FAR AND AWAY Sun King’s best beer at FoBAB, Afternoon Delight deservedly took home top honors in the ‘Classic Styles’ category. The volunteer on hand cradled the pitcher as he poured, speaking fondly of his “liquid marshmallows”—an oversimplification, yes, but an affectionate one that captures the beer’s almost finger-licking succulence.
The beer’s head does truly looks like melted marshmallow, fluffy and sticky like wet powdered sugar with a rich stack of smallish bubbles. It also blends almost imperceptibly with the body, a deep brown shot through with crimson and delectably smooth. Lacing is supreme. Afternoon Delight is based on Sun King’s seasonal Dominator, and like any good doppelbock its aroma is profoundly malty. The critical difference is the barrel-aging, which adds an aura of warmth, hint of corn, alcohol, and tannin. (Last year’s batch got hands on Pappy Van Winkle barrels; this year’s is unverified and anecdotally is less heavy on the bourbon.) A second marshmallow parallel comes in the mouthfeel, curling up creamily on the tongue with flavors of vanilla, caramel, milky cocoa, and toasty malt. Prickles of carbonation then prize all that richness apart into fluff, while the finish has enough clean lager crispness to clarify and cleanse.
Its 8% ABV is a nonfactor and hops are largely out of the game aside from a touch of earthy bitterness about two-thirds of the way through. Its 23 IBUs are on the style’s higher end, though, so they are assuredly working towards balance in the background. In homage to its name, Afternoon Delight’s flavors leave the palate lazily, yet its overall impression is far less sugary than it would seem and very charming all in all. Indeed, it came as no surprise to learn that Delight also won its category at 2013’s GABF. And as for that gold at FoBAB? Its second in a row.
Served: On tap (Skyline Loft, FoBAB 2013, Chicago)