Beer, Cider, & Sake

Strong Belgian dark ale blind tasting

TombstoneShadow | Nov 23, 201309:34 AM     26

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.

Want to stay up to date with this post? Sign Up Now ›

More from Chowhound

Unique Chocolate Treats for Valentine's Day

Unique Chocolate Treats for Valentine's Day

by Jen Wheeler | Move over, Russell Stover. For choosy chocolate lovers, common candies just won't do. If your girlfriend...

Swoon-Worthy Pink & Red Kitchen Gifts for Valentine's Day

Swoon-Worthy Pink & Red Kitchen Gifts for Valentine's Day

by Amy Schulman | Valentine’s Day is replete with plenty of bouquets of roses and heart-shaped boxes filled with truffles...

Our 2020 Oscar Party Noms: Kale Salad & Ram-Don Noodles
Food Trends

Our 2020 Oscar Party Noms: Kale Salad & Ram-Don Noodles

by Megan Meadows | The noms are in. The snubs have happened. Love it or hate it, it’s time to start planning what to...

How to Throw an Epic Super Bowl Party

How to Throw an Epic Super Bowl Party

by Amy Sowder | There’s one team that everyone roots for, whether your eyes are glued to the game or you’re more focused...

Get fresh food news delivered to your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest tips, tricks, recipes and more, sent twice a week.