Category Archives: Belgian Ale

New England Brewing ‘Big Winter’ Belgian Dark Strong Ale


61471487_1098857756965035_4241056140651134976_n“We brew Big Winter once a year to celebrate frosts, snow flurries and the smell of wood fires – a New England Winter! A strong Belgian Dark Ale, Big Winter has an aroma of dark fruit, burnt sugar and toffee, before taking you to a body of rich malts, chocolate and lingering candy sweetness. Wait for a cold evening and wear a beanie.”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Black with a sturdy two finger crown resting atop. Good retention and wavy lace work clinging to the glass on its way down.

Aroma: Lots of heady dark fruits like raisin, dates, fig and blackberry hitting the olfactory’s initially. Well supported by rich and earthy spices i.e clove, nutmeg and licorice then nicely filled out with a heavy sweet malt structure. Getting more yeast-driven esters as it warms…revealing shades of chocolate-coated banana, toffee apple and honeycomb. Superb aroma.

Flavour: There’s a big impression of rich sweet malts underlining the dark fruits and mild warming booze on entry. Lots of spice and yeast esters leading in to the chocolate-driven mid palate. Slight roasty note developing late…providing a good balance to the Belgian Candi sugars, toffee and spicy phenols in the long finish.

Mouthfeel: Slick but chewy with a really good viscosity. Held up by a lively co2 though. Medium-full body…not too muscly which is good.

Overall: One of the best ways to beat those winter blues is with a big dark beer like this. If you’re longing for a roaring wood fire like me then don’t fret…the beer jacket this bad boy provides will keep you nice and toasty. And at 8.6% AbV it’s no wonder why!

Against The Grain Brewery ‘Sacred Sacrum’ BA Belgian Ale


49556723_1014760908708054_6400027185490427904_n“All Funked Up- Wild Series. Belgian ale aged in red wine barrels finished with Brettanomyces.”

Glassware: Stemmed tulip.

Appearance: Pecan to mahogany kind of affair with a loosely held finger of light tan foam atop. Some spotty lace sticking to the glass as we go.

Aroma: Surprisingly mild chocolate is one of the first to hit the olfactory’s…mixed with a dark fruity tang to make it all the more interesting. Yeasty spice and vinous tannins with a hint of oak following close behind. Really strikes us as more of a funky, barrel aged dubbel at this point. There’s some sourness but it’s more of a sweaty/barnyard funk if anything.

Flavour: Light tart red fruits and oak tannins build to bitter sweet chocolate, dry red wine and a sweaty/manky sourness early in the mid. Some earthy hop dryness kicks up toffee apple, subtle orange peel and a certain mustiness which moves in to a slightly fruity finish with subtle yeast esters and dark fruit sweetness on the rear.

Mouthfeel: Light on. Mild-medium body with low co2. Not a lot happening other than the unbelievably well hidden AbV (9%).

Overall: Can’t say we’re impressed by this. If you’re expecting a sour beer then prepare to be surprised. Expect more of a slightly funked up dark Belgian ale with more pronounced yeast character than sourness.

Epic Brewing Co ‘Brainless On Peaches’ Barrel Aged Belgian Style Ale


41974813_953075751543237_5152036347858386944_n“We took our double gold medal winning Brainless® Belgian, added peach puree and aged it in French Chardonnay casks. It develops nicely as it warms displaying more fruit and wine.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Hazy orange pour with a finger of fizzy head over the top. It vanished within seconds with absolutely no lace left on the glass.

Aroma: Really pronounced canned peach and apricot lifting out. Lots of rockmelon, paw paw and guava, pretty much turning into a fruit salad once it settles in the glass. We get a little bit of cloying sweetness coming through which in a way exposes the lack of barrel character on offer. Quite underwhelming to be honest.

Flavour: It hits the palate with yeasty spice, tangy fruit, melon, peach and apricot…a bit of warmth from the booze in support. Not a lot else unfortunately, we detect a bit more oak as opposed to the aroma but it just seems to taper off in to a less than impressive finish with hints of stonefruit and earthy tang on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Fizzy but also a little thin and slippery. Mild- medium body. We will say this though the 10.8% AbV is rather well disguised.

