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Posts Tagged ‘belgian ale’

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

January 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

My fourth beer from the St. Bernardus brewery now, this one follows on from their Witbier, Tripel and Abt 12 offerings, all three of which I first reviewed here back in January of 2014. This one is a winter seasonal from the brewery that appears to have been introduced in late 2006, proving itself to be quite a popular beer since then. Currently ranked as the 18th best Quadrupel on the BeerAdvocate website as well as the 24th best Belgian Strong Ale on RateBeer, this one doesn’t quite rank as high as the Abt 12 does but it should still prove to be an excellent beer. One of the newest beers from St. Bernardus, this is one that I picked up from a local bottle shop just before Christmas but ended up waiting until the start of 2017 before cracking it open while on holiday in Ireland. Given that all three previous beers from the brewery have been excellent, this was definitely a beer I was looking forward to and hopefully it won’t take me another three years before I get my hands on something new from them again. A final things worth nothing about this offering, it will actually be the 1500th beer that I’ll have reviewed here so I’m glad it’s a good one.

st-bernardus-christmas-ale

Appearance (5/5): Quite a dark looking beer with a traditional quadrupel like appearance to it, it was a deep mahogany with some red tinges and an opaque body. The head was quite an impressive, one and a half centimetre one that was bubbly before turning foamy and holding well over the opening minute or so. There was plenty lacing on the sides of the glass which was unexpected and the beer is great looking one.
Aroma (6/10): Quite a lively nose but one that took a while to open up initially, there was some darker fruits and sugars coming through but they weren’t as strong as expected really. There was some figs and plums alongside a few subtle hops before the darker malts started to appear nearer the middle. Some bread malts and sweet caramel notes showed towards the end and the nose was pleasant enough but I was definitely expecting more from it.
Taste (7/10): Thankfully things improved a little come the taste and the beer started to come through a little stronger at this point with some caramel and sweet malts alongside a combination of darker fruits that included the figs and plum from the nose as well as some dates and apricot. Towards the middle touches of clove, brown sugar and yeast began coming through and there was even a hint of banana too before a little spice brought things to a close; a definite improvement on the nose with being spectacular.
Palate (4/5): An interesting beer but one that definitely wasn’t quite as strong as you would expect from a Belgian quadrupel coming in at 10%. The beer had quite a nice taste and the nose wasn’t too bad either but both seemed a little subdued and lacking at times, however it wasn’t a weak offering at least. There was fine carbonation to the beer and it had quite a crisp, lively feel with more dryness as you got closer to the end but overall the balance was good and some warming, boozy touches seen things out.

Overall (14/20): While this one was an interesting and drinkable beer, it was quite a disappointment when compared to the previous three offering I’ve tried from the brewery and it was definitely lacking something compared to most other quadrupels I’ve tried too. The beer opened a lot weaker than expected with a lighter, sweeter taste that didn’t seem like a 10% beer in the early going. There was good carbonation and the darker fruits were nice but they seemed fleeting and could have been stronger, especially with the nose. It was a relatively easy beer to drink though with a subtle tang and okay balance but it was a little underwhelming at times and easily the worst of the brewery’s beers that I’ve tried so far.

Brewed In: Watou, West Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: St. Bernardus Brouwerij
First Brewed: 2006
Type: Abbey Quadrupel
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £5.00

Piraat (339 of 1001)

January 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.95

Beer number 339 from the 1001 beers list now, this one being my fourth review of a Van Steenberge beer in quite succession but one that I fully expected to be an improvement on the Bornem Dubbel and Tripel offerings that I reviewed recently from the brewery. Like those two beers, this one is another that I received over Christmas in the form of a Belgian beer gift pack with the other recent review being of their Gulden Draak 9000 which I enjoyed without it going down as a classic. This particular offering is one that I’ve been aware of for some time now and since it featured on the 1001 beer list I’ve been keeping my eye out for it but I’ve never been able to get my hands on a bottle until I cracked this one open a couple of weeks ago. The beer will be the fifty-first Belgian offering from the 1001 beers list that I’ll have tried and my ninety-second Belgian beer in total, not a bad ratio for beers from the country and hopefully I’ll get to pick up a few more over the course of this year as well. First brewed back in 1986 after the success of another Belgian strong pale ale, Duvel, this one was definitely a beer I was looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint.

