15 October 2011

See Emelisse play

I referred to Emelisse as the other big Dutch presence at the Borefts festival, but that has as much to do with the beer names as anything else. It reads like someone's taken beer geek key words, thrown them on a table and brewed what they say. You've got to have a Black IPA these days and theirs is pretty much on the money: a mild apricot waft, some juicy soft fruit and lots of dry roast. It's perhaps a little too intensely dry for some tastes but I enjoyed it. Likewise their Imperial Doppelbock (11.5% ABV in case you're not familiar with what the style designation means) was very drinkable with lots of smooth and viscous caramel, though it did have a slightly off-putting sickly sweet aroma.

It seems they like their peat at Emelisse: as well as the boozy-but-smooth Peated Imperial Stout -- speaking more of turf in the heady aroma than in the slightly ashen taste -- there were two beers who'd spent time in Laphroaig barrels. The White Label Laphroaig Imperial Stout showed little sign of the wood or whisky, being a sticky 11% ABV stout to its core. The Laphroaig phenols just lace it slightly, adding character without dominating. When the imperial stout is blended with their 10% ABV "Triple IPA" before ageing and then given three months together in a Laphroaig barrel, the result is Emelisse Black & Tan Laphroaig. The hops just get lost here, however, and the end result is a slightly diluted imperial stout which also tastes a bit like Laphroaig. A blending and ageing step too far, I think.

The other distillery Emelisse had taken barrels from from was Lynchburg's finest. And only. Jack Daniel's Imperial Stout again showed little actual whiskey, instead coming up dry, very woody and with lots of alcoholic heat. Neither stout nor spirit character means a thumbs down from me. Jack Daniel's Barley Wine had much more of that sour Tennessee whiskey aroma, though the flavour is all wood again, unfortunately, and the texture is thinner than I'd like from a 10% ABV ale.

All-in-all, you'd want to be brewing a better class of wood-aged strong beers if the plan is to haul them over the threshold of De Molen.

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