RSS

La Chouffe

Date: 12th July 2011

Alcohol: 8.0%

Volume: 750mL

Price: $14.95 (bottleshop)

Manufactured: Achouffe, Belgium

It’s a Belgian beer and it has a little dwarf on the front; of course I was going to pick it up.  The first time I came across this beer was when I stopped by the local Belgian beer café and noticed the dwarf on the menu.  I didn’t try it at the time but made a mental note that we would meet again.

The story of the Brasserie d’Achouffe is not unlike a lot of micro breweries these days.  Two blokes like beer and think,’ we should make our own beer and sell it… we’d make a fortune’.  The two blokes were in fact brothers in law and started brewing in 1982.  Think it as a Belgian version of Mountain Goat.  As happens they were bought out by Duvel in 2006 and probably now sitting on a pile of money drinking their profits.  Good luck to them.

Appearance (3.5/5)

The beer pours a golden amber colour and is clear without sediment.  I have heard a few people say that it is a cloudy beer.  I can only assume that the clarity is due to the 750mL bottle keeping the sediment well away from the bulk of the beer.  The bubbles are larger than expected but still provide a classic Belgian head for the life of the beer.

Nose (4/5)

The nose is unmistakable Belgian yeast from about 3 feet.  Someone could open one of these in the room and you would have a good idea of what was going on.  On closer inspection you get toasty grains and a general smell.  The best I can do is something like candy floss.  Overall appealing.

Flavour (4.0/5)

Once again this is a caramel bananas beer.  It hits you right at the back of the throat and is very moreish.  The other fruit further forward in the palate is yeasty apples; sounds funky but is quite pleasant.

Finish (3.5/5)

The finish is all yeasty, honey goodness. Not particularly complex but it hangs around for some time.

Rating: (15/20)

I really wanted to like this beer and all things considered it’s an enjoyable drop.  La Chouffe is not however, a sensational beer.  I would definitely buy it again but it just doesn’t have some of the complexities of some of its local competitors.

 

Posted by on 14th July 2011 in Beer

2 Comments

Tags: , ,

Gage Roads – Sleeping Giant IPA

Date: 3rd July 2011

Alcohol: 5.4%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $18 per 6 pack (bottle shop)

Manufactured: Palmyra, Western Australia

For the uninitiated an IPA is an Indian Pale Ale.  This is a style of beer that is particularly popular in the Britain, not the least being with some of the bigger brewers like IPA and Fullers.  The story that I had heard previously about IPA’s was that they were a style of beer that was brewed with a ‘slightly’ higher alcohol percentage to help them survive the journey from Britain to India in the 1800’s.  If Wikipedia can be believed that is myth and it notes that rather they are brewed leaving little residual sugar and heavily hopped.

I love the look of this bottle and label.  I think Gage Roads have done a great job in creating a product that catches your eye in the bottle shop.  It caught mine and now I’m ready to give it a rip.

Appearance (4.5/5)

The beer has a great burnt amber colour verging on coppery red.  The head is fine and creamy in colour, only very thin but hangs around for the life of the drink.  Well done.  All in all, a good looking beer.

Nose (3/5)

When I first ripped off the crown I got a great whiff of hops that got the brain ready for an exciting beer.  The disappointment set in once poured as all but a trace of the hoppy smell was replaced by a fairly simple caramel nose.

Flavour (4/5)

Stone fruit is the dominant flavour, peaches and apricots that are softened by some dark caramel that matches the nose mentioned above.

Finish (3.5/5)

It takes some time to get past the peach and apricot flavour before you start to get some of that hoppy bitterness.  Not a lot there but still quite enjoyable.  Overall I would class this a medium to sweet beer.

Rating: (15/20)

I am not sure whether this score does this beer a disservice.  I like the beer and think that it would go well with some spicy food but probably not great as a session beer as the fruit can become somewhat cloying.

 

Posted by on 3rd July 2011 in Beer

Leave a comment

Tags: , , ,

H Upmann Connoisseur No. 1

Firstly, I need to apologise for the break in reviews.  To fill in a few gaps I have just got married and decided that I needed a month to spend on the honeymoon.  Yes, we did attend Cuba (what a lovely wife) and I’m hooked.  I am looking for the next opportunity to get back.  What a blast.

