Monday, December 6, 2010
The Bruery - 3 French Hens
As I may have mentioned before, the Bruery embarked on a 12 year series of holiday beers two years ago. Each beer is named and themed after the "12 Days of Christmas" song. I bought the newest one, "3 French Hens" a few weeks ago, but recently realized that I wouldn't know how to judge it's taste later on if I didn't try one now. So a few days ago, I picked up another bottle and gave it a try. If I can wait, the next bottle won't be opened until 2019, when 12 Drummers Drumming is released.
For the theme of 3 French Hens, the Bruery chose to age a portion of the beer in French wine barrels. So the end result is a beer that is a Belgian strong dark ale with 25% of it having been aged in these wine barrels. I'm expecting some pretty good things from this beer as it ages.
The beer pours a very dark brown color with some lighter chocolate brown tinges on the edges. The head was a pretty massive cream color that lasted for a significant amount of time. The smell gave off a lot of the effects of the aging in wine barrels and I picked up an almost chardonnay-like scent off of this. In addition, there was a sweet yeast smell and some dark fruits present. As the beer warmed, it opened up a lot and those dark fruit flavors came out more. Towards the end, I was picking up another smell that was a little off-putting: vinegar. It was just a hint though, so we'll see if that sticks around in a few years.
The taste was incredibly complex. It started with the sweet yeast that was a little reminiscent of Unibroue's yeast. Then, it moved on to a rich spicy middle and finished on a very smooth but dry note. I tried for a long time to pick out the flavors in the middle, but it was too hard to pick out single elements in the intense blend of spices. The dark fruits were still there and fig and raisin came out with the sweetness from the yeast. On the finish, there were some bready malts and a bit of oakiness that made the smooth finish linger forever. I can't wait to try this down the road and see how it ages. My guess is it's going to be worth the wait.
Final Grade: A-