And by trying out, I mean I'm locked in for a 750ml bottle here, purchased at The Perfect Pour.
It is a seasonal offering from Brewer's Art, in their description a "strong, copper-colored ale with a mild, sweet malt character. Brewed with lots of Belgian candi sugar and slowly fermented for a month. Sublime (8.5% ABV)".
Notes: I love the cork and cage setup, always a good start. The cork was incredibly stubborn on the way out, however, and embarrassed my normal steady hand with a loud pop after what I thought was a nice finesse opening. Oh well.
True to form there's a coppery, almost honeyish color. Cloudy. Massive but consistent head, lots of medium sized bubbles, quite fun to look at. Lots of spice in the aroma. Good start with that typical Belgian bitey/stingy hit on the tip of the tongue to start. Initial mild sour/tart flavor through the back and sides of the tongue. I think a little while that will start tasting more sweet than tart as the candi sugars (and malt sweetness) come to the fore.
Starting to sweeten just a touch. I should mention I poured this in a snifter (bearing the Dogfish Head logo, purchased at the Milton, DE location). I love drinking out of my tulip glass, but Beer Advocate suggested a snifter over a tulip. I'm getting more of the candi sweetness than the malt.
Really smooth to drink after the peppery, active liquid start. Creamy but not syrupy, about where this style should be. Well done on many of the technical elements (beer BS talk alert!). Not my favorite beer ever, but this is fun and I'm pretty much enamored of everything I've tried at Brewer's Art.
Second pour: another massive head. I've got a room temp glass and the bottle's started to warm up as well, so that shouldn't be the problem. Lots of proteins in the beer, perhaps, or just a terrible pour, heh. Whatever, I can wait. The aroma isn't going to knock your socks off, straightforward for a BSPA, but still nice with the spice notes in there (is that nutmeg? coriander? Maybe even a little banana fruitiness).
Ok, I'm satisfied, this is a really nice beer. Score one yet again for Brewer's Art, our surprisingly secret imaginative slice of the best of Belgian beer, right here in Maryland. Be on the lookout for their bottled releases and buy some (save me a few!).
Update: just switched to the tulip glass, this seemed to help. I'm getting a little more complexity here, a little more malt sweetness and complexity. Yes, glassware matters! Be sure to google around and find a place for some good beer glassware or pick some up at Crate & Barrel type place or breweries themselves.
Maybe I'll review the Ozzy later in the week, I've already consumed two or three bottles of that in the limited time since its bottled release, with another one in my fridge crying out to me every day "drink me! drink me!".
The canard has spent a lot more time on the shelves and isn't as popular, but it's much better than I thought. Maybe it's the packaging? Sort of a drab brown label with a duck just chilling out. One thing beer bottles (and beer bars!) could use more of is identification. There's still sort of this speakeasy feel to beers, like you're supposed to know ahead of time what someone's beer is by the name. This Le Canard bottle, all it says is "Ale". Being an ale man and a Brewer's Art fan, that should be enough, but for the casual, new beer person I think a little more explanation is in order.
Ale is simply too broad of a descriptor, as is the physical appearance. Even in decent light it was a bit challenging to see if it was a dark or light liquid. Why not just write "Belgian Strong Pale Ale" on the bottle? Many people still might not understand what that means, but once they begin to try more styles they can begin to categorize it in their minds.
Same thing at beer bars. I go crazy when all that's listed is the brewery and the name and maybe a one word style reference such as "stout or IPA". That's good, but what kind of stout? Plain Jane stout? Oatmeal Stout? Flavored stout? Is it a regular IPA, a double IPA, a triple IPA? English style or Hoppy West Coast style? These things matter and as informed as most of us beer folks are we don't always remember each and every brewery's exact detail in our heads.
Sure, part of the fun is trying (and Lord do I blindly try things), but a little extra information never hurts. Just sayin'.
Range Outing: The Humidity Edition
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