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Posts Tagged ‘belgian ale’

Spencer Trappist Ale

January 25, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.25

A first new Trappist beer in quite some time now, this one is a beer from the only Trappist brewery in the United States and is a Belgian style pale ale that I picked up from a local bottle shop just before Christmas. This one is a beer that I’ve been aware of since shortly after the brewery was founded within the Abbey, back in 2013 and it’s a beer that I’ve been looking forward to trying ever since. Brewed at the St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts and available since later 2013/early 2014, this is one of several beers that the abbey now produce and it was also the first Trappist beer to be brewed outside of Europe so it’s definitely an interesting beer and I’m glad I’ve finally been able to track a bottle down.

Spencer Trappist Ale

Appearance (5/5): Pale amber in colour with a hazy body and quite a large, foamy head that was a creamy white in colour and looked quite thick. Head retention was quite good as well with the no reduction in size over the opening couple of minutes which was nice to see.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a fresh and lively beer with some Belgian yeast and slightly funky notes kicking things off, there was some light citrus and a hint of pear in the early going too. Towards the middle I got some apple as well as a subtle sweetness thanks to some bananas before bread malts, cloves and light spices seen things out.
Taste (8/10): Opening with a nice combination of yeast and fruit esters, there was a few herbal touches and spices to get things started with the taste before some banana sweetness started to feature nearer the middle The beer was slightly fresh at points with some peaches, apples and pears coming through from the nose alongside a selection of pale malts followed by some bread malts at the end.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and quite lively, this one came through with a lot of spices and a background sweetness thanks to the fruits featured throughout; most notably the banana flavours and to a lesser extent the peaches. It was quite a well balanced and easy-going offering that was moderately carbonated and sat with a medium body that was very enjoyable.

Overall (17/20): Quite an interesting beer that definitely seemed like a Belgian offering as I worked my way down the glass, it was quite a lively and fresh beer that had a fluffy, light feel to it throughout. There was a nice balance to this one with some banana sweetness working well with the background fruits and yeast as well as some touches of funk featuring a little later on. The beer was definitely a good one that I enjoyed and wouldn’t mind picking up again or, better still trying one of the breweries other offerings.

Brewed In: Spencer, Massachusetts, United States of America
Brewery: Spencer Brewery
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Belgian Pale Ale
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Wee Beer Shop (Glasgow)
Price: £4.20

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Carlingford Tholsel Blonde

January 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.8

The second of the two Carlingford beers that I picked up while over in Ireland at Christmas, this one is also the penultimate beer from my trip that I’ll be reviewing here; only a review of a Glens of Antrim beer is left after this one. This one was a beer that I opened shortly after finishing a bottle of the brewery’s Taaffe’s Red and although that one turned out to be quite a disappointing beer I was still hopeful this one would prove more enjoyable; here’s what I thought of it in the end.

Appearance (3/5): A light, almost watered down looking amber that had a slightly hazy body and a half centimetre, bubbly white head on top that turned quite patchy after about thirty seconds.
Aroma (5/10): Basic lager type malts and some biscuit notes kick things off here, there was some earthy hops and touches of hay with a light citrus backing but there wasn’t a whole lot going on really. Towards the end some grassy hops and touches of lemon featured with a little pepper and spice to see things out.
Taste (6/10): Following on in a similar fashion to the nose, the beer opened with some biscuit malts and a few earthy hops with some faint grassy hops in there as well. Nearer the middle some citrus and touches of hay started to appear as well as some bread malts and straw. It was quite a basic tasting beer with a few light fruits and background malts but it wasn’t anything special really.
Palate (3/5): Quite sharp and crisp with a light-medium body and some fresh touches; it was a well carbonated offering that came through fresh initially but started to fade towards the middle before finishing poorly.

Overall (10/20): Quite a bitter and harsh beer that was earthy throughout and very basic at times too. The beer had a light-medium body with some biscuit malts and touches of bread as well as some lighter fruits and hops sitting in the background but it was quite a poor offering that I’ll be avoiding in future.

