Tag Archive: Netherlands


Uiltje: Imperial Pineapple Weizenbock (Netherlands: Weizenbock: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice to apricot. Thicker streams evident within the body. Large white head.

Nose: Wheaty. Yeast funky. Cheese puffs. Evident pineapple. Tart. Mature cheese.

Body: Pineapple. Honey. Liquorice notes. Creamy. Fizzy mouthfeel. Tart lemon juice. Yeast funk. Tart grapes. Light brown bread. Light raisins.

Finish: Tart pineapple. Lemon juice. Orange rinds. Eel sashimi. Tart grapes. Light raspberry hard sweets. Sherbet. Light peppercorn. Vanilla yogurt. Apricot fruit sugars.

Conclusion: This is lush, but doesn’t look or taste anything like my usual expectations from the style. Now I have tried lighter colours weizenbocks many a time, but this is not just different from the dark heavy things I usually expect from the style, it is also different from the heavy malt sweetness lighter coloured weizenbocks. This feels like a belgian style wit, that has just had the abv shoved way up. And had pineapple added.

It has a lot of yeast funk in it, creating a thick mouthfeel, then adds light peppercorn notes against fruit sugars and a slight hard sweet character as the yeast esters and the high abv mix.

Though I am aware that in talking about the thicker textures, the yeast funk, the sugar notes and the mild spice I am dodging around the mean point. That is that all of that is backing for huge amounts of fruit. Now, obviously there is pineapple done in both tart and sweet ways, with both the fresher and more sweet like notes of the body mixing to create a refreshing yet sweet beer. Against that though are tart grapes and fresh sherbety lemon notes to lemon juice tartness. All that adds to both sides of the equation, keeping it tart enough and juicy enough that the sweetness of the bigger abv doesn’t get wearing.

It is a weizenbock meets a wit freshened up to become what feels like a summer refresher of a beer that would knock you on your arse if you tried drinking it as that due to the abv. Thankfully the higher sweetness of the beer gives an Abbery Tripel style impression which means you are aware of what it is, even if the alcohol isn’t evident, saving you from getting drunk accidentally.

It has not quite got the complexity of a pure weizenbock but is wonderfully fruity, and still has a lot to dig into – a lovely summer beer.

Background: Tjebbe Kuijper of Uiltje Brewing came down to Independent Spirit a short while back while he was doing a collaboration beer over in Bristol. Got a chance to ask him some questions, and also try samples of a bunch of their beers. This was one I had my eye on for a while and was glad to try it. I asked how come they came to make it, as pineapple seems an interesting choice, as I tend to think of dark heavy beers for weizenbock, so a lighter one with pineapples seems an odd one. He explained this was a brewed up version of one of their other beers, so was a beer designed for lighter abv given the abv of a wezienbock. Glad they did, really enjoyed the sample I tried, so went into these notes expecting it to be good. I drank this after coming back from the awesome Avengers: Infinity War, put on some History of Guns – their Acedia rehearsal releases to be exact, and broke this open.

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La Trappe: Quadrupel (Netherlands: Quadrupel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany polished red touch in a clear fizzy body that has a small grey, evenly spread head.

Nose: Sawdust. Honey. Fresh toffee. Fresh fudge. Fresh crusty white bread. Lightly creamy. Shaved red wood.

Body: Cherries and shortbread. Fizzy mouthfeel. Honey to golden syrup. Liquorice touch. Sherbet lemon. Hop oils to generally oily. Gummy sap. Frothy. Nutty.

Finish: Clean, bitter oils. Palma violets. Light greenery. Sap. Oily. Licking varnished wood. Resin.

Conclusion: This starts out a fairly standard Quad – big hit of cherries, honey and fudge notes. Basically the big sweetness you expect to come with the big abv and big malt bill. However it soon moves on from there.

It starts the change with the more oily character coming out – some of it is hop oil notes, but generally it is just a more oily, into thick sap feeling character that gives a chewiness and stickiness to the beer along with light resinous notes. Already with just this extra element it feels different to the big sweet quads out there.

