All notes on beers in the style

Belgian Pale Ale

Chimay Dorée (Gold)

In general, Dorée is a deeply misunderstood beer, but this is especially so in the USA. Firstly there is the issue with it being an infinitely more subtle beer that anything else that they make. Subtlety is not a trait that is appreciated a great deal in the USA, and that's true of all beers, but Dorée has another problem that compounds things. Relatively, very little of it gets to the States, and people don't know what it is, as a result it often sits on shelves or in warehouse for long...

De Ranke Franc Belge

Expiry 23/12/2022. 330 mL bottle. Pour offers a mid-orange, amber, slightly hazed pour. White head, some nice retention and lace, with a significant film that settles across the beer in the chalice. Nose offers some malt, but until it warms and opens it’s hard to distinguish much. When it does I get a little orange, but mostly solid, bready, relatively neutral notes. The beer drinks a little like a very dry, English bitter, with some very mild hop character juxtapositioned against balanced...

Queue de Charrue Ambree

29/21/22 Best Before. If I’m honest, I really don’t understand this beer. Out of the bottle, it looks good. There’s an incredible, rocky head, and some great lace. The body is a less remarkable, light amber/orange (some would say ‘copper’, but for me the clarity is not here) body. The nose offers a decent, malty, lightly acidic touch. The tastes reflect the same. The reason the beer confuses me a bit is that I don’t really get any Belgian Pale notes here, and it feels a bit like a beer that...

Gouden Carolus ULTRA (UL. TRA)

It's hard to get my head around a Gouden Carolus beer like this one. This is true even for a person like me who LOVES lower ABV beers. So far removed from their (normal) lane. A light yellow pour with good head, lace, and some haze greets the eye. Simple nose with plenty of grain notes - bready - but a really solid bitterness about the taste profile. Plenty of sweet malts too, and a dry bitterness returns to finish out the beer. In fact in finishes extraordinarily dry in fact. Yeasty wheat,...

Simplex

BO7T15 FEB18 EXP: 22/02/2020 Older, 33cl bottle that came from Jungle Jim's, Cincinnati, OH, USA, in June 2021. Hazed, golden pour with a modest, 1/4 inch white head. Lacing not bad. Label states, "This is not a Pils", presumably because the brewers think you might associate it with that style. I could see from the bitterness maybe, but this is way too full in the mouth, soft and round to ever be mistaken for a Noble-hopped Pilsner. Nose has some simple yeasts. The initial taste are quite...

Blue Moon Pale Moon

On draught at Buffalo Wild Wings, Douglasville, GA, USA. Orange body with a small head and some sticky lace. Slight haze to the body. Quite a surprising green/ fresh hop note in the nose. Agitating the beer produces even more of the same - wasn't expecting that! No Belgian yeast character to speak of. The beer is quite 'snappy' with some really clean lines and some fairly well defined fruit notes. Light zing in the finish and a crisp drink. Not bad at all. A simple beer which is a plus for me,...

Stone Soup

12 oz single, thanks go out to Kevin for the opportunity. Pour is a bright, honey orange affair with a large, but somewhat light and thinnish head. The head is not especially well retained and there is little lace, both of which seem to be a function of the high carbonation of the beer. At times the beer almost seems "fizzy" and this obviously detracts from the mouthfeel. The aroma and tastes definitely have a nice Belgian yeast character, but ultimately that's all it is - a "character" rather...

Hitachino Nipponia

550 mL bottle from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Not sure what to expect here, but what I do know is that it is brewed with the Sorachi Ace hop and the "Ancient" Kaneko Barley. Having not especially enjoyed Brooklyn's Sorachi rendition, I get a bit nervous about this beer. Pour is a slightly hazed, golden body with limited head, retention and lace. Nose and tastes give an awkward combo for me. There is a yeasty, light funk in the nose which promises much. It appears from the aroma that the beer...

Fish Paralyzer Pale

22 oz bottle from CBX, Charleston, SC, $5.49. Well, it needs to be said that this beer does not look like, or drink like, a Belgian Pale Ale. This is one thing that REALLY pisses me off. When a brewery puts the words "Belgian Pale Ale" on the label, it seems reasonable to assume that there is a Belgian Pale in the bottle - in this case there isn't, there's a beer that is much closer to a Dubbel, or at very least a Brune. It beer looks good as a "beer", but it looks awful as a "Belgian Pale"....