Overall: We were contemplating a drain pour here but once we considered how much it cost and the rarity we pushed through. It’s just bland and very difficult to enjoy in our opinion. Average at best!

De Struise Tsjeeses 2013 Reserva PBA Belgian Xmas Ale


24293991_779020902282057_6653817597278570340_n“The amazing Tsjeeses Christmas Ale, aged in port barrels. 2013 edition.”

Served in a stemmed tulip. We’re met with an attractive chestnut hue which dons a short tan cap. Steady reduction with a healthy lace pattern sticking to the glass as we imbibe.
Oh man these Reserva beers by Struise are absolutely mind-blowing! The 2013 ‘Kerstbier’ was phenomenal but this aroma is simply in a class of its own. Crammed full of toffee apple, plum jam, raisin, fig, caramelised pears, sourdough, banana runts, spice, port and even a subtle hint of vanilla. How do these guys not carry a Trappist certification? This is without a doubt on par with the likes of Westvleteren and Westmalle.
All of those brilliant aromas have transferred on to the palate quite nicely. Waves of toffee and caramel, fruity esters, port, raisin, mild oak, spice and slightly tart plums start strong and mellow in to a super sweet dark fruity middle. The warming booze kicks in to gear as syrupy notes of honey and raisin finish with hints of apple and pear on the back end.
The texture is full-ish, well carbonated and sticky. 10% ABV is well concealed. Slightly cloying at times but no where near enough to hinder the overall brilliance of the beer.
World class drop right here. The years aging in port barrels has had a delicate yet effective outcome, handing this already rich and intense ale an extra layer of complexity, not to mention the softening of the booze. Excellent offering.

Cupitt’s Belgian Dark Strong Ale


23244060_768030066714474_4809796368563128603_n“A dark, decadent and complex Belgian Ale displaying caramel, burnt toffee, plums and spice. A beer to savour.”

Served in a Trappist tulip. This seasonal release offers a light burgundy hue which is capped by a wispy overlay. The head quickly forms a ring but still manages to deposit a wavy lace down the sides of the glass.
Certainly isn’t trying to hide the booze here. Even with the glass resting on the table we can still pick up astringent notes of alcohol and hints of ethanol. Once it’s up close it’s a lot better (thank god!) those estery accents such as pear, rosewater, bubblegum, apple pie, clove and banana runts waft out. Very rich and sweet malt at the base, filling out with toffee, caramel and plum jam. It’s a basic Belgian make-up but quite nice all the same.
Flavour-wise we’d put it somewhere between a dubbel and a tripel. There’s some sweet dark fruit character here but also a somewhat dry and slightly sharp spicy/phenolic yeast note to it. The strong presence of booze carries in to the flavour profile while the finish is sweet, a little spicy and a little toasty.
The texture is dry, warming and well rounded. The 9.1% ABV is bold and quite strident. 30 IBU, medium bodied and mildly carbonated.
Can’t say we’re totally thrilled by it. While there are some good Belgian aspects we still feel that it’s a bit muddled and a bit underwhelming. Middle of the road representation of the style to be quite honest.

Brouwerij De Molen ‘Mooi & Meedogenloos’ Belgian Strong Ale


21231271_743533825830765_577498694548956816_n“Mooi & Meedogenloos combines both Belgian style Quadruple and Imperial Stout. Sweet and spicy like the first but roasted and full bodied like the second. Flavour indication: chocolate, plums, brown sugar.”

