Haacht Primus

Rating: 2.35

One of the few pale lagers that I tried over in Belgium now and possible the only one that I properly reviewed, this one is a beer I had one afternoon with lunch and one that I settled on given the poor choice in what was a bit of a tourist trap restaurant in truth. My first offering from the Haacht brewery but one that I spotted on a few bar signs over the course of my week in Belgium, this wasn’t a beer I was expecting much from in truth and in that sense it definitely lived up to expectations and turned out to be the worst beer I ended up trying on my trip, here’s what I thought of it at the time.

Appearance (4/5): Golden blond with a clear body and a few bubbles rising to the surface. The beer is topped with a thin, half centimetre head that was white and bubbly with a bit of lacing on the sides and a touch less coverage in the centre of the beer.
Aroma (4/10): Light and fairly cheap on the nose initially, there was some corn and faint bread malts showing but it was relatively bland and basic sadly. Around the middle the odd touch of citrus and hay came through with some basic vegetable adjuncts and a light sweetness but it wasn’t very impressive sadly.
Taste (4/10): Light corn and some vegetable adjuncts kick things off followed by a basic sweetness and some hay. Again it was a cheap and basic tasting lager with some faint hops and grassy touches but not a lot else sadly. Towards the end some earthy hops started to come through to add to the bitterness but it was definitely a basic one.
Palate (2/5): Thin and quite light, the beer was semi-sweet thanks to the corn but it was very basic too with a cheap feel and the odd bit of skunk coming through as well. It’s moderately bitter with similar carbonation levels as well but there’s not a great deal to this one really.

Overall (7/20): Quite a basic and at times cheap tasting lager than was bland for the most part with some light bitterness and grassy touches. There was touches of sweetness from some corn before a few bread malts came through along with the odd vegetable adjunct but it was a poor offering and probably the worst I had when in Belgium too.

Brewed In: Boortmeerbeek, Flemish Brabant, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Haacht
First Brewed: circa. 2008
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Keg (250ml)
Purchased: Magic Rubens, Brussels, Belgium
Price: €3.00 (£2.66)

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Trooper Hallowed

Rating: 3.35

Apparently the fourth the a series of beers inspired by the band Iron Maiden, although it is only the second the series that I’ll have tried after not being much of a fan of the 2013 original Trooper when I tried it not long after it was released. This offering from Robinsons is a Belgian style dark ale which is the only reason I picked this one up when I spotted it in the shop last year, well that and the fact the bottle cap was a good one. The beer is the sixth from the brewery that I’ll have tried with the last being their Mojo Pale Ale last year and that wasn’t particularly great either, in fact the only okay beer I’ve had from Robinsons is their Old Tom English strong ale from five years ago so I’m not holding out much hope for this one now and likely wouldn’t have bothered with it had I remembered this before picking the beer up.

Appearance (4/5): Caramel amber in colour with a surprisingly clear body and a thick looking, creamy head that was a light tan colour and holds about a centimetre tall after starting roughly double that size.
Aroma (5/10): Surprisingly light and one-dimensional on the nose, there’s some semi-sweet malts with touches of sugar in the early going as well as some faint butterscotch touches. Further on there is some darker fruits and touches of smoke, I got a little plum and fig but neither truly grabbed your attention and it seemed a touch weak at times without being a really bad nose.
Taste (6/10): Opening with a lot of sweet malts, there was more here than with the nose as well as a lot of dark fruits that included some of the plum and fig from the nose as well as some raisin and prunes. It was a little more pronounced at this point too with some alcohol grain and basic spices before some caramel malts and touches of banana came through to add to the sweetness.
Palate (4/5): Quite a sweet beer with a medium body that was slightly lighter than anticipated, the beer was a finely carbonated offering that had some alcohol showing which I thought could have been better hidden given it wasn’t an overly strong beer. There was some sweet malts and spices nearer the end and the balance was fairly good too without it being a beer that grabbed your attention.

