Brewed with licorice; a proprietary, hand-smoked malt; and almost a pound of East Kent Goldings hops per barrel. Opaque brown in color, with muddy brown edges and a cola-colored head that drops quickly to a ringed lace.
Strong and dominating licorice aroma with an underlying robust molasses-ness and highly roasted malts. Thick-ish, deep blackstrap molasses character (sweet, tangy nectar), quite robust. Licorice is assertive and smacks of herbal flavors. As the beer warms, both flavors become very intense, overpowering the palate a bit with some cloying action. Hop presence is masked; however, there is some and it peaks with a tannin feel and semi-citric sharpness. Rough and long-lingering finish with molasses, and soft anise residuals sticking to the palate. A tough one to drink. The use of molasses and licorice is simply overwhelming and without balance.
Decanted into a wide-bowled tulip glass, the contents of this 750 ml corked and caged brown magnum pour a hazy, bright peach color topped with an extremely tight white foam head, followed by impressive lacing and glass stickage. Aromas are soft and clean, zesty orange peel, wheat husks and barnyard hay, sugar, background ginger notes and an enticing dash of pepper set the pace. A lively carbonation fills the mouth with creaminess. Drying and crisp underneath, with a yeasty bite, steely undertone and green banana pith. Mildly sweet, and a bit akin to sugar water in flavor and feel. Wheat tannin twang, with plenty of jammy orange flavors, while subdued ginger notes surround the sugary edges. Black pepper pulls through a bit as the beer warms, lurking in a soft floral, herbal, semi-spicy hop character. Dry leafy tannins and a mouthful of hay. Bone-dry finish with strong, near-overpowering yeast residuals on the palate.
Speaking of sweetness, ripe flavors of passion fruit, pineapple and candied cherries sneak in nicely. Then there’s alcohol again. Oh sweet, sweet alcohol. A strong presence, warm and fumy as it vaporizes off the palate. Hop oils and raw, leafy hop tannins linger well beyond the finish, leaving a spicy, warm alcohol on the tongue and a drying malty biscuit character.