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Hel & Verdoemenis Bourbon B.A.

February 3, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.45

My eleventh beer from the De Molen brewery, this one hot on the heels of their Hemel & Aarde offering from the 1001 beers list that I reviewed recently and another that I bought at the end of 2013. This particular beer is a bourbon barrel aged edition of the brewery’s Hel & Verdoemenis imperial stout and was initially released in 2013, although the original Hel & Verdoemenis dated back to 2008. The bottle that I’ll be reviewing here was bottled in November 2013 and has been aged since then since they brewery mentions on the bottle that the beer should safely keep for twenty-five years. Aged in bourbon barrels, this is one of a number of variants of Hel & Verdoemenis available and it’s one that I cracked open just after New Year when visiting Ireland; it’s also the last De Molen beer I had of those I’d been ageing but hopefully I’ll pick up another few in the near future.

hel-verdoemenis-bourbon-b-a

Appearance (4/5): Obviously quite a dark beer one but not overly thick as it was poured, it’s a very dark mahogany that is almost black. There wasn’t much of a head to the beer, even after an aggressive pour with only a tiny bit of foam lacing around the circumference and nothing in the middle of the beer; I guess that’s to be expected for an 11%, 3-year-old beer though.
Aroma (7/10): This one kicked off with quite a strong nose initially, lots of oak and smoky notes come through in the early going alongside a dominant bourbon aroma. There’s a definite alcohol presence from the start with touches roasted malt and to a lesser extent some chocolate with most of the sweetness coming from the darker malts & sugars but some vanilla sneaks in as well around the middle. Towards the end there is some toasted bitterness and a few darker fruits but the bourbon definitely comes thru strongest.
Taste (7/10): Plenty of bourbon opens things up but it’s a touch lighter than with the nose, probably thanks to the darker malts and chocolate being slightly more pronounced here. There was a lot of roasted malts around the middle that impart an earthy bitterness on the taste. Following this, I got some peat and the odd vanilla flavours that added to the strength of this one. Towards the end some alcohol grains appear but it was at least a touch lighter than the nose with dark fruits, mainly cherries and a touch of spice seeing things out.
Palate (3/5): A very strong, full-bodied beer with moderate carbonation and a lot of alcohol showing thanks to the bourbon barrel ageing process. There is a light sweetness running through the beer that helps with the balance some with some sugar, darker fruits and vanilla but it was still difficult to drink at times. Nearer the end things start to subdue a little and become more mellow once the beer opened up more but I’d definitely have enjoyed it more had it been lighter.

Overall (13/20): Definitely a strong one from De Molen, overly so in my opinion and quite a hard one to get through as a result of the overpowering alcohol taste from the bourbon. There was a lot of peat and dark malts featuring through with the odd grain thrown in for good measure but the balance definitely wasn’t as good as I’d have liked. Some dark fruits featured at times but I found them more subdued than expected and there was no sign of any hops, although the fact that the beer was three years old wouldn’t have helped that any. The aftertaste was a lingering one with some coffee and an earthy bitterness rounding things off and while it was an okay beer, it’s not one that I’ll find myself going back to again; perhaps I’d have enjoyed it more if I was into whisky but sadly this wasn’t a beer for me.

Brewed In: Bodegraven, South Holland, Netherlands
Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
English Name: De Molen Hell & Damnation Bourbon Barrel Aged
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 11.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £7.50

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Hemel & Aarde (340 of 1001)

February 2, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.5

My tenth De Molen beer now and the first since their Op & Top bitter back in April, this one is a smoked imperial stout from the brewery that I picked up sometime back in 2013 and have been saving since then given the bottle mentions that the beer can be aged for up to 25 years. I grabbed this one from the original Good Spirits bottle shop in Glasgow a couple of years ago alongside a couple other strong De Molen beers and this one was among the picks of the bunch since it also features on the 1001 beers list. Hemel & Aarde, which translates to Heaven & Earth in English, will be my eighth Dutch beer from the list and mean that I will only have another five to go after this one although one of those five, Borefts Stout which is another De Molen beer, appears to have since been discontinued and it looks unlikely that I’ll be able to get my hands on a bottle. A strong, smoky offering that is brewed using the most heavily peated malt in the world from the Bruichladdich distillery on the Isle of Islay in Scotland, the bottle I tried was a 2013 vintage (bottled on the 14th May) from the brewery that came in at 10% abv. and was cracked open at the start of January this year; here’s how it help up after three and a half years.

