72 / 100
Sour quadrupel, brewed with oak-smoked peaches. Interesting idea. Purchased for me by Sam at some point, but it has been languishing at the back of my beer cupboard for at least a year.
Pours a reddish amber colour, perfectly suitable for a quad. Head is a fine film of off-white that leaves very intricate lace, and persists as a delicate ring. Body has a bit of weight, good clarity, and holds very fine carbonation. It's a good-looking beer.
Nose is immediately odd. The smokiness is most prominent, but with the acid, it has a slight medicinal quality to it, almost like peat. There's an underlying tartness that you can sense too—it's like strong aged balsamic vinegar, with more of a vinous bent to it. There's definitely barrel character as well, giving a smooth but semi-savoury edge.
Taste is really alien. It's acetic throughout, and this in fact probably becomes the noticeable backbone of the beer. The barrel is also prominent though, which does again beg the comparison to balsamic vinegar. It has a vegetative note throughout as well, which gives a kind of character like a pungent herb seed, and sweet with peach in the finish. Smoke is maybe slightly less on the fore here, but it's undeniable that the savoury note it imparts influences some of the other oddities.
Feel is slick, with a kind of very fine and light but frothy carbonation.
There's acidity, there's smoke, there's dense barrel-edged sweetness, and all of these characters feel like they're fighting each other. But it's hard to say—maybe it's just that I'm not used to the combination, and in reality they go together like an imperial stout goes with bourbon. It's certainly an odd beer.
79 / 100
75cl brown bottle purchased as part of a bulk order with a bunch of workmates.
Pours a hazy red-brown colour, with a very frothy head of off-white that leaves long, chaotic streaks as it descends. Carbonation is quite high, which isn't unexpected, but it's also quite rapid, and removes the facade of quiet isolation and peace. Looks decent though.
Nose has some spice characters right from the get-go, with a kirsch-like booze connected with a pleasant dry aroma of pulverised white pepper. There's a touch of oaky, tannic red wine, like an old shiraz, and a slightly bodily aroma, which contributes to the fermented white pepper character. Very nice.
Taste is very good. There's still plenty of spice, and some cherry notes, but there's a good dollop of sweetness too, leaving some vanilla and marzipan. There's definitely some tannin notes on the back, and they're connected to the booziness, which provides a heady mixture to go out on.
Feel is a little frothy from the aggressive carbonation, but with a nice astringency from the tanins.
This is a good brew. It's complex and well-crafted to ensure that it maintains its balance. It's perhaps not the top-tier of the trappist breweries, but it's towards that direction.
78 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a pleasant deep mahogany brown, ruby in the depths. Head forms excessively slowly: looking flat at the start, but with tiny persistent carbonation that promotes a creamy fine head of beige. Lacing forms as tiny leopard spots. Body is full, thick and rich, holding that aforementioned powdery carbonation. Looks a picture.
Nose is big and rich, but with semi-tart Belgian notes of dried or stewed fruits: prunes, dates, currants and cranberries. There's a suggestion of spice as well, perhaps a little cinnamon bark and five-spice. It develops significantly as it warms, as well, allowing vanilla and toffee sweetness to come out more. The cedar is certainly not prominent, but it's possible that it adds to some of those spicy notes, and the resiny note you get from cedar possibly is the source of some of that tartness.
Taste is also very good. Smooth entry, cushioned by a big toffee and melted caramel sweetness. The centre, however, is surprisingly empty—it feels like there's a hole, perhaps only filled by a slight overtone of dark fruit. However, the sweetness has dropped away. The back is quite interesting, and it's here that the cedar comes into play. It's rather spicy, with a linger of menthol-like burn or bitterness. It lengthens the palate, but also adds a slight harshness. However, the longer it warms up, and the more you drink, the less this becomes a problem.
Feel is slick and smooth throughout. It's a really very pleasant aspect.
Overall—it's a suitably fine beer from De Molen, and it lives up to the expectations, its pedigree and the interest its concept engenders. It's a beer to sip and consider. My guess is that like me, you'll find a lot to discover and enjoy in it.
69 / 100
330mL bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor; shared with Chris out of necessity rather than desire.
Pours a dark cola colour with cola-esque bubbles too. No head. Dark brown, otherwise fairly flat and heavy. Yeah doesn't look impressive, it's too big for its own good.
Smells big, boozey and yeasty. Strong vegemite note with some unsweetened cocoa round the edges too. Big liqueury sweetness with a brandy and kirsch character. Dark, fruity and complex. Bit big though, obviously.
Taste is sweet, complex. Huge complex sugar notes with dark fruit, sultanas, brown sugar, plums and cherry. Gets boozey midway with kirsch and vinous notes, then a bit hot late with some brandy boozey heat, plus residual sugars and some chocolate notes maybe. Yeah pretty impressive and complex, just a bit inevitably hot and big.
