Monday, April 23, 2012

Rock Art Vermonster

Many of us know the feud between the small Rock Art Brewery and a larger corporation, Monster (energy drinks), over the trademark of the Vermonster name. The dispute seemed to be over Rock Art attempting to go national under this name, but for now its here to stay for all the locals to enjoy. Known as the Ridge Runner's big brother, its an American Barley wine with a showcase of hops to support its large malt bill of 110 lbs per barrel (31 gallons). For homebrewing purposes, thats close to 18 lbs of grain/ typical 5 gallon batches (which is a lot!)

Alcohol Content: 10%
IBU: 100

Price: $12/ 22oz bomber at the farmhouse; otherwise somewhere around $6/ 22oz at a local grocery store.
Medium: Served with a small snifter for me to pour (wide-mouthed goblet is suggested)

Aroma: Combination of fruity citrus and floral hops dominate the nose at first. After taking note of this I noticed the bottle said it was dry-hopped, no doubt adding to the pungent hop aromas. The hops mask its 10% ABV very well. After letting it settle and picking away at the layers, the malt nose starts to shine through. Moderately warm, sweet, dark amber malts consisting of dried fruit, bread, and maple aromas - supporting but still hop dominated.
Appearance: Deep amber with brownish and reddish hues. Quite hazy. Each pour created a bubbly tan head that clings mostly to the sides. Decent head retention - disappears after a couple of minutes but easily agitated. Barleywines typically have low head retention but this one held out a little longer than my past experiences.
Flavor: The aroma threw off my expectation of its flavor profile. A dried fruit character to the initial malt sweetness is quickly ridden off by a spicy, peppery bitterness and flavorful hops. Molasses/ thick sweetness of malts gains momentum and rounds off into the finish, along with an alcohol kick lingering into the aftertaste. I thought it finished more of a barleywine, mainly because the aggressive bitterness doesn't fully allow the complex malts to give a big first impression. Balance favors hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and thick, chewy texture. Alcohol warmth was well hidden but gains momentum in the finish and aftertaste - outlasts most other sensations. Attenuation seems good as its not too syrupy nor cloying. Moderately low carbonation
Overall Impression: Sweet, warm, pleasant, masked alcohol content - all of these descriptions make for an enticing beer that should be approached with caution as can only be found in 22oz bombers. Split amongst a friend over a light appetizer. Aged gouda and apples on warm bread would be quite the pairing.

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