A careful pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a three finger thick, lightly amber tinged, tan colored head that forms a fluffy, textured surface and leaves lots of lace on the sides of the glass as it slowly subsides. The aroma smells of tart raisins, prunes and figs that lie on top of a dense, toasted grain, molasses spice cake note. Hints of spicy and toasted oak character lightly scent the beer, but play a subdued role in the nose. There are also red wine like notes (rich, tannic berry notes) and a concentrated tamarind note. Once you dig around and explore enough here you notice a funky, musty mushroom note that becomes noticeable in the finish; it reminds me a bit of a musky blankey that has is scented with dried sweat. Other aromatic notes of light chocolate, earthy coriander, cherry pits, and quite a fully malty note are noticeable here as well; this last contributes a dark toasted, though not roasted, deeply caramelized, and brown malt character. The concentrated fruit and malt in the nose take on a sort of smoky quality at times. The nose on this beer is incredibly complex, it is very intriguing and worth exploring in detail.
The beer is full bodied as it first hits my tongue, but has a prickly effervescent carbonation that struggles free of the viscous heft. The beer tastes lightly sweet, but is still significantly savory. The beer has a sort of has a dark honey flavor to it, but without that cloying sweetness that honey has. Notes of molasses, tart-concentrated fruit (prune and fig as well as a touch of raisin that seems to get a bit bigger as the beer warms) and some dark cocoa notes in the finish start to come out after a couple sips. This is quite rich and satiating, but not overly sweet; in fact the tart and sweet notes are in such a good balance that neither is overtly noticeable. The malt character is concentrated and brooding with lots of Maillard browning flavors, a molasses character, some notes of dark caramel, savory complex sugars, plus some toasted / caramelized dark bread crust flavors. There is a nice spiciness here that, again, is not a note that is overtly noticeable; it provides a touch of clove flavor, earthy coriander notes, an oaky spiciness (this is the most noticeable spice note, but still is fairly subtle), a touch of ginger, a peppery piquancy in the finish, a richly integrated anise note (though more like one that has been cooked for a long time), a definite note of mahleb (if you consider this a spice), mellow vanilla, hints of mace and a wisp of cardamom.
This is possibly the most balanced strong beer I have ever had; this shows a finesse that is rarely achieved, it has a melding of sweet & tart, malt / fruit & spice, oak & base beer as well as earthy & bright notes. Definitely a tour de force, it takes what can be a phenomenal base beer and adds a couple more layers, as well as a melding process that integrates everything together as a whole. I like that this has lost the sweetness of the base beer (though even the 2006 Pannepot I had last night was not aggressively sweet).
Big thanks to hoppymeal for trading me this beer. Split this bottle last night with a few good friends (Joey, Ryan, Tony +1).
The beer pours a brown shade with reddish sides when held to the light. Good retention and some lacing, nice head.
First I get a huge wine aroma, vinous and a bit acidic. Then I pick up some vanilla, cream, chocolate, musty wood, grapes, fruits, wild flowers, and a bit of a chalky aroma. There’s also an aroma I can’t quite pin point…something very floral like sage or jasmine. A bit of raisins near the finish and a little alcohol too.
The taste was a wild mixture of: chocolate, caramel, flowers, grapes, wood, and a bit of Belgian candy. Woodsy notes linger in the aftertaste.
Great mouthfeel for this type of beer, effervescent and creamy. Personally, I feel that the barrel aging took too much away from the original beer and the acidic/wine characteristics I tasted really drove down the drinkability for me. 10% alc.
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