Browse Tag



Corsendonk Christmas Ale (Belgium) – This is a style I sometimes struggle with, because the results are so often more like someone fermented a fruitcake than anything beer-like. But while there’s plenty of spice and cooked-down fruit here, it’s still ale-like. No one would deny how thick it is, but there’s enough freshness to support the weight. I like this a lot, and the appeal increases as the nights grow colder. (12/11)

Throne of Belœil

Dupont “La Bière de Belœil” Ale (Belgium) – Vibrant and sour. Not as puckery as, say, Cantillon, but more aggressive than a red ale, and with layers of metal, spice, and density to offset the acidic bite. There’s a bit of yeasty stench, but it’s well-restrained. Really quite impressive. (12/11)

Chimay, Chimay, cocoa bop

Chimay Trappist Ale “Grandes Réserve” (Belgium) – This was purchased in 2008, but unless “LAN-662” is the lot number (and it may be) I have no way to know exactly what release it was. And unlike many of my beer aging experiments, this was one was a resounding success. Richer, darker, and more complex than at release (and it’s a pretty excellent beer even then), with more of its aromatics inhabiting the coffee, molasses, and chocolate realms. Yet it’s not sweeter. In fact, the opposite, as if its asymptote is amaro rather than that suggested by the sweet-ish aromas. I love this, and will promptly stash more in the cellar..(11/11)


Duvel 2009 Golden Ale (Belgium) – A beer aging experiment. This didn’t fail like some have, but it didn’t lead to much reward either: the beer is more lemon-dominated than its richer youth, and more about frothy yeastiness than much in the way of gained complexity. To make a wine analogy, aging it more or less turned a decent Champagne into a good Prosecco. (11/11)

Solid rock

Trappistes Rochefort Belgian Ale 6 (Belgium) – Blocky and straightforward. A Trappist ale done strictly by the numbers and to the specification. That is to say, there’s not much joy in it, despite its precisely-described identity. (9/11)

Trappistes Rochefort Belgian Ale 8 (Belgium) – Now this is more like it. Or, rather, absolutely, precisely, exactingly “like it.” Which is to say: absolutely textbook, spice and weight and metallic glistenings. But not more than that, either. It is a Trappist ale in its essentials, done with an excess of competency, and lacking the artistry to paint outside the lines. (9/11)

Oude to a Grecian urn

Hanssens “Oude” Kriek Lambic (Belgium) – Oh, yes. Beautifully tart, but not so iconoclastically acidic that it becomes an Olympic-level challenge to struggle through. Here I suppose I reveal my long-time struggle with the Cantillon style, in which I have to warm up like a beer athlete to deal with the fierce lash of puckering sourness, and which even with said warmup I don’t always warm to. This is less aggressive, and maybe it’s less authentic as a result, but it’s far more to my liking. (9/10)

Bobby Orr

Achel Trappist Bruin (Belgium) – Luscious dried-brown sap flavors, bronzed apricot, layers of ginger spice and easy appeal. Nice. (2/11)

Up one

Hanssens Oude Kriek Lambic (Belgium) – Brittle and extremely cherried, offering not the slightest hint of mitigating sweetness or density, so that razor-sharpness stands out clearly and pointedly. Has a handle on all its “difficult” components. Pretty good. (2/11)


Fonteinen Oude Gueuze Lambic (Belgium) – A fair balance of stink and snap, spiced and a bit gauzy. This is pleasant, and much more approachable than the extreme forms of lambic, but there’s a certain sacrifice of intensity necessary to achieve that. (2/11)


Hanssens Oude Gueuze Lambic (Belgium) – Completely overwhelmed by brettanomyces in both its stinky and Band-Aid™ forms. Spiky acidity. But the brett here, an essential player in a better-balanced lambic, is just way, way too much. Undrinkable. (2/11)