Vas Deferens Ale | Caldera Brewing Company

59 Reviews
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Vas Deferens AleVas Deferens Ale

Brewed by:
Caldera Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Halcyondays on 06-05-2010

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Reviews: 59 | Ratings: 126
Photo of Arbitrator
2.23/5  rDev -38.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. A generous gift from ramnuts. Thanks, Frank!

Shared with alfrantzell and chswimmer.

A: Pours a clear maroon body with a light tan head. The bubbles fill the tulip but quickly collapse into nothing.

S: Not much aroma at all. Some nuts and orange, perhaps.

T: This beer initially tasted like sushi. Ted narrowed it down to the seaweed wrap used in rolls, but I am convinced I picked up the soy / cardboard signs of oxidation, as well. As it warmed, those flavors receded a bit, producing flavors of orange, nuts, coffee, and some kind of spice. Somewhat disjointed.

M: Oddly thin, with a watery flavor.

D: Not enjoyable...

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Photo of rand
2.29/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

22 oz bomber to pint glass

Pours a rich reddish-brown that, although isn't cloudy or murky, is dark enough to let little light through. It's seems to be amply carbonated, but the small head quickly dissipates leaving little lacing.

The nose is a little flat. Given the description on the bottle, I was expecting something unique and layered, but I could have mistaken this for Newcastle (sorry NC fans). You can pick up a bit of the orange, but given that the label mentions orange was added, you're smelling for it.

The flavors are a bit more pronounced than the scent, but they're perhaps less interesting. You're met with roasted malts and orange, but the flavors don't pop, at all, and they're combined with muddy, earthy tones that becomes cloyingly sweet as the sip progresses. This beer needs something else. Hops, perhaps? Perhaps not, it's simply unbalanced.

Given the wispy head, I wasn't expecting a lot of viscosity and I wasn't surprised. This is light on the tongue and not in a good way, especially for an 8% Belgian. I've noticed some 'chewy' references here - maybe I got a bad bottle? Possibly, but I'm not sure bad batches/bottles change the body much, and this is pretty damn thin for 8%

This beer clearly doesn't work and it's not something I would seek out again, but it doesn't fail - it's not the worst thing I've tried and I like what they were trying to do here. There's a template in there to work from. But if I was Caldera I would go back to the drawing board on this one.

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Photo of n2185
2.98/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: pours a dark mahogany with a finger of khaki head that recedes into a thin ring with no lacing.

S: some slight roasted malt aromas at first followed by bubblegum and candy sugar notes. Sweet, dark fruit aromas like plums follow. Slight spices mix with faint notes of chocolate and nuts for the finish. Smells pretty nice.

T: unfortunately the flavor doesn't live up to the aroma. Spices with some roasted malt and nutty flavors up front followed by a light Belgian candy sweetness. The finish has a light smoky bitterness and alcohol burn.

M: medium-light body with medium carbonation, this beers burn and bitterness keep it from being crisp.

O: not a bad beer, though I have to say that I bought it mostly because of its name. It smells good, but that's the most it has going for it.

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Photo of Xul
2.99/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a translucent, deep ruby with brown highlights, capped by a finger and a half of frothy head. Retention is moderate as it settles down to a thin layer of foam and holds there.

S: Dark fruits - prunes and figs - along with some oranges and wheaty base. A strange salty, vinegary aroma not unlike green olives lurks in the background. Doesn't kill the beer, but it's a big strange.

T: Lots of dark malts, some chocolate and coffee, and a big dose of dark fruits. The oranges come through a bit but not overwhelmingly. Some light tartness near the backend. Long, sweet finish.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation.

D: Bold flavors, but somewhat unbalanced...not a particularly interesting beer.

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Photo of ccrida
3.15/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into a large goblet, Vas Deferens is dark garnet brown with a small eggshell head that leaves light, scattered lace.

Smell is sweet and very rich. The blood oranges really come out, as does some peppery spice.

Taste is okay, pretty similar. A Belgian inspired kitchen sink strong ale. Very phenolic, but as it warms the blood oranges come out stronger and temper those somewhat. Still, this beer is sharp and disjointed overall.

Mouthfeel is on the thicker, sugary style, sticky, not particularly digestable. Dry finish.

Drinkability isn't too hot, all the ingredients lack synergy and fatigued my palate in a hurry. There's a reason this is a one-off, it really should have only been a tasting room pilot batch.

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Photo of Hopswagger
3.17/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

P: Pours a dark mahogany body with khaki froth that settles to a solid mini cap. Spotted lacing.

