Posts Tagged With: Belgian

St. Bernadus Christmas Ale

Beer: Christmas Ale
Brewery:
 Brouwerij St. Bernadus
Style: Belgian Quadrupel
ABV: 10.0%

bern

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Opaque, dark brown body with a seriously massive beige head that looks like meringue. There are huge bubbles trapped inside this dense head, and I swear, the head twinkles with sparkles.

Smell: It smells slightly ester and apple-y. There’s also an underlying metallic note.

Flavor: This is one malty Belgian. We have some of the usual Belgian flavors–raisins, molasses, figs–spiked with a melange of holiday spices

Feel: Medium, creamy body with awesome carbonation.

Concluding Remark: St. Bernadus offers a Christmas Ale that is malty, sweet, and just a little bit spicy. This is one of those beers that stick to your ribs, and to your lips. St. Bernadus takes their near perfect Quadrupel, and adds some some additional ingredients (mint?). As the beer sits, more and more different delectable dessert flavors come forth. All in one sip, I get some sticky toffee pudding, stewed fruits, tres leches cake, banana bread, licorice candy, and molasses cookies. While it is the holiday season, and sharing is an appropriate gesture this time of year, I recommend sneaking off with this for 20 minutes mid-holiday party. Even for the most un-spirited, you’ll come back with a little pep/drunken stupor in your step.

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Categories: Belgian, Holiday | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Brasserie Dubuisson Scaldis Noel

Beer: Scaldis Noel
Brewery:
 Brasserie Dubuisson
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 12.0%

scaldis

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Deep amber body with a garnet tinge and a frothy, bubbly beige head that leaves an intricate lacing on the glass.

Smell: This beer smells like the deliriously overwhelming comfort one feels when walking into a bakery filled with freshly baked cakes, breads, pastries…yeah. The prominent aromas are caramelized sugar, heavy cream, and caramel.

Flavor: Like the smell, it tastes like biting into a fresh pastry oozing with some sort of sweet pudding goodness. The lingering flavor is brown sugar. There isn’t any of that overripe, raisin fruitiness that is typical of Belgian Strong Ales.

Feel: Medium, buttery body with awesome carbonation. There’s nearly no heat from the alcohol.

Concluding Remark: Brought to us from Brasserie Dubuisson of Belgium, Scaldis Noel is hands down the best holiday ale I have had the pleasure of consuming while listening to Gene Autry Christmas songs. It doesn’t employ any of those insta-holiday ale shortcuts that nearly all other seasonal beers do, such as adding a pine flavor with juniper berries or a mulled wine taste with cloves and allspice. Instead, Scaldis Noel is a sublimely balanced beer that tastes like dessert without that annoying cloyingly sweetness that plagues many supremely alcoholic brews. In the spirit of the season, I shared this with my household and all parties agree that this beer is so insanely delicious that we would all rate it a “5” even if it was only 5% ABV. The fact that it’s nearly triple that makes this one of the best beers of the year and/or EVER.

Categories: Belgian, Holiday | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Fegley’s Rude Elf’s Reserve

Beer: Rude Elf’s Reserve
Brewery:
 Allentown Brew Works
Style: Spiced Ale
ABV: 10.5%

feg

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

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Sight: Clear, bright amber body with a wee head that vanishes right quick.

Smell: It initially smells like WHOA THIS IS COUGH SYRUP and maraschino cherries. Then come those holidays spices…espeically prominent are cloves, allspice, and cinnamon.

Flavor: If this isn’t the sweetness beer I’ve ever tried….There are a ton of flavors tangled up in this beer, including but not limited to sweet maraschino cherry, raisin, plum, and loads of white sugar. There is also a typical “Belgian-y” flavor (bananas/cloves) from the Candi sugar and Belgian yeasts.

Feel: Thin, syrupy body with medium carbonation. There’s a noticeable heat from the insane ABV.

Concluding Remark: I’ll be honest, I opened up Fegley’s Rude Elf Reserve not to channel some holiday spirit, but to function as a night cap. At 10.5%, I had little doubt that after a long day of work, this Rude Elf would knock me unconscious. And it did! Thanks, Elf. As far as holiday cheer goes, the spices are somewhat subdued. Instead, Rude Elf tastes like an average Belgian Ale, with an extra serving or two of sugar that renders the beer cloyingly sweet.  If this was any less alcoholic, I would have given it a lower rating because it’s a slightly below average Belgian and a slightly underwhelming holiday beer. But, that’s not the reality in which this beer exists. It’s 10.5%, and that has to count for something or this isn’t The Year in Beer.

