The second De Molen beer that Rick from Bier & Co. sent me a couple of weeks ago, along with the Kopi Loewak, I was eager to try De Molen Tsarina Esra Reserva as I'd heard friends such as TheBeerNut singing it's praises.
Let's do the De Molen stats rundown: brewed on the 19th of February 2009 and bottled on the 8th of October, this has 11% ABV, 388 EBC (that's bloody dark!) and 92 IBUs. Made using Challenger hops for bittering and Saaz for aroma, the beer was then aged in oak (Bordeaux?) casks.
This is dark, no doubt. The aroma initially wafts out alcohol, a big vanilla oakiness and a cherry-like fruitiness. The impression on first sip is smooooooth. Smoother than it has any right to be at 11%, the mouthfeel is big and soft. There's a surprisingly fruity character to it, with stone-fruits and cherries dominating the middleground, but it's just a supprt for the big bitter chocolate and espresso roasiness. There's figs, caramel, and an almost peat-like smokiness deep down. The big malts keep a wonderful balance with the roasted bite and the robust hop bitterness. Wonderful stuff! The finish is almost sherry-like, with a nice hop tingle, a slight metallic edge (that actually works), and a surprisingly dry, moreish feel to it. Dried fruits, espresso, chocolate and a peppery spiciness linger. Pure drinking pleasure. It's so drinkable it's scary!