There has been much said about this beer in anticipation of its release. It has inspired passionate debate amongst beer geeks and home brewers as to the potential of a Crown variant at $50-60 a bottle. As always the proof of any beer is in the final experience that it delivers and it should be approached without prejudice.
The packaging presentation for this beer is exceptional, a strong cardboard box, gold lettering and a magnetised clasp. Inside the case is a 750ml “champagne” style bottle with a waxed top and booklet attached to the neck. Truly stunning presentation that would make a significant contribution to the retail value. It also nails it in terms of making this a beer for presentation or gift.
There is however a big let down to this beer, while visually impeccable, getting it from the bottle is a less-than-elegant process. The wax seal over the crown closure is complete, without a string or strip in order to allow an easy break before lifting the cap. The result is a few messy minutes with a knife cutting away chunks of wax to reach the cap.
More important than the presentation, however, is the beer itself. Crown Ambassador Reserve
is a hazy copper-hued beer with a small and sticky off-white head. The aroma is rather spicy and woody in much the same way as Biere de Garde can be, it also displays caramelised raisin and overripe stone/tropical fruit hop notes. It is slightly “hot” in the mouth but not unpleasantly or unreasonably so given its ABV and it has a resinous hop character that coats the mouth but doesn’t detract too much from the ever present malt backbone. Further stewed fruit and malt notes become more apparent with further warming of the glass.
This is a very good beer with a nice balance of complexity, it shows an innovative approach to brewing from a major brewer with no defined or constraining style–seemingly taking cues from Dopplebock and Biere de Garde, but with a hop profile set by neither.
The brewer’s notes suggest this beer could be cellared for up to 10 years and it would certainly be interesting to see this beer develop with age. Well worth a place in the beer cellar.
Try this if: You want to share an interesting beer with a couple of mates.