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St. Feuillien Triple (388 of 1001)

July 14, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.35

A first beer from the St. Feuillien brewery for me now, a brewery that only opened in 1988 by the same family that owned the Friart brewery that closed eleven years previous. This one is a beer first brewed in 1998 and unlike other beers from St. Feuillien, this one is not contract brewed at Brasserie Du Bocq but made in Le Rœulx at the brewery. This one is a beer that takes inspiration for Westmalle Tripel, a beer that I’m a big fan of, so I’m hoping for big things from this beer.

Appearance (4/5): Quite a light and bright golden straw colour, the body is very slightly hazy too and the beer is topped with a foamy white head that sits just over a centimetre tall and looks quite creamy on the surface whilst sitting with very good head retention given the strength of the beer.
Aroma (8/10): Floral and fresh in the early going, the beer had a subtle sweetness to it from a nice banana aroma and touches of lemon in there as well. Around the middle some spices and faint citrus start to come through as well as light clove following on behind. There’s some grain and a little alcohol showing on top of the herbs and light malts to round off what was a light and zesty beer.
Taste (9/10): Following on well from the nose, the beer was floral and zesty with some banana, cloves and grassy flavours coming through with some faint coriander and Belgian yeast coming through as well. There’s a few nice hops and touches of malt, mainly bread malts, coming through from the middle on as well before some alcohol grain nearer the end. It didn’t seem the most complex Belgian triple out there but it was an excellent tasting one with pepper, apples and pear coming through at points too; great stuff.
Palate (5/5): Medium bodied but still seeming quite light and floral with a zesty, dry feel that was quite sharp and very strongly carbonated. The beer was fresh and tangy with a great balance and some nice sweetness, mainly from the banana at the start and it was seen out by a very nice warming alcohol feel that was a great way to finish things.

Overall (17/20): This one was a very nice triple with a pleasant sweetness in the early going from the banana before some nice floral flavours and spices started to come through alongside some nice yeast and touches of alcohol. It was very well balanced and quite easy to drink despite the strength with some bread and pale malts with a little apple and pear in there too. Perhaps not a beer that hits the heights of Westmalle Tripel but it’s not too far off it either and one well worth its place on the 1001 beers list too.

Brewed In: Le Rœulx, Hainaut, Belgium
Brewery: Brasserie St. Feuillien
First Brewed: 1998
Type: Abbey Tripel
Abv: 8.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Carrefour (Brussels)
Price: €1.52 (approx. £1.35)

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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)

Haacht Primus

Rating: 2.35

One of the few pale lagers that I tried over in Belgium now and possible the only one that I properly reviewed, this one is a beer I had one afternoon with lunch and one that I settled on given the poor choice in what was a bit of a tourist trap restaurant in truth. My first offering from the Haacht brewery but one that I spotted on a few bar signs over the course of my week in Belgium, this wasn’t a beer I was expecting much from in truth and in that sense it definitely lived up to expectations and turned out to be the worst beer I ended up trying on my trip, here’s what I thought of it at the time.

Appearance (4/5): Golden blond with a clear body and a few bubbles rising to the surface. The beer is topped with a thin, half centimetre head that was white and bubbly with a bit of lacing on the sides and a touch less coverage in the centre of the beer.
Aroma (4/10): Light and fairly cheap on the nose initially, there was some corn and faint bread malts showing but it was relatively bland and basic sadly. Around the middle the odd touch of citrus and hay came through with some basic vegetable adjuncts and a light sweetness but it wasn’t very impressive sadly.
Taste (4/10): Light corn and some vegetable adjuncts kick things off followed by a basic sweetness and some hay. Again it was a cheap and basic tasting lager with some faint hops and grassy touches but not a lot else sadly. Towards the end some earthy hops started to come through to add to the bitterness but it was definitely a basic one.
Palate (2/5): Thin and quite light, the beer was semi-sweet thanks to the corn but it was very basic too with a cheap feel and the odd bit of skunk coming through as well. It’s moderately bitter with similar carbonation levels as well but there’s not a great deal to this one really.

Overall (7/20): Quite a basic and at times cheap tasting lager than was bland for the most part with some light bitterness and grassy touches. There was touches of sweetness from some corn before a few bread malts came through along with the odd vegetable adjunct but it was a poor offering and probably the worst I had when in Belgium too.