Brewed In: Riverstown, County Louth, Ireland
Brewery: Carlingford Brewing Co.
First Brewed: 2015
Type: Belgian Ale
Abv: 4.6%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

InishMacSaint Little Dog IPA

January 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.2

My fifth beer from Fermanagh based InnishMacSaint now, this one is a beer that I picked up just before Christmas when visiting the county and follows one from their Pure Foundered Belgian ale that I tried on my last visit to the area in August/September last year. This one is an English style IPA with a few touches of fruit and hop bitterness coming through and is a beer that I picked up given it’s really only available in the Fermanagh area, and not because I was a fan of the brewery’s previous offerings; although their original Fermanagh Beer wasn’t too bad but everything else from the brewery has been quite poor.

Appearance (2/5): Yellow to golden in colour with a hazy body that had a half centimetre tall head on top that was foamy and white with the odd bubble through it. There was quite a lot of sediment showing in the beer through and it looked brown in colour with a few larger bits dotted around the place but head retention was good at least.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with a combination of citrus and pine with lemon notes being the most dominant initially but with some background fruits featuring as well. The beer was fresh with some mango coming through alongside touches of yeast and coriander that made it slightly reminiscent of a witbier around the middle. It was an interesting enough beer that was quite balanced on the nose without having too much variety.
Taste (7/10): Subtle lemon and pine flavours kick things off with the hops adding a nice bitterness in the early going before some mango comes through towards the middle. It seemed fresher than the nose with a few pale malts and hints of coriander further on and some wheat right at the end too.
Palate (4/5): Somewhere around light medium bodied with a fairly fresh and well carbonated feel to it, this one was a smooth and wet beer that had some nice hop bitterness both at the start and at the end. It was quite a crisp beer to with a nice balance that made it quite an easy one to drink.

Overall (14/20): This one turned out to be a fairly enjoyable offering from Inishmacsaint despite it getting off to a shaky start after pouring, there seemed to be a lot of sediment through the beer but it settled at the bottom after a while and the beer itself was a nice one. There was a good combination of citrus and pine in the early going with the odd background fruit before some pale malts made themselves known around the middle. It was a relatively easy beer to drink as well with some hints of witbier coming through thanks to the coriander and wheat at the end; pleasant stuff and well worth trying if you can find it.

Brewed In: Drumskimly, Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Inishmacsaint Brewery
First Brewed: 2017
Type: English IPA
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Winemart (Enniskillen)
Price: £2.39

Bruxellensis

January 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.4

My second Brasserie de la Senne beer in quick succession now, this one being another offering from the brewery that I grabbed at the Wee Bee Shop in Glasgow recently and is one that follows on from the same brewery’s Zinnebir offering that I reviewed here previously; a beer that turned out to be quite enjoyable in the end. This one is a Belgian style wild ale that is bottle fermented for four months using Brussels Brettanomyces yeast and is one that I’m quick intrigued by since I’m not really sure what to expect going in. The beer should be a good one though as it is currently listed as one of the top 50 Belgian ale’s on the RateBeer website, presently sitting at number nine on the list with another variant of this beer at number three.

Appearance (4/5): Bright amber to orange in colour with a large, bubbly head that left some nice, foamy lacing on the sides of the glass and settled as a thin surface lacing that was slightly patchy after a while.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with a lot of yeast and tart in the early going, the beer was a lively one with some lemon zest and orange notes coming through as well. This was followed by some background spices and a couple of bitter hops before the odd funky note and some touches of biscuit make an appearance nearer the end.
Taste (6/10): Opening with plenty of citrus flavours, there was some orange and lemon zest coming through with a strong tart taste slightly further on, the beer was definitely a funky and lively one. Thee was some yeast and pine hops around the middle with some earthy hops following on behind and I managed to detect some fruit esters and a background sweetness towards the end.
Palate (3/5): Tangy and quite a sharp beer that was well carbonated and lively throughout. It was a dry beer towards the end with plenty of tart and funky touches with a subtle hop bitterness throughout too.

Overall (14/20): Quite a tarty and fresh beer that was sour in parts and quite funky throughout, plenty of Belgian yeast and spices showed from the start. There was pleasant hop bitterness from the middle of the beer on and some touches of citrus showed as well with the balance seeming okay but it’s not a beer that I’d rush back to I’m afraid.

