Beer No. 54 – 8 Wired iStout
Naptime beer. Biding time in the chill chest, you begin to wonder, “When am I going to drink it? It doesn’t go with the pizza I ordered. Or the burgers we’re having tomorrow. Should I just have it with dessert? As dessert?” No, it’s ideal not at any time, but at that key afternoon lull when an oily ten percenter is all that stands between you and some clean sheets.
STYLE: Russian Imperial Stout
LOOK: Panther black. Oily and pours like syrup, sleek to match the packaging. Soft, ginger head that doesn’t hold.
NOSE: Raisins, softer than expected. I can’t even say coffee because while I do get a hint I think it’s conditioning. “This is a classy Imperial Stout so there must be a coffee nose.” But no.
MOUTH: So very … Belgian? I’m somewhat unsurprised to learn that this New Zealand offering was crafted by a European. Bacon-wrapped dates, roasted coffee beans, malt chappiness (I thought I just invented that word, but Urban Dictionary not only says “no” but also “you’re an idiot, it means nearly the opposite – something disliked – of what you want it to mean – pleasant lipsmackingness). I don’t think the sweetness is chocolate. Rather something purple and fruity. It’s a nice departure from the usual humdrummery.
Beeradvocate Rating: 89
ratebeer Rating: 100
Hayward Abbey Rating: 89
Beer No. 42 – Wells & Young’s Courage Russian Imperial Stout
All-world compared to their Banana Bread Beer. But still like a first rounder who makes a few pro bowls as an alternate and never realizes his full potential.
STYLE: Russian Imperial Stout
LOOK: Pours like chocolate syrup. Decent body that’s actually lighter than it looks at first. Can’t get a head to stick, and there’s medium-low lacing and retention.
NOSE: Campfire, figs, and roasted apples. Espresso and bittersweet chocolate dominate.
MOUTH: Purple grapes and dark fruit accent the wood-burning fire thing going on. Not that I’ve had ’em this way, there’s some roasted Nutty Bars too. Unusually, I like it less as it warms, sitting here waiting for the balance to shine only to take astringent gulp after astringent gulp with a cayenne gloss halfway down my throat.
Beeradvocate Rating: 93
ratebeer Rating: 98
Hayward Abbey Rating: 78
Beer No. 17 – Brasserie des Rocs Triple Impériale
Spectacular treat from my favorite abbaye. In many respects similar to the Grand Cru I fell in love with at La Trappe Cafe.
STYLE: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
LOOK: Melted plums and Belgian yeasty bits. It could, if you are up to it, use a straining that might improve the mouthfeel. Yes, I did just that with some success. The resulting mocha-latte like head is more consistent than the initial pour, a miasma of foam and sediment. A maze of lacing with strong stickiness corroborates the sugary nose.
NOSE: Cinnamon raisin bread, overripe cherries, plums, figs, and dates. Wonderful. A smörgåsbord of dark fruits laced with just a touch of acidity.
MOUTH: Decadent plum cake, currants, the whole dark fruit family. It’s a reunion in my mouth. The well-masked ABV dares you to gulp. Resist the urge, let it warm a few degrees, and sip some more. Maybe, if you are up to it, let it reduce and smother some ice cream. I think I just might do that.
Beeradvocate Rating: 94
Hayward Abbey Rating: 95
Beer No. 5 – St. Bernardus Abt 12
You can read a lot about what the “Abt” means, most of it wrong, not that it really matters. This is a beer that warms the cockles of the heart. Maybe, as Denis Leary suggests, below the cockles, maybe in the sub-cockle area. Maybe in the liver (10% ABV, yes please). Maybe in the kidneys (eh). Maybe even in the colon (let’s hope not), we don’t know.
STYLE: Belgian Quad
LOOK: Woody brown, with a creamy, stately head that looks like someone whipped up some cinnamon crema and dolloped it right on top. Above average lacing, but the retention is softer than expected. Massive, three-finger head. Maybe a product of the glassware? It quickly overwhelmed my pink-elephant tulip hybrid, suggesting that I should have gone with a more traditional, wide-mouth goblet.
NOSE: Baby powder, tart fruit, woody herbs. Definitely bark.
MOUTH: Apple cider, dry caramel, rose water, faint cotton candy. The starchy component seals the deal. Toast and rum cake, world class.
Beeradvocate Rating: 98
Hayward Abbey Rating: 97
Beer No. 2 – La Trappe Quadrupel
STYLE: Belgian Quad
LOOK: Deep orange, amber, minimal lacing. I expected more sticktoitness on the glass from the rich mouthfeel. Really enjoyed the way the two-finger head dissolved slowly into a foam oyster. Maybe the best part of the beer.
NOSE: Banana cream pie, hint of lemon, surprising lack of yeast. My dad grew up with and loves this banana cream pudding that’s dotted with vanilla wafers on top. Take away the processed starch and that’s pretty much what this is. Depending on your mood, you might be more inclined to inhale this beer instead of drink it.
MOUTH: Fresh from the fridge it’s all banana, all the time. You get the nuance as it warms. Candied apples, white grapes, vanilla, brown sugar, toffee, spring flowers, clove, faint smokiness. I’m expecting figs and raisins too, but don’t get any of that. Finish is distinctly banana with faint phenols. The 10% ABV is well masked. Excellent mouth feel and coating.
Beeradvocate Rating: 91
Hayward Abbey Rating: 92