It's been said before. The on-line beer community is a thriving little micro-cosm of generosity. Yesterday, a package arrived from Rick Kempen (@eurodog on Twitter), the face of Bier & Co, the Dutch importers and wholesalers of the kinds of US craft beers that make beer geeks drool, and the suppliers of BeerTemple in Amsterdam, at which I had the pleasure of visiting on the opening night. The contents of this package: two bottles of De Molen beer, one of which is the scary-sounding De Molen Kopi Loewak. Coffee aficionados will probably recognise Kopi Luwak as the coffee made from beans which have passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (Rick tells me these ones were in Sulawesi, one of the Indonesian islands). The Civet eats the berries and the beans make it through whole, but slightly altered, as you would be. I haven't had the pleasure of this particular type of coffee straight up, so I can't vouch for the effects of the digestive enzymes of the civet, but I can now judge what it does to a beer.
In true De Molen style, I'll give you the stats: brewed 4th of April 2009, bottled 3rd of May, this has 9.5% ABV (that's strong), 291 EBC (that's dark!) and 84 IBUs (that's bitter!) and is made with Kopi Luvak coffee provided by Wijs & Sons and Premiant and Czech Saaz hops. So far so good.
The bottle had leaked slightly during transit, giving me a sneak preview of the aroma, but I was worried that perhaps the cap had got banged, and gas and beer had escaped leaving it flat. How wrong I was. On opening, I was glad i did it gently, as there was a strong hiss of CO2, making me open it slowly to avoid a gusher. It made me think that the leakage might have been a little over-carbonation, and getting shook up during transit forcing some out under the crown cap. So, no worried about a flat beer.
Pouring an almost opaque black with oaky-brown highlights, the aroma is hard to describe. The initial hit is rich with heavy dark chocolate overtones, juicy and mouthwatering, but then there's a bitter roastiness. Clearly strong coffee coming through with a somewhat smoky undertone. The flavour? Held in the mouth it gives the expected thick chocolatey malts, with a dose of heavy caramel under there somewhere, but as soon as you swallow, the coffee goes Bam! It's a bit like chewing a chocolate-coated coffee bean, and the flavour never ends. The finish is long and roasty, and the hops certainly come out to play with a matching bitterness. When you get used to the big coffee flavours, and the beer warms up, you get notes of licorice, vanilla, jammy fruitiness and oakey/woody notes. At 9.5% it also gives a pleasant warmth, making an ideal sipping beer. Certainly one for coffee fans!
Of course I've just ruined my palate tonight with this as I've nothing to match the intensity of flavours as this!