APPETIZER: Oh boy. Today I was exhausted from a weekend of partying with little kids and not sleeping enough and it's that time of the month which means I'm out of it and tired and a little moody. I also had no food at home, which meant grocery shopping. No big deal except the power went out and the registers went down while I was in the middle of checking out, so it took longer than usual. Ready for a beer? I was.
MAIN COURSE: I went home to eat dinner and relax. I made homemade chili dogs (meaning a can of Hormel veggie chilli on top of veggie hot dogs) = yum. With my main course I had a La Binchoise Artisinal Amber Ale Reserve Speciale, a product from Belgium. Normally it seems to be called "Speciale Noel" so I guess it's a Christmas beer. But this one was not labeled as such. Perhaps I should have guessed from the label with angels and $2.99 clearance price.
Anyhow, I have kind of put off trying this one...Again maybe because of the angels and clearance price. However, I opened it tonight and am glad I did.
A) Appearance was lovely. Very thick with sediment, a deep amber color, off-white head that briefly stuck around leaving thick lacing.
S) Mild smell, cherry/raisins/crackers.
T) Taste was not overwhelming, which to me was a good thing for this style. It was tasty: dark fruits, cherries, bread, a bit of spice at the end. The spicy tang is what stood out to me.
MF) Medium to chewey, well-carbonated.
D) Very good! Sometimes these styles can be too intense for me, especially the dark fruit tastes and high alcohol levels. But with 9% ABV, this was well-balanced, pleasant, and lovely to drink.
PERHAPS MY FAVORITE BELGIAN STRONG ALE YET!
DESSERT: I had an Atwater's Vanilla Java Porter, something I have also held off on trying. The only other Atwater's I've had is a Winter Bock, which I was not too wowed with. I really want to like Atwater's, especially because they are from MI like me!Come on, Hand State, let's get it together.
A) Extremely dark brown, powerful finger of light brown fluffly foam with many dents and mounds. LOVELY.
S) Subtle vanilla, followed by hints of cocoa and coffee, malts. GOOD SO FAR.
T) Starts more bitter with a bit of hops, a light coffee note, and ending on a mild vanilla taste (which is good). Kind of watery in flavor, definitely not "robust" as the label claims. GETTING DISAPPOINTING.
MF) Again, feels kind of watery and thin.
D) Okay - easy to drink but not that fun to. While it's more complex than some straight up chocolate stouts, it's still lacking in flavor and feels weak. However, I paired this with a super flavorful dessert, and it accompanied this okay.
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