24 October 2011

Let the bad times roll

It's part superhero, part Victorian-industrial: I do like the Malheur logo. These two Flemish beers have been on sale in Messrs Maguire for the last year or so but I've been slow getting around to them.

Malheur 12 was the first I tried, and I wasn't impressed. It's incredibly heavy and boozy with bucket-loads of brown sugar flavour, but not much else. Concentrate and there's a layer of ripe bananas, reminding me of Kwak, only not as good. Behind that, if you let it sit long enough, there's a kind of oily, herbal, eucalyptus tone. But it's all very subtle and not what you want from a 12% ABV dark Belgian ale.

After that I was in no rush to try the lighter, blonde the Malheur 10, a milksop at a mere 10% ABV. I took a bottle home with me from the Doppelbock launch last month and opened it on a quiet Sunday evening as an end-of-the-weekend nightcap, too tired to approach anything that might require my attention. And I was confounded by how tasty it was. At least once I'd managed to pour it through the insanely busy fizziness.

It's a hazy shade of pale gold and gives off the same exciting spicy yeast aroma as Duvel. Like the 12, it starts off very sweet, but does a lot more with it, offering honey, golden syrup and then more daring notes of eucalyptus and aftershave. Warming, filling and comforting, it conjured the image of a beefed-up Duvel, and I really liked that.

It's very unusual for me to be saying avoid the dark beer and go for the pale one but so it is with Malheur.

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