Monday, 11 June 2012

Beer Review
Mikkeller - Barrel-Aged Monk's Brew 10.5%

It's Mikkeller time again, however this time it wasn't (directly) by my own choosing. This was another Twitter Beer Roulette choice, this time chosen by @TheRealC_BAS .
It is the red wine barrel-aged version of Monk's Elixir, a 'heavy dark Belgian ale inspired by the Trappist monasteries of Rochefort and Westvleteren'.
As soon as the wax-sealed bottle is opened there is a big hit of red wine, more precisely the deep blackcurrant smell you get when opening a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. In the glass it pours a deep ruby red with quite a lively beige head that billows and initially fills the glass before settling down to a light dusting. More of the black currant aroma but with some vanillins that you would expect from a barrel aging, and I'm guessing this was in oak. Hints of liquorice and black cherry flirt around the nostrils enticingly too. Surprisingly light over the tongue, I suppose I was expecting it to be a little heavy like a big red wine, but it's not like that at all. More blackcurrant in the taste but also with more cherry and the merest notion of caramel. A dry bitterness sweeps fleetingly across the tongue like a sharp deep dark chocolate brush-stroke before the blackcurrant returns with it's former intensity. The finish is very like a red wine, fruity with a little oiliness - which wasn't there earlier, although expected - dry and ever so slightly cloying before some lovely spicy (basil!) vanilla notes dance around on the tongue at the death.
Another astonishingly good beer from Mikkeller, with both intensity of flavour and lightness of touch. The way it is both a wine and a beer is really incredibly clever and I would expect many wine drinkers to be fooled by this. Excellent.

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