February 5, 2013 – Holy Mackerel Panic Attack
You know, the longer I do this, the more I learn that I shouldn’t read other peoples’ reviews before I sip on a beer for myself. The existence of websites like beeradvocate and ratebeer are a doubled edged sword – without them, I likely would have never known about Peg’s Cantina and Cycle Brewing out in Gulfport, which certainly made last week more bearable – but I’ve got this problem. I like spoilers. I like knowing what’s going to happen in a movie or book before I experience it, and I like knowing what kind of beer I’m about to drink. Admittedly I allow this to color my experience, and I’ve really got to knock it off, because it occasionally lowers my expectations for a beer that turns out to be quite good.
Such is the case for Holy Mackerel’s Panic Attack. It’s a Belgian that describes itself as being a “trippel / saison fusion”. Some of my favorite beers are saisons – Cigar City’s Cucumber Saison comes to mind – so I was understandably intrigued when I saw that on the label. The words “10% ABV” didn’t hurt much either, and so I popped the cap and away we went.
The body of the beer is a dark amber, almost brown, and the head is off white and formidable – while not overly thick, perhaps less than a finger, it seems as though this head would survive a nuclear holocaust or actually drinking the beer, whichever came first. Holy Mackerel advertises that their beers are all intended for cellaring and you get that feeling just looking at it in a glass, that you’re experiencing something that’s built to last.
The aroma of this beer can only be described as such, an aroma. Not a smell, not a scent, an aroma. Warm and pleasant, with a variety of sugars, coriander, citrus, bananas, and perhaps some bubblegum in the mix. This is a heady, wild mixture of smells that I normally only see in complicated concoctions from the likes of the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab or similar perfumeries. The nose on this beer had me salivating and eager to taste it. I’ll tell you before you skip to the next paragraph, the taste did not disappoint.
Caramel, orange blossom honey, and I’d swear to God I tasted cotton candy. Golden raisins, figs (FIGS!) and banana. Goodness gracious, great balls of fire, this thing is sweet. Alcoholic heat cuts through at times and makes it seem less like a diabetic’s nightmare and more like a diabetic’s wet dream. That’s one thing to note – this is, in fact, a 10% abv beer. For whatever reason, alcohol in beer hits me harder than alcohol in liquor, and so I feel like in the interest of fairness I should reveal that I’m fairly buzzy while writing this. Not drunk, but not sober either. This is in fact a very pleasant thing, as it normally takes a bit of drinking to get me feeling good – I’m a bigger guy, and as y’all can see, I drink alcohol on a fairly regular basis. For those looking for a quick buzz, you’d do well to look here.
I will say the taste is likely not for everyone. It’s remarkably sweet and rather off the wall for a Belgian. It feels almost schizophrenic, there’s so much going on, and I don’t get much of a saison “feel” from it, though as a friend pointed out, that’s likely because the saison is smoothing out the trippel.
Overall I’d say it’s well worth a try. At $2.99 a bottle, if you hate it, it’s not like you invested in a Delirium Tremens or anything. If your tastes are anything like mine, you’ll definitely not hate it – I’m putting one of these away with my other Holy Mackerel offering for cellaring.