Served in a snifter. This monster offers a pitch black body with a wispy brown head forming on top. It collapsed quickly and settled to a ring which doesn’t offer a whole lot of lace.
Holy moly this is one complex little number. One would almost expect such complexities when the end result is a 50-50 split imperial stout/Belgian quadrupel. All those big and brawny imperial stout aromas come forth – camp fire, molasses, licorice, cocoa and dark chocolate. Enter the Belgian counterbalance….the quad kicks in with its sweet yeasty phenols, plum, raisin, spice and sourdough. Wow.
The flavour profile is just something else. If an imperial stout and a quadrupel were to get it on…this would be the lovechild. Neither style stands ahead of the other, they just line up and marry together in divine harmony. Roasted malts, licorice and dark chocolate fuse with the sweet plum jam, spice and prunes with pin point precision. Phenomenal stuff.
The mouth feel is dense and full bodied but incredibly smooth and silky. Slightly lifted co2 with traces of warming booze (10.2%). So palatable for a beer of its stature.
Man we love this brewery! Without a doubt one of the best dark beer brewers in the world. This, like almost all of the beers in their range, is just pitch perfect. Simply world class product right here.


Dainton Family Brewery ‘Manhattan Ale’ 2016 Barrel Aged Belgian Rye Ale


14095841_560369167480566_6434501461140369685_n“First brewed in collaboration with the Everleigh in 2015, this sexy rye based brew is back for its 2nd rendition. Enjoy our elixirs in the company of your annoying family, knowing that at least one of our family members was harmed in the creation of this brew.”

We popped the classy wax-dipped cap off and served in to a wide rimmed tulip. The crimson appearance is capped by a slowly receding khaki head that strews a few soapy patches of lace as it ebbs. The nose presents itself as strong, Belgian, spicy and a little funky. Definitely getting some oaky/woody notes coming through as well. Very malt-forward, revealing a subtle rye whiskey accent as the aroma gradually intensifies. Certainly detecting a stronger rye spiciness as the beer settles in the glass. Quite nice, a little complex and essentially a decent aroma. In to the mouth it’s warming with an assertive bitterness developing in the swallow. Slightly gassy in texture with a slight sting from the 9.7% ABV. Nice plump body. Drinks well. Upfront the palate welcomes a sharp, spicy, rye malt flavour with suggestions of whiskey and oak in support. Midway we get toffee and or caramel malts as a delicate residual sugary sweetness comes through in its delivery. A light funky bitterness then creeps in as a long, dry finish imparts plummy and spicy notes along with woody tannins on the back end. Quite a unique and unconventional brew this one. It’s actually difficult to categorize. At the core it’s a strong Belgian ale that’s been barrel aged and brewed with rye malts. There are also similarities to a Quadrupel. Abbey ale, BBA, Quad or Roggenbier? You decide, either way it’s a tasty drop that should be slowly sipped and would benefit from semi-firm, hearty cheeses like cheddar, gruyere and edam.

St. Joseph’s Abbey ‘Spencer’ Belgian Ale


12108868_493172990866851_5556079994212751346_n“Our recipe was inspired by the traditional refectory ales known as patersbier (“fathers’ beer” in Flemish). These sessionable beers are brewed by the monks for their dinner table and are typically only available at the monastery. Spencer is a full-bodied, golden-hued ale with fruity accents, a dry finish and light hop bitterness. The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, preserving live yeast that naturally carbonates the beer in the bottle and keg, and contributes to the beer flavor and aroma.”

Served in to a snifter glass. The hazy amber appearance is capped off by a finger of beige head that gradually subsides and settles to a thin sheet with fine lacing left in it’s wake. All the traditional Belgian aromas are here – spicy clove, yeasty esters, banana runts, caramel, candy sugars, bubblegum and stewed apple. Definitely getting a creamy vanilla scent coming through and maybe the slightest suggestion of orange blossom creeping in as well. Gorgeous aroma, it’s a lot like a Hoegaarden or a Duvel. Very nice. The texture of this ale coats the entire palate. Medium-high in Co2 with a smooth and flowing feel as it glides down the throat. Body is moderate and the 6.5% ABV is discreet and unassuming. It drinks well. We get that yeasty/spicy clove character cutting through the sweet candy sugars and ripe banana on entry. A splash of sweet citrus like orange or mandarin is introduced along with a subtle earthiness as it crosses the mid. Savoury fruits like custard apple and caramelized pear then lead in to a soft, dry finish with a pinch of peppery spice on the rear. Polishing this delicious American Trappist ale off actually marks a momentous occasion for us – we have now reviewed a beer from every Trappist brewery on earth. This one was a little harder to find so if you can get your hands on one we definitely recommend. It’s full flavoured, super smooth, aromatic and dangerously drinkable. A solid offering.

