All notes on beers in the style

Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Gauloise
Christmas

Dark brown pour with some sumptuous, cherry red, garnet highlights. Head is decent, and fades to give nice, sticky lace and some thin, creamy foam on the surface of the beer. Looks good. Nose has some sweet raisins in the typical, BSDA tradition. It is sweet, and it offers very little in the way of spice. I really don't find this beer especially 'spiced', and certainly not compared to similar Christmas beers. In fact, there really isn't a huge amount of flavor beyond the sweetness here. It's a...

Zundert
Trappist 8

For something that is categorized as a BDSA, this beer is a very strange color. There is a light brown, chestnut appearance, not a typical, blackish, darker body. It looks like a, "slightly-better-than-usual" Dubbel. Head is initially good, but lace doesn't form and the retention isn't great, however the thin film across the surface of the beer that lingers, is pleasing. Light fruits greet the nose and tastes. There's a touch of bitterness up front, but I get very little spice that others have...

Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue) Whisky Barrel Aged

As is the case every time I make notes about a beer and then publish them on the site, they are no more than my thoughts, for my own records, and for my own reference. They really aren't for any other purpose, but if others enjoy reading them or even find them useful, then great! If not, so be it. I say that here because I think that these notes are likely to run counter to many others thoughts about this beer, and that's just fine! Right off the top I'll admit that I'm just not a huge fan of...

Strong Dark and Belgian

22 oz bottle, courtesy of Mark, and directly from the brewery. The color of this beer is very attractive. A deep, garnet red hue in certain light, and clear as a bell. I saw bunch of pictures on Untappd which had me worried in relation to the carbonation, because almost every one of them appeared flat. The carbonation here is better than those pictures would suggest, but not great, and if there's one criticism in terms of the pour and appearance is that personally, I would like a more...

Bière Du Boucanier Dark

Poured from the iconic, ceramic stubby bottle, on first look this appears like an ugly Dubbel brown - my favorite color complaint - but in better light there are a ton of red hues and the beer is significantly less dull than it first appears. Head is decent, and consummate with a 9% beer. Retention and lace follow a similar pattern. Fruity yeast on the nose, that is carried into the tastes a bit, but in those tastes we find a drier beer than the aroma might first suggest. Still plenty of...

Vicaris Winter (2018)

33cl bottle. Best before 19/09/23, so plenty of life left in this yet. Belgian Strong Dark? Maybe not. It has some Winter Warmer character too, and no, I’m not being fooled by the name, but in the end this seems almost largely brown ale-like. ‘Imperial’ of course. Pour is a dark brown, chocolate colored body. Looks like a better version of a dirty dubbel. Head and lace do a good job. A ton of bread in the nose, with a touch of oxidation. The beer feels older than it might be right off the bat....

Hoegaarden De Verboden Vrucht

Just like Hoegaarden Grand Cru, I like this beer. Shoot me. Pour is a dark burgundy body, with a resplendent head, that takes on a light tan hue, and a lovely, “noisy”, pitted, dense look. This looks great. Right out the bottle there is plenty of banana sweetness in the nose. The tastes continue to bring the same, and we get some really nice dry alcohol soaked dried fruits. More banana based yeast, and then some more vinous notes. There’s a fruity, jammy, red wine based element in there, and a...

Abbaye des Rocs Spéciale Noel

33 cl bottle. Finest Belgian Beers. Lot L2006 02369 26/10/2022 Turbid brown, murky Duddel like pour, with a decent but poorly maintained head. Nose offers a few, light fruit, and bitter notes. Something similar breaks across the plate early. This smooths out over the course of the bottle, and really becomes quite sweet. If one concentrates it is possible to pick out a touch of nutmeg, and little prickly carbonation, and some deeper plum like fruit, but this is one of the those odd times when...

Leffe Biere d’Hiver (Winter)

This is one of the prettiest beers that I've seen in a while. A truly deep red-brown pour, with a great head and some fantastic lace. Bone white layers are left behind in the glass. Unfortunately, the look is the high-water mark for it. The beer drinks very light, considering the style and the look. That's both a good and a bad thing. It makes the beer drinkable and easy, but TBH it really lacks the depth that it should have, and that either style (see below) demands. Plenty of caramel, plenty...

Leffe Radieuse

18/03/22 43 08.03 Leffe is much maligned. I've always liked/enjoyed/loved their beer. Partly nostalgia? Sure. But I simply don't drink beer that I don't enjoy, so shoot me! Radieuse is a pretty beer. A beautifully clear, red-chestnut body with an acceptable, if not great head. Nose offers a ton of malt, and this comes through in the initial tastes. The alcohol blends beautifully with the malt and creates a rich, but highly, highly drinkable beer. A touch of solvent (which is OK), the beer...

Unibroue 17
Grand Réserve

Bottled in 2011, No. 2011-100254, best before 12-12-2016. Parchment like label, information on the back describing the 2007 beer and the process it went through to become the 'Grand Reserve'. I've been (generally) a huge fan of the Unibroue anniversary series, and indeed enjoyed 17 very much, so even at $12.99 for the corked and caged 750 mL it was a no-brainer for me. A healthy pop on opening (good) is followed by a light chestnut, brownish pour. The carbonation is pretty good and gives a...

Monk’s Blood

12 oz single can from Mac's, Midtown, Atlanta, GA, USA as part of their new "Pick/Mix a Four pack" as opposed to the pick/mix a 6 pack. The beer pours a hazed, reddish-copper color with some cream colored head that does not linger. Not much lace. Nose gives up a little maltiness but to be honest it really is nothing to crow about. Some sweetness and a dash of alcohol but not much else, even on warming. Tastes are pretty sweet which is OK for the style, but follows up with some significant...

