Style: Belgian Tripel
Serving Type: Bottle
Purchased at: Community Co-OP Arcata, CA
Aroma: The first scent off the beer is a quick lick of orange peel and dark candy sugar. There is a continual underlying smell of cardboard from some oxidization. It isn’t very strong, but certainly noticeable and doesn’t appear to ‘blow off’ in time. Other aromatics suggest caramel and light fruit.
Appearance: Pours a brilliantly clear caramel to amber color with a rich and creamy white head. The beer displays excellent head retention and a nice lacing along the glass. Strong and lively carbonation bubbles race to the top of this beer, sustaining the head nicely.
Flavor: First to hit the tongue is a vinous alcohol character that is quickly followed by a wet paper oxidized flavor. Some subtle notes of raisin and caramel, though these only last for a moment through the middle before the alcohol takes over again. The malt fades to the back as the alcohol heats up through the finish, leaving the beer rather hot and dry. If you look for it you can find some light candy sweetness trying to work it’s way into the mix, but the oxidation and alcohol dominate the flavor.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with high carbonation. Strong alcoholic warmth and heat create a drying and almost puckering effect on the palate. Carbonation is lively on the tongue, which contributes to the body, though overall the malt character does not hold up well. The beer finishes quite dry and hot at the back of the throat.
Overall: Regretfully this beer comes off quite unbalanced, with heavy emphasis toward the 10% alcohol. Despite the fact that the bottle says the beer should be good until 2012, I’d say it’s well past it’s prime in the first part of 2010. This beer may have been mishandled somewhere along the way. Somehow oxidization got a hold of this brew taking away all but subtle hints of pleasing Belgian aroma and flavor. I’ll probably shy away from this in the future, though I am curious to try another perhaps fresher example.
I rated this beer a D+ on BeerAdvocate. Overall the beer is rated a B+, so I suspect I simply got a mishandled bottle. Storing a beer in excessive heat can cause such oxidization issues.