Tag Archive: Netherlands


La Trappe: Dubbel Special Edition 2018 (Netherlands: Dubbel: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown. Good sized frothy beige head.

Nose: Orange zest. Peppery. Malt chocolate. Crushed lemon drops. Yeast funk touch. Lightly nutty.

Body: Peppery. Palma violets. Vanilla. Tobacco. Malt chocolate. Yeast touch. Slight resin and hop oils. Orange zest. Lemon drops.

Finish: Tobacco. Milky chocolate. Praline. Nuts. Yeastie. Peppery. Slight orange skin. Lemon drops.

Conclusion: Ok, I need to do an admission up front. It has been bloody ages since I last tried La Trappe’s standard dubbel, so I can’t really compare this to that. Sorry. I’m just going to have to treat it as a beer in itself. Hope that is ok.

This feels like a, comparatively, gentle dubbel for the style. There is malt chocolate, but not the full on brown sugar, chocolate liqueur, or the rough gem edges that you see in some expressions. What stands out instead is a peppery, slightly oily and resinous hop character, along with a decent yeast funk that makes this feel akin to a dubbel mixed 50/50 with an orval.

That is the main flavour hit for a while – a slightly more hop influenced, orval like, dubbel. Late on though the flavours twist to show new facets – orange zest and lemon drops come out giving a slightly hard sweet citrus style as a gentle additional character.

This, above and beyond everything before it, makes it interesting. The more gentle dubbel character now means that these lighter notes have room to roam.

It feels like a more new wave hopped orval, albeit not as awesome as you are now imagining from that description. It is quite easy drinking, especially considering the abv – the subtle hop bitterness helps encourage further drinking.

It is never super exciting but it is interesting – wearing the light hop flavours, yeast character and light dubbel notes pretty well. At a lower abv this would be a session god of a beer. As is, it is worth trying, but probably not one I will return to often.

Background: La Trappe. Probably my least visited of the Trappist beers (well of the ones I have tried – there are a few new ones I still need to dive into), but this one caught my eye. A variant of their standard dubbel, this one is made with an experimental hop variety, which they say gives a spicy aroma and floral character. Or at least that is what google translate tells me they said. Take with a pinch of salt. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit, had in the cupboard since tail end 2018 – decided to break it open now. I went again with the haunting electronica of Marie Davidson as background music.

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De Molen: Said & Done – Bowmore Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Viscous. Thin brown head.

Nose: Salted caramel. Sour black cherry. Walnut liqueur. Toffee liqueur. Creamy chocolate. Walnut coffee cake. Praline. Mildly vinous. Sour red grapes.

Body: Viscous. Oily smoke. Salted caramel. Medicinal notes. Bitter chocolate cake. Sour black-cherry hints. Charring. More caramel as it warms.

Finish: Toast. Charring. Bitter. Cocoa touches. Walnuts. Bitter chocolate cake. Medicinal. Gunpowder tea. Burnt moss. Choc orange. Caramel. Smoke.

Conclusion:What the fuuuuuucck even is this? It is…it is…erm. Ok, give me a moment. OK, the aroma sells it as a mix of imperial stout and a good chunk of the caramel influence. There is very thick caramel, here in a salted caramel way, which I presume is the influence of the Islay ageing adding the salt. Next to that is a lot of liqueur notes – from toffee, to a nutty style which again is showing the special ingredients through strongly. It is a very thick aroma, very sweet and very complex. The thing that surprised me most is that for a sour stout, this seemed to lean more towards the standard imperial stout in these first impressions.

The body is, well it is half that – the back half of the beer is what you would expect from the aroma. The front half is nothing at all fucking like that. Up front it is a thick oily smoke thing, medicinal notes and charring kicking behind that. The Islay barrel ageing booms, holding onto the front half until it finally lets go so the caramel and nutty notes can come back. It is a heck of a shock to the system after the aroma pulls you in by whispering sweet nothings.

Then, in the finish it pulls another trick. Starting as a sweet sheen before sinking into medicinal notes, smoke, gunpowder tea and in general full on Islay times again. This level of harsh notes is an easy look to do badly, and at times this teeters on the edge of being too harsh, but generally works very well.

