Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Brouwerij Het Alternatief
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
12 Percent Imports
Another beer made at Alvinne for/by ’t Alternatief. Very hopped with Saaz hops to 44 IBU.
• Style: ? (i.e. none.)
• Abv: 9%
• Format: 11.2 oz bottle, 201 keg (limited)
• Color: cloudy amber, lingering off-white head
• Tasting Notes: fruity aroma with caramel; bold and sweet-tart palate, sourish, fruity; long, lingering, dry hoppy finish
(12 Percent Imports)
11.2oz, 330ml bottle, ~ $5.50
I have never had this beer before. It was left in by the Easter Bunny in my Easter Basket. Doesn’t the Easter Bunny leave you beer in your Basket? I guess Santa doesn’t leave you beer in your stocking either. Boy that’s a shame.
At any rate this is another beer imported by 12 percent imports. I have not had bad one yet from their imports so I’m really looking forward to trying this one.
The bier pours a cloudy amber with an extremely rich off white head. This Bier is highly effervescent with tons of tiny bubbles rising up from the bottom of the glass.
This may be the most inviting nose I’ve ever had in a Belgian. Smooth but rich caramel malts with that classic yeasty Belgian background. It’s got a special calling to it and I can’t wait to except the invitation.
Wow, that’s a classic Flanders Ale; rich with sweet caramel malts and that wonderful legendary Flemish sourness. This bier has a lot going on; let me attempt a better play by play of this sensory phenomenon.
Sweet caramel malts upfront on the tip of the tongue. Then a slight sourness and effervescence comes over the tongue in mid-sip accompanied by a creamy mouthfeel from the rich head aided by the tulip glass. The back end has a building tart and sourness but it’s not overwhelming. The finish is surprisingly dry; there is just enough of a hop presence to dry the tart/sourness but not leave bitterness. There is a lingering final aftertaste that is more caramel sweetness then tart along with nice bready/yeasty flavors. Your entire mouth seems to be coated with this yeasty sweet aftertaste.
This is one phenomenal bier! People use the term complexity when describing a beer. Believe me when I say you don’t know complexity until you try something like this. Every continuing sip is a different experience.
The head on this beer never quit and this is the most impressive lacing I think I’ve ever seen.
The bier is now at 69 degrees. Oh my, I don’t what this experience to end. I am always impressed when a beer warms well but this is outstanding. This bier at 70 degrees is better then it was chilled.
The one thing I neglected to mention in this review was the alcohol. It is masked so well I had to go back and look at how much was in here. It is another tribute to the artistry and craftsmanship on this exquisite ale to mask 9% this way.
The head has finally diminished to just a thin protective layer over the top of the bier with still a sizable ring around the edge of the glass.
The final few ounces are at 73 degrees. Just phenomenal! This has got to be close to the panicle in the artistry of well crafted bier. The complexity and artistry of this bier is truly outstanding.
Now you will have to like that Flemish tart/sourness to enjoy this bier. So if you are a fan of the Flemish style of bier you MUST try this one. A solid A+ for me, this in one phenomenal bier.
Now for the Lees
These lees look intimidating. They are very dark, thick and cloudy almost opaque.
There are sour, funky and yeasty aromas on the nose. Well here it goes. Man you can almost chew these lees. There is a strong bitter sourness to these lees. This just continues to prove my point that you should not pour the lees directly into the glass. These lees would have definitely changed my experience with this exquisite bier.
I wondered why 12 percent imports had a ? next to Style in their commercial description of this beer. Now after reviewing this exquisite brew I understand.
This beer does not fit any category in style or class. So here is how this beer sums up to me. You have your everyday “Macro Beers” that we use to call “Premium Beers”. Then you have “Micro Brews”; these are the smaller volume brews, some good some bad but usually always better than the Macro Beers. Next you have “Craft Beers” these are Micro Brews with superior craftsmanship. Now, I think there is one more level left that this beer would fall into. That level can only be described as “Artisan Beers”; these are the most artistically crafted micro brews that are head and shoulders above all others. This is the only thing that comes close to putting this beer into a category. As for as a style it’s an Exquisite Belgian, well, I guess that will need some work.
I’ve babbled enough about this brew. I do highly recommend this bier to anyone that is interested in trying a real Artisan Brew.