Elevation Beer Company - 2018 Red Wine Barrel Aged Apis IV
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Goblet, Snifter, or Pinot Glass
We’re loving the higher-ABV beers Elevation has been producing, and this combination of a rich, honeyed quad with the tannins and vanilla-minded contributions from the time spent in oak barrels is just exceptional. This barrel-aged beer especially stood out for epic drinkability.
Elevation’s Red Wine Barrel Aged Apis IV pours a dense maple-syrup/cola brown with a bit of burgundy tint coming through. The tiny-bubbled foam is well formed and a lighter tan in color, leaving solid lacing on the edges of the glass. From the moment that this is poured, its exceptional aroma lays out very clearly what this beer is about—combining a precise amount of caramel and honey alongside just the right proportion of barrel. There’s a massive, velvety midsection to this, with complex esters and spice, plus hints of vinous warmth and amaretto.
Even when poured quite chilled, this beer opens up beautifully right from the beginning. There’s a plush core texture throughout this, a combination of smooth caramel and cola and red fruits and toasty vanilla/almond notes from the wood that comes together seamlessly. There’s not any sort of distracting tartness, as one could associate with aging in red wine barrels, and the oak-barrel presence lands much more like soft oak and vanilla than a strong show of the Cab Sauv that previously occupied this barrel. It’s a perfect counterpoint to that generous quad.
With some time to warm up to proper temperature in the glass, though, this red-wine-barrel-aged quadrupel shows its full depth. The honeyed elements expand into further herbaceous, almost-minty dimensions with other contributing notes, while the depths of the quad’s malt bill become apparent, offering up brown sugar, dried fruits, toast and toffee. There’s a rich, tannic element from the Cabernet Sauvignon barrels that slowly emerges, with more of that red-wine character, and overall this beer just continues to add in levels as it warms up. This is one of the most unique quads we’ve ever tasted—an epic limited release from Elevation.
A bit more caramelization should fit in just fine here, and the 10% ABV suggests this should be prepared to tuck away in the cellar for six months or more. Do pop a bottle occasionally to ensure that the extra caramel isn’t making it overly sweet. For pairings, Elevation suggests grilled pork loin, dark chocolate and/or waffles—and we’re not going to argue even a little.
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