When we brewed Benevolence the first time, over fifteen years ago, we were treading some seriously untrodden ground with an altogether new and unique beer, and we caused quite a stir. Since then the craft beer-loving public has become more familiar with barrel-aged beers, blended beers, sour beers, etc., and we’ve dramatically expanded our barrel cellar and our production of, shall we say, challenging beers to greater acclaim.
Of course, when we burned all production notes for this beer in a fit of artistic pique, we failed to foresee years of requests for us to do it again. Nor did we imagine how appropriate it would be to attempt to reproduce it in honor of our 20th Anniversary. Now as we celebrate out 25th Anniversary, we’ve done it again. With more than a little bit of nostalgia, the original production and tasting notes are below for your enjoyment.
This is certainly a strange one…
An altogether new and unique creation in the world of beer, Benevolence combines the age-old traditions of Belgian lambic blending, Flanders sour ales, wild fermentations, and barrel-aged English strong ales with new American ingenuity and a penchant for the bizarre.
A very strong wort made with 8 different malts, aged hops, Belgian candi sugar, and organic black raisins was fermented with multiple yeast strains in stainless steel, then racked into used bourbon casks. Wild fermentation was sparked by the addition of dates, fresh sour cherries, and raw local honey, which left a dry, puckering tartness in the finish. After three years aging silently in the wood, this intentionally soured beer was blended with a young strong ale, and Benevolence was born.
Deep raisiny brown, the nose exhibits fresh dates, brown bread, oak, and subtle sherry-like oxidation. On the palate, soft carbonation, sweet raisin/fig/dates, a touch of herbal honey, oak, vanilla, and the slightest hint of maple lead to a rich but slightly tart finish with the character of well-aged madeira wine.
MaiBockAddict (1497) - Good Beer Bar Deprived, New Jersey, USA - AUG 22, 2004
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Tap at Cooperstown. Brow clear, tan head. Slightly tart prune, maple syrup, and chocolate aroma and flavor. Smooth with slight alcohol. Very interesting brew, and I believe well aged.
DrGonzo (625) - Somerville, Massachusetts, USA - MAR 14, 2004
3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
Tap at the brewery. Dark brown color, strong aroma of rum and brandy. Wins the award for beer more closely resembling chocolate covered cherries. Other flavors include raisin, brown bread. Thick and unusual, some sourness as well, strong. In a word: weird.
beerslayer (753) - New Jersey, USA - JAN 20, 2004
3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
I don't consider this a Belgian Strong Ale more of mix of Lambic, Flander red ale. Malty, bitter, and tart flavors. Finishes sticky, tart and dry.
Volgon (2763) - Manchester, New Hampshire, USA - JAN 20, 2004
3.3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Extreme Beer Fest 2004: Murky brown with a small off-white head. Sour dark fruits in the aroma, ends sour and acidic.
dirtymike (2016) - Manchester, New Hampshire, USA - JAN 20, 2004
3.9 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Extreme Beer Fest '04, Murky brown in color with a small off white head.Spicy,yeasty malty charcater.Slight acidity.
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