that didn’t want to go away.

Aroma – Malted grains with a wisp of floral hops. Imagine eating a bowl of Grape Nuts on a cool morning in a flower garden. Yeah, it’s like that.

Taste – A big blast of bitter hops jumps out right away and shocks the palate into giving its’ undivided attention to the beer in front of you. Seems pretty clear that a whole bunch of hops went into the kettle early in the boil. The red comes out in the round, malty middle and calms everything down for just a second or two before the spicy Vivant yeast gives the taste buds a final tickle on its way down the hatch.

Overall – As lovers of all beer styles but hopheads at the core, we really liked this beer primarily for the big and bitter hop presence. However, we also really enjoyed the unique experience of three bright and distinct flavors with each sip that messed with our minds a little bit. We like a flavorful challenge now and then.

Notes: What might be Brewery Vivant’s most popular limited release is set for its next quarterly release on 10.1.12. Michiganders and Chicagoans would be well advised to put in a request for Big Red Coq with their favorite beer sellers now!


Big Red Coq
Style: American Amber/Red Ale
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
City: 
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: ???
Date: September 30th, 2012

Posted by Trent


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Thursday, August 9th 2012

Lava Lake Wit
(Crazy Mountain Brewing Company)

Today we finish off the initial trio of canned releases from one of our favorite little breweries out in Colorado. Crazy Mountain has done a great job showcasing the place they call home on their cans and all three have fantastic designs. Its not all just looks however as the beers that come inside are all top notch as well. We're excited to crack open this Belgian-style Witbier on a hot and humid night as it should provide some very necessary refreshment. Cheers! 

From the Crazy Mountain site:

"This Ale is our take on a classic Belgian Wit Beer. To make this beer unique, we add un-malted wheat, rolled oats, two varieties of classic European hops, chamomile, curacao orange peel, coriander, grains of paradise, and a rare yeast strain from the Old Country. This is a beer that can be enjoyed year-round, whether on the slopes on a beautiful bluebird day, or lazily fly fishing in Lava Lake."

Here we go...

Pour - soft yellow, light straw-colored in appearance with a wispy white head that streaks down the inside of the glass. 

Aroma - lemons and limes, sugar, chamomile, along with hints of lemongrass and something else that I can't quite make out - perhaps its that rare yeast strain?

Taste - the first sip had me thinking "Sleepy Time"! This definitely has some subtle reminders of a cup of iced chamomile tea with lemon - if people actually drank something like that. A little zing and a little spice comes out of this rather light, yet very thirst quenching brew. Really enjoyable beer on a hot summer night. 

Overall - light and refreshing - what more could you want! Lava Lake Wit has a unique flavor that is all its own and truly makes it great. The spices and the chamomile really bring something special out of this beer. Definitely worth picking up some of these for any trip to any lake.

Note - If you're wondering where, or what, exactly Lava Lake is the Crazy Mountain website tells us that...

"Lava Lake is a hidden little gem off of Highway 131 on the drive to Steamboat Springs from Vail. This idyllic swimming hole is the first place Doobie, the chocolate brewery labrador, learned how to swim."

1% of all proceeds from sales of Lava Lake Wit are donated to the Eagle River Watershed Council  

          


Can Scale:
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Lava Lake Wit
Style: Witbier
Brewery: Crazy Mountain Brewing Company
City: 
Edwards, Colorado  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: Kent Goldings, Saaz
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: 15
Date: August 9th, 2012

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Friday, May 11th 2012

Upslope Belgian Style Pale Ale
(Upslope Brewing Company)

Upslope is back with their second canned Limited Release offering with a Belgian Style Pale Ale. The all white can is a nice contrast to the all black can from their Foreign Style Stout, which was their first Limited Release in a can. We love what these guys are doing and are excited by what future Limited Releases we'll see from them. Cheers!

From the Upslope Brewing site:

“The beer that won our brewery’s first medal has always been a special one”, says Matt Cutter, Founder. “It was the 2009 Great American Beer Festival and our brewery was only ten months old. We were awarded a bronze in the Pro-Am Category which celebrates the bridging between home and production brewers. We were still essentially homebrewers ourselves.


This bright, Belgian-inspired ale has a fruity aroma, with a flavorful and light body. The finish is crisp and dry, and laced with coriander.”

 

Here we go...

 

Pour - golden straw colored, soft in appearance with a snow white head on top thats foamy and leaves some nice lacing. Quite a nice looking brew once it settles and fills the glass.


Aroma - spicy clove notes, some bready and biscuity aromas, bubble gum and banana. The yeast really takes over in the nose here. Some slight hints of citrus perhaps from the hops are also apparent.

 

Taste - sweet and spicy. Plenty of malty goodness helps pack a 7.5% punch but this is followed by the clove and bananas from the yeast strain and punctuated by a nice citrusy, hop finish. Lots going on with the flavors in this beer but its layered well and enjoyable at every stage. The hop finish is quite nice, a little bitter and sharp but refreshing along with the spicy yeast components. 

 

Overall - definitely a fan of Belgian Pales and Belgian IPAs. The spicy Belgian yeast can really make an American-style Pale Ale or IPA into something quite unique. Upslope did a great job with this as it really hits all the marks and makes for a really enjoyable drinking experience. Looks good, smells good, tastes good. Well done! We can't wait to see what comes next.

 

Note - Upslope recently purchased Oskar Blues' old canning line which can fill 160 cans but their current brewery isn't large enough for it. They're doing some real estate shopping and plan to stay in Boulder.


Also, there are currently 5 different Belgian-style Pale Ales being canned by American brewers. There is currently only one Belgian-style IPA being canned, Triomphe, by Michigan's Brewery Vivant.

