Martens: Buho Strong (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 7% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Massive white head that leaves lace.

Nose: Cane sugar. Clean. Candyfloss. Naan bread like hops. Lightly earthy. Brown bread. Watermelon. Nail polish.

Body: Banana sweets. Cane sugar. Jolly ranchers. Earthy bitterness. Brown bread. Coriander. Apple sweets to apples. Vanilla.

Finish: Apple hard sweets. Candyfloss. Unleavened bread. Earthy bitterness touch. Watermelon. Vanilla.

Conclusion: This beer I took to be a strong lager on first pour. It was pale, fizzy, and let’s face it lager is by far the most popular beer style in India so I wasn’t exactly betting against the odds by thinking that was what I had here.

A quick sniff told me that I was way wrong. While this has a touch of nail polish oddness around the edges this is very evidently a strong Belgian blond beer, with even hints leaning towards a Tripel interpretation. Though the abv tells me that it most definitely is not that.

It has those cane sugar notes, and is quite fruity, though in a quite artificial kind of hard sweets styling. Like crushed fruity sweet had been dissolved in the drink. It leans very heavily into banana sweets in the sweetness even more so than the cane sugar – and, considering the abv, I was surprised there were not any custard like malty notes here, all of which remind me again of a tripel.

Despite the abv and those sweet notes it actually feels quite well attenuated and dry in the mouthfeel. Very drinkable in feel, even if that comes with a few rough edges in the flavours, though thankfully not too many. The big thing to stop it being an easy drinker is, you guessed it, the high abv.

Shock that.

It is pretty well balanced, with the dry mouthfeel working well with the sweet and artificial main flavour so neither gets too heavy. It has a slightly earthy, bready hop character and light spice that grounds it nicely through that. Not the most polished Belgian beer but it shows all the expected characteristics in nicely contrasting layers.

Not a must have, those few nail polish like notes that I think are hints of alcohol don’t show the beer at its best. However here in India where I am doing these notes I am happy to find something a bit different, and it is a well enough done release from all the lagers I see that I am enjoying it.

Background: Ok, googling gives me very little info on this. I had grabbed it at a beer store in India thinking it was another untried local beer, but a quick check of the can shows that it is actual made in Belgium. Which is odd as I have never heard of it. The can says it is part of Martens set of beers, but I can find nearly no record of its existence, and what little I do is from in India, so maybe it is a beer they brew for that market? No idea. Anyway with these notes I am doing my little bit for increasing its web presence a tad for future searchers.