Recently, TheBeerNut hosted a beer tasting night at his house. I guess he needed help emptying his stash of beers so myself and Richard Lubell (freelance beer writer for the likes of Dubliner magazine) were only too happy to help him with such a serious problem.
There was no real theme other than drinking some of the harder to find beers and with the exception of the bottle of Left Hand Smoke Jumper I brought to the table, I had not had any of these beers before and thankfully Smoke Jumper was new to the others too so it all worked out.
We started off with Noblesse from De dochter van de korenaar. It's a 5.5% blonde ale. Notes of grain/straw, slightly metallic, hint if bubblegum. Slightly spicy and sour finish. Little honey and lemon making it a little like lemsip with whiskey with a little spice on the finish. It was rather enjoyable I thought and a great start. I believe it was a fair bit past it's best before date and it was none the worse for it.
From the same brewery came Finesse. An aroma of peaches, hint of grape and pine. The pine is due to the beer being aged on pine resin.
In the mouth I got citrus, pine, alcohol, peach and orange. Very nice sipper. Drying finish. Similar to an IPA in some ways but without the in your face hopping. Quite bitter. In reality it's a 3 grain tripel according to the label. Then again, don't trust the label because this 660ml bottle has a label that thinks it's 330ml and is translated in to Engrish.
Sticking with de dochter, we have Bravoure, our first smoked beer for the evening. It's an amber with an ABV of 6.5%. The smoke on the nose is quite subtle but undeniably there. I also got a whiff of prunes and alcohol. This was a bit of a bottle bomb with beer geysering everywhere before it was directed in to a glass. To say it was over-carbonated is an understatement, it was almost painful to drink. It sort of tasted like fizzy prune juice with some kippers thrown in. It sounds unpleasant but it wasn't as bad as all that. Still, I won't be rushing out to obtain a bottle for myself.
On to a different brewery this time and a different country, and a Black IPA from Emelisse. An aroma of milk chocolate and fresh cut grass. On tasting it starts off bitter a little grassy with an alcohol burn. On to some caramel then. It's not as bitter as I might expect. There's a little citrus and as the carbonation dies, some smoke comes out. It's a beautiful beer and quite subtle too.
On to the ridiculous now. Southern tier's black water series Imperial Choklat Stout is a 10% beast of a beer.
First off, the aroma, it's like like chocolate syrup used to pour on ice cream with a slight cherry liqueur.
On tasting, I'm met with what can only be described as a desert beer. I seriously believe I could pour this over ice cream, though that would be a waste of good beer. There is lots of cherry, a hint of coffee and so much chocolate. The beer keeps giving, the chocolate stays with you long after you have taken a mouthful. It's very sweet but a marked bitterness towards the end. I'm not sure how much of this beer I could honestly handle before becoming diabetic but as a beer to share it's brilliant. It makes a great digestif!
Pijiu Goji is a 5% sort of fruit beer. It's very fizzy, incredibly tart, fairly sweet but also a little sour. Quite interesting I suppose but I'm not sure I would be looking to drink another one. Not having had a goji berry before, I was unsure what I should be tasting but tartness seems to be the main thing. I will say this, having looked up goji berries to see what they are exactly, it seems they can be somewhat dangerous. They are used for medicinal reasons in Chinese medicine and can have some nasty unwanted effects. I can't say for certain if it was related but I did feel a little nauseous and had some bad intestinal cramps and diarrhoea later that night. Initially I just put it down to too many Scotch eggs, I don't do very well with too much egg but it might be that the goji berries didn't help either.
Catso is a 5% Saison/Blonde from the Struise brewery in Belgium. It's part of a cartoon series, so pay attention to the label. I found it slightly sour, like a good saison should be, at least for me. It's also quite floral and bitter, packed full of herbs and spices. There's some slight cheese funk. Does it use American hops? It seemed to, pine and citrus, especially lemon made me think that. The finish is spicy and fairly astringent. I liked it but it's not easy to drink though neither is it difficult.
Still with the Struise brewery and our final beer for the evening, we have Coffee Club Black Damnation IV, a 13% barrel aged imperial stout. From what I can tell, the base beer is called Black Albert, something that already gets 100 on ratebeer. It's then matured in old rum barrels for 6 months.
The aroma is a woody vanilla, sour espresso and alcohol. Moving on to the taste, it's very much like a strong espresso. While quite sweet around the edges, the overriding feature is a sour espresso. Dark Berries and some cherry along with a little rum try to make their presence known but this is all about the coffee.