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Monday, January 27, 2014

Pipeworks Brewing Co's Brother Nelson Razbeardo

  • Style:  Belgian Dubbel  brewed with black raspberries
  • ABV: 10%
  • Ease to locate: Still pretty easy to find at Chicago craft and liquor stores.  Pipeworks is also making it's way to more & more Chicago suburbs lately. Here's a link to their Beer Menu page My batch was #279-288 (as you can see, that's a lot of batches!)
  • Color: Black red liquid, slightly hazy.  
  • Head: Pink.  That was.... unexpected.  One finger of loose foam that falls almost immediately into a ring.  Delicate spotty lacing.  Pink lacing.
  • Aroma: Huge nose.  They could have called it Cyrano for the size.  Lots of tart, clean black raspberry notes, and a puckering,quality of fermented grape (hello Brother Nelson Sauvin!).  A bit of spice and a slight herbal character under it all. 
  • Mouthfeel: Medium body that coats the tongue lightly.  Mild carbonation
  • Finish: Long with juicy fruit and grape notes upfront that slide to a lightly spiced end.
  • Food friendly?: Yes.  Since this beer has a bit of a wine identity crisis due to it's hop profile, use it to your advantage.  Roasted chicken, pork tenderloin, a nicely grilled steak.  Pair it with sharp cheddar cheese or a baked brie.  This would be a great beer to serve with a charcuterie plate. 
Apple user link: The drink of choice for Inspector Clouseau?

                                                                                You know that you're singing this in your head right now.  Just admit it and accept it.
 Let's get this out of the way right up front.  I was not expecting a pink head.  I hadn't really given the matter much thought before I poured the bomber into my Pipework's snifter, but of all the things I wasn't expecting to happen, a lightly tinted reddish in nature series of tiny foamy bubbles ranked right up there.  Most of my experience with fruit brewed beers center around New Glarus offerings (although Serendipity, Raspberry Tart, Belgian Red and Strawberry Rhubarb are actually Framboise ales, so apples and oranges.  So to speak.) Maybe it was my lack of fluency in the fruit forward brewing world.  Maybe it was my American Puritanical Irish Catholic upbringing. If I was a Swedish "Hey-I'm-Comfortable-In-My-Own-Skin-And-Writing-This-Blog-Post-In-A-Co-Ed-Brothel-With-Tea-Service" beer blogger, it's possible that results would have been different.  Maybe it was just because the Brother Nelson Razbeardo's head was unqualified against all that is holy in nature PINK! Anyway, I got over it.

My Brother Nelson Razbeardo poured a blackish, deeply scarlet opaque liquid.  Since it was technically a Belgian inspired Dubbel, I suppose my first expectation was to see a brownish red liquid or at least one not so darkly tinted.  It was ever so slightly hazy, which added to the juiciness of its appearance.  And as I mentioned earlier, the pink head threw me for a loop.  How was I to know Brother Nelson would turn out to be a Ginger?  Anyway, the one finger head fell to a tight foamy ring in less than a minute. Spotty, large bubble lacing was present.  The nose was huge.  My very first thought was that it reminded me of a big, California Caberet. Nelson Sauvin hops are from New Zealand and are famous for their fermented grape, wine influenced aroma.  I didn't actually know this when I cracked this bottle open (welcome to the power of the internet!). There was an abundance of crisply tart black raspberry notes that transported me back to a warm July afternoon.  A bit of spice and a light herbal note rounded out the nose.  The beer tasted exactly as it smelled.  It was extremely juicy, a bit mouth puckering with a clean finish.  Extremely enjoyable.  A medium body coated my tongue lightly.  There wasn't much in the way of carbonation, it was there but only mildly so.  A long, fruity finish greeted me, starting with the clean taste of black raspberries and fermented grapes, sliding gracefully into the spicy/herbal note on the tail. For an ale registering a 10% ABV, I detected very little heat on the swallow. 

I would treat Brother Nelson Razbeardo as I would a fruity red wine when pairing with food.  Try it with a nice cut of beef, medium rare please, and a simple wine sauce, such as Port stained Beed Medallions .  It could also pair nicely with a Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples, the sweetness of the cooked apples would be off set by the tartness of the black raspberries in the ale.  I really like that Pipeworks sourced their black raspberries from a semi local farm, Klug Farms located in Michigan.  You can find fruit and vegetables from Mick  Klug's family at the Green City Market and various farmers markets around the Chicago.  I'm hoping that Pipeworks will develop another version of this ale for next Fall, maybe taking advantage of their Michigan Strawberries that I'm personally so fond of or the gorgeous apricots that I never have enough money left to buy (damn you strawberries!)  Of course, knowing  those wacky guys over at Pipeworks, they'll get distracted by something like ramps or kale.  Although, and feel free to call me crazy here, a Kale Saison might not be such a bad thing?