Brewtopia Events LLC

Strong Belgian Ales IV 
Blind Beer Tasting
(LtoR): Michael Simmons (from 5 Points Bottle Shop),
Joanne Maki, and Larry Johnson.
Owen Ogletree (director of Brewtopia Events) gathered together some of his fellow beer enthusiasts on July 29, 2004 at Athens' Steam Company Pub to sample and comment on several styles of strong Belgian Ales that had just become available in the Georgia market thanks to passage of House Bill 645.  This beer sampling was done as a blind tasting where no one was aware of the brands that were being served.  Beers were informally commented upon and ranked according to Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) style guidelines.  First, second, third places, and honorable mention were awarded to the beers we felt represented their individual styles in extraordinary fashion.  Drop Owen an email to share your comments and opinions.

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Athens Steam Company Pub was kind enough to host our evaluation of these beers.

Steam Company offers a nice beer selection and an impressive pub menu.  It is located in the complex of the beautiful Athens Foundry Park Inn and Spa at 295 E. Dougherty Street in downtown Athens.

(LtoR): James Cook (from the Artie Ball Swing Band), Thel Melton,
Michael Simmons, Joanne Maki, and Lari (Smiley) Cowgill.

St. Bernardus Abt. 12
Belgian Strong Dark Ale 
Brouwerij St. Bernardus - Watou, Belgium 
Aroma: Banana, clove, caramel, and malt aromas are complex yet mild.
Appearance: Nice tan foam.  Beer is garnet / brown in color.
Flavor: Plum, cherry, raisin, Munich malt, dark fruits, figs, prunes, dates.  This is a very complex beer.  It is delicious and rich with nice malt / bitterness / alcohol balance.  There is also a hint of roasted malt.  It is slightly sweet but not cloying at all.


Belgian Golden Strong Ale 
Moortgat Brewery - Belgium 
Aroma: Peppery, soft and round with hints of yeast and white bread.  Fruit aromas include apple peel and pear.  There are also pleasant phenols.
Appearance: White, rocky head when first poured.  Big carbonation.  Very clear and light gold / yellow in color with a white Belgian lace foam on the sides of the glass.
Flavor: Soft malt with fruity, spicy, pepper-like flavors.  There is a nice hop bitterness and a bit of alcohol warmth probably from the use of candy sugar.  This is an elegant, well balanced ale that is very smooth.  Slightly sweet up front followed by a nice hop bitterness in the finish.  No off-flavors at all.


Three Philosophers
Belgian Specialty Ale with cherry lambic 
Brewery Ommegang - Copperstown, NY, USA 
Aroma: Hints of real cherry and dried fruits (including dates).  There are also notes of plum, sherry, and alcohol.
Appearance: Good head retention with a beautiful tan foam.  Beer is dark ruby red in color.
Flavor: Real cherry flavor is pleasant.  There is an excellent balance between the malt, hops, and cherry.  Has notes of burnt oak.  This beer is refined, balanced, and clean - not sweet and insipid.  There is a good mouthfeel and clean aftertaste.


Duinen Tripel 
Belgian Tripel
Brouwerij Huyghe - Melle, Belgium
Aroma: Honey, phenols, and a hint of solvents.  There are also plums, raisins, mint, and spice in the nose.
Appearance: Deep gold in color with a white head of foam.  Very clear.
Flavor: Fruity and citrusy with an orange / citrus / cider / mead character.  Honey undertones are present along with a slight oxidative dryness.  There is also an earthy, cellar-like quality.  This beer is very complex, yet smooth and drinkable.

Bos Keun
Belgian Specialty Ale with cane sugar and honey 
De Dolle Brewery - Esen, Belgium
Aroma: Alcohol, caramel, solvent notes.  There are also hints of honey, vanilla, citrus, and apple.
Appearance: Big Belgian lace in the foam. Beer is very clear with a dark gold color.
Flavor: Notes of alcohol, grass, spice, pepper, honey, fruit, and cork.  This is a very complex, interesting ale.

Quelque Chose
Belgian Specialty Ale with cherries
Unibroue Brewery - Chambly, Quebec, Canada
Aroma: Smells like Christmas desserts.  Rich fruitcake aromas with cinnamon, rum, mulled spices, honey, and sour cherries.
Appearance: Hardly any carbonation at all.  Very clear and ruby red - beautiful.
Flavor: Spices, cinnamon, apple.  There is a nice sweet / sour balance like a cherry pie with a dark brown crust.  Flavor also has hints of almond / woody cherry pits.  Cherry dominates the flavor and is quite intense.  This is a bold, impressive dessert beer.

Watou Tripel
Belgian Tripel 
Brouwerij St. Bernardus - Watou, Belgium 
Aroma: Peppery with a hint of oranges and banana.  Aroma is mild and delicate.
Appearance: Lacy head with a beautiful foam. Clear with a light / medium gold color.
Flavor: Soft and malty with light hop component and mineral-like water quality.  Banana esters and slight phenols are nice.  Good fruity hints.

Pater Lieven Tripel
Belgian Tripel  
Brouwerij Van Den Bossche - Herzele, Belgium
Aroma: Earthy, spicy and mild with undertones of clove, citrus, and marmalade.
Appearance: Dark gold with a thick white head.
Flavor: Phenols predominate.  Flavor is somewhat thin with a light body.  There is also a hint of butterscotch and an earthy, oxidative note.  A bit of hop bitterness at the end is pleasant, but the beer seems a bit dilute for this style of ale.

Bison Belgian Ale 
Organic Belgian Tripel with coriander 
Bison Brewing Company - Berkeley, CA, USA 
Aroma: Slightly vegetal with hints of green nuts and coriander.
Appearance: Good head retention.  Light to medium gold in color.
Flavor: Soft malt with a bit of vanilla in the background.  Floral with some coriander.  This is too smooth and sweet for a Tripel, and not very complex.  Hints of alcohol are present along with a mild, sweet, lemony finish.

Caracole Belgian Amber Ale 
Belgian Specialty Ale
Caracole Brouwerij - Falmignoul, Belgium
Aroma: Latex paint, apple, with a hint of flowers.  Not a very pleasant aroma.
Appearance: Dark gold with a big, long-lasting head.
Flavor: Green apples, grapes, solvents, and apple peels.  There are also off-flavors of sherry and ethyl acetate.  Could be an bad bottle from an infection.

Moinette Brune
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Brasserie Dupont - Tourpes, Belgium 
Aroma: Musty, earthy, sweaty aromas with some hints of cherry, phenols, and bananas.
Appearance: Lace-work from carbonation is attractive and the amber color is clear and appealing.
Flavor: Bitter, earthy, and mineraly with notes of cherry pits and aspirin.  The flavor is a bit astringent, sulfury, and harsh.

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