Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beer review - Belgo-Danish farmhouse IPA barrel super-mashup!

Time once again for some beer reviews! As the title suggests, it's sort of a mash-up of Belgian-style, farm-house style, IPAs, barrel-aged, and Danish gypsy-brewed beers, where each beer has at least one, and possibly several, boxes checked from that list.

Fantôme Printemps Saison


Fantome is a little outfit an old farmhouse in the dinky town of Soy, Belgium. They basically make one beer, a saison, on which they make variations using herbs, fruits, and spices. The Printemps is their flagship - at 8% ABV, is strong for the style, and has a lot of fruity flavor going on. Quite nice! I picked this up at Little Vine, and they seem to carry it regularly.

Evil Twin Disco Beer

This one (and the remainder in this review) all came from The Jug Shop, who will get their own review one of these days. Suffice to say, they're awesome. They frequently do beer tastings on Friday nights, and this one, along with the Aphotic Baltic Porter and Invasion Farmhouse IPA, were part of a tasting of barrel-aged beers.

Evil Twin is a Danish outfit of gypsy brewers, along the lines of Mikkeller. They're just as wacky in their experimentation, and perhaps even more so in their naming, with beers like Grünerløkka Hipster Ale, DEVFFC,MQAL9,.8, Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room, Without You I'm Nothing, and Been Smoking Too Long.

Disco Beer is an IPA aged in chardonnay barrels. It's quite strong (10.5% ABV), but fairly mellow on the hops. It has a smooth, thick, velvety character. It's almost a dessert beer along the lines of a stout, but hoppier and without the chocolate/coffee/toffee malt profile.

Victory V12 Belgian-inspired 


Victory is from Downington, PA, outside of Philadelphia. Their flagship beers are their Hop Devil IPA and Storm King stout, and a lot of their beers tend to follow a West Coast ethic of a strong hops profile.

The V-12, however, is a pretty straightforward Belgian trippel, clocking in at a massive 12% ABV. It's pretty true to the style - golden, sweet, and fruity. I'm not a big fan of this style of beer (I think I mistakenly bought it because I thought it was barrel aged; if it was, those characteristics didn't really come through), but if you do, it's a pretty solid representative.

High Water Aphotic Baltic Porter

Across the continent, in Chico, home of one of the first and largest craft brewers, there is also High Water. They're a little closer to a boutique brewery - they have a couple of beers like their Hop Riot IPA that they sell all the time, but often they'll brew a small batch of something, and once it's gone, they may not brew it again for a good long while.

Such was the case with their Aphotic Baltic porter, which they had one trip to The Jug Shop but not the next. It's a strong beer, as Baltic-style porters are, at 9.3% ABV. It's aged in bourbon and brandy barrels, which gives is a complex character, and there was a hint of sourness there that balanced the sweet, chocolate character well. I recommend it, if you can find it!

Mikkeller Invasion Farmhouse IPA


Finally, another by our favorite Danish gypsy brewers.  Start with a moderately strong (8.0% ABV), moderately hoppy IPA, and now inoculate it with Brettanomyces, the wild yeast strain that gives sour beers their puckery, sometimes barn-yardy flavor. This brings out some of the great summer fruit flavors from the hops, and a great interplay between the sweetness of a strong beer, bitterness of IPA, and sourness from the Bret. A great transition for you hop-heads looking to get into sour beers.

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