Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Troegs Brewing Company's Flying Mouflan

When one speaks of "cellaring" (that is, sticking it in a dark, cool place for months or a year), one usually thinks of wine.  People purchase a vintage of a wine that they enjoy, stick it in the wine rack (or, for those more fortunate, a wine cellar), where the wine will continue to "age" for years, which, in most cases, helps to develop the taste of the wine.

Until recently, the concept of cellaring a beer seemed odd.  After all, most beer is mass-produced in order to be consumed quickly and in large amounts.  (You know the types of mass-produced beers that I'm talking about.)  And who would want to cellar any of those beers to "age" anyways?

Craft brewers, like Troegs Brewing Company, have been exploring the possibility of cellaring beers in order to develop the flavors of those beers.  Troegs' Flying Mouflan, an American Barleywine, entices buyers on its label to exercise patience and cellar the beer for four months.  The reward ... a beer with "mellowed hops and luscious malt."

As originally brewed, the Flying Mouflan is one strong beer.  The stats of the beer include an ABV of 9.3% and an IBU (International Bitterness Units) of over 100.  That is a beer with strong alcohol and hop notes.  The brewer uses four different kinds of malts (Euro Pils, Vienna, Munich and Dark Crystal) and three kinds of hops (Simcoe, Warrior and Chinook), along with cane sugar. Given all of these ingredients, one would expect an assertive barleywine if he or she drank the beer when purchased.

When I bought a bottle of the Flying Mouflan, I accepted the brewer's challenge and raised it by one.  Not only did I cellar the beer, I cellared it for a year.  The beer I bought was bottled on April 6, 2010.  I opened the bottle on April 6, 2011.  The result was very surprising.

The Flying Mouflan pours a dark caramel in color, with a nice foam that quickly subsides to the edges of the beer.  The aromatics of the beer focus on the alcohol, which surrounds the more subtle scents of the hops and the malts.  And, as for the taste, the Flying Mouflan tasted as if, for the year it sat in my basement, it was aged in a whiskey barrel.  There were definitely flavors of whiskey or other spirits in the taste of the beer, even though it had never seen the inside of a barrel.

Troegs Brewing Company produces the Flying Mouflan every April. It is best enjoyed between August and the following April.


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