Cuvee d’ Industrial (Allagash Brewing Company)

Style: Blended American Wild Ale

7.5% ABV

From: Portland, ME

Brewery’s Note: “Cuvee d’ Industrial is comprised of a blend of select barrels from our wild beer cellar. The barrels chosen for this blend were selected based on the specific unique characteristics that each brought to the blend. The various components range in age from 1-5 years and were aged in a mix of American and French oak barrels. The resulting beer is light golden in color and displays a broad complexity of flavors. Aromas of tropical fruit, vanilla, and anise lead into malty oak flavors and a clean tart finish.”

Crystalline, clear, and yellow, the beer froths into the glass with lively carbonation and a perfect chapeaux of creamy, pearly white bubbles that are constantly fed by a jet stream of bubbles from the glass’s nucleation point. Head retention is on point, but as the head gently decays, a bowl of thick, creamy lacing clings to the head below it, and creates an optical illusion for the eye. It is gorgeously bright and clear in body, completely translucent on an “American Light Lager” level. This beer looks provocatively pristine in the glass. On the nose, it is a massive crescendo of funk, fruit, and complexity. I get the sweetness (note: not the acidity) of granny smith apples, followed by a thick horse blanket flecked with drying grass and hay from a field that the sweaty horse clearly rolled its way through. The field most certainly had some nettles, and flowers in it, as there are gentle floral notes to the beer, but as it opens there is a nice, tart lemon scent that incorporates zest and juice, while below lies a smooth vanilla cracker with mild grainy malt nuance. If I’m being picky, there is a cheesiness that rounds the edges of the scent and a touch of brackish plastic which keeps this from absolute glory, but I would still leave my nostrils in this beer all night and not once complain. As it opens more, I even get gentle bursts of passion fruit. The nose is complex and wonderful, showing both the delicacy of barrels and blending, and the gushing flavor-house that the beer is. On the tongue, the beer tastes acidic and vanilla sweet, turning juicy and moving towards the acidity and fruity sweetness of cider, peaches, and apricots, while hay and grass lightly prickle at bitter and earthyish things. Sweet citrus and funk pop and gush, bringing pineapple, lemon juice, and barnyard to mind. The finish is a little bit metallic and ‘damp,’ dropping much of the fruit, and disappointing me a little (though that improves as it opens). It goes from a massive burst of flavor to a mellow, muted note of almond skins, a lime without fruity sweetness, mild nuances of vanilla barrel, touches of cheese rind, and a little bit of rubber tire. In the mouth, the beer feels on the lights side of medium in body, with a creamy froth of carbonation that gives way to a prickly, effervescent body with nips of acidity that leaves the mouth a little sticky and sheeted in spittle while a grime skitters over the teeth. There is a tannic barrel structure beneath all else that is going on in this beer, gripping the mouth and working with the pop of the acidity to nicely grime the mouth. The tongue is wet and the cheek pouches are quite gushing when the beer leaves, leaving the mouth quite damp, a very light bit tingly, but pleasantly impacted. I would be fascinated to see a skilled chef work on a pairing for this beer. It has some great components that could really sing with the right pairing, but I fear my own skill in that arena is woefully inadequate. A sweeter bread with a bright fruit could play very nicely with the vanilla brett/barrel character and the lovely lemon acidity of the beer, while I think a light funky cheese could dance wonderfully beside this. Overall, this is hugely complex, and will surely develop over the years (I think it is already one year old, and I have another bottle to sit on for a while) perhaps pulling some of the more out-there flavors more into concordance with the rest of the sip. As is, this is a delicious drink that really needs a proper plate of food to really bring it out. This is a lovely example of the skill of Allagash’s barrel cellar in marrying so many disparate barrels into one harmonious whole, and the fact that this beer is so tasty is really incredible considering (and perhaps I am wrong about this, and feel free to call me out if I am) that this was made from something like 10 unique beers in 32+ barrels. More great swill from Allagash. All that they make is worth drinking at least once; you’ll find what suites you best from there and then you can grab more of that. Personally, I really like this, but am not completely taken. It definitely develops in the glass, and can provide enjoyment throughout the bottle, but it has just a couple little things that are nagging at me and keeping this from the upper echelon. Still this is delicious and is worth looking around for. Bottles will develop for several years to come, I wager.

 

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