Back in December I heard that Infinium Bière de Champagne by Boston Beer Company was about to be released, so I of course began a search for the golden nectar but wasn’t able to secure a bottle of it. Only 15,000 cases of Infinium were shipped to the United States and with all the hype, I pretty much knew that I wouldn’t be able to secure a bottle here in Kansas City.
Because of the hype surrounding the Bière de Champagne, I read and heard a number of reviews about this beer before it even hit the store shelves. The fact is if you follow anything about beer or wine it would have been almost impossible to avoid the hype that led up to Infinium’s release. This was going to be a revolution in brewing; a brand new beer following the Reinheitsgebot.
For those that are curious, the Reinheitsgebot is a 16th century Bavarian decree. The Reinheitsgebot was the German purity law as it pertained to beer. In the original law it stated that only three ingredients could be included in beer: water, hops, and barley. (you might recognize the missing and quite necessary and crucial component for fermentation, yeast.) Because of the Reinheitsgebot traditionally, the yeast would either be introduced from remaining sediment from previous batches of fermented beer. If that process failed, the brewers would then leave their beers to rest and they would hope for spontaneous fermentation from wild yeast. If you dig around a bit you will find out that, Infinium is not a brand new style of beer, but a Bière de Champagne. If Infinium strictly followed the Reinheitsgebot creating a Bière de Champagne would be a near impossibility. Bière de Champagne usually comes in with an alcohol of 10% – 15% by volume. Because of this, you need very specific high gravity yeasts to achieve the desired fermentation result. So while they claim that Infinium Bière de Champagne follows the Reinheitsgebot, it probably doesn’t follow the original to the letter of the law.
Anyway, the real point of this post is, it turns out my neighbor had a bottle and offered to share a taste with me.
Infinium pours a honey gorgeous amber-colored liquid with a thick white head that has a hint of sandy pink that lingers for some time before dissipating and leaving a and heavy lacing of white on the sides of your glass. On first taste it had a feel of a lighter barley wine. As for the nose I was expecting some of the brightness and dry acidity that comes from champagne, but it was definitely missing. What I got was the surprising aroma of malt with hints of honeysuckle and possibly rose. Infinium was sweeter on the palate than I anticipated, and there is a fine effervescence that felt lighter than a traditional beer. Along with the aromas present in the nose, there are distinct flavors of honey, and grape notes. The finish on the beer is dry and bitter with a lingering that seems to hold with you for quite sometime after you swallow. If you are a traditionalist when it comes to beer you might find this a bit odd. The beer isn’t unpleasant, but it is different, and if you aren’t adventurous, you’ll be in for a surprise. One thing I really like about the Infinium is how well it holds its carbonation. After an hour and a half, the beer seemed as bubbly as it did when it was opened.
This beer is far more complex than I thought it would be, and while I was surprised at the sweetness it is still a fine craft beer. I would have liked something to cut through the sweetness. The beer is sweet enough you probably wouldn’t drink more than one glass at a time. It needs some level of acidity or bitter to counter balance all that sugar though. It might just be me tonight, the long and strong bitter finish should compensate for the initial sweetness, and I just might not be feeling it tonight.
Now the real kicker here is the price. My neighbor paid over $25.00 for a bottle of this back in January. There are plenty of other beers of equal to or greater than quality at this price point. It is up to you the drinker, but at 25 bucks I won’t be running out to buy this if it makes its way back here any time soon.
I do however appreciate the taste I got, and if I am offered another, I’ll be sure and imbibe.