And the hits just keep on comin’. Brouwerij RODENBACH selects a single oak cask of their Flanders Red Sour Ale that, after having matured for two years, has produced the best beer, and bottles and labels the beer that comes out of this cask as their “Vintage” for year. In the case of 2011, this is cask number 95. The nose is floral with honey and faint wild yeast, the middle is tart with cherries and strong plum flavor. The finish is sweet, with the sugars coming back to the fore and tamping down the tartness, but the flavors of cherries, plums, and green apple are still consistent and dominant. The oak is quite subtle, and I suspect is responsible more for maturing the flavors that already exist in this intensely flavored sour than for adding new flavors of its own, though there are tiny hints of vanilla in the finish. This is not a particularly big beer at 7.0% ABV, or a heavy one, but it is exceptional. It should be on every sour lovers list.
I give it a 4.9 out of 5.
Delirium Nocturnum is another Belgian Strong Pale Ale from the Huyghe Family Brewery, also the makers of Delirium Tremens which I’ve reviewed before. This is a fabulous Belgian brew that doesn’t have the huge rich dark fruit of many other strong dark ales. Not that it isn’t huge and rich, it just has a flavor profile that goes in a different direction. The nose is yeasty, with licorice and aniseed, and it is fruity, but the fruits are more along the lines of pear and apple rather than the plums and prunes and raisins that are typical of the style. The middle continues this theme with tart apple and sweet pear followed by a bit of herbal bitterness, and then a hint of chocolate. The finish is dry, big, boozy, and spicy with a bit peppery heat. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol level is significant at 8.5% ABV. This is a really nice, and somewhat different example of my favorite style.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
It’s a dark and rainy evening here, and I think a beautiful Belgian strong dark ale perfectly fits the bill. A gold medal winning brew, from Brouwerij Roman in Belgium, Adriaen Brouwer Dark Gold Ale is fine example of the style. In the glass it’s a dark honey brown, with a big, thick, lingering head. The nose is fruity and funky and clearly Belgian, but not as heavy or bold as many. The middle is straightforward, predominantly dried fruit like raisins and prunes, and fairly sweet. The body is medium, which is on the light side for a strong dark ale, but it’s nice none the less. The finish fades from the sweet fruit to a dry earthiness. It’s not hugely complex, and nothing jumps out, but this is a really solid beer that is well executed in every aspect. I like it very much, and I’m going to enjoy relaxing with the rest of my glass now that I’m done writing.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
Merry Christmas Eve! Today is a day of anticipation for the celebration to come, and for the special occasion, a special beer. Lindemans is known for their fine lambics (several of which I’ve reviewed on this blog) but Gueuze Curvée René is a particularly unusual and amazing beer. It’s a lambic, but a mixture of two-thirds young lambic, and one-third old lambic, which is then bottle conditioned for six months. The result is one of a kind. The capped and corked bottle pops as if it were champagne. The nose is sour wild Belgian yeast. The body is medium, and the flavor from middle to finish is tart and dry, with the tartness followed by notes of apricot and grapes, with very little discernible residual sugar. This is closer to dry sparkling wine than to the typical beer. My bottom line: This is a beer to celebrate with.
I give it a 4.9 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.
I’ve previously reviewed several of Chimay’s other offerings, but the tripel is by far the hardest to find (and to find in good condition) so I’m happy that I’m finally getting a chance to report on it. I love Belgians, I love Chimay, and this is no exception. As a Tripel, it’s not as big and heavy and fruity as my favorite Chimay, Grande Réserve, which is a strong dark ale, but it’s still no lightweight. The nose is full of yeast and sweet pears. The middle is tart oranges and more lovely delicate pear. The finish is heavy, syrupy, and a bit boozy with some oaky bitterness right at very end. This is a marvelous, delicious treat, fruity and complex and a brilliant example of the style. One of my favorites for sure.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.