Style: holiday / Belgian strong winter ale
Availability: annual, pre-Christmas
Pairing: chocolate, sharp french cheese
Summary: A unique blend of sour berries, barrel aging and chocolate malt make this an ambitious brew reserved for advanced palates and adventurous drinkers. Worth trying if you like something different but not a beer I would revisit often.
Captain Lawrence’s annual holiday offering, Nor’ Easter, is a unique beast of a beer. Triple fermented, aged both over elderberries and and in bourbon barrels, there is a lot of love that has gone into this tart, 12% brew.
The nose is almost indistinguishable – a unique mix of sour notes and some dark malts – and a first sip reveals an overly bubbly carbonation for such a dark beer. Leading the flavor charge is an indistinguishable berry flavor and a bit of sour apple (This could just be the flavor of elderberries but I’ve never had them). The combination of barrel aging and fruit brings a lot of oak tones but the flavor is more like a Zinfandel aging taste similar to Avery’s Brabant Barrel-Aged Wild Ale than the heavy bourbon flavor of say Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout.
It’s hard to pull anything else out beyond the tart flavor but as the beer warms notes of chocolate malt and even a bit of caramel malt begin to come through making this a possible desert pairing but will overpower any meal. Overall, this is an ambitious an unique brew and if you like sour, funky beers then it is worth sharing with a friend.