Monday, December 16, 2013
Alcohol Content: 8%
Price: $12/ 4-pack 12oz bottles
Medium: Snifter/ wine glass will suffice
Aroma: Tart cherry and oranges appear first, with a somewhat sharp or acidic character. Coriander lends more spice notes while yeast-derived phenols provide clove. Spice additions are unusual for this style but add complexity in the case. Malt/ bread/ caramel sweetness prevails over a delicate floral hop nose. No diacetyl. Raisins, prunes, other dark winter fruits describe malt sweetness and fruity esters from fermentation.
Appearance: Moderately hazy amber to reddish-brown color supports a dense, rocky, beige foam. Great retention. Carbonation is effervescent - lots of tiny bubbles flow consistently up the rounded glass for several minutes in a slow fashion.
Flavor: Richly malty characterized by bread crusts, cherries, and raisins. Dark fruit character reminiscent of highly kilned specialty malts and/or Munich malt. Pleasant caramel sweetness lingers into the aftertaste. Light hop bitterness but still manages to finish crisp by finishing dry. Well attenuated? Phenols from yeast lends a clove-like spiciness. Coriander perhaps too much for the style. Very complex. Balance is towards the malt sweetness despite finishing crisp and dry. Also noted lemon citrus in the aftertaste which I may be getting from the acidic nature.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light body for such a big beer. Very palatable with no harsh or solventy alcohols. Smooth for an 8%ABV beer. Carbonation is moderately high and lends to the perceived light body. Otherwise may come across as much fuller. Acidity could be confused with spicy character.
Overall Impression: Very different than previous examples of Belgian strong dark ales that I've tasted in that it finishes with less malt sweetness and seems very light for the style. Coriander and clove lend complexity but are unusual - actually reminds me a bit like a strong, dark Witbier (oxymoron) which is quite unusal. Re-fermentation in the bottle is traditional however. Aging for up to 8 years should yield a madera or port-like quality. Pair with washed rind cheeses or funky cheeses.