Val-Dieu Grand Cru – Brasserie de l’Abbaye du Val-Dieu (Aubel, Belgium)

Val-Dieu Grand Cru – Brasserie de l’Abbaye du Val-Dieu, 10.5% ABV, (Belgium)

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B
  • Why I like it: rich, honey sweet, and malty, all balanced
  • Where I got it: W. 16th (?)
  • How much: $12, 750ml, Summer 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: 50/50, only if shared
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes, smooth and tasty

Tasting notes: Pours dark coffee brown/black with a decent head, good micro foamy retention, sticky lacing, lots of fast-moving CO2 streams. Clover honey on the nose. Drinks with initial 8/10-level gentle sweetness, tastes of strong honeychamomile, medium-heavy malts, finishes sweet and 5/10-level bitter. The alcohol hits you pretty fast and this beer doesn’t pair very well with spicy food/pasta/corn/avocado/beef roll (what I’m eating now). Medium complexity, medium-high depth, good carry, good transitions, pretty good drinkability. It gets pretty heavy and overly sweet after 250ml into it – this beer is best for sharing.

Blueberry Oatmeal Stout – Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, 7.5% ABV, (Seattle, Portland, Berkeley)

On the front label:

“oatmeal stout brewed with blueberries with natural flavors added”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B-
  • Why I like it: blueberry flavour and deep stout are both there
  • Where I got it: Libations Liquor (W. King Ed)
  • How much: $17 (after 10%)  for 6pack, Dec/2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes, unique brew

Tasting notes: Pours dark brown/purple with a small dissipating head, micro CO2, barely any lacing, ringed retention, barely visible slowly moving CO2 streams. Light real blueberry aromas on the nose. Blueberry flavour is there right up front, mixed with med-thick malts, light roast, mild purple grape, chocolate, 6/10-level sweetness in the mids, creamy mouthfeel, sake-like floralness and a light 4/10-level bitterness at the end. Medium complexity, medium-depth, quite good transitions, good carry, decent length, great drinkability (must be in a chilled glass!). Blueberry flavour is present but you have to look for it. Smooth for 7.5% ABV.

Moscato d’Asti 2008 – Enrico Serafino (Italy)

Moscato d’Asti 2008 – Enrico Serafino, 5.5% ABV, (Italy)

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B
  • Why I like it: ultra-clean pure and clean flavour
  • Where I got it: Legacy Liquor, 01/2012
  • How much: $25 (after 10%), 750ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to wine afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes (chilled): pours an exceptionally clear light golden yellow with countable bubbles that quickly dissipate. Light aromas of apple on the nose. Drinks close to apple juice viscosity, strong aromas of red apple, Persian lime, pear, white table grapes, notes of lychee, with a balanced 5/10-level sweetness. Great drinkability, although the 2nd glass is slightly sweeter than the 1st. Recommended.

Thomas Hardy’s Ale – O’Hanlon’s Brewing Co, 11.7% ABV, (Devon, England) (listed in “1001 beers you must taste before you die”)

  • first brewed in 1968, discontinued since 2009

On the back label:

“Britain’s strongest ale is a piece of brewing history. Bottles of this rare, bottle conditioned classic have kept for at least 25 years, maturing in flavour like fine wine. ‘Bottle Conditioning’ is a secondary fermentation in the bottle during which Thomas Hardy’s Ale develops its uniquely rich and complex character. The process produces a sediment which is laid down over time as part of the natural fermentation process.”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: C
  • Why I kinda like it: rich flavour but not exactly refreshing
  • Where I got it: Viti Wine & Lager
  • How much: $7, 250ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes (bottled in 2006): vintage and individually numbered, pours with zero carbonation, thicker than water viscosity, cloudy hazelnut brown with quite a bit of sediment. Thick malts and light coffee on the nose. Initially watery as it enters the mouth, quickly thickens and turns alcoholic mixed with rich caramel malts,light bitter chocolate,medium-roast coffeehazelnut, brandy, 8/10-level sweetness, finishes with lingering bittersweetness. Medium-high complexity, high depth, long length, good transitions, great carry, not so good drinkability. Highly potent and flavourful but the lack of carbonation really doesn’t appeal to me.

Grape Vodkas Prelims

Grape Vodkas

(Read the updated 2013/Aug review here! My palate has changed since.)

