Rochefort 10 is a very, very special beer. This beer is almost as highly regarded among internet beer geeks as the legendary Westvleteren 12, but is far easier to obtain. I held off on drinking this beer for the longest time, in fact this is the first bottle I've had in the United State. I didn't abstain from the Rochefort 10 because I don't like Quads or I don't like Trappist beers, quite the opposite... I love both. I'd known for at least a year that I was going to spend some time in Belgium last year and I couldn't resist putting a visit to Westvleteren on my list... and since I'd waited this long to try Rochefort 10, I might as well do a side-by-side with Westy. Needless to say, I had a great time in Belgium...
Gueuze is a style of beer I've only recently started to appreciate. I've had just about the entire Lindemans line up and I've always enjoyed the intense fruit spiked Kriek and Framboise as a dessert beer, but I never bothered to pick up a bottle of their Gueuze. Cuvée René is Lindemans base Lambic sour that has been aged and blended back with younger Lambics. After a recent trip to Belgium, where I found I had an affinity for the style, I found my self craving a nicely chilled bottle of Gueuze and decided to give Lindemans a try. There aren't many options as far as Gueuze goes in my neck of the woods, so I'm hoping it's one I can keep going back to when I want to reminisce about Belgium.
Stillwater Artisanal and De Struise are two brewers I've had very little from. In the past year I've seen a lot of Stillwater beers pop up on shelves at different liquor stores everywhere I've traveled. It turns out Stillwater, like Mikkeller, doesn't have a brewery of their own, so their beers are all collaborations that are brewed at a someone else's brewery. De Struise is a Belgian craft brewer that I've heard a lot of great things about but I've only had one of two beers that have carried their label. I'm excited to try this beer, but I'm not entirely sure what to expect... after all, the bottle just says it's a 10% ABV Belgian ale that was brewed with barley, oats, wheat, rye, hops, sugar and yeast. So, a lot of stuff, but nothing crazy.
Scheldebrouwerij's Hop-Ruiter is a new beer for me. I've never seen this Belgian hoppy Blonde on the shelves and I've not tried this beer before. This particular bottle came to me about two weeks ago and I've been waiting anxiously to try it. This 750ml bottle has a label like a playing card, it has a mirrored shield which looks like a medieval coat of arms. The text dividing the two halves of this label says this is THE blond hoppy beer from Turnhout. I'm guessing Turnhout is a little more well known in Belgium...
This is a beer I've wanted to try ever since I had my first sour ale. Rodenbach was a name that always came up when sour beers were discussed, so of course I wanted to get my hands on a bottle. Until recently I wasn't able to find Rodenbach anywhere, it was always out of stock or it just wasn't distributed to the area. All I really knew about this beer before I drank it was that it was held in very high regard by many people. It's name came up when talking about Flemish beers like Dutchess De Bourgogne but I wasn't sure just how similar they would be. I really enjoyed the Dutchess and I was hoping these two beers would be quite similar.
St. Bernardus is a name that often comes up when people talk about Westvleteren. Westvleteren 12 is regarded by many who've had it (which is a very small fraction of the overall population of craft beer drinkers) as the best beer in the world. Part of it's allure is the nearly unobtainable nature of this beer. St. Bernardus, on the other hand, is a much more widely available beer and one that is considered a very close second when talking about the best beers in the world. As someone who hasn't had the Westvleteren 12 or St. Bernardus, I'm approaching this beer with few preconceived notions about these beers and I'm looking forward to evaluating each one on their own merits.
This time last year I was elbow deep in Christmas beers. For the past couple of years I've done a month-long Christmas beer challenge where I drink a different Christmas seasonal each day leading up to Christmas. Sound like fun? It was, at least until the middle of the second week when all the Winter Warmers start to taste the same and you'd strangle your own mother to get your hands on a Pilsner. I decided to pass on the Jingle Beers this year and just realized this would be my first Christmas beer review of the year.
Always excited to try a new Belgian beer when it comes on the market, I was looking forward to getting a bottle of Affligem when it arrived earlier this year. It fell through the cracks as summer rolled by and fall beers hit the shelves... Before I knew it I'd had this bottle of Affligem Blond sitting in the basement for about five months. Not ideal, but at 6.7% ABV I'm hoping the beer held up alright. I decided to start with the Blond rather than going straight for the Tripel because I was feeling a little burnt out on Tripels at the time. Had I known the beer was going to sit around for so long, I would've grabbed the Tripel. Oh well...
I had my first taste of Maredsous a month or so back as part of a Belgian flight at a bar. I'd had all of the other beers in the flight before but somehow had overlooked Maredsous. I believe the taster was Maredsous' Dubbel. It really stood out from the other beers in the flight, perhaps because I'd never had it before but it was memorable nonetheless. A week or so later I saw a large stack of Maredsous bottles at my local liquor store. When I saw the 750ml bottles were only $3.99 I figured I couldn't go wrong. The bottle I picked up was a 6% ABV Blonde in a branded paper wrapper.
Grimbergen Ales were relatively unknown to me until about 6 months ago when I noticed kegs of their Dubbel started showing up at finer drinking establishments around town. My first impressions of the draft Grimbergen Dubbel were that it was quite good. I remember it tasting exactly like I was expecting a Belgian Dubbel to taste like. I had a couple more times on tap over the summer and finally saw bottles on shelf at my local liquor store. I remember liking the beer quite a bit so I picked up some Dubbel and looked forward to reviewing it formally.