October Beer of the Month- Rochefort 10

Yeah I know. It's almost November, but a man's gotta work to pay the bills. I really wanted to review a pumpkin beer this month (Schlafly to be exact), but I did not see any on my last beer stop. What I did see was Rochefort Trappistes 10 on the shelves. I never see this beer moving much, and it baffles me. This is a world class beer folks. The last time I checked, it was a top 50 on Ratebeer.com and Beer Advocate. I had one of these sitting in my beer fridge and figured it was time to alert some Nashvillians about this stellar Belgian ale. It is brewed by monks to financially support their monastery. Wikipedia has some information if you are interested in reading up on the brewery and monks.

Rochefort Trappistes 10 ( Brasserie Rochefort, Rochefort Belgium)

11.3% ABV. Belgian Quadruple.

Smitty's Review: Sampled at 50 degrees. Pours a deep muddy chocolate brown with a thick frothy light brown head that leaves webby lacing. Aroma of cherry, raisen, chocolate, and Belgian yeast that gives off a slight mustiness. Medium bodied with fine, soft carbonation and a rich earthy texture. Flavor of alcohol soaked raisens, tobacco, and dark caramelly malts. There is also a port-like vinous character to this as well. As it warms, I get hints of cocoa. The finish is yeasty and warming from the alcohol. Overall, this is an excellent and complex sipper. The alcohol strength is very apparent and plays an integral role in the complexity, which could be a turn off for some. There are some striking similarities to Westvleteren 12, which is considered one of the top five beers in the world by beer raters (don't look for it in the stores because you can't get it in the US).

If you are the type that likes alcohol to be hidden in your drinks, or think that Blue Moon is the best Belgian style beer on the planet, you may want to pass on this one. These little bottles should run about $8 each, and are worth every penny. There is an unconfirmed rumor that importation of Rochefort ales may go hiatus. Try one while you can!

Recommended Food Pairing: After dinner sipper, Beef, Game , Cheese (Brie, Gouda, Blue, Swiss)

Where To Buy: Midtown Wine and Spirits, Mr Whiskers, Frugal McDoogal, Stones River (Murfreesboro)

French press and fresh hops. The poor man's randall?

Three years ago I planted two Cascade Hop vines for home brewing. Come harvest time, I had a very nice yield. The only problem was that my wife and I are expecting a third child in December, which is when I like to brew. So what was I going to do with all these hops? I tried offering them to a few homebrewer friends but no one was interested. This was a shock considering the severe hop shortage. I was reading some posts on ratebeer and saw that another user was using a french press as a randall. Cool idea! What is a randall? Randall is a device that was created by Dogfish Head Brewing Co. out of Milton DE. It is a canister that houses fresh whole leaf hops, and connects between the keg an and the beer tap. It is basically a way of dry hopping "on the fly."

I don't drink coffee, but my wife does. She has a nice porcelain french press that collects dust in the pantry. I figured it was time to put that thing to good use. I grabbed about a quarter ounce of hops and one of my favorite IPAs, Bells Two Hearted Ale. Sorry Nashville folks, you can't buy this wonderful beer locally. You have to drive to Kentucky to get it. I chose this beer because it basically a single hop IPA using Centennial hops, which are a higher alpha acid version of Cascade hops. I dumped the hops into the press and poured the beer over them and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I then pushed down on the press and poured the beer into my tulip glass. That's it. The verdict?

It did add some subtle haze to the beer, but that's to be expected. Two Hearted has a very nice aroma, but the french press added a nice fresh wet hop aroma to the mix. This process noticeably softened the carbonation, in a cask (beer engine) sort of way. As far a flavor, the finish had semi-dry and grassy bitterness with some leafy herb and celery nuances. Did this improve the beer? Not for me. It just gave the beer a character that was interesting and different. However, I bet this process would improve mediocre pale ales and IPAs. This is a cool idea and kudos to whomever came up with it. I now have a use for all these hops and will continue to experiment.

If you are not growing your own hops, I do not recommend that you go down to your homebrew shop and attempt to purchase them for this little experiment. For starters, it's not worth the price you are going pay for whole leaf hops. Second, hops are in very low supply and the courteous thing to do is leave them for the homebrewers. Most home brew shops won't even sell you hops unless you purchase ingredients for an entire batch. I also recommend that you get a dedicated french press for beer, unless you like hop flavor in your coffee.

I will try the french press on some locally available beers like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Magic Hat Lucky Cat, and Terrapin Rye Pale Ale. Check back later and read comments to see the results. Cheers!

What's new in the bottle shops......

Magic Hat out of Vermont has part of their lineup in bottle shops and in some grocery stores, including Circus Boy, #9, and Lucky Kat.

I have no visual confirmation, but I hear reports that Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner is on the liquor store shelves. This is an unfiltered Pilsener on steroids and a great beer. I believe they are sold in Four packs.

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale is also in the area. If you have not had this seasonal, I suggest you try it before it sells out. It is one of my favorite pumpkin beers. It is sold in liquor stores that carry craft beer.

Avery Fifteen
(one time release) and The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest (seasonal) are now available in 22 ounce bottles. The Fifteen is not for the inexperienced palate,. It is a very sour, funky beer and smells like a barnyard. If you love beers using brettanomyces yeast strains, then you might dig this beer. Both of these are sold in liquor stores that carry craft beer.

For folks near downtown- you should find these beers at Midtown Wine and Spirits and Frugal MacDoogal. On the west side, Mr. Whiskers is a liquor store with a decent craft beer selection. Those of you out in Williamson County, try Woody's Smokes and Brews and Red Dog Wine and Spirits. Murfreesboro folks should find all these beers at Stones River.