Anticipations and Expectations- Part One. The Three Floyds and New Belgium Collaboration Grätzer

More than a bit of back story is necessary. Five years ago I was finally returning to Indiana for my 35th high school reunion. I was staying with my old, old friends, Brian and Linda, at their house on Lake Michigan. I was going to arrive first and open up the house. After my domestic duties were completed I peeked into the garage refrigerator for some much needed refreshment. Ah, heavenly beer! Although I would have partaken of the water from the lake before drinking a Miller Lite, even a PBR might have quelled my thirst. However, I discovered a label I didn’t recognize, so  I inspected the bottle. Hmmmmm…Three Floyds Brewing. Never heard of it. MUNSTER, INDIANA!!!! Gott im himmel! Was ist los? How can that be? A craft brewery in Munster, the town that I had left 30 years ago? I popped the cap and it was, to my surprise, a great beer. I was able to taste a few more during the weekend’s festivities. All were outstanding as was the company of people I hadn’t seen for years.

In the intervening five years I have gotten a hold of Three Floyds’ Robert the Bruce on two separate occasions, both as a result of the fine efforts of two other high school classmates, Dan and Joanne. Delicious!


All of this brings you to the present when I walked into Superior Liquors to peruse the aisles for interesting beers. New Belgium Brewing is always doing some taste bud tantalizing work in their Lips Of Faith (LOF) series. The bottle’s distinctive artwork immediately caught my eye. A collaboration with none other than Three Floyds. And on a style that partner in suds, Chris, had recently brewed, a grätzer or grodziskie, a historically Polish, smoked wheat beer. The gods (or Grods) ARE kind. I grabbed the bottle and drove back home, yearning all the way, even though it was only two miles. I set up in my favorite drinking spot on the back deck, overlooking the open space, glands salivating. I poured, expectations running amok, for the forthcoming rapture. A quick assessment of the aromas emanating from the glass caused me a quick bit of concern. A little sour, I thought. With my typical devil-may-care attitude a took a huge gulp and swished it around my mouth. Arrrrrgh! My sour-sensing buds went off standby and into high alert, seizing up. Oh, no…lacto. It was smoky, but incredibly sour. Yuck, yuck, yuck! I HATE SOUR BEERS!! Or rather, I believe my palate is overly sensitive to them. I thought a few more sips might deaden the sensitivity  somewhat, but I was mistaken. It pains me to say that this was the first beer that I had to pour down the drain.

So disappointing and yet, I realize it was entirely my own fault. I have studied beer enough to have fairly accurate predictions about what most beers should taste like. I do not read other reviews before I taste a particular brew, but I do read the brewery’s description, attending to ABV’s , IBU’s, and any unusual ingredients. In this case, I simply set the bar too high at the outset and, unfortunately, it turned out to contain one of my least favorite tastes.  More later…Pliny the Elder.



500 Bottles Of Beer In My Book (App, Actually)

I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes.”   W. C. Fields

At long last, I have finally taken the time to put pen to paper, so to speak. But, once again, fear not, gentle reader, as I have not forsaken that most delicious and versatile of malty beverages. I have been drinking and brewing with my usual enthusiasm, but I have not been as industrious about the writing part as I should have been. A flurry of posts will be forthcoming forthwith.

My 500th Different Beer.

I remained stalled at 497 for a few days as my job sometimes interferes with my ability to find interesting brews tickle my taste buds and tantalize yours. I have written about the 3 microbreweries in our town of 18 thousand and was next planning to visit our neighboring hamlet of Lafayette, CO which also is home to 3 craft breweries that have garnered many rave reviews- Post, Odd 13, and Front Range.  A stop at just one of these would get me to that hallowed of Untapp’d badges (




But domestic tasks beckoned and I became extricated in the deep cleaning of our inside refrigerator and figuring out how to store our 3 recent brews in our garage refrigerator. And as I had resolved not to be so clutter-dacious, I had some pick up work to do about the house. A field trip was not in my immediate future.






But then, as if thunderstruck by Thor himself, I remembered I had 3 beers from Iceland in the refrigerator, gifts from friend and fellow brewer Chris and his  lovely wife, Carolyn, fermenter extraordinaire, from their most recent madcap adventure. I have yet to hear an entire recap of the trip, but they did travel north of the Arctic Circle and joyously participated in the Reykjavik Bacon Festival.