Categories: Belgian, Holiday, Spiced Ale | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Brasserie d’Achouffe N’ice Chouffe

Beer: N’Ice Chouffe
Brewery: Brasserie d’Achouffe
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 10.0%

chouffe2

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

beeruse-copy

Sight: Pitch brown body with a ruby tinge. It has a huge white head with high retention.

Smell: Admittedly unhelpful, it has a robust “beer” smell, like that of a Pilsner. It also smells like “sparkling,” as in sparkling apple cider without the apple cider-ness. There’s also a bit of orange peel and grape juice.

Flavor: Surprisingly prevalent coppery, metallic taste. Other than that, it’s a pretty mellow beer, defined by sweet malt and fruit flavors, a mild herbal hop flavor, and some caramel and brown sugar notes.

Feel: Thin, oily body with medium carbonation.

Concluding Remark: I don’t think I’ve ever described a beer this way before, but  N’Ice Chouffe is quite a quiet beer. The myriad flavors in this winter Chouffe are subtle. The special ingredients are thyme and curaçao peel, which are detectable but not overpowering.  While it doesn’t reek of holiday (i.e., spices and spruces), perhaps this is what a Belgian Christmas tastes like?  As it’s name implies, N’Ice Chouffe is a nice beer. I have nothing negative to say about its existence. That being said, it is pretty unmemorable. I wouldn’t call it a quintessential holiday ale, but I would be more than happy to drink it on someone else’s dime (@ $12/bottle).

funny elf

This is a Keebler Elf-approved beer.

Categories: Belgian, Holiday | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tröegs Mad Elf

Beer: Mad Elf
Brewery: Tröegs Brewing Company
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 11.0%

madelf

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

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Sight: Clear dark ruby body with no head. Little bubbles gather at the edge of the glass, though.

Smell: It smells like a Belgian Tripel: bananas, bandaids, cloves. With immense loads of honey and brown sugar.

Flavor: As I remember, Mad Elf is a syrupy punch in the mouth. It tastes like a combination between a Belgian Tripel and a Weizenbock–the latter evoked due to a similar fruity/estery flavor resulting from this guy’s insanely high ABV (11%). Prominent flavors are bananas, cherries, raisins, and brown sugar. It kind of tastes like a cherry danish, if I had to make a food comparison.

Feel: Thin but supremely carbonated–a godsend given the nature of this beer. It feels like vodka going down the back of my throat.

Concluding Remark: What can I say about Mad Elf other than this beer is exactly what a Mad Elf would drink…and then he would immediately overdose. It has one of the highest ABVs of the holiday season, making it a staple in many holiday shopping lists. The Mad Elf is a Strong Belgian Dark Ale. The Belgian character (i.e., the banana and clove flavors) is achieved from the use of a Belgian yeast. Tröegs puts on a twist on a European classic by adding Pennsylvania Honey West Coast cherries–a whole lot of them. The result is a sweet, fruity dark ale. Is it the most perfect beer of all time? No. But it’s surprisingly easy to drink given the high ABV and is guaranteed to give you some sort of spirit–holiday or not. As you keep drinking you become more and more infected but the Mad Elf Syndrome and you begin to care little about the nuances of beer…………………………..

As Troegs says, this beer will “warm your heart [literally] and enlighten your tongue.” It will also warm your brain and blood. The bottom line is is that if you can handle a little bit of sweet in your life, this is a perfect holiday beer. If you can’t, you might want to go looking elsewhere, and actually, avoid holiday beers and celebrations altogether.

funny elf

This is a Keebler Elf-approved beer.

Categories: Belgian, Holiday | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Mc Chouffe Artisanal Belgian Brown Ale

mc_chouffe_round

Beer: Mc Chouffe
Brewery: Brasserie d’Achouffe
Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 8.0%

chouffe

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Cloudy, dark garnet body with a thick, fluffy white head.

Smell: Oh, how I welcome the return of the Belgian Ale. It smells like sweet and tangy phenols (Belgian yeast) with a light malt aroma. There are also notes of apple and metal.

Flavor: Whoa. Just whoa. This literally tastes like walking into a candy store. It reminds me of Sour Patch Kids, that really syrupy sweet fake watermelon flavor, Skittles, and an ice cream sundae with caramel sauce. And a milk chocolate bar with cayenne pepper. Time for lunch…

Feel: Thin with full, effervescent carbonation. I know that’s a weird way of describing carbonation, but it feels like drinking an alcoholic cloud. Don’t believe me? You’ll just have to try it.

Concluding Remark: I’ll start with the caveat that Brasserie D’Achouffe’s Artisinal Brown Ale is a complete singularity. It doesn’t fall into any of the categories of Brown Ale we’ve explored, or even mentioned. I know we referenced that Belgian Brown Ales exist, but we were talking about the traditional Flemish Ould Bruins–a funky, almost sour ale. This? This is a unique hybrid of the Belgian Strong Ale and…a Scotch Ale.

