Many years ago when I was in college, my fraternity brothers and I decided one day that we were going to expand our alcohol horizons and start drinking the “good stuff.” After all, we’d poured through every conceivable macro brew and cheap booze known to man (and some that should have never seen the light of day). So instead of Fratty Natty (Natural Ice Light) or Hawkeye Vodka (we were in Iowa), we started trying things like Bombay Sapphire, and Absolut (yes, we thought that was good at the time). But one alcohol we mistakenly got into was Jim Beam 8 Star. A blended bourbon produced from the dregs and runoffs from Jim Beam’s normally decent whiskey offerings. It’s so bad they don’t even list it any longer on their company website. I think they’re embarrassed. But man, did we love it. We mixed it with everything…Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and even Mountain Dew. But we never took it straight. That would have meant immediate death. As this bourbon was toxic. The kind of stuff you’d expect Appalachian mountain men to consume at backwoods gatherings under the cover of darkness. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was drinking this concoction when I was duct-taped in the middle of January to the front porch Corinthian columns of the neighboring sorority house by my buddies, and my pants pulled down for all the world to witness. Oh, and they rang the doorbell too. All I can say is, I was in the pool.  

Approximately 12 years later, enter Allagash Curieux. What a unique beer. My palate must be getting more precise, because even before I really looked at the bottle label I took one sip and immediately thought “wow, this tastes like a really good triple aged in oak barrels.” And I guess I was right.

I have to give Allagash serious credit. Because they pulled off what could be a difficult brewing task…combining what is normally a fairly delicate beer style with a healthy dose of oak. Only an ale with a high alcohol content could handle something like that, otherwise the oak would overpower the whole thing. And this one comes in at 11% ABV, so plenty strong enough to balance the hints of bourbon imparted by the casks. This beer is aged for 8 weeks in Jim Beam barrels (and I’m guessing not the same ones used to make Beam’s 8 Star). The result is a fantastically complex ale. On one hand, you have a world-class Triple, and on the other, a hint of some of the finest bourbon out there.

Poured from a bomber with a small head. Pretty hazy, light golden coloring, seem to be lots of yeast floating around. You immediately smell the oak. It’s great. The website talks about coconuts and vanilla in the nose. I can buy that. Probably more coconut than vanilla as the ale warmed. Before I get into the taste, a warning…sip this one. Cherish it. Because it’ll sneak up on you and knock you on your ass. It starts out with that distinctive triple flavor…very Belgian. Then immediately kicks into the bourbon, providing a very dry finish.

I think Allagash has found a way to put happiness in a bottle. Nice recommendation, Vice Blogger.

Rating: A

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