Victoria is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed with 500 lbs of crushed Chardonnay grapes, which are definitely the dominant influence. The nose has grapes, yeast, and a bit of butter. The middle is heavy with sweet grape, contrasted sharply by bitter herbal grassy notes, and some spicy heat in the background, all of which remain and fade in the finish. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a robust 9.0% ABV.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
Confluence is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, dry hopped and fermented with Brettanomyces. The fact that it is dry-hopped does not mean this is a “hoppy” beer, and in fact, in traditional Belgian style it is the malt and yeast on display here. Even though this is a “strong” pale ale, it’s certainly on the lighter side for a Belgian, and for Allagash. The head is foamy and quite pronounced. The nose is quite faint, and has some grape and pear notes. I didn’t catch much else. In the middle are strong pear flavors and a bit of lemon. This continues into the finish with the pear fading and the lemon rising, and some pepper entering the mix to spice things up. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a reasonable 7.1% ABV. A nice, clean, very well done beer.
I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
Immort Ale from Dogfish Head is a great big (11% ABV) oak-aged ale of indeterminate style. It uses English and Belgian yeast, so it’s somewhere between an English Strong Ale and a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. The notes off the nose are of honey, vanilla, and cherries. The middle is spicy with pepper, vanilla, and apricot, and a tiny hint of smoke from the peat-smoked barley. In the finish you taste the sugar from the maple syrup, and faint hints of the oak and just a little more peat. There’s no bitterness in this beer at all, and only the tiniest bit of acidity and booziness that you often get with oak-aged ales. This is a richer, and more subtle brew. This would be an excellent introduction to oak-aged beers for those who aren’t familiar, and fine winter treat for anyone.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
This is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale from the Huyghe Family Brewery, which the bottle claims has been around since 1654. It’s a beautiful pale orange color in the glass with a head reminiscent of champagne foam, except for the fact that it’s persistent and only dissipates slowly. The nose is more fruity than yeasty, with peach and pear notes and a bit of grass. This middle is fruity and spicy. Strong pears and apples, and pepper and grains of paradise are evident. The finish is very interesting. It’s bitter, and reminds me of collard greens, or spinach, perhaps. Overall this is a wonderfully unique and finely crafted Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Very enjoyable.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Don de Dieu is a trippel wheat ale from the Belgian masters at Unibroue in Quebec. There isn’t much of a head to this beer. You get a lot of foam early, but it disappears rapidly. The nose is mild, which is pretty standard for a wheat ale, and it has notes of apricots, pears, and orange. The middle is tangy with mandarin, honey, pears, yeast, and a hint of alcohol. The finish adds pear syrup and vanilla to the mix. This is a medium to heavy bodied beer, and relatively high alcohol at 9% ABV. With the signature Belgian fruit and yeast, this is a lot more flavorful than a traditional wheat ale, so it will probably be a bit much for a Blue Moon fan, but it’s right up the alley for those who like big traditional Belgian styles.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.