Struise ‘Tsjeeses’ Belgian Xmas Ale 2015


imageWell it’s Christmas morning and the presents are done. What else to do, but crack open a Xmas ale, in Danish style.

We pop open the cap at 7:20am and we get rich aromas of port, sweet Belgian yeasts, bubblegum, spices and stewed dark fruits. There is contained alcohol here. Very nice indeed. We pour into a snifter and the initial bubbly pour fades leaving no head in the glass. It looks like a malty IPA..dark copper, tinge of amber. The palate hit is all about the carbonation on the lips, which then turns a tad sour, and ends with a drying bitterness. It’s not overpowering though. We get doughy yeasts, bit more banana and bubblegum, some clove in there also. Bit of a spicy hop hit, but there is a tinge of tropical fruit coming through as well. We are amazed to see that this drop is 10% alcohol. So damn smooth. It has a medium to full body, and good length. We note from the bottle the IBU is 35 and this is fair as the bitterness is restrained. We are enjoying the doughy, Belgian flavours. By the end of this bad boy, we are seriously buzzed. With no breakfast in the tank, I need some bacon and eggs to offset the alcohol. This is a damn fine ale. Full of Christmas flavours like you’re having pudding, port and cherries. Enjoy.



Birrificio Le Baladin ‘Super Bitter’ Belgian Ale


12186773_450006058516878_5530355264266500474_o“Super Bitter” it undoubtedly follows the current trend of bitter beers, but without taking it too far! Super Bitter has sure plenty of hoppy scents – given by the generous use of a particular type of American hops called “Amarillo” – but it remains true to its Baladin identity and strikes a perfect balance with notes of caramel, dried fruit (just a hint) and the bitterness of the hops. Super Bitter, just as its famous “big sister” (if not more), will entice you to spend time with others and socialize”

As this is a Belgian-inspired ale we’ll serve this in to a snifter glass. Deep amber body with a copper hue. Capping it off is a frothy beige head, roughly two and a half fingers that stands up nicely but eventually collapses in on itself, settling to a thick halo with a thin sheet of micro bubble on top. Struggles to retain any lace. Quite funky on the nose initially. A little acetic and a little sour. We do get a bit of citrus punching through but it’s more rindy with its sharp astringency. Some spicy herbal notes too, maybe tea leaf or aniseed? May be a hint of sweet toffee as well. A real mixed bag here. Nice, but a little too muddled. Very smooth in the mouth. We already have to question the “super bitter” that’s quite prominently stated on the label. At 35 IBU it’s hardly bitter. What it is, is light and a little frothy in texture. Mild-moderate in body and medium in Co2. Very welcoming. Flavour-wise, it opens up slightly sweet, slightly yeasty and a little fruity. Just a suggestion of bitterness carries it forward, picking up a kind of sugary orange note with it. The finish is light and fruity with only the slightest bitterness. Duration isn’t too bad. Look, there’s only one word that sums it up…confusing. It’s marketed as a super bitter beer but it’s hardly bitter at all. It’s light, sweet and yeasty. Points for getting the Belgian-style characters right but essentially it’s all a little cluttered. Average beer at best.

Brouwerij Het Anker ‘Gouden Carolus’ Belgian strong ale


image“The worlds best dark ale” is how the brewery describes this beer. This breweries’ story seems to be less about the hardship of wars, which a lot of the breweries in the Western European nations saw through, and more about the Emperor of the time and the beer that the chosen brewers brewed for him.

