Saturday, 10 March 2012

REVIEW #63: Black Albert [Batch 0] (De Struise Brouwers)

Pours deep dark brown with lovely hot-chocolate coloured head (about the darkest I've ever seen). The nose is full of wood and grain alcohol with a hint of tobacco smoke. Strong dark chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, treacle and scorched sugar (the list could go on...) all converge initially in the taste. Tongue-stingingly bitter and dry wood / sawdust finish. Richly phenolic and solventy. Intense. Very firm bodied with a viscous consistency. I always think Russian Imperial Stouts shouldn't really be drinkable given their potency and intensity, yet its the sort of thing I could happily keep on drinking until my brain became truly addled (luckily they tend to come in small bottles!). It would do very nicely as a digestif. in place of a desert after a heavy meal.

De Struise Brouwers term this Russian Imperial Stout a Belgian Royal Ale and amusingly describe it as being " as hell, filthy rich in the nose..." and having a "...massive spoiled taste.". It lives up to that description pretty well but don't let the spoiled taste put you off, its sumptuous. The beer, named after King Albert II of Belgium (1934-present), was initially brewed solely for sale in Ebenezer's Pub in Maine (USA); a pub that specialises in Belgian beers in bottle and on draught. Black Albert is now bottled regularly but 'batch 0', which this review is based on, appears to be from an early production (please correct me if I'm wrong?). The picture on the bottle is of a traditional Belgian glass screen in a pub.

There has been a spinoff series of beers produced entitled Black Damnation (I-X); number VI being notable in that its a double eisbock weighing in at an incredible 39% ABV! Struise also produce a range of beers under the Pannepot banner, all of which are held in very high regard. I shall be acquiring some post-haste. There has also been a limited edition of Black Albert known as Cuvee Delphine which is aged in barrels that previously held a Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey called Four Roses; a brand now owned by Japanese Brew Co. Kirin Ichiban. Should be able to get my hands on a bottle of this too. Watch this space.
  • MALTS: ? 
  • HOPS: ?
  • IBU: 100
  • ABV: 13%`
  • Contains candy, BOTTLE-CONDITIONED

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