New Belgium Tartastic Raspberry Lime Ale Review

I haven't done a beer review in nearly four years, so why not?


New Belgium Tartastic Raspberry Lime Ale

Berliner Weisse [Type 1] 4.2% ABV

This is a Berliner Weisse, a light, fruity, sour style. The raspberry and lime are subtle, as is the sour. This is not one of those sour beers that will blow your socks off. This is something to sip on a sunny afternoon while you watch the world go by.

I have often felt like New Belgium's seasonals are a couple of months off where I live, and this one is no exception. March and April can be nice in Flagstaff, but they often aren't. Come May around here, this would be a great patio beer.



Just about right for May here, but I suppose if I lived in Phoenix, this would be perfect. Maybe that's why the seasonals are always off here.

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Firestone Walker Double DBA 2014 Review

Firestone Walker Double DBA 2014

Type 31 [Imperial Special Bitter]; 12%ABV; O.G. 28.4 plato; 29 IBU; aged 12 months; British Ale yeast; 27 srm


I received this beer from the Magistra for my 10 year work anniversary. A mighty fine present.

Double DBA is Firestone Walker's flagship beer brewed double strength. I guess that makes it a Double Double Barrel Ale? Double2 Barrel Ale?

Since this is a double strength imperial version of an already malty beer, you should not be surprised at how thick and rich this beer is. Add barrel-aging on top of that, and you are going to have a very sweet, but also a very deep beer. The box advertised toasted coconut, and I think I got that one, although I missed out on the graham cracker.

Thick on the tongue, sweet on the finish, this is a fine beer for sipping in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. Pick this one up, you won't be disappointed.

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Negro Nitron Beer Review

San Tan Negro Nitron

Cascadian Dark Ale/Black IPA [Type 30] 7.3% ABV

I'm loving the nitro beers. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro is a winner, and so is this. Using Nitrogen as a pressurizer instead of Carbon Dioxide  produces a smoother, less bitter beer. This pairs well with stouts and porters, but I think the Cascadian Dark style is a good choice too. Left Hand has a trade secret on the process used to nitro beer in a bottle without a widget, but you can get a nitro beer anywhere that has the proper equipment for it. I had this one at San Tan's brew pub in Chandler, and it was worth the trip.


San Tan Negro Nitron Review

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Left Hand Milk Stout and Milk Stout Nitro Head to Head Review

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro

Milk Stout [Type 35] 6.0% ABV

For the Magistra's birthday, we received both Left Hand Milk Stout, and the new Milk Stout Nitro! This is an exciting opportunity to compare the two beers head to head. I poured them both as recommended by Left Hand for the Nitro, which is probably inappropriate pouring for the regular Milk Stout, but it is just one way to compare.

As you can see, the Nitro on the right poured beautifully. It has a downward falling head, with small bubbles, so thick you could almost stand a fork up in it. The head on the regular Milk Stout is bigger, with big bubbles that pop on your tongue. The Nitro is less sweet, nuttier, and smoother. The regular is more sweet, but also more acidic, probably due to the CO2. The Nitro is amazingly good! Some nice toasted malts, sweetness from the milk sugars, and oh so creamy.


Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro Review

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New Belgium Lost Abbey Brett Beer Review

New Belgium Lost Abbey Brett BeerAmerican Wild Ale [Type 9] 7.5% ABV

New Belgium's Lips of Faith series is my favorite special line of craft beer. I have more favorites from this line than any other. Clutch. Grand Cru Abbey. Dunkel Weiss. Biere de Mars. You can add Brett Beer to the list. This is a really fun beer, it has a flavor unlike anything else I have ever tried. The wild Brettanomyces yeast in this beer gives it flavors of papaya and pineapple! Such a thing! The beer itself is a hazy orange, pouring with a short fluffy head. The hops are subdued, giving the tropical fruits full play. This gives the beer a sweetness, but not an overpowering sweetness. I bought another one of these for the Magistra shortly afterwards, because this beer was so much fun, I couldn't leave it alone. The flavor profile is distinctive.


