Affligem Blonde

1 09 2011

 Affligem Blonde is a classic example of an authentic Belgian Abbey beer. Brewed since the 12th century and now produced by Affligem Brewery under licence from the Benedictine monks.

 I first came across Afligem in Belgoes in London when I had several bottles to accompany a very nice, relaxed lunch last Summer.

 Now any regular readers, I assume I have at least one, will know that I am rather partial to a nice Belgian beer and Affligem certainly ticks that box.

 I wouldn’t say it is the best Abbey beer that I have ever had but it is far from being the worst and with a fairly middle of the road abv, 6.70 %, is great for those Summer afternoon sessions in the back garden.

So lets have a look  shall we?

The beer pours with a decent off white head, about 3 or 4 fingers, which last well and creates a nice contrast with the clear, golden body of the ale.

As is usual with Belgian beers there are plenty of aromas vying for your attention; there are strong hints of  tropical fruit, cinnamon, there is a light hoppiness that comes through along with with some floral elements and a big punch of spicy yeast… all in all so far so good!

Flavours are well balanced and light across the board, you can pick up pretty much everything that was present in the nose along with some green apples and what tasted surprisingly like coriander.

The beer has a great mouthfeel to it with a some really nice tight carbonation, not unlike a Champagne.  Affligem starts slightly sweet and finishes on a nice dry note that is really quite refreshing.

I find that Affligem has a slightly cleaner taste to it than a lot of the heavier Belgian beers and this coupled with it’s relatively low abv mean that whilst it isn’t one of the stand out Belgians it is a very capable example and is actually better suited to being consumed in larger volumes.

4/5





Chimay Bleue – 9% Trappist Ale

25 07 2011

Brewed by Trappist monks in Belgium; Chimay Bleue is for many people the definitive Trappist ale.

At 9% it is the strongest of the three Chimay offerings, four if you manage to get your hands on their Patersbier and the one most frequently seen in pubs and off licences world over.

Like all of the Trappist beers Chimay Bleue is sold solely in order to fund the monastery and to help promote it’s good works….all the more reason to keep drinking!

A quick word of warning, the strength of Bleue is very, very well masked with very little alcoholic taste evident, as such it is quite possible to forget it is 9% and end up really quite drunk 😉

In terms of appearance Bleue is a coppery red/brown with a thinnish off-white head which dissipates quite quickly. It is typically a clear beer but I have had a couple of bottles that were quite cloudy, either way the taste wasn’t affected and that is the main thing!

A lovely sweet and fruity aroma is present upon pouring, it really puts me in mind of Demerara sugar and really plump, juicy raisins or sultanas….mmm heaven

The taste is just great, it really is, for such a strong beer it is surprisingly sweet and well-balanced. Early on you get a malty sweetness with a slight hint of spiciness creeping in, next you get the fruits hinted at in the aroma – again we are looking at dark dried fruits and even a hint of plums or damsons.

There is a nice finish to the beer with just a hint of bitterness beginning to edge in, this isn’t unpleasant in any way and actually serves to perfectly cut through the sweetness and richness of the fruit before it becomes overwhelming or cloying and gives a nice refreshing element which leaves you craving the next sip.

There are very few beers that I really finding myself longing for, sure I have personal favourites or beers that I can’t walk past without drinking but there are literally a handful of beers that I ever find myself craving….Chimay Bleue is one of that handful.

5/5





Duvel double pack

17 07 2011

A few weeks back I wrote about the Maredsous and Chimay triple packs that have recently reappeared in our local off licence.

Well hot on their tasty little heels is a new arrival; the Duvel double pack with glass goblet…

 

The glass is great… odd as it sounds to say that it really is, anyone who hasn’t tried Duvel from one of these chalices/goblets is really missing out, the flavours open up a lot and a beer that is already great becomes truly excellent -you can read my review of Duvel here.

