hmm. i give the gear an A-. agree with mazmaz's blitz ring suggestion, particularly for /SAM (same with turban actually).
i give each of the beers As. i actually prefer chimay white over blue and red. la fin du monde is good stuff too, though to be honest i kind of OD'd on it and never really feel like getting it these days.
suggestions: in the realm of chimay blue...
(belgian strong dark ales and quads) saint bernardus abt12
: amaaaazing quad, with endless depth and a really pleasant taste. not quite as good as... trappist rochefort 10
: possibly the best beer i've ever tasted, and certainly the best belgian i've had. allagash odyssey
: pretty much everything by allagash is good (though allagash white is a bit bland). this one really benefits from the oak aging, with moderately strong vanilla notes adding to the darker flavors. allagash black
is good too, though a bit closer to a stout. i'm a big fan of their quad, allagash four
as well. malheur 12°
: reviews seem to think it's too sweet, but i find it more malty/toffee/caramel than overtly sweet. good stuff. stone vertical epic 09.09.09
: another genre-bender; borders on being a porter, but the belgian yeast character and spiciness is still there (and good). delirium nocturnum
: popular belgian strong dark ale that i personally never got behind (i love delirium tremens
though, which belongs in the below list perhaps). incidentally, delirium nocturnum once caused my friend to black out. maudite
: from unibroue, who make la fin du monde. not as deep or dark as some of the earlier selections on this list, but cheaper and still very good. if i recall, it's a bit more overtly fruity than some. unibroue 17
(if it's still available...) has the depth and darkness though. i love it. three philosophers
: popular quad made in new york. too much cherry for me, but decent. n'ice chouffe
: not particularly dark, though darker than their main beer (la chouffe
, which is also excellent). great spiciness. 2 turtle doves
: i actually haven't had this one. it's by this brewery in cali called "the bruery" that opened up recently and is supposed to be excellent. i'm looking forward to trying some of their stuff at the extreme beer fest
in boston later this month. probably worth checking these guys out if you're on the west coast.
(dubbels) corsendonk abbey brown
: as the reviews say, raisins, molasses, belgian yeast, spice. good stuff. maredsous 8
: from the same brewery as duvel. a go to beer for me on occasion. ommegang abbey ale
: same brewery in ny that makes 3 philosophers. similarly "blah" to me, but quite popular. in the realm of chimay white and la fin du monde...
(tripels) saint bernardus tripel
: as good a tripel as abt12 is a quad. lots of citrus notes and subdued sweetness. tripel karmeliet
: another really subtle and refreshing tripel. surprisingly subtle considering the same brewery makes kwak
(which is good, but pretty much defines heavyhanded). allagash curieux
: the other end of the spectrum from karmeliet and st.bernardus; the bourbon barrel aging amps up the beer with a lot of harsh bourbon flavor. not the most balanced beer in the world, but good. allagash tripel reserve
: worth paying the extra money over the NQ allagash tripel
. definitely spicier and more vibrant than, say, karmeliet. not as good as chimay white, but different and pretty high quality. westmalle trappist tripel
: they invented the tripel. predictably excellent. victory golden monkey
: i actually just tried this at a party on saturday. bigger carbonation and a bit more vivacious than i want from a tripel, but pretty tasty. i think the guy who had it told me it was cheap too. later on in that party, i was quite drunk and this same guy mentioned to me that his girlfriend (who i can't seem to get along with) was endlessly complex, to which i responded by rolling around on the floor in sincere, mocking laughter. after that, i got out of hand and the hostess of the party tied me up with duct tape. obviously, i freed myself easily. augustijn ale
: i haven't tried, but has been on my to-try list for a long time. sounds pretty good (reviews mention banana, which to me is always a plus--c.f. duvel
--unless it's too pronounced--c.f. banana starburst
) achel blond
: good, like every trappist
. southampton triple
: from ny, another one i haven't tried, but their double white
is so good i can't conceptualize them making a bad beer.
[AVOID: river horse tripel horse
: astringent, overly alcoholic-tasting **** beer. don't be tempted by a 6pack of this over a 4pack or 750ml of something good. however, if you're at a party (like, say, the party i was at on saturday) and someone makes the mistake of bringing it and then obviously doesn't finish the 6pack b/c it tastes like **** and you're already very drunk and are pushing forward with the drunken "i must drink more", it can come in handy. (i have had this sober, and again, it tastes like **** + vodka)
(belgian [strong] pale ale / golden ale) duvel
: worth mentioning and linking twice (as are la chouffe
and delirium tremens
, though duvel is soundly better). don de dieu
: another great beer from unibroue. has a fairly strong apple character, like chimay tripel reserve. brooklyn local 1
: (oh hey, i should have mentioned local 2
in the above list. i'd say local 2 is somewhere between corsendonk and maudite, quality-wise) good, light belgian style ale. probably overpriced. cuvee bxl
: house beer at BXL cafe in manhattan. coriander and orange rind. worth getting if you're in the city (bar has other good things available too; i'd advise against duvel draft
though--bland). great divide hades ale
: yet another beer i'm listing without having tried (yet), this one because great divide is currently my favorite american brewery (due to hibernation
and old ruffian
[AVOID (but not as emphatically as tripel horse)] leffe blonde
: relatively widely available belgian beer that tastes like the start of a good beer and then delivers water. may as well get blue moon
, or an entirely different style of beer, or not drink at all.
and so, an hour or so of my unfortunately early morning has been passed.