A beer from my Alma-mater. Thanks to Luke for bringing me a growler over Thanksgiving. I brought it back to Michigan to wait for the right time to open it. Took it to the Production Facility for everyone to try. Also, thanks to Joe and Rick for bringing some growlers up as well during their visit this past weekend.
Appearance: Dark brown, but not black. To the light, this beer displays deep mahogany red highlightshttp://greatriverbrewery.com/manager/wp-content/themes/greatriver/style/img/great-river-brewery.gif with a slight color inhibitory glow/haze. Since this was filled over a week before it was opened, there wasn't much of a head displayed. What was present was a thin white ring around the inner perimeter of the glass.
Aroma: Malty, but rich in fruity esters, a by product of the yeast variety and temperature. Hints of dried fruit and nutty grains alongside a rye/toasted chocolate undertone. Displaying very little of the expected smoked/peated malt character.
Taste: Initially, I find the huge malt base to be a bit staggered. It takes a while to truly shine, but when it does, it really takes over the palate. Rich caramel and rye toasted flavors, followed by hints of sarsaparilla and vanilla for a nice rounded spicing. As the beer warms, more of the spices become accentuated, while the malt base is accompanied with a hint of light chocolate and bready notes. Transitioning into the aftertaste I find this beer to display an interesting grainy/starch flavor under the more dominating layers. Finally, I enjoy the finishing aftertaste which leaves a touch of molasses and the the prominent licorice.
Overall Impression: Interestingly, I find this beer to be more reminiscent of an Old Ale than a scottish, but in either case I think it boasts a very palatable, balanced complexity. Not much of an alcohol flavor, but after a pint, I certainly feel it, especially as my face warms. Definitely an interesting brew, and I appreciate the quality of experimentation. Keep it up GRB.