Boston Beer Co: Samuel Adams: Barrel Aged Collection: Tetravis (USA: Quadrupel: 10.2% ABV)
Visual: Cherry red to brown. Thin brown head. Hazy mid body.
Nose: Figs. Raisins. Brandy cream. Tart cherries. Port. Rum fudge. Light sweet crushed nuts.
Body: Very smooth. Warming. Cinnamon sticks. Raisins. Liquorice. Brandy cream. Sherbety touch as it froths up. Fig rolls. Christmas pudding. Brown sugar. Cherries.
Finish: Liquorice. Figs. Malt chocolate drinks and malt loaf. Vanilla. Slight spice. Brandy cream. Nutty notes. Marzipan. Slight Belgian esters.
Conclusion: Quads really deserve a few years on them before they can be correctly judged I feel. When tried young they tend to have a light fizzy feel to them from the carbonation, when what they really need is that thicker, still, stodgy pudding affair that they become after a year or two.
So, I , of course am having this one young. Leave me alone, I can be a hypocrite if I want. Also, I guess I really should judge a beer on it’s base experience before tinkering with ageing. I guess.
Anyway, Belgian style quads! The Christmas pudding of beers, and this is so very much that. Figs, brandy cream, cherries, port, cinnamon sticks – Let’s face it with all this level of Christmas style it is almost demanding you age one up at least until the 25th of Dec for a real winter warmer.
While it does have some of the smoother character I associate with American interpretations of Belgian ales, this has far more than normal of those lovely rough edged gem characteristics and I heartily approve. These are backed up by some dry spice notes that add a rough underline to the sweet figgy body.
As a standard quad this is towards the higher end of the quality spectrum, not the top, but nicely placed. There doesn’t seem to be a vast amount extra from the oak ageing – a slight sickly sweet vanilla note which seems to be the trend of this collection, but little else. A slight disappointment there, but the ale is already high quality as it is. With the spice, dark fruit, brown sugar and malt drink notes it is already packed enough.
On the downsides? Well there is room for a bit more of the Belgian esters and character, and it could do with a bit thicker body and less fizz, which may come with ageing. However overall it is a very good beer. I would still go with the Rocheforts and Westvleterens of this world as a first choice, but that very well defined Christmas character would earn it a place come tail end of the year.
Background: So, I’ve been enjoying the “Barrel Aged Collection”, so I decided to head back to Independent Spirit to see if they had any left. And walked out with this, the barrel aged quad of the group. I really do dig Quadrupels, so was interested to see how this would play out. This was drunk with friends, which at the abv was probably for the best.