Brugse Zot Dubbel (7.5%, 33 cl)

Ahh it’s been way too long since I have reviewed a Beer. Wow, it’s almost a year back! Sure Whisky takes up a large part of my life (when talking about booze that is), but I sure do enjoy other drinks as well. I really have to do more with Beers and Rum and I have to say other drinks are also in the pipeline. Lets get back to basics (for me) and review a Beer from the number one Beer country in the world: Belgium! This time we’ll have a look at Brugse Zot Dubbel. Brugge is a really beautiful town in Flanders, Belgium. Highly recommended if you haven’t visited yet. Get yourself a Vlaamse Stoverij (Beef stew) with any great brown Beer, and you’ll be king for the evening! Brugse zot (Jester from Brugge) is a Brown Beer brewed by Brouwery De Halve Maan.

Brugse Zot DubbelColor: Red brown, mahogany with a lot of Cappuccino foam.

Nose: Fresh air and hints of citrus. Quite a yeasty, yet clean smell carried by carbon dioxide. Creamy winey honey, but all the way through it keeps its acidic freshness. Candy Sugar and only a hint of mustiness or cold dishwater. No sign of anything burnt.

Taste: Quite a lot of bitterness at first. It tones down a bit for the (lighter) body but returns and stays behind on the tongue for the warming finish, which must come from Saaz hops. Brown sugar candy and muscovado sugar, but having said that it’s absolutely not a sweet Beer. Here also that typical hint of fruity acidity. Slightly burnt sugar and a hint of vegetal and dry licorice. The unexpected fruitiness comes even better to the fore when the Beer is drunk with big gulps and chewed.

This Beer is known for its usage of six different malts for a complex aroma, but tasting this Beer now (at the right temperature of 8 C) it doesn’t seem too complex. When reading the list of malts and the usage of hops this also tastes like a beer that has been designed to be like this. It works well. Its all right by itself but probably even better with a Flemish stew as mentioned above (also made with brown Beer).

Points: 78

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Leprechaun Imperial Stout (7%, 33 cl)

Leprechaun (new label)Lets finish off this dark month with an equally dark Beer. After Fonkel and Marieke why not try another dutch Beer. This time one brewed by De Naeckte Brouwers from Amstelveen (near Amsterdam) in The Netherlands. This pair of brewers, Michel Lagrand and Ab van der Veen are brewing beers for a longer time, about 15 years, than the guys from Oostenburg (Amsterdam) and therefore have a larger selection of ten Beers to choose from. The fully dressed guys have their own brewery. Naeckte (naked) doesn’t mean the brewers brew their Beers with their pants down, but naked in this context means honest and pure, stripped of all fuss.

De Naeckte Brouwers LeprechaunColor: Black-brown, with (not a lot of) beige foam.

Nose: Sugary (but not candied sugar) and dark. Roasted and dark malts. Mocha and some nice freshness. Very nice and balanced nose, full of dry caramel.

Taste: Bitter upfront and in the body. Hops and hints of laurel licorice. Roasted malt, coffee and the darkest of Ethiopian chocolates. Burnt sugar and caramel. Having said that, the Beer isn’t over the top. It is bitter but not very bitter, it’s still a Beer to enjoy and the notes present themselves easily. Slightly acidic. No fruits, but the acidity spells out hints of lemon, or maybe not, as the Beer gets warmer and warmer while I’m tasting it, more and more, the acidity starts to resemble a nice Riesling (without the goût de petrol). This acidity transports into the finish, which for me makes the beer nicely balanced.

Actually quite a light Imperial Stout. I have tasted others that were very animalesk and cloying. This is quite clean and “naked” so it probably is what the brewers intended…

Don’t drink this Beer too cold, it will just kill all the nice notes this Imperial Stout has. It’s a clean, light and elegant Imperial Stout. Nice!

Points: 83

Marieke – Oostenburgs Blond Bier (6.8%, 33 cl)

Marieke is, after Fonkel, the second Beer by Brouwerij Oostenburg. The people behind the brewery still don’t have their own brewery yet, but make their beers at the brewery of De 7 Deugden in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Earlier you could read about the wonderful Fonkel, and today we’ll have a look at the just released Blonde Beer by Brewery Oostenburg. For those of you who can read Dutch, you might enjoy the nice romantic language on their site.

Brewery Oostenburg like so many others, started out as a hobby brewery but is rapidly becoming more serious, brewing special Beers for special occasions. The brewers, (no names are mentioned on the website), are trying to brew Beers with a flavor combination that was not there yet, so in that sense they started with the wonderful Fonkel (cloves). Marieke is a Blonde Beer, which to me doesn’t sound like something “special” since there are already numerous Blonde Beers around. Also a glance at the ingredients doesn’t tell us anything special. Still the wonderful Fonkel fills me with anticipation…

MariekeColor: Dark blonde, maybe even amber, with just the right amount of ivory foam, but less than Fonkel.

Nose: Fresh citrus odor. Hits of yeast and hops, but both are not very upfront. Advised drinking temperature for this beer is 6 – 8º C and that’s a temperature the nose of a Beer usually is pretty closed. What stays is the fresh or refreshing smell this Beer has. Very appetizing. The foam is about two centimetres thick, holds on for a while and then disappears rather quickly.

