Well, the French oak spirals certainly changed the original beer!
First out, the original beer has taken on a much darker hue here. In the mouth this is much rounder, and the oak is surprisingly rich. It really changes the beer from the clean edges of the original BSPA, into a much flabbier offering. For me, even though this is quite drinkable and has all of the characteristics that one might expect, the treatment doesn’t make the original beer any better. Different? Sure. Better? Not really. This is what I don’t like about taking the original, Belgian classic styles (BSPAs, BSDAs, Quads and Tripels in particular), and either barrel aging them or “flavoring” them in this manner. All of those styles, especially the lighter roasted ones IMO, lose the clean edges and can get ugly.
The nose is lightly oaked, and the initial tastes reflect that, but quite quickly the beer becomes very buttery. Is that appropriate given the treatment? Sure thing, but it makes the beer a lot less light on its feet. There’s a decent amount of cloying sweetness that isn’t present in the original. I think that the appeal of the original (which I really like), has been lost here.
Just to be clear, this beer DOES “do what it says on the can” very well, so no complaints there. However, the original Angel’s Paw is a lovely beer, and perhaps that’s the issue. If I didn’t like the original beer so much, I probably wouldn’t dislike this as much! If you have never tasted the original, AND were on board with such a treatment of the style, then my guess is that you would enjoy this. I’m just not in that camp. It’s OK, this was made for me.