Before I left I picked up a Robusto sampler that included all the usual suspects.  One of the contenders that I was looking forward to was the H Upmann Coni No1.  When I was reaching in to the humidor for my first taste on my return this was numero uno as I reckon Upmanns have some of the prettiest (most floral) smoke around.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Review Date: 16th June 2011

Box code: Unknown (purchased as single)

Ring Gauge: 48

Length: 12.7 cm

Vitolas: Hermosos

Construction

I was a little concerned, as this stick felt like a brick.  Tip to tail it was all firm.  No fault I admit, but I was thinking this thing will be plugged for sure.  The colour was consistent but as you can see from the photos, the 2nd half had a ‘leafy’ wrapper.

Aroma

Yum.  Loads of cedar and smelt like a well-conditioned habanos.

Smoking

On light, this cigar gave off bags of smoke that filled the air with those floral notes that I love in H Upmann.  At first it was medium bodied with mostly savoury notes like leather and earth.  The first half was very consistent.  Great burn (as you can see) without too many complications.  A very easy smoke that didn’t challenge or give up too much.

Come second half it was like a switch.  Within a draw it turned super creamy with chocolate and coffee.  I thought that it was heading down a dull path but I really started to enjoy this one.  Still not a lot of complexity but the creamy chocolate was great pre dinner.  I have no idea what age this cigar has (a single) but was thoroughly enjoyable and showed little signs of youth.  It popped up a couple of bitter signs but only similar to espresso or toasted tobacco. Good.

Overall

One of the more enjoyable aspects of this cigar was the consistency.  I have recently (in Cuba) had too many dodgy burns that detracts from the experience, relights and battling all the way.  This was behaved throughout.  Not complicated but enough to keep you entertained end to end.  As expected, the nose was wonderful and the smoke was great.  I would definitely back up for another.

Rating: 90 points

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by on 16th June 2011 in Cuban Cigars

Leave a comment

Tags: , , ,

Chimay Tripel (White)

Date: 25st April 2011

Alcohol: 8.0%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $4.95 (bottleshop), $12.50 (pub)

Manufactured: Baileux, Belgium

This is my second adventure in the Chimay trio following on from the Chimay Red last week.

Appearance (4/5)

Golden amber in colour again with a high level of sedimentation similar to a wheat beer.  The head came out thick and creamy/ fluffy with a yellow tinge in colour.  The head is made up of superfine bubbles similar to some of the stouts but loads more volume.  It throws a crust in the bottom of the bottle that a 10 year old Barossa Shiraz would be proud of.

Nose (4/5)

The first aroma I noticed was the yeasty breadiness that I was able to pick up as soon as the crown was removed.  There is higher end sweet note (peaches/ apricots ?) but overall dominated by wheat bread and malt.

Flavour (4.5/5)

The mouth feel is just like the head looks; a full creamy silk mouth coating with tiny bubbles attacking the tongue.  The fruit is the first flavour I notice with banana and peach followed by yeast and wheat at the back of the palate.

Finish (5/5)

I absolutely love the finish on this beer.  You get bags of honey and fruit around the front of the pallet while the back of the mouth and throat gets dry hop bitterness with ever so slight alcohol warmth that hangs around. Great balance. Whoooaaa.

Rating: (17.5/20)

Pour this beer into a glass and ‘blind Freddy’ could tell you it’s a Belgian beer and not a baddy at that.  It’s a classic that is surprisingly drinkable and available which can’t always be said for the Trappiste beers.  I could easily have a Friday afternoon session on these but alternative transport would be required :-).  A great beer and leaving me looking forward to the final chapter with Chimay Blue.

 

Posted by on 25th April 2011 in Beer

Leave a comment

Tags: , , ,

Chimay Rouge (Red)

Date: 21st April 2011

Alcohol: 7.0%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $4.95 (bottleshop), $12.50 (pub)

Manufactured: Baileux, Belgium

A while back I had a business meeting in Brussels which nicely coincided with some (not unusual) industrial action by the local airport baggage handlers.  Long and short of it; I was stuck in a Brussels airport lounge with a little spare time to taste some of the local beers.  I can’t say I remember everything I tried (Leffe among them) but I do remember leaving with the message, ‘Belgium makes a great beer, but sh*t it’s strong’.