Brewed In: Boortmeerbeek, Flemish Brabant, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Haacht
First Brewed: circa. 2008
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 5.2%
Serving: Keg (250ml)
Purchased: Magic Rubens, Brussels, Belgium
Price: €3.00 (£2.66)

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)

Swingletree

July 4, 2018 1 comment

Rating: 3.7

A second of Kinnegar’s ‘special’ offerings now, this one follows on from their White Rabbit wheat ale that I tried last and is another I picked up on a recent day-trip to Donegal Town. This particular offering is a 7% abv. saison from the brewery and is one that I’m excited to try given it’s alcohol content so hopefully it won’t let me down. The beer with also be the seventh Kinnegar beer that I’ll have tried and after the disappointment of their White Rabbit I’m hoping this can turn things around for the brewery that I’m usually a fan of.

Appearance (4/5): A pale and very hazy golden colour with a large, two and a bit inch tall head that’s very foamy and white in colour with good retention too, there’s little movement initially and there’s a good bit of lacing on the sides of the glass as well.
Aroma (7/10): Fresh with a lot of citrus and yeast upfront, there’s some banana sweetness too with a lot of background fruits as well; I got some clove and apple further on with a definite hint of a wheat beer to this one in the early going. Towards the end there was some spice coming through as well but it was very lively over all with a few subtle hops dotted about the place too.
Taste (7/10): Opening with lots of citrus and Belgian yeast, there’s some lemon and orange coming through with some subtle hops and a couple of earthy malts as well. There’s more spice and sweetness towards the middle with the banana and clove from the nose featuring alongside some bubblegum and coriander too with some sour touches and funk right at the end.
Palate (4/5): Quite lively and crisp, this one is strongly carbonated and sharp too with a citrus tang throughout which helped give it a refreshing feel. Its as you’d expect from a saison with a slight sourness and some tart at points as well.

Overall (14/20): Fresh and lively, the beer is quite tang too with some funk and tart coming through but it’s lighter in that regard than normal for a saison. It’s a strongly carbonated offering with plenty of Belgian yeast and a nice citrus taste too but further on I got a combination of banana, clove and even some bubblegum that made it seem like a wheat beer at points around the middle. Nice stuff from the brewery and a solid saison, one that I enjoyed probably because the tart and sourness weren’t quite as strong as I’d have expected from the style though.

Brewed In: Rathmullan, County Donegal, Ireland
Brewery: Kinnegar Brewing
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Paul’s Off License (Donegal)
Price: €3.25 (approx. £2.85)

Rockshore Irish Lager

June 29, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.05

A new beer from Guinness for 2018, this is a beer that I first spotted in a bar in Donegal Town recently but never ended up trying on that occasion but when I spotted it in another bar in Fermanagh where it was the only beer I hadn’t tried it was then that I decided to finally give it a try. I was a little worried that it would be a relatively poor lager from the brewery and one that tries to jump on the Hop House 13 bandwagon since that one has proved quite a successful beer for Guinness. Who knows if this one will become another permanent offering from the brewery so I guess it’s good I’ve been able to try it while it is but if the taste is anything to go by then I don’t anticipate it being around for very long.

Appearance (4/5): Pale, golden straw in colour with quite a clear body that has a lot of bubbles rising to the surface. The head is a foamy and straight looking one that sits about a centimetre tall and holds well throughout with some nice lacing on the sides of the glass too; not a bad looking effort for the style really.
Aroma (4/10): Plain, even for the style, with some straw and grassy notes opening things but it was definitely quite a light offering. There was some hay and corn towards the middle with a few adjuncts coming through but not a lot else beyond that other than a couple of subtle lager malts to see things out.
Taste (2/10): Grassy hops and a few light adjuncts kick things off alongside some hay and straw before the odd earthy malt features. It was definitely a light offering with a cheap and basic feel that had some bread flavours and touches of bitterness further on; it tasted awful though.
Palate (2/5): Light to light-medium bodied, the beer is quite basic but falls short of being thin. It’s a cheap and basic offering though and one that seemed bland with a light and faint hop bitterness on top of average carbonation for the still; very poor stuff sadly.

Overall (2/20): This one was an awful beer and every bit the macro-pale lager that I feared when ordering this one, a beer that I’d likely have avoided had there been anything else new available in the bar. The beer started poorly with quite a weak nose and it got progressively worse after that, the taste in particular being a bad one with an overload of corn and basic adjuncts. There was a faint bitterness alongside some hay and grassy flavours but there really wasn’t much to this one and it was a real struggle to finish, I ended up leaving half of it and it’s not a beer I’ll have again.

Brewed In: Dublin, Ireland
Brewery: St. James’s Gate Brewery
First Brewed: 2018
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 4.0%
Serving: Keg (Pint)
Purchased: Frank’s Bar, Lisnaskea, North of Ireland
Price: £3.25