Sunday, 17 April 2016

De Dochter van de Korenaar L’Ensemble

Now for a beer that I've been wanting to get my mits on for some time and it was whilst attending the annual Bruges beer festival earlier this year that I managed to pick up a couple of bottles, from Rudy at his fantastic bar and bottle shop De Bierboom (a great place to pick up bottles not seen in other shops) and so after much longing here it is.

L'Ensemble is a barley wine from De Dochter van de Korenaar (the daughter of the corn) that weighs in with a mighty 13% ABV and for a beer with such power comes in a very generous 500ml bottle. It's brewed just once a year and is available at Winter time (just perfect for warming the cockles)

an all-malt barley-wine, double mashed to obtain 27 degrees Plato; two brews, blond and dark brewed seperately and blended in one fermenter, where it was fermented with both beer- and wine-yeast. Dry-hopped lightly one day before bottling. A beuatifull red coloured-beer, rich and full with a scent of cherries

L'Ensemble pours a very deep brick red that has a slight haze and despite the high ABV is topped with an impressive tan coloured, dense, bubbly head that really hangs around, fading in time to a lasting cap.

Intense aroma of pureed raisins, sticky toffee, sweet syrup (almost jam like) malt loaf and biscuits....bloody wonderful.

Taste follows along with a malty bitterness on the finish that stops the beer becoming too sweet and no way do you detect the 13%, yes it's intense and sweet but there is no burn at all...a masterpiece in brewing.

I'm thrilled to have finally sampled L'Ensemble and so glad I picked up 2 bottles, come next February I'll certainly be picking up 2 more.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

To Øl Jule Mælk

Now then my next beer is a bit of a hybrid, the concept and recipe is from Denmark but the brewing is in Belgium and so for that reason I've included it in my blog - plus this monster deserves to be shared.

What we have is the absolutely bonkers Jule Maelk from Copenhagen brewers To Ol a mammoth Imperial Milk Stout brewed for the festive period that weighs in at a colossal 15% ABV, the brainchild of Mikkeller students Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther - the beer itself is brewed by Dirk Naudts and gang at De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium.

Now I've had more than my fair share of high ABV beers but this is one of the most extreme - if you don't like sweet beers then stay well clear.

Jule Maelk pours like used engine oil, this is one very viscous beer and despite its formidably high ABV even gentle pouring produces a dense 3 finger, thick coffee coloured head that slowly, slowly fades.

An intense dark berry aroma (like forest fruits jam) coupled with raisins, dark chocolate, molasses, vanilla, coffee and a hint of sherry like booziness on the finish...WOW, what an aroma.

Taste can only follow with brown sugar, caramel, chocolate, roasted malts, dense stewed fruits and bitter coffee on the finish. It's in the taste that the sweetness really comes to the front making the mouthfeel almost syrupy.

No doubt a beer that could divide opinions, some could easily find the sweetness far too cloying and indeed it pushed my sweet loving taste-buds to the extreme....but take time and savour this dessert in a glass.



Monday, 22 February 2016

Smiske Kriek

Well it's been a very long absence but I'm back......and for good this time.

Many (many) Belgian beers have been sampled, Countries visited and some very special memories made.
So where (how) do I kick start my blog, well seeing we recently Bruges (for the 10th time) for the annual beer festival, that seems the obvious choice.

Now then, one thing you can do whilst in my most favourite city is indulge, beers that you may cherish back home (because they are hard to come by in the UK) can be bought with relative ease.

One such bottle for me was the limited beer from Smiske....namely Johans seasonal offering Kriek.

Now then fruit beers aren't normally my first (or indeed second) choice from a beer menu BUT seeing as this was from one of my very favourite breweries, using his outstanding Winter beer as the base then it was a must try....oh and it weighs in at 12% ABV.

Smiske Kriek pours a dark brown with a deep red hue and is topped pale pink dense bubbly head that quickly collapses to a craggy covering.

Aroma...CHERRIES - bucket loads of cherries, Johan certainly didn't skimp when using local Noorderkrieken. You also get a tartness and hints of tannins, almost as if the beer had been barrel aged. There's also marzipan and touches of really is Black Forest gateau in a glass.

Taste is...yes cherries, this time like cherry jam coupled with boozy amaretto along with a light sourness on the finish, think cherry yoghurt - sweet and sour in perfect balance.

Despite its mighty 12% (the strongest Kriek in Belgium) this is one dangerously drinkable beer, in-fact whilst sampling in 't Brugs Beertje both me and Daisy came up with a new name...Killer Kriek.


Saturday, 3 May 2014

Zeven Zonden pt1 Luxuria

Pretty much like the beer in my last review, what we have here is a special release that forms part of a brewers sideline of experimental beers - whilst not being barrel aged of bottled in limited numbers, these are still non the less great beers.

