"A Beer Four All Seasons"

Last night I had the very good fortune to taste the first beer in the Dock Street Brewing Co. - Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia “A Beer Four All Seasons” collaboration: The Truffled Old Ale.
That’s right: Truffled beer.
Like most people likely will, I, too, had my share of concerns about the concept, a nagging worry that the sum of two stellar individual parts would be somehow diminished by the combination. I love beer, and I adore truffles, but together? I couldn’t picture it.
Which is why I don’t brew beer for a living, because this was one of the most unexpectedly remarkable, hauntingly subtle beers I’ve tasted in a long time, a snifterful of fluffy-headed suds whose deep color and lithe, velvety texture worked in thoroughly successful contrast to one another.
Savory, indisputably masculine aromas of mahogany, leather, tobacco, and mushrooms, as well as whisper-subtle oak spice from the Chardonnay barrels the beer was aged in, lead to a palate reminiscent of lightly salted caramel, cocoa powder, mashed prunes, and exotic spices. What’s most fascinating to me is how the truffle--actual winter truffles, selected by the kitchen at the hotel--lent the beer a deep savory quality without overpowering the beautifully calibrated maltiness.
When most of us think of truffles, we tend to imagine the almost cloying richness of truffle oil that too many chefs douse on everything from pasta to potato soups. Here, the truffle note had the opposite effect, deepening everything around it without calling undue attention to itself. And served with the specially created truffle burger with Sottecenere cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and caramelized onions, or the fries with truffle salt and truffle-oil aioli, the beer was dangerously east to drink. Or you could just drink a few glasses on its own; either way, you win.
The Truffled Old Ale will be available to the public starting next Monday, when it’s officially introduced at The Swann Lounge between 6pm and 8pm. Make sure you get there: If you respect your taste buds, you’ll find a way to buy a bottle. At $19.85 for a large one, it’s a great deal, a truly hand-crafted beer for the season--or “Four All Seasons.”


[Note: This is a beer for a brandy snifter, not a pint glass. I recommend this one.]