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The Beer Circle » Beer, De Struise Brouwers, Four Roses, Imperial Stout » Better From The Barrel: Extreme De Struise Edition

Better From The Barrel: Extreme De Struise Edition

We have a real treat for this edition of “Better from the Barrel.” De Struise, a well respected Belgian brewery, does some crazy things with their stouts. Stemming from the base of Black Albert, a 13% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, De Struise offers Cuvee Delphine and Black Damnation V: Double Black. Cuvee Delphine is step two in this process and is Black Albert aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels for a few months. Double Black V takes it to the next level: freeze distilling Cuvee Delphine much like an eisbock. The result is a 26% ABV monster of a beer that is not to be taken lightly. Luckily, Churchkey offered all three at the same time a little while ago, and I couldn’t think of a better event to write up.

De Struise Black Albert
The head on this is huge. You really have to be careful when pouring to avoid a Duvel-type 6 inch brown head. The beer is black in color and has a very brown head. It looks almost exactly the same as Cuvee Delphine.
The aroma is distinctly Belgian, with a very sweet chocolate base. A bit of roastiness is mixed in as well giving it that stout feeling. It does smell more like a Quad than a RIS though, with dark fruits playing a big part.
The Belgian yeast and funky taste is there, along with a bit of dark fruits, but it also has a nice roasty character. It starts off with a big chocolate hit, which gives way to the roast. Dark fruits are next, followed by booze. The finish is just outstanding. The Belgian tastes seem to start the beer, and stout characteristics end it.
Black Albert has a medium body for the style and is well carbonated. The booze, while noted, is integrated well with the other flavors. The balance makes it very drinkable.
At $7 for 4oz, this beer is right on the edge of too expensive. It helps that it's very good, but I'd still appreciate a lower price.
This is a really good Belgian stout. I'd say it will be tough for the bourbon barrels to improve this monster, but I'm excited to try. The bottle I had of this was infected, so I was quite excited to find out what the beer is supposed to taste like.

Beer Stats
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Serving: On-tap
Size: 4oz
ABV: 13.00%
BA Score: 94
RB Score: 100

De Struise Cuvee Delphine
As I said before, the appearance is basically exactly the same. The head on Cuvee Delphine isn't as large as Black Albert, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The booze is more assertive than Black Albert, but it's not because of a large bourbon taste. Vanilla and dark fruits come through, but the aroma is not as balanced.
I'm getting some slight bourbon and vanilla on the backend, but it isn't nearly as noticeable as I anticipated it would be. There is some booziness as well as some dark fruits that were characteristic of Black Albert. This is more sweet, but not as balanced...reminiscent of the aroma.
A bit creamy with a full and heavy body. Seems to have the correct amount of carbonation and a very dry finish. The increased amount of booze hurts the drinkability.
This one set me back $7.50 for 4oz, which is way too high. I would drink this beer again, but not at that price.
The bourbon is so subtle that I can't say I prefer this to the base beer. I like my barrel aged beers to be full of bourbon, but this only pulled in booze and sweetness. It killed the balance between chocolate and roastiness that I so appreciated in Black Albert. Can't say this one is better from the barrel. That said, this is still a great beer that closely resembles its younger brother.

Beer Stats
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
Serving: On-tap
Size: 4oz
ABV: 13.00%
BA Score: 93
RB Score: 100

De Struise Black Damnation V: Double Black
Black Damnation has a similar black pour with a minimal amount of brown head. It's the darkest of the three and the head coats the side of the glass very well.
It smells like straight alcohol. Basically a combination of vanilla and rum. All of the aromas from Black Albert and Cuvee Delphine are completely gone.
The flavor cuts off at the end, which I've experienced with eisbocks in the past. There is a slight chocolate base there and it actually isn't the booziest beer I've come across, despite the crazy high ABV. There is a slight amount of vanilla, but it's really all about the rum. The flavors attack the palate...and then disappears.
The beer is deceptively drinkable, but very thin. The booziness does not accurately represent the ABV.
At $12 for 4oz, I definitely won't be picking this one up again.
It's amazing that its this good after all this beer has gone through. I definitely felt the after-effects of this beer once I stood up. I am impressed, but still believe Black Albert is the best in this series.
Black Damnation V

Beer Stats
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Freeze Distilled Russian Imperial Stout
Serving: On-tap
Size: 4oz
ABV: 26.00%
BA Score: 98
RB Score: 100

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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