Then it gains more range – a palma violets to noble hop feel and taste, light greenery that starts seeping into an oily nutty character. The nutty character sticks around, going into a more nutty weight as the sweetness behind it bleeds away just leaving a soft vanilla and creamy backing.

This feels like what would happen if a biere de garde met a quad – big and oily with slow sweeping flavours. Considering the comparison I am now wondering what ageing would do to this? On one side the fizzy sherbet notes help offset the heavier notes and I feel they would be lost with age, but I can imagine this becoming a smooth still bodied beast with time.

Creamy backed, oily fronted – nutty with sparks of the fruity quad style. A very different quad and worthwhile as that, if not quite as fine as St Bernardus or Westvleteren at their best.

Background: Having the USA Spencer Trappist beer recently reminded me that while I had tried a lot of beers from the first non Belgian Trappist brewery – La Trappe, I had never actually done notes on any of them. So I grabbed this quad from Independent Spirit – from my memory it was my favourite of their beers when I first encountered it, so thought it was a good one to return to and see how it held up to memory. Had been to a Propagandhi gig the night before so put on Potemkin City Limits to listen to – in my opinion still their best album.

Uiltje: Mind The Gap (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 19.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey-brown head.

Nose: Boozy. Orange with orange dried fruit sugars. Treacle. Fudge. Thick. Crumpets. Strong alcohol. Marshmallows.

Body: Very thick. Oily thickness. Treacle. Sugared orange jelly sweets. Thick chocolate fondue and bitter black chocolate. Nut oils. Walnut.

Finish: Oily. Creamy. Light charring. Bitter chocolate. Strong alcohol. Tarry. Walnut. Maple syrup. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: Fuck me this is a heavy beer. Oily, thick and tarry. I don’t think I have run into a beer with a mouthfeel this heavy since … well… ever. So, as you may have guessed, the alcohol is strong in this one. It took me a while to discern notes in the aroma as I had to get used to the low level, just straight up boozy character it had. Similarly, in the finish there just floats a rough raw spirit feel over everything else in there.

Now there are also some equally huge, but good quality, flavours in there -a serious level of creamy and bitter chocolate comes out. Also there is what seems to be its main selling point, which is a really big, sugary jelly fruit sweets kind of style. There is a good beer in there, just a beer that should be about 10% lower abv than it actually is.

I mean that thickness is unique, and interesting, – but as a trade off for that you get real rough spirity booze into dry charring notes in the finish that seriously hurt the beer. Now, this isn’t shit – it isn’t, say, Start The Future level rough as a badger’s arse bad, but with the exception of that ultra tarry thickness, there is nothing here that you could not find in an easier to drink and cheaper imperial stout.

So, now to be nice for a moment. It does have lovely calls to crumpets and marshmallows in the aroma which are very appealing. It has good savoury nut notes under the orange sweetness which is a much needed balancing element. Finally, considering the abv, the alcohol is only very present, not utterly brutalising, which is, well, something.

I still cannot recommend it – a good idea ruined by a too heavy abv.

Background: Ok, well, Yeah I grabbed this one because it looked ridiculous. 19.8 bloody percent and 330 ml. That is just taking the wank. Also it is made with ..deep breath …. rye, oranges, coffee and maple syrup. Because of course. Also, this is from the Netherlands – so why is it themed after the London tube? Or at least seems to be. I know nothing of Netherlands public transport. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Napalm Death – Scum. It seemed one of the few albums big enough to cope with a nearly 20%s abv beer.

Frontaal: Imperial Dutch Stout (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Small, short lived creamy brown head.

Nose: Medicinal – iodine notes. Peat smoke. Sugared pastry. Brown sugar. Doughnuts. Tobacco.

Body: Medicinal. Peppermint. Chocolate. Peat smoke. Custard doughnuts. Sour green nuts – cashews. Iodine. Roasted potatoes. Caramel.

Finish: Dry. Bitter. Charring. Roasted potatoes. Medicinal.