Devotion Ale

750 mL corked & caged bottle courtesy of ClownShoesDreams - thanks Gregg. Small pop on opening, not huge, but nevertheless there is some carbonation - always a slight concern with Lost Abbey. Pour is as expected with a dense, slightly off-white head that has pillow-like character and a hazy, orange/golden body. Solid looking. Nose and tastes combine in a rather unusual way to bring the best of Belgium with that typical, slightly over-hopped American influence. Tangy orange, light yeasty...

Ommegang BPA (Belgian-style Pale Ale)

VERY excited to try any new Ommegang beer and the fact that this is pitched in the way it is (as a somewhat potential "single" or "simple" Belgian Ale) makes me even more interested. 750 mL, corked & caged, packaged on 01/19/10, Best By 01/2011. Color on the pour into the Duvel tulip is a little darker and more orange than I was expecting. Head is not well retained and fades to a thin film on the beer and some scant lace. A little disappointed in the color, I wanted something lighter. Nose...

Duvel Draft

Having missed out on the first wave of this coming to Atlanta several months ago, I've managed to catch it about four times in the last few weeks - pleasing. On each occasion (The Fred, The Brick Store and Ormsby's) the beer was served in the Duvel Green glass. Appearance is a nice golden clarity with a billowing head, but the whole package seems a lot flimisier than regular Duvel. Much wispier head, and talthough the lace is good the retention is not great. Well carbonation, even feeling a...

Odd Notion (Summer 09)

$1.35 as a 12 oz single from Green's on Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. Pour gives a lightly hazed, well carbonated golden yellow. Small head. Nose has a really nice yeasty presence - good for the style. Tastes reflect the nose and are sweet and yeast based as one would expect. A decent amount of Belgian character for me, and this could easily pass for a Belgian "single or "simple" in a cafe around Grand Place. Nice to get a simple beer that plays a role that fits the style and re-creates an...

X-Mas Zinnebir

330 mL bottle from Green's on Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. $3.99 for the chance to try this. Errr....Belgian Pale (as per current BA db designation), NO. Much more like a Brune. Head and lace a quite poor and the body is a chestnut, deep brown. Nose has a lot if peppery yeast. Lots of pear and pineapple in the taste (along with a few other esters) which give the impression that the beer is going to be very fruity, however the character changes right at the end and in the finish and aftertaste....

Belgoo Magus

750 mL, corked and "clasped" (Corsendonk style) from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Lovely honey colored, clouded pour and a very noce initial, light, frothy head. Retention and lace aren't great, but still acceptable. Nose and tastes reveal muted alcohol, muted white pepper and muted Belgian sweetness (candy). A light spice note is there too. Yeasty finsh completes the picture. Very light, easy drinking. In a nutshell, a poor man's Duvel with similar appearance but a lot less depth. Perhaps a...

Maredsous 6 – Blonde

11.2 oz single from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA in the same stubby bottle but with the updated label (added in the last couple of years). The kind of beer that has got lost in the American UBER-beer craze, but EXACTLY the kind of beer I would drink on a regular basis in Belgium on my umpteen trips there. Basically a "single" that drinks simply and with style. Mild gusher. Honey colored poured with a spotty head and a medium amount of head and retention. Nose and tastes give some simple yeast, a...

La Trappe Isid’or

750 mL corked & caged from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. A new Trappist, always a time for general excitement ... ... actually ... hold on! Pour gives a very dark orange/brown body with some high, ice-cream like head. The head is poorly retained though and the lace disappointing. I have no idea why they would want the beer to be as dark either - for me, the color is a turn-off considering the style. Nose and tastes are really quite sweet. Bubble-gum, yes, but as others have said, I get a lot...

Smuttynose Star Island Single

Having spent a large part of my beer drinking youth in Belgium, and visiting literally scores of times over the years, AND have the privilege of hanging out with some natives, I grew to really appreciate and enjoy the art of the simple Belgian Pale Ale, AKA the "Single". A style that is not easy to catch up with in the USA with its obsession with huge ABV beers, but the kind of thing that one could expect to buy in a gas station in BE. Enough reminiscing and back to THIS beer; 12 oz bottle as...

Eisenbahn S.A.P.A. (South American Pale Ale)

12 oz single from Green's on Ponce, $1.99 for the bottle - pretty sure that they are just trying to shift this stuff since it has obviously been a very poor seller for them. Pour is quite an orangey golden one with a distinct lack of head, retention or lace. Makes the beer feel flat (although there is a little carbonation in the mouth) but overall lackluster. Has a bit of an adjunct, macro feel about it and quite where any elements of Belgian candy or yeasts are I don't know. The beer is...

