Saturday, 1 December 2012

Beer Advent Calendar Day 1- De Struise Brouwers Tsjeeses Reserva Bourbon Barrel Aged

Good evening all, and what a difference a year makes. Today officially marks the one year anniversary of Misplaced Hours, and the day that I decided/was convinced to start recording my thoughts about beer. On that day I was an unemployed Chemistry student living in Guildford, and on this day I am an unemployed Chemistry graduate living in Devon; all I can say is at least I still have beer. The journey to this point has been pretty epic, with many fantastic beers, a few duds and a lot of great times with old and new friends, and fortunately I'm still enjoying the reviewing enough to continue the blog. So, without further ado, let's continue the tradition that started everything with day one of 2012's Beer Advent Calendar. Tonight's beer is Tsjeeses Reserva Bourbon Barrel Aged, a Belgian Ale from De Struise Brouwers (Oostvleteren, Belgium). This is a special bourbon barrel aged version of their winter seasonal Tsjeeses, which I had last year but unfortunately can't remember- hopefully this one will leave more of an impression! Review, as always, after the pics....

Tsjeeses Reserva Bourbon Barrel Aged (10.0% ABV) pours a dark amber colour with a thick white head that settles to a nice film over the surface of the beer. The aroma is quite subtle and well-balanced, with yeast extract, spice, phenols, funk, caramel, candy sugar, hints of marzipan and some toasty notes in the background. It's very reminiscent of a diluted Quad or even a Quad/Saison mix, with that characteristic rich sweetness and spicy/earthy Belgian yeast character, and is supported by the light influence of the barrel ageing very well. The bourbon doesn't evaporate or impart any significant aromas as with most barrel aged beers, just an awareness in the background that acts as a platform for the base beer's qualities to come through gradually. The taste is as light as the aroma, with phenols, candy sugar, yeast extract, dark fruits and a bit of marzipan in the background. As with the aroma, the bourbon barrel ageing isn't apparent through any particular flavours, but does seem to have diminished the power of the other flavours and rounded out the overall drinking experience. There is a bit of bitterness towards the end of drinking, but aside from this every sip is very smooth and certainly not indicative of the beer's double-digit ABV percentage. The mouthfeel is quite thick and the beer is well-carbonated, which compliments the flavours on display nicely. Overall, a great beer that's very drinkable despite the high alcohol content, but one that could've done with a bit more of the power that barrel-ageing (particularly bourbon BA) usually imparts. Recommended, and I'm certainly looking forward to trying the Port BA version at some point in the future (hint- it's in the advent calendar somewhere so it shouldn't be too long!).

Until next time....

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