 



Monk Scale:
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Upslope Belgian Style Pale Ale
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Brewery: Upslope Brewing Company
City: 
Boulder, Colorado  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: May 11th, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Tuesday, May 2nd 2012

Chaka
(Sun King Brewing and Oskar Blues)

Chaka is the brainchild of brewers Dave Colt and Clay Robinson of Sun King and Dave Chichura at Oskar Blues, old friends who met in Indianapolis years ago. Leave it to these three guys to not only brew a beer together that is altogether unique in its indigenous ingredients (shagbark hickory syrup from Indiana and a Belgian pale malt from Colorado Malting), but then to also choose to be the first to launch a craft beer in Ball Corporation's 16 oz. resealable Alumi-Tek® pint "bottles". The beer itself just made its debut at the Craft Brewers Conference out in San Diego today and will hit shelves in both Oskar Blues' and Sun King's local markets next week. 

From the Sun King site:

"The end result is a delicious Belgian-style ale crafted with a blend of ingredients from each brewery’s home state: Shagbark Hickory syrup from Hickoryworks in Trafalgar, Ind.; grain from Colorado Malting Company; and a special yeast blend from Brewing Science Institute, also in Colorado. Brewers from both breweries worked together to formulate the recipe and traveled between Colorado and Indiana to brew at both locations."

  

Here we go...

 

Pour - dark reddish amber in appearance with a half inch of off white foam on top that is quick to sink. Pretty cool to pour this beer out of this container! 

 

Aroma - as this filled the glass there was a very apparent Belgian-yeast arom and some sweetness like caramel and cotton candy. Sticking a nose in the glass you can pick out some spiciness and sweet, bready aroma. There is also the essence of apples and pears present. Very aromatic and quite obviously Belgian-esque.

 

Taste - from the first sip the spiciness from the Belgian yeast strain presents itself and stays in the background. There is a tangy sweetness to this beer as well as a hard to define sour or tart flavor that comes at the end of every sip. Perhaps that's the hickory syrup? Not sure. Regardless, it is a positive. As this warms and settles the flavors tucked away in this beer come out. The sweet, soft fruit flavors, the spiciness (ripe bananas and cloves) and the maltiness all meld together very nicely.

 

Overall - calling a beer simply a "Belgian-style Ale" certainly leaves a lot to be discovered by the consumer. There are so many options that fit the category. This is a great example of two well-established brewery sharing a passion for trying new things and bringing in some special ingredients to make a special beer. Packaging certainly plays a part in today's craft beer world but irregardless of how this is presented to you, what is inside is truly exciting and altogether fantastic. We're already excited for the next "CANlaboration", whenever, and whatever, that may be!

 

Note - The story behind "shagbark hickory syrup" is a modern Americana legend that has roots in a 200+ year old mysterious recipe. You have to read THIS to really appreciate how unique this product is to the state of Indiana and to two people in particular. You can check also check out the Hickoryworks website if you want to know even more about shagbark hickory syrup. We had no idea just how special of an ingredient this was in this beer.

 



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Chaka
Style: Belgian Ale
Brewery: Sun King Brewing Company
City: 
Indianapolis, Indiana  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. Alumi-TekŪ bottle
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: May 2nd, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Monday, April 23rd 2012

The Citizen
(DC Brau)

One of three canned beers being distributed by the only commercial brewery in Washington DC, all of which have names that hint at politics and cans that include a short summary of a historical political event.  It has taken us a while to round up the last two cans after sampling The Public in late 2011, but now that we have ‘em we’re diving right in.  Cheers!

From the DC Brau site:

"The Citizen™ Belgian Ale is inspired by the timeless Tripel style ales of Belgium. Using a traditional high gravity "Abbey" yeast strain that encourages the production of highly palatable ethanol notes supported by Aromatic and Carapils malts. "The Citizen" also exhibits the noble hop spiciness that is common to most Belgian Ales. Reigning in at 7.0% ABV this is the Brau's strongest offering in our flagship portfolio."

Here we go...

POUR: hazy pour and a deep gold color.  Moderate head and blotchy but robust lacing.   

AROMA: sweet lemon notes, a little pepper, and some lightly toasted bread in there too.

TASTE: smooth drinking throughout with very reserved Belgian yeast flavors and slightly sweet malt dominating the flavor. The hop flavors are minimal and just barely noticeable only at the clean, watery finish. The mouthfeel, light sweetness, and color are reminiscent of Golden ale, and at one point we double-checked the can to make sure we weren’t drinking a smaller version of that style.  

OVERALL: While it is generally unremarkable, there is nothing at all unpleasant about this beer.  We’re always on the lookout for good crossover beers to offer our friends who are macro-inclined, and this one would be an excellent one to gently introduce them to Belgian styles and good craft beer in general.  

NOTES: 




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The Citizen
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Brewery: DC Brau Brewing Company
City: 
Washington, District of Columbia  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Aromatic and Carapils malts
Hops: ???
ABV: 7.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: April 23rd, 2012

Posted by Trent


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Tuesday, March 27th 2012

Kludde
(Brewery Vivant)

 

Kludde (pronounced “clued”) is the fourth canned offering from Brewery Vivant and the first to utilize their “Brewer’s Reserve” blank can with a unique adhesive label. Based on what we learned during our Q & A with Jason Spaulding – Owner of Brewery Vivant, this is just the first of many upcoming special, limited releases from this brewery. Cheers!

 

From the Brewery Vivant site:

"Belgian folklore’s water spirit who roams the Flemish countryside in the form of a monstrous black dog… This monstrous ale is made with green raisins, star anise and dark Belgian candi sugar.  Notes of dried plum, fig and chocolate mingle with the complexity of our two house yeast strains."

 

Here we go...