Again a bit raw on the tongue as it goes down, but otherwise smooth and velvety.
High degree of difficulty with this style. This is frankly way too big but the flavours are interesting and the balance works well for the most part except that it's really too warm. It's possible that the size of this covers quite a few of its flaws. I would love to try a 12% or lower version of this to really come to terms with it.
Pours a red colour. Beige head retains OK but lace is gorgeous. Seriously this lace is amazing.
Smells very sweet but with a nice dark fruity edge and a big cherry whiff. Slightly medicinal and heavy but not bad.
Taste is strong and robust and Belgian. Loads of dark fruit complexity with a nice cherry edge. Vanilla and malt upfront that moves into vinous territory, notes of toffee, pepper, coriander and lots of phenols on the back. Dips in and out of the "ow, that hurts" headachey booziness, but holds its own. Despite the flaws, it's very well controlled.
Body is a little thin and booze shows through as a result. Not great.
High degree of difficulty with this style always. Tastes boozey, strong, harsh even - which are all generally inevitable for quads - but this has a coherence to it that makes it worthwhile fare.
75 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney during their 4th of July US Spectapular.
Pours a deep maroon, with reddish tinges to the brown. Head is a solid beige, forming a pocked mass of large bubbles at the edges and leaving some mild streaks of lace. Body is thick, and it forms nice fine carbonation. Looks pretty good all up.
Nose is pleasant and rounded, with a big sweetness that manages to be tamed by a slight bite of medicinal astringency. Hint of cherry comes through, as does a flat, smooth vanilla note. It's really quite pleasant all up.
Taste is thick and full, with vanilla forming a solid base that runs from front to back. Above this we get slight woody notes, a little more of that pleasant cherry medicinal quality, and some deeper fruit notes of raisins and dates. There's a touch of astringency on the back, which actually helps clean up the feel a bit. It's pretty tasty all up.
Feel is light enough to stay drinkable, despite the weight of the beer and the continued vanilla thickness.
Overall, I'm really pretty happy with this. There's a good deal of quality behind this, and it takes some restraint to get a beer that's this big to be as drinkable as this. I'm very happy with it all up.
71 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with Sam.
Pours a frothy black-brown, with a puffy head of pale brown: the lightness of everything is the giveaway that this is something other than a big porter or stout. Lacing is excellent. Body is quite light. Looks very decent.
Nose is actually surprisingly mild. Some fine grainy malt characters, and a touch of sharpness that gives it a slightly boozy or inky quality, but not a whole bunch more. It's fairly fine all over, but it's not particularly big or complex.
Taste is a lot better. Here, there's a sweetness of dried fruit through the centre of the palate, which has a raisin or even concord grape quality to it. Around this is the fine depth of sweetness with a bit of booze to it. On the back is a long, lingering sweetness laced with a spiciness from the alcohol. It's a nice mix.
Feel is light and slightly frothy. It's pretty nice.
Overall, yeah, another fine brew out of the Lost Abbey stable. It's certainly not different enough to stand out from the crowd, but it's a beer I'm perfectly happy to drink. But then, pretty much anything with the LA label on it is something I'm perfectly happy to drink.
76 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from the brewery in Bermondsey. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam & Rich.
Pours a solid red-brown with good clarity. Head forms a fine but minimal film of pale off-white. Lacing forms in patchy inconsistent streaks. There's a little weight to the body, but nowhere near what I expect. Decent enough though.
Nose is slightly nutty, hazelnuts coming through in particular, with a slightly fatty sweetness. Some spice: a little cinnamon, perhaps, with just a jot of acidity like pickled orange peel. As it warms, it gets broader and sweeter, which really helps it a lot. I like it.
Taste is a bit flat, but still pretty broad, and with a good deal going on. Slight peppery spice, more pickled orange notes, and a persistent vanilla note which helps with the broadness and the sweetness. It lacks a little complexity overall, but there's plenty to enjoy as a whole.
Feel is smooth but sticky—lacking a true sweetness and body to be really rich, but certainly well-matched to the flavours
Overall, I'm pretty impressed. I liked the Partizan beers I had at the brewery fine, but I don't think either made it to the standard of this. As an aside, I coincidentally happened to have this beer on an evening where someone else brought an (admittedly old) bottle of Westvleteren 12, and this absolutely held its own against it.
76 / 100
33cl brown bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor in Bellevue Hill, Sydney.
Pours a murky, pleasant brown, with a rich red hue like tokay. Head is fairly minimal, but actually persists as a fine, still film of yellow-grey. Body has some heft to it, for sure, and when tilted the carbonation has a tough time wending its way to the surface. Minimal lacing, although the body has legs of its own.
Nose is very pleasant. Smooth, plummy richness off the bat, sweet but spicy. When swirled, there's a more pronounced boozy note that comes forward, giving a slight medicinal sharpness and a hint of smoke. Overall, very pleasant stuff.
