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  • Rochefort 8

    Beer comes in many forms and experiences. From Miller Lite longnecks to hoppy IPAs to snooty Belgian beers and everything below, in between, above and beyond. The true Belgian beer experience is very interesting and unique. Belgian "style" beers don't quite cut it for me. This Rochefort 8 has the Belgian "it" with sensations of dark, dusty stone fruit, mellow body and mildly astringent finish but I like a tad more brightness like Kwak and Maredsous for examples. And at the end of the day...and the end of FOB 2017...I'm still an Italian hoagie or Buffalo Wings & piney, resiny West Coast IPAs hophead. Amen! —by Michael Gates

    8.0

    1 Cheers

  • Sip of Sunshine

    Pleasant bready nose. Silky mouthfeel. Rich flavors warming up like a sunrise over the ocean, blending very nicely with just a high hint of citrus. I'm really liking this beer! It's...it's...it's gone. Whoa. A real beer oasis in the desert of juicy New England IPAs. —by Michael Gates

    8.5

    0 Cheers

  • Crusher

    There's a problem. If I don't sit at my computer and instantly record how I like these beers, it gets quickly lost in the next wave of suds. And it's ALWAYS high tide here! Crusher was crushed and gone before I had a chance to record my thoughts. I think I liked Focal better. 'Nuff said. —by Michael Gates

    7.0

    0 Cheers

  • Focal Banger

    A rollercoaster ride of sensations here. Sweet mild citrus whiff with a hint of dank, like the freshly rinsed floor of a nanobrewery. Light lemon syrup simultaneously sweet & tart, all nicely balanced and incorporated with a smooth mouthfeel and a mild bitter lingering finish. Seems to be a hint of orange pekoe tea in there as well. Interesting. But at the end of the day, MY beer drinking day, it's juicy. I'm still casting my personal vote for resiny. But nicely done. Should be tasted blind so it doesn't get extra brownie points for being from The Alchemist. Y'know? (I'll bump it up half a point for being related to Heady.) —by Michael Gates

    8.0

    0 Cheers

  • Wizard

    Winding down the beers with ICBAW, it's almost kind of anti-climactic. Just a mellow, understated kind of citrusy/bitter New England IPA, pretty middle of the road IMHO. No highs. No lows. Well, maybe a little on the low side. Geeez, hasn't ANYBODY in New England heard of Cascade hops??? I'm liking this less and less as it tries to astringe my tongue. —by Michael Gates

    4.5

    0 Cheers

  • Lost Nation Mosaic

    I like the juicy whiff of this beer but as stated before, "juicy" is not my style when it comes to IPAs. Nice smooth body and a good dose of lemony zest makes this quite drinkable. Well....if you like juicy IPAs. What the heck is a Meyer lemon? Maybe this tastes like a Meyer lemon. I dunno. Trade you the rest of this for the rest of your Heady Topper?? {Very subjective rating)—by Michael Gates

    7.0

    0 Cheers

  • Samiclaus 2015

    I confess. It was paralysis by analysis that slowed my review output down. Samichlaus is such a Special Occasion Beer that I could not figure out when to drink it. And it just shut me down all week. I remember having it on tap at Ludwig's Garden (long closed) in Philly and it was just awesome. The head dissipated instantly and the beer is fairly still but something gives it a little tingle that makes it nicely drinkable. Yeah. Nicely. More like WHOA! What IS this??? Does this really count as beer? It's really like sipping a sweet session brandy. This beer's insane. It's not even beer. 9.5% rating —by Michael Gates

    9.5

    1 Cheers

  • 90 Minutes

    Haven't had a 90 Minute in a while. Really like it. Usually just buy it when I am in the mood for a treat. Has a rich mouthfeel, malty and slightly astringent on the finish. The flavor is a little tough to pin down. The dryness on the finish has me thinking stonefruit like peach but there is also some pine and soft mango. It blends together very well to keep the 9% ABV in check. Solid. Imperial, even. —by Michael Gates

    8.0

    0 Cheers

  • Chimay Blue

    See now THIS is a Belgian beer! It's big and it's dark and it's gooood. Ommegang's Lovely Dark and Deep may have been named after a few sips of Chimay Blue. Like a dark stone fruit reduction with the resident Belgian mustiness and barely noticeable 9.0% ABV to add to the mouthfeel. Haven't had Chimay in ages and used to think it was overrated until I figured out I wasn't hitting the Blue. Elegant. Serious. Contemplative. —by Michael Gates

