Tag Archive: De Molen


de-molen-framboos-and-framblij

De Molen: Framboos and Framblij (Netherlands: Fruit Beer: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown. Massive browned white loose bubbled head.

Nose: Cinnamon spiced raspberries. Strawberries. Raspberry Liqueur filled dark chocolate. Fresh and sweet. Light coriander.

Body: Earthy hop character. Peppery. Quite bitter. Very frothy feel and slightly wheaty. Raspberry yogurt. Malt chocolate. Vanilla.

Finish: Earthy notes. Wheaty and popcorn feel. Malt drinks. Hoppy bitterness. Pepper. Greenery.

Conclusion: Well, this is lively -the head keeps frothing on pour to a massive mound. No matter how gentle I tried to be, it always filled the glass. Maybe I should have used a glass with a bit more room, like the Tripel Karmeliet one.

I was expecting something more out of both the base ale and the raspberry infusion I have to admit – This feels like an solid, earthy, British style bitter that has then been subtly influenced by the raspberries to create a sweeter backing for that bitter style ale. It has a bit higher hop character and bitterness than that description would call to mind -but hopefully you should get the gist.

The raspberry is far more evident in the aroma – which leads you to expect a fruitier beer than the one you finally get. While the earthy, slightly greenery tinged hop character is much more what you actually get, laid over a malt chocolate drink bitter chocolate base. It actually feels like a hand pumped real ale in some ways – with that slightly bitty sediment touched texture – really grounded which the raspberry doesn’t challenge, but does enhance by the way of contrast.

So, you get a much more bitter led beer than expected – fairly simple in the flavours delivered but solidly done. Without the raspberry this would be a fairly middle of the road bitter. With the raspberry, well it give it a bit of sweetness and subtle tartness that it really needs to give it some depth.

An ok ale, considering who comparatively rare it is I wouldn’t say it is worth taking your time to dig it out – it is very similar to a group of raspberry dark ales that I have run into on a real ale tap around town over the years and it doesn’t really add much above that. If you run into it that this is fair enough, but hardly stand out, or probably even the best of what you would find in the style.

Background: Apparently this is a fairly rare one, originally for Borefts Beer Festival 2016, there has since been some bottled, of which I grabbed one from Independent Spirit. This is a dark ale made with raspberries. Drunk while listening to some Anthrax, after finding out they will be touring again next year. De Molen have been pretty darn reliable at turning out decent beers, especially kind of unusual ones, so I though this should be decent. Apparently the name is some kind of pun, but one that doesn’t really translate well. Ah well.

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De Molen Cuvee #5
De Molen: Cuvee #5 (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey brown dash for a head.

Nose: Slightly salty, medicinal air. Peat and dried beef. Cocoa dust.

Body: Sweet chilli and hoisin sauce. Brown bread character. Sour cream. Dried beef. Plums. Slight funky feel. Slight smoke and salt. Mature cheese. Cherry. Creamy texture. Green peppers.

Finish: Chilli jam. Charring. Bitter. Salt. Green peppers. Slight mature cheese. Sweet chilli. Smoke.

Conclusion: I was worried that the chilli was going to be dangerous here. My last, and previously only, experience with De Molen chill imperial stouts was at GBBF a few years back and was like drinking molten lava. As in the flavour was great but I couldn’t finish a third as the heat just stuck to your mouth. This, this is pretty sweet chilli styled. I had been steeling myself up for a while before going in for the first sip and the relief when it turned out to be manageable was immense.

This is, as seems to happen a lot with varied De Molen Imperial Stouts, is quite a mixed up set of flavours. The chilli is sweet, the chocolate is bitter, the air medicinal, smokey and peaty, the base kind of fruity and mature cheese touched. Out of all this I noticed that a lot of the more dominant flavours were on the savoury end – with, in an unusual twist, it being the chilli that actually gave the main sweet contrast. You don’t get to say that often.

It is a very interesting beer, I don’t see many Imperial Stouts, or even standard stouts, go heavy and all in on the savoury character – with the big malt used there tends to be at least a slight sweet leaning; Less still do you find that savoury matched with such big Islay flavours – usually big harshness like that is matched by bigger sweetness to contrast. For all it is interesting, you may have guessed that a beer I find interesting and a beer I genuinely enjoy are two different things.

