Blind Review 0001: A Review of a Disguised Beer

Welcome to my very first (of hopefully many) blind reviews! The ground rules here are simple: I give my girlfriend a budget, which will usually be $20. She goes into our local bottle shop, picks out a six pack of whatever she wants. She will then disguise the beer whilst chilling in the fridge, and when it comes time to pour, she does the pouring. I review the beer, not knowing anything about it, and then the beer is revealed to me, and to you.

Originally, when I came up with this idea, I was going to go into the review knowing only the style of the beer. I decided to eschew that, as it would allow for me to take a guess and see how good I am at guessing all the different styles of beer.

Keep in mind that a blind review could be anything, including beer I’ve reviewed on this site before.

You’re looking at the picture above correctly. The bottle up for review today is a twelve ounce beer, disguised by tinfoil. Let’s get to it.

The pour produced a small to average head that did last for a lengthy period, which was quite nice. The contrast between the head and color of the beer was very pleasant; the head was slightly tan atop a very dark brown liquid, which when held to the light gave way to some ruby highlights. Although opaque, I could tell by the bottom of the glass that this beer was free of particles and sediment, and a peek into the empty bottle proved as much. The lacing left behind was excellent.

Malt dominated the aromatics, leaving nice bits of caramel, coffee, and toffee in the nose. There was an attempt at balance here with a light hop presence, which gave the drink a fruity and perfume-like aroma. In the very background, there was a touch of sweet candy. While the aroma was pleasant, it seemed very safe and nothing twisted my nose hairs into glorious submission.

Down the hatch, and first thing tasted is some caramel, followed by an almost-dark chocolate. There are a bit of dark fruits lingering about; raisins and prunes. Then the finish comes and turns bittersweet, leaving some of that chocolate behind and introducing a smokey, burnt toast flavor subtly on the backend.

This was an easy drinker with some good flavors, but everything just seemed to be played safe. For a beer to really be outstanding, typically something has to be out of whack. You won’t find any of that here, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just a good, decent beer that anyone with good taste would be happy drinking any old day.

My style guess: I’m guessing this is a Brown Ale, judging by the chocolate character and overall sweetness.

So what beer is this?

New Belgium 1554, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 88 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle. Alcohol by volume: 5.6%.

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