Being just a few km's N/E of Brugge, Brouwerij van Viven in Damme is pretty close to the Netherlands, and being in the northern half of Belgium, will have flemish influence, as explained on the bottle.
It is quite dark as expected with a brown head that diminishing fairly quickly. Has a bit of a dark malt and slight alcohol nose, but then also has what seems to be quite a bit of smoke with it, which is quite surprising, but seems to blend ok. This seems to relate well into the flavour, with the smoke being significant, but then the alcohol blends and cuts through it a bit from the midpalate, before being left with a dark grainy malt aftertaste which is also a surprise to get. It is like the aftertaste I get from just eating straight dark malt (as I have done on a number of brewery tours), and has a dryness to it with linger for a long time, but leave the tongue fairly clean after the dark malt and smokey aspects. Am wondering if the bottle fermentation means a fair bit of malt grain also also left in the bottle to influence the flavour. There is also quite a bit of carbonation up front in the first mouthful, but this diminishes after a few mouthfuls, and seems to the take the smokiness with it.
I am finding either my palate is getting use to the smokiness, or the warmth/air is diminishing it from the flavour, but the graininess is getting bigger towards the back and in aftertaste. Of course, the warmth is also helping bring out the upfront malt sweetness too. It really settles down with warmth to become more of a standard porter but that graininess remains.
Well, I do not enjoy it as much as some of the dark beers I had in Belgium, but that graininess does remind me of a few of the European beers I had, so I guess it is somewhat true to the style over there. The smokiness is a bit different, but may be just be from using very roasted malt. Well, that is as much sense as I can make. At least it is more appropriate than the Thunder Road Pale Lager from last week.
I guess I should also use this to let Team Harrod know Team Bassteef have put their IPA on for our next contest, which we are quite interested to try. We also tried our latest dark ale that has come out pretty dusty (and we are having an issue with the keg seal), and retried our honey wheat to find it turning sour. So it means it must be drunk pretty quick now before it gets worse.