Monday, August 11, 2014

The Best Thing I Swallowed on Sunday Episode 10

August 10, 2014
Another rare and special treat from Belgium in today's episode. Rodenbach Grand Cru is currently on draft at the Hopleaf, and I couldn't be more excited to sample my favorite Flemish red ale. Once again, this edition has another clear standout that absolutely outshines my other two worthy selections. I'm also including St. Bernardus Extra 4 and something totally new and exciting from San Diego's Green Flash, Citra Session IPA. While the Rodenbach was my favorite ale of the evening, I really enjoyed drinking the Extra 4 and Citra Session.

Extra 4, Rodenbach Grand Cru, and Citra Session IPA

Let's jump right to the best thing I swallowed on Sunday. Rodenbach Grand Cru is a world class beer, but don't just take my word for it. Michael Jackson suggests that this beer "would feature in any connoisseur's list of the world's top ten beers." This red ale is aged at least two years in oak tuns, which creates sensational aromas and flavors. This is a dark red with a generous, chocolate-tinted head of foam. The aroma is wonderful, brimming with oak and tartness. But the flavor, of course, is where the real joy in drinking such a fine beer is to be found. The two years in oak mellows the tartness and produces a deliciously mild red ale that exhibits a range of flavors as it warms and travels across the tongue. Oak, a touch of vanilla, dark fruits, and of course, some funky sourness that makes this beer exceptional and distinct from other Flemish reds.

St. Bernardus is famous for its Pater 6, Prior 8, and Abt 12, all of which are superior beers. But the Extra 4 is also a special treat that I had not seen on tap prior to this month. This is a classic Belgian "single" with a light, golden hazy appearance and a very thin head. The aroma is very crisp and slightly bready. At just 4.8%, this slightly hoppy pale ale is filled with flavor. It is very crisp and with its soft mouthfeel and abundant carbonation, supremely quenching.

I will conclude with something that I was quite pleasantly surprised by: Green Flash's Citra Session IPA. This is a limited release from the Hop Odyssey series and is only available in August and September. At 40 IBUs and an ABV of just 4.5%, it is exactly what the doctor ordered for those hot days at the end of summer. I normally do not appreciate the admittedly few West Coast IPAs that I've tasted by Green Flash or Stone Brewing, for that matter. They are one note beers without any complexity, in my humble opinion. As an aside, I do like several West Coast IPAs, including Ballast Point Sculpin and Port Brewing Wipeout. I like a beer to do more than rake hoppy bitterness across my tongue. So I was initially reluctant to sample what I suspected would be another hop-bomb from Green Flash. Imagine my surprise when I smelled and then tasted Citra Session. The nose is wonderful: a bouquet of lemon, orange, and grapefruit. These flavors also dominate the palate. The best part about Citra Session, however, is the light body that accompanies such great hop flavor. This is not a palate coater, but rather a perfectly tasty beer that I would drink any time, any place.

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