Christmas morning brought our entire family together for the opening of presents and yours truly was especially smiled upon with a couple of gift cards from Binny’s Beverage Depot along with beer glasses, a homebrew sweatshirt and Mac related software and hardware.
My hiatus from work this week afforded me the time to make the 35-mile trip to Binny’s to see if I could get one of the two beers that were on my list for the Christmas season, namely Delirium Noel from Huyghe Brewery out of Belgium (even though it’s after Christmas) and the relatively new Infinium from Sam Adams and Weihenstephan.
Once at the store, I felt like a kid in a candy store with no money. So many beers, so little dollars. On one of the many beer shelves there I found some Deliriums but they were only the Tremens and the Nocturnum. I started formulating a backup plan.
But wait. I hadn’t checked the coolers yet. It was long and soon I stumbled upon one 750ml bottle of Noel. There’s a chance there could be one mixed in with the other warm ones on the shelf. The was a empty slot next to the rest of the Deliriums and I squatted down to look all the way to the back. One bottle back there. I nabbed it and was rewarded with another bottle of Noel.
Now on to my other choice. I asked one of the reps if they had Sam’s Infinium somewhere. “Nope. Sold out on the first day.” This was not looking good anymore. I did however find a couple of bottles of Stone’s Vertical Epic 10-10-10 which I’ll share in a future review. (Looks good, don’t it?) And that blew both my gift cards away. I left the store with mixed feelings.
My plans for the weekend were to review the Delirium Noel on Thursday, then the Infinium on Friday and take Saturday night off from the site. But there’s no Infinium. On a hunch, I jumped back in my truck and headed out to the good ol’ beloved Morris Beer Store. Sure as shit, they still had 5 bottles of Infinium on the shelf. I grabbed two of them and wiped a tear from my eye as I wrote out the check at the register for nearly $40.
How can I justify paying these high prices for beer… BEER!? One just has to understand that it’s not about getting drunk. The price of the beer versus the style of beer versus the reputation of the brewer versus the mystery of discovering a new wonderful taste tends to put it all in perspective. While still being a blue collar working stiff, I find that I can budget for beer for the weekend reviews. There are many beers that are out there in my rare in my immediate location. I try to have some dough on hand to snatch those bad boys up when I happen upon them. But this year I’d celebrate the last remaining days of 2010 with style.
Thursday night and it was another repeat of last week’s two days of Christmas brew reviews by being offset by one day. We’re starting New Year’s celebrations early. After a late supper, I selected a the Chimay chalice and began fighting with the foil wrapping around the cage around the cork inside the neck of the bottle… that Jack built.*
After winning the foil fight and uncaging the cork, I let loose with whatever delectable liquid was housed in the porcelain looking bottle.
The beer poured with a somewhat translucent orange-brown, sort of copper color bringing up very little head. The bubbling was moderate and were mostly medium in size. The aroma was slight but had a bit of a dark, sweet malty scent. I caught a whiff of dark red fruit but couldn’t put my finger on which one, whether it be plum or cherry.
The first sip was a myriad of flavors. The first sensation was the thickness of the body of the liquid. There was a lot of malt in this beverage. Soon, those Belgian yeasts came along with their distinctive flavor. A nice sweetness arose followed by a bracingly crisp swallow. A slight tartness came through and lingered with the swallow.
The second sip started a heat trace down my gullet and warmed up the stomach a bit. I wondered if this beer, sitting at an even 10% ABV, would start up a space heater down there. Fortunately, there was no trace of alcohol flavor in the taste. The aftertaste lingered and disappeared, leaving a very slight cack at the back of the throat.
As I drilled towards the bottom of the first glass, more of the sweetness arose. Some sips after that, I actually looked forward to that bit of sweetness. It’s just enough to sustain the taste through to the bottom of the glass. And as expected, that Belgian yeast flavor stuck around at a distance, like the Goodyear blimp at a Rose Bowl game. Interesting, though. The carbonation bubbles have left the stadium yet the beer still tated the same.
The beer was not too heavy and not too light. Not overly sweet as to be cloying. That hint of Belgianity in each sip punctuated each swallow. It was a big beer in disguise. I’d venture to say that this beer is a malted up, darker, slightly sweeter version of Duvel, another excellent Belgian sipper.
This beer was a true delight to drink. Genuine Belgian, with a hefty malt base, a nice sweetness and a brisk finish, it will supply you with many good feelings as you sip. And sip you shall. The inherent taste of this beer will make you sip, savor, wait and come back for more. This beer would be perfect to hold and sip at a party as you move from conversation pit to conversation cluster.
I’m glad I found this beer and I’m happy to share it with you at this time of the year. Now that I’ve tasted this beer, I have a greater appreciation for the Belgian style of beer and their unique taste. Now I don’t mind so much about having paid 10 bucks a bottle for this beer. If you have plans for tomorrow night bring along or have on hand a couple of bombers of Delirium Noel. You’ll ring out the year on a definite high note. No pun intended nor meant.
Taste: A- > Pure Belgian, dark, sweet malt goodness.
Smoothness: A- > Is there another bottle in the back, please?
Drinkability: B+ > The 10% may sandbag you.
Bang for the buck: B > A great beer for a richer man.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s not that terribly dark; kinda rosy. (sniff) Kinda cherry smelly. (sip) Wow. Tastes more like a wine. A red wine. Rosé. (sip) It’s not bad, though. (Ah. Beer disguised as wine. I think we win again.)
Alain de Laet, CEO of Huyghe Brewery
Alain describes the Huyghe Brewery and their beers
*The original House that Jack Built
*The House that Jack Built