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Hapkin

July 10, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.9

A third beer from Brouwerij Alken-Maes now, this one follows on from their Judas and Grimbergen Ambrée offering despite the fact that the later of those two is actually brewed in France as well. This one is the last review of a beer that I managed to try in Belgium last month and leaves me with only a couple more from the country that I brought home with me left to try. The beer itself is one that was actually brewed by another brewery, Brouwerij Louwaege, between 2001 and 2007 until brewing switched to Alken-Maes. I sampled this one on my last night in Brussels before returning home when I stopped by the À la Mort Subite bar in the city after reading about it online but to be honest the beer selection wasn’t what I’d hoped for when compared to other famous Belgian bars so I settled on this one since it wasn’t a beer I’d seen or heard of before, here’s what I thought of it at the time.
Hapkin

Appearance (4/5): A light but bright golden colour, the beer is slightly hazy with a lot of fizz in the body and a large, fluffy white head that eventually settle just over a centimetre tall with a lot of lacing on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma (7/10): Slightly spicy with a lot of citrus and biscuit notes opening things up followed by some yeast and light alcohol towards the middle but nothing too strong. There was some floral hops around the middle too with a nice bite to it and some banana and apples seeing things out.
Taste (8/10): Floral and quite fresh with a lot of biscuit flavours that were a touch stronger than the nose. There was some nice yeast and light fruits further on with banana and apple both showing as well as some grapes and pears before orange flavours and some spice seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Floral and quite tangy with plenty of spice and a dry, crisp feel. The beer was relatively sharp with some alcohol showing at times and a lot of yeast at points too. It was very well-carbonated with a medium to full body and quite a fluffy feel.

Overall (16/20): Quite a nice and light beer with a fluffy feel at times but one that had strong carbonation and a sharp, crisp finish with a dryness throughout. It was well-balanced with only a touch of alcohol showing and although the nose could perhaps have been stronger there was nice apple and banana flavours coming through with some yeast and spice as well. Fresh and easy going, the beer was surprisingly good and one that I’d happily pick up again if I found it in the UK.

Brewed In: Jumet, Walloon, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Alken-Maes
First Brewed: 2001 (Brouwerij Alken-Maes since 2007)
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Abv: 8.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: À la Mort Subite, Brussels, Belgium
Price: €5.50 (approx. £4.87)

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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

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)

Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor (384 of 1001)

July 4, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 4.15

Only my second review of a Gouden Carolus beer as well as my second from the Het Anker brewery responsible for that range of beers, this despite being tempted to buy a few of their offerings online previously but opting for something else instead. This one is another beer that features in the 1001 beers list and is a relatively hop-driven beer for a Belgian offering which is part of the reason I opted for it over others that were available in the Staminee De Garre pub were I eventually tried this one whilst in Bruges recently. This one follows on from my review of the brewery’s Gouden Carolus Classic that I loved when I tried it back in January of 2015 and I was able to try both those beers again when I visited the Het Anker brewery on a day trip to Mechelen a couple of days after trying this one, on that occasion I had a sample flight of the brewery’s Gouden Carolus offerings as well as their Lucifer strong ale, a beer that I hope to pick up a bottle of to give it a full review at some point in the future.

Appearance (5/5): Very bright looking with a slightly hazy body, the beer was a golden colour with the odd amber tinge and some touches of orange in there as well. The head was quite a big one, sitting a couple of inches tall initially before slowly fading to leave a two centimetre, foamy white head with good lacing on the sides too; an excellent start to this one.
Aroma (7/10): Quite hoppy without overpowering, the beer was fresh with some citrus and pine notes in the early going alongside a huge amount of Belgian yeast. It was lively with some biscuit malts and grassy hops towards the middle and a hint of both lemon and coriander a little further on. Towards the end some grapes and a further hop bitterness seen things out alongside touches of grape and various other light background fruits.
Taste (8/10): Lively with some of the lighter fruits from the nose kicking things off, most notably the grapes with some apple and pear not too far behind. There was a freshness to the beer that coupled with some spices and Belgian yeast towards the middle before some pine hops and strong floral flavours started to show themselves, as did some faint alcohol to see things out.
Palate (4/5): Quite a lively and effervescent beer with a bubbly and light feel, there was some nice alcohol touches further on too which added a slightly boozy and warming feel to this one. The citrus and floral touches gave the beer a good tang and I found it quite easy to drink with a nice balance despite the alcohol content, it was also quite interesting and complex for the style which made it quite enjoyable to drink.

Overall (17/20): Fairly light and easy-going for both the style and the alcohol content, this one was a fresh and lively beer with a good balance and quite a lot of hops for a Belgian offering too. There was a nice combination of pine and floral hops in the early going with some biscuit malts and background fruits helping with the balance and making it an easy on to drink with good complexity without being too heavy or strong; a great beer.

