Numbers: 9.9%ABV, IBUs Unknown
Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn NY
A review of possibly the first commercially served glass of a new beer? How exciting!
According to the Brooklyn Blog an Irish pub round the corner from me called McKeown’s would be taken over by a Brooklyn Tap Attack, featuring in particular the latest of Brooklyn’s Brewmaster’s Reserve series, the frighteningly titled Quadraceratops. As the launch party for the beer hadn’t yet taken place and as I could only find one review online from the press preview event, I figured I could maybe drink the first glass poured outside of the brewery. Or at least post the first review of a glass drunk outside of the brewery.
A quick disclaimer: I’m a big fan of Brooklyn Brewery. Brooklyn Lager was, I believe, the first American craft beer I ever drank on a visit to New York from London many years ago. I’ve read Steve Hindy’s books, I’ve read Garrett Oliver’s book, I’ve visited the brewery several times, and I think the brewery is rightfully considered a founding father of the craft movement.
So I dutifully turned up, whetted my appetite with a pint of Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout, and waited for the taps to be changed over. Asking for a Quadraceratops from a bar tender more used to pouring Guinness, Stella and Blue Moon was an experience in itself, but luckily the Brooklyn sales guy was on hand to get the tap takeover going. After the foam was run off, I was duly presented with a branded goblet two thirds full of onyx-hued beer and one third full of a fine ivory bubbles.
After a couple of sips to clear the foam I got a noseful of Brooklyn’s signature light hopiness against a backdrop of Belgian-inspired majesty. The hops are Perle, Golding and Aurora, giving robust herbs and spices to the nose – I noticed mint and cinnamon particularly. There are also lashings of licorice, chocolate, blackberry and fig. Even a little new leather in the background. The freshness of the beer was apparent: it had that lovely salty sea-breeze quality that a recent brew can have.
My only criticism of the nose is that it’s a little closed. I was reminded of nosing a rich, young Australian shiraz that has been designed to age for years before opening up. I wouldn’t describe it as openly aromatic; you have to work a little to appreciate it.
Drinking it was also a little bit of work. The flavors are clear and crisp – it has dark candi sugar added to offset the bitterness, which is very high – but the alcohol almost overbears the thick, smooth texture and mouthfeel. Sometimes strong beers don’t taste that strong, but that’s not the case here! Which is not to say it’s not enjoyable, only that you need to take your time with it. The maltiness, bitterness and sweetness are in harmony.
This is a serious beer. There’s something almost elemental to it – it looks, smells and tastes deep and rich, and the length on the aftertaste is significant. It’s highly rewarding overall. As the name suggests, it’s a bit of a beast, but once you’ve conquered it you’ll feel a sense of achievement. Pair this with some post-prandial cheese on a winter’s night and you’ll feel like a very serious beer drinker indeed.