Taste is also very good. Smooth entry, well balanced between true sweetness and the sharpness from the booze. Slight spicy hints prickle the back, giving soaked sultana and pickled ginger notes. Slightly brusque metallic finish completes the picture, leaving a tad too much medicinal character in the aftertaste. It's still very good though.
Feel is a little light, and made to seem a bit thinner by that sharpness.
Overall, a very tasty brew from Struise. It's perhaps not at the very top of their game, but the very top of Stuise's game is world-conquering.
72 / 100
Brewed at Bridge Road in Australia, shipped in red wine barrels across the sea to Norway and bottled by Nøgne Ø. I'm very pleased some of this made its way back to its birthplace. This was a 250ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a hazed, deep brown, with tints of red to the edges of the glass. Head forms a rather frothy mass of carbonated foam, but settles out to a decent crest of pale brown that leaves excellent lace. Carbonation is pretty fine, but the body is lighter than expected, and the bubbles flow through the glass rather swiftly. Looks good though overall.
Nose is great. Certainly you can smell the red wine oak character: plenty of vinous tones coming through, giving a fragrant but restrained fruitiness with tannic overtones. Deep malt, but not a lot of esters or yeast character. It lacks some of the dark sweetness of the Borealis, and certainly the smoky whisky tones, but the red wine is a fine addition in any case. It's still a tasty brew.
Similarly on the palate, the red-wine is quite dominant, although here there's a slight booziness on the very back of the palate which gives a lilt of depth to the beer. Still, a most definitely vinous almost-tartness on the front, slight fruitiness and a lingering tannic astringency. The frothiness of the carbonation makes you think otherwise, but it really does take on a lot of the red wine characteristics.
Overall. I certainly like it. I feel as though this has been overwhelmed by the red wine characters more than the Borealis was affected by the whisky—the Borealis was a more complete beer in and of itself. But I'm not one to pass up a sea-voyage aged wine-barrel quad, and there's certainly a huge amount to appreciate in this beer.
75 / 100
330ml stubby Belgian bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor in Bellevue Hill.
Pours a bright and clear deep golden colour, and despite a fairly careful pour, the head roars up in a mass of rocky, frothy cream-coloured bubbles. These crackle their way out to nothing, leaving a very aerated core and some wet smacks of lace. Body is light and fluid. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is dense with Belgian yeast esters—dense in that they're there, and pretty solid, but they don't express themselves individually, more as a pronounced block. Here we are, they say, and together we stand. There's a slight dustiness to it as well, giving it a slightly refined characteristic. It's actually pretty pleasant.
Taste is also quite refined and very good overall. Smooth, slightly biting characters run from start to finish, giving a mostly neutral grain malt character, laced with a hint of phenolics and acidity. Pleasant dryness on the back cleans things up, and prevents any significant alcohol burn. The booze is there, but it's marvelously tempered. This doesn't feel at all like a post-10% ABV beer. The feel helps in this regard too: it's light, but balanced enough to prevent any astringency.
It's a pretty fine beer, well crafted and packing a punch you don't expect. The smoothness on the palate is excellent, and the approachability overall is genuinely surprising. For a beer weighing in at ten-and-a-half percent ABV, this is ridiculously drinkable.
84 / 100
Pours a dark cola colour, thin beige head. nice and dense and creamy. Lace is OK, yeah looks like a well-put-together heavy beer.
Smells a little light, maybe too cold. OK, warmed up and plenty of complex, dark fruit: sultanas, booze and peppery phenols. Very decent, nothing too mind-blowing though.
Taste is fruity, dark: sultanas, plums, figs, dates and chocolate on there. Oak takes over midway, huge and woody with a touch of coconut and even pineapple on there. Sweetens it up a little, adds a slight woody flavour and a bit of tart astringency at the back as well. Pretty amazing palate though; a little out of control but so tasty I don't mind a bit.
Mouthfeel is hot, boozey, quite harsh actually. Needs a bit more body to temper all the hot spiciness.
That said, pretty amazing beer. Quadrupel as a style has a degree of difficulty of 3000 so the fact that it's drinkable is awesome. The fact that it's tasty and coherent is incredible.
69 / 100
650ml bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a boozy, rich cloudy burnished amber-brown, with a very solid head of yellow-tinged white that stays solid and static for a long time, eventually settling to a creamy film. Lacing is pretty decent: patchy tiny points all over the glass. Body is ridiculously heavy, and the carbonation sits around for a long time before sauntering to the surface when the beer is tilted. Looks pretty intense.
Cinnamon and sharp booze to begin with on the nose. Some earthy, slightly sharp coffee tones come through, mingled with the booze. Did I mention booze? As it warms, oddly, the cinnamon comes through more strongly. It's sweet and rich, but always cut with that heady alcohol character.