Overall Ranking:

  1. Skyy Infusions Grape, (obsolete)
  2. Three Olives Grape, (obsolete)
  3. Smirnoff twist of White Grape, D-

1) Three Olives Grape, 35% ABV, (Lawrenceburg, Indiana)

  • Rating: (obsolete)

Tasting Notes (all at room temp): slightly syrupy mouthfeel, 6/10-level sweetness, grape is muted and mostly in the background hiding behind the warmth of the vodka. Grape flavour is candi-esque and more like a grape soda than from the grapevine. Has an aspartame-like roughness.

2) Skyy Infusions Grape, 35% ABV, (San Francisco, CA)

  • Rating: (obsolete)

Tasting Notes: intense “juicy” grape + vine flavour right off the bat, sharp 6/10-level sweetness in the mids, not as warm as Three Olives but much flavour. Ideal as a mixer or even as a shot. Great depth of flavour

3) Smirnoff twist of White Grape, 35% ABV, (Norwalk, CT)

  • Rating: D-

Tasting Notes: less syrupy than all the rest, huge alcohol impurity + 8/10-level sugar rush from the start mixed with an unauthentic white grape flavour andbitterness, tingliness on the tongue, nasal burn and gag reflex. Avoid.

Cocktail from

Grape Ginger Swizzle

  • 1.5oz Skyy grape vodka
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar (turbinado)
  • 4 blackberries
  • 4 slices of peeled ginger
  • top with ginger ale (about 1.5-2oz)

Direction: Muddle, strain (or double-strain), serve in a low-ball glass with ice and garnish with a blackberry-candied ginger (Reed’s bought at Save-on)-blackberry skewer.

  • Rating: B+

Tasting Notes: Excellent drinkability, good freshness, ginger flavour is well-balanced and sweetness level is expertly controlled. Definitely one to memorize and serve to the ladies.

Raasted grilløl (Denmark)

Raasted grilløl, 5% ABV (Denmark)


Danish: En amerikansk pale ale brygget på masser af pale ale malt og en anelse karamelmalt. Dette giver tilsammen en flot rødgylden farve og øllet fremstår meget klart i glasset. Øllet er humlet med de amerikanske humletyper Chinook, Palisade og Amarillo, der sammen giver øllet en let bitterhed og en stor duft, der i øvrigt forstærkes af tørhumling.

English: An American pale ale brewed with lots of pale ale malt and a hint of caramel malt. This combination gives it a nice reddish golden color and the beer is very clear in the glass. The beer is hopped using the American hops Chinook, Palisade and Amarillo, which give the beer a light bitterness and a strong aroma which is further enhanced by the dry hopping.

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B-
  • Why I like it: refreshing American pale ale with a LONG finish
  • Where I got it: Legacy Liquor
  • How much: ~$4, 330ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours cloudy orange-brown with a smallish dissipating foamy head, thin sticky lacing, light layered retention, lots of fast and slow moving CO2 streams. A very inviting orange blossom and citrus nose. Slighty watery entry, quickly transitions into a creamy sharp 4/10-level sweetness, grapefruit tang, tangerine, long lingering 8/10-level hoppy bitterness, with an ultra-long bitter finish. Low-medium complexity, low-medium depth, great transitions, good carry, super-long lingering finish, great drinkability. Overall quite solid, slightly watery in the beginning but gains traction 1/3rd through.

Three Philsophers Belgian Style Blend 2011 – Brewery Ommegang (NY, USA)

Three Philsophers Belgian Style Blend 2011 – Brewery Ommegang, 9.8% ABV, (Cooperstown, NY) (listed in “1001 beers you must taste before you die”)

On the back label:

“98% Ale – 2% Ale with cherries added (ie. 98% their brew + 2% Belgium kriek)

Created by blending a rich, malty, Belgian-style ale with authentic Kriek, a classic cherry ale from Belgium, our Quadrupel is cultured yet wild, curious yet wise.”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: B+
  • Why I like it: rich malty backbone with a multitude of other flavours
  • Where I got it: St. Johns Liquor, Oct/2011
  • How much: $16, 1 pt 9.4 fl. oz. (750ml)
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: Yes

Tasting Notes: pours dark mahogany red/brown, minimal head, thin ringed retention, small CO2, runny lacing, sporadic mix of slow and fast moving CO2 streams. Unfiltered and some sediment in the glass. Malty dark fruit on the nose. Burst of dark malts up front,predominantly chocolate, coffee, mixed with sour cherriesraisins, slightly nutty, minor 4/10-level bitterness finish. The alcohol is initially masked by the flavours but hits in the mid until the end. Medium-high complexity, med-high depth, great carry, good transitions, quite good drinkability. A very strong and heavy ale, can be difficult to drink the whole bottle solo as a session beer.