Welcome to Beer Tastings, a series in which Utah Beer News highlights an interesting (and tasty) local brew. This time: Divine Lunacy, a bourbon-barrel-aged Belgian Quadruple, from 2 Row Brewing. What are you drinking? Let us know!
Beer Tastings: Divine Lunacy
“When I think of Belgian beers,” the 2 Row Brewing founder says, “I think of crazy monks getting drunk and having a good time.”
But that’s not the only reason 2 Row landed on the heavenly name, he admits.
“There’s also a little lunacy going on (at the brewery),” he adds. We like to get a little crazy sometimes.”
2 Row’s craziness is a beer drinker’s gain.
A Barrel-Aged Belgian Quad
2 Row Brewing, which has solidified itself as one of the state’s preeminent hop-forward brewers, is quickly becoming a go-to for other styles as well.
Divine Lunacy is a bourbon-barrel-aged Belgian Quadruple that clocks in at 11.5% ABV. It’s not exactly a style you’d think of picking up as winter transitions into spring.
If that’s you, you’d be missing out.
Divine Lunacy pours a clear, dark brown with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it foam topper. From there, a touch of alcohol in the nose quickly subsides and gives way to rich caramel and toffee.
The Belgian yeast flavors aren’t pronounced (more on that below). Instead, a touch of banana and then much more prominent dark, dried fruit flavors, as well as some vanilla. Bourbon and oak are present.
Divine Lunacy features multiple layers. I noticed new aromas and flavors — plum, raisin — emerging as the beer warmed in the glass. The well-attenuated beer steers clear of any unpleasant hard-candy-like sweetness.
A ‘Divine’ Process
It’s the third barrel-aged beer Coleman’s brewed (Dark Alley Imperial Stout and Dangereux Farmhouse Ale are the others). But unlike those, in which 2 Row brewed accompanying non-barrel-aged versions, Divine Lunacy is only available barrel aged.
“I like Belgian beers but I love barrel-aged versions,” Coleman says. “We wanted to do this one as a barrel-aged quad only.”
To start, he split a 20-gallon batch into four five-gallon batches. He fermented each of the smaller batches with a different Belgian yeast strain. Normally, with a Belgian Quad, you’d want the yeast to contain a lot of those Belgian beer characteristics — banana, clove, etc. Not this time.
“We didn’t want the big Belgian yeast flavors to conflict with the barrel flavors,” he says. “We went with a strain that didn’t overpower with Belgian flavors so we could bring out more of the bourbon and oak flavors.”
2 Row didn’t know what to expect exactly, but “everything turned out exactly as we had hoped,” Coleman says.
Aged for about nine months, the beer is ready to drink immediately. Though, if you want, you could squirrel away a couple bottles to drink when the weather outside turns dark and dreary once again.
Divine Lunacy Stats
- Brewery: 2 Row Brewing
- ABV: 11.5%
- Serving Style: Bottle (12 ounce)
- Date Tasted: March 9, 2019
- Purchase Location: 2 Row Brewing
Divine Lunacy — 2 Row Brewing
Product Name: Divine Lunacy
Product Description: From 2 Row Brewing: This bourbon-barrel-aged Belgian quad clocks in at 11.5% ABV. Look for predominant flavors of malty caramel and toffee with some fruitiness coming through — plum and date, with a hint of banana. The oak barrel-aging process adds a richness and complexity with some light nutmeg spiciness along with vanilla and a touch of oak flavor. 12-ounce bottles, $5.99.
Divine Lunacy, a barrel-aged Belgian Quad, offers notes of caramel and toffee. A more subtle strain of Belgian yeast (chosen intentionally) allows for the bourbon and oak character to peek through. A hint of banana gives way to more prominent flavors of dried fruit and some vanilla. At 11.5% ABV, it might be best to sip with a friend.
- Aroma: Caramel and toffee
- Appearance: Rich, dark brown mahogany
- Flavor: Slight Belgian characters, but primarily dark, dried fruits and some vanilla
- Mouthfeel: Mouth-coating and warming
But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Notes: The tasting notes format is adapted from a Homebrew Academy Beer Tasting Mastery course I took in 2017. Utah Beer News is not compensated in any way for beers mentioned in the Tastings series. A version of this article originally appeared on PorchDrinking.com.