Icelandic White Ale by Einstök Olgerđ. Light and refreshing on a hot day. Great 2165summertime beer. However, the average high temperature for the warm season is only 53 degrees. Take a six pack to the nearest thermal pool.



aviary_1405898385364Tumi Humall IPA by Gæðingur Öl Brugghús. This honey-colored brew had an interesting hop aroma, until I realized that the breeze was blowing lightly in my face and I was picking up the scent of the geraniums on the table. Milder, less hoppy  than American IPA’s, this beer would pair well with a wide variety of roasted or grilled meats

Stedji Reyktur (Stedji Smoked) by Brugghús Steðja. This tastes similar to our 20140720_172041recently bottled Grodziskie which was made with smoked wheat. A light touch of smoke on the nose and palate.

 Earned the Legendary badge!    Ta-Da!!!

A very enjoyable tasting session although I had to finish inside as our somewhat typical, brief afternoon showers moved through.


As of this post, I stand at 512 distinct beers. And all this writing is making me thirsty…for more writing, of course.



Posts to come…One Of The Worst Beers Ever, More Adventures In Brewing, Post Brewing, Odd13 Brewing, Front Range Brewing, Reviews!

Thor Image

Untapp’d Image





Adventures In Home Brewing, Part One










Last July, I was driving down my street, headed to a dentist appointment. I saw a neighbor and two other relatively young men sitting in a  camp chairs around a deep fat fryer. Odd, I thought, because who fries a turkey in July. But, as I was running a tad late, I couldn’t stop to investigate. However, when I returned (cavity-less, no less) 90 minutes later, they will still there. I quickly pulled into my driveway, barely getting the car parked, and skipped down four houses to satisfy my curiosity. Indeed, no turkey…they were BREWING BEER.  My interest in beer had been growing for some time, having been thoroughly entranced by the book, The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver.





I had even gotten my first level Cicerone certification (Certified Beer Server…I have the pin to prove it). They were just ending the afternoon’s festivities, but Ben promised he would holler over when they were to brew again. True to his word, a month later, I was sitting in Ben’s driveway waiting for the magic.


Ben, sitting in his driveway.

I was fascinated, snapping photographs and scribbling notes in my journal, trying to remember every detail. We drank beer and even tasted some of Ben’s homemade dandelion wine.




I was hooked, but in a quandary as well. I started reading brewing books, but found myself stymied when it came time to purchase the necessary equipment.  The move to Louisville, CO brought us closer to our friends Chris and Carolyn. Carolyn is a skilled cheese maker and fermenter of all sorts of things and her husband was not only interested in brewing, but also had a brother who had been brewing for quite some time and would lend us advice and some used equipment. Chris ordered what we needed and then we discovered the Lafayette Homebrew Supply (George Otteni, owner, and purchased the last of our supplies there.


Fellow brewer, Chris. And you can tell by his pose that he leads a life of danger.








I had always wanted to do an ESB (Extra Special Bitter), one of my first favorite beer styles, thanks to the fine folks at Fuller’s. I even had the name…ABD ESB. An inside joke as I had left a doctoral program before finishing my dissertation, a somewhat painful consequence when, after 34 years, I decided to leave the field of education.


I sComplete-Joyhould also mention the invaluable assistance provided by Charlie Papazian, although I have never met him. This is Charlie.  This is Charlie’s book which to this day I keep close by at all times. Of course, we have a small house, but nevertheless…

21 dog-eared pages and countless underlines…

Chris arrived at my house around 1:00 pm. We, home brewers like casual start times (at least Chris and I do). We were fidgeting around, getting everything perfect, running back to the brew store to pick up some things we had forgotten, so we didn’t actually “flame on” until 3:00 pm and transferred the 5 gallons of elixir to the fermenter at 6:00 pm. It would stay in the fermenter for two weeks and then finish in the bottle for another week or so.












Leap forward in time to May 2nd, 2014 and we have only one bottle remaining of that very first brew. Our friends and relatives are surprised by how good it tastes.

Much has happened as we have picked up neighbors and friends. Yesterday we bottled our fourth brew, a double IPA and completed our fifth brew, a Russian Imperial Stout, and are planning the move from extract and steeping grains to all grain brewing. Much more to reflect on in the coming weeks.


The other guy…








Photo Credits


Brewmaster’s Table

Garrett Oliver

Charlie Papazian

Joy Of Homebrewing

Stop Three In The Beer-muda Triangle- Gravity Brewing

To review…

Stop One.

Stop Two.

