Open It! is there for those bottles that are set aside for a special occasion which invariably never comes. It’s for those bottles that take pride of place in the cellar but never end up getting opened before sadly being replaced by shiny new bottles. It’s for that one beer you’ve been waiting to open but just didn’t know when to open it. Or, it’s just for sitting down and opening something different, something you’ve always wanted to try or something brand new.
I meant to post this the day after my last Open It! blog, but I never quite got round to it. These were probably the beers that I was looking forward to the most from the selection I’d picked for Open It! I’m not saying that they’re any better than the Thornbridge Bracia, as far as I’m concerned there isn’t a lot that is. It was more from the point of view of trying a beer and then trying two variations on that beer to see what the changes were, were they improvements on the original, or a waste of time.
First up was the straight base beer, it poured a deep black with a compact tan head that dropped to a covering relatively quickly. I had to stop the pour with about a fifth of the bottle left, due to the amount of large yeast chunks that were heading for the glass.
The nose was massive, chock full of roasted coffee with hints of bitter dark chocolate. The taste was similarly massive, you could really tell that you were supping at 10% beer. It had a very large mouth feel and was quite sweet, especially in the after taste. There was also a sharpness from, I’m assuming, the carbonation that cut like a knife and ripped through a few of the favours. Mainly though, my mouth was just chock full of utterly fantastic coffee and chocolate flavours.
Next I decided to open the Misto B.A. variant, mainly as I’ve had the 666 variant last year and it was one of my beers of the year, so I wanted to have it last. Misto B.A. poured rather more limpid, thick and oily with much less head, but the same amount of yeast chunks. The nose was massively different, rather than the straight up coffee and chocolate, the initial aroma was that of a woody spirit. It eventually give way and the coffee and chocolate appeared, but there was no mistaking that this was a barrel aged beer.
The mouthful was huge, absolutely humongous. It felt so much thicker than the standard version, it was almost like it had enough thickness to hold a spoon upright. The woodiness from the barrel aging seemed to calm the coffee and chocolate, so that there were bit players to the main upfront woody taste.
I have to say that I’m kicking myself that I only bought one bottle of this, I should have bought every single bottle that I laid eyes on. A definite improvement on the original.
- De Molen
- Hel & Verdoemenis Misto B.A., 12%, 185ml
The 666 variant didn’t pour as limpid as the Misto B.A., but it shared the same large yeast chunks, they must be a feature of the base beer. I just hope the 750ml bottles I have stashed away, aren’t similarly afflicted, I suppose I’ll find that out in a few years. The nose was subtle, where the Misto B.A. was quite in yer face with it’s barrel ageing, the 666 was more subtle and rounded. I’m assuming that’s the difference between barrel ageing and adding 40 year old Cognac soaked wood chips. Having said that, the coffee and chocolate were really subdued again, but this time to the point that if you didn’t know they were there, you might have struggled to pin point them.
The mouth feel was still big, maybe not quite as big as the Misto B.A. but still pretty substantial. It was really, really smooth, like velvet, with the dark chocolate taking precedence over the coffee for a change. I loved the way the Cognac flavours filled the mouth at the start and then faded away to reveal the coffee, but mainly the chocolate. The intertwining flavours combined to coated the mouth in an utterly amazing taste sensation that lingered and lingered.
- De Molen
- Hel & Verdoemenis 666, 10%, 185ml
To be honest, this is one of the best beers I’ve ever had, it’s utterly, utterly sublime, it trumps the two other version easily. I have a 750ml bottle of it stashed away at the back of the beer cupboard, I won’t be opening it any time soon. I should have bought more of it, lots more…