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Part 2 of a 4 part review on aged beer
Things are really starting to change now and if I’m blunt and honest, it’s certainly not for the best.
Every time I’ve opened one of these bottles I’ve literally been amazed at just how lively the beer is, everything usually stays in the bottle once the cap is removed but once you start pouring it literally erupts. I thought this might have settled down at bit with after another six months in the bottle but as you can see from the above picture it’s just as lively as it ever was. If anything it would seem to be getting livelier!
The aroma was a bit funky, slightly foisty, almost mouldy but not quite, it wasn’t very pungent but it was very noticeable and definitely masked most of the fruity and floral aromas that I remember so well and the smell of school exercise books was no longer noticeable at all.
There’s literally no hop character in the taste now at all, it’s very sweet with a hint of the funkiness coming through from the aroma in the after taste. It’s also taking on a weird syrupy texture like cough medicine and the bitterness has faded considerably.
It’s interesting tasting the changes so keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment in the new year sometime.
Check the blog post for details about the ageing experiment
In the last weeks I was lazy about reviewing beers. Still the stash is high in Belgium beers, but somehow the workload didn’t give me the chance to really review one. We brought up a review program where professional reviewers can apply for an account. More details will follow.
When the clock switched back from 3 to 2 o'clock I opened the 0.33l bottle Orval which I brought with me from my trip to Belgium. Once in the glass we have a fast vanishing foam on top of the brownish liquid. First smell didn't detect any off flavors. It's malt and caramel mainly. When it comes to taste we got a strong bitterness with warming alcohol, little metallic and little sweat. The carbonation wasn't that strong. I wished a little more. The bitterness stays for a while; together with a dryness.
All in all this beer is a standard one. Well produced with some small notes.
If you have written a review about the same beer you could link to it from http://lautering.net/beers/15914/external
ESB stands for Extra Strong Bitter and is a brand name in the UK. That’s why I’m referring to Extra Strong Bitter and don’t use the abbreviation.
The first Extra Strong Bitter I had is the one I’m writing about. It’s called Huvila E.S.B., which comes from Finland and has an alcohol content of 5.2 % at 48 EBU. From the 48 EBU you can imagine that this one will be bitter. The ones of you who have ever tasted pure hop extract might know what bitterness means. You can taste it by putting your finger in the extract can (on your own risk). It’s a kind of experience you will probably remember forever. But on the other hand 48 EBU isn’t that much. There are some brewers brewing beers above 100 EBU. Wikipedia states that the “Extra Strong” in “Extra Strong Bitter” stands for the higher alcohol content.
Still clueless about what it will taste like I poured the bottle into the glass and nipped of the foam. Its head retention is good. That’s ok so far, but still doesn’t give me a clue. Protein stability and fatty compounds can be achieved by nearly everyone who is willing to learn or use the right ingredients. Ok, at this point I had to stick my nose into it, deep enough to find them all, the fruits, the malt, the caramel (not much) and the acetaldehydes. Man, they can’t hide.
Taking the first nip made my mouth go funny. The impressions mixed up. This one is clearly warming and bitter while it also stays sweet and alkaline. All mine. The second nip brings the bitterness clearer to the surface and it stays nearly forever. You can’t deny the 48 EBU.
Well balanced and well done.
Saint Livinus (~ 580 – 12 November 657) was an apostle in Flanders and Brabant, venerated as a saint and martyr in the Saint Bavo Chapel, Ghent. His memorial day is the 12th of November.
I couldn't wait for his memorial day to drink a beer named after him, though. Or to be honest I didn't know beforehand that the beer is named after a saint. Anyway the next beer I drink I'll toast to him.
The 0,33 l bottle comes with a nicely designed Bauhaus style label. My expectations for this beer were therefore very high. I poured it into the glass and waited some time for the foam to dissolve. Head retention is strong in this one. The foam dissolved and the gold color showed up.
Its smell is very sweet and malty. On the other side we have a fruity flavor. All this combines with a mild sourness and some nice bitterness.
The body is a little weak, but still acceptable. It goes down easily; one after another.
Buying beers is an easy thing. You go to the shop get a beer, pay and you are done. With more choice the time to select a beer takes more time. With an endless possibility of choice it might even take longer.
I usually buy just one beer after another without looking at the label. For me the name of a company doesn't count. Small companies could produce good beers, industry could as well. Just depends on the personal taste.
In Belgian I bought the “Kameleon Donker”, an organic dark beer. The label is just with a laser printer printed paper glued to the bottle. And, it's out of square. That's what the beer is as well. There is some malt flavor and that's it. The taste is different. It's a somehow kind of bitter. But I guess stale and moldy would describe it better. I got an alkaline and metallic mouth feel.
Oh man, I have to get another one of it. I'm not sure but this beer was probably far beyond its best before date. There isn't any statement on the bottle so it's only guessing. I have had one that was beyond it but this was still enjoyable.