Taste: Very light when the beer enters the mouth. Light woody (hoppy naturally) bitterness and estery (tiny hint of banana) taste. Not the body I’ve expected. Short finish. The alcohol is not upfront. The refreshing nose doesn’t come back in the taste. And the whole taste dances around its, not too heavy, bitterness.

The strong points of this beer is in the beginning. Nice color, nice amount of foam. Clean looking with some dabs of yeast. Also nice is it’s smell. Is smells appetizing and refreshing. The taste however, for me, is too light. At entry, a nice bitterness helps the Beer along, but in the end the bitterness is too weak to give Marieke a nice voluptuous body. Marieke has a slim body, and actually, she doesn’t leave a lasting impression. That’s maybe Mariekes weakest point, a very light finish of hops and yeast which dissipates too quickly.

This beer has just been released and readers of my Beer posts will remember I believe in ageing Beers. This is freshly brewed and might gain from ageing. The brewers already got a lot right so I can imagine next batches of this beer to be even better. When tasting this Beer, I have found better development at a higher temperature than advised. 8 to 10º C seems more right to me.

In the end I’m quite disappointed with Marieke. Fonkel really is a Beer with an idea behind it and it seems to me the recipe was perfected over time (in a kitchen or something). This idea of brewing something special was conveyed onto us by word of the website, but Marieke, to me, has not that special idea behind its creation and may have been released too quick.

Points: 72

Fonkel – Oostenburgs Amberbier (7%, 33 cl)

This is the first beer of Brouwerij Oostenburg, that’s why I’m posting it first, but I’m tasting it áfter the Marieke which will feature in the next review. Marieke by the way, is Brouwerij Oostenburgs new Blond Beer. Out now! I’m tasting the beers in reversed order, because I got them out of the fridge together and according to the brewers, Marieke needs to be drunk at a lower temperature. Second, Fonkel is an Amber beer at 7% ABV and Marieke is a Blond Beer, lighter in style with “only” 6.8% ABV. So first up is Fonkel since it’s the brewers first beer and next time I’ll review Marieke, including a little bit of info about the brewers.

FonkelColor: Dark orange amber. It’s like having fire in a glass. Perfect thick and firm dark ivory foam. Medium residual yeast that transferred into my glass. Yummie!

Nose: Definitely a darker nose than Marieke. Fruity and even slightly fishy and dishwater (burnt sugar in water) like smell. This adds to the character. This may sound negative to you, but believe me, this is no bad thing. From a distance the beer smells floral and gives off a lovely smell. You’ll read about it next time, but Marieke too is a nice smelling beer. The added spices are easily recognizable. Coriander, but above all cloves! A real winter warmer by the fireplace. I like the use of cloves in this beer, it brings back my childhood at Christmas. My mother always put some oranges on the table with cloves sticking out of the skin and exactly that is what I get from this beer.

Taste: At entry, this is a very nice Beer, loads of character and well made. I like it. A little bit of deep citrus skins, predominantly oranges and tangerines. But yes, here the cloves play a nice part to. Just read the part about the nose of this beer and copy it here. The taste matches the smell of this beer perfectly. Good masculine finish with medium bitterness combined with spices. The finish is long and stays with a nice hint of cloves. (Personally I would have liked a little bit more clove even, and maybe a tad of cinnamon in this beer, but that may not work, I’m not a brewer).

Well made and very tasty beer, which hits the right chords. With beers like this in your collection, who wouldn’t like winter! Advised to drink around 8 – 10 C, and I guess that’s about right. Recommended if you can get a hold of it since it seems to be only sold locally.

Points: 84

Bik & Arnold Dubbel (8.5%, 33 cl)

The Muifelbrouwerij was featured earlier on these pages with its Bergs Bier. That Beer was made for the town of Berghem. This Bik & Arnold is also a commissioned Beer. This Beer was made for Slijterij Zeewijck in IJmuiden, The Netherlands (An off licence). Zeewijck commissioned three Beers from Brewer Martin Ostendorf. The first one being a Blond Beer, called Blonde Kaairidder, which in comparison to other Blond Beers is quite high in alcohol. The second, a Dubbel, is this Bik & Arnold. And the third one is a Tripel called Breesaap. Lets start off with this Dubbel, a dark brown Beer, which hopefully isn’t too sweet, because I’m not very fond of those über-sweet brown Beers…

Bik & Arnold LabelColor: Very dark brown, with light Cappuccino foam (not a lot) and some yeast depot.

Nose: Hints of roasted malts, dark candy sugar and some vegetal notes from the coriander. Also the typical dishwater note returns. I know it sounds horrible but it isn’t. Murky and yet also fresh.

Taste: Hmmm nice, very easy and not as sweet as I expected, but it is sweet like light honey. The dark color and all the Belgian Dubbels, made me expect something more heavy and cloying, sweeter too, but this is another kind of Dubbel. Lighter in style and subtle. Very tasty and easy drinkable due to its slightly fruity acidity. It has a slight bitterness on the finish from roasted malts and chocolate but mostly dark candied sugar. Also the dishwater note settles in the finish.