The McChouffe is not a product of a collaboration with McDonald’s–no, it is what the brewers at D’Achouffe call a beer “inspired by the tale of a Scottish Chouffe who along with his Belgian friend created an eccentric “new style” Scottish Ale/Abbey Ale.” While we have not covered Scotch Ales (yet!), I will say that they are known for their caramel and malty flavors (to make a vast overgeneralization). One thing Belgian Ales are NOT known for are caramel flavors, and depending on the style, a heavy malt note. So when examining the two styles that went into the McChouffe, this is quite an accurate result of what a Scotch Ale and Abbey Ale would taste like. Kudos, McChouffe! However, this is NOT a Brown Ale–only by name.

While certainly a bewildering concoction, it’s not a perfect brew. The flavors are really all over the place and it just leaves me with a generic, dare I say boring, sweet flavor. In order to be a successful Scotch-Benelux hybrid, McChouffe should search for some roasted malts. While a valiant effort, I guess this little Chouffe just got too tired on his trek across the ocean to Scotland to create a magical beer.

Categories: Belgian, Brown Ale | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Harvest Moon Belgian Witbier

Beer:  Belgian Witbier
Brewery: Harvest Moon Brewery
Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.0%

 Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Harvest Moon Brewery, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumers: Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Cloudy, deep golden/orangey yellow.  Small creamy white head that settles to some froth on top.

Smell: Spices and chicory; also, kinda like a Band-Aid.

Flavor: Bland, especially in light of the overpowering aroma.  Vaguely citrusy, like orange rind.

Feel: Thin but creamy, with low carbonation.

Concluding Remarks: This Witbier was a letdown.  The aroma seemed to promise a powerful, complex flavor, but it barely tasted like a watery orange peel.  It did taste better once we squeezed in the orange garnish, but not enough for our tastes.  Although we love to support local business, really, you might as well get yourself a Blue Moon.

Categories: Witbier | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Kasteel Tripel Bier

And we start our blitzing with a visit to the Churchkey beer bar in Washinton, DC…

Beer:  Kasteel Tripel
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck
Style: Tripel
ABV: 11.0%


Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Snifter
Drinking Establishment: Churchkey, DC
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Consumption Companions: A DC resident

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Surprisingly clear, golden body with a small head that leaves a little froth around the edges.

Scent: Helloooooo phenols! This smells like a banana clove pie, also like New Skin. And licorice/a bowl of jelly beans.

Flavor: Quite sweet, with a little tang from the Belgian yeast. There’s a bunch of spice in here…predominantly coriander. There’s also a bit of citrus at the end.

Feel:Fine carbonation, unlike a soda or seltzer.

Concluding remarks: This tastes like a caricature of the banana, i.e., artificial banana flavor. So, like Banana Laffy Taffy or Banana Runts.

This is a pretty easy-to-find Belgian that’s also easy to drink. So yeah, go get some! Don’t expect the world, but expect it to go down easy. I’d categorize it as a Tripel-Lite.

Categories: Belgian | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Bernardus Abt 12

Beer:  St. Bernardus Abt 12 Abbey Ale
Brewery: Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Style: Quadrupel
ABV: 10.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Wine glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark garnet, near black body with a beige one-inch head that quickly wanes to a near nonexistent head that leaves a trace of lacing on the edge.

Scent: Rich roasted malts and overtones of tart cherries and plums.

Flavor: I know heaven isn’t technically a flavor. But. Wow. The flavor profile is that of heaven. The complexity is balanced with heaven. The first note is heaven, and the back is heaven. Heaven! (Okay, fine–molasses, caramel, raisins, and plums….from heaven.)

Feel: Medium, smooth mouthfeel with lively carbonation. And heaven.

The booze note in this is shockingly nonexistent for 10.0% (translation: drinking one of these beers is the equivalent of drinking 3 Amstel Lights or 2 Boston Lagers). I can’t explain it, but this is my perfect beer. Well, I’ll try to explain it. It tastes like all of the good beers I have ever had in my life in one beer. Not in the card game Kings kind of way (i.e. pouring a little bit of everyone’s drink into one glass, ahem, plastic cup, and making one unfortunate soul drink the warm elixir at the end of the game). Like, in the, this is the perfectly crafted beer kind of way…in the I never thought I could find everything I am looking for in one beer kind of way. With an ABV tag of 10%. I know I need to thank this guy:

Bernie.