Conclusion: Not … not what I was expecting. This is a medicinal, iodine touched, charred and slightly peaty stout. Which if they had pitched it as an Islay barrel aged stout would be exactly what I expected. This however has not been aged in Islay barrels and tastes nearly nothing like the imagery of the waffles that were used in making it. There are some sweet notes in the centre of the beers – calls to caramel notes, but that is nestled within the heart of a very medicinal feeling stout.

As what this beer wants to be, that of a sweet waffle stout, it is a mixed bag – with a tendency towards the bad. It really does not deliver the idea of a stroopwafel in the beer. Now it does have doughnut like elements, some caramel, but generally it is a beer that leans on the harsh side of the style. So, don’t buy this beer if it is the gimmick that appeals – it kind of sucks at it, so that way lies disappointment.

Now as an Islay style beer, which it never wanted to be and has no element listed which can explain why it is so close to it, well as that it is pretty good. Lots of medicinal and smoke notes over those light sweet notes and a thick base – it is fair intense – not perfect – but definitely one I can enjoy as that.

So, to paraphrase something I once heard – This is a beer that misses its aimed for style by so much it ends up as a good example of a completely different style. Make of that what you will.

Background: OK, I grabbed this because it is a beer made with stroopwafels. I didn’t even know what stroopwafels were at the time. I just knew I wanted a beer made with them. It turns out stroopwafels are waffles made with two layers of dough and a caramel syrup like filling. Sounds awesome. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to what I consider to be one of the most beautiful albums of all time – Ulver: Shadows of The Sun. So haunting, so amazing.

Uiltje: Analogue Recording (Netherlands: American Strong Ale: 13% abv)

Visual: Very dark red to brown. Floating sediment. Large browned tight bubbles head.

Nose: Pepper and crackers. Make spirit. Lime cordial. Vanilla. Sultanas.

Body: Smooth. Brandy cream. Fruitcake and cherries. Dry red wine. Port soaked raisins. Bready notes. Rye crackers. Light make spirit notes. Peppery.

Finish: Cake sponge. Glacier cherries. Sultanas. Madeira. Almond rounds. Light bitter and oily hop character. Orange zest. Light charring. Peppery. Rye crackers.

Conclusion: Imperial Red? Ok, that makes sense, from the flavour I would have guessed a Rye Wine (A barley wine with rye), but yeah Imperial Red makes sense as a description for this.

As you may have guessed from the above, the initial elements are barley wine like – fruitcake and cherry notes, extra sultanas – a mix of sweet notes and dried fruit characteristics. Considering the whisky barrel ageing it instead seems to have a lot of vinous notes and other spirit characteristics – dry red wine and brandy cream character being the most evident. It is a mix of sweet, dry and just lightly cloying sour touches, matching the base well.

The actual whisky ageing influence seems more subtle – it is shown in the extreme smoothness of character and in a light make spirit yet smooth character in the background of the entire beer. As time goes on the final element comes out – the peppery, rye cracker notes that makes me think of a rye wine – savoury, spicy notes that ground the beer hard.

As time goes on it almost rye bourbon styled with peppery and rye notes matched with orange zest hints. This is initially appealing, but it can get a bit too much by the end as the peppery notes dominate – however the journey to that point is very enjoyable. So, very good for the most part – starts well, ends slightly weakly. Still you enjoy getting there – a beer that is about the journey, not the destination.

Background: This was the last bottle on the shelf when Chris from Independent Spirit asked my if I had tried it – when I answered no he encouraged me to grab it before it was gone. The entire staff of IS seemed impressed by it, so I decided to give it a go. The bottle calls it an Imperial Red – to keep some standardisation in my tagging I have gone with ratebeer’s label of “American Strong Ale”, but Imperial Red definitely describes it better. This has been barrel aged in Carsebridge whisky barrels – a now deceased grain distillery. Never tried the whisky, I think, so not 100% sure what to expect from the ageing. Drunk while listening to the new Propagandhi album – Victory Lap -a good album, that seems almost more resigned than their previous albums, or possible just more introspective – another one that I feel I need a few more listens to get to grips with. Enjoying on the surface level though.

