Archive for the 'Dubbel' category
You guys know I love about anything Shmaltz puts out, and that is solely based upon experience, as I’ve never had a bad brew from these guys. Managing to crank out high quality beers while also pushing flavor envelopes the way Shmaltz does, especially with their He’Brew line, is quite an accomplishment. This iteration of the Rejewvenator is especially interesting, as it is a combination of of a Doppelbock and a Dubbel ale. If that weren’t enough, it’s also brewed with Concord grape juice. It’s quite a cultural mishmash, for sure, but has great potential.
The color of this is mostly a deep brown with very little debris, though you can also detect a light hint of ruby when held up to a light. The head is creamy and caramel-colored though, admittedly, it doesn’t stick around very long. In the nose, the grape juice certainly takes center-stage. There is a ton of grape sweetness, a light hint of aniseed, and maybe just a little caramel. The flavor of this beer is well befitting its aroma. Again, there is a ton of grape here. The grape flavor certainly isn’t wine-like, but more akin to the Concord grape juice you drank as a kid. However, the flavors layered on top of the grape give this considerable added complexity. You won’t find too much in the way of hop here, but there are lots of rich earth flavors, bits of licorice, and some decent bready grains. This is super rich despite the light taste of grape, and the mouthfeel is just a bit syrupy, doing a fine job of coating the mouth and tongue, leaving a slightly acidic aftertaste that sticks around for many seconds. In short, this is a pretty fantastic beer. It is certainly unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. I’m not sure it will tickle everyone’s fancy, as the grape flavor might be a bit too much for some in a beer. However, the uniqueness of this beer alone makes it worth the trip. And, for those who enjoy both grape juice and beer, this should be a big hit…
Ohhhh Unibroue. Purveyor of some mighty tasty beers. This particular brew is one that I’ve drunk on many occasions, often perched atop a bar stool at Milltown in Carrboro. I recently discovered that a review of this somehow never made it to SevenPack, so I’m going to go ahead and remedy that now.
The TP pours a verrrry dark brown color – it might as well be black except for the brown tints that find their way through around the sides of the glass. The head of this is big and rocky and caramel-colored, starting off towering and impressive and slowly petering off to a thin layer over the beer. The aroma of this is surprising subdued – you really have to get your nose in there to catch a whiff. Once you do, however, it’s very nice – full of dark cherry and grape. In the mouth, this is super flavorful. Technically, I reckon this is an abbey dubbel, but this is full of more fruit than any dubbel I’ve ever had. From the front of the tongue to the back of the throat, it’s all dark cherry and grape. There is some balancing maltiness in here, but not much bitterness to speak of. In addition, this has a pillowy mouthfeel that is super-soft, filling the mouth and attaching itself to the walls of the mouth and tongue. Overall, this is a really killer beer, especially if you like those dark fruit flavors in your beer. This comes highly recommended, is a great slow drinker, and tastes great both when ice cold and when at room temperature.
I’ll be honest with you – this beer has been sitting in my fridge for about a year now. I’m not sure why I bought it, and I’m not sure why I never drank it. But, at any rate, I decided it was high time to crank it out. So, here we are with another of the myriad Belgian dark ales, and this one in a funny bottle.
This beer pours a dark and musty brown with a fair amount of debris and a fairly substantial slightly off-white head. The aroma of this is straightforward, with mostly toffee and a slight ‘dustiness’ to it. In the mouth, this is a richer and tastier beer than I really expected it to be. Initially, there is a dose of chocolate on the front of the tongue, but this chocolate softens into more of a toffee flavor by the middle of the mouth. The mouthfeel of this is full and velvety and, by the back of the throat, I’m tasting tons of dark cherry. So, in short, this beer runs the gamut from chocolate to fruit, and it takes a smooth transition to get there.
I’m not sure why, but I think I give a bum rap to beers that come in bottles like this beer – it’s gimmicky to me, and it just seems more like a souvenir from some tacky “Belgium” attraction at Epcot. But, scientifically speaking, it’s good packaging, so I guess I should lay off. And, frankly, Brauerie Sterkens threw it all in my face here. I’d never heard of this brewery, and I’ve let their beer sit idly by for far too long. But, I’m tasting it now, and it’s an absolutely delicious beer at a good pricepoint. I doubt any of the makers will be reading this any time soon. But, if they do, I’ll gladly say “you told me so”.
