Thursday, 6 September 2012

#79: All Well and Good

I don't drink out very often, because I just enjoy buying bottles far too much. The selection tends to be greater when things are bottled, and bottled beer seems to cost twice as much from behind a bar. Nevertheless, it's nice to go and see what's on tap around town.

Tripel Karmeliet
First stop is Abbot's Ale House, which is fast becoming my favourite place to explore beer. I had around 40 minutes to spare, so it was just the one for me, thanks, and I opted for a Tripel Karmeliet. I know, the idea is try something new, but I couldn't resist the chance to try this on tap. It pours a very pale gold with a decent clarity and a nice slice of white head. Being served cold, the aroma was quite subdued, although I did get to make out hints of fizzy citrus, biscuit malt, nuts and a touch of booze. The taste opens with lots of juicy grapefruit and lemon, followed by a wholesome barley malt graininess. It's incredibly smooth and well-rounded. The caramel malt that I loved from the bottled version is here too, and completely coats your mouth, before fading into a nutty biscuit finish and aftertaste. There's no real boozy taste to it, but the 8.4% alcohol does lend a nice bit of heat of the experience. 

Sweet, delicious, and yet surprisingly light, this remains a fantastic beer.

Metalman Moonbeam
Moving to the Franciscan Well, I decided I wanted a hoppier beer after the malted grain driven Karmeliet. Luckily, both of the guest taps here were spouting just that. The first I went for was Moonbeam, from Metalman in Waterford. I'm a huge fan of their Windjammer, and their fantastic Art Deco logos, so I was excited for this darker beer. It pours a dark mahogany with a very creamy beige head. The aroma is fantastic, with toffee malt, candy sweetness and bubblegum forming the backbone, with juicy hops highlights dotted throughout. The taste offers up the same sweetness as the aroma, but with an added coffee note, while hops take control in the middle of the sip and see it out through the finish and bitter aftertaste. Tasty and easy to drink, though not as complex as the aroma suggests.

Another great release from Metalman, and I once again can't stress how much I'd love for them to bottle their beers.

La Rullés Estivale
I went back to Belgium for my third, though not all the way back. Rather than an abbey or Trappist strong ale, it was La Rullés Estivale, a hoppy blonde ale with a just-about-sessionable 5.2%. I made this one a pint, looking for some nice refreshment. It pours surprisingly like a lager, with very active carbonation and a crystal clear yellow-gold (or piss) colour. The massive ice-cream head gave it away. The aroma is that of a typical blonde, but much lighter and, well, altogether more beautiful. It's grainy like a biére de garde, but has strong lemony hops sitting atop a sweet malt base. The taste opens with a candy-sweetness that turns to fruity and herbal hops, with yet more citrus fruit fizziness. The whole is propped on a quiet but ever-present caramel malt underlayer. This is a gorgeous hoppy beer, without actually being very bitter. Curious. The body's light, effervescent and brilliantly refreshing.

This isn't a mind-blowing beer, but it's fantastically enjoyable and definitely worth a pint or two if you get the chance.

Watou Wit
Last stop was the Bierhaus, a pub I've wanted to visit for so long, but every time I've looked in, it's relatively small floorspace was jammed. If I can't sit for a drink, I'm not going in. Thankfully, this Wednesday night was a quiet one for the place, although it still seemed to enjoy plenty of business. They had some intersting things on top, chief among them being Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. I was tempted, but as I've only tried it recently, I opted instead for a Watou Wit. I'm going to be honest and say that I don't really like Witbiers that much anymore, but I feel attached to the style for introducing me to real beer, in the form of a simple bottle of Wieckse Witte, enjoyed in a quiet square just outside the city on what was the last night of my first trip to Amsterdam. Aaah... Anyway, this wit pours like a wit is wont to pour - cloudy, very pale yellow, with a very small head. There's not a whole lot going on in the aroma, with just hints of coriander and yeast. It smells like a wit though, which can't be too bad. The taste is better, despite being decidedly low-key. Citrus peel is trying desperately to make a full appearance, but ultimately it's just hints of this and shades of that.

Though the flavour doesn't seem to get going, it's refreshing and drinkable, and I'm sure it would be better appreciated by a wit fan.

I'd recommend all four of these beers, which is the mark of a successful evening.

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