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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beer Review: Heavy Seas Plank I

Max's in Baltimore this afternoon was the venue for the release of Heavy Seas newest offering, a wood plank aged English style old ale called Plank I. For a little background on this brew project check out my blog post from April 5th here. This brew was previously available at a small brewery event a little while back. As far as I can tell this would be the first event outside of the brewery for which Plank I was made available.

I got in right around 5PM and there was about twenty or so folks were around the bar. A cask had been tapped and I could see several dark pints being enjoyed. Hugh Sisson and many familiar faces from the brewery were present and enjoying the brew. My buddy Greg popped in just a few minutes after I did. Two seats secured at the front corner of the bar. Excellent. Over the next hour the bar filled in with many more familiar faces, more brewers and some local beer bloggers. All is well.

There were two versions available, a straight up tap version and a dry hopped cask version. I will first share my notes on the base version then I will point out the differences in the hopped cask version

Plank I came to me in a pint class and appeared hazy ruby brown with a tan half-finger head and sticky lacing. There's not much head retained through the tasting. It smells bright and sweet with resinous wood notes with some light bitter notes around the edge.

The tasting begins. It's big, malty and sweet up front as expected. There are some very nice vanilla notes that pop up towards the middle. A mild fruity sweetness set in. As it opens up some coffee notes appear as well as some more woody earthy notes. There is an obvious heavy dark malt presence. The wood notes are just enough to be noticed, not overpowering. With wood aged beers I prefer more wood flavors, but those tend to be very heavy on the palate. This actually feels pretty refreshing, I could have several with out ruining my flavor-catchers. It finishes lightly bitter and doesn't stick around very long.

Cask of Plank I with a bag of hops in side. No C02 here!
The cask version had a more prominent vanilla presence in the nose and flavor profile. The hop addition made this a more well rounded and balanced beer in my opinion, but some of the wood notes are not as present. It almost didn't have the feel of a wood aged beer. The aroma is slightly more hoppy and the finish is much more bitter.

This is a very easy beer to put back. Surprisingly there is no alcohol presence, and at 8% this is an achievement. I enjoyed this beer. While it's not quite up there with the best in the style in my opinion, it's certainly a very good first offering in the project series. It's missing something, but I'm not sure what. I look forward to the bottled version which we should be able to find on shelves locally very soon.

Thanks again to our friends at Max's for supporting local craft brewer's and for the great folks at Heavy Seas/Clipper City for continuing to create fine craft brews!

I'd like to give a quick shout out to our new friends from Charlotte with whom we shared some thoughts and good beer. Cheers!

Enjoy the Dogfish Head 90!

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