Verboten

12 oz single from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Hazed, darkish orange pour with a small head that fades pretty quickly; minimal lace. Some chill haze. Nose has a touch of alcohol, some peppery spice, a little estery fruit as well. The tastes are an odd composite of lots of differnt strong flavors. Firstly we get some serious bubblegum and fruit. Mixed in there is some peppery, bitter alcohol and then some apparently bitterish hop bite in the finish! Really odd. This beer feels like a beer that...

Old Dominion Spring Buck

12 oz single from Total Wine on Barrett Parkway, Kennesaw, GA, USA. Poured into the Sweetwater Pils glass, the beer pours a noticeable yellow color and looks quite viscous. There seems to be a highish level of carbonation too. Head is creamy, dense and provides some nice lace. Very prominent orange and honey notes in the nose and taste. I get quite a syrupy mouthfeel which for me is at odds with the light taste of the beer and it all sits a little oddly. It's strange because the alcohol is not...

Saints’ Devotion

Thanks go out to Lance for sharing this one at The Brick Store on a Friday afternoon. 750 mL corked & caged. Nice orange pour with a minimal head. Has the look of a classic Belgian Pale but without the high rocky head that I would like. I'm a bit confused with this. It reminds me a bit of the Jolly Pumpkin nonense where Brett ends up in beers where it simply shouldn't be. Here the Brett in the nose and the taste compete with the Belgian sweetness and yeast and as a result we end up wih a bit...

Abbey Six

Ran into this one on tap at The Brick Store, Decatur, GA, USA. This has been getting some mixed reviews at the pub so I thought I'd better road test it myself to be sure. Orange, hazed body with a moderate head and not a great deal of lace. Looks unspectacular and NOTHING like a "Belgian Dark Ale". I would be looking for a bigger head and some much darker, browns and blacks to get to that particular classic look. This looks more Tripel like. Fruity ester meets the nose and the early palate....

Cuvée De Ranke

ADDED NOTES: 07/04/21 Jungle Jim's, Cincinnati, OH, June 2021, $17.99. This beer always surprises me. Generally, I'm not a huge fan of "sour" beer of any hue - with some exceptions (e.g., Duchess) - but this grows on me every time that I drink it. That sharp jolt of sour soon fades, and with two or three gulps I'm totally into it. For me, that sourness soon becomes bitterness, and its original classification on BA as a BPA holds up. Lots to appreciate here, and a beer that gains more respect...

Dernière Volonté

Green's, Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. Poured into the Val Du Dieu chalice the beer is rather well carbonated but fizzy rather than controlled. A lovely, golden yellow body sits underneath the scant head and some lace accrues. Interesting nose and taste. This drinks like a non-sweet Tripel with plenty of alcohol character and lots of spicy white pepper. What seems missing from the mix is a residual sweetness and a smoothness that I would expect from a Belgian Pale. Very large, grapefruit citrus...

Hell’s Belle

12oz single from Sam's Blue Light, Durham, NC, USA. Badly misaligned notches on the label do not help, but it looks like this was bottled in Jan '07. ABV given as 7%. Lemon colored body with a lively (in fact somewhat fizzy head) that fades quickly. Some spotty surface lace and a little on the glass. It looks like it might be a triple. Nose has some mild funk that goes beyond the usual Belgian yeast. I dunno, this drinks like a Biere de Garde more than a Belgian Pale. A lot of extra funk and...

Trappist Westvleteren Blonde

Additional notes 11/27/22 (pictured): Have had this several times since the original notes from 2008, but this is the first time doing some thoughts to those 14 year old notes. TBH, there isn't much to add to what I wrote below. Still the same perfect mouthfeel and lovely silky creaminess, that I subsequently attributed to all Westvleteren beers (it's the attribute that for me, truly sets the 12 ahead of St. Bernard's 12 and Rochefort 10). pretty sure it's the yeast that does it, and yes I...

Redemption

Thanks go out to jgaston for the trade. Apparently, $6.99 from Ledger's Liquors. Corked & Caged 750 mL presentation. Poured into the Duvel tulip. Golden/yellow hazy pour with plenty of floaties. Thin head, minimal; wispy lace. Lack of body and lack of depth IN THE GLASS make this a tad disappointing initially - but it gets much better. Plenty of good Belgian yeast notes in the nose. Not much else. Reminds me of a Wit. Tastes are simple. Very, very mild spice and a touch of yeast. Mouthfeel is...

