Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I enjoyed a pleasant evening of Belgian beer roulette at San Francisco’s Toronado Bar a couple weeks back, just doing my thing, pulling the trigger on whatever Belgian beers had the funniest or most impenetrable names. A game like this should only be played by professionals – professionals who just got their paychecks, for it is a high-stakes game played with real money. Here’s how it played out:

VON HONSEBROUCK KASTEEL DONKER BRUIN – This was a false move that nearly blew my head clean off. Also known as KASTEELBIER BRUIN, this is an 11% ABV Quadrupel that I mistook for a “Flanders Oud Bruin” (you may recall how excited we were by this style when we encountered a version made by Brooklyn Brewing a few weeks ago). I found it to be very “chewy”, and strong & bold from the get-go. No surprise. It is quite sweet, with tastes of brown sugar and slight caramel. That said, as it warmed I started getting a little annoyed by it, and by the time I was two-thirds in, I wanted to chuck it. Annoyed by a beer? Yep. Not for me. 5/10.

VAN STEENBERGE BORNEM DUBBEL – Here we go. Creamy, light, not-too-strong dubbel that tasted exceptionally fresh, with notes of toffee being most predominant. This is like mother’s milk in Belgium, I’m sure. Goes own very quickly and very smoothly, and I am guessing that it’s fairly low in alcohol. Let’s check and see: no! 8%! That’s what they say on Beer Advocate, anyway. This is our first Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. product, and likely not the last. 7/10.

Hey, is that it, HBJ? You call two Belgian beers a true roulette session? Ah, I can’t lie – I had some Lagunitas or Bear Republic thing after that, I can’t remember. The night’s winner: VAN STEENBERGE BORNEM DUBBEL! It’s no DE DOLLE OERBIER, but what is, right?

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