Articles from: August 2013

New Belgium Brewing Trippel Belgian Style Ale and “Lips Of Faith” Series

Craft beer drinkers in our area are celebrating because New Belgium Brewing (Colorado) beers have finally made their way to South Florida. Sure, we’ve enjoyed New Belgium’s signature Fat Tire Amber Ale on numerous occasions, but most hop heads would agree: In the world of American craft beers, the Fat Tire is serviceable, at best…a nice stand by ale with a familiar flavor and headiness you like. This isn’t a knock on the Fat Tire, but  a compliment on how consistent New Belgium is in creating an accessible craft ale year in and year out. However, New Belgium’s specialty ales and seasonal offerings are worth checking out.  We sampled several of the big bottle offerings in New Belgium’s “Lips Of Faith” series (love that name) as well as their signature Trippel.  Availability in South Florida limits us to only a few of New Belgium’s ales that we can try, but these are well worth trying if you can find them:

Heavenly Feijoa Tripel Dieu du Ciel! (ABV 9.4%)

The mad scientists at New Belgium brought together two innocuous flavor profiles to create one unique ale. The Heavenly Feijoa Tripel combines hibiscus flowers with Feijoa (pineapple guava). The melding of tart sweetness and exotic tropical flavoring makes for a unique, aromatic drinking experience. Like any Belgian-style Ale, the aromas and flavor came alive once it neared room temperature. The Heavenly Feijoa Tripel gets a 4 out of 5 bottle rating due to its flavor, color and complexity (5 being the highest rating on the Wanderlushes beer scale).

Trippel Belgian Style Ale (ABV 7.8%)

The Trippel Belgian Style Ale is a veritable hop lover’s delight. But despite how much hops you throw into the mix, a Trippel is a Trippel. The Trippel has a strong mouth feel, yet its unique Belgian yeast strain counterbalances the strong hop notes with a soft, fruitiness.  We could definitely pick up the traces of coriander that added just a hint more spiciness. The New Belgium Trippel gets a 3 out of 5 bottle rating.

Cascara Quad (ABV 10%)

This sweet, complex ale is brewed with dates and get this…coffee cherries. We weren’t sure what coffee berries were until we did a little research into and then it all made sense. The Cascara Quad is dark and it is strong, but it is also a delicate ale, believe it or not.  Malt is front and center with a bit of banana present in the quaff, as you’d expect, but there are also strong hints of clove, fig and caramel…especially when you let it warm up a bit in the glass. We were very impressed. The NBB Cascara Quad gets a 5 out of 5 bottles rating on the Wanderlushes beer scale.

Paardebloem Ale (ABV 9.0%)

After enjoying Heavenly Feijoa Tripel Dieu du Ciel and the Cascara Quad, the Paardebloem Ale was probably our least favorite of the Lips Of Faith series we tried. Brewed with dandelion greens for bitterness, New Belgium collaborated with Red Rock Brewing (Salt Lake City, UT) to create this Belgian-style ale. The wild Belgian yeast is evident at the beginning and middle – yet even with some wood-aged beer and grains of paradise added in, this ale fell short of our expectations. It’s not a bad ale by any stretch (any craft beer maker would be proud to create an ale like this), but it does lack complexity. The Paardebloem Ale gets a 3 out of 5 bottles Wanderlushes rating.

Pluot Ale (ABV 10%)

A plum and an apricot got drunk, hooked up and had a love child they called pluot. Sounds weird, right? But this hybrid fruit actually exists and is the basis for the New Belgium Brewing Pluot Ale. The aroma is unmistakably fruity. Combine this with Belgian ale yeast and you have an exotic little combo of flavors going on. The Pluot wasn’t our favorite of the Lips Of Faith series thus far, but it is by far the most complex and is worth trying. This could work as a dessert beer to be paired with slices of fresh apple or pear. The Pluot Ale gets a 4 out of 5 bottles Wanderlushes rating.

 

 

 

Sonoma Wine Country Visit May 12, 2013

It’s been a while since our trip to California Wine Country but the experience has stayed in our minds; the memories still fresh.  We last wrote about Napa, which was the first area we had a chance to explore.  We began our next day with the plan to explore Sonoma.

As with our Napa adventure, we had to seriously narrow down our plan to visit just a few places.  Looking at our massive list we had no idea where to begin.  Thankfully we had some help in the way of a local connection who pointed us in the right direction.

Recommendations and plan in hand, we started by heading to the northern most point we planned on visiting, Healdsburg.  Once we got off the highway we were immediately driving through farm country and vineyards were everywhere we looked.  The weather was beautiful and the scenery was breathtaking.

Our first stop was Mazzocco Winery, known for their Zinfandels, located up on a hillside. We entered the quiet tasting room where we were greeted and offered our first taste of their portfolio immediately.  No pretense here at Mazzocco; just plain and simple wine tasting.  And taste we did!  After going through several of their wines we decided to purchase our favorite (2011 Seaton Zinfandel) and head on down the road. 

Next up was the Hawley Tasting room in downtown Healdsburg.  The Hawley Tasting room was a small warm space filled with artwork and woodwork created by various Hawley family members.  We learned this from Dana Hawley, the winemaker’s wife and local artist, who walked us through the tasting and the history of Hawley wines.  It was a truly unique and lovely experience.  Again, we narrowed our purchase down to our favorite (Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah) and left to wander the town a bit.

After visiting some of the local antique stores and markets we got back in the car and drove to Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol.  Getting to the actual tasting room was challenging. Off the beaten path would be an understatement.  However, after driving up the single lane, bumpy, dirt road and arriving at the top, we could truly appreciate that it was worth the trek. Looking out across the rolling hills and into the valley covered with vineyards was awe inspiring.

Iron Horse is known for their sparkling wines and we were lucky enough to be there on a day when they had The Oyster Girls on hand, a traveling oyster bar serving freshly shucked oysters.  Oysters and sparkling wine = perfect day!

At the end of the day we convinced ourselves that we needed to move to Sebastopol, buy a farm, raise goats and grow our own vines.  Who knows? Maybe one day we will…

Wanderlushes

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