I recently did a little beer swap with the overly generous and always Belgian enthusiast: Martin Ridge (follow on twitter - @6TownsMart) so I thought it would be rude not to share my thoughts on his beers right here - so that's what I'm gonna do, cos beer swaps are great, and even better to write about. After all, It's what I enjoy writing about. The beers come from Belgium and I know absolutely nothing about them to be honest, other than they look pretty darn tasty, so let's dive in!
I won't pretend to know anything about this beer, I can't read the language on the label... maybe that's for the best, it's good to go into beers blind. It looks to be a 6.5% blonde from Antwerpse, with a surprisingly large sediment for what is apparently a supermarket beer (is that right Martin?)
It has a great aroma of lemon sherbet, coriander, orange peel and a floral softness which really lifts the brew. The flavour is quite sweet to begin with but then moves into a long lasting finish which is rather vegetal. Really fruity with predominant sharp tangerine flavours amongst lemon and a lot of lime, it almost has a Geueze like quality in the background, hashtag winning in my book! A little sour taste is complimented and balanced by a great fruity factor leading to a good bitter hop quality mixing in with the vegetal finish making it a real refresher! A little look up on RateBeer suggests that this is a revival of one of Antwerpen's best known historic styles by Johan Van Dyke. I'm not sure about all that, what I am sure about is that this is a great beer!
Apparently nicknamed 'wipers' by British troops in world war 1 because of hard pronunciation, Ypres was the centre of intense fighting between German and Allied forces (so says the bottle). De Struise have bottled this double barrel aged FOB (Flemish Oud Bruin) to a 7%, but coming from 2009 it could be a little stronger by now. This looks like a very special beer, but then again most do from De Struise as we hardly ever see them over here.
The aroma on this is huge. Loads of caramel soaked oak with hints of cinnamon, raisins, figs and very dry dates. The beer itself is aged for two years in Bourgogne and Wild Turkey barrels, I'm guessing it's a year each respectively. The flavour is absolutely massive! It's almost like a Duchesses on steroids... Sweet and sour, fruity and drying, it ticks so many bases. Sweet brown caramelized sugars, red wine soaked oak, sour apple and pear with some unripened plum skins, some balsamic vinegar, cherry skin coated in chocolate and almost a hint of herbs and lime within a malty backbone. It's such a complex beer it's almost too good. The texture and mouthfeel is so drying and moreish you can tell this has had a very long sleep on top of oak, I think it's this that really sets the brew apart from any FOB I've ever tried - a true step above the rest in my eyes.
Two Kings of Belgium
I love bottle swapping.... Thanks Martin.