Posts Tagged ‘belgium’

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.


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.


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

Bornem Tripel

January 30, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.3

Another beer that I received as part of a gift pack containing beers from the Van Steenberge brewery, this one is a Tripel version of the Bornem Dubbel that I reviewed here previously; the pack also contained Gulden Draak 9000 as well as the original Gulden Draak that I have already reviewed here some time ago. This one is an offering that was first introduced by the brewery back in 1996 but like the Dubbel, it’s not a beer that I’ve come across on my travels so it was one I was eager to try; this being despite the fact that I found the dubbel version of the beer to be quite a disappointing and poor one when I tried it. This one will also be my 91st Belgian offering reviewed here but it’s not one that has gathered particularly good reviews online and it was only a slight improvement on the Dubbel version really.


Appearance (4/5): Obviously a lighter beer than the dubbel version, this one was a golden colour that has pretty good clarity and a stream of fine bubbles rising to the surface too. There was a centimetre and a half tall head on top that was made up foamy bubbles and was white in colour, holding pretty well for a 9% abv. beer over the opening few minutes. 4.5
Aroma (6/10): Fresh and coming through with quite a bit of citrus initially, this one was zesty on the nose and lively too with some touches of lemon and apple alongside grapes and some pear too. Towards the middle it was a floral nose that came to the front with some funk and tart coupled with touches of Belgian yeast and a subtle sweetness. Some bread malts and a touch of banana followed on behind before some background fruits and a hint of spice brought things to a close. It wasn’t a bad nose on the whole but I’d have liked it to be a touch stronger if I’m honest.
Taste (6/10): Fruity initially with some funky flavours and a little tart coming through; it’s quite a lively and fresh beer to begin with. I managed to detect some grapes, apples and pears with the addition of some apricot in the taste too but none of these flavours dominated. There was some sweet malts towards the middle and some of the banana from the nose came through but it proved to be quite subtle. Nearer the end there was some cinnamon and a faint spice with oranges and floral flavours bringing things to a close but again it could have been a touch stronger.
Palate (3/5): Very lively and quite fresh, the beer was strongly carbonated but not quite gassy or overdone. It was a zesty, quite tangy offering that seemed somewhat weak or subdued at times and definitely could have used a little something extra which was surprising give it was a 9% abv. beer. The balance of the beer wasn’t too bad though and it proved to be quite a dry offering but ultimately a disappointing one too.

Overall (14/20): Lively and quite a bubbly, fresh beer that was well carbonated and featured some nice fruits at times, although they did prove to be quite subdued and even weak at times. There was some faint sweetness from the malts as well and the alcohol content turned out to be quite well hidden with some funky flavours, tart and yeast masking it for the most part. It was definitely a drinkable offering but I wouldn’t say it was particularly enjoyable, it was an improvement on the Dubbel version from the same brewery though and I guess that’s something.

Brewed In: Ertvelde, East Flander, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge
First Brewed: 1996
Type: Tripel
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: North of Ireland
Price: Gift

Bornem Dubbel

January 30, 2017 2 comments

Rating: 3.2

Originally brewed at the Beirens Wommelgem brewery from 1957, this one has been brewed by its current location since 1971 and will be the second review of a Van Steenberge beer in a row here since the brewery is also responsible for the Gulden Drakk 9000 that I had too. This one comes in at 7.2%, having originally been a 8% abv. beer that I received over Christmas as a gift and it’s not a beer that I can say I’ve ever seen before so it was one that I was looking forward too. I also received the Tripel version of this beer from the same brewery, a more recent addition to their line up and one that I’ll be reviewing here next.


Appearance (4/5): Dark caramel, boardering on mahogany coloured with a hazy body, this one was topped with a thin, half centimetre head that was a tan brown colour and bubbly. It faded quite quickly though, leaving a patchy lacing to one side of the surface but overall it wasn’t a bad-looking beer.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly dark on the nose, this one opened with a combination of toffee and caramel aromas but there was some bread malts and biscuit in the early going too. Towards the middle some subtle fruits started to appear but sadly the beer was quite a weak one on the nose; only some plum and a few molasses alongside a couple of figs in the background helped salvage things for this one.
Taste (6/10): Slightly sweeter than the nose, this again opened with some caramel and toffee flavours with the biscuit malts not too far behind. Some darker fruits such as raisin, figs and dates started to appear nearer the middle but nothing was overly pronounced really and again the beer seemed weaker than I’d have liked as a result.
Palate (3/5): Not the heaviest dubbel out there, this one sat about light-medium bodied and came through with a lot of fine carbonation. There was a lot of early sweetness to the beer thanks to the caramel and toffee flavours but things seemed to fade rather quickly and from the middle on the beer seemed weak and almost bland at times. There wasn’t much of the alcohol showing at least and there was a touch of spice nearer the end but the beer proved to be quite disappointing sadly.

