Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Ciney brune

So glad it’s not another strong blonde ale... Tonight, your overworked Competing Athlete will submit his 40b40 entry a bit later than planned. Been busy.

I’ve been preparing to speak on a panel discussing Central Asia tomorrow, and apparently I have to talk about something other than Belgian beer. Shame, really. I have some good import statistics for ales in Karakalpakstan. They really knock back the Piraat at the Aral Sea resorts there. It helps you forget you’re 100 kilometres inland.

And now Torchwood’s started on BBC 2, so I’m going to delay writing the tasting notes further...

“I like the bottle cap”, says Fiona. Indeed, the stylised “C” with a bit of a dorsal fin is pretty nifty. But I think it’s the same logo as some American baseball team. Cincinnati? I wonder who used it first.

The other thing I have to mention concerns the name. When we first saw it on a sign a few years ago, we looked at the church steeple used in the name of this non-abbey beer and wondered what letter it was supposed to stand for. Was it an “A”, so “CANEY”. Or was it an “I”, so “CINEY”. Fiona and I had debate about it -- and like all such discussions between us, I no longer have any idea who took which side, but I am sure we didn’t actually figure it out for quite a while. Mostly because we really didn’t care that much about it, I suppose.

OK, tasting notes. Ciney brune has a fairly light taste for a dark beer. Bit of caramel, date surely... maybe a touch of cinnamon? Not overly demanding at all, so maybe a bit “empty”, like the Grimbergen dubbel perhaps -- and the two brands are both made by the same company, Alken-Maes. If I had to choose, though, I’d take the Ciney.

The second Ciney tasted better because Fiona brought it to me. Even opened it. She’s lovely. I’m sure she must have been right in the A-vs-I debate all those years ago.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Malheur 10

I have the misfortune to be drinking another golden ale this evening. Malheur 10 is one more example of this large group, leaving me longing for the 40b40 days of Rochefort... Growing somewhat tired of this genre.

On to the tasting itself: Malheur 10 has a deep body and strong hoppy taste both in the mouth and afterward. Then there’s that sweet undertone all these strong blonds exhibit. This is the element that turns me away from this type of beer. Lots of hop, it’s true, but it gets cut down by a sweetness that really feels out of place.

It’s an average example of a Belgian ale. Better balanced than the Piraat or the Grimbergen tripel, certainly. I should have opted for the dark Malheur 12, though, or even the Malheur Brut Reserve, which is made in the same Champagne-like way as Deus.

Well, I think one thing I’ve learned over the past 22 beers is that I prefer the darks and the dubblels to the strong blonds and the tripels. And it only took me 40 years to learn this. Well, at least I can use the next 40 wisely.

STOP PRESS: The 40b40 DONATIONS PAGE has received a number of donations over the past few days. Some contributors claim a yellow pig has hit them up for money, but whatever the reason, thanks! We are now 17% of the way toward our goal!

Monday, 28 January 2008

What’s in Ename?

“Ale” is the quick answer to the question. I’ve got the Ename tripel here for this evening’s 40b40 tasting, which is number 21. More than halfway through the challenge...

Ename tripel seems a fairly standard Belgian ale to me, light amber and creamy tasting, with a yeasty undertone. Slightly sweet, and maybe not as knock-down alcoholic as some others (8.5%). There’s a hint of pineapple in this ale, too.

Not bad, really. I think I prefer it to the Westmalle tripel, actually.

The best thing about the Ename, however, is the logo -- probably one of the best of any beer so far. I’ll leave you with a close-up of it below.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Gulden Draak -- live from Connecticut

OK, I’ve got a cold, and I feel pretty miserable, so I am going to keep this 40b40 blog entry short. I’ll type it down as a list of bullet points. Please pay attention, as I am only going to write this once.

• The name of the beer is “Gulden Draak”. It is not called “Golden Drake”. Not even in the US. The duck is a red herring, and neither the duck nor the herring is a dragon, let alone a golden dragon.

• It comes from the Van Steenberge brewery like Piraat and Augustijn.

• It comes in a bottle painted a concrete-like off-white colour. To me this makes it look like one of those dodgy beers the down-and-outs drink at 7am at the offy around the corner from my house.

• Don’t judge this beer on first appearances. Despite the silly painted bottle, it’s good. Brian and I both agree it’s the best of the three Van Steenberge beers we’ve tasted.

