Tagged: belgian strong

Brewery Vivant Tree Bucket

TREE BUCKET: 94 Points

Launching hops

Launching hops

This Belgian Strong/Belgian IIPA is released in late February in 16 oz. can.s

Brewer’s Description: “Belgian candy sugar and the Ardennes yeast strain lend sweetness to this very, very hoppy beer. Tropical fruit-forward Citra hops, among others, give balance to the sweet profile and high ABV. The beer is babied in the fermentation tanks and dry hopped just before packaging. From aroma to sip to burp, this beer will have you storming the gates for your next pint.”

My Description: This is one soft Imperial IPA, the hops are mellow and the candy sugar comes through easily. It begins with a large and dense, white colored head that lasts the whole way leaving behind a wall of lacing. The aroma is unique and pleasant with notes of Belgian yeast esters, citrus hops, melon, and a touch of lemon funk. Tree Bucket is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is definitely on the softer side of bitterness. Sweet candy undertones are detected throughout along side juicy notes of tropical hops and citrus hops. The beer exhibits an overall earthy and lemon funk presence but it never takes center stage; these notes are sometimes faint allowing the other notes to come through cleanly. The alcohol is beautifully hidden and the aftertaste is slightly bitter with lingering sweet notes. Overall, this is an extremely smooth ale that is pleasure to drink. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with sharp Cheddar, shrimp tacos, or spicy veggie chili.

ABV: 9.3% Color: Golden Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial

MARACAIBO ESPECIAL: 95 Points

Subtle Flavors

Subtle Flavors

This Belgian Strong is released randomly in 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “A rich brown ale inspired by the enigmatic monastic brews of Belgium, and the mysterious mist shrouded jungles of the tropics. Brewed with real cacao, and spiced with cinnamon and sweet orange peel for a sensual delight. A brew to be sipped, savored, and enjoyed!

My Description: This beer is surprisingly smooth and easy drinking with a flavor profile that immediately becomes addicting. It begins with a very large and dense, tan colored head that holds for some time leaving behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma has that similar Belgian house yeast note that most Jolly Pumpkin beers have; it’s kind of barnyard funky. There are also citrus notes, cinnamon, a sweet hint, and a some mild cocoa notes in the aroma. Maracaibo Especial is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level, and a dry finish. The flavor profile showcases some tasty notes but they are subtle and need to be searched for. An underlying hint of tart floats throughout holding up notes of orange peel, green apples, and some funk. The aftertaste is refreshing with lingering hints of cinnamon. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t pick up the cocoa notes that I smelled. Either way, the alcohol is nicely hidden and overall this is a great Belgian Strong. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled asparagus, fruit tarts, or a grilled whitefish.

ABV: 7.5% Color: Murky Brown/Amber Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

Dragonmead Sin Eater

SIN EATER: 94 Points

Complex and Bold

Complex and Bold

This Belgian Strong Dark Ale is available in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: N/A

My Description: This beer showcases bold flavors that work nicely together to deliver a great sipper. It begins with a decent sized, dark beige colored head that fades quick leaving some spotty lacing. The aroma is welcoming with an overall herbal presence and notes of bananas, toasted malt, bread, raisins, and a hint of spice. Sin Eater is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is highly complex and enjoyable with notes of caramel malt, dark candi sugar, molasses, plums, and spice undertones. The aftertaste shows a hint of bitterness bringing the sweetness down some. The alcohol is nicely hidden behind the flavors and warms you up slowly. Overall, this is a very smooth Belgian Strong that is clean and decadent. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled salmon, strong cheeses, or a chocolate dessert.

ABV: 11% Color: Dark Brown Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Gouden Carolus Classic

CLASSIC: 97 Points

Overall Great Beer

Overall Great Beer

This Belgian Strong Ale is available year-round in 11.2 oz. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Gouden Carolus is one of the strongest and most exciting beers in the world. After lengthy maturing and conditioning, it is bottled unfiltered, giving a beer which is rich in vitamins and 100% natural. Gouden Carolus has unlimited storage (it even improves with age) and will charm you with its warm coppery colour and rich bouquet.”

