As you may know, I tend to gravitate toward beers with interesting names. I believe I mentioned this in a previous post, but for those of you that didn’t see it or are too lazy to go back and look at it, I really like Stillwater Artisinal Ales for this very reason. I also like Evil Twin Brewing for this reason. (Speaking of both of these breweries, I have a beer collaboration between those two and Stone and I cannot wait to try it.)
So, way, way, WAAY back in maybe, oh, last freakin year, when I saw that Ommegang had a beer called Art of Darkness (a play on the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad), my literary side immediately said, “We must get this beer. Now.” Unfortunately, I didn’t happen upon it (although I looked) until this past August in a store up in Vermont when we were stocking up on an obscene amount of Heady Topper. And I didn’t get to drink it until about a month ago. It was totally and completely worth waiting for.
This is an 8.9% Belgian dark ale that is a homage to brewing’s “dark arts.” There are no secret ingredients in this beer, just good old malt, hops, yeast, and water. It is, however, a limited release and was only brewed once. Sure, it’s not as rare as Utopias (which I really, really need to find, desperately), but it did take me a while to find it. But, like I said, it was worth it. So if you find one, snap it up.
Appearance: As a homage to brewing’s “dark arts” it certainly lives up to its name. It pours a lighter, amber/brown color, but in the glass this brew is very dark. Like black dark. Like floating down a river in the jungle dark. Darker than dark. You get the idea. There’s a nice mocha head, and bubbly as well, but it fizzes away fairly quickly, leaving behind just a thin head.
Aroma: Smells very Belgian-y. It’s a little difficult to pinpoint the exact smell, but to me it smelled slightly fruity with some malt aromas as well. It was a very nice, rich smell. Upon further examination and getting my nose covered in beer foam, I decided it smelled like dark malt / wheat. It was a little confusing, but it does smell pretty good.
First Sip: Well it is certainly dark and it is certainly strong. A unique blend of Belgian yeast and dark malty flavors. It’s more bitter than sweet, I think, though that’s not to say there isn’t some sweetness to it. I think I tasted some fruit/spice flavors in there as well. There’s not so much of a toasty flavor from the malts. There is a little bit of a boozey taste to it, but that’s okay (it’s always okay, isn’t it?). The overall taste I would describe as slightly fruity or yeasty, Belgian, farmhouse type flavors with a malt backbone.
Mouthfeel: Kind of medium-thick; it doesn’t weigh too heavy on the tongue. There is sharpness from the carbonation that I mostly felt on the underside of my tongue. Maybe a little too much but it wasn’t bad. Overall it is smooth. There’s a good consistency for the mix of falvors present. There’s also a nice warmning sensation from the alcohol.
Aftertaste: A little fruity farmhouse taste with a bit of bittersweetness.
So count yourself lucky if you got to try one of these, or if you find one in the future. I would definitely recommend not passing this up—it’s far, far too good. Have it after dinner, as I think it’s definitely more of a “dessert” or after dinner beer.
Coming Up: I hesitate to say this, because I haven’t been sticking to what’s in the “Upcoming” tab lately, but I will be doing a pumpkin brew from Jack’s Abby next, and then possibly Merry Mischief from Sam Adams, and then who knows. I will be taking my yearly New Years trip to South Carolina and will most likely be doing a shit ton of beer tastings there, so hopefully there will be a whole bunch coming in after that. Stay tuned!