“Westvleteren Blond is the basic beer for the monks’ own consumption, since 1999.”
Served in a Trappist chalice. Hazy light golden in appearance with quite a fair bit of suspended sediment floating around in there. It only manages a short head that peels back to a ring but it’s still able to dispense a nice wavy lace as it ebbs.
Nice and easy going on the nose – light, citrusy and sweet but still packing a healthy amount of yeasty complexity. Clove, orange peel, bubblegum, honey, coriander and a kind of grainy barnyard hay accent seals up a pretty darn fine aroma. Certainly smells like much more of a bang-able summer beer this one.
The mouth feel is mild and effortless with a delicate Co2. Such a smooth and silky texture that compliments the medium body so well. Way too easy to drink for a beer sitting at 5.8% ABV.
The front palate certainly projects from the malty side – bready with a hint of honey sweetness flowing through. A nice fusion of spice and grassy hops provide that suggestion of bitterness through the middle. Flavours of sweet citrus and a somewhat herbaceous note punctuates the finish and offers good duration on the rear.
Geez these guys have it dead set dialed in! Well, after 180 years of mastering your recipe we guess you couldn’t expect anything less. It’s just a lovely beer to drink. Nothing aggressive, it’s well balanced and absolutely jam packed with flavour and aroma. Another top shelfer from Westvleteren.
“A refreshing spiced Belgian style blonde. You’ll find star anise, plus fresh orange peel and champagne yeast.”
Served in a beer tulip. It pours a somewhat milky straw golden hue with a fizzy one finger cap. The head slowly reduces and settles to a fine film of micro-bubble that dispenses a subtle yet sticky lace as it ebbs. Quite a fresh and vibrant aroma here. It’s certainly amplified by a variety of different types of subcontinental spice – mainly clove, white pepper, aniseed and nutmeg. Strong herbaceous wafts of coriander and sage, zesty orange rind and vanilla also work in as yeasty hints of bubblegum and fresh pear fills it out. The use of champagne yeast offers that subtle sweetness and it’s a really clever touch. The mouth feel is light on and super smooth. Good Co2 as well as it appears to add a slight fizziness to the texture. 5.8% ABV is well contained. Just a nice all round easy drinker. Upfront the yeasty phenols and fruit esters are slightly more pronounced than they were on the nose. We taste subtle banana, pear and a clove-like spiciness that holds up as it flows across the mid palate. A mild tangy orange flavour picks up support in a fresh herbal note that delivers a dry, yeasty finish with reasonable length. Pretty damn fine interpretation of the style by these Victorian brewers. Nice strong traditional base of funky, estery yeast but modernized beautifully with the careful addition of various spice. Full flavoured and yet pretty sessional. A decent offering here.
“The light Maredsous Blonde was the abbey’s very first beer. Nowadays, the monks still drink it daily at lunch. Maredsous Blonde (ALC. 6%) is a delectable Blonde ale with sprightly fruitiness, soft malting and a slightly dry, gently hopped finish. A sparkling nose, complex flavours, and a touch of bitterness give this fine ale all of the refreshing qualities of a classic Belgian Blonde.”
Served in a beer tulip. We cast our gaze upon a slightly hazy but bright golden hue that’s capped off by healthy three finger crown that recedes but retains a thick overlay. Laced well. We’re getting some lovely perfumes wafting out of the glass. Soft Belgian notes of banana, bubblegum and white bread work nicely in to the sagey/herbal overtone. Subtle suggestions of fresh pear, clove, dried apricots and a faint hint of vanilla tie it all together. Essentially a very pleasant and well layered aroma. A swish around the mouth offers a light, gassy texture with a lively Co2 level. A delicate bitterness develops once it glides down the throat with ease. The 6% ABV is really well contained, no sign of it at all. Quite sweet, a little spicy and a little floral on the front palate. Hints of candied banana begin to come through as do bready/doughy characters through the mid. A gentle bitterness is felt before a crisp and mildly dry finish reveals hints of ripe pear on the back end. Length is pretty good, hanging about well between sips. Well this is certainly up there with some of the better Blonde’s we’ve tried. Full in flavour but light enough to session on. We must say it went down beautifully on this warm and sunny Sydney arvo. Good drop.