My Description: Het Anker has created a complex beer that is amazingly smooth with a great mouthfeel. This beer is addicting and the yeast notes do not overtake the malt notes, which is great. It begins with a good sized, beige colored head that fades to a film that holds leaving behind an excellent amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting with notes of caramel malt, dark fruits, molasses, and an interesting note of pear. Classic is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. This beer boasts a delicious flavor profile with caramel malt holding it all in place. Flavor notes of raisins, toffee, yeast spice undertones, and figs blend cleanly together. The alcohol is beautifully hidden and delivers a warming sensation. A slightly bitter aftertaste brings great balance to this beauty with some lingering caramel notes. This is an excellent representation of a Belgian Strong Ale. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled salmon, baked duck with raspberry sauce, or chocolate desserts.

ABV: 8.5% Color: Dark Brown Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Gouden Carolus Ambrio

AMBRIO: 87 Points

Malty Sweet

Malty Sweet

This Belgian Strong Ale is available year-round in 11.2 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This full-tasting, but deceptively drinkable, amber ale has a good fruitiness and a nice hop edge which tempers the caramellised malt. It is clean and precise, within an almost perfect balance of Challenger and Goldings hops.”

My Description: This is a pleasant and nicely balanced Belgian Strong Amber Ale with warming malt notes and a slightly rich texture. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind some lacing. The aroma isn’t too complex with notes of caramel malt, fruit notes like golden raisins, and some dough. Ambrio is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile follows the nose nicely with caramel malt being the dominant taste note accompanied by some yeast spice undertones. The alcohol is nicely hidden and the aftertaste is slightly bitter delivering a nice overall balance. There isn’t too much going on in this beer, which isn’t a bad thing for when your in the mood for a good malt flavored beer with excellent quality. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck, raspberry cheesecake, or chicken parmesan.

ABV: 8% Color: Amber/Copper Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10

Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor

HOPSINJOOR: 94 Points

Not overly bitter

Not overly bitter

This Belgian Strong Ale/Belgian IPA is available year-round in 11.2 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Name: “Hopsinjoor” is a wordplay to for one thing the several hops which were used, and on the other hand the typical character of Mechelen of Gouden Carolus: the figure “opsinjoor” is intertwined with the history of Mechelen (see: www.opsinjoorke.be/Opsinjoorke/opsinjoor.htm). Kind of hops: 4 types of hops are used: Golding, Spalt, Hallertau and Saaz. These hops were fractioned at several times in the cooking process in order to keep a maximum of aroma. Regarding to taste we can say that the beer has a gentle, but nevertheless bitter aftertaste.”

My Description: Het Anker does a fantastic job delivering a bitter beer that is filled with flavor and does not destroy the palate. It begins with a very large, white colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma is hop forward with floral notes being the most dominant. There are also notes of peaches and earthy hops as well. Hopsinjoor is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. A great balance of flavors begins with a touch of sweetness upfront with notes of floral hops, pale malts, some citrus notes, and a yeast notes. This transitions cleanly into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter but definitely not like an American IPA. Yeast spice undertones and a creamy texture add character and the alcohol is nicely hidden. This is a well crafted beer for any occasion. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled sausage, heavy salads, or ceviche.

ABV: 8% Color: Hazy Pale Gold Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

The Bruery Smoking Wood (2014)

SMOKING WOOD (2014): 100 Points

Excellent Execution

Excellent Execution

This Imperial Rye Belgian Ale is released variously in 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Brewed with beachwood and cherrywood smoked malt, and aged in rye whiskey barrels, Smoking Wood is a delicious demonstration of what wood has to offer when it comes to beer. This imperial smoked porter is brewed with a hefty amount of rye malt, contributing to a full body and light spiciness. Toasty oak, caramel and vanilla flavors balance the smokiness, contributing to an intense yet refined flavor profile.”

My Description: What an amazing beer! Every aspect pleases the senses and not one flavor overpowers another. It begins with a good sized, light beige colored head that fades quick to a film that lingers a bit leaving behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is a collage of warming notes: gentle rye spice, bourbon, and deep layers of malt that smell of caramel. The scent of this beer excites you and is very inviting. Smoking Wood is full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. This ale is very smooth and slightly creamy making for a great sipper. As expected the flavor profile is complex and deep. A strong malt backbone holds up notes of roasted malt, licorice, toffee, molasses, and cherrywood. Smoky undertones and a warming alcohol note creep in from time to time. As the beer warms, more flavors become apparent and just add to the enjoyment. It is best served around 60°F and pairs nicely with strong cheeses, roasted duck, or a maduro cigar.

