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The Allagash Brewery of Portland, Maine has combined two drinks that aught be kept separate in a night's worth of drinking, according to conventional alcoholic wisdom; tripel ale and bourbon. Good thing craft breweries defy conventional wisdom. Unlike the often-dastardly beer cocktail, Curieux isn't one part whiskey, one part beer, mixed, bottled and corked; instead, it takes Allagash's honey and fruit-sweet ale, Tripel Reserve, and ages it in Jim Beam oak barrels for eight weeks. They produce a limited batch each month; the September 2011 batch tested for this review had only 930 cases bottled. If you can resist the temptation, it's a fine ale to let age for a year and enjoy. Perhaps one of the best things about the beer--other than drinking it--is cooking with it. Several recipes are available on Allagash's website, like Allagash-Glazed Sliders with Curieux Carmelized Onions, Bacon and Blue Cheese.
The Drink: At first sip, the bourbon is all there. The bitter-to-sweet transition of Jim Beam blends with the relatively light ale for a taste quite unlike most Belgian-style beers. The bourbon taste slips into the background and reveals notes of vanilla and coconut; the bitterness comes back lightly in the aftertaste. It's bottled in a brown 750 mL bottle with a cork. Of course, it doesn't forget its liquor-based roots: after a glass or two of this "curiosity," you'll be sittin' pretty thanks to the generous 11% ABV. Are you curious?
Allagash Curieux is available at fine beer retailers in Orange County such as Total Wine and Hi-Time Wine Cellar.