Showing posts in category: 10.5%


Style English Barleywine · ABV 10.5% · 500 ml bottle
Brewed by Bryggeriet Djævlebryg · Copenhagen · Denmark
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If pale ales and IPA’s make up for the biggest part of the evening, I usually like to finish off the night with a glass of imperial stout or barleywine. That goes for this evening too. It just feels right, finishing with something strong and malty. This particular specimen from Danish Djævlebryg’s been stowed away for a couple of months in my “Beer Cupboard”. It’s high time to review it, before the aroma and flavor gets too mellowed out.

Appearance 2/3

The liquid looks translucid but there is plenty residual yeast, leaving lees at the base of the bottle. Surprisingly the pour creates a finger and a half of super rich bright khaki head, not commonly seen in barleywine. The beer itself is saffron in hue. Looks heavily carbed.

Aroma 8/12

Soft malt base with a grain/cereal profile, towards the oat side of the spectrum. Flavor coming to me are of milk chocolate, almonds, fudge and a light nose of dark grapes. Getting a second whiff I also pick up preserved pears in syrup. There’s plenty of alcohol giving a distinct but rather pleasent burn.

Flavor 13/20

Very and sweet, caramelly and malty upfront with some light dark fruity notes on the back side. Following is milk chocolate, bordering to cereals, mainly oats. A punch of booze comes through, not as balanced or refined in this aspect as, let’s say Nynäshamn’s Bötet. Surprisingly there’s a grapefruit bitter nibble, not bite, in the end.

Mouthfeel 2/5

A medium body with a viscous quality to it. Leaves a resounding bitter aftertaste.

Overall impression 6/10

This is high gravity beer here! The medium body containing generous amounts of sugar and alcohol make it a big beer. I like the flavors in it, but the interfering alcohol and unconventional bitterness disturb me. I’d would have appreciated this more if it had been smoother and more vinous an ale. Now it’s like two worlds colliding, the malts/flavors on one hand and the alcohol on the other. Perhaps cellaring it will dampen the bitterness and marry the flavors with the alcohol better?

Like other beers from Djævlebryg I’ve had, this one comes on with a rather promising aroma only to flaw later on in taste. In general I think the brewery’s on a good path but they still need to tweak the balance of the flavor of this brew.

Total Score 31/50

Very Good – Generally within style parameters, some minor flaws.


Style Quadrupel · ABV 10.5% · 330 ml bottle
Brewed by Brouwerij St Bernadus · Watou · Belgium
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So finally the time has come to get with one those talked about, critically acclaimed and standard setting brews. It’s been compared by some as the little brother of trappist brewed Westvleteren 12. Some even claiming the St Bernadus Abt 12 stays closer to the original recipe than Westvleteren 12 does. Belgian beer and Travel has written an article that might shed some further light on the topic.

The battle has been raging for ever as to which one of these ales is the top quad of them all. Anyway it’s an epic and legendary brew sitting in front of me this evening at Belgobaren. I’ve had it at least once before, let’s see what kind of effect it has on me this time.

Appearance 3/3

The waitress pours a dark sienna color into a Sint Bernardus-branded chalice, producing half a finger of off-white head. The head settles leaving a thin lid of creamy and fizzy foam. Some yeast lees remaining at the base of the bottle, though only appropriate a bottle conditioned ale.

Whenever I see this bottle I’m always fascinated with the merry looking monk character on the label, it’s like he’s thinking “Aha, I know the recipe to this and you don’t” pointing a gentle finger my way. I read somewhere that he lately lost his head cap. Where did that go?

Aroma 10/12

A nose dominated by maltiness, mainly caramel. A tart dark fruity sweetness. Aromas include bigarreau cherries and unripe plums. Jolly friend Johan wants to define the aroma as Grandma’s good old apple pie but I would stretch it as far as saying apples.There’s a musty sort of stale cellar/barrel quality to it, get’s me thinking of port wine.