 

Pour - deep, black cherry colored in our can glass.  A ring of ruby shows around the top when the light strikes it just right.  A thin, loose head holds for just a few moments before receding.  Just a few spots of wet lacing survived the duration of our taste test.


Aroma - big and bold aromas in the Kludde – tart, soured dark fruit stand out with some traces of licorice and sweet grape juice.


Taste - they say aroma plays the major role in what we taste, and this strong dark Belgian proves this theory. The sharp, bright and distinct tang of green raisins is prevalent when this ale is cold. The flavors begin to meld as it warms and the candi sugar sweetness combines with the dried grapes to make this a very different tasting beer than when we started. As we neared the bottom of the glass a rich, light chocolate and licorice flavor emerged to linger on our palates for an aftertaste. At 8.5% we would not have been surprised to find some hints of alcohol but we found it to be very well hidden.   

 

Overall - a beer as big, bold, and intimidating as its namesake.  This is not one for the faint of heart. Timid beer drinkers may find it overwhelming and confusing, while the adventurous and open-minded will give this ale its due respect and, in accordance with the legend of Kludde, stay in the safety of the tavern to have another.  


Note - The alternative label on the Kludde can is shaped liked Brewery Vivant’s logo, and is so well integrated into the design that we didn’t immediately notice that it wasn’t a fully painted can.  Check out our article on alternative labeling to learn more about Kludde and other cans with stickers and shrink wraps.

 




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Kludde
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
City: 
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: March 27th, 2012

Posted by Trent


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Saturday, January 21 2012

Hilliard's Saison
(Hilliard's Beer)

One of two canned beers that Seattle's Hilliard's Beer has recently released. The brewery itself opened it's doors in October and their Saison was first put into cans in December. It joins their Amber Ale as a tandem of canned goodness on shelves in Washington State. Cheers!

From the Hilliard's site:

"Simple beer, complex taste and aroma.  A special yeast and unique fermentation profile give this beer hints of coriander, orange peel, and maybe a bit of pepper.  Castle Malting Pilsner Malt and Golding Hops, no spices added."

Here we go...

Pour - straw-colored pour that is soft and slightly cloudy. A nicely formed inch of foam on top. As it settles a bit it clarifies a little.


Aroma - yeasty spiciness, coriander, sour wheat, grainy, lemons, pears and honey. Very aromatic. 


Taste - light on the palate but plenty flavorful. Sweet with hints of pears and green apples along with some grassiness and plenty of spiciness from the yeast strain. Some hints of bitter lemon and light wheat. Clean and crisp, this goes down extremely well (and perhaps a bit too fast!). Carbonation is spot on and it has tartness that combines very well with the tangy, yeasty finish.


Overall - love this beer. A very well brewed Saison with the great yeasty spiciness that defines the style. Crisp and refreshing - an excellent brew anytime of year. We love that they chose to can a Saison early on and can't wait to see what they choose to can down the road. Did we also mention we love the retro-esque look of Hilliard's can designs? Well, we do. Cheers!

Note - Hilliard's Saison is one of three Saisons currently being canned. The others are Brewery Vivant's Farm Hand and Surly's CynicAle. Three other American craft brewery's also have plans to can Saisons in the near future. 



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Hilliard's Saison
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Brewery: Hilliard's Beer
City: 
Seattle, Washington  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: ???
IBUs: ???
Date: January 21st, 2012

Posted by Russ


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Friday, December 23rd 2011

Golden State Ale
(Uncommon Brewers)

One of seven ales brewed by this up-and-coming brewery, three of which are available in cans and a fourth – Bacon Brown – slated for release soon. 

2011 seems to have been a whirlwind year of growth for Uncommon Brewers Alec and Reed, with distribution expanding into seven states.  No small feat considering they’re shipping an unpasteurized and unfiltered product all over the country and as far east as Massachusetts.

From the can:

"The signatures of our Golden State are the mountain quail and the poppy flower. We can't make beer with quail, so we settled upon the poppy.  How better to enhance the flavor of a traditional Golden Ale than to include the tanginess of toasted poppy seeds? Our Golden State Ale blends the sweet bite of toasted poppy with the aromatics of a Belgian yeast. It's pale and crisp, but carries enough body for the self-respecting beer drinker to think, "This is an uncommon ale."

 


Golden State Ale will have a new look in 2012


Here we go...


Pour  Partly cloudy but still bright golden copper in the glass.  Big, loose white head that receded very quickly. Appearance matches the name of this beer quite nicely. 


Aroma – bready aroma with the standard clove notes that are commonly present with the use of many strains of Belgian yeast.  Some light hints of white pepper that could be from the toasted poppy seeds.  


Taste – there is quite a bit going on with this ale – reserved Belgian yeast flavors offer a light clove and peppery start, tight carbonation in the middle highlighted the unique “tanginess” of the poppy seeds promised by the brewer, and a slightly sweet but clean and occasionally orange citrus finish.  


Overall - We’ve never tasted a handful of toasted poppy seeds so we couldn’t pin down exactly what they added to this beer, but overall it doesn’t really matter much:  Golden State Ale is unique and very pleasant drinking.  Trying to reach some sort of personal consensus on the flavor profile and in what category this beer really belongs added to the fun and caused us to finish off our lone sample can well before it warmed.   Recommended for beer drinkers that enjoy thinking while they’re drinking.   


Note - Our sample was in the can nine months before our tasting, which can sometimes be cause for concern.  However, the side label put us at ease:  “Our beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized, and undoubtedly uncommon.  They’re designed to grow over time as they age.  Store in a cool place and witness the change.”  We can’t help but imagine how fun it would be to do a side-by-side comparison of this beer fresh off the line, one with six months in the can, and one aged for twelve months. 