New Belgium Lost Abbey Brett Beer Review

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Samuel Adams Double Bock

Samuel Adams Double Bock


Double Bock Lager
ABV 9.5%

Samuel Adams Double Bock is one of their Imperial Series brews. The Imperial Series is intended to brew Big Beers with high quality ingredients, and this beer certainly delivers. The bottle says there is 1/2 lb. of malt in each 12 oz. bottle. This I can well believe, it has a rich, thick taste. This certainly befits a bock beer, which was originally brewed by monks to sustain them during the fasts of Lent. Much like Guinness, I imagine one could get most vitamins and minerals from this beer.

The beer itself has a deep caramel color, without much head. The massive amounts of malt predominate, with a slightly sweet finish. The recommended serving temperature is 50ºF, and unlike many such beers I have tasted, it does not suffer from being a little warm. If anything, the richness improves as it warms, releasing more of the scent.

I do not know that I would enjoy this beer if it were truly hot, and I were tired. It is far too heavy for that. It is slightly cool outside, which suits the beer fine. I drank the beer after dinner, almost like one might retire to the library for cognac and cigars. For that matter, it probably would complement a cigar. Like the cigar, the beer is a commitment, to be savored slowly.

This beer can be aged to develop the flavor further. If I had a beer cellar I would certainly lay a couple down to see what developed.


I only wanted one. It was extremely satisfying, but ought to be reserved for special occasions. Far too decadent to be enjoyed daily.

W12 Dark Saison Review

Widmer Brothers W12 Dark Saison

Saison [Type 9] 5.5% ABV

The saison is the original seasonal beer, brewed to refresh thirsty farmworkers in Wallonia. Most modern examples are a bit sour and musty, and this one is those, all in a good way. It has some spice, a bit of bite. I wouldn't drink this just after working in the sun all morning, but it is nice for relaxing in the evening. The beer mellows a bit on the finish. The spice lingers a bit, but a sweet caramel comes through. I really like this one. Good job, Widmer Brothers.


Widmer Brothers W12 Dark Saison Rating

Newcastle Founder's Ale Review

Newcastle Founder's Ale

Extra Special Bitter [Type 45] 4.8% ABV

First beer review in the new house, and first with the new rating template! Still working on the template, but the beer was excellent. Another of Newcastle's Limited Edition brews, this one commemorates the five founding breweries that became Newcastle. In their honor, a traditional Extra Stout Bitter has been brewed. Called a bitter because it is a pale ale, and extra stout because of the amount of alcohol present (4.8% or greater). Despite being called a bitter, it is actually quite sweet and mild. A pleasant drinking beer. Poured reddish, with a short creamy white head.

The flavor is mild hops and mild malts, sweet but not sickly, and definitely not bitter. I could do with more pale ales like this one.


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New Belgium Clutch Dark Sour Ale Review

New Belgium Clutch Dark Sour Ale

[Type 42, 48, 49] 9% ABV

New Belgium calls this a dark sour ale, which may bring to mind visions of the other New Belgium Lips of Faith sour beer, La Folie, but they couldn't be more different. La Folie is sour like a SweetTart, but Clutch just has a hint of sour to fight the malts. Clutch tastes like a really rich porter, coffee and chocolate and heavy, but the sour really makes this beer shine. I just couldn't stop drinking it. Which is bad, because it is 9% alcohol.


One of the best beers I have had all year. You know a beer is good when you have to beat the pregant lady off it.

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New Belgium Grand Gru Abbey Ale Review

New Belgium Grand Cru Abbey Ale

Grand Cru/Abbey Ale [Type 29] 9.5% ABV

Vital stats from New Belgium:

ABV -     9.5%
IBU -     20
Calories -     270
Hops -     Willamette, Target, Liberty
Malts -     Pale, Chocolate, Carapils, C-80, Munich
OG -     16.2
TG -     2.6


A really good beer that could be cellared and aged. The head needs a little warmth to come out, so when it was poured straight out of the fridge you can see the results in the picture above. The beer is dark and sweet, but I was surprised to find that it was not syrupy. A smooth, creamy, fruity beer with delicious Belgian yeastiness. The alcohol is potent, but pleasantly warming. Just the thing to enjoy after a long day at work.