Bink Grand Cru

750 mL bottle with a synthetic 'cork', silver foil and cage with black cap. Cork is wedged in pretty tight, it is a pain to open. Also, the lack of 'pop' and lack of gun-smoke is a little disappointing. In anything other than bright light, the beer looks black. In stronger light the body is seen to be a shade or two lower getting into the very, very dark brown region with even a few red notes/highlights in the extremities. Aggressive pour was required (at least by me, since I am a fan of...

Grand Cru

22 oz bottle with the usual, Great Divide presentation. Red foil on this one. Dark copper, garnet colored body with good clarity and a small, off-white head. In the Chimay chalice the beer leaves some decent lace and a thin, creamy spotty head on the surface of the beer. The nose is where things get interesting to say the least. There is some sweetness that I was expecting, but there is also a dose of some hop character. The tastes are also pretty odd. There's a lot of sweetness, but not...

3 French Hens

Notes added, 10/17/21 (This is pictured) It is SO gratifying when a beer drinks like this after cellaring. Carbonation is great (always the first worry), and the pour is so good as a result. 10+ years has mellowed out the oak here tremendously, and the depth of flavor is absolutely intense and immense. Smooth, beautifully balanced, drinkability off the chart, and a beer to remember in a way that it wasn't 10 years ago. The bottle conditioning has saved the carbonation here. Subtle, fruit...

Panic Attack

12 oz single, Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. When a beer has the generic words, "Belgian Style Ale" on the label it makes me nervous. When it's from the Holy Mackerel stable as well, it makes me even more wary, and to be honest I do not have high hopes for this beer before I open it. A copper hue with a decent amount of lace and some creamy head that sits on top of the brew, Firstly this is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination a beer that should be categorized as a Belgian Strong Dark. It fails...

Trader Joe’s 2010 Vintage Ale

A release that I look forward to every year for two reasons; the value associated with this beer is generally exceptional, and Unibroue is simply a brewer that rarely misses when it plays in its own, Canadian inspired, "Belgian" ballpark. Corked & Caged 750 mL in the usual Unibroue style bottle, with a blue "U" on top of the cap that is reassuring. Best Before date on the rear of the bottle, 09-10-2013. J221 01 953Q dot-matrixed on the shoulder of the bottle at the side. A very dark brown body...

Long John Ale

12 oz single from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Word on the street is that this is essentially the same beer as this; http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/864/46125 but the beer has been "tweaked" a little in terms of the recipe, and (obviously) it has been re-branded as part of Red Brick's image overhaul. The pour gives a nice, mahogany body with some light chill haze. The head is tan and light and bubbly. Retention and lace are below average. WOW! The nose and tastes are ENORMOUS bubble-gum...

Kasteel Cuvée Du Chateau

Updated notes 10/31/21 This is the bottled pictured. Best Before 24/11/2025. Just about 11 years since I made the original notes below. I’ve drunk this beer a few times in between, but without additional notes. Pour looks more black, and the head and retention are both better than the original notes. Again, not quite as sweet as one might think, and it does maintain that burned, almost licorice element. In fact, the licorice notes are strong here. Smooth, still very drinkable, the beer warms...

Gouden Carolus Easter Beer

750 mL corked & caged bottle. MASSIVE thanks go out to Steve for the opportunity to finally get my hands on this beer. I've been trying to get hold of it since I came to the US, and until very, very recently it was generally "not" available here. Despite several trade attempts I never managed to get one until Steve just simply gave me one! That's an amazing piece of advocacy that I will always remember. Color is frankly a not particularly attractive, cloudy brown, Dubbel-like brown affair....

t Smisje Grande Reserva

11.2 oz "stubbie" bottle from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. WOW! This happens about every 6-12 months, i.e. a beer that truly blows me away. A truly magnificent, regal beer. The pour and the appearance are most definitely the weakest points. A light brown, murky affair with an annoy over-carbonation that leads to a difficult pour and foam that snakes out of the bottle. After the somewhat disappointing appearance things REALLY take-off in a serious manner. The nose and tastes yield a pretty much...

Adriaen Brouwer Dark Gold Ale

750 mL corked & caged bottle from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Beer pours with a brown, Dubbel like color but with more clarity than one associates with the Dubbel category. The bottle opens with a disappointing lack of pop, but pours in a very much better manner than the opening would suggest. the beer yields a lovely, creamy, cream colored film on the surface of the beer, and produces a small amount of broken lace. Nice, light booze in the nose that produces some decent sherry aromas. There's...

Santa’s Little Helper 2009

750 mL, corked, caged and red-foiled affair. $12.99 from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Rich looking dark brown pour with a creamy, tan head. Some nice, creamy lace and a thin film forms on the surface and around the rim. A few cocoa notes and some Belgian yeast in the nose, along with a bit of hop presence. The beer doesn't deliver many (if any) typical Dark Belgian character. Outside of the look, it gives a slightly odd cocoa note (that I don't much care for) and is low on the advertised...

Demon Hunter

750 mL bottle, paper wrapped as in the BA database picture. Pretty impressive presentation. $15.99 from Arbor Place Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. Cap has an extra plastic appendage on the underside and it comes off with some force. Pour is a very attractive, orange copper color with some excellent creamy head, with persistent, spotty coverage on the surface of the beer and some nice lace. Head characteristics (in terms of retention) are especially pleasing. Somewhat musty, light sherry...

Terrapin The Dark Side Belgian Style Imperial Stout

22 oz bottle. Had this a few times in the last few weeks, time for some formal thoughts. Pour is a good looking black with a few brownish highlights. Head is initially nice and creamy but the retention and lace are both very poor even when considering the ABV. Marked down for that. A nice rich nose with some light roastiness, some chocolate and a touch of alcohol. Considering the word "Belgian" is used in the name of the beer and the label, the beer lacks much of a Belgian yeast element. The...

