Tag Archive: Belgian Strong Ale



Black Friars:Hanging Bat:Nanban:Wild Beer Co: Barrel Aged Yadokai (England:Belgian Strong Ale: 13% ABV)

Visual: Very dark hazy apricot to brown. Short lived loose bubbled white dash of a head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Bourbon. Vanilla and caramel. Slight oily feel. Slight fruitcake. Slight strawberry. Stewed fruit.

Body: Slick and viscous. Bourbon and alcohol touch. Oily character. Fried tofu. Banana bread. Brown sugar. Slight fizzy mouthfeel – sherbet lemon, Crushed buttery shortbread. Raspberry coolers. Malt loaf and stollen bread.

Finish: Fried tofu. Vanilla. Bourbon. Oily sheen. Alcohol taste. Sugared orange. Seaweed wraps. Buttery shortbread. Fish skins. Salted caramel. Shouchuu.

Conclusion: This is both very like, and yet also very like the unaged version of Yadokai. Which may be just my way of covering all my bases with the vaguest description ever.

It has a similar, if smoother texture, with oily and seaweed wrap notes matched by similar fruity flavours. However the bourbon has had a massive influence here. It has a spirity character despite the smooth mouthfeel – a tingle and with definite bourbon flavour – packing in lots of vanilla, caramel and such like. Where the original beer just about held the rustic calls to its saison base, they have been pretty much lost in this one leaving the more unusual notes and the bourbon influence.

This is still very nice – with a recognisably beer centre matched with the very umami bringing unusual and more savoury notes. It has the very sake influenced (well, more Shouchuu influenced) and Japanese food styled influence that made the original so great – Though it has lost a lot of the subtlety of the original. You get a lot of bourbon in exchange for the loss of the lighter notes, and while they are not bad they don’t feel like a fair exchange for the great complexity of the original. It also shows the alcohol more with the spirit influence, where, even at 13% abv the original never really did.

Still, let’s not be too harsh here- While not as good as the original this is still a very good and fairly unusual experience ( I can no longer say unique, since, well the original Yadokai exists!) It still gives lovely oily and yet smooth mouthfeel texture, still slight sherbety and fruity core and with lots of savoury notes blended in.

So, if you can get the original yadokai, grab that one. If you can’t this this still a very good way of experiencing a very distinctive beer,.

Background: Man, I loved Yadokai – A saison, kind of, made with sea buckthorn, sea salt, seaweed (Kombu and Hijiki if that means anything to you) and yuzu juice. It was a beer inspired by Sake and was made with Black Friars, Hanging Bat and Nanban. Absolutely lovely. Anyway, so when I saw this – a two year aged in Bourbon barrel version of it in Independent Spirit – I grabbed it straight away. This was drunk while listening to Iron Maiden- Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son album. Still love the Irons, even after all these years. Anyway, this was broken out after a session on the original Lemmings – decided to revisit it and try and finally complete it in my old age.

de-dochter-van-de-korenaar-peated-oak-aged-embrasse

De Dochter Van De Korenaar: Peated Oak Aged Embrasse (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Smoked meat. Brown bread. Smoke. Mature cheese. Beef broth soup. Light toffee.

Body: Brown bread. Big smoked meat – mainly smoked ham. Beef slices. Soft vanilla. Slight funky yeast feel. Brown sugar and malt chocolate.

Finish: Smoked beef and dried beef slices. Malt chocolate. Nuts. Slight salt and medicinal notes. Soft vanilla. Brown sugar.

Conclusion: This is a big, meaty beer. Yet somehow the peated boom still leaves room for the base beer to show through. First impressions therefore are that this is going to be massive – either in a good, or a bad way.

The base beer seems a solid Belgian brown ale, lots of malt chocolate, very smooth, slightly nutty with hints of brown sugar and some of that funky Belgian yeast feel. Good, and pretty much straight in the middle of what you would expect from the style.

It is hard to say more about the base beer – it feels very smooth, very high quality – but where it leads out from that base, the barrel ageing comes in with intensity. Big peat, big meat, and slight medicinal elements that make me think they probably picked something from the Islay end of the table for this. I am sure there is more to the base, it has a quality feel that says that there would normally be a lot more – but it is lost under the weight of the barrel ageing. Frankly I’m impressed so much of the base came through anyway – a big bready weight that gives room to set everything else up.

