There are times when I go to the store on a mission to purchase certain beers; however, there are other times I end up there with no particular direction at all. While I can rack up quite a bill when I’m on a mission, I’ve found that no direction can be even worse. I manage to kill both time and money. I walk back and forth scanning the shelves trying to figure out what I want. I do the tasting and consider any of the five beers that are usually tested there, and then I walk around the store a bit more before finally beginning to fill my basket. I used to do the same thing with music. Eventually I’ll have a full basket or a bunch of bottles all lined up at the checkout counter. Either way, I’ve done a lot of damage. Regardless, I get my shelves stocked and ready to go.
This particular bottle was the result of a tasting. Even though it’s a vintage bottle, I wouldn’t have regularly been attracted to it without doing a tasting. I guess that is why American breweries tend to put exciting labels on their bottles. It immediately draws people in. This one is a plain label that doesn’t really jump out at anyone. Thankfully the tasting got it noticed. I sat on this bottle for a little while waiting for the right instance to give it a go. You don’t get a big sample on the tasting; however, even with the small amount, I knew I needed a comrade to give it a try with me. The 11% ABV on the side of the bottle only confirmed that.
Having already tasted this one once, I did (or rather didn’t do) something that I ordinarily do. I didn’t even bother to check the style of the brew. A strange thing for me indeed. Instead, John and I dove into the bottle. This bottle is a quadrupel. Funny as it may seem, this one didn’t immediately strike me as a quad. The flavors had me thinking of a cross between a Belgian beer and a sweet wine.
This one poured a very dark reddish brown color with some light off white head. The head really isn’t very significant which helps to display the plentiful alcohol content here. The lacing is okay; although, you really don’t see much development on the sides of the glass at all. Also, you have some really nice sticky residue left over. Clear indication that this beer has a lot of alcohol and sugary backbone. The beer has a hazy feel; however, it’s really too dark to get a good feel on the clarity. The dark quality keeps you from getting a real feel for the carbonation, but it seems like there isn’t much.
The smell that hit me first was the big grape scent. My cohort compared it to Welch’s grape juice. I want to say I agree with him there, but I feel like that is going to turn a lot of people off. The big grape and sugary smells are there. You can take that to mean the grape juice you used to drink as a child, but I don’t want to sway your opinion too much here. You get a slight apple aroma and a ton of sweet malts as well. The malts have a slight Belgian fig aroma to them, and yet, that is mostly swallowed up by the huge grape aroma. The hops are practically nonexistent here.
The first sip makes you think a Belgian brewer decided to tackle the production of a wine. There are some nice ample sweet malts to kick off the flavor profile. You get a little bit of light caramel flavor in there; however, it all leads into the big grape flavor that dominated the nose. It is at this early part of the tasting you think you could be drinking wine. The booze comes flying in here to carry you into the finish. There are some light apple cidery flavors; however, the beer ends with some bigger fig and raisin flavors. These really become more apparent as the beer is allowed to warm. The beer ends with a lot of booze and a fig/grape mixture.
The mouthfeel starts off well with a good amount of carbonation. This quickly fades into a malty abyss as the syrup and booze come into play. This beer won’t let you forget you’re drinking a beer over 10% ABV, and you really don’t get a lot of the clove from the yeast or help from the hops to change that. The Kasteel website states, “The aroma and flavour of Cuvée du Château are those of an aged Kasteel Donker that had 10 years to evolve in the cellars of the castle”. To me it’s pretty clear in the mouthfeel and taste that this beer has seen some aging.
John and I discussed how to rate this particular beer. He raised a few questions on my rating system as it stands now. I’m glad that I drank this beer, and I would definitely recommend it to someone to try at least once. However, I doubt I would pick up a bottle of it again. My rating system says whether I would drink it again or not. This just doesn’t quite fit that particular type of rating system. Therefore, I am calling an audible on the grading system. This will be the first beer to be graded as a “One Hit Wonder”. I like the new category. Now I can communicate if it’s a good beer to try at least once. Personally, I’m glad I had this Kasteel once, but I won’t be going back to it again.
Teacher Grade: One Hit Wonder!