Kuhnhenn Fourth Dementia Olde Ale
Sayeth the Guys:
Karl: I’ll admit – I’m neither as familiar nor as much of a fan as I’d like to be of the Old Ale style. Nothing I’ve tried has ever really jumped up and grabbed me and said “This! this is what an old ale can do!” Words can’t quite paint a picture of how dramatically my mindset on Old Ales was shifted by these two beers, because holy hell, wow these beers were crazy-go-nuts, but I’ll try.
I tried the ‘10 Fourth Dementia first, because why not, and the first sip had my trying to wrap my brain around exactly what this beer was even doing. Gargantuan and hefty, this beer explodes on contact and leaves nothing in its wake – at 13.5% ABV one would expect nothing less.
Some “WTF” scents of seawater floated up from the glass while I tasted toffee, caramel, dark-fruit sweetness and figs, all dancing around a mid-range body with levels of taste that shouldn’t be held by a beer this dense. It’s like they broke apart physics and put it back just different enough to pack double the flavor of a beer into one liquid beverage in one bottle.
This beer is insane.
Slightly less insane but still crazy was the ‘11 Fourth Dementia, shockingly darker than the ‘10 and considerably less developed in flavor but no less intense. This beer had an unpleasant overtone of cold medicine or cough syrup leading the way down the trail to hugeness, but behind that you could see the backbone of everything that the ‘10 followed through on. We drank a lot of beers the night we tried this, but these were the beers that I was tasting all throughout the next day – they held on tight and didn’t let go a bit.
I’m almost afraid to recommend it, as I feel it might be too strong for nearly anyone. You know how 2nd Amendment activists will acknowledge the need to keep grenade launchers and M60′s out of the hands of the public? That’s kinda how I feel about entering the Fourth Dementia. Only trained, licensed and permit-carrying beer drinkers should attempt to handle.
Ryan: To put this beer into perspective for myself I looked back on my unpublished notes of a fresh tasting of the 2010 Fourth Dementia. And even fresh as fresh can get this beer is nothing short of magnificent.
Fresh out of the bottle you’re greeted with loads of vanilla bean, sugar cane, caramel, marshmallows and Wirthers on the nose. It’s overwhelming, to say the least. The flavor profile follows through with huge notes of toffee, caramel, raisins and fruit cake.
Now that you have the same perspective I did, let’s see how the 2010 Fourth Dementia is drinking two years later and what a roughly year-old 2011 is doing now.
Right out of the gate, with a two-year old bottle of the 2010, you get a feel for the ludicrous complexity of this beer. The aroma coming out of the tasting glass is huge on the dark fruits. The smell itself is almost cloying. And you get much of the same on the palate. In no particular order I picked up; dates, plums, figs, chocolate covered cherries, caramel, toffee and – strangely, banana and clove.
The body was creamy but also carried a sharp acidity with it too. Strangely, the 13.5 percent ABV was hard to pick up, likely masked by the intensity of everything else happening in the glass.
I fully expected the 2011 to be either an angrier version of the 2010 in terms of acidity and alcohol harshness or bolder with bigger flavors – if that’s even possible. While the two were a tad alike, the 2011 had its own vastly unique aromas and flavors.
The first to grab my attention was the nose; full of graham cracker, marshmallow fluff and a bit of chocolate. Essentially, this smelled like a S’more. Take a sip and you get a S’more with a fine box of chocolates on the side – bitter dark chocolate with a creamy vanilla nugget center.
Each beer was remarkably complex, highly drinkable and incredibly intense all at once.