We still have a few weeks left in it, but I think it's safe to say that this has been a pretty great year for me, beer-wise. I've been able to try some ridiculous beers this year, courtesy of traveling and being friends with awesome people. It's also been a great year for beer distribution in that I've seen a humongous improvement in the quantity and quality of beer on beer shelves in San Diego within just one year. Luckily, one of those improvements has been that beers from one of my favorite breweries, Cascade, have become a bit easier to find. The other night, I was able to try one I've been dying to try for a while now, Vlad the Imp Aler.
With Vlad the Imp Aler, Cascade gives us aspiring homebrewers yet another easily reproducible beer. All you have to do is brew a Blond Quad (yeah, I don't know what that is either, but it's been blowing my mind ever since I saw it on the label), a Spiced Tripel and a Spiced Blond, blend them and then age them in a mix of bourbon and wine barrels for two years. No biggie. Let's see how this one turned out.
Vlad the Imp Aler (fantastic name, by the way, Cascade) pours a slightly hazed amber color with a fizzing, thin off-white head. It drops off pretty quickly, leaving just the hazed liquid topped with a fine white ring. If the looks of this one underwhelmed at all, that's soon forgotten as the smell fires on all cylinders. There's a hearty mix of white wine and bourbon, all laced with with some tart and heavy fruit notes. Red cherry and white grape are dominant here, with just a hint of oak in the background.
The taste opens with a nice hit of sourness, drenched in a fruit-laden sweetness. Meaty red cherry notes mix with some Tripel spice, white grape, raisin skins and some candi sugar. The bourbon doesn't really show up until the finish, and even then it's just a trace, coupled with some red cherry skin tartness and a pleasant dryness from the alcohol. For me, the sweetness was a bit much for me to call this my favorite offering from Cascade. Still, I am very glad I finally got my hands on this. Here's hoping next year will bring a lot more Cascade down here.
Final Grade: A-
Top 250 Beers Tasted: 129