Thursday, 1 November 2012

Four Phenomenal Beers: Royal Extra Stout, Acero, Chouffe Houblon Dobbel IPA Tripel and Duchesse de Bourgogne

Rated beers #749, 750, 751 and 752 all had their specific charm and this post is dedicated to them in review.

Number 749 was Carib Brewing's Royal Extra Stout (6.5% ABV).  This is one delicious stout, if a bit on the sweet side that I picked up at the SAQ (alongside the currently available St. Bernardus Abt 12 I had gone in for!)  The aroma is a bit like a dry stout, but with some semblance of caramel topped by a hint of sweet chocolate and vanilla and just a touch of alcohol.  Taste-wise, it is quite sweet a bit cola-esque but in a decent way, with vanilla and chocolate present and a slight, faint drying alcohol finish.  It is not very full bodied, and just a bit tingly.  Good, but a bit much even if not quite cloyingly sweet.  Grade: A-

Number 750 was Boquébière Microbrasserie de Sherbrooke's Acero (16.5% ABV), which I grabbed at Fromagerie Atwater at the Atwater Market.  This American strong ale (and, at 16.5%, the emphasis is on the 'strong') is unlike any beer I have ever tasted and is much more like a spirit than a beer, though made for a memorable 750!  This unique oddity is made with local maple syrup and is truly a one-of-a-kind.  It pours a reddish brown with no head and only the faintest carbonation discernible merely around the glass edge.  The aroma is slightly peaty-malty up front but also sugary-sweet and boozy like a licquere.  It smells a bit like a super-sweet and boozy version of a scotch ale or barley wine, while the taste is cloyingly sweet if good, like a mead made with maple instead of honey.  Full bodied.  Good but can't drink much and odd to call it a beer. Grade: A

Number 751 was Chouffe Houblon Dobbel IPA Tripel (9% ABV).  This beer is typically called a "Belgian IPA," but it could as easily be called a "Belgian Double IPA" yet is premised off of the Tripel style and is also in a class by itself (though with closer relatives more commonly found than those akin to Acero, above!).  It pours a golden-orange with chunky-thick particulate topped by a rocky mountainous white head something like what develops in a float: quickly receding but with chunks of head that remain.  The glass rimming lace is other-worldy!  On the nose, it is predominantly of citrus and rind but with an earthy-yeasty hops to complement it, while the mouth is met with a touch of spice, perhaps as hints of pepper and coriander, before a dry apricot and mango alongside a lemon/orange rind finish.  Despite the 9% ABV and high carbonation, it feels very smooth, silky, and oily.  A fine example of the style - if no Urthel Hop-It!  Grade: A

Finally, I come to Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne (6% ABV) (purchased at the SAQ) which is easily the best of a handful of Flander's Red Ales I have tasted.  It might be in the select company of my favourite beers ever and is my favourite of the style thus far - topping Rodenbach Grand Cru for me and that is high praise indeed!  The body is brown with a frothy tan head of fair retention and moderate lace.  It smells ever so faintly vinegary with cherry tartness and an earthy-musty funk,  The nose is good, if you like sours despite that description, while the taste is superb!  It starts off more tart with a biting sourness somewhat like an under-sweetened lemon dessert before a sweetly-sour candy like finish kicks in that lingers with a chewable deliciousness that is just remarkable.  On the tongue, it is quite carbonated, yet dry in a champagne sort of way with the chewiness I desire in this sort of beer.  I raved about this beer for several sips on end making my sour-hating wife try it and it even met with her approval!  Grade: A+

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