• The colour is a lovely autumn oak-leaf amber.

• The taste is light carmel and honey, with a fairly well balanced alcohol (though 10.5%), with baked apple and raisin. Maybe a slight medicinal taste, but like a grape cough medicine I had as a kid -- and probably need right now with this cold -- so not at all off-putting. Brian says plum wine. Could be.

• “Quite yummy”, Brian says. Agreed.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Cantillon Brewery

From the fake abbey beer of yesterday, I moved to one of the most authentic beers of the 40b40: Cantillon gueuze, consumed right in the brewery no less. The Cantillon Brewery is a fantastic place where you really get the feel for brewing.

This relatively small-scale family operation reveals how simple beer-making is when you get right down to it. You can see all stages of the process under one roof, and the size of the vats, while large, is still comprehensible and on a human scale. The self-guided tour also suggests how risky it must be to take up this type of traditional brewing as a business.

Cantillon relies on “spontaneous fermentation”, that is, they pour the warm wort (mix of water, grains and hops) into an open shallow copper pool, and a variable mix of naturally occurring airborne yeasts settle on it over night. These wild microfauna turn the grain sugars into CO2 bubbles and alcohol, which at Cantillon happens in beautiful wooden barrels.

Until about 1860, when Pasteur’s discoveries made it possible to understand and control the fermentation process, this was how all beer was made for thousands of years. I guess no one had even the slightest clue what was making the raw ingredients into beer until then. They were just happy that it did.

These days, big commercial brewers cannot afford to leave fermentation to chance like this, but Cantillon and a few other lambic brewers still do. Cantillon is the last remaining traditional brewer in Brussels, however. There used to be hundreds.

Anyway, after aging in the barrels for a year or three, the brewmaster samples several different barrels of lambics in order to mix them together to create a gueuze. The blending is obviously an art: young beers provide some sugar for additional fermentation in the bottle, but old beers are needed for flavour. In some cases, fresh fruit is added for flavour and colour.

But fruit or no, all of these products are sour. The natural sugars from the grains, and from the fruit if added, are used up in fermentation, and unlike other beers calling themselves “lambic” and “gueuze” these days, the true traditional lambic does not. It seems quite a number of breweries went chasing the sweetening palates of consumers over the past few decades, but a few, like Cantillon, have stayed true to the form.

After a tour of the brewery, I tasted the gueuze and the raspberry-inspired lambic called Rosé de Gambrinus. I’ve had what I thought were gueuze and fruit lambic before, but they had been sweet fluffy beers. These today were completely different. Sharp and sour, yes. But brilliantly floral, too. Yeasty. Hoppy. Not any extreme of alcohol (5%). Dry, dry, dry finish.

The Rosé de Gambrinus has a brilliant pink colour, but if you think it is going to be some kind of dessert drink, you’re quickly proven wrong. All the sharp elements of the raspberry seem to be there, with none of the accompanying sweetness.

I bought a few bottles, which are sealed with both crown cap and cork, to take home. The gueuze label says you can store it in a cellar until 2030, but I think I probably won't wait that long.

Friday, 25 January 2008


Well, this is one evening that hasn’t turned out as planned. Fiona’s not been feeling too well, so our small get-together this evening has been cancelled. Still, the 40b40 must go on.

Tonight is Florival night, and though I’ve got quite a number of bottles here in expectation of a party, I’ll just have one: Florival Brune. The label claims it’s an abbey beer, but it doesn’t have the official Belgian abbey beer logo on it. Bit of a mystery, then...

The head of the Brune is nice and puffy. The taste is not too distinctive, though. Light caramel, but then a bit sour -- rather than bitter, which would be fine. 7% alcohol pretty much stays in the background. It has a stale aftertaste, with an overall mouth-feel like soggy cardboard and cold chewy bacon. Not a real winner here.

Further inspection of the label reveals it is brewed for the Delhaize supermarket chain. Shocking! Who put this on my 40b40 list? Where’s my Trappist and Regional Brewery Analyst? Skiving off early to his new job in Côte d’Ivoire, I suspect. I demand a thorough review of the beer list! Supermarket beer! Of all things! Thanks goodness I didn’t serve it to guests.