“It’s an unassuming road leading to the priory. Here, off the corner of two intersecting roads, dedicated monks have been making beer for over 150 years. It’s always been a simple life-the kind that requires they brew only enough to sustain the activities of their monastery. In the silence of passing seasons, they pray, they brew and retire in a solitary existence behind the sheltering walls. They live a most interesting life. Most likely one we couldn’t sustain. Near by, each summer, the trellised fields spring to life as rows of resinous green cones are trained towards the heavens. Rumor is some monks love these hops and being surrounded by budding yellow aromas and the leafy pungent fields inspires them. Since we weren’t sensible enough to locate our brewery near hop fields, we can only offer this blond ale in celebration of our Abbey brethren and their steadfast Devotion.”
Uncaged and uncorked then served in to a wide-rimmed tulip glass. This Belgian style Blond pours to a bright but slightly hazy golden glow, topped off by a pillowy three finger head that maintains itself, eventually settling to a dense layer with an egg shape over the top. Thick, soapy residue is strewn all the way down the glass. Looking good. Quite a delicate aroma, it has some soft, spicy saison-like notes upfront with a hint of herbs, grains, bubblegum, marshmallow and orange peel also streaming through. Maybe a light floral hop undertone with a delicate suggestion of aniseed in here as well. Nice, crisp and summery on the nose. A fine start to this beer so far. The feel in the mouth is light and crisp with velvety soft texture. Co2 is vibrant, giving the tongue a nice tickle which is emphasised by the evident hop bitterness. Again, the flavour profile is crisp with some funky Belgian spiciness and bright citrus notes swimming around on the taste buds initially. We’re loving the spicy/herbal hop presence too, really giving this Blond a hoppy American-style twist. Citrus peel, hay, peppery spice and fresh bitter herbs all vie for a piece of the action as it’s all completed with a light, dry finish. Another big point scorer for this beer is its ability to disguise the 6.25% ABV. A truncated warmth can be detected around the mid but it’s worked in to this hoppy bitterness brilliantly. Well, usually we don’t get all that excited about Blond beer but this one has really ignited our respect for the style. Keeping with tradition for the most part but putting a slightly hop-charged spin on it was the key factor for us. Really nice, we thoroughly enjoyed this.
This is our first entry for this Trappist brewery. We have somewhat embarked on a mission to try (and hopefully) review not only beers from all eleven Trappist breweries but every Trappist beer from these eleven breweries. It may be quite a feat, and our livers may not be too fond of the idea but we will get there. Eventually.
From the bottle and in to a snifter she goes. The golden appearance is presented with a slight haze and good levels of active carbonation that stream up to form this pillowy 2 finger cap. The head is retained well, only peeling off about 5mm with a sheet of lacing that wraps around the top of the glass. Looks good. We’re getting those prominent Saaz hop and Belgian yeast aromas initially. Wafts of fresh pear/apple, light citrus, stone fruits, banana, honey, clove and coriander are hinged on a good base of biscuity pilsner malts. In the mouth it’s quite highly carbonated which provides this frothy texture. Quite light on but this spritzy carbonation offers a little grip on its way down. We’re getting quite a pronounced sugar-like sweetness in flavour which we weren’t getting off the nose. It’s not distasteful in any sense and if anything the spicy hops and mild bitterness does cut through it well. After a few more sips the sugary sweetness takes on more of a honey flavour and as it warms further it morphs into stewed fruits. It’s somewhere around the mid-palate where the 8% ABV begins to open up as those fleshy undertones of pear and a suggestion of herbs carry forward on to a yeasty/fruity finish with a lingering note of banana and clove to the back end. Certainly a versatile beer, it’s one you could knock back chilled in summer or one you could let rest for 10 or 15 minutes before consuming. Nothing you will hear us rave on about but a decent drop all the same.
We have had some cracking brews from this Dutch brewery so we were intrigued when we saw this new edition, stating that it is Bordeaux barrel aged for a whole year! Wow. We then noticed that it has an alc vol of 8% and thought “hmmm this is going to have a real grape backbone and wonder if there are nelson Sauvin hops here?”.
