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When the weather's cool, people gravitate to rich, malty ales, and they tend to think of the dark stuff, like stout or porter. Here's another way to go. Curieux is made in the style of a Belgian tripel ale, and it's aged for eight weeks in used bourbon barrels before being bottled on the yeast. This particular batch was bottled in July.
One thing this means is that it's highly carbonated -- note the Champagne-style cork. Another is that it's cloudy with yeast, as it's unfiltered. It's made in batches of only a few hundred cases at a time, so each batch is a little different because of the particular barrels used.
The color is medium blond (the head even has a yellowish tinge). After an enveloping musky ale nose, it's malty and caramel-y on the palate, almost as sweet as a stout but without any roasted flavors. Instead, there's a subtle touch of vanilla and coconut (that must come from the bourbon barrels). The long, malty finish turns semi-dry at the end. Try it with cheesecake.
-- Charles Perry
Style: a strong, malty ale (11% alcohol) with considerable depth of flavor, just the thing for a chilly evening
Price: $15.99 to $16.99 per 750-millileter bottle
Where to find it: Lone Hill Liquors in Glendora, (626) 963-0611; Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463; Beverage Warehouse in Mar Vista, (310) 306-2822; Red Carpet Liquors in Glendale, (800) 339-0609; Wally's Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606, Wade's Wines in Westlake Village, (818) 597-9463; and Beverage & More stores (for locations, visit www.bev mo.com)