ABV: 13% Color: Black Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10

North Coast Brother Thelonious

BROTHER THELONIOUS: 93 Points

The Jazz Brother

The Jazz Brother

The Belgian Strong Ale is available year-round in 12 oz., 350 ml., and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “North Coast Brewing Co. is proud to partner with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in support of Jazz education. The Brewery makes a donation to the Institute for every bottle of Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale sold. Like a Belgian “Dark Strong Ale,” this beer is rich and robust with an ABV of 9.3%.”

My Description: Brother Thelonious drinks similar to that of an Abbey Dubbel with a deep malt backbone and a high alcohol content, but it lacks some body and this beer could use a better balance of flavor and alcohol. However, it is a great beer that sips cleanly and satisfies for the style. It begins with a good sized, light beige colored head that fades quickly to a film that holds for a while leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is warming with plenty of dark fruit notes like raisins, cherries, and dates. Caramel malt and brown sugar can also be detected in the aroma. Brother Thelonious is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. A rich caramel malt flavor dominates the taste accompanied by notes of raisins, dates, alcohol, sugar sweetness, and a hint of chocolate. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and smooth, but this beer is all about the malt. The alcohol begins to take over about midway through the beer as the temperature rises but doesn’t necessarily take away from the enjoyment. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with Teriyaki noodles, baked ham, or grilled lamb chops.

ABV: 9.4%  Color: Garnet/Ruby Highlights  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 2/10

North Coast Pranqster

PRANQSTER: 94 Points

Real Nice

Real Nice

This Belgian Strong Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Belgian Ales represent the height of the brewers’ art. Sophisticated brewing techniques, yeast blends, and unique flavoring elements have elevated the beers of Belgium to the status enjoyed by wine in other countries. PranQster follows in this tradition using a mixed culture of antique yeast strains that produce a floral nose, a full fruity flavor, and a clean finish.”

My Description: An easy drinking Belgian Ale from California. It begins with a large, white colored head with an excellent retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind some lacing. The aroma is bright and welcoming with a floral presence along with some yeast esters and honey. Pranqster is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. A delicious flavor profile begins with notes of wheat and pale malt accompanied by yeast spices, stone fruits, and a touch of bubblegum. All this centered around the same floral presence as in the aroma. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and refreshing. The alcohol may be felt but otherwise beautifully hidden. This is a great Belgian Strong for any occasion. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with kale salad, roasted potatoes, or grilled shrimp.

ABV: 7.6% Color: Golden/Bronze Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

The Bruery White Oak

WHITE OAK: 95 Points

Creamy and complex

Creamy and complex

This Belgian Strong/Wheat Wine is available in limited quantities and various times in 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “White Oak is a blended beer– 50% wheatwine aged in Bourbon barrels (we call it “White Oak Sap”), and 50% Mischief (our Golden Strong Ale). Vivid caramel, coconut and vanilla flavors blanketed in a crisp yet robust wheat ale, White Oak is an exercise of balance”

My Description: This beer has a lot going on and it all works harmoniously together. From the strong body, to the carbonation level, and the flavor profile everything blends nicely to create a pleasurable experience. It begins with a large and fluffy, off-white colored head with an excellent retention level and it leaves behind a wall of lacing; the head is really nice. The aroma smells fantastic with notes of vanilla, coconut, pineapple, bananas, and bourbon undertones. White Oak is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. A complex flavor profile delivers complementary notes of fruits and bourbon undertones. Upfront, there are notes of vanilla and tropical fruits along with hints of caramel and yeast spices. The alcohol is beautifully hidden, especially for how high it is and the aftertaste is crisp and minimally bitter. This beer is not too sweet, it is nicely balanced and delicious. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with sautéed shrimp, grilled asparagus, or rum cake.

ABV: 11.5% Color: Hazy Gold Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10

The Bruery Mischief

MISCHIEF: 93 Points

Creepin' Alcohol

Creepin’ Alcohol

This Belgian Strong Pale Ale is available year-round in 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Mischief is a hoppy Belgian-style golden strong ale. This wickedly good golden ale is fiendishly dry-hopped with American hops to add a layer of complexity and mystery to its fruity, dry Belgian-style character. Citrus and resin diabolically combine with ripe melon, pear and slight peppery spice in a precariously effervescent mixture. Enjoy it, but you’ll want to keep an eye out.”

