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Review by SAP on 01/20/09  
 
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
78 3 10 15 4 7 2006
Bottle Number 276; Sampled January 2008
This is well carbonated as a soft pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip glass produces three fingers of tightly beaded, tan colored froth. The beer is dark, damp earth sort of amber color that shows a brilliantly clear ruby color and countless madly streaming carbonation bubbles when held up to the light. The aroma of oak is noticeable as soon as I start to pour this beer; solid vanillin notes, butterscotch, a touch of oak spice and a nicely complex woody note are joined by a light tartness that accentuates notes of plum perhaps a hint of tamarind, there is also a note that is a bit like a funky, farmhouse cheese (ripe cheese, funky feet and a musty, earthy note scent that nose with their light, but persistent presence). There is really a rich, earthy fruit note here that provides a solid backdrop to the oak, there is also some alcohol that provides a bit of singing piquancy to my nose. The oak is definitely the most noticeable component of this beer's aroma, but there is enough fruit and funkiness here to keep this in check and to make this quite enjoyable to smell.

Frothy feeling, but the body is rich enough to temper this quite well. The beer is also a bit more tart than I was expecting, though not overly so, in fact it is quite pleasant for this particular lover of sour beers. The beer comes off as quite dry tasting, but there is still some body left to this brew; the oak seems to provide a tannic structure and velvety body; despite being somewhat light, this definitely comes off as a sipping beer (which is a good thing given the alcohol of this beer). The oak character accentuates the dryness with lots of woody spice notes, almost a bourbon like piquancy. The oak combines with the alcohol to provide some heat to the finish in the throat. Up front there are some nice, tart, fruit notes of plums, raisins, and dried fig, but all with the sweetness stripped out and just the hearty, dark fruit and tart notes left. This is quite reminiscent of an over oaked red wine in many ways; it definitely has a very vinous quality to it (in body, aroma and taste), and the fruit character also is reminiscent of the almost jam-like, concentrated berry character one often finds in the wine world as well. The tartness seems to get a bit more complex as the beer warms up, it is definitely lactic in character and somehow provides a roundness to the flavor profile. The spiciness of this beer can at times be quite piquant; ample, woody black pepper notes, a touch of mace and some turpene-clove. As the beer warms up it also begins to pick up a touch of sweetness, this helps to bring out a bit more of the fruit character.

It is funny that the bottle says this is only slightly carbonated and lightly tart, obviously the wild bugs have done some work during this bottles slumber. This is definitely a bit over oaked, not only does it get a bit too hot in the finish at times (the alcohol obviously accentuates this), but the oak character itself is a bit too dominant in that it drowns out some of the other notes that could make this a more balanced brew. Still, I am enjoying this brew and would gladly try this one again; in fact I seem to enjoy drinking this more than the sum of the component flavors would suggest.

Served In: Tulip