That leads me onto Chimay which is one of the easier to find Trappiste beers that I have been dying to try in order of Red, White and Blue for some time.  I have picked up all three and over the next few reviews you will get my opinions on all.

There are only 7 breweries that are able to call themselves Trappiste that are brewed by monks in monasteries around Belgium and one in Holland. Red is the entry beer at 7% alcohol followed by White at 8% and Blue at 9%.  I would be keep to do all three in the one sitting but I feel the quality of the Blue could be a little random.

Appearance (3.5/5)

Dark red/ tan in colour with a think amount of particulates (muddy) that cloud the beer.  I am assuming this is residual yeast.  The sediment stays around for the life of the drink.  The beer pours with a nice foamy cream head that dies away over time.

Nose (4/5)

The nose is much lighter than I was expecting.  I can definitely pick up the maltiness and fruit at the front.  Other reviews refer to it as bananas but I think that it is more like caramelised bananas with a prominent yeastiness.

Flavour (4.5/5)

This is quite a sweet but controlled beer.  It is caramel in flavour (mid palate) with a slight bitterness.  The beer has a thick body about it like a wheat beer that coats the mouth.

Finish (4.5/5)

The finish has an ever so light splash of bitterness but continues with the caramel sweetness.  The slightly warm alcohol finish in the throat that reminds you this is not a sub 5% beer.

Rating: (16.5/20)

This is a lovely beer no doubt about it, but I cannot say that it is a truly great Belgium beer.  It is let down by the muddy appearance that comes from having a tan beer with heavy sedimentation.  If I was handed one of these at the start of the night I would be a happy man but I just know that better things are to come from the Chimay trio.

 

Posted by on 21st April 2011 in Beer

1 Comment

Tags: , ,

White Rabbit Dark Ale

Date: 12th April 2011

Alcohol: 4.9%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $69 /24 btls (Vintage Cellars)

Manufactured: Healesville, Australia

This bottle caught my eye from the start.  I love the cutesy ‘Alice in Wonderland’ type image on the front of the bottle.  This is something different that I think does a good job of giving it that boutique feel.  The brewery located in the Yarra Valley and has both bases covered with its extensive range of two beers; dark and light ale.  I haven’t sampled the light ale but after this tasting I’ll be sure to track it down.

Appearance (4/5)

Medium-dark ruby ale with very little head to speak of. Love a dark ale.

Nose (4/5)

The nose is sweet and malty and is a great entre to the palate.  There is a light dose of hops without going crazy.  Balanced. It is one of those beers that makes a smooth transition from nose to mouth. Oooooh that smells good lets drink.

Flavour (4.5/5)

Up front you are hit with lush caramel maltiness with sweet date flavours throughout.

Finish (4.5/5)

The finish is everything I want from a dark ale; long, nicely bitter hopiness with sweetness that will hang around till your ready for the next mouthful.  Oh yeah I’m ready.

Rating: (17/20)

Bottom line, go out and get some.  It is starting to get up there in price but this would make a great Sunday lunch beer with the Roast Beef with all the trimmings. Yum.

 

Posted by on 12th April 2011 in Beer

Leave a comment

Tags: , ,

Hoya de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 (tubos)

I thought it was about time to get a review out on one of the CC’s that I had sitting on my humidor.  This blog can’t exactly be ‘Smoke and Booze’ without the smoke, so here goes.

I ask that you are gentle with me as this is the first time I have tried to put into words the subtleties of a good smoke.

Review Date: 9th April 2011

Box code: Unknown (purchased as single)

Ring Gauge: 50

Length: 12.4 cm

Vitolas: Robusto

Construction

Nice consistent wrapper , slightly soft  in places.  This particular stick had a couple of nicks where the cap had lifted (loose ends).  This didn’t affect the cut or draw at all.  Habanos felt this needed two bands which certainly gave it a smart look but always annoys me when you need to start peeling off a band halfway through the smoke.

Aroma

This had an absolutely beautiful sweet cedary nose.  It was probably picking up the cedar lining in the tube.  I can’t quite place the sweetness but possibly something like sultanas. Yummy, yummy.