Overall (12/20): Quite a disappointing offering on the whole despite starting quite well thanks to the nice combination of caramel and toffee flavours plus the biscuit malts at the start. The problem with this one was that it seemed to fade far too quickly and come the middle there wasn’t really much of anything going on save for some subtle fruits and a hint of sugar. Quite a bland and uninspiring offering that seemed a little plain and definitely wasn’t as good as some of the better Belgian dubbels I’ve tried in the past; this is probably one to avoid I’ afraid.

Brewed In: Ertvelde, East Flander, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge
First Brewed: 1957 (1971 at current brewery)
Type: Dubbel
Abv: 7.2%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: North of Ireland
Price: Gift

Gulden Draak 9000

January 30, 2017 3 comments

Rating: 3.85

The second beer from the Van Steenberge brewery now and one that is a variant of their flagship Gulden Draak offering that I reviewed here around October 2015. This version appears to have been introduced back in 2011 as a special Quadrupel version of the original but one that is also a lot lighter too; it’s also one that I’ve been aware of for some time but as yet have not seen it in any shops. I managed to get my hands on this bottle as part of a gift I received over the holidays, drinking it at the very end of 2016 whilst visiting Ireland and it was definitely one I went into with high hopes given how much I enjoyed the original. Taking its name from the 9000 postcode of the Ghent area of Belgium, this one uses different malt varieties and is secondary fermented using wine yeast to enhance the beer. It’s also quite a highly reviewed beer, currently ranked as the 35th best Quadrupel on the BeerAdvocate website, placing it above the original version of the beer which doesn’t feature on the list but was still an excellent beer.


Appearance (4/5): Pouring a lot lighter than I’d expected going in, this one was a copper amber colour that was topped with a fairly nice, two centimetre tall head that’s quite bubbly with the odd foamy touch too. The head was a creamy white colour and it faded some over the opening minute or so to leave a somewhat patchy lacing but one that still managed to cover the surface of the beer.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a sweet nose with a lot of caramel and toffee in the early going that combined with some bread malts and a few sugars. Towards the middle some citrus hints and light spice started to make an appearance before a subtle floral backing showed up. There wasn’t the usual dark fruits that I’d associate with this type of beer but some pears and Belgian yeast did appearance right at the end.
Taste (7/10): Again this beer was a relatively sweet offering but it was subdued a little from the nose, there wasn’t the same caramel and toffee opening but some lighter fruits seemed to come to the fore this time around; mainly some grapes, pears and apples featured. Around the middle some of the citrus from the nose showed itself and there was some lighter touches of spice too but the beer was a lot more mellow than it was with the nose, some sugars and floral flavours seeing things out alongside a herbal bitterness.
Palate (4/5): Sitting somewhere around medium bodied, maybe just a touch lighter, this one was quite fresh and definitely lighter than I’d expected going in. It was quite a lively beer with a subtle tang at points but overall the feel was quite smooth and crisp with the alcohol content well hidden and some dryness towards the end; the was a great balance too.

Overall (15/20): This one was quite a surprising beer when I poured it, I was definitely expecting something a lot darker and with a fuller body than what I got, it’s easily one of the lightest quadrupels I think I’ve tried. The beer had a nice sweetness to it, particularly with the nose but the caramel that showed there seemed to fade more than expected come the taste which was also surprising and seemed to put the beer as more of a Belgian pale ale at times. There was a good amount of lighter fruits and even touches of citrus that gave the beer its fresh, lively feel but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the original sadly and it wasn’t quite what I’d expected; it’s still a very good beer though.

Brewed In: Ertvelde, East Flander, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge
First Brewed: 2011
Type: Quadrupel
Abv: 10.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: North of Ireland
Price: Gift

Petrus Aged Pale (337 of 1001)

January 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.0

Aged for at least 24 months in oak barrels, this beer is known as the ‘mother beer’ by the brewery and is often used to blend with other Petrus beers but luckily it’s sold on its own too. Named by legendary ‘beer hunter’ Michael Jackson in the late 1990’s when it was introduced, this beer is one that finds itself among countless other Belgian offerings to feature in the 1001 Beers To Try Before You Die book, which also happens to be why I’ve been hunting for a bottle too. A reference for sour beers in the United States, this one has won several gold medals at various competitions over the years and is one I can’t wait to try. My 337th beer from the 1001 list, this will also be my milestone fiftieth Belgian beer from the list as well and is another that I tried over the Christmas holidays recently after picking up a bottle from a Glasgow bottle shop a couple of weeks before that. First bottled in 2001 at the request of the previously mentioned Michael Jackson, after he’d tried it straight from the barrel a few years before and want to offer it to his beer clubs in the United States. As a result, the beer is now available in Belgium and exported worldwide as the brewery’s flagship offering.