And “abbey beer” on the label? How do they get away with that? Are you trying to tell me there is some kind of Abbey Delhaize somewhere with monks manning the checkouts?

Thursday, 24 January 2008

A Duvel lunch

After Grimbergen night, I have to admit I wasn’t feeling too great this morning. Not a hangover so much as a stomach grumble. I felt for sure I’d finally succumbed to the aforementioned norovirus, and perhaps I’d spoken too soon when I wrote that beer would protect me.

But I revived a bit by lunch, which I spent with Ed, a journalist with tremendous experience and now with the European Voice here in Brussels. We had a lovely chat over a couple of Duvel ales at a restaurant on Grand Sablon, talking about pretty much everything, though not much about the beer. Luckily, I remembered to take the photo here with my phone and got his tasting notes by email.

I have to admit that Duvel was not really one of my favourites before the 40b40. I’d always found it a bit too strong in alcohol, which was not balanced by other tastes. But this time it was OK. I like the strong puffy head it makes, particularly in the official Duvel glass. Ed noted, “velvety, hoppy, seductive”. That seems a fair call to me. The hoppiness is wonderfully strong, and it all goes down very smooth.

Ed also gave me some important advice on aging. “Look”, he said, “40 isn’t so bad. Not as good as 30, of course...” Thanks, Ed.

Grimbergen night

A day late, and with heavy emphasis on the first syllable of last night’s 40b40 beer, here at long last are the tasting notes for Grimber-gen. There were four beers on offer: blond, dubbel, tripel and Optimo Bruno. Some tasters then tried other beers, but your humble Competing Athlete stayed true to Grimbergen all evening.

Most of us had tried the blond before -- “I had five blondes yesterday”, said Stefan, who probably hopes his girlfriend reads that the right way -- so the first beer most of us went for in this tasting was the dubbel. It had a pleasingly dark red brown colour and 6.5% alcohol.

I found the taste thin, sweet and not creamy like others we’ve tried. It has a hint of raisin, too, but the aftertaste is a bit metallic. Others found “toffee” and “orangey flavours”, but everyone agreed that it was a pretty weak offering.

“No depth”, said JC, pouring the rest of his into Seb’s glass.

“This is a chasm of stale beer in my mouth”, said Neil, “a void of putrid nothing-ness.”
We thus turned to the tripel, another one of those hyped-up lightly coloured ales with a strong fizz factor. A “misleading blonde” someone suggested. The initial taste revealed a slight pepper flavour, maybe something of pine. The alcohol level is 9%, but it’s fairly well-balanced with the overall taste. Others noted banana on the nose, but many complained that all the flavours dissipate too quickly. Again, not enough depth.

Neil described the aftertaste to be, “like waking up with a hangover”.

That brought us to the Optimo Bruno, certainly the best of the Grimbergen range, though still not a stellar beer. The primary tastes in this dark beer is yeast: fresh baked bread -- a steaming whole-wheat roll fresh out of the oven. It was sweet with a strong vegetable character, too, like stewed tomato and celery. Again, as with the dubbel, this one had a metallic aftertaste. Alcohol is a whopping 10%, though it’s fairly well hidden.

Fellow tasters noted honey and burnt caramel smells, and flavours of fruit, particularly grape. Stefan said “marmite”, and that’s exactly the yeasty word I was looking for. This is marmite beer.

“The smell is a Hokkaido beer festival on speed”, said Neil suddenly, “but the taste is Edinburgh New Town”. We knew instantly what he meant and all nodded sagely. It was a strongly inspirational moment for us all. Cheers, Neil.

That was the pinnacle of the evening, I think. After that, the conversation went downhill in a thousand different directions. My coprolalia started acting up again. Stefan moved on to the blond, reporting, “citrus, light and enjoyable though with a slight metallic aftertaste”. Colombe made yummy sandwiches. Neil moved over to a Rochefort 10, reporting a taste of, “Drambuie vs beer”. JC and Seb had an Orval and decided to sleep here rather than drive home. Fiona, who was still feeling under the weather, laughed and went to bed.

Then, a yellow pig attacked the entire team, demanding we put money into the flesh wound on its back for the 40b40 collection. It was a scary moment. Everyone reached for their coins...

You, dear reader, had better feed the online yellow pig before this plastic one comes after you, too. He's very aggressive and angry. You would be too if you were a yellow pig with a gaping cut on your back.

