Wednesday, April 20, 2011

471. Bruery Autumn Maple

“I yam what I am.” Ralph Ellison Invisible Man

Another from the Bruery, the brewery I love to love. Previous victims of my overbearing and slightly creepy love include Humulus Session, 3 French Hens, Saison de Lente, Rugbrød, Hottenroth, Orchard White and Saison Rue. I guess I don’t know when to stop, do I?

Don’t look into the light...

Autumn Maple pours a deep, rich mix of orange and copper—we’re gonna call it caramelized yam—with an initially fluffy tan head that lingers decently with a thick ring and some small islands in the middle. While the beer doesn’t quite have legs, it is thick enough that the carbonation moves slowly through the beer on the way back to the surface—the effect is pleasant to watch. The nose is certainly Belgian; besides the Belgian juicy floral yeast character, it reveals hints of brown sugar, maple, caramel, and what I am going to assume is sweet luscious yamminess. There is a touch of spice in the background, but only minimally. The delicate blend found in the nose disappears in the body, however, and the spices attack the palate once the beer touches the lips. And we get all of them: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, mace, and clove. They may not need pumpkin, but they certainly got the spice. Some of the yam makes it through in the front, along with a sweet breadiness, but mixed with the spices, it strikes me as more fruitcake than breadiness. It is not until the middle that some of the maple and brown sugar flavors break through the spice blockade, and the subtle yeast character peeks out from behind everything else as well. The spice returns a bit in the finish—well, it never really fully leaves—along with a fair amount of caramel sweetness and even more alcohol warmth and heat. As the beer warms, the finish gets sticky, and even a bit cloying on the palate, and there is a fair amount of lingering harsh alcohol on the back of the throat. Overall, Autumn Maple comes across as uneven and out of balance. I was told it would get better with age (this is from August 2010), but this bottle tastes like it need more than another year or so in the basement. As well, I’m not sure that the spice flavors will ever drop enough to allow the other delicate and more interesting flavors lurking in the nose and the middle to shine on their own—I think this would be a far better and more interesting beer without them. But maybe it is partially my fault—I know I don’t like pumpkin beers, and I did foolishly imagine that trading yams for pumpkin would somehow make this a different beer. But it didn’t. I even saw the spices listed on the label, so I should have known. But I was seduced by that Bruery label. I was. So, if you like pumpkin beers, you’ll probably love this. As for me, I think I’m gonna officially swear off pumpkin beers for good. Except for Jolly Pumpkin’s La Parcela No. 1. Because sour trumps spice any day of the week.

From the Bruery website: “Brewed with 17 lbs. of yams per barrel (in other words, a lot of yams!), this autumn seasonal is a different take on the ‘pumpkin’ beer style. Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup, and fermented with our traditional Belgian yeast strain, this bold and spicy beer is perfect on a cold autumn evening.”

ABV: 10%
IBU: 25
SRM: 15
Release: Fall


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