I was recently in Brussels with TheBeerNut doing our Beoir and EBCU duties. We visited the EU parliament and commission, met with a Dutch MEP and also learned a little about lobbying as well as discussed Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 with one of the top guys involved with it. This isn't a discussion for this blog though so I will skip past the meetings and move on to some of the beer I had.
From Brasserie de la Senne we have Black In Japan, a 7.2% ABV black IPA. I won't get in to the reason it's named that way. The beer has an aroma of chocolate with a little liquorice and some unidentifiable hops.
On tasting, I found it quite stout like. Lots of citrus hops and a little liquorice with a lingering bitter finish. It's a rather good beer that I still found disappointing when compared to many other so called Black IPAs I have had.
Also from de la Senne is Jambe De Bois, an 8% ABV abbey style trippel that has had some extra hops thrown in. It's a slightly lemony affair with hints of fresh bails of straw and some hops. A little lemon and honey makes for an interesting affair. I don't go for Belgian tripels usually but I rather enjoyed this one.
From Struise we have XXX Rye Reserva from 2012. It's a bourbon barrel aged, 10% rye triple. Unlike some bourbon barrel beers which can be overpowering and alcopopy, this one just has nice hints of bourbon with vanilla, chocolate and a little cherry/dark fruit. Slightly boozy and prune finish. Absolutely lovely beer.
The Brussels Beer Project is an interesting thing and it reminds me somewhat of what Beoir is doing. We have one beer under our belts that will be released soon (Beoir#1). The main difference is that we crowd-funded an up and coming brewery at the time (now in full production) and BPB are looking to establish their own brewery. Anyway, that''s enough digressing. Dark Sister is a beautiful black IPA. The 6.66% ABV becomes clear when you realise that Dark Sister is the "evil twin" to Delta (see below).
It's packed full of dark fruit and Is quite tart. I found it very fizzy as many Belgian beers tend to be. Quite bitter, more so than expected and a lovely chocolate and dark fruit combo. A very drinkable beer and very moreish.
Delta is the angelic twin of Dark Sister. Where dark sister is dark, delta is light and has a 6% ABC, a whole .66% less than its evil twin. Yeast and hops are the dominating characteristics a first before a slight lemon sherbet peeks through. It's somewhat sour with a little grape juice. A bitter and dry finish seals the deal for me. It's very enjoyable.
I love Rodenbach and there was no way I was turning down a 2011 vintage edition while I was there, so I had two of them. I now realise I didn't write about the 2010 edition I had in November so here it is. Sour with tart raspberries. Sherbety with some dark cherries perhaps. Wood and a hint of vanilla. An utterly fantastic beer.
Dupont's Bons Voeux is a 9.5% ABV trippel. Again, not my favourite style of beer but when in Belgium....
Honey and straw but also slightly sour. There's a big bubble gum hit and a slightly boozy finish. Better than I expected considering I'm not a fan of the style. This could be a result of it being more like a super saison than a traditional Belgian tripel.
The award for strangest beer of the trip goes to Kameleon Ginseng. It's a 6.5% ABV beer that litterally tastes like ginseng. I used to eat ginseng pastilles and that's basically what this tasted like, right down to the sugar. I imagine the base beer is a blonde ale. There's some slight spice and herbal notes. Think leffe with ginseng added and you approach what the beer might taste like. A fascinating beer that I never intend to try again but am glad I tried it once.
In my next article, I'll mention the various brands of gueuze I tried on the trip. The beer I wrote about is only about a 3rd of the beer I had over the course of the 4 days. Just the more interesting ones for better or worse.