Video: Neil's "chasm of stale beer"

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Maredsous 10° tripel

Another simple tasting at home this evening, made more simple by the fact that poor Fiona’s suffering from a stomach bug. So tonight, I’m on my own.

This winter norovirus has hit everyone in our family and most people I know in Brussels -- some of them twice. It’s a nasty virus, and apart from saying that it pretty much takes over your guts for a day or two, I’ll spare you the details. Interestingly, though, I’ve not caught it, and I think I know why. A daily beer.

Most of the beers I’ve been drinking are those that have a secondary fermentation in the bottle, so there’s lots of live yeast in every drink. It may look like a film of gunk at the bottom of the bottle, but yeast is good for your guts. The Beer and Health website backs me up, saying: “Yeast provides the body with essential B vitamins such as B1, B6 and folic acid. It is a vegetable micro-organism with nutritional value and has a favourable effect on the intestinal flora.”

So, onward to tonight’s medicine: Maredsous 10° tripel. According to the label, which is one of the most beautifully designed in the 40b40 so far, it is an “abbey beer brewed to the traditional methods of the Benedictine monks of Maredsous”, which is south of Namur, in Wallonia. Read a little further, however, and you’ll see that the the Moortgat Brewery (known for Duvel) near Antwerp in Flanders now brews the beer for the Abbey of Maredsous.

It pours a honey amber colour with a medium head. The first taste is the alcohol, I’m sorry to say. It’s a powerful 10%, and, initially at least, there aren’t enough other flavours to balance it out. More kick than caress. After a few sips, however -- or once the tongue is anesthetised, perhaps -- some other tastes make themselves known. Apple in the middle, and maybe the creamy richness of cantaloupe, all turning bitter to a hoppy finish.

It’s OK, but I’m not a big fan, really. If I’m going to drink something with such a strong alcohol content, then I have to have other tastes to balance out the fumes. I think of the Rochefort 10 which though 11.3% alcohol is a complex mouthful of gingerbreads, spices and malt flavours. Still, Maredsous 10° tripel beats Piraat, another imbalanced ale of high alcohol content, hands down.

And at least I can rest assured the yeast in this beer is keeping me from getting the horrific stomach virus that’s going around.

Monday, 21 January 2008

St. Feuillien Bruin

Two weeks into in the 40b40 challenge, and getting slightly worried about the paucity of DONATIONS, I turn to the abbey beer of St Feuillien. This is another one I haven’t tried before, but it comes recommended from a couple people. I’ve got the brown ale (bruin) here for tonight’s sampling, and I’m slightly worried the “Old Faithful!” motto on their website means I’m going to get a geyser when I open it up.

But the cap comes off without disaster. The colour is a darkish brown almost identical to the bottle it was poured from. First sip is a bit sour and yeasty. In the second, I taste more creaminess. Molasses and roasted butternut squash. The alcohol (7.5%) is well-balanced with the other flavours.

Fiona is unimpressed. Too sour, she says.

If I had to compare this ale to anything, I would say it’s a bit like a Leffe bruin or a Ciney bruin, but it probably has more depth and character than both of those. I would not call this an outstanding beer, but it’s certainly very good.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Piraat from Connecticut to the Netherlands


“Ahoy! Ye still be sailin’ in Connecticut seas then, matey.”


“And this ale?”

“Arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh, this brew from Van Steenberge has a mighty head, matey.”


“Sweet and sticky taste, arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh. But it has enough alcohol to send me to Davy Jones locker.”

“Aye, just what we pirates like, eh matey?”

“Arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh, aye.”

“It be too sweet for me.”

“Arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh, aye. And it lasts on the tongue.”

“Aye, but though it be sweet, it also have a bitter hoppiness in the aftertaste.”

“Aye, and with pithy grapefruit too.”

“M’lass say honey.”

“Arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh, aye.”

“The Belgian yeast taste be there, matey. It be there. Sour and acetyl when forced out the blow-hole of the great whale.”

“Aye, like the Belgian pirates themselves.”

“Arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh, Belgian pirates!”

“This not be a complex brew, matey.”

“Aye, no challenge here, arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh.”

“But the alcohol! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh.”

“Aye. Good thing my First Mate is driving the ship today.”

