My last Saturday included watching the men’s gopher basketball team extend their record to 6-0 by besting NDSU, a nice meal at Brit’s with the gf, the possibility of getting some holiday hours at the old liquor store, and a couple nice additions to my beer repertoire. I stopped by Haskell’s downtown store, where I have worked for years, and left with a bottle of Norman Vineyards “The Monster” (a zinfandel, not a beer), A 750mL of Delirium Nöel, a 550mL of Samuel Smith’s 07-08 (last year’s) Winter Welcome Ale, and a 22oz bomber of Full Sail’s 21st anniversary Dopplebock (at $3.99 a bottle, I couldn’t resist, and will probably by more to cellar).
I Drank the delirium and the Sam Smith’s that night, and thought both were delicious. I’ve had Sam Smith’s before– this particular vintage also– and thought it was delectable. The year smoothed out the edges quite a bit, and left a very palatable brew. I remember that I did not let the Delirium sit long enough to settle the sediment, and ended up with a very cloudy brew. It still tasted good, but it was a long night and I write this several days later. I saved the dopplebock until now for the purpose of writing my third official beer review– well, second if you don’t count my homebrew.
Poured from a chilled 22oz bottle into a large (~750mL) mug. Put a good bit of distance between the bottle and the mug, didn’t see much head forming at first, then wham! overflow– novice mistake, and an oz or to lost to the carpet. I hope the grey shag enjoyed it. Head is an off-white foam, dissipated slowly, leaving lots of lacing and small clumps of head at the end. A deep amber color– very clear after a successful decanting.
Being sick greatly reduces my ability to smell this beer. What I can pick out is a sugary sweetness– I suppose it is still a young brew, so some residual sugar is expected to remain until bottle conditioning extends further. Also a hint of… well I can’t actually decide what it is. It reminds me of the smell of freshly poured champagne– maybe it’s just the carbonation cutting through the mucus… If I were smelling this blind I would expect to drink a much liker beer, definitely not an 8% dopplebock.
Immediate sweetness on the tongue, almost like raw sugar– again, may be the scent preventing me from tasting the more complex flavors. The sweetness is followed immediately by a subtle bitter note, nothing harsh or overbearing– the floral equivalent of taste. A long draw leaves a mellow yet obvious alcohol aftertaste, almost metallic– are these fusel alcohols or just the illness?
Lively on the tongue: Light, carbonated, not as viscous or thick as others I’ve had of the style. Probably due more to age than anything else.
The kick after the swallow, slows the pace a little, but the lightness and sweetness balance that out. Could easily drink a few too many of these is a few too many minutes; the drinkability surpasses the alcohol. I would imagine that with a little more time the sweetness would mellow out a bit and a more caramelized character would develop. But for now, this is an drinker, not a sipper.
All-in-all a good brew. Would like the sugar to be toned down a notch and replaced by more syrupy character, but I’m a fan of old ale and real maple syrup, so I’m a little bias. I would expect this beer to impress me a bit more with some age and me in better health. When I stop by Haskell’s next I be sure to grab a couple more bottles and stow them away for a while. Wow, I drank that bottle over the course of a half hour and am feeling it– and typing uncharacteristically inaccurately– and using a lot of dashes (parenthetical statements aren’t really better, and be a bit demeaning– it’s like I’m whispering something in your ear– but creating complete sentences is a bit more difficult whilst tipsy). Double you-tee-eff? I’m not a light weight, but I can definitely feel the alcohol early. Why the fuck am I using the word “bit” so much? Should I post this review on BA or am is it uncharacteristic? I guess I can always re-post if a second bottle differs greatly (demeaning whisper: and I need to get some more reviews under the belt).