Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Not A Big Dog

Until recently Belgian Trappist ales were the kind of beer which either cost an arm and a leg at Pivovarský klub, or necessitated a trip to the cheese shop and spending reasonably equal amounts of money on beer and cheese – my other major food weakness is extra mature Cheddar cheese. However, while I was away on holiday, I got an sms from Evan to tell that the world had gone crazy and our local Billa now stocked the likes of Orval, Rochefort and Westmalle.

One beer which they don’t stock at any of the above is St Bernardus Prior 8, an Abbey Ale which was another new beer to me, and part of the culture shock of being in L’Eclerc in La Souterraine wanting to meet their beer buyer – he is doing a good job!

In many ways this beer was pretty much as I expected, being a Belgian Abbey Ale and having an “8” in the title, immediately made me think of the Rochefort 8, and indeed it pours a similar cloudy brown although with a more frothy head, tinged with beige. The nose was malty, with touches of cocoa. The maltiness of the nose came through again in the sweetness of the beer, although the body was on the thinner side of the Rochefort, which while not reaching the heights of those august ales is no bad thing.

The world of Abbey Ale is becoming one I will be trying to explore as much as possible in the next few months and, given my soft spot for Gottschalk from Želiv, hopefully not just brews from Belgium.

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