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Tasting Notes: Westy 12

The glassware seems doubly appropriate.

This beer is an unintentional experiment. With fermentation temperatures peaking at 38°C, I have no doubt that it’s a hangover waiting to happen. Nevertheless, it’s remarkably clean and I can’t help but think that if I had followed my planned fermentation schedule it wouldn’t be as appealing.

Head retention and lacing are arguably the best I’ve ever seen in one of my beers. As I type this up, more than half an hour after pouring, there’s still a solid foam cap over the entire surface. High fermentation temperatures hurt retention? OK, but no one tell the Belgians.

This one smells boozy. Not in an unpleasant rubbing-alcohol kind of way, but a fruity fusel-y warmth. Yes, you can actually feel a little warmth in your sinuses after taking a big hit. Once you look past that initial impression, though, there’s a whole palette of great, stereotypically Belgian aromas: dark fruit, pepper, floral and herbal notes, along with a sort of caramel or toffee character that I’m having trouble putting my finger on.

And then there’s the taste. It’s hard to keep track of an impression long enough to write it down; there’s just that much going on here. The up-front flavor is a not-so-complicated maltiness, like what you’d get from a good bock. That lasts, oh, half a second before getting totally overrun by some prickly carbonation, and then a vinous character that comes over the middle of the palate, dragging plums and cassis and raisins and toasted marshmallows and I don’t even know what else along with it. Finally, in the back of the palate there’s the first unequivocal hint of actual alcohol. I’ve never had the real deal, but if it tastes something like this I’m a little less skeptical of its reputation.

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