Monday, September 5, 2011

Troubadour Obscura and Troubadour Magma

These are the last two beers sent to me from Bart in Belgium. I sent Bart a box full of American beers and he's even started doing video beer reviews himself (in English) at his channel:
Anyway, both of these pretty big Belgian beers but I decided to review both in one review in the same day. I drank the Obscura first, ate dinner, waited a few hours, then drank the Magma.
NOTE: There's only one more episode left after this in Season 14. Then all viewer request month will begin. Please get your requests in now!

Troubadour Obscura

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (643) - Albany, USA - SEP 4, 2011
I received an 11.2oz bottle from a friend in Belgium (thanks, Bart!). I poured it into an oversize wine glass.

Appearance: Very dark maroon/brown/purple hue (mahogany?). No visible carbonation. Forms a large, dark yellow/tan, creamy head which retains and laces very well.

Smell: A basket of dark fruits all combined into one scent. A richer, deeper sweetness with mild alcohol fusels.

Taste: I often find strong Belgian beers - light and dark - to taste pretty much the same. Troubadour Obscura definitely has a lot of the same things going for it that all the other beers of the style do: dark fruits such a plum, fig, raisin, and cherry up across the first half. The second half finishes with a more bitter taste of dark chocolate and roasted malts. Immediately thereafter is an astringent component of sharp, sour bitterness. I’m thinking this is from the yeast, as it’s a taste I’ve encountered in many bottle conditioned homebrews.

That’s the problem with beers like this - is it common knowledge in Belgium that these beers are supposed to be drank yeast-free, or is the yeast an integral component to the taste? I think without the distraction at the end, this would be a really amazing beer. It’s definitely tasty, pleasing and balanced as it is and that’s good enough to get a pretty high rating from me.

Mouthfeel: Thick but tepid. Not quite syrupy, but not as dense as more bigger bodied brews.

Drinkability: For a Belgian bottle-conditioned strong dark ale, Troubadour Obscura is surprisingly smooth. It goes down very easily and has a much calmer demeanor across the tongue than most Belgians of the sort. The CO2 doesn’t get stuck in the throat. The 8.2% ABV is right on point - giving plenty of energy to the palate and making for a heavy beer, but at the same time it’s not what you’d consider a beast at all.

Overall, Troubadour Obscura is a very good beer and a good, if not cliche, example of the Belgian strong dark ale style.

Grade: 8/10

Troubadour Magma

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (643) - Albany, USA - SEP 4, 2011
I received an 11.2oz bottle from a friend in Belgium (thanks, Bart!). I poured it into an oversize wine glass.

Appearance: Bright orange hue, very hazy body. Forms a large, frothy off-white head that retains very well but doesn’t lace as well.

Smell: Tropical fruits, especially tangerine with a light, sweet floral component.

Taste: Although the label describes this beer as being an amber ale, it looks, smells and tastes exactly like an IPA (and according to Rate Beer and Beer Advocate it IS a Belgian IPA). Up front is a juicy, sweet, rich flavor of tropical fruit just as it smells. Much more in the vein of passion fruit, apricot, and mango than any kind of acidic citrus fruit. It’s very tasty and sweet, but never cloying.

The second half is all hops with intense bitterness and accompanying dryness. I tried not to add the yeast to this one but there definitely is a sharp, almost astringent quality to the palate - although it’s very tolerable. The hops linger on the tongue and almost seem to numb it a little with its dryness. This is quenched simply by taking another swig.

Mouthfeel: Thick but soft with a presence of massive potential energy.

Drinkability: For such a hefty beer at 9% ABV it’s remarkable how smooth and easy-going the Troubadour Magma is. It’s certainly thick and sticky in the mouth, with noticeable carbonation. It goes down smooth, but the CO2 tends to get stuck in the throat. A great beer to pair with a meal, but it’s tasty enough to work as a liquid dessert on its own.

Overall, this is an impressive brew that really caught me off guard and I’m really glad I got to try it.

Grade: 9/10

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