Well thanks to the warning on the bottle, I did not loose any beer, but my first attempts at getting beer from this bottle have me looking at three cups of foam. The head is voluminous, and is an amber tinted, tan color. The beer is a hazy, dark, purple-plum color that shows a bit more red as you hold it up to the light. The aroma is a mix of rich malt, fruit and warming alcohol. There is a touch of piquant tartness here, a very soft, earthy, musty funkiness and a solid spiciness. This beer's nose is fairly complex, despite not being overly funkified. Aromatic notes of woody black pepper, a toasted malt bass note, a soft nuttiness, a meaty caramel note, some dough like yeastiness, lots of vibrant though rich fruit notes (prune, fig, ample raisin and lightly tart plum), there is also a certain woodiness here that subtly infuses the aroma with notes of toasted oak, a spicy woodiness as well as a slight vegetal note. The aroma is very complex, and actually seems to have lots of notes that I would associate with an incredibly complex Dubbel.
Lightly tart flavors up front are a bit more noticeable than the aroma might have suggested, but this is not an overly acidic brew. There are some touches of residual sugars and a rich caramel note that temper the tartness a bit, but don't really add much in the way of sweetness to this beer. The beer finishes with nutty toasted malt notes and a touch of vegetal character (broccoli or cabbage come to mind). There is almost a citrus flavor here that is wrapped up as part of the lactic tartness, but something else is adding to this perception as well. This has an almost orange liquor component to it that is interesting. This beer is quite light bodied, almost refreshing in a way; the light tart / sweetness really accentuates this refreshing character as well. Lots of fruity notes contribute to the flavor with tart raisin, prune, a touch of dried fig, some watermelon rind. The finish, especially as this slowly warms up, picks up a almost roasted, sort of dark cocoa like, light grain astringency to it. The oak barrel character is amazingly subtle, it adds a soft spiciness to this brew that accentuates the warming alcohol notes in the finish and perhaps a touch of vanillin, but is surprisingly mellow overall. After 5 careful pours of this brew, I finally get a pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet glass that is 1/3 beer to 2/3 foam. As I munch on the voluminous head I notice that the spicy oak character is quite a bit more noticeable when sampling the foam than when sampling the beer. The sweetness, caramel, and fruit comes out more as this beer warms up.
While not remotely the sourest, nor funkiest beer out there this beer does achieve an great balance of component flavors and aromas. This is thoroughly enjoyable, if not quite fantastic. I am really enjoying the malt complexity as it mixes with the subtle barrel character, soft tartness and fruity yeast character. While my head may say otherwise (though perhaps that is the lack of sleep), a 750ml bottle of this does not seem to be nearly enough to satisfy my thirst for this beer. An awesome creation that I am quite tickled to have been able to try.
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