Kees: Barrel Project 17.07 S.P.X. (Netherlands: Scotch Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Creamy brown head. Some carbonation. The head leaves suds.

Nose: Sweet dessert wine. Sweet raspberry crème. Figs to figgy pudding. Raisins. Brandy cream. Spotted dick. Marshmallows.

Body: Figs. Cocktail bitters. Prunes touch. Sour apples. Calvados. Smooth. Raisins. Malt chocolate. Brandy cream. Marshmallows. Raspberry yogurt. Dessert wine.

Finish: Sour dates. Sour wine. Calvados. Slight bitterness. Charring. Earthy hop bitterness. Malt chocolate. Dessert wine. Brandy cream. Spiced grapes. Marshmallows.

Conclusion: I spent a lot of time digging into this before before starting this conclusion. This initially seemed another one of those beers that was overly dominated by the barrel ageing – but only initially. You get a real fresh and sweet dessert wine like character from the sherry ageing on first sniff and sip, but it soon dispels the illusion that this is all it has.

What is notable, for me anyway, is that the Wee Heavy is a style that is very easy to make a simple beer – packed with enjoyable dark fruit notes, but one note in that and so quickly dull. This does have part of that description – it packs in the dark fruit, but beyond that it has a slight sour apple and figs set of notes against that sweet base. Not a heavy set of notes, and not in an acidic fashion – instead akin to stewed, fruit stone sucked, sour notes under the heavy malt. This is all then underlined by a solid, low level, earthy hop bitterness.

The dessert wine style character keeps adding to this, bringing sweet high notes and also mixes with the base to create interesting concoctions such as Calvados like sweet notes as the sherry character mixes with the sour fruit to create rewarding combinations.

To me this is both Barrel Ageing, and Wee Heavies, done right. It has added complexities to the base of what you would expect from a scotch ale, then topped that up with extra notes from the ageing. So, it seems I am back on the barrel ageing fan bandwagon again!

Background: I had a try of a bunch of Kee’s Barrel Project beers about a year back I think – generally enjoyed them, so decided to try this from the new batch. The fact it was a wee heavy interested me – you don’t see a huge amount of them around, and less so of experiments with them – so was definitely worth a try to my mind. This has been Pedro Ximenez barrel aged – I haven’t had much experience with the sherry, but beers and whisky aged in it tend to be fabulous. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit and was the first beer drunk in 2018! Whoop Whoop! Drunk while listening to Rise Against – Endgame, seriously an album without a single bad song on it.

Uiltje: Grandma’s Cooking Recipes Vol 2: Lemon & Vanilla Cheesecake Wit Beer (Netherlands: Belgian Wit: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy lemon juice. Thin off white head a few seconds in after an initially large head on the pour.

Nose: Fresh squeezed lemon with the leftover lemon rind in it. Cake sponge. Pineapple. Lime touch.

Body: Tart and fresh. Vanilla. Slightly peppery. Lemon juice. Creamy lemon. Sherbety feel. Orange slices. Mild peppercorn. Slightly dry.

Finish: Creamy lemon and vanilla. NY style cheesecake. Fresh orange slices. Salted lemons. Mild peppercorn sauce.

Conclusion: I swear that I didn’t look at the back of bottle before specifying in the notes above that it was NY style cheesecake that this seemed like. It just turns out that my impressions and how they describe it were identical for once – that slightly drier bodied cheesecake style. Good shout from them then.

Despite that, the cheesecake side of this is actually lighter than I expected. This has a drier take on a wit that seems to call to the pre inbev Hoegaarden (Well – I say that – my only experience is of the Celis white which was made by the original brewer, and is apparently very close to the original Hoegaarden, so my comparison is at least a few stages separated from the original). It comes in with lots of tart lemon notes that feel very natural fruit in character. There are some creamier edges as the vanilla mixes in, giving slightly fuller feel on the way out, but main body definitely emphasises the dry and fresh character.

What I did not expect from the bottle’s description though is the peppery character – coming in from standard pepper into subtle peppercorn sauce in flavour – adding that traditional wit spice behind the more creamy lemon notes.

