Archive for Belgian Strong Dark Ale

59 – Stone Vertical Epic 09-09-09

Things have been crazy this week with that little thing called G-20 which has basically the whole world watching Pittsburgh. Next week we’re back to our regularly scheduled blogging… n’at

Throwing you a curve ball here with the planned beverages since this came in special delivery from Ohio.

Stone Vertical Epic 09-09-09
Stone Brewing Company –
style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
abv: 8.6%
serving size: 22oz
glass used: snifter
price: $8

This is quite a complex and layered beer. Bold and smooth chocolate malt flavors combine with a Belgian yeast lending tropical fruit/banana flavors and hints of spiciness, all complemented by citrus notes from an addition of tangerine peel. Rich vanilla beans add a nice counter to the chocolate malt – actually enhancing the chocolatiness. The finish is smooth, with additional traces of vanilla and toasted characters from French Oak. The goal for this edition of the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series is to be reminiscent of artisanal chocolates accentuated with orange.

What I think
I’m always cautious about trying this series right away because I know that I’ll end up putting one bottle in my basement. Though that didn’t work well with a flooding basement so I have to start over.

First off the pour. Thick, dark and rich creamy head. Oh yeah, we’re already off to a good start. The nose was a bland chocolate, almost like a faded scratch-n-sniff sticker from grade school. The taste was extremely complex at first as I was trying to figure out what I tasting first. A little bit of chocolate, slight vanilla and a strong banana flavor. The body was medium and finished really smooth but I think this is still a young one and will benefit greatly from some time to mature downstairs.

My advice is buy 2 bottles. Drink one now, write down some notes and then drink the second one in a year… or you can wait for 12-12-12. Either way you’ll want to sit tight and i think this has the most potential of all the VE series I’ve had to date.

Spoon’s rating: B-

Imperial Stouts are generally known as Winter beers.  Because of their high alcohol content (in this case, 9.5% ABV), they tend to lay heavy on your tongue which some find less palatable in warmer seasons such as this.  But this beer doesn’t do that. It’s lush, yes — rich with malt and chocolate and slight hints of vanilla. With such a sweet overall balance of malt, it almost seems that the hops play a very minor role in the overall flavor of the beer. Even the roasted barley, one of the most integral ingredients of any Stout, doesn’t take over.  Ten Fidy almost seems like a beer that doesn’t take itself seriously, when it should. It couldn’t be less assuming. It is in a can, after all.Don’t judge this beer by its appearance in its package. Because once it’s in your glass, it’s a whole new ball game. Available coast to coast.


38 – Troubadour Obscura


When Bar Louie in Cranberry opened I avoided it like the plague. Figured it was like the other locations around town and was nothing more than an overpriced martini bar. One night I broke down and gave it a shot since I was parched. With that came the discovery of…

Troubadour Obscura
Brouwerij De Musketiers –
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
serving size:
10 oz draft
glass used:
price: $3.00 (Happy Hour price)

Troubadour Obscura is a dark red beer with 8,5 % alc. and refermentation in the bottle. Poured in the special glass, Troubadour has a nice creamy foam head and a malty character with a nice little roasty flavor. Troubadour Obscura has a mild bitterness, which is a bit stronger in the aftertaste and a mainly malty aroma. The smell of roasted, burned wood is completed by a light chocolate touch. Troubadour is produced with 4 different types of malt, hops, yeast and water.

What I think
Happy Hour is always the best time to try new beers and if you’re in Cranberry Township, Bar Louie is a must. My history shows that I haven’t had good experiences with Belgian Strong Dark Ale’s but honestly I couldn’t read the tap handle and figured wtf, why not.

The bartender pouring didn’t give the pour much head but thankfully the glass wasn’t frosted so I could see the nice dark amber body. The aroma was tempting with a mild mix of fruits and spices. The taste was interesting. The second glass I had was a bit stronger. There was more malt with chocolate tones to it and I was loving it. The body was about medium with very little carbonation and a 100% smooth finish. This that night Troubadour is all I drink there now.

Spoon’s rating: A


08 – Clipper City Holy Sheet!


Clipper City Brewery in Baltimore MD brings this week’s craft beer from their Heavy Seas series in the form of Holy Sheet Uber Abbey Ale (9%ABV).

Right off the bat I thought this to be a find as it was part of the Heavy Seas variety case I picked up from Save on Beer in Cranberry TWP. Holy Sheet comes out in February as a seasonal and not one I usually see around these parts.

The aroma reminds me of the banana bread my gram used to make back in the day. You know the kind, the same one the old ladies in the parish make for the church bake sale and that you wash down with a glass of milk. That’s the bread I’m talkin about!

There was little head on it which was a letdown since the aroma when I poured it was so delicious. It does carry a deep amber color which was visually appealing but had absolutely no lacing on the glass and in fact it runs down quick like soapy water.

The taste… *oye* Remember how I said I don’t care for barleywines? Well guess what, this one should be added to that category. It’s drinkable but leaves a strong barleywine bitterness in my mouth. In fact, imagine a civil war between hops and the malt. Gettysburg is your mouth. Well minus the 3 days of killing (i hope).

Would I buy this again? Not a chance. Would I drink if someone bought it for me? eh, maybe but only if I have to drink one. This is the first bad beer I’ve had from this brewery so I can say that this one surprised me. I’m hoping that tomorrow morning my stomach doesn’t have me screaming this beer’s name literally. Then we have problems.