Tsarina Esra Reserva
Brouwerij De Molen

Tsarina Esra ReservaTsarina Esra Reserva
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Baltic Porter
4.09 | pDev: 13.45%
Brouwerij De Molen
Retired (no longer brewed)
Tsarina Esra ReservaTsarina Esra Reserva
Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 37 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of kojevergas
3.24/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

"barrel aged Tsarina Esra Reserva." Imperial porter-ish.

23.4 plato. EBC 385. 93 EBU. Brewed with pils malt, caramalt, Munich malt, chocolate malt, wheat, premiant and sledek hops, and top fermenting yeast (i.e. this is in all probability an ale). 11% ABV.

BOTTLE: Unlike most De Molen beers, the label is not simple black and white; it's simple back and white plus orange. Note that "barrel aged" does appear above "Tsarina Esra Reserva" on my bottle, but my understanding is that this is merely a batch with new labeling as all Tsarina Esra Reserva is oak aged. 33cl format. Brown glass. Branded black pry-off crown cap. Bottle # 1051. Purchased at Plan B in Rotterdam for 6.50 euro. Bottled 01-04/2015. Best before: 01-04-2040 (boy, De Molen sure is optimistic).

HEAD: Pours a ~2cm cap of khaki-tan colour. Somewhat creamy. Nice consistency and complexion. Pretty robust. Retention is above average given the high ABV - ~2 minutes. Leaves no lacing as it recedes.

BODY: Predictably, it's an opaque black, but not the usual ink/jet black of De Molen's imperial stouts & porters. No yeast can be seen within.

Appears well-carbonated. It's a nice looking imperial porter, sure, but there are no unique or special characteristics here. Granted, this is a tough style to stand out in...

AROMA: Whisky, wood, Madeira port/wine, dessert-like malty sweetness, faint grape, maybe raisin, a hint of sherry wine, vinous notes, indistinct dark fruit (can't quite nail down what it is - dates?), a blip of possible sourness.

Aromatic intensity is quite subdued for an imperial porter, actually. I don't even pick up on any chocolate malt or overt dark malts. Wine (port, possible Madeira) easily dominates.

No hop presence, no yeast presence, no off-notes (to style). The barrel character does seem to lend it some aromatic alcohol presence, but it suggests a warm beer, not a boozy one.

TASTE & TEXTURE: The vinous and raisiny notes lend it some unfortunate unneeded coarseness and dryness, giving it a dragging, rough, parching prresence on the palate. Way to dry, in my opinion. Certainly unrefreshing, but that's to be expected. Unlike most De Molen beers, this seems overcarbonated. Full-bodied, of course, with plenty of thickness and heft giving it a heavy presence on the palate.

Wine does dominate, but it's not as sweet as I expected, coming in somewhere between a port and a sherry (if my extremely limited wine experience is at all to be trusted, and I don't think it is). Some kind of dark fruit (possibly dates, but this still bothers me) finds its way in, but can't ring distinct with wine drowning out everything else. Even the chocolate malts are barely noticeable, and the malt sweetness gets drowned out completely by the vinous character.

Somewhat tannic, but not quite astringent. Faint notes of char do emerge as it warms.

Wheat? I find none. Hops? Nope, but that's to style. No yeast presence either.

There's no harmony of texture and taste here. The dry mouthfeel really holds this back in my opinion. More wine-like acidity wouldn't be unwelcome.

Where's the oak presence? I haven't the slightest.

Average flavour duration and intensity for the style. Subpar depth of flavour. I don't care much for this build, and I find the barrel character overwhelms the base - or maybe the base just doesn't bring enough to the table?

Alcohol warmth is welcome here. It is an imperial porter, after all. But more intricacy would help give the alcohol warmth something to serve.

OVERALL: Mouthfeel is flat-out wrong for the style...an imperial porter should be smooth and wet, and this is more dry than the roastiest imperial stout out there. It's a sipper, sure, but the complexity and subtlety you'd expect in a world class imperial porter never emerges. It comes off rather simple for an imperial porter, and that's disappointing coming from a brewery as accomplished as De Molen. The vinous character needs to go, this needs an oak presence (with accompanying vanilla), and the malt backbone is quite weak.

