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Oct 24, 2013 08:51 AM

Heads-up draft tasting, 6 beers.... including a pumpkin

So I've got some time to kill this week before an Eagles concert, so why not have a quick fall draft beer tasting at a nearby micro-brew bar?

Lagunitas Maximus (a pale ale from the outstanding Lagunitas brewery, subject of another recent thread here:
Crown Valley Pumpkin Smash
Founder's Breakfast Stout
North Coast Old Rasputin Stout
Chimay Cinq Cents
Stone Suede Imperial Porter.

So the bartender goes to make these pours and comes back with a substitute for the Suede: Gulden Draak, a strong belgian ale.

With the exception of NCORS I had not previously had any of these beers on tap that I can recall. I have had NCORS and FBS in bottles... so this is largely a "new" tasting adventure.

Actual tasting notes follow:
LM: Nice, a bit dry... I'm craving some sweetness that isn't here. [Note: my opinion of this beer faded as the tasting progressed, there just wasn't enough complexity, just straight dry pale ale


CVPS: Great spicy nose. Beautiful scent. Insanely nice nose... I could just sniff this and be happy

FBS: Quite "portery" for a stout... mild, tarry, nothing to love.

NCORS: Creamy, nice texture. Note sure this batch quite reaches "imperial" status. Somehow I think of this stout as better in the bottle than it is on tap, at least tonight.

GD: Mild fruity nose. Love the flavor... nice, semi-oily texture.

CCC: Sort of watery... doesn't remotely stand up next to the GD...

Heads-Up Showdown.... (actual notes follow).

The stars of this tasting are clearly CVPS and GD:

1. The CV is just unique... never tasted anything like this... crazy nose.

2. The GD is smooth, just the right amount of sweetness in a complex flavor profile.

The winner: While I love all the "parts" of the CV, the GD narrowly wins for total composition. This is everything a draft beer should be, and immediately earns a place on my long-term beer rotation.

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  1. Great post, Tombstone. I have to admit that I find Gulden Draak quite THE beer, it is truly fabulous. The Chimay, unfortunately, has gone downhill in the past decade, while the Lagunitas Maximus would be one of the top beers as well.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      Thanks Trip. Based on this tasting I'm going to have to "re-discover" belgians, a category of beers that I just never got deeply into...

      ... Reason? Not that I haven't liked the flavor, I've just found them difficult to drink very much of; i.e. one glass and I'm full. That's not a problem if you just want to have one beer, but given my historical drinking habits I leaned more to varieties that I could have several (or more) of... which meant IPA's, stouts, BW's, wheats, infused beers, etc...

      But GD was a revelation; any other belgians you personally favor?

      1. re: TombstoneShadow

        I am fortunate to live four subway stops from a very great Belgian beer bar in Tokyo, and one of the nicest places in Asia to drink a beer. My favorites these days are Blanche de Namur, Westmalle Tripel, Orval (some brett in it, so not for everyone), Rochefort 10 (I call it the liquid chocolate brownie of beers), Leffe Radieuse, and Bush Amber (also called Scaldis Amber in places where A-B has strong lawyers, even though the family name means "bush" in English). Bush Amber is 12% abv and you drink it like brandy with a friend. Another favorite is de Dolle Dulle Teve (Mad Bitch).

        When I am not drinking Belgian beers, I like American IPAs.

        1. re: Tripeler

          Great reccs, Trip...

          I'm curious... how many glasses of these belgians do you drink at a setting? I find one, maybe two is my limit... and it's not based on being drunk, there's just something in the sticky rich flavor that make them very filling for me... For that reason, I always looked at them as "nightcaps"... the problem being that by the time I got to the end of an average night, the last thing I needed was another beer :)

          ... do you find these similarly filling, or do you drink 3 - 4 at a setting w/ no problem?

          1. re: TombstoneShadow

            I usually drink two, maybe three. Four would be really pushing it. But once a month the place has a Belgian beer dinner night, and we often go through as many as eight types of beer, drinking a half bottle each. They ARE heavy, and that's why I like them. I have heard that one bottle per hour is a good pace in Belgium.

    2. >FBS: Quite "portery" for a stout... mild, tarry, nothing to love.

      I kinda get what you mean, but these days the only difference between a stout and a porter are the words the brewery decides to put on the bottle.

      FBS has coffee added - I thought too much - which made it taste like mediocre decaf coffee - no depth, just a general coffee flavor. I would rather see brewers use roasted malts to provide coffee-ish flavor anyway - adding coffee (or chocolate) is hacky to me. I much prefer straight up Founders Imperial Stout.

      The last time I had Cinq cents I didn't think it was too much different than when I started drinking it in 2001. IMO draft versions of belgian beers originally designed for bottle conditioning are usually inferior in taste. The only time I thought draft versions were better is for boozier tasting belgians which draft seems to diminish.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LStaff

        ".... I much prefer straight up Founders Imperial Stout...."

        Me too, I like regular Founders, another reason I've been disappointed the times I've tried it.

        Have to say that while their flavors are somewhat "on the same spectrum"... to my palate porter and stout are still two very different varietals.

      2. Further to Gulden Draak... I brought a couple bottles for sampling to a regular poker game which is attended by some old friends who have a good deal of experience with fine beers.

        I brought both the "white bottle" GD and a black bottle item called "quadrupel 9000?"...

        Without exception, everyone was impressed with the white GD. I personally didn't like the black 9000 quad nearly as well though several of my friends found it drinkable. To me it was night and day in favor of the white...