Taste is spicy and boozy, but built on a very solid basis of rich sweetness. More of that cinnamon character, more booze—a strangely thinning, plaintive character that sharpens but weakens the flavour. Finish is very biting, phenolic, boozy: with a rather sharp acetone character ending the piece. Even after it's gone there feels like there's a vapourised alcohol sitting in my mouth. Intense.
Feel is rich to start with, but the booze comes forward quite heavily. Leaving it hot and sharp.
Pretty difficult to drink except perhaps in particularly small quantities. I didn't get a lot of the purported dates, cherries or coffee, and what's left is something of a pretty messy quad. There are certainly things to like in it, and it's an impressive beer no matter what I think of it personally.
330ml bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.
Pours a surprisingly light ruby colour, almost amber, in fact, and quite clear. Head is a fine off-white, forming a solid film across the top of the glass. Body is really very light, especially for 10% ABV, and the carbonation is furtive and quick. Lacing forms in evanescent but noticeable streaks. Not too bad overall.
Nose is very pleasant: big rounded Belgian sweetness, capped with stacks of spice, estery characters and heady booziness. Along with sweet banana, spice plum and the standard fruit-pie spice, there's a plasticky character, marzipan, aniseed, and crushed flowers. Indeed, it's a little bit lighter in tone than I expected (perhaps it goes with the light colour), but it's big, boozy and quite complex.
Taste is boozy, big and uncoordinated. Spices rollick with estery sweetness and true toffee malt character, with a dried out aniseed and birdseed finish. It roils and foments on the palate, leaving an anarchy of discordant characters screaming to be heard. Finish is surprisingly light, with the leafy sweetness flailing out and leaving its whimpering ghost behind.
Feel is slick and chewy, with an unpleasant plastic remembrance as its legacy.
Overall, it's big, but untamed, uncouth and unrefined. Some might say that's great, but this feels like an experiment let loose like a tiger on a circus crowd. It doesn't have the structure, or the depth of purpose I want in a beer that's this big. This feels like someone let off a mound of TNT in a pile of bricks and hoped they'd get a house out of it. Big and explosive: but without the end result.
92 / 100
This is a collaboration beer between Nøgne Ø and Bridge Road, brewed at Nøgne Ø and then sent in casks across the sea back to Australia. Weighing in at 14.9%, yeah, this is an impressive beer. Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney.
Pours a murky brown colour, solidly hazed, with a very minimal ring of beige for a head. Body is very heavy, but that's not unexpected. Minimal carbonation: again not unexpected. It's fine for what it is, but it's not terribly appealing in and of itself.
But from there, wow, this is everything it deserves to be. The aroma is a thing of wonder. Big oak characters. Big smoke characters. Big sweetness. Big roast. Hints of rose, fragrant tannic red wine, booziness potent and dangerous, acetone and permanent marker huff. Holy crap. This is immense and extremely exciting.
Light spicy empty lulls you into a false sense of security, before a wallop of smoke and boozy richness thumps you on the back of the head. Smoke—dark smoke, like smouldering incense or burning minerals—this is no comforting campfire aroma. On the mid-palate comes more of that oak, giving a big vinous character and hints of pepper. Finish is intense: booze, intensity, sharp, almost a bite of apple on the finish, where did that come from? ... seriously: holy shit.
Feel is bitingly sharp but blisteringly full and rich.
My notes just contain a string of expletives and superlatives in the summary. Suffice it to say that this is a brilliant, exceptional and very rare brew. So good that it's dangerous.
61 / 100
Pours a very dark brown, almost black in fact. Ochre head, nice density but settles out to a thin film. Sticky lace. Looks nice.
Smells strong. Ethanoic, with sticky fig, sour cherry, vanilla, carob and Benedictine. Bit oversweet, and strong.
Tastes very Belgian. Slight sourness, with spicy phenols. Earthy spice, with a bitter earthy taste. Woody and smokey as well, with a medicine character on the back. Nectarine as well. there's definitely a lot of craftsmanship here, but I'm not getting anything amazing or even particularly complex from it.
Mouthfeel is very heavy and quite boozey, but reasonably silky. Not bad.
A good beer, but I'm really surprised to see the overwhelming love for it here. It's possible the bottle may have been old, but I simply didn't really connect with this. Either way I don't think my disappointment will be anything but a slight statistical blip in the lovefest here, so don't mind me, I'm just passing through.
Pours a murky red colour that thins out to the bottom. Head is fine and off-white, thin film with a steady bead. Lace is sticky but not too thick. Looks good.
Smells a bit meh. Slight spice and a fair amount of yeast and sweet grain. Slight bland sourness like a soft drink and some corn and vanilla on the back. Bland, bit sweet and simple.
Taste is... actually worse. Grainy, with a bland and watery adjuncty edge. Corn and rice mainly that descends into a chemical and metallic mid-palate, bland as well with a dour dryness that really has no character. Just tastes like fermentation with nothing behind it. Dry, bland, mostly unpleasant but not quite impressive enough for me to form much of an opinion.
