Style: American Strong Ale aged in Rum Barrels with Dark Maple Syrup
Bottled on: 11/08/13
From: Somerville, MA
Brewer’s Note: “You could gift this bottle as a reflection of your fine craft beer taste, drink it now to ease your holiday tension or cellar for the long winter ahead./ For our first year of our Yankee Swap beer series, we selected rum barrels from our friends at Turkey Shore Distilleries and dark maple syrup from North Hadley Sugar Shack. This Strong Ale is a big beer with hints of maple and complex notes of oak and rum from the Old Ipswich rum barrels.”
The beer’s label is a funky, old looking map that still manages to have a cartoon flair. I love the compass rose with the beer’s label in it, and I love the “Slumbrew” font at the top of the label. The colors are a bit dull and subdued, but fit nicely in the “old map” style. The map scene is a little confusing… Is it Massachusetts? What’s with the castle? But I do like the concept of plotting out where the various ingredients came from. It’s a quirky, cute label that has some class and is by no means cluttered, which is impressive given its many elements. Do what you want with this bottle.
The beer pours like dark maple syrup; rich, dark brown with amber highlights. It sits in the glass as deep mahogany with a little head of creamy white bubbles that fade into a nice scrim around the glass. In body, the beer appears thick and nearly opaque, with just hints of ruby/amber light escaping from the sides. When washed against the sides of the glass, the beer leaves a very slick and quick pair of legs that drizzle and dissolve. On the nose, this beer is an awesome boozy beast. Rich rum coats the nose beautifully with a wisp of maple syrup, and a healthy dose of toffee-like malts. The boozy rum in this beer is not hot, per-se, and is really quite inviting, suggesting a thick slow sipping delight in the glass. Molasses and rich oak can also be sensed as you shove your nose into the glass, adding further complexity to the nose. On the tongue, the beer tastes sticky sweet, but never cloying, with a quick, strong alcoholic heat just at the close of the throat, but little to none in the finish. Very gentle herbal, hop bitters can be sensed, blending with the tannin from the oak to bring a nice balance to this rich and decadent beer. Alcohol presence is surprisingly middling, and while definitely there, it blends with the rich sweetness of the beer to create quite a decadent treat. In flavor, the beer begins as fresh oak, quickly moving into boozy rum with a touch of cola and lots of toffee malt. Herbal bitterness and oak tannin balance the sides of the mouth, giving a light grassy sense as the rich malt steamrolls over the middle of the palate. Warm maple syrup candy comes into play on the finish along with just a touch of roast malt, smoked oak, and a good batch of bready malts that morph into toffee. Herbal grass and rum balance out the aftertaste, though a very faint sense of maple syrup can also be sensed. As the beer warms, more rich oak, toffee, and rum (not booze) flavors can be sensed on the tongue. In the mouth, the beer feels full bodied with a flatter carbonation and a nearly syrupy mouthfeel that still slides down the tongue nicely, but grabs on as it goes and lets the mouth know that this beer has some body and should be contemplated, not chugged. The mouth is left a little sticky with a faint sheen of saliva on the mouth, and a boozy dryness that lingers over the middle of the tongue. Overall, this is a decadent holiday delight that I intend to buy more of, and to age for years to come. The Yankee Swap is planned as a yearly beer that changes up its barrel by the year, which will surely make for an interesting tasting down the road! The rum barrel blends beautifully with the maple syrup and the beer and makes for a great in-front-of-a-fire beer to contemplate the holiday season. The beer also makes a perfect yankee swap gift! The Somerville Brewing Company has been really impressing me lately and it is a shame that I haven’t been reviewing them more on this blog. This is a beer to buy, and to age or drink now. It is quite delicious and a true holiday treat. Happy New Year and holidays from Beer in my Belly, folks!