I don't normally like to focus too much on the higher alcohol beers, and I have to say, this is the highest alcohol beer I have ever had. But dealing with so many dark beers, and the stronger alcohol being more of a trait in this style, I guess there are occasions where this occurs. I know I have reviewed this beer previously in June, and since then been waiting to find it on the shelves to try again with a fresh palate, and not after 7 other aged beers as previously done. Still, after doing a beer shop with Stass yesterday at the new Purvis Beer Store in Richmond, I found this (and another beer I have been waiting months to come back in stock. keep an eye out for that one later on) and just had to get it to try with him. At around 6 standard beers in one bottle, you need at least one other person to help you drink it, and its as black as the ace of spades.
So, from a fresh palate, I have to say it was probably pretty similar to the previous tasting (intense!). There is a massive malt hit in this beer that I personally enjoy, and the texture is amazing for a beer this high in alcohol. I would expect that it would be more watery as the alcohol separates from the beer, but in this case it doesn't. This beer really does run a fine line as to whether it is a real beer, as the texture did make me question as to whether they had used the 'beer distilling' technique of freezing the beer and removing the ice to get the alcohol this high, and keep the texture this good. I hope it is not this as for me, this is where it stops being a real beer produced in traditional means (while traditional can be different for different styles, distilling I don't think is part of brewing beer). As for the supposed cranberries and jasmine, apart from some slight light sweetness I can't pick up this at all. It is possible the dry hopping is used to prepare the tongue slightly for the alcohol to come, and is done so that the hop flavours hit early, as the alcohol is strong as hits earlier than a usual beer. Still, with the french oak chips, there is a lovely mellowness to stop it from being as intense as what it would be without it, and help meld the flavours. I think it also allows the alcohol to rise a bit slower so that it is not so much a spike of alcohol burn, but a warming rise of it. After the first taste, it takes about 10 seconds after you for a warmth to come from all the way in your stomach, through your lungs, then out your mouth. It is an interesting experience to get from beer.
I guess the only way I can understand this beer is that by using very intense flavouring in the base beer to match the alcohol, then mellowing the whole thing out with the oak, we end up with this. Still, the texture does still baffle me a bit.
Overall though, the intensity of this beer is immense, and am almost glad I had a beer of similar intensity in the Russian Imperial Stout I had in Prague last week (even though that beer was 10% less than this). As they say on the label, this is a beer of excess, but I find balanced to allow the flavour to be as rounded as possible so your tongue doesn't burn off (and not just for the alcohol). Very impressed with the result, but best drunk like a port.
I also noticed it had an expiry of 2019, so the potential for mellowing it out further is possible which would be interesting to try.
Our final comment; 'We feel so mellow'.
Well, seeing my beer adventures over the past month or so have knocked me around a little bit, at least can exchange volume for alcohol a bit and feel like having had 3 beers in half of one. Hopefully my other pick from Purvis comes out similar...