Brewed In: Brussels, Belgium
Brewery: Brasserie de la Senne
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Belgian/Wild Ale
Abv: 6.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Wee Beer Shop (Glasgow)
Price: £2.70

Zinnebir (372 of 1001)

January 15, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.75

The first of two beers that I picked up from Brasserie de la Senne recently, both from a new bottle shop fairly close to my flat with the first of the two being a beer that features on the 1001 beers list as well. Originally brewed back in 2002 when the brewery was still known as Sint-Pieters before being renamed in 2005, this was one of the first beers that the brewery produced and still appears to be one of their most popular too with demand regularly outstripping capacity so I’m glad this is one that I’ve finally been able to track down and try.

Appearance (4/5): A pale, almost apricot amber colour that was quite hazy and topped with a half centimetre tall head that was foamy white and looked quite fluffy.
Aroma (7/10): Opening with quite a lot of Belgian yeast, the beer seemed lively with some citrus notes initially and touches of spice in there too; some coriander and cloves both featuring. The beer was fresh with some orange peel and pale malts around the middle before some bread malts, nutmeg and a slightly warming aroma seen things out.
Taste (7/10): Fruity with some nice pale malts kicking things off, there was some orange zest and lemon alongside some pale bread malts and apples. The beer had quite a lot of Belgian yeast coming through and this helped add to some spice with coriander, cloves and a little nutmeg all carrying over from the nose before a candy sweetness seen things out nicely.
Palate (4/5): Light-medium bodied and quite fluffy beer on the palate, this one was strongly carbonated and sharp with a fresh and lively feel that had a faint touch of warming alcohol towards the end and some hop bitterness in there too.

Overall (15/20): Very much a Belgian style beer that opened with a lot of yeast and some subtle spices with the odd hop showing as well. It was  afresh beer that had plenty orange zest and lemon coming through alongside some background fruits that included apples, grape and some pears, all working well together and going down nicely.

Brewed In: Brussels, Belgium
Brewery: Brasserie de la Senne
First Brewed: 2002
Type: Belgian Pale Ale
Abv: 5.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Wee Beer Shop (Glasgow)
Price: £2.50

InishMacSaint Pure Foundered

September 19, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.35

A fourth beer from Fermanagh based InishMacSaint here and my first from them since trying their Muck Savage wheat ale on Christmas Day back in 2015. The first beer from the brewery that I ever tried, their self-titled InishMacSaint proved to be quite an enjoyable offering but the Muck Savage as well as their Lough Erne Porter that I have tried since never really excited me much; both were drinkable but nothing special sadly. I picked this one up when I spotted it at a local bottle shop in Fermanagh last month with the hope that it would be an improvement on the last couple from the brewery; here’s what I thought of it when I tried it a couple of weeks ago.

Appearance (3/5): Bright golden to yellow in cloudy with a cloudy body but a head that disappeared quiet quickly, even after an aggressive pour from the bottle. It more of a thin and bubbly white lacing that formed above a few fine bubbles that were rising to the surface of the beer.
Aroma (6/10): Quite light on the nose with some citrus and floral touches opening things up alongside a faint hint of orange and some cloves towards the middle. There was an almost witbier like aroma to this one at times with some background fruits helping to keep things fresh but it was far from the strongest beer out there.
Taste (7/10): Quite fruity and opening with a nice combination of citrus and orange flavours before the cloves from the nose started to come through. There was a little wheat this time around too which lent weight to the beer seeming like a witbier at times as well. There was some floral bursts around the middle with the odd pale malts and some grassy flavours sneaking in too but again it wasn’t an overly pronounced offering from the brewery.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied but perhaps a little lighter than I’d have liked to see, the beer was quite fresh and lively though with above average carbonation and some good floral bursts too. There was a dry and crisp feel to this one that seemed to have a nice balance as well; decent stuff from InnishMacSaint.

Overall (13/20): This one was a slightly better than expected offering from the brewery, I’d not been overly optimistic about this one after the last couple from them weren’t overly enjoyable but this one turned out okay without ever really exciting or hitting the heights of their original InishMacSaint beer. The beer started relatively poorly thanks to its lack of head and weaker than expected aroma but things definitely picked up a little with the nose and some nice citrus flavours started to appear alongside basic fruits. At times the beer was much closer to a witbier than a Belgian pale ale with wheat, cloves and the odd spice all featuring but it proved an easy one to drink whilst staying fresh throughout.

Brewed In: Drumskimly, Derrygonnelly, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Brewery: Inishmacsaint Brewery
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Belgian Pale Ale
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.49

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