Brooklyn Local 2

=== Original review form 2/21/09 === 750 mL corked & caged affair, $7.99 from Tower on Piedmont, Atlanta, GA, USA. I must admit, when I saw the description that included the honey and the citrus peel I was expecting a beer that fell more into the Belgian Strong Pale category, so to see a Belgian Dark flow from the elaborate bottle was a slight shock. I love the green and gold color scheme. Pour is a rich looking, thick, tight-headed beer with a reddish Dubbel appaerance. Head has a delicious...

Trader Joe’s 2009 Vintage Ale

=== Updated Review 01/11 === About 14 months old by now. Nose seems stronger than ever (in a good way). The carbonation is still quite prickly, and I think this is probably the weakest part of the beer, but paradoxically it lends a pretty lively element to the beer, and I would rather be it that way than the other, Still fruity and rich, the value here is indisputable. Yeasty elements seems a little higher than originally. Super beer. === Original review 12/09 === Trader Joe's have been in...

2 Turtle Doves

$11.99 (I think) from Arbor Place, Douglasville, GA, USA. 750 mL bottle, capped, dimpled bottom. Pour is a very, very dark chestnut brown approaching black. Initially the head is very high but this fades to a thin, mocha, spotty impressive film. Not much lace but that's OK considering the ABV. This is a good looking beer. To be honest the carbonation seemed a touch high for the style and there was a light prickle in the mouthfeel that although not troublesome, again seemed a touch out of line...

Ommegang Adoration Ale

750 mL corked & caged bottle. Found this at Mac's, Atlanta, GA, USA. Delighted and surprised, wasn't anticipating getting hold of this. Black dot-matrixed on the neck: PKG on 08/28/09, Best by: 08/2014. Pour is a pretty bright, darkish bronze color but at the same time not quite as dark as I was expecting. Head is good and fades to give a lovely, creamy, spotty film on the surface of the brew. Classic look. Nose and tastes give plenty of layered Belgian candy, winter spices and alcohol. The...

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale

Suprised to see so few reviews of this (only 5 at the time of writing), since I've had this in my posession since last week. First time that I've drunk a VE on the actual day! Pour has a jet black body with a lovely, high head with fine bubbles. The bubbles are extremely fine in the way that creates that almost perfect, horizontal line between the body and the head that one finds in many nitro pour beers, or more commonly in Guinness. The head is not amazingly well retained, but it does leave...

Fantôme Black Ghost

750 ml, capped and corked from the latest batch to make it to GA. Delighted to see this back in GA after a fairly lengthy absence due to production and distribution inconsistencies. I think it's worth saying right off the top that this beer is fairly atypical of Fantome. It lacks some of the excessive funk that one often finds and whilst certainely "spiced", it's in a herbal manner which is somewhat out of the ordinary for them. Pour is a turbid, murky brown Dubbel like body (not very...

Allagash 11th Anniversary Ale

750 mL corked & caged. I was delighted to get hold of this as I was pretty sure that this would be a beer that I would never get the chance to try, but thanks go out to the generous trader that hooked me up. One of my favorite brewers and one of my favorite style - hopefully, that will add up to success! The pop on opening was not big, and I wonder if this has lost a little carbonation over the years. The pour also lacks much life. The body is a orange/amber hazed affair with very little head...

Noir De Dottignies

Paper-wrapped 750 mL, capped bottle in typical De Ranke presentation mode. This came from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Popping the cap produces a touch of gunsmoke but the pour produces a pretty lively beer. Some really substantial, thick, bubbly head that lingers and leaves good lace. Body is a slightly murky, dark Dubbel like affair. Nose is quite frankly not huge, but it does give a strong whiff of a hop base rather than a Belgian fruity/estery/yesty/candy note. I suppose this is in line...

10 Commandments

Well, I'm always holding my breath when I crack open a Lost Abbey these days as I wait to see if the carbonation is going to be an issue. Luckily this open opens with a decent pop, not huge but enough to leave me confident that this beer is carbonated correctly. 750 mL corked & caged with the usual, elaborate LA presentation. Looks classy. Poured this one into the Gouden Carolus, small chalice. The beer looks near perfect. Beautiful, dark mahogany clarity with a super, rich, dense mocha...

Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown Ale

Notes added 02/10/22. 13 years since I last took notes on this beer. 33 cl bottle, pictured. Quite a carbonated initial pour with some real fizziness. Surprising. As I noted in the initial notes from 2009, the beer is quite light, especially considering the 9.5%. Plenty of balanced sweetness and even a touch of banana up front. This lingers and builds down the bottle, a the subtle banana note becomes some thing that I walk away with more than anything else. The “light” nature of a beer in this...

Canaster Winterscotch Ale

750 mL bottle from Arbor Place Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA from late 2008. Capped bottle is a BIG gusher - be warned. Poured into the Ommegang chalice the beer forms a mid-brown Dubbel color and a small fine head with a creamy consistency. Plenty of yeast floaties. Nose is sherry alcohol based. This beer is pretty much Strong Belgian Dark all the way through. Large fruit raisin and plum notes with the alcohol poking its head through to give a nice warmth. Figs and more rich, dark,...

Equinox

750 mL capped and corked from Duke's package up on US-41 in Marietta, GA, USA. Green, heavy glass with a champagne dimpled bottom. Dark brown, hazy pour with a decent amount of head and lace. VERY Dubbel like as opposed to BSDA, and lacks the sweetness and fruity nature of a typical beer from the style. Lots of yeast sediment in the final pour from the bottle. Quite bland in the grand scheme of things and lacks any winter spice element or significant Belgian yeast tastes. Distinct lack of...

La Madragore

Draft, Brick Store, Atlanta, GA, USA. Pours with the look of an RIS. Much thinner though. Lactic, sour notes hit the nose and the combination of that and the thin mothfeel make this one a non-starter for me. Nasty, lacklustre effort that has a sour milk note. This would be bad enough if it were some kind of stout but to put this in a Belgian Strong Dark category is a travesty. Acidic and tasteless. Another really disappointing beer from this stable. Avoid.

