This missed the mark for me. And I was so sure the recipe was right on. There is some weirdness going on between the toasty/ nutty Vienna malt and the earthy/ fruity Belgian yeast. I see now that clean and sweet pilsner malt as the base would have been a much more appropriate choice. I thought that the hint of roast in bigger dark Belgians could be toned down for a smaller dark Belgian by just using a subtly toasty base malt, but no sir. The richness and nuttyniess from the Vienna clashes with the spice from the yeast and hops and the earthy-sweet fruity Belgian yeast instead of complimenting them (I reckon the hint of roast in the bigger “Dark Strong Ales” works because it is exactly that- a HINT of ROASTED grains, not a foundation of toasted grains. Duh.) Not terrible, but only a tiny step towards perfecting my vision of a “Belgian Dark Table Beer.”
Apparance: Garnet red and crystal clear with a huge and rocky khaki colored head that stays the distance.
Smell: Weird. Quite aromatic but hard to put a finger on. Some classic Belgian dark-fruit type notes… plum skin and the like. Kelly nailed the strangeness when she called out a distinct “bee pollen” thing going on... I was thinking soil but her descriptor is more accurate. Smells almost tart (it isn’t tart though, no accidental sourness here). It is pretty herbal from the hops and not very spiced, although some biscuty/ baking spice notes are there. As it warms some baking bread starts to show from the rich Vienna malt. Definitely not the cinnamon/ banana/ clove aromas I was expecting from the hops and yeast.
Taste: Cloves and plum skin with a weird metallic thing in the background. After a quick wave of slightly tart fruit, a nice round bready malt shows through for a sec before it gives way to more earthy hints of that damn bee pollen. Weird beer that I’m not really sure I like. Raisin and some dark sweetness in the finish along with herbal notes from the hops.
Mouthfeel: Slick and foamy. Alcohol is noticeable but not“warming.” Bitterness is negligible.
Overall: Not really what I was going for. I would like to see more of the yeast and some more complex mid-pallet sweetness. Folks drank a lot of it at thanksgiving without complaining, but no one was really stoked on it. For good reason though, this one needs work.