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Beer Club February 2011

Belgian Ales

Always a favorite of mine, we return again to Belgian Ales. We had a particularly good selection this year, with two kinds of Golden Carolus, a new front runner for my favorite Belgian brand.

Belgian Ales February 2011Cuvee van de Keizer Rood

10% ABV Golden Ale [Type 3]. Tastes like cherry and apple. Dry and crisp. One beer.

Lost Abbey 10 Commandments

A California Beligan Style brewery, Lost Abbey makes strong, often hoppy beers. This one tastes like raisins and honey. A Belgian dark ale [Type 29] 9.0% ABV. Three beers.

Golden Carolus Hopsinjoor

A hoppier version from Golden Carolus. A Belgian Pale [Type 16], perhaps shading towards the IPA. 8.0% ABV. A great pale ale, with fruit, hops, a dry finish, and lots of fizz. One beer.

Belgian homebrew

Sweet smelling with a cherry finish. Mellow overall. Two beers.

Adriaen Brouwer Finest Dark [Type 29] 8.5% ABV. Sweet, with a quick finish. Pretty easy drinker. Two beers.

Delirium Nocturnum

Pink elephants on parade. Belgian dark, 8.5% ABV.


Belgian pale [Type 16] 10.5% ABV. Belgian sourness followed by sweet cherry.

Dogfish Head Red & White

Belgian wit [Type 4] 10.0% ABV. An usual beer due to the presence of pinot noir juice and aging in oak casks. It combines the qualities of a white beer with a red wine. Very unusual, but very good. One beer.


Belgian pale [Type 16] 8.0% ABV.


Belgian pale [Type 16] 8.4% ABV

And three for which I have no notes other than name, for some reason.

Corsendonk Pale Ale

Lost Abbey Lost & Found

Delirium Tremens

Beer Club January 2011

Strong Ales

This month's theme was beers of greater than 10.0% alcohol by volume. This means lots of flavor and thick mouthfeel. There are a number of styles that find their way into this category. There are barleywines, Belgian ales, and imperial styles that have extremely high alcohol contents. Barleywines can be aged, hence the name. Their flavors vary widely, it is an old style of beer, but expect a thick, heavy beer. Dubbels, Trippels, and Golden Ales tend to be strong due to the amount of malt used. Imperial [or double] styles are double doses of whatever goes into them. You can have an imperial anything, but the prototypical example is the imperial stout. We see a few Christmas ales as well.

Strong Ale Lineup 1Strong Ale Lineup 2

Old RuffianOld Ruffian Barleywine [Type 64] was the first tasting of the night. Brewed by the Great Divide Brewing company in Colorado. It is a red beer, very hoppy 90 IBUs. But the hops are sweet instead of bitter, with melon flavors. The hops balance the thickness of the beer well. 1 beer. 10.2% ABV








2010 Reserve Boardhead2010 Reserve Boardhead Barleywine [Type 64]. This is from Full Sail. Much drier than the Old Ruffian. There is a sharpness to the beer you can feel on the sides of your tongue. A very good beer, 1 beer. 9.0% ABV








Imperial Stout Homebrew

We enjoyed an imperial stout brewed by one of the beer club members. It was an excellent example of the style. So dark it is almost black. Tastes of brown sugar, roasted malts, and celery. Brewed using 9# dark malt extract, 1/2# chocolate malt, 1/4# crystal malt, and 2 oz of hops of an indecipherable variety. Thanks for sharing!

Mikkeller BlackMikkeller Black 黒 is an Imperial Stout [Type 36]. Anything with Imperial modifying it is usually hoppier, stronger, or sweeter version of the original. Sometimes this is taken to extremes. This is definitely a case of that. Mikkeller Black is one of the strongest beers I have ever seen in person. It pours like used motor oil, slow, black,and thick. It has a sharp flavor. Coats the tongue. This would be a great topping on vanilla ice cream. It has a roasted-coffee flavor, better than I expected for the alcohol. It is more like a liqueur, something to sip after dinner. 17.5% ABV, 1 beer rating.






