While we’ve been looking at beer clubs for a while, we’ve long been intrigued by The Rare Beer Club, originally founded by the famed Michael Jackson (the beer writer, not the performer). We talked to the beer lovers who run this club and they’ve agreed to send us over a sample so that we can let you all know how it is. They don’t skimp on these beers and we’re happy to tell you all about them! Read on.
This month, The Rare Beer Club sends a Belgian-style ale made with grapes from Saint Somewhere as well as an award-winning Baltic Porter from Canada-based Microbrasserie Les Trois Mousquetaires.
You can order this club here: Join the Rare Beer Club
Saint Somewhere Cynthiana
Cloudy apple cider with a huge, tan head? Does that sound appetizing? It should! This is a pretty nice looking beer. The picture may show a smaller head than I’m describing, but trust me, pour this one mildly or the head will get out of control.
Whoa! I knew that they used grapes in this one, but I never expected it to be this predominant. That’s not in a bad way, the beer smells great! Like a nice, bright white wine this Cynthiana smells crisp with an almost sweet green grape aroma. It almost smells like this beer will be sour as it smells slightly acidic. Also in there, I’m almost smell some cinnamon and spices, most likely from the Belgian yeast. There’s also a mild candy sweetness hiding towards the end. I could probably smell this for quite a while but, honestly, I’d rather just drink it.
And I’m glad that I moved on from smelling it! This is amazing! I’ll admit, this is not an everyday drinking beer. It’s challenging. I don’t want to sit around with my friends at a bbq and throw back a few of these. That said, with the right food...maybe some herbed salmon as the beer would really cut the fat and the herbs and yeast would go great together...this would be a fine accompaniment to a night with good companionship. The grapes are just as forward in the taste as it was in the smell, with their lightly acidic presence starting this beer off similar to a Belgian Flanders Red almost, just minus the vinegar-like flavor. The malt is closest to a Belgian-style Dubbel, lending the beer a figgy, raisiny character, and provides a counter to that brightness from the grapes. This is really a beer to think on as the complexities just continue to unwind. I could write pages on this one, but I won’t. Cynthiana is a testament to why the Rare Beer Club is a great one: the only way to get this beer is to subscribe. Thanks to RBC for sending this to us!
Microbrasserie Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique Grande Cuvée
You know how your friend, that guy who “knows about beer” says Guinness is black? Well grab a bottle of this and pour it for him next to his beloved Guinness, then ask, “Which is black?!” With an appealing cafe con leche head and black-as-night-in-the-middle-of-nowhere body, this is a dark beer!
When I picked up the glass, the first thing I noticed was dark chocolate with a light sweetness. It’s an unbelievably pleasant smell that is inviting to its very core. At 10% abv, you can’t smell a bit of alcohol, but you can still tell that this is a beverage meant for adults only. On a second sniff, I get a bit of cocoa butter, slightly creamier than the first whiff but just as tantalizing. Honestly, I’m excited to drink this beer!
In case you’re wondering, it’s just as rich and chocolaty as it smells! While you can’t smell the alcohol, it’s a minor compliment to the richness of the taste, affirming that this is a beer only fit for those who have reached a certain age of majority. As you swirl it around your mouth, the taste develops into a rich, dark fruit and roasty grain filled experience. Figs and dates are the first thing that comes to my mind to describe the sweetness. But, just as quickly as they appear, a dry, dark chocolate finish comes through to erase those thoughts. This beer is bitter from the roasted malts and sweet from the barley all at once. This is one to sip contemplatively by a fire for an hour or so, or share with a friend while having a deep conversation. This is not a beer to be taken lightly. While I’m not one for ranking beers, I can definitely see why Porter Baltique won “World’s Best Baltic Porter” at the World Beer Awards. This thing is phenomenal! I don’t want to drink a lot of it, but damn am I enjoying the bit I have! The more I sip it, the more comes out: coffee, jam, chocolate, malt and much more. It’s like flavors flying at you and it’s an effort to comprehend them all, so don’t. Just sit and enjoy. It’s a flavor-dense beer. It’s almost palette overload. But all in a remarkably good way.