Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Commercial Description:Piraat is a wickedly rich and rounded brew that packs a mighty punch. The powerful glow builds up from inside. Deep golden with a subtle haze. Lots of hops and malt. Mild sweetness. Reminiscent of bread dough, spices and tropical fruits.
General Pricing:330 ml/11.2oz bottle, ~ $4.50 each, ~15.00 4pack, ~$86.00 case.
750ml bottle, ~ $12.00
Background:I have had this a few times and have recently decided to have this at my next Belgian Event. I saw a 4pack at the store and just decided to pick it up and give it a full review.
The bier pours a slightly hazy copper color with a fairly rich and lasting white to off white head.
We are starting this one at 44 degrees.
The nose is of sweet fruit, floral hops, sweet alcohol all on a bed of Belgian yeasty notes.
This is a very inviting and at 10.5 percent somewhat intimidating nose.
There is a light malt sweetness up front on the tip of the tongue, then a more robust mid-sip with a building hop and alcohol presence. There is also a nice effervescence over the tongue at mid-sip. The intensity builds to towards the back end. By the time you get to the top of the swallow you know this is no light weight bier, although it does remain fairly easy to drink for a 10.5 Belgian IPA. The finish is the most intense part of this experience, this is where it all comes together. The finish has sweet light malts, powerful hops (without the American bitterness) sweet alcohol and also some citrusy notes, all with that classic Belgian yeastiness. Even with all of that going on the finish is also fairly dry. I credit the hops and alcohol for that. The final aftertaste has some lingering hops (again without the bitterness), some citrus and yeasty notes.
There is no mistaking the alcohol in this bier. Some of the heavier, maltier biers mask there alcohol but this one is almost in you face. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s crafted in such a way that you know what you are getting, an upfront no bones about it imperial Belgian IPA.
This is an IPA that I can hang my hat on. Well, probably not the best expression to use. This is an excellent Belgian IPA. I’m not a hop head and I still cannot understand the American IPA’s that are overpowering in bitterness. This bier on the otherhand is just fantastic; everything that you would want in a high test bier.
The lacing has also been quite impressive.
We are now at 53 degrees.
There is a very interesting refreshing aspect to this bier. It is had to think of a 10.5% bier to be refreshing but this one really is. It has a fairly light body to it and a very pressing dry finish that is very refreshing. It is also very filling. I realize that there is some contradiction there but that’s how I see it.
It’s now around 57 degrees. There is not much left of this 330ml bottle, I’m down to just a few more sips.
The flavors are really coming out as this bier warms and opens up a little. There is a nicer maltier flavor now that I did not notice this as much before. The more I drink this, the more I’m enjoying it. That didn’t sound right. I have enjoyed this bier from the beginning it is just getting better as it warms.
The hops are almost playing a back seat to the light malts at this point.
The head on this bier will not quit; there has been a think protective layer over the top of this bier the whole time with excellent lacing.
Well, all good thinks must come to an end and such comes the end of this bier. I’m not sure what the final temperature was, probably around 60. I was enjoying this bier too much to let is sit and warm up.
It is very unusual for a bier of 10.5% to be so drinkable. Usually these higher alcohol biers are sipping biers. You really have to be careful with this one. The “drinkability” (I hate that term) is so high that you could easily get in trouble with this one. This is a bier that you sense is high in alcohol but it is also so refreshing that you want to have another and maybe another.
For a Belgian IPA I going for an A. that may be low, if fact this may be my new gold standard for this style ale. Previously I held Houblon Choulfe as my gold standard but this may take its place. The imperial aspect of this and the craftsmanship to still be refreshing is just astonishing.
I highly recommend this bier to anyone that like a Belgian IPA. Actually I would like to challenge American Hop Heads to try this and see how hoppy a bier can be without being overpoweringly bitter.