Category Archives: Belgian Ale

Pirate Life ‘Grand Reserve’ Belgian Strong Ale

Rating:

“No. 6 in our “Artist Series” features an epic one-off piece by UK based artist Mr. Christa. And on the inside of the tin? A Belgian Dark Ale inspired by one of Adelaide’s finest homebrewers, Luke Beard. It’s brewed with Pale, Crystal and Biscuit Malts (plus a lick of chocolate rye) and hopped with Fuggles and Perle. Dark Candi Sugar and Molasses lend depth in the kettle, while Belgian Ale Yeast serves up an array of archetypal esters. Y’all know the ones…”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dark brown with crimson highlights. It forms a short khaki head which maintains rather well leaving a nice cascading lace down the glass.

Aroma: Kind of a mish mash of aromas and unfortunately none of them are at all cohesive. We pick up the dark Candi sugars then the slightly syrupy malts, spice, earthy hops and slightly astringent booze. Once we scrape past the unpleasant surface the yeasty esters, caramel/toffee and mild roast is uncovered but again it just seems disjointed and acrid. Sheesh, not a good start at all.

Flavour: We were bracing ourselves for a sink pour but much to our surprise it wasn’t as bad as we were anticipating. Thankfully, everything is working together a bit better as opposed to the nose. Upfront it’s all malt driven with the Belgian yeast and the candi sugars putting their sweet, spicy and sugary stamp on it all. Fruitcake, prunes/raisin and molasses then deliver a rich and decadently sweet finish with good length.

Mouthfeel: Chewy, gelatinous, a little syrupy. Medium-full body, mild-moderate Co2. The 10% ABV is a little too perceptible at times.

Overall: From memory we’ve only had a couple of cracks at PL since they sold out and unfortunately both were horrendous. The upside, I guess, is that this one isn’t that bad. We think we’d be fair in saying this is average at best. Even with that in mind we’re officially done with PL. What a fall from grace.

Red Hill ‘Barrel Aged Temptation’ Belgian Strong Ale

Rating:

“Smooth and complex with intense flavours and depth. Fermentation starts cool and reaches very high temperatures creating a fruity yeast aroma. Lots of hops are added late in the boils creating spicy aromatics. An alcohol content of 8% makes this beer very tempting yet devilish, and is well hidden with a crisp dry finish… once you’ve started there is no turning back. This beer has a high level of carbonation, a beautiful golden colour and luxuriant big white foamy head…The Ultimate Temptation.”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Slightly hazy golden pour with a thumb of finely beaded foam atop. It’s retained rather well and leaves a gorgeous lace on the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: The Tripel-esque base is neatly done; slightly funky with fresh herbals, honey, spice and esters but it’s the added features that were loving the most. The Chardonnay barrels the beer rested in provides these light fruity notes and a hint of oak but it’s the addition of Gin that’s the most impressive…the floral and forest-like botanicals really shine and give the beer a really unique edge.

Flavour: The traditional Tripel base (which is extremely hard to perfect) displays its semi sweet malts, fresh herbs and fruity yeast esters while the Gin and the Chardonnay/barrels – albeit subtle – do their thing with delicate oak, white grapes, juniper and botanicals. We’re really digging how the base Tripel takes control and finishes nice and sharp with lingering esters on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Very unassuming. Kinda zippy but also a little creamy, mild-medium bodied. Just a slight sparkle from the Co2. The 9% ABV is ridiculously well hidden.

Overall: Wow what an absolute corker. Yes we’re big fans of Tripel as a style but not so big on Chardy or Gin so to make it all come together the way it has deserves respect. We’ve always held this brewery in high regard and this is exactly why.

Brasserie Le Fort Belgian Brown Ale

Rating:

“LeFort is a complex, dark beer of 9% ABV with a sweet and fruity touch. The pale and roasted, dark barley malts give the beer a perfect balance. The beer is lightly flavored with chocolate and caramel and the high fermentation gives a slight fruitiness. This results in a dark beer with a completely unique taste.”

Glassware: Trappist Goblet.

Appearance: Slightly dark rubescent red with shades of maroon and light mahogany. A short and fizzy tan head emerges and hangs around long enough to decorate the glass.

Aroma: Oh wow…initially it’s all about those malts – nutty and chocolatey at first then a little more toffee and fudge-driven as it settles in. Lots of yeasty banana bread, clove/mixed spice, a hint of bubblegum. Also picking up a lot of dark fruits like raisin, blood plum, toffee apple, cherry and red vinous berries. Belgian Candi sugars also creeping in late. Diggin it!

Flavour: Like the aroma there’s 1000 different flavours happening and trying to isolate them all is tough! A bit more spiciness upfront.. clove, nutmeg, all spice etc but it’s quickly enveloped by a wave of rich and sweet malt, dark fruits and endless yeasty goodness. Lots of toasty/doughy malt mid way, esters, Candi sugars and banana leading in to a dry, fruity, yeasty and warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Like thick beer soup! Dense and chewy yet foamy and highly carbonated. Medium-full body. The 9% ABV is incredibly well concealed.

Overall: It’s like nothing we’ve ever had before. It falls somewhere between a malty Brown Ale, a yeasty Dubbel and a hedonistic Quad. Bloody impressive though. Rich, luxurious, complex. Top drop.

Russian River ‘Damnation’ Belgian Golden Ale

Rating:

“Inspired pretty much by Duvel and other strong golden ales of Belgium. It is medium-bodied, has a fruity/banana bouquet, and a dry, spicy finish.”

Glassware: Trappist Chalice.

Appearance: Light golden pour with a monstrous four finger head which takes an eternity to recede. As it does it leaves an absolute smattering on the glass.

Aroma: Now that the head has peeled off we can finally take in the classic Belgian yeast profile on offer – clove, banana, Angostura bitters etc. Big helpings of candied lemon, mixed herbs (lemongrass, coriander and parsley), peppercorn, Candi sugars/bubblegum and farmyard grains/straw and hay. Pear and apple also getting amongst it. Definitely has the Duvel character going on.

Flavour: As anticipated she’s yeast-forward and although the typical banana and clove are here they come later. Upfront it’s particularly malty sweet, doughy and offset by the earthy and spicy old world hops. A hint of candied lemon and Angostura bitters prelude the classic yeasty notes then it wraps up with an earthy finish of peppercorn and orchard fruits.

Mouthfeel: Dry and light on, mild-medium body. Medium-high Co2. 7.5% ABV…pretty much a carbon copy of Duvel.

Overall: Superb. As good as Duvel though? Not quite. It only just lacks the depth and complexity of its Belgian counterparts. Very enjoyable though, we expect no less from these masters.

New England Brewing ‘Big Winter’ Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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

Rating:
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!