Allagash Brewing Co.
Curieux Oak Bourbon Barrel-aged Trippel
I’ve written at length about how much I enjoy Belgian or Belgian-style beers, and when it comes to stateside versions of Belgian beers, I’ve found few that do it better than Allagash. As I’ve made my was through their catalog, I’ve been steadily and regularly impressed. I have yet to drink a bad Allagash beer.
But among all of them, Curieux stands out as not only my favorite Allagash beer, but one of my favorites. Curieux – the brewery’s first attempt at barrel aging a beer – takes their outstanding Tripel Ale and cellar ages it for eight months in Jim Beam bourbon barrels. It’s then blended with more Tripel and bottled on a regular basis. The particular bottle I recently enjoyed was bottled in May 2011.
Curieux pours a super hazy golden orange color. Like any good Belgian-style beer, there’s a big three fingers of a foamy pillowy heads and it lingers nicely. The lacing and alcohol legs are just beautiful.
There’s a massive sweet oak note on the nose and a little bit of funkiness. A strong sweet vanilla note stands out and mixes well with that musky barrel note on the nose. Definitely a good bit of bourbon in there as well. Bits of banana and cloves to boot. Surprisingly, not a lot of alcohol.
There’s a very slight sourness on the front of the tongue and a really nice, smooth mouthfeel. For having such a massive head, there’s only some mild carbonation. The oak is huge on the back-end with big vanilla notes, sweeter banana and maybe a little hint of tropical fruits. Definitely a mustiness to it from the barrels, and I’m sure that’s grown with age. For an 11% beer and one that’s hung out in bourbon barrels for a while, the alcohol is masked really well.
Every time I come back to Curieux, I’m reminded why it’s such a great beer. Each batch is different and has its only unique character. I’ve had some that are overly funky, some that are much more boozy and some – like this one – where the sweetness of the bourbon and oak really shine through. It’s a beer that continues to evolve and impress.