Smoking

When I first lit this up I got a quick punch of pepperiness on the back of the palate but this passed as quick as it came.  The body started out very smooth, medium to mild. Great quantities of creamy sweet smoke.  The first half was really quite light and creamy.

Into the second half the flavour got quite toasty and the sweetness was replaced with more spiciness as the smoke drew to the end.  Much more full in body.  This was an amazing change for me that the smoke could start out so light and reel up in the last third.

The aroma of the smoke given off was fantastic the whole way through; leathery cedar.

The burn was faultless from start to finish.  Very even all the way and able to hold a long ash.

Overall

This was a great smoke and I would certainly be looking to purchase some more.  I would have this as an after dinner cigar because it was on the full side of medium in the second half. A quality smoke that is worth hanging onto for a while.

Rating: 89 points

 

Posted by on 9th April 2011 in Cigars, Cuban Cigars

Leave a comment

Tags: , , ,

Laphroaig Quarter Cask Whisky

Date: 4th April 2011

Alcohol: 48%

Volume: 700mL

Price: $??? (mine was a gift :-))

Manufactured: Islay, Scotland

I gotta admit straight up, I don’t think I have come across an Islay whisky I don’t enjoy so you might need to take what I say with a grain of salt.  That being said of all the whisky’s that I normally have on rotation, you can pretty much guarantee that there will be a bottle of Lophoaig 10 year with the foil broken in the cupboard.  I love the stuff.  It is a great balance of peat and caramel that I think is right up there in bang for buck.  So when I unexpected received a bottle of Quarter Cask from the in-laws when they visited from ol’ blighty I thought ‘bring it on’.

BTW: That reminds me I should put up a review for Lophroaig 10YO.

From my detailed research (reading the back of the bottle), I understand that the name comes from the fact that the spirit spends some time in oak before being transfered to quarter casks that give it its sweetness.  I’m convinced.

Appearance (4/5)

Golden amber in colour.

Nose (5/5)

Sweet creme caramel with a lovely balance of peatiness.  This glass is over 2 feet away and I can clearly smell that beautiful peat.

Flavour (4.5/5)

Coating, slightly oily mouthfeel. There is an unmistakable campfire peatiness that won’t let you forget it’s Islay. Burnt caramel an dark malt are the stand out flavours.

Finish (4.5/5)

This dram has a warmth that sticks to the top of your mouth. It starts out in a powerful way and slowly develops into sweet raisons and dried fruit.  This one isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Rating: (17.5/20)

 

Posted by on 4th April 2011 in Scotch Whisky, Spirits

2 Comments

Tags: , , ,

Birra Moretti Premium Larger

Date: 3rd April 2011

Alcohol: 4.6%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $55 /24 btls (Dan Murphys)

Manufactured: Milan, Italy

This is not the first time I have tried Birra Moretti but I must say that there have been a few packaging changes since the last time. The outer case (24 pack) was damn thin, in fact I don’t know how the hell it made it to oz without a few broken bottles. More important than that, the happy little dude in a green suit on the front has been shrunk and the brand enlarged. A travesty I say; surely the green dude can sell more beer than a simple logo. That’s just an engineer’s opinion I guess.

I have always been a bit smitten for the Italian beers as accompaniment with food. I am sure that it is 80% emotion as when you sit down and think about them, they are usually pretty non-descript. I don’t care; if I’m in the local Italian cafe having a prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella tasting plate on a Sunday morning I’d be all over a Moretti.

Worth noting, like a lot of beers this one started to come good as it warmed up a little from the fridge.

Appearance (4/5)

Light amber in colour with a light head (ok I’m being nice, it doesn’t hold for long).

Nose (2.5/5)

The nose is similar to several of the Italians (that doesn’t include Coca Cola Australia’s Peroni). At the front is pear and citrus with a hint of yeast. Overall, a light nose.

Flavour (2.5/5)

Quite a creamy mouth feel with smooth bubbles. Dry in flavour very with little residual sugar. It’s a non-offensive larger with not a lot on flavour.

Finish (3.5/5)

The finish is long and develops into a nice hoppy bitterness. It certainly makes up for a basic flavour.

Overall Rating: (13/20)

 

Posted by on 3rd April 2011 in Beer

Leave a comment

Tags: , , ,