I ran into AleSmith's Horny Devil on the store shelves recently, the first time I'd seen the brewery's products in Wisconsin.
I hope they stick around because like Ommegang of New York, Goose Island of Chicago, Lakefront of Milwaukee and many other American breweries, AleSmith shows a deep understanding of the Belgian style and can hold its head high against the native imports from Belgium.
Horny Devil is a strong Belgian blond ale and makes its quality known from the get-go with strong aromas of fruit, coriander and the unique smell of Belgian candi sugar. The head is white and fluffy, leaving thick, sticky lacing on the sides of the glass that gives off concentrated sugar and malt aromas of its own.
The spices and Belgian yeast characteristics come through nicely during sampling, with coriander and cloves melding with the light malt. There also is a complexity to the fruit flavors that come through - grape, lemon, orange and pears. The citrus aspect is countered by the candi sugar without the ale becoming too sweet.
Horny Devil, at 10 percent ABV, seems to differ from typical beers in the style by having a bit more oomph to the spices, without them becoming overpowering. It also downplays the alcohol aftertaste that is a common feature of Belgian ales, which is a change I agree with.
Lastly, like the best Belgian ales, Horny Devil has a bright carbonation, at the same time it leaves a creamy mouthfeel.
Grand Cru is a darker version of Horny Devil and shares the same 10 percent ABV, at least according to the information on the bottles (AleSmith's website gives different ABVs for the beers - 11 percent for Horny Devil and 10.5 percent for Grand Cru). It shares many of the traits of Horny Devil, but with flavors of caramel malt and darker fruit such as plums and dates. It makes a fine follow-up to its brewery mate.
AleSmith's Beer Finder page is only working for California. I bought my 750ml bottles in central Wisconsin, and found information of it also being available in Arizona, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.