Inventive bottle art always catches our eye, and San Jose-based Brouwerij West does not disappoint (in both looks and taste)! Founded in 2010 by Brian Mercer & Nick Brown, Brouwerij West makes exclusively Belgian-style beers with mostly Belgian ingredients - that means no IPAs. Mercer originally got into beer by concocting sugar syrups for brewers under the name Dark Candi, Inc.
Currently contract brewing and distributing throughout the West Coast and some parts of the Midwest, Brouwerij West’s production brewery, kitchen and courtyard will settle in Port of LA’s Warehouse No. 9 in San Pedro (we can’t wait to visit!). Different artists contribute the artwork for each beer label, and it’s always exciting when new ones are debuted - think vibrant colors, interesting lettering and psychedelic drawings.
Our tasting included five of their eight current beers: Blond-5o, a Belgian Blonde; Saison Extra - 6o, a Belgian Saison; Tripel - 9o, a Belgian Tripel; Mør Mør - 12o, a Quad (Belgian Dark Strong); and Dog Ate My Homework, a Saison with blackberries.
The first Belgian we tried from Brouwerij West was the Blond-5o, a hazy, straw- and lemon peel-colored Blonde with a nice, white head. Brewed with Belgian malts and noble hop varietals, Blond-5o had a good deal of dry citrus on the nose in addition to honey and floral notes that mingled with lemongrass and some spice. Lightly bitter, dry, and light, there was just a little honey sweetness to this ale's flavor.
Brouwerij West's Saison Extra - 6o had great bottle art, and looked and tasted even better. The color of Meyer lemon, bales of hay, or melted butter, it had golden hues and dispensed large, bulbous bubbles. Aromas ranged from bubblegum to blueberry, and even a little must and earthiness. We tasted fruity and sweet flavors in this saison, much like a crunched up lollipop or rock candy. There were also notes of tea with honey and lemon, and a tiny bit of bitterness crept in at the end.
Colored dark brass and clear as a bell, the Tripel had orange blossom and dried orange rind hues that matched its label. We noted all the elements of an Old Fashioned in the tart nose, from bourbon and Agnostura bitters to Maraschino cherry. Notes of baking spice and clove were also present, and even gin-like,juniper qualities were detected. The Tripel tasted like an Old Fashioned as well, with smooth, sweet caramel flavors .
Brewed with only base malts and candi sugar, this light tan and reddish Quad (or Belgian Dark Strong) was described as the color of root beer and sweet tea. Mør Mør - 12o had aromatics of sweet tea, cherry and scotch, with some pepper as well. Light in mouthfeel for a 10% ABV Quad, it was deceptively drinkable and silky. The dark sugar lingers and the strong flavors resembled a Manhattan cocktail.
Building off the Saison Extra - 6o, the unfiltered Dog Ate My Homework is brewed with blackberry juice in secondary (using approximately 1 lb of fruit per liter!). Topped with pink foam, Dog Ate My Homework was the reddish-purple color of Peychaud's bitters, with further orange hues. We loved the sour raspberry and blackberry aromas that lingered with scents of Rosé, stonefruit, and rose petals. The sweet, tart raspberry flavors gave way to rose petals, and finished with some bitterness.
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