Friday, 7 December 2012

Beer Advent Calendar Day 7- Brouwerij De Molen Hemel & Aarde

Good evening all. Another imperial stout has graced me with its presence on day 7, and it's fully appreciated amidst this frozen season. The offering in question is Hemel & Aarde from Brouwerij De Molen (Bodegraven, Netherlands), a veritable bad boy that's been brewed with peated malt from the Bruichladdich distillery to add an extra element to the proceedings. I've had this bottle in my collection for at least a year and a half, so I'm hoping that this has improved it to some extent. As if that wasn't enough to fuel my anticipation I'm also a massive Islay whisky fan, so the inclusion of peated malt is something I can definitely get behind. Review after the pics....

Hemel & Aarde (9.5% ABV) pours a jet black colour with a light brown head that settles to a thin coating on the surface of the beer. The aroma is pretty intense, with peat smoke, caramel and some very light roasted malt contributions (chocolate, coffee) residing in the background. The sheer power of the peated malt virtually obscures all of the other aromas at first, but once the nose becomes accustomed to this it's slightly easier to pick out other components. The caramelised sweetness supports the peated malt so well that the two are almost indistinguishable, and in the background the coffee and chocolate add some nice nuances to break up the smokiness. The taste delivers some more variety, with peat, coffee, chocolate, yeast extract, dark fruits, licorice and a warming boozy quality. Whereas in the aroma the peat dominated, on the palette it's more forgiving and retreats relatively early on to allow the other flavours to have their say. The booze provides a fair bit of tartness along the sides of the mouth- which seems to amplify the perception of the dark fruits (raspberry, blackcurrant)- and continues into the finish with a light burn at the back of the throat. Because of the power of the other flavours, the coffee and chocolate are most noticeable through retro-olfaction, with a partial reprisal during the finish once everything else has died down. As is the case with most imperial stouts the finish is relatively flavourless, save for some light hop-derived grapefruit and some random remnants (yeast extract, caramel, peat smoke). The mouthfeel is on the thick side and the beer is moderately carbonated, which works well with the peatiness and alcohol content. Overall, this is a great offering that utilises the peated malt very well to add a different but very complimentary dimension to the usual imperial stout flavour profile. Sometimes the peated malt can overpower the other aromas and flavours,  but this isn't too common and when all the flavours are balanced it creates an amazing drinking experience. Highly recommended!

Until next time....

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