When I’m selecting beers for review I’m mindful of lots of factors. The first step, of course, is to check my mailbox for corporate kickbacks. Next, I re-check the mail for any blackmail notices I might have overlooked:
The rest of the process is easily distilled into a decision tree:
Duvel (8.5% ABV) – Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat
The label for Duvel is pretty damn chatty. It brags on its high quality, how to properly dispense this cherished elixir and even details that it’s “Best enjoyed chilled with discerning friends or good-looking strangers.” Essentially unattractive people are not welcome to drink this unless they are properly outfitted with friends. That’s pretty diabolical considering no one wants to be friends with a fug.
Duvel’s head surges beyond the rim of my glass with the structural integrity of a meringue. It’s like a brewer’s tribute to Kid’n’Play.
You may be tempted to nosh on it, but fight that urge. The proteins collected in that head do not serve as a precursor to the taste experience. It’s bitter, astringent and probably less appetizing than an actual mouthful of Kid’s eraser fro. When the bottle warns you to “Pour Unhurriedly” you should heed it, despite that barely approximating English. The beer is a highly fizzy golden straw color.
The Duvel initially smells like…beer. I know that’s a cop out, but all I get are mild grassy and plant-like smells. However, as that fantastically thick head fades you can pick up more of the green apple scents, bubble gum and a thicker grass aroma. So contrary to what I’ve previously asserted, sometimes you should wait to start drinking. It feels weird for me to say it too.
I wish there was a more manly comparison to reach for here, but I must confess the first taste is very reminiscent of a dry chardonnay. I’ll add a few more details about it after I escape from this shame spiral I find myself in.
It has a prominent alcohol note with a supporting cast of peach and grape. It’s actually pretty light on the wackier Belgian flavors that sometimes come in golden ales. It has a moderately full, almost creamy mouthfeel that really gives Duvel some depth. There’s a grassy hop note at the very tail end, but it is very subtle and beautifully attenuated.
I’d like to see a little more complexity in the flavor for something thrice fermented, but this is pretty damn great.
Cuvee Van De Kiezer Blauw (11% ABV) – Brouwerij Het Anker
The Cuvee Van De Kiezer (CVDK) is a dark, cola brown ale with a velvety blanket of taupe head. It is positively bursting with banana aromas. This is probably the best way to describe it:
The flavors on this are all over the map. There’s vanilla, some woodiness, tangy ginger, mild green apple and a hint of yeast funk. It is served on a platter of a full, creamy mouthfeel. It has an alcohol punch as well, but it isn’t really delivered until halfway to your gut, similar to a good whiskey or swallowing a lit M-80 with a long fuse.
The CVDK is a deeply layered experience with a unique mix of flavors. It’s like a one-beer tour of everything that Belgian beers can bring to the table. Here’s the stunner – this giant bottle was only $10 where I got it. It’s good by any metric, but its quality for the cost is outrageous.
Brasserie Des Rocs Triple Impériale (10% ABV) – Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs
If beers were rated on how unnecessarily long their names were, the Brasserie Des Rocs Triple Impériale (BDRTI) would have already exceeded all my expectations, but here at The Smoking Jacket we require more to substantiate a good grade. That’s why I’m also considering that my acronym for it resembles a lewd vanity plate before scoring it.
The BDRTI is a slightly cloudy, coppery brew with a fluffy tan head. The nose is very alcohol forward, with notes of fruitcake, crusty bread and a little citrus peel.
This Belgian dark ale is a sharp and sweet sipper. It pops with cinnamon, molasses, raisin and ginger spices. There’s a little rum in the finish and the associated alcohol warmth. There’s no appreciable hop presence in here at all.
For being 10% alcohol, this is amazingly smooth. It’s got most of the characteristics of a good hot tottie – warm, sweet and perfect after a day of skiing with the Toronto mistress you’re keeping quie….oops!
Honestly, it’s just so sweet that I feel like I’m missing the beer experience a bit, but it is a pretty fantastic beverage. It’s a perfect trainer beer for those in your life that are reticent to drink beer, though I find it’s just far more expedient to cut those people loose.
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