Thursday, 15 January 2009

40b40 turns 41

Well, it was birthday time again yesterday, and the answer to the question on everyone's mind is...


That's what Fiona and I had to celebrate my turning 41 -- and the first anniversary of the 40b40.

The girls bought me a few nice pressies, including a bottle of Westmalle Dubbel, a bottle of Achel Blond and a tall 750ml bottle of St Bernardus Abt 12 Special Edition in a commemorative tin. That last one is going into the cellar for aging.

Like the birthday boy, some beers get better with age...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Ettaler Kloster Edel Hell

This is not a Belgian beer, but given its connection to a monastery and the fact that Germany is just next door, I hope readers can forgive me for yet another post that strays from the main topic of this blog.

You’ll have to put up with three such posts, actually, because a colleague bought me a mixed three-pack of beer from Cloister Ettal Brewery in Bavaria, and I intend to sample each one.

Ettaler Kloster Edel Hell is a hearty light lager -- please, not to be confused with that American abomination, “lite beer” -- which to me seems a bit richer than average. It seems creamy for a lager, welcomingly so. Not overly heavy on the alcohol at 5.2%. Perhaps not hoppy enough for me, however.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Gordon Finest Scotch

I have to admit I have been a bit wary of the bottle of “Gordon Finest Scotch Highland Ale” that has been sitting on my shelf for a year or so. First, I thought it couldn’t even be included in the 40b40, because it wasn’t Belgian.

Then, I wondered what the proclaimed “Highland Ale” on the label could actually mean. The highlands of the Low Countries?

And Gordon? Don’t they make gin?

Finally, I saw some down-and-outs drinking it at about 8 in the morning around the corner from our place and figured it wasn’t going to be anything worthwhile.

Very surprised, therefore, that it’s actually pretty good. The label reads, “strong brown beer with a warm ruby glitter”, and that’s a fair description. It could also say, “malted to the gills” -- the molasses is almost overpowering. 8.6%, but alcohol is the last thing you taste given the strength of the sticky malt.

A respectable winter beer, then. Much to be welcomed after a week of sub-zero weather. (see photo from our flat, below)

Still, there is something strange here in the marketing. The website of brewer Martin’s says, “Gordon Finest Scotch was born in the limpid highlands among isolated lochs and haunting Scottish castles”. Anyone know what “limpid highlands” are?

Palm Dobbel

Happy New Year! I’m still trying to get caught up on some tasting notes from last year...

Somewhere during the Xmas rush, I tried a Palm Dobbel, a seasonal offering. I found it a bit more watery and less full-bodied than Palm Royale. Strangely, the lack of other tastes accentuated the alcohol, so while it’s only 6%, it actually tastes stronger than Palm Royale at 7.5%.

My advice: just go for the Palm Royale, whatever the season. It’s better ballanced and, well, tastier.