“Gouden Carolus” meaning Golden Coins in English is served in to a wide-rimmed chalice. The deep mahogany brown pour knocks up a beige coloured crown at about a finger and a half in height. The head swells then quickly recoils to a halo around the inner edge of the glass. Laced moderately. So distinctly Belgian on the nose. Very yeasty. Firm wafts of banana lollies, iodine, cookie dough, figs, cherry and clove/star anise are the dominant aromas while a faint scent of maple syrup and alcohol lurk in the background. Nice balance between sweet and savoury here. This beer has a very smooth, almost silky texture which offers mild-medium carbonation and minimal grip on the tongue. The 8.5% ABV is almost forgotten about its hidden that well. No sharp astringency whatsoever, just a well contained warmth that tickles the edges of the tongue each time we take a sip. Mirroring the aroma, the initial flavour profile is all about the yeast. Banana lollies and raisins produce a delicate sweetness which is well balanced by a presence of toasty malt. The mid forms a bit of a dark fruit complexity which in turn delivers this surprisingly smooth, malty finish with a trail of molasses on the back end. What we love about this brew is it’s similarity to other top shelf Belgian beers, but at the same time presenting it’s own character. We wouldn’t go as far as to agree by saying it’s the best dark beer in the world, but it’s certainly a damn fine brew. Very nice.

Hitachino ‘XH’ Belgian Brown Ale


image“Strong Belgian Brown Ale matured in distilled Sake barrels.the final Maturation takes place in Shochu casks {distilled sake} for 3 months”

This is brewed in Japan. It’s an extra high alc vol brew sitting at 8%, using “more malt and hops than normal”??? A google search describes as a Belgian strong ale matured in sake barrels. Anyhow, pours a nice amber/mahogany with a bubbly 6-8mm head that slowly fades. On the nose we get Belgian style yeast, caramel, subdued floral hops, booze and some pine. The mouth feel is very smooth indeed with definite hints of rice wine, sweet caramel malt, plums. Light carbonation here but good body. Subdued booze hit from the malts used. Candy like taste on the palate. We see the use of styrian goldings as hops…can get that English ale taste here. No lacing on the glass here. We also notice on ratebeer that it was awarded 97/100. It is definately a smooth drop. Goes down very easily and if it wasn’t strong you could have a couple of these. We like the fact it’s been matured in sake barrels for 3 months. Quality drop.

La sirène Belgian Praline ale


image“A very special Belgian chocolate ale. Building on a Belgian stout base, it is brewed with organic vanilla pods, cacao nibs from Mexico and hazelnuts and with a creamy body, it is velvety, dark and seductive. Can you stop at one?”

This little beauty won the gold medal at the 2014 GABS festival in Melbourne. We’ve had this before and it is an absolute cracker of a beer. Served in a tulip glass the mat black pour whipped up a huge 3 finger tan cap. Good head retention which omits some random webby lacing as we imbibe. Well, if you wanted an essay we could go on and on about the aroma but the dominant wafts include roasted chocolate and crystal malts, cocoa, vanilla, hazelnut, molasses, treacle, toffee, cream, nutmeg and leather. In the mouth it’s as smooth as silk with a dense, creamy texture from the lactose injected into it. Mild carbonation with full body. Upfront a mild bitterness is balanced out by the malty cocoa, chocolate, and Belgian yeast. A sharp sweetness with hints of spice in the mid-palate are finished off by a creamy chocolate finish. Feels like an eternity this beer as it sits on the tongue, displaying brilliant length. For 6.% ABV it’s such a smooth drop. This is a great beer, we downed plenty of these at the GABS and also at the local tap house in Sydney, so we can say from experience this is so much better straight off the tap. If you find, please buy asap, it’s rare as hens teeth. Two words…..absolutely brilliant.

