Tuesday, 30 December 2014
12 Beers Of Xmas - Day 6
The Twelve Beers Of Christmas
Bristol Beer Factory - Wheat Wine 10.0%
If you've been following the Beer O'Clock Show #12BeersOfXmas series on other blogs you will be enjoying their penultimate entries this evening whereas I am only half way through. This is because, as I have previously explained, I started on the official first day of Christmas, that being Christmas Day itself.
Tomorrow is New Years Eve, and I expect you have already sorted out where you are going and what beers you might be drinking even if you don't know for definite right now. The day before News Years Eve is traditionally known as New Years Eve Eve, and it's on this day that we remember the good things that happened in the year that has nearly passed. I'm assuming that you will be burning the candles on your New Years Eve Eve cakes this evening as we raise a glass and give thanks for the blessing bestowed upon us.
Of course, I just made New Years Eve Eve up. It's not really a thing at all, however it almost sounds both plausible and ridiculous like it could be a 'thing' but really you know it isn't and that's just like tonight's beer, a wheat wine. A Wheat Wine sounds like it could be something but not a beer. There's already a beer with a similar sounding name, you reason, knowing full well what a barley wine is, but not a wheat wine. That must be some sort of healthy low-alcohol grape-grain fusion surely, not a beer at all but a drink you might pick up in your local Holland & Barrett. It is, isn't it?
You might be forgiven for this is a concocted style, and I don't expect that there's too many of you that will have tasted one before unless you've had the good fortune to try the Mikkeller/Three Floyds collaboration Boogoop or, closer to home, Lovibond's Gold Reserve as it is a relatively new style.
Brewed with at least fifty per cent wheat malt, hence the name, this style originated in the United States in the 1980s and examples can vary in colour from gold to deep amber, and even brown in some instances. Alcohol levels can vary greatly too, and can be anything from 8.5% abv to 14.0% abv.
This is obviously strong ale and it's similarities to a Barley Wine are apparent, but the Bristol Beer Factory have added their own particular twist. First it is oak bourbon barrel aged before being blended with cold brewed coffee provided by Extract Coffee Roasters in Bristol and fermented with the brewery's own triple-strain house yeast. As you may have gathered this sounds like it could be a very special beer indeed, I can't wait to get the bottle open.
It pours a hazy golden amber with a thin white head, it is quite a beautiful looking beer on it's own to be fair however the aroma is something else. Deep and musty with oak and bourbon you can actually smell the staves of the barrel they used to age this beast of a beer in. There's a little coffee in there too and the usual vanilla esters you would associate with the oak ageing process, but it's that bourbon soaked wood that does the most fantastic things to my nostrils. I really could sit here for a good few hours and allow this beer to warm in my hands as I enjoy this sensation. Silky smooth and really rather sensual over the tongue this beer absolutely oozes class. There's a big bourbon taste here but strangely, and rather dangerously, it doesn't seem at all boozy as the coffee sitting right at the back of the initial burst of flavour keeps a tight rein on the whole thing, restraining and controlling it wonderfully. A heather honey note comes in from the side, sweet and with a drop or two of pear juice in the mix before a big black pepper twist takes it right up to the finish. Damp musty wood drying by a fire next to which you have strategically placed the whiskey of American origin of your choice, and as you might expect it fades wonderfully like the closing bars of your favourite song caught on a balmy summer breeze as the sun sinks slowly over the horizon.
I don't use the word awesome to describe a beer often as there aren't that many that make the grade and excite my tired, jaded and often cynical palate these days but this more than fits the bill. There is so much in here, so many levels of flavour, subtle tastes and unexpected nuances to this bold yet cultured example of the brewers art that it simply has to be savoured to be believed. I urge you to get a bottle of this beer, or do as I have and get yourself two or more. Drink one now, write down your thoughts the put the other away for a couple of years at least before opening it to compare. I can't wait to see how this develops.