Beer Review 0334: Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve
The world’s first virtual microbrewery? That’s what was created in 1995 when Gene Muller launched Flying Fish Brewing Company. And the virtual brewery quickly led to something tangible.
Muller started a simple website that was a resource detailing all the ins and outs of everything needed to begin a microbrewery. Positive press coverage allowed for a good amount of feedback, eventually leading to investors and brewers wanting to make the magic happen — for real.
Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Flying Fish is the largest craft brewery in the state, churning out seven year-round beers, seasonals, and special releases.
Grand Cru Winter Reserve is, as you guessed, a seasonal. It is offered November-February, and is a Belgian-style Strong Ale that is fermented at a higher temperature than most beers, which adds fruitiness and clove notes to the brew. This beer is 6.9% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 10 IBUs (International Bitterness Units.)
Pouring delivered an average size, frothy and moderately fast diminishing head. The bottom of the bottle did have a significant amount of yeast sediment, and when pouring the remainder in my glass, I did notice that it helped head retention. The color of the beer is golden-orange, with a cloudy body that has a light amount of suspended particles. Lacing was very sparse; only a couple of patches, really nothing much to report.
The nose reminded me very much of a light Belgian Tripel; lots of clove, along with a big presence of orange. There was a dry spiciness that mixed nicely with some lemongrass; the malt body was grainy and straw-like, and there were small whiffs of pink bubblegum and alcohol. As it warmed, the orange got a little flatter and sweeter, becoming candied and less inviting.
Clove hits the taste buds first, along with ample amounts of orange peel and juicy lemon. Surprisingly, there is a turn to the dark fruits, featuring raisin and prune, leading to a grainy and soft finish, much like a lager. It’s dry and crisp, leaving the mouth with a final hint of orange. Grand Cru is medium-bodied, with a medium, extremely foamy mouthfeel that when swished, grows exponentially. Be careful!
Kudos to Flying Fish for a non-normal winter offering. Grand Cru has good flavors and a tricky finish that is refreshing, light, and easy on the alcohol. Not bad at all.
Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve, 88 points. Price: $1.79 US for one twelve ounce bottle.