Le FreakLe Freak by Green Flash. A western take on the Belgian Golden Ale style. Quite hoppy, lots of grapefruit flavors. But a balanced beer. The malts and hops were balanced. 1 beer. 9.2% ABV









Cuvee van de Keizer Blau

Cuvee van de Keizer Blauw. This is my undisputed favorite of the evening. Oh. My. Goodness. This beer tastes like candied apples. Caramel and green apples. A Belgian Dark Ale [Type 29]. 11.0% ABV. 

This beer is brewed for the birthday of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.  Charles V was Emperor during a crucial time for Europe. The Turks were first defeated at Vienna in 1529, giving Central Europe relief from the unstoppable advance of the Ottoman Empire. This was also the time of the Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation. Charles was a contemporary of Henry VIII, and Catherine of Aragon's nephew.  



Three PhilosophersThree Philosophers Quadrupel. 9.8% ABV. Like a Trippel, but more so. A blend of Kriek and Belgian Dark Ale.








Double Bastard Ale. A Stone Brewery Beer. 11.2% ABV. A sweet, hoppy beer.

Delirium Noel Delirium Noel, Belgian Dark Ale [Type 29] 10% ABV. A Christmas version of Delirium Nocturnum. Tastes like sweet cherries.

Hairy Eyeball. From Lagunitas, 9.0% ABV.










Hairy Eyeball Lagunitas 9.0% ABV

Beer Club, California Youngberg Edition

We are out in California for Christmas, and I had the chance to try several beers for Christmas. We purchased a bottle of Samuel Adams Infinium, the new champagne beer produced in collaboration with Weihenstephan. We were given a bottle of Heritage 100 2010 from BJ's Breweries. We also enjoyed a glass of BJ's Grand Cru 2011. 

Samuel Adams Weihenstephan InfiniumSam Adams and Weihenstephan set out to create an entirely new type of beer. This beer is brewed under the restrictions of the Reinheitsgebot, only water, barley, hops, and yeast. A second fermentation is used to add carbonation, like champagne, so the beer has has the dry crispness typical of champagne. 10.3% ABV. Slightly sweet, with a slight wet dog scent. The taste is amazing. I would recommend this beer for almost anyone. Well worth $20. 1 beer.

BJ's Heritage 100A small batch beer from BJs Breweries. This was given to me by a relative who works for BJs. The beer is fresh hopped, so unlike previous editions it cannot be aged. The scent is wet dog up front, and ends up citrusy. This is a golden ale, think of a watered down trippel. Less body, less hops. 5.7% ABV. Three beers.

BJ's Grand CruWe enjoyed the BJ's Annual Grand Cru at BJ's Restaurant. This is the 2011 version, 10.0% ABV. A Belgian Gold Ale, it is sweet and spicy, exceptionally delicious. I ate BJ's open face chili cheeseburger with this, and found it an excellent combination. 1 beer.

Beer Club December 2010

Stouts and Porters

December 2010 Lineup

Porters come from Merrie Old England. The first recorded examples of the style are from the 1700s. They were blended beers, a combination of a stale or old ale, a new ale, and a weak or mild ale. Various flavors could be achieved by different blends. After blending, the beer is then aged for several months in wooden maturation vats. This was a beer of the the Industrial/Scientific revolution. The name reportedly comes from the popularity of the beer with the transportation workers of London.

Stouts are a kind of porter, or vice versa. Stouts are porters with blackened or roasted grains. Sometimes, this grain is not actually malted. Originally, stout referred to the strength of a beer rather than its style, but over time the roasted flavor of the most popular stout beer, Guinness, helped to spawn a style that can range from mild to extremely alcoholic.

Sierra Nevada Fritz and Ken's Ale

A 30th anniversary beer from Sierra Nevada, they teamed up with the founder of Anchor Brewing to create this Imperial Stout [Type 36]. Imperial or double stouts combine fruity flavors with strong roasted grains and high alcohol content. This one tasted of cocoa, hops, and nuts. It has a noticable alcohol warming as well. 9.2% ABV. 1 beer.

Rogue Chocolate Stout

An American take on the Stout style [Type 35], this beer tastes much like a chocolate soda from a soda fountain. It has a solvent taste to it, with a slighty rancid and coppery finish. 6.0% ABV. 3 beers.