I like that it puts the "port" in "porter," but the base beer really needs to offer more.

There are De Molen beers I adore, and I was prepared to adore this one. But the execution just isn't there. This emperor has clothes, sure - but only tidy whities and socks; put something more on, I beg you.

Not worth the 6.50 euro.

High C+ (3.24) / ABOVE AVERAGE

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown body with a soapy, lasting, beige head. Smoke, char, burnt malt, bourbon, alcohol heat. Smoke and char with burned wood and rich bourbon. Mild sweetness with a light tannic note. While the char character is incredibly forward, I still really enjoy this quite a lot, in spite of the imbalance. Distinctly European in style. Nice.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.11/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Got this one at the De Molen beer shop in Bodegraven. Out of the first batch so was happy to see them do this it over again.

From a bottle into a snifter
Batch #2
Bottle # 649
EBC: 385
EBU: 93
Bottled 1 April 2015
Best before 1 April 20140

APPEARANCE: A dark brown pour yields a 1+ finger, medium looking, creamy tan head with great retention. Black body with no real carbonation evident. Head fades to a full swirly and bubbly wisp and sticks to the sides of the glass. A splotchy wisp remains with only touches of lacing down the glass. Pretty good looking.

SMELL: Lots of oak, vanilla, wood, sweet cream, bourbon, and a bit of piercing alcohol. A bit solvent-like, unfortunately. Lots of good stuff going on, but that's a bit of a let down.

TASTE: Oak, tannins, lots of wood, cream and alcohol at the swallow. Milder but lingering finish of bourbon, oak, wood, some sweet cream and caramel sweetness. Tannins are there as well. Not overly bold or impressive but easy to drink.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. A little fizzy on the palate, goes down fine and finishes a but mouth-coating. Some heat lingers.

OVERALL: This is probably indicative of De Molen now. This is alright, but is not as impressive, forthcoming or interesting as the first batch. I hate to say it, but this seems to be rather common with a lot of their barrel aged brews now. I'm not sure if the base beer recipes just aren't translating over to the new system as easily, or if the available barrels aren't as rich as they were a few years ago. Or both. Whatever it is, I've always been impressed with what these guys do but have been somewhat underwhelmed recently.

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Photo of Marius
3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown pour, close to black, with a very thin lacing. Smells a bit like the base beer, dark fruit, roasted malts and sour cherries, with an addition of vanilla and hints of whiskey. Tastes like sour cherries, roasted malts, some vanilla, caramel and some kind of strong liquor, like apple brandy. The downside is that the mouthfeel feels much lighter than it should, and it also feels much carbonated than would feel nice.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.85/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Really dark brown pour with a thin layer of brown foam. You definitely get some barrel character in the aroma but also an astringent note. Taste starts with dark malts and some caramel and gets quite tart in the middle. It has a sour cheery note along the roasted malt. Lingers bitter in the aftertaste with the same astringent note. Body is medium-heavy with soft carbonation. Overall it's a good beer but not that well put together. Without the astringency it would have been much better.

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Photo of Sean9689
3.77/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a tan head. Sweet chocolate, smooth booze, burnt sugars, oak, some char, and peat. Flavor is a nice mix of smooth booze, chocolate, and peat...really smooth for 11%. Full body, light carbonation, creamy finish.

A nice RIS that I would have again. The peat is not overpowering and the booze is very smooth with nice chocolate notes. Recommend.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Kristina for sharing this rarity. Bottle #1016, but didn't jot down the batch info - guessing this from 2009 though. Served in a Glunz taster.

A - Tan foam settles to a thick colar, wisps on top, and minimal lacing. Black body with transparent ruby glints. The Tsarina is actually pretty sexy.

S - The wine barrel is pretty aggressive, lending a vinous and mildly sour grape flavor to the dark chocolate malts, and oaky vanilla.

T - Taste is also vinous, but not as aggressively so. More roast coffee, dark chocolate, and dark fruit malt flavors and less obvious barrel influence. Quite a different malt character than the H&V or BD series of beers, which is appreciated.