Prairie Path Ale

12oz bottle. Thanks go out to Vancer as part of Old Farts/CEO BIF. Golden/orange hazed pour with some decent carbonation. Head is small, but does come with some lace and is creamy. I really don't get much Belgian character here. Not much sugar or prominent yeast note, nor is there enough alcohol for me. This drinks like a malty Pils or a Kolsch, but looks more like a diluted Dunkelweizen - all a little odd. A very small amount of mild spice. A slight Saaz bitterness in the finish (a little...

Heylissem Blonde

11.2 oz bottle, $3.99 at Merchant package store in Marietta, GA, USA. Poured into the Abbaye du Val-Dieu chalice/goblet. Very fizzy pour. Over carboated for the style. Lack of head and lace, although some remains on the surface of the macro, yellow/lager body. Appearance is disappointing considering the style and the cost. Aroma is a bit like an adjunct lager! Has a mild, Belgian yeast experience but not a lot. Not impressed. Taste has some sweetness and a little Belgian yeast, but this does...

Special Block 6

11.2 fl oz bottle, Green's, Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. Poured into a chalice, the head is fleeting leaving some spotty lace. Light golden body with some carbonation. A certain fruitiness and tartness about the brew, but I don't think I could identify it as pommegranate. Lacks the typical cadied sugar and yeast notes that I am usually looking for in the style, so as a result, even hough I enjoyed th beer I thought it was a little out of style and not my idea of a classic BPA. In short, OK but...

Brooklyn Antwerpen Ale

On-tap, Taco Mac, Newnan, GA, USA, $5.25 a pint. Pours somewhat macro looking, with a clear golden body, a small head but with better lacing than one would normally associate with a macro lager. Aroma is distinctly "Belgian", but muted and not obvious. Standard sugars (mild), a little alcohol and characteristic yeast. This is a very light "Belgian" Pale and it reminded me a little of Duvel, but MUCH, MUCH lighter. Duvel light anyone? Initially served WAY too cold, the beer develops with...

Petrus Blond

$3.49 for a 11.2 fl oz single from Smyrna Beverage, or around $12 for a four pack. 38616 dot-matrixed on the back of the label. This "Blonde" has an appearance that has a good head and some lace, but a rather unattractive Dubbel like experience (I hate that dirty, murky pond water look). Aroma is almost port like, but without a strong alcohol presence. Very nice. A little acidity in the initial taste, but then comes a small amount of sugary yeast. A little alcohol comes through in the finish....

Bruegel Amber Ale

Stubbie 11.2 oz bottle, Michael's, Marietta, GA, USA, $3.49. Pour is a light brown murk, with a nice head and a little lacing. Typically light Belgian with candy notes and plenty of mild, dark fruit sweetness. A little typical Belgian yeast, but not a great deal. Slightly sour with a mild lambic tartness. Finishes with a whiff of sherry based alcohol, but very little. Lightweight Belgian with an amber body that is a long way from Blonde or Pale. Mildly disappointed, plenty of other better...

Rader Blonde

750 mL, corked & caged, Green's on Ponce, Atlanta, GA, USA, $6.95. A close look through the brown bottle reveals plenty of easily disturbed sediment. This settles quickly. Lively pour into the Duvel tulip with a good head that leaves some thin lace. Color is a macro-like golden hue. Nose is a medicinal herb mixture with some lemon pine bathroom cleaner and a little Belgian yeast! Not quite as disgusting as that combo sounds! The taste is VERY unusual. A combination of lemon, pine, soap, yeast,...

Raftman

12 oz bottle. Currently not available in the USA. Tasted at the Unibroue dinner meeting at the Brick Store, Decatur, GA, USA. Several of the Unibroue guys in attendance to give us the low down on the beers. If you know Unibroue beers the first thing you will notice is that this beer is by far the most easily distinguishable of all of the Unibroue range. No huge Belgian yeasty tastes that are SO patently Unibroue. Don't get me wrong, I love the classic Unibroue Belgian yeast tastes, but many of...

Bink Blond

$3.99 Green's, Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. Purchased along with the Brune. Poured into the Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs chalice it sits fairly lifeless and deep, deep cloudy orange. Low lacing, very thin spotty film on the suface. A little yeast, a little fruit and smooth in the mouth. A very subtle mild hop bitterness in the background (like a sweetened grapefruit) but it's not much at all. Certainly nothing like some others have reported, although the bitterness does seem to be cumulative as...