Pouring an amber colour with a massive thumb width head full of large and small carbonated bubble. Head retains beautifully leaving a big wall of lacing on the glass as it slowly subsides. First whiff elicits sweet grape, green apple, funky sour overtones, white wine, raisins, and oak. This has the markings of a brilliant drop. As we first taste, the aroma is completely different to the flavour. We get white wine again, and a sweet toffee like malt, but also a bitter grapefruit tang and this acidic vinegar like palate with a dominate booze burn. Whoa. We get a subtle presence of vanilla and spice also..must be the barrel ageing. There is moderate carbonation and medium body. There is a real good balance between sour and sweet here and to throw in an 8% alc vol…sure it’s strong, but it’s sitting nicely. It’s such a complex array of aroma to flavour that we can’t help but sip and sip and enjoy it thoroughly. We don’t really know what bittering hops are used but we don’t care. This is a complex, well brewed beer, and any craft beer enthusiast will enjoy this. Very, very good.
It’s quite confusing trying to work out who actually brews this beer but after a little research we found that ‘Martin’s Finest Beer’ which is the tiny label on the back of the bottle (which is connected with the well known Timmermans and Guiness breweries) actually brews this, while the ‘van Houtryve Brugge’ on the neck of the bottle is the name of the family who founded it.
OK now onto the beer which we served in a beer tulip. The appearance is displaying a bright gold with very active bubbles streaming up to produce the airy 1cm cap. Decent head retention, eventually settling to a fine layer on top with healthy lace trails. The nose is offering some nice, light florals with sweet hints of musk, banana lollies, cloves, pear and a touch of citric lemon in the background. All of these with that classic Belgian-style champagne spritziness. Slightly generic but nice to take in on this hot Sydney day. In the mouth it’s light with a foamy texture. Carbonation is quite high with mild-medium body. Also a tad generic but pleasant in this heat. The flavour kicks off with a mild hop bitterness cutting through the sugary burst of tangy malt sweetness and stone fruits, particularly melon and peach. Not a whole lot changes through the mid until the slightly dry finish stops short of good length leaving a mild grainy taste on the rear-palate. 6% ABV. Well, it’s not bad but it will most probably go down as one of the less memorable beers we’ve tried. Definitely a sessional summer beer….that’s about it.
“Lightly scented aroma followed by a subtly bitter taste. It leaves a subtle raisin fruitiness on the palate ending with a pleasant bitter tonic when swallowing”.
From the bottle we served this into a beer tulip. The hazy straw-gold appearance knocks up a big, fluffy 2 and a half finger head that eventually settles to a thin cap that retains well. Good amount of lacing provided. The aroma is coming off as quite subdued, usually these hoppy, yeasty Belgians are overflowing with perfumes. What is on offer are hints of herbal hops, musk, banana lollies, grain, clove and lemon. What is lacking in the aroma is slightly made up for on the palate as the smooth mouth feel, lively carbonation and the fuller bodied flavour presents itself. Underneath the initial fizz on the tongue are zesty hints of candied orange and sugar. The fizz mellows out through the mid and a subtle touch of booze and spice carry forward and deliver a grainy finish with standard length. The 6.5% ABV is about on par, it does play a little role in taste but nothing out of the ordinary. A little disappointing considering this is Belgian brewed, it almost comes across as an inferior attempt by a lesser known non-Belgian brewery. We’ve had better.
“La Trappe is honestly-brewed beer. But there’s more to it.
If you savour taste, you will pick up on another important ingredient that represents the essence of a monk’s existence. The silence.”
We can’t help but get excited when we see the authentic Trappist stamp on a quality Dutch label. It’s almost like you just know it’s going to be good. Served in a beer tulip the cloudy straw gold pour produces a fizzy 2 finger head that collapsed quickly to a halo with minimal lacing. Quite a bit of suspended sediment in this one so watch your pour. Again, as you would expect the trademark banana and clove dominates the aroma initially. Once you can get through those there are sticky undertones of bubblegum, pear, mango and vanilla that creep through. It’s like a fruity ice cream beer! In the mouth it feels quite frothy with a smooth texture. Lively in carbonation with full body, filling up the mouth well. Solid flavours of banana are evident from beginning to end. Intermittent additions of peppery spice and clove marry up beautifully within the yeasty, fruity mid palate while, again, banana and spice are here to round it all off. 6.5% ABV is well hidden. Well, in summary there are better Trappist beers out there but it’s tasty, rich and unique. Can’t ask for much more, really.
“In the fifties, an extraordinary meeting took place that all beer enthusiasts should raise their glass of Leffe to.
The abbey’s Father Abbot Nys became acquainted with Albert Lootvoet, a master brewer.
