Additional notes 12/17/22 (Pictured):
2022 Vintage (see cork pictured).
I still maintain that this beer has a very small element of an English barleywine about it, despite its Belgian, candy sugar presence. A very light, bitter presence all the way in the back end.
Lacing and head retention are both excellent for a beer of this ABV, in fact extraordinarily so. There are still plenty of very fruity notes, even if they come with a little dry character. This is NOT an overtly sweet beer, even though one might think that it could easily be so.
One of my ‘must have’ Christmas beers for the best part of two decades at this point. A classic.
Original notes 01/29/2005
A bit of a pain in the ass to open, with the foil apparent glued to the bottle with Space Shuttle technology!
A paler than anticipated pour with some head that doesn’t last long, but turns into a sticky coating on the glass and the surface of the beer that reveals the relatively high alcohol content.
Drinks well below its 10.0%, with a smoothness that is uncharacteristic of such a high ABV brew. It’s like a cross between an old ale and a barleywine that has tempered, but is still big and rounded. Lots of balance here.
A lot of fruit esters in the taste, some (muted) spiciness, but a gentle warming quality. I like this because it is distinctly Belgian, but has other attributes too.
A very interesting departure.