Max's opened their eighth annual Belgian Beer Fest in the usual fashion, delaying a minute or so while they string a ceremonial red ribbon across the doorway at the last second.
A lot of the barstools were already occupied by invited guests and Belgian beer business folk as the doors opened, but it appears most of them wisely made way for more determined customers.
The new "write your orders on a postcard" scheme seems to be working quite well. Less confusion, more order.
I start with an old favorite, de Glazen Toren Canaster, being pumped from a wooden cask this time, so this abides by my SPBW membership..... a nice, tasty "Scottish" ale, malty but with just that bit of bite, seemingly half Belgian yeast and half red ale character. A little flat, but the wood shows more plainly that way. 8.5^, the only true Belgian on cask at opening (also on engines: Flying Dog Raging Bitch and Wildemann, and Olivers/3 Stars BW Rye #3, a rye saison).
de Landtscheer Malheur 12 Bourbon (10%):: So Belgium' gotten on the bourbon-barrel-aging schtick. Interesting. This dark ale presents a curious approach--not a stout, but a dark red ale, made a bit darker no doubt by the barrel. Perhaps the closest to an actual bourbon whiskey flavor I've seen from a bourbon-barrel/whatever beer--a hint of sour mash in the flavor.
Scheldebrouwerij Oesterstout: A bit porter-colored, but not holding that against it--decadently malty nose, like a Baltic porter. Rich, sweet, creamy, chalky, tastes much lighter than 8.5%, might be the best damn oyster stout I've ever had even if it's a little thin on the black for a stout.
Dupont Monks Stout : A very distinct high roast character, extra roast barley to an almost burnt coffee, in the palate and nose, but finishing quite clean and dry..
The first two giveaway glasses just disappeared.
Silly Engjein Noel 9% tripel: ljight golden, very chalky/mineral laden, with almost a lot of syrupy character. There's something I'm not keen with about this beer, but I'm having trouble placing it. A sweet hay and lemongrass character to this--bring on the Thai or light seafood.
Dupont Floret Blanche: Classic witbier crossed with Belgium.
Slaapmutske Hop Collection Kent Goulding II (10%): Bright, polished copper, looks like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (or maybe Dale's Pale Ale)...... oh, wow. It takes three sips for this to get justice. The alcohol strength partially masks a robust hop flavor, and it ultimately comes off as candied hops.... What would be the essential English character gets lost in the strength and sweetness.
Van Steenberge Gulden Draak 9000 Quad (10.5%): Okay, it's Gulden Draak. If you're here, you've had this. Not that I've had regular GD for a short enough time ago that I can tell it from what's in my glass..... Sweet enough to indue diabetic attacks, as with regular GD.....
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