Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bottled Michigan: Kuhnhenn Solar Eclipse

Beer can be like a woman. Some are pleasant, forgettable, and you can go through twelve of them in an evening. Others are harsh and bitter, but for some reason you keep returning to them – to the point where you're convinced you like the abuse. Still others are so smooth and consuming that while they run your wallet dry, it's worth every minute. These beers are dark, seductive, carry with them an intoxicating aroma of alcohol, make you forget where you are for a moment, and keep you company for hours.

The Solar Eclipse is this kind of beer.

Before we get into the smelling and the tasting, consider for a moment Godiva Chocolate Liquer. A fifth of this sweet dessert alcohol runs me about 22 dollars, give or take. That's 26 ounces of thick, heavy, 34 proof liquid chocolate that very few people would choose to drink straight.  Now compare that to Kuhnhenn Solar Eclipse. It's not a cheap beer, it runs about 6 dollars for a 12 ounce bottle – or around 12 bucks for 24 ounces. That's around half the cost of the Godiva. And did I mention that the Solar eclipse weighs in as a 36 proof beer?

The Solar eclipse pours like molten chocolate. There is no carbonation, there is no head. It's a heavy, slow moving liquid, sloshing lazaily from the bottle to the snifter as though gravity were a minor annoyance, something to be dealt with when it had the time. Swirling in the glass, the beer is dark. . .but not as dark as I expected. Unlike some other dark beers, the Solar Eclipse lets just a bit of light bleed through its edges when held up to a bright light.

a lot like this.

 Even as the beer poured into the glass, the smell of alcohol filled the air; a heavy, soft scent that makes it seem like everything is moving a little more slowly. The Solar Eclipse announces itself with a velvet hammer.

Hidden underneath the booze lurk elements of burnt malt, dark chocolate, molasses, and sugar. Getting my nose right into the snifter (and risking burning my lungs on the powerful smell), there's elements of tobacco, vanilla, and spiced rum. The range of flavor this beer presents is astonishing.

Taking a gulp of the beverage was much, much more pleasant than I was expecting. The alcohol smell is almost nonexistent in the taste. Sweet chocolate and molasses flavors linger in my mouth; this beer is syrupy and cloying, so if you're not a fan of that mouthfeel, this is definitely a beer to avoid. Exhaling brings out that tobacco and vanilla flavors, although I should point out that I did not find the tobacco unpleasant. If anything, I would've liked a bit more spice and bitter present, because this beer is extremely sweet. The tail end of the taste finishes with the heat from the 18% alcohol content and leaves a pleasant lingering of chocolate.

I split this beer among four people, and we savored its contents for half an hour. The Solar Eclipse is the absolute reverse of a session beer; this is not some college aged blond you found crawling outside of a meatmarket bar at 3 am; this is a dark and assertive experience that demands your attention all night long and refuses to share you with others.  


Bowlf said...

It stings the nostrils.

Seth said...

seriously. This beer smells strong. Milk would've been a bad choice.

eric said...

Nice use of velvet hammer. =)

Anonymous said...

when is this beer available?

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