Serafijn Grand Cru

750 mL bottle from Green's on Ponce, Atlanta, GA, USA. $8.95 for the orange foil topped, capped bottle. Lot 06/07 on the cap. A little gunsmoke on opening and a slight burst of carbonation. Into the Duvel tulip it goes. Smells a bit "old". Big head and very nice lace. Dark orange body. Sweet, malty yeasty nose that reminds me of another brew that I just cannot put my finger on. Tastes are a really earthy, rustic feel. In fact it seems to remind my of OLD beer. It's a bit odd and it really...

Urthel Vlaemse Bock

750 mL corked & caged, Arbor Place Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. Slightly cloudy, reddish Dubbel-like pour that starts with a good head but fades rather badly giving no lace. Nose has plenty of Bock notes with rich alcohol and some depth - promising. Tastes are interesting becasue I was expecting a degree of acidity associated withe the brew but got NONE. Essentially this was a simple, Dopplebock/Dubbel crossover brew with Belgian yeast notes and GEerman alcohol and malt character. Good,...

Santa’s Little Helper 2007

$14.95 from Green's on Ponce, Atlanta, GA, USA. 750 mL corked & caged affair with a red foiled neck. Poured into a small wine glass whilst on vacation in a villa on Hilton Head Island. Deep, dark Porter colored body. Close to jet black with some brown highlights. Nose and tastes are both VERY complex. There are all the requisite dark Belgian chracteristics. Plenty of dark fruits, figs and raisins; warming alcohol. The finish pulls the whole package together with a lovely mildly acidic note...

Abbaye D’Aulne Triple Brune 9°

750 mL, corked & banded (as opposed to caged). Picked this up at Arbor Place in Douglasville, GA, USA. Date on the bottle is 03/10/07 which probably means October 2007, but either way this will not have suffered much. Anyway, when I pointed this out at the register it was given to me at 75 cents - RESULT! Very healthy pop on opening (good sign), and a good looking pour into the Duvel tulip. The body color is darker (and better looking) than a Dubbel and has a good head and some lace. Nose is a...

Unibroue 17

750 mL Corked & Caged bottle with the usual Unibroue, silk screened presentation. $8.49 from Bullocks, Marietta, GA, USA. Had a bit of a job to track this down. Big pop on opening, it's poured into the Ommegang chalice. Dirty brown, Dubbel like color (not attractive) with a high head that is dense, creamy and off-white (this IS attractive). Nice lace. Big, herbal nose with some interesting notes of freshly cut green leaves - quite odd! Mint? Very, very, very mild smoke?? Large alcohol...

t Smisje Calva Reserva

11.2oz stubbie bottle that is different from the picture in the BA database. $4.29 for the bottle. It lists the ABV as 11.0% which leads me to believe that it *could* possibly be the Grande Reserva version, but there is NO mention of this on the label, so I'm runnign with the Reserva. Dark rust colored pour that is still in the glass - no head or lace to speak of. Consistet with the ABV. Nose has pleny of sweet alcohol. Replicated up front with sweet alcohol, but the finish s dry and bitter. A...

Allagash Odyssey

750 mL corked & caged from Jax in Sandy Springs, Atlanta, GA, USA. I think this was $12.99 for the bottle. The January 2008 bottling. I was a little wary of this, as I am with the majority of Oak-Aged beers. Often I find the oak tastes simply overwhelming. As a result I opened this with a little trepidation. Poured into the Ommegang chaice this sits nicely in the glass with a creamy, dense head (if somewhat small). Not much lace. Lovely dark brown body, almost black. Nose reveals some sweet...

Extra Brune

On tap at Tyler's Taproom, Durham, NC, USA. Served in a Brooklyn snifter, $6.00. Flanders Oud Bruin? Not to me. This appeared to be an overly sweet Dubbel. Typical, dirty brown Dubbel body with some floaties. The overwhelming sensation and taste here was sweet, sweet, bubblegum. The bubblegum aroma and taste were extraordinarily strong to the point of being distracting. No hint of any sour notes that one might expect in a more typical example of the (alledged) style. Hubba-Bubba aged?? I...

AleSmith Grand Cru Ale

Thanks go out to Rustydiamond for hooking me up with this via South Bay Drugs - nice piggyback shipment Lance, thanks buddy. Impressive 750 mL bottle, thick and heavy glass and thick gold foil on the neck. Nice presentation. Bottle lacks the champagne dimpled bottom. No vintage noted on the bottle, but must be fresh (Late '07/Early '08). No cork, no cage, just capped. Poured into te Ommegang chalice the head is small and lacks much depth, and the body is a light, brownish/red. Little lace....

Troubadour Obscura (Mild Stout)

330 mL single from Tower on Piedmont, Atlanta, GA, USA. $3.99 (I think). Very interesting in terms of style. Categorized in the BA db as a BSDA, on the label and in the name as a "Mild Stout" (whatever THAT is), but IMO it seems to be very close to a Dubbel. I'm increasingly confused becasue I am not a big fan of Dubbels in general, but THIS I quite like. STILL has that relatively unattractive (to me), dirty brown murky body. Thin film of mocha head on the surface. Little or no lace....

Achel Trappist Extra

Poured from a bottle that looks like this; http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/922/40681 but reliable information suggests that these two beers are the same offering just packaged in different ways for different markets - change request for the BA db has been submitted. $14.99 from Green's on Ponce, Atlata, GA, USA. Poured into the Ommegang chalice the initial pour is somewhat fizzy and not in a good way - rather soda-like. Highly carbonated with a large, frothy head but the head doesn't have...