Rogue Double Chocolate Stout

Another Imperial Stout, the double chocolate stout is smoother than the chocolate stout. It is a darker beer, with more of a cocoa flavor. 8.0% ABV. 2 beers.

Rogue Double Mocha Porter

Previously known as XS Imperial Porter, this is a robust porter [Type 48]. It is much less sweet than the chocolate stouts, with a bit of an alkaline finish. 8.2% ABV. 3 beers.

Stone Smoked Porter

As smoked beers go, this one is pretty mild. A standard porter [Type 34]. The smoke flavor is suggestive rather than overwhelming. Slighty bitter and metallic. 5.9% ABV. 3 beers.

Anchor Porter

A little bit nutty, 5.6% ABV. 2 beers.

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout

This beer is a little unbelievable. 18.0% ABV! It is priced to match. The flavor is unusual, vinegar and mustard, with yeasty notes. Pretty good for the alcohol content. Fun, but probably only worth drinking on a lark. 1 beer.

Oatmeal Stout home brew

A home brew brought to the tasting. It is an Oatmeal Stout [Type 49]. Good flavor, easy drinking, but a little watery. Not bad though. You could down a large number of these.

Kalamazoo Stout

Made with brewer's licorice, it says. This concerned me at first, but the licorice flavor is quite nice. Very subtle. A bit of a fruity taste, like apples. 6.0% ABV. 2 beers.

Home brew

Another home brew, but unfortunately an undistinguished one.

Black Butte Porter

A passable porter, but it really pales in comparison to the other beers available tonight. 5.2% ABV. 4 beers.

Left Hand Milk Stout

A sweet stout [Type 35], of the milk stout sub-type. It has added lactose for extra sweetness. Very smooth and flavorful. One of the fan favorites of the night. 5.2% ABV. 2 beers.

Lump of Coal

A foreign/export stout, this type was created to be shipped across the ocean on steamships. [Type 22] Tends to be stronger to survive the voyage. 8.0% ABV. 4 beers.

Dogfish Head Chicory Stout

You can smell the chicory, a good addition to this style. A tasty beer, with a pleasing but unusual flavor combination. 5.2% ABV. 2 beers.

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Beer Club November 2010

Brown Ales

November 2010 Lineup

Brown ales originate in England. The original brown ale style is made from 100% brown malt. There is some difference between American brown ales [Type 33] and English brown ales [Type 47], with the American styles tending to be drier and hoppier.

New Belgium La Folie

Although labeled by New Belgium as a Sour Brown, this beer is very much like the Flanders Red [Type 28], a sour, fruity beer. Nearly everyone did not like this beer, but I loved it. The intense sourness coated your tongue with an aftertaste of vinegar and sour cherries. A very unusual beer. 1 beer/6 beers. 6.0% ABV.

Boddington's Pub Ale

Not a brown ale, but an English Pale Ale, we used this to cleanse our palates after the Flanders Red.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle is one of the most widely distributed English Brown Ales. 4.7% ABV. A lighter brown ale, Newcastle is a sweet malty beer, easily drinkable and easy to find too. 3 beers.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar

The Magistra's favorite of the moment. Rogue's Hazelnut Brown is an intensely full, nutty beer. It has tastes of chocolate that make it taste like Rocky Road ice cream. Our host favored this beer as well. 6.2% ABV. 1 beer.


This beer tasted like apples and malt. Very thick, much like a barleywine. This is a Belgian dark ale [Type 29]. 9.5% ABV. 1 beer. A host favorite.

Mountain Standard Reserve

Sweet and foamy with an intense burst of flavor as it hits your tongue. 8.5% ABV. Pretty expensive for the taste. 3 beers.


Aged in oak barrels, this beer tastes like Kentucky bourbon. Not as popular due to the oakiness, but it has a sweet finish like pineapples. 3 beers. 10.0% ABV.

Humboldt Brown

A hippie beer brewed with hemp. This actually isn't that unusual, because hops are a member of the Cannabaceae family anyway. 5.7% ABV. Good flavor, but nothing special. 3 beers.