Concluding remarks: St. Bernardus has been brewing perfection since 1946. They describe the Abt 12 as “the absolute top quality in the hierarchy of the St. Bernardus beers…the showpiece of the brewery.” I have no idea what malts St. Bernardus uses, but I want to swim in a pond, nay, ocean of them. For eternity. I could go on about the nuances, but I have to reiterate, this is one of the best beers I have had in my life. PLEASE TAKE MY WORD FOR IT AND GO GET ONE RIGHT NOW. OR TOMORROW. If you don’t put this in your Top 10, I will reimburse you for your purchase. Seriously, you can track me down and get your cash. OR you can track me down and give me the BIGGEST HIGH FIVE EVER because this will likely be one of the best beers you ever have. And, if not of all beers, then ABSOLUTELY the best Quadrupel on the face of this earth. Well, BeerAdvocate rates it number 3, after Westvletern 12 (which is nearly impossible to try outside of Belgium) and the Rochefort 10.

Categories: Belgian | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

GUEST POST: Gulden Draak Ale

Beer:  Gulden Draak Ale
Brewery: Brouwer Van Steenberge
Style: Dark Tripel
ABV: 10.5%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: None/Bottle
Drinking Establishment: NJ Transit: NJ Coastline Train
Primary Consumer: Jason**, polyinstrumental Washington Heights resident extraordinaire
Guest Reviewer Qualifications: An avid beer drinker (albeit, champion of the macro-lager)

**FOR THE RECORD THIS PHOTOGRAPH IS NOT OF JASON. IT IS, HOWEVER, A PHOTO OF A YOUNG SATYR ON NEW JERSEY TRANSIT DRINKING A BEER. (THANKS, GOOGLE IMAGES, YOU RULE.)

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Since I was drinking on the train, I opted for the straight-out-of-the-bottle approach. This bottle is dark brown with an all-over white label to shield it from the light. I tried to look down inside through the opening but then realized how strange I probably appeared to the other passengers and ceased my investigation. It is a dark beer in a very dark bottle.

Scent: Strong alcohol scent. Not good for inconspicuous train drinking. In my estimation I attracted more suspicious and/or disapproving glances than usual but there may have been other contributing factors.

Flavor: Compared to other Tripels that I have had, the Golden Dragon (named for the statue on the top of the Belfry of Ghent) has a strong and enjoyable flavor. I confess to having been unable to isolate any of the “notes” in this beer, or most other beers for that matter. I can vaguely attest to a “spicy” finish but that may just be the high ABV messing with me. I never really taste flowers or fruits or anything like that when I’m drinking. While this may be viewed as an admission of an unsophisticated taste and might conceivably be perceived as ignorance in terms of beer connoisseurship, I prefer to think that my own sensory experience is one that is completely integrated and exists on such a level that language proves to be inadequate to explain my own subjective taste experience (there is only one word for love cliché, etc.). If you think that I am trying to compensate for a lack of appropriate beer-snobbishness with philosophically pretentious rhetoric, you are probably correct. Guilty–and so what? I propose that if you drink one of these beers before continuing reading that you will hate my review far less.

Feel: Smooth and warm.

Concluding remarksSpeaking of love…my review can be summed up as follows: “I love this beer.”  This was my first experience with the Dragon, but it will certainly not be my last. My problem with a lot of these kinds of beers is that I like to drink one and then move on to something else.

When I finished this beer I wished that I had another with me. I could drink this instead of an ice tea or something, perhaps even out of a water bottle while jogging in the winter. This beer is going to get considerable rotation in the future playlist of my drinking.

Some practical considerations:  In the context of train drinking, this beer had some significant positive attributes. First, it made the kids screaming behind me way less annoying. I didn’t quite find their screams cute or anything, but
it became progressively more tolerable as the beer was consumed and I didn’t change seats. Secondly, although I don’t usually get hassled about drinking on the train, the white label and foreign language on it make me think that it could conceivably be passed off as an energy drink. Lastly, due to it’s higher alcohol percentage in less volume than my normal train ride companions (2 tall boys of Budweiser bought in Penn station), I did not have to make the precarious journey to the NJ transit restroom facility. For those of you who are unfamiliar with such a journey, it consists of airplane style toilets, nonfunctioning sinks, and lines that always seem to move at a pace of one passenger per stop.  Inside the bathroom while the train moves on past where I get off? Not today.

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THANK YOU, JASON! I’m sure our doting fan base welcomes a day without descriptions of sugarplums, fluffy clouds, tulips, or other trite beerspeak adjectives.

We are always looking for interested and interesting beer consumers to review a brew we might not have seen or had time to review in the month. Let us know if you’d like to contribute something, in exchange for internet fame, a line on your resume, an unpaid internship, a free ride, a huge tax rebate, a happy ending, and everything else everyone else has promised you in life. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.  Email us at wunderassn@gmail.com!

Categories: Belgian | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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