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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

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

AleSmith Horny Devil

January 21, 2015 2 comments

Rating: 4.6

A beer that I had been saving for quite some time now, AleSmith’s Horny Devil is a bottle that I ordered from the Brewdog online shop way back in May 2013 and had originally intended to drink soon after until I spotted the words ‘Ages Well’ on the bottles label and thought I’d store it and enjoy it sometime down the line. The beer is my second from AleSmith, the other being their IPA that coincidentally I picked up as part of that same Brewdog order. That particular offering rates as one of the best beers I’ve tried to date and is part of the reason I held off drinking this one for so long, I wanted to really appreciate this one. From what I gather, the beer is a 2012 vintage and comes in at 11% abv. so I decided to crack it open over the Christmas holiday’s and enjoy it with a Cuban cigar to make it really feel like Christmas.

AleSmith Horny Devil

Appearance (4/5): Pours a bright golden colour with a thin, half centimetre head that is a foamy white colour. Retention isn’t too bad considering the strength of this one, the head settles as a fine, slightly soapy lacing after about a minute and the beer itself is crystal clear.
Aroma (10/10): This one smells excellent, the first thing that strikes you is how well the alcohol content is hidden with only the tiniest bit coming through right at the end. The beer is really fruit with some pear, apples and nice citrus notes coming through on top of some spice, cloves and peppercorn; there is a little coriander in there as well. The beer is very well balanced aroma-wise, there is some Belgian yeast and pine notes coming through with some strong apricot in there as well as some pineapple. Outstanding stuff, definitely one of the best smelling beers I think I’ve had.
Taste (9/10): Fruity with some apple and apricot coming through early on, there is some pear and hints of citrus as well with some sweetness and sugars complimenting this. The beer was incredibly well balanced with the alcohol again well hidden and some nice spices, cloves and coriander making an appearance alongside some pale malts and Belgian yeast. Fantastic stuff from AleSmith, a slow starter but after a few sips I was hooked.
Palate (5/5): Medium bodied and smooth, very smooth. The beer is sweeter than I expected and the alcohol content is masked almost completely, there is no telling this is an 11% beer. It’s fairly well carbonated, sitting around medium to high and frighteningly easy to drink. The finish is a medium dry and crisp one with a touch of tart that leaves you wanting more.

Overall (18/20): Another brilliant beer from AleSmith, the quality really shows through with this one and it is remarkably easy to drink despite the fact it comes in at 11% abv. and is packed with flavour. It’s more fruity than I was expecting but the balance is great and the carbonation is perfect, helping the beer down far too easily for the strength of the beer. Simply put, this one is a must try for any beer fan and one that was well worth the very expensive price tag.

Brewed In: San Diego, California, United States of America
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Company
First Brewed: 1
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Abv: 11.0%
Serving: Bottle (650ml)
Purchased: Brewdog.com
Price: £15.29

Moinette Blonde (265 of 1001)

September 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.9

A beer that is considered a benchmark for high-strength, bottle conditioned golden ales now, a Belgian beer I picked up towards the end of last year that will be the last beer from my Beers of Europe order in the run up to Christmas last year. The main reason I have put off trying what will surely be another excellent Belgian beer until now is partly because of the strength, although it is only 8.5% but the main reason was because I felt it would age a lot better than some of the other beers I’ve picked up since but now it’s finally time to give this one a go and check another beer off the 1001 list. The beer will be my second from the Dupont brewery and follows on from their Saison Dupont that I enjoyed here some time ago and despite not being as well-known (to me at least) Moinette Blonde outsells Saison Dupont at home in Belgium so hopefully that is a sign of good taste and this one can perhaps surpass the saison, let’s find out.

Moinette Blonde

Appearance (4/5): Golden yellow in colour, slightly cloudy looking and topped with a finger-sized, foamy white head on top that doesn’t move much at all over the opening minutes. Quite a decent looking beer with better head retention than I had been expecting and some initial signs of visible carbonation too.
Aroma (7/10): Initially strong yeast on the nose with plenty of citrus notes coming through, mainly lemon but some tart and funky smells back this up well. Some fruits, notably apples and peach, start to come through around the middle plus a little coriander, with plenty of pepper and spice balancing this out well.
Taste (8/10): This one matches the smell fairly well with the yeast and lemon present early on, albeit a little more subdued here. There is the apple from the nose too and some pear coming through as well not to mention the spice and pepeer. I could detect some grass and some subtle hops feature towards the end, backed by some floral flavours too.
Palate (4/5): A very dry beer with a light-medium body and above average carbonation and a slightly grainy palate that features some alcohol and quite a crisp finish.

Overall (16/20): Another highly enjoyable Belgian beer, this one was reminiscent of a saison early on and not being the biggest fan of the style I was initially worried but the funk, tart and Belgian yeast died down some and the fruit flavours and spice slowly took over. The beer was a well balanced some and despite the alcohol content it still managed to go down easily, While it’s not a beer that I’d go back to time and again, I would definitely consider trying again at some point in the future.