I generally appreciate something a bit different, and I can dig this for that. You really can take your time digging into this, almost always finding new notes – but when the new notes you get are such like green pepper it does not feel like you are rewarded so much for your effort. So, a very layered and interesting savoury fest, but one I bounce off when I try to just sit back and enjoy it.

Background: Ok I grabbed this one as it is a blend of Hel & Verdoemenis and Spanning & Sensatie, aged on Octomore and Bruichladdich whisky barrels The words that grabbed me was the Octomore Barrel ageing. I tried Octomore Hemel & Aarde at a London beer show a few years back and it was glorius. I have since been trying to, if not find that beer again, find a beer that comes close. Hel & Verdoemenis variants have been from good to great for me, never tried Spanning & Sensatie, but looking at the bottle it seems that it was an Imperial Stout made with cocoa, chilli peppers and sea salt. Unusual. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit .

De Molen Hel and Verdoemenis Bruichladdich (Peated) BA Brett Edition

De Molen: Hel and Verdoemenis: Bruichladdich (Peated) BA: Brett Edition (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown rim around the glass but no real head.

Nose: Bitter chocolate dust. Smoke. Cedar wood. Charring. Bitter coffee. Honey and treacle mix. Pecan nuts. Blueberry. Smoked meat.

Body: Smooth. Big bitter chocolate. Smoke. Big bitter coffee. Charred meat. Thick sour cream mouthfeel. Slightly soured. Beefy. Bitty feeling. Orange juice notes. Blueberry touched.

Finish: Bitter chocolate and bourbon biscuits. Smoke and ash. Sour cream. Bitty feel. Bitter coffee. Slight wet rocks and salt. Nougat.

Conclusion: Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect here with the brett involved. What I got was something big, something full of bitter chocolate, slightly cloyed, thick, and bitty feeling, all backed up by a lot of smoke and beefy flavours.

So how does it compare with the real ale, non brett version of this? Very favourably actually. It seems less harsh, thicker, letting more of the subtle notes come out. There is an odd sour cream kind of twist to it – at a guess I would say that is the brett playing about – thought I couldn’t be sure. It also makes it feel kind of bitty, and it seems to be this character that breaks up the harsh notes from the real ale version.

It really booms out the flavours this time around – still not up there with the Octomore aged Hemel and Aarde that I still kick myself for not doing notes on, but what is? Not as good as the 666 either, but there still feels to be so many odd notes hidden inside this that it has appeal. At times there are subtle hints of orange juice, blueberry and nougat that are just teases at the edge of the beer. I am so tempted to grab one of these to age, just to see what happens.

Still, as it currently is it is a solid set of flavours; Big, surprisingly mellow in the barrel ageing compared to the harsh real ale version – there is a lot of smoke but little harshness. Not a stand out favourite in the Imperial Stout crowd, but utterly rock solid and a bit unusual. That different texture really makes it with that cloying yet bitty mouthfeel. Worth a try as it is, and I am intrigued to see what a bit of brett ageing will do.

Background: Damn that is one long name to type out. Some people may wonder why I am revisiting this, as the Hel and Verdoemenis: Bruichladdich I tried at the Great British Beer Festival didn’t impress me too much. Two main reasons. One, I can find that the real ale delivery can sometimes not suit high abv beers like this. Two, this is a Brett edition, as marked by a tiny label on the side, and I was intrigued by what that would do to this. So, yeah – I tend to return to De Molen for their Imperial Stouts a lot – I really should try more of their other styled beers as they are an excellent brewery. This was grabbed from independent spirit and drunk while listening to Carcass- Surgical Steel. Big beer- big music!

De Molen and Brew By Numbers Name and No 01

De Molen and Brew By Numbers: Name and No:01 (Netherlands:American Pale Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Massive yellowed to white loose bubbled heads that leaves sud rings.

Nose: Wheaty. Rhubarb. Soft jiff lemon. Coriander. Vanilla ice cream. Orange zest. Vanilla.

