This one is a bit out of the realm of “normal” around here, but there’s actually a bit of a story to this beer.
I first tried this on a Russian visit ages ago and managed to bring back a six pack several years ago. Not really a traditional “dunkel,” it seemed to me to be more of a strong ale … with the alcohol burn as evidence. Nonetheless, I stashed a few and let them sit in hopes that the acetaldehyde and alcohol would come around to balance the sugary sweetness.
Today, I opened a bottle to try again upon discovering that Afanasy may be imported to the U.S. The time seemed to help, as this bottle is AT LEAST six years old, but well stored in the interim.
A little digging gave me some background on this one. Near Moscow, the company was founded on the remnants of an older 19th century brewery. It was restarted and expanded around 1994 as a stock company and produces 11 different labels, along with bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages.
It pours a deep milky brown in the glass, with a touch of yeast sediment in the bottom of the quirky octagon bottle. A soft pale brown head clings to the glass nicely, but the nose explodes with caramel and malt before you can even get your lips to the rim. Sweet and creamy, the flavors roll over the palate and open up tremendously as the glass warms, with huge notes of caramel, along with banana, almond, raisin and a light bitter bite in the back of the tongue.
Time has improved it tremendously from my recollection as the high octane burn has dissipated and the flavors have blended into a more subtle blend of softer notes, rather than the “bull in an antique market” experience of several years ago. On the negative, it did have a bit of earthy oxidation, probably a result of the beneficial aging.
Obviously, this is a difficult find, but it’s certainly an interesting pour after a half dozen or more years.