Tag Archive: La Senne

Senne: Bellwood: Imperial Donkey (Belgium: Imperial Stout: 8.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin dark brown dash of a head.

Nose: Vinous white grapes. Yeastie champagne. Liquorice. Subtle cherries. Dry Madeira.

Body: Bready bitterness. Sour cream. Dry white wine. Slightly astringent. Dry Madeira. Dry cherry. Dry spice. Tannins. Light cocoa.

Finish: Sour dough. Dry white wine and white grapes. Champagne. Sultanas. Spicy dry red wine. Subtle bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: Ok, my first though was “What type of wine barrel did this spend time in?” On first breaking open the bottle, as I desperately tried to pour it into the glass before it frothed over, I got hit with a distinct, strong dry white wine into champagne character on the nose, with the imperial stout character lost under that due to its intensity.

The stout character comes out more as a bready, earthy kind of thing in the main body. For an imperial stout those flavours come across as fairly restrained.

What makes me question the barrel ageing is then how it changes, becoming spicier with dry red wine character coming out. Initially dry Madeira like notes into full on spicy red wine by the end via a few dry dark fruit hops in-between.

It is very barrel ageing dominated, even if I can’t quite pin down exactly which wine barrel it spent time in. There are slight cocoa to chocolate notes late on, but if you are enjoying this, chances are it is because the barrel ageing brought you there, rather than anything else.

As of such, it is not really for me. I like what the ageing notes bring, but I really need more beer backing it up. The beer just feels lost here. So, very vinous, lots of wine character and range, but so very little beer. May be for you, was not for me.

Background: Been a while since I had a beer from Senne, they have been stonking good in most of their past beers, so this one caught my eye at Independent Spirit – A barrel aged English style Imperial Stout. From googling I confirmed that it was a wine barrel as I thought, but yet to find anything that tells me the type. If you know please drop a comment and fill me in. Don’t know much about Bellwood Brewery apart from the fact they are a Toronto based brewery in Canada and they did a Beavertown collab I tried. For a heavy dark beer like this I put Arch Enemy – Wages of Sin on in the background to match.

La Senne Jambe de Bois

La Senne: Jambe de Bois (Belgium: Abbey Tripel: 8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy banana juice, cloudy body with evident sediment. Very large yellow to white mounded froth head that leaves lace.

Nose: Wheat. Dried banana. Custard slices. Toffee. vanilla ice cream.

Body: Solid hop bitterness. Bananas in custard. Toffee. Wheat. Peach. Blackpool rock and candyfloss. Pear drops. Apple.

Finish: Wheat. Banana and big bitter hops. Apricot. Blackpool rock. Pear drops.

Conclusion: So this is a Tripel? Or, maybe a Belgian IPA? Actually, you know what this makes me think of? If Saison Dupont and Westmalle Tripel made the two backed beast in a back alley and then waited nine months.

It was that brisk but clean hop character that made me think of Saison Dupont. Refreshing and awakening, and with the same sweet backing, but merged with the rough edged gem sweetness of Westmalle Tripel. There is definite raw sugar and hints of well buried alcohol strength.

Even though it can be described thus, it still has very much its own character – behind the wonderfully bracing level of hops for a tripel it has this massive banana and custard middle, which is the final defining element of this beer. Together there is huge bitterness and huge sweetness, mixed in with lovely esters. Despite the massive sweetness this feels perfectly attenuated – the initially frothy middle becoming a drier take which leads out into a shining yet bitter finish.

Frankly this entire beer shows exactly why I always seem to end up preferring the Belgian take over the American ones. It wears the slight rough edges with pride and brings so much more to the beer because of that. It allows raw sugar touches, subtle esters and varied mouthfeels, all of which add up to an exceptional experience.

Absolutely lovely, the balance of Saison Dupont, Chouffe Houblon, Westmalle Tripel and more makes for a fantastic beer.

Background: Grabbed at Corks of Cotham – Been a while since I’ve had La Sennse beer, they tend to be spot on for quality so this was a no brainer. I tend to prefer the Belgian style Tripel over the American style, they tend to have a few more charming rough edges. Drunk while listening to some Against Me! for no particular reason apart from I enjoy them.

De La Senne: Zinnebir (Belgium: Belgium Ale: 5.8%)

Visual: Hazy gold, a shadow cast over its light body by the massive bubbled head of wheat grain colour.  The head diminishes very slowly leaving bubbled sud trails.

Nose: Wheatgrain, peppercorn and light dusting of spices. Cinnamon.

Body: Sharp lemon, wheat and light pineapple. Smooth and refreshing, light treacle touch on the edges. Bitter back. Tea, and a mix of sugar and cream.

Finish: Dry wheat character and popcorn. Bitter trails, hop oils and orange. Grapefruit. Light malt chocolate. Brown sugar and some hops. Air of fruit sweetness, honey and lime.

Conclusion: A light citrus beer with a slow growing hop bitterness.  Initially it seems slightly leaden and unimpressive.  It’s one that seems to shy away as you examine it.  As I closed my tasting notes and prepared to sit down and drink the rest of the beer it decided to surprise me, opening up a sweetness and sour fruit touch that merges with the bitterness to give a balanced beer.

Thus reinvigorated the tasting note book reopened.

It seems the casual swirl around the mouth is the way to go to get the flavours roaming.  As odd one then, which takes a while to open up and shows itself best in casual drinking.  Combined with its wide shifting and usual range that includes odd tea like elements you get an interesting experience.
So a bit of an oddity, and that’s a good thing I find.

De La Senne: Equinox (Belgium: Strong Dark Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark cloudy bitty dark red beer which froths out of the bottle and created an initial large head, but it is very short lived.

Nose: Brown sugar, hops and terry chocolate orange. Fragrant- air freshener.

Body: Burnt roasted malt, nutmeg, a rounded flavour and nuts popping at Christmas. Slight strawberry and treacle.

Finish: Roasted nuts, strawberry. Cocoa, chocolate and cherries.

Conclusion: Will the Christmas beers never end? Who knows? But this beer doesn’t overly tip its hat into the Christmas beer style, rather relying on its solid nature and being a fine example of a Belgium dark beer to make it welcome.

In this it does well, with a good balance of sweet and bitter and plenty to savour. It succeeds despite contradicting winter beer treads (or maybe because of it)

Very welcome, for any season.

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