Allagash Black

$10.99 from Jax, Sandy Springs, Atlanta, GA, USA. 750 mL corked & caged, relatively new to GA, in the second wave of Allagash brews. Pour is a dark, dark brown (basically black) with some dark brown chestnut highlights. Head is dense and creamy, but a little disappointing in terms of its longevity. Advertised on the label as a Belgian Style Stout, I would say this is just about exactly what I would imagine a beer in that style to be like. It has the attributes of a Belgian Strong Dark - the...

Barbãr Winterbok / Barbãr De Noël

Thanks go out nlmartin as part of Secret Santa 2007. 11.2 fl oz, best before 22/08/2009. Poured into the Gouden Carolus chalice, this creates a lovely chestnut brown pour with plenty of creamy, foamy head and some whippy lace. A little whiff of alcohol in the nose, with some dark fruit. Sweet fruits. Alcohol is present but it is seems to evaporate quickly to reveal the fruit component. Rich and creamy with an almost brandylike finish. Probably too sweet for many. Delicious, one of the tastiest...

Noel De Calabaza

Thanks go out to nlmartin as part of 2007 Secret Santa. I'm grateful to him because I would probably not have bought this myself, but at the same time I am always interested to try something new and different. 750 mL bottle. Blend #002. I dunno, I guess this is just another Jolly Pumpkin brew that I don't really get. Chestnut brown pour with some red highlights and some floaties. Little or no head, a little bit lifeless in fact. Funky sourness dominates to the point that this just becomes...

Bon Secours – Biere Vivante

Extremely interesting on a number of fronts; Purchased at City Beverage in Winston-Salem, NC, USA (a great store BTW), for $5.99 marked down from $8.99. Notched rear label that seems to indicate "Lot B", but the "Best Before" notches fall EXACTLY between the months 02/03 and the years 06/07. I suspect this is supposed to be March '07, but either way this beer is STILL drinking nicely. Surprised to see it "Retired" here - what's the story? More surprises becasue this pours as a Belgian Strong...

Grotten Brown (Pierre Celis Signature)

$6.99, Tower on Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. Poured into the Abbaye du Val Dieu chalice. Mid brown/orange body with plenty of carbonation. Slight murkiness. Lots of fine bubbles form a thin film on the surface and the lace is very labile. Dark grape skins and other yeasty, semi-sweet fruits present. Hop bitterness is apparent up front and the sweetness and malts are definitely muted. Carbonation livens up in the mouth to create a full feel. Finishes quite bitter, with a hint of burned molasses....

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

Notes added 01/21/22 33 cl bottle (pictured) imported from Belgian Happiness. Still that relatively unattractive color, although this bottle has a little more chestnut and less of the Dubbel dirty brown. A lot less prickly than the 750 mL experience from 15 years ago! Tastes are still the same delicious dark fruit and wave after wave of slightly drying alcohol with a paradoxically sweet fruit. In short, it’s complex, and so much more than the beer I originally thought it was. A beer that with...

Heylissem Triple Brune

$8.99 for the 750 mL corked and caged bottle. Best Before 05/09. Macs, Downtown, Atlanta, GA, USA. Encouraging pop on opening. Poured into the Duvel tulip this forms a large, high head. This falls to give a classic, creamy and spotty film on the surface of the garnet colored body.A lot of sweet caramel in the nose. Plenty of caramel sweetness in the taste too, which increases with increasing temperature. Very mild spice in the finish. Warming alcohol too. A little tea in there as well. Maybe...

Avery Anniversary Ale – Fourteen

For all intents and purposes this drinks like a stout. Black pour with a creamy head, dark chocolate raisin notes in the nose and in the taste and the mouthfeel is VERY dense and creamy. Dense, creamy, conservative lace. Plenty of smooth, creamy hop bitterness and a smooth finish. Mild bitterness lingers with some hint of dark fruity "Belgianess", but still this seems to be a stout. I need a different edge in my Belgian Strong Dark's and this fails to deliver that. Distinct lack of Belgian...

Heavy Seas – Holy Sheet (Über Abbey Ale)

=== Updated Review 02/10 === Now re-released in the 22 oz format as part of the Mutiny Series. The new big beers from Clipper City have generally been a disappointment to me with some serious hot character i.e. too much alcohol, and generally rough around the edges and ill-defined. To be honest they've been clumsy which is a shame for a brewery that before the BIG series used to generally impress me. This beer is one that ought to be able to cope with the large format and big alcohol. We'll...

Leute Bok

On-tap at the Brick Store, Decatur, GA, USA. Upstairs in the Belgian Bar. As Dave suggests, the silly glass and wooden block (like Kwak) means the kids love this without understanding the very average nature of this beer. Looks decent with a dirty, Dubbel like color (that I am not fond of) and a nice looking (small) ivory, rocky head. In terms of a Belgian Strong Dark, this is a very weak beer. Its main shortcoming is the mouthfeel, but the whole experience is very muted. It has a lot of...

De Dolle
Oerbier

Updated notes 12/03/22 (pictured): Oerbier continues to impress and give a "big" BSDA. Plenty of fruit and depth, and the alcohol seems bigger and more present than it has has previously. I always think of Oerbier as an outlier in the style, and a beer with its own unique character. Some people love that, and although I really enjoy it, but I usually prefer more typical BDSA. I still drink it almost every time I see it, but that's more a function of its relative rarity for me rather than my...

Collaboration Not Litigation Ale

22 oz bottle, $5.99 Hiram Bottle Shop - thanks to Matt (aka SilentSabre) for putting a bottle of this aside for me. Pours like a Dubbel with that typically unattractive thin looking, dirty, mid-orange/brown pour. I dislike the look of Dubbels in general, and although this is not necessarily billed as one, that's what it looks like. Plenty of fine sediment particles present and some pretty decent carbonation. If anything, a little too much for the style for me. Not much head and not much lace....

