Sampled August 2009
A careful pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces an almost four-finger thick, lightly browned, tan colored head. The body is a black color with a hint of brown to it, when held up to the light it shows a hint of amber around the edges but remains an opaque black hue. The aroma smells of dark, roasted malt and smoked grain. The smoke is a bit on the soft side, though readily apparent, and when combined with the roasted, bitter dark grain aromatics it seems to lose the richness that many smoked beers have. Burnt bread like aromas, a touch of charcoal, toasted whole grain bread crust notes and a touch of burnt plum are all found in the nose as well. The aroma is not overly complex, but it is fairly nice any way. I do wish the aroma had more of a rich smokiness to it as well as a bit more malt complexity (some rich caramelized sweetness might be nice).
Despite sitting in my glass for over 10 minutes this is still quite frothy, foamy and overly effervescent as it first hits my tongue; luckily some vigorously swirling released the excess carbonation. This has a rich texture to it, it is viscous and has a malt heft to it that I found lacking in the aroma; dark cocoa notes and a rich dark malt sweetness up front is offset by bitter roast (almost has a dark cocoa bitterness to it) grain, a light smoky richness and even a touch of bitter hops are found in the finish. There almost seems to be a cherry like character in the finish at times as well. This beer is actually not really sweet, it does have a rich, complex, savory malt character to it that is boosted by the soft smokiness though. The flavor is much more integrated and complexly balanced than the nose was.
The excessive carbonation can be a bit annoying at first, luckily some persistent, aggressive swirling brings this down to a reasonable level. The initial, hard carbonation accentuates a burnt, roast vegetal note (that I find in some roasted grain / malt heavy beers) that is a touch off putting, but remains fairly light and does disappear as the carbonation does. In the end this beer is quite enjoyable, I like how the light smokiness makes this a rich tasting brew (even though the aroma is a touch too flat, though still enjoyable). Definitely another solid Wild Dog beer from this brewery.
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