I actually found this beer at Cool Wines in Hobart, and seeing the weather has cooled again today, a dark beer aged in oak barrels feels right.
On the pour I initially had some syrupy red wine, then some chocolate, before it seems with an alkaline smell that reminded me quite a bit of dark beers I tasted from Belgium. There wasn't much head to come from it, and some slight winey/dark malt sweetness is coming back into the aroma as it gets exposed to the air.
One first taste there is quite a bit of flavour, but is evened out better than other dark beers I have had from Europe. I assume it is the oak aging that has brought about this mellowness. It is funny though, the sweetness in flavour seems to increase as it passes over the palate, but the alkaline in the aroma seems to help cleanse the sweetness on the back, along with the fact that the sweetness does have a thin, refined and artificial sense to it that helps remove it easily from the taste profile. It is also interesting to have this sweet and then alkaline flavour on the front of the tongue, before the even out on midpalate and slides down with very slight alkaline aftertaste, but does not leave the tongue too dry. As I said, the oak aspect does allow for a general mellowness making it much easier to drink that some other dark beers of this style, and better melding of the flavours, so there is no big spike or overbearing aspect. I would expect there may be more spikiness if I had cooled this beer before tasting, and the sweetness does take on a caramel slant as it warms/oxidises further. I would assume it was about 8-10 degrees when I tasted it. The oak would also seem to add some body to the beer, and while it still has that familiar thinness in texture, it still manages to coat the tongue substantially to allow the taster to appreciate the flavours and their profile. I am actually fairly impressed with this beer, maybe just as I have tried a few of its type and been mostly disappointed with the aspects I thought I might find in it. Maybe I just don't appreciate the raw flavours that normally come from a Belgium Brune, and so why I was attracted to the oak ageing, and which for me, have helped me enjoy this style better. Anyway, happy to have found and tried this beer to get a better understanding of it.
In other news, I took around some gluten free beer for my cousin's birthday yesterday, and it seemed ok, and has a definite European slant that I found interesting and not offensive (not bad for some of the GF beers I have tried). The Estrella Daura has a fairly refined sugary front before it waters and evens out in flavour on the midpalate before a dry and astringent end comes through at the end.
As my cousin is about to marry a bloke with Finnish ancestry, and I have been asked to MC the gig, I have neem doing some research and found that there is actually a style of beer from Finland that is traditionally drunk at weddings. It is called Sahti and has notes of juniper and honey. Thanks to Craig and Paul at Purvis, I managed to get their last bottle of a Nogne O Sahti to give to them last night, in the hope they can contact some of his family to get some real Sahti from over there. Anyway, if anyone here can give me a hand in understanding or sourcing more of the Nogne O Sahti or even 'real' Sahti, that would be greatly appreciated.