Dubuisson: Bush Prestige (Belgium: Belgium Strong Ale: 13% ABV)

(Note: Something a bit special and unusual here, picked up in Bruges. This beer is one year past its sell by date. However considering its style, ABV, that its recommended for ageing and that Belgium’s notoriously short best before dates for high alcohol beers are often the time to start considering drinking them, I took this to be an exceedingly good sign)

Visual: Cloudy deep burnished red amber, with some sediment and nigh no head.  Late bottle pours had a significantly cloudier body.

Nose: Quite sour initially, but a short airing mellows it quickly. Burgundy wine, apples and lemon with light oak initially and a slight nuttiness.  Later pours came with black cherries, apricot and liquorice, then plums and slight milk chocolate.

Body: Malty and mellow front then rises into red wine, touch of ginger with custard and sponge cake backing it up. A slight spiciness and a medicinal touch at the depths.  Very thick almost cough syrup texture. Bitter oak like flavours , peanuts and dark fruit on later pours, with touch of syrup and strawberry which rounds into apricot, peaches and oranges late on.  A massive range.

Finish:  Dry wheat, white bread crusts and medicinal touches. Ginger snaps, peanuts again. Malt and sherry.

Conclusion:  This has proven to be a very interesting beer to try. The ageing seems to have settled the sediment so it collects in the later pours, resulting in a lighter beer initially and then growing heavier with each cup – almost a journey through the beers lifespan. Each cup was delicious and fascinating, but had a significantly different character.

I must imagine that the beer has mellowed massively with age.  The nose hints at wine influenced force, but the body comes through very smooth, though still with a wide range of flavour.  Initial pours were almost sessionable in the flavour, whilst the last pour was much more full bodied.

The amazingly sweet body of Bush 12 has ripened and taken on a large amount of fruit character, lightened, but with much more in the way of intricacies. Slight sour wine bittiness backs it up.

On any pour it needs time to open up, the first fumes are not the best, but a short time airing before the pour clears it up nicely.

The body is never quiet as forceful as the nose would make you expect, it’s mellow with a big front, but very easy going for the ABV. Later glasses definitely have more punch, if still less than expected, but that touch extra is definitely what makes the beer a bit beyond the norm. All it would need is a bit more force and it would be spectacular, with what it has it is wide ranging and never dull.

I’m guessing younger version would have more stable pours, but I wouldn’t pass up trying this journey for that.  Overall what it lacks in punch it makes up in character, and it is almost several delectably different beers in one. A fine oak rounded ale.