In the world of whisky, we’re quite used to port finishes – it’s not for everyone, but I love the extra dimension that it can give to a dram, done well. This is the first time I think I’ve come across it in beer, however.
With whisky, the port is added by allowing some (or, more rarely, all) of the maturation to take place in used port barrels, allowing the spirit to take on the port flavours soaked into the wood.
In this case it appears that port it added directly to the beer. I’m not entirely certain, because Broeder Jacob’s website is largely in Flemish when talking about this particular beer, and although Google does an amazing job of translating, it’s not perfect. For a start, it describes this as “the first Belgian beer where real postage is added to the beer” – but having checked for stamps, I’m guessing that it’s a mistranslation!
This is Broeder Jacob Double Port, a 9% ABV dark, blackish brown Dubbel with the tantalising addition of tawny port.
It’s very lively out of the bottle, nearly bursting out as soon as the cap it taken off, and sits in the glass with a big, open bubbled, deep but not long-lasting head.
The nose is heavily alcoholic, dark black treacle that’s caramelised almost to the point of burnt, and a liquorice background. The port doesn’t seem to show through, other than with the generally high alcohol aroma.
In the mouth, it’s a huge beer, black treacle and liquorice with a sharp, warming alcohol that you can feel all the way down to your belly. It’s sticky with dark, dried fruit – prunes and dates coming in from the port addition – but with a generous champagne foam that keeps everything nicely under control.
Big, bold and delicious, it’s a proper monster beer. The port is a little lost, and I’m not sure it brings anything you can’t get from a big, dark beer without any additions, but aside from that it’s excellent – 4 stars.
Many thanks to Belgian Beerz for providing this year’s Twelve Beers Of Christmas!