    8.5

    2 Cheers

  • Orval

    Got pre-made ground strip steak burgers at Wegman's tonight. Having one now with swiss. And a cold Orval. (The burgers are PFG by the way.) Massiver rocky head on the pour. Very nicely done. Smells bready & yeasty & fresh. There's a wonderful burst of cardamom followed by a pleasant woody tone like the front pew in the monastery chapel. Nothing at ALL like the rear pew. Or the seat in the confessional. I like it but it's milder than anticipated. Like that expensive date that ends with a handshake. A personal Belgian lineup review might be in order. (P.S. I have absolutely NO idea what cardamom tastes like...) —by Michael Gates

    7.0

    1 Cheers

  • Weistephaner Hefe

    Uh-oh. Out of 100 wheat beers listed on Beeradvocate, Weihenstephaner came in first. Holy Guacomole! I drank this last night after my bout with Rodenbach and the habaneros infused meatloaf sammich. I couln't come up with a review because it seemd so mild after that assault on my palate. I searched for the classic hefe flavors like bubblegum, banana and clove but only sensed a hint of Bazooka. It did have a very pleasant beeriness about it. Eminently drinkable but weak to me overall. I KNOW I have had better hefeweizens! (Pass the Aventinus please!) —by Michael Gates

    6.0

    1 Cheers

  • Rodenbach Grand Cru

    Got swamped at work tonight, missed the FOB Social at 2SP and I'm bummed. Nothing to do now but have a meatloaf & cheddar sandwich with a few slices of habaneros to liven it up and a Rodenbach Grand Cru to wash it down. Love the sour beers with food! And Rodenbach doesn't disappoint. A little sour on the nose with some Belgian must, both even more solid on the palate and it's going down fast in an attempt to control the habanero blaze. Holy SHIT they're hot!!! Get the next beer up, quick!! —by Michael Gates

    8.0

    1 Cheers

  • Heady Topper

    Heady Topper reminds me of Victory Hop Ranch. Or vice versa. And I don't think that's bad company. Either way. Maybe a hair richer and more luxurious? Both beers might even be too elegant for the style. What the heck IS the Quintessential IPA any more, anyway? Heady is a fine beer. I probably wouldn't turn it down for my Desert Island Beer. But the competition is nipping at it's heels. Or it's nose. (I wanna pound a few watching an Eagles' game! I only ever get one to try. Wahhhhhh!) —by Michael Gates

    9.0

    2 Cheers

  • 2SP Bellcracker

    With a cool name like Bellcracker, this automatically sounds like a geek beer. Probably because it triggers memories of Bell's Hopslam. But upon tasting, it's not my cup of DIPA. I'm not a citrus IPA guy and this leans towards citrusy even though the citrus is well modulated as opposed to harshly astringent. The 8.7% ABV is nicely subtle and the beer has a great rich smooth mouthfeel. Kind of East Coast malty and a bit of funk to boot. Just not my style. De gustibus and all that. —by Michael Gates

    7.0

    1 Cheers

  • Big Black Voodoo Daddy

    I've had BBVD and I already know it's like a true slugger batting cleanup. This is what I like in a stout. Very rich and strong but subtle 12% ABV. Liquid luxury mouthfeel. It challenges bourbon barrel stouts in terms of complexity. Gotta try this with a roast or in a pot of chili. I bet it's a great cooking beer as well. I'm bumping it up in the rotation! —by Michael Gates

    9.0

    0 Cheers

  • Sunday Morning Stout

    I give up. I wanted to have this on a Sunday morning THREE weeks in a row and failed. So it's here and now. This beer is HUGE! It's a full frontal 11.3% ABV bourbon barrel stout with coffee to boot and all of it comes through loud and clear in the nose and on the palate. It's REALLY good! And I'm not a big Weyerbacher fan. Also have their Sunday Mole' Stout in stock but that doesn't quite measure up to it's big brother, Morning. And yes, I'm having M&M Peanuts with it right now. It's beer & chocolate Nirvana. WTG Weyerbacher! —by Michael Gates

    9.0

    1 Cheers

  • Sunday Morning Stout

    I give up. I wanted to have this on a Sunday morning THREE weeks in a row and failed. So it's here and now. This beer is HUGE! It's a full frontal 11.3% ABV bourbon barrel stout with coffee to boot and all of it comes through loud and clear in the nose and on the palate. It's REALLY good! And I'm not a big Weyerbacher fan. Also have their Sunday Mole' Stout in stock but that doesn't quite measure up to it's big brother, Morning. And yes, I'm having M&M Peanuts with it right now. It's beer & chocolate Nirvana. WTG Weyerbacher! —by Michael Gates

    9.0

    0 Cheers

  • Ommegang Rosetta

    Kinda diabolical of you, Phil. Sneaking in a Liefman's Kriek on us and plastering an Ommegang label on it just to see how we react to a real Belgian kriek. A really pleasant tart beer without the rough edges and a just right Bing cherry richness that work together to make you reach for the chocolates. Elegant! —by Michael Gates