This is smooth, booming, manages to get a lot from each side of oak and base – feels like a beer that would have been better shared, rather than greedily devoured by just one person as I did. By myself I found it getting a bit over bready and peat dominated by the end – at the half way point it still felt great – just working enough to make it feel like a medieval feast of bread, meat and alcohol. In fact, while you are sharing it, might as well make a feast – break out some greasy meat, some bread to mop it up with, and this beer. Think the combination would work well.

Background: So, is this 9% or 10% abv – bottle says 9, the cardboard attached says 10. Looking into it, I think the base beer was 9%, but time in the oak has shoved it up a percent. So, 10% it is. Anyway, grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer selection, this is a new brewery from Belgium on me. I do love Belgian dark ales, and since this is aged in peated whisky casks that also is a big plus point for me. Drunk while listening to some ultra heavy metal from Meshuggah – hoping to see them soon. Hoped it would work out as heavy metal for heavy beer.

Bosteels: Kwak (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Caramel brown. Large browned froth for a head.

Nose: Brown sugar in a carmalised and crème brulee fashion. Aniseed. Crushed palma violets. Toffee. Perfume. Blackpool rock. Sugared orange sweets.

Body: Brown sugar and crème brulee. Cane sugar. Sugared orange sweets. Golden syrup cake. Reasonably light mouthfeel. Sweet lime syrup. Slight cloying, sour, doughy touch at the very middle.

Finish: Candyfloss. Brown sugar. Orange sugars. Lemon sherbet. Very light earthy note. Slight liquorice. Slight woody. Light sour undertone as it warms.

Conclusion: You know what? This has no right being a decent beer. Very sweet with lots of residual sugar evident, kind of perfumed aroma. Very silly, impractical gimmick glass. Should be ballacks right? The simple, lowest dominator Belgian sweet thing?

Yet it isn’t. Very malt led, quite clean and slightly light textured body. It has a lot of raw brown sugar, Blackpool rock and other sweet flavours, but the lighter texture keeps it from becoming sickly sweet. It is one of the few dark, high abv beers that I find the lighter texture actually helps rather than hinders it. That is the thing that keeps it from ending up as just a cheap, sweet beer… well one of the things. The other is the wonderful interaction with the Belgian yeast. You get lots of fruity esters coming out, binding with the sweetness to give the impression of lots of candied fruit blended into the mix.

In fact there is another point that works for it, and that is the subtle grounding notes not found in the simpler sweet beers. There is a slight doughy, cloying touch, just at the middle, a grip in amongst the lighter texture. There is also a light wood and earthy note in the finish, brought in with a very, very slightly sour touch as it warms – at a point when otherwise the sweetness would be rising too much.

It is the beer that should have been the epitome of a sweet, simple, disposable beer – yet it is so much more than that. It takes careful work to make such a seemingly sugar dominated beer work this well. AB INBev, it is in your hands now. Don’t fuck it up.

Background: A bottle from before the AB INBev takeover. Grabbed from Independent Spirit on the day I head about the deal. I have been a big fan of this for a while but never got around to doing notes on it despite having had it reasonably often. Often beers go downhill after being bought up so I thought I would so some notes now so I can compare to them in years to come. According to the bottle Bosteels have been independent since 1791, and I guess not independent since 2016 now. I broke out the absurd Kwak glass for this one, wooden handle that lets the glass shuffle around in it. Silly bulge at the end that causes the beer to glug out suddenly if you are not careful. Technically it is a terrible glass but I love it, wooden handle and all. Drunk while listening to a random mix of erock metal tunes.

Chimay: Grand Reserve 2016: Viellie En Barriques (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Moderate creamy brown coloured small bubbled head.

Nose: Crushed almonds and peanuts. Funky yeast. Popcorn. Dry. Wholemeal bread. Fig rolls. Sour red wine.

Body: Smooth. Carmalised brown sugar. Fig rolls. Plums. Hazelnut liqueur. Vanilla toffee. Lactose. Fizzy and sherbety. Liquorice. Malt chocolate. Gummed brown paper. Raisins and sultanas. Red wine and Madeira.

Finish: Hazelnut liqueur. Cream. Plums. Vanilla toffee. Lightly woody. Gummed brown paper. Slight sulphur and smoke. Brown sugar. Slight funky yeast. Cloves. Cognac.

Conclusion: Chimay blue by itself is a big, rewarding beer. In fact one I really should have done notes for by now. This is bigger, and possibly even more rewarding. At this level of quality it is hard to say.

