Perusing the shelves of the local liquor emporium yesterday, I spotted a sixer of Long Trail’s Double Bag Ale. I had tasted this one in the past, but I couldn’t quite remember what it was all about. Always down for an adventure, especially of the beer variety, I whisked it away to my secret beer-tasting laboratory (also called “the basement”). Test results were conclusive: I like this beer.
From the label: DOUBLE BAG – This full-bodied double alt is also known as “Stickebier” – German slang for “secret brew”. The secret is that this brew is so smooth, you’d never believe it has an alcohol content of 7.2%!!! INDULGE IN MODERATION!!!!!Holy crow! 7.2%?? I agree, I wouldn’t have guessed an ABV that high from the taste – it is pretty damn smooth, and nicely balanced. However, I have a problem with authority and don’t like being issued commands from beer labels. I’ll indulge any damn way I please! Which tonight meant having two. (Hey, it’s a work night!)
Anyway, down to the nitty gritty:
After pouring, a whiff exposes you to a really nice caramel nose with some toasty grain notes. No real hop aroma to speak of – this one leans to the malty side. The aroma makes my nose tell my brain, “Call mouth and ask him what the hell he’s waiting for!”
The appearance is inviting – the beer is a beautiful amber color and pours with a nice off-white head. It is read-a-newspaper-through-the-glass clear. The head dissipates quickly and leaves very little lace on the side of the glass.
The beer is nicely balanced. Upon first sip, I was greeted with a big caramel maltiness, with enough bitterness to cut through and prevent it from being too sweet. The beer tastes substantial – the only clue to its large ABV. It is really smooth – there is no hint of alcohol heat, and it goes down quick, but you can tell this isn’t a session beer. The hop bitterness lingers on the tongue and makes itself known in the aftertaste as the sweet malt flavor fades away.
The beer has a low carbonation level, lending to it’s smooth taste. A bit higher and I think the maltiness would have been cut too much, sending the beer out of balance (I wonder if this is on draft anywhere, and what they carb it at on tap?) The beer is thicker than an normal altbier, but that is to be expected with the higher ABV – it’s sort of an imperial alt, or at least as close to one as I’ve tasted. It sticks to the roof of your mouth a little.
This one is good enough to require some more study. The more I think about it, the more I like it. Nice, rich flavor without being too overpowering – it’s not trying to set any records, just stepping the ol’ altbier up a notch. It’s probably better suited to cooler weather – I’m sure I would enjoy it even more on a cool Fall night, but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate it in July. If you like altbier (and you should!) and are feeling frisky, go pick up a pack and see what you think. I have a feeling a clone of this one is going to make its way into my Oktoberfest brewing schedule.