What does a beer make you think of? Not in the malt, yeast, hops, water sense but in the “I remember when” sense. What do you think of when you smell freshly cut grass? For me, playing soccer in the summer. Where do you go when you hear Pearl Jam’s “Black”? Hanging out in Morrison Dorm at UNC my freshman year.
When I was a kid, I was not that into candy. Other kids would always have Now or Laters or Jolly Ranchers and I would eat one or two, but I didn’t crave them. I was into cake and cookies. Especially cookies. If I brought my lunch I would always get my mother to pack Oreos or Lady Fingers or chocolate chip cookies. I was partial to the Keebler Soft Batch cookies. I also liked sugar wafer cookies. Not the Nilla Wafers. Those were saved for banana pudding. I mean the little 2-3 inch long and ½ wide wafer cookies that looked a little like ice cream cones that had a little frosting between them like a sandwich. I loved those things and I could devour them.
The Blackberry Farm Brewery Abbey Tripel reminds me of those cheap wafer cookies with a lemon frosting. This is a beer you should seek out to drink.
First, it pours a nice golden color. It has the classic Belgian head that forms foamy and white and as you drink gives you good Belgian lace down the side of the glass. It also pours crystal clear giving you a good view of the characteristic Belgian effervescence.
The first thing I noticed on the aroma was the citrus and pepper. You also get the malty almost grainy aroma at the front followed by a hint of clove.
Then you taste the beer and it is wonderful. It is crisp and citrusy with a hint of alcohol and pepper. The maltiness and high carbonation accents its crisp and dry nature. It is light and effervescent with a clean dry finish.
Great beers like all great art should transport you. That is what we all look for when we chase the next whale. We want the experience of drinking this special beer to take us back to a wonderful memory or to a new place we have never experienced before. The funny thing it doesn’t have to be a whale that does that.
The memories that surround a beer aren’t just about the beer. They include who, what, when, and where. That is why when I sit down to critique a beer I do it in the same place the same way every time. However, when a beer creates a real memory and a wonderful experience for me it is always wrapped up in where I’m drinking and whom I’m drinking with at the time.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a great beer, but it tastes infinitely better sitting outside at the Sierra Nevada Taj Mahal in Fletcher, NC watching the sunset on a Spring day than it does in my living room. That is one of the things that makes critiquing or reviewing beer hard. You try to objectively describe and interrogate something that is so subjectively enjoyed.
That challenge has been why I enjoy trying to critique and review beer so much.