My Description: The description lead me to believe that this would be a very hoppy and bitter beer, but it isn’t like an IPA. There is just enough bitterness in this beer for it to be noticeable without getting in the way of the other flavor notes. Plus, the dry hopping adds a nice layer to the aroma. It pours a massive, white colored head with an amazing retention level that stays fluffy the whole way leaving behind an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant with notes of cloves, floral hops, citrus zest, and light fruit yeast esters. Mischief is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is slightly complex with citrus notes taking center stage along with hints of other fruits. There are also notes of herbal hops, cloves and other spices, and a hint of tart. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and lingers for a bit with a tickle in the throat. The alcohol is nicely hidden but there is a gentle warmth that develops as you drink the beer. I really enjoyed the flavors in this beer, they were clean and refreshing. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled snapper, coconut shrimp, or a spicy veggie stir fry.

ABV: 8.5% Color: Golden/Dark Yellow Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

Gulden Draak

GULDEN DRAAK: 99 Points

Legendary

Legendary

This Belgian Strong Ale is available year-round in 330 ml. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Gulden Draak is a high fermentation beer with secondary fermentation. For the secondary fermentation, wine yeast is used. The white bottle, the black banner, the golden dragon and the red letters, constitute a stylish result that has no equal among the many Belgian special beers. Gulden Draak can be drunk as an aperitif or dessert, or whenever you have the time to sit back and relax.”

My Description: Gulden Draak is one of the best examples of a Belgian Strong with an addicting flavor profile and clean body. It pours a huge, light beige colored head with an amazing retention level and it leaves behind a great amount of lacing, the head on this beer is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The aroma is slightly complex and pleasing with notes of bread, molasses, deep caramel malt notes, and dried fruits that I cannot necessarily pin down. Gulden Draak is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile begins with a thick malt backbone that holds up delicious notes of caramel, licorice, raisins, pears, and other fruits. Lingering yeast spice notes float throughout and the aftertaste is warming and clean. The alcohol is nicely hidden but definitely felt as the beer goes down. What’s so impressive is how easy drinking this beer is at such a high ABV and the flavors are balanced beautifully. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with dark chocolate desserts, creamy cheeses, or grilled pork chops.

ABV: 10.5% Color: Garnet/Brown Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Privateer (Piraat Triple Hop)

PRIVATEER: 87 Points

Belgian Strong

AKA Piraat Triple Hop

This Belgian Strong Ale/ Belgian IPA is generally available year-round in 330 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This light ambercoloured Piraat with full foam head overwhelms with an aroma of bitter, spicy, malty and alcoholic scents. What follows is a perfect combination of malty, sweet and hopbitter tastes, after which you are drowned in a very long, semi-sweet after taste with bitter undertone.”

My Description: Privateer is good representation of a hoppy Belgian Strong. However, it falls short of being memorable and a little more attention to the harmony of the flavors would make this ale taste better. It pours a very large, off-white colored head that lasts forever and leaves behind a great amount of lacing, the head is very impressive on this beer. The aroma is interesting and slightly complex with notes of honey, malt, caramel, faint noble hops, and a touch of lemon. Privateer is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. An earthy presence holds up a flavor profile consisting of light caramel notes, some yeast spices, hints of stone fruit, and a touch of herbal hops. The aftertaste is moderately bitter but tastes too sharp and unrefined. The alcohol is hidden decently in this ale and the texture is on the smooth side. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with gourmet cheeses, mushroom burgers, or spicy fish tacos.

ABV: 10.5%  Color: Amber/Orange  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 4/10

Piraat

PIRAAT: 93 Points

Great Belgian

Great Belgian

This Belgian Strong Ale is available year-round in 330 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This light amber coloured Piraat with full foam head overwhelms with an aroma of bitter, spicy, malty and alcoholic scents. What follows is a perfect combination of malty, sweet and hop bitter tastes, after which you are drowned in a very long, semi-sweet after taste with bitter undertone.”

My Description: Piraat is a great name for this beer; it is slightly bitter, there are light tropical notes, and it quenches your thirst on that hot summer day. It pours a large, off-white colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is slightly complex and inviting with notes of honey, pears, some sweetness, and yeast spices. Piraat is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. Sweet notes are detected throughout the flavor profile, almost like sugary sweet, not malty sweet. Light tropical notes, pears, bread, yeast spices, and a hint of caramel are also apparent. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a faint hop flavor that lingers for a second but my opinion is that the aftertaste is overall dull and could have used more spice notes or maybe just more dryness. The alcohol isn’t as hidden as I felt it could have been but it doesn’t necessarily harm the overall drinkability of this ale, there are no fusel alcohol flavors burning my throat. Even with a few minor flaws this beer is still a great choice for a Belgian Strong. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled venison, pungent cheeses, or a vanilla based dessert.