On the down side, the sour stout is nearly completely lost in the mix. There are hints of sour black-cherry at times, but generally it is either full of sweet liqueur notes, or the heavy Islay character. When the sour stout does show up that sour black cherry does work as a nice step between two sides, so I wish it was just a touch more present – but I guess you can’t have everything.

As is it is really good, if occasionally a tad overly harsh touched. A touch more of the sour stout and it would have been exceptional. Ah well, still a great and strange beer mash up.

Background: Ok, this is a … Hold on while I look it up … sour stout made with walnut extract, caramel and salt, then barrel aged in a Bowmore whisky cask. So fuck yes I was buying this one, that is incredible. Well in theory anyway, had to wait to see if it held up in practice. Anyway, another on grabbed from Independent Spirit. Yes again. Not much else to add. I should stop playing Dark Souls 3 before my eyes bleed but that is neither here nor there for this beer. I’d got the new Louise Distras EP -Street Revolution recently, so put it on while drinking. Good first impressions so far.

De Molen: Juicy Loesie (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 12.7% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown with black cherry red hints. Off white to grey thin head. Still main body.

Nose: Cane sugar. Apple. Brown sugar. “Boozy” alcohol aroma. Plums and raisins. Fruitcake.

Body: Cherries. Warming alcohol. Prunes. Rum. Apples in jelly. Raisins and sultanas. Treacle. Malt chocolate. Madeira.

Finish: Molasses. Apples pies. Chocolate liqueur. Rum. Liquorice. Calvados. Light turmeric.

Conclusion: Here we have ourselves a dark, boozy beast, a barley wine on the darker end of the style’s scale, lightened by subtle apple pie to Calvados imagery. It is undeniably a barley wine – the apple used doesn’t dominate, but it does feel like the beer has spent some time in a Calvados barrel smoothing off its edges. Well some of its edges. We’ll get to that in a moment.

The initial aroma is actually quite simple and light. Sugary notes along with fruitcake hints and a general boozy weight. Despite the booze it still actually feels pretty clean and doesn’t give much of an impression of what lies bellow it.

The body instead comes in thick and initially it is all about the dark fruit and malt chocolate notes that speak of the darker barley wine style. Soon however a chewy apple pie jelly centre taste and feel comes out, a gentle sweetness that is bright against the dark boozy, spirity centre that is sucking you in.

The malt chocolate, backed late on by gentle earthy spice, keeps it from being too heavy and boozy, but trust me, the big spirit character keeps leaning back towards that direction whenever it gets the chance. Again the Calvados like apple character is what pulls it back from the brink. When faced with molasses like finish, and the rum and liquorice notes, it really needs the subtle apple notes to keep it steady.

Boozy but very enjoyable for me. It possibly could do with a few years ageing to let the alcohol settle, but right now it is already a weighty but delicious subtle apple barley wine. Well worth trying.

Background: Ok, I will admit I have had this one before, really enjoyed it, so grabbed another to do notes on. In fact I have quite a few De Molen in the cupboard at the moment, after not having had them for a while. They are a very fine brewery. I had forgotten how much I tend to enjoy their beers. Anyway, this is a barley wine made with apple juice. Makes sense. I always wanted to make an apple barley wine in my delusions of ever starting home-brewing so this caught my eye. Another one found at Independent Spirit. I’d just received Evil Scarecrow – Antartarctica for Christmas so put that on. I love the over the top camp horror metal and sci-fi styling of their music. Very funny and great metal stage-shows live. If you get a chance definitely go see them live.

Uiltje: North: Monster IIIPA (Netherlands: IIPA: 18% ABV)

Visual: Dark, cloudy apricot coloured body with a large yellowed froth head.

Nose: Dried apricot. Bitter hops. Earthy hop character. Malt chocolate. Turmeric. Light pepper. Thick and oily.

Body: Apricot. Cream. Hop oils. Creamy kiwi. Custard. Oily bitterness. Vanilla fudge.

Finish: Custard cream biscuits. Peach. Hop oils. Bitter oily character. Creamy kiwi. Musky hops. Slight greenery. Vanilla fudge. Light menthol.