hemel-aarde

Appearance (4/5): Jet black with an opaque body that formed a thin, bubbly, tan brown lacing around the edges of the glass after a while but it took quite an aggressive pour; I guess that’s to be expected with a three-year old, 10% abv. beer but it wasn’t too bad-looking.
Aroma (7/10): Strong and quite smoky, the beer had a lot of dark chocolate and plenty of roasted notes in the early going that fell just short of overpowering. There was a strong oak presence to proceedings with some vanilla adding a little sweetness too before some sugars appeared. Around the middle there was a lot of malted peat and earthy notes coming through alongside tonnes of smoke that was just a little strong for my liking.
Taste (7/10): A very strong and very smokey beer with the malted peat flavours coming through a lot earlier and aggressively with the taste before a little chocolate and subtle sugars followed on behind. The vanilla from the nose featured here as well and I got more of the earthy malts towards the middle but the pear certainly dominated before some oak and toasted bitterness seen things out.
Palate (3/5): An incredibly strong, almost overpowering offering that was quite peaty and bitter with tonnes of earthy malts in there too. There was a little sweetness off both the vanilla and sugars but it remained a dark, heavy beer with fairly soft carbonation after aging for so long and a definite alcohol presence towards the end too that made the beer quite a boozy one.

Overall (14/20): Strong stuff from De Molen here, this one was a very aggressive and almost overpowering imperial stout that was very malty, coming through with plenty of earthy flavours and a lot of peat. The dark malts show the show here with a little vanilla and sugar backing them up but everything end up being just a bit too strong for my liking and the balance wasn’t the best either. It remained very much a drinkable beer that got better the longer it had to open up and develop but sadly I can’t see it being one that I’d go for again; perhaps if I enjoyed my whiskies a little more than I’d have appreciated this one better.

Brewed In: Bodegraven, South Holland, Netherlands
Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
First Brewed: 2008
English Name: De Molen Heaven & Earth
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. (Glasgow)
Price: £6.00

Claro

December 20, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 1.8

The final review of the non-Cuban beers that I managed to try last month when travelling about Cuba and like the can of Lagarto that I reviewed previously, this one is another Dutch offering from the Bavaria brewery. Unlike Lagarto however, this one also appears to be a beer that is available outside of Cuba which would usually give me more hope but having tried this one, that is not the case. The beer is yet another cheap pale lager that was just about drinkable but not really refreshing, even when having a bottle in the mid-day sun. Prior to visiting Cuba, this was on a list of beers I took with me because I had mistakenly assumed it was a Cuban brewed beer, you can therefore imagine my disappointment on buying the bottle and discovering it was another Dutch import; and not a very good one at that.

claro

Appearance (2/5): A clear, golden amber colour that has a lot of bubbles rising to the surface and is topped with a half centimetre, bubbly white head. There isn’t any great longevity to the head, it fades quite quickly to leave a patchy bit of surface lacing at one side of the glass whilst the bubbles eventually calm down some too.
Aroma (3/10): Quite a skunky beer on the nose, this one start with a semi-offensive aroma of cheap adjuncts and corn that is a common theme with most beers I’ve found in Cuba. There was some basic lager malts and a touch of hay with some bread coming through alongside a faint bitterness nearer the end.
Taste (3/10): Opening with a skunky bitterness, there was some cheap malts and corn coming through in the early going of this beer. I got a taste of some basic vegetable adjuncts not long after, with some hay in there as well. The beer turned out to be quite and bland and boring one with very little to keep me interested really.
Palate (2/5): Thin and quite bland on the palate, this one was a touch watery as well and didn’t really offer much in the early going. There was a faint bitterness at times but the beer also seemed more skunky than I’d have liked, the clear bottle obviously not helping much in the Cuban sun, and overall it was a very forgettable beer on the way down.

