The Bruery - 3 French Hens
Serving Temperature:50° F
Suggested Glassware:Elongated Tulip, Goblet or Chalice
The beer pours a dark brown color with mahogany hues, capped by a tight, sticky pale tan head. On the nose, it smells spot on for the Belgian Strong Dark Ale style, featuring notes of dark bread and plenty of spiciness. Look for faint impressions of ginger and sweet Belgian candi sugar. It needs some time to warm up before its depths are revealed. Allow that to happen and suddenly it smells like an oaky cabernet as the aroma goes extremely vinous. This character is blended with an undercurrent of plum and plumes of cocoa. On the palate, however, this is no ordinary BSDA. First off, it’s got a nice weight to it—moderate viscosity, quite mouth-filling—it’s spicy and abundantly phenolic, with a backdrop of chocolate and pumpernickel, and even some rye-like spiciness (though there was no rye used in the recipe—the spiciness is all due to The Bruery’s extremely active house yeast strain!). The spicy tang is accentuated by ample alcohol presence, quite apropos for the style. The influence of red wine is unmistakable, as the effects of fermentation in used French oak that held red wine give a distinct impression of a big, bold cabernet. Pretty intense, even though the beer is a blend of only 25% French oak fermented beer and 75% from stainless steel. As the first wave of flavors settles over the palate, another kicks up, dropping notes of candied orange peel, followed by a stodgy bitterness that holds on to the palate for quite a while before relenting and allowing some bready notes to return. Faint vanilla notes show up as well, with some tingly, spicy notes of young, fresh raw wood, and other woody elements that contribute creamy, smoky notes in the finish, with a tinge of acidity. Keep in mind that French Oak lends more subtle “oakiness” than American Oak, and that’s the case here, though ginger-like tingling and fresh-woodiness offer up plenty of spice, especially in the finish. This bottle-conditioned beer will dry out as it ages, so check in on it anywhere from 6 months to 9 years out when all verses have been sung. But be careful—a vertical tasting of such big beers is certain to render you horizontal if you don’t divvy up the bounty.
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