Welcome to No Corporate Beer, Decibel’s new beer-spotting, consumer guide where we drink a beer and a then review it. Now that we’ve established that complex formula, let’s do this:
Beer: Son of the Morning
Style: Strong Golden Ale
It’s not often you get to drink a beer with a label that looks like a death metal album cover. Every year when Victoria, BC brewery Driftwood releases this beast, I stock up, because it doesn’t stay on local shelves for long. For metal fans, definitely part of the attraction is the horror-show label (courtesy of Hired Guns Creative), but the beer inside the bottle delivers on a whole other level.
The somewhat innocuous sounding “strong golden ale” style is a Belgian creation and was popularized by Belgian brewery Moortgat in the early 20th century. Their version was (and still is today) called Duvel, which roughly translates to “devil” in English, because this is a “devil of a beer.” While Duvel is a “mere” 8.5% ABV, it’s a sneaky 8.5%, due to its light body, great effervescence and pleasant fruit and spice notes. Duvel has defined this style and is a good place to start for anyone curious about how crushable a strong beer can be.
As is the convention in brewing circles, when an iconic beer defines a style, other breweries tend to follow suit with homages, beers brewed similarly, with similar names. Thus, there are any number of Belgian and Belgian-style strong golden ales with devil-themed names. Driftwood’s Son of the Morning is one of the more obscure (names for Satan, that is). It’s also considerably stronger than the beer that inspired it. I know that 8.5% to 10% may not seem like much of a difference, but it’s about 15% stronger, and when you get into double digits ABV, the boozy aspect of a beer typically comes into play a bit more.
Son of the Morning is a big, boozy beer, but it still has many of the elements that make this style dangerously easy to drink. The esters wafting out of the glass are as fruity as any IPA, but they tend more toward orchard fruits—think pear and apple. There’s also some nice spice a hint of Belgian yeast funk. Driftwood nailed the fine carbonation as well. The complexity of the beer’s aromatics carry over to the palate. For as fruity, sweet and spicy as it seems up front, it finishes dry, with almost a perceptible tartness, so the sweetness from the alcohol doesn’t get cloying. It’s an expertly crafted beer that does its inspiration proud. This is beer (and the style in general) is a great one for introducing Euro-beer neophytes to the amazing complexity in Belgian brews. You probably won’t be able to get your hands on one of these, but try a Duvel or one of the many tributes to the style like Het Anker Lucifer, De Block Satan, Grain d’Orge Belzebuth, Great Divide Hades, AleSmith Horny Devil or The Bruery Mischief.
More more info, check out Driftwood here.