Passionate about the future of the brewery, Father Nys was upset to have to witness how, since the unpleasant stay of the French revolutionaries, the brewery had slowly fallen into decline and had eventually had to close its doors in 1809. Such a magnificent place could not be forgotten, he believed, and he vowed to bring the Leffe beer back. Father Nys and the brewer set about the challenge with vigour…and succeeded. Shortly after, the Leffe brewery was back in full effect. After Leffe Brown, a beer that shone brighter than the sun saw the light of day; they named it Leffe Blond – a beautiful chapter for Leffe indeed”.
From arguably the best Belgian Abbey brewery comes this fine offering. Served in a beer tulip the translucent golden pour produced a fizzy 2 finger head with decent retention but average lacing. Like all great Belgian Trappist (even though this particular beer isn’t) and Abbey ales the aroma is dominated by Belgian yeast and spice. Big notes of clove, pepper, bubblegum, banana, pear and esters are staple scents for this breed of beer. Subtle sticky undertones of burned sugar, toffee and fortified wine outline the complexity and brilliance of the Belgian Abbey style of brewing. Mouth feel is quite frothy and full bodied with medium-high carbonation. Upfront the fore flavour is dominated by a viscous sweetness. Flavours of banana and bubblegum are almost cloying but they’re balanced by an injection of spice and grain that develop through the mid-palate. The finish is again sweet with a touch of subtle spicy bitterness boasting good length to the back end. 6.6% ABV is hidden well amongst the array of flavours. Once again we’re blown away by the complexity and unique style of these Belgian beauties. Our hats are off to you. Delicious beer.
“Red Duck Shy Blond isn’t really very shy at all, but a ramped up Chai Spiced Belgian Blond ale. Notes of cinnamon, cloves, aniseed, ginger, fennel, cardamon, black pepper, black tea and a touch of honey, all cheekily wrapped up in a strong Belgian ale. Its all in there, but we do mean notes, not a whole orchestral movement, because overall Shy Blond is a sweet harmony of spices, in a easy drinking ale. Only one batch made, so she is rare, and beautiful.”
This beer from red duck is a pearler. It’s a chai spiced Belgian blonde ale and so very fragrant. Served in to a beer tulip, it pours with a nice thick head which retains and laces well. We’re immediately thinking Hoegaarden as the spicy wafts of cinnamon, pepper, aniseed and clove are well offset by zesty hints of lemon, honey and doughy malts. The taste is quite complex. Full of delicious spice, sweet honey, herbal hops and hints of warming black pepper and mild alcohol warmth at the end of each swig. It looks like we’re drinking a golden ale or a lager it’s so lightly coloured but that certain Belgian smell is undeniable. It’s 7.1% ABV but hidden so well. Every sip is just so pleasurable. According to the bottle there are also aniseed, ginger, fennel and black tea thrown in. This beer is for the adventurous craft lover, and it’s actually better than Hoegaarden. We know that’s a big call but so worth trying if you can find one. Brilliant beer.
“If you’re trying to get people to buy a great-tasting summer seasonal beer, it helps to have an attractive woman on the packaging. Newcastle, the No Bollocks beer brand, understands this phenomenon. So it’s with great excitement that the makers of the popular Newcastle Brown Ale are bringing back the also popular Newcastle Bombshell Blonde Ale this summer, featuring a lovely swimsuit-clad bombshell on its packaging”.
Served in a shaker glass the clear golden pour produces a thin filmy head that collapsed instantly, leaving patches of scattered foam on top. Laced poorly. The aroma we are getting is somewhat peculiar as a milky/creamy perfume hits the olfactory’s. We’re reminded of a lager when a faint hint of grain and sweet malts come forward. It would really help the aroma if the Cascade hops could push through a bit harder but we’ll have to settle for a slight grassiness. Not the most memorable aroma we’ve ever encountered. In the mouth it’s very light on with a mild watery body and tired carbonation. Primarily, hints of marshmallow, sweet bready malts and mildly assertive hops are uncovered. The sweet malts move forward and literally drop off leaving a muted hoppy finish to the rear palate. The flavour profile is quite delicate and the bitter fore-flavour and back end aren’t backed up by much at all. Very sub-standard, it’s a strange one really..not big fans of this at all.