   



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Golden State Ale
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Brewery: Uncommon Brewers
City: 
Santa Cruz, California  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: ???
Date: December 23rd, 2011

Posted by Trent


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Saturday, November 5th 2011

Velvet Rooster
(Tallgrass Brewing Company)

The world's first ever Belgian-style Tripel in a can! The folks at Tallgrass sure have taken a bold step by putting this 8.5% golden-hued beauty in 16 oz. cans. We're really looking forward to trying yet another first in the world of canned craft beers and very glad to see that today's craft brewers aren't shy about putting big, complex beers in cans. Cheers! 

From the Tallgrass site:

"This beer is a Belgian Tripel that lives up to its name. Smooth and carefully crafted like a fine velvet painting, but with an 8.5% ABV this bird has some spurs! The beer pours a golden straw color with brilliant clarity. Topped with a lofty pure white head the beer has a wonderful floral nose, with subtle fruit notes.  

The taste is clean and crisp, with subtle fruit notes and a touch of candy like sweetness. The beer has a Champagne-like effervescent that provides a crisp offset to its sweet finish.  While a pint glass is always nice, Velvet Rooster would also be at home in a tulip glass or Champagne flute. Something to crow about."

Here we go...

Pour - soft, golden yellowish-orange in color with a wispy white head on top. This is almost opaque despite the color and it definitely pours "heavy" with great carbonation. An innocent looking brew that certainly hides it's complexity.


Aroma - strong aromas of candy sugar, Belgian yeast spiciness and some warm toastiness. The spiciness from the yeast is very apparent and really draws you in. If you like what yeast can offer a beer in both aroma and flavor than this will definitely please your senses.


Taste - this is a sipper. As soon as you get this on your tongue the sweetness and the spiciness really take hold. Lots of flavors mingling and smoothing out as this warms. Some earthy notes are also detectable as are some faint hints at citrus (sweet oranges). Velvet Rooster is velvet-soft on the palate and the strength is so well hidden it's scary. 


Overall - absolutely incredible! I had no idea what to expect when I heard Tallgrass was canning a Belgian-style Tripel. This was a pretty big departure from their other offerings. I am very happy to say that they nailed it with this one. Velvet Rooster can strut proudly in a Belgian henhouse full of native varieties of this particular breed.


Note - Tallgrass currently cans six different beers covering a broad spectrum of styles from light and refreshing to malty to big and hoppy! Velvet Rooster is a great new addition to the Kansas brewer's portfolio. Cheers!



 



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Velvet Rooster
Style: Belgian Tripel
Brewery: Tallgrass Brewing Company
City: 
Manhattan, Kansas  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: November 5th, 2011

Posted by Russ


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Friday, September 16th 2011

Farm Hand
(Brewery Vivant)

 

Farm Hand is one of three canned offerings from Brewery Vivant. All three are Belgian-style beers and all are put in 16 oz. pint cans. Farm Hand is one of only two Saison-style beers currently being canned in the US - the other being Surly's CynicAle. This is a style that pairs perfectly with the warm summer weather. Cheers!

 

From the Brewery Vivant site:

"There was a time in old world France when nearly every family farm had a brewery.  A necessary part of farm life was to provide a ration of beer to sustain and nourish the laborers, and beer was safer to drink than the water of the time.  Farmhand is our interpretation of what these rustic beers must have been like.  It is slightly cloudy from being made with raw un-malted grains and a simple single infusion of mash procedure."

Here we go...

 

Pour - bright golden in appearance with a solid stream of bubbles heading upwards. Head it a good inch or so of tiny bubbles all smashed together. Not a bad looking pour by any means. 


Aroma - grainy, cereals, some definite yeasty spiciness along with some hints of citrus. It has a faint bit of sourness to it as well. 


Taste - the sour graininess is what I taste first followed by the spiciness from the Belgian yeast used with this beer. It's a very refreshing combo and the finish is very dry. Their is some hints at lemons and oranges and a bit of sweetness here and there. The spiciness and light body of this beer is what really make it great. This was a beer brewed for the folks that worked the fields during the summertime. I've come away satisfied and my thirst is quenched so I'd say its certainly done it's job.

 

Overall - not the easiest style to do well. Brewery Vivant has put together a very solid saison with Farm Hand and if you dig this style you should certainly give this one a shot. It's a perfect beer for warm weather...and not so bad the rest of the year either.

 

Would I buy more of it? - yes, I would. I think the style is perfect during summer time and cans make it that much more portable. 

Note - Brewery Vivant is currently canning Solitude (Belgian Dark Ale)Triomphe (Belgian IPA) and Farm Hand (Saison)

    

 


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Farm Hand
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
City: 
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: September 16th, 2011

Posted by Russ


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Friday, August 26th 2011

White Rascal
(Avery Brewing Company)

 

Avery started canning almost a year ago...how time flies. Every time I pass their cans at the beer store I have to ask why some people favor bottles for pure aesthetic reasons. All four of Avery's cans look great and the beers they hold aren't so bad either. I raise my glass to Avery for making the move to cans, to their upcoming canning anniversary and to many more years (and hopefully more beers) in cans. Cheers!

 

From the Avery site:

 

"A truly authentic Belgian style wheat or "white" ale, this Rascal is unfiltered (yup, that's yeast on the bottom) and cleverly spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel producing a refreshingly fruity thirst quencher.”


Here we go...

 

Pour - cloudy, golden straw color in appearance. Surprisingly opaque - when I pick it up and try and see through it, I can see my fingers blocking the light coming through the glass, but can't see through the beer. Off-white head with tiny bubbles. As this settles it becomes clearer with the head leaving some fine lacing.

Aroma - crisp, with hints of the fruity yeasty smells usually associated with Belgians. The coriander is spicy and definitely stands out. Some sweet citrus aromas as well.

