TASTE FIRST: Beau’s Sargon

At the time I uncapped my first two of Beau’s 2014 barrel-aged series, I had no regrets. Gilgamesh – an old ale aged in rum barrels, soft in texture with a dark, fruity sweetness – and the Chardonnay-aged wheat wine, Ashnan, with its more syrupy-sweet edge, were both highly satisfying. I shared them with a couple friends (a couple sips stolen by my wife) over a winning round of Cards Against Humanity. It was a good night.

These are two of the more interesting Canadian beers I’ve consumed that also taste really, really, really quite good. Other beaver-worshipping brewers whip up world class representations of classic styles, while dozens more create experimental batches that compel a drinker to sit up and take note. But these… these are truly a special leap into the unknown. This is throwing curd cheese and brown sauce on fries for the first time and coming up poutine.

The few that have added their reviews to ratebeer.com weren’t quite so enthusiastic, but I stand by my initial impressions. My only regret about opening those first two bottles when I did was not allowing myself a chance to do more fulsome assessments.

Last night I flipped the cap off the third in my quartet, and tumbled Sargon into a tulip glass (Siduri, a white pepper saison, has a Ken Burns / Netflix date with me tonight), and took some notes:

Beau's Sargon ginger beer, aged in rum barrels
Beau’s Sargon ginger beer, aged in rum barrels

Sargon is described as a strong ginger beer (6.0%) aged in rum barrels, inspired by the classic ginger beer and rum cocktail known as Dark & Stormy. Brewed with an organic grain bill of barley and rye, it pours a honeyed-red base, capped by a thick, rocky head reminiscent of lightly buttered meringue.

If you’ve had Crabbie’s or Melville’s, don’t expect this to be the same. Right from the first smell you’ll note the ginger is more subdued, with notes of black pepper, apple cider vinegar and honeysuckle coming through.

The sharp malt flavour is dominant, but very nicely dosed with ginger and cane sugar. Rum barrel remnants are subtle, but undoubtedly contribute to the menthol-like afterglow that creeps up into the nasal passage.

I didn’t love this one quite as much as the Gilgamesh or Ashnan, but neither was I remotely disappointed.

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