Ultra Brune

11.2 oz stubbie bottle. The label has been modernized significantly since the one in the current BA database picture. Poured into the Brasserie de Abbaye des Rocs chalice, the body is dark and cloudy (Dubbel look) with a small head and little lace. Wonderful aroma breaks free from the bottle. Dark fruits, sweetness and yeast overtones envelop the beer and this is coupled with a little lingering alcohol. The alcohol IS well hidden (after all it is a 10% beer), but it still finishes with a bit...

Moinette Brune

750 mL dark green, corked and caged champagne bottle. Green's, Buford Highway, Atlanta, GA, USA. Very significant pop on opening.The pour is good looking with a cloudy orange pour and a large head. The carbonation is extreme and annoying. Significant sweet Belgian candy and some yeast notes in the nose. The taste has a surprising hop base and all of the typical Belgian notes (candied sugar, yeast). I am not a huge fan of the hop influence in the Belgian style and it grates a little with me -...

Affligem Noël

750 mL corked and caged, Liquor Barn. Lexington, KY, USA. Cork pops with a pleasing burst, and the beer pours beautifully with a dense head of very fine bubbles forming on top of the Dubbel brown body into the Gouden Carolus glass. Head has a definite espresso feel about it, both in terms of the color and fine film it leaves on the surface. Strong and typical aroma with plenty of dry, dark fruits, alcohol and Belgian yeast. Exactly the same is replicated in the taste with a lingering, round...

Pater Lieven (Kerst Pater Special) Christmas

750 mL corked and caged, $6.99 Greens, Ponce de Leon, Atlanta, GA, USA. Frankly, very disappointing for the style. My Belgian darks need to have much more body than this, and unfortunately this has an acidity and tartness that is completely out of place in my opinion. Pretty decent looker with a nice tan head and burgandy body. Not much lace, and the head dies quickly - rather too carbonated for the style. Nose reveals a yeasty fruit, but it lacks the real depth that one would expect. Not much...

Hell Hath No Fury Ale

12 oz bottle, batch 7673, purchased as a single from Liquor Barn, Lexington, KY, USA. Basically a black pour with a very coffee/tan colored light, spotty head. Very little lacing, almost a stout like appearance. A bit too dark for the style I think. Quite a lot of very fine sediment suspended in the body of the beer as it sits in the Duvel tulip. Aroma is light Belgian candy sweetness and some alcohol. Aroma carries through to the taste with some alcohol but rather a lot of roasted bitterness...

Brother Thelonious

***Since my initial review, I think that this beer has been re-categorized as a Dubbel which seems more appropriate. Corked and caged 750 mL, purchased from Hiram Bottle Shop, Hiram, GA, USA from fellow BA, SilentSabre. Great rust color with some lovely red highlights. Nice head on the initial pour but this fades quickly. Good, rich caramel nose with a hint of alcohol. Taste is surprisingly light on the alcohol. At 9.00% ABV I was expecting a lot more in the taste, but it is hidden to the...

Stone 06.06.06 Vertical Epic Ale

04/08 (Almost two year old bottle) === Purchased at Kybecca, Fredericksburg, VA, USA. $7+ for the last bottle in the cooler. Poured in to the Val-Dieu goblet. Still has the dark, dark brown almost black body. Very thin spotty head despite the aggressive pour. Some flakes and floaties in the body of the pour. Aroma is deeper now than I remember from a couple of years ago. Mouthfeel is still creamy. The taste really doesn't seemed to have mellowed out much - a tad disappointing. It certainly...

Gouden Carolus Noël / Christmas

750 mL corked and caged. Delicious and absolutely typical with one major exception - the appearance, especially the color. It was disappointing to me. It resembled one of the nasty, murky dirty water Dubbels that haunt me. Delicious head with an off-white solid foam forming tha moves with the beer. Lots of retentionand lacing it shows class. Outside of the look all the dark fruits, alcohol and Belgian yeasts were present in abundance jus as expected. Multi-facetted layers of plums, figs,...

St. Feuillien Cuvée De Noël

750 mL corked and caged. Cork has 5/05 printed on it. Mid-brown body with a light film left on the surface of the beer after the light head has faded. Not much lacing when poured into the Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Roc goblet. Big fruit alcoholic notes in the nose with a hint of spice. Tastes reflects that with plenty of sweet alcoholic notes, sweet fruit, spice and caramel toffee. The finish is what sets this apart from many others of a similar ilk. Very dry with almost a champagne like...

Bush de Noël

Notes added 01/29/22 33 cl bottle, pictured. The color is a chestnut brown with plenty of red included. The head is small and short-lived, but at 12% expected. This beer drinks infinitely fruitier to my palate in 2022 than it ever did in the past. It’s wave after wave of sweet cherries, sugary pear drops, and pineapple cubes (the sweets not the fruit itself). Original scores maintained. Whilst the alcohol is there, it absolutely does not impart any kind of ethanol taste. It’s quite amazing...

Stone 05.05.05 Vertical Epic Ale

Poured into the Duvel tulip. One half inch, dense pock marked head sits atop the dark brown, almost Dubbel like body. Color is not the most attractive. The head fades but leaves that tell-tale spotty and creamy deposit for the remainder of the beer - a sure sign of a quality product. Rich nose with the classic figs, prunes, dark sugar and raisin notes. Excellent. Taste has all the characteristics of a Belgian dark, but has an added bitterness. The bitterness lingers a little too long for me,...

Salvation

Batch 001, from BigLove as part of BCG BIF. 750 mL, corked and caged. Dark, murky brown looking a lot like a darkish Dubbel. Smallish head, but very, very fine carbonation make up the head and the lace. The lace is liquid rather than sticky, but still attractive. Alcoholic bananas, some fruit and a little port in the nose. Typically Belgian in the mouth with a very full experience, rolling and rounded fruits all brought together with mild acidity, big yeasts, alcohol and fine carbonation. High...

