Monday, July 25, 2011

Flemish Fisherman - To Submit or Not, That is the Question

It has been a more than a year since Jeff and I brewed the Flemish Fisherman, a Belgian dark strong ale.  The beer was brewed in the beginning of July 2010 as part of our Lug Wrench collaborative beer series.  The recipe was supposed to be a clone of De Struise's Pannepot, a world class complex dark ale.  Given that a year has past, I figured it was time to give Flemish Fisherman a review.  I also needed to determine if the beer should be sent to a Richmond, VA homebrew competition - The Dominion Cup.

The beer pours an almost opaque dark brown color, with hints of ruby highlights when backlit by a strong light (seen above "caught" by my daughter's fishnet of stuffed animals).  A course off-white head sits atop the beer, though it fades rapidly, leaving just a thin white ring around the surface of the beer.  The aroma of the beer is complex, with stronger notes of banana mixed with dark fruit.  There is also a hint of brown sugar or toffee in the nose.  The spices placed in the beer have faded dramatically over the year since the beer was brewed, leaving only the faintest trace - which could exist in my mind because the recipe is known to me.

The beer's flavor is deep and complex.  The first part of the taste reveals a slickness on the palate that slides into a dark caramel sweetness.  The sweetness is abruptly interrupted by a spicy flavor reminiscent of cinnamon and coriander.  The sweetness returns in the end of the taste, accompanied by a warm alcohol sensation that is a bit out of place on this warm July evening.

All said, Flemish Fisherman is a complex and interesting beer.  My biggest complaint is that it does not finish drier.  The result is that the sweetness and alcohol build as the pint continues, making it less drinkable than is ideal in the Belgian dark strong ale style.  On the other hand, the judges of the Dominion Cup will taste only a small amount of the beer, probably only 2 or 3 ounces, so they will be less susceptible to this factor.

I guess it really comes down to my desire to send in two bottles from my precious stash of Lug Wrench beers.  I count myself lucky to have to make such a decision.



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