I swore I’d make it here again far sooner than I did, but I went back to San Francisco’s LA TRAPPE bar/restaurant the other night for a few Belgian ales. If you missed it, here is my first take on this fantastic bar. One difference this time is that rather than spend all my time upstairs in their rather generic dining room, I descended the circular stairs and went down into “the beer cave”, their beautiful soooo-European beer bar on the lower level. People of the San Francisco Bay Area: if you’re not drinking your beer at La Trappe, you need to be. Don’t neglect our city’s other gems – CITY BEER, TORONADO, 21ST AMENDMENT – just add this to your list of regulars. It’s made for beer dorks like you and me.
Because LA TRAPPE has such an extensive Belgian draft list, I decided to stay with those only, though I did introduce my drinking partner to a bottle of TRAPPISTES ROCHEFORT 6, his first ever. His reaction was predictable: “this is amazing”. Mission accomplished. Me, I wanted to drink a few I’d never had before. You might be well familiar with the ones I tried, but here’s my first take on each of ‘em;
BRASSERIE DUPONT BIERE DE MIEL – Ahhh – now this is why we drink Belgian, isn’t it? BIERE DE MIEL from BRASSERIE DUPONT is a delicious, fluffy, smooth saison. DUPONT, of course, make Saison Dupont and Foret as well. This particular formulation has a fluffed-up, pillowy head of foam, and is completely packed with fruit – slightly sour tastes mixed with honey, wheat and aromas of lavender and lemon. More fruity than funky. Excellent beer – will definitely buy a bottle of this in the near future. 8.5/10.
GRIMBERGEN DUBBEL – Not bad, not bad at all – but sort of “generic” for Belgian beer. This brown ale is thin-bodied, a bit yeasty, and faintly malt/roasty – hard to pick up what else is in there outside of a solidly-constructed Belgian beer. It’s sort of like LEFFE BLONDE – very good and very basic. 7/10.
CANTILLON FRAMBOISE – Wow, I really did it. I ordered a lambic and drank the whole thing. This is one of the classics as well, and it’s the first CANTILLON beer I’ve ever tried. It’s like a very, very sour raspberry juice. Fizzy and strange – so jarring I actually can’t assign it a “grade”, which says more about me, and what a rookie I am ,to this style than it says anything about the beer. There’s certainly evidence of very high quality & craft, but I need to get some more of these in me before I can even develop a relative “scale” upon which to judge them. I hereby declare a moratorium on lambic reviews until I’ve tried, say, 4 more of them. HBJ Rating: UNCERTAIN.