There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding this beer. We know its French, that’s for sure. It was brewed originally by de St. Amand but is now brewed by Brasserie des Sources and it’s a toss up between a Biere de Garde and a Blond. Let’s allow the beer to do the talking.
Served in a beer tulip the almost clear golden pour is hindered by a mild presence of sediment. Capping it off is a tight and frothy 1 finger head that reduces to a film on top. Laces pretty well. There is quite a lot happening in the aroma, initially we detect quite a sweet malty fragrance with a fair whack of florals and toasted grains. Representing the fruits are mango, paw paw, apple, pear and a light champagne-style citrus. Some Belgian yeast funkiness also adds a touch of peppery spice and bubblegum. Wow, surprisingly complex for this style of beer. The mouth feel is smooth and well rounded with a decent body to back it up. The palate is quite sweet upfront as a Tripel-style mix of pear, bubblegum and bready malts is followed by spice and a subtle alcohol warming (6.5% ABV). The finish offers a mild dryness with more of the sweet sugary flavours that are now becoming slightly cloying. A herbal back end does take the edge off the sweetness a little but by now the damage is done. Don’t get us wrong this is a tasty beverage but we thought the sweet aromas and flavours were slightly overdone. Stilit’s in its own right it is quite a good beer, just a little too unbalanced.
So, the story of this brewery goes a little differently than most Belgian breweries. Not so much different as in flavours and brewing techniques, but more modern. 2 brothers-in-law set off on their quest to start brewing their own beers in the 1970’s (Don’t get us wrong, that is still much longer than most Australian breweries, but has nothing on breweries such as Leffe or Chimay which have been brewing since the 13th century). From there, plenty of awards ensued but it was when they teamed up with Duvel that it started going gangbusters and now they export to over 40 countries. Respect.
So, we served this in a wide-rimmed chalice. The heavily clouded amber/orange pour arouses a fluffy 2 finger crown that gradually reduced but persisted at a dense 7-8mm. Excellent head retention and that allows for some heavy lace trails to cling to the glass. What the olfactory’s detect instantly is that lovely candy-like sweetness. A bit like strawberry hearts. Some lovely herbs and spices are also flowing through, we get clove, pepper and a hint of coriander that blend so nicely with the musty, fruity yeasts. Pleasant aroma. In the mouth it’s well rounded that offers a good coating. Nicely weighted, not too heavy which allows the moderate carbonation to have some effect. Medium body. Tonnes of flavour happening here. Slightly complex. Upfront the taste buds enjoy a delicious fusion of herbs, spices and hints of banana as the palate is warmed with a good dose of alcohol (8%). The mid takes on more sweetness with a touch of grain and honeyed malts that lead to a dry, fruity finish. Decent length. For a relatively young brewery these guys are putting beers out that could easily sit among some of the best on the Belgian market. Kudos to you, good sir’s. We loved it.
The Gauloise was the first beer brewed by the Brasserie du Bocq in 1858. At the time, Martin Belot, the brewery’s founder drew his inspiration from the many Gallo-Roman sites in the region to create an authentic beer representative of Gallic brewing know-how: The “Gauloise”. Gauloise – pronounced ‘gol waz’ – or Gallic in English has a few meanings. There is a connection to Celtic people that lived in Gaul, which is now known as a region of Northern France and Belgium. Ok, enough history now on with the review.
Served in a beer tulip. The bright golden appearance reveals heavy suspended sediment when held against the light. Very active carbonation, streams of bubbles rise up to form the fizzy one finger head which steadily reduced to a thick halo around the edges of the glass. Reasonable lacing. Plenty of apple cider and fresh pear aromas emanating initially. Maybe just a slight hint of vanilla bean too. A very subtle touch of coriander creeps in as honey, grainy malts and doughy white bread fill it out. All very restrained but there to be enjoyed. In the mouth its silky smooth with moderate carbonation. Well weighted too, producing a creamy texture that coats the palate nicely. Minimal grip. The fore-flavour offers a doughy mix of bread and grains with a mild honey-like sweetness. As this carries forward a subtle note of coriander develops, leading on to the malty, yeasty finish. As it draws out it does become a little sweet, not enough to be cloying but the exit could have done with a bit more balance. A bit of a shame about the level of sediment too, it was so thick we couldn’t finish off the remainder of the beer. Not a bad Blond by any standard but we certainly have had better.