An unsuspecting reader may have detected a whiny note in the Stop Two post concerning my rejected application at Crystal Springs. Upon further reflection, I was actually rejected by all three microbreweries during our first weeks living in Louisville. I contacted Jon at 12 Degree through Facebook, talked with Tom at Crystal Springs, and slipped a resume through the door at Gravity. I guess serving beer is not in my immediate future, however I was quickly picked up by Whole Foods and LOVE working there.

Back to Gravity Brewing. NOTE…the place is a little hard to find even though it is only a 5 minute WALK from 12 Degree. Part of my confusion was due to the sign on Pine Street.


As you can see from the Google satellite imagebelow, Gravity Brewing is located in the building behind Mountain High Appliance and shares space with the Walter Rhoades American Legion Post 111. You actually have to drive further south to find Gravity.


The owner of the fronting building was kind enough to allow the Gravity folks to put their name on the sign. Typical of me, the first time I tried to find the place I walked all the way around with my eyes so focused on the front building that I never glanced toward the south. I got back to my car, muttering, checked my map on the phone and set out one more time. Eureka!

It just so happened that on my visit the head brewer, Julius Hummer, was finishing up some tasks before heading out to his birthday celebration. Julius is the son of David Hummer, co-founder of the Boulder Brewery, and has brewed beer all around the world. 2035

Wanting to return to Colorado, a serendipitous connection was made with John Frazee and Ryan Bowers who happened to be looking for a master brewer. After some searching for an available space, Gravity brewing opened in September, 2012.

Walking through the doors, I got the feeling that I was a part of the brewery operation, with fermenters, barrels, bags of malt and hops in plain view. Very inviting atmosphere to have a brew or two, especially with a ping pong table and a pool table. Lots of open space to move around. Fortunate if you happen to be a fairly mediocre ping pong player.








The brews were inviting as well. Pictured from left to right are- Tsar Bomba Russian Imperial Stout, Ebb and Flow Double Red Rye, Newtonian ESB, Mendacious Belgian Golden Strong, Louisville Belgian Dubbel.

Mendacious Belgian Golden Strong Ale, 6.5% ABV, 25 IBU’s. This beer screams “nectar of the gods in summertime”. Definite bu not overpowering fruity esters, banana. Low carbonation, cleansing aftertaste leaves you always ready for another sip. Pair with a fruit tart.

Newtonian ESB, 5.7% ABV, 35 IBU’s. ESB, Extra Special Bitter) was really my first favorite kind of beer. Medium body, honey-colored, subtle malt sweetness with just a hint of orange. Nice lacing in the glass and a subtle hops kick on the back end. I could pretty much drink this from dawn to dusk.

Ebb and Flow Double Red Rye, 9.0% ABV, 70 IBU’s. Definite grain on the nose, hint of sweetness, coupled with an earthier taste, strong hops on the back end. Pair with smoked gouda and almost anything on the grill.

Louisville Belgian Abbey Dubbel, 6.5%, 25 IBU’s. Copper-colored, light to medium malt sweetness (another touch of banana, clove?). I had an interesting palate reaction with the fruit overlaying the hop bitterness with the fruit slowly decreasing and the hop increasing, although sensing both throughout.

Tsar Bomba Russian Imperial Stout, 10% ABV, 60 IBU’s. I am biased here. Wait…I’m always biased when it comes to good beer. But I do love stouts!!! Tan head, typical roast smell and something sweeter. Slightly sweet on the palate which balances the roast. Medium body which I found refreshingly surprising. This would be a good introduction for folks that say they don’t like stouts. Simple and straightforward.


It was a cool Friday in early April, but the Beer Garden out back looks like a lovely time to spend part of an evening.




Gravity Brewing has several other fine brews, but I have learned that five tastings is just right for me. Check out the website at or their Facebook page at

In Other News…

BBSometime in mid-July, we will be going on a leisurely 11 mile bike ride. Beginning in downtown Louisville, we will be visiting and socializing at 6 local microbreweries, 3 in Louisville and 3 in neighboring Lafayette. Feel free to join us for a stop or two or the entire circuit. On the map, Stop G is actually the starting point at 12 Degree, but we will actually complete our taste tour there.


Stop Two in the Beer-muda Triangle- Crystal Springs Brewing

Heading south from Twelve Degree Brewing, it is a mere 5 minute walk to Gravity Brewing. Common sense would naturally dictate for that to be the next stop, however I haven’t visited them since December, so that will be Stop Number Three.

