Sir Francis Drake was the English seadog that defeated the Spanish Armada during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He would have struggled if he’d drunk too copiously of this literally stunning beer, 10.24% by volume and aged for 11 months in apple brandy casks. Ruby red, it has an enormous nose of vine fruits, smoky and oaky, with hints of licorice and molasses. The maltiness and fruitiness coat the tongue with a gentle hint of hops. The finish has welcome hop bitterness to counter the weight of malt and fruit. “Captain, are you sleeping down below?”
What a complex brew this is. The sparse head is talkative, but shy — not so the friendly wonderful brandy-edged nose; nor the taste, which is quite notable. Oh, it’s more than that it’s memorable!
Deep and complex. Funky too. Notes of burnt dark pit fruit, oak-aged cider, molasses, and dates. Hints of leather, anise, unsweetened chocolate and plum skins. There’s a tannic finish that probably outstays its welcome. An interesting beer that, when shared with a friend or two, provides a few ounces of “what is it that I’m smelling and tasting” entertainment. The antithesis of the Tona beer also reviewed in this issue.