12 December 2009

Westmalle Dubbel

Greetings! I apologize to my loyal followers who have been clamouring via email and comments for a new review. Instead of a lame excuse, I am simply going to state that the fall comprises of two things for me: hunting and football. While alcohol consumption is a part of both of these things, I have not had time to evaluate anything blog-worthy in some time. As such, there has not been an update in far too long. But fear not, I have not been incarcerated or done something silly like joining AA, so you can sit back, pour a drink of your choice and read today's offering from one of my least favourite beer-producing countries: Belgium!

Last week, a co-worker sent me an article on Vancouver's pub scene that appeared in the Toronto Star on 7 December 2009 (they are all aware of my particular penchant for alcohol, pubs and drinking in general). While the article was quite interesting, I recoiled in horror when I read this particular review for Stella's Tap & Tapas Bar:

You've woken with a Tom Waits voice and a head that feels like a melon on a toothpick. Welcome to the aftermath of a night out worshipping at the altar of the world's best ale-making nation. Belgian brews from Leffe and Stella Artois are on draft in a barroom lined with light, pilsner-hued wood. But it's the multi-page bottled list that'll do you in. Try fruity Mort Subite Kriek, coppery Chimay Rouge and dark X.O., a brooding, end-of-the-night beer made with cognac. And don't forget that other nutrient group: moules et frites is recommended but a cone of crispily addictive fries (served Euro-style with mayonnaise) is always a good idea.

As anyone who has followed this blog would know, many of the beers mentioned in this article have been reviewed here, and none of them were worth a return down memory lane (unless you want to get sick, that is). While the ever-popular Stella Artois is a bit of an exception to this rule, I cannot understand why anyone would pay a premium price for a beer that is quite literally the Molson Canadian of Belgium. To be perfectly honest, this bar sounds like it would be the perfect hell for me to spend eternity in (providing the Stella tap was always dry). After forwarding the description of Stella's Tap and Tapas Bar to Brian, he suggested doing yet another Belgian beer review to demonstrate once again that the Belgians know absolutely nothing about making beer.

I picked up this bottle of Westmalle Dubbel at my local LCBO. It comes in a funny 330 ml ring-necked bottle and has an ABV of 7%. Aside from the name, the entire label is written in Belgian, so no further information on this beer was available at the time of purchase. However, the Westmalle website had this to say:

Westmalle Dubbel is a dark, reddish-brown Trappist beer with a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The creamy head has the fragrance of special malt and leaves an attractive lace pattern in the glass. The flavour is rich and complex, herby and fruity with a fresh-bitter finish. It is a balanced quality beer with a soft feel in the mouth and a long, dry aftertaste. The Dubbel contains 7% alcohol.

Since 1856 the monks have also been brewing a dark Trappist beer along with their table beer. Since the recipe was modified in 1926, they have been brewing slightly heavier beer. This is the foundation of today’s Dubbel.

The 33 cl bottles are distributed individually, in baskets of six or in 24 bottle crates. The Westmalle Dubbel is also the only dark Trappist beer available on draught in some 300 selected hotels, restaurants and cafes, from kegs of 30 and 50 litres. Dubbel Trappist continues to ferment, making the draught version slightly sweeter than the bottled version.

Dubbel Trappist is also available in 75 cl bottles, in which the beer matures differently than the smaller bottles. You will particularly notice a more subtle aftertaste.

Back at Brian's, we chilled the beer and set out a few glasses for the tasting. I popped the cap and poured out the samples of what appeared a lot like homebrew to me. Michelle compared the colour of the beer to A&W root beer, while Brian stated the beer was the same colour as tar shampoo. There was no scent coming from the beer to mention, and with a healthy "Cheers!" we tipped our glasses and drank. There really was no up-front taste from this dark brew, however it left a very gross aftertaste in the back of the palate as it quite literally burned all the way down the gullet. Not a pleasant experience at all. Brian stated the taste was "mediciney" as Michelle commented that it was simply "awful". As I choked down the last of my sample, I declared this stuff was crap and after a taste of this swill, "you'd never drink it again!" Perhaps, this will finally put an end to the ridiculous myth that the Belgians make the best beer in the world. 95% of the beers I have tried from this country have been just god-awful. AVOID!

Westmalle Dubbel Final Score:
Michelle - 3/10
Brian - 3/10
Myself - 3/10


Dack Thrombosis said...

Hell, I was worried you died from alcohol poisoning. Yeah, it's been that long since you've posted!

John III said...

I thought maybe some Belgian monks kidnapped him for all the bad reviews! LOL