I’ve had a hit and miss relationship with Cambridge Moonshine‘s beers over the years, some have been stellar, some rather less so. Transforming Tomorrow is a beer that I’ve already had the joy of sampling from a wooden cask, evidently according to someone in the know, the cask was infected. Evidently you needed to be a bit of a wine buff to detect this though and as I don’t drink wine…
The Bacchanalia tweeted that they had received a limited stock of oak matured Transforming Tomorrow bottles, so I popped in to pick one up. For some reason I decided to hold onto it and it’s been sitting in my beer cupboard for months and months. I then spotted normal Transforming Tomorrow bottles one day, I suddenly thought I could do a comparison between the oaked and unoaked versions, so I grabbed one.
I decided to do the oak matured version of Transforming Tomorrow second, mainly to avoid having my taste buds wrecked by what ever tastes were going to be thrown up. So I opened the normal version and it poured an ultra deep brown, almost bordering on an impenetrable black. If you held it up you could see the browness through the edges. A tan head was slow to get going, but then sprouted and grew very quickly. It dropped back to a covering pretty sharpish, although it stayed at a covering all the way down the glass.
I could smell a rich thick treacle, liquorice type note coming from the beer as it was poured. The treacle, liquorice were joined by dark chocolate notes on the nose, this is no hop bomb.
The mouth feel was big and thick, it’s a very full bodied beer. There was more treacle, liquorice and chocolate in the taste, but an assertive carbonation ripped through the mouth and almost swept them away. If anything, this bottle had a bit too much condition, the cask version was much smoother. There was some bitterness in the after taste, it’s similar to what you’d get from a 85% plain chocolate, quite dry. There was also a noticeable alcoholic note, rum according to the label. It wasn’t like the throat burn you get on some high ABV monster, but it was there, just around the edges warming the mouth and reminding you that this isn’t a small beer.
Next I opened the oak matured Transforming Tomorrow, which being exactly the same beer looked exactly the same in the glass. The nose is pretty much the same as well, there was maybe a touch of something like a woody apple cider note in there, but it was quite faint. I was expecting more vanilla and buttery notes, like an Innis & Gunn, but there wasn’t any, thankfully.
The taste was mostly the same, but this bottle had probably even more condition than the last, it was a bit rough in the mouth to start with. The same tastes are there, but some are more amplified and some are more muted. The dry chocolate bitterness for example, wasn’t really there, the alcoholic notes had a more pronounced rum taste about them.
There’s was some vanilla and accompanying butteriness, but it’s no where near the levels of other oaked beers I’ve had, like Innis & Gunn. There was also a general woodiness to the taste that had a slight green apple, cider kind of edge, but again it was very subtle and melded well with the other flavours in the beer. When I’d finished the glass, the back of my throat did feel like it was coated in a woody tobacco though, it felt a bit odd.
I’d definitely buy and drink both beers again, although I think I’d lean more towards the normal unoaked version if pushed to choose. Either way, Transforming Tomorrow is a beer that you should really track down and try, it’s really, really nice.