It feels like it has been forever since I’ve posted a beer review. Fortunately, the lure of the penultimate 2015 Barrel Society release brought me back to Night Shift for another round of tastings. As usual, there was plenty to choose from.
I started things off with a full pour of the main attraction. Rubens was described as an 8.0% Belgian Dark Ale aged in oak barrels with cherries, cacao nibs, and coffee beans. It poured a deep brown body with some bubbly off-white foam gracing the top. The smell was a bit sweet, but otherwise didn’t give away much as to the joys that were about to follow. The taste was quite rich, primarily carried by sweet toffee malts and cacao nibs accompanied by hints of coffee, cherries, dark fruit, and the slightest bit of Belgian-style yeast and malts on the finish. The finish was a touch warm as the beer sat for a while, something I think made it all the better. Mouthfeel was on the thicker side, with slight carbonation. I really enjoyed this. Favorite Society beer of the year so far. Fantastic.
Given this high praise, the flight that followed this had a lot to live up to. I started out with Silvius, a 7.2% Dubbel. As expected, it poured a tannish body with a healthy off-white foam head. Taste was bubblegum yeast and a bit peppery. Solid representation of the style, but this wasn’t really a beer that excited me. Not my thing I guess. Following up on this was Strix, a huge 11.0% Barleywine. This one got my attention. It poured a dark tannish/brown body with a thin white head. It had an inviting sweet, cotton-candy like smell that I really liked. As for the taste, there was tons of toffee, caramel, burnt sugar, and dark fruit going on before coming to a warm and (surprisingly) lightly bitter finish. I liked this beer, but if it lost that bitterness at the end I would say that I loved this beer. Next up was Relajo, a 6.4% Coffee Stout. It poured about the way you’d expect, dark body and thin tan head. The taste was dominated by roasted coffee with hints of hazelnut in the background. This roast was quite strong actually a bit too much for me personally, but if that is how you like your Coffee Stouts go on and seek this one out. Closing out the flight was another coffee stout called Check Raise brewed by Idle Hands. Clocking in at 6.4%, it appeared almost identical to the previous beer. The taste, however, was worlds apart and not quite what I was expecting. It tasted something along the lines of a Pale Ale/Coffee Stout hybrid with a fruity, sweet bitterness upfront that gave way to coffee towards the finish. As the beer warmed up a lightly roasted coffee flavor did come out a bit more, but the sweetness never quite went away. This was an odd beer. Not necessarily bad, but definitely odd.
Well that wraps up another trip to Night Shift. I will probably be back soon to pick up the final Barrel Society release in a week or so and have the year-end members party coming in January to look forward to. Hurray beer!