Body: Lightly tart. Rhubarb. Tayberry. Lemon juice. Brown bread. Lightly earthy hop character. Banana bread.

Finish: Lemon juice. Wholemeal pancakes. Earthy. Pepper. Light hop bitterness. Unleavened bread. Slight funky yeast character.

Conclusion: This seems surprisingly normal beer, all things considered. A lightly tart beer, but not really all that crazy. I was expecting different considering the use of buckwheat and rhubarb. Anyway, this is a well grounded, slightly brown bread and earthy base that sets up a neutral platform for the tarter flavours to work over. The tartness is a gentle mix of unsweetened fruit – nothing too harsh, nothing more than you would get in some of the tarter fruit pies. The grounding bready feel is much more present than any tart notes. There is a Belgian wit spice character top and tail – pepper and coriander styled, giving a bit of life to it.

As a drink it is on the solid side of satisfying, kind of stodgy, bready feeling – appropriate considering the Dutch pancake inspiration. The rhubarb is subtle but well done and just tart enough to liven up the dry base. Despite that it does have a kind of basic feel to it – in contrast to the oddity of what went into making the beer. Best pitch I could give is like a more leaden hopped and simple Orval that has been spiced up by a touch of tart fruit to get over that flaw.

Still, pretty drinkable, just for all it has it should feel more special. It is an unusual beer, but somehow manages to not feel like one. It feels kind of run of the mill. The odder characters fade into the background – it slips down satisfactory but never sparkles.

More solid that it feels like it should be, but solid enough, which is no bad thing.

Background: Ok, they had me at “Dutch Pancake Pale Ale”. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this is made with buckwheat, rhubarb and lemon zest. Interesting set. So far De Molen have been excellent in the beers they turn out, Brew by Numbers have a huge rep – so far most of the stuff had from them has been good but not world shaking. Drunk while listening to Foo Fighter’s eponymous album. Not listened to any of their new stuff as I dropped out back while they were denying HIV caused AIDS, and even though they have recanted that, never really got back into them. Their early stuff is still cool and I slip back into it every now and then. Also, as you may have noticed from the photo, holy shit this pours lively. I was doing a gentle pour and it still needed three attempts before I could get enough room to empty the bottle.

De Molen Hemel & Aarde

De Molen: Hemel & Aarde (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate brownish creamy head.

Nose: Iodine. Peat bogs. Smoked kippers. Seaweed. Blue cheese. Beef broth.

Body: Smooth textured body. Iodine. Light cherries. Chocolate. Salt. Caramel. Beefy – soft and falling apart beef chunks. Milky coffee. Cane sugar. Smoke. Light blue cheese comes out late on.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Iodine and salt. Coffee. Charred oak. Smoke.

Conclusion: Ok, first things first – this is not as good as the legendary Octomore Barred Aged version of this. How could it be, that thing was liquid heaven; I seriously wish I had done tasting notes on it. This, unfortunately does not manage to quite scale those heights.

The aroma does come close though – big, chewy with blue cheese, seaweed and peat. Beefy, yet medicinal, it is an absolute luxury of big, strong flavours – albeit ones that are learned pleasures – everything is challenging and all mashed up in an aromatic meal.

The body doesn’t quite match that – it still kicks the iodine out, backed by caramel sweetness – still a mix of sweet, bitter and beefy notes, but not overly well integrated. This is where the Octomore barrel ageing in the other version took it to the next level – it took each of these strong elements and mixed it into a coherent whole. Here it is still a mix of big flavours, but you get either the strong medicinal, or the strong sweetness but rarely both at once.

It still has a lot of punch – smoke, cane sugar, coffee – Unfortunately the blue cheese takes a very long time to turn up in the mid body, which is a missed opportunity I feel. I love a good blue cheese filled strong beer. Filled with flavour, not literally blue cheese, of course. Anyway, this is utterly unbalanced – in can be sickly sweet at one moment then drying medicinal the next. I love the flavours it uses but it is very far from polished.

As you have probably worked out already, the octomore aged version rocks on toast. This one is an interesting, but not coherent, experience.

