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Review by SAP on 05/24/09  
 
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
84 3 9 17 4 9 2009
Served lightly chilled around 55ºF / 13ºC
A vigorous pour into my 25cl tulip glass just produces a fat-one-finger thick, nicely browned, dark tan colored head. The beer is quite dark, almost black really with perhaps a touch of brown to it. When held up to the light the beer shows brilliantly clear, deep, dark ruby highlights. The aroma is quite smoky, phenolic even; the smoke character doesn’t have the richness that I associate with beech-wood (Rauchbier) or alder-wood (Alaskan Smoked Porter) smoked beers, instead it is a little thin, though really this might be because the smoke is not nearly at the same level as those other smoked beers. The smoke here combines with a distinct fruitiness that reminds me of raisins, prunes and even some brandy like notes along with a touch of warming alcohol. At times the alcohol can be quite noticeable in the aroma, especially after I have started to drink the beer. The fruit character becomes very rich and interesting if you concentrate on the nose for a bit. There is also a touch of roast malt character noticeable after a bit as well. Not a bad nose, but the up front smoke character is a little thin and sharp at times, though it does have a nice underlying richness.

The beer is creamy and viscous feeling with only a faint carbonation that supplies a very soft prickle. The beer is fairly sweet, which accentuates a dark, concentrated fruitiness, but both of these are offset somewhat by a sharp malt influence. Roast grain notes provide a burnt-bitterness to the finish, perhaps a touch of acrid notes as well as a touch of burnt acidity. The smoked malt is a bit fainter than it even was in the nose, but it does provide a subtle smokiness that provides some richness to the beer as well as a hint of sharp smoke phenolics that is just noticeable at times. The rich fruitiness is the most noticeable part of the flavor; notes of prunes, raisins and roasted berry notes are all quite noticeable. Subtler fruit notes of caramelized apples, a touch of dates as well as some not so subtle rich, Brandy-like fruitiness. Alcohol is evident, but donesn’t get past supplying a nice warmth and a bit of spiciness. While rich feeling on the tongue, the beer isn’t overly heavy and in fact is a bit more drinkable than might be safe.

For a beer that has a fairly middling aroma to it, the flavor has turned out to be quite nice. This is definitely a sipping brew and I am really enjoying the rich, concentrated fruitiness here that is just supported by roast malt notes and a hint of smokiness. After a slow start, this ends up being quite an enjoyable brew.

Served In: Tulip