At its base it is a very familiar, big dark fruit, brown sugar, creamy and malt led drink with obvious Belgian yeast influences. So, at its base still the same dark heavy delight the blue is.

So, what makes this different? Well the ageing has given it smoothness. You still feel the weight that says this is an alcohol heavy drink, but a lot of the rough edges are worn down. Thankfully not completely – it still has enough charming prickly edges to not be mistaken for the (in my opinion) overly smooth American take on the style.

Ageing in the barrels seem to have given it some unusual characteristics to play with. There is a light oaken sour note mixed with malt drinks below that which remind me of a good quality Flemish red. There is also a definite mix of sour red wine and sweet Madeira styling – the second of which I’m guessing may be from the cognac ageing. Maybe. Any which way it works very well backing up the strong dark fruit flavours. The final odd note is a much larger nutty character – generally it stands well, though it is slightly overly dominant in the aroma which gives a weak first impression to what is an excellent beer.

As you can probably guess from the examining above, I am very impressed by this. Very smooth, yet booming in flavour. The only difficulty in detecting new flavours is managing not to get washed away in the flood of what you have already encountered as there is so much going on.

The only real flaw is the nuttiness which can be too present occasionally. Everything else is an excellent Trappist beer carefully nurtured in oak. Slightly less nuttiness would let the other notes roam more, but that is a minor thing.

Suitably subtle Flemish sour ale notes meets Trappist dark ale meets multiple barrel ageing. Not perfect, as said above, but definitely very well done. Wish I had one to age further.

Background: OK, this is a big one, Chimay Blue at the base, aged in a mix of French oak, new chestnut, American oak and new cognac barrels. Fermented in tank, barrel and bottle. It was an expensive one picked up at Independent Spirit, but you don’t see many barrel aged Trappist beers, and I am a huge fan of Chimay – I think the blue was the first Trappist beer I ever had if I remember rightly. There are very few Trappist breweries, and the beer has to me made or overseen by the Trappist monks themselves – so they don’t tend to play with the more new wave brewing tricks, like this. Drunk while listening to a mix of History of Guns tracks on random.

Rochefort 8

Rochefort: 8 (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown. Large bubbled brown froth head.

Nose: Raisins. Wheaty. Figgy pudding. Smoke. Burnt grains. Brandy cream. Bready. Fortified red wine. Cherries. Chewy.

Body: Very vinous. Sour grapes. Sweet port mixed with Madeira cake. Black liquorice. Bready – both brown and unleavened. Lightly creamy.

Finish: Dry sultanas. Malt drinks. Madeira cake. Liquorice. Brown bread slices. Lightly earthy feel and peppery.

Conclusion: One day I will have to do Rochefort 8 and 10 side by side – I always seem to end up describing them with similar notes. Then after drinking both I will instantly collapse due to my weak alcohol resistance before their strong abv levels.

From memory this sets very neatly between the 6 and the 10. It has the big, fruity and vinous character that is similar to the 10, but without the wonderful, indulgent, malt load sweetness. It delivers the wine and plentiful dark fruit in a drier style, matching it with liquorice working against the sweetness. I’m not a huge fan of liquorice in beer most of the time, so that is a mark against it, but generally it is a very good set of flavours.

From the style of the 6 comes that bready, slightly Orval like drier character, which is what prevents the beer reaching the insane 10 like sweetness. For such a big beer in flavour and abv it feels very well attenuated, ending up dry and slightly peppery. It makes it a reined in rather than dessert like beer.

When the beer is cool it learns a bit too much towards the dry side for my tastes, but at room temperature it becomes fruitier and more fell – and here it is the standby of the Rochefort crowd – managing the flavour of the ten but without the excesses.

Despite that, I must admit I prefer the 10, I just love it, it is one of my favourite beers. This, I will admit, is the better balanced beer though, even if it is not my favourite of the three. It is still very impressive, and will age to a true gem of a beer if you give it time. So, if you prefer sweet go with the 10, if you prefer dry go with the 8. Any which way you will find a great beer.

Background: For ages I thought I had already done notes on this one, for a long time the Rochefort beers were my favourite Trappist ales and I grabbed them whenever I could. So, once I realised I had not yet done notes on them, there was only one thing I could do. Grab a bottle (from Independent Spirit again) and take my time with it. As you are probably aware, there are very few places allowed to call themselves Trappist beer producers – of which the majority are in Belgium. The brewing needs to be done, or overseen by the monks for it to count. Drunk while listening to Iron Maiden: Book Of Souls – an odd album in that I enjoy it, but none of the tracks really stand out by themselves.

