I have far too much beer. Belgian beer, mostly, due to the good offices of my wife who travels there a lot. It gathers in my attic and my beer fridge and I just don't seem to get through it as quick as I should. Freshness isn't so much of an issue with strong, dark, yeast-centric beers, but I've already missed the best of one Belgian IPA through my slow drinking habits. What's required is a constant audit of what's old, and what needs to be consumed sooner rather than later.
And it so happens that beer auditing is the topic for this month's Session, hosted by Adam at Pints and Pubs. I'm using the opportunity to clear a couple of long-anticipated beers from the to-drink list.
Both are by De La Senne, and the first is Schieven IPA, bearing a giant black hop cone on the label, one which is destroying Brussels with its heat rays. Okaay. It's 6.5% ABV and quite a dark shade of amber. As usual with De La Senne's pale ales I did my best to pour carefully and leave the sediment out, but as usual also I still ended up with a cloudy glassful. Lots of interesting things kick off the aroma: peaches and spices, reminiscent of the best beers from the Odell stable. On tasting it's a sharp citric tang to begin with, closely pursued by a very American crystal malt toffee flavour, adding a warmth to the bitterness. And then those spices, I guess from the rogue yeast -- cedarwood, frankincense -- as well as an almost saisonesque dryness. Right at the end there's a return visit from the soft juicy peach we met at the beginning. A tour de force and one of the very few Belgo-American hybrid IPAs from Belgium to pull it off. I'm glad I didn't let this get any older: an object lesson in the benefits of auditing, I guess.
Secondly Zwarte Piet, and I don't know what that guy wants with that chicken. Maybe it was set as bait by the lion hiding in the shadows. Lots of foam out of this one, over a dark red-brown body. The nose gives little away: just a sort of sour yoghurty yeast thing and a spirituous hit from the obvious 8.2% ABV. The taste is complicated, but not really in a good way: jarring metallic hops giving way to sweet cocoa: the evil twin of Wrassler's XXXX. Thoughts of De La Senne's Equinox crossed my mind, and subsequent research shows that this is in fact just a slightly tweaked version. The only improvement is that the bottle is now smaller.
Right: that's two more spaces cleared in the fridge. The endless fight against hoarding continues...