Appearance (5/5): Quite a clear bodied beer, this one was a light golden colour with hints of amber and quite a lot of fine bubbles rising to the surface too. The beer looks pretty lively with a foamy white head sitting on top that was just over a centimetre tall and managed to leave some nice lacing on the sides of the glass too. There wasn’t much reduction in the size of the head over the opening few minutes which was nice, it actually turned slightly creamy after a while and looked excellent.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a sour opening with a lot of funky notes coming through initially, there was some lighter fruits accompanying them though; most notable was the apples and grapes but some cloves, lemons and oranges also featured. Towards the middle a few hints of coriander and some Belgian yeast started to come through and give the beer quite a fresh nose with some zesty touches too before the pale malts, earthy notes and touches of biscuit brought things to a close with some spice right at the death as well.
Taste (7/10): Definitely a sour tasting beer, there was an instant hit of funk with the first sip and some tart flavours were not far behind either. There’s a combination of lemon and orange in the early going that matched the nose and featured some of the grapes and apples too. Some acidity came through from the early going as well, much like I’d expected going in with some pale malts nearer the middle. The biscuit from the nose is accompanied by some bread malts and features a little earlier here than it did with the nose before a touch of sweetness started to come through nearer the end. There was perhaps a touch more alcohol showing towards the end than I’d have liked but this one was still a good tasting beer, especially for the style.
Palate (4/5): Fresh and quite a lively offering with plenty of carbonation showing as you’d expect for this style of beer. There was quite a crisp, sharp feel to the beer with a dry feel throughout thanks to the tart and funky flavours. It’s a zesty offering that makes it difficult to drink at times but it was a pleasant beer to sip away at and still proved enjoyable.

Overall (14/20): Quite a strong, funky offering that came through with a lot of tart and Belgian yeast to give the beer a zesty, lively feel that was also quite dry. Initially quite a pungent opening, thankfully the beer settled down and mellowed out a little as it was given time to open up and breathe. There was some nice fruits coming through at times, the apple and citrus flavours being particularly enjoyable but there was definitely more alcohol showing nearer the end than I’d have liked from this one. Overall it was quite a pleasant beer that started well but faded ever so slightly nearer the end; it’s still one well worth trying though.

Brewed In: Harelbeke, West Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: De Brabandere
First Brewed: circa. late 1990’s
Type: Belgian Pale Ale / Sour Ale
Abv: 7.3%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £4.00

Martens Pils

December 16, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 1.35

The second beer in a row that I tried in Cuba but that was imported from Europe now, this one follows on from the can of Lagarto that I reviewed here last and really didn’t enjoy; sadly this one follows on from where that one left off. This time the beer in question is Martens Pils, a Belgian brewed beer and one that actually appears to be available outside of Cuba as well; the normal version appears to be 5% abv. but the bottle I reviewed was a 4% offering so I’m not sure if the recipe has also been changed for the Cuban market. I stumbled across this beer only once during my two weeks in Cuba, finding it in a small supermarket in the coastal town of Trinidad early on in my vacation and grabbing it since it was one of the few non-Cuban beers available. Sadly the beer turned out to be another absolutely terrible offering and one that easily takes a spot on my worst beers list as well.


Appearance (2/5): This one poured a very light amber colour, it was basically golden straw with a thin head that came through white and foamy as well as looking quite bumpy on the surface. This eventually turned quite patchy after about a minute but it wasn’t the worst head retention I’ve seen.
Aroma (3/10): There was some earthy bitterness to this one in the early going but some skunk and basic grains did make an appearance too. I could detect a lot of cheap adjuncts coming through in the early going too, there was a slight vegetable aroma coupled with cheap malts that made it a basic and quite unpleasant nose.
Taste (2/10): There was a strong taste of vegetable adjuncts that opened this one up, I got some grains and a lot of corn in there too though. The beer was definitely a poor tasting one thanks to the maize and a skunky bitterness that featured around the middle before a slightly metallic taste and some watery malts seen things out.
Palate (1/5): Thin and very light bodied, this one seemed watery and bland with some strange bitterness in there too. There wasn’t much carbonation and the beer was generally quite poor.

Overall (5/20): This one was terrible from start to finish, cheap and nasty with very little in the way of flavour; I was surprised to learn that this one is also available in Belgium and not just for the Cuban market. There was a generally bad taste running through the beer with some skunky bitterness and cheap adjuncts distracting you at times but this really was a terrible beer and one that should definitely be avoided.

Brewed In: Bocholt, Limburg, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Martens
First Brewed: Brewery since 1758
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 4.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: El Fenix (Trinidad, Cuba)
Price: 1.11 CUC (approx. £0.86)