Tag Archive: De Halve Maan


Halve Maan: Straffe Hendrik Tripel Wild 2021(Belgium: Sour Ale: 10% ABV)

Visual: Clear, slightly hazy yellow gold colour body. Some small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized, unbalanced layers of white mounded head.

Nose: Funky yeast. Cane sugar. Brown bread. Sulphur. Cheese puff crisps. Sour dough. Pepper. Light greenery.

Body: Lime touch. Vanilla. Funky character. Cheese puff crisps. Mature cheddar. Peppery. Dry. Cane sugar. Greenery. Tart grapefruit,

Finish: Peppery. Mature cheese. Funky character. Smoke. Raspberry air. Dry vanilla fudge.

Conclusion: Ok, I know what a Straffe Hendrik Tripel tastes like. I know in general what sour beers taste like. With all that in mind, I was in no way expecting what this tastes like.

I mean, there are hints of the base tripel here – cane sugar notes, some dry fudge, but way drier than normal. This is attenuated as heck and with that has the peppery character turned way up.

Added into that is a huge amount of yeasty funk, a touch of sulphur, cheese puff crisp mouthfeel and wisp of smoke that gives a wonderful texture and style to this whole thing. This is then tarted up with grapefruit and lime like notes, and in fact a general tart yet dry freshening character that should be familiar to anyone who has has some experience with wild yeast made beers.

It makes for something that calls to the dryness of a lambic, but is most definitely not a lambic. It has the cane sugar notes of a tripel but is definitely not a tripel. It is fluffy , full textured and plays very much to showing this unusual mouthfeel, but is not limited to that. It lets some thicker, sweeter notes out, but still is led on by its dry core. There is such contrast of feels, flavours, aromas and styles that makes it fascinating in every moment to explore.

So, I love it and yes, I have one set aside to age – I want to see what this does over the years. I highly recommend it if you are into wild, sour beers but don’t want to limit your experience to just lambics. This has such good tart, funky character matched to a super dry tripel and works both to perfection.

Background: First problem I had with this is, should I list it as Sour or Tripel? It is based on Straffe Hendrik Tripel but made with wild yeast which make it sour soooo. In the end I went with sour. Sue me. Looking online it seems that there is some variance between the releases of this. The 2015 version came in at 9% as one example. Anyway, this looked very interesting so I grabbed one to do notes on and one to age for later – wild yeast tends to be amazing for beer ageing. I had the chance to visit the Halve Maan brewery while in Bruges – a nice wee tour, great view of the city from the building top, and some unfiltered, unpasturised beer available at the end of it. All nice. Not much else to add, this was bought from Independent Spirit, and I put on Nine Inch Nails: The Downwards Spiral while drinking. Yes I am in a happy mood a lot currently. Why do you ask?

De Halve Maan: Sport Zot (Belgium: Low Alcohol: 0.4% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed gold. Slightly hazy. Massive white, loose bubbled head that leaves lace.

Nose: Soft lime. Wheaty. Brown sugar. Light pepper.

Body: Gentle. Brown sugar. Golden syrup. Sports drinks. Glucose. Honeycomb. Oily bitterness.

Finish: Slight charred bitterness. Tannins. White sugar.

Conclusion: This, like the low alcohol version of Leffe, makes me think that there is definitely room for a low alcohol take on the Belgian Ale, but it still needs some tweaking before we reach the sweet spot.

The aroma for this is spot on though. It mixes sweet notes from a Belgian blond, that slight peppery character for the gentle spice elements often used in Belgian ales and a wheaty general Belgian character. Even better for first impressions is how it hits the eyes, It has that massive head that comes with many a good Belgian blond and looks the part.

The body carries through some of the sweetness and an initially decent mouthfeel, but,like many low alcohol drinks, that kind of sport drink glucose notes is rapidly evident. Then again, they do call this “Sport” Zot, so at least they are owning this element. It still is not the best character to have in a beer. Despite that its got a reasonable, if light take on the Belgian blond, but unfortunately a lot of this is lost as you go into the finish.

The finish is, well, not exactly rough but kind of charred and tannin notes touched in a way that is kind of unpleasant. It is kind of the subtle edge of what would be rough if it was more intense, but as is is just a bit of a let down.

So a beer that starts well, but gets worse the further you get into it. Not a write off, but definitely needs work to be worth getting.

Background: Low ABV beers! I would claim my concentrating on them recently shows that I am an old man, but the news assures me this is totally the thing with “the youth of today”. So I must be young at heart. Honest. Anyway, another one from Indie Spirit. I’ve had their standard blond unpasteurised, unfiltered and on tap at the brewery. Was pretty nice. So this has a lot to live up to. Incidentally, why are a bunch of the low alcohol beers called “sport”? I don’t get it. Though they do taste like sports drinks a lot of the time. Anyway… After thinking about Rise Against: Endgame in my last set of notes, went for it as backing music for this one. Awesome album.

De Halve Maan: Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2017: Scotch Whisky Oak Aged (Belgium: Quadrupel: 11% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to brown. Thin grey dash of a head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Raisins, sultanas and malt loaf. Light medicinal alcohol. Cheap blended whisky.

Body: Creamy. Plums. Smooth. Brown sugar. Vanilla. Caramel. Brandy cream. Slight medicinal alcohol. Tannins. Liquorice. Cherries.

Finish: Fig pudding. Plum. Fruitcake. Slight brandy cream. Bourbon and rye whiskey. Salt touch. Tannins. Herbal spice. Peppery.

Conclusion: Ok, first up, what type of scotch whisky was this barrel aged in? I genuinely have no idea. It has a definite general whisky character, vanilla notes from the time in the oak that makes me think more of bourbon ageing than scotch, then there are some medicinal notes that call to Islay but could just be the higher abv showing itself, then finally what seem like Highland style sweeter notes. I give up. No idea.

Anyway, the beer itself! Massive in flavour, but generally smooth. Initially rich and sweet with huge lumps of dark fruit and fruitcake – a very dessert beer at this point.

The alcohol, or possibly the influence from the barrel ageing, does give a slight rough blended whisky edge – but generally the extra highland feeling weight adds a lot to the beer, helping to break up the creamy richness, and in general it feels like the time in the barrel has helped contribute to the smoothness of the beer in a way that more than offsets the slight rougher edges.

Late on oak, tannins and spice come out – an unexpected, odd savoury grounding to what had been up to this point a very sweet beer. In fact, by the end you get a sweet burst on each sip that settles into a very long lasting savoury spice finish which makes for very satisfactory progression.

Now, it is a tad rough edged, but complex and delicious – the alcohol and the barrel ageing react perfectly but still let though and awesome quad that deserves respect.

Background: Had this around for a while, waiting for a good time to break open. Not since 2017 though, I’m nowhere near that patient. Not had standard Straffe Hendrik for bloomin’ ages so not able to directly compare what the oak ageing has done, but should still be interesting. Also, for all my googling I cannot find what whisky barrel was used to age this. Ah well. I visited the Halve Maan brewery while in Brugge, very pretty, lovely view of the city and you get some unfiltered unpasteurised beer – so all good! This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Bad Religion. Yes I was pissed off with recent politics again and wanted some smart punk tunes.

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.

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