Thursday, February 2, 2012

Otter Creek Twentieth Anniversary Ale

The Twentieth Anniversary Ale is a celebration of Otter Creek's Copper Ale, a Northern German-style Altbier. It uses four times the amount of malts and hops as the Copper Ale, giving it a very complex profile while amping up the alcohol content. It falls under a Specialty Ale category - German's refer to it as Sticke Alt or "secret" brew. It could also be a Barley Wine. Cellar this one for years to come and malt complexities should become even more pronounced (if you can resist temptation).

Alcohol Content: 12%
IBU: 55
Malts: 2-Row, Munich, Carapils, Caramel 20 & 60, Carafa III
Hops: Chinook, Tettnang, Hallertau

Price: $12.00 for a 4-pack
Medium: 12oz bottle poured into a stemmed water glass (a snifter, tulip, or goblet will also suffice).

Aroma: Noticeable strong toffee & caramel notes appear first with some underlying sweet honey & molasses-like aromas. Hop profile is hard to say for sure but I think there are some subtle peppery notes. Overall it has a very warm nose with a dominating solvent-like aroma from higher fusel alcohols.
Appearance: A small tan head was slow to form and then faded away after about 10 seconds. Appears to have strong champagne-like carbonation from large bubbles forming around the glass - this dissipates to a still/ flat looking wine. Chill haze? (although never fully disappears during the session). Color is of sepia to dark amber/ approaching brown.
Flavor: At first some caramel/ toffee and butterscotch notes with a slightly "chewy" molasses-like backbone character (definitely complex). Bitterness is hard to define but nonetheless complements the malt profile pretty well. Perhaps a spicy and peppery noble hop character best describes the mid pallet. Finish is very alcoholic and warm feeling. Absolutely no drying in the aftertaste; instead some mouth-watering effects. Perhaps more malt balanced although the perceived bitterness is masked by the hot alcoholic-like effect. Fusel alcohols? - it gave me a bit of a hangover after only two.
Mouthfeel: Contrary to appearance, the carbonation feels moderately low. Mouth-warming effect from higher alcohols. Slightly chewy and rather thick body. Bubbles disappear and the beer becomes slightly flat during the session.
Overall Impression: Not quite sure how this fits with the style nor how it compares to competing styles. I suggest drinking this in moderation - split the four pack on a nice occasion or for a reason to celebrate. I enjoyed some cheese during the second glass which paired very nicely. Very complex and should be kept for the beer connoisseur.

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