Beer: Hive 56
Brewery: Allagash Brewing Company
Style: Dark Sour Ale
In honor of Allagash’s 2017 release of Hive 56, I decided to break out a bottle of its 2016 edition last night and see how well it has aged over this year and change. The bottle I opened was bottled on February 24, 2016 so it has been maturing for some time.
Hive 56 pours a deep brown, with an off-white, thick head that takes some time to dissipate. Upon popping the cork, the sweet, warm aroma of malt and honey took over my senses. After those initial aromas, I also noticed a hint of Brett in the nose, a welcome addition, especially considering the notoriety of Allagash’s house Brettanomyces strain. For those of you less familiar, Brettanomyces is a specific strain of yeast used in the brewing process. Allagash’s house strain of Brett can help make beers funky, sour, musty, tart, or fruity. Brett can also bring out the sweetness in other Allagash beers like Little Brett where pineapple notes are prominent. In Hive 56 the Brett helped bring out the sweetness of the honey and also gave the beer a tart edge to it. Obviously the 18 months Hive 56 spent further fermenting with Allagash’s own honey in their oak foudre’s has done wonderful things.
I poured the delicious, dark nectar (appropriate considering its name, ha, okay I’m done) and tried my first sip. Although I had tasted Hive 56 once before when it came out in 2016 it was nice to be reminded of the warm malty, flavor. Honey, Brett, and oak flavor flowed throughout the beer, coating my taste buds. What starts out initially focused on the sweetness from the honey and full-mouthed sourness from the Brett, very slowly transitions into, and ends on a malty, smoky note. If you’re familiar with the roasty, bitter aftertaste of a traditional porter, Hive 56 ends on a similar note, with the help of the Brett to keep it from lingering too long. This beer is a really smooth drinker, very pleasant and warm. I was glad to have opened this on a cool, almost fall-like day for a welcome, complex ride.
Allagash just released Hive 56 for the 2017 year to its full distribution. If you’ve seen their 350ml bottles in your local bottle shop, don’t be afraid to try it out. It’s not Allagash’s wildest beer to emerge from their cellars.