piraat

Appearance (4/5): Copper amber in colour, slightly darker than I’d thought and with a very slight haze to the body. There was a centimetre tall, foamy white head at the top that had the odd bubble sitting on the surface too and there was pretty good retention for the strength of the beer. After about thirty or forty seconds there was a slight reduction in size as the head faded to about half a centimetre tall then eventually started to break up a little in the centre of the glass too.
Aroma (8/10): Quite sweet on the nose initially, there was some nice caramel and toffee notes with a couple further sweet malts as things began to open up a little. Towards the middle the bread malts base made itself more known and I got some background fruits coming forward too; mainly apples, grapes and pear with the odd floral touch too. It was a relatively fresh offering that seemed lively with some yeast, cloves and a little spice to round things off.
Taste (7/10): Opening with a lot of toffee and caramel flavours, there was an almost syrupy taste in the early going with touches of sweet malt from the nose too. Around the middle the grapes and apples from the nose showed themselves alongside some apricot with pear and a few other nondescript fruity flavours. There was some brown sugar and yeast nearer the end with the faintest of alcohol touches seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite a lively, strongly carbonated offering with quite an effervescent feel to it that was relatively crisp too. There was a nice balance to the beer with some dryness nearer the end that complimented the slightly boozy, warming finish that helped the beer down easier than expected.

Overall (17/20): Quite a nice, very well-balanced and lively beer with an excellent bubbly feel to it that was slightly boozy near the end thanks to the strong alcohol content. There was some nice, lighter fruits and the odd sweet malt in the early going that made it quite easy to drink despite the 10.5% abv. but the warming kick near the end was still appreciated. It was easier to drink than expected thanks to the balance and I particularly liked the light, crisp feel to the beer; it’s an offering that I’ll hopefully have again at some point.

Brewed In: Ertvelde, East Flander, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge
First Brewed: 1986
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Abv: 10.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: North of Ireland
Price: Gift

De Dolle Stille Nacht (335 of 1001)

August 3, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 4.4

Translating as ‘Silent Night’, this one is my second beer from De Dolle and follows on from their Arabier that I reviewed here back in August of 2014, with that particular beer being another of the four beers from the brewery that features in the 1001 beers list. Originally a dark Belgian ale when launched in 1980, the recipe was completely changed two years later and it’s now a Belgian strong pale ale. The beer underwent another change in the year 2000 when the Rodenbach brewery stopped supplying De Dolle with the yeast strain they were using to brew this one through the 1990’s so since then the yeast being used is a stronger, less complex one but the beer is still held in every high regard. This bottle is one that I stumbled upon during a recent trip to Whole Foods Market in Giffnock and it was one I almost passed on grabbing before I realised it was a beer from the 1001 beers list, the reason for this being that I’ve still got quite a few stronger beers to get through and with this one coming in at 12% abv. I felt it could potentially take a while for me to crack the bottle open but as it’s a pale offering and features on the 1001 beers list I thought I’d open it sooner rather than later after getting it home. The beer will also bring my total from the 1001 beers list to a semi-respectable 335, meaning I’m just over a third of the way there; it’s taken me a lot longer than expected given the amount of times I get side tracked but it’s progress at least.

