Day Nine - Schneider Aventinus Eisbock (Germany, 12%)
After a couple of diversions, we return to 'treacle and plums' territory with Aventinus Eisbock, a beer that sits alongside Traquair House Ale and Brother Thelonious in a category of strong, dark, warming winter ales. Although unusual in some ways - it's produced using the controversial eisbock method in which ice is removed from partially frozen beer, leaving liquid with a higher concentration of alcohol - the flavour isn't so far out. It has close cousins in Belgian beers like Westmalle Dubbel or strong British ales like Adnams Broadside, though its considerably stronger than either. Although it's a variation of weissbier, the estery banana and clove flavours common to that style are no more pronounced here than in either of those examples.
The alcoholic strength is a notable factor in the flavour; this tastes seriously strong, although the heat is pitched at fireside warmth rather than unpleasant alcohol burn. I swear I could feel my cheeks ruddying after just a couple of sips. There's a huge concentration of flavour, too, with madeira, figs, blackberries and blackcurrants leaping out amongst the aforementioned treacle and plums, and there's a pleasant tingly citrus thing in the finish which recalls sherbet or cola.
Pleasant though it is, I found it heavy going - it took me over an hour to finish the 330ml bottle, which ideally I ought to have shared. I'd drink it again, although preferably no more than about a third of a bottle and never if the regular Aventinus was an option.