Tag Archive: Belgium Ale

Del Borgo

Birra Del Borgo: Maledetta (Italy: Belgium Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Amber red. Off white thin small bubbly head. Leaves sheets of suds as it descends.

Nose: Condensed cream. Brown sugar. Funky yeast character. Ginger,

Body: Ginger. Jam and doughnuts. Smooth but with funky yeast. Lime. Gooseberry. Brown sugar. Lightly bitter. Coriander. Quite creamy. Toffee. Banana and cloves late on.

Finish: Lime jam. Gooseberry. Dry bitter hops.

Conclusion: Finally, a non collaboration beer from Del Borgo! So, how do they do when brewing on their own?

Actually? Pretty damn well.

It is an odd beer for what is described as a Belgium style ale. Distinctly Belgium Style I will admit, the funky yeast laughs at you if you try to deny that. What is unusual is the spicy ginger zest, tart lime and gooseberry touches. The body is thick, and was referred to as “Jammy” by Brewdog staff which I think is an impeccable call. I would add Doughnut like in as well, the thick and creamy texture feels very bready and with the jammyness gives a very doughnut like feel.

There is spice, which is a common feature of Belgium beers, but here it is ginger and more dry and prickly that the Belgium take.  It seems to be doing the Belgium thing but in its own idiosyncratic way.

So sweet, but not the Belgium richness, spicy but dry, funky but doughnut like. Respectful but its own thing.

Jamminess really is the word, even the gooseberry and lime feels like a jam (or marmalade) take on it. Fills well mid body then dry and spicy to the end.  You don’t always get the element massively evident, the sweetness can wane or swell to soaring crescendo but it always has some influence.

Very much makes you take your time to enjoy the journey from sweet to spice throughout its life and in that it is most authentically like the Belgium ales in that it rewards you for patience, it is also the trait that I feel is the most important for it to authentically reproduce.

A sweet jammy thick but funky textured ale with dry spice and rich character. The first sole De Borgo beer I have had and they are showing great skill and class here.

Background: Italy is one of those beer scenes that has people raving right now, and Birra Del Borgo is one of the names you hear bandied around a lot. I’ve tried two beers from them before, but both as collaborations. This, drunk at Brewdog Bristol, is a chance to try them standing on their own two legs.  Had on tap, which meant I didn’t get chance to take a pic of the bottle which is a pity as it is very eye catching  and pretty. According to the info I copied into google translate this is a variant on Re Ale. Huh, would not have called that. The jamminess was an element staff had mentioned, and when I sipped it I couldn’t help but notice so I can’t take credit for that one.


De Ryck: Special (Belgium: Belgium Ale:5.5% ABV)

Visual: Enthusiastic out of the bottle, frothing out eagerly.  A hazy deep amber with a ruby core, and a reddish tinged beige medium bubbled head.

Nose: Wheat and lemon. Very slight bitterness underneath. Very slight glacier cherries. Apples.

Body: Syrup sweet front, glacier cherry then a solid bitter back.  Quite zesty and lemony. Rice. Banana touches, sugar cane, apples and pear drop sweets.  A wheat texture body.

Finish: Dusty and bitter, still a hint of fresh lemon and light pear.

Conclusion: An amazingly nondescript beer from Belgium it seems.  Well nondescript for a beer from Belgium anyway.  It’s a beer eager to escape the bottle, but not so eager to share its flavour.

Now as you progress it does open up slightly, but never really shines.  Quite a dry beer, with a decent batch of fruit going on.  So not a bad beer, again you don’t find many of those in Belgium, but a comparatively mundane one.

Near the end of the beer it has built up enough to get some life in it, with the apples and pears (no not stairs) making a showing, and it’s at this point that it is at its best. The pear drop and hop mix is quite refreshing here.

Quite sweet and bitter mixed, with a drying finish.  Its probably best used as an accompaniment to food where you do not want the beer to intrude too much, but still wish for a pleasant beer.

Background: I came into this one with very little information, heard of the beer from “100 Belgium beers to try before you die” and knew it came from a respected Belgium brewery but apart from that came into the tasting cold.

De Halve Maan: Brugse Zot(Belgium: Belgium Ale: 6% ABV)

(Note: Drunk at the brewery in Bruges, where it is unfiltered due to not leaving the premises)

Visual: Quite hazy, grain yellow rising into darkened orange yellow. Good creamy off white bubbled head with light brown dashings.

Nose: Predominant wheat, coriander and crushed orange peel. Light citrus, some elements similar to the base mash as its brewed still float above it.

Body: Lots of wheat, a more bitter hop back that the filtered version. Light citrus and some greenery. Black pepper and brown bread.

Finish: Dry hops and wheat. Chives. Slightly peppery which grows with the bitterness. Light pineapple.

Conclusion: Having drunk the standard version of this several times around Bruges, I was happy to discover the brewery tour supplies the beer on tap in its unfiltered format which is apparently unavailable elsewhere.

The drink is definitely superior in this fashion, the hops and peppery elements are more prominent and the sweetness reigned in a touch. We were sampling it with a selection of cheese, which complemented it well.

Overall the standard Zot is a decent beer if not showy, this adds a touch of grit and hop bite which makes for a much more varied beer and well worth trying if your in the area.

The distinctly better option when it comes to the Zot.

Tasting Notes: Orval: Orval

Orval: Orval (Belgium: Belgium Ale (Trappist):6.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy brown filtering down to a lighter amber with a massive frothy just off white head that’s rock steady.

Nose: Light peppered and mild hops, smooth, coriander. Very slight coffee, light ground orange peel.

Body: Pepper, wheat, dark bitterness, touch of lime and brown sugar. Malt chocolate. Chalky texture.

Finish: Dry hops, dry bitterness, dry chocolate, kinda dry.

Conclusion: The weakest of the trappist ales, so still a very decent beer. A lightly peppered wheaty ale, heavily flavoured throughout, but without a massive range. Bitter, and some subtle flavours make for a more earthy experience with just a hint of chocolate sweetness.

A very good earthy dark ale, it only seems weak when compared to other Trappist ales.

Duvel Moortgat: Duvel Green (Draught) (Belgium: Belgium Ale: 6.8% ABV)

(Note: apparently this is a very different beer to the bottled Duvel Green)

Visual: Small creamy head, moderate carbonation. Almost lageresque. Light yellow grain body.

Nose: Crisp lemon, icing sugar. Fluffy popcorn style hops, light cinnamon and other spices. Orange and hint of ginger.

Body: Sparkling, honey. Greenery and orange. Golden syrup. Wood, Serious set bitter back. Black pepper. Cream. Wheaty. Lots smoother than standard Duvel.

Finish: Lots of peppermint, dry hops and chives. Charring and lasting bitterness. Syrup.

Conclusion: When they say green they mean it, the finish on this beer really shows peppermint, chives and a run of greenery through it. It’s an acquired taste but very notable.

The body however is smoother than the standard Duvel, yet does not hide the peppered and spiced body that adds a great deal to the experience. Lots going on and very refreshing. Id probably just give the advantage to standard Duvel but this works better as a slightly more sessionable beer to play with your preconceptions.

Light and wheaty, with an intriguing back, makes a statement whilst it refreshes.

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