One of the big problems with doing a few beer reviews a week is you tend to run through a lot of different beers rather quickly. It makes no sense to buy a six pack of something when you’re trying to drink something new all the time. Therefore, I might buy a six-pack here and there to make sure I have beer that I can just drink for the fun of it. However, I need to hit up stores that will offer me singles of 12oz in order to make things worth while and efficient. I ran into a problem this week where I realized I only really had a few remaining beers in my fridge that were really reviewable. Therefore, I felt a need to run out to the closest store that would offer me something unique for reviewing. Schneider’s on Capitol Hill doesn’t really offer the biggest beer selection I know of; however, they have a few things that would hold me over till I found my way to a real good beer store.
In the store I had a tough decision figuring out what I want to review. A lot of what I ended up looking at was 750 mls. The problem with that is I really don’t need big bottles at the moment. I like to do smaller bottle reviews during the week. Although I am running short on big bottles too, I have a few on the way in the mail from a site I’ll talk about later. Therefore, I was really trying to focus on getting some smaller bottles. In the end I managed to buy two small bottles and a six-pack of a summer ale I had recently tried and really liked. This particular bottle was the first one I grabbed. I’m not sure why this one stuck out to me so much. I guess the bottle was interesting to me, and I had certainly never had a beer from this particular company before.
I did attempt to look for information on the brewery; however, I really couldn’t seem to find a whole lot at all on them. They are a brewery that exists in Belgium; however, that seems to be the only thing I can find about them. The style on the bottle says that it is an Extra; however, other places refer to this one as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Either way, it would seem this is a stronger higher alcohol version of the Belgian Dark Ale. Makes sense to me! Also, they put this one in the same category as the Chimay Blue, if you were looking for something comparable.
This one pours out a really dark brown color with a lot of reddish hue to it. The head is certainly plentiful here and it has a pretty obvious brownish tan hint to it. Swirling the glass results in some fairly good lacing, and you get a lot of sticky residue on the side of the glass as well. This beer is quite obviously hazy, but it doesn’t prevent you from being able to see the visible carbonation in the glass.
There is a really big malty aroma to this one. The malts have some of that big raisin and fig smell to it. There seems to be some very faint light citrus aroma here as well. The light hopping is evident in here; however it is by no means a hoppy beer at all. The beer has a lot of sticky sweetness to it, which I would blame on a little bit of caramel and light molasses. Some of the spicy clove yeast is coming through in here as well.
The beer has a very interesting mix of big booze flavor and a certain amount of freshness. The tasting starts with some really sweet malts that have a lot of big raisin, fig, and date flavors to it. The ample raisin flavor is quickly met by a really significant hit of caramel and molasses flavor. The sweetness of the molasses and caramel also brings a really big booze flavor to accompany it. Interestingly, the yeast and clove flavor follow the booze to really take the edge off and make it seem kind of fresh. You have a momentary confusion where you’re not sure if you’re drinking a big heavy beer or a light farmhouse style beer. A little light hop flavor comes in on the end and you get a light amount of residual booze and raisin to finish it off as well.
The mouthfeel adds to the identity confusion of this beer. You get a beer that has a lot of carbonation. This works together with the yeast to bring about a certain freshness; however, the beer manages to become slightly syrupy on the end with a really big bite of booze in the middle too. It’s kind of a beer that doesn’t know what it wants to be. It has a little bit of a dry finish; however, that only adds to the difficult job of trying to figure out if this beer wants to be heavy or light.
Despite the confusion this beer has in its nature, I really like that it keeps you guessing. I’ve realized as of late that I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing American beers, and I’ve kind of neglected a lot of the foreign market. I think I need to really start adding in a lot more of my available imports. Regardless of that, this is an all around great beer. I really liked this one, and I would be interested in trying some others from this brewery. Has anyone else had this beer or a different one from these guys? I don’t know if you can find this in your local store but, if you can, you would benefit from picking it up.
Teacher Grade: A