Tasted following a delicious lunch of broccoli, asparagus and carrots steamed in my new (but primitive) bamboo vegetable steamer. I've had this beer sitting in the fridge for about 6 months now (along with Night Stalker) so I felt as Christmas distanced itself, it was about time to get this logged. Pint glass served.
Bottle #: 1009
Appearance: Brown clouded copper color with not the slightest transparency (I got the bottom of the bottle with some healthy dreggs). Head was strong tan and foamy upon pour, exhibiting peaks and all. By the time I got to drinking it the head had all but dissipated into a light film and a foamy ring leaving behind it a sticky speckled lacing. Still some turbulent micro-carbonation somewhat visible.
Aroma: Oaky and carmeled sweetness immediately takes the nose and carries with it a mellowed dark fruitiness. The woody sweet aroma is also paralleled with a mild rye spicing that is absolutely fantastic.
Taste: Rich and sticky sweet caramel takes a totalitarian foundation for this beer. Coming up right next to it is a delicious rye spicing that gradually carries out the flavor to a mild spicing with perhaps some nutmeg (but very little). Just as the aroma exhibited, there are some nice oak and dark fruit complexity to it as well as dominant toasted malt. Combined into the midtaste, a nicely balanced roasted flavor emerges as it races into a sweet rye malt and spicy finish. All while tempered with dark cherries. Maybe some English hops contribute to a well balanced and not aggressive finish, while the yeast contributed a phenolic/estery character of Belgium style ales. Cinnamon works in combination to the caramel/toasted malt sweetness to round out the beer.
Mouthfeel: Heavily bodied with a cloying to the cheek with a likewise tackiness to a dried pair of lips. However, Carbonation is light and helps contribute to a smooth feeling on the way down. I wouldn't say creamy, but the beer certainly feels soft and delicately textured
Overall Impression: This beer ages beautifully (from what I can tell with the year old version). It makes me wonder what a fresh beer would taste like, whether the spices mellowed over time, or how time effects the flavor profile and even mouthfeel. Interesting. While working at Binny's I never really got to recommending this beer out to people, and it was more the case the customers were telling me about it. I'm glad I was finally able to taste this beer, as it exhibits a completely different profile than most Christmas ales which seem to be rushed. This beer however, I find myself tasting the care and effort in it to create a well balanced, complex and overwhelmingly flavorful beer.
Jen: 93/100 (Makes Jen's top 5)