 

Taste - first thing I notice is the carbonation. It's exceptionally fine, almost foamy across the tongue. Sour citrus flavors along with spicy coriander are upfront with hints of orange coming through towards the end. White Rascal is very thirst quenching and extremely refreshing. Each sip leaves me wanting just one more taste.

 

Overall - there are a lot of Witbiers available in cans these days and this is definitely one of the best. I like it more than Hoegaarden personally (and yes, even Hoegaarden comes in cans over in Belgium). If you're a fan of this style be sure to try this. 

 

Would I buy more of it? - absolutely. I picked up a few six-packs over the summer as this is a great beer for just having in the fridge or for hanging out on the deck.

 

Note -  three of Avery's four cans are beers that they first put in bottles and continue to do so. Their Joe's Premium American Pilsner, however, was a brand new beer when introduced in cans and it has never been bottled. If you haven't tried it yet be sure to pick some up and give it a shot. It's excellent.

 

              

 


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White Rascal
Style: Witbier
Brewery: Avery Brewing Company
City: 
Boulder, Colorado  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Two-row barley, Belgian wheat
Hops: Czech Saaz
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 10
Date: August 26th, 2011

Posted by Russ


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Thursday, July 7th 2011

Great Crescent Belgian Style Wit
(Great Crescent Brewery)

 

We finally got our hands on some Great Crescent cans! Thanks to a very generous beer lover that was able to hook us up with a nice variety pack of their beers! Great Crescent is special in the canned beer world as they're not only canning some amazing beers but they're also utilizing a can that was graphically designed for anything they can possibly put in it - just stick a label on it and there you go! 

 

From the Great Crescent site:

"Great Crescent Witbier is refreshingly crisp wheat-based ale with a slightly dry, tart finish. It has moderate sweetness with spicy aroma’s and a hint of coriander and citrus. This beer is very light in color with a dense, white head and some cloudiness from a special yeast strain.

This beer style has been around for over 400 years and originated in Belgium. The style died out about 60 years ago and has gained favor by many beer drinkers over the past 10-15 years.."


Here we go...

 

Pour - cloudy, pale orangish-yellow in appearance with a half inch or so of stark white head. Suspended bubbles and a glowing opaqueness make this a very nice beer to behold. A bit of a mystery that draws one in...

 

Aroma - spicy, sweet, pears, green apple, soap, lilac and some cloves. Very aromatic and just about worthy of an incense of perfume. Love the way this beer smells.

 

Taste - immediately this is soft on the palate with subtle fruit flavors like pears, apples, melon and grapes along with a bit of spiciness from the coriander. This definitely has a subdued clove flavor and a nice, mellow sweetness. Nothing overpowering whatsoever, just a very easy drinking and very refreshing beer. 

 

Overall - considering this is a style without much to hide behind we really enjoyed this and freshness and quality is top notch. Not knowing much about Great Crescent I'd say we're off to a very good start and those other beers in the fridge don't have much time left...

Would I buy more of it? - yes. Excellent beer with lots of great flavors and perfect for a warm summer night - like this one! Cheers!

Availability - May - September

Note - Great Crescent is one of three breweries in the country can their beers in a multi-style can. What this means is that they stick a label on a generic can denoting the style and thus they're able to use the same can for multiple styles - including the country's first, and only, canned bourbon barrel-aged stout. The other breweries are Sun King Brewing Company (IN) and Dolores River Brewery (CO). Cheers!

 


Great Crescent Belgian Style Wit
Style: Witbier
Brewery: Great Crescent Brewery
City: 
Aurora, Indiana  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: ???
IBUs: ???
Date: July 7th, 2011

Posted by Russ


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Wednesday, June 21st 2011

Solitude
(Brewery Vivant)

What is there not to love about big cans of Belgian-style beer being brewed in the American midwest? Brewery Vivant is a shining example of how the craft brewing industry is really branching out and the beer consuming populous has a palate that has branched out considerably as well. Solitude is one of three beers they are currently canning and they've got a bunch more on tap at the brewery. 

 

From the Brewery Vivant site:

"A deep mahogany colored beer that is made in the tradition of the famous brewing monks of the Abbeys of Belgium. It is malt forward with hints of caramel, pear & raisin."

Here we go...

 

Pour - a dark chestnut color in appearance with some ruby red highlights. The head on this is almost two inches thick and fades to a thin ring around the glass. Mysterious and enticing.


Aroma - cherries and baked apples along with honey and burnt sugar. Lots of what they tend to refer to as "stewed fruits" and definitely raising and prunes. Condensed fruit basically. I quite like the aroma as it spells out complexity when it comes to taste.


Taste - sweet and juicy and light on the tongue. Lots of those burnt sugar and dark fruit flavors, definitely the cherries and the raisins. Lots of flavors to digest both metaphorically and physically. Not overly sweet with some very nice malty undertones and semi-dry finish. 

 

Overall - personally, I really enjoyed this beer. I loved the dark fruit flavors and the complexity of a beer that doesn't feel overly heavy on the palate. It wasn't cloyingly sweet and it was certainly something new out of a can for me. It tasted very fresh and was surprisingly thirst quenching. 

 

Would I buy more of it? - absolutely. I need to get out to Brewery Vivant some day and try the rest of their beers on tap. A big "cheers" goes out to Trent in Michigan for hooking us up with this and other midwestern canned craft goodness!

Note - Brewery Vivant is currently canning Solitude (Belgian Dark Ale), Triomphe (Belgian IPA) and Farmhand (Saison). 