So, many of you may have tried a few of Trader Joe’s house brews. I’ve had a number of them myself and, frankly, I’ve been disappointed on almost every occasion. So, I was reasonably skeptical of paying $5 for a big bottle of the Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale. However, when I picked it up and checked out the bottle, I couldn’t help but notice the trademark Unibroue logo on the cage and cork of the bottle. So, what is this? A Unibroue beer in disguise? Because, if so, then it might just be a bargain on a tasty brew. So, I picked it up.
And, as we suspected, it IS indeed a Unibroue beer – apparently they contracted this excellent Canadian brewery to throw some flash into their house beer line-up. This beer pours a deep dark purple-brown. The smell of this is full of dark fruit, and the head is almost nonexistent – in fact, it looks very weak on the carbonation side. In the mouth, however, this is actually very good. Frankly, it’s fairly simple. It has some characteristics of a Belgian Dubbel – there is some cocoa hints and a tad bit of anise. However, the predominant flavors are of dark fruit – mostly grape with a hint of dark cherry. Throughout the mouth, there is a light sweetness, and the beer sits lightly at the back of the mouth, with a lasting but not overbearing aftertaste. Frankly, this is a Unibroue beer by any name – it’s delicious and well-balanced. It DOES seem a tad lighter than most Unibroue beers, which may make it more palatable to the general beer drinker. However, that could also just be my bias against store-branded beers. At any rate, it’s the best Trader Joe’s beer I’ve had, and a damn good beer by any name. [Ed. Note - 2006 Vintage Ale pictured - this review is actually for the 2007]
I was looking for something with a little extra bite so I decided to go with a double tonight. You can typically count on this style to provide a flavor explosion and since I haven’t had a double in a while this seemed to be a great choice. The history of Bornem and its monks is wrought with times both of conflict and prosperity. Many monks came and went but the beer recipes held true for 7 centuries. In the 1950s these recipes were turned over to the Van Steenberge brewery with royalties being paid to the Bornem abbey.
I poured this beer in a goblet and man is it dark. I know I throw the term muddy around, maybe too much sometimes, but this beer really looks muddy. It is cloudy with debris throughout and boast a deep ruby hue. The head is thick, pillowy and white. The smell is crisp with mint and spice. It doesn’t bite the nostrils like some of the doubles, in fact it is rather light. The flavor is pretty subdued as well. I must first point out that I had to fight through the carbonation to find the taste, which wasn’t pleasant, but once things mellowed I felt the taste was lacking. It has a thick bitter-sweetness, like a combination of lemon and honey, that is mixed with an earthy likeness of clove. The taste isn’t necessarily bad but right now the only thing I want to do is burp. This beer has left me feeling bloated and because of a “blah” flavor pretty dejected. In hind sight after reading Ben’s review of the Triple and have to say I wish I would have bought that style instead.
Bison, in my opinion, is a tough brewery to peg. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big fan of most of their 6-packs. However, the last couple of big-bottle brews I’ve had from them have rocked my socks off, and I think their Saison Ale might be the best American version I’ve ever tasted – certainly top 3 globally. So, going into this Winter Warmer, I’m pretty excited since it’s a big bottle, but I always gotsta be a little wary. Fortunately, it turns out to be a mighty tasty brew, even in the summer heat.
The beer pours a very dark reddish brown with an aroma very much like any other dubbel, with hints of chocolate and a bit of anise. In addition, this brew carries a fairly strong fruity aroma, reminiscent of figs or raisins. In the mouth, this is about like the aroma suggests. There is a decent chocolate tone to it, although more of a sweet chocolate than bitter. In addition, there is the fruit flavor, although it isn’t nearly as powerful as I expected from the aroma, and this is a good thing. Rather, you can taste hints of raisin that are quite subtle and complement the chocolatey flavor well. It’s almost like a light Raisinette flavor, if you’re familiar with those. If you’re not, they’re chocolate covered raisins, and they’re delightful. The aftertaste here is rather sweet, with a diminishing chocolate flavor as time passes. Overall, I’d say this is a good dubbel with a subdued flavor. It is fairly complex and well-layered, and it dances lightly on the tongue. I would certainly be happy to drink this again, and I think it would be a great alternative to a more ballsy Belgian dubbel when you want something a bit softer-spoken.
