Nantahala Brewing Co.
Bryson City, NC
Devils Courthouse, a gold-medal-winning Belgian golden strong ale, was used as a base for Nantahala Brewing Co.’s third Trail Magic release. It was aged for five months on top of elderberries in French oak red wine barrels sourced from a North Carolina winery.
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 1079
I’ll try not to be influenced by this beer’s origins in Bryson City. … Exceptional dark amber color, light skiff of white foam. Aroma is fruity-sweet malt with a strong cloud of bourbon-barrel wood reek. Wow: That’s a lot of barrel influence, with the sharp tang of old whiskey and warehouse. The beer is somewhat obscured by the barrel, though the sweet malt fills out the bottom. The finish still has the edge of older wood… but the beer finally shoves its way out to bloom a bit with muted cotton candy and pear.
- Lew Bryson
More style twisting here: “Belgian” golden ale at 9 percent alcohol aged in oak barrels with elderberries. The result is, well, a bit odd, to be honest. Copper colored with hints of pink when the light is right. The aroma is huge with oak and tartly fruity in the background. The bracing body starts with oaky flavors before moving to more of a malty-fruity middle and back to woodiness in the splinter-pulling finish. A beer that is in retrospect more confused than twisted.
- Stephen Beaumont
Lew Bryson writes about beer and whiskey from his home in southeast Pennsylvania. He has a family and two dogs. That’s all you need to know.
Once described as “beerdom’s Brillat-Savarin,” Stephen Beaumont is the author of five books and countless articles on beer, spirits, food, travel and how it all goes together.