So, looking at this as a cheesecake beer, well it does have influence from that idea, and it definitely shows the vanilla and lemon it uses, but they come more as discrete elements that a coherent cheesecake whole for the most part.

As a beer in itself thought it does it right. Initially it seems only ok, but it develops into a traditional dry wit backed by creamier, fuller edges, and subtle solid backing behind the lemon freshness that is easy to drink while still being rewarding.

It is better to be a good beer that doesn’t quite deliver on the concept that a good concept that doesn’t deliver on the beer, so I am happy with this one.

Background: I’m not sure if that is the longest beer name I have ever had on this site – but it is at least in the top 5. So, a Belgian wit made with lemon and vanilla – a simpler beer than the cool name makes it sound, but still the idea sold me pretty much instantly. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. I make no apologies for grabbing so much from them. Drunk while listening to the 50th spektrmodule podcast for some gentle background music.

Uiltje: Lekker Bakkie Kobi – Cognac Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 14.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Pours with a large creamy brown head that quickly descends to a more normal size.

Nose: Spiced rum. Creamy chocolate. Thick marmalade. Cognac. Cherries. Red and white grapes. Strawberries.

Body: Thick and creamy. Sherry trifle. Rum and port. Rum soaked raisins. Brandy cream. Creamy chocolate. Strawberry syrup. Cognac. Slight liquorice. Nougat. Figgy pudding. Glacier cherries.

Finish: Creamy cognac. Marmalade. Milky chocolate. Fondue. Strawberry ice cream and syrup. Fig rolls. Slight liquorice.

Conclusion: Oh god this is rich. Very thick, very creamy, very heavy indeed. In a world where high abv beers seem to be ashamed of that fact, hiding themselves behind super smooth, comparatively light bodies, it is refreshing to run into one that wears its full weight on its sleeve. In fact, it wears it on its sleeve and then sews on patches made of spirit scrawled obscenities to double down on that fact.

It isn’t harsh though, isn’t burning – just spirity, weighty – it doesn’t have that flaw of high alcohol, just the immense presence that comes with it.

The base body feels fruity with dark figs, raisins and cherries – but most of the room there is taken up by the wide range of spirity notes that the cognac ageing has brought in. It feels like its has been aged in multiple barrels rather than just cognac – you get what feels like spicy rum, brandy cream, and of course the thick marmalade cognac notes. It is lovely. The barrel ageing utterly dominates, but the solid base below is far from lost. There is little subtlety left, but it manages to keep the more intense flavours for pounding complexity.

As time goes on a chewy nougat character builds, adding a more thick mouthfeel to an already heavy beer. Even the late addition of liquorice doesn’t feel out of place – in fact it comes in as a much needed dryness amongst an otherwise intensely sweet monster. Now, this isn’t a beer for everyone – while not sickly sweet, it is still very intense in the sweet character, so not for those who prefer a drier, roasted or more bitter stout.

Stupidly sweet, and stupidly heavy, but makes it work. Very fun, very good, very barrel aged.

Background: Ok, from the very Starbucks looking label, I guessed this was going to be a coffee infused stout – but nope. According to the bottle, they planned to do that initially, but changed their mind after trying it after it had been aged in Cognac casks for 19 months. Fair enough. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, and drunk in the slightly cooler weather while listening to some Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance to be precise. Some slightly cheesy but fun metal.

kees-barrel-project-06-2016

Kees: Barrel Project 06/2016 (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 12% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin off white head.

Nose: Creamy vanilla and very evident bourbon. Very smooth. Caramelised brown sugar. Chocolate liqueur notes. Fudge.

Body: Treacle. Cherries. Vanilla. Soft fudge. Massive bourbon. Very smooth. Malt chocolate. Caramel. Soft alcohol presence with a slight tingle. Brown sugar. Chocolate liqueur.

Finish: Toffee. Vanilla. Golden syrup. Smooth bourbon. Chocolate liqueur.

Conclusion: Ok, this is both smooth as sod and bourbon backed to buggery. This is nice is what I am saying. Despite the darker colour it does not lean away from the intense sweetness of the traditional barley wine – though it does express it with more chocolate and fudge as well as the more excepted golden syrup style. Still, very recognisable straight out of the gate.

