In these previous posts I reported on a growing fondness for dark Belgian strong ales:
So I did a blind tasting of the following last night:
Chimay Blue Grand Reserve
Gouden Carolus Cuvee de Keizer Blauw
Gulden Draak (plain white bottle, not the 9000)
Maudite (a Quebec-brew in Belgian style "with spices")
Rochefort Trappistes 8
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
I had really high hopes for this entire lot and was somewhat surprised by the tasting results. Actual notes follow:
Brew 1: Nice, smooth, rich. Carmelly-delish.
Brew 2: Okay too... think I like 1 better... there's kind of an off-putting nasty flavor note that gets in the way of an otherwise interesting brew...
Brew 3: Dry, barely bitter-sweet. More in the pale-ale flavor spectrum. [ was surprised by this]
Brew 4: Okay... a hit of spice a-la a hefe-weizen... not really craving this.
Brew 5: Again, bitter-sweet, more pale-aleish. Nothing bad, nothing great.
[note to the pale-ale comments, I'm really seeking a go-to sweetish carmelly brew as a go-to dark Belgian, so even if these pale-aleish brews are "right", they really aren't what I'm looking for. Had a ditto experience with a Triple tasting I reported on earlier]
Brew 6: Nice, rounder flavor... not as carmelly as 1 but overall competitive.
FINAL first tasting round notes: 1 and 6 are definitely the stand-outs. 1 is what I'm looking for, 6 is slightly weaker but with an intriguing spicey edge.
NOW to reveal the results to myself:
Brew 1: Gulden Draak !!!!!!!!!!!! My palate is at least consistent, I've done nothing but love this beer since a bartender first suggested I try it since she was out of something else (best drinking serendipity in a while. Report on that non-blind tasting here:
Brew 2: Cuvee de Keizer
Brew 3: Chimay Grande Reserve
Brew 4: Maudite
Brew 5: St. Bernardus Christmas
Brew 6: Trappistes Rochefort 8
Follow-up (non-blind) tasting... so I sip on these brews for the remainder of the evening with the following additional tasting notes:
"6 is pretty solid, getting better in the glass"
"2 has mellowed out, lost those nasty notes... as if it needed a de-canting of sorts...." [Note this beer comes well locked-up under pressure in a champagne-like bottle]... and it's been a favorite of mine in other tastings.
"3 still negligible"
"4, nothing evolves"
"5 okay, not that great"
"6 is really nice"
"2 is seriously evolving", "6 tasting &^%$# good!"
So, bottom line, Gulden Draak was the monster from the get-go with Rochefort 8 and Cuvee de Keizer also very nice, with Cuvee needing some time out of the bottle. BTW, this was 2013 Cuvee, I recently tried a 2011 which was delish (a smaller bottle, not in the champagne bottle).
Friends of mine at the tasting also really enjoyed these brews, especially the G-D and Cuvee.
My surprise at these results was that I expected all of these to be in the "dark carmelly" flavor mold... some were as noted, while other very "highly rated" brews were surprisingly much closer to a regular pale ale (or pale belgian ale) at least to my palate.