Wednesday, November 17, 2010

428. The Bruery 3 French Hens

The latest entrant into the Bruery’s timeless “Twelve Beers of Christmas” series. While not as long running (or as numerically savvy) as the Stone Vertical Epic series, the Belgian does speak more to, well, at least me. Elli is on the fence on this one. This beer also allows us (or at least me) to renew our love affair with the Bruery (after all, I’ve gone so far as to spike one of my own beers with their yeast): I’ve got an Autumn Maple and Coton waiting for me in the basement, but the rest of their beers are a wee bit more difficult to procure. We have, however, tried Saison de Lente, Rugbrød, Hottenroth, Orchard White and Saison Rue, so all is not lost. But I’d like this to be a much bigger listing of beers. Maybe in January when I’m in Los Angeles...

Described on the label as “75% Belgian-style dark ale & 25% Ale aged in French Oak barrels,” 3 French Hens pours a hazy burnt umber with a creamy tan head that reduces to a ring—albeit a healthy ring—after a couple of minutes. The nose is fruity and slightly vinous; the fruitiness bears a strong resemblance to Belgian yeast esters, while the vinous aroma carries rich dark malt. There is also a bit of oaky creaminess in the back behind the other aromas; when freshly swirled in the glass, a bit of creamy, candy juiciness comes out—another classic Belgian aroma—although it is covered over again rather quickly. The front is a mixture of dark malt sweetness and slight roastiness that is slightly discordant with the oakiness of the middle. I know, I know, this beer is designed to be aged for another nine years, which will give 3 French Hens plenty of time for such flavors to marry. But I’m just sayin’. The middle also has some brown sugar and molasses that helps smooth the path to the finish (these flavors creep a bit into the front as well as the beer warms), which is creamy, dry, and slightly spicy. There is no real perceptible alcohol flavor, but there is some warmth in the mouthfeel. 3 French Hens is medium bodied with a creamy, slightly chewy mouthfeel. The carbonation is subdued; it helps balance the beer, although there is a bit of a bright bite in the turn to the finish. There is also something slightly sharp about the beer that factors in as an intangible—it is not so much in the mouthfeel, rather it is apprehended holistically—sharp and not fully rounded. This, too, could be a product of the beer’s intended trajectory: it is not so much young (since it is certainly drinkable) as it is a bit inharmonious on the palate. And, being that this is the “third verse” of the saga, that term strikes us as particularly appropriate. We did buy a couple more to salt away; after all, harmony comes with practice and patience.

From the bottle: “The third verse of our ‘Twelve Beers of Christmas’ saga incorporates vinous and oaky notes into a bold and spicy dark ale. Happy Holidays! 3 French Hens is suitable for aging up to nine years (soon after the release of ‘Twelve Drummers Drumming’) when cellared properly. Best stored and cellared around 55° F (13° C) in a dark place. Ideal serving temperature is 50° F (10° C). Please pour carefully, leaving the yeast sediment behind in the bottle. Best served in a tulip or wine glass.”

From the Bruery website: “Three French Hens is the third in the 12 Days/Years of Christmas Series. We again drew some inspiration from the name and decided that at least a portion of this beer had to be aged in French oak barrels. What we came out with is a bold and spicy Belgian Dark Strong Ale, 25% aged in oak. This beer is designed to take the journey through time until 12 Drummers Drumming, but is a delightful holiday treat right off the shelf.”

ABV: 10%
IBU: 22.5

And for all you crazy homebrewing fools out there, chiggety-check out the Bruery’s Batch 300 Homebrew Contest. Ah, so so dreamy...


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