Thin, mostly invisible body. No texture, really. Bland and insipid.
I was served this blind and had no idea it was meant to be a quad. Now I recognise quad as probably the hardest style to brew well, but I think there's been a big failure here even to create a faux-quad character. It feels like there's substitute ingredients, no interesting flavours and an overall distasteful sensation. Disappointing.
650ml bomber brought back from New York to Sydney, shared with @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a pleasant deep brown, with a slight haze to it. Head is very light, almost eggshell white, and forms some patches of splotchy lace. Body is pleasantly thick, and fine carbonation is abundant when tilted. Looks decent.
Nose is round and slightly sweet, with hints of vanilla and just a touch of spice. It has very little depth or complexity to it, but it does exemplify the Belgian aromas well enough.
Taste is flat. Thin with little sweetness or depth. it sits on the tongue for a while and then disappears. Slight spicy esters and a boozy heat, but there's almost nothing to it flavour-wise. It almost tastes like a beer that is way, way, way beyond its effective drinking date. Everything has flattened to an insipid, slightly oxidised nothingness. Mouthfeel is similar.
Overall, I'm exceedingly disappointed with this. Pretty Things have done some interesting beers in the past, but this is pretty insipid, and an extremely average attempt at a quad that gives the style a bad name.
Pours a dark Hellish red, head is off-white-to-beige actually, with nice small bubbles and pleasant trails of lace. Looks pretty nice.
Smell is quite red, with metallic hops dominating. Overripe red apple characters, pear and touch of lemon to it, with cuprous metal and maybe some pineapple. Nothing outstanding though, smells like watered-down Belgian aromas mostly.
Taste is very metallic. Starts quite organic, with some banana notes, copper and rich soil, then develops mild citric notes midway and a touch of malt, maybe sultana-y but back is all metal. Just battery acid and copper on there with some mild sour notes. Really, quite unimpressed with the palate. Bland, mostly, and almost unpleasant.
Not a bad texture, bit thin at times though. Very dry on the back.
Drinking this beer is like kissing a dude with a moustache - you can definitely notice and feel that there's something there, but it's nothing you really want and the overall experience leaves you wanting.
Purchased from Slowbeer, despite Chris saying he was less than impressed with it. Oh well. Let's see how it ends up.
Pours a pretty deep mahogany red-brown colour, flashingly bright in places, which gives it the appearance of a gemstone. Head is very fine and full, a pale beige overtone that seems quite separate to the refined and bright body. Minimal lacing, and quite a light fluid body. Not bad.
Nose is dusty and a little dank, giving hints of oxidised booze, wet cardboard and wine cork. As it warms, it gains a little sweetness, perhaps the dark fruit character of sultanas. All up, it's a miss, feeling lacklustre overall, and really genuinely lacking in the individual characters it should have.
Palate is similar. Again, there's a thinness to it, that suggests an oxidation, or at least would in wineâmore dusty characters and cardboard. Very little body, and a booze that feels rather unrestrained, and unbalanced by sweetness or body in the beer. Finish is dry and tannic, and missing the point.
Wow. This is an astonishing miss by 8 Wired. They brew some of the very best beers in the world, in my opinion, but this is thin, insipid and missing the point of the style. Ends up very disappointing. I was hopeful that Belgium might have found their match in SÃ¸ren, but they can hold their head up and say "leave this to the professionals, son".
41 / 100
Pours a dark amethysty-red colour with dense beige head that sticks around to a decent crown. Nice cradle of lace. Pretty damn fine.
Huge fruity nose, very candied with a blackcurrant and apple edge. Blackberry, cherry medicine, I could go on but yeah, it's definitely lacking something, needs more than just sweet fruit. Pretty poor and cloying, in fact.
Taste is similarly saccharine. Loads of fruit: apple, blackcurrant and black cherry with a slight weak cider edge and hardly any complexity to it, just sweet and a bit weak. Medicinal edge on the back but it falls short of being nicely phenolic or spicey. Really quite disappointed.
Full body, but not a lot of texture, just very simple.
It's probably hard to produce this particular fruit note from a beer but it just comes out as thinly sweet and under-fermented. Just not very enjoyable.
On-tap at the Local Taphouse for the Mikkeller Tap Takeover in Sydney. This was number 15 of 20.
Looks deep and pleasantly red, with a very full head of yellow-tinged ochre. Lots of retention. Minimal lace, but the colour and opacity is great.
Nose is... unpleasant. Really sticky and sweet apple cider character with a touch of booze to it and very little else. Sheesh. I dread to drink it.
Sickly and sweet on the palate, with astringent medicinal cherry and then a long, drawn out character of fermented apple. Despite this, the feel is quite thin and unpleasant.