“Aye, that be true. That be true. But, arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh, there’s another call on me pirate video phone. Ahoy?”

“Ahoy! This is your pirate in the Netherlands, and I’ve got me Piraat here, too.”

“Ahoy, matey. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh. Let’s be drinkin’ then.”


“Fuzzy coriander, matey, and you be right about the grapefruit pith, arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh.”

“It be too strong in the alcohol taste for me.”

“But 9%, matey?”

“9%? Here in Belgian seas, it be 10.5%! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhh.”


“Belgian pirates never did trust those Dutch pirates.”


“M’wench be enjoyin’ the fizz. Pleasin’ and like a white beer say she.”


“And when it near the end, it smell like a urinal.”


“But not enough to keep me from finishing it.”


St Bernardus Day

Day 12 of the 40b40 challenge found us again seated before the Hague investigation team, this time with St Bernardus, a brewery whose website promises, “Heavenly nectar within reach”.

We had three heavenly nectars to get through tonight -- St Bernardus Pater 6, Prior 8 and Abt 12 -- and we started with the 6. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy any of the “Grottenbier” from St Bernardus, which Michael Jackson apparently rated as one of his top ten.

But things took a nasty turn even before the tasting began. First, the ladies cracked open a can of Jupiler lager -- “maxi 50cl” -- which was neither ladylike nor in the spirit of the 40b40. Then, things went from bad to worse, when a fight broke out over the label of St Bernardus.

I think the label used on all these ales is a bit childish or amateurish, but when I suggested this, Chief Hague Investigator Bob shot me down. “I think it’s a fine label.” Nona said it’s “cute”, but my point is, who really wants to drink a cute ale? Seems an odd marketing device to me. “You gonna talk or drink?” On to the opening of the bottles, then...

The St Bernardus Pater 6 is a cloudy dark amber with a taste that pleases all around. “This is a girlie beer”, said Nona, “and not alcoholic at all.” It has a lasting head, noted Seb, “and that’s important to me in a beer.” “I have the same feeling”, Nona chimed in.

My immediate reaction was smoothness with a light gingerbread flavour. Michael Jackson wrote down banana and melon, but none of us tasted any of that really. Maybe the slightest hint of old brown banana, I thought, but perhaps it’s just suggestion playing a trick. Fiona said it has a peachy smell. Bob said it is “really deep and thick... like a milkshake or a properly poured Guinness”.

A brief lull in the conversation sparked a return of the label debate. Seb said the monk on the label is fake marketing. This is a secular brewery playing up the religious connection far too much. Just look at that “heavenly nectar” talk on the website. Nona thought it’s deliberately sticking with an old label that has kitsch-but-cool staying power. Bob was offended because he chose St Bernardus to be tonight’s beer.

Still, label aside, we all agree the St Bernardus Pater 6 is a great drink. And it is what’s in the bottle that really counts.

After dinner we moved on to the St Bernardus Prior 8. It’s slightly lighter in colour with less head than the 6. Some of the same flavours were evident. Bob immediately noted cinnamon. I sensed an even stronger gingerbread. Fiona tasted something ferrous about it, like the mineral water in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic -- that slight whiff of blood.

Nona noted almonds, which brought nods all around. Jackson suggested coconut, but again no one could find that. Maybe chocolate (Nona).

Neither the St Bernardus Pater 6 nor the St Bernardus Prior 8 is a terribly complex beer, but both are very enjoyable. It’s not overly challenging like the malt loaf of a Rochefort 10, but rather subtle like gentle gingerbread cake (the Czech pernik, for example).

The last ale of the evening was the St Bernardus Abt 12, the darkest of the lot, with low fizz like the 8. No need for complex tasting notes here. All you need to know is banana. The smell of banana hits you when the beer is still a arm’s length from your nose. Then, the taste is even more so, maybe even caramelised banana. Forget Jackson’s “coconut” -- this is just banana from start to finish. “Too banana-y”, we all agreed, though Fiona thought the fruitiness might make this a “good afternoon beer”.

We all preferred the 6 and the 8 tonight. Of those two, it was a toss-up: I would probably choose the 8, but not really by that much. The 6 is a fine brew, too. Just keep that banana-y 12 away unless you’re having a fruit salad -- in the afternoon, of course -- and, well, don’t be turned off by the goofy monk on the label of this secular beer.