M - Smooth, medium-full body, chewy texture, lower carbonation, and minimal alcohol presence.

D - I liked this quite a bit, even though Jason insisted the bottle he had in Finland was vastly superior. Easy to drink, with a rich flavor profile, and nice wine barrel integration. Would happily drink this again if it weren't so hard to track down.

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Photo of spdyfire83
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

64th Review
Bottle to snifter
Bottle #094

Shared with farundrpar on a recent visit to Amsterdam. Consumed side-by-side with Tsarina Esra Imperial Porter.

A: Dark brown. Barely half (smooth white) fingernail head on vigorous pour.

S: Distinct bourbon barrel nose. Charred and ash. Chocolate and caramel. Dark, roasted malt.

T: Deep, dark cocoa and molasses. Strong dark, roasted malt. Hint of dark chocolate reminds me of a molten lava cake, but not overly sweet. Bourbon comes thru at tail end of palate and warms the soul. Well done!

M: Full bodied with soft carbonation.

O: Compared to its Imperial Porter brother, this beer is off the charts! I thoroughly enjoyed the bourbon presence in this beer as well as the beautiful hint of sweet that is discussed above. Not overly robust or too complex, but just right. This is a beer that should be consumed on a cold winter night by the fire! Save your money and just buy this one; skip the Imperial Porter version.

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Photo of mulder1010
1.65/5  rDev -59.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

180 ML nip bottle poured into a snifter

A-- NO piff, no sound when opening. Ah, no carbonation. Wonderful. Poured dark cola color. A few bubbles here and there and a small circle of lacing for film. Brings back bad memories of a flat Black Damnation I got from them.

S-- Still has a nose so we press on. Lots of sweet malts. Kind of a root beer smell. Also get touches of oak as well. Soft nose and no ABV smell.

T-- Candied char, ash and burnt rubber. For the love of Mikkeller. Quite thin. But it lacks carbonation you say. I am totally not impressed.

M-- Thin, obviously lacking carbonation, sweet and has a finish of the usual char, ash and tires. At least Mikkeller gets carbonation right.

O-- Drinkable for not carbonated. I keep telling me I am drinking a sherry from the Netherlands. Might be a decent port. Paid $11 for a 180 ML not carbonated RIS. Next time label this as a port. Brutal.

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Photo of nickhiller
2.95/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Coke brown, not very dark for a RIS.

S: strong grains and pungent cheese, smells like a brewery, rose.

T: super cheesy, chalky and charcoaly, butterscotch or burnt buttered popcorn. Aftertaste suggests pear.

M: on the watery side, too thin to support the strong flavors.

O: There was nothing to really glom on to here, underwhelming.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to beeruser for sharing this one! Bottle #907 of 1216! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller flute. Poured pitch black with a half finger brown head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, roasted malt, dark chocolate, wood, and dark fruit. The flavor was of sweet malt, roasted malt, dark chocolate, wood, sweet alcohol, and dark fruit. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a great brew. The flavor and aroma on this one were nothing short of excellent to say the least. For 11% the alcohol was not very intense as the dark chocolate notes helped to cover it up almost completely and gave it more of a sweet taste rather than a burning aftertaste. My only gripe with this brew is that it was a little high on the carbonation level, but still quite good as the carbonation helped to break up the heavy feel on the palate and made it feel like more of a creamy texture. A well done brew for sure.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a huge dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light rounded notes of scotch with light roasted malt with well balanced sweet undertones. Taste is a great mix between light roasted malt with sweetness notes and some subtle notes of scotch. Body has a nice creamy texture with well rounded body with great carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well brewed with nice level of complexity and no apparent alcohol.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Date: 01/20/2011
Type: Nip Size Bottle
Vintage: 2009
Glassware: Radeberger Pilsner Glass

Poured a dark brown mahoghany in color w/ a 1 finger creamy tan head that left heavy lacing on the glass. Tremendous look. Nose was of dark burnt chocolate, cherry, dark fruits, and some oak. Taste was of mostly the same, burnt chocolate covered dark fruits up front w/ a finish of slight booze and good hop bite to prevent it from becoming cloying. Medium bodied - a bit thin for the style. 11% ABV was pretty well hidden, but rears head slightly, bottle size is right IMO.

