ClarkVV (4003) - Allston, Massachusetts, USA - DEC 29, 2006
4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Bottle at Kuhnhenn on 11/25/06
Greyish-beige head sits atop a deep magenta-violet tinged black cherry body that shows a medium to medium-high clarity. Only light carbonation perceptible and the head recedes quickly to partial cover, leaving little/no lacing behind.
Soft, waxy/plastery currants are noted first, in the nose, followed by a burst of some piquant acids and skin tannins. It seems to build on and draw strength from the dark malts that lie in ambush behind it. Warmth allows heavily caramelized, thickly sweet chocolate and toffee notes to emerge, while a decided note of vanilla gives a little lightness and evolves in to almost a dry black cherry character. Grainy barley, a touch of char and wood are found at the back, but the cassis is very good about covering the rough edges seen in the normal version (which is barrel-aged). Very strong aroma, with little no alcohol perceptible.
Tight, engaging carbonation provides a frothy, juicy currant-cherry richness that softens somewhat, allowing more waxiness, light vanilla and bland wood notes to soften the fruit acids. They perk up again, more acetic-like, on the finish, which is also alive with medium dry chocolate, light hints of coffee and bits of light char. I didnt find much rawness in the normal version, and certainly donít find it here. Thereís no doubt plenty of warming on the finish, but I dont see obnoxious fusels and sharp, disruptive fumes rising from the glass. Despite the carbonationís best effort, the body is still rather oily/waxy. Iíve mentioned it before, but dark malts and dark fruits donít seem to come off nearly as bright as say medium malts (their eisbock) and raspberries, so itís not quite in that ballpark for me, but every bit as good as something like Kulmbacher eisbock. Very unique and surprisingly drinkable. Still have one bottle left. Will see how it ages.
awaisanen (1304) - Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, USA - DEC 5, 2006
3.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
Pours a rich, cherry wood brown with a thin head of quickly dissipating ivory. The aroma is completely dominated by an intoxicatingly rich fruity currant bouquet. The cassis character is very forward but fabulously rich and heavy, allowing only a breath of vanilla to escape from beneath its fruity cloak. Full bodied, effervescent mouthfeel. Wow, a ton of cassis immediately floods the palate. Some fine bradyish characters follow, but are quite smooth considering the high ABV. As the brandy flavors fade, more of the base beer notes start to poke out from behind the ripe currant fruits, with edges of caramel and spicy zinfindel tannins. The finish begins to get a bit heavy and mediciny with a cherry twist, but as I reach the bottom of my glass, the yeasty dregs add a bit of a spicy, dark breath to soften the cassis edge. Currants, currants, currants - the re-occuring theme here in this fruity, sipping treat.
auerbrau (3182) - Peace Dale, Rhode Island, USA - DEC 1, 2006
3.9 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Dusky-hued dark ruby, with a rim of white. Strong all cassis aroma. First, freshly poured percolating Hero Cassis, bubbling in a nonic at a bar in Amsterdam, followed by tooth-marring Finnish cassis jellies, and finally with a tart nip of lightly aged Belgian black currant juice. All expressive, yet singular. Incredibly profusive. Bright, however yielded a faint edge of vegetal character. Flavor begins with a sharp, sweet and almost slightly bitter cassis flavor, with edges of blackberry and tight vinegar expressions. After a blossing bold cassis domination initial, Iím swepth into a faint dark caramelly sugar, with some distant yeast toasts. This movement of other characters doesnít really ever get to fully express itself, drowned in the sea of amazing black currant character. Again, this ebbs mediciney and cloying, with a few touches of sickly sugar. However, one cannot underestimate the ridiculous smoothness for a beer of assumedly 17% alcohol. Vinous and caramel shuffled with cassis in some first date awkwardness. Finally, a touching note of minute vegetal hop dust sails over the blasting fruit character. Yeast spice and esters I think help add an extra dimension to the cassis flavor. Obviously this was accidental (the addition of currant juice), because itís unbalanced. If the currants had been reduced by 50% this would be a beer up there with Raspberry Eisbock. Being the cassis whore that I am, this was fun to sip, especially considering the bright vinous notes, but it just got a little overbearing. I guess not every accident spawns a winner.
ryan (3186) - Beltsville, Maryland, USA - NOV 18, 2006
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: NOV 28, 2006 Sample provided by the Kuhnhenn brothers. This was a keg of Extraneous Ale that had black currant juice added to it by mistake.
Dark amber body with no head. The aroma is currant juice, caramel, cherry and raisins. The flavor is currant, toffee, prunes and rum. Full body with a soft and smooth texture that borders on sticky at times. ABV seems better hidden than in the regular version.