received a 22oz bottle in a trade with a friend in California
(thanks, Mario!). I poured it into a Trappist chalice. There was no
freshness date other than its 2011 vintage.
Appearance: Dark burgundy/mahogany hue, slightly translucent. Plenty of
fine carbonation seen at the glass’s edge. Forms a small, beige,
foamy/soapy head which mostly dissipates and doesn’t leave much lacing.
Smell: Dark red fruit with classic Belgian yeast character, plus significant chocolate presence.
Taste: There’s a lot of creativity to Black Diamond Brandy Barrel Grand
Cru. Though technically a Belgian-style dubbel, the addition of vanilla
bean as well as the aging in brandy barrels, really makes for a creative
and impressive (dare I say amazing) beer. For a traditional Belgian
style brew, it’s surprisingly American in character. Big and bold in
pretty much all aspects, yet not cloying or imbalanced.
It’s actually a difficult palette to describe. The base recipe is that
of an Abbey-style dubbel, yet that character is only noticeable at the
beginning of the serving. The barrel-aging, combined with the addition
of vanilla beans, create for a one-two punch of delicious
woody/chocolaty flavors. You wouldn’t think these would complement each
other, but they do surprisingly well. The dark and dried fruits of
apple, cherry, fig, raisin and currants are all prominent as well,
especially on the finish. Not much in the way of sourness or tartness,
though, but there’s no overt wine character either (all of which is fine
by me). This is a pretty delicious palate worthy of the "Grand Cru"
Drinkability: I was pleasantly surprised by how drinkable Black Diamond
Brandy Barrel Grand Cru was, as I assumed it would be an intense sipper.
The mouthfeel is on the thicker and heavier end of the spectrum, but
the body is calm, soft and comfortable. It goes down smooth with a mild
malty/fruity aftertaste. The 9% ABV is a perfect size for this beer
since it has definite weight, but nothing obese or overtly boozy. A
great stand-alone dessert beer, but would pair well with the right
gourmet food I’m sure.