Too much sugar in the wort! This smells like a fermented out sugar-drink. It's heavy, hot and unpleasant. This is not a great beer, and worse, it's a beer that gives the great examples of this style a bad name. Poor effort, Mikkeller.
87 / 100
Tasted in bottle at 't Brugs Beertje in Bruges. When I ordered it, with barmaid got a touch of excitement in her voice and told me it was a really good dark beer. It was clear she approved.
At 't Brugs Beertje the lady who served me said it was a lovely black beer from De struise. You could tell she approved.
Pours, indeed, a dark black brown colour, deeper than most Belgians, red when held to the light. Head is a foamy light mocha colour. Minimal lacing, but good body.
Nose is wonderful: big vinous notes with touches of oak, dark dried fruit, mild liquorice, spice and a slightly sweet port booze character. Lovely.
Taste is similar, with big fruity, dark grape, vinous and tannic boozy characters. Dried plums, more liquorice and aniseed. Spicy is limited to those lovely sweet, dark flavoursâit never gets astringent or peppery. It's smooth and full, deep and strong. Just lovely.
It's a truly wonderful Belgian brewâwarm, caressing, deep, full, complex. A bigger and more refined one is hard to find.
The barmaid is not alone. I approve too.
95 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Here it is. What, by many accounts, is the best beer in the entire world. Purchased at Bier Tempel in Brussels, along with the 8 and the Blond. Carried to Bruges until I realised I didn't have a bottle opener. After I attempted to prise off the cap with the edge of the table and the toilet-roll dispenser in the hotel room, my girlfriend became bemused and went out to buy me a bottle opener.
To the big question, however: can a beer this hyped live up to its expectations?
Freshness date of 20/04/14 stamped on the cap.
Pours a murky red brown, deeply coloured with amazingly fine carbonation feeding a modest, but amazingly fine-bubbled head. Lacing is thick and creamy, like uncooked meringue. Body is light, but slick looking, holding some of that fine carbonation when tilted. The bead is what makes this beer look so very refined. It's an absolutely lovely lookjng brew.
Nose is fine and light, tantalisingly giving off its aromas of spicy esters, fruity tannins and portlike booze. Slight tingle of lemon acidity to it as well. To be perfectly honest, though, its a lot less robust than I expected. The characters are very pleasant, and nicely balanced, but I've had beers with similar characters that have been fuller and more intoxicating. I'm not saying the subtlety here is bad. Just surprising.
Taste is lovely, however. Broad and long, giving wonderful complexity over the tongue, and developing as time passes along its length. Characters of raisins, tea leaf, red grapes, banana skin, rosemary, vanilla, cherry brandy, with a boozy and mildly astringent finish that you think is there to clean it up, but in fact just adds its own subtle complexity. Feel is sublime, just so smooth and supple and slick and thinly creamy. Now I understand the lack of body. Any more, and you'd look at overwhelming the subtle complexities.
I don't think I've had a better Belgian. This is top of the style easily, and it does easily warrant such an impressive place in the beer ethos. But, no, it's not the best beer in the world. The best beer in the world is still out there somewhere, tantalising me with its mythical presence. Some day, I will find it.
And unless I want to think that it's all downhill from here, I have to believe that until the end of my beer-drinking days.
49 / 100
Enjoyed at 10:50AM on a Sunday morning.
Pours a murky red colour with odd chunks of sediment all the way through it. Head is sparsely webbed out, leaving a film of large bubbles and some tight, sticky lacing. Apart from the floaties, looks great.
Smells a little rancid, in all honesty. Fair malty aroma with a touch of paint stripper-level alcohol at the back, and a fair tart hit that smells rather like really overripe peaches. Slight lactic touch to it as well. Can't say I like it a whole lot.
Tastes quite strong as well, with a lot of bold characters bouncing around. Really quite different from moment to moment. Lots of treacly malt at first that gets a strong chemical boozey note that increases through the palate. Touch of herbal medicine on the mid with a strong bubblegum flavour coming through as well. Fusel alcohol sting on the back that is not all great. Overall, this is a strong bitch that doesn't really harmonise its flavours together well. Just tastes like throwing lots of fermentable malts together with a high flocculating yeast.
Quite thick body, but also slick enough. Surprisingly good, really.
Yeah, a bit strong for 10:50AM. Or, for that matter, any other time.
Pours a silty and sediment-riddled bright burnished red-orange, with a relatively aggressive head of off-white. Lacing is thick, owing at least partly to the insanely syrupy body. It leaves some of the best static carbonation I've seen - when tilting the glass, it looks as though huge clumps of white have just been left behind, but in fact, it's just the remaining carbonation struggling to get to the surface. Looks pretty damn good, I have to say.
Nose is fruity with banana esters coming out very prominently, along with a harsh fusel kind of character. Hint of cinnamon spice coming through along with a sweetness that could be the vanilla. Interesting and bold characters. I'm not sure they mesh that well together, though.
