Friday, March 11, 2011

Brouwerij de Molen - Zak & As

Heya! Before I get started with this review, I just wanted to let you know that I had intended to post the review of another English Ale, unfortunately I have become rather sick, and well, it is not well-advised to drink beer given my current state. So I will post a previously consumed and reviewed beer known as Zak & As. Just know that the next beer will be the Old Growler English Porter.

Anyhow, the latest beer up for review as I said, is Zak & As (Sack & Ash), and it comes to us straight from Holland. It is brewed by Brouwerij de Molen (The Windmill Brewery) and they are located south of Amsterdam, in Bodegraven (90 minutes or so by train). I first discoverd Brouwerij de Molen while browsing a specialty beer store here in Amsterdam (The Cracked Kettle) and was amazed by the stunning variety de Molen was offering. Their trademark seems to be labeling each bottle by hand with a rather plain (but quite informative) white label. Each label provides a suggested serving temperature, a consume by date (sometimes in excess of 20 years), ABV, hop types, original and final gravities, special ingredients, bottle number from the specific batch, as well as brewed-on and bottled-on dates; transparent brewing, that's another reason I love this brewery. Why not give all this information? Often it is difficult to find the percentage of alcohol in a beer on the label, but with this brewery everything you could ever want to know about the beer you're about to consume is right on the front of the label. Brouwerij de Molen brews beers ranging from American to Belgian Styles, German to English Styles, with a selection of Seasonal Releases and Special Releases. You can find IPA's, Bocks, Smoked Beers, Pilseners, Stouts, Porters, Tripels, Dubbels, and Witbiers. With this brewery it is more or less take your pick (you can find anything). They will frequently add off the wall ingredients and brew beers with combinations not frequently seen elsewhere (at least in my experience).

The beer I am reviewing for you tonight (Zak & As) is a smoked blonde ale. Yes, that's right. A smoked blonde ale. Sounds quite interesting eh? I thought so too. The only deviation from the normal blonde ale is the fact they brew the beer with Bamberg Smoked Malt (Rauchmalt). The same malt used in german Rauchbier. For information on the flavour profile of this malt refer to this review here. The blonde ale will be slightly sweet, slightly bitter, with an intense upfront carbonation; now imagine this combined with the flavour of Rauchmalt which is very distinct. It promises for an intriguing combo, and let me tell you it was. Here's the review...

Name: Zak & As (Sack & Ash)
Category/Style: Smoked Blonde Ale
ABV: 7%
IBU: 39.1
OG: 1.070
FG: 1.018
Malt Types: Rauchmalt
Hop Types: Premiant, Saaz
Yeast Type: British Ale yeast
Special Additives: None
Bottled: 24th November, 2010
Bottle Size: 330 mL
Location Purchased: De Bierköning, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Pour: Dark yellow slightly copper colored, fluffy off-white head, decent retention, a little lacing
The Nose: Strawberry jam, blackberries, beechwood smoke, peanut butter, ash, dish soap, some citrusy hops, candy sugar, fresh baked biscuits and yeast.
The Taste: Carbonation is tingly and explosive but fades quickly to reveal some soapy citrusy hops, strawberries, sweet candy sugar, detecting a bit of spice, smoke midway through, finish is bitter and sweet with campfire-like notes and a mild bitterness lingering on the tongue.
The Verdict: Quite an interesting beer. When I read: Rook blond bier "Smoked blonde beer" on the side of the bottle (and also that it contained my name in the name of the beer) I was obligated to purchase a bottle. I was surprised, and intrigued; a smoked blonde ale? Seriously? Get out! This beer was so far out there I had no idea what to expect. Combining a deliciously sweet blonde ale with smoked malt was something I had never seen or even considered. When I first cracked the bottle open I was surprised by the sweet strawberry jam-like notes. The smoke was hard to detect initially, but after a few sniffs and a few sips I was able to detect it through everything else; smoke, peanut butter, strawberries, blackberries, citrus hops, dish soap, ash and fresh baked biscuits? A ridiculous ramshackle of a combination, but I really enjoyed it. As far as beers go this one was really out there, but it all somehow works well together. Where can you find a bottle of something brewed by De Molen in the US of A? I have no idea. Maybe for now they are just distributing here in Holland and Belgium. It is definitely worth it on your end to do a bit of research and see if anyone is carrying this brand, you won't be disappointed by the selection, or the quality. For now I am glad to be able to find these beers here in Amsterdam, and at such a great price, I might add ;]

Thanks for reading!


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