Overall (8/20): Definitely not a beer that could be considered a good one but it was far from the worst that I tried while in Cuba and I only feel slightly cheated by the fact that it was a Dutch beer. There isn’t really much that can be said about this one other than it was a fairly basic, cheap offering that came through with a lot of adjuncts and not too much else; a disappointment for sure and not one I’d have again.

Brewed In: Lieshout, Netherlands
Brewery: Bavaria Brouwerij N.V.
First Brewed: circa. 2008
Full Name: Bavaria Claro
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 4.6%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Mercado Progreso Cubano (Cienfuegos, Cuba)
Price: 1 CUC (approx. £0.78)

Lagarto

December 16, 2016 2 comments

Rating: 1.4

Another beer that I picked up while travelling through the western half of Cuba last month, this one being a Dutch brewed beer that is brewed in collaboration with Latin Tulip based in Havana and sold only in Cuba, at least that’s what I believe to be the case. The beer is actually brewed by the Bavaria brewery of Bavaria Pilsener fame, although for the most part the beer labels itself as another Cuban offering. It’s one that I found in a government-run supermarket in Trinidad, it took a while to find something not from Cuba or Dominican Republic but sadly it had to be a cheap, European import of what was a pretty terrible beer; it is always nice to try something new though.

lagarto

Appearance (2/5): The beer pours a very light looking straw colour that has the odd amber tinge coming through as well. There was good clarity to the body and the head was a thin, half centimetre one that was bone white in colour and faded to a semi-patchy lacing after about twenty seconds.
Aroma (2/10): Quite a light beer on the nose with a little bit of skunk coming through at times but the smell was a basic one with a lot of adjuncts and corn featuring. There was some faint metallic bitterness in there as well but this could easily have been mistaken for water at times, that’s how bland and weak the aroma was.
Taste (3/10): Cheap tasting with a basic adjunct type taste that was predominately made up of corn and vegetable flavours as well as some background lager malts and a typical grassy taste. There was a lot more to it that the nose but it was also a touch skunky nearer the end as well as being slightly metallic at times too.
Palate (1/5): Thin and quite watery, this one was definitely a bland tasting beer but one that thankfully didn’t have too much skunk showing. There was a faint bitterness at times and the odd metallic type feel, especially nearer the end but there wasn’t too much to say about this one really.

Overall (6/20): A very basic and quite a cheap lager on the whole, I can see why the Dutch ship this one straight to Cuba rather than palm it off on the local population. The beer was boring and unexciting, I struggled to detect much of anything at times other than some basic adjuncts and a cheap, almost metallic taste that was coupled with a background bitterness. There wasn’t too much that was terrible about it really, but then there wasn’t anything good either and it’s definitely not one I’d have again; if pushed I’d go for water over another of these.

Brewed In: Lieshout, Netherlands
Brewery: Bavaria Brouwerij N.V.
First Brewed: circa. 2000’s
Full Name: Cerveza Lagarto
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Can (330ml)
Purchased: El Fenix (TRD Caribe), Trinidad, Cuba
Price: 1 CUC (approx. £0.78)

De Molen Op & Top

April 26, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 4.15

On of the last new Beers from a Beer52 variety box that I ordered a couple of months ago now, this one was the only De Molen offering in the box and will be my ninth beer from the Amsterdam based brewery. The beer follows on from the brewery’s Hop & Liefde which was an American pale ale that I sampled back in December after receiving it in as part of another Beer52 box that I was gifted for Christmas. I quite enjoyed that previous De Molen effort and as a result, this one is another beer from the brewery that I’m looking forward to trying; the fact that it’s currently ranked as the 38th best bitter on the RateBeer website only sweetens the deal. This particular offering is an American influenced bitter that I’m expecting to be more hop filled and hopefully more interesting that some of the more traditional British offerings of the same style. Bitters are a style that I no longer try as many beers from as I used to and that’s mainly down to the fact that there are so many poor ones out there but I’m optimistic that this will prove to be a good one, based mainly on the fact that De Molen beers rarely disappoint; fingers crossed that this one is more of the same from them.