The price on this was particularly good, I paid €6.25 which seems like a little bit of a steal when you work out that each bottle of Duvel by itself is €3.80 and that last time the goblets were in stock they wanted a whopping €7.50 for them





Chimay triple pack with Chalice

29 06 2011

Yesterday I wrote at some length about the Maredsous taster packs that you can pick up; well hot on its heels we have another 3 pack this time from the Chimay brewery and they have packaged their beers with this rather fetching chalice:

As already mentioned there are 3 bottles included in the pack all are 33cl in size and there is one each of the Chimay Red – 7%  Tripel  – 8% and Bleue – 9%.

Like the Maredsous pack this would make a great gift for a beer fan or would serve as an excellent introduction to Trappist beers.

In our local off licence the price is €9.99 and represents a saving of €6.48 over buying the beers and the glass separately, not to be sniffed at in these recessionary times.





Maredsous taster pack with glass

28 06 2011

Being the kind chap that I am I thought I would bring to your attention an offer I stumbled upon in my local off licence the other night.

They are selling a “Taster pack” of 3 bottles of Maredsous packaged with an attractive branded glass.

Now personally I am a sucker for beer related glassware and can regularly be seen poncing around with my oversized Chimay chalice or some other piece of promotional tat but fancy glasses aside these packs represent both great value for money and a great introduction for anyone not familiar with Maredsous.

The pack contains 3 x 33cl bottles, one each of the Blond – 6%, Bruin – 8% and Tripel – 10% all of which are great examples of Abbey beers and are cracking beers in their own rights.

I also mentioned that these packs are often good value for money; in my particular off licence each individual bottle of beer would set you back  €2.80 and glasses – when they have them, are normally a fiver so that would be a grand total of €13.40. 

Now this taster pack is selling here at €9.99  so that is a massive saving of €3.41 or in real terms the difference between me going home with 3 bottles of Maredsous and a glass or me going home with  3 bottles of Maredsous, a glass, a bottle of Fullers 1845 and a packet of scampi fries.

Not that I advocate the eating of scampi fries.





Belgo Centraal

14 05 2010

I am still trying to work through my slightly incoherent notes from my recent trip back home to London, this isn’t proving to be the easiest task as a lot of my latter notes are affected by the copious amounts of beer that were being consumed.

However I did stumble across one sheet of paper on which I had simply written the word Belgos and drawn and very amateurish trappist monk getting chased by a mussel.

This childish drawing was actually surpsingly helpful as notes go, it encapsulates a lot of what Belgo is about.

Mussels, Belgium and Beer – lots of beer,  absurd amounts of beer.

Let me start at the beginning, Belgo is a chain of Belgian restaurants with several locations  throughout the capital, Centraal is on Earlham Street in Covent Garden and is just over the road from Neal’s Yard.

You walk into the restaurant at ground level and it is a little bit like entering an industrial inspired nightclub, lots of steel walk ways and warning stips lead you towards a greeter who announces your arrival and how many guests there are through a large walky talky.

If you look down and to your right you are actually over the kitchen and can see a brigade of chefs beavering away busily.

The dining area is downstairs and the first thing you notice is that all of the serving and bar staff are dressed like trappist monks…

The star of the show in terms of food has to be the moule et frites, they do several different selections of mussles however for me it has to be the classic Moule Mariniere, you can even get a 1 kilo pot of mussels for a very reasonable 12 quid!

The rest of the food is also excellent with wild boar sausages with stoemp another favourite of mine.

But of course I don’t just come here for the food, Belgo has one of if not the best beer list of more or less any restaurant in London.

Whilst they might not have my usual choice of cask ale this is one occasional where I just don’t care!

There are proper lagers, there are blonde beers, there are wheat beers, there are a range of fruit beers to die for, there are trappist beers, there are abbey beers, they even have the mighty 11.5%  Deus Brut des Flandres at a whopping £32.95 for a 75cl bottle.

It’s a little bit like dying and finding out that heaven has great beer on tap and a never ending supply of mussels.

It isn’t the worlds greatest or poshest restaurant, hell it doesnt even come close but the food is very good (reasonable too) and the beers are to die for.

If you like food and beer then visit.








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