For a beer that is as dark as it is, I expected a bit more of those dark Beer, or Dubbel, components. do I miss it? Nope. Due to the cloying sweetness some Dubbels have, I am not a fan of Dubbels. The beer is very good as it is. A nice light and refreshing Dubbel where every component seems to fit. Good balance and well made.

Points: 82

Piraat (9%, 33 cl, overaged)

Cleaning out the closetCleaning out the closet, I found some (but not a lot) Beers well beyond their best before dates. Most can be, and should be aged like most Trappist and some Abbey beers. This Piraat (Pirate) is a heavy blonde beer with refermentation in the bottle, isn’t one of them though. Yesterday I poured two beers into the sink, clear examples that you shouldn’t age everything. Those two were Kasteel Blond 11 and Abdij van ‘t Park Blond.

Out of that old batch comes this Piraat, and with this one I’ll take the plunge. Please don’t compare it with a freshly brewed Piraat, because the extra ageing does a lot for taste and smell. Treat this review as an experiment after which you can decide if you want to age a Beer like this. By the way, best before date on this bottle is 12/02/2010! How did that happen?

Piraat is brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge, from Ertvelde Belgium, which also makes Augustijn and Gulden Draak, but also Bornem Dubbel, Celis White, Leute Bokbier and Sparta Pils.

PiraatColor: Orange gold with, not a lot of, off-white foam.

Nose: Very murky, canals in the rain. Dust and lots of esters. Burnt sugar and heated orange skins, and that’s all the fruit that can be had from this nose. Not extremely pleasant, but not bad as well. Lets try a sip.

Taste: Heavy in alcohol, and the first sip is needed to was the smell away. Good warming qualities, and nice depth. The murkiness of the nose, and that has probably a lot to do with the yeast depot, shows its head in the taste too. This beer starts well, refreshing, hints of sweet banana and heavy on the alcohol. Aged alcohol, although there is no such thing. The middle is deeper due to the murky yeast and the finish has candied yellow fruits, combined with a little bit of bitterness.

First of all, before tasting this beer I didn’t think I should score it. Usually Blonde Beers that are aged too long are usually destroyed or undrinkable. This one however seems to have survived due to sheer quality? Still it has a depth to it I can’t imagine is there from the start. I can only compare this to a fresh bottle when the opportunity presents itself. For the time being, this Piraat is still a nice Beer, and therefore I’ll give it a score (but don’t take this score too seriously), since I feel a freshly bought Piraat will perform differently.

Conclusion, would I advise you to age this Beer? Most definitely not. This Beer was never intended for ageing. It probably didn’t get better after ageing, nor is it a style of beer that should be aged to boot. But, the Beer didn’t fold, it’s still drinkable and nice, where fellow Beers had to be poured down the drain, and that’s an accomplishment.

Points: 80

Berghs Bier (6.5%, 33 cl)

Martin OstendorfAfter Santpoorts Bier, here is another local Beer. Where Santpoorts Bier was linked to Santpoort, this Berghs Bier is linked to Berghem, a town in between Den Bosch and Nijmegen in the Southern part of The Netherlands. The Beer is brewed by Martin Ostendorf in his Muifelbrouwerij in Berghem, so this is the Beer Martin made for his own home town. I have come across some other beers of Martin’s and they usually are pretty good, so expect more Muifel Beers on these pages.

The Muifel brewery started up in 2006 and its mission is to produce excellent beers in styles as diverse as possible. The name comes from the words ‘Megen’ (again a town) and ‘Duivel’ (the devil, after the Belgian Beer “Duvel”). The Muifelbrouwerij started out as a hobby brewery where a Duvel-style Beer quickly was known as ‘Muifel’.

Berghs BierColor: Beautiful dark amber, nice brown and red hue, with a fine dark cream foam (not quite Cappuchino).

Nose: Wet dog and dishwater. Spicy and a nice light hoppy freshness. Malts and caramelized sugar. Warm apple sauce and hints of cinnamon. It actually is quite hard to describe the nose. It’s almost like it doesn’t want to come out of the glass, especially when it drunk at the advised temperature of 8 degrees Centigrade, which for me seems a bit too cold.

Taste: Warming at first and deep. Slightly too low in alcohol, because after the initial sip the beer seems very light and sweet. Light body. Not what I expected. The taste is actually at its best just before the finish kicks in. The finish is more Pilsener in style (a bit sour), but most of the flavours emerge just before the slightly bitter finish. That middle part has some nice complexity too it, it’s refreshing and sometimes it even reminds me of a nice Alsacian wine. The middle part is stellar, if only the rest of the beer would be as good.

A pretty decent beer, but I have to admit, pretty light, and slightly unbalanced. The start somehow doesn’t match the beautiful body, and after this beautiful body the finish is a bit sour and a bit weak. Luckily Martin isn’t afraid of experimenting and is learning on the spot. Soon it will be apparent that some of his other beers really are hitting the bullseye. This one is good, but not one of his best. Still, there is a lot to enjoy in the middle part, so I’m now going to enjoy the rest of what’s in my glass.

Points: 79