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Allagash Odyssey

May 10, 2011

Allagash is one of those few breweries out there that chose a theme and stuck to it. Every so often, various breweries will delve into the Belgian style and produce something that’s either very good or very bad, but no matter what they still offer their German, or English beers. Allagash on the other hand is dedicated to the Belgian style, and this dedication is probably why I’ve never experienced a misstep from them. Belgian beers in my experience are generally somewhat sweeter than other styles which is part of why I feel a lot of breweries screw things up. This sweetness requires the balance of other flavors that are often neglected, since after all one shouldn’t be making a wit without some bitter orange peel and coriander on hand. Allagash clearly understands how to approach this brewing style, which is why I decided to jump into their most recent experiment: the barrel-aged Odyssey.

Very rarely is barrel-aging not indicative of high alcoholic content and so I was not surprised in the least when this dark Belgian beer was delivered to me in a ten ounce glass. Held within that beautiful globe atop a sturdy stem was an inky black mixture that possessed a surprisingly light barely-caramel head. The beer had a sweet boozy scent to it blended with hints of brown sugar, toffee, and for some reason I could smell a light fruit hint that reminded me of currants.

Despite my worries of the alcohol overpowering the taste like the scent, I was actually pleasantly surprised. The Odyssey went smoothly down my throat and left a beautiful panorama of tastes in its wake. The beer possesses a variety of sweet tastes in the foreground, though mainly toffee and vanilla. However, the oak aging shines through by providing a wonderful balance to this creamy sweet taste, creating a perfect woody almost chocolate aftertaste. Overall, I found that Allagash has once again shown that the Belgian style is one of careful balance that when done properly creates a beer that you’re torn between recommending to friends and trying to horde for yourself.

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