Year: 2015

3 Stars, St. Bernardus

Pater 6 by St. Bernardus

Pours a dark reddish-brown with long lasting biscuit colored head. Yeasty, bready aroma. Loads of carbonation, slightly bitter, a bit thin and watery, toffee, raisin, bread. This beer definitely improves and becomes more flavorful as it warms with complex fruit flavors coming forward. Perhaps I am being a bit harsh and I love St. Bernadus’ other beers but this one just tastes like a watered down version of the much bigger and better 8 and 12. 

3 Stars.

Blonde, De Struise Brouwers

Kloeke Blonde by De Struise Brouwers

Very light cloudy straw color in appearance with white head collecting in the center of the glass. Strong, strange, herbal aroma with some yeasty esters. Same strange aroma is the predominant flavor, though not as strong.  Fairly dry. Overall an odd beer that is full of a flavor I cannot quite place and do not think I have experienced in another beer. I also cannot say that I particularly like it.  This beer has no expectation date on the bottle but I am going to surmise that it has passed.

De Struise Brouwers, Wit

Struise Witte by De Struise Brouwers

Pours a cloudy, light golden color with a small amount of rapidly dissipating white head. Herbal, citrus and yeasty notes, very balanced and quite inviting. The first sip reveals loads of citrus flavor. The second more citrus followed by coriander. Semi-sweet, a bit watery but still a flavorful beer. This beer is really quite a pleasant surprise as the bottle say best before 2014 and in a style not expect to age well.  I would love to taste a fresh bottle.

Simply not fair to rate at this point (but 3.5 as is).

4 Stars, De Struise Brouwers, Tripel

XXX – Rye Tripple – Reserva 2013 by De Struise Brouwers 

Best before November 2019, only half way there. Pours a murky dark reddish brown with a small amount of rapidly disappearing head.  Complex aroma of peach, spice and faint bourbon. Fruity at first quickly switching to bourbon and charred oak, honey like sweetness, leading to a spicy, peppery finish. At 10% the alcohol doesn’t disappear but complements the other flavors very nicely. I would bet this will continue to age well. Aren’t all bourbon barrel aged beers stouts? Not this one and that’s a good thing.

4 Stars.

4 Stars, De Struise Brouwers

Pannepot Grand Reserva – 2010 Vintage by De Struise Brouwers

Old Fisherman’s Ale Aged On Oak.

Appears black in the glass but pours a dark brown with a very small amount of head. Aromas of chocolate and oak with some whiskey character. Creamy mouthfeel with plenty of carbonation, particularly for a beer with this much age. Bitter chocolate, fruit and spices finishes with oak followed by subtle vanilla. Full flavored; a great sipping beer.

4.5 Stars.

5 Stars, De Struise Brouwers

Black Albert – Batch ‘0’ by De Struise Brouwers

Bottled December 2012, best before February 2018. The label states “very strong beer” and at 13% ABV I would have to agree.  Pours a deep black with a dark brown head.  Aroma is very inviting with dark chocolate and roasted malt with some alcohol punch.  The first sip reveals coffee, chocolate, coffee flavors (in that order). Some sweetness but not overly so. The alcohol lingers on the tongue but is well balanced and complementary.  Very mellow with no hot alcohol bite.  I am happy to sip this one all night.

5 Stars.

4 Stars, Deca Services

Vleteren – Blond by Deca Services

Golden orange in appearance; lively carbonation but no appreciable head retention. Fantastic aroma of fresh fruit, oak and alcohol. Thick mouth feel, sweet and lightly bitter. Complex flavors of fruit, oak, subtle honey and vanilla with a large alcoholic punch. Not sure where a 12% oak aged blond fits as far as style but this is a big beer and a must try.

4 Stars.

2 Stars, Abbaye de Abdij van Leffe, Brune

Leffe – Brune by Abbaye de Abdij van Leffe

Pours a deep brown with a tinge of ruby red when held to the light.  Beige head, not a lot, but what there is has staying power clinging to the side of the glass. Inviting aroma of malt sweetness, dark fruit with a touch of herbal notes. The aroma gives way to roasted malt flavors, nutty, light bitterness, same as the blonde something oddly chemically in taste, grainy finish. I will say it is a fairly unique tasting Belgian but not for me.

