Vesuvius is the latest in the Brewmaster’s Reserve series from Full Sail Brewing, a Belgian Strong (or Golden) Ale that checks in at 8.5% alcohol by volume. It’s gotten some traction online lately; read Jeff’s Beervana review on it, and a quick search pulls up a few others. One review calls it "one of the best American Belgians around," even.
I won’t go as far as to call it one of the best American Belgians, but it’s definitely a good beer. As Jeff notes, the Pacific Northwest isn’t overly known for it’s Belgian style beers.
Appearance: Pale gold, fairly clear, with a finger of creamy white head when I poured. It also seemed to carry a pinkish tinge to it while I was pouring (a trick of the light?).
Smell: Floral and sour in the nose. Lightly toasted grains, a tad horsey. The sour is "old" sour like a used wool blanket.
Taste: Toasty, warm, alcohol heat and Belgian candi sugar on the tongue. Grains of paradise? A little of that sourness is mixed in with the sugar sweet, and more alcohol character comes through as it warms up. A hint of pepper.
Mouthfeel: Clean medium body characterized by the alcohol strength—it leaves the mouth warm after a sip.
Overall: Good, though I find the overt alcohol character intrusive for the style. It’s worth seeking out.