1L, imposing bottle, 2010 vintage. After perusing the other Helles offerings from this brewery on this site, I saw absolutely no mention of any barrel aging, so this must be a new offering, of sorts. Prove me otherwise, and merge at will, I say. Anyways, been saving this for my birthday, and thoughtful gifts already opened, time to do the same to this one.
This beer pours a slightly glassy, medium copper amber hue, with a half finger of wispy off-white head, which bleeds away very quickly, leaving a low-slung array of streaky lace around the glass in the process - good, but I've seen other elevated ABV beers that provided more viscerally appealing looks, hence the underwhelming rating.
It smells of warm bready and caramelized malt, musty, soused orchard fruit - apricot, peach, and fallen oranges - and a lurking sweet booziness. The taste is dense, thick fruity malt - more apricot liqueur than a fresh tree's offering, say - cloying sugar solution, some timid woody notes, and a mild (weird to apply that term here, I know) musty hop essence. Oh yeah, and that simmering, bristling, not-quite-showing-all-its-cards alcohol sledgehammer edginess - I rather almost forgot.
The bubbles, they are surely there, but not to any really perceptible degree, given that mitigating factor (yup, that's a singular, duh), with a fully weighted body, props duly given to the sugary booze and sugary malt in that respect, which renders as kind of creepily smooth in the same manner. It finishes damned sweet, in case you might be still wondering, the fruity malt tempered somewhat, I guess, by subtle musty notes, hop or fruit-borne, my naked palate finding it hard to differentiate amongst the pressing boozy overtones.
Huh - the barrel-aged, or 'holzfass' version, here, doesn't clearly justify its existence, inasmuch as the inherent malty booziness allows no foreign malingering (cask or otherwise) interlopers into its pudgy, standard existence. A heady offering, this much is true - and well enough integrated into its alcoholic presumption, almost too much, as I fear that I've taken this one a wee bit too far. Meh - what else are ya gonna do with it, eh? Me, I think it's time to pair the rest of this fucker with a nice cigar.