De Molen Op & Top

Appearance (5/5): Quite a hazy amber colour that was darker than expected and came close to sitting a copper colour in the glass. The head was a large, three centimetre tall one that looked quite active and foamy with a slight dome shape forming at the top and retention was quite good initially as I let the beer sit in the glass and open up some; this one was a very nice looking beer.
Aroma (7/10): This nose is kicked off with some subdued, American style hops and citrus in the early going that likely comes from the Amarillo hops mentioned on the bottle. There was some pleasant biscuit notes coming through as well and the beer had a nice balance initially. Some earthy notes and a hint of caramel start to come through soon after with a few background fruits as well; most notably some orange and peach but there is also some faint tropical notes too. This was definitely an interesting bitter on the nose with some darker fruits in there towards the end and the American influence on it was noticeable from the start with the beer a better one for it; good stuff so far without it being a particularly strong one.
Taste (8/10): The taste follows on well from the nose with the Amarillo hops providing some nice citrus bitterness and a little pine in the early going. It’s not an in your face hop presence but it was more than I’d been expecting for a bitter I guess. There was a good amount of biscuit and caramel taking things forward after that and I managed to detect some tropical fruits as well but, like the nose, these weren’t particularly strong. Some toasted malts and an earthy sweetness featured around the middle and the hops made themselves known again towards the end giving some grassy, almost floral flavours and a little spice a chance to make itself known too.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and well-balanced with the citrus tops providing a nice tang and the earthy malts and caramel sweetness contrasting and complimenting it nicely. The beer was easy to drink and carbonation levels were about average, made a touch stronger than the norm for a bitter but then again this wasn’t like most of the English bitters you’re likely to try. Quite refreshing and with a good bitterness towards the end that was very slightly dry and lingering.

Overall (17/20): This one was a really interesting beer from De Molen and one that I quite enjoyed into the bargain given it was unlike the majority of bitters out there and came through with more hops, bitterness and caramel sweetness than any English style bitter I’ve tried in the past. The bottle calls it an ‘American bitter-ish’ and you could definitely tell it was American influenced with the citrus hops, touches of pine and the very nice tropical flavours that featured throughout. The beer was a good one from the start and is definitely one that I’d look forward to trying again at some point; great stuff again from De Molen.

Brewed In: Bodegraven, South Holland, Netherlands
Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
First Brewed: 2010
Type: American Bitter
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Beer52.com
Price: £1.62 (approx.)

Hop & Liefde

January 26, 2016 1 comment

Rating: 3.8

An eighth beer from Dutch based De Molen brewery, a brewery that I’ve always enjoyed trying new beers from and one that is easily the best brewery in the Netherlands of those I’ve sampled beers from thus far. This one is a lighter than usual beer from them, an American pale ale that comes in at just under 5% abv. and is a bottle that I tried over Christmas when I received it as part of a gift. It follows on from the bottle of De Molen’s Heen & Weer tripel that I tried at the end of December last year and quite enjoyed. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m a big fan of De Molen beers and I believe I still have another two from the brewery that I’ve not tried yet so hopefully I’ll get round to trying them soon as well.