2.5 Stars.

3 Stars, Abbaye de Abdij van Leffe, Blonde

Leffe – Blonde by Abbaye de Abdij van Leffe

Pours a bright golden blond color with loads of rapidly dissipating frothy white head. Herbal (clove?) and banana notes; the aroma reminds me a bit of mead. Light bitterness, fairly sweet, odd bubble gum slightly chemical flavor, finishes malty. Despite the description an easy drinking beer. Does not stand out as having the Belgian character I would expect for the style. Not bad but not great either.

3 Stars.

4 Stars, Blonde, Deca Services

Antiek – Blonde Old Strong Ale by Deca Services

Another in my recent run of 8% Blonds, each by different brewers but all brewed at the same brewery, Deca Services.  So how does the brewery who brewed all brews own brew hold up?

First look shows a crystal clear blond with a small amount of long lasting bright white head.  Bitter hop aroma, apricot and classic spicy Belgian yeast character greet the nose.  Well balanced and smooth, flavors lining up with the aroma, not a trace of alcohol to be found.  Long lasting spicy aftertaste.  Very reminiscent of Trappist Blonds.

4 Stars.

4 Stars, Blonde

Papegari by Brouwerij Verstraete

Pours a golden straw with no head accumulation.  The nose picks up a strong spicy yeast aroma, some earthy fruit notes as well. First sip, wow, this is the spiciest Belgian Blond I have ever tried. Bitter orange peel, pepper, finishes dry with a long pleasant fruity aftertaste.  Leaves a tingling feeling on the tongue. 8% but not a hint of alcohol to be found. Very interesting beer, I am not accustom to a Blond that packs so much flavor that it almost overwhelms the  palate. I really like the beer, it may push the boundaries of the style but it is great to see what different flavors a Brewer can accomplish with the same set of ingredients.

4.5 Stars.

4 Stars, Blonde

Klets by Brouwerij Bier & Karakter (B&K)

Pours a crystal clear blond (at least until I emptied too much of the bottle into the glass and clouded it up). Loads of bright white fizzy head. Luscious aroma of mandarin oranges, sweet malt and spicy Belgian yeast character.  Complex flavors greet the tongue; spicy, peppery, mild hop bitterness , pleasant long lasting aftertaste. 

Label aside a solid 4 stars.

2 Stars, Blonde, Kustbrouwerij

Dunekuen – Goublond by Kustbrouwerij

Appearance is a fantastic hazy golden orange with a small, white, fizzy head. Smells of spicy yeast character and faint citrus peel, quite nice.  Tastes spicy, sour fruit, lightly bitter, finishes dry with a faintly grainy aftertaste. Light easy drinking beer, possibly could serve as an introduction to classic Belgian blond flavors without being overpowering.  Not a bad beer at all but overall underwhelms.

2.5 Stars.

4 Stars, De Struise Brouwers

Yepres – Reserva 2011 by De Struise Brouwers

Pours a dark reddish-brown with a finger of quickly dissipating brown head. Loads of fruit, predominantly cherry, as well as vanilla and oak aroma.  The first impression is tart, followed by sour fruit, cherry and oak again, some acidity but not overly so.   Like any good Flanders Red it is an incredibly complex beer that is difficult to describe; compares very well to the gold standards of Duchesse and Grand Cru.  I tied reviewing this beer once before but the bottle I opened was a gusher and I lost the vast majority of the beer all over my counter, very happy to have no such problem this time.

4.5 Stars

3 Stars, Dubbel, Westmalle

Dubbel by Westmalle

Pours a clear bronze with a small amount of off-white head.  Amazing, full aroma, of malt, candi syrup, dark fruit.  I have to say I was headed down the typical path of Dubbel flavors, and so the taste begins, then Dr Pepper popped into my head and now that’s all I can taste. Somehow sweet flavors but finishes dry.  I would like to try another bottle just to confirm the Dr Pepper taste.

Not a huge Dr Pepper fan so 3 stars.

*Update 2/3/16* Had another bottle, velvety mouthfeel, still detecting Dr Pepper, though no where near the same level as before, some bitterness.

4 Stars, Tripel, Westmalle

Triple by Westmalle

Poured a hazy deep gold with slow developing, but long lasting, bright white head.  Smells of pit fruit, spiciness, some malt and faint hop character. Plenty of carbonation, full of flavor that lines right up with the aroma, finishes dry. Nothing gives away the 9.5% alcohol content.

Interesting tidbit about Westmalle they supply the yeast to their Trappist friends at Westvleteren and they both share the same bottles.

4 Stars.