Tasted Saturday evening after a productive day searching the QC for winter running gear. Enjoyed with steamed brussel sprouts and cauliflower from the garden. I got this beer from the Iowa City Brewfest from the North Coast Booth.
Appearance: Darkened rustic brown with a muddied hue. The head is strong initially consisting of a fragile bubbled character. It dissipated into a soft white film. Carbonation is highly apparent, in the form of fast rising micro-bubbles. Lacing is oily and wet.
Aroma: Rich scent of dates and plums with a huge estery barleywine-like complex about it. As the beer warms up the caramel graininess
Taste: The foretaste is unexpectedly smooth and sweet, without any noticeable astringency's. Dark fruit juice sweetness primarily making up the first half, reminiscent of dates, plums and even grape juice. However the second half is a complete different animal...As a extraordinary alcoholic flavor permeates the taste buds, almost to knock you on your feet, but still enough to let you keep your balance. Neither part of the beer is over accentuated, yet both halves boast rich flavors. The immediate afterbreath finally tastes of caramel and biscuit malt. The aftertaste is short lived but pleasant. The warming alcohol becomes more present to the taste, the longer one drinks.
Mouthfeel: Silky smooth texture with a light carbonated finish. The bubbles are just present enough to pure the mouth of the alcohol while not leaving the beer impressionably flat. Very sticky on the lips. Big rich mouth cloying body.
Overall Impression: Actually I thought this beer would have been too high octane for me initially, but rather it was quite enjoyable. The sweetness is characterized by a dark roasted fruit and ester profile, while a subtle grain bill emerges as the beer warms. Balanced and clean to the finish. Alcohol is hardly an issue, if enjoyed properly. Not something to really order on a night at the bars, more of a sipper in winter, or one to put away.