Being a beer geek, I tend to buy more beer than I need. That gives me a choice when I want something to drink. While I’m making those choices, there are beers that I seem to skip over each time. That could be for a number of reasons – none of which relate to the beer being bad. It could be because the beer is blog worthy, which means I’d have to take notes while drinking it and sometimes I just can’t be arsed. It could be a really strong beer that scares me a litttle each time I see it. Or I could just not feel like it at the time.
The result is those beers just sit there. Which brings me to this week, indelicately titled “What the f..k are you waiting for?” . The idea is to make myself drink some of these beers rather than passing by them saying “another time”.
So let’s start things off with a beer that has been passed over since I bought it in Melbourne during Good Beer Week last year. A beer that actually scared me a little bit – Aurora Borealis, a 14.9 per cent Belgian quadrupel collab between Bridge Road and Nogne. There’s a cute story behind the beer, and its sister Aurora Australis. Borealis was brewed in Norway, whacked in whisky barrels and sent across the seas to Australia. Around the same time, another batch with the same recipe was brewed in Victoria, put into red wine barrels and shipped to Norway.
When the barrels arrived at their respective destinations, they were bottled and sold. And, yes, it appears to be a slight marker of beer geekiness to have tried both varieties.
That 14.9 per cent is what scared me. In my experience, high-alcohol beers tend to resemble spirits as much as they do beer. And I don’t care very much for spirits. So I figured this beer would be hard going. The fact that it had been in whisky barrels didn’t help (in my teens I had a very overindulgent moment with whisky and have had huge trouble with the stuff ever since).
But I bought the damn thing, so I figured I should try it. And you know what? I should never have been scared of it. It’s a great beer, so great that I wish I had more than one bottle of it.
The beer pours quite thick, almost gluggy – which unnerved me a little, I have to say. Drinking it, there is a definite taste of whisky, though not enough to put me off or give me flashbacks to that fateful teenage night.
Maybe it’s because the whisky notes are mixed in with a rich, fruity and slightly sweet background, making for a flavour that resembles an alcoholic fruitcake. Incidentally, my wife had a very different description of the flavour – ‘‘it tastes like a stick that has been taken out of a fire’’.
Evocative yes, but not very accurate. What we have is a fine beer – I just wish I’d drunk it during the colder months. It would have been awesome then.
Guess I’m getting used to high alcohol beers after all.