Anker Gouden Carolus Cuvee van De Keizer Blue

Anker: Gouden Carolus: Cuvee van De Keizer: Blue (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 11%)

Visual: Dark black cherry to brown. Thin grey-brown head.

Nose: Raisins. Malt chocolate. Sour wine. Light prune juice. Malt loaf. Fresh crusty bread. Glacier cherries.

Body: Big figgy pudding. Brandy cream. Plums. Madeira cake. Christmas pudding. Smooth and creamy. Crusty fresh white bread. Raspberry liqueur. Orange crème centres. White sugar dusting.

Finish: Madeira. Raspberry pavolva. Brandy cream. Raisins. Sugary fruit jelly sweets. Cane sugar.

Conclusion: The big mummy and/or daddy of the Gouden Carolus range. The smooth, creamy, slick granddaddy of deep malt beers. Ok, maybe the family tree is getting a bit inbred there, but you get the point. This is the big one.

This is super smooth and creamy, you can feel an alcohol weight to the flavour, but no burn, no heat, there really is not the tingle you would expect from an 11% abv beer. There is just this vague indication that the beer is far stronger that it seems and you should be taking your time with it.

Flavour wise it is full to bursting with Christmas pudding, plum, dark fruit and brandy cream. Like the ultimate spirit drenched winter dessert. the beer is sweet, but in a very natural feeling way, more fruit sweetness, with only the edges feeling like the more raw, more processed sugars.

While normally beers like this suit aging, I cannot imagine this getting any smoother. Maybe it can benefit from age, I mean I can’t see it ever becoming a bad beer, but this already has most of the elements I would expect to get from an aged beer. The integrated flavours, the smoothness – it is already there. The balance here is exceptional – it even has tiny offsets from the main creaminess – a light fresh bead solidness, a light bitter offset in the nose and finish to package it up nicely.

This is the decadent experience of supreme Belgian beers. It has that smoothness I would associate with American takes, but manages to keep that weight that calls to the rawer Belgian interpretations resulting in flavours big enough to stand out without ever getting sickly.

A masterpiece.

Background: The 2015 bottled edition, drunk in the same year. Gouden Carolus Classic is one of my all time great beers, and I tried this, the brewed up anniversary style of this beer many years ago, but was never able to find it since. I found the, also great, red version of the beer, but kept seeking the blue until it finally turned up in Independent Spirit. Drunk with friends while listening to Against Me!’s 23 Live Sex Acts.

Rochefort 6

Rochefort: 6 (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Light cloudy brown with overripe banana skin touches. About a centimetre of white tight bubbled froth for a head.

Nose: Raisins. Wheat. Quite crisp. Brown bread and brown sugar. Fruitcake.

Body: Raisins. Brown bread. Restrained bitterness. Frothy feel. Very smooth. Peppery. Dry and wheat. Malt drinks.

Finish: Some bitterness. Nan bread. Dry feel. light pepper. Slight funky yeast effects.

Conclusion: The restrained Rochefort, welcome back, how are you? Ok, it is only kind of restrained – it is a Rochefort after all. Actually, no, it is pretty restrained all things considered. The heavy intense fruity notes that are so telling of Rochefort have been reined in here – pushing forwards but never really pushing past the background of the beer.

It is instead marked by a quite dry, bready front with a bit of an orval feel to it, albeit with much less funky yeast effects. It is the most sessionable a totally unsessional 7.5% abv beer will get.

Now it is not as strong or as intricate as the eight or ten, but there is something very much moreish about it. The malt base is solid, but restrained, as is the bitterness. There is a lovely frothy front to the mouth feel, smooth, but soon becomes contradictory and drying towards the end into a pepperyness that is by far the longest lasting element. It really does invite another sip.

Quite a few people seen to find this a let down compared to the other two, but for a long while it was actually my favourite Rochefort. Lots of fun, very easy to drink without the boozy alcohol notes of the others. In recent years I will admit I have been taken by the weight of the aged versions of eight and ten, but even now returning to this reminds me what a charmer it is.

If you go in expecting a heavy duty Trappist ale you will be disappointed, but I think this is worth giving a try for something high quality but a bit different from the monks.