Flavor 18/20

A fruit and berry cocktail, but has more of a mature and ripe character this time, including bigarreau cherries, plums, apples and pears. In the sweetness there’s bitter almonds and marzipan. I pick up some faint chocolate in the sugar as well. Some alcohol coming through but in that warming and pleasant Belgian way.

Mouthfeel 5/5

Incredibly everlasting effervescing but moderate carbonation creating a flavor explosion. The flavors just keep coming on and on again with the help of the carbonation. It’s a medium body with a creamy and smooth liquid. Very mild bitterness remain in aftertaste together with a yeasty and smelly cheese profile.

Overall impression 9/10

This is all you dream and hope for in a Quad really. An extremely complex yet surprisingly clean and crisp abbey ale. The flavors are just perfectly balanced, not overtaking each other but a gently transitioning from one flavor to another. The body and mouthfeel not at all cloying or sticky like you might expect with such a sugary sweet brew. Actions speak louder than words, so my advice to you is, drink it!

Next time I go for Belgian I got try Westvleteren 12 and see what the monks bring to the table.

Availability around my part of the world means any bar serving Belgian ales i.e. Belgobaren, Monks Cafe and Duvel cafe/Pressklubben.

Total Score 45/50

Outstanding – World-class example of style.


Simultaneous pouring capacity on display.


Style Belgian Strong Dark Ale · ABV 10.5% · 330 ml bottle
Brewed by Brouwerij Het Anker · Mechelen · Belgium
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This is the first of many X-mas beers of 2011 we’ll be tasting and reviewing here at 99 Bottles. I chose to go with a Belgian Strong Dark (that is the style of beer, Christmas has never been and will never become a style of it own…) simply because I was in the mood for some Belgian styled ale. Right off the label I get some serious Christmas vibes with its pittoresque village covered in snow and Mr Claus & Co sleighing over the sky.

Appearance 3/3

Strings of small bubbles are making their way from the bottom of the glass towards the surface in a dark brown/bloodred clear beer. Foaming up a winter warm-white lid of foam.

Aroma 8/12

This nose is packed with rich maltiness and sweetness that of candi sugar. The sweetness additionally has marzipan and nuts profile to it. The spiciness is of anise and licorice backed-up by wine gums. Imagine it being a blend of all the sweets at a pick ‘n’ mix shop (pick ‘n’ mix is a Swedish candy/sweets phenomenon spreading around the globe. If you’re in NYC you can find it at Sockerbit). There’s also a tanker ship coming my way carrying ethanol hence making me slightly dizzy. A thick and numbing aroma, slowing down the pace a bit, preparing me for the Xmas and time off work.

Flavor 16/20

In general it’s an extremely sweet specialty ale with a minute but dry bitterness. The sweetness is that of marzipan border-lining a liqueur/cordial flavor. The cordial giving way to lots of warming alcohol. Flavors include anise and sweet licorice plus the dark fruits of fig and plum. Letting my thoughts drift a bit the flavor does remind me of a cough syrup I had as kid. Traditionally cough syrups in Sweden are flavored with anise/licorice, imaging that all of you cheery-flavored-cough-syrup gulpers.

Mouthfeel 3/5

A heavy and smooth body with a dash of volatile alcohol clouding my tongue and throat. The aftertaste is alcoholic and acidic. The carbonation is fast-dying.

Overall impression 7/10

This is a solid Christmassy ale with a great anise profile and spiciness fit for book reading in front of the fire place during the holidays. Carolus Noël also has a certain wine-like complexity to it that I’m quite fond of. But, it’s not completely in balance. The alcohol comes through a bit too much and rages about a bit.

Check out other 2011 Xmas Seasonals that we’ve tasted and reviewed.

If you feel like sampling a little bit of everything this year including Gouden Carolus Noël, check for availability at Systembolaget.

Total Score 37/50

Excellent – Exemplifies style well, requires minor fine-tuning.