Brewed In: Mechelen, Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Het Anker
First Brewed: 2008
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale/Belgian IPA
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Staminee De Garre, Bruges, Belgium
Price: €4.50 (approx. £3.99)

Nostradamus (381 of 1001)

June 29, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.35

The second of two beers that I managed to try at the t Brugs Beertje bar in Bruges recently and luckily enough both were beers that appear on the 1001 beers list; this particular offering follows on from De Koninck APA that I reviewed here recently and is the 381st beer from the list I’ll have sampled now. First brewed back in 1993, this one is a strong offering that comes in anywhere between 9 and 10% abv. with this particular bottle a 9.1% one. My first review of a beer from the Caracole brewery, this one is quite a highly rated offering and currently ranks as the 38th best Belgian Strong Dark Ale on the BeerAdvocate website and I went in expecting big things from the beer which is why I opted for this one over a couple other beers the bar had on the menu; here’s what I thought of it when I tried it last month.

Appearance (5/5): Dark ruby to mahogany, opaque with a tan brown head that’s about two centimetres tall and fades to about half that after a minute to leave a thick looking lacing with further build up around the sides.
Aroma (8/10): Quite strong and rich with a lot of dark fruits in the early going, it’s sugary sweet with some dates, prunes and raisins in there alongside touches of caramel malts, bread and some spices too. Further on I got a combination of cloves and banana to add further sweetness with some alcohol notes rounding things off.
Taste (9/10): Definitely a rich one with some nice fruity touches there as well, I got a mix of prunes and dates with some raisins and plums a little further on followed by plenty of dark malts. It was again a sugary beer with hints of caramel and nutty flavours that gave it quite a complex feel and some alcohol and spice seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Quite a full-bodied and rich beer with moderate carbonation for the style and it was smooth throughout. It’s complex and strong with a warming alcohol feel and some nice spices coming through. It was balanced with the ripe and dark fruits and banana imparting a solid sweetness along with the banana but it was surprisingly easy to drink.

Overall (17/20): Strong and rich, this one was a beer with a definite kick from the warming alcohol which goes well with the dark fruits, the dates and raisins the most pronounced with the plum a nice touch too. I enjoyed the banana and cloves around the middle to help the balance along with the caramel but I especially enjoyed how drinkable it seemed given the strength. There was a great balance throughout with lots going on and it’s definitely a beer I’d pick up again too.

Brewed In: Falmignoul, Namur, Belgium
Brewery: Brasserie Caracole
First Brewed: 1993
Type: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Abv: 9.1%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: ‘t Brugs Beertje, Bruges, Belgium
Price: €4.00 (approx. £3.54)

De Koninck APA (380 of 1001)

June 28, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.9

My first beer from Antwerp’s De Koninck brewery and a beer that I actually tried in Bruges the day before I travelled to Antwerp, in the end I actually had this one a couple of times when I was in Antwerp as well though. The beer is an amber Belgian ale that has been brewed in the city since 1930 and is my 380th beer from the 1001 beers list to be reviewed here. Despite apparently being quite an easy beer to track down abroad, this isn’t a beer that I can recall seeing outside of the odd specialist beer website and it’s not one I’d heard much about before travelling to Belgium but I knew I’d have to try it given I was visiting Antwerp and thankfully it was one that I quite enjoyed.

Appearance (4/5): Caramel amber coloured, edging towards dark in colour with a fairly clear body and a centimetre tall, foamy white to light-tan coloured head that holds well and covers the surface throughout.
Aroma (7/10): Dark malts and some caramel kick things off with some touches of sweetness coming through alongside a nutty aroma that dominated. Further on there was some pale malts and a few earthy notes with the odd sugary touch coming through before a little banana showed towards then end and some yeast and spice seen things out.
Taste (8/10): Similar to the nose with some earthy malts and a slightly roasted flavours coming through alongside a solid caramel sweetness and a couple of light hops too. It was a sugary taste around the middle with some light banana and cloves following on behind. It was a relatively light tasting beer for the colour with some bread malts and few spices rounding things off.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and quite dry, the beer was strongly carbonated with a fresh and slightly sweet feel but it wasn’t an overpowering one. The beer seemed quite balanced but subdued with a few spices but it was very easy to drink as well.

Overall (16/20): This one was an excellent beer from De Koninck, very smooth and balance whilst seeming quite refreshing too. It was an easy beer to drink with a nice caramel sweetness from the start and some good nutty flavours, although these seem a little strong on the nose than with the taste. There was a good mix of earthy malts whilst keeping the beer relatively light tasting but it’s definitely one that I’d have again.

Brewed In: Antwerp, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij De Koninck
First Brewed: 1930
Also Known As: De Koninck Amber / De Koninck Antwaarpse Pale Ale
Type: Amber Ale/Red Ale (Belgian Ale)
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Keg (250ml)
Purchased: ‘t Brugs Beertje, Bruges, Belgium
Price: €3.50 (approx. £3.09)