Saturday, February 24, 2007

ST. BERNARDUS PRIOR 8 AND THEIR HAPPY 'LIL MONK

Gave the ST. BERNARDUS PRIOR 8 the good old college try last week with mixed results. This Belgian dubbel has been brewed in the mother country (Belgium) since long before I was born if you can believe it (since the 1700s or somethin'). It doesn't officially have the "trappist" designation, but whatever. I guess only a few of them do. I had it recommended to me as a good dubbel, because I'm on a kick to find a few of those, and the happy monk on the bottle sure got my hopes up, because he sure seems to dig his whopping gobletful. This one was OK - a real warm feeling with every sip, and a lot more hops in this dark brown ale that I'd reckoned. Very sweet at times, somewhat balanced by tartness and maybe a cherry or even apricot-ish taste. I think I was hoping for a little more. I kind of had the same reaction to the ST. BERNARDUS ABT 12 last year as well, but I'm giving this one a 6.5/10, a whole half-point improvement. So - what's your favorite Belgian dubbel? I love the style & am a total greenhorn & need you to school me a little.

5 comments:

steve said...

I think I liked the Westmalle Dubbel a little more than the St. Bernardus. Those are the only two I've ever had though.

tom said...

Jay, I wonder if there's any Belgian beer you do like except Rochefort? You’ve reviewed some of the greatest Belgian beers so far and given all of them these lukewarm or even negative reviews. And then you ask what the (really) good ones are. If you think Westmalle Tripel and Chimay White are only mediocre to okay, you won’t think much of the other tripels either, and I can’t imagine you going bananas over a more ‘modest’ trappist like Achel, or what you Americans call ‘extreme’ or ‘weird’ beers like Orval or an authentic gueuze or kriek, which are even more of an acquired taste… And as far as the holy grail (to Americans at least) is concerned: if you don’t like the Bernardus 8 or 12 you shouldn’t bother about the Westvleteren 12 either. But hey, prove me wrong. I appreciate the honesty and all that, and nobody’s supposed to like a beer just because it’s Belgian, but to me, all this sounds as improbable as, say, a soul music fan being ‘underwhelmed’ by anything coming out of Memphis... I don’t know, either the Belgians aren’t your thing or you trust your own judgement and quick sip and grade policy a little too much. Oh well. Fortunately, Belgium’s not the only great beer nation in the world: ever tried a Kwispelbier from Holland, or a Bulgarian Boza!?

Jay said...

Tom, it hurts me that you infer that I haven't liked the fine beers from your country save for Trappistes Rochefort 8. I know rating scales are meaningless, but I gave a "7.5/10" to Westmalle Tripel just a week ago, and to me, that's a pretty goddamn great beer. I know Belgium is full of them. The only one I've deigned to give a "10" to is the Rochefort 8, sure, but it's rare that I taste a crap beer from over there - I think the only one I really couldn't stand was Augustijn something-or-other. The word "underwhelmed" probably gets thrown around a bit because the hype on Belgians here in the US can sometimes be off the charts - and I get pretty excited to drink some of the drinks my countrymen are raving about, only to find that yeah, it's just all right. You know what I mean? I'm planning a pilgrimage out to the holy land - Belgium - in 2007 if I can swing it, and perhaps you can show me some local beers to crack the 9/10 barrier. But I'm pretty happy with what I'm buying so far.

mumbly said...

Another option is the Toronado's Belgian beer dinner. Should be coming up soon. They usually have some obscure/hard to get beers there. Plus you'll have plenty of people around to talk about the beers.

That said, Westmalle Trippel and Rochefort 8 & 10 are some of my favorites. I like the Chimay draught, but not as much as the bottled. Orval is absolutely fantastic, though very different from most Belgians I've had. Duvel, also, is a great one.

--Tim

tom said...

Don’t loose any sleep over it, Jay, I’m a quarrelsome crank. I’m sorry you weren’t as wild about the Westmalles (those are among my absolute favorites) and the Chimay White as most people are. I hope you can make it to Belgium sometime - I would be happy to show you around. Keep me updated.