This post continues the saga of how I spent one of the best days ever – otherwise known as International Beer Day.

Belgium – Ahhh, the holy land of beer. For those that are unaware of the rich brewing traditions of this country, suffice it to say that the Belgian’s brew beer like the French make wine – with incredible enthusiasm and passion. Row after row of incredible beers beckoned me to try them. I wanted to avoid reviewing a beer I already tasted so after much careful thought and some great reviews from Total Wine I settled on the Sterkens White Ale.

A white ale is essentially a wheat beer. This one is very typical of the style – pouring a pale straw yellow with a nice white head. The smell carries a hint of citrus, more lemon than orange, and corriander wrapped in the slightly spicy roasted wheat scent. The taste is typical of a wheat beer, with a clean flavor and active carbonation. Despite being a good representation of the style I found myself underwhelmed. I have come to expect more from Belgian beers and although I would happily drink this beer again, I would much prefer other more notable ones.

 

Russia – While checking out the different countries’ sections in Total Wine I was slightly shocked to see a Russian section. After all, Americans know Russians for vodka, chess, the cold war, and very little else. Admittedly, it was one of the smallest sections there but I love the fact that they are producing beer (and that we are importing it). So I picked up a bottle of Baltika #4 Dark Lager to give it a shot.

This Russian beer pours a dark amber color with creamy white head. The head initially started out about 1 finger high but quickly faded almost completely away leaving nothing more than a nice lacing on the glass as you drink it. The smell is redolent with rich caramel malt and a slight alcohol tang. Unsuprisingly, the taste follows the smell giving this beer a slightly sweet caramel flavor with a dry finish that IS surprising as there is almost no noticeable hop prescence. The beer is thin and easy to drink with very little carbonation to fill you up. There is a noticeable alcoholic after taste thought that is hard to shake even after it is finished. It didn’t really work for me but maybe that is how Russians prefer their beer. Guess I’ll have to try bottles from a couple different Russian breweries to be sure.

Australia – While Fosters isn’t bad, I would be saddened if it truly was, as their advertisements claim, Australian for beer. So I was quite happy at finding a decent little collection of beers from Australia and New Zeland. Using a largely scientific process I ended up grabbing a Sparkling Ale from Cooper’s Brewery. OK, perhaps it had something to do with the kangeroo on the label but don’t judge me – they are adorable! Thankfully the beer turned out to be quite tasty as well.

This bottle fermented ale pours a cloudy gold with a faint head that disappears quickly. Bottle conditioned means the yeast is still active when it is placed in the bottle and some sediment accumulates at the bottom of the beer as a result. This does not adversely affect the flavor of the beer so I poured it in as well. The taste is very clean, with nice carbonation a just a hint of the tang that normally accompanies pale ales. It feels a bit thin in your mouth and finishes with a dry hop bite that is really the defining characteristic of this beer. It is not enough to be an India Pale Ale, but it is much more pronounced than every mass-market American beer. All in all this was a very decent beer that you could drink easily while soaking up the sun on a beautiful summer day.

So in conclusion I would like to wrap up this blog by thanking my wonderful wife for letting me hijack her blog. I would also like to personally thank the genious that created International Beer Day. If I could nominate you for a Nobel prize, I would. Until that time, however, I will have to settle with being sort of a roving beer ambassador – trying excellent beers from all over the world and spreading the word. Life is good!

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