Friday, July 14, 2006

GOOD BELGIAN, BAD BELGIAN

One of the best things about being such a beer greenhorn is getting to play catch-up on the vast world of Belgian beer. The San Francisco Bay Area features a number of stores that import dozens of different beers from Belgium, and there are bars such as the Toronado where the Belgian beer has been elevated to rockstar status. They truly are the rockstars of the beer world right now, and the more I sample, the more I’m learning about the multiple rich, complex, flavor-bursting beers from this small European country. To that end, I tried a MAREDSOUS 8 on tap at the aforementioned Toronado last weekend, and I was pretty goddamned pleased about it. This is made by the Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, the same team that brought you DUVEL (I drank Duvel for the first time in 1990 at a pub in Prague, and thought I’d died & gone to heaven). This one is a Dubbel, and has an ABV of 8% - not shabby, and definitely something that’ll get your buzz on. It poured a dark maroon and had this “roasted” taste to it that was pleasant, with a little bit of fruit sneaking in there as well. It may have smelled and tasted a little too much of alcohol to make this a top-tier beer, but the 7.5/10 I awarded means I’ll undoubtedly come back to it someday.

I wish I could say the same about POPERINGS HOMMEL ALE, but instead I poured the last third of it down the drain. It was a sickeningly sweet ale that was a golden yellowish (it’s listed as a “Belgian Strong Pale Ale”) and smelled very floral or honey-ish, but really not in a good way. I wanted to appreciate it, I really did, but it just tasted like someone’s cliché idea of what a European ale should taste like, and its bitterness was not the bitterness I’m hoping for when I drink a $3.50 bottle of beer. I gave it a 4/10, and that’s not too good. Bad Belgian! Stay out of my house.

1 comment:

tom said...

I love Poperings Hommelbier! You have to drink it sufficiently cold though, which means straight out of the fridge. I can imagine the sweet touches begin to overpower the bitterness when it gets luke warm, but ‘sickeningly sweet’? Come on! Also, ‘someone’s cliché idea of what an European ale should taste like’? Huh? By the way, the label ‘Belgian strong ale’ is not quite correct if you ask me and I guess American beer importers call it that so they can sell it a 3.50 bucks a bottle (maybe an old bottle at that…).