Therefore, we head out on a 12 minute bike ride or a quick 8 minute drive to Crystal Springs Brewing, located in the Louisville Tech Center, 657 S. Taylor Ave., Unit E, Louisville, CO

WARNING…it is a little tricky to find this place among all of the similar looking buildings. Don’t give up, intrepid craft beer enthusiasts and you will be well-rewarded.

Some back story…

Just after we moved to Louisville last May I read an article about Crystal Springs and its owner, Tom Horst. I had just deserted a partially completed dissertation, retired from Denver Public Schools, and was becoming more involved with food and beer. I stopped by the place and construction had just begun. I liked Tom. He had a doctorate, was a public school teacher, and had been successfully brewing for years. We had a short chat while we walked around the place and he described the plans he had for the place. I had just passed my Level 1 cicerone certification and I thought I could be very happy serving beers there. I was quite disappointed when I didn’t get a call.

Hence, it has taken me quite awhile to get over the emotional letdown and get over there to taste their beers. Also, truthfully speaking, Twelve Degree Brewing is a mile and a half from our home.


Because the buildings are constructed so they can cater to a wide variety of clientele, they are pretty similar on the outside. Thankfully, there is a blinking “Open” sign in the window. Take care where you park as only a few spots are assigned to the brewery, but there is plenty of on street parking.



From a nondescript outside, step in and find a warm, relaxed, jovial atmosphere. Simple butcher block bar and tables  with ample room to move around. A huge                               chalkboard details the wide range of available beers.




A Happy Couple



Belly up to the bar and have a friendly chat.



This couple enjoys a fine set of tasters.




Aging barrels and fermenters in the back room








My taster tray, nicely labeled, included the following South Ridge Amber, Solano, Doc’s American Porter, Black Saddle #4, and Road Trip Ginger Chocolate Stout


My Tasters

South Ridge Amber, 7.3% ABV, 36.4 IBU’s. Long lasting head, excellent lacing, nice balance on the nose. Long, hoppy finish, but not overpowering. Certainly a great warm weather beer and an excellent pairing for burgers and Mexican food.

Solano, 6.0% ABV, 27 IBU’s. I love the IDEA of chile beers, but have most often been disappointing, one note…a bit of a burn and nothing else. Almost like one just added capsaicin extract to the wort. Not here! This one had a nice roast on the nose and palate, similar to what you would experience if you were standing next to a chile roaster. Moderate carbonation and I was feeling it all the way down my throat. Pair this with chocolate.

Doc’s American Porter, 7.5 ABV, 50 IBU’s.  Fascinating history of porter and its derivative stout. Doc’s is a fine example. Deep brown color, nicely carbonated, a hint of coffee and well-balanced.

Black Saddle #4, 12.6% ABV (Wow!), 70.3 IBU’s. A veritable assault on your sensory apparatus…very good, port-like, great dessert beer. Small glasses only and a great pairing with a dark chocolate flour-less torte. Don’t be fooled by the high IBU’s as it only serves to balance.

Road Trip Ginger Chocolate Stout, 7.2% ABV, 41.1 IBU’s. Very dark, ginger on the nose. Ginger and unsweetened chocolate on the palate, mouth-coating. Not my style, but admirably constructed.

There were several other beers on the menu, but I think my palate gets a bit overloaded after five. They do brew their own root beer and offer a meat and cheese plate as well. Food trucks make a consistent and welcome appearance as it is a bit out of town. Definitely worth a visit. You will taste some fine brews.


Tom Horst



The Beer-muda Triangle…First Stop, Twelve Degree Brewing

Deepest apologies for my lengthy absence, gentle readers. I have unequivocally not deserted you and I do continue to excitedly muse about the nectar of the gods- beer- in all its glorious colors and tastes.

Let me tell you about my town. Louisville, Colorado (and you do pronounce the “S”) is a town of less than 20, 000 folks, yet there are three microbreweries within the limits forming what shall henceforth be referred to as

The Beer-muda Triangle        You can almost taste the magic.


As there are three microbreweries on the map, it would be exceptionally easy to construct a triangle, but that would make it worthless as a map, so for the geometrically inclined, please simply imagine a triangle and save the driving to those less enlightened.









Producing delightful Belgian-inspired ales, this is one of my favorite places to relax with friends and family. Located on Main Street, it also happens to be less than two miles from our home.

