Huyghe Brouwerij’s Delirium Tremens is a perpetual favourite among novice drinkers for the cheerful pink elephants in the branding. Delirium Red, a twist on that Belgian Golden Ale, features a hint of noisette under a fruity nose that splits the difference between cherry popsicle and cherry nerds. The palate is intensely sweet with a cloying finish, but it is potentially a perfect match for a New York-style Cheesecake.
Uerige is tantalizing: the assertion of aroma and flavour is such that it is hard to tell whether everything occurs sequentially or concurrently. The immediate impression is of earth and laurel, but the texture is reminiscent of light grade maple sap. The malt runs from honey to molasses to roast, but the expression is ephemeral. The only real constant is the bitterness, which inhabits a space between black pepper and endive. Challenging but rewarding.
From Rugen in the Baltic Sea comes this twist on a Golden Ale. The orchard fruit esters of pear and apple are reminiscent of Belgian counterparts. But the chalky geography lends a carbonate-heavy water profile that punches up bitterness, creating a cloud of dry herbs and sandalwood on the swallow as the dry finish disappears out from underneath. A fascinating experience, especially for devotees of Duvel.
Kazoku is a saison with plum. Its effervescence and underlying tartness have one job: keep the plum front and centre. Every detail of the fruit is represented, from the lightly tannic skin and the sweetness of the flesh in the aroma to the gentle tartness of a ripe late autumn Niagara plum on the palate. It is basically magic, which is what we have come to expect from Godspeed.
A classic version of the West Coast IPA featuring Sierra Nevada’s trademark whole cone hop character, this is redolent of pine, pepper, grapefruit pith and mango. A fantastic throwback to a defining period in the modern brewing history of North America. Will it play as well for their 50th Anniversary? Only time will tell.
The most current in an annual collaboration series with the Kawartha Dairy, Key Lime Pie is an exercise in emulation. It derives a mousse-like texture from oats, lactose and key lime puree. The nose expertly recreates the dessert, while a small note of toasted coconut comes through on the back end of the palate. A brief Floridian odyssey for the snowbirds staying home.
Originally brewed in the 1950s, this 2011 recreation is part of Dupont’s modern stable. In spirit, it is most comparable to a dry Irish stout, with more roast astringency than a Guinness and a wealth of coffee and dark toast on the palate. The difference is the scrubbing carbonation imparted by the Belgian yeast strain during secondary fermentation in the bottle. An excellent companion to the briny salinity of a half dozen oysters.