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Review by SAP on 05/03/09  
 
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
76 3 10 15 3 7 2009
Sampled March 2009
A careful, but solid pour into my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip glass produces a frothy, half-finger thick, fairly quickly disappearing, lightly browned, dark tan colored head. The beer is quite dark, with a concentrated brown, approaching black color, when held up to the light beer shows some flashes of ruby, but is mostly opaque in its darkness. The aroma smells of spicy Bourbon, but has an earthy malt character to it that moves into a rich note in the finish that is a bit like prunes or perhaps even some sherry like notes. There is enough noticeable alcohol in the nose that it warms my nose upon a deep draught of the aroma. The malt character here is pretty complex, though in some ways subtle; toasted malt notes, spicy grain, a hint of salty smokiness, something a bit like carbonized fruit (though without the acrid notes, or even the burnt char character). There is some woody oak character here, as well as some spicy barrel character, soft vanillin notes and even a touch of toasted coconut; overall the barrel notes are pretty well integrated and don’t overwhelm the rest of the aromatic notes. I definitely don’t smell any cherry like notes here though.

This beer is lightly sweet, though it has more of a rich maltiness than actual sweetness. The beer finishes with a peat derived, salty, earthy smokiness that lingers on in the finish along with a sherry’d prune character (prune without much sweetness though). This is only lightly carbonated; it has just a prickle of carbonation as it rolls across the tongue. The beer isn’t overly viscous, though it certainly has some body to it, and it has a certain soft creamy texture to it. Behind the smokiness in the finish are some dark malt notes that suggest hints of tar, a bit of roasted coffee notes and a rich roasted caramel note (not burnt, but rich with lots of Maillard browning flavors). This definitely has a spiciness from the barrel aging process and the alcohol also provides a bit of heat. There is a touch of tartness to the finish; is this where the otherwise absent cherry character comes in?

I am not quite too sure about the cherry part of this beer, there is a general fruity richness, but certainly not anything I can identify as cherry specific. This could use a bit more texture and heft, a bit more residual malt character in the body would help to smooth out the warm / boozy alcohol and spicy barrel notes. Seems to lack a bit of finesse and the flavors / aromas are not quite as integrates as one might hope. Still this is certainly a tasty beer and I like how the background sherry notes add a lot of richness to this beer. The smoky peat character also adds a lot of background complexity to this beer.

Served In: Tulip