Session Black

A black lager or schwarzbier [Type 53], Session Black is a smooth dark beer with little hops and intense malty sweetness. 3 beers. 5.4% ABV

Moose Drool

A drier brown, with cocoa notes. 5.1% ABV

Bitch Creek

An ESB [Type 45], this beer starts bitter but finishes sweet. 6.0% ABV

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

5.0% ABV

Lost Coast Raspberry Brown

A rather weak tasting beer, the raspberry was not backed up by anything more substantial. 5 beers. 6.5% ABV

Abita Pecan Harvest

5.0% ABV. Another host favorite.

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Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Review

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Rauchbier [Type 59] 5.4% ABV

Aecht Schlenkerla is the canonical example of a smoked beer from Germany. Not at all like a smoked porter, a smoked beer is more raw. This beer tastes just like a campfire smells. For me, the smoke overpowered everything else. The style is otherwise related to the Oktoberfest, so it tends towards the sweet and malty.


I don't think I am yet capable of appreciating this beer.  I really could have given it 6 beers, because most people probably wouldn't like it, but this is an old style so it must be well regarded by those who know. I only had one, and I will try it again, but this is not the kind of beer you pound one after another. I sipped it slowly over the course of an evening, pondering such an unusual beer. I will have to return to this beer later.

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Beer Club, Missouri Espens Edition

Blue Moon Grand Cru

I'm out in Missouri visiting my brother because my oldest nephew is graduating from high school. While we were here, my brother asks me whether I've ever had Blue Moon Grand Cru? I hadn't, even though I just reviewed Belgian Whites recently.

The first thing to do was go buy some. This proved difficult, Grand Cru is a small batch beer that was made for New Years, so supplies are limited to what is on hand. We had to go to three different stores before we found some. We placed the beer in the freezer for a bit since it had been on the shelf rather than in the cooler.

Blue Moon Grand Cru

As you can see from the picture, Blue Moon Grand Cru looks much like regular Blue Moon. It is cloudy, with lots of suspended solids, and a orange hue with a thick, white, fluffy head. This is a witbier [Type 4], with 8.2% ABV. As a Grand Cru, it is brewed for celebratory purposes, and it is perfect for this.

It is lighter and fruitier than Blue Moon, even though they are very similar. It is less yeasty, with tangy wheat flavors, coriander, and orange zest. It isn't your typical wheat beer at all, very smooth on the tongue.


This was an amazing Grand Cru. It is my brother's current favorite, and I highly recommend it. If you can find a bottle, savor it, and appreciate the kind of beer that Blue Moon can make. It goes down real easy though, which is a problem. You will really want more, but given the limited quantities, you may not be able to.


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Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock Review

Ayinger Celebrator Bock

Ayinger Celebrator DoppelbockDoppelbock 6.7% ABV
Type 26 Beeriodic Table

My wife bought me this as a present during a low time. This is appropriate, since the function of a bock beer was to sustain monks during Lenten fasts. This beer is hearty enough to sustain you, and dark enough to help you imbibe in moderation. Very malty and smoky, it pours with a short head and is intensely dark. As a lager type beer, it is clear, but its nonetheless nearly impossible to see through. The finish is a bit spicy with the high alcohol content.


Chewy and thick, this is a fine beer for Lententide. You only get four in a retail pack, but each one is a miniature feast of beer. Enjoy this beer, and prepare for the coming of spring.

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Anchor Brewing Old Foghorn Review

Anchor Brewing Company Old Foghorn

Anchor Brewing Old Foghorn

Barleywine Style Ale 8.8% ABV
Type 64 Beeriodic Table

Old Foghorn is my first barleywine style ale, which is a very strong and thick beer. It reminded me of a Belgian in this, with a different finish. I could taste the yeast, but not nearly to the extent of a Dubbel or Trippel. This beer is well-rounded, hearty, heavy, even just a little fruity. Quite potent too.


I really liked Old Foghorn. It says right on the bottle that it is good for sipping after dinner, and I heartily agree. I found it very relaxing to drink, and I was very satisfied after drinking one.


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