Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Call to Darkness: Two Divergent Strong, Dark Ales

Besides being on the darker side of things with high alcohol content, the two beers under review here share little in terms of characteristics.  The other things they have in common are being damn good and getting rated (as numbers 798 and 799) on the same day.

The first was Het Anker's Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van de Keizer Blauw (Grand Cru of the Emperor) at 11% ABV.  This was purchased from the LCBO for around $7 for a 750 ml bottle and provides great value for the money, such that I should have purchased several more including a few for the cellar!

It pours a nicely coloured deep ruby-reddish brown with a tan head of decent retention with some lacing remaining on the glass.  The aromas are of dark fruits, mainly plums and raisins, while the taste is very sweet, almost cloyingly so, and dominated by candied brown sugar with a hint of raisins.  The alcohol is basically undetectable (by mouth, but not by head), masked by a slight creaminess and a moderate carbonation.  It is darn good, and very enjoyable, if a bit explicitly sweeter than ideally desirable.  I wonder if a year in the cellar would mellow it out?  Still, a dangerous easy-drinker!  Grade: A

The second had been sitting here for quite some time as occasionally happens.  At $2.59 for a 341 ml bottle (in Quebec), this is an affordable imperial stout, and I was hoping it would impress (as my last affordable imperial stout did not, though Peche Mortel always does!)

And... L'Alchimiste ImpĂ©rial Stout (7.9% ABV) doesn't disappoint as it pours a black body capped by a fizzy, audible brown head of decent retention and thick, if rapidly diminishing, lace.  Boldly aromatic and reminiscent mostly of a dark chocolate, with lightly smoky hints, while tasting similarly.  It begins a bit malty-sweet with roasted biscuity notes but quickly evolves to a finely drying and lingering bitter cocoa.  It is medium to full bodied, if a touch lighter than I'd like in the style, with a creaniness that wasn't expected alongside the audible carbonation/head.  Grade: A-

All in all, these made for an excellent beer day and I only hope that beer number 800 impresses just as well!

More on that soon, and as I have it!  Til then, Happy holidays Festivus!

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