Sampled on tap at 1702, Tucson AZ
This beer arrives, too cold, but at least in a room temperature tulip glass, with a frothy, finger-and-a-half thick head that comes up to the rim of the glass. The head is a pale tan color and the beer is a dark amber, brown color that shows a fairly opaque, lighter amber color when held up to the light. This smells rich and malty with an almost bourbon like back-note / alcohol spiciness to it. Concentrated, toasted, not quite roasted caramel malts play a big role in the nose. Dark fruit notes of concentrated raisins and a touch of prune couple with a browned toffee and brown sugar like character. This has quite a hoppy edge to it as well that can’t quite hide behind the malt character; aromas of pine, some herbal character and a hint of citrus character are definitely noticeable as well.
The flavor has a rich, toasted malt character to it that is quickly balanced by a fair amount of hop character that provides a pine like bite, some herbal notes and a lingering bitterness. The flavor is more malt focused than hop oriented, but the hops certainly don’t play second fiddle here. While I like that the dominant crystal malt character has a toasted, fairly grain oriented edge to it (along with the caramelized grain notes that are more typical), it still seems a bit too dominant here. The beer is actually pretty sweet as well, this is mostly perceived up front though as the beer finishes with a nice, biting hoppiness that really helps to provide a bit of drying character in the finish. A touch of sweet citrus peel character seems to peek through at times, though the herbal and pine notes from the hops are definitely a bit more prominent. The body is definitely pretty rich; this is most definitely a sipping beer.
As the beer warms up some hemp like aromatic notes start to become noticeable in the nose. The flavor too becomes a bit more balanced between the malt and hop character. In fact the hop notes get quite a bit more aggressive, with quite a sharp, herbal edge to it as the beer warms up. The malt picks up a hint of roasty character as it warms up as well, though this is pretty subtle. This ends up being a nice beer to be drinking in the colder months of the year. The rich malt plays the leading role, but it ends up being nicely balanced out by a biting hop character. Despite this balance, the beer ends up not as well integrated as I would prefer. Not bad, but it could be beer; perhaps a bit of age might help with this.
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