S: Sweet and roasty dark malt aroma with cocoa, candy sugar, coffee, vanilla, clove, oak, figs, prunes. Overall smell is stale sweetness.

T/M: Starts of with syrupy sweetness of chocolate, dark fruits and then the bitter orange arrives that I missed in the nose followed by the roar of a spicy citrus liqueur. Caramel, belgian yeast and dark bread. Medium body with a small amount of carbonation. Finishes chalky with lingering coffee and orange bitters.

O: This really reminds me more of a watered down milk stout with bitter citrus added. Personally I don't like the orange addition. Not a huge fan if this but it was decent.

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Photo of Siggy125
3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from a 22oz bottle to a couple of taster glasses with a buddy. Dark amber/copper in color, dusty off white head with fast fading carbonation. A little haziness.

Smells of hard candy, tart citrus, spices and little like a fruity cough medicine. Not in a bad way though. I enjoy the aroma after a few minutes of temp increases. The tart nose softened a bit.

Tastes a little sweet, I get the hard candy sugars again, dark fruits, faint orange zest. The flavors are combining with a slight medicinal taste. Some spices, maybe nutmeg, cinnamon? The orange flavor comes across a bit "artificial", maybe the bitters?

A very different brew, surprised my palate a bit. Stands on its own in flavor and not like anything I wouldve expected. I enjoyed it more at cask temp after it smoothed out. Deecent mouthfeel. Not in hurry to obtain more, but not really bad if you want to try something new.

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Photo of GradyS1
3.22/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Was pretty excited to see some limited 22's from Caldera down this way. Interesting art work on the bottle.

A-ruby, brown almost a dark mahogany, small half finger head and translucent
S-Orange, cherry and chocolate-Terry Chocolate Orange upfront, a faint grassy smell in the end
T- light malts and belgian yeast. light orange and cherries with a slight bitterness on the end
M-watery, light carbonation, not much body to it

D-Overall, the taste was interesting but light, I wish it tasted as good as the smell was. There was not much body to this one for being a strong dark Belgian.

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Photo of Docer
3.26/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Roommates GF brought home a bottle to try... love the name, label.. etc.... let's see what we've got...

- Clear, and rather dark brown ale of sorts.. glows a touch red as well... big off-white head... leaves a bit of a ring and a subtle layer on top...

- I get some bitter hops, tangy Belgian-like yeast.. wheat or a wit quality... and green olives. I usually get a green olive smell when something is wrong.... little spice, zest, earthy...

- Esters.. fig, prune, fruit... yogurt.. spice, and some green olive... a very interesting almost iced-cream-like approach to a beer... a cream flavor exists... zesty tangy hop.... very interesting. I am also getting peanuts... lots of essence of peanut... like peanut butter.

- Medium bodied, creamy.. dry, and chewy.

- Certainly an interesting brew. Just a touch off for me though... could do without the green olive smell.. but I would love to know what they put in this... certainly pushing the envelope with this one.

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Photo of stephens101
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Possibly the most bizarre cover art ever. Very promising!

Ruddy brown with a thin, bubbly froth. Subtle dark fruit to the nose followed by a definite phenolic character, a hint of chocolate and sugar. Tastes of black licorice and dark roasted grains with a dark fruit undercurrent and a side of burnt sugar and alcohol. A little syrup on the lips but not too thick. Viscous and medium-bodied with a dry finish.

Not as over-the-top as the cover art, but enjoyable nonetheless.

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Photo of BilbosNuts
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a clear garnet color with some hints of cherry red coming through. It has a creamy one finger khaki white head that reduces to a thin film across the top. The beer appears pretty still, no carbonation is seen.

S: Sweet dark fruits are the backbone which include plums and dates. Phenolic smells come through along with belgian yeast.

T: The taste is pretty much the same as the aroma with lots of dark fruits, phenolic aspects, and the belgian yeast.

M: The feel is a little disappointing as it is on the thin side and has a somewhat watery feel. It is very still with no carbonation detected.

O: This beer was just slightly above average for me. The aroma and taste weren't bad, but could use some more depth. The feel was a letdown and could use some work. I picked this one up because of the artwork, but probably won't revisit it very often.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.41/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle, an ale brewed with blood orange zest and orange bitters,

A: Pours a dark burnt orange to brown with a medium white head, some lace.

S: Definite orange peel, some dark candi sugar, but relatively light for a Belgian style.

T: The orange is definitely there. More of a straight up caramel malt flavour than most Belgians, only a hint of yeast esters with some kumquat marmalade. Not hugely complex, but a good flavour. The orange complements the malt base well.