Hunter beer co. ‘VII’ Belgian strong ale


imageServed in a tasting paddle at Potter’s hotel in the Hunter Valley. Copper red pour produces a tight 1 finger off white head that retains really well. The head hangs about all the way to the end, yet surprisingly not a lot of lacing being released. The aroma is absolutely gorgeous, plenty of sweet fruits are being balanced by a rich presence of raisin and caramel malts. A dominating scent of strawberry is evident with undertones of creamy vanilla and tart berries. Brilliant aroma with plenty of depth. Mild-medium carbonation with a velvety mouth feel. Upfront some bitter hops marry up really well with sweet fruits and evident alcohol warmth. The mid-palate is quite rich with hints of raisin and slightly tart berries. Rounded off by a sweet mix of sherry and red fruits. The 7% ABV is the perfect level for this rich and full bodied beer. Excellent Belgian ale. Keep em comin’ guys.

Feral brewing co. ‘Golden Ace’ Belgian-style ale


image“Golden Ace is a refreshing Golden Ale brewed with Japanese Bred Sorachi Ace hops. Lightly filtered and slightly cloudy, the results are a vibrant aroma of hoppy lemon and citrus with a refreshingly clean bitter finish”.

This beer could be, somewhat unfairly, categorized as the hop hog IPA’s smaller, less significant brother. But in no way is that an insult to this beer as the hop hog is close to a 10/10 beer. Poured into a shaker glass the appearance shows a hazy straw gold with a creamy two and a half finger cap. Good head retention, releasing thick spotted lace trails down the walls of the glass. Nice and delicate tropical fruity aroma. Hints of resinous hops, citrus rind, lemon and lychee dominate whilst yeasty undertones of sweet malt, honey and banana sit just underneath, allowing a lovely balance to unfold. Medium-high carbonation. Light on with a round mouth feel. Medium bodied. Really fizzy upfront with the mild hop bitterness making way for a fruity mid palate to develop. The crisp, dry citrusy finish doesn’t possess too much duration. Kind of falls away a touch. 5.6% ABV was well hidden. Not a bad beer, but nothing great either, it gets absolutely monstered by the hop hog IPA.

Chimay blue Belgian strong ale


imageIf you have been following us for a while you would know we absolutely love our authentic Trappist beer, and Chimay are  certainly one of the first breweries that pop into our heads when asked about these history-rich beers.

Poured from their short and stocky 330ml bottle into a tulip glass. The deep chestnut brown pour arouses a frothy two finger beige crown that reduces to a well retained 5mm cap. Much to our surprise there was hardly any lacing being omitted. The aroma offers musty and dank earthy characters with that distinct Belgian yeast character. Strong wafts of clove, banana lolly, pear, vanilla, toffee, fig, raisin, sour dough and alcohol all come forward. Although the aromas between these strong Belgian beers don’t vary a whole lot it’s still difficult not to love the moreish complexity they all possess. In the mouth it has a rich, creamy texture with medium-high carbonation. Full bodied. A rather astringent burn from the ABV (9%) upfront is softened by syrupy layers of caramel, prune and canned pears. A kind of chipotle-style spice pops up but disappears as dark fruits continue on through the mid-palate delivering a rich, warming finish with lingering notes of plum, fig and honey which seem to bunker down on the back end, displaying really good length. So much flavour! But like most of the Trappist beers, the near-cloying sweetness is the one facet that always limits us to only one per session. We can’t help but think about how perfectly this would go down with a rich dessert. The ABV is again present but not overpowering, pretty damn good considering the level. Again, the Trappist beer does the job. Delicious!

Brouwerij Bosteels ‘Deus’ Brut des Flandres


imageBought a bottle of this expensive Belgian ‘champagne beer’ at Jack Greene in Hobart, Tasmania. Served in a snifter the slightly murky gold pour produced a big 3 finger white head that maintains well. Good lacing is being strewn all the way down the walls of the glass. The aroma was quite complex with a dominant herbal character. Coriander and mint are present, also is a subtle waft of white wine-style grapes. Belgian yeast, zesty lemon and champagne finish off a brilliant aroma. In the mouth it feels fizzy with medium body. Quite light on the tongue. Highly carbonated up front with hints of apple and spice. Around the mid-palate it mellows off into a hoppy, funky Belgian ale. Grassy hops, nutmeg and a muted alcohol warmth make up the finish displaying amazing depth. At 12% ABV and $60 a bottle it is far from sessional but definitely worth every sip. A gorgeous quaffer. We don’t normally go for, or even really like these Champagne-style beers but this is brilliant stuff. Maybe split it between a few people so it ain’t so damn expensive!

