From the HBD Archive
From: (John Mellby)
Subject: Tasting of Belgian Beers (plus Samichlaus)
Date: 1990-05-14 12:43:20 GMT

The Offical Mellby Beer-Tastings, year 3.

This is the Seventeenth such tasting stretching back over two years.

The tastings, in reverse chronological order were of:
Belgians + Samichlaus
Misc. Lagers (including one Non-alcoholic)
Ales, mainly American
Oregon and Michigan (ok its weird, but this is where our last trips were)
Available Ales (i.e. purchaseable in Dallas)
Northern Beers (Northern US and Canadian)
Belgian (and other odd European Beers)
California Micro-beers
Lagers, mostly American microbreweries
Ales (an odd lot which turned out to be poor quality)
Ales (Strong, including porters, stout)
Mixed Lagers
Christmas and speciality beers
Mixed (mostly ales)

A few preliminary comments are necessary. In general we are tasting
beers which are not commercially available in Texas (curse these
state laws!). We're usually tasting special beers which may not move
off the retailer's shelves as fast as, say, Budweiser.
Hence some beer is not as fresh as it should be.

The most important thing we have learned is:
The condition under which the retailer keeps the beer is crucial!
Age, light, and handling all can cause a good beer to rapidly become bad.
Also we have learned to drink the beer rather than keeping it for
extended periods (except with a few bottle-conditioned beer, like
Celebration Ale, Thomas Hardy, etc.)

On with the beer:

Belgium + Samichlaus
- ------- ----------
5/10/90 We got Duvel and Sezoens locally to round out this evening.
We were surprised that these were as good as they were! I'm going to
buy more Duvel (not a lot more at $7.50 for 4 bottles)! This wasn't
as successful a blind tasting as before since the first two were lambics,
then four ales/trappist beers, and finally, recogniseable anywhere, Samichlaus!

It was also difficult since we Belgian beers are so very different, plus
we haven't had lambic, other than fruit lambic like Kriek or Frambois, before.
And then Duvel and Samichlaus rather define their own style, so what can you
say other than to rate them high?

If you haven't tasted Belgian beer you are missing a lot! They have more
types of Beer in Belgium than any other country. Many of the beers,
especially lambics, have a distinctive yeasty-sour tang to the taste which
can put you off the first time you try them. The lambics, especially
fruit Krieks or Framboise, are nice ways to introduce people to a different
world of beers. The moral is to try Belgian beers and be open-minded.

On one of the beers (my notes don't say which) a curious thing happened.
I have always discounted the people who say that the shape of the glass
is important. I had a brandy-shaped glass, and Roy and Mike had
tall glasses like champagne flutes. On one beer Roy and Mike claimed
it smelled bad. We had all poured out of the same pitcher and my
glass smelled very good while their glasses had an unpleasant aroma.

JRM Roy Tim MikeG JohnL MikeLeonard Total Ave
Goundenband 36 39 35 37 30 37 214 35.7
Gueze 42 40 41 43 32 44 242 40.3
Duvel 43 38 40 45 36 42 244 30.7
Westmalle 33 35 32 30 31 27 188 31.3
Sezoens 29 29 30 29 35 26.5 178 29.8
St. Sixtus 44 37 41 43 34 28.5 227 37.9
Samichlaus 44 43 46 46 39.5 218 43.7

Goundenband, Liefmans, Oudenaarde.
Even without fruit addition like Kriek, this still tasted fruity. One
said he detected cherry, orange and bananna in the taste. The aroma
was black cherry and banannas (I can't usually detect bananna smell so I
took their word for it). A very nice wheat-beer-like hint of cloves. Slightly
weak on body. Just a hint of the Belgian 'sour' taste.
We decided we could drink this for a long time.

Gueze, Lindemand, Vlezenbeek
This had a much fresher aroma, and a lighter and better appearance.
The taste had a little alcohol, stronger fruit than the Goundenband, and
a fruity aftertaste which was a little fizzy. This aftertaste was good like
a champagne fiz rather than the artifically-carbonated fiz of so many beers.
Just a little of the Belgian sour-yeasty taste (which is appropriate in
Belgians and after you get used to it, very pleasant).

Duvel, Moorgat Brewery, Breendonk
I had heard good things about this but it was much better than I remembered!
It had a very pretty, dense white head. Champagne-like bubbles. A nice hoppy,
wheaty aroma. The taste was very thick, alcholic, and diacetyl, with
a mouthcoating body. Mike Leonard again guessed this was Duvel. The
Styrian Goldings and Saaz hops came out nicely.

Westmalle Trappist Beer (they also make a double and a triple Trappist beer)
Sadly this was old (from a small store in Dayton). It had large floaters
but did have a creamy head. A distinct apple in the aroma. The taste was
still good with alcohol in it on top of sour and oxidized tastes. It
was cardboardy and had a sharp aftertaste. This was probably real good fresh.

