“In the great tradition of the famous Belgian Breweries, our own special Christmas Ale is now available. This strong Belgian abbey styled ale is one of the brewery’s most highly awarded and requested. Deep orange in colour with a lasting creamy head. Spicy hop aroma from our own Hallertauer & Tettnanger hop flowers with a complex malty finish. Brewed with almost religious fervour, with extra long maturation and dry hopped in serving tanks . . . this one will continue to develop for a long time to come.”
Served in a Trappist chalice. It pours a deep apricot hue with a short lasting head. It gradually reduced to a collar with only scarce lace being managed.
The aroma is nice and yeasty, maybe lacking in the intensity that Belgian dubbels have but there’s still a good showing of rich caramel, toffee, plums, raisin, all spice and Christmas cake. Definitely something a little tangy in here…at times it’s a bit like cointreau but it’s more jaffa-like in its delivery. Just a suggestion of boozy warmth tickling the nostrils. Not a bad aroma by any means.
The mouth feel is dense with this kind of syrupy viscosity. Co2 is kept low with nice warming alcohols around the edges. Medium-full bodied.
The flavour offers a complex integration of spices, caramel sweetness and warming orange liqueur upfront. A dark fruit accent hinges on the boozy plum notes that carry forward in to the mid palate. The 8.3% ABV gradually intensifies as hints of cherries and a sweet bready malt lingers with toffee and caramelized pear on the back end.
We were slightly critical of this beer initially but it has more than come through, it’s quite different to a traditional Belgian dubbel and that’s much of the reason why. Kudos to the brewers for taking the courageous step away from tradition and pulling off an extremely tasty drop. Solid stuff.