Allagash: Curieux (USA: Abbey Tripel: 11% abv)
Visual: Ripe banana skin yellow and somewhat hazy. Loose slightly custard hued head with tight bubbled froth.
Nose: Banana. Slightly wheat. White grapes. Toffee. Nutmeg. Custard.
Body: Fruitcake and cherries. Vinous notes with grapes. Soft apricot, custard and wheat. Slight sourness. Toffee and smooth texture. Soft lemon. Banoffee in fact when you put some of the above together.
Finish: Soft feel. Toffee and grapes. Liquorice. Wheat. Shortbread and lemon meringue. Quite dry.
Conclusion: This is a real mix of styles. I mean I know it is a tripel, but there are such soft notes from the bourbon ageing, all smooth texture toffee and custard. Then you have the vinous notes, grapes and fruitcake all that hint at a far darker beer than we have in front of us. It settles down around wheat, apricot and banana flavours that tie it back to a more traditional Belgium style. Somehow it manages to weave all this together without feeling weird.
It’s got a lovely mix of flavours and is pleasantly soft on the tongue, never even hinting at its abv. The flavour of toffee and apricot just eases in as if seeping through your taste buds. It feels half cut by an aged strong English ale with all the heavier flavours, but never forgets that distinct Belgium funky feel, smoothed out though it is by the bourbon twist. While I was trying to work out what flaws it had Will commented that it needed something to surprise you in the finish and I would agree. The flavours are very similar throughout, tapering away rather than giving a resolution to your drink Hardly the worst flaw in the world though, but it did help explain why, say, Not Just Another Wit, for all it’s difference in style, helped demonstrate what this needed to push it from very good to top notch.
Frankly considering the smoothness of the beer you could even argue it is less a bug and more a feature, but as the only element that stood out as weaker than the rest I thought it worth mentioning. Overall it is a great beer with delicate dessert flavours and vinous backing. It feels like they have smoothed off the peaks and troughs of the beer experience to create something that is always satisfying but without the quirks I find in my favourite beers.
It is a lovely little warming beer with great sweetness and lots of toffee to back an almost too polished beer. All smooth edges and well worth trying.
Background: Picked up during the road trip of awesome from the house of brews, this is a beer I’ve been looking for since I saw it in “100 Belgium beers to try before you die”. Aged in Jim Beam casks, and one of the brewers reputed for going Belgium style ales this should be something interesting. Shared with Will who assisted with tasting notes.