Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cheers to Belgian Beers - Review

This will be an uncommon post for the Doc....

This years CTBB was a major success! Yes, the Doc has no "major" complaints. The crowd was a nice diverse mix; Sign-in registration was organized and flawless; The tents and setting was well thought out..... The Beers were mostly very good!

Only a couple of bitches. Some beers were too cold. I almost tripped over two children who were apparently parentless and wondering aimless amongst the crowd. Most children present were well behaved; Babies were papoosed to many dads like a homing beacon which was kind of funny... Looking like a group of henpecked husbands paying their penance for asking to be present at a beer tasting. ;-}

The beers ran from mediocre to excellent. This was the most successful CTBB I've ever attended.

The crowd was interesting. I listened to many people that had "NO CLUE" what they were drinking; Others happily enjoyed the complexity of the wares.

Surprisingly you won't find many bad reviews in my evaluations. Many beers had a NW flair of being over hoppy, but even those were very drinkable.

Had a couple nice beer discussions with a some people in attendance. Those in the know were very impressed. Some drunks just drank. The clueless looked confused. Bike geeks seemed to come and then leave..... Hmmmm.

On with the reviews!

***Update: In the spirit of continuity with other NW bloggers I have added ABC grades to the following beers.

Big Horse - Cuvee de Ferme
(Blend of 3 Beers: Rye Saison, Sour Mash Wheat, 2 yr old Golden with Pedio & Lacto)

I hate to start with a negative beer, but I'm going in alphabetical order. Big Horse's entry was a Home Brew science experiment gone bad. Flavors were all over the board, some we're even in the playing field. A mess of Sweet and sour with some uncooked doughy bread yeastiness.

Not much I can say good about it.

** See comment section for some basic tasting notes.


Block 15 - La Ferme' de Demons
(Black Saison: Aged in Pinot, Oregon Oak & Bourbon Barrels, Oregon Tart Cherry)

One of the shining stars of the day. 'Wow!' was written on my tasting notes. A nicely well balanced beer. I could taste all stated ingredients with the exception of the Pinot. Aroma of barrel oak, Cherries and rich almost Stouty nose. Very barrel oaky wood in flavor with a nice moussey creamy texture. Plums, Cherry and Chocolate with the appointed yeast prevalent.

A well done tasty beer.

A+This beer had a lot of finesse. Like typical Beers in Belgium, the beers malt, hops and other ingredients have a soft mature fluidity and marriage in this beer. The Oak adds a dimension that's not found in Belgian beers.

Cascade Brewing - Frite Galois
(Ur-Biere de Neuve: Warm Conditioned, Barrel Aged Sour)

Let me first say... For me, the SOUR beers tasted out of pace compared to the assigned Saison yeast profiles. Not totally a bad thing, but I really wanted to taste a spectrum of beers JUST brewed with this years themed yeast.

Aromas of acidic sourness with medicinal cheese and soy sauce. The beer was well balanced with some nice oak, fermented simple malty grain notes and a dominant sourness.

Overall a nice sour beer from Cascade! I didn't detect as much funky lactobacillus. This beer tasted more like a traditional sour Belgian Blond.

B A Definite improved Sour complexity over the majority I've had in the past! A more layered Sour complexity. The Acetone is almost completely gone. More beers like this please.

Deschutes - Bend Pub Tropisch Bruin
(Belgian Brown w/Tamarind)

A weird beer. Aromas were definitely of sweaty socks with a little plum and dark malts. Flavors carried along the Plum and dark malts with some yeasty overtones. A Citrusy Hop bitterness and flavor overloaded most of Belgian characters.

It was good, but far from great.

C+ Too Hoppy and Bitter

Double Mountain Brewery - Bonne Idee

One of the disappointments of the day. This was basically a Hoppy IPA fermented with Belgian yeast. Eh! Meh!


Hopworks Urban Brewery - DiaBlato
(Strong Belgian)

A strong entry from Hopworks! Citrus tartness from the yeast with a noted green forest aroma. Hops and malt are well balanced in the nose and in flavor. Hops added a nice spice to the overall beer. Malt was well rounded within the flavor profile. A slight taste of honey? A very nice Belgian beer that could have been made on another continent. Very good.

A Nicely done Quadruple. Good job Dr Love!

Lompoc 5Q - Saison The Beach
(Saison with Ginger and pepper corns)

This is a truly nice Saison beer with some nice additives. The Ginger and peppercorns are well present and blend in beautifully to this beer. Aromas of lemonade and ginger. Nice medium crystal malt found within the body of the beer. Ginger and spice are still found in the finish. Very nice.