Norrebro Bryghus ‘Norrebros Julebryg’ Belgian style ale


image“A unique, deep copper coloured ale (7,0 % alcohol) brewed on malts made form  barley, wheat and oats and flavoured with a secret blend of Christmas spices. The beer is full bodied  with a complex, spicy aroma, rich and sweetish flavour that ends in a slightly bitter finish”.

Norrebro’s Julebryg means “Christmas beer” in Danish. This brewery is amazing…a Danish wildcard that is quite often overlooked. Served in a beer tulip, the muddy brown pour offers attractive burgundy hues when held to the light. Atop the 1 finger off-white head slowly collapsed to patches of foam. Minimal lacing shown. Aroma presents plenty of Belgian characters with clove, nutmeg, yeasty notes, jaffa, pear, toffee and dates coming forward. Mild-medium carbonation with a slightly oily mouth feel. Medium body. Quite a spicy palate with flavours of malt and dark fruits upfront. Hints of clove and raisin in the mid carry forward and deliver a malt-driven finish with raisin notes lingering on the back end. Heavily malted throughout but it really works. 7% ABV is surprisingly well hidden, almost sessional. Very palatable beer, if they weren’t so hard to find we’d be drinking more of these.

Boatrocker ‘misfit’ Belgian ale


imagePicked this bottle up from Purvis Cellars. It’s nice to come along a beer like this every now and then. Only a relatively new brewery so this is our first crack at their range. Australia has been a bit slow to react to the craft beer revolution, that’s why when we hear about Aussie brewers who jumped on the craft beer boat (pun intended!) well over 15 years ago, it’s hard not to show your respect.

Served in a snifter glass this Belgian ale pours a cloudy straw gold with an attractive red hue. The lovely 1 and a half finger head retains well with a good amount of lacing evident. Plenty of citrus emanating off the aroma, we get punchy lemon, some fruit esters, subtle spice and herbal hops also coming through. In the mouth it’s slightly fizzy with medium-high carbonation. Moderately bodied. The assertive hop bitterness upfront leaves a lingering bitterness on the palate. Subtle citrus, clove and peppery spice are picked up in the mid with a delicate alcohol warmth (6.2%) and some doughy notes rounding it off. It’s like the softer, more sessional version of the Duvel. To be honest, we weren’t overly blown away but to cap it all off it’s not a bad drop. Light and palatable and perfect for a warm summer’s afternoon. Not bad.

Murray’s ‘punk monk’ Belgian strong ale


image“According to Head Brewer, Shawn Sherlock, “The basic idea for this beer is that it is an invented style – a hybrid of a few Belgian styles and influenced by Saisons, Belgian Blond Ales, with a nod to Belgian Trippels.” Murray’s Punk Monk carries the classic estery and lightly phenolic Belgian yeast character from the blend of authentic Belgian ale yeasts used. The body of the beer is complex with round biscuity German malt flavours initially filling the mouth before a surprisingly dry, summery finish for a beer of this size”.

A tip of the hat to Murray’s for another good looking beer. Served in a beer tulip the cloudy orange pour whipped up a 1 and a half finger off-white cap that’s maintained well. Good head retention which is drawing some nice lace trails down our glass. The aroma is distinctively Belgian. Wafts of dough, peppery spice, clove, pear, honey, subtle herbs, yeasty notes and alcohol adds to the complexity of this nose. In the mouth it’s creamy and well weighted with medium body and mild-moderate carbonation. Similar to the aroma, a slightly complex profile of flavours consisting of stone fruits, herbs, spice, malt and a light alcohol warmth comes forward. The 7.5% ABV provides a firm platform for the body of this Belgian inspired ale, but coupled with the heavy flavours it doesn’t make this beer very sessional, more of a quaffer that would go well with medium strength cheeses. Tasty stuff, keep em comin Murray!