I had a really, really hard time finding a dubbel ale at my local beer store today. I like this whole session idea that we beer bloggers are doing these days, and so I obviously wanted to support the cause. However, I never realized just how much (too much?) I drink until I pull into a beer store and can’t find a single dubbel that I haven’t already had. Furthermore, I wasn’t sure what I had already reviewed of those I have tried, so I really needed to find something brand new to me to ensure that it was a new addition to SevenPack. So anyway, I finally spotted this little beauty hiding in a corner of the shelf, partially covered in dust. I blew off the dust, saw the word ‘dubbel’ proudly imprinted on the label – score! I looked a little further on the label and saw the inscription, “The Key to Heaven”. Whoah! It felt like a scene out of the Da Vinci Code – like maybe this is more than just the dubbel I need – maybe, in fact, my years of beer drinking would finally lead to true transcendence – it does, after all say it’s ‘the key to heaven’.
Needless to say, I’m excited about this brew. And, if after this review you don’t catch me online for a while, it’s because I’ve found the key to the pearly gates on this cold April night. But, before I go, I must review…
This beer pours a dark and cloudy brown color with a dense caramel head and a surprising effervescence that keeps the brew a-bubblin’ long after it is poured. The aroma of the brew is redolent of dark cherry and sour grape – it is pungent and slightly biting, almost akin to what you get from a Flemish wild ale. In the mouth, this is one of the ‘wilder’ dubbels I’ve ever tasted. There is a noticeable tartness in the beer from the front of the mouth to the back. Riding this tasmanian-tart-coaster through the mouth are flavors of dark fruit and some anise. There is also a bit of breadiness in the background, but this is only subtly present. This really is like a mix of a more standard dubbel and a flemish wild ale and it makes this beer taste much bigger than it really is. It comes in a small bottle, it only clocks in at a relatively small 6.5% abv, but it tastes like a monster. Furthermore, for a brown, this is surprisingly refreshing due to the sourness on the tongue. Overall, I would say that this is a great score, and a beer I’d love to have again. Whether or not it’s the key to heaven we have yet to see – I’m not sure at what point during the glass I figure that out, but I hope it’s soon. Regardless, if you can find one of these little jewels in your beer store, I recommend you try it out…
This is my 2nd installment from the Grimbergen line, which will mean I have tried everything from Grimbergen that is available stateside. I’m generally a big fan of the dubbel variety, and I think that Grimbergen has an exceptional take on the variety here. The pour on this one isn’t as dark as some – it is almost more of a deep burgundy than an actual brown. There is also a creamy white head that adds to the appeal. The aroma carries slight hints of anise, but is mostly grounded in toffee and dark malt. In the mouth, the beer is instantly sweet and slightly fruity. The primary presence is again toffee, but with some hints of chocolate and berry on down the tongue. There isn’t much of a hop presence here, but that doesn’t make it one-sided. Instead, this is a rather sweet double that balances that sweetness between the toffee and fruit aspects. Very good, and quite difference from most ales of the dubbel variety.
This beers is categorized as a “Belgian special brown ale” – by this, I take it to be a dubbel style ale. However, it doesn’t quite fit into a dubbel. Honestly, it is more like a brown trippel. The beer pours a dark plum color and has a dark head which dissipates quickly. The aroma is fairly non-descript – there are hints of spice and sweetness, but nothing terribly notable. In the mouth, there is a lot of anise and spicy sweetness, but not too much malt to speak of. The taste is complex, and sticks with you for quite some time after the beer is gone. Overall, I’m quite pleased. This isn’t quite a favorite, but it is probably the best I have yet had from this brewer, and I would gladly drink it again and pay a relative premium to do so.
