02 January 2013

Repeat prescription

My three bottles of Embrasse by De Dochter van de Korenaar brooded under their wrappings in my fridge for several months before I got around to opening them. The first surprise on doing so is that the brewery has opted for American-style 65cl bombers rather than the more typically Belgian 75cl. I guess, like with so many Belgian breweries these days, there's a wary eye being kept on the US market.

I didn't pay any attention to styles or stats, just proceeded with opening the first, plain, version of the beer. Some energetic foaming kicked things off, but once in the glass this presented as a dark dark ruby ale exuding a definite aroma of peat smoke and alcohol. More alcohol than the mere 9% ABV would suggest. It's lighter on the palate, however, with no excess heat. In fact it's not particularly strongly flavoured at all, just some mild smoky phenols with quickly-fading plasticine overtones. I was a bit bored by it to be honest and was glad to have some other versions to find how the brewery might make it more interesting.

So next was Embrasse Oak Whisky edition. Declared as being the same strength, this is darker and browner than the plain one though the smoke is absent from its aroma, replaced by a malt whisky sweetness. The heat is still there, however, so the overall olefactory experience is of the hot, damp and sugary air in a distillery. And this theme continues on tasting: the beer is much sweeter than its predecessor with almost a toffee popcorn quality. But that's where the complexity ends. I prefer the Oak Whisky version but it's still not as big flavoured as I was expecting. Let's take it up another notch.

Third in the series is Peat Oak Aged Embrasse, and if this one doesn't do it for me nothing will. The aroma here is amazing: all oak 'n' smoke overlaid with salty seaside iodine. An extra point of ABV makes a big difference, adding a gorgeous belly-warming effect as it slips down. All the caramel and all the smokiness are right up front in the taste too, which is fantastic. This beer really is worth the pomp of its red wrappings and only a little hint of cardboard on the finish spoils the party slightly for me.

More versions of Embrasse are knocking around out there, but I think I need to address more of my De Dochter bombers before getting to them.

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