In a perfect world, when met with a beer style suitable for aging, one seeks to acquire at least two bottles of the beer in question, such that you have a bottle to drink now and a bottle to drink later. That way, you can see how the character of a beer changes over time. Of course, this isn’t always possible, and should your first experience with a beer be with a cellared sample, it’s only natural to wonder what it must have been like fresh.
For me, the above applies to a bottle of 2014 Préaris Quadrocinno that recently came into my possession. Préaris, the brand, is produced at De Proef Brouwerij in Lochristi, Belgium under a license from Vliegende Paard Brouwers. Quadrocinno, the beer, is a quadrupel brewed with Costa Rican coffee beans. And, well, let’s just say I wish I’d tried it sooner.
The murky brown beer that is Quadrocinno is nothing, if not complex. That is, once you let it warm up a bit. When cold, the flavor and aroma is a strange mix of raw alcohol and what could be a little bit of green bottle character. These volatiles fade with time and temperature, though the alcohol is never quite quelled in a beer that finishes decidedly warm.
Outside of that, the mix of flavors in Quadrocinno has hints of anise, dark fruit and molasses, all of this over top of a malt base that is more bready than anything else. The beer is sweet, at least at first, with a burly bitterness that in some ways overtakes the aftertaste. In terms of feel, Quadrocinno has a medium body, the impression of which may seem lighter to some based on the relatively bright carbonation.
Where things fall off, at least for me, is in the depth of flavor. Quadrocinno seemingly hits on all the basic characteristics of a quad, except that it’s not overly rich. That, and the fact that I don’t get much in the way of the coffee featured so prominently on the label, is indicative of a beer that likely past its peak. Fresher is better, they say, and in this case I can’t help but think it’s a phrase that probably fits.