Saturday, November 07, 2009

Imperial or should we come up with a different name?

Let it be known, I'm all about the beer. Lately, though I seem to be getting tired of a trend that I see forming in the craft beer camp. Imperial. It's a word that is popping up in front of more styles of beer than I can count. Years ago there was one imperial beer and that was Imperial Stout. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a strong beer. I love my Belgians, I love my barleywines, I love my uber IPAs. I even enjoy all the different Imperial beers that have been served my way. I guess what I am getting at, is it's pretty cool to see an Imperial Pumpkin Ale or an Imperial Double Bock, but have we "jumped the shark," so to speak? If the shark was jumped, I think for me, it was when I saw my precious summer time favorite session beer turned into an Imperial......Imperial Belgian Wit Ale. Is it a contradiction or am I just off base here? I enjoy all styles of beer, I appreciate the effort, skill and creativity of our hand crafted brewers in all that they do. I'm probably just thinking out loud and my thoughts shouldn't have made it to the written page, but I was wondering, what do you think?

For those of you new to well brewed beer, the term Imperial is used when a style of beer is more extreme then the standard style. For instance, higher alcohol content, larger quantities of hops, malt, etc.

I'm really not complaining, just pontificating. I won't complain until Dick brews an Imperial Yuengling Lager!!!

The Beers in Review

Van Steenberge Golden Dark Belgium Ale:
From the VanSteenberge Brewery in Belgium, this 10.5% ABV pours a heavy, dark reddish brown with a sweet aroma. Well carbonated, there is a sweet, herbal mouth feel that finishes with a strong malty after taste. Once it goes down, about three seconds later, the heat from the 10.5% hits you. This is a delicious strong ale. One or two will do the trick.

Optimator: The Spaten Brewery in Germany makes a mighty fine double bock. Usually there is a chilly evening in October. The first one deserves an Optimator!! 7% ABV, a malty blast of lager heaven.

Riverhorse Tripel: Belgian style Tripel from the Riverhorse Brewery in Lambertville. 10% ABV. I like my New Jersey Breweries, Riverhorse, Flying Fish, Climax. Truth be told, I haven't had a Riverhorse in years. Rumors were running rampant that with new ownership, Riverhorse had upped the ante a bit. This Belgium style Tripel does not disappoint. Perfectly spiced, evenly malted, very warm in the finish, one could put a "Brewed in Belgium" label on it and never no the difference. Comes in six packs, 12 oz bottles. Just perfect for the amount of alcohol in it. On a side note, if you try this brew, have some wasabi peas as a snack. Incredible together!!

ESB: Speaking of New Jersey, this ale is a treat I do not get to sample too often. Not one for overly naming their beers, The Climax Brewery in Roselle, NJ keeps it simple and special. Their extra special bitter is phenomenal. Smooth, easy drinking, perfect. Even better and unique is the fact that Climax Brewery only packages their beers in growlers. No 12oz bottles, No bombers. No champagne size containers, just a huge growler filled with their beer. You gotta love it, and you gotta have company!!