Nebraska Brewing Company - Barrel Aged Reserve Series: Mélange à Trois
- ABV: 10%
- Bottle Size: 500-ml
- Serving Temperature: 45–54° F
- Suggested Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Chalice, or Chardonnay Glass
We’ve got four very special limited releases from Nebraska Brewing Co. this go-round, with a focus on the exceptional work they’re doing in their Barrel Aged Reserve Series. We’ll kick things off with their Mélange à Trois—one of the most impressive beers we’ve sampled in a while. The Belgian-style blonde base pops with all kinds of complexity throughout: honeyed malts, round esters like cotton candy and fruit punch—plus fine-bubbled carbonation and a peppery yeast character that pokes in throughout to keep this beer fully focused. Influences from those French oak barrels (which previously held Chardonnay) are similarly expressive, manifesting as layered tree fruits, buttery oak, and vanilla. The 10% ABV never feels heavy, with the overall effect quite the opposite: zesty, well-bittered, crisp Belgian-style loveliness.
The initial pour is pretty magnificent, with a deep golden nectar for the bottom two-thirds. A well-formed white foam fills the top third proudly from the outset, then slowly subsides into something more manageable, leaving thick lacing on the sides of the glass. This is a brilliant-looking beer—a fitting start for everything that follows. Pepper and dough land at the top of the aromatics. Lemony acidity kicks in along the edges. It’s all Belgian-blonde profile at first, then the Chardonnay-barrel notes come rolling in: rounded and buttery and lemon custard-like. A squeeze of grapefruit lands near the perimeter of things, almost like a lemon wedge in form and function, as this beer heads out in all sorts of directions: bready, fruity, and fresh.
The barrel’s present and plush from the first sip. Endearingly buttery Chardonnay notes land at similar volume to a lifting influence of white pepper, clove, and zesty CO2. It feels like two contrary influences meeting; similar notes of honeycomb and chewy caramelized malts form a solid foundation, the peppery elements feel ideally textured, and then there’s the additional levels that appear after things warm: almond and clove, hints of cinnamon and deeper spice, esters emerging as everything from cotton candy and fresh apple to headier, floral elements. And the remarkable thing, through all of it, is how endearing and drinkable Mélange à Trois stays despite its heft. This manages to feel both crisp and massive, buttery and streamlined, a testament to both good brewing and good barrels. It’s been a long time since a beer this size disappeared so quickly in our offices. The sweet oak’s memorable. The base beer’s sublime.
This is bottle-conditioned and big enough to keep a steady course in the cellar for a while, though we suggest sampling a bottle every six months or so. The buttery-vanilla notes here suggest excellent pairing options with baked, flaky white fish, or even something in more of a dessert course, like a buttery-crusted apple and rhubarb pie.
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