Brewed In: Tourpes-Leuze, Belgium
Brewery: Brasserie Dupont
First Brewed: 1955
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Abv: 8.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: BeersOfEurope.co.uk
Price: £2.59

Arabier (263 of 1001)

August 12, 2014 1 comment

Rating: 3.9

A second Belgian beer from the 1001 beers lists in quick succession here, this one following on from the last beer that I reviewed here; Urthel Hop-It. This one is a slightly older beer, having been first brewed back in 1985 by the Herteleer brother kick-started a sort of microbrewery revolution in Belgium with several other breweries opening not long after De Dolle Brouwers (translated as The Mad Brewers). The brewery is better known for another beer they produce, Oerbier which is a Belgian strong dark ale that I almost picked up instead of this one when I was in Good Spirits Co. bottle shop a couple of months ago. In the end I opted for this one since both featured in the 1001 beers list anyway and I felt I had enough darker beers to drink at that point anyway, if you can ever have enough dark Belgian beers that is. I also discovered that during the brewing process that Arabier is dry hopped and as such should be drank fairly fresh, something I wish I’d known when I picked this one up or I’d have drank it sooner although it is still well within it’s freshness date so I think it will still be fine thankfully.
Arabier

Appearance (4/5): Pours a slightly hazy, golden amber colour with a thumb-sized, foamy white head with the odd bubble showing through. Retention is pretty good with the head as well, it manages to hold fairly steady over the opening few minutes with little in the way reduction, on-top of that there is some sediment towards the bottom of the glass too.
Aroma (7/10): Citrus, some subtle hops and a lot of spice on the nose initially. There is a lot of bitterness coming through with this one, some background fruits that includes orange, apple and pear plus a smell of cloves to accompany them but it’s the citrus the is strongest.
Taste (8/10): Quite fruity with a lot of spice to begin, there is the citrus from the nose with a combination of orange, tangerine and some sugar that gives it a slightly sweet taste for a moment before the bitterness starts to appear, falling just short of being overdone. There is pineapple in there too and hints of alcohol with some grain and earthy hops as well, this one was a real surprise in the taste department and one that I enjoyed more than I was expecting after smelling the beer.
Palate (4/5): This one is medium bodied, fairly smooth with the odd touch of grain and a well carbonated with a slight fizz. The beer is dry, quite bitter and although some alcohol shows it is hidden well for the most part and proves quite easy to drink.

Overall (16/20): Yet another excellent Belgian beer here, this one was quite fruity with plenty of citrus and pineapple being the highlights of the taste. Despite the fact that  the aroma is a good one, it seemed to hint at bitterness that I thought would come to dominate the taste but thankfully it did not. The beer is very easy to drink due to the fact that the alcohol hidden for the most part with only faint hints of it appearing in places; this one is a beer worth trying if you get the chance.

Brewed In: Diksmuide, West Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: De Dolle Brouwers
First Brewed: circa. 1985
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Abv: 8.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £4.00

Duvel Tripel Hop 2014 (Mosaic)

August 5, 2014 2 comments

Rating: 4.2

Now for a beer I’ve wanted to try for some time now, the 2014 edition of Duvel Tripel Hop having missed the 2012 & 2013 version stupidly thinking they weren’t limited releases until it was too late. Learning from past mistakes, I picked this one up about a month ago when I first noticed it for sale and thought it’d be a great one to drink on a warm summers night. Originally introduced in 2007 and coming in slightly stronger than normal Duvel, the beer remained unchanged until the 2012 edition which featured citra hops and the 2013 edition which made use of sorachi ace hops. The beer takes its name from the fact that the flagship Duvel is brewed using two hop varieties but each of these annual releases added a third, apparently ‘exotic’ hop with this years one being mosaic which should give the beer some nice tropical fruits and citrus flavours. As I’m a huge fan of the original Duvel this one should be an interesting brew and one that I’m looking forward to sipping away at.

Duvel Tripel Hop 2014 (Mosaic)

Appearance (5/5): Pours a bright, golden amber colour that is ever so slightly hazy looking and is topped with a bigger than expected, two and a half centimetres tall and foamy looking. The head is white in colour and has excellent retention with no movement or reduction in size over the opening couple of minutes, it only started to go down some after I had taken a couple of sips and even then it only goes down slightly.
Aroma (8/10): Strong on the nose with yeast, apples and some pears coming through with some spice initially and followed by alcohol as well as some citrus and further light fruits. I could detect a little grain, touches of pepper and grapefruit with a floral backing to it. Not a bad-smelling beer at all, perhaps the alcohol content could have been ever so slightly better masked but I enjoyed the smell of this one none the less.
Taste (8/10): Matching the aroma well, this one starts with some Belgian yeast and plenty of spice, some pepper and cloves come through alongside a strong floral flavour that includes some grapefruit and various background fruits that includes the apple and pear from  nose along with some citrus and orange flavours plus a little sweetness towards the end; again this is a good beer.
Palate (4/5): Light bodied but definitely not a watery beer, there is a lot of spice throughout and strong carbonation. The alcohol provides a slightly warming feel to the beer and there is some grain in there but despite the strength it is quite an easy on to sip away at over the course of an hour or so.

Overall (16/20): Another excellent beer from Duvel, very strong with slightly more alcohol coming through that I would have liked but it still tastes great and went down fairly easily. Whilst not quite as good as the standard Duvel this one was pretty good and a nice variation on the original, I’m already looking forward to seeing what next years will be like.

Brewed In: Breendonk-Puurs, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Belgian IPA
Abv: 9.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: The Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £3.80