Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: More beer and ale, in the Belgian style

By JIM BEAUREGARD August 22. 2017 8:54PM

I have been writing a bit about Belgian ales recently and when one is searching for craft beers in general, and Belgian ales in particular, one of the best places to go around here is Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett.

So, that’s exactly what I did.

I just missed Bert himself by a few minutes, but had a delightful conversation with his daughter, who was minding the store and sounding very knowledgeable as she assisted customers. I happily departed about a half-hour later with a number of purchases that I’m going to share with you today.

I have mentioned the number of Belgian Tripels thus far, and we do have some golden-colored ales today, but the Belgians don’t just make Tripels. They also make Dubbels and Quadrupels, both of which are darker and heavier than the golden ales in the Tripel range. So, we will take a look at a variety.

Let’s start on a somewhat unusual note, with a Belgian gluten-free ale: Greens Quest gluten-free tripel ale, 1 pint bottle, 8.5 percent alcohol by volume. Now, the label tells me that only gluten-free products are used in the making of this beer, and the makers explicitly mention that it does not contain “wheat, barley, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soya beans, milk, lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulfur dioxide or sulfites.” Phew.

The label doesn’t, however, mention what actually does go into the bottle other than saying it is brewed from alternative grains.

The beer has a large head, creamy but diminishing, and the nose brings aromas of fruit, herbs and spices. It is dry with medium palate, bitterness and acidity, medium and well-integrated alcohol and medium body, with the flavor profile of hops, spice and some vegetal notes. All in all, not bad if you are seeking a gluten-free alternative.

Another one I haven’t tried before, Tripel Karmeliet. Yes, it wasn’t just the Trappists, apparently, but also the Carmelites who were involved in making beer. I suspect it’s a universal thing when the water isn’t safe to drink. Actually, it’s probably universal when the water is safe to drink, too.

This one boasts a “three grain beer, still brewed after a 17th century recipe from the old Carmelite monastery of Dendermonde,” now brewed and bottled by Brouwerij Bosteels, of Buggenhout, Belgium. It is 8.4 percent alcohol by volume and has a huge, white, classic Belgian ale head, very creamy, with yellow-gold beer, looking very much like a blonde ale.

The nose is of medium intensity, the palate malt and medium-plus intensity hops, including citrus and floral notes. The palate is dry, with medium bitterness and acidity, medium — plus alcohol that is nevertheless well-integrated with medium body that has a silky texture. There is good strong flavor intensity of hops, fruit occluding, again, lemon and some floral notes. Bright and refreshing.

Lastly, Corsendonk Pater Dubbel Ale, brewed and bottled by Brewery Du Bocq of Turnhout, Belgium. I was very happy to find this at Bert’s, since I have only been able to find it in Boston until now. It is in the Dubbel rather than Tripel style, which means it’s both darker and heavier, with a huge head, medium malt aroma and fairly low hops intensity. It’s also dry, with medium bitterness and medium–plus acidity palate, medium carbonation and well-integrated alcohol at 6.5 percent, with medium–plus body and flavor intensity leaning toward malt and including flavors of chocolate, coffee, toast and some roasted notes as well.

Delicious, and glad to find it in New Hampshire.

I picked up more than this, so more to come next week.

Contact wine and beer writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com


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