Sezoens, Brouwerij Martens Bocholt
Again an old bottle. A colloidal suspension which didn't seem to move when you
shook the glass. It had an astringent, husky, catty taste, with a sour-catty

St. Sixtus, Abbey Ale, St. Bernardus Bry Trappistenweg-Watou-Belgium
When he smelled it, Roy's cry was "Great malt! We're back to beer!"
I just sat and smelled this for minutes! GREAT AROMA! This had very
strong alcohol in it. Brown color with a beautiful head. This could
almost be a Scotch ale. (Not that abbey ale is a Trappist-style, but is
brewed by someone outside the Trappist Monastery. Scotch ale is more
a Belgian style than it is from Scotland.) A long sharp alcohol aftertaste.
One person noted cherry, another a nutty flavor. A complex ale. Mike
Leonard rated this low otherwise it would have a higher rating.

Samichlaus 1989 Dark, Hurlimann AG, Zurich
About 14% alcohol - billed as the strongest beer in the world.
Because of the alcohol its difficult to maintain a head. Caramel and
butterscotch in the aroma. Hops are in the aroma which is usually
difficult with this much alcohol. A very nutty, sweet (honey?) complex taste.
Its hard to compare this to anything else.

The Summary of the beers is:
44.4 Optimator, Spaten, Munich, Germany
43.7 Samichlaus 1989 Dark, Hurlimann AG, Zurich
43.4 Fullers ESB (Extra Special Bitter), Griffin Brewery, London
43.3 Kriek, Lindermans, Belgium
43 Red Tail Ale, Mendocino Brewing
43 Golden Gate Malt Liquor, Thousand Oaks Brewing (RIP)
42.6 Red Hook Ale, Red Hook Brewing, Washington
42.5 Addison Double Eagle, Addison, Texas
42.1 Samichlaus 1987 Dark
41.5 Cock O' The Walk Porter, Big Rock Brewing, Calgary, Canada
41.5 Beer de Paris, Brasserie de Paris?
41.4 Bachis Bock, Eugene City Brewing Co., Oregon
41 Old Peculier, Theakston's (Marsham, York)
41 Celebration Ale, Sierra Nevada
41 Pilsner Urquell, Czechoslovokia
40.8 Lighthouse Amber, Santa Cruz Brewing (Front Street Pub)
40.8 Trippel Affligem Abbey Ale
40.75 Capital Garten Brau, Capital Brewing, Middleton, Wisconsin
40.7 Duvel, Moorgat Brewery, Breendonk, Belgium
40.4 Eugene Ale, Eugene City Brewing Co, Oregon
40.3 Corsendonk; Bry de Block, Flanders Brown Ale
40.3 Lindemand Gueze, Lindemand Brewery, Vlezenbeek, Belgium
40.2 St. Stan's Amber Alt, Stanislaus Brewing, Modesto, CA
40 St. David's Porter, Feilinfoel Brewing, Wales
40 Chesbay, Chesapeak Bottling Co, Virginia Beach, Virginia
39.7 Bigfoot Ale, Sierra Nevada barleywine ale
39.7 Vail Ale, Vail Brewing, Colorado
39.5 Blackhook Porter, Red Hook Brewery, Washington
39.5 Mackeson Stout
39 Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
39 Spaten Dopplebock, Munich
39 Crock Ale, St. Sebastian, Belgium
38.8 Lighthouse Lager, Santa Cruz Brewing (Front Street Pub)
38.7 Golden Pacific Bittersweet Ale
38.5 Vondel, Brewery Riva, Dark Flanders Ale
38.5 James Paige Special Reserve, Minneapolis
38.3 Oops Ale, My homebrew (rated also below at 36.3 - better with age?)
38.1 Youngs Special London Ale
38 Anchor Christmas Spiced Ale
38 Summit Extra Pale Ale, Minneapolis
38 Red Hook ESB, Red Hook Brewery, Washington
38 Cable Car Classic Lager, Thousand Oaks Brewery (RIP)
38 Swan Lager, Bond's Brewing, Australia
37.9 St. Sixtus; Abbey Ale, St. Bernardus Bry Trappistenweg-Watou-Belgium
37.6 Ranier Ale
37.6 Rhomberg All Malt, Iowa
37.3 Hercules Ale, Felinfeol, Wales
37.3 Samuel Adams, Boston Brewery
37.3 Saranac 1888, F.X. Matt Brewing
37.3 Brooklyn Pre-Prohibition Lager, Brooklyn Brewery
37.1 Fischer Bitter
37 Young's Winter Warmer, United Kingdom
36.8 Orval, Brasserie d'Orval (Old and it still rated this high!)
36.8 Strong Viking Ale, my homebrew
36.8 Golden Bear, Thousand Oaks Brewery (RIP)
36.75 "
36.7 St. Stan's Amber Ale, Stanislaus Brewing
36.5 Ruddles County Ale; Rutland Brewery
36.5 Winterhook, Red Hook Brewing, Washington