De Dolle Stille Nacht

Appearance (5/5): Quite a cloudy looking beer, this one is a dark amber colour that has a few bits of sediment floating about the beer with more of a build up nearer the bottom of the glass. There was a fluffy, two and a half centimetre tall head on top that was an off-white colour that had excellent retention in the early going and it left some nice lacing on the sides of the glass too, no easy feat for a 12% beer.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a strong nose in the early going, there was a bit of yeast and some orange notes alongside touches of peach to start things off. I managed to detect some grapes and a little pear on the nose with some spice and fainter citrus notes not too far behind. It’s definitely a varied aroma initially with some honey sweetness and a bit of malt towards the end that ushers in some sourness and faint alcohol grain.
Taste (9/10): Again quite a yeasty beer opening up, there was some faint sourness that carried on from the nose and I got a bit of spice coming through too. The beer was fresh with a solid citrus base and some nice orange flavours before the pear and apple from the nose showed itself. There was plenty of sugars throughout this one with an almost candy sweetness and a lighter bitterness towards the end; there was some cloves and a few malts around this point too and overall it was an excellent tasting beer.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and quite fluffy, this one was a fresh beer that seemed warming and very slightly boozy, mainly at the end but for the most part the alcohol content of the beer was quite well hidden. It was a dry, balanced and varied offering with some spice and a strong sweetness nearer the end.

Overall (18/20): This one was an excellent beer from De Dolle and came through with almost everything that I’ve come to expect from big, bold Belgian beers. There was a lot of flavour packed into this one and some good spice as well with a combination of yeast and citrus flavours opening things up and rich fruits following them up. It was a very well-balanced and easy to drink beer despite its strength and it’s definitely up there with some of the best the country brews; great stuff.

Brewed In: Diksmuide, West Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: De Dolle Brouwers
First Brewed: 1980
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Abv: 12.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Whole Foods Market (Giffnock)
Price: £4.36

Jacobsen Saaz Blonde (330 of 1001)

April 7, 2016 2 comments

Rating: 3.65

The second of the two Danish beers from the 1001 Beers list that I managed to try whilst visiting the country now, this time coming from the Carlsberg brewery as part of their Jacobsen range of beers. This is one of three beers from the range that features in the 1001 beers list although the other, their Jacobsen Sommer Wit, appears to no longer be brewed. This particular beer is one that I managed to sample on-tap at the Carlsberg brewery/visitor centre in Copenhagen after taking a tour of their old brewery, using both of my free drinks tokens to try this one. This will actually be my second review of a Carlsberg beer in very quick succession, having recently reviewed a bottle of their Semper Ardens Wiener as well and thankfully this one proved to be one of the brewery’s better offerings.

Jacobsen Saaz Blonde

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber and clear with a thin, bubbly white head on top that’s very slightly patchy towards the centre of the beer but doesn’t move much beyond that.
Aroma (7/10): Light and quite fruity on the nose, this one comes through with a decent citrus burst initially and some pleasant floral notes as well. Towards the middle some nice sweetness makes an appearance thanks to come bananas sitting on top of a herbal, malty base. A few oranges and some fresh notes start to come through towards the end and it’s quite sharp but definitely pleasant on the nose.
Taste (7/10): Starting with some nice fruity esters and a little citrus, the beer carries on well from the nose and there was a moderate sweetness showing as well; mainly from some bananas but also from the biscuit malts too.Towards the middle there was some herbal flavours and an orange taste with some pleasant hops showing as well and giving the beer a relatively fresh taste.
Palate (4/5): Light-medium bodied that was sweeter than expected but also quite fresh and crisp with a dry feel towards the end. There was a strong citrus tang in the early going but overall the beer was well-balanced and strongly carbonated with a sharp finish that came through with moderate bitterness but started to fade ever so slightly right at the end but the alcohol content was at least very well hidden and almost undetectable at times.

Overall (13/20): Another fairly decent Carlsberg offering, the obviously keep all the good stuff in the country and export their crap beer; that being said, it wasn’t a particularly memorable beer really. There was some nice freshness and a few pleasant fruits to kick things off, mainly oranges, citrus and bananas which also added some sweetness to proceedings. Towards the middle there was a few earthy malts and biscuit flavours that started to come through but on the whole it wasn’t anything special and it’s probably not one I’d seek out again.