M: Well-attenuated for this style for sure, off-dry, medium-bodied, smooth.

D: An interesting beer, I wanted the blood orange to come to the forefront a little more as it's a great flavour. I wanted the beer to come out and grab me a bit as a big Belgian. Good beer, not worth a $10 bomber price tag for sure.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.41/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pecan shell dark brown that becomes burnt orange and dark cherry red with backlighting. Appropriate color for a BSDA. The good looking lid of golden khaki is not Belgianesque... nor was it expected to be. Thick streamers of sudsy lace means no real negatives.

I'm not getting much in the way of Belgian yeast esters in the nose, which makes me think the brewers used dark candi sugar, but not Belgian yeast, and called it a day. Not getting the blood orange zest either, just some dark malts.

Vas Deferens Ale is the first Caldera brew that I haven't enjoyed immensely. While it isn't bad beer, it's a sorry excuse for a BSDA no matter how you slice it. The flavor profile does not fit the style, not least because there still isn't much contribution from the yeast... which is what should be driving this car.

Specifics include toasted pumpernickel, medium-dark fruit, black tea, black pepper and a modicum of citrus zest. That last one isn't immediately recognizable as orange, blood or otherwise. Warming brings a bit more boldness and definition, which is enough to tilt the score in an upward direction. Good sweet-bitter balance and skilled alcohol masking help too.

Since nothing else about this brew is Belgianesque, it would unfair to ask the mouthfeel to be. It has neither the medium-full creaminess, the expansiveness, nor the hang-on that it needs to earn the 4.0.

Unless you have a passing familiarity with human anatomy and physiology, it's probably best that you don't know what the singing devil on the rather disturbing label is being showered with. Hey Caldera, in the interests of gender equality, how about giving us Fallopian Tube Flanders Red Ale next?

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Photo of oline73
3.43/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear very dark redish amber with a finger of tan head that fades to a ring.

Smell: Malty with some fruity notes along with mild chocolate and spice.

Taste: More fruit here than in the smell. Malty and quite sweet, I'm picking up just a bit of the orange. The finish is malty and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with prickly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: Not as much citrus and I would have expected. I would have liked more fruit to go along with everything else. I would probably pass on this one in the future.

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Photo of meatyard
3.43/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The pour, into a Westmalle chalice, is a perfectly clear but dark, ruby/amber with a short off-white head that falls quickly to just a partial cover. There is light carbonation visible but no lacing.
The smell is faint cherries.
The taste is some cherry and some roasty malt that finishes with a hint of alcohol.
Mouthfeel is nearly up to medium with moderate carbonation and slightly sweet.
Drinkability: For me, it wasn't particularly anything I'd want to try again, especially at the price (about $10 in SE PA). There are many $10 22ozers that are superior, even in this style. This is not a bad beer, but more of an indifferent beer. When the beer name and graphics are more interesting than the beer, the beer is either great & the graphics are phenomenal or the graphics are great and the beer is, sort of, forgettable.

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Photo of russpowell
3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this ine from the Nashvillian (cheers John)

Pours chestnut/mahogany with a pinky of of tan head. Average head retention & good lacing

S: Rich dark fruit, chocolate. All fade as this warms

T: Follows the nose, dryness, apricot, pears & cherries with a touch of oakyness up front. I start picking some candi orange notes as this warms, a touch of juicy fruit gum on the edges, along with apple skins. Finishes dry with some orange rind bitterness showing up, some cocoa powder as well

MF: Medium bodied, fairly firm carbonation, a bit too dry for my liking

A decent shot at the style, just didn't pull a the way together for me, still very drinkable

Was hoping for some like an acholic version of Terry's Orange Chocolate (if you know what I'm talking about)

Having read other reviews, yeah what is up with that label? Not sure what that demon is is grabbing...

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #42 (Jul 2010):

Crazy name, disturbing label. WTF!! LOL ... we're OK now. It's a dark and heady brew. Brown sugar, medicinal phenols, bubble gum and ripe fruit make for a Belgian-like aroma. It is crisp and smooth with a bitty mouth- feel. Suggestions of chocolate, oranges, toasted bread and rum come to mind. With modest hops, the alcohol is very prevalent; lots of ripe tropical fruit in tow. Bitter orange wins over the blood orange zest. This beer is not half bad, and certainly worth a try if you can get past the label.

