Beer Review 0334: Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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