Monday, July 11, 2016

Belgian Dark Strong Tasting Notes


BJCP 2015 Overview Belgian Dark Strong Ale:

A dark, complex, very strong Belgian ale with a delicious blend of malt richness, dark fruit flavors, and spicy elements. Complex, rich, smooth and dangerous.

Tasting Notes 1 Month: 

I brewed this beer in March 2016. After I bottled it and it conditioned for a couple weeks I had my first taste. I wish I had documented that tasting but since I didn't I'll do my best to write a paragraph now from memory.

That early tasting was very surprising to me. It was a malty beer and sweeter than expected. The most notable flavor was a very strong fruitiness, maraschino cherry mostly, from the Abbey II yeast. I was not at all pleased with the beer at this time but I read quite a bit about Belgian Dark Strong before brewing and knew to expect the beer to become better and change quite a bit with age. 9 months seemed to be the sweet spot so that's my target, December 2016.

Belgian Dark Strong Ale Brewed March 2016

Tasting Notes 4 months

Appearance - A clear beer after sitting in the bottle for 4 months. The color is on point for the style in the dark-amber area. I like the color quite a bit. The head is off white and pours about an inch thick on the first pour.

Aroma - Not much aroma, malty and maybe a little spicy if I had to categorize it but I couldn't really put my finger on a specific aroma.

Mouthfeel - This has changed a lot from my memory of that first tasting. This was a very full bodied beer a few months ago and that's not the case right now. It actually runs the gauntlet of mouthfeel. It starts out dry on the tongue and finishes with a medium body on the back end. It's hard to explain but it's like a tingling "gassy" feel at first that ends up heavier and soothing.

Taste - The taste has changed as much as the mouthfeel. The first taste is alcohol dryness bordering on astringent but that goes away almost immediately. You then get into a light malt/maraschino cherry mixed with some dark fruit (maybe prune) like flavors. It's a very interesting taste that I think would be better of that alcohol/gassy/astringent note wasn't on the from of your tongue. I'm worried this beer is going to get worse not better. Perhaps there's too much oxygen getting in at bottle time which wouldn't surpise me. I don't have a setup where I can push my beer around with co2 so between the racking cane pushing from fermentor to bottling bucket and the bottling want and not purging bottles this may very well be the problem.

Future Changes - It's a little early to tell but I really wanted those dark fruit raisin-y, prune-y, plum-y flavors to show a strong presence in this beer. While it's a little like that I think swapping out the crystal 80 addition for special B will help. Crystal 150+Special B and maybe a different yeast will result in those flavors.

Notes

While I was somewhat hard on this beer during the 4 month tasting notes it's mostly because I had very high expectations for it. I know I can't predict the future and will give it a fair shake in another 4 months. Hopefully I'm it will surprise me and turn out fantastic.