A rarity, Port Brewing's Belgian wing, Lost Abbey's, most coveted beer, the Angels' Share, popped up on tap at the Long Room, a terrific beer pub near my place in Chicago. I've had it once before, but was required to order it this time since I knew I'd not see it again for the rest of the year, if ever. A.S. is a celebrated barleywine (12.5%), and is heavily allocated and I'm told generates long lines in San Diego upon its annual release.
I'm not sure I'd fuss about it as much as others, but it's an elegant beer. It's properly served in a stemmed glass or chalice, and pours no head. A.S. sits there waiting for you like a dark bog, a mysterious tar pool. It's black, maybe purple, and it's nose offers dark fruits, bourbon, and medicine. This is an extremely complex beer: every sip suggests a different flavor. Of course you get bourbon from the barreling, but you can also derive honey, blackberries, chocolate covered fruit, syrah, and even cherry from it. It all depends on the sip. Towards the end, as it warms, a more bourbon-syrupy flavor predominates.
HOLY WATER, DRINK OR POUR DOWN THE SINK: Ironically, I'd have to go with a very strong "Drink" rating. It's not my favorite style - I prefer stronger beers - but I get the fuss. A beer of this complexity is hard to achieve and will certainly excite fans of the style. The scarcity of this beer makes it a must have wherever you find it. I find it to be a great primer for a rock-ribbed IPA, a path I followed courtesy of Port's Wipe Out IPA.