Tom: Building blocks for taste recognition. This is what Mikkeller does best. He makes a base beer and then expands on it allowing the drinker to get an interesting look into different flavor profiles. Well, this one is no exception. If you have not read any of my previous Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast/Brunch reviews I would suggest visiting them. I gave his Beer Geek Brunch Weasel the highest grade out of the ones I sampled so I’m excited to review this beer.
Looking a little deeper into the world of Cognac I found some interesting facts. Cognac is a type of Brandy made in a specific region of France (think Bourbon or Champagne). Brandy is distilled wine. However, within the world of Brandy you can have various versions made from different fruits. This beer was aged in Calvados barrels. Calvados is an apple Brandy distilled from dry cider an aged in oak. Keep that in mind while I progress.
The beer itself had a very dark mocha head just like the previous Weasel brew. It did seem a little more rocky (bigger bubbles) and did not last as long. The color was raven black. No light was about to get through. The aroma had a very similar coffee, bitter burnt grain appeal to it, but there was a fruity addition to the nose. While coming across with some heat the dry woody notes lifted a gentle apple-like scent from the glass. When I first took a whiff, I asked myself, “is there a hint of fruity lambic in here?” What I was smelling was the apple quality imparted by the apple brandy which recalled my experience sampling Lindeman’s Pomme. The rest of the aroma was caramel, dark roasted malts, and molasses.
Diving into the taste this beer packs a punch. All together the malts, coffee, alcohol, and oak strip your palate of any moisture. It is highly bitter from the astringency of the burnt malt and coffee. Then the Calvados barrel takes over with a deep wood sugar/caramel fruitiness that only lasts a few seconds before the abv and oak bring a dry finish. You can taste a little hint of apple mid-sip and in the aftertaste, but for the most part the alcohol seemed to have boosted the coffee and malts to a new level. The mouthfeel is thicker, but not as smooth as the original Weasel was. I enjoyed that one better due to the fact that I could enjoy the coffee flavors more rather than get a wallop of alcohol.
Served in a small 8.5 oz bottle you definitely do not get your money’s worth in liquid. I might recommend laying this down for about 6 months to a year just to help round out that alcoholic heat and allow the beer to soften. Grade: B-
Taylor: I had to buy this barrel aged Mikkeller stout. A few years ago, my wife and I were driving around in Normandy and stopped at a beautiful orchard off the beaten path. We bought a bottle of the region’s famous apple brandy/cognac … Calvados. When I saw that this beer is aged in Calvados barrels, I was sold. Calvados is such a great type of cognac, bursting with apple. I was really happy with the end product. It pours thick, viscous black with a very slim head. The nose is full of cocoa and coffee, but has a definitie apple smell to it that is so refreshing. The taste and mouthfeel deliver the great cocoa/coffee bitterness. But there’s this “juicy” element to the taste that brings out the barrel aging. I drank it over an hour, and the booze and sweetness really come forward as it warms. And the carbonation recedes.
I think it’s also important to highlight the coffee the beer is brewed with: Vietnamese ca phe chon coffee. It’s one of the world’s most expensive coffees, made from civet cat droppings. This is a weasel-like animal that only eats the best and ripest coffee berries. Enzymes in their digestive system break down the bean, and workers collect the bean-containing droppings for Civet or Weasel Coffee. The exceedingly rare Civet Coffee has a strong taste and an even stronger aroma (adapted from Mikkeller’s description).
The only thing I really didn’t like about the beer was the price. $15.99 for a tiny 8.5oz bottle? That’s a little steep. Grade: A-