Tall 750ml wrapped-cap brown bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA. Shared with Mr Richard Smith.
Pours a very clear golden colour, with an initially frothy white head that settles down to merely a frothy ring. Lace is solid. Body is quite heavy, so it holds carbonation pretty fully, despite the carbonation being a little bit flimsy and coarse.
Nose has some rounded Belgian notes, mingled with some harsher alcohol characters and an Almost Adjunct sweetness. Slight smokiness comes through, although it's perhaps just the slightly savoury note that permeates it along with the cereal character. Overall, it smells a little bit like a Belgian beer done by a non-Belgian: the characters are there, but are not moulded into their correct proportions.
Taste is similarly styled. Big sweetness throughout and more body than necessary, but cut with a estery yeast character that also suggests higher alcohols—it feels inchoately boozy: I know it's only mid-range for a Belgian Strong, but it feels bigger than it is. The palate lingers long after it's necessary, with barley sugar and other cereal sweetnesses extending it beyond its welcome.
Feel is too thick. It needs something to cut through it, and everything seems to fall short of doing it, including the body.
Overall, I found this really difficult to get through. It was in some senses quite a generic Belgian Strong, but it had none of the finesse which makes the style often so good. Ultimately it ended up like a beer someone was trying out without really understanding of what makes it good.