If I had to dig into what exactly is the major sweetness here I would say it has a lot of caramel, backed by huge amounts of vanilla – it is delivered with the slightest amount of alcohol prickling, but in general it slips down like quality liqueur. Or, considering the range of flavours, more like a blend of liqueurs – aged in a bourbon cask of course, you cannot deny that influence at any point. Seriously this is possibly one of the most clearly and evident defined beers for showing the bourbon ageing’s influence. It has all of the vanilla, that rugged sweet undertone and slight sour mash notes – all so very clear.

It is only because the base beer and the ageing are so in line that the ageing doesn’t overwhelm the base beer. While the base beer has a lot of flavour it is not so epically big to overpower the bourbon ageing, instead it relies on the base caramel and chocolate complementing rather than fighting the bourbon notes.

So, I enjoy this massively – thought not quite enough for it to be one of the rare “my favourites”. It is classy as all hell – smooth and with full flavour – the only thing it does not have is that unique element that pushes it to the very top and makes it an all time great. Still, that is possibly the weakest criticism there is. It is still great.

So, genuinely great, even if not an all time best, but there is no way you will regret this if you are a fan of bourbon and barley wines. Full on bourbon. Full on barley wine. Full on beer.

Background: This is the third of the Kees Barrel project beers I grabbed, and probably the one I was most looking forwards to. You seem to get less barrel aged Barley Wines over here, so this – aged in Barton Bourbon barrels looked like just the thing for me. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, it was drunk listening to the every energetic indie pop electronic tunes of Grimes for a bit of extra fun.

Kees Barrel Project #04 2016

Kees: Barrel Project #04/2016 (Imperial Stout: Netherlands: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey-brown dash of a head.

Nose: Toffee. Prickly alcohol. Bourbon. Vanilla. Treacle toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Wet wood. Chalk dash. Mild ginger bread.

Body: Chocolate liqueur and frothy chocolate fondue. Vanilla. Blended whisky. Slight sour cream twist. Prickling alcohol touch, but light and smooth underlying texture. Caramel. Light peppermint. Cocoa.

Finish: Charcoal and charred oak. Milky chocolate. Slight gherkin sour fresh note. Caramel. Cocoa pops in chocolate milk. Light peppermint. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: I found the oatmeal stout from Kees in this Barrel aged project to be a tad too smooth and light – oatmeal stouts should have a bit of weight to them. This as “just” an imperial stout, is still a tad light in its smoothness, but is in a style that suits more, and also, oddly actually has a bit more weight to it.

Flavour wise this really runs straight down the middle of what you would expect for what it is. It’s a barrel aged Imperial Stout and brings cocoa, smooth chocolate and a hint of coffee at the base – the barrel ageing bringing in caramel and vanilla notes. So nothing really unexpected. Warmth actually thickens it up just enough from the slightly light touch when chilled. So all very competently done.

Not having had many grain barrel aged beers, I would say that this comes across as a mix of prickling blended whisky character and bourbon sweetness – which sounds about right from what I would expect single grain to give. So again, it is spot on to expectations – not more – not less. Very smooth, very refined, but doesn’t surprise in the least. Not a bad thing when what you expect is a high quality imperial stout. Doesn’t stand out beyond that though, still can’t complain about it being very well done.

So – basically a very good, treacle toffee, smooth chocolate, vanilla caramel and touches of bitter coffee Imperial Stout. If you want to dig there are slight sour cream notes and slight peppermint hints, but mainly it plays in straight. No regrets, but no soaring new experience.

Just a very good barrel aged imperial stout. Just I say….

Background: Second of the Kees’ Barrel Project beers I have grabbed from Independent Spirit. The first I tried was good, but a bit light – but generally good, so decided to give this one a go. This one has been aged in Girvan single grain barrels – since I had a bit of a Girven experience last year it seemed a nice thing to try. I am as big fan of Imperial Stouts, but try and pace out having them, lest they become commonplace to me.

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