Background: You know, I have never done a note on Rochefort 8. I was convinced I had. I thought picking up the six for notes would compete the set, but no. Turns out for all the times I have drunk the eight, I never got around to noting it. Huh. Anyway, Rochefort is my second favourite of the Trappist ales, after Westvleteren. I had found this at Corks of Cotham a while back so grabbed it.

Huyghe Delirium Deliria

Huyghe: Delirium: Deliria (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow with a chunk of carbonation and a massive mounded white head that leaves lots of suds and lace.

Nose: Wheaty. Palma violets. Light bitterness. Dried raspberries. Carrot.

Body: Palma violets. Good bitterness. Lemon. Cane sugar and candy floss. Crisp. Light potato character. Carrot and coriander. Vanilla.

Finish: Good bitterness. Vanilla. Celery. Candyfloss. Light potatoes. Coriander. Wheat.

Conclusion: A balanced Delirium beer. Huh, I did not expect to say that, Ever. Seriously – I have a love for Delirium Tremens (How have I never got around to doing a tasting note for that beer?), but they do tend to be a bit mental.

This is closer to a traditional Belgian ale than most of the Delirium range – in fact the influence of wheat like and spice notes makes me think of a bit of a Wit beer, but poured over a heavier Belgian blond style base. Now, like a lot of Delirium beers, it is an energetic wee one. You get a massive head, so take care pouring, but below that it is far less bubblegum styled and more a mix of cane sugars and spice.

As a beer it is nicely balanced (I still feel weird writing that) with good crisp bitterness, light sweetness, good spice and all over a lemon freshness. Yet it has just enough alcohol weight to add a bit of heft to that blond + wit combination I mentioned earlier.

Like many a beer its biggest flaw and its biggest feature are one and the same. It isn’t mental as hell. While I can appreciate the fact that it is solid, smooth and balanced to within an inch of its life I find that without the rough edge gem characteristics I associate with Belgian ales it feels like it is playing slightly safe to me.

Still a very well made beer, and for a lot of you reading this I’m sure you are thinking this is your thing. For me, well Belgium is overflowing with awesome beers, so this kind of gets lost in the shuffle, but that is more on my tastes than it. A technically highly proficient beer that just doesn’t quite catch my imagination.

Background: A variant on Delirium Tremens brewed by a team of women. Well, cool, I’m all for anything that helps break down the oft male dominated brewing scene. I will say though that I did raise an eyebrow at the bottle being pink. Possible the team picked it, in which case cool, their choice. But I did raise an eyebrow. Then again, Delirium Tremens’ colour scheme is pretty pink anyway, so I could just be being a tad over sensitive to cues that aren’t actually there. Anyway, this is the 2013 edition, a limited edition release which I picked up from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Miracle of Sound’s Metal Up. A seriously fun metal album.

Everyday Anarchy

Brewdog: Everyday Anarchy (Scotland: Belgian Strong Ale: 10.3% ABV)

Visual: Burnished red. Short lived off white dust of a head that quickly drops to islands over the liquid. Still with no evident carbonation.

Nose: Stewed apples and dates. Raisins. Burnt marshmallow. Brandy cream. Madeira cake. Brandy snaps. Wine.

Body: Raspberry pavlova. Apple slices. Spotted dick. Fudge. Very smooth and light. Stewed apricot. Syrup. Vanilla. Wine grapes. Red berries. Croissants.

Finish: Apples. Cinnamon. Meringue. White wine. Fudge. Brown bread. Stewed apricot. Malt chocolate. Shortbread Cranberry.

Conclusion: A beer that is, somehow, simultaneously thick feeling and yet too thin to hold. Huh. To the eye you can see a viscous haze in the midst of the body, and the aroma is full in promised stewed fruit and brandy cream. Here as you let the different elements waft it is intense, with dark fruit and spirit mixing.

The first sip then is a bit of a surprise and disappointment as it felt almost empty. There was no alcohol burn, which is good, but also no weight, it felt viscous as you ran your tongue through it, but it came with no real discernable elements.

So, nervous, I took another sip. This time giving it a good roll around the mouth. Slowly apple and pavlova flavours came out, along with a syrup sweetness. The flavours somehow feeling thick on the tongue despite the lightness of the beer delivering it.

While the flavours do built up over time, they don’t come to you. You really have to dive into it and investigate, if you don’t give the beer a good roll around then virtually nothing seems to show itself. Because of this, at no point did the beer feel over 10% ABV.