Overall (13/20): This one was a bit up and down at times, it started well with some nice sweetness from the malts and dark fruits but there wasn’t a whole lot to it after that it seemed a little weak and one-dimensional at times. It was Belgian influenced at times as the bottle suggested but it fell far short of what I’d expect from a Belgian brewed beer of this style. It’s a better beer than the original Trooper beer in this series from Robinsons but it didn’t do enough for me to make it a beer that I’d pick up again.

Brewed In: Stockport, England
Brewery: Robinsons Family Brewers
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Dubbel
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: B&M Bargains (Glasgow)
Price: £1.25

Cranachan Killer

Rating: 3.4

A fifth beer from Fierce Beer for me now but only my second from the brewery that isn’t a collaboration with another brewery, the other being their NEIPA Red Rye that I enjoyed back in April when I picked up a couple cans of the stuff to try. This one is a fruit beer from the brewery that caught my eye when I spotted it in the supermarket recently and decided to give it a go, it has been a while since I last had a fruit beer with the very disappointing can of Asahi Red Eye that I had back in Japan last year probably being the last and I’m hopeful this one is a better beer than that one proved to be. I did notice that Aldi seemed to have a few Fierce beers on their shelves as well so with any luck I’ll be able to pick up a couple more the next time I’m in as well.

Appearance (4/5):A cloudy pink to orange colour with a thin, bubbly head on top that was an off-white and faded in the centre after twenty or so seconds to leave a bit of laces around the edges but not much in the middle.
Aroma (6/10): Very sweet and quite fruity too, there’s some raspberry and a little sugar in the early going with touches of strawberry and what seemed like a few more summer berries towards the middle. It’s a little artificial on the nose with some faint tart and funk further on as well as the odd pale malt but the fruits and the raspberries in particular dominate this one.
Taste (6/10): Opening with more tart than the nose and some touches of raspberry quite early on, it’s again quite fruity and fresh as well as being slightly less artificial than the nose seemed. Towards the end some pale malts and subtle grassy flavours seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Very tarty and sweet in the early going with some sugars and funky touches coming through. The beer was quite fruity with a light-medium body and fine, lively carbonation. It’s a dry beer with a sharp feel but it went down well had quite a good mouthfeel for the style.

Overall (12/20): This one was quite a nice fruit beer with good raspberry flavours and tart opening things up with plenty sugars too, it did seem a touch artificial on the nose but this settled down and seemed slightly more natural with the taste. It had some strawberries and background berries in there as well but it was the raspberries that seemed strongest; all in all a nice beer for the style but probably not one I’d pick up again.

Brewed In: Aberdeen, Scotland
Brewery: Fierce Beer
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Fruit Beer
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: Aldi (Glasgow)
Price: £1.49

Brugge Tripel

Rating: 3.7

A second beer from Palm now this one following on from their flagship Belgian pale ale that I reviewed here a few weeks ago after also trying that one in Belgium but now is the turn of the brewery’s Brugge Tripel. I picked this one up one night in Burges before saving it and trying it later on in my holiday having felt it wrong to leave Bruges without grabbing a bottle of this one. The beer was originally brewed in Bruges by De Gouden Boom up until 2004 when production switched to Palm Breweries but the beer is apparently still known as ‘The Beer of Bruges’ despite no longer being brewed there but it was still one that I wanted to try.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a bright orange colour with a bubbly white head on top that was about a centimetre tall, the beer had good head retention and it looked quite thick and fluffy too.
Aroma (7/10): Floral and spicy in the early going with some biscuit malt and pepper showing initially, there was some earthy touches alongside hints of Belgian yeast and some light alcohol notes further on. There was some oranges and cloves nearer the end with further spice and background fruits that were dominated by an apple aroma.
Taste (7/10): Biscuit malts and spice kick things off with some strong banana and apple coming through as well. I managed to get some bread malts around the middle with a little yeast and some fruity, floral flavours around the middle as well. It seemed quite fresh and herbal with a sugar sweetness and more background fruits seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Spicy and quite light with a fresh and summer-like feel that was sharp and came with a medium body too. The beer was strongly carbonated but well-balanced with a nice sweetness at times from the banana and sugars as well as some tangy touches further on but despite not being the most complex tripel it was still a nice one to sip away at.

