Wednesday, June 17, 2015

North Coast Grand Cru

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1376) - Albany, New York, USA - JUN 17, 2015
There are certain combinations you’d assume would automatically equate to not just a winning formula, but a triumphant formula. Complex Belgian style + bourbon barrel aging would be an example of what I mean, especially in the form of North Coast Grand Cru. And while this is a good, somewhat unique strong Belgian beer, it’s not especially great despite the barrel aging. Not that it’s bad – it’s good – but this beer should be fantastic.

I poured a 500ml bottle into a tulip glass. There was no bottling or vintage date. Thanks for the folks at North Coast Brewing for this bottle!

Appearance: Extremely cloudy light orange/copper hue with no visible carbonation. Pours to a small, white, soapy head which fizzles away quickly and completely.

Smell: Significant bourbon character as soon as the cork is popped, though the beer itself is more in line with a traditional Belgian tripel or any kind of strong golden ale. Plenty of banana and clove esters with the agave nectar present as well.

Taste: What separates this beer from others of the general style is that it’s a Belgian strong pale ale brewed with agave nectar. That gives the beer a significant juicy and fruity flavor akin to tropical fruit juice concentrate. In fact, it’s one of the sweetest Belgian-style brews I can recall having. Big banana and tropical fruit flavors up front with underlying notes of butterscotch (not diacetyl) and vanilla through the middle and significant bourbon and wood flavors on the finish. The alcohol is very prominent from start to finish and actually distracts a bit from the base palette. Still, the banana and clove flavors from the yeast are a nice counter balance.

Drinkability: Weighing in at 12.9% ABV, North Coast Grand Cru is definitely a hefty brew. For better or worse, it does not drink like that, though. The carbonation dies down quickly, leaving a body that is tepid, calm, and chewy. Oddly enough, there is no cloying sensation and it leave a rather disappointingly clean aftertaste. The alcohol also imparts significant heat and lingers in the throat after each swig – not unlike that from capsaicin (chile peppers). A sipper to be sure.

Score: 7/10

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