With the bar and tables constructed from rail car flooring, the place exudes an ambiance of rustic charm with just a touch of impishness as seen in such details as the naming of the fermenters

2065 2063

or the scrambled words hidden in the ale descriptions









And, of course, the ales are outstanding and can be appreciated by those newly escaping their addiction to Miller Lite (or similar slop) as well as those with a wider palate.








Hopheads take note…you will find much more subtlety expressed in these beers with ratings ranging from 18 to 28 IBU’s. Alcohol content ranges from 5.7% to around 11% ABV.

And, although there is not a vast kitchen, the flatbreads, pizzas, pretzels, and Belgian frites make for some delicious noshing.


So come on down and let Jon, Kevin, Bissy, Autumn, Charlie, or Nick pour you a brew (or any friendly staff I forgot to mention).

Addendum: They have recently added a movie night, open mic bluegrass night, and a chocolate menu. This place rocks!

Check out the website at                                                     or their Facebook page at


A Post-Christmas Christmas Beer- St. Bernardus Christmas Ale


How can that title NOT make you feel all warm and tingly, even the pre-epiphanal Grinch would crack a smile.







As I have written before, this brewery makes one of my favorite beers ( and the Christmas Ale is certainly no exception. IMG_0013After retrieving it from the wine refrigerator, it was a long, painful wait until it warmed up to the suggested drinking temperature of 46° to 51°F. I didn’t make it…I rarely do. I could really use a robot that could keep these beers at cellar temperature and open them early enough so I don’t have to wait, sitting at the table, and pretend not to think about this beer.

The label also says it can be aged for 15 years…..Right! Best laid plans…

Back to the beer. It has a nice, frothy, vanilla head which was long lasting. It is very similar to the Abt 12, but with just a few more spice notes on the nose and palate. Raisin, prune, a bit of chocolate. Visions of fruity esters danced in my head and in my mouth. Savor, savor, savor. And, again, watch out for the 10% ABV, as it can sneak up on you.

This is a wonderful abbey beer as opposed to a Trappist brew. Abbey beers are so named because they can have a wide range of connections to an actual Trappist monastery. In the case of St. Bernardus, the beer recipes originated with a Trappist brewer and remain so today. For other breweries making abbey-style beers, the connections to a monastery can be tenuous or simply non-existent, however the styles of beer produced most often resemble those made by Trappist breweries.  Fascinating stuff for beer geeks.

What ho? I hear the familiar sound of….


The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) and its current occupants are always welcome visitors. And I gather they are always ready to share a pint.




So we bid adieu to the 11th Doctor played by Matt Smith who did a commendable job despite some rather below par scripts.11th

And let us welcome in the 12th Doctor who will be played by Peter Capaldi.






Rejoice Whovians and Beer Drinkers alike.





Photo Credits

11th Doctor

12th Doctor


A Note Of Holiday Cheer….And A Beer!

There is a heavy black Converse All Star shoe box on my table sent from Dan Harder and I owe it to Facebook and beer…


(Note-There will be a description of the tasty Robert the Bruce from Three Floyd’s Brewing further down, I promise. But first, I must digress as there are stories to be told.)

First Digression

I know people like to rail against Facebook or proudly state that they don’t have a page. FB does have more than its fair share of cat pictures (not guilty), food (guilty), and liberal knowledge nuggets (way guilty) but I have  connected, reconnected, or stayed connected with folks (many of them from high school back in Munster, IN…this is an important clue). I’ve shared meals with a few FB buddies passing through town, had a few stay overnight, discovered that a few are fellow Coloradoans, and even provided shelter for the offspring of an FB friend and her traveling band (fine young folks, Radiation City. Check them out at


Second Digression

This all started a few years ago when I finally joined Facebook at the urging of some of my former 5th graders (now in college and way beyond). I was reacquainted with so many former high school classmates that I had to attend the next reunion.  I was graciously invited to stay with Linda and Brian at the lake house and, knowing that I would be the first to arrive, was instructed to” open up” the house. After completing my chores, I noticed a refrigerator in the garage and discovered beer. I popped the cap and tasted. Wow…pretty darn good and it was a company I had never heard of. Three Floyd’s? Where is that, pray tell. Munster, Indiana!!!!?  I thought the only businesses of note were the McDonald’s (where every Etling worked), Schoop’s, and Ogren Insurance. But a micro-brewery? And, as I later found out, an award-winning one at that.

Throughout the various celebrations that weekend, I had a chance to enjoy a few more.