Oakshire Brewing -La Ferme
(Farmhouse w/ Rosehips, Lemon & Grapefruit Peel, Grains of Paradise)

A mysterious concoction. Dark Straw in color. The aroma is all over the board with sweet hints of pineapple, honey and cane sugar. Flavors of hop spiced maltiness with some fruitiness. Big bready flavors from malt with a major yeast bite. I didn't find the Rose hips, nor the Lemon, Some Grapefruit came through. Hops or real grapefruit? Would probably improve with some more age.

C+, but could be an A with aging. A little over ambitious with little glory with the citrus and spice additions.

Rogue Ales -John's Dark & Scary
(Belgian Dark)

One of the best beers of the day for me! Dark brown in color with a big head. Very creamy smooth in texture. Some cheesy, tart and foresty yeast aromas with dark malts and ripe dark fruits. Very well rounded flavors and exceptionally smooth. Some Chocolate and slight roast/toast comes through. A world class Belgian Dubbel!

A- Slightly marked down for lack of yeast character

Roots Organic Brewing - Brune "O"
(Belgian Brown)

I have a love-hate relationship with Roots beers. Sometimes I love to hate them, other times they surprise me with exceptional beers.

This beer brings back the old problem of poor balancing of ingredients.

Dark brown in color with a moderate head. Strange aromas of medicinal Cheese (penicillin) and turpentine solvent. A general bitterness overdosed the entire beer. I tasted some dark malts and some yeast buried under the tonnage of hops. Could have been a tasty beer if not over blown with hops.

C- Overloaded with hops. Hops masked all the "Good" flavors.

Widmer - Biere De Table

Urine! Smell it! I had about three people around me smell it! We all came up with a huge Urine smell! Commercial American lager in appearance with a light malt character. Watery with some Belgian yeast funk. Astringent but with some crispy tart yeast flavors.

Might be OK if your can get past the smell of piss! ;-}

C+ For a small beer that tastes like the Second Runnings of a bigger beer, I'd say it's OK.

Upright Brewing- Mingus and Monk Farmhouse Brown
(Farmhouse Brown: Partially Barrel Aged with Currants Soaked in 2 Fortified Wines)

A beer with some great potential but tastes a little young. Brown in color with a nice sourness in the nose with some overlaying fruitiness. Sour dominates, but matched with the level of hoppiness. Dark malts and plums come through with a hint of Currants. Barrel wood comes through from front to back creating a deep wood flavor that matches well with the dark malt earthiness. Hops are nice and spicy but a little too much. I may being picky about the hops. I really enjoyed the beer, but love to lay it down in my basement for about 2 years.

B- Two things stop this beer from being great. 1. Needs to be properly aged. 2. Like Roots, it's too hoppy. There are some great malt and yeast flavors in this beer but they are so buried in Wood and Hops you can't quite get them. Age may help. Someone send the Doc a bottle for his cellar! ;-}


Ralph said...

I too was impressed overall. Hopworks pulled it off when I had nothing but doubt about it being in the upper parking lot. I got there early and scored a seat at one of the few tables that had seats, not sure if that had much to do with it. :)

My pick for the event was the New Old Lompoc Norman Invasion. A Biere DeGarde that really opened up once I was able to warm it to a decent temperature. The only dumps were the Big Horse and the Upright. The Upright was too bitter that IBU had to be a misprint on the sheet. The sourness and bitterness were competing heavily and left me confused. The Big Horse...well...too much going on and I didn't know what direction to follow.

I didn't have the same adverse reaction to the Widmer, but maybe I was past the point of no return. A nice soft malt character that I found refreshing.

I left disappointed with my score sheets for the homebrew comp. I had a sheet with no name and a maximum of four words for each section that I had to strain to read. I'm happy with my results point-wise, but I really wish a the judges would spend a bit more time writing comments.

Thanks for the review Doc.

dr wort said...

I was a little generous with Upright. I had the beer late in the session, but did not the over hopped character.

Widmer tasted like a second runnings of a real beer.

Judging...? Funny, I've never been asked to judge in Oregon. I guess 24 years of experience isn't enough. ;-}

DA Beers said...


Good write up.

If you are interested in judging you should join the email list for the Oregon Brew Crew. For the CTBB and other festivals they are usually looking for judges for the events.

Bill Night said...

Interesting reviews, Doc.

Gotta say, most beer snobs I discussed it with found the Big Horse to be one of the best of the show. I felt the same way. On the other hand, those who didn't like it hated it like you did.

I also disagree with you on Rogue's Dark and Scary. You mentioned "cheesy" aromas; I also got that in the taste -- it had kind of a spoiled-food taste that I didn't care for at all.