Background: I have tried this beer before! Well, not this exact beer, the octomore barrel aged version. It was heavenly (no pun intended, as the beer name translates as “Heaven and Earth”), an absolute legend of a beer. Unfortunately I did not have my review kit to hand, so now, I try this, the standard version grabbed from Independent Spirit. This imperial stout is made with the most heavily peated malt from the Bruichladdich distillery, so is right up my alley. Drunk while listening to The Algorithm: Brute Force – originally on their youtube channel, but have since bought my own copy of it as I enjoyed it.

De Molen Hel and Verdoemenis Bruiladdich

De Molen: Hel en Verdoemenis – Bruichladdich Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. No head. Viscous sheen.

Nose: Brown bread. Smoked bacon. Salt touch. Nougat. Sour black cherries. Sour cider notes.

Body: Smooth. Salt and charring. Bitter cocoa and chocolate liquore. Medicinal touch. Milky chocolate. Sherry trifle.

Finish: Salt. Toasted marshmallows. Medicinal touch. Malt chocolate and brown bread. Light peanuts. Charred oak. Sherry trifle. Apples.

Conclusion: After last year’s Octomore Aged beer I was raring at the bit to try this years barrel aged beer from De Molen. Seriously, the Octomore Aged beer was a legend.

This. Well this is not a legend, but it is a very interesting beer in itself. It seems to be a mix of three main strands. The first strand is a deep bitter and charred stout; Bitter chocolate is the order of the day – lots of slow and heavy set flavour. It is a brutal backdrop that the more medicinal Islay character actually adds to rather than subsumes. Speaking of that second strand, this is actually more salted and medicinal than I expected from the lighter Bruichladdich distillery. It is actually done a bit too harsh – leading for an overly charred and charcoal beer that is what lasts out into the finish.

What saves it, to a degree, is the third strand. There is a soft nougat and sherry trifle sweetness that rises up from underneath the darker notes. This, if just against the chocolate of the first strand, would be spot on, and as the beer warms it does get much closer to this ideal. The body thickens and the charring level drops. Still a tad rough edged, but much better than at first.

The barrel ageing for this one doesn’t seem quite to work, but doesn’t manage to ruin what is a solid beer. Ok, and heavy duty, but not special.

Background: I didn’t have my tasting note kit last year, so I was intrigued to see what De Molen had for us at the Great British Beer Fest this year. This didn’t sound as instantly awesome as the Octomore, but I had my tasting note book this time so decided to give it a go. De Molen have been solid as hell so far, and as the lighter end of Islay I imagined Bruichladdich would let the base beer open up a bit. My friend Adam who also tried it was probably more disappointed with the beer than I was, so take that as a counter point.

De Molen Bommen & Granaten PX Barrel Aged

De Molen: Bommen & Granaten PX Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 15.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark black cherry red. An inch of creamy browned head. Carbonated body.

Nose: Red grapes. Malt drinks. Cherryaid. Sake (Nihonshuu). Raisins.

Body: Big but clean bitterness. Light greenery. Spiced red grapes. Pilsner clean hop feel. Overripe banana. Malt biscuits. Frothy mouthfeel. Malt drinks. Raisins. Cherryaid. Malt chocolate.

Finish: Sake. Clean bitterness. Pilsner dry feel. Light banana notes. Digestives. Spiced red grapes.

Conclusion: This is a very nicely attenuated barley wine. At over 15% I was expecting something insanely sweet – but this is dry and cleanly bitter. At times the clean character actually reminds me of noble hopped pilsners, but done barley wine style. if that makes any sense at all.

The pilsner feel is much more dominant when it is cool, as it warms up the fruit elements start tuning up the band, but it still uses the dryness there as a base. There is good use made of the raisin, cherry and spicy grapes flavours. With the PX barrel aging it seems to work brilliantly to mix with that fruitiness, while still letting that unusual clean easy drinking barley wine base do its thing.

Even then, with the fruit at full power, there is that clean bitterness and soft banana notes and the like that make me think of a pils. I am genuinely impressed that they managed to bring elements together from two such disparate styles. Though, and this is a minor flaw, over time the clean bitterness does alter – becoming more clingy with the texture. It is a common issue with high bitterness strong beers. That extra grip that makes them so awesome can cause the bitterness to stick and get wearing. At 330ml it manages not to wear out its welcome, but it is a notable element.