Taste is really disappointingly light for most of its length. Light and sharp for most of it, giving a little alcohol bite, before all the flavour comes in at the end. Here, there are some subtly sweet nut characters, and a light, pastry-vanilla note. Alcohol present throughout, giving a harshness like bad port throughout. Feel burns with the booze.
Pretty hard to drink, and without the complexity or the depth to make it worthwhile drinking either. Very poor characters for a Quad, and the vanilla seems only to accentuate the very prominent alcohol - like drinking artificial vanilla essence.
Not a great fan, although there are some interesting things to it, and I always appreciate BrewDog pushing the boundaries.
Pours a dark red colour with lots of cloud. Head is modest and thin but nicely dense, retaining a thin film of creamy foam with beautiful dense lace. Yeah, looks like a good strong, hearty beer.
Smell is reasonably fruity, of the dark variety. Lots of plum and raisin notes. Plenty of tart spice with hints of cardamom and some vanilla in there. Orange peel as well, and some pine needle for good measure. A bit on the sweet 'n' sour side, could use more spice oomph, in lieu of bitterness.
Taste is quite chocolatey and sweet at first, lots of cocoa and woody characters with some tart fruit notes. Plenty of plum and apple/pear sweetness coming through, slightly candied and almost liqueury actually. Light spice and Belgian phenols come through late, hints of some green peppercorns + pink as well - no black or white though, note - and a touch of coriander as well. Nice alcohol warmth on the back, just softly boozey with a full, silky body. A touch of tingle from the carbonation makes it a bit dry on the finish and the woody notes kind of add to that, with the major aftertaste being oaky. Overall, nice complexity but lacking in the front-mid palate, flavour-wise.
A pleasant drop with good flavours, quality over quantity really. What's there is tasty but I kind of expect more from 10.5%
73 / 100
Pours a lovely slightly cloudy, low flocculated brown red. Head is very finely bubbled, a lovely yellow-beige colour. Minimal lacing, but the body is very thick and heavy. I love that it has such robust carbonation though. It looks great when swirled. Very nice indeed.
Ooh, lovely Belgian yeast notes on the nose, wonderfully mixed with a pleasant spice and the tantalising hint of big boozy characters on the palate. Not a huge amount of sweetness promised, but there's some very pleasant true Abbey Ale characters to it.
Taste is, to be fair, a little disappointing. Minimal sweetness and surprisingly little body, so the full breadth of the palate is not really used. What's there is a pleasant spice and a slightly dusty and boozy bitterness on the back palate. Ashy finish. I'm tempted to say it's a bit old, and perhaps a touch oxidised, but that's not really the characters I'm getting.
Decent enough, but I was underwhelmed after taking a sip. Don't get me wrong, it's still a very good beer, but it feels like it's lacking for the style.
77 / 100
Pours an almost purple colour, red-brown but dark, with very nice burnt sienna-hued head and very good retention, made of small but visible bubbles. Lacing is sticky and delightful, seems to have some hazy in the glass as well. What a pile of deliciousness.
Nose is sweet and delectable, with a large berry hit - raspberry, blueberry and strawberry with a slight tang to it, and a mild hit of bitter from some slightly resiny hops. Rich and dark, but still very sweet overall, pleasant aroma indeed.
Taste is dark and brooding, with a raisiny syrupy sweetness coming to the fore with hints of figs and red grape skin. Has a slightly ashy bitterness towards the back, quite phenolic (in fact a lot of phenols throughout) with a noticeable tickle of alcohol that gives it a whisky character which is by no means a bad thing. Potent phenolic finish with a lovely warming sensation to cap off a sweet but brooding front palate.
Mouthfeel is nicely full, definitely slightly burning towards the back but I just like it, and it leaves very cleanly with a nice, lightly bitter finish. Overall it's not overwhelmingly drinkable because of that alcomohol but enjoyable as a good scotch and nicely Belgian in complexity.
85 / 100
Pours a thick and viscous strawberry-jam brown, with a thick and heavy head of whitish-brown foam. Speckled with floaties in the glass, that stay heavy and suspended. Looks pretty damn wonderful.
Rich, musty aromas on the nose, not unlike an attic filled with abandoned, outdated chocolate bars. Sweetness, and a light acidity or oakiness peeking through. Even some dark acidic fruitiness perhaps, like cherries or tamarillo. Yum.
Taste is smooth, rich and complex. Not particularly sweet, like the nose might have suggested. Here, we get some dark aromatic, boozy characters, slightly rough around the edges, but brooding and rebellious. Certainly a kick of alcohol to this, and the complex amalgam of booze, light acidity, deep roasted sweetness and the silky feel make this an almost overwhelming experience. Yee ha! What a great beer.
