Thursday, 20 December 2012

Beer Advent Calendar Day 20- De Struise Brouwers Black Damnation III- Black Mes

Good evening all. Clearly my advent calendar knows the world is going to end tomorrow, as behind door 20 is an unfortunately-named offering from De Struise Brouwers (Oostvleteren, Belgium); it's Black Damnation III- Black Mes, a version of De Struise's popular imperial stout Black Albert that's spent 3 months in barrels that once held Caol Ila Distillers Version 1995 whisky. On its own Black Albert is a great stout, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the barrel-ageing has done to this bad boy. Review after the pics....

Black Damnation III- Black Mes (13.0% ABV) pours a jet black colour with a lively brown head that settles to a thick halo around the inside of the glass. The aroma is rich and luxurious, with coffee, chocolate, blackcurrant, yeast extract, burnt sugar, vanilla oak (similar to bourbon), a very subtle smokiness and some alcohol in the background. I was expecting the whisky to be slightly more prominent, but it seems that the characteristics of the barrel itself come through more, with the alcohol toned down and more reminiscent of bourbon than Islay whisky. The smokiness switches between peat and tobacco, and the nose becomes accustomed to it relatively quickly. The yeast extract and fruit mingle together quite well, and create a slight tartness that manages to balance out the darker aromas. The taste ramps everything up to eleven, with smoky whisky, yeast extract, tart fruits and some light chocolate and coffee in the background. The whisky is definitely more noticeable on the palette, and warms the sides of the mouth and the chest during and after drinking, whilst the fruity flavours mesh with this perfectly, offsetting the harshness with a light tartness that allows the iodine smokiness to come through after a couple of sips. Because of the sheer power of the other flavours on show, the usual roasted malt-derived chocolate and coffee is only discernible through retro-olfaction, providing a nice counterpoint to the tartness and whisky. The finish isn't dry and the whisky lingers on the palette, along with some light hop flavours. It's also probably worth noting that this beer doesn't drink anywhere near its double-digit ABV percentage, so it might be wise to exercise some restraint (despite how hard that may be!). The mouthfeel is thick and the beer is moderately carbonated, which means the flavours don't cloy too heavily and the whisky can come through relatively unimpeded. Overall, this is a very impressive Imperial Stout that builds upon Black Albert very well, balancing some reasonably intense peaty whisky with the base beer to create a very worthy offering in the De Struise library. I've only had two Black Damnation offerings including this one (the other being the Mocha Bomb), and I couldn't honestly rate one over the other as they both bring such different elements to the table. Definitely recommended, I'll have to seek out the others now based on their stellar trend so far!

Until next time....

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