Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trappist beer tasting @ Belgian Beer Cafe

Well, I am on the 'come down' from going to this event last night. I did end up getting a bit tipsy i must say and rattling on about beer to anyone that would listen. Very poor form for me and unlike me at all (hmmm). still, as an introduction to trappist beers, i have to say it was great. Our host Charles (who I remembered sold stass and I our case of Grand Ridge's supershine at this years microbrewery showcase) was very good at giving us some good background and going along for the ride with us as we tried 6 trappist beers. was good to also see a familiar face in Rohan doing the tasting as well and getting some of his thoughts. still, i knew i had had enough to drink when during the desert of Bell-vue Kriek with dark choc mousse, i was in deep beer conversation with two other blokes and the barman. I am not sure if this is a good sign or not, but was surprised to see i knew a little more than the average punter there, but was highly overshadowed by Charles who puts any tasting notes i could have to shame. still, he does it for a living...
Ok, down to business, here is the notes on the trappist beers i had last night
1) La Trappe Triple (8%) - the only one i have tried before. had the nice citrus smell with a slight bubblegum yeast. dark orange but translucent colour with a fine bubble head. has a fairly subtle fruity taste with a slight alcohol hit on the mid to back palate, but that is warming if left on the tongue.
2) Westmalle Dubbel (7%) - wasn't sure at first as mine seemed very sedimentary giving it a similar dusty brown as our choc porter stass and i brewed. there was not much head as well but came up creamy when swilled. definite choc malt smell and flavour which increased as it warmed, but tasted a bit chemically on the back palate while still cold. the alcohol become more prominent as it warmed, taking away the chemical flavour. was drinking this with pork, which added a nice sweetness to the beer, which for all the sediment was quite clean in taste.
3) Orval (6.2%) touted as 'dry' it had a hazy orange colour with a very creamy head. had an almost 'showbag' sugary smell which came through in taste early on, but then the dryness tingled the mouth and cleansed the tongue after swallowing.
4) Achel Brune (9.5%) it was her my tastbuds took a hit with the complexity of this beer. a slightly cloudy light brown beer with a dark fruit smell with some alcohol. has a fruity then yeasty taste with alcohol on the back palate. the latter gets harsher as the beer warms. i also thought i tasted some caramel as it warmed as well. quite complex, but just stable enough in roundness so no spiking of too many flavours to confuse me too much.
5) Chimay Blue (9%) dark amber colour with little head. had a dark malt smell with a slight alkaline or chemical which also came out early in the flavour. had a nice warming alcohol taste and seemed like a good texture, with caramel smells and taste as it warmed. still a very stable flavour and not sure if it is texture of flavour roundness that i got from this one.
6) Rochfort 8 (9.2%) dark reddy brown colour. was absolutely stunned by the massive caramel malt smell that i enjoyed more than the actual taste of the beer, which i felt was a bit over-carbonated before the alcohol comes through. though, for the smell along i was very happy with this beer. that it had 9.2% alcohol was a bonus. would really like to try the 10 in this now to see if more flavour can come from it.

Overall, these are all very well made beers, and show how much effort has gone into them and can see why they are exclusive and wanting to be kept at a certain standard. having the kreik with mousse was great, but the artifical-ness and watery end of the cherry beer really brought me back to earth. couple of other noteworthy things i gained was in terms of hops, Noble style hops are not bitter but fruity, which gives me hope in finding a hop i can really enjoy and look for in beer. also, as a base, I had a Leffe brune which tasted different after each beer i tried, but was quite sweet overall in comparison to the trappists.
Thanks again to Charles for hosting us so well and Belgian Beer Cafe for putting on the event. I found it very interesting speaking to Dan afterwards who works there and seeing my ego get built up by the couple of blokes who were taking my beer advice (and actually taking notes). luckily when the alcohol wore off, my humbleness returned, so sorry if i sounded like a snob to them.

well, that has set me up very well now for my trip to Belgium in a couple of months. I think i will be having a trappist day at the belgium beer weekend to try all these again in their home country and finally get to try the Westvleteren that wasn't available last night.



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