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Photo of zoso1967
3.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An interesting beer with an equally interesting name. Vas Deferens pours a lovely deep reddish tinged brown with a nice, slightly tan head that has nice retention. The aroma is sweet and a bit boozy with plenty of dark sugar and fruit notes, chocolate and a bit of spice. The taste is very similar. Fruity, caramel, chocolate and slightly spicy with a bit of herbal hops. It also has a slight sour note to it and some definite orange like character. It is an interesting beer, but really not that compelling. The mouthfeel is medium with a nice finish, and it is of average drinkability for style. It is an interesting beer, but really not that compelling. Still, a well made brew with a name that makes me giggle. That has to be worth something.

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Photo of phichifiji00
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: Deep mahogany with red hue, pours 1 finger of off-white head that fades quickly. Lots of lacing.

Smell: Roasted malt, chocolate, orange zest, slightly boozy as it warms, raw sugars.

Taste: roasted malt, chocolate, blood orange, sweet, brown sugar.

Mouthfeel: full bodied, good carbonation.

Overall: A tasty porter. I like the subtle blood orange element. Not a lot going on here, but what there is is quite good. Drinkability is above average.

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Photo of Nashvillain
3.56/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is an awesome color, a very dark brown that only lets small amounts of light through around the edges. Head is thin and fleeting, the small amount that sticks around is like cream poured in a latte. Smell is a light belgian roastiness, something like a sweetness mixed with coffee and a slight amount of bread. It's very faint, hard to pull out any specific aromas.

Taste is great, a roasty brown ale with a belgian-friendly slant. The yeast lightens up the beer considerably, very thin up front with most of the body in the middle and finish. The sweetness hits first, followed by the roasty flavors and orange bitters in the back end. Nothing in the beer is really overpowering, but it's not weak, just tame. On the whole, it seems like there's a tendency to go crazy in the BSDA category, this is a reserved offering that's great for a nice relaxing evening, definitely in opposition to what the label may suggest.

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Photo of mgbickel
3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Piraat tulip. 1/2 finger of lazy tan bubbles formed on top of the dark copper/brown body. The head vanished rather qucikly, but laced the walls of the glass nicely.

This smells a lot like a classic quad...lots of dark fruits, plums and malt.

Just as the nose indicates, the dark fruits are the major flavor here. The blood oranges can be detected slightly, but not as strongly as other beers that contain the same citrus.

Medium bodied...a little sticky with moderate carbonation.

Not a bad offering...a little heavy after the first glass. Well balanced flavors and one of the coolest (and disturbing) labels of all time!

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%

Pours a thin head on a clear dark straw, almost red colored body.
The aroma is big dry grain, caramel and salt.
The taste has lots of caramel and grain sweetness with lemon bitterness to balance it out.
The texture is fizzy with moderate carbonation.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.62/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I got this one from Lazerlobe a while back in a BIF. Thanks again! Poured into a tulip. The beer pours a dark mahogany with slight red hughs and a small off white head.

Interesting aroma here. I get dark chocolaty malts with a hint of orange zest. Don't really know where the chocolate is coming from but this smells pretty good. Choclate taste without much noticability of orange flavors as the label of the beer would indicate. Strong malt flavors here.

The feel is pretty good, soft carbonation and a full body help this a lot. Good beer, kind of a sipper and it's not so much what I thought it would be as the label indicates but an interesting effort.

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Photo of avalon07
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a goblet. Had a dark brown color with ruby tints and a clear texture. There was a small amount of tan-colored, foamy head that quickly dissipated. OK lacing.

S: A fair aroma of malt, yeast, and caramel. Not quite as powerful as you would expect.

T: Tasted of caramel, Belgian yeast, grassy hops, and malt. The advertised orange isn't particularly present. The grassy hops kind of throw the flavor out of balance, but mainly it's an uneven taste.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Not a terrible beer, but somewhat underwhelming. Drinkable, but could have been better.

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Photo of beer2day
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had to give this a try, based on the name and the label. A bit disturbing, if you dwell on it too much.

Ruby brown with 1-finger pale cream head. Light lace and just a touch of head left at the bottom of the glass. Great color, though.

Nose is caramel and brown sugar with a touch of Belgian yeast. Getting the orange zest about half-way through the glass.

Orange much more evident in the taste, with more blood orange than zest. Lots of caramel malt and sweet molasses here. A bit of roasted toffee, too. Touch of bitter orange in the finish. Nice twist.

Feel is pretty solid. Very creamy with just a touch of carbonation.

Overall well worth trying. Just got to get past that label.

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Vas Deferens Ale from Caldera Brewing Company
3.64 out of 5 based on 126 ratings.
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