A very, very pleasant and very, very drinkable beer, especially considering its ABV. Very slick, very complex, and amazingly enjoyable. Thankyou laituegonflable for slapping me in the face with this one!
77 / 100
Deep, lightly hazy dark brown, with a frothy, but surprisingly loose-bubbled head of beige foam. Lacing is excellent though. Shame the head looks so weak. Otherwise very nice.
Very powerful rich, sweet nose, full of dried fruit, vanilla caramel and some spicy alcohol. Very pleasant indeed.
Very smooth and rich palate. Sweet, with lots of malt and a pleasant phenolic alcohol, which stays spicy and warm under everything. Notes of liquorice noticeable. Very smooth and sippable.
All things considered, it's not a huge and boisterous Belgian bomb, but it's tight, accurate and true to style. Very, very easy to drink for what it is. I could drink it all night, which is quite an amazing property for such a strong beer.
57 / 100
Pours a very dark, brown-tinged colour with ochre head, generous when first poured, now dissipating, leaving a thin film. Shit-hot thick lacing, looks great.
Very spicy and phenolic nose, kind of cherry-esque and almost musty. Quite interesting and I daresay very Belgian in character, with that spicey yeast. Very nice.
Quite malty on the palate with again, quite a sour flavour coming through, also very spicy with a peppery, Shiraz kind of character. A bit of a flat palate profile though, with only one note sounding. That one note is very complex and unique though, with hints of licorice, a lot of pepper and methinks a a fair hit of alcohol which gives it quite a burning mouthfeel, like a good slug of scotch. It if full though, and very interesting. Can't say I love it, but it's interesting and quite palatable.
90 / 100
Pours a delectable looking cherry colour with a fine beige head, quite dense but going away quite steadily. Thinly dispersed lacing, but that colour - if it didn't remind me so much of Timmerman's Kriek it would be outstanding.
Delicious nose, with burnt toffee, slight - although I'm probably wrong about this - smokey character with a lot of sweet dried fruit to boot. Sweet, blossoming and delicious. So much character, so much sublimity. Stop the presses, we have just discovered perfection.
Has that slightly, subtly smoked flavour on the very front palate, then trails off into a really full-bodied, sweet 'n' sour full mouth flavour. Has hints of lime mixed with raisins, cinnamon, wood smoke and treacle. Slightly too tart for me to absolutely cream my jeans, but it's delicious, complex, very flavoursome and has enough pleasantness to power a small jet-propelled shuttle to the moon and back.
Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, like bodily excretions. Overall a shit-hot beer, could drink a gallon of this without taking a breath and I'd be smiling all the way to the graveyard.
94 / 100
(Best of the Best)
2007 Vintage. Wonderful looking bottle. Caged and corked, decorks with a sucking thunk sound. Love it.
Pours thick as treacle, a gorgeous burgundy red colour with excellent clarity. Head is a consistent almost-pure-white crown of filmy bubbles. This is a majestic, serious looking beer - the colour is magnificent, and it looks like a wonderful, wonderful brew.
Coppery sour on the nose. Beautiful notes of Belgian yeast, roasted malt, and a citrus/fruit acidity that sets all the rest off nicely. Not overtly strong, but subtle and complex. Wonderful.
There's layers to the palate, all delicate, but intermingling in a wonderful way. An initial hint of alcohol heat is mellowed by a sweet, slick character like melted candi sugar. This in turn dries out a little, leaving a residual cherry-sour character that explores the taste-buds. Aside from this, there's a tessitura of citrus sitting above all, and a darker spicy undertone to everything. What a wonderful harmony of so many disparate elements - this is a magnificent brew, thoroughly delicious.
Mouthfeel is lighter than you would expect, like the strong Belgian ales in this regard. Doesn't leave the palate overwhelmed, which is what is required of an ale this strong.
Despite the strength, the lightness of the body, and the lighter, fruitier characteristics of this beer make it supremely drinkable. This is a truly wonderful brew. Not just one of the best Belgium ales brewed outside Belgium, but one of the best Belgian ales period.
75 / 100
Pours a lightly cloudy orange amber colour, with a good frothy head of off-white bubbles. Little carbonation or lacing present. Looks pretty good.
Spicy citrus on the nose - rather reminiscent of Grand Marnier. There's a deep sweetness, like treacle or black caramel, but with light fruity characters over the top. Under this is a brandy/liqueur character which just deepens the aroma and adds an extra dimension. Nice.
Spicy on the palate too, hints of clove, pepper and allspice, but with an undeniable sweetness underlying it all. Finish is long and drawn out, with a lingering alcohol heat - it's a pleasant character, but means it takes some time to sip your way through it. Palate is quite dry by the end. Mouthfeel is slick and smooth. Just great.
Once again Allagash shows that they can knock swords with the Belgians, the fathers of these styles. This is a very tasty Belgian Strong, loaded with character, and an excellent approximation of the classic examples.