This is, for the most part, so very clean and so very fruity – it reminds of Magnum style single hopped beers in the bitterness and the cleaner flavours. The PX barrel doesn’t come in too heavy, but enough to make it worthwhile. Too many beers vanish under the barrel ageing. Overall a beer of balance, clean flavours and hop impact. A more restrained, easy drinking and yet complex barley wine than I have seen for a long time. very nice.

Background: Wax on bottles. I used to be a fan, as it made a beer feel a bit special, but it is getting overdone. Then again, for once this one was easy to open despite the wax. Bought on a sweltering day, the wax was damn near melting off onto everything near it by the time I got it home. It was pretty much early morning by the time I drank this – my sleep patterns are fucked. Drunk while listening to some Crossfaith and some B. Dolan – a tad eclectic mix I know. De Molen have been exceptional so far, so a PX barrel aged barley wine sounded awesome. grabbed for the ever reliable Independent Spirit.

CIMG2204

De Molen: Hel en Verdoemenis 666 (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Sud like bubbles around the edge but not really a head.

Nose:  Roasted. Bitter chocolate. Cherry liquore. Combined they seem like Belgium chocolates. Marzipan. Sherry trifle. Chocolate cake. Smooth. Gin spirit air.

Body: Treacle. Chocolate liquore. Cherry liquore. Toffee. Gin undertone. Port.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Cherry liquore. Roasted. Mint touch and gin. Spiced cherry. Rum. Slight hop bitterness. Almonds. Rye bourbon.

Conclusion: Holy hell this is like a Belgium chocolate filled with liquore. No really. Despite being an Imperial Stout the closest thing it reminds me of is the barley wine “Old Numbskull”. There is the same feeling of dragging cherry sweetness over Belgium style bitter chocolate in a luxurious way. Despite being aged with cognac wood chips the finish ends with spiced rum and port like touches, and a dry but flavoursome element that makes it heavier and richer.

The style feels like a black barley wine, with a spiced and sweet element. The Imperial Stout is there, but there is so much spirit like elements added in and sweetness that it doesn’t seem to naturally fit the expectations of that style.  In fact it feels like the inverse of AB08. That was a so called blond Imperial Stout that felt like a barely wine with stout dropped in. This feels like a black barley wine with stout dropped in.

So Belgium chocolate, barley wine, imperial stout. That is pretty high concept. Smooth, you can feel the spirit in it but without any burn. Gin, rum, port or just very strong beer rolling within, the only thing you don’t really get is the aforementioned cognac. It is mighty and delicious. Maybe a touch too heavy in alcohol feel over the smoothness of the liquore texture but not very much so.

If we are going by flavour, Old Numbskull does it better. If we are going by style there are much closer takes on the style. This is very different and vibrant and gives you a lot of spicy and bitter flavor mixing above the Imperial Stout base.  Feels like it should be shared like the spirits that so influence it.  Shared in a late night drink amongst friends. Warning though, this is no nightcap beer. The flavours and spice snap you awake.

Delicious and refined.

Background:  Hell and Damnation, or so this beer’s name translates as, very nice. Aged with 40 year old cognac soaked wood chips this sounded pretty nice. I have been putting off having this one for a while. I have had a ton of stouts and Imperial Stouts recently so have been trying to mix things up a bit. However the stock at Brewdog Bristol has been going pretty fast so I thought Id best grab one while they last.  Had a nice conversation with some people I’d just met at the pub while I was reviewing this which put me in quite the cheery mood.

CIMG2088

De Molen: Muhle and Bahnhof Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Gose-Traditional Ale: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Slightly cloudy cherry red, clear in the light at times. No head at all.

Nose: Apple crumble. Stewed fruit. Soft rhubarb. Very soft and delicate and dessert like.

Body: Cherries apple and toffee. Syrup like feel to the texture. Stewed fruit. Just slight tart behind very sweet. Vanilla. Slight salt,

Finish: Banoffee pie. Very thick and slick. Raspberry. Salt. Red wine, rhubarb and apricot.