Luciérnaga, The Firefly

$9.99 Green's Buford Highway, Atlanta, GA, USA. 750 mL bottle. Mid-orange body with thick, milkshake like head poured into the Duvel tulip. Some nice lacing. Looks very nice. Belgian spiced overtones and a hint of acidity and farmyard funk (apples and West Country Cider) in the nose. I dunno, this is the second Jolly Pumpkin offering that I have had, and the experience has been almost identical in each case. There is an inordinate amount of funk and acidity that would be OK in a cross between...

Funky Monk Ale (8.5%)

To me, definitely a very good impersonation of an Abbey Dubbel. Served in the "Cognac" snifter glass, there is a classic dirty brown body with a small head that disappears fast. Good fruit, with a classic Belgian yeasty finish, this beer really feels like an authentic brew. Body is substantial. Aroma is mildly fruity, and not as developed as the fruit in the taste. Alcohol is prominent in the finish.

Het Kapittel Blond

Pale orange body, a slightly yellowish tinge, with some decent carbonation and a rocky head, that is nice, but short lived. Aroma is subdued, but has a little Belgian yeast smell. Not much else. Slightly syrupy mouthfeel but drinkable. A low key sugar taste, almost like a diluted Tripel, but very little else. A pretty flat experience all around.

Saranac Belgian Ale

Way too brown/orange a pour for the style, this looks more like a pale ale than a Belgian pale. Small head, no retention and no lacing - not a promising start. Aroma is by far the strongest element here. Good, apparently authentic Belgian yeast smell, but it is quickly let down by the watery and weak taste. Mouthfeel follows along the same lines with an insipid effort and the drinkability is below average. Has potential, and the possibility of being really something, but ultimately it fails....

Saint Druon De Sebourg (French Abbey Ale)

11.2 oz bottle. Interesting. Very nice golden color with a fairly fast fading head and some lacing. A little chill haze. Nose is sweet and sugary but not much else. Nice thirst quenching qualities but with that comes a lack of body. A little apple and citrus tang, but very little in the way of flavorful malt and hops. A very lightweight beer but quite nice to drink quickly for a refreshing feel.

Val-Dieu Blond

Part of a 3-bottle gift pack that included 11.2 oz bottles of this, the Brown and the Tripel and a Val-Dieu goblet for $11.99. Good value I thought. Very light, almost dare I say it, macro lager like appearance, with some fairly aggressive carbonation. The carbonation is a little too much for me, and it leads to a rather thin body, mouthfeel and light, non-persistent head. Definite Belgian yeast taste, but the "Pale" in Belgian Pale is really the dominant feature of this brew and it is...

Karma

Well, very odd. Firstly I would NEVER have guessed that this was supposed to be a Belgian pale. To me it was real thin and watery, with no hint of the spice or yeast. It drank just like a middle of the road American Pale Ale. Nice, drinkable and OK, but simply non-specific. The kind of beer I would expect a competent, small, local brewery to produce as their bog-standard offering. Maybe I've lost the feel for the regular (non-Strong) Belgian Pales or maybe I've been expecting bigger beers from...

La Trappe Blond (Koningshoeven / Dominus)

Purchased this as part of the gift pack (A tripel, Dubbel, Blonde and Quad with a Konings Hoeven Chalice) - GREAT value at $7.99 the lot! Interesting - not a real clean tasting beer, lots of action going on. Some good, some bad. Good looking golden body, but distict lack of head was disappointing, especially in the wake of what appeared to be some lively carbonation. As others have observed, a certain amount of "flatness" to the beer. Aroma's are very low key, some alcohol and little else...

Orval Trappist Ale

Original notes 08/14/2004 $4.79, Greens Beverage, Ponce de Leon, Atlanta, GA, USA. Subsequently $4.99 Arbor Place Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. Another somewhat unattractive beer as it sits in the glass looking dirty brown and murky. A typical nasty Dubbel look. The pour was much nicer with a real fizzy head, but it died way too quickly for me. The carbonation is over the top for me. The aromas here are VERY complex and unusual. I get a lot of fruit, especially pears, but significant...

Leffe Blonde

HUGE nostalgia beer for me - sipping this outside Cafes in Belgium, Holland and France for years and years tends to leave a warm memory with you when you're relegated to sipping beer in Atlanta!! $8.99, Six Pack, Arbor Place Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. (The store got this in today for the first time, about 20 minutes before I arrived - selection keeps on improving at this place). Subsequently, $7.99, Six Pack, Green's Beverage, Ponce de Leon, Atlanta, GA. I know that for the real purists...