Third Digression

So a couple of years ago I was escorting my mom back to New Buffalo, MI to attend the graduation party of my almost favorite niece, Natalie (and this would be the youngest daughter of my younger sister, Julie). To be fair, she only just recently became my almost favorite when her older brother started a craft brewery in Michigan City, INBurnem (Burn’em Brewing- )

I dearly wanted to connect with Deb C and her lovely mate, Patrick as a consequence of our enlightening FB conversations. Mom and I flew into Midway, picked up our rental care and zipped to Munster, stopping by to grab a bottle of wine as we were planning on having lunch. Joann W was going to meet us there as well and had agreed to deliver a 6 pack of Robert the Bruce. This was important as I was planning a birthday party for my stepson’s significant other who is not only Scottish, but also who has the same last name and is, in fact,  distantly related to the Scottish rebel. For her birthday celebration I was trying to assemble a wide variety of Scottish ales, but this one would be the pièce de résistance!


It turned out to be one of those blisteringly hot days, over 100°F. The BBQ lunch was postponed due to  the extreme heat. Fortunately, Joann had brought cake, we had brought wine, so we had a delightful if unconventional repast that sent us happily on our way. I look forward to a return trip.

…which brings me to the box on the table, already opened as you can plainly see.

Given the 1022 mile difference between our houses (Google Maps is sooo cool!), I thank Facebook for making this connection possible as well as connecting to virtually all the other people mentioned in this piece (and, of course, many more). So raise your glass and toast our connections! Happy Holidays!!


Oh wait…the beer.

And a bit of geekiness…

The categories for Scottish ales can be a bit confusing. According to the Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP), there are 3 categories for Scottish Ales- Light, Heavy, and Export ranging in ABV from 2.5 to 5.0% and IBU’s from 10 to 30. Additionally, the BJCP lists a fourth category of Strong Scotch Ale which has an ABV range of 6.5 to 10% and an IBU range from 17 to 35.  At 7.0% ABV and 30 IBU’s, Robert the Bruce is clearly in this latter category even though the label says “Scottish Style Ale”.

As I recall, the original six pack which I carefully shepherded home to Denver, was consumed the evening of my stepson’s significant other’s…..oh, heck, let’s just call her my daughter-in-law…my daughter-in-law’s birthday dinner.

So not having had this beer in a few years, it is with exquisite pleasure that I pop the cap and enjoy.Rob

A quickly dissipating head reveals a lovely reddish caramel color. I’m already salivating and I still have to wait a bit more for it to warm up to proper drinking temperature (50-55°F).  A very subtle sweet malt aroma arises, less powerful than I was expecting, but very nice. After drinking a lot of Belgian-style Quads and Russian Imperial Stouts of late, this is quite refreshing. No real hop taste that I can fathom, but my mouth is eagerly awaiting the next sip. A medium body and slightly less than average carbonation complete the profile. I can suddenly envision sitting in a pub watching a soccer match and downing a few of these with me mates, although, at 7% ABV, I think it would be best if we planned on walking home. “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley “.


Twelve Degree Brewing’s Velour Fog- It’s That Good!

As a former science educator I consistently challenged my students to analyze their preconceived notions. This is a key step when  confirming accurate ideas or confronting misconceptions in science (or anything else). How do you know what you know?

So as I am writing about this beer I freely admit-

1.This is one of my favorite places to have a beer,

2. It is only about a mile and a half from our house,

3. I enjoy the staff,

4. and, most importantly, they make fine Belgian-inspired ales.


I would probably be there now, but it’s Thanksgiving evening and they’re closed…







As my readers generally know, I have an overwhelming fondness for darker beers. Abt 12 (St. Bernadus), Three Philosophers (Ommegang) and Rochefort 10 (Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy) are  three of the nine beers I have given a top score on Untappd. And to add some perspective…that’s nine out of 340 different beers. (For more about Untappd, please see my earlier post- )




Rochefort 10









When I heard a Belgian Quad was in the tanks, I alternating between breathless anticipation and profuse salivation which made for some uncomfortable nights. This condition intensified when the ever kind and cheerful Bissy slipped me a taster some days before the official release.

The Velour Fog was worth the wait. I picked a quiet night so I could drink and write in some solitude. Just hearing the name, of course, reminded me of Mel Tormé, the Velvet Fog. I ask you in all seriousness, what relatively sane American wouldn’t make that connection?