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Solitude
Style: Belgian Dark Ale
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
City: 
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: June 22nd, 2011

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Monday, May 16th 2011

Triomphe
(Brewery Vivant)

 

America's first ever canned Belgian-style IPA! Brewery Vivant is a new brewery located in a beautifully restored historic building in Grand Rapids, Michigan - a city which is quickly becoming a serious beer destination. Brewery Vivant is focusing on Belgian-style beers and has canned a traditional Saison/Farmhouse Ale called Farm Hand as well as a Belgian-style Pale Ale called Solitude. We can't wait to try them all and certainly look forward to future canned releases from the brewery.

 

From the Brewery Vivant site:

"This beer is made with a classic Belgian style yeast strain that gives the complexity and slight sweetness you may expect from a Belgian style ale, but then reaches deeper providing a smack-down of American hops.  Served in a large tulip glass to capture and focus the hop aromas."

Here we go...

 

Pour - dark amber with some auburn highlights, a stark white inch of fluff sits on top and leaves some well formed lacing as it slowly dissipates.


Aroma - I smelled the familiar pine and citrus as soon as the can was cracked open. If you like your Belgian-style IPAs heavy on the hops this one is for you. Lots of great hop aroma is also accompanied by some spiciness and some nice floral notes. This smells very, very good.


Taste - one sip and we're in uncharted canned craft beer territory. The delicate spiciness of the Belgian yeast used in this brew shines through almost immediately in the first sip. The citrus, pine, orange and pineapple flavors that the West Coast hops impart are all extremely fresh and sharp. The finish is a bit dry on the tongue with some of that spicy, yeast flavors sticking around with the bitterness of the hops. Wow, this is just an all-around great tasting beer. It's thirst quenching, refreshing and just plain delicious. 

 

Overall - This is a style I've come to enjoy more and more and am very happy to see it make its way to cans. Excellent job by the folks at Brewery Vivant! If you've not yet had a Belgian-style IPA or just haven't had this one yet I definitely highly recommend it. It's a great example of the style.

 

Would I buy more of it? - absolutely. If I lived within 3 hours of this brewery I'd be making a trip there this weekend to try some of this, and their other beers on tap, and also take some more home with me. Having only one can of this is just a tease!

Note - Belgian-style India Pale Ales have become increasingly popular both here in the US as well as in Belgium. More and more breweries in both countries are trying their hand in brewing this relatively new style of beer. Belgian IPAs tend to be a little sweeter than traditional American IPAs and are brewed with American hops and a Belgian yeast strain - which adds a spiciness and a flavor I've only ever been able to describe as that of, well, Belgian yeast. Combining the floral, citrus and pine of American hops with the unique flavors of the Belgian yeast has been a real success story as the cross-cultural globalization of beer continues to move forward. 

 




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Triomphe
Style: Belgian IPA
Brewery: Brewery Vivant
City: 
Grand Rapids, Michigan  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: ???
Date: May 16th, 2011

Posted by Russ


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Tuesday, January 18th 2011

Triangle Belgian Golden Ale
(Triangle Brewing Company)

Our first canned brew from North Carolina. Triangle Brewing starting canning last year and have put two  beers in cans thus far. Interestingly enough they chose two Belgian-style beers to can. We like it! This relatively strong, 8% is a serious beer, Belgian-style Golden Ale really piqued my interest when I saw they were going to send it down the canning line. I'm guessing we'll be seeing more and more stronger beers in cans as people get used to the idea. Cheers!

From the Triangle Brewing site:

"This strong golden ale measures in at 8% & showcases a variety of the ingredients and brewing methods that help differentiate Triangle beers. The Strong Golden is fermented at a higher temperature than our other beers adding an undercurrent of fruitiness (although there is no fruit in the beer). Very lightly filtered, the Golden exhibits complex mouthfeel, strong malt flavors, a spicy hop presence and soothing alcohol warmth, followed by a clean, dry finish. It is excellent with food as well as served by itself. Bronze Medal Winner at 2009 Carolina Championship of Beer."

Here we go...

 

Pour - definitely golden in color with a softness to it that makes it look almost cloudy. The head is relatively thin and stark white. 

 

Aroma - spicy, sweet, fruity, apricots, peaches and some hint of apple. The fruity aromas are definitely to be attributed to the yeast strain being used and really make this beer smell great.

 

Taste - spicy, sweet and dry. Lots of soft fruit flavors with some hints of cardamom. The sweetness is like that of apple or sparkling apple cider or pears. Very subtle flavors for a beer as strong as this. The finish is dry and light on the tongue with only a bit of sweetness left on the palate. 

 

Overall - very nicely done and quite a surprise to find it in a can. This should hopefully encourage more brewers to put some stronger or more unique brews in cans. 

 

Would I buy more of it? - definitely, I wish I could buy more of it up here in New England!

 

Note - Triangle Brewing also cans their Belgian-Style White Ale. 

 



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Triangle Belgian Golden Ale
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Brewery: Triangle Brewing Company
City: 
Durham, North Carolina  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: January 18th, 2011

Posted by Russ


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Monday, August 16th 2010

Resurrection
(The Brewer's Art)

My first can of craft beer from Maryland and my first beer from The Brewer's Art in Baltimore. This is their only canned offering and it was produced and canned for them by the good folks at Sly Fox Brewing Company in Royersford, Pennsylvania. The Brewer's Art is a restaurant that serves great food and great beer/wine/spirits that also brews a number of their own beers. They only can this one but you'll find bottles of a number of their other brews in the Baltimore metro area.

 

From the Brewer's Art site:

 

"During the fermentation of the first batch of this Abbey-style ale, the yeast "died" and was "resurrected" by brewer Chris Cashell. Made with five types of barley malt and lots of 
sugar, this beer is quite flavorful, without being too sweet."


Here we go...

