Review: Nonsuch 350 Orange Chocolate Belgian Rye Ale

It's been a while since I've reviewed anything by Winnipeg's La Brasserie Nonsuch but they've been bringing new beers to Brandon on a decently frequent basis so there's always something nice and new to try out. This week, they brought out their 350, which is an Orange Chocolate Belgian Rye Ale that tops out at 8.7% ABV. 350 pays tribute to the 350th anniversary of the Nonsuch ship sailing to the Hudson Bay. The original batch of 350 won silver at the Canadian Brewing Awards this year for the Belgian-style Strong Ale category, which isn't a complete surprise as Nonsuch does an awesome job at Belgian-style ales.

Appearance: 350 pours a very dark nutty brown with an appearance that reminds me of a dark rye bread. The head is a thin but very creamy and silky with a yellowish-beige hue to it.

Aroma: There's a good dose of rye in this beer to the point that it's the first thing that comes to my mind. It's got a toasty malt profile with a bit of a peppery spiciness to it, bit of earthiness, a hint of caramel and raisins. Then we get to the orange chocolate part of the beer.. it's nowhere near a Terry's Chocolate Orange, rather it's a subtle milk chocolate presence that mostly pairs up with the malt, while the orange is subtle but sweet, mostly a bit of zest.

Taste: The rye is the dominant flavour in this beer, like the aroma. It's a peppery and mildly bitter graininess with a squeeze of the citrusy orange popping up right from the beginning. There's a bit of a toasted maltiness to it to give it a hint of a roasty profile that's almost a porter but not quite. There's a tad bit of a chocolate profile, but not quite the milk chocolate profile from the aroma, more of a dark chocolate presence this time around. Decent amount of peaty earthiness at the end, a tad nutty, the beer is fairly dry and leaves behind a bit of a nutty/earthy aftertaste at the end.

Overall Thoughts: I still remember when I heard about 350 for the first time, I felt a bit nauseous because I've had bad experiences with fruit and chocolate in my younger days. This beer didn't turn out like a Terry's Chocolate Orange as I was expecting so it turned out much better than I expected. Both the chocolate and orange seemed to be in completely different aspects of the beer.. there was chocolate and there was orange but the orange seemed to pop up more with the rye malt while the chocolate was on its own. Would I buy this again? Oui, je ferais!

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