Cuve La Pomme 2012 is a barrel aged barley wine from Oh! La! Ho Beer with a whopping 15% ABV. It’s made with Nagano apples and champagne yeast, and aged in oak barrels after fermentation.
Now, this is a special beer. So special, in fact, that I drank this and wrote the increasingly unintelligible tasting notes almost a full year ago, before forgetting about it in my notebook, having a small child, and otherwise doing normal life things. So here I am now, sitting at my desk after my lunch break like a Grown Up, and I’m finally getting this down on the website. It should be painfully obvious that the taste of this beer has been swallowed by the sands of time, a drop in the ocean lost like tears in the rain on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve reached peak mixed metaphor. How’s the beer, Joe?
Cuve La Pomme Aroma and Taste
Cuve La Pomme is the oldest beer I’ve ever drunk. It’s three years old (that’s old for a beer, trust me). Apparently it can be aged for a maximum of five years, which is what I’m also trying to do with a bottle of Sankt Gallen El Diablo. I was eager to see what a three year old barley wine would taste like. I’d also recently drunk year-old bottles of Baird Ganko Oyaji (which didn’t knock my socks off) and Stone Old Guardian (which sent my socks flying around the room like floppy cotton balloons with the air let out). So it was with some trepidation that I opened this bottle and heard what sounded like a trapped evil spirit escaping from within. I’m pretty sure it whispered “I owe you one” in some old forgotten tongue.
So, not filled with confidence, I poured the beer and it tumbled out thick, viscous and oily, with not as much as a squeak of carbonation. It’s flat. Flat. Flat as an extremely reflective surface. The years have not been kind, in that respect. Giving it a desultory snuffle, I detected apples gone sour, raisins and other dried fruits, and a woody tang from its years in contact with the oak barrels (no mention if said barrels once contained whisky or anything, or were merely selected for their woody quality).
A sip, then. My word, there’s those fifteen percents of boozes. The burn of the alcohol is very upfront, and its woody, warming, bitter quality makes me wonder if the barrels did contain whisky at some point. The sourness of the apples blends well with the bitter, slightly spicy oak flavour and puts me in mind of Sankt Gallen’s Apple Cinnamon, except much, much stronger.
Cuve La Pomme The Bottom Line
At the ripe old age of three, Cuve La Pomme has definitely lost some of its edge, and it’s making me think twice about aging my own beers past the three-year mark. It’s not as bitter as a fresh barley wine, and not as heady despite being 15%. I’d be interested to drink this at both points on the spectrum- fresh and fully aged five years- just for the sake of balance, as I’ve got no idea how the taste has evolved over the years. As it is, Cuve La Pomme is a pleasant, mellow barley wine, but I can’t see it improving very much with age.
Cuve La Pomme Second Opinion
Unlike Joe, I’ve the patience of a saint and waited for the maximum five years and bloody hell – this is what Christmas would taste like if it could be bottled up and sold. Incredible amount of dried fruits of plums and raisins, with an oaky alcohol burn. It was surprisingly unsweet as well. It’s mellow and has none of the sour notes that Joe mentioned. Now to source some more of it.