Bell's Eccentric Ale 2008 (Released 2009) (on-tap)
I didn't make it to Eccentric Day this year. I wanted to go, but I had to work 9-5 yesterday and then Shana's MFA program had a graduate reading that we went to, and by the time we had stopped by after a quick after-reading drink with some friends in the program, Bell's was packed. College kid crowd. Not exactly the kind of environment for checking out such an awesome brew.
But after an amazing lunch at Juanita's today, wherein we befriended an adorable 4-year old who was the granddaughter of one of the cooks (that's really how you know that a place is really and truly locally-owned and -operated -- you can't help but befriend the small children of the owners), Shana asked, "Hey, did you want to stop at Bell's?"
"Ah, well, I guess it's on the way home," I replied laconically, demonstrating my great skill at understatement.
I really wanted to stop in and check for some homebrew supplies, although I'm waiting another paycheck or so before I buy my grains for my next brewing session, but when I went in I noticed they had a handful of bottles of this year's Eccentric Ale in their cooler. Five bucks a bottle is steep, sure, but it's a once-brewed release, barely in bottles at all, and you could get six bottles for $25.00. So I sucked it up, decided I'd just be eating cheap this week, and bought a sixer.
When I got to the register I asked the guy behind the counter if they had any of the Eccentric left over at the bar. He said, basically, "I don't know, but you could always stop in and find out..."
So Shana and I ended up having a couple of 8oz glasses of Eccentric Ale as a kind of post-lunch binge. It's a bit parsimonious that Eccentric Day fell on the same day as the first major snowfall of the year, because it's hard to think of another beer that would've been a better way to stave off the icy cold. If there's another beer that better-deserved to be described as "milky" than this year's Eccentric, I don't know what it is -- a dark brown milky body with a minuscule head was what appeared in my 8oz snifter glass.
The aroma was heavenly (and got a perfect 5.0/5 in my BA review) -- it's full of chocolate-covered cherries, a Belgian tartiness and yeastiness, and even a bit of sourness. After I had composed my notes on the aroma and read it back to Shana, she replied that she thought it smelled like apples. Well, of course, I thought, since the cherry aroma that I got with the tarty yeastiness could easily add together as "apples" to anyone not totally obsessed with beer manufacture; it's entirely possible that some persons not as wholly involved in the craft beer scene are actually better at picking out concrete flavors than those of us with years-old BeerAdvocate profiles. A topic for another day, perhaps.
The flavor on this one is very similar to the aroma, with a nice roasty caramelized sugar flavor and lots of fruity deliciousness. I can't say for absolute certain that Belgian yeast strains were used on this beer, but if they weren't I will be very surprised. This has the same kind of complexity that I'd expect from a high-quality Belgian, and it has the same ability to change slightly in character with almost every sip.
Mouthfeel is thick, luxurious, and amazing. The "milk" character really comes through here. And for a beer with this much alcohol, it's remarkable how drinkable it is. I've heard that other years' offerings have been a bit overly sweet, but this one seemed very balanced and quite clean.
So now I've got six bottles of Eccentric Ale to drink. I think I'm going to store them in my garage for awhile and let them age a bit -- I'll bet this is just as good in five years as it is today.
My overall BA rating: 4.55/5