Friday, 13 July 2012

Some Special Beers

Though I had planned to make rated beer number 600 something special, I was waiting for others to bar -hop and so Hops & Robbers became the beer (and quite a solid IPA in my assessment, though more at another time!).

But I started my trek to 700 with a very fine beer for number 601: Achel Extra Bruin (9.5% ABV).  Having heard that this often beats the famed Westvleteren (and other highly praised quadrupels) in blind tastings had me excited.  I wasn't disappointed!  This delicious and rare Trappist offering pours a light brown/deep red with a decent creamy head of great retention and fine lace.  Aromas are predominantly of plums and raisins, with some bread present.  The nose is simply phenomenal, lasting, complex and it transforms throughout, but doesn't diminish - getting more chocolatey as time goes on.  The taste is dominated by licorice, dried fruit and figs and is quite sweet, while on the mouth it offers a full body with fairly high carbonation that leads to a slightly tingly, yet full creamy feeling, with a fine earthy/drying finish (though it is imbalanced on the sweet side).  Grade: A+

Right after that, I tasted a properly aged 2007 Vintage Ale Millésimmée (10% ABV) from St. Ambroise (McAuslan). This barley wine didn't disappoint either and certainly ages well (though I have never had a ripe one, a year old at the earliest).    It shows its unfiltered cloudiness with a dark red colour, while the head is fair, off-white, frothy, and offers decent retention and lacing.  It smells quite boozy, yet also offers nice aromas of plums, brown sugar, and molasses.  To the tongue, the booziness remains present, but is tempered by sweet caramel maltiness that makes it highly drinkable with only a faintly drying finish (tempered by age perhaps?)  It is warming and fairly full bodied, but with a creamy low carbonation befitting the style.  I might have given this an A+ had I not drank it after the Achel quad!  Grade: A

Shortly thereafter, I got my hands on Innis & Gunn's Irish Whisky Cask Stout (7.4%).  Regular readers know a few things about me: I love stout, I love Innis & Gunn, and I love Innis & Gunn one-offs, but maybe this was over-hyped for me (by my own doing) for those very reasons.  Sure, it was a good beer, but it wasn't the legend I had it pegged for in advance.  It poured a dark brown with a decent, foamy beige head of poor retention.  Aromas were of chocolate and bread with a touch of oaked vanilla.  It also smelled a bit boozy.  Flavourwise, it is sweet with a hint of molasses, but tastes quite boozy with faintly discernible traces of caramel and cola as the palate evolves.  Lighter-bodied than anticipated with a balanced finish, and with a greater drying depth than most imbalanced Innis & Gunn beers, but with a very fizzy, tingly, overly carbonated mouthfeel.  It wasn't creamy at all and maybe needed a nitro tap, but it wasn't a great stout, nor a great limited edition Innis & Gunn offering.  It was fine, just not worth the hype and price.  Grade: B

Finally, for another LCBO limited-time offering, I enjoyed the saison called New Morning (5.8% ABV) from Italian brewery Birrificio del Ducato.  This saison poured a creamy, thick white head that was most attractive with excellent retention and creamy/milky lacing, while the body was a thickly cloudy golden with quite thick, chunky particulate matter.  On the nose, it offered slight yeastiness and ripe fruit and rind, alongside spicy hints of coriander and earthiness.  The nose was stronger than the taste which, though mild, offered a bit of black pepper spice alongside a crisp mouthfeel with its high carbonation.  I don't always enjoy saisons, but this was quite enjoyable and is easy drinking!  Grade: A-

That's all for now folks!


  1. I agree with you about the Irish Whisky Cask but I think perhaps "B" is too harsh. It was less than I expected, and not their best by any means, but it was still damn good (and it grew on me). At first I was annoyed by something in the aftertaste (I mean, whatever that beer snob jargon word for aftertaste is) but I eventually realized that it was actually something there (the whisky flavouring) that isn't normally in stouts, and it actually reminded me a little of a tripel, but like some weird kind of quad stout hybrid. I guess not really, given the percentage. But there was something Belgiany going on there, and I didn't hate it.

    1. Maybe I just missed it! Aftertaste works, btw, so too does finish. For me, though a B is a good grade. I'd drink anything above a B- again gladly and a C+ if at a shite bar with one C+ offering! It just did nothing for me. Had I expected nothing and spent $2.50 on the bottle, it might have gotten higher, but maybe my expectations coupled with the $5 price necessitate my harshness. I see what you are saying about the barrel complexity, but it might have helped if it actually had a few (better) stout qualities: body, head, aroma, flavour notes that were largely absent. To me it seems like a stout for those who don't like stout!