Similarly the beer never felt particularly saison like, with flavours that mix spotted dick, apple and syrup, it feels more like a very smooth barley wine. Probably it is coming through too smooth, while there are complexities to the beer you really have to work very hard to get them. When you do it does taste nice, wine touched in a very light influence, very graceful, but it never feels overly special. This is odd as it has an impressive range of flavours to find , it just delivers them too lightly. When it is at its best you do get intricate elements that are worth examination, as long as you are willing to put the effort in to find them.

I think the problem is that it feels like an over aged beer, there is the benefit of the smoothness and subtlety of character, but the flavour seems to be atrophying away so they are not as notable as they once hypothetically may have been.

The evil twin of Black Jacques, and inversed in its issues. Where that overly heavy and unbalanced this is over smooth. So, very complex, very smooth, but a bit to light to be great.

Background: Brewdog call this an Imperial Saison that has been aged in a white wine barrel. The art on the bottle reminds me slightly of Flex Mentallo or the Invisibles, both of which are Grant Morrison comics that I hold in high regard. I was in quite good mood as a discussion with Hit Box had resulted in me finally getting the Double S achievement for Dustforce after the game had originally not recognised I had completed Giga Difficult. This was drunk while listening to Unknown Music From Dream Quest of Kadath, for some haunting and unreal sounding background music. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

De Struise Tsjeeses Reserva BBA

De Struise: Tsjeeses Reserva: BBA (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Dark red. Large yellowed frothy inch of a head. Small amount of sediment visible.

Nose: Barley. Juniper gin. Custard. Wheat. Pencil shavings and fruitcake. Lightly yeasty. Orange peel.

Body: Gin. Greenery. Fruitcake. Green grapes. Toffee. Candyfloss. Golden syrup. Glacier cherries. Aniseed. Frothy sherbet texture. Lemon sherbets. Orange zest. Cinnamon.

Finish: Liquorice. Vanilla toffee flavoured vodka. Digestives. Malt chocolate. Chives. Dried meat. Orange. Slight Belgian yeast. Cane sugar. Cinnamon.

Conclusion: Well, if nothing else, it isn’t boring. I find myself saying that a lot recently. That is good, boring is bad. Anyway this is a shifting quicksand trap of a beer. It is an eternal moving target, shifting away from the very expectations it builds up and then drags you under with a new flavour.

There is ESB style fruitcake and cherries, delivered with Belgian funky yeast and light citrus fruit and esters. Then there’s bourbon influenced vanilla toffee and smoothness.

Simple enough so far.

It also has aniseed against cinnamon spice, layered over flavoured vodka and varied gins, then stuffed with greenery. Contrasting spice notes, evident alcohol airs, and slight artificial flavours grounded with a herbal mix.

But wait, there’s more. Super sweet golden syrup, candy cane and candy floss with a sherbety texture when it froths up, that becomes almost sickly sweet.

This is the same beer, just examined at different times of the proceedings. an that is before the orange and lemon zest came out. So, interesting, but also a tad mental.

How well it works seems to depend on what combination you get in any given sip. If you get all the sweet elements at once it is sickly, if you get aniseed unopposed it is somewhat off putting. When you get fruitcake, citrus and flavoured spirits together at once it is a bit tasty.

So, a gamblers drink maybe, nothing is assured. At its most common experience it is decent, smooth and fruity, but not exceptional for this type of beer. At its highest it is an intriguing mix of flavours, ones that rarely meet and even rarer meeting with such quality. At its lowest it is sickly sweet and aniseed filled.

Worth a punt, if only because it holds the attention so well, and when it is on, it earns that attention. The barrel ageing seems to actually struggle to overcome the madness of the base beer, but when it does it makes an impact. It is such a strong base beer, influenced but far from dominated, and that is what appeals.

A beer that goes from class to crass depending on the moment, but not a beer I would turn away.

Background: I picked this up from the Beer Emporium, as well as being a great bar they also have a great bottle shop. So far my encounters with De Struise have been excellent, and I was in the mood for something bourbon barrel aged (Which is what BBA stands for if you hadn’t guessed) so picked it up. This is the 2012 edition and was drunk in mid 2014. Drunk while leaving my computer doing a full backup – recent issues with a certain game has left me even more paranoid than usual about doing backups. Also drunk while listening to some “Hate In The Box”, the “Under The Ice” album to be precise. The combination worked well.

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