Overall, glad to have sampled and would not turn down another opportunity. Not mind boggling, but a very solid RIS. Only knock would be a bit thin and tough to drink volumes of.

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Photo of gford217
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Another gem provided by Jan, poured into a snifter. 18cl Bottle #434, bottled October 2009.

Pours dark, dark brown, not quite black, with a frothy beige head that recedes to a small cap and leaves some delicate lacing.

The aroma is sweet with chocolate malts and dark fruits. There is a slightly smoked malt presence and some light coffee and a faint oak character. A fairly light aroma for a RIS.

The taste really mirrors the aroma with a dominant caramel, vanilla and chocolate sweetness.

The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied for an RIS with good carbonation. It's a bit light on the feel overall though.

This is an excellent beer but it's certainly on the lighter side of things for an RIS. Extremely drinkable but not overly complex.

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Photo of Sigmund
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from the oak cask in which it had been aged, at the GBBF 2008. Room temperature, gravity dispense. Pitch black colour, minimal head. Intense aroma of tar, woodwork, coffee, liquorice and alcohol. Intensely roasty flavour with coffee, alcohol, tar, liquorice and dark bitter chocolate. Pretty impressive, but certainly not easy drinking.

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Photo of corby112
4.52/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours deep dark brown almost black complete opaque chocolate brown hues. Light beige head.  Thin lasting ring

Sweet bourbon alcohol aroma with roasted chocolate malt, caramel, oatmeal, toffee, and bourbon which doesn't overpower the other flavors. There is also some raisin, bourdeaux barrel, wood and vanilla hints in the nose.

Medium bodied with some sweet bourbon alcohol that is not overpowering with an excellent balance of chocolate malt, slight roast coffee, toffee, vanilla and earthy oak. Slightly vinous and sweet with a nice barrel presence. Delicious and incredibly quaffable. The high ABV is excellently masked.

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Photo of ricke
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage.

Dark brown with a medium-sized beige and fizzy head quickly fading away. Not really any lacings.

The smell is nice and deep. Lots of round mature fruit aromas, some edgy spices, toffee and caramel. Bog woody notes. Not very roasty. Hints if minerals as well. A very vinous smell that really grows on you.

The taste is dominated by rich vinous fruit notes coupled with earth, spices, minerals and a hint of plastic. Salt licorice and wood. Smooth and sweet malts struggle to break through, together with aromas of chocolate, toffee and caramel. Hints of grape skin. The finish is spot on with a perfectly integrated note of warming alcohol, dry semi-tart fruit notes and grass. The taste is really aromatic from start to finish.

Full bodied and smooth with a dry finish.

All in all, very good and very impressive. The crude description "tastes like a musty red wine blended with porter" would actually be quite fitting. The wine barrel character is really intense, very close to overpowering. I really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of xpimptastikx
4.07/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled October 2009.

A - Pitch black with a thin sheet of cocoa head. No lacing.

S - Brown sugar, molasses, roasted malts, and cocoa. There's also a smokey tobacco/leather smell with apparent alcohol.

T - Molasses, cocoa, malts, and alcohol. There hops are still present as well at 92IBUs

M/D - Mouthfeel is great, full body with light carbonation. I'm very glad this bottle from De Molen was carbonated. Drinkability suffers due to the alcohol heat, it needs some time.

This beer was complex and interesting, but still a little too hot to fully enjoy. I'm sure it would last a while in a cellar.

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Photo of Travlr
4.42/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #806 poured by Glenn at Alvinne - thanks Glen!
A: Very dark maroon color with an edge head and some lacing.
S: Aroma of chocolate and bitter cocoa.
T: Flavor starts with milk chocolate then progresses to roasted espresso beans and vanilla, well-balanced and dry.
M: Very good body.
D: Nice De Molen brew.

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Tsarina Esra Reserva from Brouwerij De Molen
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 37 ratings