My second bottle of this. I was a little disappointed when I saw that this special edition was a stout, since Belgian stouts aren’t really a big draw for me, and Unibroue is just so great with BDSAs and BSPAs. Having said that, I soon got over it.
On removing the cage and cork there is a good pop with a decent amount of gun smoke. Fairly standard, but what was absolutely astonishing about this beer is the aroma that greets he nose even before pouring. There’s a huge, burned licorice whiff immediately on opening. On pouring it lingers.
Body is jet-black, head is bubbly, fading to a thin mocha affair across the surface. Some espresso like lace.
Tastes offer some of the licorice element, but it never rises to the level of say a Gouden Carolus Easter. To be fair, not many could. The beer is a little thinner than the nose might suggest. There’s plenty of flavor in terms of chocolate and mocha alcohol notes, but they don’t have a huge amount of presence – at least not in terms of the ABV and the beer as a whole. Finish is a touch prickly and thin again, and the beer doesn’t quite reach down far enough for me. It is broader than it is deep. Then the sweetness sets in, but oddly it finishes a little dry?
The finish has a weird mace-like, aniseed ending which I usually like, but coupled with that lack of depth and what feels like a slightly too highly carbonated body, it doesn’t quite come off as it should. Of course it turns out that what I am really tasting is the maple syrup and I can just do without that altogether, The sweetness builds, and oddly, once you identify the maple you can’t really taste much else.
I’m not in love with this, BUT definitely see how it could become something deeper and better with some time. I’m not drinking any more of this for now, but if I get the chance to lay one done for a year or two I might take it.
For my money Unibroue are on the safest ground when then produce Terrible and Strong Pale equivalents, and this beer proves my point – at least to myself. A Belgian stout would have been OK I suppose, but the maple syrup I don’t need. For me, it adds nothing, in fact it detracts.