    8.0

    2 Cheers

  • MadTree Chocolate Raspberry

    Oh yeah there's raspberries in this! I don't have a great nose but the raspberry aroma busts out like a hot fist at the end of a wet kiss. With a shot of bitter espresso on top. Both strongly confirmed on the palate. This beer makes me feel oddly religious, like....the only thing missing here is some kind of pagan religious ritual. The Cult of Fram Boyzee. Serve with turkey stuffing at Thanksgiving. Probably a good cigar beer as well. How do wings sound with a Rubus Cacao Reduction Glaze for an Eagles game? Top THAT, tailgaters! Save a couple bottles now for when Wentz leads us to the Super Bowl. 7.5 rating. (I still prefer IPAs.) —by Michael Gates

    7.5

    1 Cheers

  • Xocoveza

    I don't put a lot into head on a beer but do respect a nice craggy head like XocovezA exhibits. A good start to a well crafted beer. It''s a full frontal roller coaster assault on the taste buds with all the spices involved and enough body and ABV to hold it all together in one piece. The cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla combine to give it a toasted coconut flavor with the cocoa and coffee adding richness to the stout style. Distinction AND harmony in flavors. Not real sure how it could be done better. Well done. 8.5 rating —by Michael Gates

    8.5

    2 Cheers

  • Bell's Hopslam

    See now this is MY kind of DIPA. With a strong piney, resiny hop presence that almost makes my teeth chatter. And the honey is implemented perfectly to give it just the right bit of sweetness to offset the hops and 10% ABV. I'd like to try this around 8% ABV....so I could drink more of them! Stumbled upon Hopslam on tap in a Philly bar during the winter after drinking beer ALL day at a German Bierfest. Slipped on the ice going out and Hopslammed myself on the sidewalk. It hurt. But it hurt good. LOVE Hopslam!—by Michael Gates

    9.0

    2 Cheers

  • Enjoy By 2.15 Coffee Chocolate

    Whoa! I didn't see the fine print "Chocolate & Coffe" when I first glanced at the FOB selections. This is a difficult beer to taste. I mean, I pretty much automatically expect to enjoy the Enjoy Bys but a chocolate & coffee IPA?? There's some kind of culture clash going on here. Who wants chocolate & coffee in a manly 9.4% IPA? (Why isn't it Imperial or a DIPA anyway at that ABV??) This is a confused beer. Or I'm confused. It's still pretty straightforward good up front but the chocolate and coffee kicks in on the finish. I really do wish I could have tasted this blind. It's good. But The Twilight Zone was a good show, too. And that's where this beer is. (Okay. 2/14. I get it. Pass the chocolates!) —by Michael Gates

    7.5

    2 Cheers

  • La Trappe Quad

    The size of the head on this sucker was scary! (I know, that's what she said.) But seriously, I was afraid it was infected until it settled into a nice pillowy affair. Searched immediately for the "born on" date on the label and was relieved to see it was made many centuries in the future. This is a good example of how no "Belgian Style" beers live up to the real thing. The mild carbonation, the velvety mouthfeel, the subtle alefruit candiness and a trace of Euro must all spell Belgian like no domestic attempt can. And is there even alcohol IN it? Crazy. How about a Belgian singel, dubbel, tripel, quad home run series in next year's FOB? —by Michael Gates

    8.5

    2 Cheers

  • Troeg's Chocolate Stout

    Nice pour. Rocky head. Milk chocolate nose and taste. Light body and carbonation. Pretty mild overall for a stout. A good Valentine's Day quaff for the ladies. I prefer bigger and bolder. Stouts. Stouts! Not ladies. No offense now. Just a personal preference. —by Michael Gates

    6.0

    1 Cheers

  • Troeg's Chocolate Stout

    Nice pour. Rocky head. Milk chocolate nose and taste. Light body and carbonation. Pretty mild overall for a stout. A good Valentine's Day quaff for the ladies. I prefer bigger and bolder. Stouts. Stouts! Not ladies. No offense now. Just a personal preference. 6.0 rating —by Michael Gates

    6.0

    2 Cheers

  • Conshy Type A

    I'm a known procrastinator so I'm keeping with tradition and starting my FOB reviews a week or so late....as usual. The first thing I like about Conshy Type A is the manly serving size: 16 oz. Deep down inside, even when it IS a high ABV beer, don't you feel a little disappointed by these 8 and 10 oz pours at craft beer bars? I sure do. I'm not a big citrus IPA fan but the citrousity of Type A is just enough below the citrus threshold for it to be drinkable IMHO. I'd prefer more of the Simcoe than the Citra though and it's a tad watery. MUCH more East Coast than West Coast IPA. Like....the East Coast of the Schuykill River. I wouldn't rush back for more except it IS one of our own. But Conshy turns out enough other beers to try. Rating: 5.5—by Michael Gates

    5.5

    1 Cheers