by Chip Chabot
A recent gift to me, I finally cracked open the Allagash Confluence bottle that had been hiding in the fridge.
This brew is an, “ale fermented with Brettanomyces and dry hopped” (that’s a label quote). The label also mentions something about April 2014 – so it is at least fresh! It comes in at 7.4% ABV so not exactly a session beer, and it also comes with the handy warning to open cautiously, contents are under pressure. The bottle is cork sealed with a wire basket – fancy!
The website states that pilsner and domestic malts, along with caramel malt, for the grain profile, with Tettnang and East Kent Golding providing the bittering and aroma, then dry hopped with Glacier. Belgian and Brett yeast were used. To a better-trained palette, I am sure that the brew lives up to the marketing language from the website.
My personal take on the beer – I found the Confluence to be an immediately enjoyable beer. Brett aside, it has a really nice malt flavor, well balanced with the hops. There was a pleasant, spicy aroma initially that faded somewhat quickly (I nursed the beer for a whole 9-10 minutes… almost a record for me!). I particularly liked the malt taste profile – I have an unreasonable fear of specialty beers and their malt profiles – I usually find the base grain bill to be a bit overpowering for the golden and Belgian specialty ales. And the Brett – finicky Brett – I thought the Brett lent just the right amount of bitter/sweet taste to the initial tasting, with a subdued lingering aftertaste. You could certainly taste the Brett, but it didn’t overpower anything else in the beer. Overall, I found it to be a very well-balanced beer – Brett-tart, solid mouth feel and a great overall taste, with a pleasant aftertaste.
While not a session beer, I would certainly enjoy drinking two or three of these (or more) before being tossed in the back of the car for the ride home. I usually enjoy most offerings from Allagash unabashedly (there is a word-play joke in there somewhere), and the Confluence keeps the streak alive.