Brewed In: Copenhagen, Denmark
Brewery: Carlsberg Brewery
First Brewed: 2005
Type: Belgian Pale Ale
Abv: 7.1%
Serving: Draught (200ml)
Purchased: Carlsberg Brewery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Price: Included with tour

Six°North Hop Classic

January 21, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 3.85

This one is another beer that I received as part of a Christmas gift in the form of a box from Beer52.co.uk, the beer is actually a Scottish one and surprisingly it wasn’t one that I was aware of prior to opening it. Brewed in Aberdeen by the Six°North brewery, the beer isn’t one that I’d seen before and I was quite excited to be trying a Belgian style IPA brewed in Scotland as it not everyday one of those comes along; it should be noted that since trying the beer, I’ve discovered that some Wetherspoons bars in Scotland apparently sell the beer along with one or two others from the brewery. First brewed back in 2013, this one is seemingly the most well-known of the brewery’s beers but I’ll definitely be on the look out for more from them going forward.

Six°North Hop Classic

Appearance (4/5): Cloudy yellow coloured and almost wheat beer like in appearance, there is a thick looking head that is foamy and white with some lacing stuck to the sides of the glass; it looks thick and sticky.
Aroma (7/10): The beer starts with some nice wheat and Belgian yeast note alongside some citrus that gives the beer quite a fresh, lively smell. Some flora notes follow on behind and there is a bit of coriander before some funky and earthy hops start to make themselves known with a few grassy notes and sourness seeing things out.
Taste (8/10): Wheat and some pale malts kick things off here with some nice funky flavours coming through as well. The beer was pretty sour and with some yeast and tart in there too that made it seem like a saison in places. There was some sweet fruits, citrus and orange in the mix around the middle before some coriander and floral flavours made an appearance alongside some bitterness towards the end.
Palate (4/5): This one was a fresh and well carbonated beer that was quite lively and crisp with a dry feel and a medium body. There was some nice sourness coming through from the middle onwards and some funky touches featured as well. There was a good balance to the beer with some floral bitterness right at the end.

Overall (15/20): Quite an enjoyable first beer for me from Six°North, it was fresh and lively with it seeming more like a saison in places with some wheat beer characteristics featuring as well but overall the beer was a good one. There was some nice Belgian yeast and funky flavours coming through alongside some nice fruits and citrus flavours with a subtle bitterness towards the end; good stuff and one I wouldn’t mind picking up again.

Brewed In: Aberdeen, Scotland
Brewery: Six°North
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Belgian IPA
Abv: 6.6%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Beers52.co.uk
Price: Gift

La Binchoise Spéciale Noël (323 of 1001)

January 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.05

You know it’s Christmas time when I start knocking off beers from the 1001 beers list and in particular strong, Belgian beers like this one from La Binchoise. The beer is a Christmas one from the brewery that is labelled as Reserve Speciale in the United States and occasionally in the UK but the bottle I’ll be reviewing is marked as Spéciale Noël. Whilst the name indicates that it is definitely a Christmas beer, this one can apparently be found year round although I’m not entirely convinced even after reading that in the 1001 Beers To Try Before You Die book. First brewed in 1993, four years after the family brewery was founded, this one is a Christmas classic and one that I’ve been saving for over a year having ordered it in December 2014 but never getting round to drinking it until now so hopefully it will have been worth the wait.

La Binchoise Spéciale Noël

Appearance (5/5): Quite a cloudy looking, almost brownish amber colour with a few orange tinges that give it an appearance that is not unlike a dunkelweizen. The head is quite a large one with it sitting about three and a half centimetres tall in the glass and managing to hold well over the opening minutes, looking quite thick and creamy in the glass as it does so; not bad for a 9% abv. beer and there is even some lacing left on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (8/10): Definitely a fresh beer on the nose with a lot of yeast esters and fruits coming through early on; there was some nice pears, apples and a few floral smells too. I detected a small amount of bread and slightly more fresh hops around the middle with a bit of citrus not far behind. It was an easy beer on the nose with some hints of coriander coming through and a hint of tart plus touches of sugar right at the end.
Taste (7/10): The taste was kicked off with a combination of floral hops, bread and fruits with a few malts in the mix as well. This was followed by some nice citrus notes, mainly oranges as well as some apples and pears coming through from the nose. I detected a some pleasant hints of Belgian yeast coming through around the middle and touches of spice plus a hint of coriander that gave the beer a floral and fresh taste without coming through as overly complex.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied but still seeming quite light and fluffy, particularly for such a strong beer but the alcohol content did seem to be at least partially hidden. There was a nice balance to the beer with strong carbonation and a dry, fruity feel that had touches of sweetness and a faint bitterness right at the end.