 

Pour - a very clean and clear dark amber appearance with a half inch or so of fluffy head on top. When held to the light this has a lot of bright red and mahogany hues to it. That head really likes to stick around too. 

 

Aroma - sweet, buttery toffee, some clove spiciness, stewed apples, unfiltered cider, pears and some hints at that unmistakeable Belgian yeast aroma. Lots for your nose to enjoy.

 

Taste - lots of fruity ester-y flavors up front along with some caramel apple notes and some slight spicy yeastiness. This has a dry finish, almost like an apple wine. This is not overly sweet and in my opinion it hits the marks for the style quite well. 

 

Overall - Big fruit flavors with good carbonation levels make this quite refreshing even at 7%. Sometimes this style can be a bit too sweet for my taste but this was quite enjoyable. Putting this in a can was a great move by the folks at The Brewer's Art. All of those subtle, and not so subtle, flavors are really well preserved and this is an overall very enjoyable brew.

 

Would I buy more of it? - totally. This is a great beer to sit back and sip and really enjoy. There is a ton of flavor to appreciate and at this strength its a nice beer to end the evening with. 

 

Note - Resurrection is one of only two canned Belgian-style dubbels currently available in the US. The other is Siamese Twin Ale by Uncommon Brewers in Santa Cruz, California. 

 



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Resurrection
Style: Belgian Dubbel
Brewery: The Brewer's Art
City: 
Baltimore, Maryland  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 7.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: August 16th, 2010

Posted by Russ


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Friday, August 13th 2010

Belgians Getting Canned!
What's Next?

Open the cooler door in most Belgian corner shops and you might be shocked to see beers like Rodenbach, Belle-Vue Kriek, Mort Subite and Hoegaarden in cans. The mere thought of the almighty Belgian beer in cans might be a bit too much for the beer purists out there to swallow. However, American brewers have followed suit and begun canning their own Belgian-style beers with plenty of success. 

Surly Brewing Company was the first to can a Belgian-style beer when they released CynicAle, a Saison or Farmhouse Ale, in 2007. It remains, to this day, the only beer of its style made available in cans.

 

In 2008, Uncommon Brewer's unleashed their one and only canned release, Siamese Twin Ale. One of the most unique beers available in cans, Siamese Twin is a Belgian-style Dubbel brewed with coriander, kaffir lime and lemon grass.

 

21st Amendment's Monk's Blood, a special release Belgian-style Dark Ale, hit the shelves in 2009. Monk's Blood was the first oak-aged beer to be canned and was the first in the brewery's "The Insurrection Series". There is still no word on what the next release in that series will be.

 

      

2010 has seen two more Belgian-style beers made available in cans. Brewer's Art of Baltimore has released Resurrection Ale, a Belgian-style Dubbel, with the help of nearby canning brewery Sly Fox. Finally, New England Brewing Company recently put out a special release called 668 Neighbor of the Beast which was a strong Belgian-style Golden (or Pale) Ale.

All five of these Belgian-style Ales are excellent and at least five more Belgian-style releases are on the way! Could this be a growing trend in the canned craft beer world? We can only hope!

 


Coming Soon!

Be on the look out for Durham, North Carolina's Triangle Brewing Company's Triangle Belgian Golden Ale and Belgian-Style White Ale which should both be released soon. Also, new comers to the canning game Santa Fe Brewing Company will be releasing their "Viszolay Belgian", a Belgian-style Dubbel, as a fall seasonal release. Avery has just started canning their first round of beers which will include their White Rascal (a Belgian-style Witbier). Finally, DC Brau, the District's only distributing and canning brewery, will release The Citizen, a Belgian-style Pale Ale once they are up and running later this year. 

What's next? Hopefully we'll continue to see an ever expanding variety of styles getting canned. Perhaps a Belgian-style Tripel or Quad may end up in cans soon and hopefully a few more Saisons for the summer months. If a Belgian-style beer can taste great from a can is there any argument as to why any style of beer wouldn't be great from a can? I think not. 

Op uw gezondheid! A votre santé! Cheers!

 


Posted by Russ



Thursday, August 5th 2010

CynicAle
(Surly Brewing Company)

CynicAle is one of four year-round releases from Surly and probably the one that's best suited for summertime (although Furious isn't far behind). It is also the ONLY saison currently canned in the entire world as far as we know. The saison style is perfectly constructed to be refreshing and light on the palate. Surly's CynicAle takes the traditional Belgian Farmhouse Ale and puts a bit of an American twist on it by working with Columbus hops to create something pretty damn special.

 

From the Surly site:

 

"Oh great, a fizzy yellow beer in a can, that's just what the craft beer world needs! CynicAle melds Old World ingredients in a new school style. French malted barley, English oats and Belgian yeast create honey & black pepper flavors. Lively Slovenian hops provide the floral, apricot and peach notes. Toss your doubts away, toss one back and enjoy!”


Here we go...

 

Pour - bright, bright orange with some yellow hues. Clean, clear with about a half inch of bubbly head that is quick to dissipate. A little hazy in appearance. Looking good.

 

Aroma - the spicy smell of the Belgian yeast is the first to hit my nose. This is followed by some sweet brown sugar and some orange or lemon and even watermelon. 

 

Taste - one sip and you'll be hooked. CynicAle is spicy with some citrus and sweet fruit flavors that are perfectly refreshing. You definitely get some of the peach and apricot mentioned above and it has a nice hoppiness to it, not so much bitter but floral. I am happy to have 16 oz. but wish I had access to more of this.

 

Overall - an outstanding take on a very traditional style that is great to drink during the warm summer months, like it was originally intended. Bold, flavorful and thirst quenching. If you've not had this try and get some. I'd love to see more saisons in cans!

 

Would I buy more of it? - like all the other Surly beers I've had, you bet.