ABV: 10.5%  Color: Hazy Golden/Orange  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness:  3/10

La Trappe Isid’or

ISID’OR: 93 Points

The First Monk

The First Monk

This Belgian Strong Ale is available year-round in 330 ml. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Named after brother Isidorus, Koningshoeven Abbey’s first brewer. Brewed to mark the occasion of the Trappist brewery’s 125th anniversary in 2009, Isid’or was so well received that it earned itself a permanent place in La Trappe’s line-up. Unfiltered, slightly sweet amber ale with a hint of caramel, which continues to ferment after bottling and has a rich, slightly bitter flavour, and a fruity aftertaste.”

My Description: It’s easy to see how this became a permanent beer in the La Trappe lineup. It pours a large, manila colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind some lacing. The aroma is a mixture of sweet notes and Belgian yeast: caramel malt, light fruits, bananas, and a hint of yeast spice. Isid’or is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and semi-dry finish. A strong malt backbone holds up flavor notes of caramel, bread, green apples and other light fruit notes, and bananas. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and clean. Smooth and slightly creamy, this is a great beer for any occasion. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with pork chops, grilled portabella mushrooms, or chicken skewers.

ABV: 7.5%  Color: Orange/Brown  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 2/10

Mc Chouffe

MC CHOUFFE: 88 Points

Soft Presence

Soft Presence

This Belgian Strong Dark Ale is released year round in 330 ml. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “The Mc CHOUFFE is an unfiltered dark beer, which is re-fermented in the bottle as well as in the keg.  Behind its fruity flavour a slight hint of bitterness may be found.”

My Description: Mc Chouffe is a nice representation of a Belgian Dark but the flavors just don’t hold up as long as I would have like them too. It pours a good sized, light beige colored head with a good retention level and it leaves behind a respectable amount of lacing. The aroma almost smells like a fudge shop with notes of caramel, white raisins, and yeast phenols. Mc Chouffe is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavors are tasty enough but I feel the carbonation is too high because it drowns out some of the notes that would otherwise come through more vibrantly. Some of the flavors in this beer include a malty backbone with notes of caramel notes and minerals. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with some yeast spice earthiness present. Overall, this is a good ale but nothing overly special. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with roasted veal shank, baked ham, or grilled game meat.

ABV: 8%  Color: Dark Mahogany  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10

La Chouffe

LA CHOUFFE: 98 Points

Highly Satisfying

Highly Satisfying

This Belgian Strong Pale Ale is available year round in 330 ml. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “LA CHOUFFE is an unfiltered blonde beer, which is re-fermented in the bottle as well as in the keg.  It is pleasantly fruity, spiced with coriander, and with a light hop taste.”

My Description: This is an excellent example of a Belgian Strong; the complexity of the flavors, the well attenuated body, and the high alcohol content that is beautifully hidden. It pours a large, bright white head, that has an amazing retention level and leaves behind an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma is fresh and pleasant with notes of coriander, pale malts, light citrus hints, and minor notes of yeast spices. I love the aroma, it is very inviting. La Chouffe is medium bodied with a moderately high carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer is very smooth, slightly creamy, and the flavor profile is clean and complex. Light yeast spices like pepper and clove swim throughout while light fruit notes of pears and dried orange peels add the to enjoyment. This ale has a great balance with a sweet presence upfront and a hint of bitterness in the finish. Bananas, honey, and some earthiness are also present along with a touch of coriander. La Chouffe has many flavors and none of which overpower any other making this beer extremely drinkable. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled shrimp, pulled pork sandwiches, or roasted asparagus.

ABV: 8%  Color: Hazy Gold  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 2/10

N’Ice Chouffe

N’ICE CHOUFFE: 95 Points

Winter Seasonal

Winter Seasonal

This Belgian Strong Dark Ale is released seasonally around Christmas in 330 ml. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “The N’ICE CHOUFFE is a strong dark beer that will warm you up during the winter months.  It is spiced (with thyme and curaçao) and a light hop taste, a well-balanced beer.  The N’ICE CHOUFFE is unfiltered, and re-fermented in the bottle as well as in the keg.”

