I have not been in the mood for our light American Wheat beer. It is a little sour, I think....not bad, but more effervescent...where the carbonation makes it thinner and metallic and I perceive it as sour. Not that I am against sour beers....I love the Flander's Red and Old Bruin styles....I have a definate thing for the Duchess of Bourgogne, and once in a while a lambic or kriek. Our wheat beer is more suited to summer time, so it hasn't been what I wanted in a beer.
Today, my taste was for something bold, something unusual....well, not that unusual. I like my malt forward beers, but today it wanted to be something big. I went to the liquor store and spent a good long time staring at the Belgians. As I stood there staring, I started thinking about all of my favorite Belgian Style beers, St.Bernadus ABT 12, Gulden Draak, Goulden Carolus, Chimay Grande Reserve (blue)....all of these are Belgian Dark Strong Ales. They are funky malty things with all kinds of dried fruit and bready flavors all derived from the malts and the yeast. They can run upwards 10% ABV and done poorly, can taste like shit. I so wanted to pick up a couple of bottles to taste test tomorrow with my brother (plus the one that I needed tonight), but each of these bottles run about 15-20 bucks a piece. I started talking to the guy at the shop, and was amazed how much I actually knew about a range of Belgian beers. Even the local and National craft versions of this style were in the $10-$12 range. I know much less about the american versions, but one thing I do love is all of the names the American craft brewers give these beers. Names like Concentrated Evil, Salvation, Monk's Blood, Holy Sheet, Rude Elf's (formerly Ruldolf's) Ale, and Brother Thelonious, just to name a few. In the end, I couldn't do it. I couldn't drop $50 bucks on three bottles of beer. I left without buying anything.
Instead, I noted online that Great Divide has their Grand Cru seasonal available now (which is also a Belgian Dark Strong Ale). A 5 gallon keg will run $42 (with the 20% AHA discount). I intend on picking one up before it goes away in April. It is 10+% ABV and should last me a good long time as a sipper (and it will age well, too). Being a homebrewer, I have a hard time paying for premium beers, and even more so for imports that are often notorious for being shipped under less than ideal conditions. The keggerator brings the price per unit down to a reasonable level and those AHA discounts at my local breweries kick ass....I only wish that my brother lived closer.
So once again I implore you to buy local when you can, and ask for the AHA discount if you are a member....
and tip well for good service.
I do wish I could sip on a St. Bernardus right now, though.....I would be asleep in minutes.