From the Cellar…And a Brew Pick, besides

First of all, Happy New Year!

It seems fitting to begin the new year of posting with, not only a Brew Pick, but also a report from the Beer Cellar.  As the first round of cellared tenants begin to reach maturity in the coming months, you can expect periodic reviews here of how they fared during their tenebrous sojourn.

We begin with a 12-oz bottle of the Dogfish Head Raison d’Être, a 2008 Christmas gift from Mrs. Perm slotted to be opened Christmas 2009…so, as it is Twelfth Night, the time seemed right.

It poured into my footed Brooklyn Brewery flute-goblet a handsome cloudy mahogany-cherry-copper color, with a 1 cm-thick antique-white head that fairly quickly reduced to a thin lacing, with lots of rising bubbles.

On the nose, it bursts with absolutely intoxicating madeira/amontillado notes. Apricot, date, raisin, shortbread, plum, ginger.  The taste: Wow! There’s a veritable symphony of flavors right off the bat: raisin, almond, currant, mellow roasted malt, molasses, ginger, apricot, and a very slight anise note at the end. The palate/mouthfeel is gloriously sticky-spritzy with a tad of a vinous-coating quality.

This went perfectly with my vegetable-mushroom-peanut sauce stir-fry: it harmonized effortlessly with the toasted sesame oil and fresh ginger. It would likewise be a winner with lots of desserts: English gingerbread, crème brulée, sugar cookies, or praline ice cream.

Cellaring Notes: Always cellar this beer! The brew has clouded a bit, but the most prominent feature is the concentrating and accentuating of the nose and flavor: much like a port, sherry, or madeira, this beer has simultaneously mellowed and enriched — the raisin quality has come much more to the forefront, while the overall profile is smoother and gentler. This one’s a cellaring winner to be sure. I’ll be curious to bulk-age a 6 (or 12) of these and let some go even longer-term. A vertical tasting would be interesting as well.

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