Overall (14/20): Not quite as strong or complex as some of the Belgian tripels I’ve reviewed here of late but this one was quite a light and fresh version of the style with some nice banana sweetness coupled with tastes of apple and some nice bread malts too. There was a nice combination of spices, yeast and some herbal touches in there too but there’s definitely a lot better tripels out there that I’d go back to over this one in future.

Brewed In: Steenhuffel, Flemish Brabant, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Palm
First Brewed: Brewed by Palm since 2004
Type: Tripel
Abv: 8.7%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Pita Burger Snacks House (Bruges)
Price: €3.50 (approx. £3.09)

Malheur 10° (386 of 1001)

Rating: 3.75

My first beer from the De Landtsheer brewery now, this is actually one of four beers under their Malheur range that feature on the 1001 beers list with their Malheur 12, Biére Brut and Dark Brut all featuring on it too, not bad for a brewery that only opened in 1997. This particular offering is one I spotted on a couple of menus in Belgium starting on day one at the Delirium Café in Brussels but I ended up waiting the best part of a week before finally trying it in Antwerp at Paters Vaetje. The beer is my 386 from the 1001 list thanks in no small part to the amount of new ones I managed to try in Belgium and luckily I still have another three from the list to go, one that I tried in Belgium and another two bottles that I brought home with me and have yet to try.

Appearance (4/5): Light yellow to amber in colour with a slightly cloudy body and a thin, foamy white head on top that was white and sat about a quarter centimetre tall with some nice lacing on the sides too.
Aroma (7/10): Fruity and quite floral too, the beer was more bitter on the nose initially than is normal for a Belgian beer of this type. There was some biscuit notes and pepper bringing in the middle with some touches of sweetness thanks to hints of banana and a lively aroma that had some of the alcohol showing towards the end.
Taste (7/10): This one was quite a fresh and bitter beer with some nice orange and citrus flavours opening things alongside a few floral hops. This was followed by some biscuit malts and touches of pepper and spice with a semi-sweetness from background fruits that included some bananas, apples and pears/ Towards the end there was a taste of bread with a couple of subtle, earthy hops rounding things off nicely.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and well carbonated without being overdone, the beer was lively and quite fresh with a strong bitterness from the start and a smooth, dry feel towards the end. There was a faint citrus tang and some spices too but overall the balance was a good one and it was easy to drink too.

Overall (15/20): Quite a fresh and floral beer with a nice balance and good bitterness but it was a little lighter tasting than expected given the alcohol content. It opened with some nice citrus touches and a fruity sweetness from a touch of banana with apples and pear backing it up. It was definitely a well carbonated beer with a nice tang and touches of alcohol towards the end without it being an overly complex offering.

Brewed In: Buggenhout, East Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij De Landtsheer
First Brewed: 1999
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Paters Vaetje, Antwerp, Belgium
Price: €4.20 (approx. £3.71)

Straffe Hendrik Tripel

Rating: 3.75

A fourth beer from the De Halve Maan brewery now, this one also being the fourth from them that I tried when visiting Bruges earlier this summer and is one that I had on my last morning in the city in the beer garden of the oldest pub in the city too, Café Vlissinghe. This one follows one from Brugse Zot and Brugse Zot Dubbel that I tried in Bruges, although I had previously tried the former of those two beers a couple of years ago as well and the beer falls under the same banner as the brewery’s Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel that I tried a couple of days before this one as well. This particular offering from the brewery is one that I was close to picking up when visiting the brewery itself on my first day in Bruges but since it was a nice day I opted instead for their flagship Brugse Zot again before trying their dubbel for the first time so I thought it fitting that I eventually tried this one as my last beer in the city since I seen it available in almost ever bar I stopped at and I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to pick up once I was back in the UK.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber to orange with a quite a large, foamy white head sitting several inches tall before settling as a thick surface lacing with some touches on the side and a creamy texture towards the centre.
Aroma (7/10): Quite fruity on the nose with some spice and biscuit notes coming through in the early going, there was some lemon and citrus in there too. I detected quite a flowery and floral nose to this one with some herbal touches towards the middle and subtle sweetness as well thanks to the malts. It was light and summery with some apple, pear and grapes as well as faint banana and some yeast in there too.
Taste (7/10): Biscuit malts and quite a fresh, floral taste kick things off here with some pine and herbal touches soon after. The beer was fruity with apple and grapes both showing along with some of the banana from the nose and a little orange too. The beer was pleasant tasting with a hint of tart and some yeasty, spice-like flavours to see things out as well.
Palate (4/5): Very fresh and quite sharp too, the beer was dry with a lot of spices and yeast showing as well. The beer was medium-bodied and effervescent with quite a lively feel from the strong carbonation levels and the balance meant that a lot of the alcohol content was hidden save for a touch right at the end.

