Sunday, 5 February 2017

Black Damnation II: Mocha Bomb

Origin: Belgium/Netherlands | Date: 2011 | ABV: 12% | On The Beer Nut: September 2011

This imperial stout had me thinking about the role of coffee in beers. When it's used properly it's all about the freshness, giving the sensation of walking into a warm coffeehouse on a cold day. I can't imagine that coffee ages well when used in beer, even particularly robust ones. And Black Damnation II is certainly robust, constructed by blending two imperial stouts from Struise with a whisky-cask-aged one from De Molen, resulting in a 12% ABV masterpiece which I described in 2011 as tasting like an Irish coffee.

Not so much any more. Time has harshened what should be a really smooth experience. I blame the yeast: there's a substantial layer of sludge in the bottom of the small bottle and a definite autolytic twang in the flavour, a beefy Bovril taint upsetting the equilibrium. The coffee is still there but, as I suspected, it has lost its fresh oils and instead tastes burnt and bitter. There's a rusty metallic note as well and I've no idea where that might have come from -- oxidation maybe? -- but it's another bum note in a beer that already has enough of them.

I thought I had this ageing system down: that strong and dark aged beautifully indefinitely, but this is one of the strongest and darkest I've had on here and it's definitely gone to perdition.

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