You make an interesting point about Oakshire and Upright both seeming to want more aging. Wouldn't you say that was true of a lot of the beers there -- that many of them would be better 6 months from now? With the Upright at least I bet we'll get our wish and some of it will be saved for later release.

Jeff Alworth said...

Weird. I also thought this was the best of the CTBB fests, but my opinions of the beers differed sharply from yours. I'll have a write-up tomorrow, which will give you some ammo. The one thing I will mention is that I found the Oakshire to have some unpleasant fusel alcohols. It was harsh to my palate. There were a couple beers that really divided the crowd, Oakshire and Widmer--and apparently Big Horse, though I found no one who disliked it. Apparently I'm an outlier on the very green, ultra-oaky Block 15, too.

I looked for you Doc, but I couldn't find you in the crowd. Derek offered your general locale, but when I strafed the area, I didn't see anyone matching your description.

dr wort said...


Enjoyed reading you write up too.


In regard to big horse: I don't really think it's worth arguing it's quality. I'd say it could be just personal preference.

In reviewing my real tasting notes, they read; Major yeast bite (not in a good way). Sweet malt was out of balance with yeast flavors with some moderate sourness. I'm sure some people may like that big yeasty bite.... It just didn't taste finished, could have been the blending?

According to Jeff's info from the brewery this beers blend sounds good, maybe the blend just needs to age. It's amazing what age can do to improve these Belgian yeasted beers.

I guess not ALL beer SNOBS have the same preferences on they're beer palate.... That's not a bad thing. SNOBS diversity should be as diverse as the beers. Diversity of palate helps others appreciate nuances that can be missed by others. If everybody looks at each other and grunts, "Uhhh... I like this," that's not really sharing the whole story; i.e. Explaining what each SNOB is pulling out of the beer can influence each others palate observations.

The fact that other SNOBS liked this beer and I didn't doesn't really surprise me, but I'd love to discuss my and there perceptions. It's not always a yay or nay.

Aging beers: Eh... from my samples it was about 70/30. 30% tasted done and the other tasted like they could improve with age.

Rogue... It's about agreeing vs not agreeing. This is something I should preface more in my writings. It's "Perception of your personal palate." There are certain flavors that some people are more sensitive too, while others can't pick it up at all. I like the STINKY CHEESE profile, reminds me of a good Lambic or aged Goudenbaund.


We have different palate favors.

Derek might be directing you to the wrong guy. ;-) I saw you briefly standing at a table, but when I came around again you were gone. Not sure I could Identify most of the bloggers in a crowd. Not sure I ever met Derek, so don't know how he would identify me. I did have a brief chat with Ezra... he had no clue my real identity. :-O

DA Beers said...

Doc, we met at the Baileys 2nd Anniversary fest.

dr wort said...


I was never at that event.

DA Beers said...

Oh, must have been another Mike. This post must have been entirely out of the arse then.

dr wort said...


Yes. Mike (DW1) was at Bailey's, but "I" was not. Don't know if Mike was at CTBB. I didn't see him.

DA Beers said...

Wait, there were two Dr. Worts at one festival? My fears of two Dr. Worts meeting in close proximity triggering the world to explode must be unfounded.

Do the other Dr. Worts live in your garage like Multiplicity?

Bill Night said...

Oh yes, the Triune Doctor Wort. Maybe you could start identifying yourselves by the favored emoticon or superhero power of the personality that is in charge.

dr wort said...

@DA & Bill

Sorry guys. DW has had many faces; Some from the past, some from the present and some that have moved on. There are no Michael Keaton Clones in my garage. Were there two DW's at CTBB? Maybe! I was there, but didn't see the other.

Ask Ezra.... Maybe he can figure out who I am. He and I had a nice chat about beer and the local scene. Being that DW is on his Enemy list, I proposed the Corleone philosophy: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. ;-)

DW did not see either Bill or Derek, I did see Jeff, but he must have left or moved when I returned to his area.

crabbsoup said...

Re: Cascade Brewing, you stated "I really wanted to taste a spectrum of beers JUST brewed with this years themed yeast." Cascade's Frite Galois was made with this year's themed yeast. It was then sour fermented in barrels.

dr wort said...

Could have been a little palate fatigue. I had the Cascade last. I knew it would be sour, so I saved for last. I may have no detected the Saison yeast under the sour or maybe it was the combination that blended so well it knocked down some of the more usual Lacto notes. It was pretty good. Wish I had tried it first... but then again.. I wish I could try every beer with a clean palate. ;-}

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