Nelson Crowle's picture

Victory at Sea

March, 2016
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
6 / 6
37 / 40
8 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Pours almost black as night, but if you put it up to a strong light, it's a beautifully clear reddish, very deep brown. A big tan head of tiny bubbles lasts for a long time and leaves some splotchy Belgian lacing on the sides of the glass. I can smell the coffee from a couple feet away – and upon closer sniffing the beer gives off a huge coffee character (but it's not harsh – more like a cold-brewed coffee), with toasty and grainy malt notes. Some sweet chocolate pops up along with an earthy, woody and somewhat rustic hop character. The vanilla character is initially low, but becomes more prominent as the beer warms (drink this beer at 50 degrees – let it warm up a bit). The flavor is rich and vinous with big coffee, sweet chocolate and black raisins, with a lot of vanilla bean (Madagascar? very mellow, creamy, and smooth) and woody and rustic complexity leading into a long, dry and slightly bitter coffee finish. Initially, a bit of fusel and hot alcohol burns off as the beer warms. This is a huge flavor bomb with lots of complexity. Drink this either with something simple and light like crepes, or something that matches its boldness, such as chicken with mole sauce. This beer would age very nicely too.