Overall (15/20): A very nice and fresh beer with some good floral flavours and touches of fruit opening things up nicely without anything being overly pronounced. The beer wasn’t a particularly complex on to be honest but I’ll not hold that against it because it was done well and it went down quite easily given the 9% alcohol content. It was definitely a well carbonated and quite dry beer with some bread malts helping balance things out but it probably falls just short of being considered an absolute classic Belgian ale given how good some of the others from the country have proven to be.

Brewed In: Binche, Hainaut, Belgium
Brewery: Brasserie La Binchoise
First Brewed: 1993
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: BeersOfEurope.co.uk
Price: £2.49

Chouffe N’Ice (320 of 1001)

January 7, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 4.05

A winter seasonal from the d’Achouffe brewery now and one that I’ve held on to for over a year now after I picked it up in December of 2014 from Good Spirits Co. in Glasgow with a view of drinking it over the Christmas period that year. Obviously that’s something that I never got round to doing but luckily the beer was able to keep until this year and now I’m able to mark it off the 1001 beers list. This one will be my third beer from the brewery and follows on from their La Chouffe and Mc Chouffe offerings, both of which were beers that featured on the 1001 beers list with the Mc Chouffe coming out as the better beer in my opinion. N’Ice Chouffe is actually a beer that I’ve been looking forward to and would likely have tried before now had it not been a winter seasonal, it just wouldn’t have been the same trying it in July so I’ve held out until now and hopefully it will prove to have been worth the wait. The beer itself is usually available from early December each year until stocks run out and despite the name, it’s not a proper ice beer as the alcohol isn’t concentrated through freezing but it is the strongest of the regular beers that the brewery produces and it should definitely pack a punch; I can’t wait to try it.

N'Ice Chouffe

Appearance (4/5): This one poured quite a deep and rich looking mahogany colour with some red tinges showing and was completed with a half centimetre tall, foamy head that was a light tan colour and showed a little more build up around the edges of the glass. Retention of the head was quite good with is holding up well and leaving a little lacing on the sides of the glass too with only a slight reduction in size towards the centre.
Aroma (8/10): This one wasn’t quite as strong on the nose as I’d expected considering the strength of the beer, at least initially anyway but some rich malts and dark fruits did come through early on to open things up; most notably some dates, plums and figs. There was plenty of sugars coming through as well and adding to the sweetness before a few hints of yeast showed up. Despite not being overly strong, the beer was quite a complex one on the nose with some rich chocolate running through it and the odd bit of vanilla making an appearance too but the alcohol seemed well-hidden on the nose at least.
Taste (8/10): The taste of this beer matches the nose well with some pleasant dark fruits and sweetness kicking things off alongside some sugars. The dates, figs and plums from the nose all made an appearance, as did some raisins and a few bread malts before a background yeast, vanilla and chocolate taste seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Quite a rich and complex beer on the palate, even slightly creamy with a medium to full body and a nice sweetness running through the centre. The beer was strong-tasting and finely carbonated with it going down quite easily despite the strength and giving a nice warming and subtly boozy finish.

Overall (17/20): This one was another really enjoyable Chouffe beer and an excellent Christmas time beer with lots of complex flavours shinning through on top of a warming, boozy palate that came with a nice kick at the end. The beer was not quite as pronounced on the nose as I’d been expecting but thankfully this didn’t carry over to the taste with some rich malts and dark fruits dominating proceedings. Despite being an excellent beer and one that I really enjoyed, I’m not sure it is one that I’m likely to go back to considering the strength and limited availability of it but it is certainly one worth trying.

Brewed In: Achouffe, Belgium
Brewery: Brasserie d’Achouffe
First Brewed: 1998
Type: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £4.60