2008 Release; Sampled December 2008
Pours with a fat, two-finger thick, darkish tan colored head that I fairly dense. The beer is quite dark, with a opaque burnt amber color; when held up to the light the beer passes just a touch of light, but remains quite opaque with a deep haze and a touch of ruby red color around the edges. Up front there is a nice tart berry character but as my nose gets down into my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip the oak character becomes quite dominant, the oak can't shake the cranberry character completely though and there is also a backdrop of Brettanomyces funk. The barrel contributes aromas of vanillin, spicy oak and an almost a bourbon like character, while rich fruit notes of tart berries, prunes and black currants are also here, as are funky notes of musty wood, a touch of butyric acid sweat dried leather and a sharp and funky phenolic note that lightly spices up the aroma. Other notes of black pepper, lemon pepper, toasted malt and a touch of savory add to the overall character of this complex nose. The aroma is quite rich, the beer smells like it has a lot more body than a typical Lambic.
The beer is actually fairly light bodied, it was almost shockingly so after immersing myself in the perceived richness of the nose. The lightness is about right for a Lambic, though seems to be missing that lush, almost creamy quality that a good Lambic has. The beer is somewhat tart, though not aggressively so and this mixes in with the roasted grain character in the finish that further dries things out. The roast character isn't huge, but does contribute a cold, slightly acidic, burnt, cold, black coffee flavor to the finish that has a touch of charcoal in it. The dark grain actually contributes a fair amount to the acidity of this brew. Interestingly there isn't much cranberry flavor noticeable, it seems to contribute more to the nose. As the beer warms up it picks up a bit more texture, body and an almost creaminess. This definitely needs to be served on the warm side of cool, as it was a bit too thin at first. The oak character, so noticeable in the nose, almost plays a secondary role in the flavor; the beer has a substantial spicy oak component, perhaps a touch of buttery oak and a certain tannic quality that can coat the palate and dry out the overall effect of this beer.
My second pour has me noticing an interesting farmhouse cheese note in the aroma, though it is quite fleeting. While not overwhelmingly roasted, the base beer puts a very strong stamp on the character of this beer; toasted, lightly roasted grain notes are quite noticeable and keep this from being anything remotely resembling a Lambic. It is certainly a stretch to call this a Lambic of any sort, not only is the base beer completely wrong, but it doesn't really have the requisite mix of flavors either. Still, name aside, this is an interesting, pretty tasty brew that is fun to drink.
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