The first official tasting of a batch I will hopefully still be drinking in 2017. My Courage Clone was brewed in July and bottled in November. It is still very young, but I thought it was worth trying to give a baseline for future tastings and make sure the Brett hadn't survived the Campden Tablets and gone back to work.
Appearance – Beautiful pitch black in my snifter. When held at an angle to the light the edges are dark brown, beers with roasted barley tend to be more red. The carbonation inflates a one-finger tan head. It tries to hang on for a few minutes, but rather quickly it falls to a light crème which sticks around for the duration
Smell – Some clean ethanol, and dusty cocoa powder. A bit of dark cherries, either from the candi syrup or the Brett, I can't tell. Not much funk, but there is a hint of earthiness as the beer warms. I also get a light coconut aroma. None of the classic stout coffee aroma, those come from roasted barley just like the red hues.
Taste – Good balance, but the alcohol is still a bit forward. It isn't hot or fusel-y, but at 11% abv it simply needs some more time to mellow. Solid bitterness, but nowhere as aggressive as the American interpretation of the style. The strong toastiness which I tasted in my last bottle is mostly mellowed, but there is still a solid malty base. There is a bit of tartness from the Brett, but again not much in the way of funk. As it warms there is just a hint of apple cider as well.
Mouthfeel – The carbonation seems to have gotten slightly stronger, but it is still in good shape. Medium body, a good level, but maybe a bit thin for a beer this big and contemplative. I won't declare that I'm in the clear yet from the Brett restarting, but in another few months if the carbonation still hasn't changed I will be.
Drinkability & Notes – It is certainly still drinking “young,” I think it just needs some time for the alcohol to mellow and some complexity to develop. I am surprised how little funk the Brett A gave to it, and with it hopefully dead it shouldn't develop anymore. This is one of my beers that I am most looking forward to aging, I've stowed 10 bottles at my parents' house to be consumed by me one a year as a Christmas treat when I go to visit them. Not much oak presence now, but it may shine through once the beer calms down.