Thursday, August 18, 2011

2 Michigan Belgian-Styles

There are a lot of lovely Belgian beers out there. I often eye them in the store, consider them, then consider my limited budget. I've been wanting to do a vertical Chimay tasting for years now. Wow, I should just do it. Or, in the meantime, find more affordable locally-made brews in the traditional Belgian style. Such as these 2 brightly colored cans! Hey, hey - check it out. I picked up "Solitude" and "Triomphe," from Brewery Vivant out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their slogan? "Belgian Tradition, Local Mission." Nice.
I began with the Solitude, although not in solitude. The Solitude is an Abbey-Style Belgian Dark Ale. It poured from the can (which included a message about the environmental reasons for using cans) to my wine glass as a murky brown with red highlights and a small fizzy brown head. Kind of like an ugly cola. The nose was strong; Belgian yeast and dark fruits.
Solitude was malty and fruity...Dark fruits - plums, raisins. The strong Belgian yeast flavor with a little funk. This was medium-bodied, had low carbonation, and felt smooth and soft. At 6% alcohol by volume, this was pleasant and mild enough. As it warmed I enjoyed it more. B
Next was the green can: Triomphe, a Belgian IPA. Now, pardon my naivete, but what is a Belgian-style IPA? I turn to the experts at BeerAdvocate: some Belgian brewers are creating strong IPAs in the style of American Imperial IPAs and geared towards an American audience. They often use Belgian yeast strains and American hops, and are drier than American IPAs.
Not to be shallow, but Triumphe was a little prettier than the Solitude. Sorry. It poured a pretty, cloudy, orange-amber with a huge fluffy off-white head. It left lots of lacing and had a very inviting appearance. The nose was fairly mild but pleasant; hoppy citrus and floral. And delicious - initial sweet citrus (pineapple, orange) gave way to bitter pines and subtle Belgian yeast flavors. Strongly stated flavors, but not a super hop-bomb. Great drinkability at 6.5% alcohol by volume; smooth, soft, pleasant, and tasty. A

This was a nice way to discover yet another cool Michigan brewery AND a new style of beer to boot!