Video evidence: St Bernardus Pater 6 tasting (one)

Video evidence: St Bernardus Pater 6 tasting (two)

Video evidence: St Bernardus Prior 8 tasting

Video evidence: St Bernardus Abt 12 tasting

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Rochefort Day

Hague investigators arrived at about dinner time, as expected, but by the end of the evening, in their own words, “we didn’t investigate much, did we?” Indeed not. But we did enjoy three lovely beers together from the Abbaye St-Remy, Rochefort.

It was a successful night of beer sampling. I now have so many pages of Rochefort tasting notes in front of me, it is difficult to know where to begin...

Let us start at the beginning, where we started: with Rochefort 6. This poured out of the bottle with a super dark amber and steady but low-fizz head. Initial reactions from everyone were very positive. “Raspberry” said Seb at once, followed by “chocolate” by someone else. I agreed, immediately thinking of my favourite chocolate, the fruity red coeur from Wittamer, the famous Belgian chocolate maker. Heavily marketed in the run up to Valentine’s Day, these red love-hearts are chocolates with fresh essence of red fruits, particularly raspberry. Seb’s first impression was spot on. Fiona gave me a box of Wittamer love-hearts for my birthday, so I passed them around, and everyone agreed: Rochefort 6 and raspberry-chocolate.

The aftertaste of the 6 is well balanced, with grapefruit pith overtones masking the alcohol (7.5%). Nona spotted a bit of oakiness, but no one could spot Michael Jackson’s find of “Darjeeling tea”.

We thus moved on to the Rochefort 8, at 9.2%, the middle of the three Rocheforts. Something strange happened with this one. The pour was very dark, and the immediate scent was, Fiona noted, “autumn apple gone a bit off”. She meant it in a positive way, as in “apple must”. It certainly was low-fizz like the 6, but apart from that, this 8 was clearly its own beer: nothing raspberry or chocolaty about this one.

“The alcohol taste is too strong”, said Fiona and Nona, referring to the too noticeable 9.2%. It did seem unbalanced in this way to me, too, especially in the aftertaste. “This is not a girlie beer”, said Nona.

“What is a girlie beer”, said Seb.

“The 6”, Nona said.

“What do you do after a beer like this?” asked Seb. “Take a nap”, came the reply.

Michael Jackson suggested a hint of figs in the Rochefort 8, but none of us could detect that. “He just needed that to fill the page”, Nona said.

Seb said he would not try 8 again. “I prefer the 6.” Nona and Fiona agreed. I’d had the 8 before and liked it, but coming immediately after the 6, I had to admit the 8 was a different beer.

But then Bob had a brainwave: “it has a lingering aftertaste of something”. Further prodding refined his statement: the something was Becherovka, an herbal liquor from the Czech Republic, where Bob, Fiona and I all met some 15 years ago.

I had to agree. Although the formula for Becherovka is a great secret, it’s clearly a blend of warming spices, like nutmeg, star anise and cinnamon -- maybe a bit of clove, too. Some of that is in here certainly. but it ends up making it too medicinal.

“You could rub this on your chest”, said Bob, “the medicinal aspect is so strong."

That was enough to move us to the final beer of the night, Rochefort 10. This is a dark, dark, dark brew, again with a low level of bubbles. The scent of it immediately made us realise this was nothing like the 6 or the 8. And though 11.3%, the alcohol is still amazingly well-balanced in the cacophony of flavours.

“Gingerbread and Christmas pudding”, said Fiona sniffing it, to which I added, “malt loaf”, to her nodding agreement. Fiona and Nona had initially been unwilling to move on to the 10, but one whiff of it, and they popped open another bottle.

“It has brought back the Rochefort 8 haters”, cried Seb. Very true, but then, this is a very different beer.

“Packed with dried fruit”, “cinnamon”, “pine”, “treacly texture”, “charcoal”, and “brandy” were other words to describe this “so complex” brew. Everyone agreed it was more worthwhile than the 8.

“And we have a winner”, Judge Bob announced. “Rochefort 10.” Though still: try the 6 -- it’s very worthy, too. And, although the 8 was number three of three on most tasters' list, it's still tasty enough. I wouldn't kick it out of bed for eating crackers.