OUR BI-WEEKLY BEER COLUMN GIVES YOU A TASTY RECOMMENDATION
by James Crane
Big boy beers. Oh yeah.
If I were to make a list of things I like, big, dark beers would be on it. If I were to make a list of things I like even more, big, dark beers aged in bourbon barrels made by Weyerbacher would be pretty close to the top. Weyerbacher has long been one of my favorite breweries of what I like to term “big boy beers.” They have a plethora of bold beers, high in alcohol content with matching aggressive flavors. From their Merry Monks to Blithering Idiots, their brews spend their free time kicking butt and taking names (except without the taking names part).
This week, I’m drinking Blasphemy Ale which, by its description, might well be one of their best offerings yet. A little research revealed that I was getting into something big. Blasphemy started with another of their beers, the Quad. The Quad was a Belgian style Quadrupel Ale, already dark and strong all by itself. They took this brew and threw it into some used bourbon barrels. This took something that was already awesomely complex and added a whole new depth of flavor on top of it. This promised to make Blasphemy something to behold.
The pour was thick, viscous and dark, yet not as dark as a stout. A little light bled through the glass, but not much. There was a decent head with a good amount of lacing, though nothing to suggest an excess of carbonation. Its looks promised something heavy on the tongue and warm in the body.
The first scents rising off the glass were those of smoke, sweet cherries, and booze. It smelled a little like someone dipped a cigar in a Belgian ale and decided to stuff it up your nostril. The other nostril, obviously, held a chocolate covered cherry. The scents, in tandem, combined to create something wondrous. There were other things hiding amongst those smells if you looked hard enough. There was a certain yeastyness as well as notes of vanilla, raisins, and brown sugar.
The taste was big, bad and not interested in being social. At first, all that hits the taste buds is booze. There is some sweetness lying in bed with it, but the 11.8 percent ABV is in the forefront. When the tongue acclimates, toffee and raisins start to make their presence known paired with smoke, wood and vanilla. The bourbon barrel taste pairs wonderfully with the strong belgian flavors that are hiding around the stronger flavors. There are a lot of layers in this one.
Weyerbacher has done something amazing here. The 11.8 percent ABV packs a wonderful punch. A little Blasphemy goes a long way. Though a bit overwhelming at first, this brew is delicious once you can get past the immense amount of booze.
Don’t get me wrong. All of those strong alcoholic flavors that hit up front are incredibly aggressive and great in their own right. However, when the tongue gets to experience all those deeper sensations lingering underneath of them, this beer goes from being simply good to being an amazing artistic experience that excites the mouth and satisfies the soul. Weyerbacher has certainly showed brewing to be the craft that it is. Blasphemy is nothing short of a celebration of great beer.