Just in time for the first cold snap of the fall comes "This is Not a Beer," an old ale brewed with oak, lily, Peru basalm, cherry stems, and most interestingly, pipe tobacco. Pipeworks, no stranger to unusual ingredients, collaborated with newcomer Forbidden Root, which consists of Robert Finkel, BJ Pichman, and Randy Mosher. Forbidden Root specializes in botanical brewing, so they too, know a little something about using uncommon ingredients--I think Mosher might have written a book or something about beer? All kidding aside, I purchased this beer more out of curiosity than desire to drink a beer brewed using tobacco. I'm generally not a fan of old ales and barley wines either. But with the drop in temperature, this winter warmer (8.5% ABV) was a timely choice.
As you can see, Ceci N'est Pas Une Biere has the look of an old ale. It's dark black, with a fuzzy head of foam that dissipated quickly. The aroma is malty sweet, with hints of woody mahogany. This sweetness carries over into the flavor profile--the cherry stems lend the same sweetness to beer as the fruit itself. Initially, it was very woody and earthy. As it warmed to near room temperature, the tobacco notes really started to come out. There is some serious alcohol warmth coming from this beer. This is an interesting take on the old ale and worth trying if you enjoy the style.