This is one of the more obscure Trappist breweries, and this is the first beer from Konings hoeven that I have had the pleasure to drink. This beer turns out quite excellent. This dubbel pours a cloudy purple-ish hue and smells fairly strongly of anise. The head is a caramel yellow but dissipates quite quickly and doesn’t really enter the equation. The flavor is quite complex. The beer has a rather thick mouthfeel. Entering the mouth, it is fairly spicy with noticeable hints of plum and a bit of anise. Through the mouth, the sweet spiciness continues. Down the throat, the sweetness dissolves into a plum aftertaste. Quite delightful, and a good Trappist brew.
This particular brew comes from a limited release offering from Anderson Valley – and, there seem to be two in this series, the Double and the Triple. I’ve had ‘em both – I’ll tell you about one of them now.
This double pours dark, but fairly opaque – it’s a nice tint and a good color. The aroma is typical of a good Belgian dubbel – roasted with hints of dark fruit. The taste of the beer is very pleasant. You can taste lots of dark fruit, lots of malt, and a slight twang of sweet/sour that sets it apart. Combine this with a solid abv of around 9% and you have a beer that is successful on all fronts. Overall, I would say that this American interpretation of the Belgian dubbel is excellent – I would certainly have this again, and I would likely choose it over many of its Belgian counterparts.
This is a belgian cave-aged ale and it is sensational. Pierre Celis combines the spicy, citrusy, fruity flavor of the dubbel abbey ales with the wheat-stlye refreshing crispness that I have come to know and love. How’s that for a gross misuse of adjectives…It is unfiltered and it shows as it pours a very cloudy amber color. Like I said it is very light and crisp as it crosses the lips but it then thickens toward the back of the throat and eventually ends by warming the stomach. The Grotten weighs in at 6.7% abv and 100% satisfaction. I would say it is in my top 5, however, since I have had so many different beers in the past year I don’t actually know what the other 4 would be. This would involve considerable research and quite frankly I don’t care that much. That being said I highly recommend the Gotten Brown and am quite certain I will buy it again and again.
I am not a huge fan of abbey ales but I figured I would give this one a shot. This ale was originally brewed in the Benedictine monastary at Affligem but production was stopped during WWII. Fortunately for abbey ale lovers, the dubbels and the tripels are brewed by the De Smedt brewery with the permission of the Affligem monks. This ale pours with a deep, cloudy amber color. Initially it has a malty, spicy taste and the drinker experiences an effervescent sesation that lighty burns the top of the palate and extends to the nostrils. This is kinda nice but the strong metallic aftertaste leaves much to be desired. Given my recent track record with this style ale I would rate this at the top of the list. However, compared to all brews it has no distinguishing qualities that would make me want to rush out and buy more. In my opinion, it is an average beer with a high profile name, kinda like a Tommy Hilfiger shirt.
First of all, I apologize for the picture – it is actually a photo of the Allagash Dubbel Reserve, which is a more uppity beer than the standard Dubbel that I tested. Now that we are past this discrepancy, let’s get on with the review. This is an entirely different experience when compared to the tripels that I have been so smitten with lately. The Allagash dubbel is dark and malty, and exhibits flavors of dark chocolate and coffee. The head is a tinge fruity, which is unexpected, and which I didn’t notice until far into the beer. Quite sweet, for this variety. All in all, a very enjoyable drink. With my previous review of Chimay, I intimated that the dubbels bear similarities to a good stout, but exhibit a sweetness and complexity that sets them apart. The Allagash is no different in this respect, although I find a more fruity tinge to the Allagash version of the variety.
This Chimay offering belongs to the Belgian dubbel category. Also a Trappist offering, as are all of Chimay’s beers, the beer has a very dark brown hue with a cream-colored rocky head. The aroma and taste are quite strong, in terms of alcohol content. However, the alcohol is well offset by a strong floral flavor with some fruit and a bit of caramel. Overall, a rather complex beer, but well characteristic of the style. I would recommend this for someone who has a liking for a typical English brown ale, but is beginning to find them mundane. The extra complexity of the Chimay gives this beer an edginess in comparison.