Brewed by Gulden Spoor this particular line-up carries the title Zeven Zonden (7 sins) and each beer in the range takes its name after the Latin for one of the seven deadly sins. The first two to be released are Gula and Luxuria (after gluttony and lust) with the next five that follow carrying the names...superbia, avaritia, invidia, ira and acedia.

So first up for review Luxuria and what we have here is an intense, dark, deep brown beer and is topped with a huge, creamy, beige coloured head that slowly fades whilst you savour.

Aroma is dominated with dark malts and bitter dark chocolate, then you get dark fruits (cherries and figs) along with subtle spices and a herbal hop note on the finish.

Taste follows with roasted malts and a delicate liquorice spicing coupled with a raisin sweetness before finishing with a bitter (almost woody) flavour - the sweet / bitter flavours perfectly balanced throughout.

A wonderful introduction to the seven sins, much looking forward to part 2 with Gula.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Hof Ten Dormaal Barrel-aged Project 2013 (Dark Ale) No.3 Sauternes

Well it's been a while but I'm back, lots of beautiful Belgian beers have been sampled and I intend to share each and every one right here.....and every future beer as well.
So lets kick things off again with an absolute stunner (and a beer with perhaps the longest title yet) it's one from the limited release series from Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal.

I've already sampled a couple of beers from this farmhouse brewery, namely their Winter 13 and their chicory beer Wit Goud but what we have here is one from their oak aged line of beers, a series of bottles each matured in oak barrels that once contained various spirits (Gin, Cognac, Madeira etc) and the particular beer in my review spent several months housed in Sauternes casks.

Now for the opening and my there is some power housed in that bottle, just releasing the cage and the cork was eager to shoot out. A firm grasp and light twist and it escaped with an echoing pop.
A swift pour produces a very deep brick red beer that almost borders on black and is topped with a beige, thick, creamy head that slowly, slowly recedes.

Aroma is simply wonderful and is crammed with sweet caramel, dark bitter chocolate, dark fruits (red grapes and plums) also hints of liquorice spicing and a tart (almost balsamic) finish that shows elements of the oak ageing process.

With an intro like that you can only hope that the taste can match up.....and boy does it.

Instantly you get the dark, rich, dried fruits coupled with a deep caramel sweetness, then you get a mocha bitterness before finishing with a slight vinous / tannin edge that lingers long into the after-taste.

Yet another winner from this artisan brewery....and you know what, I have one of their other beers yet to sample (No. 11) and I'll share that right here.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Kasteel Tripel

Let's continue the Van Honsebrouk tasting, this time with the pale sister beer to my recent post - the mighty Kasteel Triple, and like its darker incarnation weighs in with a hefty 11% ABV.

The Triple pours a hazy, bright straw gold and is crowned with a huge, fluffy, soft white head that looks like whipped egg whites that within minutes has gently settled to a lasting finger width covering.
Streams of bubbles rise from the bottom of the glass giving the beer a nice lively appearance.

Initial aroma is honey sweet, then you get citrus along with an apricot / peach like fruitiness. Also present are the trademark triple duo of banana and clove before a bready / yeasty finish and the hint of alcohol burn - lovely stuff.

Taste is initially honey sweet malts with touches of light caramel, then you get peppery clove spicing along with the musty orange notes of coriander.
There's also rich doughy / bready notes that lead to a floral, slightly bitter and dry finish.

Without doubt another great beer from Van Honsebrouk.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Kasteel Donker

Kasteel takes its name after the Flemish word for castle, indeed the castle in question is depicted on the label - a U shaped building situated at Ingelmunster that dates back to 1736.
After many changes of hands it finally fell under control of current owners; the Van Honsebrouck family in 1986 who bought it from then owners the Montblancs family.

Kasteel Donker pours very dark brown (bordering on black) and is topped with a huge, rich, creamy tan coloured head that comprises of thousands of tiny, compact bubbles.
Wonderful aroma of demerara sugar, caramel, rich dark fruits (prunes and raisins) intense malt loaf bready-ness coupled with a delicate liquorice and clove spicing before finishing with a nice alcohol warmth (this formidable beer is 11% ABV after all)

That aromatic intro carries through into the taste with sweet dark ripe fruits, rich caramel malts, brown sugar, chocolate covered cherries and hints of red wine tannins that lend a port like depth.

This is for sure one of Belgiums sweetest beers but it is so perfectly balanced between the intense burnt sugar, deft use of spices and vinous qualities - also a beer that could be described as being heavy......think of this as the perfect dessert beer, Winter warmer or welcome nightcap.