The unexpected hiatus is what makes a blog at times the most frustrating of mediums. For that I apologize. While I certainly wasn't writing about beer, or even buying beer, I was still drinking it. Finally, the last of the Christmas stock has been drained.
One half of this pair was in my pre-Christmas beer run, while the other came as part of my massive haul from a certain Mrs. Claus.
The latter was Porterhouse's Louder, and was the first to be opened. A barleywine of 11%, this one has had my attention since its release back in the summer (I think), the barleywine being a favourite style of mine. Unfortunately, my anticipation was about the most enjoyable aspect of the experience. A big whack of boozy malts is the first thing to hit the nose, and some serious digging has to be done to find some of the dark fruit and almond toffee notes I picked up. After a while i got red berries and some pissy yeasty stuff but again, imagination is required. As expected, the palate is hot and heavy, with alcoholic malts cutting the back of the throat and overpowering the rest of the flavour profile. Sugary and a touch fruity, in that dark and sweet sort of way, but ultimately a boozy mess.
So Louder hits a bum note, but what about the Devil's Half Acre? I've heard great things about this barrel-aged black IPA so we should at least be improving on the previous beer.
The beer is dark red to black, and like the Louder has an aroma that relies heavily on its malt content. Again it's boozy, but surprisingly not as harshly so as the Louder, even though it weighs a hefty 13.5% ABV. Dark chocolate and marzipan with lighter biscuit and caramel malts, but all of it sticky and sweet. The real secret here is that on the second go some of the barrel-ageing effects come to light; woody vanilla and maple syrup with lots of crushed dark berries. The palate is slick and oily and for all its best intentions, still carries some that 'Louder' harshness with it. Abrasive boozy malts open up to mellower toffee chocolate while the finish has lingering fig notes, but even here there's a burn at the swallow to take you out of your happy place and drop back into harsh alcoholic battlefield that characterizes both of these beers, albeit to differing degrees.
And with that, I'm left reflecting that The Devil's Half Acre is indeed a much better beer more deserving of your precious gold, but the next time I'm in the Porterhouse I'll be stepping right over these to get to the Wrasslers.