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Black Diamond Brandy Barrel Grand Cru



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RATINGS: 58   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.53   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%
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Each Autumn, we fancy a good Dubbel, a rich, malty pleasure that’s the perfect accompaniment to those longer fall and winter nights. Three years ago, we began to play around with -what by then had become our “Winter Ale” and see where it might take us. After much tinkering, including a number of crazed fruit experiments, wood barrel aging in various vessels, and finally finishing with mind-numbing blending trials, we offer our Grand Cru.

The designation of “Grand Cru” originates from the Burgundy region of France. Brewers have taken the term and applied to it more elaborate, aged and reserved versions of their beers. Our Belgian-style Dubbel (available as our winter seasonal) has been taken to the next level by the careful blending and aging techniques. We believe we’ve created a classic to be enjoyed throughout the winter months.

This will be a limited release in both Bourbon and Brandy versions. In these batches, we’ve added locally sourced Zante currants and Black Mission figs, aged 20% of the blend in used bourbon and brandy barrels for 12 months - in which time the warmth of the spirits, along with toasted oak and vanilla flavors are released from the wood. Whole vanilla beans compliment the wood and bring forth a velvety smoothness and richness. The fig flavor is forward on the nose along with the bubble-gum/banana esters. In both, the taste starts with the rich sweetness of fruit, carries through with a rich mellow center and finishes dry, yet these Brandy and Bourbon siblings take you there via their own routes.

Suggested Pairings:
Lamb, wild game, charcuterie, braised short ribs, cherry reductions. Try with braised pork & red cabbage, Moussaka, mushroom dishes (think risotto or polenta) grilled salmon, tuna or sardines, or try a secret weapon side dish: Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Jam in Maple Syrup/Grand Cru reduction.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
cmonster (979) - Portland, Oregon, USA - JUL 15, 2014
Aged bottle served in a snifter. Pours dark orange-brown with a large khaki head. Excellent retention and lace. Nose is complex: Malty, a little hot, full of fruit and plenty of oak. Medium-plus sweet attack, then a little sour. Medium body, soft carbonation and a mild fruity finish. Ok... So I’ve never had brussels sprouts with bacon jam in maple syrup/grand cru reduction, but... I agree... it would (likely) be superb with this tasty brew.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Sammy (8726) - Toronto, Ontario, CANADA - MAY 31, 2014
brandy and citrus and dark fruit dark ale is complex and requires food. Some tartness and is it figs? Nicely balanced, just missing something but I liked it. An interesting beer for sure.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Bacterial (1628) - Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA - FEB 10, 2014
Dark amber pour with a light tan head. Dried fruit (cherry, raisin), some lighter alcohol notes slightly sweet finish. Thick and complex, coating your mouth in goodness. Some vanilla and toffee in the finish.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
jredmond (5459) - Manhattan, New York, USA - FEB 4, 2014
Bottle courtesy of Clocks. Pours a deep brown body with thin off white lacing. Aroma is sweet brandy, oak barrel, sweet malt character and caramel. Mouthfeel is on the thinner side of medium with notes of oak, sweet candy, brandy, light alcohol character and light caramel.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Gription79 (2283) - Bountiful, Utah, USA - OCT 10, 2013
Poured from a 22ml bomber. This is fantastic. The barrel aging really changed this beer. Grapes, chocolate, berries, vanilla. This is a rich decadent beer with a dry finish.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Cirrhosis (1215) - Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA - SEP 28, 2013
Deep amber brown, with a thick film floating on top that leaves behind very ropey and very sticky lacing. Man the vanilla really shows up in the flavor, its huge! Blueberry? Not really sure what brandy taste liked but I taste some kind of alcohol aged here, so I’ll assume its brandy. Heavy milk chocolate in the body, some bitterness. I got nothing ells to say.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Strykzone (5008) - Wood River, Illinois, USA - AUG 28, 2013
Bomber from Hayduke. We had it together via facebook chat. This poured kind of reddish brown and had a tan creamy foam layer. The aroma was rich malts with complex red wine fruitiness and chocolate. The flavor was so complex and seemed to change with every sip. That is an aspect of some beers that make rating so fun. Chocolate syrup came right after plums. Wood was tasted but not really vanilla. A sourness popped up and it is my only negative with this beer. Yeast notes, grapes, big malts. This was flat out fun to drink. Thanks, Ron, for this one.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
hayduke (3385) - Eureka, California, USA - AUG 28, 2013
I shared this one with Strykzone via Facebook Chat. This was a really interesting beer. It poured a mahogany color with a small tan head. Light lacing. Nose of alcohol and ripe fruit. Bold in body and smooth and creamy in mouth feel. Flavor has everything. Ripe fruit, chocolate, vanilla, brandy, grapes, plums, sourness, and floral hops. Dry finish. About as complex as a beer can get. Really enjoyable.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 13/20
jgb9348 (4772) - Arlington (Pentagon City), Virginia, USA - JUN 19, 2013
2011 Bottle Great violet coloured brown tinted body with a thin, fast-dying tan head that leaves an oily lace and a nice ruby and orange-tinted body. Aroma of super pungent brandy and cognac with a lot of chocolate, alcohol, caramel, toffee and a bunch of very complex and nice scents. Medium-bodied; Assertive malt flavour up front with a crazy sour note right afterward, some earth, caramel, grapes, raisins, prunes, plums and figs. Aftertaste shows a good slight sour note, some fresh fruit flavours and a complex alcohol bite. Overall, a good beer, but not as good as it could have been if it tasted like it smelt. Relatively light given the style and the aging process, but super smooth in all respects. I sampled this 65 cL bottle purchased from BevMo in San Bruno, California on 05-March-2012 for US$9.99 sampled at home in Washington on 19-June-2013.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (1203) - Albany, New York, USA - MAY 10, 2013
I received a 22oz bottle into 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" designation.

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.

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