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Saturday, November 26, 2016

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Ales for the Holidays

Pictured above are the two ales we're tasting today.

On the left is Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale.  Each year the popular grocery store chain commissions a new ale for the holidays.  This year's version is a Belgian style brown ale produced by Unibroue in Canada.

To the right is Zoetzuur, a Flemish sour ale. You've really got to have a taste for this type of Belgian ale. Letty does. She loves them and wishes they were more widely available here in the states. I don't. I'm trying to develop a taste but so far the varieties I've tried are either cloyingly sweet (like Framboise) or tastes like vinegar.
Watch the Video!

Zoetzuur is brewed by De Proefbrouweri in Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium.  It's a small town near the Dutch border, north of Gent.  The ale clocks in at 7% alcohol and is served in a cork top bottle.  It's head foams up about an inch and has a lighter golden brown color.

For taste, it's a little off.  True, I'm not a sour ale afficiandao, but Letty is and she agrees.  There's a quick taste of, what I think of as, grape soda.  Letty does not taste that but we both agree that there's an off-smell and taste.  Kind of like a skunky beer but different.  Something that we went back and forth on as to what exactly it was.  We ended up agreeing that it is the smell and taste of a horse farm. 

At $10.99 for a 750 ml bottle, it's just not worth the price.  Letty is still looking for a good, sour ale that she can get on a regular basis.  Rodenbach is one of her favorites but hard to find and the Bruery supposedly makes one of the finest sours around but they ran out and it will be over a year (!) till their next batch is ready.

The Trader Joe's Vintage Ale 2010, on the other hand, continues the strong tradition of great ales released each holiday season.  It's a dark, dark beer but not heavy.  Extremely foamy like the time I used regular granulated sugar to ferment some homemade beer, the head grows very fast so you need to do a careful pour.

The taste is smooth, the ingredients very harmonious.  The bitterness just hits the back of your throat on it's way down the way a nice, cold Coke Classic does.  I like this beer quite a bit and at 9% alcohol content, it's no lightweight.  It's also a very good bargain at only $4.99 for a 750 ml corked bottle.  I'll be going back to buy a few more.

Cheers!

-Darryl

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