After a long week Sunday afternoon is a great time for kicking back and watching football, reading, or a nap. For me it is a time to catch up on my beer reviews.
In the mood for a Belgian beer I reached for the collaboration brew by Terrapin Brewing Co and De Proef Brouwerij. This massive Imperial Flanders Red Ale comes in a cork and cage bottle that clocks in at 8.5% abv. Using “new age American and old world Belgian brewing techniques” (so says the bottle), Brain and Dirk set out to create an interesting beer. The label adds that it is based off of Terrapin’s ‘Big Hoppy Monster’ containing additions of Rye, Munich and Crystal (ranging from 20-75L) malts, loads of American hops, fermented with Brettanomyces (Bretts), and aged on toasted American oak chips.
This bottle conditioned beer has a hazy maroon hue with a pillowy reddish/tan tinted head that clings to the glass (decant to avoid yeast sediment). Diving into the aroma this concoction packs a punch. The first thing I noticed was the oak as it seemed to be the characteristic that tied everything else together. Under that was a minor sourness with hints of raspberries, grapes, prunes, and apples. The hops added a floral fruity citrus note that interacted with the yeast to bring out the other. Not to be forgotten, the malts added a wide range of caramel and toffee sweetness.
I got a great variety of flavors that paired and supported each other well, yet stood out on their own. Coming in sweet and hoppy this beer hit my tastes buds like a Red ale should. Rich with toasted caramel that laid a foundation for the spicy rye notes to build upon. This spiciness was coupled with a piney bitter hop quality that attacked the sides of my tongue and cheeks. Moving towards the back of the palate the yeast added a bready, yet sour dimension which was smoothed over by the oak aspect.
There was a dry finish which I felt was a combination of the rye malt, wood tannins, and hops. The aftertaste that lingered reminded me of a sour candy (hints of dates/figs).