36.4 Pete's Wicked Ale
36.3 Oops Ale (homebrew)
36.2 13th Colony Amber Lager, Savannah Brewing, Georgia
36 Grant's Celtic Ale, Grants Brewing, Yakima WA
36 Frankenmuth Pils, Frankenmuth Brewing, Michigan
36 Cinci Cream, O'Keefe
35.7 Liefmans Goundenband, Liefmans Brewery, Oudenaarde, Belgium
35.5 Lucifer, Blonde Ale, Brewery Riva, Belgium
35.5 Ballard Bitter (Ya Sure You Betcha), Red Hook Brewing, Washington
35.5 Grant's Scottish Ale, Yakima WA (personally I rated this higher)
35.4 Bell's Cherry Stout, Kalamazoo Brewing, Michigan
35.4 Demsey's (Irish Style) Ale, Huber Brewing
35.3 Algonquin Special Reserve Ale, Algonquin Brewing, Ontario
35.2 Berghoff Original (Huber Brewing)
35.1 Maes Pils, Maes Brewing, Belgium
35.1 Aegean Lager
35 Maisel Dampf (Smoke Beer)
34.25 Telluride Lager, Telluride Brewing, Monroe Wisconsin
34.1 (Stale) Samuel Smiths Old Brewery Pale Ale, Tadcaster
34 Great Lakes Cherry Stout, Kalamazoo Brewing
33.8 Down Under Lager, Mildura Brewing, Australia
33.75 Catamont Gold (ale), Catamont Brewing, Vermont
33.7 3 Monts, Flanders Golden Ale, Brasserie de Saint Sylvestre
33.6 Frambose, Liefman's, Belgium
33.6 Weinhard's Ale, Blitz Weinhard
33.4 Bass Pale Ale, Bass-Charrington
33 Great Northern Porter, Summit, Minneapolis
33 Portland Lager, Maine Coast Brewing
33 Franziskus Heller Bock, Spaten, Munich
32.8 St. Stan's Alt, Stanislaus Brewing, Modesto
32.5 Mitchell's Centenary Ale; Mitchell's of Lancaster
32.4 Ballard Bitter
32.3 Penn Pils, Allegheny Brewing
32.1 Not-so-pale-ale, John Mellby Homebrew
32.0 one of my homebrew bitter
31.8 Thomas Coopers Real Ale, Thomas Cooper, Australia
31.7 Santa Barbara Extra Pale Lager, (brewed by Kessler in Montana)
31.3 Westmalle Trappist Beer, Westmalle Belgium
31.2 Calgary Amber Lager, O'Keefe
31 Frankenmuth Olde German Dark, Michigan
31 Eugene Weizen, Eugene City Brewing Co., Oregon
30.4 Pete's Pacific Dry, Pete's Brewing (contract brewed at Schells)
30.3 EKU Kulminator 28 Urtyp Hell, Erst Kulmbacher Actionbrauerei
30.25 MacAndrews Scotch Ale, Caledonia Brewing (probably a Old Bottle!)
30.1 Bulldog Lager, Old Canada Brewing (no city given & I don't blame them)
30 (Old?) Pacific Porter, Santa Cruz Brewing (Front Street Pub)
30 OLD Bottle! Royal Oak, Eldridge Pope Brewing, Dorset
30 Bulldog Lager, Old Canada Brewing
29.9 Pale Ale, Big Rock Brewing, Calgary
29.8 Sezoens, Brouwerij Martens Bocholt, Belgium
29.8 Growling' Gater Lager (The Beer with a Bite)
29.7 Big Rock Bitter, Big Rock Brewing, Calgary (Old!)
29.7 Ballantine XXX Ale, Ballantine Brewing (canned)
29.4 Bell's Best Brown Ale, Kalamazoo Brewing, Michigan
29.3 Harley Davidson Heavy Beer, Huber Brewing (canned)
27.6 Oregon State Fair Golden Ale, Eugene City Brewing, Oregon
27.1 St. Stan's Amber Alt
27 Lorelei, Kessler Brewing (2nd bad tasting, but a separate good report)
26.8 Ruddles Bitter Ale; Rutland Brewery
26.5 Little Kings Cream Ale, Schoenling
26.3 Bronco Beer
26* Tusker Premium Lager, Kenya (skunked bottle, should be tried again)
25.5 Castemain XXXX, Bond Brewing, Australia
23.8 Cold Spring Export, Cold Spring, MN
22.5 Fischer Amber, Brasserie d'Alsace
22.0 Boulder Extra Pale Ale
21.6 Thomas-Brau, Paulaner, Non-alcoholic beer
20.3 OLD Bottle! McNally's Extra Ale, Big Rock Brewing
20.0 OLD Bottle! Lorelei
18.8 Neptune's Famous Green Rooster, Neptun Bryggerietus, Denmark
13.7 Ivanhoe Ale, Saxon Brewing, Chico, CA

Surviving the American Dream
John R. Mellby Texas Instruments P.O.Box 660246, MS 3645
Dallas Texas, 75266
(214)517-5370 (214)343-7585
* "Virtually no one's allowed to vote...women, servants, *
* chimpanzees (gestures to Baldrick)...even lords." *
* *
* "That's not true, Lord Nelson's got a vote." *
* *
* "He's got a boat, Baldrick." *
* -- BlackAdder *

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