Here are two Belgian style ales you may find tantalizing.
Trappistes Rochefort 10: Rochefort Brewing, Abbaye St. Remey, Belgium. 11.3% ABV. I first tasted this at a Beer Appreciation night at BJ’s almost a year ago. I liked it a lot so I bought one at Total Wine and enjoyed a full bottle on November 2, 2012. I was not disappointed.
Rochefort 10 is a Belgian style quadruple ale (that means high gravity, thus a high alcohol content). It pours an opaque dark brown with lots of carbonation, resulting in a huge, creamy tan head that remained for a few minutes before retreating. The aroma is sweet, but not typical Belgian, and no hoppiness is noted.
This is a medium bodied beer with a strong, sweet flavor. It’s very fruity with a slight bitterness, especially in the aftertaste. Along with the slight hop bitterness, there is a great plumb aftertaste as it warms. Although this is marked by the Belgian fruity sweetness, it is not overwhelming. I would describe it as a well balanced beer.
I’m usually not wild about Belgian style beers, but this one is really good, and I highly recommend it. It is 11.3% ABV, so drink it on an empty stomach and prepare for a nice mellow buzz. It is sold in 11.9 oz bottles and is available at fine liquor stores (like Total Wine, BevMo, etc). It’s $7.99 at Total Wine.
Brainless on Cherries: Epic Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah; 10.7% ABV.
Brainless on Cherries is another Belgian style ale. It’s brewed with cherries and aged in oak barrels. I’m not normally attracted to Belgian ales, but the name of this brew intrigued me, and I like several other beers that feature cherries (Mac’s Black Forest Stout, Mac’s Cherry Wheat, Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat). I looked at this several times at Total Wine, but didn’t want to pay the price ($12.99) for a bottle so didn’t buy it for quite some time. I finally broke down in November, bought a bottle and tasted it on November 28, 2012.
This is a very unusual brew in many ways, as I will attempt to describe. It pours the color of ruby red grapefruit (no doubt from fermenting with real cherries), and is HIGHLY carbonated (high carbonation is typical for the Belgian style, but this one is way beyond that). It created a deep fizzy head, but had no retention. The foam immediately faded, but the beer continued to bubble like champagne. The aroma is definitely Belgian, a little sweet with no hop or cherry notes.
The flavor is slightly sweet, but a little bitter as well. The bitterness was from the high carbonation, not from hops. The bitter/sweet was very well balanced, which I didn’t expect from a beer brewed with cherries. I noted the cherry flavor only in the aftertaste. The expected tartness (from the cherries) was not present. With this much carbonation, I was expecting a very light bodied beer. In fact, I would describe it as medium bodied, which was a pleasant surprise.
This beer reminds me of a sparkling wine, similar to Asti, but not as sweet. The alcohol (10.7%) is present in the taste, but it’s not overwhelming, nor is it unpleasant. Brainless on Cherries is aged in French oak barrels, and you can taste it. The wood is slightly noticeable in the aftertaste, similar to a wine.
This is a very unusual beer. Epic brews a Belgian style ale called Brainless. Add cherries to the fermenter and you get Brainless on Cherries. Although I’m glad I tried it, I don’t plan to have it again. It’s a good beer, just not my style, and at $12.99 a bottle, I really need to love it to justify the expense.
Both beers in this review are Belgian style ales. The Rochefort 10 is more expensive (per ounce) than the Brainless on Cherries, but well worth the expense. Now, go out and buy some. Cheers!