Stone: Monkey Paw: Juli Goldenberg: 24 Carrot Golden Ale (USA: Spice Beer: 8.5% ABV)
Visual: Pale yellow gold. Thin white head. Low carbonation.
Nose: Carrot. Coriander. White grapes. Dry but slightly fizzy. Dried lemon.
Body: Fizzy. Orange sherbet. Tart. Carrot. Golden syrup. Vanilla. Spicy bitterness. Dried bay leaves? Juicy grapes. Custard. Raisins. Plums. Cinnamon.
Finish: Coriander. Carrot. Vanilla. Dry ginger cake. Bitter. Dried spice. Thyme and natural mint. Orange. Raisins.
Conclusion: Ok, I’m letting this one warm a bit as I write, so my thoughts may seem to suddenly change half way through depending on what happens.
Right now, chilled down, this is interesting but really syrupy sickly sweet. There is a contrast between that and the dry spice that mixes with the bitterness to give the low end notes. So you get a real sweet high end, and real spiced low end, but it feels like it needs a stable middle to tie it together.
At this point it doesn’t quite say carrot cake to me – it is too sweet for that – I always find carrot cake to work better when slightly more mellow than that – What is grabbing me at this point is that it has a really fresh, sherbety, orange element that really kicks. It is a note of freshness that the beer really needs. The vanilla, by contrast, seems to be what is pushing it into the overly sickly sweet style. This is one of those beers where a just slightly drier base would have pushed the concept a while lot better.
Hmm, time passes, the spiciness is more notable. The body feels more balanced with slight dark fruit coming out. The vanilla is still a bit pushy but it does work better here. Dry notes are more present and the spice lasts longer. Still not really carrot cake but more satisfying as a beer.
It manages to use spice quite heavily while not being one notes. It manages to make me which for a drier beer, then makes me happy when I get it. It does need the sweet elements it has, but I really think it needs to reign itself in with the vanilla as that is the main element that hurts it. Even aside from that this is a beer that needs sharing – both the sweetness and spice ends up feel wearing by the end of a 660ml bottle
So, overall, keep it only slightly cool and you have an ok spiced ale – a tad flawed but I like that it tries something unusual even if it fails to hit that. Unusual is its best selling point.
Background: This looked like a fun one – winner of the 2015 Stone home-brew competition. It is a Belgian style golden ale made with *deep breath* carrot, cinnamon, raisins and vanilla beans. Basically an attempt to make a carrot cake beer. Which intrigued me. Grabbed at Independent Spirit. Yes. Again. Drunk while listing to Erock’s David Bowie Metal tribute. Very cool.