Conclusion: Holy shit. No seriously. Holy shit. Where do I start with this one? Stewed fruit and apple crumble over soft vanilla and toffee. I had this after a few highly hopped beers and that slight tartness it carried cut straight through them.

Very fruity, slight salt and sourness which has a similar to lambic in its power to deal with other flavours, but this is richer and far less dry than that style. Also much more easy going which I would put down to the fruity character I mentioned. Despite being more easy going that touch of salt can give you a thirst (a tremendous thirst)* on drinking which can result in it going down far too easily for the abv.  There’s so many interesting flavours from rhubarb (which I’m fairly sure I’ve never run into in a beer before), to sweet cider like flavours, and a toffee element that I swear must be from the barrel ageing.

It looks like fruit juice in a very deceptive way, no head no matter how I tired to pour. Despite the abv there is no burn to nose or body, the word that most comes to mind on drinking is stewed fruit, but the exact expression shifts as you drink. I haven’t tried the non barrel aged version,  but I imagine it would be lacking at least some of the heavy dessert sweetness that this thing shows.

A beer to match a great dessert wine, yet still with that sour and salt edge amongst the sweetness. My first gose so I don’t know how well it represents the style but it sets the bar for quality bloody high. This is a great beer.

Background: Finally, I get to review another De Molen beer . It nearly didn’t happen, the stock was still in the cellar of Brewdog Bristol due to a full bottle fridge but they were kind enough to bring one up for me to try. Even then I wasn’t planning on reviewing it until my first sip where I realised I had to record this for posterity. This is a barrel aged version of Matthias & Menno. I’ve never tried a Gose before. They are usually a lot lower alcohol than this and should have at least 50% of the grain being a malted wheat (or so wikipedia tells me, take that with a pinch of salt).  Unusually for German styles this style allows other ingredients include coriander and salt. They have a reputation for sourness, and originally were spontaneously fermented, though that practise is no longer used.

* Yes I am a fan of the Mitchell and Webb Lager Beer Sketch, why do you ask?

 

De Molen: Ramsgate (GADDS): Fresh Hopped Bohemian (Netherlands: Bohemian Pilsener:6.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy amber gold with a massive yellowed thick bubbled head that leaves lace. Fizzy main body.

Nose: Tart. Gooseberries and grapefruit. Pineapple. Very fresh. Banana sweets. Apricot.

Body: Custard and grapefruit. Very fresh still. Peaches. Slight hop character behind.

Finish: Hard pineapple sweets and cream. Elderberry. Peaches. Good bitterness and hop character.

Conclusion: Oh yes. Why is this beer style not more prevalent? The few Boihemian Pilseners I’ve had have been delicious.

This one is tart with a fruity aroma, then takes all that and adds bitterness in main body. The bitterness remains until the last moments with a fresh feel yet stable bitterness.  It’s a beer that balances itself between easy drinking, tart thirst quenching and utterly fresh flavour delivering.

The texture is pretty thick. It gives the flavour grip but that and the abv are the only two elements that keep it from the session beer category.  A category it would otherwise be a very good contender for. I would say it’s a disappointment but you can tell its been designed for a different purpose.

While you would not fill a summers day with it’s drinking you could relax in an evening and contemplate the beer with friends. The beer had a whole orchard of fruit flavours and I can image drinking in a grove of fruit laden trees as the sun goes down. Talking with mates as the shadows roll in.

Of course to do that I would not only need to find a grove of fruit bearing trees, but also find enough bottles of this in limeyville to get enough to share. Maybe I could manage to get enough between this and the equally excellent Beersel Lager.

Any which way a fantastic beer.

Background:  I’ve been meaning to do a De Molens beer for a while and this collaboration between them and the comparatively local Ramsgate Brewery seemed the perfect time to do so.  I’ve had a few Ramsgate beers though I’m fairly sure I never reviewed any.  May have to alter that.  Drunk whilst listening to Spektrmodule 07.  The beer was bought from Corks of Cotham, a shop that’s beer selection is going from strength to strength currently.

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