Beers in Review: Near and far

A quartet of beers ranging from local to international are on tap tonight. Let's start with the international, shall we?

From Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Belgium I had the Duchesse de Bourgogne, a Belgian-style Flemish red ale. It pours a matching reddish-brown color, and not much body, but this ale was loaded with fruit flavors. This is a result of maturation in oak casks prior to bottling. The fruit experiences were quite diverse: pear or apple, maybe cherry, with a massive sweetness. It was almost too sweet for my taste. In addition, Flemish reds typically have some sour attributes to them, and here they were more a complementary feature--not overly strong like I find in most sours. I expect this might be a result of having a legit Belgian Flemish as opposed to American attempts at the sour style.

Next up is the closest-made beer, American Kolsch Story by River Rat Brewery. It pours a pale straw color, and serves as a solid hot summer day beer. Initial impressions had bready and crackery notes early on in the sip. This gradually lead to hints of traditional German beer sweetness. It also led to a bit of a bitter finish, which was a bit surprising.

Next up is Oasis Brewing Company and their Scarab Red Ale. A pretty solid ale overall, I first got notes of graininess and even possibly corn. There was also a whole bunch of initial malty sweetness that dissipated pretty quickly after drinking. Again, solid, pretty tasty, but nothing spectacular.

Finally, what was supposed to be an Anniversary beer for Unknown Brewing Company, but it wasn't quite done on time. The result is 1.5-ish, an ale aged in Cabernet barrels with strawberries and vanilla beans. We'll get to all that shortly. The ale pours a cloudy bronze color and has a lot of body. As you might guess from the brief description above, the flavor profile has a whole lot going on. The Cabernet barrels shine through with strong initial red wine notes, leading to a kind of strawberry sundae thing going on from the strawberry and vanilla bean infusion. There was lots of sweetness (but not overpoweringly so, like the Duchesse above nearly was--note these were enjoyed on different nights) and even a little bit of funkiness. A hint of sourness rounded out this wonderful flavor experience of this ale. I had sat on 1.5-ish for a while before drinking it for no particular reason. Truly, I wish I'd drank it sooner and bought 4 more bottles. A really great drinking experience.