Conclusion: Big, but simple. That is the best way I can describe this. It is thick, oily backed, showing the abv, but only just which is impressive considering it is kicking out at 18% abv. It is creamy with the oily character showing in the fruit, the hops and pretty much everything else. There is some bitterness, but the sweetness of the massive malt base is at the forefront. There is a slightly funky feel that gives a musky hop weight, but only a little at the edges. Generally the huge sweet malt and fruit hops are the thing.

Anyway, that was a lot of words. I can cut it down to this. This is predominantly apricot. Creamy apricot. Creamy apricot in hop oils, with custard to vanilla fudge backing. There, that covers pretty much 98% of the beer. There is a lot I can (and will) say around that, but that is your flavour profile right there.

So, yeah, the flavour is big, but simple. A lot of the effort here seems to have gone into making the feel stand out. There is a creamy centre, oily hops, some slight funky feel, and a kind of greenery chewiness. For all that the flavours are simple it does a lot of work with the mouthfeel.

A few rounding notes come out over time. Some menthol, some creamy kiwi. Still the same basic overall impression though. Very sweet, enjoyable, good oily hop character, but I would expect a lot more going on in exchange or drinking something of 18% abv.

A nice experience, but for the cost and the abv there are much better IPAs, IIPAs and IIPAs out there. Not bad, just not special for the huge abv it uses.

Background: This is an IIIPA, more commonly called Triple IPA. It is 18% ABV. Which means it is one of the few triple IPAs that is actually triple the abv of a standard (around 6%ish) IPA. Truth in advertising. Good job. So, anyway, an insanely high abv IPA – from Het Uiltje, yeah I had to try it. Oh and North Brewing are involved as well, but it was mainly Het Uiltje I grabbed it for. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, and ,since I guessed I may be a tad intoxicated as I drank it, put on some Siouxsie and The Banshees while drinking – Hyaena to be exact.

De Molen: Hair Of The Dog: Binkie Claws: Woodford Reserve Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 11.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Thin grey rim of a head.

Nose: Brandy cream. Sweet liquorice allsorts. Figs. Dried sultanas. Brown bread.

Body: Smooth. Creamy. Figs. Plums. Liquorice. Toffee liqueur. Pepper. Clearly evident Woodford Reserve bourbon. Brown sugar. Creamy cherries/ Cherry yogurt/ Cherry liqueur.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Vanilla. Glacier cherries. Light charring. Bitter hop oils. Rye whiskey. Bourbon.

Conclusion: This so smooth, lightly creamy but with tons of that barley wine dark fruit flavour. I vaguely remember Doggie Claws from all those years ago, but I don’t remember it being quite as awesome and rewarding as this one is.

It is creamy in a way that calls to sherry trifle, alcoholic plums and figs (if there is such a thing, if not their should be) and burnt brown sugar that gives a crème brulee imagery to it. Really rewarding, rich alcoholic dessert notes all the way.

Under that are the more traditional barley wine notes – dark fruit, cherries, and some more unusual beer elements for a barley wine like some bitter hop oils that give grip and a recognisable beer edge in this almost liqueur like barley wine.

Finally, but far from least, there is the Woodford reserve influence and it is massive! From the more generic toffee and vanilla notes you expect from bourbon, to unexpected rye whisky like notes, to what can basically be best described as raw recognisable Woodford flavour. The barrel ageing doesn’t just add smoothness to this beer, it pounds out a good chunk of its flavour as well and builds this from a good beer to an excellent, layered experience.

From an easygoing start, ro a thick barley wine middle, to the hop oils and bourbon finish – this is a ride that soothes you in and then kicks you out. Seriously wonderful, then again, it is Hair Of The Dog and De Molen, what else did I expect?

Background: I would have grabbed this a lot earlier than I did if I had noticed it was a “Hair Of The Dog” collaboration. Absolutely love those guys and their beers are super hard to get hold of in the UK. De Molen are darn decent as well. From the name I’m guessing this is a take on Hair Of The Dog’s Doggie Claws – which has been aged here in Woodford Reserve barrels. Woodford is a darn nice bourbon, so sounds like a combo made in heaven to me. Put on an EP called “Rotten Citizens Vol1” while drinking – a mix of artists doing dark electronic tracks for moody drinking music. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

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.

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.

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