You don't see many beers in stoneware jars these days. Actual stoneware, that is, not the spraypaint effect that Huyghe use for Delirium Tremens and a couple of their others. These four from the Flemish Sterkens brewery were hiked back from Belgium by the missus and are the real deal: stamped earthenware, hygienically crown-capped with the swingtop left loose for resealing. If you're the abstemious type. Mine all got consumed in one sitting.
Just a shade or two darker and a smidge stronger at 7.5% ABV we have St Sebastiaan Grand Cru. It's hazier too, and much closer to a bazillion other Belgian blonde ales. It doesn't go overboard with the yeasty spices and allows the grainy lagerish malt flavour to come through. I don't have much else to say about it: inoffensive, undistinctive, and possibly even a bit dull.
St. Sebastiaan Dark is a little better, a modest 6.9% ABV and conker-red with bags of fizz, but balanced by a heavy enough body to keep it drinkable. The nose is sweet and spicy, like mince pies. I was expecting lots of unctuous dark malt in the flavour, but the spices -- from the yeast, I assume -- win through and there's a touch of pepperiness plus some candied fruit. Smooth and satisfying, like the best strong dark ales.
Nothing to get too excited by in this lot: the blondes are workmanlike; the darker ones subtly complex. Not a bad place to be considering some of the messes that pass for beer from small Belgian breweries.
Ola Dubh - *Origin: UK | Date: 2009 | ABV: 8% | On The Beer Nut: February 2010* With the blog turning a year old tomorrow it's time to get started on a new season of ...
3 weeks ago