Hop & Liefde

Appearance (4/5): Quite a bright but slightly cloudy amber with some touches of red and a huge, two-inch head on top that is a foamy white and holds very well; it actually looks to increase in size initially before settling down some. There is some nice lacing on the sides of the glass and this one looks great in general.
Aroma (7/10): The beer is kicked of with some strong hops initially, I managed to get some nice bitterness along with plenty of tropical fruits and some nice citrus hops. There was a little lemon zest coming through alongside touches of pine and a bit of caramel towards the middle as well. The beer was definitely fresh on the nose with some pineapple, grapefruit and some further dried fruits that all added some additional sweetness before a hint of grain seen things out.
Taste (7/10): The taste, much like the nose, is kicked off with some strong hops and a lot of tropical fruits coming through; there was some nice pineapple and a bit of grapefruit from the nose alongside some apricot and mango. The beer seemed bitter with a nice caramel sweetness and some biscuit flavours around the middle before some dried fruits and further citrus seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium body and strong carbonation, there was quite a crisp and dry feel to this beer with the balance seeming to be a good one. The tail end of the beer was a slightly oily one but on the whole the beer was an easy and sessionable one to drink.

Overall (16/20): This was a very enjoyable beer from De Molen and one that actually seemed more like an American IPA than pale ale in places but one that still had some nice sweetness and biscuit malts coming through. The balance was a good one and it proved easy to drink with some great tropical fruits coming through from the start as well; another excellent offering from De Molen and one well worth looking out for.

Brewed In: Bodegraven, South Holland, Netherlands
Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen
First Brewed: 2013
Previously Known As: De Molen Pale Ale Citra
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Beer52.co.uk
Price: Gift

Emelisse American Pale Ale

January 20, 2016 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.55

A second Emelisse beer now, this one carries on from the bottle of their White Label Imperial Russian Stout Rum(BA) that I managed to try whilst in Amsterdam for Easter last year. This particular bottle is one that I received as a Christmas gift, coming as part of a box of beers ordered via Beer52.com and it’s one that is labelled as an American pale ale but one that I suppose could be described as a session pale ale given it comes in at 3.5%. I particularly enjoyed the imperial stout from the brewery that I managed to try in the Netherlands and I’ve been looking for more from the brewery since then but until been given this one, I hadn’t really had much luck locating any of their beers. I’m never overly confident that any session beers I manage to get hold of will be good ones, I’ve been unlucky to try a few poor beers that could be considered session offerings but I was quite looking forward to this one before I opened it; here’s what I thought from trying it over the holidays.
Emelisse American Pale Ale

Appearance (4/5): Medium amber and quite clear, this one is topped with a thumb-sized head that is white and foamy looking with a touch of lacing left on the sides of the glass. There is some bubbles running through the body of the beer and the head retention is quite good with the beer very slowly halving in size and settling as a thick lacing with some of that remains stuck to the sides of the glass as well.
Aroma (4/10): The nose was kicked off with some subtle hops and a light pine aroma, backed up with a little citrus but in truth the beer seemed weak and slightly watered down really. There was a bit of malt coming through alongside basic grassy hops but there wasn’t really anything else following on behind; I can only hope it tastes better.
Taste (5/10): Slightly hoppy to start, this one was at least a touch more pronounced than the nose but still wasn’t as strong as I’d have liked or expected, even for a session beer. There was a few earthy malts coming through but it certainly wasn’t as sweet as I’d have liked either, I did get some citrus and lemon flavours around the middle at least and a floral bitterness followed that. The odd touch of hops appeared towards the end but it was again quite a disappointing beer with a bland taste that I didn’t enjoy at all.
Palate (2/5): Starting with some light bitterness, the beer was dry feeling thanks to the citrus and it came through with a light or light-medium body without seeming overly thin. The beer was definitely a bland and quite watery one with little in the way of bitterness and flavour really. It was easy enough to drink but that was of little consequence given it was mainly due to the fact the beer was so light and weak.

Overall (9/20): This one was a really poor beer and almost a polar opposite of the last beer from the brewery I tried; their White Label Imperial Stout Rum(BA) which was strong and flavoursome with lots of complexity too. This one seemed weak, bland and watered down with a light body and very little in the way of flavour. Terrible stuff really and I can only hope that my next beer from the brewery is a lot better than this one proved to be.

Brewed In: Kamperland, Zeeland, Netherlands
Brewery: Bierbrouwerij Grand-Café Emelisse
First Brewed: 2015
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 3.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Beer52.com
Price: Gift