Het Kapittel Prior

Part of the mixed, Kapittel four pack. Attractive pale blue cap on the 330 mL bottle. Muddy brown appearance with a very distinct Dubbel look. Head is a little too carbonated and thin for my liking, but it settles down to give a creamy and spotty film on the surface. Aroma is a little sweet malt and some fruitiness, but it's all pretty subdued. Tastes are round and fruity with a little Belgian dry character, but not what I would call complex by any stretch of the imagination. Short finish with...

The Beast Grand Cru

=== Updated Review 12/10 === 2005 Vintage. Thanks go out to finewine mike for a chance to try this again. Same vintage as the original reviews (below). Murky brown body with obviously no head or lace. Massive fig, dried fruit and raisin notes with (still) powerful alcohol. Very sweet and lots of oxidized notes. Very smooth and relatively easy drinking (considering). Scores adjusted (down) from the original. === Updated Review 06/06 === Second 12 oz bottle, also 2005 vintage, much the same...

Gouden Carolus Classic

This has been hanging around in the cellar, store, rewiew pile and countless other places for a long time - at last a formal review. Delivered into the Gouden Carolus "fat" flute, the pour is good, but the color is a little disappointing. A reddy, brown plum skin color but cloudy. Good head as long as the pour is aggressive, and with that head comes a pretty decent amount of sticky lacing. Aroma is all plummy raisins with a depth of alcohol and tinge of fruit cake. A sherry like waft is...

La Terrible

Updated Review 10/10 Bottle Best Before: 10-15-2014 Dot matrix on neck: A14102232Q Same magnificent flavor profile as usual with huge, rich fruits and a great alcohol kick. Unbeatable value at $8.99. Updated Review 01/10 New Years Day 2010. Bottle is marked as Best Before 02/26/12. 750 mL corked & caged has a dot matrixed code on the neck of B28071559Q. Really hard job getting the cork out of this one. Pour is an amazing looking black body with seriously SCARLET red highlights. These are...

McChouffe

Additional Notes: 07/12/22 Sixteen years on and my notes below look a little naive and dated. Having said that I kinda stand by them and it's still the same color, and for me the beer really lacks the depth that many others can provide. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like this beer - I do, really - but it always feels a little thin in every department. I continue to buy it from time to time when something not quite so hard-hitting is required, but it's an occasional beer for me...

Val-Dieu Winter

This is designed to be a sipper, but because of its sheer deliciousness, its actually difficult not to gulp this down at an alarming rate of knots. Conker (Horse-chestnut) brown body, with a lovely, spotty creamy head with ultra-fine bubbles of carbonation present. A little lacing, but nice thin film retention. All the dark fruit aromas (plums and balck grapes) that one would expect from the style, but we get the additional smells of vanilla and deep, smooth alcohol thrown in. The sheer depth...

Raison D’extra

Poured into the St. Bernardus chalice, I wanted to give this a full chance to breathe and release those deep aromas. Burned orange color, obviously zero head and zero lacing. Slightly viscous, liquor like appearance, again as expected. Aroma is all fruity alcohol. The alcohol is the main component (not exactly a surprise), but this is coupled with some deep, soft fruits like plums and prunes. The taste is basically sherry like. The alcohol is surprisingly muted compared to the aroma. Obviously...

Raison D’etre

Poured into the Chimay goblet, there was a distinct lack of life to the beer with little or no carbonation, and as a result vitually no head or lacing. Murky orange/brown hue reminiscent of cold tea, I'm afraid this did not score high on the appearance scale at all. Aroma is of sweet fruits and deep seated sugar, but the fruits are not really very distinguishable - some candied pineapple perhaps, maybe some orange? Mixed fruits are upfront in the taste too, then there is an alcoholic and...

Delirium Nocturnum

Notes added, 08/19/21 33 cl bottle, L19 20238. Only notch that is visibly cut is on 5 (of L1-5). Nothing on 18-21 sections. This is the bottle pictured. The body still has that great, mahogany color, but with larger red elements than I remember and that my 2005 notes suggest. Head is also retained better and is a bit thicker and creamier. Fruit esters still dominate, and the beer is not quite as deep as many others in the style, but it’s still a lovely drink. Finishes with the drying alcohol....

La Montagnarde [Brasserie Des Rocs Ambree]

Notes added 09/04/21 New look labels that have been a round for a few years now, pictured here. In its sixteen year evolution since the original review in 2005, it still feels ‘mild’ - I stand by that word. The BSDA style classification looks ‘wrong’ when when considers the color (mid, golden orange), and the lack of punch that the ABV should deliver. It looks like a Tripel, but lacks any white pepper spice, and there are no dark fruits here. Amber also seems wrong. To be honest, this remains...

Édition 2005

=== Cellared Review 09/09 === Well, 4+ years on this beer, time to crack one open. Firstly the pop on opening gave an indication of things to come. It was small, and although not completely dead it was disappointingly slight. I was anticipating some drop in carbonation, but this was disappointing. The pour gave the Dubbel-like appearance that I was expecting but again it lacked life. LOTS of sherry, oxidized notes which is fine by me for two reasons; firstly I was expecting it, and secondly I...

Brasserie Des Rocs Triple Impériale

Notes added: 08/27/21 750 mL bottle with the newer, but paradoxically old school labels (pictured), from Finest Belgian Beers. 13/04/23 as the date, L2150 17.16 as the lot. Having been really disappointed with a couple of recent bottles of newer Des Rocs, and after learning from Bob Sylvester that there had been a changing of the guard over there, I was ready for another let down today. NOT SO! This Triple Impérial is as good as the old days. Perfect appearance, rich, sumptuous dark fruits...

N’Ice Chouffe

11/24/22 (Pictured) Still that same, dryish bitter finish that is atypical of a Belgian Strong Dark or Quad, and plenty of dark malts that place it in brown ale territory. Still enjoy it. 2004 Vintage. Dark brown pour, but not so deep that a real deep mahogany type body was evident, with nice spotty lacing on the surface of the beer and on the glass. A lot of malt and spice in the aroma. Detected some orange peel (as advertised), but the others were more difficult to detect and definitely not...