 

Note - Saison” is the French word for season, because these ales were traditionally brewed in the autumn or winter for consumption during the late summer harvest for farm workers who were entitled to up to five liters throughout the workday during harvest season. After brewing, the ale was stored until the late summer harvest. Although now most commercial examples range from 5 to 8% abv, originally saisons were meant to be refreshing and thus had alcohol levels less than 3%. Because of the lack of potable water, saisons would give the farm hands the hydration they needed without the threat of illness." - Wikipedia

 



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CynicAle
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Brewery: Surly Brewing Company
City: 
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: Pilsner, Aromatic, Oats
Hops: Columbus, Slovenian Styrian Goldings
ABV: 6.6%
IBUs: 33
Date: August 5th, 2010

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Wednesday, August 4th 2010

668 Neighbor of the Beast
(New England Brewing Company)

 

668 The Neighbor of the Beast is the second limited release can from NEBC. Following in the footsteps of the big, bold hop-monster that was Gandhi-Bot, 668 is a strong "Belgian-style Golden Ale" in a big can with a stuck on label. Let's see what this all about, shall we?

 

The can reads:

 

"“Good fences make good neighbors . . . unless you live next door to Satan. Then you may need something more than a fence to accept that your neighbor is the Prince of Darkness; like our “668.” This HELLaciously delicious Belgian Ale is brewed with pilsner malts, candi sugar and blended with American and German hops. It will help you accept that cloven-hooved guy next door.””


Here we go...

 

Pour - wow. This just looks great in a glass. Yellowish orange and soft with a beautiful bubbly, smooth head on top. Lots of little orbs streaming upwards adding to the foamy goodness. A little opaque but not really cloudy. 

 

Aroma - zesty, Belgian yeasty and spicy. Its a familiar smell of Belgian yeast but also some tangy citrus, orange peel and a kiss of caramel. Fresh and aromatic. I am ready to dive right in.

 

Taste - one big sip and this is flavor city my friends. Tons of spiciness from the Belgian yeasties, a nice chunk of orange and lemon citrus as well as some vanilla and cinnamon flavors. Extremely soft on the palate and a little sharp and dry in the finish. This has some tripel-esque characteristics, especially at 9%. The tangy sweetness really sets this apart from its Belgian counterparts. Its so fresh and so drinkable. I blame the American hops or maybe its my close proximity to the brewery. Whatever the case this is some amazing stuff. 

 

Overall - another winner from New England Brewing Company. I need to find this on tap and get a nice fresh pour as I can only imagine how good that tastes. This is incredible coming right out of the can with so much flavor and complexity but yet so easy drinking...which is scary as 2-3 cans will put you to sleep on the couch at 8 o'clock. Find some of this and enjoy. 

 

Would I buy more of it? - yes. yes. yes.

 

Note - New England Brewing is doing a lot of great things lately and I look forward to seeing what their next special canned release will be. Although, I will always feel like they missed that opportunity to put their famous Imperial Stout Trooper in cans. That would have been pretty sweet.

 



Monk Scale:
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668 Neighbor of the Beast
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Brewery: New England Brewing Company
City: 
Woodbridge, Connecticut  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: Pilsner malts
Hops: American and German hops
ABV: 9.0%
IBUs: ???
Date: August 4th, 2010

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Wednesday, January 20th 2010

Monk's Blood
(21st Amendment Brewery)

Wow, the world of canned beers is really getting interesting. This latest offering from 21st Amendment in San Francisco is proof that many craft beer drinkers are totally okay with good beer coming in a can, especially if its an 8.5% Belgian-style dark ale! I'm looking forward to more of their "Insurrection Series" releases. 

From the 21st Amendment site:

"Monk’s Blood pays homage to the monks of Belgium’s monasteries who have been brewing some of the world’s great beer for centuries. During times of fasting, the monks subsist solely on beer, which they refer to as “liquid bread”. Beer, quite literally, is in their blood. The most sublime of the monk’s premium brews is dark like blood, rich and nourishing.

21st Amendment founders Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan traveled to Belgium to develop the recipe for this special beer, visiting small, traditional breweries in the hop fields of west Flanders, not far from the famous Trappist abbey of Westvletren. Monk’s Blood is designed to pair beautifully with rich winter stews, creamy cheeses, unctuous desserts or just by itself, in a Belgian tulip glass, with a good book by the fire."

Here we go...

Pour - deep dark plum in color but glowing blood red when held to the light. Head is fizzy and about an inch to start before it slinks away rather quickly and leaves just a wispy ring around the inside of the glass. 


Aroma - dark cherry, bitter fruits, caramel/brown sugar and some sourness.  


Taste - starts off sweet and estery/fruity (sweet dark fruits like plums and cherries) with a crisp tart finish. Vert smooth but without the spices I was expecting. This is actually a very subtle beer with a lot of nice flavor, it's almost juicy tasting with some hints of vanilla. It all comes together very nicely and even at 8.5% this is a beer that drinks well below its weight.


Overall - one hell of a canned beer. This is such a departure from 21st Amendment's other canned offerings. I really like how all of the flavors and spices come together not to produce something extreme but something very easy drinking and flavorful. I am looking forward to trying their next limited canned release. 


Note - along with the absolutely ridiculous grain bill that this beer has, it is also brewed with the following: Dark Belgian Candi Sugar, Cinnamon, Vanilla Bean, Dried Black Mission Figs and aged on oak.



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Monk's Blood
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
City: 
San Francisco, California  
Country: 
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Belgian pilsner, Two-row pale, Caramunich, Caravienne, Aromatic, Special B, Flaked Oats & Flaked Wheat
Hops: Amarillo, Magnum & Centennial
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 34
Date: January 20th, 2010

Posted by Russ


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