Crooked Stave Serenata Notturna – Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 12% ABV

Crooked Stave Serenata Notturna Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 12% ABV (US$8.99 at Knightly Spirits Orange Blossom Trail, 375 ml, packaged on 1-Dec-2015, acquired 15-May-2017, reviewed 28-Aug-2017)

Appearance: slightly hazy reddish-tinted pale amber with a short white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: red wine, oak, caramel, blueberry, stone fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high tart, light bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, dry lingering tart mildly warming finish. (4/5)

This is a mixed fermentation Golden Strong, but it’s utterly dominated by red wine barrel notes imparted by the sherry casks. This dominance doesn’t really relax as it warms, but further complexity does unveil, including a surprisingly emphatic caramel malt note, as well as blueberries and peaches. That caramel is pretty much the only indication of the fairly huge gravity, which otherwise manifests only as a mild warming in the finish – at least, until it’s mostly gone, and the room starts to get a little fuzzy around the edges. So, remind me again why should I spend 50% more (actually, 55.6% more, but who’s counting?) on their peach Surette, than this, when this has near-on twice the ABV and much more complex flavour? Oh, right, never drink the same beer twice. Might need to add an exception for this one… (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze

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