Abbaye Des Rocs [Brasserie Des Rocs Brune]

Notes added 08/06/21 33cl bottle, Batch/Lot L2005 03678 03/06/2022 Difficult to square this beer in 2021 when compared to 2005. For a start I've hated the label change for years, but I suppose that's a different story (picture here is that new label, please love the old ones instead!). There's a thinness about the beer that I was not a feature of this previously. Also there's a light acidity here that takes away from the depth of Belgian dark, plum character that I remember from the past....

Abbaye Des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Special Brown (on-tap)

On-tap, The Brick Store, Decatur, GA, USA. Very red/copper color, with a small but beautiful head, some light lacing and served in the correct glassware, this looks like a dream. Very, very complex. I get so many contrasting sensations I find it very hard to categorize and list them. Alcohol is there, so is deep fruit character, at the same time a creaminess and bitter finish. Some chocolate, a little smoke, the list goes on. In order to pin all of these down I'd need to come back to this...

Cuvée Van De Keizer Blauw (Blue)

Notes 11/28/21 2021 Vintage. Now labeled as “Imperial Dark”, and pictured here. This bottle came from Belgian Happiness, directly from Belgium. Nothing to report here, other than the beer maintains its place in my top ten of all time. The waves of raisins, dates, plums, alcohol, rich sugar and all of the Belgian yeast notes collect to give me a mildly religious experience every time. Notes 03/11 2009 vintage. The beer exudes a reddish brown hue with the classic, spotty, cream lace that sits...

Gulden Draak (Dark Triple)

Additional notes: 10/09/22: Pictured. Beautiful, cherry-red mahogany pour. Lovely, rocky slightly beige head. Lots of alcohol, still, but there is a light fruit note which makes it insanely drinkable. Light in the mouth, moreish and sweet. Gentle aggression, that's the feel with Gulden Draak. Classically rich and strong, don't go here if you don't want that. Simple. Original notes: 04/01/2005 Very deep, dark appearance with an amazing aroma of cherries, dates, other dark fruits and a little...

Nostradamus

Highly drinkable Belgian that drinks way below it's 9.5%. I could drink a gallon of this stuff without noticing it (at least until the next day!) Dirty brown pour with a charateristic large, forthy, rocky white head. Carbonation is high at first but dies down significantly so this is not a problem. Great appearance and nice lacing. Lovely, rich and creamy mouthfeel. Really full in the mouth and the combination of fruit and carbonation is a real treat. Heavy fruits and other esters lace this...

Delirium Noël

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 10.00% ABV, 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 still big and...

Tröegs Mad Elf

I'm not at all sure that I would classify this as a Belgian Strong Dark, in as much as its characteristics seem much more like an Old Ale or an American Barleywine. As expected, very little carbonation on the pour and a quick to form (and to disappear) head. It's very sweet, with lots of honey, but not much of the advertised cherries. The alcohol content means it's pretty warming on the way down. Full in the mouth without being overpowering, this is a beer that needs to be treated with respect...

Corsendonk Christmas Ale

A solid performer in the Belgian dark tradition that I enjoyed very much. The classic dark pour, with a murky body and rather too frothy a head. The head was a little annoying when pouring, and the look - is as often the case with these type of beers - not very special. However, one whiff and then the first taste, soon makes up for the aesthetic disappointment. Chock-full of all the classic sweet, dark fruit flavors with the added addition of of some mixed spice and some fruit peel. A warmth...

La Binchoise Brune Tradition

$6.99 750 mL, Arbor Place Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. What a super beer. Pour is dark brown and cloudy, with quite a lot of carbonation, but the head is thick, full of body and adds to the presentation and appearance. Like the quality product that this is, the head hangs around for a good portion of the drink. I don't detect the specific orange and aniseed aromas that others do, but there is no doubt that the beer is spicy and somewhat herbal. Don't let that description put you off, it is...

Trappistes Rochefort 8

$5.99 33cL bottle, Arbor Place Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. Very similar to the Rochefort 6. A very large head came with this pour, with a significant amount of sediment despite a careful pour. Not sure about that at all. The overwhelming experience here for me is alcohol and that really wasn't to my liking. Like the "6" I found the appearance less than attractive with the dirty brown cloudiness being the overall impression. My wife described the aroma as that of, "Old Barrels", that I...

Trois Pistoles

$5.99 750 mL, Arbor Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. Subsequently $4.99 750 mL, Green's Beverage, Ponce de Leon, Atlanta, GA. Very nice. The pour is a little disappointing, as despite great care, the appearance is somewhat cloudy and "muddy". A good head. The aroma and taste are all, soft, round, ripe forest fruits, and the brew itself is rich. The combination reminds me of a berry smoothie! Mouthfeel is very full, rich and creamy and this is amazingly drinkable. Of course the ease of drinking...

Maudite

Updated Notes: 01/08 750 mL on sale for $3.99 at Mac's Midtown, Atlanta, GA, USA. Nice job on sale. The dirty, unattractive Dubbel-like body still bothers me - I'll never get over that. Still prefer it on draught. Original Notes: 07/04 $5.99, 750 mL Arbor Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. Very cloudy pour, despite great care taken, and initially the overwhelming experience is sweet. I get a lot of burned sugar smells in the aroma and in the initial taste. I found that it filled the mouth with...

Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue)

Spectacular style and most importantly spectacular experience. This brew exudes quality in every respect. Surprisingly, a highly carbonated pour with really quite a fizzy initial appearance. Murky brown color in the body. Dubbel appearance. Belgian yeasts are apparent in the nose with some fruits but they are difficult to distinguish specifically. Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side for the style and there are many better in the mouth than this one. Great trailblazer for Belgian beers...