Hear a clip of Mel- and then make your own comparisons.





velour fog

My first taste brought to mind the words “delicious and dangerous”, which I later found out appear in the beer’s description on the brewery chalkboard. Oops,




Once again it made me feel a little more like Jason Bourne, who would probably JBdrink this if he ever got to sit around long enough. One more reason to be thankful that I don’t work for the CIA.




Although I had to tortuously wait for the beer to warm to a proper drinking temperature of about 53°F. But even if I had to wait to sip, I could savor the color and aroma. The hue was lighter than my other favorite quads, a dark orange. The bouquet  was a stunning combination of raisin/prune fruitiness, a little spice, maybe even a touch of dark cherry. Strong and sweet, but not cloying, and it also had a long finish. Again, this is not the kind of ale to dive into if your preferences run toward hoppier beers (only 28 IBU’s here), but for those ready to extend their appreciation, you will not be disappointed. Additionally, it has an 11% ABV so savor this offering.

Bonus- Along with the Velour Fog, these folks also made a small batch of Cherry Velour Fog, where they added a small amount of cheery puree to the tank. I used to run from any bottle that had fruit pictured on the label as the first few I tried simply had too much fruit for my taste. Not here, friends, for this beer had very subtle notes of cherry on the nose and palate. Definitely worth a try. Listening to one Fog and drinking another would be an admirable way to spend part of an evening.


Note to Patrick G.- When you said “Make the world a better place”, I replied “I will have a beer”. This is the result.


P.S. As the Belgians have been brewing since the 3rd or 4th centuries, these fine folks are turning out some mighty fine brews.


Photo Credits

Rochefort 10

Three Philosophers

Mel Tormé

Jason Bourne

All Twelve Degree Photos From Their Facebook Page

Twelve Degree BrewingWebsite



Odell Brewing Woodcut No. 7 – Savor And Reflect


I wholeheartedly admit that Odell’s is one of my favorite breweries. odellsTo illustrate, a couple of days ago I was just getting into my car after grocery shopping when the big Odell’s truck pulled into the lot to restock the nearby liquor store. With my cat-like reflexes I spun around to call out to the driver, “Love your beer!”. Crazy, I know, but I believe that the Odell’s employee gathered that I appeared to be a reasonably sane beer lover and not one who was going to stalk him during the remainder of his route (Note to self…stalk him the next time and cajole him until he relinquishes a six pack, preferably 90 Shilling, but I’m not that particular). He returned a friendly wave.


Only serving to intensify my adoration is this season’s limited offering, Woodcut No. 7, a Russian Imperial Stout, with a hefty 12.5% ABV.





It pours dark, really dark…I mean Serenity (a Firefly class space ship) going into the “vasty nothingness of space” dark.firefly






As the very full head recedes, the beer leaves an artistic lacing in the glass. Aromas of chocolate, roast, and oak greet your nose and tantalize your taste buds, now agog with anticipation. I believe every single taste bud in my mouth was reveling.  Similar to the aromas, my palate was treated to sensations of chocolate, oak, a hint of vanilla, and maybe just a touch of coffee. Another beer to drink sitting down in a quiet space- fireplace and overstuffed chair optional.

Great beers are an avenue toward self-reflection. Atone for my sins, I thought. Strive to be a better human. Eat less meat (except for bacon). Write more. Etc.

After only a few sips you too will make plans to be a better person…help old ladies across the street, pick up stray pieces of litter, fight crime like this guy (,) Five-year-old leukemia survivor Miles, dressed as "Batkid", arrives with Batman to rescue a "woman in distress" in San Francisco






and even not fudge on your taxes (er…maybe no beer is THAT good).

This is a very filling beer. I had not yet finished my first glass when I was feeling a little full, unusual for me and happy that I would be savoring this beer for awhile. This makes me think it would be suitable for a liquid diet (broken jaw, colonoscopy prep…please remember I am not a doctor and haven’t played one on TV). Nevertheless, it would be an excellent choice for sharing with friend or foe (who will soon be a friend once you have shared a bottle).


PS. The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) categorizes 5 different stouts. Historically, it was brewed for export to the Baltic States and Russia and was reportedly a favorite of ruling Imperial court, hence the name. It is darker and has a higher ABV than the other types of stouts. As I have said earlier, if the czars had shared their beer, there might not have been a revolution.

Odell Brewing Company

Photo Credits

Odell Bottles

Firefly Ship

Batkid  Robert Galbraith/REUTERS