1 22 oz bottle, $7.49++, 6.5% ABV
Purchased at Harvest Fine Wines, West Hartford
Duality, n.: 1. the state or quality of being two or in two parts; dichotomy.
Is there a better Relic beer name to describe Relic? I think not. Just go to any of the beer review sites and skim through Relic reviews. Too lazy to do that right now? Fine, you’ll just have to trust me.
Trust me how?
Trust me that the reviews of this beer are all over the map – from abject hate due to an infection problem (usually) to strong love for the “Belgian yeast” flavors and “easy drinking” qualities.
Relic is a tiny operation and they brew a certain style of beer that doesn’t appeal to every palate. Some people love Relic and rate them in the top tier of Connecticut (and beyond!) breweries and others have real issues with what comes out of the Plainville operation. (Which is the case for many top breweries in the world, by the way.)
Me? I treat each Relic effort as a new experience. I’ve had some of the best beers of this Connecticut project I’ve ever had from Relic. And, unfortunately, I’ve had a couple infected drain pours.
This particular bottle of Duality fell closer to the latter camp, but not quite – keep reading. And that’s a damn shame because a a classic Belgian dubbel should be right in brewmaster Marks wheelhouse. (And frankly, I’m sure that it is, if not for some issues that seemed to plague Relic in early 2014.)
“A Belgian style Dubbel”
And I’m sure it was exactly that when it was first brewed. I know Relic can pump out some tasty beers – and as perhaps one of the only maybe 3 people in the world who has purchased and drunk every single Relic bottle ever, I’m qualified to say that with confidence.
But sometimes… sometimes the “duality” of Relic bites it in the butt. The creativity goes a little too far off the rails for my palate. The lack of a precise temperature controlled environment (to my knowledge, anyway), which works so well for most beers most times, can also bite Relic in its Belgian-loving butt.
And the latter is what happened here. And that makes me sad.
My bottle wasn’t undrinkable, but it was nowhere near what Relic intended it to be. It was more of a “wild” dubbel, and let’s not pretend there is such a thing. The fruity esters one hopes for in a solid dubbel had gone over the edge, into that spoiled sour and bready mess.
Actually, “mess” is too strong of a word, because I drank my bottle. Because I’m fairly sure my bottle wasn’t infected, but rather, I think the fermentation temperature got a bit too hot for this particular strain of yeast. The flavors were off enough to ruin what the dubbel should have tasted like, but not enough to ruin the drinking experience. If that makes sense. (Yes, it does make sense no matter what you think.)
So yeah, the “duality” of Relic; I love ‘em, I support ‘em, I look forward to their next creation… yet I have to write a negative review every now and then for what essentially boils down to quality and temperature control.
Overall Rating: D
Rating vs. Similar style: F