Monday, February 27, 2012

Black Dragons Tasting #1

Black Dragons is one of the 5 variations of the Here Be Dragons! Old ale/ Scotch ale hybrid attempt.  This variant was bottled with vanilla extract, coffee and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Appearance- This one explodes out of the bottle furiously and in the glass continues to have carbonation bubbles flying through it.  The body is a solid amber and is extremely cloudy with a large head that fades fairly quickly.  Looks pretty awful honestly.

Smell- Yeast, caramel, honey and a bit of an off medicinal phenol and vegetal character highlight the nose.  There's some good stuff going on here, but not all of it plays nice.

Taste- This one has improved in some ways since I first tried it a few months ago but has lost some of its spice.  The resulting beer is a caramel and honey taste with a bit of bitterness on the tail end and just a bit of peppery spice and alcohol.  The coffee, very strong when I first tried it, has faded to a background note barely noticeable in the complexity.  The off tasting phenol occasionally creeps into the mix but is not nearly as abrasive or present as when the beer was young.  That off flavor was also present in my attempt at a brown ale but has also largely faded from that beer as well.

Mouthfeel- After letting this sit for a couple minutes to let the mad carbonation relax some this one actually drinks fairly well.  The carbonation still seems a bit high with the mouthfeel a nice heavy syrupy character I was hoping for.

Overall/Drinkability- This beer is fairly strong in a lot of ways keeping down the drinkability to one or two.  The appearance and difficulty in pouring without spilling is also a big down note. On the taste side it has cleaned up pretty well but I miss the vanilla/coffee/pepper character that was there originally. While I hope to review the other HBD! beers this one probably came out the best and the others are all nearly identical (due to a strong malt bill to begin with, the over carbonation, that phenolic off taste and under spicing).

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