Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Beer Review: Laird's Apple Brandy Black Magick

Reviewing the Laird's Apple Brandy Black Magick from Voodoo Brewing Company out of Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Score: 96

Bottle is dated 01/18/13, #003 out of 174. Served in a Goose Island Black Friday Bourbon County Brand Stout snifter and enjoyed on 12/04/13.

Appearance: Pours a deep, inky black color, similar to the Buffalo Trace version, with a half finger of coffee colored brown head that settles to a thick ring around the glass and wispy island of head floating in the center of that ring. This beer has noticeably less head off the pour than the Buffalo Trace version did. Good lacing, similar to the Buffalo Trace version, but less clingy retention than the Buffalo Trace version. 4.5/5

Smell: Just like the Buffalo Trace version, the minute the cap is removed, huge chocolatey aromatics explode out of the bottle. Big notes of fudgey brownies and vanilla are apparent immediately. Also present in this bold nose are toffee, caramel, sweet dark fruits, cocoa and brown sugar. Light syrupy undertones too, which grow in intensity as the beer warms up. The nose is decadent, enticingly sweet like an epic barrel aged barleywine. There is also a light leather and faint smokey quality present in the background, hiding amongst the sweeter characteristics. The nose of this beer is different from the Buffalo Trace version in its subtler complexities, but overall similar in its more forward/bolder characteristics. 4.5/5

Taste: Here is where this beer differs most substantially from the Buffalo Trace version. The Laird's Apple Brandy aging has resulted in a sweeter, less dry beer with less oak/vanilla and more of everything else. Up front is a sweeter, almost candied, dark fruit and raisin flavor than the Buffalo Trace version, followed by caramel, toffee, cocoa, vanilla and a light apple/fruity flavor as well. There is no real "oakiness" here as there was with the Buffalo Trace version. My favorite part about the flavor, which most distinguishes it from the Buffalo Trace version other than the subtle fruitiness, is a light leather/tobacco flavor and very subtle smokey character that is present towards the finish that brings to mind Hair of the Dog's Adam (and, by association, Matt). Like the nose, there is a syrupy backbone, but the syrup flavor is more prominent on the palate than it was aromatically in the nose, which was more brown sugar-like. The finish is long, just like the Buffalo Trace version, with  a light apple/fruitness, cocoa, vanilla and toffee. Just like the Buffalo Trace version, despite being a hefty 13.5% ABV, this beer is dangerously devoid of alcohol heat, though, as it warms up, there is a very faint warmth to the finish. Superbly integrated in its complexities, this beer is one to revel as you sip. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, with a low level of carbonation that is good for the style and flavor profile. Sweeter than the Buffalo Trace version, but still balanced and easy-to-drink without any layering sweetness. Oily mouthfeel. 4.5/5

Overall: Rich, bold, complex and dangerously drinkable! I preferred the Buffalo Trace version (I liked the bitterness), but this one was quite excellent as well. Black Magick was a delicious beer to begin with, but these new barrel aged variants have taken this beer to a whole new level. Seek them out with confidence!

Cost: $10 for a 12 oz bottle.

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