My Description: There is a wide array of flavors in this ale and even though the alcohol is felt, the alcohol flavor is beautifully hidden making this a great choice for a Winter sipper. It begins with a good sized, light beige colored head with a nice retention level and it leaves behind spotty lacing. The aroma is complex and inviting with notes of raisins, molasses, spiced orange peel, black cherries, and even dark rum. N’ice is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is just as complex as the aroma. Dark fruit notes dominate with cherry notes standing out on top of a deep malt backbone. Caramel notes along with some breadiness, raisins, and orange peel are also present. Subtle yeast spice notes linger throughout the finish and the aftertaste has a touch of bitterness for balance. Even though there is a lot going on, the beer still has a light and clean presence. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with  shish-ka-bob, grilled steaks, or roasted duck.

ABV: 10%  Color: Murky Brown  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 2/10

Gouden Carolus Cuvee … Blauw (2011)

CUVEE VAN DE KEIZER BLAUW (2011): 98 Points

Sweet Bliss

Sweet Bliss

The Belgian Strong Dark Ale is brewed once a year and generally available year-round in 11.2 oz. and 750 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Every year on the 24th of February, the birthday of “Charles the fifth”, the Brewery brews the Gouden Carolus “Cuvee of the Emperor” in a limited quantity and with an eye on the highest quality and tradition. This unique brewing, with only extra fine Belgian hops and with a higher alcohol level, guarantees a better evolution in the time, than the already known Gouden Carolus. This beer, as all our beers, is 100 % natural, with no preservatives, no adjuncts and no chemicals. We bottle it in bottles of 75 cl and closed with a quality cork. Excellent to store several years. Every year the public is invited to assist to the brewing process.”

My Description: With a rich texture and an addicting flavor profile, this beer makes for a great after dinner sipper. This ale is great not only because it is delicious but also because the flavors work harmoniously together, the body is smooth and not too thick, and this Belgian Strong ages beautifully. It begins with a large, beige colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma very brandy-like and inviting with notes of caramel, brown sugar, plums, and other yeast flavors. The aroma invites you to start drinking immediately. Blauw is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is definitely on the sweet side. Strong caramel notes dominate along with notes of molasses, black cherries, plums, raspberries, and yeast spices like cloves. This beer has a wide dimension of flavors. The alcohol adds flavor and character but not in that hot way, which is nice. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and fruit notes linger. It’s hard not to like this beer because the quality is superb and the whole experience is highly satisfying. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck, raspberry cheesecake, or grilled steak.

ABV: 11%  Color: Muddy Brown  Sweetness: 4/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10

Gouden Carolus Cuvee… Rood (2011)

CUVEE VAN DE KEIZER ROOD (2011): 94 Points

A plethora of flavors

A plethora of flavors

This Belgian Strong Pale Ale is brewed once a year and is generally available year-round in 11.2 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the “Cuvée van de Keizer Blauw”, the brewery launched a blond-version : Cuvée van de Keizer Rood. This beer is similar to the previous Gouden Carolus Easter Beer. Blond rich beer that is brewed each year during the easter period. It contains several types of malt and during brewing 3 herbs are added. It’s golden blond colour, it’s high alcohol concentration of 10 %, it’s full and balanced taste make this beer into a source of vitality and strength which will appeal to the demanding beer taster. For ideal tasting pour out gently in one pull to a temperature round 7-8° C. Served with pride it is drunken with respect. This pleasant golden blond beer is chosen for he who loves a richer, somewhat spicy and refreshing beer.”

My Description: Crisp and flavorful are just some of the compliments I can give this ale. It is well crafted and the flavors blend smoothly and each note feels like it belongs. This beer can become addictive. It pours a decent, white colored head that fades quickly to a thin film that holds for a while leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting and sweet with notes of bubblegum, honey, yeast esters, and light fruit notes. Rood is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is clean and complex. A sweetness encompasses the experience along with notes of bubblegum, pale malts, pineapple, citrus, honey, and some spice notes like cloves that swim throughout. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with a lingering flavor which I can only describe as botanical. The alcohol is slightly felt and adds a welcoming flavor component. Hints of sour creep in but just barely. This beer is great and worthy for an emperor. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled shrimp, roasted asparagus, or grilled poultry.

ABV: 10%  Color: Hazy Gold/Orange  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10