Overall (15/20): Quite a light and floral tasting tripel with plenty of herbal touches and a lot of yeast coming through along with some spices. The beer was interesting with some nice pine and biscuit flavours in there on top of quite strong carbonation and a very lively, sharp feel to the beer. It’s flavoursome without being too complex and it proved easy to drink throughout but it’s not quite up there with some of the other Belgian tripels I’ve had of late sadly and the quadrupel from the brewery was a much better beer too.

Brewed In: Bruges, West Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan
First Brewed: circa. 2008
Full Name: Straffe Hendrik Bruges Tripel Bier 9°
Type: Tripel
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Café Vlissinghe, Bruges, Belgium
Price: €4.20 (£3.68)

Durham Temptation

Rating: 4.2

This one is my second Durham Brewery beer now and follows on from their Bede’s Chalice that I had back in December after picking the bottle up alongside this one last year at the Fenwick’s store in Newcastle when I visited the city in July. This one is a 10% abv. imperial stout and one that I was quite surprised to see available in a 500ml bottle from a UK based brewery, normally these type of beers are restricted to a smaller 330ml bottle or a larger sharing bottle but seeing this in the shop made it an easy choice for one to pick up.

Appearance (5/5): Jet black with an opaque body and a half centimetre, foamy head that’s a light tan colour and managing to cover the surface well. Surprisingly there wasn’t much reduction in size over the open couple of minutes and the head started to look quite creamy with the odd bubble on the surface too; a great start given the alcohol content on this one with the heading holding on for well over five minutes as I let this one heat up a little after coming out of the fridge.
Aroma (7/10): Not a huge aroma but still quite a strong one with plenty of chocolate and coffee notes kicking things off and giving this one a roasted, dark nose. There’s some alcohol grain in the early going with touches of sweetness dotted about the place too; mainly sugars but a little vanilla and even some light caramel too. It’s earthy further on with the roasted notes coming back alongside a few nutty notes and hints of dried fruit seeing things out without anything dominating.
Taste (8/10): More pronounced than the nose with some chocolate malts and dark, roasted flavours coming through a little stronger this time around as well as a little more of the alcohol content coming through. It’s an earthy tasting offering that’s got some liquorice as well as the dried fruits from the nose, there was some raisin and hints of plum too. Rounded off with some further sweetness and sugars as well as some dates and prunes, the beer seemed quite complex but stopped short of overpowering or having any one flavour dominating.
Palate (4/5): Strong but balanced, this one is a full-bodied stout that had some alcohol showing with the nose and a little more with the taste which made it quite a warming and boozy feeling beer from the middle on. It was a moderately carbonated beer but the balance was very good with some nice sugar and dried fruit sweetness complimenting the dark and earthy malts from earlier on and helping it go down quite easily despite the strength.

Overall (18/20): Excellent stuff from Durham, this one got off to a cracking start with a solid head that stayed put throughout the beers life and was one of the best I’ve ever seen on such a strong beer. It’s dark and malty to open with lots of roasted notes and flavours coming through with some chocolate and a little sweetness off the back of this too. Further on I got some dried fruits and sugars coming through as well as some of the alcohol content but it wasn’t too strong, just enough to give the beer and warming and boozy feel that I enjoyed a lot.

Brewed In: Durham, England
Brewery: Durham Brewery
First Brewed: 2005
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Fenwick’s (Newcastle)
Price: £4.49